Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L’s Nabors Service League will host its 11th Annual Day of Service

Washington and Lee University’s Nabors Service League (NSL) will hold its annual day of service on Saturday, Oct. 3. This day was organized by students to honor the memory of Jonathan Nabors, a W&L freshman who died in a car accident in 1999 coming back to campus after Winter Break.

“In Nabors short time at W&L he was a friend to all. It was his spirit of optimism, love and friendship that the Nabors Service League aspires to embody,” said Samara Francisco, general chair of NSL.

Through this annual day of service students, faculty and other community members participate in a variety of projects in the community. Past projects have included children’s festivals, construction work, gardening, painting, cleaning and more.

Students will gather at 1 p.m. on W&L Cannan Green and will work until 4:30 p.m., after which they will reconvene on campus for dinner and music.

Nabors Service League strives to promote and encourage a spirit of service and to connect service with learning. NSL is, in addition to a community service organization, a network — connecting large numbers of potential volunteers from varied backgrounds and with memberships in a number of student clubs and organizations. NSL strives to bring together service-oriented individuals to discuss needs of the Lexington and Rockbridge communities and how Washington and Lee University can help to meet those needs.

Any questions can be answered by Samara Francisco or Rosemary Kelley, the publicity chair. Francisco may be reached through email at franciscos10@mail.wlu.edu or 901-826-1611. Kelley may be reached through email at kelleyr10@mail.wlu.edu or 703-579-7398.

Sharon Squassoni to Lecture at W&L on Nonproliferation Issues

Sharon Squassoni, a senior associate in the Nonproliferation Program with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will give a lecture in the Johnson Lecture Series at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. in Room 345 of the Elrod Commons.

She has been analyzing nonproliferation, arms control and national security issues for two decades. Her research focuses on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear energy.

Squassoni’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “The Obama Nuclear Agenda.” She will discuss a number of related arms control issues including nonproliferation in Iran and North Korea.

Squassoni came to Carnegie from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). As a specialist in weapons of mass destruction proliferation, she provided expert analyses and advice on policy and legislation to members of the United States Congress.

Prior to joining CRS, she served for nine years in the executive branch, beginning her government career as a nuclear safeguards expert in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Her last position at the State Department was director of Policy Coordination in the Nonproliferation Bureau.

Squassoni has contributed to journals, magazines and books on nuclear proliferation and defense. Her most recent publications include “The Iranian Nuclear Program,” a chapter in Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy (University of Georgia Press, 2009); “Nuclear Energy: Rebirth or Resuscitation?” Carnegie Report, February 2009; and “The New Disarmament Discussion,” Current History, January 2009. She is the recipient of various service awards and a MacArthur fellowship.

Her areas of expertise include nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, nuclear safeguards, nuclear energy, NPT compliance, arms control, national security, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran.

Squassoni received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany; her M.P.M. from the University of Maryland; and her M.N.S.S. from the National War College.

Legal Rebels Invade Law School

The American Bar Association Journal has embarked on a cool new project that is anything but buttoned down. It’s called the Legal Rebels Project, and it’s designed to profile 50 innovators and the innovations that they’re undertaking to remake the legal profession in response to the economic meltdown. The project is using lots of social media tools, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc., along the way and, what’s really cool is that Lexington was one of their early stops. The Legal Rebels team visited the School of Law last week, interviewed Mary Natkin, assistant dean for clinical education and public service, and two third-year students and posted a profile on the Legal Rebels’ page. The posting includes the video interviews. You can a behind-the-scenes look at the visit on The Brief, the law school’s blog. The 3L curriculum continues to draw raves in the legal profession and is what undoubtedly brought the Legal Rebels to town. Here’s a link to the Legal Rebels post.

W&L Sophomore Member of U.S. Champion Goalball Team

Imagine a three-pound ball coming at you at 50 miles an hour from 40 feet away. Now, imagine that you are blindfolded and have half a second to deflect the ball.

That’s the challenge Washington and Lee University sophomore Matt Simpson faced when he played on the United States team in the under-19 World Championships in goalball in Colorado Springs this summer.

“It is definitely an intimidating sport if I think about it,” said Simpson, whose U.S. team won the championship by beating Canada in the finals.

Goalball is a sport for the visually impaired. It was invented in Austria after WWII to help rehabilitate blinded war veterans and is played internationally around the world, with 30 to 40 countries fielding teams. In the United States it is played competitively at the club, youth, state and national levels, with about 25 states having teams. There are European and world championships, and goalball is the only team sport for the visually impaired in the Paralympics.

The Paralympics are under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee. They occur every four years a few weeks after the Olympics, with thousands of participants with physical and visual impairments representing a hundred or more countries.
Simpson said the game is a bit like soccer or handball. It is played in a gym with a wooden floor on a court that is 18 meters by 9 meters. The court is marked with lines of tape with string underneath so the players can feel them. There are two teams of three people-a center, a left wing and a right wing. The wings do most of the throwing of the ball which is underhand like in bowling. The center covers the center of the court and focuses mainly on defense.

The players must wear hip, elbow and knee pads to protect them from the floor because a lot of diving is involved. All competitors are blindfolded so no one has an advantage and partially blind athletes can play.

Matt Simpson in action in Colorado Springs

The hollow ball, which is about the size of a basketball, is made of rubber and plastic with bells inside it.

Each team stays at its end of the court and the players use the sound of the ball to judge its position and movement and try to throw it into the opponents’ goal using different plays and strategies.

Simpson plays center because of his size-he’s small and quick. He said that rather than try and catch the ball, because it’s going so fast, the players block it.

“I have a little bit of vision left, and I have played without a blindfold and it is very scary,” he said. “But when I put the blindfold on I forget about it. I don’t have time to think about the speed when I’ve got half a second to react.”

Correct form is essential. “If you’re doing something incorrectly you’re going to break a finger or a nose,” said Simpson. “I’ve jammed my fingers a lot, and broken a couple of fingers at different times, but never anything too bad.”

Another essential is quick reactions and a good sense of hearing. “As the center, I’ve got 14 feet to cover and I really need to have a great reaction time because the ball’s coming at me very fast. I’ve got to extend my entire body and get to the right place, so I really need a good sense of hearing.”

Simpson, who is the recipient of a prestigious Johnson Scholarship at W&L, has been playing goalball for eight years and has an impressive track record in the sport. He was an all-American twice in high school goalball, and his youth team took second at nationals. He has been playing adult goalball for the last four years, with his adult team taking third at nationals in 2008.

After his team’s victory in the under-19 World Championships, Simpson’s goal is to make the adult national team and play at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

To help him in that goal, he has been working closely with Christopher Schall, W&L’s associate professor of physical education, director of W&L’s fitness center. He helped Simpson develop a lifting program and worked with him on speed and agility. Simpson can be found training several times a week in W&L’s auxiliary gym, where he has taped down a segment of the court to practice throwing and defensive drills.

Below, a video sample of goalball from Australia:

W&L Alum Leading Research in Kenya

As a Washington and Lee student in the late 1990s, one of

W&L Hosts Cultivating Sustainability Conference

In these economic times, it makes sense for institutions to buy their food locally. Every dollar spent buying locally yields $1.80 in economic benefit to the local area and the state, according to Chris Carpenter, special projects coordinator at Washington and Lee University.

W&L is the leader in promoting this type of sustainability program, with 27 percent of W&L’s food products coming from local sources, said Carpenter, adding that he expects that figure to increase this year.

