Feature Stories Campus Events

Alumnus Ted Le Clercq's Role in Katrina Recovery

For Washington and Lee alumnus Ted Le Clercq, this week’s fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina marked the successful completion of a significant campaign through which he has helped one of New Orleans’ great streets return to its previous grandeur.

A member of W&L’s Class of 1986, Ted was the guiding force in the effort to replant live oak trees along St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans’ main streetcar line. He walked the historic avenue, knocking on doors to raise money from businesses and citizens and getting permissions to plant the trees.

Last weekend, as the city’s residents commemorated the events of those horrific days in 2005, the last of the 250 trees was planted.

In a story about his efforts in the Tulane University New Wave, Ted said: “Celebrated by tourists and locals alike, St. Charles Avenue has been ranked among the 10 greatest streets in America. Live oaks are a symbol of St. Charles Avenue and of our city — they grace the avenue with beauty, they cause a cooling effect during our many hot months, and they increase business by attracting people to the avenue.” You can hear a 2008 interview with Ted about the project on New Orleans Podcasting

According to various media reports, the private-public partnership resulted in the $280,000 project — all from private donations — and included planting 130 trees between Lee Circle and Jackson Ave., where there had been few trees before the storm hit in 2005.

Ted, a philosophy major at W&L, is an employment and professional liability defense attorney with Deutsch, Kerrigan and Stiles and was recently named one of the top 50 leaders in the law in New Orleans by New Orleans City Business.


W&L in the Governor's Office

Last month, when Randy Minchew, a member of the Washington and Lee Law Class of 1984, was named deputy counselor and advisor to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, he joined fellow W&L alumnus Mike Reynold, of the Class of 2002, as a member of the McDonnell administration.

Mike has been there since last November, serving as assistant director for policy. He had been McDonnell’s deputy campaign manager. One of Mike’s primary roles at the moment is directing McDonnell’s Committee on Government Reform and Restructuring, which began its work in June.

Randy, managing shareholder of the Loudoun, Va., office of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich and Walsh P.C., serves as part-time legal counsel to McDonnell and assists with various projects related to public policy. He is a prominent land-use attorney in Loudon County. An announcement of Randy’s appointment appeared in both the Loudon Times and the Washington Post.

Reynold and Minchew are old friends, having worked together on McDonnell’s 2005 campaign for attorney general and serving as Virginia leaders in the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign.


W&L Art Faculty Exhibits at Capital One

Washington and Lee University studio art faculty will present their work at the corporate gallery of Capital One in Richmond starting next month and continuing through December.

The exhibition will feature works by Leigh Ann Beavers, visiting assistant professor of art; Christa Bowden, assistant professor of art; Clover Archer Lyle, visiting instructor of photography; Kathleen Olson, professor of art; and Larry Stene, professor of art.

Capital One maintains an extensive permanent collection of art, and reserves exhibition space in their facilities for work from regional universities. Capital One associates are the primary audience for the exhibitions, but viewings can be arranged by limited appointment.

Previous universities who have participated in the exhibition program include Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, James Madison University, Virginia Tech and Mary Baldwin College.


Use Social Media to Keep Up with the Generals

Fans of the Generals can now follow Washington and Lee’s varsity athletic teams on both Facebook and Twitter.

You can get the latest updates on all W&L’s teams by “liking” the Generals’ Facebook page.

If you’re a Twitter user, be sure to follow the Generals by going to http://twitter.com/wlugenerals. You’ll get up-to-the-minute scores throughout the year along with breaking news stories.

And don’t forget the From the Sidelines blog that Sports Information Director Brian Laubscher maintains. You can find it at http://wlusidelines.wordpress.com/


Kaylee Hartung Moving to the Sidelines

In addition to working at CBS as an associate producer for the Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation and on camera as a featured correspondent on the daily web show Washington Unplugged, Washington and Lee alumna Kaylee Hartung of the Class of 2007 has a new assignment as a sideline correspondent for college football on the CBS College Sports Network.

We blogged about Kaylee’s work about a year ago and listed some of the many interviews that she did on the Washington Unplugged series.

After she joined CBS College Sports Network earlier this month, Kaylee was interviewed by her former boss, Bob Schieffer, and told the story of how an Alabama politician had used Photoshop to create a relationship with Alabama football coach Nick Saban. Have a look at the interview on YouTube.


Emotional Win

When Éclair de Lune, a four-year-old German bred filly, came from behind to win the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park race track outside Chicago this past Saturday, there weren’t any dry eyes in the winner’s circle where the horse’s owner, Richard L. Duchossois, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1944, accepted the trophy to a standing ovation from more than 30,000 fans.

