Feature Stories Campus Events

An Era Ending

Sometime in the next several weeks, the White Family Era in Washington and Lee men’s basketball will end when the Generals finish their season. After seven seasons of having a member of the family on the floor, Zac White will play his final game. Fans hope it will come later rather than sooner, as the Generals are in the lose-and-out portion of the schedule, playing today in the quarterfinals of the ODAC tournament.

Earlier this week, Roanoke Times writer Randy King did a feature story on Zac and his brother, Alex, a 2007 graduate and now a law student at Georgetown. The piece described the impact that Zac and Alex have had on the rebuilding that head coach Adam Hutchinson has done in his seven seasons. Alex was on Adam’s first team, and Alex and Zac played together during the 2006-07 season.

Here’s a link to the Roanoke Times piece. Be sure to have a look.

But also take a look at the Zac’s dunk in a game against Randolph-Macon earlier this year on an alley-oop pass from Jason Cimino:

Zac’s Dunk against Randolph-Macon:

Legal Ethics Expert Stephen Pepper to Lecture on Lawyers’ Ethics at W&L

Stephen Pepper, professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, will lecture on lawyers’ ethics during the 32nd Legal Ethics Institute at Washington and Lee University. His talk will be on Friday, March 19, at 5 p.m. in Classroom B of Sydney Lewis Hall.

The title of the lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “Three Dichotomies in Lawyers’ Ethics.” The lecture is on the fundamental distinctions in how we perceive or approach questions of lawyers’ ethics.

The talk is sponsored by W&L’s Society and the Professions Program in Ethics and the philosophy department.

Pepper has published well-known law review articles on lawyers’ ethics and on the subject of freedom of religion under the First Amendment and has presented at academic conferences and meetings of practicing lawyers. Several of his articles on lawyers’ ethics have been included in casebooks and in edited collections of essays. His essay on the underlying theory of the ethical relation between lawyer and client won the Association of American Law Schools’ 1985 Scholarly Papers competition, and his article on lawyers’ ethics and the counseling of clients was the lead article in the May 1995 issue of the Yale Law Journal.

Pepper’s most recent work is a forthcoming book chapter, “How to do the Right Thing: a Primer on Ethics and Moral Vision,” providing practical guidance to working executives and professionals on ethics and the exercise of moral vision. The following is an excerpt.

“‘The right thing’-that’s what most of us want to do, but we don’t have a guide, and we don’t think about it much. And when we do think about it, we don’t have much in the way of an explicit or articulate method to follow. Not long ago I participated in a panel presentation where the lead advice on how to be an ethical executive was to exercise courage, candor and conscience. Sounded good to me, but it seemed too vague, abstract and elevated to provide much practical assistance in actual decision making. What follows is a translation of ‘courage, candor and conscience’ into simple and usable guidance for doing the right thing as a business executive. My intention is to be helpful in understanding the ethics of one’s day-to-day working life.”

Professor Pepper graduated from Stanford University and Yale Law School. He practiced for four years with the Denver law firm of Holland & Hart.

Chemistry Professor Marcia France to Give Herwick Professorship of Chemistry Inaugural Lecture

Marcia France, professor of chemistry at Washington and Lee University, will give the Herwick Professorship of Chemistry Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday, March 17, at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. A reception will follow in the Northen Lobby.

The title of her talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Synthesis of Chiral Ligands for Applications in Asymmetric Catalysis.”

France joined the Washington and Lee faculty in 1994 as an assistant professor. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her master’s degree from Yale University and her Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

France is president of W&L’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. She is also a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research, Virginia Academy of Science and the American Chemical Society. She has supervised over 40 W&L students, as well as two at St. Andrews and two at Caltech.

France was a visiting research scientist in chemistry at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland while on leave from August 2005-August 2006, and the 2007 and 2009 summers. She also was a visiting associate professor at Stanford during the summer of 2000.

France has developed the W&L-St. Andrews Educational Partnership Program for Students in the Sciences and Preparing for the Health Professions which provides a study abroad opportunity in Scotland for pre-medical students as well as chemistry and biology majors. She also conducted an externally funded undergraduate program in the areas of asymmetric organic chemistry, organic synthesis and olefin metathesis.

She has co-authored over 15 articles and has 13 patents. France currently teaches organic chemistry (both lecture and laboratory); organic spectroscopy (both lecture and lab); and advanced organic chemistry.

The John T. Herwick M.D. Professorship in Chemistry was funded by an endowment established in 2009 through the estate of Mr. John T. and Mary Herwick. France is the first John T. Herwick Professor.

“The Guiding Light” Is Off, But Alumnus is Still On

Long-time viewers of the recently departed CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light” who are still undergoing withdrawal may not have realized that they were watching a Washington and Lee alumnus in one of the show’s key roles. Grant Aleksander (Grant A. Kunkowski in W&L’s Class of 1982) played Phillip Spaulding on the series, which left the air last September after 58 seasons and 15,761 episodes.

Grant was not around for all 15,761 episodes, but he was a featured member of the cast for many years. He was on the show from 1982 to 1984, was replaced for two years by another actor, returned from 1986 to 1991, left again until 1996, and was part of the central story line until 2004, when he was apparently murdered. But, as it turned out, he wasn’t actually dead and rejoined the cast in February 2009 for the final few months of the show.

Now that “The Guiding Light” is off the air, the cast, including Grant, continues to make personal appearances. For instance, earlier this week Grant was on a radio program on WRCH radio in Connecticut, and he and other cast members will participate this summer in a So Long Springfield Tour on a five-day Carnival Cruise.

Grant was nominated for seven Soap Opera Digest Awards and, with actress Beth Ehlers, won for Favorite New Couple in 1999. He was also nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards and has been in several movies and other TV series and shows. You can see all his credits on Grant’s IMBD page here.

Even More Poetry News

“Oral Culture,” a poem by Washington and Lee English professor Lesley Wheeler, is Slate’s Weekly Poem this week. You can read the poem and also listen to Lesley read the poem. Here is a link to the poem on Slate.

Meantime, W&L alumna and poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon of the Class of 1993 is one of five finalists announced this week for a 2009 Los Angeles Times book prize for }Open Interval{, which was also a finalist for a National Book Award. Lyrae is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. She was the subject of a blog post in October.

75th Anniversary Production of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” to be Presented at W&L

Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center, Concert Guild and the Class of ’64 join together to present the 75th anniversary tour of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” on Monday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Keller Theatre.

The drama of love, murder and hope on Catfish Row springs to life in a new production with riveting choreography and glamorous costumes. Produced by opera impresario Michael Capasso, general manager of New York’s Dicapo Opera Theatre, in association with noted producer Willette Murphy Klausner, this spectacular new production is directed by the brilliant African American Charles Randolph-Wright.

Tickets are limited – order your tickets today online at lenfest.wlu.edu or call the Lenfest box office at 458-8000 to purchase tickets.

“Porgy and Bess” melds classical music, popular song, jazz, blues and spirituals in this quintessentially American masterpiece that tells the poignant story of a crippled beggar, the headstrong woman he loves, and the community that sustains them both. Passion, jealousy, murder and poverty make up the heady brew of this evocative story. Porgy, a downtrodden but generous beggar, haunts the streets known as “Catfish Row,” a poor district of early 20th-century segregated Charleston, S.C. Ardently in love with the prostitute Bess, Porgy has to share his affections with her violent former lover Crown and the roguish suitor Sportin’ Life. Set in South Carolina in 1912 you will hear the classic arias: “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “Summertime.” This operatic masterpiece has spawned a string of hit songs that have become international icons of the American tradition.

“Porgy and Bess” is probably the most famous and most successful American opera from the 20th century, and at times it has been the most controversial. Based on DuBose Heyward’s novel, Porgy, and the play that was adapted from the novel, it has long been considered the crowning achievement in the stellar careers of the authors. To this day, the story of the crippled beggar transformed by his unexpected and improbable love for Bess is performed all over the world by theater and opera companies.

“Porgy and Bess” opened in New York at the Alvin Theatre on October 10, 1935. The landmark 1953 Broadway revival toured for years as a goodwill ambassador on behalf of the U.S. State Department, and in 1959 the opera was finally filmed by Samuel Goldwyn. Although Gershwin had hoped for “Porgy and Bess” to be premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, his plans were thwarted by the sudden death of Metropolitan Opera Board Chairman Otto Kahn.

The opera toured Europe and North and South America throughout the 1950s, and was the first work by an American to be produced at La Scala in Milan, Italy. It enjoyed tremendous success. In its 75-year history, no other opera or musical has employed more African Americans. The work was not widely accepted in the United States as “real” opera until 1976 when the Houston Grand Opera staged “Porgy and Bess” with the original score and orchestration. Nine years later, the Metropolitan Opera gave its first performance of the work, including it in its Saturday afternoon live broadcast series.

Michael Capasso, the driving force behind the myriad projects produced by Dicapo Opera Theatre, extols the virtues of “Porgy and Bess”: “Irresistible in its melodies, moving in its depiction of love’s power in the face of all odds, ‘Porgy and Bess’ stands before the world as the greatest opera ever written by a native-born American. It has long been a dream of mine to produce this quintessentially American operatic classic, and I hope and trust that audiences all across the country will share my enthusiasm for this new production of George Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’.”

“Porgy and Bess” director Charles Randolph-Wright has built a dynamic and diversified career in directing, writing and producing for theater, television and film. Randolph-Wright has written and directed the film “Mama, I Want to Sing,” based on the renowned stage musical, which will be released commercially in movie theaters in February 2010, starring Lynn Whitfield, Ciara, Patti LaBelle, Hill Harper, Ben Vereen and Billy Zane. He also directed the television series “Lincoln Heights” (ABC Family) as well as the musical “They’re Playing Our Song,” in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, Brazil. Film credits include directing the award-winning “Preaching to the Choir,” and writing screenplays for Showtime, HBO, Disney, Castle Rock and Fox.

NSF Equipment Grant Allows W&L Faculty to Look at Things in a New Light

Students and faculty will soon be looking at Washington and Lee University’s significant collection of art, ceramics and historical artifacts in a new scientific light, courtesy of a National Science Foundation grant for instrumentation.

The new equipment, purchased through the $119,678 grant, enables non-destructive analysis and includes a portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, digital IR camera with an InGaAs detector and boom-mounted research-quality stereomicroscope. Although W&L currently has scientific instrumentation to analyze these objects, it has required taking small samples, or “destructive analysis.”