Encouraging other institutions to follow W&L’s example is a major reason for the Cultivating Sustainability conference to be held at W&L on Wednesday, Sept. 30. “This is a very important event for local stake holders in the building of a regional local food economy and how institutions affect that system,” said Carpenter, one of the conference organizers.

Institutions such as public K-12 schools, universities and hospitals will learn about the critical role of their institutions in helping the state develop a local food economy. They will also discuss the challenges and successes associated with such an effort.

Hosted by W&L’s Dining Services, the conference is expected to attract school nutrition and food service personnel, school and university officials, local legislators, administrators, farmers and producers, and anyone involved in food system development.

Featured speakers include:

  • Larry Yee, co-founder of the Association of Family Farms and Agriculture of the Middle Task Force;
  • Ron Doetch, executive director of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute;
  • Doug Davis, director of food service for the Burlington School District in Vermont;
  • Barbara Harman of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center;
  • Frank Holland, local foods and sustainability coordinator for U.S. Food Service;
  • Mike Martin, food service director at Ferrum College;
  • Christopher Carpenter, special projects coordinator at Washington and Lee University Dining Services;
  • Andrea Early, school nutrition director for Harrisonburg City Public Schools Nutrition Program;
  • Katrine Rose, school nutrition director for Prince William County Schools;
  • Lynda Fanning, dietician with the Virginia Dietetic Association;
  • Louise Mitchell, sustainable foods coordinator for Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment;
  • Don Kendall, marketplace manager for Washington and Lee University;
  • Bryan Kelly, executive chef at the University of Virginia;
  • Scott Wood of Cavalier Produce.

Washington and Lee University, Virginia Foundation for Agriculture Innovation and Rural Sustainability (FAIRS), Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Standard Produce Company, and Whole Foods Market are sponsoring the conference along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The conference will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, call the Virginia Cooperative Extension at (540) 432-6029. The registration cost, which includes a locally grown lunch, is $20 before Sept. 28 and $30 after that date.

Listen to W&L Law Professor's Bioethics Discussion

With health care reform the center of contentious debate these days, and contributed a chapter on the Jesse Gelsinger, who died 10 years ago at age 18 as the victim of a gene therapy experiment that went awry at the University of Pennsylvania. Gelsinger was the first American to die while participating in gene therapy research, and, Wilson contentds that very little has changed in the last decade to protect those who participate in future studies. She was the author of an opinion piece on the subject in the Arizona Daily Star.

“Remembering Robert E. Lee” Presents Lecture by Noted Civil War Scholar

The 139th anniversary of the death of Robert E. Lee will be observed on Monday, Oct. 12, when the Lee Chapel and Museum at Washington and Lee University presents a lecture by noted Civil War historian Gary Gallagher at part of its yearly Remembering Robert E. Lee program.

Gallagher’s presentation, which is entitled “Robert E. Lee Confronts Defeat: Duty in the Wake of Appomattox,” is free and open to the public at 12:15 p.m. in the Lee Chapel Auditorium.

Prior to the lecture, Gallagher will sign copies of his books at 10:30 a.m. in the Lee Chapel Museum Shop.

An expert on military aspects of the Civil War, Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author, co-author or editor of numerous important books on the subject, including “Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War,” “Lee and His Generals in War and Memory,” “The Confederate War,” “The Wilderness Campaign,” “Chancellorsville,” “Lee the Soldier” and “The Fredericksburg Campaign.”

Gallagher is editor of the “Civil War America” series and the “Military Campaigns of the Civil War” series of The University of North Carolina Press as well as co-editor of the multi-volume “Littlefield History of the Civil War Era” series. He is president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War sites and leads frequent battlefield tours for students and the public. His recent research has focused on ways modern interpretations of the Confederacy were influenced by Lee, Jubal A. Early and Douglas Southall Freeman.

A graduate of Adams State College of Colorado, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to teaching at U.Va., he was professor of history at Penn State. He has received many awards for his research and writing, including the Laney Prize for the best book on the Civil War, the William Woods Hassler Award for contributions to Civil War studies, the Lincoln Prize and the Fletcher Pratt Award for the best nonfiction book on the Civil War.

Six months after the surrender at Appomattox, in the fall of 1865, Lee was inaugurated president of Washington College. He served in that capacity for five years until his death on Oct. 12, 1870.

MetroLex Makes Coolest Small Towns List

The October issue of Budget Travel magazine has a feature on America’s 10 Coolest Small Towns. Lexington is right there between Cayucos, Calif., and Beaux Bridge, La. What constitutes cool in the magazine’s view: “Every now and then, you stumble upon a town that’s gotten everything right—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose. These 10 spots have it all, in perfectly small doses.” The Lexington blurb, subtitled, “right out of Norman Rockwell,” cites five of the town’s businesses: Hull’s Drive In, 1868 Magnolia House Inn, P.S. Pumpkinseeds, George and Bob, and the Red Hen. Surprisingly, there is no mention of either Washington and Lee or VMI. 

Visiting LL.M. Students Hope to Bring Better Life to Afghanistan

Original story at:

Intelligent Investment with W&L Alum Warren Stephens

Each week on Forbes.com, CEO and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes conducts a one-on-one video interview with “the investment world’s most influential strategists, forecasters and money managers.” This week Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Warren Stephens took a turn answering Forbes’ questions. Warren is a 1979 graduate who is president and CEO of Stephens, Inc., an investment banking firm in Little Rock. (He’s also co-chair of W&L’s new campaign, “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future.”) You can watch the entire video from this link, but you can also download a pdf transcript of the interview here.

What's So Funny About Vampires?

If you’re up for some bloody humor, the early reviews promise that two Washington and Lee actors, Rob Mish, director of the Lenfest Center, and senior Kevin Mannerling, who are performing this weekend in the Lime Kiln Theatre production of Dracula or How’s Your Blood Count, both give boffo performances. Rob plays two separate roles in the comedy — Renfield and Van Helsing — while Kevin, who is from West Roxbury, Mass., plays Jonathan Harker. Both Rob and Kevin were cited in a recent story on the performance in the Augusta Free Press. The first performance is tomorrow night, and the show runs through Saturday.

Mike White and Rosemary Hambright First Students Recognized by Celebrating Student Success

Mike White ’10 and Rosemary Hambright ’11 were recognized at the first Celebrating Student Success (CSS) monthly reception on Wednesday, Sept. 23, in the Elrod Commons Living Room.

White, a senior from Richmond, Va., is majoring in fine arts photography and print journalism, as well as completing the Shepherd Program. He has helped both the Model United Nations and Student Environmental Action League (SEAL) to grow in membership and prominence. White has served three years as a Volunteer Venture coordinator and is currently the secretary for Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Hambright, a junior from Beaumont, Texas, is majoring in environmental studies and English, and has already completed a minor in studio art. She is the vice president of membership for Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, is art editor for the Muse, and also in charge of public relations for SEAL. Hambright has served three years on Fancy Dress committees and two years on the First-Year Orientation Committee after being a member of the First-Year Leadership Council.

CSS is an initiative sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs to create ongoing dialogue about the positive accomplishments of individuals and organizations at Washington and Lee University, especially students who are not typically recognized for the depth and breadth they add to our campus community.

White and Hambright were selected by the CSS committee, which reviewed several nominations. The CSS committee is composed of students, faculty and staff. Any campus community member can nominate any Washington and Lee University student by filling out the online form on the CSS website at http://www.wlu.edu/x9924.xml. Nominations are always accepted and encouraged.

Future CSS receptions will occur from 2-4 p.m. in the Elrod Commons Living Room on Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 17, Mar. 17, Apr. 7 and May 5.

