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Feature Story

2020 Vision

A Plan for the Future of Longwood University

Jerry Jerome Campus Master Plan Coordinator

Longwood University recently completed a new campus master plan that provides guidance for the development of the physical aspects of Longwood's campus through the year 2020.

An effective master plan helps to direct the successful development and expansion of a university campus in a proactive, orderly, and efficient manner. The foundation of the campus master plan is based on two elements - Longwood's mission, vision, and goals statements, and the Board of Visitors' decision to increase enrollment to 5,600 undergraduate students by 2020. Longwood President Dr. Patricia P. Cormier set the stage for this significant effort in her introduction to the final report: "With any successful organization, it is imperative that there is a focus on the future - the vision for the organization and the plan to make it a reality. It is with this best practice in mind that the Longwood community spearheaded a master planning process to determine the future landscape of Longwood University." 

Richard Bratcher, vice president for facilities management and real property, and Louise Waller, manager of space planning and real property, started preparing for this effort in 2006. They conducted extensive research on the theory and practice of the campus master planning process, and compiled a library of recent exemplary plans. They also identified the general themes and key issues for Longwood's planning process. The overall management of the campus master planning effort was vested in the Master Plan Steering Committee, composed of all six vice presidents,the director of capital planning and construction, and the executive director of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation. A Campus Master Plan office was established and Moseley Architects of Virginia Beach won the competitive bidding process for professional planning services.

President Cormier gave two key directives to the master planning team:

  1. The plan must be data driven - accurately reflecting existing conditions and deriving recommendations from specific data and requirements.
  2. The process must be inclusive - all members and groups of the university community must be given the opportunity to participate and their input must be included.

As the planning team engaged the university community, the following set of guiding principles quickly emerged:

  • Keep Longwood "like Longwood"
  • Architectural compatibility
  • Compact, convenient campus
  • On-campus student life
  • Gathering spaces
  • Make the campus more pedestrian friendly
  • Preserve, enhance, and expand campus green space
  • Include sustainability 

campus map vision

The plan provides a framework for campus growth through 2020 by recommending and designating new construction, expansion and renovation of existing buildings, reuse and repurpose of existing facilities, vehicular and pedestrian circulation enhancements, infrastructure improvements, and greening initiatives. The new master plan considers three major aspects of Longwood University - academics, student life, and athletics/recreation.

To maintain its reputation for academic excellence, Longwood must expand its academic program with new and renovated facilities. The College of Business and Economics, located in Hiner Hall, will need space to handle the growing number of students. The solution lies next door in Coyner Hall, which is already physically connected to Hiner and will be renovated to provide more instructional space. The Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences has the highest enrollment of Longwood's three colleges. To keep up with demand, the master plan recommends renovations of Wygal Hall, South Ruffner Hall, and Stevens Hall, which will become the home of the new nursing program. The enrollment growth creates an opportunity for a new academic building that will link Longwood's past and present. This new building will look similar to Grainger Hall. Located on Venable Street behind French Hall, this building will present a new face of Longwood to the town. The Hull Education Center is in need of renovation, and a new annex will meet expansion plans. Adjacent to the Health and Fitness Center, the Hull Education Annex will provide more space for the teachers of tomorrow. 

At Longwood, learning does not take place just in the classroom. Experiential learning is required of all students before they graduate. An excellent example of the combination of learning and experience is Hull Springs Farm, where students gain hands-on experience. Hull Springs Farm was a gift from Mary Farley Ames Lee, a 1938 alumna, and provides Longwood with a unique living laboratory for education and research. The Farm encompasses nearly 640 acres in Westmoreland County and includes wetland, riparian, agricultural, and forest habitats. To tap the educational potential of the Farm, the Master Plan recommends enhancing the infrastructure and creating a cottage camp, a research laboratory, a conference center and space for a scholar-in-residence.

The master plan also includes a strong recommendation for a Performing Arts Center - a flexible facility that would support both campus and community with student performances as well as special events, concerts, and exhibitions. Longwood currently has no facility that can accommodate approximately 500 people. A new Performing Arts Center, located on the site of the present tennis courts, would fill that void and add to the cultural dimension of Southside Virginia. 

To ensure that the learning environment keeps pace with changing technology, and the ways in which students learn, the Greenwood Library must be improved and expanded. The Lankford Student Union will be renovated into library space and expanded by the addition of two new wings facing Lankford Mall. A pedestrian bridge will connect the Greenwood Library to Lankford. 

Besides meeting the expansion needs of the library, the conversion of Lankford will open a new era of student services that will include a Student Success Center and a One-Stop Student Service Center - a consolidation of services such as academic and career advising, financial aid, cashiering, the registrar, and more - that are currently scattered across campus.

This new role for Lankford raises the issue of the Student Union. The Lankford Student Union is clearly inadequate, so it is time for a new student union with meeting facilities, office space, food service, recreational space, and more - a true University Center. A state-of-the-art facility like this demands a central location and a great deal of space. With that in mind, the best location for a University Center is the site of the Cunningham Residence Halls. The Cunninghams have served Longwood well for more than 80 years, but they have outlived their usefulness.

The loss of the Cunninghams shifts the focus of planning to student housing. To maintain its residential campus philosophy, Longwood set the goal of 60 percent of its students living in university-controlled housing, with 2,000 living in campus residence halls. At the projected 2020 enrollment of 5,600, an additional 895 beds will be needed. Adding two wings to ARC Residence Hall will provide 485 beds. Additional space will be gained by adding new Longwood-managed apartment units.

Recognizing the importance of "first impressions," the master plan recommends construction of a new Admissions Office and Visitor Information Center. The center, to be located on South Main Street at Wynne Drive, will visually connect the southern end of campus with the historic High Street district. 

Longwood has requirements for both NCAA athletics and recreation. New tennis courts and new recreational space is planned at the south end of campus. Willett Hall will remain as a gymnasium for instructional and intramuraluse, and the historic Longwood golf course will be improved with a driving range and other amenities. These improvements are essential as Longwood competes in NCAA Division I.

Brock Commons has transformed the campus by creatinga beautiful pedestrian mall from High Street to the Hull Education Center. The master plan recommends that Brock Commons should be extended south to a new convocation center on the site of the former Wynne Building. The exact size of the new center will depend upon further study, butit will be an extraordinary venue for athletic events, convocation, and community programs.

Although the master plan deals primarily with physical space and facility needs, it also addresses infrastructure, public safety, university services, parking, sustainability, and other aspects of college life, including a new Alumni Center. 

This two-year planning effort has yielded more than just a final report. Several concepts emerged for continuing efforts that will benefit Longwood over the long term. One of the most significant of these "spin-offs" is Longwood's sustainability program. In an acknowledgement of the need to include sustainability in all aspects of university life, President Cormier established a formal sustainability program, headed by a full-time sustainability coordinator. After a nationwide search, Kelly Martin, '07, the assistant master plan coordinator, was selected to fill this key position.

The Campus Master Plan provides a clear vision of the future, a vision of what Longwood University can become as it prepares the citizen leaders of tomorrow. President Cormier summed it up best: "Our new Campus Master Plan is truly the result of a team effort and every member of our university community contributed. The Longwood of 2020 will reflect what has been accomplished during the past 20 months, and the excitement for the plan is widespread. I am extraordinarily proud of the legacy we will leave for our successors." 

Learn more about the Campus Master Plan and watch the Master Plan video