Feature Stories Campus Events

Warren Awarded Mellon and Formby Fellowships for Sabbatical Year

James Warren, S. Blount Mason, Jr., Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has received both an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and a Formby Library Research Fellowship for 2008-09.

Warren, whose teaching includes 19th-century American Romanticism, literary theory, and literature of the environment, will begin his sabbatical year this summer. He will study the poems of Mary Austin during his three-month Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif.

His work will follow up on research he began in 2002, when he spent a month at the Huntington Library as a Kenneth E. and Dorothy V. Hill Fellow, researching John Burroughs, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt and Mary Austin.

“The work I did during that month played a significant role in my third book, John Burroughs and the Place of Nature,” Warren said. “It also taught me that Mary Austin didn’t actually belong in the book I was then researching and writing. Despite that change in the plan for my book, I managed to inventory the Austin Collection, paying special attention to Austin’s poems and to her essays on poetry and poetics. With the support of the Mellon Fellowship, I hope to edit Austin’s poems and produce a text that can be used by scholars and students alike, introducing the range of her poetic work and her ideas about the relationships between poetry and the environment.”

In the fall, Warren will spend three months in Lubbock, Texas, as a Formby Library Research Fellow, studying the works of Barry Lopez in Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

His work will form the basis for a new book devoted to Lopez’s work, both fiction and non-fiction.

“There is to my knowledge no book-length critical study of Barry Lopez’s literary works,” said Warren. “His importance as a writer is certain, and I have been fortunate to work with him on his two visits to W&L. My hope is to produce the first major study of his work, paying close attention to the work itself and to the archival materials that reveal the writing process.”

Warren received his B.A. from Auburn University and an M.A., M. Phil. and Ph. D. from Yale University. The author of three books, including John Burroughs and the Place of Nature (University of Georgia Press, 2006), The Culture of Eloquence (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999) and Walt Whitman’s Language Experiment (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990), he has taught English at Washington and Lee since 1984, chairing the department from 1997-2007.


Betty Munger, Longtime Bookstore Manager at W&L, Dies at 91

Elizabeth Evans “Betty” Munger, the manager of Washington and Lee University’s bookstore from 1967 to 1983, died at Foxdale Village Retirement Community, State College, Pa., on March 26. She was 91.

Munger was born in 1916 in Braintree, Mass. A member of the second graduating class of Bennington College, in 1937, she held a pre-med degree. She and her husband, Dr. Robert S. Munger ’35, moved to Lexington in 1941. An active member of the community, she founded the local chapter of the League of Women Voters and served as head of the Botetourt-Rockbridge Library System.

Munger became the manager of the W&L bookstore in 1967, when it was housed in the former Co-op (now Holekamp Hall). She belonged to the Virginia College Stores Association, the American Bookseller Association and the National Association of College Stores, and served those organizations in various capacities, including as president of the Virginia group.

Munger contributed a chapter, “Trade Books on Campus,” to a 1980 book, “Manual of Book Selling.” She also won a prize from the National Association of College Stores for her promotional ideas: A bookmark bearing a quote, “When I get a little money, I buy books. And if any is left, I buy food and clothes”; and a popular shopping bag that customers called a “bookpoke.” On that occasion, University President Robert E. R. Huntley ’50, ’57L, told the association that “Betty combines talent as an efficient manager with a large measure of knowledge and excitement about literature, which has caused our bookstore to be one of the most stimulating places on campus.” In 1973, Munger won the Ring-tum Phi Award from the student newspaper for her contributions to W&L.

In 1951, the Mungers bought a large plot of land they dubbed Boxerwood and built a home there. Dr. Munger undertook extensive landscaping; after his death in 1988, Betty Munger continued the work. In 1997, under new owners, Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden opened to the public.

Betty Munger is survived by three children: Dr. Robert S. Munger III and his wife, Jill Nooney; Christopher E. Munger and his companion, Pat West; and Sally Munger Mann (former University photographer) and her husband, Larry Mann ’70; and four grandchildren, Robert S. Munger IV, Emmett Mann, Jessie Mann ’04 and Virginia Mann.

Betty Munger will be remembered at a “walkabout” at Boxerwood on Sunday, April 6, from 2:00–5:30 p.m. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Betty Munger Garden Fund, Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College, PA 16801, or to the Boxerwood Education Association, 963 Ross Road, Lexington, VA 24450.


W&L Swimmer Wins National Title, Sets New Record

Swimming wasn’t even his first choice in college sports, but Thursday, March 20, Alex Sweet, 22, and a senior at Washington and Lee University, won the NCAA Division III national swimming title for the 50-yard freestyle at Miami University, Ohio.

Sweet, of Louisville, Ky., touched in a time of 19.85 seconds, breaking the previous NCAA 50-yard freestyle record set in 1999 of 19.90 seconds.

He also helped the W&L swim team finish eighth overall at the championship meet, tying their best finish in school history. Sweet is W&L’s fifth-ever national swimming champion, and the first national champion since Nathan Hottle won the 200-yard breast stroke in 1995.

At 6 foot 7 inches, Sweet initially planned to play basketball at W&L, but two medical incidents in a row changed his plans. “First I broke my leg,” he said. “It was a very bad stress fracture and I was on crutches for weeks. And then, the day before I was supposed to start practicing with the team, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis and was hospitalized with a temperature of 104 degrees. I lost 25 to 30 pounds and all my strength, which isn’t good for basketball.”

Having dabbled in swimming in high school, Sweet swam intramurally as a freshman for his fraternity at W&L and, receiving encouragement from both the swim coach and members of the swim team, he decided to switch to swimming.

The road to the national title wasn’t without some drama. The day before he was due to swim in the Kenyon Invitational in 2007, his house at W&L was destroyed by fire. Sweet lost all his personal belongings but took it all in stride. “I lost everything, but I wasn’t going to miss the meet – I could deal with the fire when I got back. My non-existent stuff wasn’t going anywhere.” Sweet borrowed swim gear (suit, goggles) and went on to set a new school record in the 100-yard freestyle, as well as leading off the 400-yard freestyle relay which also set a school record.

On winning the national title, Sweet gives credit to the W&L swim coach Joel Shinofield. “He has a bunch of motivational sayings. The one I like the best is — have the arrogance to believe and the humility to perform. I really like that. I wanted to go out there the best way I could, but I didn’t know if I could win.”

Sweet capped off his success at the NCAAs by qualifying to participate in the United States Olympic Trials held June 29 – July 6 at the Qwest Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. He met the qualifying standard in the 50 meter freestyle while participating in a time trial held at the Toyota Grand Prix hosted by Ohio State University at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on Friday, April 4. He completed the trial in 23.39.

Sweet’s accomplishments are not limited to swimming. A bio-chemistry major, he is a scholar-athlete at W&L as well as at conference level, he was named a College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Academic All-American in 2007 after posting a grade point average of over 3.5 during winter term and competing at the 2007 NCAA Championships.

An eight-time All-American, Sweet concludes his collegiate career at W&L as a record holder in three individual events (50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle), and four relays (200-, 400-, and 800-yard freestyle relays, and the 400-yard medley).

As for his future plans, Sweet says there’s a “small chance” of swimming competitively in his first year of medical school at the University of Louisville next year. “We’re looking into whether I will still have one year of eligibility left.”


Host of Democracy Now! to Keynote Society of Professional Journalists Region II Conference

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is holding its Region II 2008 spring conference at Washington and Lee University on March 28-29. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! will give the keynote address on Saturday, March 29, at 3 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater of Elrod Commons.

Goodman’s keynote talk is free and open to the public.

She is the award-winning host and executive producer of the Web site Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org). Goodman has been recognized for her reporting by the Associated Press, United Press International, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Project Censored, among others. She writes a weekly column (also produced as an audio podcast) syndicated by King Features, for which she was recognized in 2007 with the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting.

Goodman is the winner of the 2007 Gracie Award for Individual Achievement for a Public Broadcasting Host from the American Women in Radio and Television. She is a 2007 honoree with the Paley Center/Museum of Television and Radio’s She Made It Collection, which “celebrates the achievements and preserves the legacy of great women writers, directors, producers, journalists, sportscasters, and executives.”

Goodman is also co-author of Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times, forthcoming in April, with her brother, journalist Dave Goodman. They also co-authored two New York Times bestsellers, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006) and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004).

The conference schedule will include panel discussions and workshops with well-known journalists including Kate Long, an award-winning writing coach, and Dugald McConnell, assistant producer at CNN who covered the John Edwards campaign as an embedded mobile journalist. W&L graduates who are currently working in different areas of journalism will also be present, in addition to W&L professors and area journalists.

For more information, see their Web site at http://journalism.wlu.edu/spj.


Poet Becky Gould Gibson to Read from her Work at W&L

Poet Becky Gould Gibson will read from her work, including her new book “Need-Fire,” on Monday, March 31, at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in the Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University. The reading is open to the public.

“Need Fire,” poems based on the life of Hild of Whitby, a 7th-century abbess in Northumberland, won a poetry contest held by Bright Hill Press in 2005 and was published in 2007. Gibson will also read from “Aphrodite’s Daughter” (2007), which won the Texas Review Press’s 2006 X.J. Kennedy Prize.

A current professor of English and Women’s Studies at Guilford College, she has published two prize-winning chapbooks of poetry, “Off-Road Meditations” (North Carolina Writers’ Network, 1989), “Holding Ground” (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 1996) and one full-length volume, “First Life” (Emrys Press, 1997).

Her poems have appeared in many journals, including the Southern Poetry Review, The St. Andrews Review, Laurel Review and Cold Mountain Review as well as in several anthologies, including “Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets” (2003). Gibson has won many awards and grants for her poetry, including a North Carolina Arts Council Literary Fellowship in Poetry (1993).

The reading is co-sponsored by the departments of religion and English and by the Women’s Studies Program.


Mike Fahey Named Unsung General of the Year

Washington and Lee University senior Mike Fahey of Marshfield, Mass., was named the John W. Elrod Unsung General of the Year at the sixth annual Celebrating Student Success Gala Awards Assembly held Wednesday night, March 19, in Lee Chapel.

Fahey was chosen with input from the campus community and the University’s Celebrating Student Success committee from among a group of 27 student nominees for his leadership and volunteer service to W&L.

The award carries a $1,000 prize, to be split between Fahey and the campus or local organization of his choice. He will also have his name engraved on a plaque in the John W. Elrod University Commons. His original nomination for the Celebrating Student Success Initiative was in the area of social/programming for his extensive contributions to campus life.

“Being named as Unsung General is such an honor,” Fahey said. “W&L has given me so much over the last four years, and all of the work I have done on campus is just a small effort to give something back to the community. We’re so lucky that there are so many ways for student leaders to get involved at W&L and make an impact on the community. I’ve really benefited and grown from the experiences that W&L has offered me–whether it is working in journalism or helping with Traveller or the Gender Relations Committee.”

A senior majoring in journalism and sociology, Fahey is the executive producer of “The Week in General,” the student-operated television program; sports editor and writer for the Trident; and reporter for the Rockbridge Report.

Also, Fahey stepped in as communications chair of Mock Convention this past fall, and was responsible for press coverage of the event. He met with political experts and media, created video montages to open the convention, introduced speakers and ran the Mock Con press conferences, among other things.

Fahey is also co-chair of GRC, organizing events, planning speakers and planning Date Night. He has served as the dispatch coordinator of Traveller, managing the schedule of cars that pick people up and provide safe rides home. As a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity he’s in his second year as social chair working with its budget. After graduation, he hopes to work as a television producer or editor.

According to Brian Richardson, professor of journalism and head of the department, “Mike Fahey is the lynchpin of our Rockbridge Report, the community news broadcast and Web site of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. He’s also the impetus for The Week In General, an extracurricular TV program of campus news. Mike is so dedicated to his work here that he keeps an electric razor and a change of clothes in the news lab in Reid Hall. News done well reflects selfless service to a community, and Mike does news well. We are all very happy for him.”