Alumna Wins Javits Fellowship

When she graduated from Washington and Lee in 2007, Liane Carlson won a distinguished Fulbright grant to study in Germany. After that year abroad, she returned to enter graduate school at Columbia University, where she’s pursing her goal of earning a Ph.D. in religion with an emphasis on the philosophy of religion. Liane got a major boost along the way, when she was recently named one of 72 Jacob K. Javits Fellows. Announcement of the award was made by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Javits fellows pursue graduate study within selected fields of the arts, humanities and social sciences. Selected from 764 applicants, fellows are chosen on the basis of superior academic achievement, exceptional promise and financial need. They are chosen by panels of academic scholars selected by the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Board. Each fellow receives a $30,000 stipend, and the institution he or she attends receives a payment of $13,552. Congratulations, Liane!

Health Care Expert Shannon Brownlee Presents Johnson Lecture at W&L

Journalist and U.S. health care expert Shannon Brownlee will deliver the opening address of this year’s Johnson Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in Stackhouse Theater.

Brownlee’s talk is titled “After Reform: How We Can Transform Medicine, Improve the Nation’s Health, and Avoid Going Broke.”

The presentation is free and open to the public.

A former Senior Research Fellow and Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, Brownlee has written extensively about the rising costs and diminishing quality of health care in the United States, most recently in such publications as New Scientist, The Washington Monthly, Newsweek, Epoch Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post. Her 2007 book Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer (Bloomsbury Press) was described by the New York Times as “the best description… of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve” and named best economics book of the year.

Brownlee earned her M.S. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has won numerous awards, including the Association of Health Care Journalists Award for Excellence, the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and the National Association of Science Writers Science-in-Society Award.

In addition to her Tuesday night talk, Brownlee will meet with small groups of Washington and Lee students throughout the week and be a guest lecturer in several classes.

Brownlee will be the first of several public policy experts to discuss issues particularly salient to U.S. national interests at W&L this year as part of the Johnson Program’s “State of the Union” lecture series.

Listening to the Newspaper

Bruce Rider of the Class of 1966 is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer. And he gets published a lot. Until recently, it wasn’t always easy for Bruce to read his own letters once they were printed, because of his deteriorating eyesight as the result of damaged retinas. But now that Bruce has an Amazon Kindle, he just lets the device read the paper to him — including his own letters. A feature story in the Grapevine (Texas) newspaper reported Bruce’s experience with the Kindle and also described some other ways in which Bruce has been able to adjust over the years, including personal readers and a closed-circuit television system. But the Kindle’s voice feature has been a major advancement for Bruce, who told the newspaper: “Every morning I turn on the Kindle, and within 30 seconds I have the New York Times — every word.”

W&L’s Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar to Lecture on the Future of Gender

Catharine A. MacKinnon, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar at Washington and Lee University and the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, will give a lecture on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 6 p.m. in Lee Chapel at W&L.

The title of the talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Gender: The Future.”

One of the most widely cited legal scholars in English, MacKinnon specializes in sex-equality issues under international and constitutional law. She pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation. The Supreme Court of Canada largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography and hate speech.

MacKinnon’s scholarly books include Sex Equality (2001), Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (1989), Only Words (1993), Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws (2005) and Are Women Human? (2006). She is published in journals, the popular press and many languages.

Representing Bosnian women survivors of Serbian genocidal sexual atrocities, she won with co-counsel a damage award of $745 million in August 2000 in Kadic v. Karadzic, which first recognized rape as an act of genocide. She works with Equality Now, an NGO (non-governmental organization) promoting international sex equality rights for women.

MacKinnon holds a B.A. from Smith College, a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale. She has taught at Yale, Chicago, Harvard, Osgoode Hall, Stanford, Basel (Switzerland) and Columbia, spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study, and practices and consults nationally and internationally.

Writer William Hoffman '53 Dies

William Hoffman ’53, the acclaimed fiction writer and the recipient of a 1995 honorary degree from Washington and Lee, died on Sept. 13, in Farmville, Va. He was 84. Among his 14 novels, four short-story collections, one play and numerous published stories is the novel Tidewater Blood, which won the Hammett Prize for literary excellence in crime writing from the International Association of Crime Writers. It was one of many awards he received over his long career, during which he wrote often about his native South. A longtime resident of Charlotte Court House, Va., he served as writer-in-residence and teacher of creative writing at Hampden-Sydney College, his undergraduate alma mater.

Hoffman attended W&L as a law student from 1949 to 1950. A writing class with George Foster so captivated him that he decided to follow the literary life. (He always pointed out that his classmates John P. Bowen Jr. ’51 and Tom Wolfe ’51 also pursued writing careers.) Hoffman worked on the fledgling Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, founded in 1950, and belonged to Sigma Chi fraternity. Over the years, Hoffman contributed several stories to Shenandoah, which twice gave him the Goodheart Prize for Fiction, in 1989 and in 1993.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Sue Richardson Hoffman; his daughters, Ruth Beckley Hoffman and Margaret Kay Huffman; a sister and three grandchildren. A complete obituary will appear in the Fall 2009 issue of the alumni magazine.

Read these online obituaries:

And this editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Director of American Indian Studies to Give Shannon-Clark Lecture

Robert Warrior, director of American Indian Studies and the Native American House at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be the speaker for Washington and Lee University’s Shannon-Clark Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, University Commons.

The title of his lecture will be “Curating ‘Beyond the Chief’: Hating Art and Words on Campus.” The talk is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in Outing Club Room 114 in the Elrod Commons.

Warrior is the author of “The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction” and “Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions.” He has co-authored “American Indian Literary Nationalism” and “Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.”

Warrior’s academic and journalistic writing has appeared in publications such as American Quarterly, Genre, World Literature Today, News from Indian Country, Lakota Times and Village Voice, including others.

The inaugural co-recipient of the Beatrice Medicine Award for Scholarly Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium and has also received awards from the Gustavus Myers Foundation, the Native American Journalists Association, the Church Press Association and others.

Warrior has lectured in a wide variety of places including Guatemala, France, Malaysia, Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Chicago among others.

Warrior is a professor of American Indian studies and English. He holds degrees from Union Theological Seminary (Ph.D., systematic theology), Yale University (M.A., religion) and Pepperdine University (B.A., speech communication).

Sen. Warner, Record-breaking Gifts — Summer Alumni Magazine

The Summer 2009 edition of W&L: The Washington and Lee Alumni Magazine should be arriving in mailboxes shortly if it hasn’t already. (A mailing house error delayed delivery of the issue.) You can, as always, in institution history ($1,525,000 from the Class of 1984). While you’re perusing the online features, please help us by completing the survey about the current issue.

W&L Biologists to Determine if Rare Plant Deserves Protection

First, the experts doubted it existed. Then, the federal government protected it under the Endangered Species Act. Now, that protection is in jeopardy, and the status of a rare herbaceous plant lies largely in the work of a team of biologists at Washington and Lee University.

Also known as Virginia sneezeweed, the plant stands about a meter tall and has attractive yellow clusters of flowers.

It’s been a long journey for the plant Helenium virginicum, as well as for John Knox, the W&L professor emeritus of biology, and Maryanne Simurda and Paul Cabe, professors of biology.

The journey began in 1974, when Knox stumbled across a plant while doing general field work. He decided to look it up in a reference book and found it was listed as Helenium autumnale, a common plant found all over North America. End of the mystery, he thought. Then he noticed a footnote that said a similar plant was a suspected new species found only in Rockingham and Augusta counties in Virginia, and nowhere else in the world.

