Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L's Champion Kung Fu Fighting Champ

For Washington and Lee junior Marshall Olszewski, the first time was more than a charm. In his first competition in Lei Tai, full-contact Kung Fu fighting, at an international Kung Fu tournament last weekend in Hunt Valley, Md., Marshall won his division at 153 pounds and earned a spot on the United States team that will compete in the World Kuoshu Championship Tournament in Ulm, Germany, in September. Although this was Marshall’s first experience with Lei Tai, which includes kicks, punches, throws, take-downs and sweeps on a three-foot high platform without any sides, this was not his first experience with Kung Fu. He’s been studying Kung Fu for 10 years at the U.S. Kuoshu Academy in Owings Mill, Maryland under Grandmaster Huang. Last year Marshall also competed in the tournament but not in Lei Tai. Instead, he took third in Chinese wrestling, second in weapons fighting and first in light contact. Marshall will be joined on the U.S. Lei Tai contingent in Germany by his two Lei Tai coaches in the event, Michael Huang (Grandmaster Huang’s son) and Sanjay Nair, a third-degree black sash. Marshall wrestled at McDonogh School in Baltimore for four years and also in his first two years at W&L, where he had a 3-2 record last season in the 157-pound class.

W&L's Citizen Journalist in Hartford

Tim Gavrich is a junior English major at Washington and Lee and a member of the Generals golf team. And he’s parlaying those two interests — English and golf — into an interesting Internet gig as a local “examiner” in Hartford, Conn., for the Web site called Examiner.com, which is a “content aggregator” based in Denver. Tim writes a golf column for the Web site, covering everything from the local courses in and around Hartford to his take on the British Open. You can read all of Tim’s columns on the Examiner.com site, where he is His latest column previews the upcoming Buick Open and gets in a nice plug for the W&L golf team.

Pulitzer Prize Winner to be Reynolds Visiting Professor at W&L

Caesar Andrews, one of the Detroit Free Press staff that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, is the newest Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Andrews, who left as executive editor of the Free Press to pursue his longtime interest in education, will join the department for the 12-week Fall Term. He will teach Editing for Print Media and a course of his own design, Covering Classic Journalism.

His professorship is made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

“Caesar Andrews is well-known in the industry for his enlightened and energizing leadership,” said Brian Richardson, head of the department of journalism. “And now the Pulitzer jury has recognized his commitment to superior journalism and serving his community. We are delighted that our students will be taught by a journalist of his stature.”

Said Andrews: “Washington and Lee has an impressive journalism program. I am excited about spending a semester there and working closely with the next generation of journalists.”

The Pulitzer Prize recognized the Free Press staff, especially reporters Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick, “for a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise….”

According to the Pulitzer Web site, the Free Press uncovered “a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for the two officials.” The prizes were announced April 20.

Andrews has been an editor and manager for nearly 30 years in a wide range of newsrooms – from a local weekly in Cocoa, Fla., to the launch of USA TODAY. He has worked in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Washington, D.C., all while with Gannett Co.

In addition to three years as executive editor at the Free Press, he served as editor of the Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. for eight years. In that capacity he directed coverage of news from nation’s capital during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

He has also served as a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors. During his 2002 term as APME president, an annual award was established recognizing outstanding diversity efforts in U.S. newsrooms — the Robert C. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership.
Andrews is a frequent discussion leader at industry conferences, seminars and workshops on quality journalism, ethical decision-making, management, diversity and motivation. He taught journalism at Grambling State University, his alma mater, during a one-year leave.

Over the years, he has also participated in student outreach targeting future journalists. He has also been active in the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He was a member of the reaccreditation team that visited Washington and Lee two years ago.

He has also been recognized with awards from both the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and from the Black College Communication Association – both for contributions to diversity.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

New Grad Heads to Uganda

Mackenzie Brown graduated from Washington and Lee in June with a major in environmental studies and a minor in poverty studies. She headed back to her home town of Kingwood, W.Va., but only for a couple of months while she prepared for her big adventure — a year running an after school program at St. Kizito Primary School in Kampala, Uganda. In a story for a local West Virginia television station, WVNS-TV, Mackenzie explained that this will be her first trip to Africa. She is participating in a program called Better Understanding of Life in Africa or BULA. Mackenzie has begun her blog, so you can follow her journey there. And you can view the TV news story about her trip here. Good luck, Mackenzie.

Skip's Still Setting the Stage

Skip Epperson, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1983, has gone a long way since his days of building sets at the old Troubadour Theatre. Currently chair of the theatre arts program at California’s Cabrillo College, Skip is also the set designer for Cabrillo Stage, a professional summer stock musical theatre company in the Monterey Bay area of California. The San Jose Mercury News published a wonderful feature on Skip and his work last week in which he recounts not only that he had not realized W&L was all-male until he arrived as a freshman but also how he ignored his mother’s advice and got into theatre during his undergraduate days at W&L. After getting his B.A. from W&L where was a Chi Psi, Skip got the M.F.A. at Virginia Commonwealth. He’s been teaching at Cabrillo since 1990 and recently was awarded a 2008-09 Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship for his work. If you’re in the Monterey Bay area in the next couple of weeks, you can catch some of Skip’s work on “The Wizard of Oz” between now and August 16.

Organizing Volunteers for the Land of the Incas

Anne Spencer Olivo, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1997, met her husband, Juan Carlos, in Peru in 2003. Together, they began volunteering with various Peruvian organizations — an orphanage, a women’s homeless shelter, a hospital. Eventually they would move from Peru to the States, working at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where they organized some volunteer trips back to Peru. But now they’ve built an interesting business around anyone who’s interested in participating in volunteer programs to Peru through their organization Peru 109. Their organization is based in Barrington, Vermont, where the Olivos live, but they spend a good bit of time organizing and leading volunteer programs for college students, families and independent travelers, focusing on interactive community projects. Anne and Juan Carlos make all the arrangements, including placing the volunteers with host families. There is a series of different projects, including the ability to set up your own two-week stay in one of three host cites — Chimbote, Trujillo or Cusco.

Barbecue Redux

Remember John Snedden? He’s the Class of 1981 premed major turned barbecue chef extraordinaire that we blogged about in December. In honor of mid-summer and the weekend, we couldn’t help but bring John back for an encore. And that’s because the latest feature stories about him and his Washington, D.C. , restaurant Rockland’s Barbecue and Grilling Company, include some recipes that are undoubtedly just what you need for the backyard grill. First, iVillage features John’s basic rib recipe in its “Steal This Recipe” feature, which also includes the information that the Rockland’s Barbecue and Grilling Company never cook over gas or electricity and they promise your food within eight minutes of your order. The second note featuring John is from the Washingtonian’s Best Bites blog and a feature called “The Frugal Foodie.” In this one, John shows how to prepare a barbecue for four for less than $15 — and the recipes are all there. Since John got started cooking by staging pig roasts at the Rockbridge County farm house where he lived as a student. Chances are he fed a lot more than four for $15 or less in those days! Enjoy.

Summer Research Means Yellow Jackets, X-ray Diffractometer and Dirt

Stepping on a nest of yellow jackets is just part of Meredith Townsend’s experience during her summer research project at Washington and Lee University.

She also spent a day poring over a manual to work out how to operate the X-ray diffractometer because no one had used it for such a long time. Then there was the week-long impatient wait for a delivery of hydrogen peroxide to treat her soil samples.

But Townsend said those frustrations are countered by the experience of conducting research in the field.

A rising junior geology major, Townsend is a R. E Lee Research Scholar at W&L and has been working on a research project with David Harbor, professor of geology.

