Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L's World's Fastest Nudist

Kyle Overstreet ’02 was unmasked in a New York Times blog on Thursday as the actor who played the world’s fastest nudist in a marketing campaign for Zappos.com. Kyle, a psychology major at W&L and a fullback on the Generals football team, landed the part of the nude runner who streaked around New York “clad only in running shoes, tube socks and a strategically positioned frontward fanny pack,” as the Times described him. The campaign, created by the independent agency Agent 16, featured YouTube videos that got 60,000 hits and wound up on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 as well as blogs like Gothamist, The Huffington Post and  Gawker. Here’s Kyle’s account of unusual gig:

A van would drop me off in my shorts, with my shirt off,” Mr. Overstreet said. “I really didn’t know what I had gotten myself into until those shorts first came off and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is insane.’ But I would drop trou, run, and try not to run into any policemen or children.”

He was not quite nude.

“I had this thing called a ‘Houdini,’” said Mr. Overstreet, who also works as a bellman at the Bowery Hotel. “And I was wearing sheer panty hose, too, so with the nudity laws I could sort of defend myself to a cop.”

When he isn’t acting or streaking, Kyle works as a bellman for the Beverly Hotel, according to the Times post. He’s also got a part coming up in November in the soap opera, One Life to Live. He’s going to be a cop — clothed.

W&L Hosts International Theater Festival and Symposium

Some big international names in the theater world will be attending the 10th National Symposium of Theater in Academe at Washington and Lee University from November 11-14.

Titled “Performyth,” the symposium has expanded this year to include the First International Theater Festival. All performances and events are free and open to the public, but those who wish to attend three or more events, should pay the registration fee of $50. W&L students and faculty will have free access to all events.

Looking back at the symposium’s development over the years, Domnica Radulescu, W&L professor of Romance languages and the symposium’s founder, recollected that, initially, the symposium consisted largely of talks and presentations given by teachers and scholars who were using theatrical techniques in order to teach language and literature. It then developed to include combining theory and practical ways of teaching theater. Later, it included more practical elements and workshops, with the occasional show. “Now this year I’ve expanded it into a full-fledged theater festival,” she said.

The over-arching theme of this year’s festival is reinventions and recreations of myths on the themes of war, violence and sexuality. Radulescu has added her own subtitle of “performance in times of crisis and violence.” She described it by saying, “it’s a statement that in times of crisis and violence maybe we need theater performance even more than ever and that we are doing it with panache.”

Among the highlights of the theater festival will be a performance by the Chicago troupe Trap Door Theater of the play “Horses at the Window” by world-famous Romanian-French playwright Matei Visniec. A talk and question and answer session by the playwright will follow.

Another celebrity at the festival will be Deb Margolin, the Obie award-winning playwright, performance artist and professor at Yale University. She will present three plays. The first two dealwith the Gaza conflict from both perspectives. The third is “Madoff: a Fictional Memoir,” a dialogue between convicted financier Bernie Maddof and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, played by Hank Dobin, dean of the college.

Famous Mexican playwright Guillermo Shmidhubar will also give a talk and readings from his play “Never say Adios to Columbus.”

A commedia dell’arte workshop with masks on the theme of the war of the sexes will be led by Norma Bowles, award-winning theater activist and founding director of the Fringe Benefits theater for social justice group.

Festival-goers can also enjoy a talk with readings from the plays of playwright Joan Lipkin, theater activist and director of That Uppity Theater Company in Saint Louis, Mo.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, Radulescu also invited a troupe of Romanian theater artists to showcase Romanian actors, directors, playwrights and the Romanian school of acting.

Radulescu said that the symposium has become an institution and “people who come here say it is a unique event.”

Joining Radulescu from the W&L faculty this year in separate talks and performances will be Owen Collins and Shawn Evans, both associate professors of theater.

A full schedule of events can be seen at: http://www.wlu.edu/x36147.xml

For more information, contact Professor Domnica Radulescu at (540) 458-8030 or e-mail radulescud@wlu.edu.

MOMIX Ultimate Date Event and the Best of MOMIX at Lenfest Center

The Lenfest Center for the Arts at Washington and Lee University will present the MOMIX Ultimate Date event on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 8:30 p.m. in the Keller Theatre, Lenfest Center. During this performance the audience will have the unique opportunity to be on stage with the dancers.The Best of MOMIX will be Nov. 11, at 8:30 p.m. in the Keller Theatre.

This intimacy creates a cutting-edge interactive event that bridges the gap between dancer and audience by merging the two. Tickets for the MOMIX Ultimate Date can be purchased online at lenfest.wlu.edu or by calling the Box Office at (540) 458-8000.

In addition to the MOMIX Ultimate Date, Lenfest presents the Best of MOMIX on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Keller Theatre. Best of MOMIX assembles a quarter century of choreographic highlights from the celebrated dance troupe’s repertoire – Lunar Sea, Opus Cactus, Baseball and other full-length works. Tickets for Best of MOMIX also can be purchased online at lenfest.wlu.edu or by calling the Box Office at (540) 458-8000.

2008 with the performance of the Cedar Lake Ballet Company, an edgy contemporary danceroupe from New York City, and continued in 2009 with the arrival of Lula Washington and her dancers from the West Coast. The MOMIX event rounds out the Ultimate Date experience with an intimate evening of illusion and dance followed by a champagne reception that offers the audience the opportunity to meet Moses Pendleton and the MOMIX Company in person.

The live performances of MOMIX are astonishing and unique unto themselves, yet the opportunity to interact so closely with the dancers takes their characteristic skill for blending the physical elements of light, space, sound, and movement to the next level.

MOMIX repeatedly blurs the fine line between illusion and reality with mind-blowing inventiveness; athletic dancers fool the naked eye with an amazing array of black-light illusions, acrobatic choreography and fantastical props. The troupe of performers takes arabesques and pirouettes beyond the limit in performances that a New York Times critic recently noted, “defy the impossible.”

Moses Pendleton, the choreographer and founder of MOMIX, is known for his creative work and dazzling vision. As he puts it, he likes to “go into the studio and set it on fire with possibilities and see what the dancers do. I’m already torching the place.”

Pendleton, also Pilobolus/Aeros co-founder, has worked with numerous dance companies of varying types. He has choreographed for ballet companies, modern companies, music videos, movies in the U.S. and in Europe, and even dairy cows to create different works for the public. Throughout all of his work and his life, he operates on a philosophy of possibility.

As Pendleton says, “If you want to find material with dancers you have to free them up with possibilities.” When choreographing, he says that while he may have an idea of what potential hides in the dancers, it cannot be forced.

“It is a process of revealing what is there instead of actually creating it. It is more than telling them what to do, it is getting them willing, and giving them the confidence and the freedom to discover and react to the imagery so that they can respond to it intelligent and naturally and make it their own. And that is part of the collaborative process. That is how anything gets done.”

Home Cooking on Parents & Family Weekend

When the mother of first-year Washington and Lee student Lauren Schultz makes her Mediterranean Salad during summer, at home in Holliston, Mass., she uses one 14-ounce box of bow tie pasta.

This Saturday, Washington and Lee’s Dining Services will need to expand on that recipe just a bit – by using 60 pounds of pasta to produce enough Mediterranean Salad to feed the 1,400 or so guests at W&L’s annual Parents and Family Weekend Luncheon.

The recipe from Allison Schultz won the Recipes for Home contest, held again this year by W&L’s Dining Services.

Last summer, Dining Services asked parents of entering students to enter the contest by sending a favorite recipe for one of three dishes: chili, cold salad or brownies.

According to Dennis Fowler, assistant director of operations for the Marketplace, one of W&L’s dining facilities, the contest drew 75 entrants, which represents more than 15 percent of the class of 2013.

“It was by far our largest pool of recipes,” Fowler said. And that made the selection process harder.

Earlier this month, members of Fowler’s staff selected three finalists in each of the three categories and made the dishes for a taste test. Members of the campus community nibbled away and selected the three winners-Mediterranean Salad, Cincinnati Chili and Oreo Brownies-that will be served this Saturday.

Lauren is excited to have the Mediterranean Salad on the menu.

“It’s one of my favorite recipes,” she said. “My mom makes it a lot in the summer when there are plenty of fresh vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumber, so the salad always reminds me of summer. I think I will be interested to hear how everyone likes it.”

The Cincinnati Chili recipe from Sarah Gorman’s family in Moores Hill, Ind., will take 60 pounds of ground beef, 30 pounds of ground pork and two gallons of beer.

“I love almost anything my mother cooks for our family,” said Sarah. “I really like the chili. It was the first chili I ever had and is one of two types of chili I actually like. I am super excited that it will be served to so many people. I know that my mom is an amazing cook. I am happy that other people will get to taste it, too.”

Scaling the family recipes for use with the large luncheon takes a computer and some experimentation.

“We use a computer program to make all the calculations, of course,” said Marketplace Chef Geraldine McCutcheon. “The most challenging part about expanding a recipe so much is the spices and seasons do not work quite the same in big batches, so the cook needs to go a little lighter on those than the computer calculates, and adjust the finished project.”

William Smithson, a first-year student from Cary, N.C., thinks that his classmates and their families will agree that his family’s Oreo Brownies will garner the same rave reviews he always gives.

“Their chewy decadence never ceases to blow my mind,” he said. “They are best when washed down with an ice-cold glass of milk.”

For the students, the taste of home is always welcome.

“My mama’s a really good cook, so I miss coming home to home-cooked family dinner after school and sports practice,” William said.

Iranian-Born Scholar Lectures on Iran’s History

Thirty years after Iranian students, in the aftermath of the revolution of 1979, occupied the American Embassy and took American hostages, Hossein Sheiban, a professor of history and visiting scholar at Washington and Lee University, will give a talk that looks back over Iran’s history and examines the country’s situation today.

His presentation, titled “After the Revolution: Iran 30 Years Later” will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5, in W&L’s Northen Auditorium in the Leyburn Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Sheiban left Iran in 1982 and started a journey that took him through Pakistan and Italy and eventually, under the auspices of the United Nations, to Sweden, where he is a history professor at the University of Stockholm.

Sheiban’s talk will examine the current democratic movement in Iran that questions the basic idea of combining a republic with government by Islamic clergy.

“It is a paradox,” he said. “On the one hand Iran is a modern state that was rebuilt into a republic through the revolution of 1979, and has to have a democratically elected president and parliament. On the other hand, the Iranian state claims to be an Islamic republic, which practically means that an unelected patriarchal institution of the clergy controls the elected institutions. This political authority is guaranteed for the clergy through the constitution of the Islamic republic, but, in practice, clerics have gained much more power.

“The Supreme Leader, chosen by an advisory chamber of clerics, limits the authority of the elected president. And the unelected conservative Guardian Council, named by the Supreme leader, oversees the parliament and limits its legislative function. Further, it claims the authority to select appropriate candidates to the presidential and parliamental elections. The result has been a paradoxical and complicated system where the authority of elected and unelected institutions is determined by the political balance between different factions inside the regime.”

Sheiban said that throughout the history of post-revolutionary Iran, all the chiefs of state have been in conflict with the Supreme Leader. This situation prevailed until 2005 when Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad came to power.

“Some people may have voted for Ahmadi-Nejad in the 2005 elections, but in 2009 he is widely believed to have been chosen by fraud. The Supreme Leader and revolutionary guards wanted him in power,” said Sheiban. “We have a situation now where a powerful democratic movement in Iran – with the central slogan of ‘where is my vote?’ – is emphasizing the republican character of the regime. But the leading conservative factions of the clergy and the ideologically-organized revolutionary guards are acting against that possibility, trying to resolve the paradoxes of the regime in their own favor.”

Sheiban is a Swedish citizen and is visiting W&L for the 2009 fall term as part of the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) exchange program.

Formed in 1999, the STINT foundation aims to introduce Swedish institutions of higher education to the American concept of a liberal education. W&L has hosted four academics through STINT over the last five years.

Lichtfuss '74 to Launch New D-III Program

Skip Lichtfuss, a three-time lacrosse All-American at Washington and Lee and a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame, has just signed on for a new challenge — he’ll launch the new lacrosse program at Hanover College in Indiana. According to the release from Hanover, Skip will spend this year recruiting and the Panthers will field their first team in 2011. Skip is a member of the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition to leading the Generals to a 40-5 record, the best three-year period in the school’s history, from 1972 to 1974, Skip also led the Generals basketball team in scoring for three years. Hanover is a Division III school that plays n the Heartland Collegiate Athletic conference and will be only the second D-III lacrosse team in Indiana, joining Trine Univrsity.

Law Professor’s New Book Chronicles Execution of Juvenile Offender

Original story at:

New Law School Organization Explores Economy and Politics of Arab World

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Wind Ensemble Featured in Teaching Music

The October edition of Teaching Music, which is published by the National Association for Music Education, prominently features a photograph of Washington and Lee’s 65-piece University Wind Ensemble, and the backdrop is definitely not the Colonnade. The photo was taken last spring when the group toured and performed in Egypt.  According to Barry Kolman, associate professor of music and music director and conductor of the University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra and the University Wind Ensemble, this marks the first time an nstrumental ensemble from W&L was featured in a national music magazine. Barry is quoted extensively in the accompanying article (sorry, it’s not on line), “Finding Your Musical Oasis,” which describes the way he and other music directors search for music that is appropriate for their groups. You can listen to some audio clips of the Ensemble, including its version of the swing, on its Web page here.

Sally Lawrence Elected to W&L Board of Trustees

Sally P. Lawrence, of Greenwich, Conn., joined the Board of Trustees of Washington and Lee University on Oct. 22, 2009, during the board’s fall meeting.

She is a graduate of Smith College and holds an M.B.A. from New York University. She worked at IBM for 14 years, retiring as a systems engineering manager.

Lawrence and her husband, Larry, have three children: Peter, a 2008 graduate of W&L; Ben, a senior at the university; and Christina, a W&L sophomore. She and her husband are class co-chairs of W&L’s Parents Leadership Council.

Lawrence also serves as a trustee and board secretary for the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich and Reach Prep and as co-chair for the Annual Grant Awards Luncheon for the Fund for Women and Girls, Fairfield County Community Foundation. She has been a trustee of the Greenwich Country Day School and the Greenwich Family YMCA.

The 2009 Flournoy Playwright Festival Presents Where We’re Born Nov. 5-7

Lesbians, sex and incest, oh my! This year’s Flournoy Playwright Festival features the works of Lucy Thurber, including Where We’re Born, which focuses on life in a small, working-class town, where “family relationships are maintained by a delicate balance between desire and dependency.”

Where We’re Born runs from Thursday, Nov. 5 to Saturday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Keller Theatre. There will be talkbacks following each performance of Where We’re Born, featuring Thurber and several other moderators, including Melissa Caron ’09 and Professors Ellen Mayock, Todd Ristau and Domnica Radulescu.

Also included in the Festival is a special reading of Thurber’s Scarcity, directed by Rob Mish ’76, on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. in the Keller Theatre. Tickets are required for Where We’re Born and can be purchased on-line at lenfest.wlu.edu or call the Lenfest Box Office for more information at 540-458-8000. Where We’re Born and Scarcity contain adult content and themes, and are not suitable for children. No tickets are required for the reading of Scarcity.

Thurber is an acclaimed author, having had plays workshopped and staged by several nationally acclaimed companies, including the Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown, Rattlestick’s Playwrights Theater and the Atlantic Theater Company.

In Where We’re Born, Lilly (played by Jenna Worsham ’10) returns from her urban life at college to her small, rural hometown in Massachusetts, where her cousin, Tony (Brian Devine ’10), his girlfriend Franky (Melissa Szumlic ’10), and their friends Vin (Dave Curran ’11) and Drew (Johnny Coyle ’11) await her.

Lilly’s life before college was decidedly fractured- due to an unpleasant relationship with her mother, she depended on Tony to shelter her from other students who bullied her because of her intelligence. Despite this, Lilly’s homecoming is completely alienating and nontraditional. Director Marquita Robinson ’10 says, “Lilly’s journey is a struggle to reconcile two worlds. While her classmates are probably greeted (at home) with cookies and homemade sweaters, Lilly comes home to a can of beer and a cigarette.”

Lilly’s return causes chaos in the lives of her cousin Tony and his girlfriend Franky, whose relationship is made tense by Tony’s repeated philandering and Franky’s feelings of abandonment. The play culminates in the destruction of both of the relationships connecting Lilly to her hometown.

Clearly, Where We’re Born is not a light play. So a natural question to ask would be why the theater department would choose to stage such a production, and if the department expects W&L students to attend such an unconventional, unsettling production. Robinson provides an answer in her director’s notes: ” When you take a look at why theater exists in our society in the first place…it gives us permission to look into the lives of others…Audiences want to leave the theater changed and enlightened.” She concludes that, “to say that a play like Where We’re Born is not relevant to W&L students is to say that the struggles of human life are not relevant to us.”

It is certainly true that most people at Washington and Lee do not have a personal connection to the world of Where We’re Born, but that is exactly why we should attend a performance; given how many of us are future doctors, lawyers, and politicians, we have a duty to understand the lives of those for whom we wish to work. Consider attending such a well-written, moving play to be part of your cultural education.

The reading of Thurber’s Scarcity, directed by Rob Mish ’76, focuses on a small, isolated town in western Massachusetts. The Lawrence family struggles with poverty, boredom and lost potential. Into their lives comes Ellen, a highly educated, wealthy and well-traveled young woman who wants to give back to her country through education. She teaches in the public school system where Billy and Rachel Lawrence go, and she develops an obsession with Billy’s intelligence, insight and potential. Her obsession and desire to lift Billy out of poverty tears the family apart.

Director Mish says, “Each of these plays brings a relevance to the W&L and the Rockbridge county communities as they both could easily take place right here. If we would simply open our eyes and ears we might notice some things that could happen in our own back yards.”

W&L Law Grad Bob Mitchell Looks Back

After playing quarterback for four years down the street at Virginia Military Institute, Bob Mitchell entered law school at Washington and Lee in 1962. While he was in law school at W&L, Bob coached the VMI freshman team. A few weeks ago, Bob was featured in a story in the Washington Times, which was taking a look back at a historic football game in DC (now RFK) Stadium. On Oct. 7, 1961, VMI played George Washington in the brand new stadium. It was actually the second game to be played. The first had been a Redskins game the previous week. But the VMI game was the dedication game, and the point of the article was that pre-game festivities delayed the game so long that, in Bob Mitchell’s view, it contributed to a bad Keydet loss. “Emotionally, we were ready to play, but we sat there and sat there and sat there,” Bob told the Times. “All the air went out of our balloon, and we played the worst game in my four years at VMI.” After graduating from law school in 1965, Bob moved to Winchester, Va., and is a partner in the law firm Hall, Monahan, Engle, Mahan & Mitchell.

New Solar-Energy System Generating Power at W&L

Virginia’s largest solar-energy system is now up and running at Washington and Lee University, and visitors to the University’s website can watch it working in real time.

“We’ve been generating electricity from the two solar photovoltaic arrays since late last month, when we flipped the switch,” said Scott Beebe, director of facilities and energy management at Washington and Lee. “The systems seem to be functioning as we expected. We anticipate that this will lower our consumption of the electricity we purchase from Dominion Virginia Power by 3 percent in a year.”

The arrays are in two locations on campus. The larger of the two, an installation of 1,016 SunPower solar PV panels, is on the roof of Lewis Hall, the building that houses the University’s School of Law. It has a capacity of 325 kilowatts. The other installation features 540 Sanyo solar PV panels rated at 119 kilowatts. It is installed on a custom-designed steel canopy over the University’s parking deck.

“The parking deck installation, while smaller, has the advantage of being a very visible reminder of the University’s commitment to sustainability,” said Beebe. “When students, faculty and staff pull in to park every day, they can see that we’re at the forefront of this important initiative.”

Data from the system is now available through a web-based dashboard, http://go.wlu.edu/solar, which features graphic display of the generation for both installations, includes both the ambient and cell temperatures, and provides data on the environmental benefits.

“The dashboard is another important component of the project,” said Beebe. “Having this as part of our overall energy dashboard will allow anyone from on or off campus to see how much energy is being produced and consumed. It will not only help technicians and be a boon for anyone doing research on these projects, but it’s also another important way of showing our commitment to sustainability.”

The University is leasing the system from Secure Futures L.L.C., a solar-energy development company based in Staunton, Va., which owns and operates the panels through its subsidiary, Lexington Solar.

“The solar arrays represent an important element in our plan to achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in our greenhouse-gas generation over the next five years,” said Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer at W&L. “Not only does this project make environmental sense, but the federal and state incentives that Secure Futures was able to obtain also made it an economically viable project for the University.”

Anthony Smith, chief operating officer of Secure Futures, noted that W&L’s solar-energy system “reflects a highly collaborative approach with the University, the city of Lexington, solar integrators, local engineers, a local steel manufacturer and local contractors. The project also underscores the need for developing a more resilient state energy policy to reduce the regulatory barriers for customers and small businesses to increase opportunities for renewable energy and jobs in Virginia.

W&L entered into a 20-year lease agreement with Lexington Solar, spreading the cost of the project over a longer period and reducing initial upfront cost.

Southern Energy Management (SEM), an energy-efficiency and solar-power company based in North Carolina, installed and maintains the Lewis Hall PV system for Lexington Solar.

Blair Kendall, director of business development for SEM, calls the system “a perfect example of how solar power can be leveraged successfully. Washington and Lee and Secure Futures are proving that clean energy projects can be developed in Virginia. This project should serve as a blueprint for other schools interested in promoting sustainability.”

Standard Solar Inc. of Maryland installed and will maintain the parking deck installation.

“Washington and Lee’s parking deck installation is a prime example of how colleges and universities are taking critical steps toward energy independence,” said Scott Wiater, president of Standard Solar. “We are honored to have been part of this project and to help Washington and Lee achieve its goals toward environmental responsibility.”

The project was supported by local and state incentives.  By unanimous vote of its city council and mayor, the city of Lexington passed an ordinance with a 20-year tax exemption for solar-energy equipment.  The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy awarded an incentive grant for the project using funds provided by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

About Secure Futures

Secure Futures (www.securefutures.us) designs, develops and co-finances distributed solar solutions with and for tax-exempt entities to reduce their electricity costs and to protect against future grid price increases through 15- to 25-year solar-power purchase agreements (SPPAs).

About Standard Solar

Standard Solar Inc. (www.standardsolar.com) is a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems. Dedicated to making solar solutions more accessible to consumers, businesses, institutions and governments, Standard Solar is the partner of choice to make solar energy financially accessible.  Named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in America in 2010 and 2011 by Inc. magazine, Standard Solar is headquartered in Rockville, Md.

About Southern Energy Management
Southern Energy Management (www.southern-energy.com) is a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company offering energy efficiency, green building and turnkey solar services for homeowners, builders, companies, government and military clients across the country. SEM earned the National Energy Star Partner of the Year award five times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). SEM also received the City of Raleigh 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award and the 2010 Green Jobs Award from SJF Institute and Green For All.

Former New York Times Reporter Jayson Blair to Address W&L Journalism Ethics Institute

Jayson Blair, who was at the center of a major journalism scandal as a New York Times reporter in 2003, will be the featured speaker at Washington and Lee University’s 48th Journalism Ethics Institute on Friday, Nov. 6.

The title of Blair’s talk is “Lessons Learned.” The public is invited to the presentation at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

Blair resigned from the Times after an investigation found that he had plagiarized and fabricated major portions of stories that he had written during four years with the Times. Some of the stories that he covered in this manner were such major news events as the D.C. sniper case and the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch.

“Inviting Jayson Blair to keynote this institute was definitely a departure for us,” said Edward Wasserman, the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at W&L. “In the past, we’ve brought heroes to Lexington, people of great accomplishment and stature, such as Hodding Carter, Helen Thomas and Lowell Bergman, and people who stood up to pressure in the name of principled journalism, such as Matt Cooper and my W&L faculty colleague Toni Locy, both of whom faced jail time because they refused to give up the names of sources they had promised to protect.

“Jayson Blair, on the other hand, was at the center of one of the signature journalism scandals of this still-new century, and there’s no way to imagine that his role in it was heroic,” Wasserman continued. “When I approached him with the invitation, he said that although he has not spoken publicly about the affair that led to his dismissal from the New York Times for five or six years, this might be the right time and right occasion. My expectation is that he’ll talk not just about his own susceptibilities, but about the pressures and temptations that might induce ambitious and talented young journalists elsewhere in the business to do the wrong thing.”

Blair, 33, attended the University of Maryland where he majored in journalism and was editor-in-chief of the Diamondback, the student newspaper, during the 1996-97 academic year. He had a summer internship with the Times in 1998 and was offered an extended internship which eventually turned into a full-time reporting position. For the past two years, Blair has worked as a certified life coach, specializing in attention deficit disorder, pervasive developmental disorders, mood disorders and substance abuse disorders.

The W&L Journalism Ethics Institutes, held twice each year, bring to campus top media professional and academics for two days of seminars with students from the University’s capstone journalism ethics class. The sessions deal with case studies of ethical dilemmas that the practicing journalists present.

In addition to Wasserman, media professionals and academics attending include Caesar Andrews, Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor in Journalism at W&L; Jon Carras, producer, CBS Sunday Morning; Michael Getler, ombudsman, PBS News; Arlene Notoro Morgan, associate dean of prizes and programs at Columbia University School of Journalism; John Watson, associate professor in the American University School of Communication; Reed Williams, reporter with the Richmond Times-Dispatch; and Corinna Zarek, Freedom of Information Director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Great Trials as a Teaching Tool

In her 25 years as a journalist, Toni Locy spent plenty of time in courtrooms. She specialized in legal reporting and wrote about high-profile stories such as military hearings for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. No matter the case, Locy knows first-hand just how much the public loves a good trial.

“When I was covering a series of Mafia trials in Philadelphia and I’d go to my bank, I had to plan on spending an extra 30 minutes because one of the bank employees had recognized me from my byline and would grill me about every detail of the case,” she said. “Americans are fascinated by trials. Just look at TV – from the lawyers hosting talk shows to the ‘CSI’ syndrome. A big trial has a little bit of everything.”

Locy also believes that studying a trial – especially a really famous case – can be an effective way to teach about everything from history to politics to journalism to sociology. She has taken that belief into the classroom at Washington and Lee University, where she is Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting

This fall, 13 students in Locy’s course, Covering Great Trials in History: The Impact of the Press and Public on Justice, are examining cases ranging from Socrates to Charles Manson to O.J. Simpson. She introduced the course last spring as a seminar for upper-class students. This time, her class is for first-years.

“What I’ve found is that these trials are great jumping-off places to talk about a range of ideas and issues. You can really look at this country’s history by looking at the big trials in various periods, because they will tell us where we were politically and socially, what were our hopes and fears. It all comes together in a high-profile trial,” she said. “Students are engaged with the material, and I’m finding that each of these trials can be used to tell a story.”

Locy did not cover any of the trials on her syllabus, but her experience clearly brings the class alive. She can offer a vivid account of a Senate hearing on the Patriot Act, for example, because she was in the hearing room.

“The advantage of my having covered trials or, in that case, congressional hearings, is that I can help the students understand how these often complex events come together,” she said. “I can explain to them why things are happening as they are and can point them to what they should be considering.”

As the students examined the Alger Hiss trials on a recent afternoon, they tried to imagine those trials being held in today’s 24-7 media environment (“There would be no time for any other story on cable,” one student opined), and they discussed how fear can overtake all other emotions during a crisis (“We don’t seem to learn from the past when it comes to our fears,” said another).

Locy has divided the course into various themes with different trials considered within those themes. For instance, she groups the Lindbergh-baby kidnapping trial with trials of Dr. Sam Sheppard and Charles Manson in a “Lights, Camera, Action” category based on the key role that media coverage played. Later this term, the class will study the trials of O.J. Simpson, Timothy McVeigh and the Chicago Black Sox under the rubric “Heroes and Villains.” Others trials under discussion will be the Scottsboro Boys, the Chicago 8, Nuremburg, My Lai, the Scopes “Monkey” Trial and Sacco and Vanzetti.

In addition to giving them some understanding of the trials themselves, Locy said she hopes that her approach to the course will teach students to adopt a journalist’s skepticism.

“I am teaching the course from a journalist’s perspective, even though this is very much a multidisciplinary course,” Locy said. “I want them to recognize the importance of being accurate and fair while always retaining that healthy dose of skepticism.

“It’s important that people learn not to get caught up in the spin as they consider what they see and hear in the reporting of these trials. I want them to consider whether the press, as it covers these cases, is serving the public, or, by virtue of sensationalism or superficial reporting, is encouraging a distrust of the legal system.”

Chicago Lawyer Profiles Carrie Risatti

The latest issue of Chicago Lawyer has a Q and A with Washington and Lee law alumna Carrie M. Risatti of the Class of 1999. Carrie is a prinicpal with the Chicago law firm, Much Shelist where she is a member of the firm’s real estate practice. In the Chicago Lawyer article, Carrie recalls working on a murder-for-hire case while clerking in Virginia as probably the most dramatic moment in her legal career. Asked what advice she would have for new or future lawyers, Carrie said: “Always remember that civility is your greatest strength. I went to a law school that is founded on the principles of an honor system and a speaking tradition.” Have a look at the piece at this link.

Still Playing Handball on an International Level

Ollie Cook, a 1960 graduate of Washington and Lee, recently advanced to the quarterfinals in his age group, 70 and above Singles Diamond Master Division, of the Waterford Crystal World Handball Championships in Portland, Ore. Ollie, 71, an attorney who is currently of counsel with the Peabody, Mass., firm Smerczynski & Conn, was one of 30 players who qualified for the event. In a story about Ollie’s exploits, the Beverly Citizen noted that Ollie had started playing handball during his undergraduate days at Washington and Lee on the advice of athletic director Cy Twombly. As Ollie explained it, “He said, ‘I’ll show you a sport that will keep your reflexes up and your weight down,.'” Ollie is an avid golfer but told the newspaper that he tries to play handball three to four times a week. What’s particularly noteworthy is that Ollie had double hip surgery about six years ago and, according to a note in the U.S. Handball Association Newsletter, was back competing in the Massachusetts State Handball Championships before long.

Award-winning Playwright Teaches his Art to W&L Students

It’s quite possible that students taking the playwriting course at Washington and Lee University this fall could find themselves eventually competing against their professor.

In October, Chris Gavaler, visiting assistant professor of English, won the outstanding playwright award at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival for the fourth year in a row for his one-act play “Vows.”

This semester, for the first time in three years, W&L is offering a course in playwriting. Students are studying the art under Gavaler, who normally teaches literature, composition and creative writing. “This is the first time I’ve specifically taught playwriting so I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “We are focusing on the one-act play and are progressing to a 30-minute format.”

Gavaler used the 30-minute format in his award-winning plays. “I find the story ideas I come up with fit the 30-minute format perfectly. Ten-minute plays don’t give you a lot of room to get moving before your time is up. A full length 120-minute play is a radically different creature,” he explained.

“This is a very strong class of students, so I’m considering having them submit their plays to festivals, specifically the Pittsburgh New Works Festival,” he said. The festival is dedicated to fostering the development of original one-act plays and debuts a dozen works each year produced by a different theater company.

“There are definitely some student plays that are strong enough, and I think that by the end of the semester all the students could have something worth submitting,” said Gavaler. It would be an absolute delight if one of my students did well.”

The students will have some tough competition from Gavaler, who said he was surprised that he won for the fourth time. “I think this is the 19th year of the festival, and they’ve never before had a winner four times in a row,” he said. “I was surprised because, as much as I like the play, it’s a comedy and my previous plays were part-comedy part-dramas, so I wasn’t expecting to win. I didn’t think a straight comedy would have a chance.”

His play takes place in a church, where a sister in law and brother in law meet to discuss the affairs their spouses are having. During their conversation they realize that their spouses are having an affair with each other.

Gavaler said that a major part of the playwriting experience is handing over the play to a producer and director, and then seeing it performed for the first time when you sit in the audience. “It’s definitely a strange experience,” he said.

“When I go to Pittsburgh, I haven’t seen the dress rehearsal. I sit down in the audience, the lights go up, and then people I’ve never met walk on stage and start saying the lines I wrote. If I were involved with the rehearsal process I would see it slowly evolving. It’s always a surprise to sit down and see what’s going to happen.”

He described playwriting as a highly collaborative art form. “Even though I’ll write the script entirely on my own, once I hand it over it becomes something radically different. Producers, directors and actors can have very different interpretations. It’s the same words but the way in which it’s performed is hugely different.”

Gavaler added that when he writes short stories, which are the majority of his work, he has complete control. “A play on paper is like a musical score, you can look at the notation but you can’t really hear it until it’s actually performed. How a musician performs it can be radically different.”

It’s an experience he is keen for his students to enjoy.

Law Symposium to Explore Violence on College Campuses

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Visiting International Scholar at W&L, Yumiko Mikanagi, to Give Public Lecture

Professor Yumiko Mikanagi, a senior researcher at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute and currently the Robert S. Griffith Jr. ’52 Visiting International Scholar in Politics at Washington and Lee University, will give a public lecture on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 5 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

The title of her talk is “The Salaryman and Japan’s Foreign Policy.” It is free and open to the public.