“This was in the fine print,” said Knox. “But it also stated that the authors of the book doubted that this plant was a distinct species, so even the best botanists in 1974 thought this was a bad hypothesis.

“I thought it was interesting and posed a taxonomic question that I had worked on years ago with fungi, so I decided to try and find the plant and test the hypothesis that this was a new species.”

Knox found the putative new plant, and for the next 15 years he conducted a series of studies to determine whether Helenium virginicum, was genetically different from the more common plant, or whether the differences were environmentally-induced.

Working with W&L biology students, he gathered seeds from both plants and raised hundreds of plants in the gardens of Lexington, Va., and studied their development. He found significant differences that were genetically based, and he formed the hypothesis that the two plants had stereotypical habitats. Helenium virginicum grew in sinkhole ponds, unique wetlands that existed on the western side of the Blue Ridge mountains.

“The ponds are pretty places and it’s fun and therapeutic to go back to them at all times of the year, year after year. I like to see them in different lights and at different times,” said Knox.

From left, Kelly Hemminger, Maryanne Simurda, and John Knox

The more common plant, Helenium autumnale, could not survive in such an environment, and grew instead along streams, rivers and lakes. “The environmental conditions for the two plants were very different,” he explained, “and so we found really strong evidence that this was a new species.”

But it wasn’t quite enough to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They wanted DNA evidence that the two species of plant were different. So Maryanne Simurda, W&L professor of biology, and an immunologist and molecular geneticist, agreed to sequence the DNA in the two plants to compare them. The results showed even larger differences between the two species.

In 1998, the work at W&L persuaded the federal government to declare Helenium virginicum a new protected species.

But then in 1999, David Marshall, then one of Knox’s students at W&L, and now a postdoctoral research associate of evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, found a dry museum specimen from Missouri that looked very similar to Helenium virginicum.

Knox drove out to the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, collected more seeds and brought them back to W&L to make comparisons. “This population of the plant had been found in the 1950s, but no one had made the connection with Helenium virginicum,” said Knox.

“Finding this population of the plant in Missouri was the most exciting time for me,” he added. “I was particularly pleased that my student was involved. He’s also collaborated with us on other projects.”

After many more rigorous garden studies, Knox formed the hypothesis that this was indeed Helenium virginicum. Again, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wanted DNA evidence, and again Simurda obliged, confirming the hypothesis.

Immediately after the species had become federally protected in 1999, conservation biologists in Missouri searched for and found a cluster of 39 more populations of possible Helenium virginicum.

So now, after all these years, the work begins again. Knox said he relishes the challenge and, newly retired in 2009 after 33 years at W&L, “I’m not really retired at all,” he said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have funded the W&L team to sequence the DNA of the new Missouri plants to determine if they really are Helenium virginicum and to quantify the extent of genetic variation within the species.
The results will help determine whether Helenium virginicum retains its protected status.

“The public will say there are two acres with tens of thousands of Virginia sneezeweed, so this plant is saved,” said Knox. “But, if we drain a sinkhole pond, and it never fills with water again, then the plants will go extinct. So I consider our work very important.”

Simurda Appointed First Woman University Marshal at W&L

When students and faculty met for Fall Convocation at Washington and Lee University on September 9, few would have given much thought to the nuts and bolts work necessary to prepare for the ceremony.

Yet, behind all the regalia, processions and speeches, mundane things such as wiping off the chairs after it rained are just part of the work coordinated by the office of the university marshal.

Maryanne Simurda, professor of biology, and the newly appointed university marshal, is the first woman to hold the position. A 20-year veteran of W&L, she was recently appointed for a five-year period by W&L President Ken Ruscio. The University Marshal coordinates the planning of the public ceremonies of the University: Fall Convocation, Founders’ Day, the Law School Commencement, the Undergraduate Baccalaureate and Commencement.

“It’s definitely an honor to be asked to serve as the university marshal,” she said.

Simurda had previously served on the public functions committee for nine years under then University Marshal Holt Merchant, professor of history, so she was familiar with what happens on ceremonial days.

“But I was not as familiar with all the background work that needs to be done in order to make the public ceremonies happen,” she explained. The background work includes coordinating all the people and departments involved in making the five public ceremonies of the university happen smoothly – from the Facilities Management people who arrange the stage and seating, to the Catering Service who prepares and arranges the food, to the University Safety who watches security and parking.

“There are a lot of different groups of people on campus who are coordinated through the university marshal’s position,” Simurda said. “My right hand in all this is Barbara Mollica, director of special events, and she is wonderful.”

Simurda said that fortunately all the people involved are very professional and competent. “They have had a lot of practice with this, and know what to do, which makes my job a breeze,” she said.

Indeed, President Ruscio acknowledged all the behind-the-scenes work necessary when he announced that he was grateful that Simurda had accepted the appointment, saying “It is a burdensome job in ways not always recognized.”

Brian Richardson, professor of journalism and mass communication, is the previous university marshal, holding the position for four years. “Working with the wonderful faculty and staff who make our public events possible has been one of the highlights of my 40-year association with Washington and Lee,” he said. “I will really miss that.”

“I’m delighted that Maryanne has been chosen to succeed me,” he added. “She is a distinguished colleague and a caring human being who is in for a rare privilege and a singular treat.”

And the Winner Was…

Michael Applebaum, a 1990 Washington and Lee alum, won an Emmy Award last weekend when the about the experience, including sending the Emmy through the airport X-ray machine on the way home.

TV Studio Makeover

The third-floor TV studio in Reid Hall got a major makeover during the summer, and viewers of programs produced in the studio will notice a vastly different backdrop for Rockbridge Reports as well as other programs shot in the studio, including W&L Sports Weekly. A three-year, $1.75-million grant rom the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation also led conversion to high definition broadcasting. The new set and lighting grid provides alternative backdrops and allows easy transition between a standard newcast and an interview show.

Four Inducted into W&L Athletic Hall of Fame

Four Washington and Lee athletes wee honored last week with induction into the Hall of Fame. The new inductees are:

The athletes were honored at a banquet on the campus on Friday, Sept., 11, and were then introduced at halftime of the Generals’ football game against the University of the South on the following afternoon at Wilson Field. The four honorees were successful on the conference and national level, winning numerous all-conference and several All-America awards in their respective sports. In the video below, they talk about the honor and their memories of W&L:

ASIL President Lucy Reed to Deliver Transnational Law Institute Fall Lecture

Original story at:

NPR’s Alan Cheuse to Speak at W&L

Alan Cheuse, a prolific author best known as the “voice of books” for NPR’s All Things Considered, will give a lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 4:30 p.m. at Washington and Lee’s Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Cheuse’s talk, “Writing and Reading in the Digital Age,” will cover his own recent writing, as well as his assessment of today’s book world, given the recent explosion of online book publishing, selling and reviewing. The talk is free and open to the public.

Cheuse is the author of four novels, three collections of short fiction, one memoir and a new collection of travel essays called A Trance After Breakfast. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Idaho Review and The Southern Review.

His most recent novel, To Catch the Lightning, examines the intertwined plights of real-life photographer Edward Curtis and the Native Americans he portrayed.

Cheuse’s lecture is being sponsored by W&L’s English and journalism departments, and by the Glasgow Endowment for Visiting Writers.