Why all the emotion?

The Beverly D. Stakes is named in honor of Dick’s late wife, Beverly, who died in 1980 of cancer. Éclair de Lune, a horse Dick purchased last year, was the fourth horse that he had entered in the Beverly D., but the first to make it to the winner’s circle.

“When we won, I didn’t know what to think,” said Dick, who is the chairman of Arlington Park. “Then someone hit me on the back and said we won.” He added that the victory “means more to me than winning the Kentucky Derby.”

Media reports about the special moment all emphasized how everyone in the park was rooting for “Mr. D.” to get the win, noting that he has become a legend in the racing world. Fans at Arlington Park clearly appreciate how he rebuilt the racetrack after a fire destroyed the grandstand in 1985.

Of the fan support, he told the Chicago Daily Herald: “I was very surprised and it makes you feel wonderful. Whenever I’ve run a horse, I have had tremendous support from the fans. We built this place for the fans and this was their horse.”

And W&L sports fans can relate to that. In addition to the Duchossois Tennis Center, gifts from Mr. D. have been key to the outdoor athletic facilities, which are now named in recognition of his support.


Still Winning

Ginny Wortham, of the Class of 2007 and a member of the Generals’ 2007 NCAA Division III national championship tennis team, is still competing and winning national championships.

Earlier this month Ginny teamed up with her mother, Lindsay, to capture two titles at the USTA Mother/Daughter Grass Court Championships in Newport, R.I.

The Worthams won both the senior and open divisions. In the latter, they were unbeaten in five matches of a round robin event, rallying from a 1-6 defeat in the third match to win and finish unbeaten.

Ginny is the two-time defending Richmond city champion but needs another title to match her mother, who won three championships.

In a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Ginny gave her mother much of the credit: “I don’t think there’s any question about it,” she said. “We won because I had the best mom. Some of the other girls were really good — a couple of them are Division I players — but their moms were weaker, which meant there was always a target for us to hit to.”


New Online Look for Law

If you haven’t noticed it yet, the School of Law has just completed a makeover of its web home page. The design is closely aligned with the University’s home page, and it effectively adds more multimedia, featuring now a “Year in Review” slide show and a video in which law professor David Millon discusses the Honor System.

Click on the image below to have a look.


The Monument in the Monument

Earlier this week Beau Dudley, W&L’s director of alumni affairs, received an e-mail from R. K. Barton, of the Class of 1963, forwarding an e-mail from Beth Niccolini, of the Class of 1997,  forwarding an e-mail from her husband–who, while taking the elevator down in the Washington Monument, noticed that one of the 193 memorial stones on the interior walls had been donated by the alumni of Washington College.

The e-mail included the photo below:

So we decided to do a little research on the National Park Service website. And here’s what we discovered. The stone is marble, and it’s 2′ by 4’6″. It’s located 130 feet from the bottom of the monument.

On March 20, 1854, Junius M. Fishburn, a professor of Latin at Washington College, wrote a letter to Elisha Whittlesey, the general agent for the Washington Monument, and stated that the College had procured $100 to purchase the stone. Professor Fishburn instructed that the stone be delivered to the area’s congressman, John Letcher, himself an 1833 alumnus of Washington College, “exercising your own taste and judgement for us in the selection of a block.” Professor Fishburn sent the inscription to Mr. Whittlesey, who wrote back to suggest that “Virginia” be spelled out rather than abbreviated.

And there it is today, for all to see, if they’re paying as close attention as Beth Niccolini’s husband.


Money Management for Young Adults

When Drew Catanese of the Class of 2004 got his first high school teaching job, he found the process of selecting health insurance plans and 401Ks and home mortgage plans a puzzle for which he was not prepared.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m a college-educated adult, and I have no idea what all this is about,'” Drew said recently in an interview about his new book, A Pathway to Financial Independence for Young Adults.

Drew describes the book, which was published in June by Authorhouse, as an easy-to-read guide to managing money, from getting out of debt to investing in the stock market to saving for retirement. “Although it could help out almost anyone, the book is specifically directed toward young adults (and recent college graduates who are starting their first jobs) who are learning how to plan for their financial futures,” he added.

Drew has been teaching Spanish while working his master’s degree at Middlebury College. He and his family plan to move to Madrid, where he’ll finish his master’s.

You can find information about Drew’s book on Facebook and can buy it online at Amazon. And you can read an interview with Drew from the Garden City (Kan.) Telegram.


