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

Original story at:

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).