Bringing a Longwood education to Emporia
Not everyone can turn her or his life "upside down" to go away to college, and it's just these aspiring students Longwood University had in mind when the Emporia campus was established.
We bring the possibility of acquiring a four-year degree to those who otherwise would not be able to move away for college because of life commitments," said Don Butler B.A.'94, M.A.'98, program director for Longwood's liberal studies elementary education program in Emporia. "To be part of helping people accomplish their higher education dreams is a wonderful experience."
Offered through the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, the Emporia program is a "two plus two": Students with associate's degrees in arts and sciences from Virginia community colleges can earn bachelor's degrees in liberal studies elementary education from Longwood in about two years.
Based at Southside Virginia Community College's (SVCC) Southside Virginia Education Center, the program is an example of the university's blended learning initiatives, which bring the quality of a Longwood education to off-site locations. Students utilize various technology resources to connect with each other, the faculty teaching their courses and the Longwood campus in Farmville.
"Not everyone can turn their lives upside down and ‘go away to college,'" Butler said. "I'm in a unique position to work with the Emporia/Greensville community to assess the higher education needs in the area and then work with Longwood faculty to bring programs to the people. We're making higher education accessible to a greater number of people and to a more diverse group of people."
Once a nontraditional college student himself, Butler understands the unique advantage his program provides. After graduating high school, Butler didn't go to college right away. He worked in manufacturing for four years before attending community college.
After earning his associate's degree, he transferred to Longwood and earned a bachelor's degree in English with a secondary education licensure and then continued on to earn his master's degree in English. After teaching in Prince Edward County Schools for four years, Butler returned to his alma mater, where he taught for 10 years.
Now the program director in Emporia for two years, Butler said exciting things are happening for the program. By fall 2013, Longwood will have its own space at SVCC, with three designated classrooms and faculty office spaces. Still for Butler, the most exciting part of his job is working with people.
"Whether they are 18 or 55, I love helping others achieve their educational goals so they can pursue their chosen careers," Butler said. "I get to work directly with students in all facets, from admissions and financial aid to course planning and graduation. I am their connection to Longwood, and I am here to help them navigate their educational journey."
For more information about Longwood's program in Emporia, visit longwood.edu/graduatestudies/27945.htm.