A Very, Very, Very Long Walk

Erin Tainer, a 2007 Washington and Lee alumna, stepped off from Springer Mountain, Ga., on March 27, bound for Mt Katahdin, Maine. On foot. That’s a 2175-mile walk known as an Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

Erin’s most recent blog post was on July 29, and she estimated then that she was 600 miles from her destination. But to get a sense of what the trip has been like, you really need to go back and start reading Erin’s posts from the beginning.

Her blog, “Erin’s Appalachian Adventure,” is not so much a day-by-day travelogue (computer time is at a premium along the trail, after all) as a series of stories in which the reader meets the colorfully nicknamed fellow hikers and gets a real flavor for her adventures — juvenile delinquents in Tennessee and black bears in New Jersey.

Facebook members can see some of Erin’s photos on her page, too. Just do a search for her, and you can see an album titled “See you at Katahdin!”

A geology major at W&L, Erin did her graduate work in geology at Utah State, where her research was on holocene stratigraphy of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.


Emmy Nomination for W&L Alum

Congratulations to Geoffrey Campbell, a 1998 Washington and Lee alumnus who was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Culinary category as producer of the Food Network series “Tyler’s Ultimate.”

Geoff has been producing shows for the Food Network since July 2007 and has a variety of the network’s programs to his credit, including “Viva Daisy!” “Cooking for Real,” “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,” and “Guy’s Big Bite.” Emmy-nominated “Tyler’s Ultimate” features Tyler Florence and airs daily on the Food Network.

A business administration and biology major at W&L, Geoff started out in Senior Financial Advisory Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers before getting into media, first as a producer with @radicalmedia and then at CNBC before moving to the Food Network.


Col. Bertolini '86 Commanding Key Army Unit

This summer, as U.S. combat advisers from the Army’s 162nd Infantry Brigade began returning from their respective employments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington and Lee alumnus Mark Bertolini, of the Class of 1986, the brigade’s commander, was on hand to greet them at Ft. Polk, La. (See the photo.)

Col. Bertolini took over command of the 162d ITB in May 2009. Its mission is to train Foreign Security Force Transition Teams that embed as combat advisers with forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although every war since World War II has used combat advisers, the program — and the 162nd — was deactivated in 1965. They brought back to life under Mark’s command.

In an article in the Fort Polk Guardian when the first Iraq advisers returns, Mark provided some context to the work: “This marks a distinct historical moment in the history of the brigade. We’ve trained about 1,300 combat advisers in the past year, and these are the first seven to come back. Every two weeks, we receive a new class, they get through the training in 60 days, and now we expect to see redeployments each week.”

Mark was commissioned as an armor officer when he graduated from W&L with a politics major. He received his master’s degree from Indiana University in 1998. Prior to assuming control of the 162nd, he was as the Armor Branch Chief, US Army Human Resources Command. From July 2004 to June 2007, he commanded 3-67 Armor Battalion, “Hounds of Hell,” and deployed his battalion to Iraq and conducted combat operations in east Baghdad and Sadr City. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), and Army Commendation Medal, among many others. Mark’s complete bio is on the Fort Polk website.


On Memory and Memories

David Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology, has made a habit of calling upon his former students as a resource for the next generation of psychology majors. During the spring semester of 2009, he put together a course called Applications of Psychology Sciences, in which 11 alumni and alumnae with graduate degrees in psychology and allied fields agreed to be part of an all-star teaching panel.

So it was not a surprise when Dave’s latest article in Teaching of Psychology was based on a fascinating interview with one of his former students, W&L alumnus Henry L. (Roddy) Roediger of the Class of 1969. Roddy is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in the psychology department at Washington University in St. Louis, where he runs the department’s Memory Lab. In May 2009, he was the Glynn Family Visiting Lecturer at W&L.

The article, “Remembering and Researching the Old and the New: An Interview with Roddy Roediger,” is a fascinating Q and A between a teacher (Dave arrived at W&L two years into Roddy’s career) and his former student. And while it explores the important research Roddy has done in the area of human memory function, the interview is often personal and, in many places, celebrates the distinctive value of a liberal arts degree and W&L.

Roddy’s recounting of his courses with Dean James Leyburn will resonate with many W&L alumni. “Leyburn was a great, inspirational teacher and a scholar of the old school — he was interested in, and knowledgeable about, a huge number of topics.” Roddy also credits the “small classes, many inspiring teachers, and personal attention” as keys to his success. And he notes that all the sociology and anthropology courses that he took made it possible for him to move into social psychology in graduate school even though W&L didn’t offer a course in the subject.

