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2010 News Releases

Outgoing Longwood President Cormier to be Commencement speaker

April 26, 2010

Dr. Patricia Cormier

Longwood University President Patricia Cormier, who is retiring in June, will be the speaker for the university's commencement.

The ceremony will be Saturday, May 8, at 9:30 a.m. on Wheeler Mall. About 806 bachelor's degrees and 181 master's degrees are expected to be awarded. In her remarks, Dr. Cormier will share lessons she has learned as Longwood's 24th  president.

Dr. Cormier, 71, will step down June 30 after 14 years. Under her leadership, Longwood College became Longwood University, athletics moved from Division II to Division I, enrollment increased from about 3,300 to more than 4,800, and the university concluded its first comprehensive campaign one year ahead of schedule and exceeded its goal with more than $33 million in contributions.

"From the halls of the General Assembly to boardrooms and classrooms, she is not only a tireless leader; she is also Longwood's number one cheerleader," Marge Connelly, then rector of the Board of Visitors, said when Dr. Cormier announced her retirement in March 2009.

"Thirteen years ago, she set out on a plan to advance Longwood among its peer institutions, and the result has been truly transformational. Longwood continues to become stronger and more vibrant and to build its well-deserved reputation for preparing citizen leaders to make a difference in our world. I offer sincere appreciation to Dr. Cormier for her vision, leadership, and persistent drive for excellence. The Cormier legacy will take Longwood far into the future."

The university's honors college was named for Dr. Cormier and her husband, Dr. Raymond Cormier, by the Board of Visitors in September 2008. The Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars blends the former Honors Program and Cormier Center for Citizen Scholars, founded as a scholarship program within the Honors Program.

Dr. Patricia Picard Cormier started at Longwood on Aug. 1, 1996 after having served as vice president for academic affairs at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. When she was announced as Longwood's president in January that year, she was the only female among current or designated presidents of Virginia's public four-year institutions of higher learning.

National professional organizations she has chaired during her time at Longwood include the Board of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Council of Fellows of the American Council on Education, the Executive Committee of the Renaissance Group, and the NCAA Division II Presidents' Council.

In her career in academic administration, which began in 1964 at Tufts University of Boston, Dr. Cormier also has held administrative positions or taught at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Wilson College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Virginia.

Dr. Patricia Cormier and Dr. Raymond Cormier, a medieval literature scholar who has been visiting professor of French at Longwood, will retire to Chapel Hill, N.C., where they own a home. The Cormiers, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary June 9, are looking forward to spending time with their grandsons, Levi, 2, and Patrick, born March 17 this year. (The boys' mother, Maddie Cuevas of Boynton Beach, Fla., is the Cormiers' daughter.)

The retiring Longwood president will continue to consult for Penson Associates, for which she will train new presidents, especially in the area of fund-raising, the subject of a book she is writing. She also plans to volunteer in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill school system, to be trained and to serve as a docent for the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, and to fish, a hobby she took up about 10 years ago. She likes to fish from a pontoon boat she and her husband keep at Buggs Island/Kerr Lake.

Dr. Raymond Cormier, self-described "First Gent," will continue his active research and publication agenda. He is currently working on three books, two of which focus on a 12th-century adaptation of Virgil's Aeneid, a Latin epic, into Old French, a topic that is a longtime favorite of his.

For more information about Commencement 2010, visit: