Feature Stories Campus Events

Law Professor Christopher Bruner Wins AALS Scholarly Papers Competition

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More Recognition for Lesley Wheeler's Poetry

Lesley Wheeler, professor and head of the English department at Washington and Lee, has been honored by Barrow Street Press, a small, poetry-only press in New York City with a high reputation among poets. Lesley’s manuscript Heterotopia was named the winner of the 2009 Barrow Street Poetry Book Prize.  Contemporary American poet David Wojahn, who currently directs the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth, selected Lesley’s manuscript. The contest generally draws about 600 applicants each year, and, as the winning manuscript, Heterotopia will be published by Barrow Street.  Here’s one of Lesley’s poems:

Inland Song

In some kind houses the doors
never quite shut. Every table
hosts a bowl of eggs—wooden ones
or striped stone, cool to touch.

What could grow in an egg like that?
A day becomes a story becomes a bird,
a lost seagull who shrinks each time
I describe him. Watch him fold

his filigree wings, crawl into
the shell. His song wasn’t much,
but he tries to swallow it,
as if he can retreat

to an ornamental state
of potential. This is not possible,
even in an inland village named
Barnacle. Just brush your fingers

over the eggs as you leave,
memorize the feel of the grain.
The paths are thick with nettles,
but if they sting, rub the blisters

with a fistful of dock. Pain
and consolation grow next
to each other, in some kind
countries. House and wing.

Remembering Todd Smith

It’s been a little more than 20 years ago now that Todd Smith was killed in South America, apparently by cocaine traffickers. And it’s been a little more than 26 years ago that Todd graduated from Washington and Lee after majoring in English and serving as co-editor of the Ring-tum Phi. But last week  20 years t0 the day since Todd’s death — brought Todd’s story back to life in a powerful way. Tribune writer Steve Otto wrote of Todd: “He had an enormous appetite for news and it was not confined to local county commissions. He wanted to write on a global scale.” Otto’s description can be paired with something that was written immediately after Todd’s death in 1989. A story in the St. Petersburg Times on Nov. 22, 1989, began: “At a dinner two years ago before Todd C. Smith left two years ago to cover the Nicaraguan civil war, a colleague offered a simple toast. ‘To Todd Smith,’ said a St. Petersburg Times reporter, ‘who had the guts to do what the rest of us just talked about doing.'” Todd is remembered at W&L through the memorial fellowship fund established in 1990 and designed to reflect Todd’s interest in promoting understanding of foreign issues and cultures through journalism. Todd and his story need to remembered.

W&L Law Grad Is Virginia's Business Person of the Year

Shawn Boyer, a 1997 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, says that “…you can never let your mind go to, ‘What if it doesn’t work?’” And Shawn certainly put that maxim in motion, creating SnagAJob.com in August 1999 and then riding the roller-coaster of good dot-com times and bad to that point that he has just been named Virginia Business Person of the Year by Virginia Business magazine. Of course, in some respects, the Virginia Business honor is small potatoes for Shawn after he was named the Small Business Association’s National Small Business Person of the Year in 2008 and picked up his award from former President George W. Bush, who was about to be out of a job himself. As the Virginia Business article reports, the former president said of Shawn: “I asked him to leave a business card. Seems like I might be looking, after awhile.” After W&L, Shaw practiced law with Brown & Wood LLP (now Sidley Austin, LLP) and Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP, prior to starting SnagAJob.com, which is the largest part-time and hourly job-posting site in the nation. Here’s a link to the Virginia Business Person of the Year story.

Retired Professor S. Todd Lowry Delivers Paper at International Conference in Japan

Dr. S. Todd Lowry, professor emeritus of economics at Washington and Lee University, delivered a paper at the international Workshop on Mathematical Economics at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 15.

Lowry’s paper, “Pythagorean Mathematical Idealism and the Framing of Economic and Political Theory,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Advances in Mathematical Economics (Springer, Tokyo) and will also be translated into Japanese to be included in an edited collection of academic essays.

Lowry, who had to decline an invitation from Keio University to attend an October conference on economics, was then invited to the Workshop on Mathematical Economics in November at which time he delivered his paper.

At the international workshop, Lowry spoke about Pythagoreans whose thought emphasized rationality as a natural phenomenon. Lowry said, “Pythagoreans and Plato believed you could investigate mathematics and not have to worry about the subtle inadequacies of rationality in observed processes.

“This approach was disturbed by the discovery of irrational numbers. Later Aristotle presented the idea that mathematics was introduced by human beings in order to analyze patterns in observed reality.”

After delivering his paper, he and his daughter, Lynn Leech, toured Japan for a few days seeing
a Kabuki play at the National Theatre in Toyko, touring Tokyo, visiting Nikko National Park and taking the bullet train to Kyoto, among other things. Lowry commented on the politeness and courteousness of the Japanese people and their bowing tradition and its meaning.

Lowry was a member of the W&L faculty from 1959 until his retirement in 1995. He received his B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Texas and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

Poetry and W&L Poets

Here’s some recent news about two Washington and Lee poets: First, today’s Poem of the Day on Poetry Daily is “Shades” by R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah and writer-in-residence at W&L. The poem was originally published in the Sewanee Review, and you can read it here. Meanwhile, the blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, has an interview with Washington and Lee alumnus Temple Cone, of the Class of 1995. Temple, whose first book of poetry, No Loneliness, was noted here last August, is an associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. In his first answer to the interviewers question, Temple offers this answer: “I love telling people that I’m a poet. Just a poet.” Read the entire interview here.

W&L English Professor Attends National Book Awards; Alumna is Finalist

Marc Conner, professor of English at Washington and Lee University, attended the National Book Awards on Nov. 18 as a guest of novelist Charles Johnson, who received an honorary degree from W&L in June and was the Martin Luther King Jr. Day speaker at the university in 2008. A winner of the National Book Award in 1990 for Middle Passage, Johnson chaired this year’s fiction-award judges’ panel.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon ’93 was a finalist for the poetry award, for Open Interval. An assistant professor of English at Cornell University, she won the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her book Black Swan and co-wrote with Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and delivered this year’s presidential-inauguration poem, the chapbook Poems in Conversation and a Conversation. Van Clief-Stefanon’s poems have appeared in Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review and Rattapallax, and in several anthologies.

Johnson announced the fiction winner: Colum McCann, for his novel Let the Great World Spin. McCann, born in Ireland and living in New York, was thrilled.

