Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L Alum Named Bosch Foundation Fellow

Washington and Lee alumnus Richard M. Kyle, of the Class of 2007, a third-year student in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has been named a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow for 2011-12. In that capacity, Richard will intensively study German as well as attend seminars with key German and European decision makers. He was one of 20 fellows chosen nationwide from among more than 600 applicants.

Richard, the subject of a recent Newsmaker profile in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, majored in German language and European history at W&L and received a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Germany during the 2007-2008 school year.  At Pitt, Richard has assisted law professor Ronald Brand, the founding director of the Center for International Legal Education and the Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Chair, in training law students from Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar for the 2011 Vis Arbitration Moot, traveling to Qatar, Bahrain and Austria in a project for the Commercial Law Development Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Richard was a member of the Vis Arbitration Moot team in 2010 and has also received a Pitt European Studies Center Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship.

According to the Tribune-Review profile, Richard plans to work in commercial legal reform and international dispute resolution in the German government and in a large German law firm.

Through the Bosch Fellowship Program, the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Foundation) contributes to the long-term stabilization and growth of German-American relations. It hopes that the American participants will foster their personal commitment to the common goal of greater transatlantic understanding.


Top Entrepreneur

Ted Kingsbery, of the Class of 2009, was named one of the top entrepreneurs under 25 in a contest presented by BroBible.com and reported on Sawyer Speaks, the online media company that focuses on entrepreneurs.

Ted is head of business development at Shark Branding, the company founded by Daymond John, who founded FUBU and appears on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.” Shark Branding places products in music videos, TV and films; creates celebrity events; and puts brands and celebrities together. Ted joined Shark Branding in August 2009.

According to Sawyer Speaks, the entrepreneurs it selected “are not necessarily millionaires or living comfortably on some island right now because they sold a dot-com company for $50 million dollars.” Rather, they are young people who have taken the huge risk of starting their own company.


Running to Cure Alzheimer's

This past President’s Day weekend, if you were lucky, you took a brief vacation to a warmer clime. Alex Appel, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2006, spent Saturday in Florida, but it wasn’t exactly a vacation — he competed in, and won, the Iron Horse Endurance Run, a 62-mile race. (Yes, you read that right, 62 miles.)

Alex is competing in a series of so-called ultra marathons as a tribute to his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. She inspired him with her volunteer service in her home of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. And so now the grandson is raising money for the New York City chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association by running four ultra marathons (at least 200 miles) in the course of one year. He writes, “Since I know personally how this disease has impacted our family, I wish to do something concrete to help all families whose lives and loved ones are affected.”

Alex, who works at Avista Capital Partners, a private equity firm in New York City, placed eighth in his first race last fall, the Can Lake 50 in upstate New York. Next up, in April, is the Zane Grey 50 Mile, in central Arizona. And in July, he’ll tackle the fourth race, the Leadville Silver Run, in Colorado, which starts at 10,000 feet and climbs to 12,000.

Among the many people cheering Alex on are his mother, Sarah Nash Sylvester, a current W&L trustee, and his sister, Lizzy Appel, of the Class of 2008.

You can read more about Alex’s mission at his website, Ultras to End Alzheimer’s.


W&L Profs Safe in New Zealand

When news of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, began to circulate on campus, we turned our thoughts immediately to the three members of the Washington and Lee faculty who are in that country. Thankfully, all of them are fine, and no current students are studying or traveling there.

Lad Sessions, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee 250th Anniversary Professor of Philosophy, was in Wanaka, which is on the same island as Christchurch but much farther south and west. He did not even feel the quake. His daughter was in Christchurch but is unharmed. She was apparently able to make it to Lyttleton, the quake’s epicenter, to join her fiancé and his parents, who also are all right. With so many communications disrupted, Lad was keeping up with his daughter via text messages.

Lesley Wheeler, professor of English, and her husband, Chris Gavaler, a visiting assistant professor of English, are living in Wellington, on the northern island. Lesley has a Fulbright Scholar senior research grant and is working at Victoria University. The quake did not hit Wellington, and the Gavaler-Wheeler family is fine.


Nabors Service in Birmingham

Fourteen Washington and Lee students are spending their Washington Break this week in Birmingham, Ala., on an alternative break trip organized by the Nabors Service League and members of the Birmingham Alumni Chapter.

