Feature Stories Campus Events

Talking Science

Washington and Lee President Ken Ruscio joined the presidents of Arizona State University, the University of Pennsylvania and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, plus several internationally renowned scientists, including physicist Freeman Dyson, for a wide-ranging discussion of current scientific issues with members of the national media this week.

Hosted by Arizona State President Michael Crow at the Penn Club in New York, the session was an on-the-record event that drew representatives from the New York Times, NBC, Newsweek, Nature and Scientific American, among others.

The Japanese nuclear crisis was a primary topic. One of the journalists present, Robert Bazell, from NBC, had just returned from two weeks in Japan, allowing him to offer first-person insights.

Among other topics was governmental support for scientific research and the need to improve science instruction in K-12 education. On that topic, President Ruscio referred to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that supports W&L’s efforts to provide training for teachers in Rockbridge County.


W&L Alumna Gets Leadership Role with Genome Project

In February, the lead story in Nature magazine examined the past, present and future of genomic research, laying out a “course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside.” This week, a Washington and Lee alumna takes on a major role in that future. Laura Lyman Rodriguez, of the Class of 1991, will lead the Office of Policy, Communications and Education at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

According to a news release announcing her appointment, Laura will “oversee development of the institute’s policy positions on the ethical, legal and social implications of human genome research.” In addition, she will communicate information about NHGRI’s genomic research programs, track and analyze legislation and develop NHGRI’s education and community outreach programs.

In describing her new role, Laura said, “We need to find common pathways to integrate genomic information and medicine into society so that it truly benefits the individual while also supporting scientific advances. We have a real sense of urgency because we’re talking about information that is unique and intrinsic to the individual. It’s about who you are at the most basic level.”

After receiving her B.S. with honors in biology, Laura earned a Ph.D. in cell biology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. After graduating from Baylor, she served as administrative director at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, where she became interested in clinical research policy.

She then served as a Congressional Science Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where she worked with Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.) on his National Science Policy Report and K-12 math and science education. She also spent time in the Office of Public Affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Before joining NHGRI in late 2002, she worked at the National Academies, Institute of Medicine, where she directed the work of a committee examining the federal system for protecting human research participants.

Laura was special advisor to the director of NHGRI from 2003 through 2007, was named the senior advisor to the director for research policy in 2008 and was later appointed to be the deputy director for the Office of Policy, Communications and Education.

Local Hero

The Sierra Club has singled out as a legal hero Mary Cromer, a 2006 Washington and Lee Law graduate, for her work as a staff attorney for the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. The ACLC, a small, non-profit law firm, is dedicated to protecting coalfield communities and the environment from destructive coal-mining practices in central Appalachia.

Formerly a clerk for the Honorable Glen Conrad of the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia and an associate attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Mary has represented individuals and families who have lost their well water because of nearby coal mining, and has fought pollution from coal mining under national environmental laws.

According to the Sierra Club, Mary is representing the Sierra Club and an organization called Kentuckians for the Commonwealth in a challenge to a large mountaintop-removal coal mine just upstream from one of Kentucky’s best rafting destinations. Her case is challenging what she contends is the state’s inadequate analysis of cumulative impacts of mining on the Russell Fork River and its tributaries.

Teaching Manners

As captain of Washington and Lee’s 1988 national championship tennis team, David McLeod, of the Class of 1988, was a competitor whose name is etched in the Generals’ record books for career singles wins (70, tied for 6th) and doubles (59 with Bobby Matthews, 1st). He and his teammates were the first alumni to be inducted as a team into the Washington and Lee Athletic Hall of Fame.

Today, David is carrying on a tradition that has been part of his hometown of Augusta, Ga., for more than three-quarters of a century. He runs Social, Inc., which teaches etiquette and dance to local pre-teens and teenagers.

Sunday’s Augusta Chronicle featured a story about David and Social, Inc., which has more than 2,000 students from 6th to 11th graders participating in a variety of classes, ranging from a manners and life-skills class to several levels of dance instruction.

The tradition began in 1935 but disappeared when the founder retired. David’s mother, Dorothy, restarted and eventually expanded it in the 1970s. When his mother retired four years ago, it was David’s turn. After graduating from W&L and coaching tennis for the Generals and at Davidson, David got his M.B.A. at Vanderbilt.

