Feature Stories Campus Events

A Politico to Watch

Congratulations to Justine Sessions, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2005. National Journal, an online publication that covers the political scene in Washington D.C., has named her to its list of “Hill People” to watch. Justine is the majority communications director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Justine Sessions ’05

As she tells National Journal, life in the nation’s capitol first intrigued her when she was a W&L student, studying in Washington on her way to a B.A. in politics. After graduation, she spent a few years working for former Sen. Christopher Dodd, D.-Conn, as his deputy press secretary and press secretary. At the time, he was chairing the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, running for president and dealing with legislation to stop the impending financial crisis.

She remembers one particular moment during that turbulent time.  “I’m standing outside with what felt like, and probably was, the entire press corps,” she told National Journal. “You feel the power of the moment, and you realize what your boss and others are discussing has a profound impact on the future of the country.”

After her term with Dodd, Justine directed communications for the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of Ned Lamont in Connecticut, her home state. She started her current post last September.


Duffee '83 in Sudan

If you are in Lexington today (Wednesday, June 29), you can hear Larry Duffee, a 1983 graduate of Washington and Lee, give a presentation about Sudan.

Larry, who lives in Fredericksburg, Va., sold his food-supply business to become an Episcopal missionary. He has been stationed at the headquarters of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, in Juba, since May of last year. He’s backed by the Diocese of Virginia and the church’s missionary program. He works to build peace, to help develop the finances of the Sudanese church and to maintain the church’s international partnerships. Larry plans to be in Sudan on July 9, when it becomes two countries.

And he’s been blogging about his experiences. Read his latest entry, “The Night Train to Mombasa,” at Duffman in Africa. “When I turned out the light around 10pm to go to bed the outside world became alive thanks to the three-quarters full moon which shone brightly upon the Kenyan landscape,” he writes of his journey. “I dropped the screen covering the window and pressed my face to the edge of the darkness, standing a full hour watching Kenya pass by.”

Larry’s talk, which is open to the public, takes place at noon today in the parish hall of the R.E. Lee Memorial Church. Please call the church beforehand at (540) 463-4981 so they’ll have enough chairs. You can bring your lunch, and the church will provide iced tea, coffee and dessert.


Alumna's First Novel Draws Raves

Rebecca Makkai ’99

Sharp-eyed readers of the July issue of  “O: The Oprah Magazine” may notice a familiar name in the magazine’s summer reading list: Rebecca Makkai. Don’t recognize her? By the end of the summer, you probably will, as this 1999 graduate of Washington and Lee University is poised to make a big name for herself with her first novel, “The Borrower” (Viking Press), out this month.
It’s the story of a children’s librarian named Lucy Hull and her favorite reader, Ian Drake, age 10, who run away together. Rebecca’s book has drawn praise from “Publisher’s Weekly” (“fast-paced, suspenseful, and thoroughly enjoyable”), “Good Housekeeping” (“delightfully quirky”), “Booklist” (“splendid first novel”) and The New York Times (“surprisingly moving”), among other publications.

Rebecca, a Montessori school teacher who lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two daughters, has contributed short stories to such literary journals as our own “Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review” (which she calls one of “a few that are near and dear to my heart”) and to such compilations as The Best American Short Stories.

“Her first story, at the age of three, was printed on the side of a cardboard box and told from the viewpoint of her stuffed Smurf doll,” as she writes in her witty website. The site also contains news of her summer book tour, a YouTube video of Rebecca giving book recommendations to young readers, and other material well worth a click.

And now, here she is, with her first novel available in print, audio and e-books. There’ll be no going back to the side of the cardboard box for Rebecca Makkai.


Art That's All in the Family

While she was a student, Julia Pleasants, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2008, belonged to the dance club and helped found the W&L Repertory Dance Company. An English major, she recently learned the business side of the dance world when she did a press and marketing internship with the famed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, in Massachusetts. That experience is coming in handy this summer, as Julia is helping her father, the large-scale installation artist Craig Pleasants, with publicity for his current project: a small, inexpensive, eco-friendly house built from a kit. It’s called the Octagonal Living Unit, OLU for short. “I have been doing the majority of the marketing for the OLU,” she reports.