According to Jenny Davidson, coordinator of the Campus Kitchen and advisor to both Volunteer Venture and the Nabors Services League, the students will be serving in different programs during their visit: Alabama A+, the Cornerstone Schools and Impact Alabama’s Focus First Program. Student chair Laura Steitz, a senior from Baton Rouge, helped recruit students on campus and acted as a go-between in the planning.

The trip was arranged, in part, as a result of W&L alum Bill (’63) and Becky Smith visiting campus earlier this academic year to talk to students about Alabama A+. “They are strong supporters of the program and garnered quite a bit of interest with our students, especially those in the Shepherd Program,” Jenny explained. In addition to the Smiths, Birmingham alums Josh Payne (’08) and Edmund Perry (’82) were instrumental in getting the trip underway.

Alabama A+ works with schools in the state to make sure that each of the students is accessing the highest-quality education possible. Some of W&L’s participants will be working to recruit students into higher-level courses and register them for summer enrichment programs. They will also tutor students in an afterschool program.

Focus First screens elementary-age children in Head Starts and lower-income daycare programs for vision and hearing impairments to ensure that students are able to learn to the best of their ability. W&L students will also be tutoring the children.

The Cornerstone School is located in an impoverished area, trying to break the cycle of poverty. W&L students will help tutor the children at Cornerstone.

The Nabors Service League at W&L is a student-run, community-service organization that strives to promote and encourage a spirit of service and to connect service with learning. It is named in honor of Jonathan O. Nabors ’02, who passed away in 1999.


Emeritus Trustee Drew Baur Dies at 66

Andrew N. “Drew” Baur, a trustee emeritus at Washington and Lee, died on Sunday morning, Feb. 20, in Jupiter, Fla. He was 66.

Drew, a member of W&L’s Class of 1966 and a history major, was elected to the board in February 2005 and took the oath of office in October 2005. He retired from the board in 2009. At W&L, Drew belonged to Sigma Nu fraternity, edited the Southern Collegian and worked on the Ring-tum Phi. Among many activities, he served on the IFC, as president of the University Publications Board and as a dorm counselor.

Following graduation, he entered banking at the First National Bank of Atlanta, where he was elected an officer, and earned an M.B.A. from Georgia State University. In 1970 he returned to his hometown of St. Louis and joined Mercantile Trust Co., becoming vice president of the commercial loan division. At age 30, he moved to Commerce Bank of St. Louis, becoming the youngest bank president in the city as well as board chairman. He later joined County Bank of St. Louis as chair and CEO, and County Tower Corp., its holding company, as president and COO. When he was 40, Baur headed a group that bought Southwest Bank.

In 1995 Drew became a part-owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, the major league baseball team, and served as treasurer of the club. He also sat on the boards of Baker Shoe Co., Marshall & Ilsley Corp., Wausau Paper Co. and Orgill Inc.  Drew’s civic honors included the 1996 Special Entrepreneurial Achievement Award and Sportsman of the Year. He was interviewed for the book “Staying Power: Thirty Secrets Invincible Executives Use for Getting to the Top . . . and Staying There” (2003).

For W&L, he had belonged to the Washington Society, the campaign leadership gifts committee, the reunion class committee and the alumni board, and he served as a chapter volunteer. He became an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa in 2000. Drew’s father, Andrew, was a member of the Class of 1937. He had three children, including Andrew, a member of the Class of 1990, and seven grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Appeals Court Win

Washington and Lee third-year law student Amanda K. Streff and the W&L Black Lung Legal Clinic successfully argued a case in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia last month.

The decision, rendered earlier this week, denied a petition from Consolidation Coal Company to review the awarding of benefits to William S. Kusch Sr. under the Black Lung Benefits Act. Amanda’s argument led to the court’s awarding the benefits to Kusch. You can read details here.

Before the case was determined, Amanda talked about preparing for it with W&L Law professor Brian Murchison on an edition of WLUR’s “Equal Time” program. It’s a fascinating interview with both Amanda and Timothy C. MacDonnell, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Black Lung Legal Clinic, and you can listen to it below.

Equal Time with W&L Law Professor Brian Murchison

In her conversation with Professor Murchison, Amanda noted that the experience was special: “I’ve talked to attorneys I’ve worked with over the summer, and they said they were jealous that they hadn’t been able to argue before a circuit court. This is an experience that a law student at most any law school isn’t going to get.”

Next month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hold a day-long session in the School of Law, where one of the three cases on the docket will be another black lung case that the W&L clinic is handling. That session will be held on Friday, March 25, in the Millhiser Moot Court Room.