As he told the Augusta Chronicle, it was while he was at Vanderbilt that David saw Social as a possible future:  “It never dawned on me that I would be doing this until I was in business school and I came back. I saw what it had developed into and saw the older students and how the program had really positively impacted them. I just thought it was amazing. I loved playing tennis and I loved teaching, but I saw in Social a way that I could impact more.”

A View from Jerusalem

Shiri Yadlin, a junior at Washington and Lee from Irvine, Calif., has been spending the current semester studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Shiri is  majoring in global politics and religion at W&L and is active in the Bonner Leader Program; Volunteer Venture, which is part of the Leading Edge Pre-Orientation program; and the Shepherd Alliance. She had a Shepherd internship in Washington, D.C., last summer.

Since she arrived in Israel in mid-January, Shiri has been blogging about her experiences — from the orientation program to the intensive Hebrew learning program called Ulpan to the four courses she’s taking (Modern Hebrew, Orthodox Judaism in Modern Times, Foreign Policy in Israel and Radical Coexistence in Judaism).

At one point, she remarked on how nice it was that everyone knew how to pronounce her name correctly: “It’s kind of fun to watch the Israelis I meet struggle with names like Alyssa or Jackie but then hear my name and say “Oh that one’s easy”. That certainly doesn’t happen every day back home.”

Shiri’s most recent blog entry, posted Thursday, was especially poignant. Titled “Not the post I was planning to write,” she talks about the bus stop bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday that injured 50 and killed a Scottish Bible translator named Mary Jean Gardner.

Although Shiri was nowhere near the bombing, she soon discovered that the woman who was killed was actually in her class. “All of sudden this attack that I was beginning to cope with and get past, took on a whole new meaning. Now it’s personal, close to my heart, and much more of a reality.” She goes on to write that while she certainly recognized the history of violence in Jerusalem, she has never felt unsafe there, including riding the bus around the city. She adds: “While I still don’t think I’m in any kind of real danger, having this happen so close and in a place so familiar is a chilling experience.”

But there is much more in Shiri’s post itself worth reading, especially as she explains how the university has responded and the attitudes that she sees in the people.

Of course, everyone at W&L sends best wishes for her continued safety. If you do get to Shiri’s blog, be sure to read more than just the most recent one to get a flavor for the range of her experiences thus far.

The Day Liz Came to Town

When news broke Wednesday of the death of actress Elizabeth Taylor, no doubt some members of the Washington and Lee community recalled her visit to Lexington and W&L in November 1976. That visit centered on the Founders’ Day speech that her then-fiance, W&L alumnus Sen. John W. Warner ’49, gave at neighboring Virginia Military Institute.

Although the festivities at VMI were what brought the couple to Lexington, Sen. Warner (he wasn’t yet a senator but was weighing the possibility of a run) told audiences that he had wanted to bring his future wife to see his alma mater, something that the senator’s own father, a 1903 graduate of W&L, had done with his fiancee. The couple stayed in Lee House, toured the campus, and, after fulfilling the various duties at VMI, went to the old Troubadour Theatre, where the actress served as guest lecturer for a drama seminar.

In the January 1977 Washington and Lee alumni magazine, Bob Keefe ’68, news director and associate editor, described the visit in the magazine’s lead story. It was accompanied by Sally Mann’s photographs, which appear here. Bob’s story began with several of the newspaper headlines that accompanied stories about the visit, including this one: “Fans Agog, Cynics Converted.”

Cynics? What cynics?

Alum's Company Tackles Traumatic Brain Injuries

When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, the time it takes for a patient to get treatment is especially critical. Accordingly, BrainScope, a company whose CEO is Washington and Lee alumnus Michael Singer, of the Class of 1984, has developed Ahead EU-100, a new tool to quickly assess brain function, and introduced it in the United Kingdom.

A news release issued by the company said that  “the portable, non-invasive device uses product miniaturization and advanced signal processing methods to assess and categorize brain electrical activity and patterns related to brain injury . . . The system has a handheld device with software and algorithms, a disposable electrode headset and a Web-based capability for centralized storage and review of patient data.”

The release went on to quote Michael: “With approximately 1 million people each year attending the accident and emergency department in the U.K. following head injuries, we believe that . . . this product . . . will provide a valuable tool for clinicians in making informed decisions for triage, treatment and care of patients with suspected head injuries.”

With increased attention to head injuries in sports, such a device would seem to be especially valuable. One reports indicates that an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur each year.

