Longwood University in rural Farmville, Virginia is the venue for the only Vice Presidential Debate during the 2016 election. On October 4, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine will debate, with CBS News’ Elaine Quijano moderating.
Here’s a look at Longwood University. The school is located about 150 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The debate begins at 9 p.m. ET.
1. Longwood Ranked Among the Best Colleges in the Southeast on U.S. News’ Best Colleges List
Longwood University is ranked 31st among Regional Universities in the South on U.S. News’ Best Colleges Rankings. The school, which was founded in 1839, had an in-state tuition of $12,240 for the 2016-17 school year. Out-of-state tuition and fees were $26,670 for the 2016-17 school year.
According to the Princeton Review, the school has a 78 percent acceptance rate, with students averaging a 3.39 GPA in high school. The student body is 68 percent female and 32 percent male, with 4,574 undergrads and 522 graduate students.
The university also has students from 25 different states and 20 countries.
2. President W. Taylor Reveley IV Followed in His Grandfather’s & Father’s Footsteps as a University President
In May 2013, W. Taylor Reveley IV was named Longwood University president, following a long family tradition. Both his father and grandfather were university presidents, although at different schools. The late W. Taylor Reveley II was president of Hampden-Sydney College from 1963 to 1977 and his father, W. Taylor Reveley III, has been the College of William And Mary President since 2008.
“I have told Taylor that he has to start using his numeral,” his father told the Washington Post in 2013. “Otherwise this will become very confusing.”
Reveley IV is a Princeton graduate and has a master’s degree from the Union Presbyterian Seminary and a law degree from the University of Virginia. He was previously a lawyer in Richmond, working for the same firm where his father was once partner.
3. Reveley Got the Idea to Host the Vice Presidential Debate While Teaching a Class on the Presidency
Reveley told the Washingtonian that he came up with the idea of putting the school’s name in to host a debate while teaching a class on the Presidency in 2014. A student asked if the school could ever host one.
“The idea just kind of lodged in there,” he explained. “I gathered some of the great gurus at Longwood to think about if we thought we could make a real run at this.”
The “gurus” included his chief of staff, former Associated Press reporter Justin Pope, and Longwood Vice President Victoria Kindon, who worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The Commission on Presidential Debates visited the campus in June 2015 and Reveley knew some of the members. After a second trip, they seemed impressed with the venue, but it wasn’t until after Labor Day 2015 that they heard they would host the debate. The commission officially picked Longwood on September 23, 2015.
Reveley told the Washingtonian that he’s seen contributions from 1,000 more donors than last year since the school won the debate.
4. The Debate Is Being Held in the Willett Hall Basketball Arena, Which Underwent Renovations
The debate will be held inside Willett Hall, where the Longwood Lancers basketball team plays. The venue has a capacity of 1,087 and was built in 1980 for $4.5 million.
Although the arena underwent renovations in 2008, more were planned for the debate, albeit only small renovations.
“When we found out [the Commission on Presidential Debates] wanted to use Willett Hall as the location for the VP debate, it was a wonderful opportunity to correct the façade on the Brock Commons side to match the traditional architecture on the northern side of campus that our students, alums and community connect with,” Louise Waller, Longwood University’s executive director of campus planning, construction and real estate foundation, told the Farmville Herald in January 2016.
Pope told the Herald that the debate gave the university the drive to finish renovation projects that had been planned anyway.
The renovations to Willett include new doors on the north and south side, as well as the university seal above each improved entrance. Waller also said renovations on the inside were planned as well, like lighting and wall deficiencies.
5. Longwood Was Founded in 1839 & Didn’t Become a University Until 2002
Longoowd University was founded in March 1839 as Farmville Female Seminary Association. It did not become a fully co-ed institution until 1976. As The Washington Post notes, it became a University in 2002.
The school was also the site of historical events. The Union Amy chased Confederates through Farmville just before the surrender at Appomattox in 1865. In 1951, African American students protested conditions at a nearby all-black high school, leading to an apology from Longwood trustees in 2014. Longwood was criticized during the Civil Rights era for not doing more.
In 2014, trustees unanimously released a statement of “profound regret” about the school’s actions at the time.
The statement noted that, “while many individual members of the Longwood community spoke and acted bravely in support of the inarguable principle of equal protection under the law and educational opportunity for all, as an institution Longwood failed to stand up publicly for these ideals, resulting in support to those who opposed desegregation, and falling short in its duty to provide strong moral leadership in the community.”
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