“We have a tremendous educational opportunity with the cultural materials we have on campus,” said Erich Uffelman, chemistry professor, international expert on the educational use of scientific analysis of art and leader of the project.
Modern museum research involves a tight collaboration between teams of people, and in this case key players include Ron Fuchs, curator of the Reeves Collection, Peter Grover, director of university collections and Patricia Hobbs, associate director of university collections. They will help identify important research points within the objects themselves and will frequently oversee student researchers.

W&L’s art collection includes Charles Willson Peale’s portraits of George Washington and Lafayette, the Gilbert Stuart “Athenaeum Portrait” of George Washington and the controversial “Stuart” W&L copy of the George Washington “Lansdowne Portrait,” the original of which is in the National Portrait Gallery.

By using the new technology, faculty and students can study these paintings to determine, for example, whether underdrawings – preliminary sketches on the canvas that map out what the artist planned to paint – are present in the “Lansdowne Portrait.” This could have significant attribution ramifications since previous researchers have shown that many American painters of Stuart’s era did not use underdrawings. “Using infrared wavelengths, you can actually see through the paint layers and pick up the preliminary sketch,” said Uffelman. “That can be really interesting for analyzing artistic technique, intentions and style.”

W&L also has most of the works of minor turn-of-the-century master Louise Herreshoff, and the researchers plan to conduct a systematic assessment of her palette and technique.

W&L holds the world’s fourth best collection of Chinese export porcelain and Uffelman cited one straightforward application using the new equipment that would show some pigment materials that are characteristic of different time periods. “For instance, if you have a piece of Meissen porcelain that you suspect is not genuine, it’s possible that elements in its glazing will not be correct,” he said.

In addition, students and faculty have excavated thousands of archeological artifacts at W&L over the past four decades, but few of them have been chemically analyzed with modern analytical instrumentation. Alison Bell, assistant professor of archaeology, will be in charge of examining elements of that collection using the new equipment. One application would be to determine whether elemental profiles of the artifacts are different, which would allow researchers to infer that some households bought their ceramics all at once in matched sets, while others pieced bits together from different factories as finances and other circumstances allowed.

Bell also plans to use the new equipment at excavations of a mining community in Virginia as well as at her collaboration on a dig at Monticello, where she and students have been excavating the site of the plantation overseer’s house.

“This is very much a collaborative venture,” said Uffelman. “Although the instrumentation is non-destructive, one of the major ways that art and archeological objects get damaged is by transport and handling. So we need people with conservation experience just to get the object to the instrumentation or vice versa, without damaging it.”

“We’re delighted and thrilled,” said Grover. “We always preach the aesthetics of art but now we get to look at the scientific and technical sides as well, giving students access to world class works of art, ceramics and artifacts.”

The ultimate goal will be to develop nationally significant research that will be published with students in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional meetings.

Mark Grunewald Named Interim Law Dean

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Alum Joins National Higher Ed Organization

A Washington and Lee alumnus, Edward G. “Ned” Moore, has moved from directing one of the state’s most successful, statewide, private higher-education consortiums to a national stage. A 1972 alumnus, Ned has been appointed an executive director of the Foundation for Independent Higher Education (FIHE), the national office for state associations that focuses on consortial fund-raising and collaborative programs for independent colleges and universities.

Since 2002, Ned had been head of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. VFIC comprises 15 private colleges and universities in the Commonwealth, including W&L, and is involved not only in fund-raising but also programs and workshops for faculty and staff development, minority student recruitment and retention, undergraduate research, and career connections for students. One of the most visible VFIC programs is the popular Ethics Bowl competition, which W&L teams have won four times in the last 10 years.

Now Ned will oversee the network of 32 state organizations like the VFIC. He’ll also be vice president of the Council of Independent Colleges, with which FIHE is merging. He previously worked in development at Randolph-Macon College and Austin College and as director of alumni and church relations at Rhodes College.

10 Things We Should Know About George Washington

Everyone knows the name of George Washington. Most of us even know two or three essential facts: he guided the Continental army to victory during the Revolution; he was the first president of the United States; our nation’s capital is named for him. Beyond that, however, our view of him gets hazy, distorted by myths, misunderstandings and misinformation.

The rough outline of Washington’s life is straightforward enough: He was born in Virginia on Feb. 22, 1732 (Feb. 11 under the old-style calendar). His illustrious military career included instrumental roles in both the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. His countrymen unanimously elected him president of the Constitutional Convention and first president of the United States. He lived his entire adult life at Mount Vernon, his 8,000-acre Virginia plantation on the Potomac River. Upon his death on Dec. 14, 1799, Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee eulogized him as “First in war⎯first in peace⎯and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

But how well do we really know George Washington? Here are ten essential facts.

1st. Washington was a real person.
God-like images of Washington appear on the dollar bill, in Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, and in Jean-Antoine Houdon’s life-sized statue in the Rotunda of the Virginia Capitol. They are important historically and symbolically, but they make Washington seem remote and unapproachable. The real Washington was a lot like us. He was ambitious, enterprising, passionate, resolute, courageous, obstinate, vain, rash, short-fused, detailed and, yes, honest.

2d. Washington was one of the most charismatic men of his age.
Far from the humorless individual that 18th-century iconography suggests, Washington knew how to carry himself; to use his own metaphor, he was an actor on a stage. Thomas Jefferson wrote of Washington that “his deportment [was] easy, erect and noble.” And at 6’2″ (possibly 6’3″), Washington, a physically strong man, towered over most of his contemporaries. “You had prepared me to entertain a favorable opinion of General Washington,” wrote Abigail Adams to her husband, John, after her first introduction to Washington, “but I thought the half was not told me.”

3d. Washington was a man of integrity.
He based his public service on this quality. “Integrity and firmness are all I can promise,” he wrote to his former comrade-in-arms, Henry Knox, shortly before taking office as president. While Washington never confessed to the mythical lie about chopping down a cherry tree, even Thomas Jefferson, who became a political enemy, thought “he was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good and a great man.”

4th. Washington was a visionary.
He learned the vastness of the American landscape during his surveying career and during the French and Indian War. Early on, he realized that the West was a land of opportunity, and he believed that the colonies had more in common with one another than with Great Britain. Washington’s vision of an American nation inspired him to command the Continental army. It gave him the courage to risk his reputation by serving two terms as president. It also gave him a concern for the political and economic survival and success of America, not only for his generation but also for future citizens, whom he called “millions unborn.”

5th. Washington was exceedingly practical.
He had little inclination toward philosophical ruminations; he was a man of action. Whether supplying troops, overseeing his plantations, or guiding his stepchildren and grandchildren, Washington always had in mind some practical end. This quality gave him insight into how to join his personal interests and well-being with those of the emerging nation. It also gave him the greatest moral quandary, in that he could see no way out of participating in the system of slave labor that underpinned his native Virginia. To his credit, wrestling with that quandary eventually led him to free his own slaves, although it meant dismantling his beloved Mount Vernon estate and upending the lives of his wife’s slaves, to whom he could not legally grant freedom.

6th. Washington suffered great failure and loss.
He lost his father when he was 11; his half-brother and mentor when he was 20; his stepdaughter, Patsy; and his stepson, Jacky. He failed to win a British army commission, lost important battles, and survived attempts made on his life. As a president who warned against factions, his popularity waned as partisan bickering turned on him. His farms suffered through years of drought, and his western lands drained time and resources. He endured serious illnesses and was denied the wish of his final years, to “glide gently down the stream of life in tranquil retirement,” when he was struck down with a sudden and fatal illness.

7th. Washington was a family man.
While he had no children of his own, he was the doting father to the two children of his wife, Martha Custis, and a loving grandfather to their offspring. He likewise took a lively interest in his nieces and nephews, the children of his five siblings, with whom he had a lasting intimacy. Washington’s relationship with his mother, Mary Ball Washington, was strained, but he dutifully cared for her. And he and his wife shared a loving relationship. Though we know little of their private thoughts-Martha burned their correspondence before her death-we know that she made extended visits to her husband at his Continental army headquarters each year of the Revolutionary War and never left Washington’s side during his last illness.

8th. Washington greatly valued education.
He thought his own schooling was deficient. Had his father not died when Washington was a child, perhaps he would have attended school in England like his elder half brothers. Washington eagerly supplemented that inadequate education throughout his life by keeping abreast of the latest developments in politics, agriculture, science and the arts. He was adamant that Martha’s children and grandchildren would receive an appropriate education, and he financed the education of the children of siblings and friends. As president, Washington unsuccessfully proposed a national university. In his will, he bequeathed money to schools in Alexandria, Va., and Rockbridge County, Va., the latter of which formed an early endowment for Washington College (now Washington and Lee University). And of all the honors bestowed on him during his lifetime, the degrees from Harvard and other colleges pleased him most.

9th. Washington was America’s “Indispensable Man.”
Perhaps the American Revolution would have succeeded without George Washington. If so, the outcome would have been radically different. The war effort may have failed without his zeal and perseverance. Washington personally held together the Continental army, and no one else even came in second to connecting the chief executives of the states and the factions of the Continental Congress. After the war, as the unanimously elected president of the Constitutional Convention, he worked behind the scenes, discussing differences and forging alliances. Most importantly, Washington was there, a hands-on president. For example, when making federal appointments, he read each application and painstakingly balanced sectional and political rivalries. The reputation and popularity of this indispensable man, as his biographer James Thomas Flexner calls him, propelled him into the presidency; his own inner star, assisted by other able men, guided him through the burdens of eight years’ service. Washington left office with his vision and integrity intact.

10th. Washington left us a valuable political and moral legacy.
With his coherent and sophisticated political philosophy, he set an example for his fellow citizens over the course of nearly half a century. He summed up the lessons he’d learned in his “Farewell Address to the People of the United States,” with its central theme of perpetual union based on the primacy of the Constitution. He buttressed his theme with warnings to steer clear of sectional and political divisions. Washington also advised on foreign relations; on the role of religion, morality and education in public life; and on the need to protect public credit and stabilize commercial and manufacturing interests. “You should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective & individual happiness,” he said, “that you should cherish a cordial, habitual & immoveable attachment to it.”

As the 278th anniversary of Washington’s birthday approaches, we should get to know him better. He deserves the reputation history gave him.

This piece appeared in the Feb. 22, 2010, editions of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Frank E. Grizzard Jr. is director of the Lee Family Digital Archive at Washington and Lee University. Formerly the senior associate editor at the Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia, his many publications include the only reference work entirely devoted to America’s first president,George! A Guide to All Things Washington, and, most recently,143 Questions & Answers About George Washington(Mariner Publishing).

W&L Lecture Examines Conservation in Mexico

A lecture on conservation titled “Where are the Parks? Great Ideas, Cultural Contexts, and Conservation in Mexico” will be presented by Emily Wakild, assistant professor of history at Wake Forest University, on Thursday, March 4, at Washington and Lee University.