Prior to joining BrainScope in November 2008, Michael had been president of Revolution Health Investments, Revolution L.L.C. He initiated, negotiated and completed several transactions that together created the Revolution Health Network and was instrumental in the merger of Revolution Health with Waterfront Media.

He has also been an executive at Microsoft Corp., reporting directly to the CTO, and was the CFO, executive vice president of corporate development and a board member for Data Critical Corp. in Seattle.

Michael received an M.A. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

South by South…Lex?

As music, film and business leaders flocked to the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, last week, business administration professor Amanda Bower was staging her own convergence of creative types on a smaller scale right here in Lexington. In an effort to introduce students to potential career paths in advertising, marketing and promotion, Bower called on five young alumni from major national firms to share their insights on jobs and trends in their industries with students.  Exchanging ideas for the panel on Twitter in the days leading up to the event, Colton Payne, of the Class of 2010, dubbed the meeting “South by SouthLex.”

Payne was the most recent graduate of the group. Now an account coordinator at The Martin Agency in Richmond, he was joined by colleagues and fellow alums Sarah Helms, of the Class of 2007, and Marty Tompkins, of the Class of 2004. Helms is an account executive at the prestigious advertising agency, while Tompkins is a recruiter.

Rounding out the group were Courtney Berry, of the Class of 2005, an account supervisor at the ad agency Euro RSCG Worldwide in New York, and Laura Hornbuckle, of the Class of 2007, a senior account executive at Edelman, a global public relations company, in Washington, D.C.

Bower’s courses in marketing communications and consumer insights have become a breeding ground for budding creatives, and not just in the C-School. Her annual Integrated Marketing Communications class, popularly known as “Ad Class,” takes the form of a simulated ad agency, with each student assigned the role of an agency employee. Students from across the College and Williams School have to apply for positions in the class, which presents its plans for a major national client in a national advertising competition. Last year’s client was State Farm Insurance. This year’s is J.C. Penney.

“Since I got here we’ve been working on developing opportunities for folks interested in advertising, both in terms of related classes and class experiences, changes in the business major, and tapping into resources that we have available as students head towards careers,” said Bower. “I’d done a more informal version of this panel a couple of years ago with Marty Tompkins. It taught people how to think about putting together a resume or cover letter or generally put themselves together for the marketplace. It also dispelled the myths. I wanted to do something like it again.  So when Laura Hornbuckle contacted me and offered to come chat with some students, I took advantage of it and pulled the whole thing together.”

The group spoke to a packed room in the Williams School, sharing their experiences in advertising and PR, as well as tips for the job search. The key take-aways? Be yourself, be prepared to graduate without a job offer in hand, and be prepared to pay your dues. Panelists spoke of the importance of internships, even post-graduate ones, as well as informational interviews and the need to move quickly when the right job presents itself.

As for the other big piece of advice from the panelists? Work the W&L network. All of the alums agreed that W&L is a breeding ground for creative talent, and that they work hard to help fellow graduates get a foot in the door.

“One of the biggest resources we’ve got is our alums, said Bower. “There is a real a golden rule philosophy–how do we help people the way we would like to be helped. Going into the ad or PR world isn’t the same as going into other fields. To have people from the industry, and from different sorts of shops and geographical regions, come in and give the students texture and speak both so realistically and enthusiastically is a real help to them. I hope they learned how to prepare for a career, start a career, and then be successful in it.”

Hairless Profs

As part of last weekend’s Relay for Life cancer fund-raiser, members of the University community were invited to vote with their money for the faculty members they would most like to see bald. The winners (?) — Simon Levy (computer science), Scott Hoover (business administration) and Burr Datz, Class of 1975 (Campus Minister, St. Patrick’s Parish) were shorn during the event on Friday night,

Altogether 20 teams exceeded the goal of $16,000 on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Here is the Relay for Life’s website.

W&L Alum Teaching in Japan Experiences the Earthquake

Washington and Lee graduates John Henzel ’10 and Beth Valentine Henzel ’11 are living in Japan, where John is teaching English as part of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET).

The Henzels live in Osato, which is about 16 miles north of Sendai, the Japanese port city nearest the epicenter of last week’s earthquake. John teaches at Osato Junior High.

The Henzels have sent assurances to friends at W&L that they are fine.