More Celebrations in Bardstown

There was another celebration in Bardstown, Ky., yesterday with Washington and Lee alumnus Max L. Shapira, of the Class of 1965, who operates Heaven Hill Distilleries. Back in December, we wrote about the 75th anniversary of Heaven Hill on the day that it filled its 6 millionth barrel of bourbon.

On Wednesday, Max cut the ribbon and was joined by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to roll the first 53-gallon, 500-pound barrel of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey into Rickhouse “J,” the latest addition of a nearly $5 million expansion of the company’s barrel-storage capacity. With 49 warehouses in Kentucky’s Nelson and Jefferson Counties already filled to capacity with aging whiskey, the company constructed two new rickhouses, increasing  barrel storage by an additional 40,000.

Heaven Hill is the largest independent, family-owned and -operated bourbon distiller and distilled-spirits producer in the United States. The new warehouse is for its growing inventory of approximately 900,000 aging barrels, the second largest in the world. In 2010, for the first time in its history, Heaven Hill produced more barrels than anyone else in the industry.

Max represents the third generation of Shapiras in the business. His son, Andy Shapira, of the Class of 1996, joined Heaven Hill as director of sales analysis three years ago. Founded in 1934, Heaven Hill has a diversified portfolio of brands including The Christian Brothers Brandies, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys, Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin, Hpnotiq Liqueur, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Lunazul and Two Fingers Tequilas, and Dubonnet Aperitif.


And Meet My Guidedog, Too

Matt Simpson, from Smyrna, Ga., is a junior resident adviser at Washington and Lee. A politics and history major, he is also visually impaired. He shares his room in Davis Hall with his guide dog, Lacrosse.

This week Matt spoke with Beckie Supiano of the Chronicle of Higher Education for an episode of the Chronicle’s new audio web series, “Say Something,”  in which Chronicle writers collect interesting stories about students from all over the country. Matt described the way he’s managed to handle all his RA duties despite his blindness. You can listen to the story below or go to the Chronicle site.

In addition to everything else that he does, Matt has played on the U.S. Champion Goalball team. W&L news director Sarah Tschiggfrie wrote about his athletic career in a 2009 story on our website.


New Memoir by Mark Richard '80

“Say you have a ‘special child,’ which in the South means one between Down’s and dyslexic.”

So begins “House of Prayer No. 2,” the new memoir by Washington and Lee alumnus Mark Richard, of the Class of 1980, that was released today amid a flurry of positive reviews everywhere from Sunday’s New York Times Book Review to Entertainment Weekly.

In her New York Times review, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum writes: “Richard was a ‘special’ child in several senses, and he beautifully demonstrates how this word, especially as it was used in the South, is roomy enough to accommodate contradictory meanings. The child is special because he bites strangers at parties but also because he sees an angel pass through the living room on Easter morning. One teacher predicts future greatness, while others suspect he ‘might be retarded.’ He can read aloud from a college chemistry textbook by the age of 6, but is considered ‘slow’ because he can’t correctly color the state bird. He is also special because of the congenital hip problems that land him for long spells in the Crippled Children’s Hospital, where he endures torturous operations and slow, immobile recoveries inside a body cast.”

A journalism and mass communication major at W&L, Mark was an assistant at Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review. After W&L, he became an award-winning writer of short stories and novels, publishing two collections, “The Ice at the Bottom of the World” and “Charity”; and a bestselling novel, “Fishboy.” His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, GQ, The Paris Review, The Oxford American, Grand Street, Shenandoah, The Quarterly, Equator and Antaeus. He has received the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Foundation Writer’s Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, the Mary Francis Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters and a National Magazine Award for Fiction.

Then there is his work in television and film, including being co-writer and actor in 2008’s Stop-Loss, a film that imdb.com describes as about “a veteran soldier who returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army.”

In advance of the publication of “House of Prayer No. 2,” Mark appeared on National Public Radio’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” where he referred briefly to his W&L career: “Probably not the best fit for me,” he said. “I didn’t go to prep school. I went to public high school, but I had great teachers there. I had a couple of really good teachers again. I had Jim Boatwright, who’s editor of Shenandoah magazine, who encouraged my writing, and a couple of maverick teachers, Bob De Maria in the journalism department. All you need is one or two teachers.” You can listen to the entire interview and read the transcript here.