Julia has been living with one form or another of the OLU for quite a while. “There was actually a half-scale version of the kit house assembled in my parents’ living room for a short period of time,” Julia tells us, “and I helped with the de-construction of that one, which took all of two hours. I’m sure that if he starts to manufacture a lot of these, I will be involved in the construction
somehow. My mom, my two sisters and I have been helping to assemble and transport his artwork for as long as I can remember.” The Pleasantses live in Amherst, Va.

You can watch a video and learn more about the OLU on the Kickstarter website. Julia makes an appearance at the 1:00 mark; she’s reading inside a sculpture that lived in their backyard for a time. “I am also the person who pointed the camera at our dog, Scout, at the very end,” she says. If you’re so inclined, you can also help underwrite the OLU prototype.

When she’s not doing parental p.r., Julia works at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, N.C. She also volunteers at the Community Arts Center there and teaches dance.

Visitors to W&L’s Staniar Gallery next spring will be able to learn even more about her father’s pursuits. From April 23 to May 25, 2012, Craig Pleasants will present an exhibition called “Volume,” comprising works based on what he calls “aesthetics of necessity.” The show will be his second at W&L; the first was in October 1998 in duPont Hall.


A Journalist's Homecoming

Sometimes you have to leave a place–or a job–to discover that’s where you are meant to be. At least that’s what journalist Kat Greene, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2008, recently discovered.

Kat always wanted to be a reporter. As she wrote last fall on her Facebook page, which the Talking Biz News website quoted, “When I was very young and playing house, I would go off to ‘work,’ where I typed away at a broken old typewriter. Writing stories came through me, as though I didn’t do it intentionally. I felt called to it.” It’s no surprise that at W&L, she majored in journalism and mass communications.

After graduation, she landed posts at Dow Jones Newswires, Institutional Investor and the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic. Writing about business news for the Phoenix paper, however, she found herself dissatisfied. What had once been a dream field where she could gain the experience to be a managing editor now seemed to have changed—and not for the better—along with the entire news business. And so she left.

“Now I was doing the one thing no one would have predicted,” she wrote, “and I felt liberated.”

Kat returned home, to the Atlanta area. And now she has a new job that seems familiar—as the banking and finance reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “I decided that I wasn’t looking for a job or a career path—I was looking for a home,” she told Talking Biz News. “I hope that’s what I’ve found here, back in my literal hometown, but also at this close-knit company.”


Alum Takes the Pulpit at Historic Church

A historic Presbyterian church in Germantown, Tenn., has a new pastor, and he’s a W&L alumnus. The Rev. William Gray Jones, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1992, now leads the 800-plus members of Germantown Presbyterian Church, which dates to 1838. Its Evans Chapel, built in 1851, is Germantown’s oldest public building.

“It was clear he was special,” said a member of the church’s nominating committee in a press release about Will’s appointment. “He became the standard upon which we compared all the other candidates.”

Will, who was born and grew up in Memphis, has a B.A. in history from W&L. He earned his M. Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1996 and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2006. He’s been the youth director at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, in Memphis, and at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, in Atlanta.

In addition to studying in Scotland, he served as associate pastor of a church there, St. Michael’s Parish Church, in Linlithgow. Most recently, Will was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Brownsville, Tenn.

Will is a teacher as well, with current stints as an adjunct professor in the Honors Program at the University of Memphis and in the department of philosophy and religion at the University of Mississippi.

Will and his wife, Susan, have three children: Lelia, Mary and Grace.


Next Stop, Medical School

Good luck to Allison Lemon, a brand-new graduate of Washington and Lee. This week, she is competing in the famed Roanoke Valley Horse Show, but it may be a long time before the former captain of W&L’s riding team sees the inside of a show ring again.

As the Roanoke Times explains, Allison has been riding since she was 6 years old, and competing since the age of 12. At the end of this summer, however, the biochemistry major is headed to Wake University School of Medicine, in North Carolina. Time for riding will be scarce, and so she’s selling her beloved horse, Wally, which she has had for seven years, and preparing for the next phase of her education.

Allison rides show hunters, and in Roanoke, she is competing on both Wally and on Rittani, a horse that belongs to a Bedford County trainer. She’s versatile in part because of her experience in intercollegiate riding.