To get a sense of what the earthquake was like for them, take a look at the video. One of John’s colleagues, Wesley Julian, a former JET teacher, a Hampden-Sydney graduate and brother of W&L alumna Christina Julian Kauffman of the Class of 2001, shot it in a second-floor staff room at Osata Junior High. You can partially see John and hear him talking with Wesley. The video appears on the BBC website, and you can see it by clicking here or on the photo above, which is a still image from the video.

On Thursday night (Friday morning in Japan) John wrote with this update:

“To give you an idea of how things are right now — I would say very varied. In my particular circumstance, my town is OK, apart from damage to roads and so forth. Physical damage to the apartment was minimal, except for losing basically all of our dishes. I’m typing this email from work (which I’ve come to every day since the quake), and the students return next week I believe. The real damage seems to have come from the tsunami, but we’re far enough from the coast that nothing would reach us here. Right now, we have power and gas, but no water yet. Also, gasoline is basically impossible to find at the moment, yet my teachers are still making some impressive commutes (somehow). I live in town, so in the worst case scenario, I can walk to school.

“As far as the radiation , we are well outside any potential affected zone. The western media is massively blowing it out of proportion it seems. Japan is very sensitive about radiation (understandably), and it is taking a prime spot in the discussion here. But they’re very calm about it. Even in the worst case scenario of a meltdown, there’s little chance it could reach to where we live. We’re well beyond the U.S. recommended 50 miles, which is well beyond the Japanese estimate. A colleague in the JET programme recommended this article to me, and I found it quite informative: http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=566799182

“While my situation is OK, others are not. I have friends whose entire homes, schools, or even towns have been swept away. While I believe everyone has been accounted for in the Miyagi JET programme, there’s some mixed information going around on one or two people still.

“The video was filmed by my predecessor, Wesley Julian, who had returned to visit Japan and attend the school’s graduation ceremony, which had occurred earlier in the day. He is a Hampden-Sydney graduate, and his parents live in Staunton. (Imagine my surprise when I was first placed and realized the connection!).”

Beth weighed in separately with an email later in the evening (or morning), adding:

“Comparatively speaking, John and I were fairly lucky. Our town, though getting hit fairly hard by the earthquake, didn’t suffer much damage. To extent of our knowledge, no buildings collapsed. We were without all utilities until Tuesday when the power and phone lines began to work. We had water for a few hours yesterday (I don’t think I have ever been as excited to wash dishes in my life), but unfortunately the pipes stopped working that evening. The roads and sidewalks are damaged — huge holes, cracks, and a few new steps in the sidewalk near a bridge. I haven’t been on the roads lately, so I don’t know how repairs are going, but people are driving on them.

“Gas stations are out of gasoline and have been since the weekend. The grocery stores still have food (some meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and other random items but no bread or milk). People start lining up about an hour before the store opens, and by the time the doors open there are about 75 or so people outside. Within a half hour most, if not all, of the meat and eggs are gone. You see people with two and three baskets full of items. Convenience stores sold out of items quickly and were closed by Saturday. I am unsure if they (our town has two) have reopened. Bottled water is also very difficult to find, but luckily John’s school has a water tank and has been able to get drinking water from there.

“We’ve had tremors since the earthquake; we had one just now in fact.  However, they are becoming less frequent and intense.”

Meantime, anyone who has information on other W&L alumni and friends who are in Japan can use the comment form to let us know where and how they are.

W&L Authors at Virginia Festival of the Book

The Virginia Festival of the Book opens today in Charlottesville, and four authors with Washington and Lee connections will be talking about their latest books. The festival runs through Saturday and is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

The W&L authors, their books, and their lecture times:

  • Julie Campbell, associate director of communications and public affairs, The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History, 2 p.m. today (March 16) at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in the Barracks Road Shopping Center.
  • Jasmin Darznik, assistant professor of English, The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life, at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at the JMR Library, 201 E. Market Street.
  • John J. Fox III, a 1981 graduate of W&L, The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg’s Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865, at 6 p.m. today (March 16) at the University of Virginia Bookstore.
  • Lisa Tracy, an adjunct professor of journalism, Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family’s Past, One Chair, Pistol, And Pickle Fork At A Time, at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 18, at Barnes and Noble in Barracks Road Shopping Center, and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, at the Greene County Library, 222 Main St., Stanardsville.

W&L Professor Explores Middle East Issues on Academic Exchange

Washington and Lee politics professor Ayse Zarakol is a perfect example of the way that the research experience of W&L’s professors benefits their students.

