Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and Republican Party nominee for President of the United States, will address graduates, faculty, staff, students and friends of Southern Virginia University at the 2013 commencement exercises on Saturday, April 27, at 10 a.m. in Buena Vista, Va.
“We are delighted to have Mitt Romney as our commencement speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctorate,” said Paul K. Sybrowsky, the university’s president. “Mitt exemplifies what we hope all of our students will become-leader-servants. He was the student speaker at his own college graduation exercises some 42 years ago. Former Governor Romney will find our students among the brightest in the country. In this year’s graduating class we have students who have been admitted to several medical schools, outstanding law schools and prestigious graduate programs in Europe. We see our students going on to achieve in their fields of endeavor because they have been the recipients of superb educations due to the genius of small.’ Interaction between students and faculty is phenomenal here.”
Southern Virginia University is the only private liberal arts college that serves Latter-day Saints and those with similar values. Founded in 1867 as a school for women, Southern Virginia was renewed in 1996 as a four-year, coeducational institution with a code of honor based on the teachings and tenets of the Church. With an initial enrollment of just 74 students, enrollment was at its largest ever in fall 2011 with 800 students-13 percent of whom were from Utah. By keeping class sizes small-the student-to-faculty ratio at Southern Virginia is 16-to-1-the university promotes a high level of engagement between students and their professors.
In April 2012, the Church formed the first Young Single Adult Stake outside of Utah and Idaho to serve Southern Virginia students and other Latter-day Saints in the surrounding area. Currently, there are six YSA wards in Buena Vista, Va. More than 90 percent of Southern Virginia students are LDS.
Romney’s great uncle, Thomas Cottam Romney, served as one of the first LDS missionaries in Buena Vista, Va., in the 1890s and recorded many of his experiences as a missionary in his autobiography, “A Divinity Shapes Our Ends.”