Lecture and Panel Discussion Highlight Modern Patrons Exhibit

Washington and Lee University Art Department will be presenting two events in conjunction with the current Staniar Gallery exhibition “Modern Patrons: Donations of Twentieth Century Art to the University Collection.” The exhibition, which is on view in Staniar Gallery until October 2, features important modern art works donated to the university.

Art History Professor Pamela H. Simpson, curator of the exhibition, will give a public lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Simpson organized the exhibition around significant donors and will discuss their contributions, their relationship to Washington and Lee and the art historical context of their gifts. The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. in the Concert Hall of Wilson Hall and will be followed by a reception.

University Collections: Stories Waiting to be Told, a panel discussion featuring members of the staff of University Collections of Art and History, will take place on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall, room 2017. Peter Grover, directory of University Collections; Patricia Hobbs, curator and associate director of University Collections; and Ronald Fuchs, curator of the Reeves Collection will discuss Washington and Lee’s unique collection of art in terms of how it relates to the curriculum and educational goals of the University.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

Remembering Robert Schlegel, James Gadiel

On this eighth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks members of the Washington and Lee family can pay tribute to Commander Robert Allan Schlegel, a 1985 alumnus of W&L who was killed at the Pentagon, and James Andrew Gadiel, a 2000 alumnus who was killed in the World Trade Center, by signing the guest book on Legacy.com. The guest book for Rob is at this link. The guest book for James is at this link. Last year the University announced an expansion of the Schlegel Prize for International Studies. In memory of the 9/11 events, the University held a brief ceremony today in front of Lee Chapel. Sponsored by Young America’s Foundation. College Republicans and Democrats, 3,000 flags are on display in front of the Colonnade. W&L junior Clark Simcoe played “Taps” and Burr Datz, director of Leadership Development and coordinator of religious campus activities, closed with this prayer.

New Look for The Rockbridge Report

The Rockbridge Report is the public face of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University, and it got a makeover this summer.

A thorough re-design of the department’s broadcast studio, including the installation of a new news set and lighting grid, was completed by FX Group of Orlando, Fla. in mid-August.

The new studio was made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The three-year, $1.75-million grant also funded a sweeping renovation of the department’s digital multimedia technology to accommodate conversion to High Definition broadcasting.

The grant has also funded a series of journalism, politics and law seminars, summer internships for prospective journalists, and a three-year faculty position in legal reporting.

“We’re delighted with our new look,” said Department Head Brian Richardson. “Its more professional look and feel will better help our students prepare for careers in broadcast and online journalism.”

Planning for the new studio and technology anticipated the increasing prominence of the internet in giving audiences on-demand access to broadcast news. Department faculty and staff, including Profs. Bob de Maria and Indira Somani and Technical Operations Manager Michael Todd, interviewed half a dozen vendors who responded to a formal request for proposals last winter.

“Even if local television news abandons its traditional live, over-the-air format for online-only broadcasts, we’ll be ready,” Richardson said.

The Rockbridge Report is the department’s multimedia local news production. It is broadcast live at 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays during the Fall and Winter terms, and appears on the Web at rockbridgereport.wlu.edu. The Rockbridge Report is a combined production of several journalism classes taught by department faculty.

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.

W&L Receives National Grant for Faculty Career Flexibility

Washington and Lee University has been awarded a $200,000 accelerator grant as part of the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility.

Announcement of the grant was made today in Washington, D.C., by representatives of the Sloan Foundation and the American Council on Education (ACE).

W&L was one of only eight institutions chosen from among 287 arts and sciences colleges from around the country eligible to compete for the grants, which recognize the winners for their leadership and accomplishments in implementing groundbreaking policies and practices supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Receipt of the grant coincides with an aggressive new program undertaken by W&L under the leadership of President Kenneth P. Ruscio who launched a study in 2006 of key work-life balance issues in relation to expectations for teaching and research at the University. The resulting initiatives, which debuted during the 2008-09 academic year and will continue this year, will provide more options for child care, offer technological alternatives to compensate for necessary time away from campus, and create a culture of acceptance for flexible career trajectories that are different from the more rigid timetables for tenure and promotion of the past.

“We are delighted that the Sloan Foundation and ACE have recognized our work in this area by awarding us this grant,” Ruscio said. “The grant will be critically important as we continue to take steps on this important initiative, which we believe has great potential for progressive development of W&L’s own faculty, and may also result in a national model of best practices for support of a wonderfully diverse and highly accomplished faculty in the baccalaureate environment.”

Washington and Lee will use the funds provided by the accelerator grant to provide increased flexibility and support for personal time management that enables faculty members to generate the unstructured blocks of time they need for reflection and creative work. In addition, the grant will enable the University to provide the kinds of peer support and institutional assistance that will allow the faculty to use this new-found time most productively for professional development, while still meeting the demands of their personal lives.

“Campuses across the country are grappling with the economic downturn and making difficult decisions about how best to deploy their resources,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “The dedication these eight campuses have shown to advancing faculty career flexibility options in light of these economic conditions is admirable. These efforts send a clear message to faculty that their institution is committed to attracting and serving the needs of an increasingly diverse faculty.”

“Since the inception of the awards program, we have seen remarkable changes on campuses with much greater awareness of the need for career flexibility, as well as significant advances in practice,” said Kathleen Christensen, program director for Workplace, Work Force and Working Families at The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first round, tenured and tenure-track faculty completed an institutional survey about career flexibility. The second round included a faculty survey and an institution-wide accelerator plan for the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention; strengthening faculty commitment, engagement, and morale; achieving institutional excellence; and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market. In all, 60 colleges participated in the first round survey and 30 advanced to the second round of competition.

In addition to Washington and Lee, winners of the $200,000 Sloan Grants for 2009 are Albright College, Bowdoin College, Middlebury College, Mt. Holyoke College, and Oberlin College. Two other institutions – Dickinson College and Smith College – won $25,000 awards.

“These baccalaureate institutions are at the forefront of providing career flexibility to their faculty,” said Claire Van Ummersen, ACE vice president, Center for Effective Leadership. “These awards will assist in the full development and implementation of critical management policies that are part of a growing national trend and will assist in the recruitment and retention of valued faculty.”

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants in science, technology and the quality of American life. It has played a vital role in developing the field of work-family scholarship through its Workplace, Work Force and Working Families program.

A Bronze in Lei Tai for W&L's Olszewski

Classes start at Washington and Lee today, so W&L junior Marshall Olszewki is back in Lexington after spending an interesting weekend in Ulm, Germany, where he won a bronze medal in the world competition for Lei Tai —  full-contact Kung Fu fighting. We wrote about Marshall earlier this year, when he won his division at an international Kung Fu tournament in Hunt Valley, Md., and thus captured a spot on the U.S. squad that went to Germany. That tournament was held Sept. 3-6, and the Lei Tai competition was on Sunday. Competing in the 154-pound (70-kg) weight division, Marshall defeated contestants from Germany and Sweden before losing to a German. Here’s what will tell you just what this competition is all about, though: Marshall finished third because, as he explained in an e-mail, there was no one left for him to fight.  All the previous fighters had been knocked unconscious and couldn’t continue! Marshall said that the experience of the German to whom he lost was amazing and that he was thankful his coaches had prepared him so well.  Lei Tai includes kicks, punches, throws, take-downs and sweeps on a three-foot high platform without any sides. Until this summer, Marshall had never competed in Lei Tai, though he spent 10 years studying Kung Fu. He’s also a member of the W&L wrestling team.

Law Professor’s New Book Explores Human Side of Bioethics and Health Law

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W&L President Challenges University to Renew Commitment to Values

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio challenged members of the W&L community to renew their commitment to the values that he said are at the heart and soul of the University during his convocation address that officially opened W&L’s 261st academic year.