There, riders have to compete on horses that belong to the host college, with no time to get used to the mounts before heading into the class. “Allison was a great college rider,” W&L riding coach Gordon Reistrup told the Roanoke Times, “because she has an innate feel for how to assess a horse.”

Reistrup also sang Lemon’s praises out of the saddle. “She is the nicest girl, always friendly, always pleasant, always a kind word for everybody else, not just on our team but other teams as well.”

Allison was a member of the W&L riding team for all four years and served as captain for two years. She was an ODAC scholar-athlete each year of her college career. She is the daughter of one alumnus (Stephen Lemon, Class of 1984, a Roanoke lawyer) and granddaughter of another (William Lemon, Class of 1955 undergraduate and 1959 law, also a Roanoke lawyer and a former member of W&L’s Board of Trustees).

Here’s hoping that the future Dr. Lemon and her horses win plenty of ribbons this week.


NY Times Highlights Alum's Business

A new concept for legal assistance, LawyerUp, promises to provide legal assistance within 15 minutes when urgent legal help is required. A recent story in the New York Times (registration required) described the new service, which was co-founded by Alex Ruskell, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1994.

Billed as “America’s First Urgent Legal Assistance Service,” LawyerUp operates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, with criminal lawyers who have agreed to take late-night calls. College students represent one of the primary target audiences for LawyerUp, which has a set of statistics on its website noting that “people aged 16-20 are more than twice as likely to be arrested than be a driver involved in a car accident.”

An English major at W&L, Alex went on to earn degrees in fiction writing (M.F.A.) from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in English (A.L.M.) from Harvard University and in law (J.D.) from the University of Texas at Austin. He’s been associate director of academic support at Roger Williams School of Law since 2007. He previously worked at the Southern New England School of Law and the Legal Writing Center at the University of Iowa School of Law, and as a litigator in Boston.

In his role at Roger Williams, Alex has taught courses on bar exam preparation, water law, contractual drafting, law and literature, and art law.  For 10 years, he has edited Thomson West’s national law bulletins in Search and Seizure, Narcotics, Arrest and Investigative Stops, and Thomson West’s law bulletins focused on California and New York law. You can read his blog about everything from relaxation techniques to study tips here on the RWU site.


Maryland Bar Honors W&L Alum Hamp Tisdale '74L

During its annual meeting in Ocean City, Md., earlier this month, the Maryland State Bar Association honored Judge John H. (Hamp) Tisdale, of Washington and Lee’s Law School Class of 1974, with the 2011 Anselm Sodaro Award for Judicial Civility.

Hamp has been associate judge of the Frederick (Md.) County Circuit Court, 6th Judicial Circuit, since January 1995. He announced earlier this year that he would be retiring this month.

The Sodaro Award, named for a former judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City Circuit Court, is given to a Maryland judge “whose courtroom demeanor best exemplifies the high ideals of civility and courtesy practiced by the late Judge Anselm Sodaro.”

Hamp was praised for “his deep regard for those appearing before him by treating all with courtesy, dignity and respect. He has been described as ‘the epitome of judicial temperament, . . . a gentleman and a scholar, with apparently unlimited patience and a genuine civility toward jurors, litigants, witnesses and … attorneys.'”

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Hamp entered the W&L Law School after four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He had a general practice in Frederick, Md., before being named to the circuit court. Involved in a variety of committees with the state board, Hamp will finish a term as chair of the Judicial Ethics Committee of the Maryland Judicial Conference.


Generals Ranked

With nine starters back on offense and nine on defense from the team that won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference last fall, Washington and Lee’s football team is not going to sneak up on any opponents this fall. And now the Generals have been ranked nationally by The Sporting News in its 2011 College Football Preview issue.

W&L is No. 19 on the Sporting News Preseason Division III Top 25 and the only ODAC team in the rankings. Wisconsin-Whitewater, which won the national Division III championship last year, is ranked No. 1.

What’s more, W&L junior defensive back Jake Pelton, from Charlottesville, Va., has been named to the preseason All-America team by The Sporting News. Jake was named first team All-ODAC, first team All-State and second team All-South Region. He led the conference with six interceptions and also had 82 tackles.

The Generals will open the season on Sept. 3, when they host Franklin & Marshall on Wilson Field.


