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2010 News Releases

Two from Longwood assessment office elected to offices in statewide group

November 29, 2010

From left: Dr. Ling Whitworth and Dr. Linda Townsend Dr. Ling Whitworth (left) and Dr. Linda Townsend

Two members of Longwood University's Office of Assessment and Institutional Research are now high-ranking officers in the Virginia Assessment Group (VAG).

Dr. Ling Whitworth, Longwood's director of assessment and institutional research, was elected president Nov. 15 during the organization's annual conference. She will serve a one-year term. Dr. Linda Townsend, assessment coordinator, was appointed treasurer, one of three appointed positions in VAG, which has no term limit. Both are voting members of the VAG Board.

Whitworth had been president-elect the previous year. After her term as president ends, she will serve for another year as past president, also a voting member of the board.

VAG, founded in 1987, promotes quality higher education through assessment and institutional effectiveness practices in all post-secondary institutions. The organization serves as a network for communication and collaboration among institutions of higher education, state and federal agencies, and accreditation bodies, and it offers professional development opportunities and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas.

"VAG includes three groups: assessment professionals, teaching faculty, and executive administrators," Whitworth said. "We promote dialogue and share ideas. We want broader involvement in assessment."

Added Townsend, "Some people might think of VAG as just people from assessment offices, but it's not. There's also a lot of faculty and staff participation. A good example of this is the recent conference, where there were three presenters from Longwood."

Dr. Kristen Welch, assistant professor of English, presented on "Ideological Formations of Formative & Summative Assessment Processes in English 303: Visual Rhetoric & Document Design." Dr. Jennifer Capaldo, assistant professor of music, presented on "Assessment Infiltration: A Musician's Guide to Faculty Buy-in." Dr. Rick Chassey, director of honor and judicial programs, presented on "Development of Critical Thinking Among Student Disciplinary Board Members & Resident Assistants."

Some 10 Longwood faculty and staff attended the conference, held Nov. 15-17 in Lynchburg, including Dr. Connie Ballard, Margie Godfrey, Dr. Ed Kinman, Mandy Swanson, and Dr. Wayne White. The conference, "Conducting Sustainable Assessment in a Changing Environment," attracted 115 people from 40 institutions not only in Virginia but also in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia.

Longwood sponsored the keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr., provost and vice president for academic affairs at Clark Atlanta University, the first time Longwood has done so for the VAG conference. In addition to Townsend and Whitworth handling much of the planning for this year's conference (Townsend was a member of the planning committee), the other members of their office, Deborah Holohan, Susie Ramsey and Mandy Swanson, also helped with preparations.

There was other Longwood participation as well. Longwood's Printing Services printed the program booklet and the conference flyer, and Longwood University Barnes & Noble Bookstore and the university's Sustainability Program donated items for the conference packet. Because many of the items bear Longwood's name, this afforded the university a "nice marketing opportunity," Whitworth said.

Two members of Longwood's Greenwood Library staff, Virginia Kinman and Liz Kocevar-Weidinger, gave presentations at last year's VAG conference, attended by seven Longwood representatives. "Longwood was once a leader in VAG, and we are trying to again raise Longwood's visibility in this organization," Whitworth said.

Whitworth joined Longwood's Office of Assessment and Institutional Research as assistant director in December 2006 after holding similar positions at Johnson C. Smith University and Saint Paul's College. She became director in December 2008. A native of Kunming, China, who has lived in the United States since 1989, Whitworth was once a university history professor in her native country.

Townsend began working in the assessment office in October 2009. She had been instructional technology design specialist in Longwood's Institute for Teaching Through Technology and Innovative Practices since June 2003. In addition to her job, the Blackstone native has two personal Longwood connections. She earned an M.S. in education at Longwood in 1985, and her father, the late Dr. Robert B. Thomas Jr., was a 1960 Longwood graduate who taught biology at Longwood from 1969 to 1977.