Unfortunately, access to the journal article requires either a password or a fee. But Dave can provide a copy if you send him an email: elmesd@wlu.edu


Alumna Honored by Roanoke YWCA

Cabell Youell, a 1999 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, was practicing corporate law in Roanoke when she began volunteering with the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation, an organization that trains service dogs who help children and adults stricken with a broad range of disabilities (autism, cerebral palsy, joint and muscular diseases, etc.).

Cabell’s background with the Law School’s Alderson Legal Assistance Program, a clinic that provided a wide range of legal services to the inmates of the Federal Prison Camp at Alderson, W.Va., proved an invaluable in her volunteer work. She was asked to help St. Francis foundation set up its Prison Pup program, where inmates at a medium-security prison in Bland County help train the dogs.

One thing led to another and, in 2003, Cabell took over as executive director of the service dog foundation. Her success has been remarkable. Under her leadership, St. Francis (it’s a secular organization despite the name) became one of only 50 service dog organizations accredited by Assistance Dogs International, Inc. She also led a successful capital campaign that resulted in a new kennel.

Last month Cabell was named one of the Roanoke YWCA’s 2010 Women of Achievement. You can read about her work in both the Blue Ridge BusinessJournal and the Roanoke Star-Sentinel.


W&L Teams Up to Teach Teachers About Nuclear Energy

Fifty high school science teachers from all over the country spent four days learning about nuclear energy in a workshop that Washington and Lee co-hosted with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project last month.

The workshop, which was funded by a grant from W&L alumnus Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L, was held in Charlottesville at the Boar’s Head Inn and was led by W&L professor Frank Settle (chemistry) and Al Carr ’71L (law), along with Sharon Squassoni from the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. The workshop explored nuclear power from political, social, and scientific perspectives, and the participants learned about everything from uranium to nuclear fuel, from waste storage to nonproliferation issues.

The majority of the attendees were high school teachers, although there were some middle school teachers. They came from as far away as Alaska, California, Massachusetts and Florida. In addition to classroom presentations, the workshop included field trips to the North Anna nuclear power station, where they got a chance to visit the control room, and AREVA’s technician training facility in Lynchburg. AREVA is the world leader in the design and construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors, engineering, instrumentation, and related services to the nuclear industry.

Al Carr conducted a mock Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing that led the participants through a series of exercises in which they had to argue for, or against, the decision to locate a new plant in their community.

Mary Spruill, executive director of NEED, says that “after 30 years of educating America’s students and teachers about energy, NEED is honored to partner with Washington and Lee and The Lenfest Foundation to provide educators from around the country the opportunity to look at nuclear energy more deeply.”

“This is another project on nuclear energy education that Gerry Lenfest has been instrumental in supporting,” says Frank Settle. “He has provided about $1.2 million in funds for projects that include W&L partnerships with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Federation of American Scientists in addition to the NEED workshop.”


Eskimos Swing

A random Tweet caught our eye this week. It came from a fellow named Steve Hayman, who is a consulting engineer for Apple but also directs the Argonotes, the band for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

Seems that the Argonauts played at the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night (Aug. 6). The Argonauts won 29-28, but that’s beside the point.

Here’s the Tweet in question: “Third quarter break; crowd sings #Esks fight song, without pep band, and sadly unaware of tune’s unoriginality (“Washington&Lee Swing”) #CFL”

Of course, there are dozens and dozens of teams on all levels who use the Swing as their fight song and are undoubtedly unaware of its origin. We recently blogged about a church service that featured the Swing and had a series of YouTube videos in which bands of all sorts used the W&L fight song. But somehow we missed the Eskimos..

You can read the lyrics here: Eskimos Fight Song and listen to the Edmonton version below:

So tell us: What schools do you know who use the Swing as their fight song?


German Best-Seller

Washington and Lee English professor and novelist Laura Brodie has had a big couple of months in Germany. The German translation of her debut novel, The Widow’s Season, was released at the end of May, and it has been climbing the best-seller list there throughout the summer.

In July, the novel, retitled Ich weiß, du bist hier (I know you are here), moved into the top 20 and reached No. 12 last week on the daily list published by Der Spiegel. Yesterday, Laura was No. 13, a couple of spots behind Stephenie Meyer, Bernhard Schlink, and Nicholas Sparks and several positions ahead of John Irving’s Last Night at Twisted River.

In addition, Laura’s German publisher, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, published an abridged audio version of the novel, and that recently reached No. 5 on the download list for German iTunes. Laura was interviewed by a reporter for Madame, the German magazine that covers the latest trends in beauty and wellness, international interior designs, culture, arts, film, and music. A feature article is scheduled for later this year.

Meantime, The Widow’s Season has just been published in Dutch, and Laura is working on a second novel, which, like the first, will feature an English professor at a thinly-veiled version of Washington and Lee.