On the Electrifying 100

Washington and Lee alumnus Reuben Munger, co-founder of a company designed to bring green-tech automotive solutions to market, has just been named one of the “Electrifying 100” by Automotive News magazine. The 100 people comprise the magazine’s assessment of the key players driving vehicle electrification.

Reuben, a member of the Class of 1995, is CEO of Bright Automotive, the Indiana-based  electric-hybrid-vehicle company. Last August we blogged about about Reuben and Bright’s first concept vehicle, the IDEA plug-in hybrid electric van.  Bright engineers say they developed the IDEA in less than 12 months, and General Motors has invested $5 million in Bright, giving GM access to Bright’s technology. The IDEA is seen as a 100-mpg plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) fleet vehicle. Currently the goal is for the IDEA to be in production in 2013.

Reuben is founder and managing partner of Vision Ridge Partners, which bills itself as “a cleantech investment firm with a portfolio of green building, breakthrough solar, and advanced automotive companies.” He had previously been managing director of the Baupost Group L.L.C., a $16 billion investment firm.


Law Alum Part of Pro Bono Honor

Brant Phillips, a 1997 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, was part of a small team of lawyers from his Nashville firm, Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, that spent more than two-and-a-half years and invested more than 2,500 hours in a clemency petition effort on behalf of Edward Jerome Harbison, a Tennessee death row inmate.

A month before Harbison’s scheduled execution, in January 2011, Tennessee Gov. Philip Bredesen commuted Harbison’s sentence to life without parole. Earlier this year Brant and the law firm were honored with the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2011 Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Award for work on the case.

Harbison was sentenced to death by a Tennessee court in 1983, and, for nearly 27 years, he had attempted to get his sentence overturned through state and federal legislation. Through their work, Brant and his team showed that Harbison’s death sentence was the result of ineffective counsel and that the sentence was disproportionate to the punishment given to others who committed similar crimes in the state.

In nominating the firm for the Tennessee Bar Association honor, Nashville lawyer David Garrison with the law firm of Barrett Johnston wrote, “Few firms in Tennessee could have (or would have) brought to bear the resources that were necessary to make this outcome for Mr. Harbison possible. Bass Berry’s willingness to do so sets an example for other large law firms in our state and shows an ongoing commitment to justice for the indigent and underserved that deserves to be recognized.”

Brant is a member of Bass, Berry & Sims’ litigation and government advocacy practice areas. He handles complex business litigation, recently serving as lead counsel for King Pharmaceuticals Inc. and its board in shareholder class actions relating to $3.6 billion buyout of King by Pfizer Inc., as well as securities and shareholder class action defense, derivative actions and business fraud. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for administrative law and the Nashville Business Journal’s Best of the Bar (2008). He joined the Nashville firm in 1998 after serving as a law clerk to Judge William M. Acker Jr., on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.


Law Alum's Documentary on Henry Clay Airs

“Henry Clay and the Struggle for the Union,” a documentary on Henry Clay and his role in the events that led up to the Civil War, is airing this month on Kentucky’s PBS affiliate, KET. The hour-long program was written and is hosted by Kent Masterson Brown, a 1974 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law and a well-known historian.

Kent is in private law practice in Lexington, Ky., but continues to research and write on Civil War topics. Not only he is the founder and former editor in chief of The Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society, but he also has won numerous awards for his 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.

The new documentary aired for the first time on Monday night (June 13) but has numerous other air dates coming up this month. And for those who can’t see it on TV, the DVD is also available for purchase online at www.witnessinghistoryonline.com.

In a news release announcing the program, Kent describes it as exploring “the impact of slavery on the westward expansion of the nation and how the conflict between North and South was, in the end, irrepressible. History is nothing but lessons and there is much we can glean from Clay’s political career and the Compromises of 1820, 1833 and 1850.”

The documentary was produced by Witnessing History L.L.C., which was founded in 2007 by Ken and producer-director Douglas High. In addition to producing documentaries and publishing books, the company hosts guided tours of Civil War battlefields.


W&L Live!

After some months away because of technical problems, Colonnade Cam is back, or so we hope. The live webcam located in Lee Chapel and pointed toward the Colonnade is online again. It’s a full-motion camera, so if anything is happening on the Front Lawn, it’ll be captured on air. (Fair warning!)

