FARMVILLE, Va. (WSLS) — Preparations are underway for the only Vice-Presidential debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence. Longwood University will host the historic event on October 4th.
School leaders said they received word about hosting the debate last September. Since then, they’ve made upgrades to the entrance and other areas. Located near downtown Farmville, Longwood University has a rich history dating back to 1839.
“The Civil War drew to a close along the north end of campus and poetically the Civil Rights movement began at the south end of campus with the 1951 strike at Moton High School which lead to Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision,” said Taylor Reveley IV, Longwood University President.
This fall the school will join a unique group of Virginia campuses when it hosts the national debate.
“In “76” William and Mary hosted a debate between Carter and Ford then in 1992 the University of Richmond hosted a debate between Ross Perot and George Bush Senior and for us to be on that tradition is special,” he said.
President Reveley said he was surprised when the call came confirmed that the school would host the debate. Since then, they’ve been busy preparing campus by making upgrades to the entrance and other facilities. School leaders said many of the changes were planned before the debate announcement came nut now crews hope to finish ahead of schedule.
Instead of watching basketball players take the court in Willet Hall on October 4th, hundreds will see Tim Kaine and Mike Pence take the stage. In addition to changes at the facilities, the school plans to update its curriculum to have more than 30 courses related to the debate.
“It could be something like a Communications study course where they are literally thinking about the kinds of rhetorical moves someone makes on stage in an attempt to persuade an audience,” said Derek Taylor, Longwood University Professor. “Or it could also be a faculty member in music and they are going to be studying the use of music in political advertising.”
School leaders said applications are up 11% and the number of donors increased nearly 24% last year. Once the debate puts Longwood University on the national stage, staff hope those watching see it as a place for future leaders to come.
“To produce students who are transformed through their years at Longwood and come out the other end as people who are ready to be active in our democracy,” said Reveley.
School leaders said they are working with campus security, secret service and other law enforcement agencies to make sure the event is properly secured. Nearly 50 million people or more are expected to watch the televised debate. The event takes place October 4th at Longwood University.