In addition to Fahey, the Celebrating Student Success committee recognized students in the following categories at the awards ceremony:

  • Media/Publications: Will Chamberlin ’08 of Princeton Junction, N.J.
  • Recreation: Elliott O’Brien ’10 of Te Awamutu, New Zealand.
  • Performing Arts: Lauren Sapikowski ’08 of Alexandria, Va.
  • Community Service: Christine Flood ’08 of Bethpage, N.Y.
  • General Clubs and Organizations: James McIver ’08 of San Antonio, Texas.
  • Greek Life: Lauren Ottaway ’08 of Nichols Hills, Okla.
  • Religious Life: Dane Boston ’08 of Dunedin, Fla.
  • Social Programming: Rebecca Koval ’09 of East Amherst, N.Y.
  • Student Government: Jane Ledlie ’03, ’08L of Atlanta, Ga.
  • Environmental: Katie Huffman ’08 of Poca, W.Va.
  • Athletics: Isaiah Goodman ’09 of Richfield, Minn.

More information about the above winners will be on the Student Affairs Web site (Celebrating Student Success—2008) soon.

Also recognized at the awards assembly was sophomore Taylar Hart, winner of the University’s Decade Award, which honors a sophomore woman who has exhibited exemplary leadership and who has advanced the discussion of women’s issues on campus.

Hart is an accounting and business administration major with a concentration in the Shepherd Poverty Program. She is a Bonner Leader, is on the Campus Kitchens Project Leadership team, and is a volunteer for Project Horizon. She is a member of SPEAK and was a trip leader for volunteer venture. This coming spring and summer she will participate in a 14-week internship in New York.

The award was presented to Hart by Elizabeth Knapp ‘89, associate dean of the College. Knapp said, “The Decade Award was given initially at the 10-year benchmark of coeducation at Washington and Lee and reintroduced at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Women at Washington and Lee. Taylar is a fantastic woman leader on our campus, and she shows much potential for the years to come.”

The awards assembly also provided student organizations and groups the opportunity to honor individual members who provided inspiration, leadership and direction for their organizations. There were many organization members honored in this way.

The Celebrating Student Success initiative began in fall 2001, with a charge from the Dean of Students’ office to recognize those students who contribute to University life in ways not often seen by the larger community, and who bring both depth and breadth to the University community and campus life.


Charles F. “Murph” Murray, Former Head of W&L Security, Dies at 86

Charles Fletcher Murray, known to all as “Murph” during his 32-year career as the University proctor at Washington and Lee University, died on March 16. He was 86.

Murray was born in Lexington on Nov. 22, 1921. He grew up in Lexington and in Lynchburg, graduating from E.C. Glass High School. During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps aboard the U.S.S. Savannah, patrolling the Mediterranean. He survived the German bombing of the ship during the 1943 Battle of Salerno, Italy. After the service, Murray joined the Lexington Police Department, where he spent the next 12 years.

Murray joined W&L in 1959 to fill the new position of University proctor, otherwise known as head of campus security. He quickly became a highly respected and beloved member of the University community.

“Murph was one of the persons who shaped the character of Washington and Lee,” said Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of W&L and a member of the class of 1976. “He was legendary, a part of our history, someone who left his mark on countless generations of students. Whenever alumni gather, it doesn’t take long for a Murph story to be told, often with laughter, always with fondness and respect.”

When Murph retired in 1991, the W&L Board of Trustees passed a resolution recognizing his “selfless devotion . . . sense of fairness . . . ability to deal with people from all walks of life . . . encyclopedic knowledge of Washington and Lee . . . uncanny ability to protect students not only from outside forces, but also from themselves . . . ubiquitous and positive presence on this campus . . . [and] incalculable contribution to the life and well-being of this University.” In 1989, W&L made him an honorary alumnus, one of only five such individuals honored to date.

Murray is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marita French Mays Murray; a niece, Martha Murray Fruendner, and her husband, George, and son, Ian; and a nephew, Charles Richard Murray, all of California.

The funeral service is on Thursday, March 20, at 11:00 a.m., at the Harrison Funeral Chapel, Lexington. Burial will follow at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Manly Memorial Baptist Church, 202 S. Main St., Lexington, VA 24450, or to Millboro Christian Church, Millboro, VA 24460.