The talk is part of a lecture series, “Nature and Politics in the Americas,” which is free and open to the public. All talks will be held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Leyburn Library’s Northen Auditorium.

The series is examining ways in which the physical environment helped shape human history in Latin America, and discussing the ecology of international trade, conservation and national parks, climate history and environmental justice. It is funded by the National Science Foundation and the history department, environmental studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies at W&L.

Wakild focuses her research on the social and environmental history of Latin America, the history of the Mexican Revolution, the history of conservation and national parks, and climate history. She teaches courses on Latin American and environmental history and is the author of several articles in the field, including “Border Chasm: International Boundary Parks and Mexican Conservation 1935-1945” in the July 2009 edition of Environmental History.

Following Wakild’s presentation, the March 18 lecture is by Alton Byers of the Mountain Institute and is titled “50 Years of Climate, Culture, and Landscape Change in the Mt. Everest Region,” in which Byers provides comparisons with the Peruvian Andes.

The final lecture on March 25 on environmental justice is “Peasants, Political Violence, and the Environment in Chile” by Thomas Klubock of the department of history at the University of Virginia.

34 Across

Fans of New York Times crossword puzzles that have W&L connections got a freebie on Sunday. The clue for 34 Across? “Washington and _ _ _ University.”  Amy Grattan, a 1982 law alumna and parent of sophomore Robert Grattan, was among those who opened the Times on Sunday morning and found the reference to her alma mater. Amy wrote, “As a longtime avid NYT crossword-puzzle solver, I was thrilled to see today’s 34 Across clue.” When we tweeted about it on Sunday morning, we received a series of re-tweets in quick succession as followers of our Twitter spread the word. (That’s also a plug for the W&L Twitter feed:  If you’re not following yet, see what you’re missing?)  And on his own Twitter feed, Aaron Toomey, a 2009 grad, tweeted about the puzzle and added, “Will Shortz, I like your style.” Shortz is, of course, the famed editor of the New York Times crossword, and he might well be familiar with W&L, since he earned a juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He edited Sunday’s puzzle, which was was created by Eric Berlin, a puzzle maker and author of young adult novels about puzzle addict Wilson Breen. By now, you’re finished with the puzzle and don’t mind seeing the solution to this particular clue. Of course, if you put the crossword aside for later, the Honor System still applies.

ODAC Champion Generals Open NCAA Tournament at Christopher Newport

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Robert L. Wolke to Address W&L’s Phi Beta Kappa Convocation

Washington and Lee University will induct students into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society at its Phi Beta Kappa/Society of the Cincinnati Convocation on Wednesday, March 10, at 11:45 a.m. in Lee Chapel.

The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will recognize and honor 46 members of the junior and senior classes accepted into Phi Beta Kappa based on their exceptional academic achievements. Robert A. Strong, professor of politics, will be inducted as an honorary member.

The event will feature Dr. Robert L. Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and a food columnist for the Washington Post. The title of his talk is “A Little Knowledge….” As an educator and lecturer, he enjoys a national reputation for his ability to make science understandable and enjoyable.

His latest book, What Einstein Told His Cook 2, The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science, is the fourth in his Einstein series on everyday science. The others include What Einstein Didn’t Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions; What Einstein Told His Barber: More Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions; and What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained. He also is the author of Impact: Science on Society and Chemistry Explained, as well as dozens of scientific research papers.

Wolke will be available to autograph his Einstein books (which will be on sale at W&L’s Bookstore) on March 10 from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Commons Atrium.

Wolke has won the James Beard Foundation’s award for the best newspaper column and the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ (IACP) Bert Greene Award for the best newspaper food writing. The American Chemical Society selected Wolke for the 2005 Grady-Stack Award for interpreting chemistry for the public.

W&L students being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa:

Andrew Nicholas Assapimonwait of Prospect, Ky.; James Vernon Baird Jr. of Houston; William Wallace Billington III of Nashville, Tenn.; Kathryn Paige Boiles of Nacogdoches, Texas; Samuel Brusca of Rockville, Md.; Andrew Christopher Budzinski of Lawrenceville, N.J.; Edward C. Burks III of Berryville, Va.; Ian Childers of Ona, W.Va.; Emily Fay Coyle of Seattle; Dinah Elizabeth Danforth of Lexington, Va.; Brian Ellis Devine of Denver, Colo.; Joshua Alejandro Gonzalez of Bridgewater, N.J.; and Charles Edward Griffin of Charlotte, N.C.

Also Caroline Habliston of Alexandria, Va.; Margaret Rose Harrington of Eldersburg, Md.; Jessica Kaitlyn Kamp of Minneapolis, Minn; Meredith Dowd Mitchell of Little Rock, Ark.; Benjamin Mooneyham of Houston; Annaria Nardone of South Windsor, Conn.; Elliott O’Brien of TE Awamutu, New Zealand; Anthony James Oley Jr. of Richmond, Va.; Jock Pflug of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.; Brooke Reidy of Ashland, Ohio; Thomas Rutherford Sellers of Pike Road, Ala.; Victoria Maureen Stevens of Leesburg, Va.; and Kimber Lauren Wiggs of Lakeland, Fla.

Catherine Elizabeth Anderson of Brentwood, N.H.; Cristina Bratu of Arad, Romania; Bridget Mary Donovan of Scarsdale, N.Y.; David James Doobin of Summit, N.J.; Clair Mairead Elder of Cincinnati, Ohio; Taylor Garrett of Birmingham, Ala.; Granvil George of Charleston, W.Va.; Robert S. George of Middletown, N.J.; Anna Marie Hermesmann of Columbus, N.J.; Anatoniy Khomenko of Yalta, Ukraine; and Michael Todd Kuntz of Stafford, Va.

Also Gregory Matthew Kurkis of Roswell, Ga.; Mou Cheng Peng of Sichuan, Peoples Republic of China; Hannah Elizabeth Muther of Rockford, Ill.; Susan Payton of Princeton, W.Va.; Lauren Frances Sturdy of Williamsburg, Va.; Victoria Rae Taylor of Manasquan, N.J.; Frank Andrew Tessier Jr. of New Orleans; Melissa Beth Valentine of Knoxville, Tenn.; and John David Walton Jr. of Blue Ridge, Ga.

The winner of the Phi Beta Kappa J. Brown Goehring Sophomore Award will be announced at the Convocation.

French Film Festival Begins March 4 at Washington and Lee University

The department of Romance languages at Washington and Lee University will show five recent French films in the Stackhouse Theater of the Elrod Commons at 7 p.m. on the Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 4 to March 18.

These films are being shown thanks to a grant from the French American Cultural Exchange and an additional grant from the dean of the college at W&L. The films show a broad range of styles and subject matter.

The films, which are free and open to the public, are all in French, with English subtitles.

Thursday, March 4 – Romance of Astrea and Celadon (2006). Legendary director Eric Rohmer adapted this movie from Honoré d’Urfé’s 17th-century novel, a romance set among the charming young shepherds and shepherdesses-as well as the nymphs, fairies and druids-that dwell among them in 5th-century Gaul.

Tuesday, March 9 – Being Jewish in France (2007). Yves Jeuland’s sweeping documentary explores the rich and complex history of Jews in France-the first country to grant Jews citizenship.

Thursday, March 11 – Dreams of Dust (2006). Director Laurent Salgues gives a taut portrait of a Nigerian peasant who lost his entire family in a terrible accident and tries to rebuild his life. He looks for work at a gold mine to forget his past and is introduced to a small community of miners.

Tuesday, March 16 – The Last Mistress (2007). The film gives a portrayal of a betrothed couple, the woman a “gem of the French aristocracy.” Some whisper that the young man will never break off his passionate love affair. France’s foremost provocatrice, Catherine Breillat, continues to surprise as she pursues her career-long interest in the ramifications of female desire.

Thursday, March 18 – The Secret of the Grain (2007). This stunning film by Abdel Kéchiche takes place in the Southern French city of Sète where the job of the patriarch of a large and vivacious North African family is suddenly no longer secure. He decides to restore an old boat and turn it into a floating couscous restaurant, but becomes ill and needs the help of his family.

Asian Leadership Conference to be Held at W&L

Washington and Lee’s Pan-Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE) is hosting an Asian Leadership Conference at the university on Saturday, Feb. 20, in the Elrod Commons.

The conference is open to the public with a fee of $20. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m., and the welcoming ceremonies are at 11:00 a.m.

PAACE, a student club founded five years ago, coordinates campus events and activities to create awareness of and appreciation for Asian culture. Through the Asian Leadership Conference, PAACE aims to cultivate understanding and knowledge of Asian and Asian-American issues.

“We think of the conference as a large-scale brain-storming session,” says PAACE co-chair Danielle Ausems, a W&L senior. “Different people’s experiences with different campuses will offer alternate solutions in which we might be able to draw from each other’s lessons in order to tackle our own problems.”

The conference will host panels on leadership within Asian interest clubs, social and cultural problems, economics, political analysis, and art and entertainment. Student leaders from more than six universities will contribute to the discussion.

The keynote speaker is Cathy Bao Bean, author of The Chopsticks-Fork Principle: A Memoir and Manual. Bao Bean, who emigrated from China as a child, writes in her memoir about disparate cultural norms and the benefits of greater awareness of diversity. She will discuss how Asian-American identity is caught between the worlds of the East and the West.

The conference will conclude with a musical performance by the Clockwork Dolls, a band known for mixing electronica, opera, classical and contemporary music.

Keeping Newcomb Debris Out of Landfills

Back in December, a story on our W&L news site related the efforts being made to get LEED certification for both the Newcomb Hall renovation and the new construction of Hillel House. A major focus for the Newcomb project was its waste management program, where the original goal had been to divert 75 percent of all the construction and demolition debris from landfills.

Tom Kalasky, director of design and construction at W&L, explained that the waste from Newcomb consists of four basic products — cardboard, metal, wood and concrete (including brick and stone) — that were being removed from Newcomb, trucked first to a waste-recycling center created on the north end of campus and then taken to a Richmond firm where they were processed.

Through last November, that process had resulted in 84 percent diversion. The latest figures, as of Feb. 1, show that number holding steady at 84 percent, way above the target. Thus far, the project has generated 148.14 tons of total construction and demotion debris. Of that total, 123.7 tons have been diverted from landfills.

W&L’s Lincoln Lecture Series Features Speaker on Lincoln and Douglass

As one of Washington and Lee University’s Lincoln Lecture Series featured speakers, Diana Schaub, professor of political science at Loyola College in Maryland, will give a lecture on Thursday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 327, Huntley Hall.