Mikanagi is currently teaching two courses at W&L with interdisciplinary and international appeal in the politics department (Feminist Perspectives on International Relations) and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program (Gender in East Asia).

Mikanagi previously taught at the International Christian University, Sophia University and Middlebury College. She is an Abe Fellow and was a Freeman Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. While at the International Christian University in Japan, she was a founding member of the Center for Gender Studies, and the research director for the Peace Research Institute.

Mikanagi received her master’s and doctorate in politics from Princeton. She also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from Sofia University in Japan.

The Robert S. Griffith Jr. ’52 Visiting Scholar Fund, established in 2006 by Mrs. Helen C. Griffith in memory of her husband, sponsors distinguished visiting teachers and speakers in the areas of history, current events, politics or business. This fund provides assistance for the visiting scholar to be on campus for an extended stay in order to benefit students, faculty and the community through extensive interactions and teaching.

Retired Professor Roger Jeans Publishes Book on WWII-Era Japanese Diplomat

Roger B. Jeans, the Elizabeth Lewis Otey Professor of History Emeritus at Washington and Lee University, has published “Terasaki Hidenari, Pearl Harbor, and Occupied Japan: A Bridge to Reality.” The book was released in July.

Jeans tells the story of Terasaki Hidenari, a Japanese diplomat at the time of World War II. Terasaki was a Foreign Ministry intelligence officer, propaganda chief and liaison with American isolationists and pacifists in 1941, but he also tried to protect Hirohito after the war.

Akira Iriye, the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University, says that Jeans’ book “offers a thoroughly researched and carefully crafted biography of a now almost forgotten Japanese diplomat who played important roles in U.S.-Japanese relations both immediately before and immediately after the war…he was committed to maintaining a peaceful relationship between the two countries.”

Other books Jeans published were “Roads Not Taken: The Struggle of Opposition Parties in Twentieth-Century China” (edited with an essay and introduction); “Democracy and Socialism in Republican China: The Politics of Zhang Junmai (Carsun Chang), 1906-1941;” and was co-editor of “Good-Bye to Old Peking: The Wartime Letters of U.S. Marine Captain John Seymour Letcher, 1937-1939.”

Jeans taught at Washington and Lee from 1974 until his retirement in 2006, teaching Chinese and Japanese history. He also was active in the East Asian Studies Program.

Emory University Dean, Carolyn Denard, to Talk on Toni Morrison’s “Jazz”

Carolyn Denard, associate dean for undergraduate education at Emory University, will give a talk at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Huntley Hall Room 327.

The title of Denard’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Artifice and Meaning in Toni Morrison’s ‘Jazz’.”

Denard serves as dean for the Emory’s senior class and has responsibility for degree certification, as well as doing academic advising for students with special standing. She also serves on the Curriculum and Education Policy Committees, as well as the ad hoc committee for the review of course evaluation for faculty.

The founding organizer of the Toni Morrison Society, an official author society of the American Literature Association, Denard now serves as board chair of the society. Her research focuses on African-American myth, ethics and cultural figures of speech in Morrison’s fiction. She has contributed to critical anthologies and essay collections on Morrison’s work, and she is editor of “What Moves at the Margin: Selected Non-Fiction by Toni Morrison” and “Toni Morrison: Conversations, a Collection of Interviews.”

Previously associate dean of the college at Brown University, Denard also taught at Georgia State University where she co-chaired the Women Studies Program and served as a member of the associate faculty in African-American Studies.

She received her bachelor’s from Jackson State University, her master’s from Indiana University and her Ph.D. from Emory University.

Denard’s presentation is sponsored by W&L’s Program in African-American Studies and the University Lectures Fund.

W&L Alum Harry Neel Dies at 103

Last April, we blogged about Dr. Harry Neel, a member of the Class of 1928 who was featured in a story that appeared in the Albert Lea Tribune in Albert Lea, Minn. Sadly, the same newspaper reported that Harry died on Wednesday after suffering a broken hip on Sunday. Here’s a tribute to Harry published on Saturday. Last May more than 1,000 people had celebrated Harry’s 103rd birthday at the kickoff of the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, and he was also the grand marshal for this summer’s Third of July Parade. A member of Pi Kappa Alpha, Harry went to medical school at Johns Hopkins and then joined the Mayo Clinic as a fellow in surgery in 1936 and then settled Albert Lea in 1940. In the slide show of images from the first story, you’ll see a shot of Harry’s W&L diploma and the hat with the Trident from his 75th reunion.

Paddling Down the Chattahoochee

David Hanson, a 2000 graduate and an all-conference shortstop for the Generals’ baseball team, likes to get to the source of things. That, at least, is what David told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about his decision to paddle a canoe down the Chattahoochee River from Helen, Ga., in the northern part of the state to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, which he hopes to reach by December. According to the newspaper report, this journey has always been one of his dreams, and his canoe is named Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. An English major at W&L, David grew up in Atlanta and attended Pace Academy there. The Chattahoochee winds through Atlanta and its suburbs. As David told the Ledger-Enquirer: “This is a personal trip for me. This was the first river I ever knew. It has been the source of my drinking water most my life. I liked to get to the source of things.”

Familiar Face on WSJ's News Hub

If you haven’t begun watching the new Wall Street Journal video feature, the News Hub, you’re missing the anchoring skills of Washington and Lee alumna Kelly Evans, Class of 2007 and an economics writer for the Journal. Considering this is a newspaper and not a TV network, The Hub is a pretty ambitious undertaking, not that video on newspaper Web sites isn’t commonplace nowadays. But this live show is twice a day, at 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Kelly anchors the morning version.) It’s eight minutes long, shot with hand-held cameras at the Wall Street Journal newsroom. By using Skype, Kelly can bring in Wall Street Journal reporters anywhere. As Kelly tweeted on the first or second day of live Webcasting, “It’s crazy how much work it takes behind the scenes. What happens in front of the camera is the easy part!” Of course, getting up at 5 a.m. every day is probably the hardest part. Kelly has had several W&L alumni on the program, including Greg Morcroft ’88, of Marketwatch, Geoff Rogow ’04 of Dow jones, and Mike Crittenden ’01 of the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Here’s a link to the News Hub. Although it’s live at 8:30, you can catch it on demand during the day. Kelly’s experience only underscores the move that W&L’s department of journalism and mass communications made many years ago to adapt to what Brian Richardson, head of the department, calls the convergence of print, electronic media, and the Internet.

New Study Shows Consumers Fail to Distinguish Between Licensing Agreements and Seals of Approval

Are consumers being unintentionally misled by some corporate social-responsibility campaigns? When a product is linked with a particular nonprofit organization in branding and advertising, do consumers assume that this represents a product endorsement?

According to a new study published in the fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Advertising, the answers are yes and yes.

Co-authored by Washington and Lee University business administration professor Amanda Bower and Texas Christian University marketing professor Stacy Landreth, the study examined two common types of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, initiatives – licensing agreements and cause-related marketing.

In the case of licensing agreements, a nonprofit lends its name and logo to a company to use in its own advertising in exchange for a donation. Cause-related marketing, on the other hand, involves a firm making a donation to the nonprofit based on some type of behavior by consumers – saving yogurt container lids, for instance.

Bower and Landreth’s research concluded that consumers appeared to perceive a licensing agreement between a company and a nonprofit as constituting an endorsement equal to an explicit seal of approval. Such seals of approval are based on testing and meeting standards from an endorsing agency.

“What we determined is that a licensed CSR initiative in an advertisement – for instance, the use of the Heart Truth logo and its famous red dress – is viewed by consumers as if the nonprofit has done something more than provided its logo in return for a donation,” said Bower. “In this case, Coca-Cola’s use of the logo is not supposed to indicate that the nonprofit vouches for the product as being good for your heart or better for your heart than some comparable product.”

Yet, Bower said, the study indicated that consumers understand the presence of the nonprofit’s logo on such products as doing

“Despite an asterisk indicating a disclaimer on the side of a bottle or indicating no endorsement, our research suggests that consumers may come away believing that an endorsement is implied,” she said. “Similarly, the ‘Save Lids to Save Lives’ Yoplait campaign might suggest to consumers that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has endorsed the yogurt. In fact, Komen endorses no brands. The potential for consumers to infer something inaccurate is pretty substantial.

“Licensing arrangements are, from a consumer’s standpoint, completely indistinguishable from a seal of approval.”

In addition, the study found that consumers who are most dedicated to a nonprofit’s cause may also be among those most frequently misled by these CSR initiatives.

Bower emphasizes that the research is not dealing with strategy, and the results are not meant to suggest that that any brands are intentionally trying to deceive consumers through the use of these initiatives. “We aren’t speaking about intention,” she said. “Our research is limited to consumer misperceptions of those associations, not the intention behind them.”

W&L Journalism Professor’s New Book Examines Southern Press

From the Civil War to civil rights, Southern newspapers have always played a major role in the region’s history.

In his new book, The Southern Press: Literary Legacies and the Challenge of Modernity, Washington and Lee University journalism professor Doug Cumming argues that what distinguishes journalists who got their start in the South is their primary motivation: less a matter of an informed citizenry and more a question of finding a literary outlet.

On the surface, Cumming said, there is no such thing as a Southern press. “Southern newspapers are as good or as bad as newspapers anywhere in the United States,” said Cumming, who has worked for Southern papers — the Atlanta Constitution, the Raleigh Times and the Raleigh News and Observer. “The professional standards of journalism in my time were national professional standards and continue to be high standards.”

But the more he began to explore the history of Southern newspapers and, especially, some of the legendary editors and writers, the more Cumming realized he was working on a “disguised autobiography.”

“All of these parts of myself were there: 19th-century American history, Southern history, Southern literature, the civil rights movement,” he said. “My heroes growing up were journalists like Ralph McGill and Gene Patterson, both editors of the Atlanta Constitution. Then I realized that New Journalism, which is a love of mine, was part of this because some of the seminal figures in New Journalism are Southerners.”

The book, said Cumming, is not meant to be comprehensive or encyclopedic. There are great newspapers and journalists he does not mention and journalistic embarrassments he does not criticize.

Instead, Cumming offers an argument and a thesis. Historically, he contends, the South did not have large, fast-growing cities with various types of people packed together, a condition that led to the development of the objective style of journalism and crusading exposés that rooted out corruption.

“Instead, the daily press was a gateway for aspiring writers who were too poor to live on a legacy,” Cumming said. “It was a gateway to a world of letters, to being a writer. I think every Southern journalist secretly wanted to write a novel eventually. I think it is more true of Southern journalists than other journalists. I think many Southerners historically got into journalism not because of the All-the-President’s-Men idea that we’re going to change society, but rather to be a writer, to learn writing, to see herself or himself in print.”

Cumming uses newspaper editors’ varying approaches to coverage of the civil rights movement as a way to examine the differences. Even those editors who might have been considered moderate and enlightened did not attack segregation with a crusading spirit.

“They were gently trying to make life better for blacks and to help bring ordinary white Southerners to a more enlightened attitude,” Cumming said.