There are, however, some issues that we are still trying to resolve, so it’s possible that certain Internet browsers are unable to display the image. So if you have a problem with the Colonnade Cam, please send us feedback on what you are (or are not) able to see and what kind of browser and computer system you’re running.

We have altered the settings for the Colonnade Cam to time the camera out after a period of time. We want folks to get a glimpse of the Colonnade but not to spend all day there and eat up valuable bandwith.

Right now, you’ll see the fence in front of Payne Hall, where renovation work will soon be winding down. Over the course of the summer, you’ll see a construction fence go up in front of Washington Hall as that portion of the Colonnade restoration begins.

The Colonnade Cam is not the only live webcam on the campus. WDBJ7-TV in Roanoke has one of its Weatherbug cams set up on the roof of Reid Hall, pointing toward Wilson Field, the sorority houses and, on a very clear day, House Mountain. You can look at that camera from this link or by going to WDBJ’s weather page and then clicking on “Washington and Lee University.”


Teaching the Blues

Last month, on his way home to Brattleboro, Vt., after performing and teaching at Washington and Lee, blues guitarist Scott Ainslie, of the Class of 1974, took a detour—all the way to Clarksdale, Miss. His destination was the Delta Blues Museum, where he dropped off more than 100 instructional DVDs — the bounteous beginning of the museum’s new Delta Blues Museum Media Archive.

The archive comprises instructional DVDs for blues guitarists, singers and keyboard players, as well as archival footage of famed performers such as Son House, Skip James, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. Students of all ages can use the material to supplement their learning from Mississippi-area musicians.

Scott came up with the idea of the archive during a conversation with the museum’s executive director, Shelley Ritter. He’d just taught at the museum and donated a copy of his instructional DVD, “Robert Johnson/Guitar Signature Licks.” He realized that he knew a lot of people with similar material, and he thought an archive would be just the thing for the museum.

Scott contacted Stefan Grossman (Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop) and Happy Traum (Homespun Tapes), both well-known instructors and purveyors of educational material. He felt embarrassed to request 85 titles from Grossman and expected him to shorten the list, but Grossman didn’t blink. Traum followed suit with another generous donation.

“Grossman, Traum and I have all had the life-changing honor and pleasure of working with senior musicians in this tradition,” Scott said in a museum press release. “We have each been moved, inspired and compelled to take up the music of this region, and we all see this as a way of giving back to a culture and a people who have given so much to the rest of us.”

You can learn more about the archive, Scott and his music at his website, cattailmusic.com.


W&L's Connelly on WMRA's “Virginia Insight”

William F. Connelly Jr., the John K. Boardman Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee, appeared on Harrisonburg NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” program on Thursday, June 9, to discuss the history of congressional partisanship on Capitol Hill.

The author of (Rowman and Littlefield, 2010), Bill discussed his assertion that, far from an unwanted modern-day aberration, heated political differences are a critical part of what have long made America’s system of democracy work so well.

You can listen to the entire broadcast below:


Quite a Comeback

The lone W&L win in the match came at No. 2 doubles, where senior captain Will Hall teamed with junior Jeremy Becht for an 8-6 win. This was not just another match. It marked an amazing comeback that seemed unthinkable seven weeks earlier when Will, playing in the tiebreaker of a doubles match against Christopher Newport, went through a glass window at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center on the College of William and Mary campus in Williamsburg, Va. He wound up slicing through a major artery. By every account, it was nothing short of a terrifying scene.

Will was rushed to a hospital for surgery that left him with more than 100 stitches, in addition to staples, from his hamstring down to his calf.  According to athletic trainer Matt Phillips, Will’s calf was completely torn from the bone. Matt described the injury as looking much like a shark bite. Will’s odds of playing tennis any time soon seemed slim.

But, as Shana Levine, associate athletic director, explains in her compelling description on the Athletic Department’s “From the Sidelines” blog, Will had other ideas. For all the details about both the injury and Will’s battle back, we highly recommend Shana’s blog post: And the Comeback Athlete of the Year Goes to….

Incidentally, while Will and his doubles partner, Jeremy, won the doubles point in that final match against North Carolina Wesleyan, Will also played singles in the match, losing in straight sets. For his career, he compiled a record of 36-19 in singles and 35-26 in doubles. He also graduated magna cum laude with a mathematics major on May 26.