The topic of Dr. Schaub’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “Lincoln and Douglass,” comparing how Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass viewed the Constitution.

Schaub also is a New Atlantis contributing editor, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters. From 1994 to 1995 she was a postdoctoral fellow of the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University.

Schaub has taught at the University of Michigan at Dearborn and served as assistant editor of the National Interest. She is the author of Erotic Liberalism: Women and Revolution in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters (Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), along with a number of book chapters and articles in the fields of political philosophy and American political thought.

Schaub’s work also has appeared in the New Criterion, the Public Interest, the American Enterprise, the Claremont Review of Books, Commentary, First Things, the American Interest and the City Journal.

She earned an A.B. from Kenyon College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

New Resources for Pre-law Students at W&L

They are young, new recruits to a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles, and life is dramatic and glamorous.

But the characters on the ABC television show “The Deep End” are living a life devoid of the nitty gritty of a real law firm, according to Abby Perdue, adjunct instructor and special consultant to the Pre-Law Studies Program for undergraduates at Washington and Lee University. “The law is a really important career and time consuming, challenging and wonderful, but I want students to know what they are getting into before they make that decision,” she said.

Perdue knows what she’s talking about. A graduate of W&L and the University of Virginia School of Law, she is on sabbatical from her career with an international law firm in New York, where she practices employment counseling and litigation. When Perdue approached Hank Dobin, dean of the College at W&L, with the idea of spending a year on campus to contribute to W&L’s Pre-Law resources, “I jumped at the chance,” said Dobin.

The W&L students in the pre-law program are part of a trend. Applications to law schools have risen this year by 6.1 percent, according to the Law School Admissions Council; applications to the W&L School of Law have risen even more, by 31 percent. Perdue and Beverly Lorig, director of career services at W&L, say many students see a law degree as something good to have, without necessarily looking ahead to see what their options will be after they have it. “It’s a default choice for some students,” said Perdue.

With a combination of teaching and counseling, Perdue is making sure pre-law students are fully prepared. The class that best illustrates her approach is one she taught last semester, on diversity and discrimination in employment and higher education. Instead of a final paper, the students conducted a mock trial of a fictional sexual harassment case, admitting exhibits into evidence, delivering opening statements and closing arguments, and conducting direct and cross-examinations. The jury consisted of students from other classes, and Dobin served as jury foreman. “It was a great event and very impressive on the students’ parts,” he said.

Perdue joins pre-law advisors Robert Culpepper and Lucas Morel, faculty members in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, in providing guidance in this area. Culpepper is a visiting professor of business administration and business law; Morel is an associate professor of politics. Dobin added Perdue to the mix in response to the increasing and significant number of undergrads interested in law and to balance the advising load between the Williams School and the College. As a result, the program is now more on a par with its counterpart program for students interested in the health professions.

As part of her continuing effort to strengthen W&L existing pre-law resources and create new ones, Perdue created a new organization, GILS (Generals Interested in Legal Studies), which brings together students to hear speakers, organize law-related events and have mixers with organizations at the W&L School of Law. Students also have a new mentoring program, Law School Liaisons, which matches pre-law undergraduates with a W&L law student, along the lines of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

When the students actually apply to law school, Perdue makes the daunting process easier with LSAT strategy and practice sessions. She also brought in deans of admissions of several law schools to run a mock admission-committee meeting. W&L students sat on the committee, reviewed real files, and decided who would receive an offer. “It provided tremendous insight into the law school decision-making process,” she said. Rome Perlman ’10, a math major, attended the session and found it extremely informative. “I’ve repeated lessons I learned there multiple times to friends who are thinking about law school,” he said.

Perdue also has brought to campus speakers on topics ranging from same-sex and interracial marriage to an important animal rights case. A W&L alumnus and current Yale law student also talked about his experiences at Yale and law school in general.

Dobin said the pre-law students are “galvanized” by Perdue’s presence. Upwards of 40 students have visited her multiple times in the last few months to discuss admissions, internships and financial aid.
Laura Persun, ’11, an English and creative writing major, knew in her junior year that she wanted to go law school. “I had no idea where or how to begin the process,” she said. “Abby Perdue has been my primary source for all of this information. She has been extremely available and has met with me several times. Together we have picked out a set of schools for me to apply to. The benefits I have obtained from these sessions are numerous. I am very fortunate that for this new resource; otherwise, I would be incredibly lost during this complicated process.”

As for the future, Perdue is always coming up with new ideas. Among those are a free LSAT practice exam in March, more upcoming speakers, and a Pre-Law Preview Week during spring term to showcase the pre-law studies resources. “We’re going to forge ahead,” she said. “We’re going to try things and see if they work.”

One resource that has already proved itself is the new pre-law Web site. It’s a one-stop shop that Perdue constantly updates with information. Students can find out about making the decision to go to law school, law-related courses, internships and externships, how to choose a law school, the application process, LSAT preparation, student resources, law-related events, alumni connections and answers to frequently asked questions.

It all adds up to students who are fully prepared and under no illusions about the realities of law school and a law career, the often glamorous portrait in TV shows notwithstanding.

The Pre-Law Web site can be found at http://www.wlu.edu/x35745.xml

Fantastic Fantasy

The third edition of the anthology Best American Fantasy has just been published and features what Publisher’s Weekly calls “20 eclectic and exceptional stories that graft fantasy with realistic fiction.” Included among the authors is none other than Stephen King. But two of the 20 stories are by writers with Washington and Lee ties.

Chris Gavaler is visiting assistant professor of English at W&L. An award-winning playwright, Chris is the author of “Is,” a story that appeared first in the New England Review. Rebecca Makkai is a 1999 graduate of Washington and Lee and was the subject of a September 2009 blog entry about her inclusion in Best American Short Stories. Her story is titled “Couple of Lovers on a Red Background,” and it was previously published in Brilliant Corners.

The anthology was edited by novelist Kevin Brockmeier, who cites both Chris and Rebecca in his introduction when he writes, “there are stories in which ordinary people are confronted with the fantastic and use its mechanisms to understand their own histories, such as … Chris Gavaler’s doorway between a forgotten childhood and an inharmonious present, … and Rebecca Makkai’s teasingly yearning composer-out-of-time fable. (Makkai’s story “The Briefcase,” by the way, from the same issue of The New England Review as Chris Gavaler’s, was bar none the finest non-fantasy story I read this year. Seek it out.)”

While you’re seeking out that edition of The New England Review (you can read “The Briefcase” online on its Web site) be sure to seek out Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3, which is available on Amazon. Congratulations to both Chris and Rebecca.

Former University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway to Lecture on African-American Writer

Robert E. Hemenway, a distinguished scholar of African-American literature and the newly retired chancellor of the University of Kansas, will present a lecture, “Zora Neale Hurston: Jook Joints and Voodoo Tales,” on Monday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 214 of Washington and Lee University’s Science Center.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is being sponsored by W&L’s African-American Studies Committee. In addition to the public lecture, Hemenway will make a presentation to an Introduction to African-American Studies class and will lead a discussion on the topic of his current research, “Athletics and Values: The American Collegiate Model” during his visit to W&L.

Hemenway’s 1977 biography of African-American novelist Zora Neale Hurston, which was a “Best Books” pick by the New York Times in 1978, was named winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award in Biography and the Rembert W. Patrick Memorial Prize of the Florida Historical Society.

Poet and novelist Alice Walker, who wrote the forward to the paperback edition of Hemenway’s book, said that it “gives back to all of us something invaluable that was nearly lost: reliable information and knowledge of the life of a great writer and unique human being.”

A native of Nebraska, Hemenway received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and his Ph.D. from Kent State University. His 43-year career in academia included teaching positions in English at the University of Kentucky and the University of Wyoming before being named dean of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma. He returned to the University of Kentucky as chancellor in 1989 and served until 1995 when he was named chancellor of the University of Kansas, a position he held until stepping down in June 2009.

Hemenway is currently on sabbatical leave this academic year to work on a book about intercollegiate athletics and American values. He will return to teaching and scholarly research at Kansas in fall 2010.

W&L President Ruscio Elected to AAC&U Board of Directors

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio has been named to the board of directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

Ruscio was among seven new directors that AAC&U elected at its annual meeting in Washington earlier this month.

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. The organization, founded in 1915, comprises 1,200 member institutions and functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning.

“AAC&U’s membership is very fortunate to be led by such a strong and committed board of directors,” said Carol Schneider, president of the organization. “The board’s leadership has contributed greatly to the growth of AAC&U’s membership and the strengths of its programs and publications.”

Ruscio is currently in his fourth year as the 26th president of Washington and Lee. A 1976 graduate of W&L, Ruscio earned an M.P.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1978 and 1983, respectively.

In 2009, Ruscio was among 82 college and university presidents and chancellors who joined a new Presidents’ Trust formed by the AAC&U to make the case for liberal education and its value in today’s world.

In addition to Ruscio, new directors elected by AAC&U were Sean Decatur, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College; Zelema Harris, chancellor of St. Louis Community College; David Hodge, president of Miami University in Ohio; Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission; Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Michigan; and Sanford J. Ungar, president of Goucher College. David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College, was elected president of the AAC&U board.

Inspiring Tweets

A. The Forbes Woman piece is all about research on Twitter, which shows that men have 15 percent more followers than women do on the social networking tool. The 20 women in the article are, the author writes, more than worth following, and Robyn is among them. She already has 2,964 followers, but her Tweets about food reform are valuable enough to demand even more followers. You can follow Robyn at @UnhealthyTruth.

Staging a Race for the Ages

Washington and Lee alumnus Charles Cella’s name was prominent on national and international sports pages this week: his race track, Oaklawn Park, in Hot Springs, Ark., will be the center of the thoroughbred horse racing universe in April when the world’s top two horses meet in the Apple Blossom Invitational. Among other outlets, The New York Times cited Charlie’s pivotal role in scheduling the race between undefeated mare Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, the unbeaten 2009 Horse of the Year. In the Times story headlined “One Man Creates Ultimate Duel,” Times horse racing writer Joe Drape wrote: “While you are anticipating what could be the greatest thing to happen to thoroughbred racing in America since Affirmed captured the Triple Crown in 1978, raise a glass to Charles Cella, the president of Oaklawn Park, who put the race together.” The race, which was increased to a total purse of $5 million, provided both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta start, was moved to April 9 and will be held the day before the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. “I’ve never had so much trouble giving $5 million away,” Charlie told ESPN. “We’ve got a solid commitment, assuming, of course, their health continues.” Charlie is the third generation to run Oaklawn and has been president since 1968, succeeding his late father. His grandfather and great uncle  were among the founders of Oaklawn, which also drew praise in the Times’ piece on the big race. “…Oaklawn’s focus on quality horse racing … has earned it the reputation as the Saratoga of the South,” wrote Drape. In addition to the success with the track, Charlie has been a successful horse owner, too. His colt, Northern Spur, won the 1995 Eclipse Award as champion turf horse after winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  Oaklawn, Charlie, and his family were recognized with the 2004 Eclipse Award of Merit, and Charlie was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

W&L Women’s Swimming Captures 20th Conference Title

Original story at:

W&L Librarian Yolanda Merrill Curates “Arts of the Book” Exhibit

“Beyond Text and Image: The Book as Art” opens on Thursday, Feb. 25, in Staniar Gallery, Wilson Hall, at Washington and Lee. Curated by W&L humanities librarian Yolanda Merrill, the exhibition showcases 30 works by nationally known book artists.