In February 1960, however, when four students from North Carolina A&T attempted to desegregate the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., “that caught all of those liberal Southern editors by surprise. Some of them had a conversion experience that was almost like a religious experience.”

Published by the Northwestern University Press, the book is part of the Medill School of Journalism’s series, Visions of the American Press.

W&L Reynolds Visiting Professor To Explore Journalism’s Future in Public Lecture

Caesar Andrews retired on a high note. In his last year as executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, his staff won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.

On leaving the newspaper business, after nearly 30 years as an editor and manager at various papers, Andrews’ first stop was Washington and Lee’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he is the newest Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor. He will give a public lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

The title of Andrews talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Journalism’s Best Hope: Talent.” It will be at 5 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater of the Elrod Commons.

Andrews is teaching two classes during W&L’s 12-week fall term, including a course of his own design, “Covering Classic Journalism.” His professorship is made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Andrews worked for a variety of newspapers in the Gannett Co. chain, and he was involved in the launch of USA TODAY. 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 the nation’s capital during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Andrews has also served as a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME). 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.

In the citation for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, Andrew’s Free Press staff was recognized “for a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise….” The Pulitzer selectors cited The Free Press for uncovering “a pattern of lies by [Detroit] 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 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.

Good Reviews for Terry Vosbein's New CD

Washington and Lee music professor Terry Vosbein’s new CD, “Progressive Jazz 2009,” has been getting strong reviews since its recent release. Release by Max Frank Music, the CD, which features the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and was recorded earlier this year during a concert at the University of Tennessee, pay tribute to big band leader Stan Kenton and his self-described “progressive period” from 1947 to 1948. The Raleigh News and Observer calls the album ” masterful and emotionally rewarding tribute” in its review. Meanwhile, Jazz Mobile’s review writes: “Composer/arranger/conducter Terry Vosbein has reinvigorated a number of heretofore overlooked themes from the creative world of Stan Kenton, added several of his own, and placed them in the capable hands of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra for a concert performance that shines from start to finish.” You can listen to sample tracks of the album at the CD’s page on Max Frank site. But if you don’t get there, you can listen to one sample — “The Real Princess” — below:

Elsa Friis ’11 and Mike Kuntz ’11 Recognized by Celebrating Student Success

Elsa Friis and Mike Kuntz will be recognized at the Celebrating Student Success (CSS) monthly reception on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 2-4 p.m. in the Elrod Commons Living Room.

The reception is open to anyone in the campus community. Free food and beverages will be available beginning at 2 p.m. with a brief presentation taking place at 3:45 p.m.

Friis, a junior from Brookeville, Md., is majoring in neuroscience and psychology with a concentration in the Shepherd Poverty Program. She is a peer health educator and member of LIFE; a member of Beta Beta Beta national biology honor society; and a member of WITS. She conducts science experiments with local middle school students, volunteers for Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center in Lexington, is an active dressage competitor and volunteers for Food for the Poor, participating in the yearly house-building trip to Jamaica.

Kuntz, a junior from Stafford, Va., majoring in biochemistry with a German minor, was awarded the James Keith Shillington Scholarship for Organic Chemistry; the B.S. Stephenson Scholarship for German; the Doctors Reid and White Scholarship which is awarded to a pre-med student; and has twice been a Robert E. Lee Research Scholar. He volunteers for Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen and is on CKWL’s leadership team, leading weekly shifts in food preparation. He also volunteers at the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic and is a treasurer of Sigma Nu fraternity.

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.

Friis and Kuntz 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. Nominations are always accepted and encouraged.

Future CSS receptions during the 2009-2010 academic year will occur from 2-4 p.m. in the Elrod Commons Living Room on Nov. 18, Dec. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 17, Mar. 17, Apr. 7 and May 5.

W&L and United Nations Partner on International Investment Project

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Alum Working for Organ Donations

In 2007, Washington and Lee alumnus Michael Kirshbaum was dying. He suffered from an auto-immune disease of the bile ducts called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis that had poisoned his liver for 13 years. Then, on June 19, 2007, he received a liver transplant that saved his life. Now, Michael, a member of the Class of 1971, wants to be sure that others recognize the importance of organ donations. Consequently, he and his wife, Regina, are spending much of their non-work time not only raising awareness of organ donation but also raising funds for the research organization at Columbia and New York Presbyterian Hospital, which is focused on abdominal organ transplantation technologies. (Michael’s transplant was from a donated cadaver organ at New York-Presbyterian.) Michael and Regina have connected the fund raising efforts to their business — a series of five stores and Web site called Agabhumi the Best of Bali, which features a variety of products created by artisans from the island of Bali, Indonesia. (Read how the business got started.) As part of the business, a group of jewelry pieces called “Donate Life for the circle of Life” has been created and 30 percent of proceeds from sale of those items goes to the research center at Columbia-Cornell Medical Center.  You can read a story from the Connecticut Post about Michael’s business here1.

W&L’s Domnica Radulescu Receives 2009 Fiction Prize from Library of Virginia

Washington and Lee University professor Domnica Radulescu was awarded the Library of Virginia’s 2009 fiction prize for her novel, Train to Trieste, during a banquet in Richmond on Saturday, Oct. 17.

In addition, a Washington and Lee alumnus, former CBS newsman Roger Mudd, was awarded the Library of Virginia’s People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction for his book, The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News. Mudd is a 1950 graduate of W&L.

This is the second consecutive year that a member of the Washington and Lee faculty has been honored. R.T. Smith, Writer in Residence and editor of Shenandoah, won a 2008 award for poetry for Outlaw Style: Poems.

The Library of Virginia’s annual awards honor Virginia authors or, in the case of nonfiction, works on a Virginia subject. Awards categories were fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literary lifetime achievement. Winners of the Library of Virginia’s Annual Literary Awards and the People’s Choice Awards receive a $3,500 prize and a handsome engraved crystal book.

In selecting Radulescu’s Train to Trieste, the independent panel of judges characterized the winning book as a “stunning debut novel written in lyrically beautiful prose that transcends the pitfalls of first novels.”

In its announcement of the award, the Library of Virginia’s described the novel this way: “Radulescu tells the story of a young woman’s quest for freedom and shelter in Soviet-dominated Romania during the late 1970s, of her escape to build an American life overshadowed by that she left behind, and her pilgrimage at middle age to reclaim the landscapes of her youth. Combining the intensity of first love with the stark realities of political repression and the melancholy of exile, Train to Trieste is a haunting journey to a distant country as well as an odyssey into the human heart.”

Radulescu was born in Romania and came to the United States in 1983. She joined the Washington and Lee faculty in 1992 and is currently a professor of Romance languages and head of the women’s and gender studies program. Her novel has garnered strong critical praise since its publication in August 2008. Even before the novel was published, translation rights were purchased in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Israel, Serbia, Hungary and Greece, an indication of its expected success. Most recently, the paperback version was released by Random House and includes an endorsement from Bernhard Schlink, author of The Reader and Homecoming, who wrote: “A coming of age story, a struggle for political integrity and female identity, a wonderful love story – [Train to Trieste] engages us on many levels.”

In an earlier interview about her novel, Radulescu discussed how much of the book is based on her own life: “People always ask me how much of my novel is autobiographical, but almost everybody writes autobiographically, it’s just a matter of degree. To me, ultimately, that doesn’t matter. Yes, it emerged from some lived experiences, but a lot of it didn’t. In the end it is all fiction and, once invented, my characters take on a life of their own and devise their own experiences and choices. For instance, it’s called Train to Trieste, and I had never been to Trieste until after I wrote the novel.”

In August, Radulescu was interviewed by the BBC, and the interview can be heard here.

The other finalists were for the fiction award were Geraldine Brooks for People of the Book and David A. Taylor for Success: Stories.

Mudd’s book describes his two decades of work in the Washington bureau of CBS TV where he was a correspondent covering such major stories as the historic Senate filibuster debate over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When he was passed over as the successor to CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, Mudd left the network and joined NBC before later narrating for The History Channel.

Library of Virginia winners, from left, W&L alumnus Roger Mudd, Doreen Rappaport, Martin Clark, John Grisham, Annette Gordon-Reed, W&L professor Domnica Radulescu, Lisa Russ Spaar, Ross Taylor (accepted the Weinstein Award for his mother, Eleanor Ross Taylor), and Charles Wright.

W&L Alumna Named Finalist for National Book Award

Back in April we blogged about the poetry of Washington and Lee alumna Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon of the Class of 1993. Now we can report that Lyrae has just been named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry for Open Interval, her latest book of poems. On the National Book Foundation Web site, Open Interval is described this way:Open interval is a mathematical term referring to a line that has no endpoints. Drawing upon intersections of astronomy and mathematics, history, literature, and lived experience, the poems in Open Interval locate the self in the interval between body and name. Like the Romare Bearden paintings she writes about in Open Interval, Van Clief-Stefanon’s work is colorful, sometimes playful, grounded in reality, yet other-worldly at the same time.” Lyrae is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. Black Swan, her 2002 collection, won the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She was one of 20 writers featured in the 2005 Poetry Society of America’s Festival of New American Poets and was a semi-finalist in the “Discovery”/The Nation Contest in 1999 and 2001. She is the coauthor, with Elizabeth Alexander, of the chapbook Poems in Conversation and a Conversation. Her poems have appeared in African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Rattapallax, Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, and in several anthologies, including Bum Rush the Page and Role Call. You can listen below to two audio clips from Cornell. The first is from a presentation during which Lyrae read from poems in Open Interval while the second is an interview from March, when Lyrae was one of three members of Cornell’s Creative Writing faculty to discuss their work.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano reads from her work.

An interview featuring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano

Catching Up with Kate Shellnutt '08

Kate Shellnutt, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee, is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and she’s found a particularly interesting way to combine her two undergraduate primary interests — journalism and religion. In fact, you may have read one of Kate’s stories in a major newspaper already. In July, a piece that she wrote a piece about a Zen Buddhist puppet master appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and she even quoted her former W&L religion professor, Jeff Kosky. More recently, she’s had a major story in the Chicago Sun-Times on Muslim’s and punk rock music and also a piece about Jews and the environmental movement that ran on the Religion News Service. But you can also see the variety of stories that Kate pursues on Northwestern’s News21 where she is a staff writer for Shift, a site telling the stories of young, urban adults. And as if all that doesn’t keep Kate busy enough, she’s got a blog on WindyCitizen.com, The Little Things: Bits of the Spiritual Scene from the Second City, which is definitely worth a look.

W&L Co-Sponsors Seminar on Reporting on the Economy

Pam Luecke, the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism at Washington and Lee University, will address a workshop for journalists on covering economic issues on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in Richmond.

Sponsored by W&L and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the one-day event, “Economics Made Easy: A Journalism Workshop,” is designed for journalists in Virginia and West Virginia who want to gain better understanding of economic concepts and current economic issues.

Luecke’s presentation is titled “From Data to Deadlines: Finding Great Stories in Economic Reports.” She teaches courses on reporting on the economy and business. Luecke was previously editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. She surprised reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes at the Hartford Courant and the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Others presenting at the workshop include columnist John Berry, who has covered the economy for the Washington Post, Bloomberg News and other publications, along with Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and several other officials of the bank.

For additional information, go to the event’s Web site.