The University welcomed a first-year class of 473 students to the campus on Sept. 5. Classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Addressing the annual opening convocation amid occasional rain showers on the Front Lawn, Ruscio said that he had invited himself to provide the address so that he could issue the challenge to the students, primarily, but also to faculty, staff and alumni.

Ruscio, a W&L alumnus who is beginning his fourth year as the University’s president, told the students that they should be concerned about answering two questions: What do they owe to future generations? And what do they owe to one another?

In examining the first of those questions, Ruscio said that the University would dedicate itself to cutting its energy usage by 25 percent over the next four years as one way of demonstrating sensitivity to the obligation to the future. In addition, he referred to work underway to renovate and refurbish the University’s historic Colonnade in the coming years as “a physical expression of how we honor our past by building for our future.” The first phase of the Colonnade project began in May, when construction began on Newcomb Hall.

“At Washington and Lee, we have an implicit intergenerational contract. Only an institution with a past as rich and complex as ours can truly appreciate what we owe to the future, for we experience daily the inheritance we have been blessed with,” said Ruscio. “Of all people, those of us here at Washington and Lee should be among those who rise up to proclaim this ethical principle: if we benefit from the sacrifice of those who came before us, as we surely do, we must sacrifice equally on behalf of those yet to come.”

As for what the students owe one another, Ruscio made it clear that expectations for high standards of conduct are great at W&L, owing in large measure to the centrality of the University’s Honor System.

“Our ability to fashion a community of honor,” Ruscio said, “should demonstrate how we, more so than any other college, have still higher aspirations, among them to build a community of respect for all individuals, no matter their backgrounds, their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity or their religious beliefs.”

Citing anonymous and malicious postings on Web sites, incidents of sexual assault, and fraternity hazing as instances when the University’s students sometimes fail to meet the institution’s aspirations, he said that what members of the W&L community owe to one another is mutual respect — “a respect borne from recognizing that we share a common humanity with everyone in this community.”

Added Ruscio: “The mark of a Washington and Lee man and woman–during your student days and later in your life long after you leave here–should be that anyone who comes in contact with you, no matter the setting, no matter their agreement or disagreement with you, no matter how different they are from you, walks away saying they were treated with respect.”

In asking the students to rededicate themselves to these institutional values, Ruscio said that he was not asking anything special of them or anything that has not been asked of others before them.

“But from time to time, institutions like Washington and Lee need to remind themselves of what matters,” he said. “Let this be one of those times. Let us embrace the beauty of the differences we bring to this place, as we also embrace the virtues that bind us together in this place of learning. Let us fashion an even stronger community of character, a community of honor and respect.”

Wheeler and Almeder to Give Poetry Reading on Sept. 18

Lesley Wheeler, professor of English at Washington and Lee University and Melanie Almeder, who teaches creative writing and literature at Roanoke College, will give a poetry reading on Friday, Sept. 18, at 4 p.m. in Staniar Gallery in the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

The reading is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Wheeler is the author of a newly-published collection of poems, Heathen (C&R, 2009), and the chapbook “Scholarship Girl” (Finishing Line, 2007); she has also published two scholarly studies, “Voicing American Poetry” (Cornell 2008) and “The Poetics of Enclosure” (Tennessee, 2002). She co-edited “Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv” (Red Hen, 2008).

Wheeler’s poems appear in Poetry, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, and other journals.

Almeder’s first book of poems was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award and won the Editor’s Prize from Tupelo Press. Individual poems have been published in journals including Poetry, The Seneca Review, Five Points and The Georgia Review.

Almeder is deeply invested in community arts and has run workshops for the Recovery Home for Women at Bethany Hall in Roanoke, Va., and in a Battered Woman’s Shelter in Alaska.

Scratching An Overseas Itch in Rwanda

What, exactly, is Washington and Lee alumnus Brian Castleberry of the Class of 2004 doing in Rwanda? He figured you might ask. So his fascinating blog, titled A Thousand Hills and a River, has a page devoted to “What Am I Doing Here?” The short answer is that Brian, who majored in economics and mathematics, decided that he wanted to put his economics studies and his involvement with the Shepherd Poverty program together in a creative way and scratch his “living overseas itch” all at the same time. So for the moment he’s doing some business and financial analysis for Urwego Opportunity Bank on behalf of  Hope International, a Christian faith-based non-profit focused on alleviating physical and spiritual poverty through microenterprise development. The Urwego Opportunity Bank is a microfinance institution (MFI), which was one of the focuses of Brian’s economics study at W&L. Once he’s spent some time observing the ins and outs of this MFI, Brian will move to Brazzaville, Congo, where he’s going to help start an MFI from scratch on behalf of HOPE. Brian’s blog has lots of interesting information, but be sure to check his page of photos, Kigali Kids — wonderful images from his early days in Rwanda. You may want to sign up to follow Brian’s blog, which also features links to information on Rwanda and microfinance.

Party Animals: W&L Co-Sponsors Panel on Political Partisanship

During the campaign and the early days of his presidency, Barack Obama promised to rise above rancorous party politics and bring us together. But the hope for post-partisanship faded quickly. Who’s to blame? The White House says Republicans have ignored the hand of bipartisanship; Republicans say their extended hands were slapped away by partisan Democrats. Meanwhile, the media’s incessant, 24-hour-a-day focus on the differences exacerbates the tensions.

Are these partisan disputes likely to go away any time soon? And should they? Fundamental differences divide Democrats and Republicans in foreign policy, the economy, and health care reform. Given the important role of political parties in our democracy, should these differences matter? And what’s the media’s role in covering this partisanship?

These and other issues will be discussed Oct. 2 by a panel of distinguished academics and journalists at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. The discussion begins at 1:30 and is open to the public.

Co-sponsored by the Miller Center, Washington and Lee University, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the panel will feature:

  • E.J. Dionne, professor at Georgetown University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and columnist for the Washington Post;
  • Elaine Kamarck, former senior advisor to Vice President Al Gore and currently a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School;
  • William Kristol, editor and publisher of the Weekly Standard;
  • Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics and Assistant Director for Academic Programs at the Miller Center.

Edward Wasserman, who holds the Knight chair in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University and writes a nationally distributed media column for the Miami Herald, will be the moderator.

Louis Fisher to Deliver Constitution Day Address at W&L

Louis Fisher, Specialist in Constitutional Law with the Law Library of the Library of Congress will deliver the University’s Constitution Day address at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Stackhouse Theater. All members of the University community and the public are welcome. The title of Fisher’s Talk is “Judicial Supremacy: Neither the Intent nor the Reality.”

Fisher is a prolific, internationally renowned scholar and author. Prior to serving at the Library of Congress, Fisher was a senior researcher at the Congressional Research Service from 1970 to 2006. During his service with CRS he was research director of the House Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, writing major sections of the final report. He testifies before Congress regularly on such issues as war powers, state secrets, NSA surveillance, executive spending discretion, and CIA whistleblowing.

He received his doctorate in political science from the New School for Social Research (1967) and has taught at Queens College, Georgetown University, American University, Catholic University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, the College of William and Mary law school, and the Catholic University law school.

He has been invited to speak in numerous locations around the world and is the author of more than 300 articles in law reviews, political science journals, encyclopedias, books, magazines, and newspapers.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Politics, the William Lyne Wilson Fund, and the School of Law.

W&L Sets 9/11 Commemoration

Washington and Lee University will honor those killed in New York City, Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, by holding “9/11: Never Forget.”