Ayse is one of a select group of American scholars who will participate in the Academic Exchange (AE), a joint program of the Milken Institute, the Rand Corporation and the Yitzhak Rabin Center, that is designed to deepen understanding of Israel within the American academic community. AE provides educational missions to Israel for American scholars in the fields of political science, international relations, international law, international economic development, modern history and Middle East studies.

During the summer of 2010, Ayse was part of an academic delegation that toured Israel and met with Israeli politicians, ministers, generals, journalists and civil-rights activists. They  also crossed into Ramallah and met with the Palestinian prime minister.

Then, earlier this month, the scholars assembled in California, where they heard from a variety of speakers from Israel, including the current and former minister of defense and the ambassador to the U.S., along with journalists from a left-wing newspaper. They also heard panels about Hezbollah and Hamas, composed of people who work in Gaza or in Lebanon and report from the ground.

Ayse was one of only two participants representing liberal arts colleges, which is a significant honor for her individually and for the University.

And how do W&L students benefit?

Based on these two experiences, Ayse is revising her international security seminar as a special Middle East edition. And she will be addressing issues from her new first-hand knowledge.

“My general impression, given what I saw in Israel and what I saw in the conference, is that there are many people in Israel—and I think this is especially true on the right of the spectrum—who are more or less satisfied with the status quo,” Ayse said. “They think Israel is relatively secure. They don’t really want to give up control over the West Bank. So the peace process is not really on their minds. And I think domestically this is the more popular opinion. It is the left wing that acutely feels the pressure of the international community, and they think Israel’s control over the West Bank hurts Israel’s aspirations to be a democratic western country that respects human rights. So they want to give up control, but they cannot sell that perspective to the domestic constituency, which believes that any more concessions will actually make Israel less secure, not more secure.

“There may be some kind of temporary solution, but I don’t see a permanent agreement being worked out. Of course, now with all the developments elsewhere, one could say that maybe Israelis stick with the status quo at their own risk, given what’s happening around them,” she added. “But the impression I got from the more recent conference is that they think all these developments have made Israel more valuable to the U.S., not less valuable. So at the least, the right wing thinks that perhaps the American pressure on them is going to be decreased, given what’s happening in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.”

Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami Relief

Washington and Lee’s Student Association for International Learning (SAIL), Pan Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE), and the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department (EALL) have launched a fund-raising campaign to help those suffering overwhelming dislocation and loss as a result of the earthquakes and tsunami of the Tohoku region of Japan.

According to Mary Knighton, visiting assistant professor of Japanese, students all over campus as well as students faculty and staff from EALL will be involved. “We appreciate any and all support, however small, in the way of time, energy and contributions,” Knighton said. She added that all donations will go to the Japan Red Cross (Nihon sekijuujisha), which has long had a presence in Japan and was one of the first organizations on the scene in this disaster.

This week and going forward, the relief effort will have a table at Elrod Commons with donation boxes. Swipe machines will not be available immediately, Knighton said, so contributions need to be in the form of checks and cash.

“Students and other volunteers will be making origami peace cranes at the site. Should we make enough–a thousand (senbazuru) is the goal!–we will collect them to send to Japan as a small token from W&L students,” she said.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer, as well as those with questions or wanting to make a contribution, may direct inquiries to SAIL’s Chair, Upol Ehsan (ehsanu13@mail.wlu.edu), or to Mary Knighton in EALL/Japanese (knightonm@wlu.edu).

W&L Alumna and March Madness

If you happen to be among those who watch the NCAA Divison I Basketball Tournament, a.k.a March Madness, on your computer, you are likely to catch Washington and Lee alumna Kaylee Hartung, of the Class of 2007, doing the studio show at halftime of games over the next three weeks.

Kaylee, an associate producer for the Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation and a featured correspondent on the daily web show Washington Unplugged, has been prepping for the job by studying potential brackets, interviewing member of the CBS team and learning how to use the computerized “magic wall.”

Kaylee will be in the New York studios of CBS. “March Madness on Demand” (MMOD) streams every game on NCAA.com, CBSSports.com and SI.com for computers, iPads or iPhones. Kaylee and her cohorts will do an original halftime show for every game, and that’s a lot of shows.