Law School Launches New Criminal Defense Clinic

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Food Savers

The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee is nothing if not resourceful. Take, for instance, what CKWL coordinator Jenny Sproul did back in August when she received a donation of chicken feet. Rather than turning up her nose at the unusual gift, Jenny learned how to make chicken stock out of the feet. More recently, CKWL has joined with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to establish a partnership with the Lexington Walmart.  Starting in September and working with Walmart through a national food bank called Feeding America, CKWL has been recovering food that Walmart would have ordinarily thrown out. During the first month alone, CKWL was able to recover 4,187 pounds of food from Walmart that would have gone to waste, including dairy as well as dry grocery products. Students working with CKWL pick up food from Walmart three times a week and, because of this increase in donations, the group is now helping to support several area food pantries. Meantime, during September, the Campus Kitchen served 1,487 meals and also began working with the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic to provide health meals for a diabetes education class.

Poverty Law Scholar David Super to Lecture at School of Law

David Super, professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law and a leading scholar in the field of anti-poverty law, will speak at the Washington and Lee School of Law on Monday, Oct. 19, at 7:00 p.m. in Classroom A, Sydney Lewis Hall.

Super’s lecture is titled “The Future of Poverty in America: Recession, Health Care Reform and Climate Change.” His visit is sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability and the University Lectures Fund. The event is free and open to the public.

Super’s scholarship seeks to reconstruct the intellectual framework for anti-poverty law. He has argued that entitlements are the most efficient and transparent public benefit programs and has also explored “fiscal federalism” to identify features of states’ fiscal constitutions that create subtle but strong biases against programs serving low-income people.

Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Super served as general counsel to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

As general counsel, he focused on food assistance and income security programs for low-income people, including those serving immigrants and persons with disabilities. He continues to write for legal services publications and to conduct trainings for legal services programs around the country.

Super has been a visiting professor at the law schools at Harvard, Yale and Washington and Lee and has taught as a visiting lecturer or adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Princeton University. He graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude and from the Harvard Law School with honors.

The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson to Speak at W&L

If you do a Google search for the phrase “trenchant and incisive,” five of the top 10 results concern Gretchen Morgenson.

The assistant business and financial editor at The New York Times and author of the weekly “Fair Game” column, Morgenson will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Oct. 26, at 4:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

“Trenchant and incisive,” that’s the phrase the Pulitzer committee used in its citation when Morgenson won the 2002 Beat Reporting award for coverage of Wall Street; that’s the phrase many believe encapsulates her work at The New York Times. It’s a phrase that may come to mind at her talk at W&L.

Entitled “What I Saw at the Meltdown: A Reporter’s Inside Take on the Biggest Financial Fiasco Since the Great Depression,” Morgenson’s talk is free and open to the public. Afterward, she will have a book signing outside the theater entrance.

Morgenson’s visit is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which also endows the university’s Reynolds Program in Business Journalism and its Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism.

Morgenson joined the Times business section in 1998 after stops at “Vogue,” “Forbes,” “Worth” and “Money” magazines and side trips as a stockbroker for Dean Witter Reynolds and as press secretary for the presidential election campaign of Steve Forbes.

While at Forbes magazine, her story of anti-investor practices lead to investigations by both the Justice Department and SEC of the Nasdaq stock market. At the Times, she has covered such issues as financial analysts’ conflicts of interest, world financial markets and executive compensation packages. Recent topics amount to a encyclopedia of recession and bailout highlights: Goldman Sachs, AIG, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch.

In a July profile in “The Nation” magazine, writer Dean Stockman called Morgenson, “the most important financial journalist of her generation.” What sets her apart from other business writers, said Stockman, “is that she combines (her) blunt writing style with a prodigious fact-gathering ability and an accountability mindset all too rare in the business-press culture. This allows her to go beyond merely reporting and commenting on the public agenda. She helps to set it.”

Morgenson’s most recent book, published this year by HarperCollins, is “The Capitalist’s Bible: The Essential Guide to Free Markets – And Why They Matter to You.” It’s a primer on concepts like supply and demand and globalization. It includes work from some of history’s top economic thinkers. She also is the author of “Forbes Great Minds Of Business,” published by John Wiley & Co., in 1997, and co-author of “The Woman’s Guide to the Stock Market,” published by Harmony Books in 1981.

Morgenson graduated in 1976 from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., with a degree in English and history.

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, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

Paula Meehan, Irish Poet and Playwright, Will Give Poetry Reading

Irish poet, playwright and teacher Paula Meehan will give a poetry reading at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.

Meehan will be reading from her new book of poetry, “Painting Rain” (2009). The reading is free and open to the public.

Poet, playwright and current poet laureate of Great Britain Carol Ann Duffy said, “Paula Meehan is a vocational poet of courage and integrity. Already much-loved and admired far beyond the shores of her native Ireland, Meehan advances her claim on our hearts and minds with Painting Rain. From present-day Dublin to Ancient Greece, the myths and flawed heroes of her poems give back to us our own lives, counted out in illuminated moments of joy, pain, love and memory.”

Meehan is also the author of books of poetry including “Return and No Blame” (1984); “Pillow Talk” (1994); and “Dharmakaya” (2000) among others. She is the author of “Cell: a play” (2000) and “Music for Dogs: Work for Radio” (2008).

Meehan has conducted workshops with many inner-city communities, prisons and universities. Her work has often been translated and among the prizes for her work that she has won are The Martin Toonder Award (1995), The Butler Literary Award (1998) and the Denis Devlin Award (2002).

Born in Dublin, Meehan studied at Trinity College in Dublin and at Eastern Washington University.

Research Curator Suzannah Lipscomb to Lecture at W&L on Henry VIII

Suzannah Lipscomb, a research curator at Hampton Court Palace, London, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.

Lipscomb’s lecture is titled “Prince to Tyrant: What Changed Henry VIII?” and will examine aspects of the Tudor world with an emphasis on historical research.

This lecture, sponsored by the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and the history department, is free and open to the public.

A former Royal Historical Society Marshall Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, Lipscomb is currently a member of a team working to recreate the Tudor Palace to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne in 1509.

Lipscomb’s book, “1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII,” published this year, was described by acclaimed historian David Starkey as “a bold and original attempt to unravel one of the great mysteries of English history.”

In addition to her Tuesday night talk, Lipscomb will be a guest lecturer in a Shakespeare class at W&L and visit with Medieval and Renaissance Studies faculty and students.

Lipscomb was educated at Epsom College and Lincoln College, Oxford, where she studied modern history and received her master’s in historical research.


Photograph of Suzannah Lipscomb courtesy of John Cairns: www.johncairnsphotography.co.uk

Harvard Economist Richard Freeman to Lecture at W&L on Shared Prosperity After Financial Crisis

Richard B. Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University, will give a lecture in the Johnson Lecture Series at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room in the Law School.

Freeman’s talk is titled “Can the U.S. Restore Shared Prosperity After the Financial Meltdown?” He will explore the problems facing U.S. workers and business in recovering from the meltdown and suggests ways to overcome those problems.

The lecture will touch on the implosion of Wall Street, the weakness of the U.S. capitalist system, trickle-down economics, the virtues of greed to provide stable growth for all, and the shift in income distribution from the middle class to the super-wealthy.

This lecture, which is co-sponsored by the Johnson Lecture Series, Shepherd Poverty Program and the economics department, is free and open to the public.

As well as holding an esteemed chair in the economics department at Harvard, Freeman currently serves as faculty director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School. He directs the National Bureau of Economic Research/Sloan Science Engineering Workforce Projects and is Senior Research Fellow in Labour Markets at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance.

Freeman also is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science (AAAS) and currently serves as a member of the AAAS Initiative for Science and Technology. He served on the study on Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States. He also served on five panels of the National Academy of Sciences, including the Committee on National Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists.

He received the Mincer Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Society of Labor Economics in 2006 and in 2007 was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics.

His recent publications include What Workers Want (2007, 2nd edition); Can Labor Standards Improve Under Globalization (2004); Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the 21st Century (2005); America Works: The Exceptional Labor Market (2007); and What Workers Say: Employee Voice in the Anglo American World (2007). His forthcoming IZA Prize book is Making Europe Work: IZA Labor Economics Series (2009).

What Ever Happened to…?

Some of us remember watching Kevin McClatchy on the basketball court, not the stage. During his undergraduate days at Washington and Lee, McClatchy, a 1985 graduate, was a guard who captained the Generals in the 1984-85 season and majored in journalism. That was then. Now he’s a veteran of stage and screen with an impressive list of credits — from E.R. to NCIS with lots of roles in between. We stumbled across Kevin’s Web site not long ago and then found a Columbus Alive review of a play produced this past summer by Carrickmacross Productions, the company founded by Kevin and his wife, Lisa, in Columbus, Ohio, where he now lives and where he teaches acting. You can see all his credits on his site and can watch his demo reel there or below:

Leaving a Cushy Lifestyle for Tanzania

The Autumn 2009 issue of Kappa Alpha Theta magazine features a wonderful article on Washington and Lee alumna Alexandra Schaerrer of the Class of 2002 and her work with The School of St. Jude in Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa. The piece refers to Alexandra’s work with Head Start during her undergraduate days at W&L, quoting her as remembering: “It was a wonderful thing to pay attention to these little ones, as they obviously craved it.” St. Jude has 1,200 of the brightest and poorest children in Tanzania, and each student has a sponsor who covers all their costs. By choosing to become the marketing director of the school, Alexandra told the magazine: “I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. Not just talk about making a difference, but actually really get up, leave behind my cushy lifestyle, and get my hands dirty.”

Annual Supreme Court Preview Highlights Variety on Supreme Court Docket

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Washington and Lee Receives Mellon Grant for New Spring Term

Washington and Lee University has received a $650,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance the educational effectiveness of the University’s four-week spring term.

As part of the academic life initiative developed in 2007, W&L has embarked on a revitalization of its spring term, which has been shortened from six to four weeks and during which students will now take a single, intensive course.

This revitalization has entailed the development of more than 175 new and innovative courses. These new courses are focused on creating the kinds of intensive teacher-student-peer interaction and rigorous response to subject matter, materials, and learning experiences that are the hallmark of a formative liberal arts education.

The Mellon grant will be used to fund most of the cost of operations and managing the project, including honoraria for speakers and special materials for courses, enrichment events, continuing course development, and support for off-campus courses.

Washington and Lee Provost June Aprille said that the Mellon Foundation grant will permit the new spring term to meet many of the goals that have been set for it.

“We are most appreciative that the Mellon Foundation has provided us with this funding as we develop this initiative,” Aprille said. “By focusing full-time on just one course for this short term, students will be intensely engaged with their professors and peers in a rigorous in depth and personal response to important subject matter. Another key feature of the intensive one-course model is the scheduling freedom to move the class off-campus as needed to consult original sources and visit key sites.”

Marc C. Conner, professor of English, is director of the spring term and has been working with faculty on the development of the new courses.

“The ‘revitalized’ spring term preserves and enhances the best of the traditional W&L spring term,” Conner said. “All the courses will be intensive and transformative for our students, with innovative pedagogies, creative experiences, close student-faculty collaboration, travel, guest speakers, study abroad, and much more. The real aim is for students to enhance their critical thinking abilities in multiple ways, and to offer this highly intense, fully engaging experience as both a contrast and a complement to the superb teaching we do in the long terms.”