Mike Smitka at Fed Conference, Bloomberg Event

Washington and Lee University economics professor Mike Smitka combined his expertise on Japan and the auto industry into a pair of high-profile presentations in June.

Smitka was a featured panelist at the Eighteenth Annual Automotive Outlook Symposium of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The event was held at the Detroit branch of the Chicago Fed on June 2, 2011, and focused on the near-term automotive outlook and the long-term structure of the industry.

Smitka was joined by Thomas Kurfess, professor and BMW chair of manufacturing at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research; James A. Buczkowski, Henry Ford Technical Fellow, and director of electrical and electronics systems research and advanced engineering for Ford Motor Company; and Thomas Klier, senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Smitka’s remarks were on innovation in the supply sector.

On June 7, 2011, Smitka participated in the Bloomberg Japan Conference at the Japan Society in New York City. He was a member of a panel that examined the global impact of the supply chain interruption in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March. The panel was moderated by Michael McKee, economics editor of Bloomberg Television.


Retiring Attorney

After four terms as commonwealth’s attorney for Shenandoah County, Va., Washington and Lee law alumnus Albert T. Mitchell, of the Class of 1967, has announced he won’t seek re-election in November. Al was appointed to the position by the judges of the 26th Judicial Circuit in 1999 and then was elected to the position in November of that same year.

In an article announcing his decision in the Northern Virginia Daily, Al said that, as a prosecutor, he enjoys the legal questions that arise out of every case, whether it has a high profile or not. “There are decisions you have to make every day in district court. Someone running a stop sign, reckless driving, DUI; there are so many different kinds of evidence,” he told the paper. “No two cases have ever been identical.”

Al received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond before earning the law degree at W&L. He has practiced law in Shenandoah County since 1967 and has been town attorney for Woodstock, Va., from 1970 to the present. Before he was appointed commonwealth’s attorney, he had spent nine years as an assistant.


Retiring Surgeon

Dr. Charles Niemeyer, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1962, suffered two broken legs before he was 10 years old. That, says his wife, Carolyn, is what led him to his chosen profession: orthopedic surgeon.

“He’s wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon since he was 7-years-old,” she told the Gaston Gazette.

Charlie is retiring after 37 years of practice, which included performing the first hip replacement at CaroMont Health’s Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C. A graduate of Duke University’s medical school, he joined Gaston Orthopedic Clinic in 1974. That clinic merged with another 23 years later to become  Carolina Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center.

The article in the Gaston Gazette announcing Charlie’s retirement noted that his Russian studies minor at W&L led him to make several trips to Russia, where he worked with Russian physicians and patients, including teaching doctors there how to do arthroscopic procedures on knees. He also brought two Russians back to Gastonia for hip replacements.


Rene Pratt Co-Authors New Study

Renee Pratt, assistant professor of business administration at Washington and Lee, has recently co-authored a study entitled “The Role of Enterprise Architecture in the Quest for IT Value” appearing in MIS Quarterly Executive (see http://misqe.org/ojs2/index.php/misqe/article/view/369). The research looks at value creation through the use of enterprise architecture. Enterprise architecture (EA) is the term used to describe the way in which a business logically organizes its IT infrastructure and business process capabilities to address its needs for IT and business process integration and standardization.

The research study examined responses from 140 chief information officers in U.S. hospitals. According to the study conducted by Pratt and her colleagues, more mature enterprise architecture initiatives enhance firm value in three ways:

1. managing firms’ external relationships more effectively and efficiently
2. lowering firms’ operational costs
3. providing firms with greater strategic agility

Additional connections were found between enterprise architecture maturity and improved business-information technology alignment and risk management.

Pratt joined the Williams School faculty in 2008. She has taught several information technology classes during that time, including management information systems, e-commerce development, and computer forensics. She holds a doctorate in management information systems from Florida State University, an M.S. in management information systems from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Florida. Her industry experience includes working with both government entities and businesses to design and develop intranets, extranets, and websites.


Warren Stephens '79 Honored by President Bush

Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Warren Stephens, of the Class of 1979, and his wife, Harriet, were honored in their hometown of Little Rock, Ark., last week by none other than former President George W. Bush. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of The First Tee of Little Rock Jack Stephens Youth Golf Academy.