Merrill will give a curator’s talk and slideshow on Wednesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. in the Concert Hall facing the Gallery. The lecture will be followed by a reception in Lykes Atrium, adjacent to the Gallery. The exhibit, curator’s talk and reception are free and open to the public.

Merrill herself has many years of experience as a bookbinder and bookmaker, and has co-taught a course in the book arts at Washington and Lee. A selection of the student work made in the course is on display in the Lykes Atrium.

The focus of the exhibit is on sculptural books. However, there will also be photographs and other two-dimensional works in the show. In addition, Larry Stene, professor of studio art at W&L, created a large book sculpture specifically for this exhibit. The show will “give an overview of the kinds of work created in the field of artists’ books,” says Merrill. “This should be an enjoyable show for all ages.” Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which has a vast collection of artists’ books, generously provided 13 books for the exhibit.

The exhibition will be up through April 2. Staniar Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

Sarah Keckler ’10 and Jamie Goodin ’10 Recognized at Celebrating Student Success Reception

W&L seniors Sarah Keckler and Jamie Goodin will be recognized at the Celebrating Student Success (CSS) monthly reception on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 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 at 3:30 p.m.

Keckler, from Gardners, Pa., is a business administration and East Asian language and literature double major with a Japanese concentration. Keckler is the president of W&L Students for Life; co-chair of Student Activities Organization; chairwoman for University Life First-Year Orientation Committee; and was awarded the VFIC/Norfolk Southern scholarship, the Paul Shuford Scholarship, the H.P. Hood Foundation Scholarship, the Horatio Alger Scholarship and the American Business Women’s Association Scholarship.

Keckler is a founding member of Washingtones, a co-ed a capella group on campus; a member of the Chamber Singers; a member of SPEAK which seeks to decrease and prevent sexual misconduct and assault on campus through awareness and education; an officer of PAACE (Pan-Asian Association for Cultural Exchange) which seeks to create awareness and appreciation for Asian culture; and a member of W&L’s cross country and track and field teams.

Goodin, from Amherst, Va., is majoring in business administration. He is a member of KEWL (Knowledge Empowering Women Leaders); a GED tutor with Project Pride; a works project volunteer with the Nabors Service League; vice president of Web design for the Gay-Straight Alliance; and a member, a delegate to the Carlson Leadership Conference, and vice president of finance, programming and recruitment of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Goodin is founder and president of inVision Film Production; coordinator of the first annual W&L Student Film Festival; coordinator of the first two annual student Band Night Campus Music Revival; coordinator of the Rock Against Rape Sexual Assault Awareness Concert; co-head of media for Aduro, W&L’s student advertising group; a disc jockey for the W&L student radio station WLUR 91.5; door-to-door salesman with Southwestern Company; and worked on the ad campaigns for Science, Society, and the Arts Symposium and George & Bob, a Lexington men’s store.

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.

Keckler and Goodin were selected by the CSS committee which 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 Web site. Nominations are always accepted and encouraged.

Future CSS receptions during the 2009-10 academic year will occur from 2-4 p.m. in the Elrod Commons Living Room on Mar. 17, Apr. 7 and May 5.

Charley McDowell's Month

In his 49 years writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington and Lee alumnus and Lexington native Charley McDowell Jr., Class of 1948, directed some of his harshest criticism at one subject — the month of February. And given the ways things have gone in these snow-covered parts the past two weeks, who could argue with Charley? Two recent columns in the T-D referred to Charley’s February columns. In her Feb. 7 piece, Marsha Mercer recalled that Charley started his anti-February rants in 1967 in his columns from the paper’s Washington bureau. Here’s one of the more memorable passages: “February depresses. It litters the landscape with dirty, clinging snow. It sabotages the automobile battery. It brings man into bitter conflict with his furnace.” And in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch, Tom Silvestri’s column was titled “Wisdom From One Newsman Who Figured Out February.” You need to read Silvestri’s piece here to get a sense of all the ways in which Charley chastised the month. But here are more examples cited in Silvestri’s column:

  • “February has the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in it, but actually everyone in the world gets at least a year older in the course of February.”
  • “There is nothing short about February but the temper of man. February is when the battery quits, the snow shovel breaks on the ice, the glove is lost, the galosh is ripped, the milk freezes, the dessert doesn’t jell, the cat and the paranoid furnace run amok.”

Amen, Charley.

Prominent Historian to Dissect the Ecology of U.S.-Mexico Trade

A special lecture series that examines “Nature and Politics in the Americas” will begin Thursday, Feb. 18 at Washington and Lee University and continue through March. The four programs, featuring nationally- and internationally-known guest lecturers, will examine ways in which the physical environment helped shape human history in Latin America, and will discuss the ecology of international trade, conservation and national parks, climate history and environmental justice.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the department of history and the programs environmental studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies at W&L, all of the presentations are free and open to the public. All lectures will be held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Leyburn Library’s Northen Auditorium.

“We are fortunate to have on campus these superb guest speakers who have investigated these topics for years,” said Mark Carey, assistant professor of history and organizer of the lectures series. “Anyone interested in how climate, natural resources, national parks, forests, indigenous land rights, and international trade have influenced politics and people’s lives will enjoy these lectures.”

The series begins Feb. 18 with a look at international trade. Sterling Evans of the department of history at the University of Oklahoma will discuss “Nothing New about NAFTA: North American Connections and Their Historical Lessons.”

Evans joined the history faculty at Oklahoma in January 2009 in the newly endowed Welsh Chair. He is the author of Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, which won the Theodore Saloutos Best Book Prize from the Agricultural History Society in 2008. His interest in the environmental history of Latin America prompted him to write The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica, and to work on his current project, Damming Sonora: Water, Agriculture, and Environmental Change in Northwest Mexico.

The March 4 lecture on conservation is titled “Where are the Parks? Great Ideas, Cultural Contexts, and Conservation in Mexico” presented by Emily Wakild of the department of history at Wake Forest University.

The March 18 lecture is by Alton Byers of the Mountain Institute and is titled “50 Years of Climate, Culture, and Landscape Change in the Mt. Everest Region,” in which Byers provides comparisons with the Peruvian Andes.

The final lecture on March 25 on environmental justice is called “Peasants, Political Violence, and the Environment in Chile” by Thomas Klubock of the University of Virginia’s department of history.

Del Clark's Renewed Cancer Battle

When Del Clark graduated from Washington and Lee in 1990, most of his classmates were well aware of the battle he had fought with cancer during his undergraduate career. As his classmate and roommate Todd Peppers recently recalled, during his sophomore year Del had a cancerous brain tumor and a prognosis of a year to live.  He left school that spring and returned home to Oregon, where he underwent seven hours of brain surgery and subsequent radiation. He returned to W&L for his junior year, however, and classmates cheered when Del received his diploma in June 1990. Everyone, including Del and his doctors, thought he had beaten the cancer. Del went onto law school, earning his J.D. from the Willamette University College of Law and an LL.M. in taxation from the University of Washington School of Law. He married and had two children, a son and a daughter, and built a legal career in Portland, Ore., where he now owns the Willamette Law Group, which specializes in tax.  As Todd wrote in a recent e-mail about his roommate, “After 20 years, we were all convinced that the odds of Del’s cancer returning were remote, but, sadly, it did in October.” An article in The Oregonian earlier this month reported on Del’s situation, noting that he has had three surgeries and now is beginning chemotherapy and radiation. The article quotes Del’s doctor: “He’s already shown that one time his body was able to outlive the tumor. It’s possible there’s some X-factor in Del.” Everyone who knows him hopes that is true. In addition to his law practice, Del is a city councilor in the Portland suburb of Sherwood. Next month in Sherwood, they’ll have an Easter egg hunt to benefit Del (if you click this link and scroll down, you’ll see photos of Del and his family).  In addition, a donation account at U.S. Bank in downtown Sherwood has been established under Del’s name.  All those who knew him at W&L are still cheering for him.

New W&L Microfinance Club to Give Small Loans in Developing Countries

Spurred by a course on development economics, three students and a faculty member are turning theory into practice by starting a microfinance club called The General Development Initiative at Washington and Lee University.

“Microfinance is basically private development assistance that provides small loans – hence the word ‘micro’ – for people in developing countries who don’t have access to credit,” said Jim Casey, associate professor of economics in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. “With as little as $25, for example, you could invest in someone buying a pig and that, in turn, could have an enormous impact on the person’s community. At the same time you can expect a return on your investment, so it is not charity.” The usual rate of return for investors in microfinance projects is between four and six percent.

At first the new club will raise donations that will be invested directly in microfinance projects they have identified, concentrating on helping communities in Central and South America. When the investment returns, usually after one year, the club will reinvest its profits and the original donation in another suitable recipient.

“We will be looking to build credibility and establish a small financial record,” said Ben Ersing ’12, an international politics major with a minor in Latin American studies. Helping him to establish the club are Cailin Slattery ’11, a math and economics major and Jarrett Brotzman ’11, recent winner of the Schlegel Prize for International Studies.

Ersing said that once the club has shown that it has continually re-invested the money it raises, “then we can use that success as a platform from which to pursue large scale donations from foundation grants and private individuals.”
Fundraising won’t be the club’s only activity. It will also have committees that focus on promotions, grant research, writing grant proposals as well as managerial positions that focus on short- and long-term goals.

The aim is to attract students from multiple disciplines, including business, finance, accounting, environmental studies, Latin American Studies, the Shepherd Poverty Program and women’s studies, to name a few. Ersing’s interest is research and development. “You have to find out which communities could be potential recipients of microfinance loans. That involves a lot of background information on the economics, politics and climate of the region. How could we impact them and are they a viable option or not?” he said.