Washington and Lee’s R.E. Lee Summer Scholars, part of the University’s undergraduate research program, is in its fifth decade of operation. It was founded in 1960 by an 1899 graduate. Students must be nominated for the opportunities, which involve either assisting a professor in research or carrying out a student-planned project under the supervision of a professor.

In the case of Townsend and Harbor, the project is one small part of a broad new multinational effort funded by a five-year multimillion dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, and is based at Pennsylvania State University.

W&L is one of six satellite sites on the project. The center is the Shale Hills site in central Pennsylvania. The satellite sites are located along a climatic gradient in the mid-Atlantic region and are being used to test the models developed at Shale Hills, and to provide regional data on weathering rates as a function of climate changes.

In addition to W&L, the other satellite sites are operated by Colgate University, the University of Tennessee, Baylor University, Alabama A & M University, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, and Juniata College.

“If you go back to the Dust Bowl,” said Harbor, “we mined the soil to such a degree that it couldn’t hold organic matter. When that happens, the soil can’t hold water. So we need to understand the dynamics of the production of soil, how it is produced, how long it stays on the surface, what happens as it moves across the land surface. It’s critical research for an important part of the ecosystem.”

“Although we know a lot about soil, nobody has put enough numbers to it yet so that we can say whether we are using the soil in a sustainable or unsustainable way.”

In order to find that out, the research is looking at how the same kind of rock-shale bedrock-turns into soil in roughly the same place at the top of a hill, but in different climates. Those climates range from upstate New York to the southern Appalachians, Puerto Rico, Wales and South America.

“It’s based on what is called a critical zone between the bedrock and the top of the trees,” said Harbor, “and includes all the activities of biological actors within that zone such as trees, plants and the weathering that turns bedrock into soil. It’s complex because there are a lot of interactions going on within the zone, and we don’t actually know much about it.
“It’s so complex that we need an ecologist, hydrologist, geologist and other scientists to work on the whole thing.”

“We’re collecting samples of the parent rock and soil samples from the shale within a very narrow zone of just ten meters thick. Then we’re doing geochemistry, using an electron microscope and X-ray defractometer to look at the physical and chemical differences up and down the soil,” he said.

Townsend and Harbor are working at a number of different sites in areas around Lexington, including one just south of Clifton Forge and one at the top of White Rock Mountain, which is east of Brattons Run in Western Rockbridge County.
Harbor plans to continue the research after the summer by erecting a monitoring station to measure soil moisture, temperature and precipitation that the geology department will monitor for three or four years.

Townsend plans to pursue a career in geosciences after graduate school, maybe a combination of research and teaching at a university.

In the meantime, there’s the small matter of retrieving the equipment they left at the yellow jackets’ nest…

Eight Ways to Stay Healthy at College

As colleges and universities prepare to open the year with continuing warnings about the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, this promises to be a challenging year for student health centers.

But Dr. Jane Horton, director of student health and counseling at Washington and Lee University, says that the keys for students to stay healthy are not really different despite the swine flu’s presence.

Here are eight measures that Horton thinks students and families should consider as they prepare for the opening of classes.

  1. Have a physical exam before starting college. Washington and Lee requires all students to have a physical, and Dr. Horton believes it’s an important part of preparing for college. “For an 18-year-old going off to school, this may be the first time that they’ve had an opportunity to sit down with a physician one-on-one and talk about things like sexual health, tobacco use and alcohol use without a parent present, and with a clinician who can give them advice about those things.”
  2. Talk to your doctor about recommended immunizations for adolescents and young adults and make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date. Make plans to get a flu shot in the fall. Dr. Horton cautions that this will be the year when student health centers will be doing more outreach than ever to see that students get vaccinated against the flu – both the normal seasonal shot and the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. “We expect the H1N1 to be a two-shot regimen. That means we’ll want to try to get as many students possible to have all three flu shots,” she said. “It’s going to be a logistical challenge.”
  3. Have a parents-student conversation about expectations regarding alcohol, other drugs and sexual activity. “These are discussions that may be difficult for parents to initiate,” Horton said. “But it’s so important to have clear, honest conversations about expectations. Parents need to be aware that things are going to change and need to keep the avenues of communications open.”
  4. Check your health insurance. Families need to be aware, says Horton, of what kind of coverage the student will have on campus, including whether or not the prescription drug plan will be honored at pharmacies in the area.
  5. Bring a first aid kit with common, over-the-counter medications. “Students need to know how to self-treat a cold because many have never really managed that on their own before,” Dr. Horton said. “They need to know whether or not to go see a doctor, something that their parents have usually handled for them.”
  6. Do what your mom always told you. Wash your hands, cover your cough, dispose of used tissues – “All of those common-sense pieces of advice can make a big difference, especially for students who find themselves living with a whole lot of other people in residence halls for the first time,” Dr. Horton said.
  7. Watch your diet. Unhealthy eating habits are easy to pick up when no one is there to make sure you eat your veggies. “Don’t forget to eat breakfast to give your brain fuel for those morning classes,” she said. “Regular exercise is also important for good health and weight management. Students should try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise four to five days a week.”
  8. Get plenty of sleep. “For some reason, students get to college and their clock seems to shift, and they stay up too late, and they still have 8 o’clock classes,” said Horton. “They stay up talking to friends in the hall, and they don’t start their work until 11 or 12, and they’re up half the night doing their homework. Sleep deprivation among students is a very unhealthy habit.”

As Horton observes, students hate being sick at college, and the swine flu is going to make staying healthy a challenge. “We know that this new flu is very transmissible and that younger people are being affected at higher rates than we typically see in a normal flu season,” she said. “It’s not that it’s any more severe, but even standard flu can put a student out of commission for a week, and that’s one week’s worth of classes in a 12-week term.” That’s why Horton is emphasizing the importance of getting those flu shots when they’re available.

Studying Ancient Graffiti

Rebecca Benefiel

Rebecca Benefiel, an assistant professor of classics at Washington and Lee, was cited in a USA Today article last week that focused on research being undertaken to show what daily life was like in the ancient city of Pompeii. Rebecca’s work is unusual enough that it obviously caught the eye of the USA Today reporter. She’s working on graffiti, the more than 11,000 inscriptions on the walls. As Rebecca told USA Today, “You can’t get that level of detail anywhere else.” The latest article that Rebecca has written on her work, which is supported in part through the Olivia James Traveling Fellowship from the Archaeological Institute of America, discusses a character named Amianthus who was a particularly prolific graffiti writer. What’s fascinating about this graffiti is that it’s recording Amianthus and some buddies playing a Roman game trigon, a Roman game. Rebecca has written a note about this on Blogging Pompeii, a blog where scholars from all over the world are talking about their work.

Loss in the W&L Family: Darrold A. Cannan Jr.

When Darrold A. Cannan Jr. died Sunday, Washington and Lee lost a loyal alumnus and Texas broadcasting lost a pioneer. Cannan went directly from his graduation at W&L in 1953 into broadcasting, joining his father at KDFX-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas. That station had gone on the air only months earlier. As the obituary in the Times Record News in Wichita Falls reported, Darrold spent two years in the Army before rejoining KFDX-TV until its sale in 1971. Later he would purchase an Amarillo station, KAMR-TV, and would put a station on the air in Austin, KBVO-TV. His support for W&L included an endowment for campus preservation, which was created in 1995 to help the University maintain its National Historic Landmark buildings and to support the beautification efforts, and the establishment of the Cannan Term Professorship. Cannan Green, the space between Elrod Commons and Doremus Gymnasium, is named in recognition of the support of Darrold and his wife, Kay. The Cannans generosity to Washington and Lee was celebrated in May 2008 with their inclusion on the University’s Honored Benefactors Wall. You can sign an on-line guest book or send tributes through Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home.A memorial service was held on Tuesday (July 21)  in Wichita Falls.