Kristin’s Story: a Story of Acquaintance Rape, Depression & Suicide” to be Presented at W&L

“Kristin’s Story: a story of acquaintance rape, depression and suicide” will be presented by Andrea Cooper, Kristin’s mother, on Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in W&L’s Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons. Cooper has been traveling the country telling the story of her daughter Kristin’s rape by a friend and her eventual suicide, from a mother’s perspective.

Ms. Cooper explains, “This presentation is very different from other date rape presentations in that I’ll be telling the story from my perspective, a mother’s perspective, and there is no male bashing. Men are especially invited to the presentation.”

Men may say, “Why do I need to go to a date rape presentation? I am not a rapist.” Most men are not rapists, but the few that are ruin many lives. One goal of this presentation is to help men to understand how their female friends and sisters feel if they become a rape victim, and how men can support and help them as a friend, a boyfriend or a brother. Men can make such a difference.

Cooper also speaks about depression, since that obviously played a huge part in Kristin’s decision to commit suicide. Many students on campuses suffer from depression, and she will address ways to recover and help them to help their friends who are depressed.

Kristin was an Alpha Chi Omega at Baker University in Kansas. Baker is a small private college similar to Washington and Lee. In the past eight years Cooper has traveled to over 300 campuses and 20 conferences presenting this story. Tri Delta sorority has been partnering with Kristin’s sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, to sponsor this event.

Andrea Cooper has presented to Sigma Phi Epsilon Carlson Academy, the National Leadership Conference for Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Phi Delta Theta Leadership College over the past few years, as well as numerous colleges and universities.

If you wish to read more about “Kristin’s Story” you may go to her web site at www.kristinsstory.com.  The public is invited to this presentation. Sponsored by Panhellenic, Kappa Kappa Gamma, One in Four and SPEAK.


W&L’s SAIL to Present Evening Abroad

Washington and Lee University’s SAIL, the Student Association for International Learning, will present their 12th annual cultural showcase, Evening Abroad, on Thursday, March 20, from 8-10 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Evening Abroad is an annual celebration of all the wonderful diversity present at W&L. It is a chance for individuals to showcase a part of their culture, their food, dance, song, fashion or whatever they decide.

The purpose of SAIL, an umbrella organization composed of the Outreach Committee (OC), the International Student Alliance (ISA) and the International Development and Relief Group (IDRG), is to promote, finance and coordinate campus wide and internal activities, which increases international awareness on campus. Together, these three committees organize programming that helps to raise awareness of and celebrate the different cultures on the W&L campus, help international students acclimate more smoothly into the W&L community and to life in the United States, and to acknowledge persisting struggles abroad and actively coordinate fundraisers aimed at helping make the world a better place. SAIL often works in coordination with W&L’s Center of International Education.


Final Lecture in Reeves Center Lecture Series on March 24

The fifth annual Reeves Center Lecture Series, titled “Silk Road to Clipper Ship,” sponsored by Washington and Lee University’s Reeves Center and Art department will present the third and final lecture on Monday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. The series accompanies the current Watson Pavilion exhibit, Silk Road to Clipper Ship, a exhibition on loan from the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Dr. Maribeth Graybill, curator of Asian Art at Portland Art Museum, Oregon, will give the final lecture titled “Pots Along the Silk Road.” This lecture is free and open to the public.

The exhibit at Washington and Lee’s Watson Pavilion Silk Road to Clipper Ship: Trade, Changing Markets, and East Asian Ceramics contains more than 50 exemplary objects on display and vividly demonstrates the impact of the exchange of goods, people, and ideas on Chinese potters and their counterparts in Japan over nearly 2,000 years. It is on display until April 12.

“The Silk Road to Clipper Ship exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to view ceramics other than what is on display at the Reeves Center,” said Peter Grover, director of Washington and Lee University Collections.

“Our collection focuses on examples of the European and American trade; this exhibit concentrates on internal and regional trade of ceramics throughout China, Japan and the Middle East.”

The Silk Road to Clipper Ship exhibit in the Watson Pavilion is available for viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. When no one is viewing the exhibit, the building is locked. To gain admittance, ask at the adjacent Reeves Center.