“I enjoyed the rare opportunity to attend,” said Conner. “McCann was definitely the popular choice. His novel is a tour de force of language, style, theme. He floats in and out of many characters’ minds, many stories, many plots, but weaves them all together in a beautiful, if painful, connected narrative.”

Comedian and writer Andy Borowitz hosted the ceremony. Actress Joanne Woodward presented the award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Gore Vidal. “In his 84th year, he delivered a trenchant acceptance speech,” said Conner, “focusing mainly on the fearful age in which we live.”

Complete details of the ceremony, the finalists and the winners can be viewed at http://www.nationalbook.org/index.html.

Hotchkiss Heads University Development Office

Julie Hotchkiss, a 1989 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, has just been named director of development at the Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, Oregon. The appointment is effective in early January. OSU-Cascades is the first branch campus in the Oregon University System. Julie has been working in nonprofit development for more than 17 years. She was most recently with the Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend and was with the High Desert Museum for 10 years before that. Julie began her development work in Charlotte, N.C., where she had gone to practice law. Her first job in development was as director of planned giving for Queens University in Charlotte. Julie comes by her success in development honestly, of course, since her father, Farris Hotchkiss, led W&L’s development operation for more than three decades prior to his retirement in 2001.

Drive Safer Nov. 29 in Memory of Cullum Owings '03

On the Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2002, Cullum and Pierce Owings were driving from their home in Atlanta back to Lexington where both were students at Washington and Lee. The brothers were three miles from the Lexington exit on I-81 north when their car was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. Cullum, a senior business administration major, died in the accident; Pierce ’06, a freshman at the time, had only minor injuries. Sunday, Nov. 29, will mark the fifth annual national observance of Drive Safer Sunday in America. The event is sponsored by Road Safe America, an organization founded by Cullum and Pierce’s parents, Stephen and Susan Owings of Atlanta, in Cullum’s honor. The organization is designed to bring awareness of the hazards of highway travel and provide statistics and safety tips to drivers. Its goals include better driver training for all drivers and limiting the top speed for large trucks. The Road Safe America Web site includes an electronic petition, urging the administration to order activation of speed governors set at 65 mph on all large commercial vehicles. The site also features a video in which the Owingses tell their story. Be careful on the highways this holiday.

Armchair Golf Blog Spotlights W&L's Langan

Matt Langan, a senior on the Washington and Lee golf team from Prospect, Ky., showed up this week with a q-and-a interview in the Armchair Golf Blog. It’s an interesting interview, and you can read it at this link. Matt does a particularly good job of relating the particular challenges that go with playing Division III sports at a college with demanding academics. For instance, he talks about the upcoming spring season and the various issues that seniors who aren’t looking at the Professional Golf Association tour in their futures will be juggling: “Our spring season—the one that really matters—will be dependent on how well the seniors (including myself) are able to focus on golf amidst the pressures of finding a job, applying for graduate schools, and/or wanting to soak up the last available bit of the college lifestyle.

Washington and Lee University Partners with QuestBridge

As part of its continuing efforts to attract and enroll a diverse group of students, Washington and Lee University has partnered with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that assists low-income, high-achieving students with college applications.

The QuestBridge program will augment W&L’s outreach efforts, according to Erin Hutchinson, senior associate director of admissions.

QuestBridge’s National College Match Program connects high-achieving, low-income students with admission and scholarships to approximately 27 partner colleges and universities. In 2008-09, it enabled more than 1,000 students to receive admission and financial aid from partner colleges. Partner institutions include Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Swarthmore, Emory and Rice, among others.

“Even though we did not get involved with QuestBridge until late in the summer, we’ve been pleased and surprised with the level of interest that we’ve seen,” Hutchinson said. “We have begun reading the applications and are finding that students who are applying through this program are bringing a very different set of experiences than we’ve traditionally seen.

“At the same time, these are really high-achieving, low-income students who are interested in attending competitive schools like Washington and Lee. Their academic records are exceptional, and their personal qualities are impressive.”

The QuestBridge National College Match program provides two different paths for students to gain admission partner colleges. One is an early admissions option in which students complete one application by September 30 and use it to apply early to up to eight of QuestBridge’s 27 partner colleges, ranking the schools in order of preference and agreeing to attend the school that ranks highest on their list and accepts them. All the colleges agree to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need of students selected through this program, and, as is the case with all W&L students receiving need-based financial aid, eliminating loans that may comprise part of a conventional financial aid package.

Meanwhile, the QuestBridge Regular Decision process enables qualified students to apply to partner colleges for free via the regular admissions process using their QuestBridge application.

Membership in QuestBridge is in keeping with the University’s strategic plan, which calls for W&L to “[e]nroll greater numbers of qualified American ethnic minorities and students from low- and middle-income families.” An ad hoc Committee on Socioeconomic Diversity in the Undergraduate Student Body submitted its report to President Kenneth P. Ruscio in June 2009. Among its recommendations was that Washington and Lee affiliate with an organization designed to increase college access to students in traditionally underserved populations.

In his response to the committee’s report, Ruscio said that “QuestBridge is one such group that immediately meets our needs and works with colleges that have rigorous admissions standards and demanding academic programs.”

Additional details about QuestBridge and the National College Match are available on the QuestBridge Web site.

W&L Students’ Business Plan Helps Amazon Villagers

When Katie Harris and Allie Long, both students at Washington and Lee University, first visited the village of Nossa Senhora das Graças in the Amazon, they thought they had just the plan to help the villagers establish a thriving business.

Then reality set in.

“We found there were barriers such as lack of access to electricity, government regulations and social issues that needed to be overcome in order to make a tangible difference,” said Harris.

The two undergraduates were in Brazil as part of W&L Student Consulting (WLSC), a student-managed organization created to provide pro bono consulting services to for-profit and not-for-profit business and community organizations. Their assignment was to create a comprehensive business plan to develop consumer products from malva and jute (both vegetable fibers) that the villagers grow and then market those products in the United States.

Rob Straughan, associate dean of W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics, sees the experience as a superb opportunity for the students – even when things don’t start as planned. “They get their hands dirty and it’s good for them to struggle to make business concepts and complex issues work at a grass roots level,” he said.

Once the students saw the reality on the ground, they adapted their plan and presented it in April 2009 to their client, an NGO (non-government organization) called Piatam, comprised of faculty and students at the Federal University of Amazonas in Manaus.

Phase one of the project concentrated on identifying products that could be made from the malva plant-bags, placemats and yoga mats-and identifying target markets. They also researched how to create demand for the products in order to increase orders for the raw product.

The students are currently working on the next phase, which is to get the malva plants-once they’ve been processed into large bales of fiber-directly to the factory, eliminating the middlemen who are certain to be resistant to change.

The middlemen give malva seeds to the villagers, but in return demand a large percentage of the processed plants, even if a particularly hard rainy season has flooded and ruined the crops. “The villagers are always indebted to the middlemen,” said Long, “so it’s going to be harder than we thought. We have to find a way to get around them.”

They also need to deal with other complicating factors: getting the raw material to the factories; persuading those factories to eliminate the middlemen; getting access to electricity to run machines to process the malva plants; securing funding to maintain the machines; and providing seeds to the villages for at least one cycle.

“It’s one thing to talk in class about distribution channels, structure and corporate social responsibility, said Straughan, “but until the students visit a village and see how dependent these people are on subsistence farming and fishing, day in and day out, they can’t fully appreciate it.”

Straughan visited the village with the students and described the experience as humbling. “The villagers are not looking to get rich off this. They just want an equitable portion. Whatever economic benefits come would be for the village as a whole-to buy generators or to buy seeds,” he said.

“I think this has been the perfect opportunity to combine what we’re learning in the classroom with our student consulting, and with increasing the quality of life of the villagers,” said Harris, a senior business major, who was project manager for the first phase. “We’re actually taking our business and marketing skills to try and make a difference in a small village in the Amazon. This has definitely changed the way I look at business as a whole. I’m much more interested now in taking into consideration environmental and social issues.”

Long, a junior business administration major with a concentration in poverty studies, has recently taken over as project manager and will work with W&L senior George Morgan, and W&L junior Martin McLendon.

She said that for her “the greatest part about all this is that we’ve really been part of something international. I don’t know of any other group of student consultants that has been able to work in a completely different culture, which was a real eye-opener for me. The villagers were really pleased and grateful for all the help we could give them.”

Another experience for the students was being invited to rewrite phase one of the project as a chapter in a book on sustainable development in the region, to be published by Piatam. “Their work was very well received,” said Straughan.

“This project has involved everything from traditional villagers in remote rain forests to retailers that would sell their product, such as Wal-Mart,” said Straughan, who advises Student Consulting with Elizabeth Oliver, professor of accounting. For the last six years it has provided business students as consultants on a variety of international projects connected to the environment or sustainability.

Other invaluable help came from James Kahn, W&L John F. Herndon Professor of Economics and director of environmental studies, who teaches regularly in Brazil. Kahn has many connections there and made the original introduction to Piatam.

Straughan noted that this first project with Piatam has gone so well that Student Consulting is currently working on a second project related to reforestation of the rain forest using technology. “I think the expectation is that we’ll be doing at least one project per year from now on,” he said.

Overheard in a Chat Room

Back in late October when the Virginia gubernatorial race was in its final stages, the Washington Post held a live chat during which Post polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta, a 2000 alumna of Washington and Lee, joined a fellow staffer in answering questions from readers. We just happened across the transcript of that chat recently and found that it reveals a couple of interesting asides between Jennifer and fellow W&L alums. You can read the entire transcript here but you’ll have to scroll down a ways to find the interchanges. It’s kind of fun, though, to read a chat visitor from Georgia beginning his or her question by saying that she or he had attended Washington and Lee and U.Va. and then for Jennifer to respond with “Hello to a fellow General.” Later on there is another visitor who identifies him/herself as “Another General in Virginia” and begins the question with “Hello from the Commerce School (just kidding…)…” In her answer, Jennifer allows as how she’d like to be typing from the C-School library. The bottom line? Wrote Jennifer, “…who knew there were so many W&L alums lurking out there?”

W&L Visiting Professor Joins Hall of Fame

When it comes to Hall of Famers from Grambling University, you’re apt to think football. Caesar Andrews, the Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor in Washington and Lee University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, didn’t play football for the Tigers of legendary head coach Eddie Robinson. (Caesar was at Grambling at the same time as Washington Redskins Super Bowl quarterback Doug Williams.) Earlier this fall, Caesar was inducted into Grambling’s Hall of Fame from the College of Professional Studies where he received a degree in journalism. After an illustrious career in journalism, culminating with a Pulitzer Prize at the Detroit Free-Press, Caesar has spent the fall in Reid Hall, teaching a course on copy editing and a course he designed called “Covering Classic Journalism.” Along the way he talked about the future of newspapers in a lecture in Stackhouse Theatre. If you miss it, you can watch Caesar’s presentation on our YouTube Channel at this link.

Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society Started at W&L

Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta), a national biological honor society for students, particularly undergraduates, and new to Washington and Lee, inducted 36 members on Nov. 15 at Washington and Lee University.

The new members include 12 formal members, 14 associate (junior) members, four officers, and six honorary members. Dr. Virginia Martin, a southeast district director of TriBeta, initiated the new members.

Hikaru Kinouchi ’11 from Asahikawa Hokkaido, Japan, was the inspiration behind beginning TriBeta at W&L. Having been a member and officer of a TriBeta chapter while a student at Emory and Henry College, he was surprised to see that there wasn’t one when he came to W&L. So he set out to start one.

TriBeta is dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of the biological sciences, student research and to reward academic achievement. Since its founding in 1922 at Oklahoma City University, the idea of an honor and professional society for biology students spread rapidly and by 1925, the society became a national organization. More than 200,000 persons have been accepted into lifetime membership, and more than 520 chapters have been established throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

TriBeta will begin bringing speakers to campus in early December when Dr. Dong Feng Chen, Harvard Medical School, will lecture on retinal cell regeneration.

Newly initiated members are:

Officers (all formal members): Samia S. Alam ’12 from Woodside, N.Y.; Elsa A. Friis ’11 from Brookeville, Md.; Christopher A. Ivey ’11 from Fairbanks, Alaska; and Robert R. Warneford-Thomson ’12 from Richmond, Va.

Formal members: Sharon R. Chu ’10 from Cerritos, Calif.; Maria Victoria Garcia ’11 from Coral Springs, Fla.; Taylor L. Garrett ’11 from Birmingham, Ala.; Susan L. Giampalmo ’12 from Glenwood, Md.; Maya Iyengar ’11 from Midlothian, Va.; Brent A. Meekins ’11 from New Bern, N.C.; Stephanie Mauro Mendez ’10 from Mexico City, Mexico; Mercy W. Kibe ’11 from Bartlett, Tenn.; Jessica Ann Morris ’12 from Lexington, Ky.; Michael K. Rao ’10 from Ocala, Fla.; Alexander T. Sturges ’12 from Charlotte, N.C.; and Xinnan Wang ’12 from Rockville, Md.

Associate members: Lucas B. Andersen ’12 from Rock Hill, S.C.; Megan E. Bock ’13 from Holmdel, N.J.; Ryan P. Danaher ’13 from Kingwood, Texas; Heather N. Deisher ’12 from Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Luke R. Gergoudis ’12 from Richmond, Va.; Graham W. Heberlig ’13 from Spearfish, S.D.; Ryan L. Henner ’12 from Avondale Estates, Ga.; John T. Jacobs ’12 from Concord, N.C.; Reilly L. Kidwell ’13 from Ottsville, Pa.; Antoinette M. Kitch ’12 from Poway, Calif.; Jina Park ’13 from Marietta, Ga.; Wilson Phu ’11 from Salem, Mass.; Olivia M. Riffle ’12 from Hudson, Ohio; and Susan D. Taylor ’11 from Atlanta, Ga.

Honorary memberships for their support and assistance in starting a chapter of TriBeta at W&L went to Dr. Tyler Lorig, Dean Janet Ikeda, Dr. Helen I’Anson, President Ken Ruscio, Provost June Aprille and Dean Hank Dobin.

Shenandoah Editor’s New Short-Story Collection Spotlights Southwest Virginia

When R.T. Smith was growing up, he knew where his policeman father kept the crime-scene photos.

“If you know where the crime-scene photos are in the drawer in your family’s house, you’re going to look at them,” says Smith, W&L’s Writer-in-Residence and editor of Shenandoah magazine. “Maybe even especially if you’re told not to.”

In his new short-story collection, The Calaboose Epistles, Smith gives a voice to the criminal types who fascinated him as a boy. “Almost every story has either somebody who’s in jail, somebody who’s going to jail or somebody who ought to be in jail.” The twist? His characters aren’t intentionally bad, they’re ordinary citizens caught in situations suddenly beyond their control. From a middle-aged housewife with a Ouija-board habit to a fry cook with authority issues, they’re facing the consequences of their bad habits and personal weaknesses.

“The prison fascination in the stories is probably superficial, but the serious fascination behind that is how we lock ourselves into limitations,” says Smith. Metaphorically, each character has built his own prison — or calaboose — because he failed to recognize self-destructive behavior. “They make their shackles and then say ‘How did this happen?'” Their poignant, often humorous, stories are missives exposing how they fell so far.

The 19 stories are also linked by a common setting — the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and northern North Carolina. As a student at UNC Charlotte and later Appalachian State University, Smith spent weekends backpacking and fishing in this rugged range, and he infuses the narrative and dialogue with specific, often lyrical, references to local landmarks and indigenous plants and wildlife.

Smith adds an element of fun by dropping his fictional characters into recognizable places, from Hollins University, outside Roanoke, to the Pink Cadillac Diner, in Natural Bridge. “It’s an interesting question for any kind of writer,” says Smith. “To what degree do you want to stimulate the reader by allowing him or her to recognize things? And to what degree by having them discover things? It’s the mixture of recognition and discovery that seems to me to be a real, almost a pulse-like, ingredient that runs through the narrative.”

But his neighbors might want to be careful. “Anything that gets down range of me, I pull the trigger on it and see if it’s got meat on it later.” The story “Flurries” was inspired by a neighbor’s free-range ostrich. “He’d frequently come down the road, and I’d find it out of the pen,” said Smith. “I just started thinking, maybe what they need is an ostrich wrangler.”

Most of the stories grapple with contemporary hot-button issues – from hunting and animal fighting to community involvement and eco-responsibility. Many examine the impact of religion on daily life. “Questions of ultimate spiritual reality are daily questions for me, and I want to write about people who are struggling with them, but not in a theoretical way. They’re not philosophers, and they’re not ministers.”

Smith has written two other volumes of short stories, Faith and Uke Rivers Delivers. He is also the author of more than a dozen poetry collections. Two of these, Messenger and Outlaw Style: Stories, won the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry.

Smith says his poems are more narrative than most poems, while his stories tend to be more lyrical. He’s working now “toward some kind of threshold, a liminal place where genre considerations begin to melt away a little bit. I like the idea of genre as background but not as a governing consideration.” He’s currently wrapping up a book-length poem about the life of Flannery O’Connor.

Published by Iris Press, The Calaboose Epistles is available at the University Bookstore and on Amazon.com.

— by Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L

Chris Coffland '88 Buried at Arlington

UPDATE (12/2): The Baltimore Sun carried the story of Washington and Lee alumnus Chris Coffland’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery this week. The ceremony was held on Dec. 1. Coffland was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 13. Prior to being buried, Coffland was honored with seven medals, including two Bronze Stars for bravery and a Purple Heart. In addition, the Washington Post carried a feature story about Chris this week in which it report, among things, that his fellow soldiers at Fort Meade called him Pops because he was the same age as their fathers, “but he could outrun all of them and set the base record with 128 push-ups in two minutes.” To see that story, go to this link.

• • •

Nov. 16, 2009

Chris Coffland, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1988 and a captain of the 1987 Generals’ football team, was killed Friday (Nov. 13) by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. He was 43. According to media reports out of Baltimore where Chris lived, he was killed when his vehicle was hit by an IED on his way to investigate another IED blast. Two other people in the vehicle also died. Chris came to W&L after graduating from Gilman School in Baltimore. He played both football and lacrosse and was a running back for late head coach Gary Fallon’s football Generals. After playing behind W&L star running back Kevin Weaver on the 1986 team, Chris was the starting tailback on the 1987 squad. Coach Fallon said this about Chris, who had been the third-leading rusher and top return man in 1986 in the media guide prior to the 1987 season: ” Chris did everything for us but clean the balls. He ran from three different positions each week and this year we want him to focus on one position. Chris is super tough, so I know he’ll give it his best shot.” Chris led W&L in rushing that fall and scored five touchdowns. A psychology major at W&L, Chris had played football in Finland and coached in Australia. He’d also studied anthropology in graduate school, according to comments from his family. The Baltimore Sun’s story reported that Chris has joined the Army Reserve a month before he turned 42, which was the enlistment cut-off date. He was an Army intelligence officer and had been deployed to Afghanistan just two weeks ago. Chris’s body arrived Saturday night at Dover Air Force Base. WBAL-TV in Baltimore reported that Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has ordered city flags lowered in Chris’s honor. Here are links to some other tributes to Chris in Maryland media:

UPDATE (11/17): The funeral service for Chris will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m. in Baltimore’s Cathedral of Mary Our Queen (5200 N Charles Street) followed by a reception at Gilman School (5407 Roland Avenue). Visitation will be on Friday, Nov. 20, from 12 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W Padonia Road in Timonium, MD. The family is establishing a memorial fund at Gilman School and has asked that donations be made there in lieu of flowers.

UPDATE (11/17): A Facebook fan page has been created for Chris. Go to Facebook and search “Chris Cofflland.”

UPDATE (11/19): Roanoke Times writer Doug Doughty has a piece about Chris in his notebook today. You can read it here. In addition the current “From the Sidelines” blog by W&L Sports Information Director Brian Laubscher has a posting about Chris.

UPDATE (11/20): Baltimore Sun has an extensive feature on Chris’s life. Read it here.

Stephanie Hardiman ’10 and Abel Delgado ’10 Recognized at Celebrating Student Success Reception

Stephanie Hardiman and Abel Delgado will be recognized at the Celebrating Student Success (CSS) monthly reception on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 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 2:25 p.m.

Hardiman, a senior from Plainfield, Ill., is majoring in journalism and mass communications with a minor in environmental studies. She is currently co-editor of inGeneral Magazine; is general chair of the Contact Committee and was vice chair for publicity (2008-2009); member, executive board member, vice president of member development and philanthropy officer of Pi Beta Phi sorority; and is on the student recruitment committee.

She is the Arts & Life editor and a writer for the Ring-tum Phi; play-by-play announcer and commentator for W&L volleyball and a weekly disc jockey for WLUR-FM; and reporter and editor for Rockbridge Report. She also freelances for Valley Business FRONT magazine (Roanoke, Va.) and Her magazine (Nashville).

Delgado, a senior from Miami, Fla., is majoring in global politics with a double minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies and environmental studies. He is member and publicity chair of the Multicultural Students Association (MSA); member, is recruitment co-chairman (2009-2010) and was philanthropy chairman (2007-2008) of Chi Psi fraternity.

He currently works for Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen and Relay for Life; is the current staff editor and contributor to the Washington and Lee Political Review; is a columnist for the Ring-tum Phi (2006-present); is the author of Other Half (released fall 2009), an electronically published novel (http://otherhalfnovel.com); and is a contributor to NextGenGOP.com , a political blog Web site featuring the future of the GOP from the viewpoint of young Republicans.

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.

Hardiman and Delgado 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 at go.wlu.edu/css. 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 Dec. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 17, Mar. 17, Apr. 7 and May 5.

Generals Fall 2-0 to Lynchburg in NCAA Women’s Soccer

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Fashion Statements

If you want to know what the best dresses from the international collections are going to be in 2010, Erin Mullaney of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1998 is the person to ask — about that or any other fashion questions you have. As the buying director for Browns, the prestigous United Kingdom store, Erin’s opinions on fashion are  widely quoted in major fashion magazines, including Vogue and Elle. And a blog called Chic-Chic-Store.com reported in a feature called Model Citizens that “back in September of 2008, Erin was already investing in transparent sheer blouses before sheer/transparency became The Big Trend on the Spring/Summer 2010 runways…” After starting as a consultant at Christian Louboutin, Erin became a buyer at Harrods and at Selfridges before becoming buying director at Browns.

Medical Expert, Popular TV Producer Dr. Neal Baer Lectures for Contact Series

Dr. Neal Baer, executive producer of NBC’s award-winning series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and a medical expert, will present a lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of his talk is “Medicine and Hollywood: Raising Awareness through Television.” There will be a reception after the lecture at the Alumni House. The event is free and open to the public.

Baer’s speech is sponsored by the Contact Committee, a student organization that brings prominent speakers to the campus each year.

Prior to his work on SVU, Baer was executive producer of ER for seven seasons and a member of the original staff. He was nominated for five Emmys as a producer. His latest endeavor is a photo-documentary project titled “The House Is Small but the Welcome Is Big” which shares stories of HIV in Africa from the perspectives of mothers and children.

Baer’s primary medical interests are in adolescent health. He has written extensively for teens on health issues for Scholastic Magazine, covering such topics as teen pregnancy, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse and nutrition. He taught elementary school in Colorado and also worked as a research associate at the University of Southern California Medical School, where he focused on drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Baer graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He received the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Scholarship from the American Medical Association as the most outstanding medical student who has contributed to promoting a better understanding of medicine in the media.

Blogging Blair

If you’re not a journalist, you may not be familiar with the name Jim Romenesko. A senior online reporter with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. His daily email newsletter is a must-read for journalists since it dishes all the hottest information about what’s happening in the business. That’s why it’s such a feather in the caps of Washington and Lee senior journalism major Cameron Steele and 2009 journalism graduate Becky Bratu that Romenesko carried a big mention of their blog, Commonwealth Chronicle. Cameron and Becky started the blog because they wanted an outlet to write about things like transportation and education. They also want to showcase their journalism ability to prospective employers. So when Romenesko cited their blog entry about last weekend’s visit to W&L by former New York Times journalist Jayson Blair, it was no small victory. If you missed it, Blair, who resigned in disgrace from the Times in 2003 for plagiarism, was the keynote speaker at the Journalism Ethics Symposium. His presence had generated quite a bit of attention in advance. You can listen to what he said here and watch his speech on YouTube. But Cameron and Becky not only offered an in-depth account of the event but they also posted a video interview that Cameron had with Blair. Good stuff, as the mention in Romenesko attests.

First Novel, First Prize

Back in April, we blogged about John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, which was just being released by Nan Talese/Doubleday. Just this week John, a 1989 Washington and Lee graduate, won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Woodsburner was inspired by a little-known event — the young Henry David Thoreau’s accidental destruction of 300 acres of forest in Concord, Mass.  John read from and signed Woodsburner during Alumni Reunions in May. Between then and this week’s major award, John has received considerable praise for the book, including having it named Best of the Month by Amazon.com for May. (You can read a Q and A with John on the Amazon site.) Praise for John’s book has not come only from reviewers. In its announcement of the award, the Center for Fiction included this from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin: “What a terrific tale John Pipkin spins! He has taken a dramatic episode in the life of Henry David Thoreau and transformed it into a gripping and profound work of fiction.” The Austin American-Statesman wrote a terrific piece about the novel, offering a step by step account of the book’s development from John’s first unsuccessful visit to Walden Pond in the mid-1990s to his having just signed a contract for his second book. You can read that article, “What Makes a Book Catch Fire?” here.

W&L Veterans Gather

Members of the Washington and Lee community who served in the armed forces gathered this morning for a short ceremony in Washington Hall to observe Veterans’ Day. Organized by Mike Young, director of public safety, the annual gathering featured remarks by W&L President Ken Ruscio and Provost June Aprille. Paul Burns, director of environmental health and safety, led the group in prayer. Members of the group included both current and former W&L employees as well as current students from all areas of the University. Participating were Paul Burns, Digger Swink, Larry Stuart, Severn Duvall, Jerry Clark, Leonard Reiss, Leon W. Fields Sr., Steven D. Lyle, Scott Rhodes, Bob Shaeffer, Robert C. Peniston, Buddy Atkins, Laurie Lipscomb, Lloyd Goad, Jeff Knudson, Dick Kuettner, Rebecca Benefiel (standing in for husband, Andrew McCrone), Ted Hickman, Russell Joynes, Dennis Maxwell, Chris Pratt, and Christine Burkett.

Law Students Travel to Tanzania to Research Sex Crime Enforcement

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Still Playing Clarence Darrow

As an undergraduate at Washington and Lee, Warren Mowry first brought Clarence Darrow to the stage in a one-man show. A history and theatre major, Mowry performed Darrow as a senior project in 1978. He went on to the University of South Carolina School of Law, spent a dozen years as a prosecutor for South Carolina’s 13th judicial circuit, and is now in private practice in Greenville, S.C. Throughout the years since his W&L graduation, Warren has continued to bring Clarence Darrow to life on the stage. Just last week a review in the Greenville News called the show at Greenville’s Centre Stage “a one-man tour de force.” Warren told the News that times have definitely changed since he first played Darrow: “I will tell you parenthetically that at 21, it took me more than two hours to create the appropriate make-up. Now, it takes 40 minutes. I guess I’m growing into it.”

Two Reports Worth Examining

Washington and Lee is among the group of 20 leading liberal arts colleges that has sworn off publicizing the various rankings primarily because such lists as U.S. News & World Report select particular data and, applying their own methodology, attempt to reduce all these data to a single number. With that in mind, there are two recently released studies in the last week that deserve mention. First, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance came out last week with its list of Best Values in Private College 2009-2010. Kiplinger does rank the top 50 national liberal arts colleges as part of the package, and you can sort on the magazine’s various data points. But, as Kiplinger’s indicates, there are some surprising overall data given the economic climate. For instance, the magazine reports that independent colleges “boosted financial aid by 9% while keeping tuition increases — an average of 4.3% — to their lowest levels in four decades….Families found that private college was still affordable, and enrollments generally held steady. David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, is quoted as saying: “What we’re seeing is a well-weathered storm.” At the same time that Kiplinger’s report was released last week, today will see the release of the National Survey of Student Engagement data for 2009. Known as NSSE, this survey has become an important source of information for colleges and universities to understand how undergraduates on their campuses are spending their time inside and outside the classroom. If you look at the NSSE data, you’ll not find Washington and Lee mentioned in 2009. That’s because the University participates in this survey every third year, administering it to both first-year students and seniors. That way it’s possible to see what has changed across four years at W&L. If you want to see more information about W&L’s NSSE results, you can find them on the Office of Institutional Effectiveness’ assessment page as pdf files.

SAAC Mobilizes W&L Troops for Soldier Care Package Drive

Washington and Lee University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is working together with various groups across campus and within the Lexington Community to send care packages to 486 soldiers in Afghanistan.

SAAC is a group of student-athlete leaders that serves as the voice of the student-athlete community to the university administration, the Lexington community, and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Each varsity sport has one voting representative and one non-voting member.

Rolf Piranian, the men’s head soccer coach, started the first soldier care package drive three years ago. Under the supervision of SAAC, the W&L community collected items for 200 soldiers in the HHC First Brigade, Special Troops Battalion of the 82nd Airborne. This brigade has since returned to the United States.

This year, SAAC has taken on a hefty challenge: it is now organizing the drive for 500 soldiers of the Blackhawk Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“We were asked if we were able to sponsor a Battalion made up of five companies, thus doubling our effort from years past,” said Sarah Simpson, captain of the women’s swim team and the SAAC co-chair of the Package Committee. “We discussed the logistical issues associated with taking on nearly 500 soldiers instead of our usual 200, but in the end decided that it would not be right to send care packages to only half of the Battalion. We realized that there were several avenues that had not been tapped in the past. We knew that in order to be able to provide items to 486 men and women, we needed to realize every donation source possible.”

SAAC has not only worked at getting W&L student-athletes involved but has also mobiled the community. Each varsity team is responsible for accruing a large amount of a particular item for the care packages. Based on suggestions from the soldiers, the packages will include such items as magazines, books, lip balm, powdered drink mixes, non-perishable snacks, razors, and much more. Some teams asked its members to bring a single item while others designated one member to purchase everything in bulk while the rest contributed monetary donations.

For example, Emily Leary, SAAC member and goalie on the women’s soccer team, bought 125 tubes of travel toothpaste for the women’s soccer donation. “It takes around seventeen minutes to u-scan 125 travel toothpastes. Let’s just say I didn’t make friends in the check out line at WalMart,” she laughed. “Nonetheless, knowing someone halfway across the world would appreciate this more than I can imagine made it all worth the while.”

Many other members of the W&L community have stepped in to help SAAC fulfill the drive. Local dentists donated 600 toothbrushes, students at the elementary schools wrote letters for the soldiers, and professors collected toothpaste and crackers. Notably, long-time W&L employee Thomas Bane, known as “Baner” by generations of students, donated 486 copies of his book Family and Honor.

“The Baner family donation was an unexpected and wonderful surprise,” said Sallie Armstrong, secretary of SAAC and captain of the field hockey and track and field teams. “I think this is a great addition to the boxes because the soldiers can get a better idea of what our community is like and the sense of honor we have here.”

There is still much work to be done though to complete the drive and fulfill the goals SAAC has set. The cost of shipping alone will be $6,000. SAAC has collected $1,300 with donations from students and parents and are hoping to reach their goal with help from the community and the athletic department.

Collection boxes are available in several locations on the campus and in the community. The boxes will be picked up on Friday, Nov. 20.

Simpson added, “All of these contributions have come as surprises to me, but prove that even though the economy has been better, at the end of the day people still care. That kind of selfless generosity has been so encouraging.”

Anyone with questions or wishing to donate should,contact Sarah Simpson at simpsons10@mail.wlu.edu.

— Story by Maggie Sutherland, ’10

W&L Women’s Soccer Wins ODAC Championship

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Exhibit by New York Artist Shirley Irons Opens Nov. 12 at W&L’s Staniar Gallery

Shirley Irons: A Perfect Day, an exhibition of paintings, will be on display at Washington and Lee’s Staniar Gallery from Nov. 12 to Dec. 18. The artist will give a public lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. in the Concert Hall of Wilson Hall to be followed by a catered reception.

The paintings reveal Irons’ careful consideration of transient spaces such as hallways and conference rooms. She balances realistic details with abstract applications of paint to explore decisions about how much information is necessary to render an image. “It’s noisy in the world,” Irons comments in her artist’s statement. “In painting I can do something to slow it down, edit out, look for the permanence in the transitory, which is really about hope.”

Irons has been exhibiting her paintings for over 30 years and has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Queens Museum, Postmasters Gallery Project Room and White Columns Gallery in New York. Irons is represented by Gallery Luisotti in Santa Monica, Calif. The LA Times, The New York Times, the Village Voice and Time Out New York have reviewed her work.

Irons currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has taught advanced painting and studio workshops at New York University, CalArts and Claremont College in California and the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Irons was the co-director of the Theoretical Studies in Art seminar series at White Columns, New York’s oldest alternative art space. Washington and Lee studio art students will have the opportunity to work with Irons during her visit to campus.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Staniar Gallery is publishing a catalogue that will include an essay by author Susan Morgan. Susan Morgan is a writer based in Los Angeles and Edinburgh, Scotland. The author of Joan Jonas: I Want To Live in the Country (And Other Romances), Morgan is currently at work on a book about the writer Esther McCoy (1904-1989), the preeminent voice of West Coast modernist architecture. The catalogue will be available at no charge at Irons’ opening reception on Nov. 18.

Staniar Gallery is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For further information, please call 540-458-8861.

Robin F. Wilson Named to Chaired Professorship

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WDBJ Features W&L's Goalball Champion

If you missed W&L News Director Sarah Tschiggfrie’s news story about Washington and Lee sophomore Matt Simpson and his participation on the U.S. under-18 goalball team, you can catch up by watching WDBJ-TV’s report on Matt from Thursday night. Matt was interviewed last Friday during W&L’s Parents and Family Weekend, which allowed his parents to be part of the interview along with Chris Schall, director of the Fitness Center who has helped Matt train at W&L. Matt’s currently training to make the U.S. adult team for the 2012 Paralympics in London. You can watch the video on WDBJ’s Web site or below:

W&L's Wheeler on Vermont Radio Today

Washington and Lee English professor Lesley Wheeler, who was featured in Sunday’s Washington Post, had a live radio interview today (Thursday, Nov. 5) on Vermont’s Woman-Stirred Radio, a program produced by WGDR radio in Plainfield, Vermonth.  Lesley, who has published her first book of poetry, Heathen, discussed her poetry and read from her work. You can listen to the interview below:

Another Chance to Vote for CKWL

Last May we blogged about the Campus Kitchen project at Washington and Lee in the online True Hero competition. Enough folks responded to the request to vote for CKWL that the project won $1,000. The competition has begun anew, and you are again invited (i.e., urged) to log on and cast a vote for CKWL. You need to go here to vote, and you’ll get to see a video from Campus Kitchen Coordinator Jenny Sproul of the Class of 2008. You will also read that the project has served 41,963 meals, recruited 8,193 volunteer hours, and recovered 35,791 pounds of food in its first three years. Vote early and often.

Post-Halloween Horror

Ok, so we’re a little late on recommending a book of Halloween stories by alumnus Douglas Clegg. But better late than never. Halloween Candy: 3 Tales of Horror is actually available for free online here. But one you visit Doug’s Web site, you’ll find a fascinating array of material about his book, include YouTube book trailers and an on-line game that accompanies his latest book of the supernatural, Isis, which has a complete Web site of its own. Dean Koontz, not a bad storyteller in his own right, had this to say about Isis: “Clegg’s stories can chill the spine so effectively that the reader should keep paramedics on standby.” Doug is a 1980 graduate who majored in English. His fiction has won the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the Shocker Award.

Call for Proposals: W&L’s Community Grants Committee Will Evaluate Proposals in November

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee would like to remind the community of its 2009-10 proposal evaluation schedule. Community Grants Proposals may be submitted at any time but are reviewed semiannually: at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the end of the 2009 calendar year is Monday, November 16, 2009.

Established in the spring of 2008, the purpose of the program is to support non-profit organizations in the Lexington/Rockbridge community. The program began its first full year on July 1, 2008, coinciding with the start of the University’s fiscal year. The University will award a total of $50,000 during the program’s 2009-10 cycle.

During the 2008-09 year a total of 41 separate proposals were submitted to the Community Grants Committee for a combined $338,780 in requests. The committee made $50,000 worth of grants to 22 different organizations.

Interested parties may access the Community Grants Committee Web site and download a copy of the proposal guidelines at the following address: http://www.wlu.edu/x19121.xml

Please call 540-458-8417 with questions. Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (word or pdf) via email at kbrinkley@wlu.edu. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to 540-458-8745 or mailed to:

Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee
Attn: James D. Farrar Jr.
Office of the Secretary
204 W. Washington Street
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA 24450

W&L Symposium Examines Sports, Law and Media

Two panels of attorneys, reporters, and pro sports executives will explore issues of sports, the law and the media during the third annual Reynolds Media, Courts and Law Symposium at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 11-12.

The first panel in the two day event, “The Perfect Storm: The Intersection of Sports, the Law and the Media,” will feature the attorneys who represented professional football players Michael Vick and Donte Stallworth. Other panelists include ESPN columnist Jackie MacMullen and Wall Street Journal reporter Lee Hawkins. That panel will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, in Stackhouse Theater.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, at 10 a.m., three nationally known sports reporters and a major league baseball official will address “Women in the Locker Room: Are the Boys Still Being Boys?” For that panel MacMullen will be joined by Lesley Visser of CBS Sports, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan and Kim Ng, vice president and assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That program will also be held in Stackhouse Theatre.

Both events are open to the public at no charge.

Toni Locy, the Reynolds Professor of Legal Journalism at Washington and Lee and one of the organizers of the event, said: “When athletes get into trouble, they find themselves in a legal and media firestorm. Our symposium will provide a forum for a frank discussion of how athletes, lawyers and journalists behave – or misbehave – when sports heroes wind up in court.”

The opening panel will focus on several of the legal issues that have been prominently reported in recent months, including National Football League quarterback Michael Vick’s conviction for dogfighting and Cleveland Brown wide receiver Donte Stallworth’s DUI vehicular manslaughter case.

Lawrence H. Woodward Jr., was a member of the legal team that defended Vick and has represented him and several other sports figures, including basketball star Allen Iverson and such NFL players as Plaxico Burress, Deangelo Hall and Jason Snelling. He is a member of Virginia Beach firm of Suttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock.

Christopher G. Lyons of the Florida law firm Lyons and Lurvey PA, was the attorney for Stallworth, who entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 30 days in jail last March. The NFL suspended Stallworth for the 2009 season.

Lee Hawkins, a Wall Street Journal reporter and an on-air contributor for CNBC, is also the host of “Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass,” a prime time documentary released early this year about how increased earnings affect black celebrities in the sports, entertainment and media industries and what it will take for these individuals to take more control over their brands and businesses as entrepreneurs. At the Journal, Hawkins has covered the Big Three automakers from the paper’s Detroit bureau.

Jackie MacMullan is a columnist and correspondent for ESPN and a regular participant on ESPN’s “Around the Horn.” She began working at the Boston Globe in 1982 and was a sportswriter, columnist and associate editor until she left the paper last March. At the Globe, MacMullan covered everything from the World Series and the Stanley Cup Finals to Final Four tournaments and the NBA championship. In 1999, she collaborated with Celtic great Larry Bird on his autobiography “Bird Watching.” Her latest book, “When The Game Was Ours,” is a collaboration with Bird and his long-time rival, Magic Johnson.

In addition to participating in the panel on Wednesday night, MacMullen will be joined on Thursday by the following panelists:

Lesley Visser, a pioneer among TV sports journalists, is in her second stint with CBS Sports, where she contributes to “The NFL Today” and college basketball coverage and writes a column for CBS.com. She began her career as a sportswriter with the Boston Globe and in 1976 became the first woman NFL beat writer when she started covering the New England Patriots. Visser has worked with ABC Sports, CBS Sports, NBC and ESPN and achieved numerous “firsts.” She was the first woman TV correspondent to cover a World Series, the first woman assigned to Monday Night Football, and she was the first woman to report from the sidelines during a Super Bowl. In 2004 the International Olympic Committee honored her as a “pioneer and standard-bearer” and allowed her to become the first woman sportscaster to carry the Olympic torch. In 2006, Ms. Visser won the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award given for exceptional contributions in the field of professional football and was the first woman to be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Christine Brennan
is an award-winning sports columnist for USA Today and a commentator for ABC News, NPR, CBS College Sports and CNN. She has covered 13 consecutive Olympic Games (winter and summer). Three of her seven books are about Olympic figure skating, including the 1996 best seller “Inside Edge,” which Sports Illustrated named one of the best 100 sports books of all time. She was the first journalist to uncover the pairs figure skating scandal at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Brennan’s 2002 column on Augusta National Golf Club’s lack of female members started a national debate on the issue. Brennan started her career as the first full-time woman sports reporter for the Miami Herald in 1981. She moved to the Washington Post in 1984 and was the first woman to cover the Washington Redskins. In 1988, she was elected the first president of the Association for Women in Sports Media. Under her leadership, AWSM started a scholarship-internship program for female journalism students. Her most recent books are Best Seat in the House, a memoir about her father and her life in sports, and Pressure is a Privilege, written with Billie Jean King.

Kim Ng (pronounced ANG) became assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001 and is one of only two female executives in Major League Baseball to hold such a position in baseball operations. Ng began her baseball career as a special projects analyst with the Chicago White Sox and became the youngest person, and first woman, to present a salary arbitration case in the major leagues. Later she became director of waivers and records, approving all transactions in the offices of the American League. In 1997, the New York Yankees hired her as assistant general manager, making her, at 29, the youngest in the major leagues. Ng was the first woman to interview for a general manager’s position in major league history when she did so with the Dodgers in 2005. She was also a finalist for GM positions in both Seattle and, last month, San Diego.

W&L in Sunday's Washington Post

In case you missed it, Washington and Lee was well represented in Sunday’s Washington Post. W&L law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson authored an opinion piece on page C-7 that examined the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. She’s co-editor of  the book “Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts.” You can read that piece here. Then the Post Magazine featured W&L English professor Lesley Wheeler and her poetry research in a piece titled “Journeys of Discovery” in the magazine’s Education Review edition. The story on Lesley was part of a cover story (Lesley’s pictured on the magazine cover) on five faculty from the Post’s circulation area doing interesting and unusual research. You can read the piece on Lesley here. But there’s another W&L connection with the Post magazine story since one of the other professors cited was John Conkling, an adjunct chemistry professor at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and the father of two W&L alumni: Melinda Hart of the Class of 1991 and John of the Class of 1993. And one more item from the Sunday Post: Kathleen Parker’s column is about the book by W&L alumnus Alex Jones (Class of 1968) on the future of newspapers. Alex was just here to give a talk on his new book, and you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

A marriage equality bill that respects religious objectors

Writing in the Nov. 1, 2009, edition of The Washington Post, Washington and Lee University law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson argues that “Same-sex marriage and religious liberty do not have to conflict.”

Wilson, the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law, is the co-editor of Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts.

Read the article.