In addition to the novels, Laura is also the author of Breaking Out: VMI and the Coming of Women and, more recently,. And if that’s not enough, you can read her blog about homeschooling on Psychology Today.


Music for Kids of All Ages

What are the odds that two Washington and Lee alums who graduated six years apart would wind up creating albums of children’s music?

With the release of Why Does Gray Matter? … And Other Brainy Songs for Kids, Roger Day, of the Class of 1985, now has four albums. His latest features songs about the brain, and he describes the album this way on his website:  “I’m pretty sure it’s the first recording session in Nashville to research Web MD for fact checks. One song is even co-written with a college friend who is a real-life neuropathologist. It’s the only kids’ song I know of that uses the terms ‘corpus callosum’ and ‘deep basal ganglia’ while referencing Ringo Starr.”

Now living in Franklin, Tenn., Roger was, of course, part of the W&L duo of Heinsohn and Day back in the day. But you really have to spend some time on his website to appreciate all the cool work he’s been doing. If you go to www.rogerday.com, you’ll be in for a real treat. You can listen to his music, including the new album, on Roger Radio, and watch videos of his performances on RogerTube. Of course, you could also buy his albums in his shop.

Meanwhile, William T. Avery, of the Class of 1991, has just released his second album of children’s music. It’s called Learning Buffet. and it’s a mix of stories and phonics drills in styles as varies as jazz, hip hop, funk, blues and pop. He composed music for two of the songs, “Trey and Lovely” and “# 1 Potion H2O,” during his undergraduate days, with the lyrics coming much later.

The new album, with 32 songs, follows his first album, Cool Songs Collection. He started writing children’s songs while teaching in Taiwan, and he credits Roger as one of his influences on the bio on his website, which is also a very cool place to explore. (He majored in computer science at W&L.) Go to YesSnack.com to read all about William’s work and to hear (and purchase) his albums. Meanwhile, you can listen “Love My Cat” below:


IDEA's Future Brighter

In January, we blogged about an Automotive News report that predicted that Bright Automotive, the Indiana-based electric hybrid vehicle company of which Washington and Lee alumnus Reuben Munger is chairman and CEO, was about to sign an agreement with a major automaker. On Tuesday, Bright and General Motors announced the new agreement under which GM Ventures, a subsidiary of GM, will provide $5 million in funding for the IDEA, a plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle.

In an article in the Detroit Free-Press, Reuben, a member of the Class of 1995, said that the deal puts the company on “the fast-track toward mass production of the IDEA. And perhaps just as importantly, we gain a strategic partner that is a world leader in electrification.”

An automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates told the Free-Press that the deal gives Reuben’s company legitimacy and “puts them on the map.”

The Bright-G.M. connection is the New York Times’ Wheels blog, too, and Reuben told the blog that he expects Bright to manufacture 900,000 vehicles a year once production begins in 2013 or 2014. ““It’s a unique value proposition,” Reuben told the Times. “It’s larger than Transit Connect and closer to the utility of a full-sized van like the GMC Savana or Ford E-Series.”

According to the reports this week, the IDEA will use a GM engine and transmission and can drive 40 miles on battery power and about 300 on an internal combustion engine.

A video of the IDEA is below:


The Buzz on Shenandoah's 60th Anniversary Issue

Poetry Daily paid a nice tribute to the work of “Shenandoah” editor R.T. Smith and managing editor Lynn Leech by making the 60th anniversary issue its weekly prose feature. The special issue, devoted to Flannery O’Connor, has already elicited quite a bit of comment, including priase for the diverse content from several bloggers.

Meantime, WVTF public radio did a story about the special edition. WVTF’s Cara Modisett spoke with Rod Smith about the magazine and O’Connor. You can listen below:


ODK Moves into New Lexington Headquarters

Almost 95 years after it was founded on the Washington and Lee University campus in December 1914, the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) is back home in Lexington.

On Friday, July 30, the moving vans unloaded at ODK’s new home, the historic Lexington train station, which is at 224 McLaughlin Street.

The move from Lexington, Ky., where ODK has been headquartered on the campus of Transylvania University, marks the first time in its history that the organization has had a facility of its own. ODK has purchased the train station from Washington and Lee, which obtained it in 1971 and has used it most recently as home for its Facilities Management division.

With chapters (known as “circles”) on more than 320 colleges campuses nationwide, ODK membership is generally regarded as one of the highest collegiate honors that can be awarded to an individual.

ODK’s return to Washington and Lee comes as the organization is beginning to look toward celebrating its centennial in 2014.