Ersing said that once the club has a large enough capital base, the long-term goal will be to create a non-profit microfinance corporation of the same name. “That will evolve over time,” he said. The corporation would set the interest rate and time period for both recipients and investors, and would be open to all individuals to invest.”

What will separate W&L’s corporation from a typical for-profit microfinance bank will be the educational component. The aim is to create an experiential learning tool that is created, owned and operated primarily by W&L students. This, in turn, will drastically reduce the overhead costs of running the corporation and, since the staff will be non-paid students, the lack of salaries will make up for any potential financial shortfalls.

Ersing has already started work on the corporation, which will be legally responsible to the state of Virginia, but there’s still a long way to go before that ultimate dream can be realized.

The idea for the General Development Initiative began in Professor Jim Casey’s development economics class. He had always included a service-learning element in the class, but in 2008 decided to expand that to include microfinance. Initially, it was to be a theoretical experiment whereby the students would learn about microfinance, go online and hypothetically choose to whom they would make their loans.

But the students had other ideas.

“They amazed me,” said Casey. “They went online and found families and entrepreneurs in developing countries and gave them some money. They did a presentation on the last day of class and said, ‘Here’s the family I invested in. I loaned them $50 to buy a bicycle or some farm animals.’ I think the students did it because they became passionate about the idea and were moved by the power of how little things can change someone’s life, and how that can lead to other massive changes. It was a small part of their grade, so from that standpoint there wasn’t a huge incentive. I think it says a tremendous amount about their character.”

In 2008 the class made 30 loans totaling approximately $1,200 to people in 13 different countries. In 2009 they raised $800, which they will distribute soon.

Casey explained that, strictly based on the literature and empirical evidence, women with children are the best recipients of microloans. They are more likely to invest money in children and the overall welfare of their household and this is particularly true for women who have stated that they want to keep their children in school rather than working in the fields.
Ersing is sure to bear that in mind during his research into potential loan recipients. “Microfinance provides individuals with a means to an end and prevents lack of finances from being a hindrance to personal development,” he said. “It’s definitely something that allows people to make a better life for themselves and their family.”

For further information about development economics, read Casey’s blog General Development at http://generaldevelopment.blogspot.com/

New York Intern's Work on Display

If you tuned in to last night’s first installment of the four-part , you saw, in part, the hard work of a Washington and Lee senior. As an intern with W&L’s New York Spring Term program, Michael Morella worked for Ark Media, the documentary film company that produced the show. As Michael explained in the Fall/Winter issue of the W&L Alumni Magazine, he spent much of his time conducting research on such varied topics as turn-of-the-century mining in Montana to the German revolutionary Gustav Landauer. Michael credited his work on the weekly Rockbridge Report with providing him background, and said the experience opened his eyes to what it takes to put together a program like Faces in America.

W&L Mourns Loss of H. Marshall Jarrett, Emeritus History Professor

H. Marshall Jarrett, professor of history at Washington and Lee University from 1963 to 2000 and a member of the Class of 1952, died Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Heritage Hall in Lexington. He was 79.

“Marshall’s warm and generous personality and his dedication to the craft of teaching made him a cherished member of this community,” said President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “His former students, and I include myself among them, remember well his courses on European history and the French Revolution. He left his mark, and it was an impressive one.”

A memorial service will be held this Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that individuals make a contribution to the charity of their choice.

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Jarrett was a native of Oklahoma, where his great-grandparents and grandparents had been leaders in the development of the Oklahoma Territory. He was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Chandler.

As an undergraduate at W&L, he belonged to Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity, and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta academic honor societies. He studied under William A. Jenks ’39, another longtime professor of history at the University. After graduation, he spent two years in law school at the University of Oklahoma and two years in the army before returning to W&L as a Scholar of the University to study foreign languages before entering graduate school.

Jarrett received his M.A. (1959) and Ph.D. (1962) in history from Duke University. During the second semester of his final year in graduate school, he did research in Paris at the Bibliotheque Nationale. From 1962 to 1963, he served as an assistant professor of history at Westminster College, in Fulton, Mo., before returning to W&L.

Jarrett served as head of the History Department from 1983 to 1988. He taught courses in the Old Regime, the French Revolution and Napoleonic France, as well as European intellectual history and the first-year survey of European history. He belonged to the Society for French Historical Studies, the Society for 18th Century Studies, and the American Historical Society.

In 1967, Jarrett received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the first year the NEH gave such awards. He used it for research into 18th-century French intellectual history at Harvard University and the British Museum, and by attending the International Congress for the Enlightenment at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. In 1986-87, Jarrett spent the academic year in Oxford, participating in W&L’s Oxford Faculty Exchange program. In the summer of 1987 he studied at the University of Orleans and returned to France during his sabbatical in the spring of 1993.

In 2000, he received the Dr. William W. Pusey III Award from the students’ Executive Committee, which acknowledges the faculty or staff member who has made the greatest contribution to the University. Two years after he retired from the University faculty, Jarrett served on the faculty for a W&L Alumni College, “The Life and Times of Napoleon.” In 2007, Martin E. Stein ’74 and Brooke Stein established a professorship because of their regard for Jarrett, Professor Jenks and Professor Henry P. Porter Jr. ’54.

When he retired, his departmental colleagues Richard Bidlack, J. Holt Merchant ’61 and Henry Porter presented a tribute calling him “a demanding but kind mentor” and remembering “his formidable contributions to the University.” Of his tenure as department chair, they wrote, “It is a testament to his refined managerial skills that he was able to maintain order, decorum and civility among a group that is widely recognized to be the last bastion on this campus of true and unbridled eccentricity.”

Jarrett was an avid sportsman who loved the outdoors. He served as an elder of the Lexington Presbyterian Church, where, along with his wife, Charlene, he started the church’s first coeducational Sunday school class for adults in 1963.

He is survived by his wife, Charlene; their sons, Charles and David; two grandsons, Marshall Jarrett and Justin Nuchols; and his daughter-in-law, Deborah Jarrett

Internationally-Acclaimed Pianist Di Wu to Perform at Washington and Lee University

Pianist Di Wu will perform at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, February 17 at 8 p.m. in Wilson Hall under sponsorship of the W&L Concert Guilde.

The program, will feature the Davidsbündlertänze of Robert Schumann as well the complete set of Miroirs by Maurice Ravel. Di Wu will also perform Mazurka by Clara Schumann and the “Paraphrase on a Waltz from Gounod’s Faust” by Franz Liszt.

Praised in The Wall Street Journal as “a most mature and sensitive pianist’, Chinese-born Di Wu’s reputation as an elegant yet exciting musician continues to grow, and 2009 was a banner year: During the spring and summer, she made her New York Alice Tully Hall recital debut as winner of Juilliard’s William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award, was named Artist of the Month by MusicalAmerica.com, and was awarded a Vendome Virtuosi prize at Lisbon’s prestigious Vendome Competition as well as one of the coveted prizes at the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In September she made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut at a gala benefit concert under Charles Dutoit.

Wu made her professional debut at 14 with the Beijing Philharmonic. Since then she has toured widely in Asia, Europe and the United States, where her recent orchestral engagements have included appearances with Washington’s National Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and twice in Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops. During the 2009-10 Season, Wu is scheduled for a 45-concert tour which takes her from California to Germany.

Di Wu came to the United States in 1999 to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Zenon Fishbein. From 2000 to 2005 she studied at the Curtis Institute with Gary Graffman, subsequently earning a master of music degree at The Juilliard School under Yoheved Kaplinsky and, in 2009, an Artist Diploma under the guidance of Joseph Kalichstein and Robert McDonald.

Tickets are available online at lenfest.wlu.edu or call the Lenfest box office at (540) 458-8000 for more ticket information.

USSO to Perform the Afro-American Symphony as Part of Feb. 13 Concert

In celebration of Black History month, the University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra will perform William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. in  Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall at Washington and Lee University.

Tickets are required and can be purchased at www.lenfest.wlu.edu or the Lenfest Box Office (540) 458-8000.

The concert will feature Cleveland Symphony saxophonist Greg Banaszak performing Dubois’ Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra and Raman’s Aria for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra. The “Romantic” Symphony of Howard Hanson, a champion of William Grant Still’s music, will round out the program.

The public also is invited to a master class taught by Banaszak on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall.

Banaszak was recently appointed to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences as a voting member for the annual Grammy Awards ceremony. He is on the faculty of the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music/Case Western Reserve University and Kent State University.

Dr. Harold Koenig to Give Root Lecture at W&L on Religion, Spirituality and Health

Dr. Harold G. Koenig will present the Robert W. Root Lecture entitled “Religion, Spirituality and Health: Definitions, Research and Clinical Applications” at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4:40 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theatre of Elrod Commons.

Harold Koenig, M.D., MHSc, is founder and former director of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Spirituality and Health, and is founding co-director of the current Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center.

He has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics, and religion, with close to 350 scientific peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and nearly 40 books in print or in preparation. His research on religion, health and ethical issues in medicine has been featured on over 50 national and international TV news programs (including The Today Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, and several times on Good Morning America), over 100 national or international radio programs (including multiple NPR and BBC interviews) and hundreds of national and international newspapers or magazines (including cover stories for Reader’s Digest, Parade Magazine, and Newsweek). Dr. Koenig has been nominated twice for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Koenig’s latest books include The Healing Power of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2001); The Handbook of Religion and Health (Oxford University Press, 2001; 2011 forthcoming); his autobiography, The Healing Connection (2004); Faith and Mental Health (2005); In the Wake of Disaster (Templeton Press); Spirituality in Patient Care, 2nd edition (2007); and Medicine, Religion and Health (2008) published by Templeton Foundation Press.


Washington and Lee alumnus Drew McWay returned to his alma mater this week to give a presentation about his new venture, Dvelo.org, a platform to connect investors with communities in the developing world. Drew is a 2008 W&L grad who won one of the 100 Projects for Peace and used his $10,000 grant to partner with a small microfinance group based in Peru. Long-time readers of the What’s News blog will remember an item about Drew from October 2008. Back then, he was in Peru with Sinergia, a company that loaned money to women who want to start their own businesses, Drew launched Dvelo.org in December and has already raised $14,000. Its goal is to motivate lenders with financial and social incentives to make small loans to capital- constrained microfinance institutions. Then, according to Drew’s explanation, those microfinance institutions can use funds raised on Dvelo.org for portfolio expansion, capacity building, and other productive purposes before repaying the lenders with interest following the maturation of the loan. Dvelo (which stands for “Development via Education, Lending and Opportunity”) has raised its resources from among its 245-plus users for communities on three continents. Dvelo’s partners in Nicaragua, Senegal and Vietnam are raising capital on dvelo.org with offered interest rates that are significantly more affordable than the commercial prime lending rates in their respective counties. He and his business partners firmly subscribe to the philosophy that credit is not just for the rich; it is a fundamental right for all. Watch the video that Drew and co-director James Beshera produced to introduce the site. Here’s a link to the video.