President Bush now serves as the honorary chairman of First Tee, a national organization designed to give young people free access to golf courses, equipment and instruction. The 43rd president succeeded his father, President George H.W. Bush, in that role, and the elder Bush had been in Little Rock in 2001 to  honor Warren’s late father, Jack Stephens, when the Jack Stephens Academy was dedicated.

Since his father’s death in 2005, Warren and Harriet have been instrumental in keeping First Tee operating in Little Rock, partly by making the organization one of the recipients of the annual Jack Stephens Charitable Trust tournament that is held at the Alotian Golf Club and has drawn such golf legends at Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, among others.

The First Tee celebration included the dedication of a garden in honor of Warren and Harriet.

In a story about the event in the Arkansas News, Warren said his father did not take up golf until he was 36, but that he was passionate about the sport, citing the camaraderie as a key to the game. Warren added that the assistance, encouragement and nurturing is the same at every First Tee facility.

“The mentors, volunteers, coaches, counselors and instructors watch a boy or girl walk through the door unaware of the game of golf and what it teaches,” he said. “Then years later watch them walk back out the door … on the path to responsible adulthood.”


Batting Against Cancer

Washington and Lee junior Jonathan Stutts, the starting shortstop on the Generals’ baseball team, is scheduled to make his Rockbridge Rapids debut this Friday night, June 3, when the local team in the Valley League begins its third season at Smith Field. Stutts, who batted .318 in 31 games for W&L this spring, is the only General on the 29-person roster of college and junior college players.

Jonathan had a solid performance on the diamond this year, but he made an even stronger impression in his fund-raising for cancer research in memory of his father, who died of brain cancer when Jonathan was 15.

Throughout the year, Jonathan raised money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity created by Jim Valavano, the late North Carolina State basketball coach, just before his death.

Jonathan’s work is chronicled in a story in the Charlotte Observer’s South Charlotte News this week. As he explained there, he started with a letter to family and friends asking them to pledge money based on his number of hits during the season. (For the record, he had 41 hits, second best on the Generals.) When his teammates learned of the effort, they joined in. Stutts asked donors to pledge based on the team’s performance or on an individual player’s performance.

He had hoped to be able to raise $5,000 in his father’s memory. At season’s end, Jonathan said, the total was $9,600.

“I’m just so happy and amazed,” he told the newspaper. “Everyone tells me my dad would be proud.”


Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr. '43, '47L Dies at 89

In the eight years that Washington and Lee alumnus Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr. served as judge of the Alleghany County Circuit Court, his decisions were never reversed. That is surely one of the reasons that Stephenson was elevated to the Virginia Supreme Court in 1981. He served as a justice for 16 years before retiring in 1997 at the age of 75.

Justice Stephenson died Tuesday in Covington, Va. He was 89.

A native of Alleghany County, he had attended the public schools there and, following a year in the Army, entered W&L, receiving his B.A. in 1943 and his J.D. in 1947 from the School of Law.  Known as “Rocky,” Stephenson began in partnership with his father in Covington and served as commonwealth’s attorney for Alleghany County for eight years before returning to private practice. He was elected as a judge to the 25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia in 1973 and subsequently to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Among the decisions he wrote for the court were ones upholding the state’s cap on awards in medical malpractice cases and affirming the use of DNA evidence in the case of Timothy W. Spencer. The 1989 Spencer case became the first in which a man was sentenced to death based largely on DNA evidence. Known as “the Southside Strangler,” he had been convicted of raping and strangling four women over 11 weeks in 1987. There were no surviving victims, no fingerprints, no confession. Then DNA tests linked the crime scenes with Spencer. He was executed in April 1994.

In the Richmond Times-Dispatch story on Stephenson’s death, Justice Harry L. Carrico, a former chief justice, said: “He was a wonderful person, he was a wonderful judge, he was a highly ethical person and highly caring person and just an all-around wonderful human being.”

When Stephenson retired in 1997, he stayed on as a senior justice. His departure led to a deadlock in the General Assembly about his successor, who was ultimately appointed by then-Gov. George Allen. The seat was filled by Justice Cynthia Kinser, who is now the court’s chief justice.

A funeral will be held Friday in Covington. Survivors include Roscoe B. Stephenson III, a member of the W&L Law Class of 1981.