In addition, Kayle will be tweeting — @KayleeHartung — about the tournament. On Selection Sunday yesterday, she did interviews with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Greg Gumble and Gus Johnson among others. The first round begins on Tuesday night, and Kaylee will be on the job through the championship game in Houston on April 4. Go ahead and watch. We promise not to tell your boss.

Spin, Marty and W&L

Alumni (and others) of a certain generation will remember Spin and Marty, the eponymous heroes of a 1950s television series that was part of the original “Mickey Mouse Club.” Washington and Lee librarians Elizabeth Anne Teaff and Carol Blair recently illuminated the connection between that series and W&L in the latest issue of “Folios,” a newsletter for the Friends of the Library.

The series, which ran from 1955 to 1957 on the “Mickey Mouse Club,” was based on a 1942 novel, Marty Markham, which Lawrence E. Watkin wrote while he was a professor of English at W&L. Watkin, who joined the faculty in 1926, had written two previous novels. His first, On Borrowed Time, became a Broadway play and a Hollywood film. His second, Geese in the Forum, was set on a small college campus that he called “old Beauregard” and featured some wonderful lines about college life, including this question that a faculty member posed about the college president’s trips: “How many miles must you get out of a college president before you can turn him in?”

Marty Markham tells the story of a wealthy New York City boy who learns to adjust to life in rural Virginia. Although the TV series is set “out West,” the inspiration for the Triple R Ranch, where Marty spends the summer, was the real-life Broadview Ranch, which is just south of Lexington. Tex and Virginia Tilson ran the ranch, and the Tilson family still owns it. Watkin thanked the Tilsons on the dedication page of Marty Markham.

After he left W&L, Watkin joined the Walt Disney Studio, where he wrote several screenplays, including a 1950 adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and also produced “The Great Locomotive Chase,” a 1956 film that was based on a true story from the Civil War.

All in the Family

For Lyle Smith, banking is a family affair. Earlier this year, Lyle, a member of the Class of 1993, was named managing director and chief investment officer of United Bank’s Wealth Management Group, which manages more than $5 billion in client assets. It’s based in Charleston, W.Va. He is now the fourth generation of his family to direct operations for United Bank. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Ike Smith, a double-degree holder at W&L who received his undergraduate degree in 1957 and his law degree in 1960.

In a recent feature story on Lyle in the Charleston State-Journal, he explained that it’s “my father’s side that’s steeped in banks.” Indeed.

Lyle’s great-grandfather, I.N. Smith II, became president of Kanawha Banking and Trust in 1926. Next, his grandfather, I.N. Smith III, was appointed president of KB&T in 1953.  And then Ike Smith, who also served W&L as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1991, was appointed president of KB&T and was president of the bank and its holding company when it merged with United Bankshares Inc. in 1986.

After earning his history degree at W&L, Lyle went to the University of South Carolina to earn an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance and investments. He was a commercial relationship manager and credit analyst with the Financial Growth Group at Bank of America prior to joining United 12 years ago. Before being named to his current position, Lyle was the Wealth Management Group’s senior portfolio manager and head of investment research.

Law Grad Publishes New Civil War Volume

In his latest book on the Civil War, Washington and Lee graduate Kent Masterson Brown, of the Law Class of 1974, has edited and annotated the memoirs of a Confederate cavalry officer from Kentucky into a volume that one reviewer calls “authoritative, balanced, and engagingly anecdotal.” One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry was published in February by the University Press of Kentucky.

Lieutenant Porter wrote his memoirs in 1872, and a copy was typed up in 1927. A Porter family member gave Kent that typescript, and he spent five years editing and annotating the document. Porter’s memoirs cover his years as a Confederate soldier under John Hunt Morgan, from the outbreak of the Civil War until his capture in June 1863, his imprisonment at Johnson’s Island, and his release and his journey back home to Butler County, Ky.  These are the first memoirs of one of Morgan’s men to be published since 1917.

Kent, who is in private law practice in Lexington, Ky., has won numerous awards for his previous books, which include Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign, Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander, and The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State. He was founder and editor-in-chief from 1981 to 1988 of The Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society.

In a review of Kent’s latest book, William C. Davis of the Center for Civil War Studies writes: “John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky cavalrymen stand perhaps second only to Jeb Stuart’s Virginians in public perceptions of dashing mounted Confederates, yet few memoirs from Morgan’s men have survived. John M. Porter’s early postwar recollections, as elegantly annotated by Kent Masterson Brown, are at once authoritative, balanced, and engagingly anecdotal. Anyone interested in the exploits of that daring and romantic body of Kentuckians will profit from reading One of Morgan’s Men.”

