Never heard of it before? You have company. So, how did a little known school land a debate?
The Washingtonian just recently focused on Longwood and how the school was picked. Every campaign cycle, about 75 schools express interest to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD looks at just 16 of them.
The CPD outlines their criteria on their website:
How are the Sites and Dates for the Debates Selected? The CPD chooses sites for the debates by soliciting bids from interested sites. Over the years, the CPD has held all but three of its debates on college and university campuses; this has allowed students to participate in the production process, and has prompted many of them to become involved in election-related projects. Sites that are interested in hosting debates submit proposals to the CPD in response to formal site selection guidelines that are posted 22 months before the debates. CPD production staff review the proposals, conduct site surveys, and consult with members of the White House television pool and federal law enforcement in evaluating potential facilities. The final sites and dates for the debates are chosen by the CPD board of directors and announced approximately one year in advance; this allows for complete logistical preparation by the CPD and the media, and for the sites to take full advantage of debate-related curricular additions. For 2016, CPD has announced the following sites and dates:
October 4, 2016: Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University (Farmville, Virginia)
October 9, 2016: Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)
October 19, 2016: Presidential Debate at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada (Las Vegas, Nevada)