Shenandoah Awards Graybeal-Gowan Prize for Virginia Poets

Jennifer Key of Dallas, Texas has been named winner of the annual Graybeal-Gowan Prize for Virginia Poets offered by Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review for the best poem entered by a Virginia poet. She will receive a cash award of $500, and her poem “Jefferson’s Daughters” appears on the magazine’s website, shenandoah.wlu.edu. A commemorative brochure of the poem has also been printed by the Virginia Poetry Center, housed at Washington and Lee. Final judge for the 2009 prize was Brendan Galvin of Truro, Massachusetts, recipient of the O. B. Hardison Poetry Prize and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. His Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005 (LSU, 2005) was a National Book Award finalist.

Key is a native of southwest Virginia and was educated at the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. In 2006 she was the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin and won the Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, The Antioch Review, The Carolina Quarterly and The Southwest Review , which awarded her the McGinnis-Ritchie Prize for 2008. She is Frensley Visiting Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University.

The Graybeal-Gowan Prize is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Priscilla Gowan Graybeal’s father, Howerton Gowan, W&L ’30, a lifelong lover of poetry. The prize is donated by Mrs. Graybeal and her husband James (W&L ’49).

Submissions to the annual Graybeal-Gowan Prize for Virginia Poets are welcomed from all writers born in Virginia, as well as those with current legal residency of a year or more. No entry fee is required. Poets may enter as many as three poems and should send submissions, postmarked between October 1 and November 15, 2010, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and a brief biography establishing eligibility, to:

Graybeal-Gowan Prize
Mattingly House
2 Lee Avenue
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA 24450-2116.

For more information contact R. T. Smith at 540/458-8908 or rodsmith@wlu.edu.

1 of 20 under 40

Every year The State, the daily newspaper in Columbia, S.C., selects 20 local citizens who are under 40 years old and already making their mark on the community. This year Washington and Lee alumnus E. Craig Waites Jr., a 1992 graduate, is profiled in the newspaper’s 7th Annual 20 Under 40 feature. Craig is a brokerage associate specializing in retail real estate with  Colliers Keenan in Columbia. The profile of Craig notes that he has completed more than 200 sales worth $132 million and was awarded the firm’s highest honor, The Award of Distinction, for the highest overall production in 2004. You can read the entire profile here.

Historian James McPherson Lectures on Lincoln at W&L

One of America’s pre-eminent Civil War scholars, James M. McPherson, will present a lecture entitled “Lincoln’s Legacy for Our Time” at Washington and Lee University on Friday, Feb. 12, the 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theatre of Elrod Commons under the sponsorship of the Apgar Foundation, the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and the W&L politics department.

McPherson is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, which was a New York Times bestseller. His book Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (2002) was also a New York Times bestseller, and he won the 1998 Lincoln Prize for For Cause and Comrades. McPherson has authored more than a dozen books, and 100 major articles about the Civil War and the Civil War era.

The National Endowment for the Humanities named McPherson the 2000 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities. In 2007, he won the inaugural Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military History. In 2009, he was the co-winner of the Lincoln Prize for Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.

During his teaching career at Princeton, McPherson’s courses in the history department were consistently oversubscribed. He also led field trips to Civil War battle sites that drew large numbers of students and alumni. He plans to retire at the end of this academic year after serving on the Princeton faculty since 1962.

McPherson was 2003 president of the American Historical Association.

A native of North Dakota, McPherson received his bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Dwight Emanuelson Joins W&L Board of Trustees

Washington and Lee University added Dwight Emanuelson Jr., of Dallas, Texas, to its Board of Trustees on Feb. 5, 2010, during a swearing-in ceremony in Lexington.

Emanuelson, a 1984 magna cum laude graduate, had a double major in economics and French. He is a private wealth advisor with the Private Banking and Investment Group of Merrill Lynch. He and three partners coordinate all aspects of intergenerational wealth for a select group of global families.

Emanuelson and his team were recently honored by Barron’s magazine as the number-one wealth-advisor team in Texas and as one of the Top 50 wealth-advisor teams in the U.S.

For his alma mater, Emanuelson has served as president of the Dallas Alumni Chapter, as a member of the Dallas-based Shoulders of Giants Campaign Committee, and as vice chairman of the Dallas Honor Scholarship. He also co-chaired his 25th reunion, in 2009.

In 2000, Emanuelson and his wife, Claire, established the Fran Drake International Studies Endowment in honor of his longtime French professor and former chair of Romance Languages. The fund makes possible foreign study of Romance languages

Emanuelson is the former treasurer of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, and serves on the board of the Family Place, which helps victims of domestic violence. He and his wife, Claire Stephens Emanuelson, have two sons, Hillis, 19, and James, 16.

Super Bowl Winners and Losers

Washington and Lee marketing professor Amanda Bower blogged about the Super Bowl commercials throughout New Orleans’ victory over Indianapolis. You can read her impressions of this year’s efforts by the country’s marketing pros on the AdLibs blog site. What did you think of the ads? Here are three polls that Amanda has created.

Remembering J.D. Salinger

by Marc C. Conner
Professor of English

J.D. Salinger’s stories could only have happened in America. Ours is a children’s literature. Huckleberry Finn, Little Pearl, Rip Van Winkle, Jay Gatsby – all our great characters are children, or at least childlike: they charm and enchant because they promise that, like Peter Pan, we might never grow up – that the defining American innocence can stay with us forever. J.D. Salinger’s imagination was completely in this American vein. Salinger’s children, such as Holden Caulfield and Franny Glass, continue to haunt readers to this day, for, like so many other children in our literature, they are victims, sacrifices to a world that will not accept them.

Salinger’s 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is still very much a youth classic (I have freshmen every year who cite Salinger as their favorite author, and Catcher as their favorite novel). Yet what makes this novel so powerful is the moment of its appearance in American culture. It defines the mood of the fifties, chronicling the awful fragility of the young and innocent during a time of terror. Its famous protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is in terrified flight from the entire conventional world around him. But he cannot tell you what he flees. All Holden can point to is a general malaise, an overall complaint about American culture that he articulates in his most oft-used word, “phony.” “Phony” is a child’s word; but one of Salinger’s points is that the adults in the 1950’s were not attending to the wisdom that comes from the mouths of babes.

This is one of the great ironies of the legacy of Catcher in the Rye: it is not a revolutionary book, it does not call for overturning the world, nor promote an alternative culture; rather, it is a cry for the adults to do what they are supposed to do – to nurture and train their children, to show their children how to live in the world, to provide that most dreaded phrase for youth, “role models.” It is a profoundly conservative book, and it lays the blame for the world squarely at the feet of the adults. For every adult Holden turns to fails him; as he says of his old history teacher, Mr. Spencer, “He wasn’t even listening. He hardly ever listened to you when you said something.”

It may seem, in retrospect, that Salinger’s status outweighs his rather modest achievements: from 1948 to 1963, he published four small books – one novel and 13 stories. The first was Catcher in the Rye, followed by Nine Stories in 1953, Franny and Zooey in 1961, and finally Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, in 1963. Then Salinger’s famous literary silence began. Although I suspect the excess and infantilism of the sixties horrified Salinger, nevertheless his work clearly anticipates that troubled time, and offers a fine example of how the 1960’s have their roots in the 1950’s. For Salinger writes of the alienation of youth, of the plight of quick young things who come to confusion, who find the traditional ideas and attitudes not just unsatisfying but downright deadly.

Here we most clearly see the oft-noted comparison between Catcher and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Huck’s voice has much in common with Holden’s voice: given the differences of time and culture, both are the same voice of honest, direct, colloquial youth, giving us the straight story, with no “lies,” as Huck would say, and no “phoniness,” as Holden would say. Huck is only safe as long as he stays on the River, away from the world of death and betrayal that he meets every time he gets back on shore. For Holden, there is no such safe place, no river he can find, no territory he can light out to at the end. Holden is stuck in the world he is in, trying to be the catcher in the rye of falling children.

Salinger’s departure from the public world of writing has puzzled two generations of readers. Why did he stop writing? Some say his embrace of Buddhism helped him relinquish the desire to publish his work. Others speculate that he was so disenchanted with the world that he refused to contribute his voice to it any longer. Holden’s famous last line suggests such a withdrawal: “Don’t ever tell anybody anything,” he says. “If you do, you start missing everybody.” Perhaps Salinger stopped telling us things because he did not want to miss everybody afterward. Yet there remains a stubborn optimism to his writings. Even Holden, writing from his psychiatric ward, has given us his confession. Why put the whole story down for someone to read, if it all points to nihilism? No, the writing of the book is precisely Holden’s therapy, as perhaps it was Salinger’s, too. If we regret his silence, we treasure the books, and are perhaps heartened to think that they brought Salinger to the peace he sought.

Marc C. Conner is professor of English at Washington and Lee University. This piece was published in the Feb. 9, 2010, edition of the Roanoke Times.

PAW Spends a Moment with W&L's Lesley Wheeler

The has just published a piece on Lesley Wheeler, professor of English and head of the English department at Washington and Lee. Lesley received her Ph.D. from Princeton in 1994. The “A Moment with…” feature in the Princeton publication is a question-and-answer session with Lesley, and there is also a link on the PAW Web site to poems from both her new book, Heterotopia, to be published this spring, and Heathen, her book published last year.

Introducing the Rule of Law

Almost a year ago, Mike Pace, a 1984 Washington and Lee Law graduate from Salem, Va., asked his daughter what she was learning in her seventh grade civics class. She mentioned the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the amendments, and the structure of government, but when Mike asked about the rule of law, she wasn’t as clear about what that meant. Mike discovered that her textbook had very little information about what he called “the basis for the freedoms that we all enjoy as citizens of the United States” in an article on a Roanoke Times blog. That was the genesis of the Virginia Bar Association’s Rule of Law Project, a partnership among teachers, lawyers and judges that “provides students with an enriching, interactive experience about the importance of the rule of law in their daily lives and gives them a better understanding of the need to preserve and protect it as the foundation for the rights and freedoms we enjoy.” After starting in the Roanoke area, the program is now a statewide initiative. But the idea has also gone international, since Mike and the program’s co-founder made a presentation at the World Justice Forum in Austria. Last month, Mike, a managing partner with Gentry Locke who has created an externship for W&L law students, was one of 25 Virginia lawyers inducted into The Virginia Law Foundation 2010 Class of Fellows, a special honor conferred by the VLF Board on selected Virginia attorneys, law professors and retired members of the judiciary who are deemed to be outstanding in their profession and in their community.