The Fighter and W&L

If you saw the Academy Award-nominated movie “The Fighter,” you might have missed his name in the fine print, but a Washington and Lee alumnus appears in the credits as a technical consultant.

Bob Halloran, of the Class of 1985, is the author of a book about the boxer whose story is told in the movie, “Irish’’ Micky Ward. When Halloran’s book, Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward, was published in November 2007, the movie project was already underway. But the careful research that Bob did for his account of the Lowell, Mass., fighter was so thorough that one of the film’s screenwriters called after the book was published to ask Bob to consult.

Just prior to the Academy Award ceremony last month (where “The Fighter” won in the supporting-actor and supporting-actress categories), the Boston Globe talked with Bob about the book. He told the Globe in that interview that he hopes Ward comes across in the book “as someone who survived in the eye of a hurricane. Micky stayed focused, clean, and sober, when there were so many role models to lead him in the wrong direction.’’

In another interview about the movie, this one in the edition of the Globe published for his hometown of Milton, Mass., Bob admitted that he snapped a photo of his name in the credits when they rolled on the big screen at the premiere in Lowell, Mass.

Irish Thunder is not Bob’s first book. He wrote the 2004 Destiny Derailed, his account of the 2003 Boston Red Sox, expected to be a “team of destiny” but ultimately second to the archrival New York Yankees. And last year he published Breakdown: A Season of Gang Warfare, High School Football, and the Coach Who Policed the Streets, about a football coach — also a cop on the gang beat — who pulls kids off the streets and puts them on the field with a combination of kindness and intimidation.

Bob is currently the weekend sports anchor for Boston’s WCVB Channel 5, where he has been since 2003. Before that, he workedat ESPNews for three years, as an anchor and writer for ESPN.com.

Bob also has logged time at Boston’s WFXT-TV Channel 25 as a weekend sports anchor, at WPRI-TV (Providence, R.I.) as sports director and WCVX-TV (Hyannis, Mass.) as sports director and news director.

Professor's “Good Daughter” Makes its Mark

“The Good Daughter,” the memoir by Washington and Lee English professor Jasmin Darznik, has been receiving considerable attention around the country and the world since its release in January.

On Feb. 27, the book appeared on the New York Times’ list of best-selling e-book nonfiction, and in recent weeks, Jasmin has given lectures literally from coast to coast. She stopped in Los Angeles, where she spoke at UCLA, her undergraduate alma mater, and swung by Princeton, N.J., where she received her Ph.D. at Princeton University. The latter appearance, at Labyrinth Books, consisted of a conversation between Darznik and Princeton English professor William Gleason.

She also appeared on the “Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio. And, most recently, she was on “HDNet World Report.” You can read a transcript of that interview in its entirety here and watch a clip from the show below. The entire program is also available through iTunes.

Alum's New Book Examines Carter and Religious Right

J. Brooks Flippen, a member of the Class of 1982, has just published his third book. Scheduled for formal release on March 15, is being published by the University of Georgia Press.

Brooks is a professor of history at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla. In the book, he describes the way that Carter “unintentionally alienated both social liberals and conservative Christians, thus ensuring that the debate over these moral ‘family issues’ acquired a new prominence in public and political life.”

Among early reviews of the work, Rice historian John B. Boles calls it ” clear, accurate, balanced account of both Carter’s appeal in 1976 and his fall from grace in the eyes of the hyper-evangelicals.” And Matthew D. Lassiter of the University of Michigan describes the book as a “dramatic and detailed account of the mobilization of the Religious Right, its battles against feminism and gay rights, and Jimmy Carter’s futile attempts to placate all sides of the culture wars that exploded in the late 1970s.”

Brooks majored in sociology and anthropology at W&L and received his M.A. from the University of Richmond and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has taught at Southeastern since 1995. His previous books were and

W&L Hillel in New Orleans

Members of Washington and Lee’s Hillel spent the Washington Holiday on an alternative spring break in New Orleans. Eight students and Hillel director Joan Robins participated in a week of social justice activities with Jewish Funds for Justice. Here is Joan’s description of the experience, including the observations of several of the student participants:

“Our trip was amazing. The program included re-building a house that was destroyed by Katrina, touring parts of the city affected by the storm, dialoguing with activists, exploring the intersection of Judaism and social justice, observing Shabbat with Tulane Hillel and the local Jewish community, and celebrating the vitality of the city.

