In 1948, Nina Landolina left Fort Lauderdale and rode the train to Richmond for the first time.
The Westhampton College '52 graduate was only 17 at the time, but recalls two Westhampton College women who were sent to meet her. They took her to the William Byrd Hotel for breakfast, just across the street.
“They had such a Southern accent, but were so nice,” Landolina said. She added that her four years at Westhampton College were wonderful and she still stays in touch with the friends she made.
Landolina’s is but one story that highlights the centennial celebration of the founding of Westhampton College. One hundred years of success, excellence and tradition will be honored at Saturday’s Proclamation Day, an annual event for Westhampton College's freshmen and seniors. This year, for the first time in the event’s history, alumnae will join students as seniors read letters written by their freshman-year-selves. As always, the freshmen will follow suit by writing their own letters. Following the traditional chapel program, all will congregate on the Westhampton Green for a centennial celebration luncheon.
In 1914, Westhampton College opened its doors to 82 women. Under the direction of Dean May Keller, the inaugural classes lived and studied in what is now North Court. In those initial years, Dean Keller and the students set the standard for the future women of Westhampton College.
“The core values of Westhampton all started with Dean Keller,” Dean Juliette Landphair said. “Keller advocated for more rigorous admissions standards because she wanted the academic excellence of women to be recognized.”
Despite the merging of admissions processes in the 1970s, Westhampton College has maintained its demanding curriculum and continues to push women to excel academically. Keller knew it was imperative for women to be admired as scholars, Landphair said.
“I brag about the Westhampton women all the time," Landphair said, commenting on the continued academic excellence 100 years later.
Nathalie Ivers, WC '15 and president of Westhampton College Government Association, praised the college for the opportunities it affords as a coordinate system.
"Westhampton has provided me with immense comfort when it comes to voicing my opinion or reaching out for help,” Ivers said.
Ivers added that Westhampton College has allowed her several leadership opportunities she may not have otherwise had in a non-coordinate college.
“The culture of public women’s leadership is another core virtue of Westhampton that has remained over the last 100 years,” Landphair said. “This will also be something to celebrate [this weekend]."
Westhampton College has consistently adapted to ensure leadership positions are readily available for women. Westhampton College was founded on traditional, Southern principles, but has committed to making diversity an integral part of its mission. In doing so, women of color and international women have served in a plethora of leadership roles, and in the 1980s, sororities were introduced on campus in an effort to further increase female leadership opportunities.
Westhampton College and Richmond College joined under the title University of Richmond in the 1920s. In the 1970s, the division of the colleges, marked by Westhampton Lake, began to dwindle. Although the physical borders of Westhampton College may no longer exist, the values of the college still preside.
Over 50 years ago, Landolina made lasting relationships at Westhampton College. Today, little has changed in that regard, as Westhampton College still engenders these relationships, whether it is between roommates, sports teams or students and faculty.
“I’ve made some of my best friends here,” Christy Hayden, WC ’15, said.
At Proclamation Day, in addition to celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the school and each milestone of Westhampton College, the attendees of the event will celebrate the relationships that women have developed over the course of their time here.
“These relationships help women believe in themselves,” Landphair said, and in essence, guiding women to achieve their very best is what Westhampton College truly represents.
Contact staff writer Stephanie Manley at firstname.lastname@example.org