Professor of Health Policy Dr. Drew Kumpuris to Speak on Healthcare Reform

Dr. Andrew G. Kumpuris, a clinical cardiologist in Little Rock, Ark., and adjunct professor of health policy at the Clinton School of Public Service of Little Rock, will give a public lecture on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theatre of Elrod Commons at Washington and Lee University.

Kumpuris’ lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Healthcare Reform: Is This THE Fork in the Road?”

Kumpuris, a 1971 Washington and Lee graduate, is a Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Policy Fellow and a member of W&L’s Shepherd Program’s Alumni-Advisory Committee. The talk is sponsored by the Shepherd Program and the University Lectures Fund.

Over the past several years, Dr. Kumpuris has served as medical director of the CCU and Step-Down Units at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock, director of cardiology at Doctor’s Hospital and director of quality assurance at St. Vincent Medical Center.

Dr. Kumpuris is a fellow in the American College of Cardiology, American College of Physicians, The Society of Cardiac Angiography and the American Society of Cardiovascular Interventionists.

He has served on the Health Care Advisory Board for former President Bill Clinton’s Health Care Reform Task Force and as the chairman of the Governor’s Task Force for Health Care Reform in Arkansas. For Governor’s Jim Guy Tucker and Mike Huckabee, Dr. Kumpuris chaired the Arkansas State Employee/Public School Personnel Insurance Board.

In 2001 and 2002, he moved to Washington where he completed a Health Care Policy Fellowship sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Science). While in Washington, he served as legislative assistant for health policy with Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-VT) and as liaison with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In September 2002, he returned to Little Rock where he resumed his practice in clinical cardiology. Dr. Kumpuris currently serves on the Health Policy Board for the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, is an adjunct professor of Health Policy at the Clinton School of Public Service and sits on the state and public school Life and Health Insurance Board at the invitation of the governor of Arkansas.

Dr. Kumpuris is an honor graduate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he completed his internship and residency and served as chief medical resident. He finished his cardiology fellowship at Baylor in 1978 and then served as assistant professor of medicine, also at Baylor. He was affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Change for Haiti: Can’t Stop Now

With the death toll in Haiti estimated at 150,000 and climbing, Washington and Lee’s student organization Change for Haiti wonders how to unite its community of about 2,900 students, faculty and staff in response to the horrifying natural disaster.

Sophomore Caitlin Edgar, a co-founder of Change for Haiti, reminds us of the dire need for relief there. “Sparking a campus-wide response to the devastation in Haiti is far easier than maintaining it. We are so far removed from the reality that it is easy to forget about it. It is vital that we continually remind ourselves and the community that just because the news media has shifted some of their focus, the situation has not changed.”

Edgar and many of the student leaders in Change for Haiti have worldly experience that brings an acute perspective to their efforts. The parents of co-founder Yasmine Espert, a W&L junior, are from Haiti. Born in South Africa, Edgar attributes part of her inspiration to her background. “I know that my experience in South Africa has made me far more sensitive to the conditions of a life of poverty in a third world country. They are not just an idea in my head but a reality I have witnessed.”

News of Haiti has dropped off media updates, and the world is slowly moving past the January 12 decimation. Change for Haiti, however, is far from ending its endeavors. The students find motivation in such details as how more than half the Haitian population lived in abject poverty even before the earthquake. Only half of the population over the age of 15 is literate, while life expectancy is only 60 years.

“Change for Haiti is about more than donating money,” says Edgar. “It is a movement to mobilize a collective response as well as inspire individual responses to the needs that exist beyond our cushioned lives on the W&L campus.”

Accordingly, Change for Haiti is sponsoring a benefit concert on Wednesday, Feb. 3, with performers from W&L and the Lexington area. It is at 6 p.m. in Wilson Hall. T-shirts sporting the phrase “L’Union Fait La Force” (“Strength in Unity”) will be on sale starting Feb. 3. Donation jars are located in Elrod Commons at the security desk, Café 77 and the University Store.

“The fund-raising side of our work is crucial, but beyond it I really hope that our efforts will educate our community about the history, politics and society of Haiti,” Edgar adds. “Long-term change requires personal investment, and personal investment requires truly understanding the depth and breadth of the situation. If our work now can awaken us and those around us to the need of others, then we will become more compassionate and conscientious citizens of the world, willing to sacrifice our immediate self-interest for long-term stability and growth.”

For more information on how to support Change for Haiti, please visit the Facebook page. There you will find contact information for the Red Cross and the Haitian Health Foundation, which receive the majority of Change for Haiti’s donations.

— by Maggie Sutherland ’10

W&L Alumna's Film Chosen for Festival

As a graduate student in the Columbia University Journalism School in 2009, Jessica Hopper, a 2008 Washington and Lee graduate, joined forces with Columbia classmate Pracheta Sharma to form a film company called Brown Girls Production. Now, they are celebrating their first film’s selection for screening at this year’s Women’s International Film Festival (WIFF). “Behind Closed Doors” is a documentary about labor trafficking of South Asian women as domestic workers in the United States. The filmmakers received a $1,000 grant from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences towards the film’s produciton. “Behind Closed Doors” is one of 80 films selected to be shown between March 26 and April 2 at the festival in Miami, Fla.You can see a trailer of the film here on the production company’s Web site. Jessica was the recipient in 2009 of the Charles Gibson Fellowship at ABC News and currently works as a Desk Assistant for ABC Weekend News. She has also interned at both the Tampa Tribune and Miami Herald.

Alumna Flies High

If you happened to go to Washington and Lee’s dance concert over the weekend and then happened to watch Sunday’s Grammy Awards telecast, you would have seen clear similarities between one of the aerial dances performed by W&L alumna Sharon Witting of the Class of 1991 and her partner, Andrea Burkholder, and the much-discussed Grammy performance by singer Pink. In both cases, the performers were wrapped in silk material as they spun above the stage. Sharon, an anthropology major at W&L, has performed with Carla & Company, Air Dance Bernasconi and Virginia Ballet. She and Burkholder comprise the Washington, D.C.-based company Arachne Aerial Arts. Have a look at their Web site for more photos and videos. They began flying together in 2000. Sharon began aerial training at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts.  She has 15 years of arts administration experience, most recently with the Association of Children’s Museums.

The Other Big Game:

Ever since Apple introduced its Macintosh computer with Ridley Scott’s 1984 television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII, advertisers have focused on Super Sunday.

And while this year is no exception, Washington and Lee University marketing professor Amanda Bower said that viewers may be as surprised by what they don’t see.

• Follow the AdLIbs blog through the game

“You won’t see Pepsi, which has changed its philosophy and is determined not to be as much in-your-face with its advertising,” said Bower, associate professor of business administration. “You won’t see FedEx, which has advertised 19 times since 1989. You won’t see General Motors, which had advertised on 11 of the last 12 Super Bowls. And you may or may not see the Budweiser Clydesdales.”

No Clydesdales?

“Anheuser Busch has five minutes of advertising, but they tested an ad with the Clydesdales and it didn’t fare as well as some others they tested. So they originally announced they were not using it,” she said.

But, Bower noted, there was a backlash, prompting Anheuser Busch to put three of their commercials on Facebook and open it to a vote. A final decision will be made this week, but the Clydesdale commercial was leading.

“Several of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials ever featured the Clydesdales, including the one in which the Clydesdales bowed to New York’s empty skyline after 9-11,” said Bower. “When you consider that Anheuser Busch is now owned by the Belgian company InBev, I think it may be that some people were wondering what happened to their all-American Clydesdales.”

As usual, several companies will use the Super Bowl to introduce new campaigns or launch new products.

“The way we think about Super Bowl advertising today began with that iconic Macintosh 1984 ad,” said Bower. “That was when advertisers saw how you could really control our message by using the Super Bowl when everyone is having this common experience.

“Marketers have changed their opinions from time to time, and some may play an ad that they’ve played before, maybe even at a previous Super Bowl. I think that people are often disappointed and go out to make a bologna sandwich.”

There is little question, said Bower, that advertising on the Super Bowl can be productive, even if the ads themselves don’t score well with viewers who rate them on the basis of entertainment value.

“You don’t have to like an ad for it to work, and an ad doesn’t have to work for you to like it,” Bower said. “For instance, Go Daddy offends some people with its sexually charged approach, but there are people who have responded to those ads and people who are familiar with the company because of the ads. In fact, Go Daddy has increased its market share from 16 percent to 48 percent since it started advertising on the Super Bowl.”

As for what to expect this year, Bower said there will be plenty of beer, including a new approach by Miller High Life to reinforce its blue-collar position by using actual small businesses in ads with local affiliates.

“Another Super Bowl success has been E*TRADE with its talking baby. The company saw a 19 percent increase in its signups after a week last year,” said Bower, noting that E*TRADE will be back on the telecast with a new talking baby.

One of the product launches will be the 2010 Intel Core processor. The company purchased one 30-second spot, valued at between $2.5 and $3 million, for the fourth quarter of the game.

“They want people to understand this is big, and, in fact, it’s so big that we’re advertising on the Super Bowl,” Bower said.

Chrysler’s 60-second spot to re-launch the Dodge Charger could be controversial, Bower said, not because of the content but because the bailed-out auto company will be spending $5 to $6 million.

“Chrysler will argue that they need to advertise because they have to sell cars in order to pay back that bailout money,” Bower said. “That’s a nice retort, but do they have to spend that much on a single ad will be the question.”

For the second year in a row, Bower will be live blogging the ads, along with several members of her advertising class and some alumni who are in the ad business. You can follow their comments during the game by going to http://wluadlibs.wordpress.com.

Chronicle Features Robin LeBlanc Book

Washington and Lee politics professor Robin LeBlanc’s new book, The Art of The Gut: Manhood, Power, and Ethics in Japanese Politics, is featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of new scholarly books this week. The link to the Chronicle’s scholarly books feature is here, but it may require a subscription login. Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L recently wrote about the new book for the W&L Web site. You can read that story here.

Patrick Hinely Photo in NY Times Magazine

Two photographs by Washington and Lee photographer Patrick Hinely ’73 are featured in a slide show accompanying a feature story about jazz pianist Fred Hersch in the current issue of the New York Times Magazine. The article is titled “Giant Steps: The Survival of a Great Jazz Pianist,” and Patrick has two of the slide show’s seven images. You can see them here. Aside from his work for W&L, Patrick is internationally known for his photography of musicians and others involved in the creation and performance of jazz — images that he takes for Work/Play.