One of the great joys of watching Longwood thrive in recent years has been to observe how powerfully a new and extraordinarily diverse generation of students has embraced our most deep-rooted traditions.
Amidst a number of features in this issue of the magazine, you’ll find a piece (“Tried and True” on Page 32) that notes an encouraging and perhaps surprising observation we’ve made about young people today: They value tradition and connection to the past. In a world that can seem disjointed and disconnected, the desire to be a part of something that binds them to others and to those who came before them is particularly compelling. As one of the nation’s hundred-oldest colleges, Longwood is fortunate to have an array of traditions—from ancient ones like CHI and the Honor Code to newer ones like Late-Night Breakfast—that are essential sinews of our community and shared residential college experience.
I am convinced that hunger for places with a sense of tradition and community is a major reason applications to Longwood grew 10 percent this past year, and are up nearly 30 percent since 2011-12. It is particularly gratifying that applications from minority students have doubled since 2008, and that minority student enrollment is up 35 percent. While there is still much progress to be made, as the story notes, we can be proud that our learning community increasingly reflects the diversity of our society. And we can be confident that, while each new generation puts its mark on campus traditions, the culture of embracing traditions, nurturing them and passing them down to those who follow is powerfully alive here.
Similarly, in an embrace of a tradition popular with students I’ve spoken with, over the coming academic year we’ll begin to find ways to freshly utilize Longwood’s Latin motto docemus docere. It fell out of use over recent generations, but once was a proud feature of campus life. Longwood usually translated it as, “We teach to teach.”
The Latin word docere, however, has a particularly strong connection with our mission of citizen leadership. Cicero and other thinkers in the classical world used the word with a particular meaning in mind—that one of the primary duties of a citizen is to “enlighten” regarding issues of public debate. So, with citizen leadership in focus for Longwood, today we can translate our motto as, “We teach to enlighten.” This feels especially fitting in a year when Longwood will play such an important role in our national political life, welcoming the eyes of the world and the candidates for vice president to campus for their debate on Oct. 4.
Some notable members of the Longwood pantheon helped provide clues and insight over recent months in thinking about the ancient motto—former rector Helen Warriner- Burke, provost emeritus Ken Perkins, the great Jim Jordan and icon of Greenwood Library Lydia Williams. Our traditions drive our progress.
Thank you and my best,
W. Taylor Reveley IV