The memorial is part of a national program taking place on college campuses and is sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation. College Republicans and Democrats are co-sponsoring this daylong program on W&L’s campus.

Three thousand flags will be displayed all day on the Colonnade to represent each victim of the attacks that happened that day. At 9:11 a.m., W&L junior Clark Simcoe will play “Taps” and Burr Datz, director of Leadership Development and coordinator of religious campus activities, will close the brief ceremony in prayer.

All are welcome to attend the brief ceremony, a moment to pause and reflect at 9:11, or at any time during the day.

3L Curriculum Featured in National Journal

The National Law Journal leads its story about legal education reform with the Washington and Lee School of Law’s new third-year curriculum. Here’s a link to the story titled “Reality’s Knocking.” Among the other schools that were cited for new law curricula are UCLA, Indiana University, Duke, and the University of California at Irvine. But W&L’s program is called the boldest initiative of all by legal scholars. At least two pieces of data show the curriculum’s immediate impact: applications for admission for this fall were up by 33 percent over a year ago while the national average showed a 6.5 percent increase in applications, and a strong majority of entering law students, when asked whether or not the new curriculum was a factor in their decision to attend W&L, indicated that it had been. Said School of Law Dean Rodney Smolla in the National Law Journal article: “I suspect that a lot of students found this program particularly attractive when they saw the job climate right now.” If you haven’t already examined the new program, take a look at the special Web site that the law school has created.

Why W&L?

On Saturday as the 473 members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2013 picked up their room keys and hauled their belongs into their residence halls, several paused long enough to say why they had chosen W&L into the lens of a Flip Cam. There were no real surprises with the answers: beautiful campus, welcoming community, the combination of liberal arts and pre-professional studies. But take a look and listen, in particular, to a student acknowledge that she hasn’t yet figured out what her major will be and is waiting to discover what “makes her heart jump.”

Class of 2013 Arrives at Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University welcomed 473 members of its Class of 2013 to the campus on Saturday, Sept. 5, for the start of a five-day orientation.

The 238 women and 235 men who compose this year’s class hail from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 17 foreign countries.

The first-year students were selected from an applicant pool of 6,222. They boast not only a strong academic profile but also an impressive record of leadership in their schools and communities.

• Watch a video of the Class of 2013 moving in

The class includes 38 Johnson Scholars – students selected for the University’s prestigious scholarship that recognizes individuals with exceptional leadership potential, personal promise and academic achievement. This is the second year W&L has enrolled first-year students under the Johnson Program, which was established through a $100 million gift to the University. Each Johnson Scholar has at least his or her tuition, room and board paid in full. The 38 Johnson Scholars were chosen from among more than 2,000 who applied for the award.

Nearly half of the entering class (47%) has received grant assistance from the University, which is the highest percentage in the school’s history. W&L has a adopted a policy of not requiring loans as part of the financial aid package, and the average University-funded grant is $35,000 this year.

The average SAT scores for the entering class are 697 in critical reading, 695 in math and 689 in writing. The average ACT composite is 31, and the average class rank was in the top 8 percent.

The class includes 23 National Merit Scholars and Finalists, along with 52 secondary school valedictorians and salutatorians. There are 44 members of the entering class who will be the first ones in their families to attend college.

In addition, 47 of the first-year students served as either president or vice president of their student bodies or senior classes, 120 were presidents of student organizations, 193 captained varsity athletic teams and 87 had significant community service experience.

Almost 12 percent of the class are members of American ethnic and racial minorities, while 6 percent are international students.

Geographically, the highest percentage of entering students (13 percent) comes from Virginia, followed by Texas and New York with 7 percent, and New Jersey and North Carolina with 6 percent.

About 150 of the entering students arrived a week early to participate in a pre-orientation program that involved community service or an outdoor experience, with the remainder of the class arriving on Saturday. Orientation features a variety of events to help the entering students become acclimated to the campus before classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 10.

N.C. Bar Association Honors W&L Grad

The North Carolina Bar Association has honored Washington and Lee law alumnus Walt Hannah of the Class of 1950 with the dedication of the Walter L. Hannah Justice Fund. Walt ws the first associate of the Greensboro firm, which was called King, Kleemeier & Hagan when he joined in 1955. As the article in the NCBA News notes, Walt had served the  he has served in numerous leadership roles and received several honors fro the bar association. He was, for instance, the first recipient of the Evelyn M. Coman Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Construction Law. He’s also a 2002 inductee of the General Practice Hall of Fame. At the ceremony in Walt’s honor, his daughter, Nan, a 1993 W&L law grad and a Raleigh attorney and president-elect of the Wake County Bar Association and 10th Judicial District Bar, provided remarks on behalf of her father and family.

Leading the Way

About 150 entering Washington and Lee first-years dropped their belongings off in Lexington on Sunday and joined up with 40 upperclass leaders to head out on The Leading Edge, the University’s pre-orientation program. Leading Edge has two tracks: Volunteer Venture and Appalachian Adventure. In the  case of the latter, students are either backpacking or backpacking and rock climbing on the Appalachian Trail and around Goshen Pass. The Volunteer Venture has five different venues with  varied emphases. The sites are Roanoke, Lexington, Charleston, W.Va., Washington, D.C., and Greensboro, N.C. The voluntary pre-orientation program offer students a chance to get to know other first-years who share similar interests and to develop leadership skills. According to Dave Leonard, dean of first-year students, demand for the program has always been strong but requests to participate spiked this year. One interesting piece of trivia: in five days students in the Appalachian Adventure program consume 125 pounds of cheese, 30 lbs. of butter and 500 bagels. In Roanoke, more than two dozen of the students are working for the 10th year with Total Against Against Poverty or TAP. A story in Thursday’s Roanoke Times provides a glimpse into what the students are learning, quoting Laura Gronauer of Winchester as saying: “It was really surprising to see how little some people are making do with.” In addition to the Roanoke Times, the TAP students were also featured on WDBJ-TV. Leading Edge participants return to Lexington for the regular orientation program that begins on Saturday with move-in day.

Washington and Lee University Hosts ACE Fellow, Verna Miller Case

Verna Miller Case, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology at Davidson College, will serve as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at Washington and Lee University during the 2009-10 academic year.

Announcement of Case’s appointment was made by W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio.

Established in 1965 by the American Council on Education, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for eventual advancement into senior leadership. ACE Fellows, nominated by the presidents of their institutions, are selected in a national competition. Of the more than 1,500 participants in the 44 years of the program, more than 300 have become chief executive officers, and more than 1,100 have become provosts, vice presidents or deans.

“We are delighted that Verna Case will join us during this coming academic year and will work on a variety of key projects, including our upcoming Washington and Lee Teacher-Scholar Symposium, as well as faculty development issues,” said Ruscio.

Each ACE Fellow focuses on an issue of concern to the nominating institution while being mentored by the president and other senior officers at the host institution. The Fellow is included in the highest level of decision-making, participates in administrative activities and works on specific issues or projects with the host. Fellows attend seminars organized by ACE as well as the ACE Annual Meeting, read extensively in the field, visit other higher-education institutions and engage in other activities to enhance their knowledge about the field.

Case joined the Davidson faculty in 1974 after receiving her bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University. She chaired the biology department at Davidson from 1993 to 2009; biology became Davidson’s largest academic department during that time. Case is the program director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant at Davidson, and she contributed to or was sole author of the three grant proposals. She also is the program director for the Davidson Research Initiative funded by the Duke Endowment, and has authored or co-authored seven articles.