The first courses in the new format will be offered in 2010. A few examples of the kinds of courses that will be taught include: an examination of the ethics, economics and ecology of surface mining in central Appalachia, technical examination of 17th-century Dutch paintings, an in-depth exploration of the use of puppets and masks in theatre; and a study of children’s literature, including classroom observation of children.

According to George Carras, director of corporate and foundation relations, this latest grant from the Mellon Foundation is one of five different grants totaling $2.5 million that the foundation has made to W&L in recent years. Other programs that have been supported include strategies to enhance international education at W&L; efforts to create a more diverse faculty; the addition of a Chesapeake Bay Watershed initiative to W&L’s environmental science program; creation of a leave program for assistant professors to pursue research; development of in-house funding for technology in teaching; and the addition of a post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies.

Conflict over Water in Peru Has Lessons for Climate Change

This is the story of a small community in the Andes and its fight with a major energy company over access to water. No one knows how the conflict will end. But, as Washington and Lee University history professor Mark Carey observes, the battle offers lessons for other communities threatened by the early effects of climate change.

Carey, who specializes in environmental history, has been following the unfolding events as part of his ongoing research into the social history of climate change and glacier retreat.

As a corollary, the story also illustrates the value of student-faculty research collaboration. In this case, Carey is working with Elliott O’Brien, a W&L senior with a major in politics, and Adam French, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Their research is funded by the National Science Foundation. O’Brien spent several weeks on site in Peru collecting information for his senior thesis on the development of social movements in defense of water access. “This is a great example of student-professor collaboration,” said Carey.

Back to the Andes: Carey sees the unfolding events there as the perfect illustration of how climate change solutions sometimes have less to do with science and technology and more to do with the social relations and power dynamics of the groups involved. “We aren’t saying who is right and wrong, who is victim and aggressor- we are still trying to figure that out,” he said.

Lake Parón is a glacial lake in the Peruvian Andes, supporting a community of 15,000 people.

• View a slide show from Lake Paron

The people in the area live with the looming danger that, as the glacier above the lake continues to melt, the lake will overflow its banks, flooding the area and possibly killing many in the community. Such glacier flooding has happened in the past in other areas-between 1941 and 1970, retreating glaciers in the Andes caused three floods and two avalanches that killed 25,000 people.

To forestall such a flood, the Peruvian government partially drained Lake Parón 25 years ago by digging a tunnel into it. In 1991 they installed floodgates on the drainage tunnel to control the water level and increase production of hydroelectricity.

As the story goes, things started to go wrong for the local people in 1996, when the Cañón del Pato hydroelectric station was privatized and Duke Energy (a U.S. company) acquired the rights to control Lake Parón that provides water for hydroelectricity generation.

The waters of the lake fluctuate according to whether it is the dry or rainy season, and the state had already established a level of water above which the lake should not rise during the rainy season, due to the risk of flooding. Some have since specified a water level below which the lake should not be allowed to go during the dry season.

Unfortunately, Duke Energy released large quantities of water during the dry season, periodically reducing the lake level to below this minimum. Locals described the lake as ugly and “nothing more than a puddle,” which undermined its appeal as a tourist attraction.

The community decided to reclaim control of the lake, and in 2008 it did just that.

“The local people showed up and kicked out Duke and all the authorities and took control of their lake,” said Carey.

Carey’s team is trying to get hold of records of lake water use in recent history to understand more precisely how much water Duke Energy took out. “This would help us better understand whether or not the company was acting within its legal rights to water or whether the locals do, in fact, have a point that Duke Energy mismanaged the water,” he said.

After taking over the lake, the local people decided to return the water to its correct level by not allowing any more water out.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple.

Although the citizens retain physical control of the lake today, they don’t have access to the tunnel to control the water flow because the energy company has put four padlocks on the tunnel’s door.

“The community has control of the area but they can’t physically get inside the tunnel and change the water flow,” said O’Brien.

As a result, at the end of the rainy season the water level briefly breached the upper limit defined by hazard assessments of the lake. This increased the likelihood of a catastrophic flood with the potential to wipe out the town below.

“It’s a big lake,” said Carey. “It has five times more water than the flood of 1941 that killed 5,000 people in a neighboring area. With the rainy season coming around again in March, we are once more approaching a critical time.”

Carey’s team is among the first in the Andes to look at this conflict as social scientists, considering the perspectives of all the groups involved in Lake Parón, not just those of the scientists or government. “There are several groups involved, including Duke Energy, water users, local farmers and residents, state policy makers and environmental scientists,” said Carey. “By looking at the way these groups interact, and the different views they bring to the problem, we can get a better understanding of why people make the decisions they make.”

During O’Brien’s time with the local people he gained a good understanding of the issue from their perspective and understands why they took such radical action.

“These are rural people living in the highlands who historically have been alienated from the national government,” he said. “Many people in the Andes feel that the state’s concern about their communities’ vulnerability to glacier disasters is just another way for them to expand the state’s control over their lives and exploit their resources.

“So there’s a lot of tension between the locals and the National Water Authority that supposedly regulates water users in Peru. They don’t have any faith in them. They are also frustrated because their representatives in the national government have only paid lip service in support of the community’s fight.”

O’Brien said he found that the beauty of the lake is a major concern to the local people-geologists in the 1950s compared its beauty to that of the Yosemite Valley. “The lake also has a huge influence in local traditions and songs, and is prominently featured on the town seal. It is a big part of the town’s culture and to lose it would be to lose part of the soul of the town,” he said.

The locals also had issues with the way the water had been managed in the past for irrigation, which caused large floods of water down the river. “Their irrigation system consists of logs and stones, so when a big volume of water comes down it washes it all away and they have to rebuild it,” O’Brien explained.

There were also problems because the high water flows carried increased sediment, which clogged the drinking water treatment facility.

O’Brien summed up the situation as having several different components – spiritual, cultural, economic and survival.

It all illustrates Carey’s view that bringing in scientific modelers to predict what’s going to happen with climate change is important but inadequate by itself. “This is about social factors,” he said. “The work we are doing here in this important case of water management and social conflict has many lessons for other communities dealing with climate change and water management legislation.”

Carey said the lessons from Lake Parón will be relevant not just in Peru and Ecuador, but also in Bolivia which he said is really going to suffer. “There are tens of millions of people in south Asia who are in the same predicament with the disappearing Himalayan glaciers, where the local people rely on water from the glacial lakes.”

Carey used the Lake Parón situation as a case study at a climate-glaciers workshop in Peru that he and O’Brien attended in July. He was also the chosen delegate to present researchers’ recommendations on how to handle climate change issues to the Peruvian Minister of Environment.

“We need to understand the human responses to climate change and natural disasters,” added Carey, “because it shows what we will face in the future.”

For more information about glacier-climate issues and another project Carey has been working on with his undergraduate students, visit: http://glaciers.wlu.edu

W&L Professor Kathleen Olson’s Exhibit “Somewhere In Between” Opens in Staniar Gallery

“Somewhere In Between,” an exhibition of paintings by Kathleen Olson, opens October 8 in Staniar Gallery in the Art Department of Washington and Lee University.

Olson joined the faculty of Washington and Lee in 1987 as a professor of studio art. She now teaches all levels of drawing and painting.

Olson has exhibited widely in regional, national and international exhibitions and is the recipient of many grants allowing her to paint in France, Greece, Italy and Montenegro.

In “Somewhere In Between,” largely created during her sabbatical in the 2007-2008 academic year, Olson explores the intersection between domestic interiors and their surrounding landscapes in the Mediterranean region. She invites the viewer to experience this area of the world through vivid, boldly colorful representations of nature.

Olson has been giving Washington and Lee students a similar opportunity to paint from their travels by leading the “Drawing Italy” class every other spring term since 1999. This past May, she took a group of eleven sophomores and juniors to Rome, Spoleto, Cortona, Florence and Venice. The students’ work will be on view outside the Gallery.

Olson will be giving an artist’s talk on Friday, Oct. 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of Wilson Hall. The talk will be followed by a reception and is free and open to the public. “Somewhere In Between” will be on view in Staniar Gallery through November 6.

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.

A Tree Grows in Lexington

As one of the guests at Washington and Lee’s 250th anniversary celebration in May 1999, Kitty Dunlap received a small pot containing a spruce seedling from the Christmas tree farm at Skylark, W&L’s property on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The symbolic seedling, as Kitty remembers, was to remind everyone to pay attention to their roots. Kitty took her seedling home and nurtured it over this past decade. Each time it outgrew the pot on her front steps, she’d replant it to a larger pot. Finally it outgrew the pots, and she planted it in her Lexington backyard.  But Kitty, who is now in her 51st year as a W&L employee, began to fret when she looked out in the backyard and saw the spruce stretching its branches. “It wasn’t fair for it not to have the space it really needed to grow,” Kitty said. “I thought maybe I could trim it back, but it just wouldn’t work. It needed more room than I could give it.” So one day this fall, Kitty, who once served as the administrative assistant to ROTC and now is the receptionist in Washington Hall, was chatting with W&L President Ken Ruscio. “I told him about this little tree needing a home,” she said. The president knew exactly what to do. He called Facilities Management and passed along to them the story of Kitty’s tree. Before long, a spot was found near Lee Chapel where a spruce would have all the room it needs to grow to its full height. In early September, a crew successfully transplanted the tree from Kitty’s backyard to its new home on the campus — “where it belongs,” Kitty said. “I’m thrilled that it can go where it can get as big as it wants, that it has a home where it can thrive.” For his part, President Ruscio said it was an easy call: “Kitty is an example of someone who has worked here for 50 years and is definitely not unmindful of the future.”

A Cool Event for One of the 10 Coolest Towns

So maybe this is yet another reason that Budget Travel has tagged Lexington as one of its 10 coolest small towns. On Saturday, Lexington is staging its Second Annual Plein Air Paint Out. The term “plein air” comes from the French en plein air, meaning “in the open air.” The Impressionists were particularly interested in the influence of changing light outdoors on color. So starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, numerous professional Virginia painters will set up easels around town and begin painting at various locations. Then, once they finish at 4:30 pm, there will be a public opening to view all the finished paintings  from 5 to 7 p.m. at Nelson Gallery, 27 West Washington Street. Painting location maps can be obtained at Nelson Gallery or the Lexington Visitor Center. Among the artists who’ll be at work is Kathleen Olson, professor of art at W&L, who will be concentrating on Woods Creek. Kathleen’s new shown, “Somewhere In Between,” opened in W&L’s Staniar Gallery Thursday, and she will be giving an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m. today in Wilson Hall. You can read about her exhibition and talk here. Meanwhile, the Plein Air Paint Out is co-sponsored by Rockbridge Area Tourism and Nelson Gallery. And speaking of a cool town, Saturday’s weather forecast predicts some very cool painters.

Hiba Assi in O, The Oprah Magazine

Washington and Lee senior Hiba Assi is featured in the current issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, in a story about the Hope Fund, a program that provides scholarship funding for Palestinian refugees to study in the United States. As the story in O explains,  Hiba is one of six daughters of a family from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. The story of her journey to W&L is told in dramatic detail, describing how she and her family escaped during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, fleeing to Syria and getting a visa just days before classes began in the fall term of 2006. A double major in physics and mathematics, Hiba was one of the inaugural winners of a Johnson Opportunity Grant this past summer and studied fluid dynamics in a lab at the American University in Lebanon. You can read what Hiba wrote about coming to W&L midway in her first year on the Hope Fund site.

NSF Grant Places W&L at Forefront of Undergraduate Schools

Washington and Lee University’s chemistry department has received a grant from the National Science Foundation for the addition of a new mass spectrometer.

According to W&L chemistry professor Lisa Alty, the new instrument, which costs slightly more than $280,000, will enhance both research and undergraduate classes.

Alty said that while she expects the new spectrometer to be standard in every chemistry department in about 10 years, the NSF grant means that W&L will be one of the very few liberal arts colleges to have the instrument.

“We’ve wanted this instrument for about two years,” she said. “All the research institutions have them, but there are very few colleges like W&L that have one without also having a graduate program in chemistry and biochemistry.

“One of the things we’ve worked very hard on is having state-of-the-art technology to do analyses of molecules and this is another piece of that whole picture,” she said. “I was delighted to hear my application was successful and I think it was a matter of my being in the right place at the right time.”

The instrument’s full name is a liquid chromatograph electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer. It is more often identified by its initials – ESI-TOF LC/MS.

On the research side, Alty said the instrument will mean that faculty will be able to conduct some aspects of their research at W&L. “Marcia France and Erich Uffelman, both chemistry professors, have been sending samples away to bigger institutions that have these instruments to get data from them for probably 10 years,” said Alty. “Now they won’t have to do that. Bill Hamilton, associate professor of biology, will also use the mass spectrometer in his research.”

Alty said that over the last few years the technology of the mass spectrometer has become more user-friendly and the interfaces have become more student-friendly. “All the hundred or so students that come through first-year chemistry will use the instrument and will get a tutorial in the lab on what it does and why it’s important. Then all the chemistry and biochemistry majors will use it extensively in the spectroscopy lab,” she said.

The chemistry department currently has a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer which enables researchers to look at small molecules. “The molecules we’ll be able to look at with this new instrument are much larger,” said Alty. “To show the difference of scale of the size of molecules we’ll be able to measure: with our current instrument, we measure molecules from the size of a marble to a baseball. With this new mass spectrometer we’ll be able to measure molecules up to the size of a car.”

The instrument’s software will also calculate molecular formulae that match the mass data so that investigators can determine the structures of the molecules. “We’re going to be able to get an exact measurement of mass. You can think of it as being a scale for molecules,” said Alty. “We’ll get a number at the end of the run that will say this molecule weighs a certain amount, and it will be a really exact measurement of how much it weighs.”

The ESI-TOF LC/MS will provide data for nine participating faculty members at W&L and Virginia Military Institute, as well as research data and training for the undergraduate students who work with them.

Party Animals

Is the level of political discourse any different now than in years past? Are the word angrier? Is the media more obtrusive? Has the competition between political parties made the president’s job impossible? During a fascinating panel discussion that was co-hosted by Washington and Lee and held at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center last Friday, a star-studded group of academics and journalists debated those questions. It’s worth a listen (click on the audio above to hear the first hour of the program). W&L’s Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics, Edward Wasserman, moderated. Panelists were, in order of their presentations,  Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics and Assistant Director for Academic Programs at the Miller Center; Elane Kamarck, former senior advisor to Vice President Al Gore and lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School; William Kristol, editor and publisher of the Weekly Standard; and E.J. Dionne, professor at Georgetown University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Washington Post columnist.

W&L Health & Wellness Fair Set for Oct. 13

W&L’s first Health & Wellness Fair takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Evans Dining Hall. Students, faculty and staff will be able to speak with representatives from W&L organizations and outside agencies and see demonstrations about a variety of wellness-related topics. The fair is sponsored by W&L’s Human Resources Department and Office of Health Promotion.

Campus organizations on hand will include LIFE peer health educators (demonstrating beer goggles), Campus Recreation, CAIR (Confidential and Impartial Resolution Resources), DPAs (Discrimination Policy Advisers), the Office of Health Promotion and the Human Resources Department. Outside participants will include Anthem, Weight Watchers, ComPsych (W&L’s Employee Assistance Program), massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, fitness centers, childbirth and breastfeeding coaches, elder care resources and local health-support groups.

The fair will also have a variety of health screenings, such as blood pressure readings, and seasonal flu shots will be available by prior signup. A variety of door prizes will be awarded throughout the event, with vendors conducting demonstrations at their tables. Faculty and staff attendees will receive a voucher for a healthy lunch in the Marketplace.

For more information, see go.wlu.edu/wellness.

W&L Novelist Vying for State Award

As we have noted in the past, Domnica Radulescu’s debut novel, Train to Trieste, has already been recognized with numerous honors and lots of positive reviews. Now the novel is a finalist for the annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Competing in the fiction category, Domnica, professor of romance languages, is one of three finalists for the top prize; the others are Geraldine Brooks for People of the Book, and David A. Taylor for Success: Stories. Announcement of the award will be made on Saturday, Oct. 17, at a banquet in Richmond where best-selling author John Grisham will receive the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award and W&L alumnus Roger Mudd is a finalist for the People’s Choice Award.

What Big Teeth It Had!

As a dentist, Bob Gatling  of the Class of 1972 has seen his share of teeth close up. But one day last month he was shocked at the sight of the teeth of the 13-foot, 800-pound alligator that he and his buddies had just pulled into their boat on the St. Johns River near Palatka, Fla. Bob thought the gator was already a goner when they got it in the boat.  As he explained in an interview with the Jacksonville CBS affiliate, the gators’ eye opened and the duct tape that had been used to secure its jaws went flying “like confetti.” According to a story in Outdoor Life, Bob has been hunting alligators, which is legal during a two-and-a-half month season in Florida, for the past seven years. This was not the first one he’s landed, but it’s clearly the largest. The gator was big enough and Bob’s story scary enough that it made its way to national news on Fox. The clip is below:

Erich Wasserman, Co-Founder and Vice President of MediaMath, To Discuss Internet Advertising

Erich Wasserman, co-founder and vice-president of MediaMath, will discuss the technology and business that is transforming the online world in a talk at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. in Huntley Hall, room 327.

Wasserman’s talk is titled “Inside Internet Advertising” and will explore online advertising technology and solutions for top tier advertising agencies and their brands.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

The discussion will offer an insight into work in new media and its importance in the business world. This cutting-edge information would be valuable to many professionals, specifically those in the schools of Journalism and Mass Communications and Commerce.

Wasserman leads the sales and account teams at MathMedia, a New York online advertising technology and solutions provider. MediaMath offers a partnership with its clients that delivers reach and performance through one relationship: the efficiency of search with the creative and branding impact of display. Wasserman shows clients how MediaMath provides significant returns through proprietary bid management solutions and helps draft programs to drive clients’ business goals.

An avid activist, Wasserman worked at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national civil liberties organization, as executive director. He later co-founded Hope For Vision, an organization devoted to finding treatments and cures to blinding eye diseases.

Prior to founding MediaMath, Erich transitioned into online advertising technology as an executive director of media solutions at [x+1], a segment of the company Media+1, which still thrives today.

Wasserman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. His father, Professor Ed Wasserman, is the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at W&L.


A One Man Band

Scott Broom’s particular brand of reporting is generally known as “backpack journalism”— the notion being that a reporter carries everything from a pencil to a laptop to a video camera and takes a story from start to finish with the tools in his backpack. Scott’s been doing just that with a great deal of success (two local Emmys, nine AP awards and two Telly awards) for Washington, D.C.’s WUSA-TV. Now the 1983 W&L grad’s work is enshrined in the Newseum as the central feature an exhibit on the Digital News Revolution. Scott has described the exhibit on his blog site, One Man’s Band, where he admitted ambivalence about becoming the poster child for this new era of journalism since it’s based, at least in part on the need to trim costs — i.e., one reporter with a backpack vs. a three-person TV crew of day’s past. Scott is well versed in the tools of the digital trade, as his blog indicates, since you can subscribe to his Twitter feed, find his Facebook page, and look up recent stories on YouTube.

Prison Overcrowding Target of New W&L Partnership in Liberia

Original story at:

W&L Student Presents Research at Computing Conference for Women

When you go on-line to buy something, you concentrate on the purchase and not on the Web applications that have to be running correctly in order for you to make that purchase successfully.

But someone has to make sure all these applications are running correctly, and Web testers must go through these pages one at a time to be sure they are all working properly. Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at Washington and Lee University, says the the process is both tedious and prone to error since each page contains so much code that has to be checked. “The testers are going to miss something,” said Sprenkle.

For the last four years, Sprenkle has been developing tools that can automate the process of checking that these applications are working correctly. She has already published papers on her research but expects the work won’t be completed for at least another year or more.

Camille Cobb and Carrie Hopkins, both sophomores at W&L participated in Sprenkle’s research this summer at her alma mater,the University of Delaware. Cobb will present their summer research during a poster session at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, held in Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.

This ties into Sprenkle’s other mission-promoting women in computer science.

Sprenkle pointed out that the trend of women in computer science is actually going backward. “Fewer than 20 percent of computer science degrees are earned by women today,” she said. “In the 1980s it was closer to 35 percent.

“Three women students graduated in computer science from W&L in 2009. But right now we have only one woman majoring in computer science, and she’s a junior. We don’t have any in the senior class.”
Cobb plans to change that when she declares her major in computer science.

“I decided this summer that I was going to be a computer science major, plus either physics or physics engineering. I had already taken one computer science class at W&L, and I had thought about it, but the summer research tipped the balance for me. I was mostly working with other women, which is unusual, and it was great,” she said.

When Cobb presents her research at the conference, she will be joining between 1,000 and 1,400 other women.
“The purpose of the conference is to gather women in computing together, to help them feel less isolated and to give them the resources they need to succeed in computing,” said Sprenkle.

Cobb is funded to attend the conference by the Computing Research Association’s Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

For more information on the conference go to http://gracehopper.org/2009/

W&L Alum Inaugurated As College of Idaho President

The College of Idaho is inaugurating Washington and Lee alumnus Marvin Henberg as its 12th president today in Caldwell, Idaho. No doubt, those who knew Marvin during his student days when he was known as Swede and served as student body president and won a Rhodes Scholarship would be quick to tell the folks at the College of Idaho that they made a good choice. A first generation student who came to W&L from Wyoming, Marvin got his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas after studying in Oxford on the Rhodes. He’s had a distinguished academic career with stops at the University of Idaho and Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., where he was interim president. Through his career, Marvin’s W&L experience has not been far from his mind. In fact, his official biography on the College of Idaho Web site features this concluding quote: “Whatever successes I have had in my teaching, I attribute them to my enthusiasm for making ideas come alive for students in the way my W&L mentors made them come alive for me.” And a really good interview with him in the Idaho Statesman has this tribute to his alma mater: “I would never have done anything in life if donors from my alma mater, Washington and Lee University (in Virginia), had not funded scholarships that took a kid from Wyoming who was bright but had no background and gave me an education.”