Aaron Baker wins Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers

Aaron Baker of Charlottesville, Va., has been named recipient of the 2009 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, awarded annually by Shenandoah and Washington and Lee University, for his book Mission Work from Houghton Mifflin (2008). The book was also winner of the 2007 Bakeless Poetry Prize. Baker received the MFA from the University of Virginia and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University. He has lived in Mexico, Germany and Papua, New Guinea, where his parents were missionaries in a remote village of the Chimbu Highlands. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Baker lives in Charlottesville and teaches in the creative writing program at Hollins University. Writers who have published one book of poetry were eligible for consideration for the $2,500 prize. Judge for the 2009 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize was Alice Friman, who says that Baker’s book touches “the essential mystery that underlies all things.”

The 2010 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers of $2,000 will go to a writer who has published only one book of poetry. The judge will be announced after the winner has been selected. Submissions should be sent to R. T. Smith, c/o The Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, Shenandoah, Mattingly House, 2 Lee Avenue, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116 and must be postmarked between March 15 and March 31, 2010 All contestants should include a vita, one copy of the submitted book, up to five unpublished poems not under submission elsewhere, a SASE and a submission fee of $25, (either from the author or publisher), which also brings a year’s subscription to Shenandoah. Books submitted for consideration will not be returned and will be donated to the Washington and Lee University library after the contest has been judged.

See www.shenandoah.wlu.edu for more information about Shenandoah or The Shenandoah/ Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers.

W&L Alum Moving Up in Coaching Ranks

News out of Hamilton, N.Y., this month that former Washington and Lee basketball standout Jon Coffman has been named the top assistant on the Colgate basketball team. Jon, a 1996 graduate who still holds three records for the Generals, has steadily moved up the coaching ranks. He started out at Emory & Henry, moved to the College of Charleston in 2000 and then to Stetson University where was an assistant for eight years before joining the Red Raiders’ staff of Emmett Davis. While he was at Stetson, Jon started one of the largest camps for high school basketball teams in the state of Florida and also ran the largest Elite Camp in the Florida. Generals fans may recall that Jon made 18 of 22 free throws against Mary Washington in a 1995 game, setting records for both the number of free throws made (tying him with stars Dom Flora and Jay Handlan of the 1950s) and attempted. He is also tied for the number of three point field goals in a game with seven.

Wolfe on the Moon Landing

If you missed Sunday’s New York Times’ essay by Washington and Lee alumnus Tom Wolfe (Class of 1951) on the moon landing and its meaning to NASA’s space exploration plans, it’s a must read. “One Giant Leap to Nowhere” opens with this memorable lead paragraph: “WELL, let’s see now … That was a small step for Neil Armstrong, a giant leap for mankind and a real knee in the groin for NASA.” Wolfe started covering NASA in the early 1970s for Rolling Stone and, of course, The Right Stuff is his 1979 book about the space program. The invitation still stands for those readers who were around at the time and have memories to leave a note about where they were when the first steps were taken on the moon 40 years ago today.

One Small Question — Where Were You?

To those of you who were around on June 20, 1969, here’s the question: where were you when Neil Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface at almost 11 o’clock (EDT) that night? Monday marks the 40th anniversary of that event, and the “where were you question” is an obvious one. We have one answer already. Marc James Small, a member of the Class of 1972 from Chester, Va., was spending the summer of ’69 in Lexington. He wrote to the Alumni Magazine recently with his moon landing story. It seems that Marc’s TV set went dead on the morning of the 20th, which was going to mean he’d miss out on the live telecast of the big event. He happened to mention that to a lab assistant — fellow named Ted DeLaney, now head of the history department at W&L. As Marc wrote: “He and I have generally disagreed on a lot of issues but, in the end, Prof. DeLaney is a true W&L gentleman, and I do appreciate his kindness that night in a magic summer.” Any other memories out there of the moon landing? For instance, was anybody else watching in a tent while serving as a counselor for an Ohio Boy Scout camp? And for those of you with no memory of the event, here’s the link to the restored NASA video on YouTube.

Site Work Begins on W&L’s New Hillel House

Site preparation work has begun on Washington and Lee University’s new Hillel House project on Washington Street.

Hillel House is a $4 million project that will create a physical home for Jewish life on the W&L campus. More than 170 individual and couples made gifts and commitments to the project, which was aided by major challenge pledges from two trustees, Donald Childress of Atlanta and Mark Eaker of Austin, Tex.

According to Michael Carmagnola, chief facilities officer at W&L, the first two stages of the project will involve tree removal at the site followed by the removal of the existing Howard House.

Carmagnola said that several of the trees that are being removed are diseased and damaged while other are necessary to accommodate the new construction.

“While the site may look worse before it looks better, the design of the new Hillel House is very sensitive to its surroundings,” Carmagnola said. “There will also be a net increase of about six trees from the current amount in the final landscape plan as well as extensive foundation plantings.”

Once the works on the trees has been completed, the Howard House will be removed, and Carmagnola noted that materials from the existing house will be salvaged where possible and a large portion of the construction debris will be recycled and diverted from the landfill in support of the University’s green initiatives and application for LEED certification.

Once these two major site activities are completed by mid-August, the construction site will be fenced and secured. The site preparation will result in closure of several parking spaces and once the construction begins about six parking spaces will remain unavailable.

The new building was designed by the Richmond-based architectural firm of Glave and Holmes, which specializes in creating “context-specific design that fits seamlessly into the cultural and historical milieu of a given community.”

Carmagnola said that the proposed design recalls, in many ways, the current building that is being replaced on the site.

“Architectural elements that have been brought forward include pitched metal roofs, a front porch, traditionally-scaled windows, and clapboard siding and trim,” he said. “The architects worked closely with Charlottesville landscape architects Van Yahres to ensure that the building was well sited and scaled to its context.”

Plans currently call for Hillel House to open for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Watch a time-lapse video showing the old Howard House being demolished:

New Research Considers Impact of Investment Disputes on Developing World

Original story at:

New Article Examines How Public Health Plans Affect Federal and State Regulations

Original story at:

Discovering Fig Tree Notes

The current edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education has a Short Subject that refers to a campaign by three West Virginia environmentalists to find a new nickname for the Mountain State as a way (tongue-in-cheek) to call attention to their campaign against strip mining and mountaintop-removal mining. One of those environmentalists, the Rev. Jim Lewis, is a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1958 and has been actively involved in campaigns for numerous social issues over the past 40 years. (The Chronicle link may require registration, so here’s another story on the topic from the Charleston Gazette.) Here’s the coincidence, though. On the same day that the Short Subject piece popped up in the Chronicle, an item from Rev. Lewis’ blog, Notes from Under the Fig Tree, also showed up in a Google news search. The blog post was about the recent W&L Alumni College on Vietnam. Lewis’ reflections on it are a great read and are labeled as Part I, which raises the hope that Part II won’t be too far behind. Once you get to the Fig Tree Notes, you’ll find numerous other fascinating pieces in the archives. A word of warning: You’re apt to get caught up in the subjects and spend more time than you intended.

The Horse Photographer

Jessica Duffy, a rising sophomore at Washington and Lee from Sebastopol, Calif., loves horses and photography. And she clearly knows what she’s doing with both. Jessica is currently featured on the Web site The Equinest with an interview that also features samples of her photography. In the interview, Jessica explains that she’s been riding since she was three, competing in events since she was 12 and has six horses. She’s been taking photos since she was in the seventh grade, and her Web site is called “A Horse A Day,” where she explains that she plans to major in business administration and studio art with an emphasis on photography. You can not only see her photography on her Web site but you can also become a Facebook fan.

Shepherd Alliance Interns Enjoy Lexington Assignments

Although the Shepherd Alliance summer internship program has 30 Washington and Lee University undergraduates and four law students working across the country this summer, the two students interning in Lexington are not among them.

Isis Rose, a rising sophomore at Spelman College, and Chacina Stephens, a rising junior at Berea College, have spent the past few weeks living and working in Lexington as part of their internships coordinated through the Shepherd Alliance.

The Shepherd Alliance, a branch of the Shepherd Poverty program, works to provide internships that offer help to those living in impoverished areas and also offers different opportunities of growth for students, the program’s coordinator of co-curricular education, Francine Elrod said.

While W&L is the lead school for the internships, students from partner schools such as Spelman and Berea, as well as from institutions that belong to the Bonner Scholars program, are participating.

Placing students from outside Lexington and W&L into these local internships was intentional.

“One of the basic goals of the Shepherd Alliance internships is to place students in communities that they are not familiar with,” Elrod said.

While the new experience is an important aspect, the alliance hopes to provide students with internships that will be valuable to them, Elrod said, taking into account their professional and academic long-term goals.

A child and family studies major at Berea, Stephens has been shadowing workers at the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services as they visit homes in the county. The department focuses mainly on families and relations in the home, Stephens said, but it also provides services to individuals, such as bringing a government-supplied phone to an elderly woman living without electricity in the county.

Before starting her internship, Stephens believed she wanted to be a social worker after graduation. But after her first few weeks she is starting to rethink her choice. She discovered quickly that social work is not exactly what the media makes it out to be.

“It is a lot more detailed than I originally thought,” Stephens said. “Some cases may go on for years and the outcome is rarely satisfactory, such as Child Protective Services cases.”

Berea College is unique among institutions of higher education as it accepts academically promising students from economically limiting backgrounds, primarily in Appalachia, and charges no tuition; Rather, students work at least 10 hours a week on campus.

Transitioning to Lexington did not make Stephens uncomfortable, nor was she surprised by the poverty in situations presented by her internship, she said, as Berea College focuses on students with poverty-stricken backgrounds. She is startled, though, by the age of those asking for assistance, some as young as herself, which she did not expect.

Meanwhile, Rose, a sociology major at Spelman, an all-women’s historically black college in Atlanta, is interning for the Campus Kitchens Project, providing the help for the summer that the student leadership team from W&L provides during the year.

The project acts as a “mobile soup kitchen,” Campus Kitchens coordinator Jenny Sproul said, providing donated food to both individual and group clients, or congregates, who experience food security issues.

Workers also provide friendship to those they serve — a rewarding part for Sproul — as they become engaged in their lives.
One goal of the Shepherd Alliance program is to immerse students in situations they would not usually experience, which can be both frightening and exciting for them, Elrod said.

“The largest challenge for students is consistently taking risks outside of their comfort zones,” Elrod explained.
Like Stephens, Rose did not find her transition to Lexington to be a culture shock. But she said that she has learned exactly where her comfort zones lie.

As an example, Rose pointed to one trip to the Magnolia Center, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, when Sproul, who usually made the environment more light and easygoing, could not attend. Although Rose had visited the center before, it was as if she was seeing their disabilities for the first time, which she found overwhelming.

“It was hard to deal with the environment without Jenny there,” she said.

Working with a national non-profit organization such as Campus Kitchens Project complements Rose’s plans to complete graduate studies in non-profit management.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life yet, but I think I want to work in the non-profit sector,” she said.

Rose has already contacted people at the Campus Kitchens’ national level this summer in hopes of spreading the program to Spelman, as she knows there are people it could help in Atlanta.

The Shepherd Alliance internships are meant to help students view and understand the dynamics of rural or urban communities as well as grasp how access to transportation can deeply affect a person’s work and personal life, Elrod said.

“It’s a great program,” Stephens said. “Especially for people not from poverty backgrounds, so they can see the other side of the social ladder.”

by Campbell Massie

Mini-Reunion for Stonewall Country

When Stonewall Country returned to Lime Kiln Theatre this month for a 25th anniversary run, Washington and Lee was well represented in the production. The musical retelling of Stonewall Jackson’s life premiered at Lime Kiln in the summer of 1984. Don Baker of the Class of 1968 was artistic director at Lime Kiln then and wrote the book while Robin and Linda Williams wrote the music. All three members of that original team participated in the recreation, and Baker was one of the narrators. Rob Mish, director of W&L’s Lenfest Center and a 1976 W&L grad, directed the performance, which featured Doug Harwood, Class of 1974, as the drummer with the ensemble and Tabbitha King, a 2009 alumna, in the role of Amy. The production ran four nights and was sold out every night.

Another Win at the Cascades

Jack Vardaman, a 1962 Washington and Lee graduate, was a freshman on the W&L golf team when the Generals won the 1959 Virginia Intercollegiate championships. That tournament was held on the famous Cascades Course at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. (Sam Snead launched his career on the course, which has been named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in the United States and the World” by Golf Magazine. So last week, 50 years after the W&L victory, Jack was competing in the referred to Jack’s participation on that Generals’ championship team, quoting him as saying: “That’s how I know about this place. Man, I love it up here.” In addition to winning the state tournament, the 1959 Generals had a 10-2 match play record, including 10 consecutive wins. Jack is now a member of W&L’s Board of Trustees.

W&L Art Professor Spreads the Word About Butter Sculpture

The announcement last month that the Iowa State Fair will feature a sculpture of Michael Jackson in butter brought the art of butter sculpture, long a staple of county and state fairs in the Midwest, to the fore and undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows among the uninitiated.

Butter? Sculpture? Really?

Yes, really, and Washington and Lee University art history professor Pamela Simpson has been studying the phenomenon for the past dozen years or so, even calling it her “obsession.”

“There’s a kind of campy delight in butter sculpture,” said Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History at W&L. “This is novelty, this is fun. Also, there’s this idea of abundance. Look at how much butter we have, that we can make these huge sculptures out of it,” she said. “Many butter sculptures have a placard that is part of the display and shows exactly how many pounds of butter was used.

“Then there’s the amazement that something we are used to seeing as little pats on our pancakes can be blown up to these gigantic proportions. Food is so fundamental to us. We’re not going to literally eat the butter sculpture but, because we know it is food, we do psychologically consume it with our eyes.”

Butter sculpture has its origins as centerpiece displays for Renaissance banquets. Eventually, in the 19th century, it moved from the table to the display case when it became a chief advertising tool of the newly-industrialized dairy industry. It was exhibited at state fairs, international expositions and at numerous national and international dairy congresses and meetings.

Although Simpson has never tried to sculpt butter herself, she knows how it’s done.

“The method for sculpting in butter is similar to that for clay modeling,” she said. “A metal or wooden armature provides a structural base and the butter is wrapped around it. Sculptors usually work within a refrigerated case.”

People always want to know what happens to the sculpture afterwards, said Simpson. “One sculptor stores the butter and re-uses it for four or five years. Sometimes it is recycled for animal feed or other manufacturing processes. I’ve even found reference to the butter being washed, re-pasteurized and sold.”

Another common question is how long the butter sculptures last.

“Some of the big international expositions can last as long as eight months,” said Simpson, “but most butter sculptures at state fairs have to be on display for only two weeks.”

The sculptors use regular butter and it’s the fat and the cold that makes it possible to sculpt. Margarine is too sticky, although Simpson said she found a reference to margarine sculpture done by a New Zealand couple. “But they make it clear that they use industrialized margarine, not the kind you buy in a store,” she said.

When asked for her favorite butter sculpture, Simpson described one at a 1924 fair outside London. “It was done by a Canadian creamery company. It was a life size equestrian image of the Prince of Wales at his Canadian ranch, complete with landscape and log cabin, all of it made out of butter. It’s pretty amazing.

“The sculptor worked on it for six weeks, and it probably had more than one sculptor working on it.
The armatures and everything else that’s underneath it would have been prepared beforehand, then shipped over to London and assembled there. It’s my absolute favorite and I think it’s incredible.”

Today, butter sculpture continues most prominently in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. In Minnesota, they elect a dairy queen called Princess Kay of the Milky Way. “Her honor is to have her portrait done in butter,” said Simpson. “The model and the sculptor are bundled up inside a revolving glass circular case that is 40 degrees inside. Outside the case an assistant takes the butter shavings, puts them on crackers and distributes them to the crowd. I’ve always thought it is the perfect case of having your art and eating it too.”

In her new study about the butter sculptures of Theodore Roosevelt, Simpson has noted that there were actually four different images of Roosevelt. “They covered his period of fame,” said Simpson. “The first one was in 1898 after the charge up San Juan Hill. The second one was a bust, created while he was the sitting president. The third, which I just love, is of him on a horse in western garb. It’s from South Dakota, where he had a ranch in the 1880s.

“The last sculpture was in 1910 at the Minnesota Fair and is of Roosevelt in safari garb. He’s holding a gun and standing on a dead lion, and all of it’s in butter. He was no longer president, but was so incredibly popular at the time, and he attended the fair, so this piece was created in his honor.”

W&L Graduate’s Paper Selected for Presidential Fellows’ Anthology

Wesley O’Dell, a 2009 Washington and Lee University graduate who participated in the annual Presidential Fellows Program, has had his research paper selected for inclusion in the papers of the 2008-2009 Presidential Fellows.

O’Dell’s paper is entitled “Executive Power in Times of Crisis: Presidential Action and Supreme Court Reaction.” In his paper O’Dell examined “how the concept of prerogative crisis power is developed within administrations and how that power has historically fared when placed under the scrutiny of the other branches, public opinion and history itself.”

A triple major in history, politics and classics, O’Dell focused on three case studies: the wartime proclamations of Abraham Lincoln, martial law under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and defense nationalism under Harry S. Truman.

As part of the Presidential Fellows Program, each Fellow is required to research, write, and present an original paper on an issue of the modern Presidency. The best of these papers are published in the Center’s original anthology. O’Dell’s was one of 20 papers selected for inclusion this year from the 85 submitted and will be published in the volume titled A Dialogue on Presidential Challenges and Leadership: Papers of the 2008-2009 Fellows.

“It was an honor to participate in the program and a real treat to have my paper recognized this way,” said O’Dell, a native of Millwood, W.Va.

“W&L has had the honor of sending many great students to participate in the Presidential Fellows Program, but it comes as no surprise that Wes is the first to win this honor,” said Mark Rush, the Robert G. Brown Professor of Law and Politics at Washington and Lee and head of the department of politics. “He is an outstanding student and researcher. His work in my classes was always impeccable, well-thought and superbly written.  I am sure that this is just one of many accolades and honors that he will receive.”

The Presidential Fellows Program is under the auspices of  The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that actively counsels the White House, the Executive branch and Members of Congress on policy areas critical to strengthening Presidential leadership. Fellows attend two conferences each academic year during the fall and spring. At these policy workshops, Fellows discuss national issues with scholars and are briefed by senior government officials and nationally recognized public policy experts.

Since its inception, the Center Fellows Program has developed leadership and scholarship skills in more than 1,000 students, providing 3 of the 32 Rhodes Scholars in 2006 as well as numerous Fulbright, Gates, Marshall, and other Scholarship and Fellowship winners. Alumni of the Fellows Program are Capitol Hill and White House staffers, award-winning journalists, CEOs of corporations and non-profit organizations, senior military leaders, and university deans and vice-presidents.

At W&L, O’Dell was a member of Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Here served as head resident adviser, chairman of the Student Recruitment Committee and editor of the W&L Political Review.

A Grander Sense: The Renovation of Newcomb Hall

In the summer of 2010, Washington and Lee University will see the results of the extensive renovation of one of its signature structures, the 127-year-old Newcomb Hall. “Overall, it’s going to be that same, familiar building,” said Thomas M. Kalesky, director of design and construction at W&L, “but in a grander sense, as you would have seen back in the 1800s.”

The 1882 building is part of W&L’s historic Colonnade, which comprises five buildings and received designation as a National Historic Landmark from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1972. Given that status, the linked principles of historic preservation and rehabilitation underline the project. Preservation means maintaining and repairing existing historic features and retaining the building itself. Rehabilitation means the alteration or addition of certain aspects while keeping the original character. “We want to maintain as much of the historic fabric as possible but insert new systems,” said Kalasky. “We’re going for state historic tax credits as well.”

Newcomb Hall is one of several buildings to occupy its spot on the southern edge of the Colonnade. From 1804 to 1835, Union Hall and Graham Hall, which housed classrooms and student quarters, operated there. They were replaced by brick dorms nicknamed Purgatory and Hell. In 1882, those came down and Newcomb Hall went up. The $20,000 to build Newcomb came from Josephine Louise Newcomb as a tribute to her late husband, Warren Newcomb. He had given money to Washington College, as it was then called, during the lean years immediately after the Civil War.

For its first quarter-century, Newcomb contained offices, reading rooms, the University’s library and an art gallery. From 1907 to 1980, it housed the School of Commerce (now the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics). During that period, it underwent two rounds of extensive construction: the addition of a new portico to coordinate with the rest of the Colonnade, in 1910, and its last real refurbishing, in 1936. In 1980, the departments of history, philosophy, religion and sociology moved in.

Precisely because it has been more than 70 years since its last overhaul, Newcomb is first on the list for the renovation of all the buildings on the Colonnade, which should take five years. The Colonnade renovation, expected to cost about $50 million, including a maintenance endowment, is part of the University’s new campaign, Honor the Past. Build the Future, which is now in its silent phase. The Newcomb renovation is underway because of more than $11 million committed in private gifts.

Among the updates will be new fire alarms, a sprinkler system, elevators, automatic door openers and handicapped-accessible toilets. The new electrical system will allow the latest teaching technology.

When faculty, staff and students return to Newcomb next year, promised Kalasky, “one thing they won’t see is those air conditioners in the window.” The deafening units made it hard for professors and students to hear each other. In their places will be an unobtrusive—and quiet—mechanical system. Overall, users of the building “are going to see a better learning environment,” he said, one that meets 21st-century standards for safety, comfort and accessibility.

Once visitors get inside, “they’ll see a lot of things that have been covered up,” said Kalasky. For example, when the third floor housed the art gallery, natural light poured in through a glass roof, also called a light monitor. In the 1970s, acoustic tile covered up that feature—but no more. “We’re going to expose all the original beams,” he said. “That light monitor will be refurbished, so the third floor will be pretty spectacular.” Further, the original molding will be intact, joined by new but historically accurate materials, such as soapstone flooring similar to that already in Washington Hall, the central building on the Colonnade.

In addition to caring for the historic nature of Newcomb Hall, W&L is conducting the project in an environmentally sensitive manner. It is qualifying each phase for certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council. A LEED designation shows that the project is saving energy and water, reducing carbon emissions and caring for resources.

W&L’s contractors are therefore keeping 75 percent of the project’s waste out of landfills; using recycled materials; obtaining regional materials such as the soapstone, which comes from nearby Nelson County; installing low-flow toilets; and introducing controllable lighting and mechanical systems.

A new feature will help residents of Newcomb Hall reduce their own impact on the environment: a shower. It will allow staff and faculty who leave cars at home in favor of bikes to freshen up before they start the day.

With the construction zone’s location on a central, heavily traveled part of W&L, “one of our goals is to minimize the impact on campus life,” said Kalasky. “And it’s one of the biggest challenges, when you’re in the core of the campus.” To blend in, the fencing around the site and even the trailer containing offices are painted Spanish red. “And we want to maintain safety at all times,” he said.

Kalesky, who’s been at W&L since 2005, is pleased with the project so far: “Things are progressing right on schedule.” He’s worked on several facilities around campus, including the renovation of Holekamp Hall and the building of Wilson Field, and is attending to other projects in various stages while the jackhammers are pounding away in Newcomb. “Every day is different,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about this job.” He and his colleagues in this branch of Facilities Management work in the former Lexington train station, which W&L moved and renovated a few years ago to make way for Wilson Hall, the art and music building.

When it’s complete, Newcomb Hall will contain 28 faculty offices, two administrative offices, two group study rooms, two large classrooms, three seminar rooms and one computer lab. It will house the faculty and staff of history, archaeology, religion, philosophy, anthropology and sociology. For now, those offices are in Baker Hall, a dorm serving as temporary offices for faculty and staff while the Colonnade project moves along.

Glavé & Holmes Associates, of Richmond, designed the renovation. Kjellstrom and Lee, with offices in Richmond and Staunton, is doing the construction.

After Newcomb comes a similar renovation of Payne and Washington Halls (already in the planning stages), and then the entire Colonnade project will finish up with Robinson and Tucker Halls.

New Album for Alum Aaron Wilkinson's Band

When the New Orleans-based Honey Island Swamp Band releases its first full-length CD today, you’ll be able to hear where Aaron Wilkinson’s music has taken him in the years since his graduation from Washington and Lee in 1997. Wilkinson, a creative writing major who won awards for his poetry, plays mandolin and sings for the band on “Wishing Well.” A review of the new CD in the Times-Picacuyne provides background on Wilkinson’s journey from Lexington, which included several years of performing with classmate Tom Leggett on a band called Idletime. (You can listen to some of Tim’s music on his MySpace page.) The Times-Picayune piece gives some good background on Wilkinson’s career, which has included playing as bassist for Eric Lindell and Company and then joining up with guitarist Chris Mule when Hurricane Katrina kept Aaron away from New Orleans for a time. Aaron’s switched from bass to mandolin. You can listen to the album on the band’s jukebox.

W&L Alum Meriwether Lewis: Suicide or Murder?

Was it suicide or murder? On Wednesday Washington descendants of Meriwether Lewis held a news conference in which they continued to push the federal government for permission to exhume Lewis’s body for scientific investigation. Lewis, who hailed from Albermarle County, attended Liberty Hall Academy in the 1790s. He joined William Clark for their famous 8,000-mile expedition which began on May 14, 1804, and during which they explored the newly acquired and largely unexplored Louisiana Territory. Lewis died of gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809, in Lewis County, Tenn., and questions about whether it was suicide or murder have persisted. Last month collateral descendants of Lewis launched a new Web site, Solve the Mystery, as part of their campaign to get his body exhumed. Since Lewis is buried on federal parkland, permission of the National Park Service is required and has been rejected thus far. You can read about Wednesday’s Washington news conference here and can listen to an NPR story here.

Sotomayor’s Nomination: Will the Senate Fight the Wrong Fight?

(The following piece appeared in the July 8, 2009, edition of The Roanoke Times.)

As soon as President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, the chattering classes began protracted discussions about the role that race, gender, empathy, etc. should play in court nominations.  Those who support her nomination celebrate the potential diversification of the court.  Those who oppose it condemn  her for joining women’s groups, having the chutzpah to advise a group that opposed Robert Bork’s nomination  to the court many years ago, or suggesting that one’s life experiences will and should play a role in how he or she interprets the law.

Sadly, Supreme Court nominations have become a terrible stain on our politics.  Does anyone doubt that a key basis for a judge’s nomination is whether or not the president and his advisers like him or her?  If a nominee wants to be appointed, he or she has to demonstrate, more than anything else, patience with the speechifying and campaigning emanating from the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Politics (of the Senators and the interest groups who flood their mailboxes) determines a nominee’s fate as much as his or her qualifications.

Critics question whether Sotomayor is the “most qualified” nominee.  This strategy is as disingenuous as it is unproductive.  A fairer and more honest inquiry would ask whether any nominee could ever claim to be the most qualified  at the time of his or her nomination. An honest answer to this question would acknowledge that there are perhaps hundreds of potentially legitimate nominees at any given time.  The successful one is the one who can navigate the politics of the appointment process.

It would be unwise and destructive for  Sotomayor ‘s opponents to overplay a weak hand and, essentially, re-fight the battle over the nomination of Robert Bork.   The Bork debacle remains a sordid episode in  the history of Supreme Court nominations.  Bork certainly was qualified to be on the court.  Politics kept him off.

Bork would have added diversity to the court’s thinking in the same way that Sotomayor’s supporters suggest she will.  Whether Bork would have pulled the Supreme Court to the right or Sotomayor will pull it to the left is irrelevant.  Members of the Court who drift too far to the extremes tend to find themselves writing lonely dissenting opinions.  That is a good thing.

A court of nine should not be of one mind, one color, one gender, etc.  Diversity of opinion is vital to the development of constitutional law and politics.  Dissent and debate among the justices have played a vital role throughout the Supreme Court’s history.  Those who fear such debate within the court should pause to ask themselves one important question:  Why did the Founders choose to create a plural court?  They could just as easily have called the third branch of government “The Supreme Judge.”  But, they did not.   Apparently, they appreciated differences of opinion.

Partisan divisiveness has poisoned or threatened to poison every Supreme Court nomination hearing since the Bork debacle.  Re-fighting that sordid episode while deciding the fate of Sonia Sotomayor  will demonstrate that the Senate learned nothing from the unproductive ugliness of the Bork nomination.  Let’s hope this does not happen.

Mark Rush is Robert G. Brown Professor of Politics and Law and head of the department of politics at Washington and Lee University.

W&L's Jost Debates Health Care on CNBC

As the debate over health care continues to heat up this summer, or by clicking the thumbnail at the right.

W&L Faculty Offer Must-Reads for Entering Students

What should every new college student spend the summer reading? It depends entirely on who you ask.

An informal survey of Washington and Lee University faculty on the subject resulted in an array of titles that ranged from history to poetry and from novels to biographies.

W&L does not employ a common reading for entering students, although one group, the women’s soccer team, does require its first-year players to read John C. Maxwell’s The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.

Suzanne Keen, Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English, does not believe in “one-book” recommendations because, as she writes, “I’d need to meet the person and talk about her reading habits before making a specific, personalized recommendation.” Keen teaches a course titled The Novel and posts lists of recommended readings by category on the course’s Web site (see http://home.wlu.edu/~keens/207.htm).

These W&L faculty members suggest these works:

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Theodore DeLaney, Professor of History

“Politics and the English Language,” a 1946 essay by George Orwell
Simon Levy, Associate Professor of Computer Science

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy
Scott Johnson, Assistant Professor of Classics
“I have re-read The Moviegoer several times since college and get more out of it every time. It has become a kind of life companion for me. As something like (though not only) a Kierkegaardian-Catholic-Existentialist, Walker Percy in The Moviegoer offers a modern take on the Southern American mind, suffused with ancient religion and the expectations of a psychologically dissonant set of characters. It’s the perfect book to shake up the blissful naivete of incoming first-year students.”

“Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787,” by James Madison
Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
Bill Connelly, Professor of Politics

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
James Mahon, Professor of Philosophy
“The early chapters of this novel contain a magical account of student life at Oxford University.”

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
Deborah Miranda, Assistant Professor of English
“Little Brother is a young adult novel — nothing better for rousing discussions of our current post-9/11 culture, paranoia and fear about terrorism, loss of privacy and civil rights, and the responsibilities of young people for making sure the rights so hard-won by previous generations don’t fall prey to hysteria.”

“Good News from the Afterlife,” a novella in Rites of Assent, by Abd al-Hakim Qasim
Richard Marks, Professor of Religion
“For ideas about real education and real life.”

April 1865: The Month that Saved America, by Jay Winik
Ron Reese, Professor of Physics
“Winik explains how a single month (with the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln) affected the course of American history for the next 150 or so years.”

A Good Man is Hard to Find
, by Flannery O’Connor
R.T. Smith, W&L Writer-in-Residence and Editor, Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review
“Flannery O’Connor said that ‘In fiction, two plus two is always more than four,’ and the darkly comic, sometimes alarming stories in this book add up to plenty, as they shiver with the electricity of inference and show us how humankind, stripped to its essentials, always finds its worldly ambitions shadowed by something mysterious, jolting and inescapable.”

The Fountainhead
, by Ayn Rand
Al Fralin, Emeritus Professor of Romance Languages
“For its metaphorical imagery, its contrasting character types and its philosophic underpinnings. It continues to have a positive, life-altering impact on young readers.”

The Periodic Table and The Monkey’s Wrench, by Primo Levi
Timothy Lubin, Associate Professor of Religion
“Primo Levin writes with a wry, humane sensibility about ordinary life and his work as a chemist (not to mention his searing accounts of his time in a Nazi concentration camp). For arts-and-humanities types, he evokes our curiosity and wonder at the world and the scientist’s view of it.”

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 and In Xanadu: A Quest, by William Dalrymple
Timothy Lubin, Associate Professor of Religion
“Dalrymple is so graceful and diverting a witness to Mughal and Victorian India that you forget that you are reading history. And In Xanadu, the travelogue he wrote as a 22-year-old following in Marco Polo’s steps, is delightful. He is today’s Somerset Maugham or J.R. Ackerley.”

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
, by Barack Obama
Doug Cumming, Assistant Professor of Journalism
“This book may be somewhat artificial, in that the publisher recognized the power of Obama’s narrative—of a brilliant, successful, mixed-race outsider in search of his identity, and Obama is simply too good as a writer. But this is clearly not your typical politician’s autobiography. It was written too early and is too human, and is too literary, to have any connection with the remarkable career Obama pursued over the next decade.”

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
, by Barack Obama
Sandra Reiter, Assistant Professor of Business Administration
“Regardless of one’s political leanings, one should know his or her president.”

Robert E. Lee: A Life
, by Roy Blount Jr.
Doug Cumming, Assistant Professor of Journalism
“Incoming W&L students will get a lot of Lee hagiography over the next four years. This is a good intro, one of the least idolatrous accounts of Lee, by a fine storyteller with Southern roots and a sense of history as well as humor.”

Painting Rain, by Paula Meehan
Lesley Wheeler, Professor of English
“We are hoping to bring Irish poet Paula Meehan to campus in the fall, so her recent collection would be a good one for W&L’s incoming students to read.”

The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Fundamentalism, by Mark Edmundson
Ken Lambert, Professor of Computer Science
“Mark Edmundson presents a lucid study of Freud’s views on the attractions of fundamentalism and authoritarian figures and the labor required to free ourselves from them.”

The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel, by Richard Russo
Ken Lambert, Professor of Computer Science
“Richard Russo writes an enthralling story of families and the American psyche and how they shape who we are.”

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brendan Weickert, Associate Professor of Mathematics
“Catch-22 captures the signature of the 20th century as no other novel does that I have read. To me, it was stylistically new, and that style was bound up perfectly with the theme: system-wide madness manifesting itself in hilarity on the one hand and horror on the other.”

The Explorer King: Adventure, Science, and the Great Diamond Hoax—Clarence King in the Old West, by Robert Wilson
Harry Pemberton, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
“It is a true story, an account of the adventures of Clarence King, a brilliant geologist, who around 1865 explored the mountains of the West, mostly California, and made significant discoveries. The amazing thing about the book is that it is a real page-turner, so well written it is hard to put down. So, science and adventure at once.” The author, Robert Wilson, is a 1973 graduate of Washington and Lee and is editor of The American Scholar, the Phi Beta Kappa publication

Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, by Tracy Kidder
Sandra Reiter, Assistant Professor of Business Administration
“This biography of Paul Farmer, a physician who works with poverty and infectious diseases, is an excellent read.”

The Lord of the Rings
trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
David Bello, Associate Professor of History
“Tolkien created a history in literary form that provides profound insight into how both history and literature are related and produced.”

The German Ideology
, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
David Bello, Associate Professor of History
“Marx critiqued the professional practice of history in his time as indistinguishable from literary fantasy or self-serving myth.”

The Brothers Karamazo
v, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Middlemarch, by George Eliot
Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
Jim Warren, Professor of English
“For an incoming student, I’d suggest a big novel such as one of these three.”

Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin
Richard Kuettner, Director, Tucker Multimedia Center
Advisements and reflections on documented truths.

Law Professor’s Work Cited by UK High Court

Original story at:

Law Grad Novelists

The latest issue of the Washington and Lee School of Law Magazine reports that Melissa Warner Scoggins of the Class of 1981 has published her first novel. It’s titled Journeys of Choice, Joanna’s Crossroads. (You can read the story about Melissa’s new book on the Web-based version of the Law School magazine. Just go to page 25.) But Melissa still has a ways to go to catch another W&L Law grad novelist, Terry Brooks of the Class of 1969. Terry started writing his first fantasy novel, The Sword of Shannara, while at W&L and in his first years of practicing law. He has since become one of the top-selling living fantasy writers and has 22 New York Times bestsellers. When A Princess of Landover is published on August 18, it will give Terry 42 different titles in his Amazon bibliography. You can read all about Terry’s work on his Web site, The Wondrous Worlds of Terry Brooks. And for just 50 cents (49, actually), you can download Terry’s explanation, “Why I Write About Elves,” from Amazon.

Reticence and Revolution

The following piece appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Republican critics of President Obama’s low key response to the unfolding events in Iran are fond of saying that this president should be more like Ronald Reagan who, when the Cold War was winding down, railed against “the evil empire” and boldly told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the wall that separated East and West Berlin.  There is no question that President Reagan was a rhetorical cold warrior of the highest order, but he was not actually our chief executive when the political revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union came to full fruition.

That fate fell to his successor—George H. W. Bush—who responded to revolutionary developments around the world in much the same way that President Obama is responding to news from Iran.  The elder President Bush was consistently cautious; his foreign policy speeches and public statements were measured and muted despite dramatic events in Tiananmen Square, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Berlin and Moscow.

He paid a price for his reticence.  Bush was brilliantly lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Dana Carvey who made a catch phrase out of the fragment sentence, “Wouldn’t be prudent,” that the impersonated president used in response to nearly any suggestion that the nation needed to do something.  He was also criticized by many of the same conservative commentators who now lament Obama’s caution.  When he spoke in the Ukrainian capital at the height of tensions over nationalist independence movements in the Soviet Union his remarks were dubbed “the Chicken Kiev” speech in a putdown that was remembered long after the speech was forgotten.

So why did the first President Bush ignore the comedians and the critics and maintain his cautious rhetorical strategy?  He did it for a variety of reasons, some of which probably motivate President Obama today.
H. W. Bush was obviously not an accomplished public speaker like Ronald Reagan.  In that element of presidential performance he could never win a favorable comparison to his predecessor and may have been justifiably reluctant to try.  He was unusually modest for a politician and a president and was almost always uncomfortable claiming credit for accomplishments.  So there were political and personal reasons for an intentional avoidance of eloquence and grandstanding.

But there were also professional reasons.  The first President Bush was a national and international public servant who rose to power the way British prime ministers make their ascent, by loyally serving in a long list of appointed and elected offices.  He arrived in the White House with lots of international experience, a collection of personal friends across the globe, and a sophisticated understanding of how the world works.  He had the disposition of a diplomat.

He genuinely believed that excessive American and western celebration of the collapse of the Berlin wall would make it harder to negotiate a successful reunification of Germany and harder for Gorbachev to stay in power.  He believed that open and active American support for the independence movements in the Baltic republics would be counterproductive.  It would make Moscow less willing to contemplate and accommodate regional autonomy and more likely to use force.  It would put pressure on Gorbachev who was, throughout this period, the essential lever in the heavy lifting of the Iron Curtain.

The elder President Bush was not politically naïve or foolish.  He understood that in the short term it would be popular in America, and particularly in Reagan’s Republican Party, to claim credit for the favorable events in Europe, “to dance on the Berlin wall.” But it wouldn’t be prudent.  And it wouldn’t have been in the long-term interest of the United States to take the risks that accompanied the credit.

Ronald Reagan is the president that conservatives love to remember, but George H. W. Bush was the president who actually managed the tumultuous events from 1989 to 1991 when revolutions were bringing the Cold War to a decisive, peaceful and largely unexpected conclusion.

Today, we may be witnessing the emergence of another surprising revolutionary movement with the potential to overturn a regime that has been a long-standing American adversary.  Barack Obama, who could compete with Ronald Reagan’s capacity for eloquence, may be well advised in this case to avoid statements that would distract from the powerful and unpredictable domestic forces at play in Iran.

If President Obama needs lessons from a Republican predecessor, maybe he should take them from the president who has the most experience watching and weighing revolutionary movements overseas.

Robert Strong is the associate provost and Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University.  He is currently writing a book about foreign policy decisions in the first Bush presidency.

Follow the Interns

From uncovering a scandal in Ohio to understanding NASA’s ethics laws to figuring out what to do about the Somali pirates, Washington and Lee law students are blogging about their summer internship experiences. The seven law students, both second and third year students, represent a diverse group both geographically and through the kinds of work they’re doing. Last Thursday, for instance, James Collins, a third-year student who is interning with the Antitrust Section at the Ohio Attorney General’s office, described his role in investigating a scam that represents Ohio’s largest antitrust case ever.

NCAA News Profiles W&L's Goodman

Isaiah Goodman, who just graduated from Washington and Lee last month, is the cover story on the NCAA News at the moment. The NCAA News is an online magazine that the national organization publishes, and you’ll find Kevin Remington’s photo of Isaiah hanging from a wire on the wall of Wilson Hall prominently displayed on the site. If you missed it, Isaiah, who captained the Generals’ basketball team in each of the last two seasons, was one of the W&L students participating in the aerial dance class during Spring Term. Jenefer Davis, visiting assistant professor of dance, created the class in part as a research project on this form of dance. She discusses the class on this slide show, and there’s also a story about the two performances the class gave. The class drew considerable media attention locally with TV and newspaper coverage, but the NCAA News has taken both W&L’s aerial dance and Isaiah to the national level. The article’s author, McKindra, actually had the chance to interview Isaiah in person when she met him in Kansas City last month. Isaiah is serving as the chair of the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee through September 2010.

W&L Alumnus Wins Cooke Graduate Scholarship

Washington and Lee University alumnus Adam Hockensmith has become the first W&L graduate to win a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship.

Hockensmith, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee, is one of 30 students selected from an international applicant pool of about 700. The Cooke Scholarship will provide him with up $300,000 toward his graduate study at Yale Law School, which he will enter in the fall.

Since his graduation from W&L in June 2008, Hockensmith has lived and worked in Japan, teaching in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme.

“The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship means a tremendous amount to me, because it allows me the financial freedom to tailor my education to my aspirations without worrying about the crushing burden of debt that many students face in today’s world,” said Hockensmith, who majored in philosophy and politics at W&L.

“Yale Law is already at the forefront of legal education in reducing the impact that debt has on a graduate’s ability to pursue his or her dreams,” he said. “But the Cooke Scholarship takes this freedom several steps further in guaranteeing that I will graduate from Yale debt-free, and virtually unencumbered in the career choices that I can make.”

Hockensmith said that he hopes to gain a firm grounding in constitutional, international and corporate law while at Yale, while also exploring tax law and economics.

“One of my long-term goals is to shape law and public policy in the United States through scholarship and governmental service,” Hockensmith said. “In my work, I hope to ensure that our democratic process remains open and fair. I believe that the strength of our governmental institutions rests on an engaged and informed electorate, and that we must safeguard processes that promote effective representation. I also hope to address the interplay between domestic and international law, which is and will continue to be vital to American security and prosperity.”

Hockensmith credited his W&L faculty with providing him opportunities to explore academic debates about political equality and social justice. He hopes to continue exploring these arguments within a legal framework while at Yale.

“I owe tremendous thanks to the professors at Washington and Lee who encouraged my studies and mentored me for the past four years. The entire philosophy department — Lad Sessions, Melina Bell, James Mahon and Paul Gregory, along with Lesley Wheeler (English) and Eduardo Velasquez (politics) — offered guidance and superb teaching that allowed me to get where I am today.”

Hockensmith, whose home town is Hagerstown, Md., was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate who was a member of the Generals’ varsity wrestling team, a dorm counselor, the VIP Chair of Hillel, and a member of the VFIC Ethics Bowl team, among other activities as an undergraduate.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private independent foundation dedicated to helping young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. Established in 2000 by the estate of self-made billionaire Jack Kent Cooke, it focuses on high-achieving, lower-income students from middle school through graduate school. Headquartered in northern Virginia, the foundation has helped thousands of students nationally since opening its doors through individualized direct service programs, generous scholarships and grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. With an endowment of $700 million, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is one of the 100 largest private foundations in the U.S.

W&L Magazines Online

Both Washington and Lee alumni magazines are now available in an online format. You can view the complete contents of current and past issues of W&L: The Washington and Lee University Alumni Magazine and W&L Law: The Washington and Lee School of Law Magazine on your browser. You will need the latest version of the Flash player installed on your computer in order to download the magazines successfully. Go here for W&L: The Washington and Lee University Magazine. And go here for W&L Law.