In addition to mentoring and doing collaborative research with students, Case belonged to the committee on curriculum development and the steering committee for strategic planning at Davidson from 2008-2009. She is a member of six other institutional committees including faculty study and research, career services faculty advisory and premedical, and chairs the animal care and use committee.

Case also is a member of the Mwandi, Zambia, Mission Hospital Board of Trustees. Since 2000, she has taken 60 students there to learn not only about health and disease in Zambia but also what they can and cannot do in a month, and how health care there is complicated by culture, religion, politics and poverty. She also is a member of the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research Board of Directors.

“Selection as a host institution is a mark of the prestige of Washington and Lee University. An ACE Fellow has selected this institution for its unique learning opportunities and the quality work that it is doing in educating students,” said Dr. Sharon A. McDade, director of the ACE Fellows Program.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher-education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents and more than 200 related associations nationwide. It provides leadership and a unifying voice on key higher-education issues and influences public policy through advocacy, research and program initiatives.

Liberal Arts Faculty, Administrators To Consider Teacher-Scholar Model in Washington and Lee Symposium

Faculty and administrations from 29 liberal arts colleges from around the country along with representatives of three national educational organizations will gather at Washington and Lee University this month for a two-day conference on the role of faculty at liberal arts colleges.

The Washington and Lee Teacher-Scholar Symposium, funded with support of the Mellon Foundation, will bring together teams of three to five faculty and senior academic administrators from the participating institutions to examine questions about the distinctive nature of the liberal arts colleges.

The symposium will feature a keynote address by William Sullivan, senior scholar for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Sullivan works on the Preparation for the Professions Program at the Carnegie Foundation and directs the Cross Professions Seminar, which compares education across professions. He is the author of Work and Integrity: The Crisis and Promise of Professionalism in America and co-author of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Professional of Law and Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. Prior to his work at Carnegie, Sullivan was professor of philosophy at La Salle University. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University.

In addition, Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, will address the group at a luncheon. Jaschik is one of three founders of Inside Higher Ed, an internet-based journal that focuses on higher education. Previously editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jaschik is a Cornell University graduate whose articles on colleges have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post , and Salon.

For information about the Washington and Lee Teacher-Scholar Symposium, contact Valerie Cushman, executive assistant to the president, at 540-458-8702.

Symposium schedule:

Sunday September 20

4 p.m. – Welcome, Kenneth P. Ruscio,, President Washington and Lee University

4:15 p.m. – Panel I: “Student Learning and Faculty Research: Connecting Teaching
and Scholarship”
Moderator: Steven Wheatley, Vice President, American Council of Learned Societies
Panel Members: Tom Kazee, Provost and Executive Vice President, Furman University; June Aprille, Provost, Washington and Lee University

6:30 p.m. – Dinner and Keynote Address by William Sullivan, Senior Scholar, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Monday September 21

8:30 am. Panel II: Links Between Student and Faculty Research
Moderator: Tyler Lorig, Ruth Parmly Professor of Neuroscience, Washington and Lee University
Panel Members: Verna Miller Case, Professor of Biology, Davidson College; Stephanie Fabritius, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Centre College; Art Goldsmith, Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics, Washington & Lee University

9:45 a.m. – Panel III: Disciplinary Differences for Teacher-Scholars
Moderator: Suzanne Keen, Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English, Washington and Lee University
Panel Members: Kevin Crotty, Professor of Classics, Washington and Lee University; Marcia France, Professor of Chemistry, Washington and Lee University; Michael Harvey, Assoc. Professor of Business Management, Washington College

11:00 a.m.: Breakout sessions

Noon: Lunch & Speaker: Scott Jaschik, Editor, Inside Higher Ed

1:45 p.m. – Panel IV: Career Stage Differences for Teacher-Scholars
Moderator: Bob Glidden, President Emeritus Ohio University 1994-2004
Panel Members: Johnnella E. Butler, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Spelman College; Carol Geary Schneider, President American Association of Colleges & Universities; Elizabeth Knapp, Associate Dean of the College, Washington and Lee University

2:45 p.m. – Closing, Kenneth P. Ruscio, President Washington and Lee University

Lettie Pate Evans Foundation Gives Washington and Lee $1 Million for Colonnade Renovation

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation has given Washington and Lee University $1 million toward the renovation and restoration of Newcomb Hall-the first of the historic Colonnade buildings to undergo the extensive improvement planned for all of them.

Work on Newcomb, once the W&L library and more recently classrooms and faculty offices, began in May and is to be completed within a year. The cost, including a maintenance endowment, technology and furnishings, is more than $10 million. The Evans grant complements contributions from alumni and trustees. An earlier grant from the Getty Foundation enabled the University to undertake initial planning.

The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation makes grants to specified public charities in Georgia and Virginia. Its grant program emphasizes private secondary and higher education, arts and culture, and museums and historic preservation. Traditionally, it gives preference to one-time capital projects and to other extraordinary needs of well-established organizations with proven ability to meet their annual operating budgets.

The foundation was established in 1945 by Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans, who was the wife of Joseph B. Whitehead, one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola. After Mr. Whitehead’s death in 1906, Lettie Pate Whitehead assumed management of his business affairs and served as director of The Coca-Cola Company for almost 20 years. She remarried and moved with her husband, Col. Arthur Kelly Evans, to Hot Springs, Va.

The restoration of Newcomb Hall will subtly upgrade infrastructure, including wiring and air conditioning, and will maintain characteristic Newcomb features such as fireplaces, chalkboards and a large, glass-roof lantern that once again will provide natural light to the top floor. Newcomb has been the most heavily used academic structure on W&L’s campus.

The renewed Newcomb will be home to the history and sociology-anthropology departments and the teacher-education program. Reconfigured space will contain faculty offices, a computer lab and rooms designed for classes, seminars and group study.

Fund-raising continues for the overall Colonnade project, estimated to cost $50 million and take at least five years to complete. Foundations are expected to continue to play an important role in providing necessary support.

Rebecca Makkai's Stories Featured

Rebecca Makkai, who graduated from Washington and Lee in 1999, will have the second of her stories featured in the “Best American Short Stories” anthology this fall. Rebecca’s story, “The Worst You Ever Feel,” was selected for Best American Short Stories 2008, the volume that Salman Rusdie edited. Next month “The Briefcase” will appear in Best American Short Stories 2009, which is edited by Alice Sebold (author of Lovely Bones). Not only that, but Rebecca’s story is one of three from the 2009 anthology selected to be read at Symphony Space in New York City on Oct. 7 when Alice Sebold will host an event presented by Public Radio International. According to Rebecca’s Web site, she has completed her first novel, The Tin Man Symphony, about a librarian who inadvertently kidnaps a ten-year-old boy and is working on  her second. An English major who was an intern at Shenandoah during her undergraduate days, Rebecca lives and writes in Chicago. And you can find out what she’s been reading in this recent post on the Writers Read blog.

Blogging on the Generals

If you haven’t yet checked the redesigned Washington and Lee athletics site, you need to take a look. There’s a new feature on the site that’s just getting started, too. It’s a blog that will feature a variety of bloggers during the year. But at the outset, W&L sports information director Brian Laubscher has been looking back over the last decade plus one year of Generals’ athletics, sport by sport, to pick out his most memorable moments. The first offering was on football and included the ESPN video report on the fake spike play that won the 2002 Guilford game. Brian’s also looked at volleyball and field hockey. So see if his highlights are yours at the From the Sidelines blog.