“We volunteered with ‘Rebuilding Together New Orleans,’ the nation’s leading nonprofit working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities. The construction work was hard, exhausting and ultimately satisfying. Jared Hester ’13 writes: ‘There was some force driving me to keep working, something kept my spirits high despite the backbreaking, slave labor they had us doing. Maybe it was the Southern air…Or the smile of a friend, something simple, yet so vital to my day. Or a joke passed around and around until we just stopped laughing at it and made a new one. Or maybe it was the paint fumes….Who knows what it was that got me out of bed every morning, dressed me in sweat-drenched shirt and jeans, brushed my teeth, packed my lunch, and sat me on a bus full of other people just like me, with one task in mind–get through today. And we did. Now some woman with two new lungs who I’ll never know has a new pink house, has her old home back, can get on with her life.’

“We toured the Lower Ninth Ward with Tanya Harris, a community organizer who was born and raised in the neighborhood. Tanya is on the forefront of the struggle for justice, fairness, and equality in the rebuilding process and for the right of return for all residents. Writes Sammy Rosier ’14, ‘As we stood on the edge of the industrial canal and looked out on the bridge and at the small wall that is the levee protecting all of the lower ninth and N.O. as a whole, I was struck by how small it seemed….Hearing Tanya’s struggles with the local government depresses me…still having N. O. in the state it is now 6 years after the storm is ridiculous and unacceptable…More needs to be done to help this vibrant city that still has so much devastation throughout it.’

“We learned about NOLA civil rights history in a presentation by Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and editor of Left Turn Magazine, and a staffer with the Louisiana Justice Institute. A panel discussion by the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal facilitated a discussion focused on the inequalities in the region’s rebuilding and recovery process.

“Another highlight occurred spontaneously at lunch after Saturday’s Shabbat service in an orthodox synagogue. A 95-year old Holocaust and Katrina survivor, who was also Elvis’ tailor, told us about his life. Prompted by students’ questions, Mr. Scherr, with a twinkle in his eye, gave us a jumble of unique and powerful survival stories.

“Writes Graham Sheridan ’11, ‘I loved the feel of the city itself. So much music everywhere! The nice parts are still so lovely…the parades and day-to-day excitement… (It was positive) seeing the power of people to do good things. All of the people we met…are making differences and care about all of the people of their city.'”

This was Hillel’s second alternative spring break trip. A year ago a group participated in a service trip to Uruguay.

O. Henry Prize Winner

Congratulations to Matthew Neill Null, a member of the Class of 2006 and a Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa. Matt’s story, “Something You Can’t Live Without,” is among the 20 stories selected for publication in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011: The Best Stories of the Year.

An English major at W&L, Matt earned an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in the Oxford American, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Shenandoah.

The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011 is edited by Laura Furman and will be available in mid-April from Random House’s Anchor Books. Matt’s winning entry first appeared in the Oxford American.

BUBBA Branches Out

Now that his company boasts the No. 1-selling frozen burger in the land, Washington and Lee alumnus Billy Morris, of the Class of 1981, is taking a new step by opening four new restaurants in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. According to a story in the Florida Times-Union last week, the new Original BUBBA Burger Grills will feature the same BUBBA Burgers the company sells in grocery stores across the country.

Billy is president and CEO of Hickory Foods, a privately held management company that owns BUBBA Burger. If you’re not familiar with the BUBBA story, here is a history of the burger on its website. When Billy and his partner bought the company in 2000 from its founder, Walter “Bubba” Eaves, BUBBA was selling three million burgers a year. For 2010, the company projected selling 80 million burgers. There are now 10 different BUBBAS from which to choose, including the turkey BUBBA, the Jalapeno BUBBA and the half-pound Texas-shaped BUBBA. 

The new Jacksonville restaurants may be just the beginning. Billy told the Florida Times-Union that he can envision opening 100 restaurants over the next five years, but that he hasn’t decided whether to use corporate ownership or franchises.

Meantime, BUBBA Burgers have become a staple on the NASCAR circuit (Richmond International Speedway hosted the BUBBA Burger 250 last March), at numerous other sporting venues, including Chicago’s Wrigley Field, and in military commissaries in the U.S. and abroad.