Road Trip to the Future
For 19 of the Washington and Lee undergraduates who are spending their summer in the University’s science laboratories, the road trip that the Career Services Office organized last week was an opportunity to peer into their future.
At 6:30 a.m., the students left in vans for Bethesda, Md., where they joined students from Washington-area colleges at the National Institutes of Health Graduate and Professional School Fair. There, they participated in workshops on interviewing, getting into graduate and professional school, M.D./Ph.D. programs, and careers in public health, psychology and pharmacy. In addition, almost 120 colleges and universities from across the U.S. sent representatives of their graduate schools, medical and dental schools, schools of public health and other biomedical programs, permitting the W&L students to learn more about these areas.
Not only did the road trip give the participating students a preview of what might await them once they leave W&L, but it was also a valuable experience for the Career Services office, according to Beverly Lorig, its director. “I came away with ideas for building career-related programs linked to the existing W&L summer programs,” she said.
Washington and Lee Names New Hillel Director
Washington and Lee University has named Brett M. Schwartz as director of its Hillel,
effective July 15. As only the second person to hold the post, he succeeds Joan Robins, who retired this past June.
“We are delighted to have Brett join Washington and Lee,” said Tamara Y. Futrell, associate dean of students in the W&L Office of Diversity and Inclusion, who oversees student religious life. “He brings a wealth of energy and experience to the position of Hillel director. I’m sure he will do a fantastic job.”
Schwartz comes to W&L from Wilmington, Del., where he spent two years as the director of youth and family programming for the Congregation Beth Emeth. He oversaw community programming and developed leadership opportunities for lay leaders and teenagers.
Before Beth Emeth, he spent two months as the site director for the Mitzvah Corps in New Orleans, which engaged teenagers in volunteer projects. From 2007 to 2009, Schwartz directed youth and family programs at the Adath Israel Congregation, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Schwartz holds a B.S. in exercise science from Ithaca College and an M.S. in organizational development and leadership from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. While at Ithaca, Schwartz worked as a student intern at the college’s Hillel, for which he still serves on the board as president, webmaster and program chair.
W&L Hillel is a member of Hillel International: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. Hillel seeks to create a vibrant Jewish life on campus for students of all backgrounds. Its mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may make an enduring contribution to the Jewish people and the world.
W&L’s Hillel House opened in the fall of 2010. It contains the kosher E Café and a multipurpose room that is available for community use. Hillel sponsors First Fridays at 5, a monthly Shabbat service and potluck dinner for all students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community. On other Friday evenings, it hosts a Shabbat Shalom service for students.
In addition to religious life, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at W&L encompasses multicultural, international and GLBQT student life on campus.
When a contributor to the Miller-McCune magazine needed an expert, he knew who to call: Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English and chair of the Department of English at Washington and Lee University.
Suzanne is quoted at length in an article titled “Teaching Empathy to the ‘Me’ Generation,” by Eric Leake, a Ph.D. candidate in composition and rhetoric at the University of Louisville. Suzanne, of course, is well known for her scholarship on empathy. Her 2007 book, Empathy and the Novel, examines the topic in depth.
The article discusses the so-called Empathy Experiment at Capital University, in Columbus, Ohio. Suzanne tells Leake, “I think when teachers in real life are interacting with students — all real people — the empathy-and-moral-education relation can be much more robust if the teachers can make a direct correlation.”
You can read the entire article here. And you can read more about Suzanne and her scholarship here, in this article about her 2008 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
Miller-McCune is available in print and online. It bills itself as containing “polished, in-depth reports on research and solutions across the policy spectrum — from health care, education and energy to international affairs, poverty and the global economy.”
New Coaching Post for Dannelly
Former Washington and Lee women’s basketball captain Bethany Dannelly, of the Class of 2005, has just been named an assistant coach at Colby College, in Maine. Bethany still holds the career records for assists (459) and steals (197) as the Generals’ point guard. She never had fewer than 84 assists and 42 steals in a season.
Bethany got some valuable coaching experience at the University of Virginia, where she earned her master’s degree in physiology from the Curry School of Education. Last year she served as assistant director of operations/video coordinator for the Cavaliers after previously serving two seasons as a graduate assistant. She handled daily operations of the women’s program plus all game film and scouting video work.
At the same time she was working with the U.Va. intercollegiate program, Bethany was also coaching the university’s club basketball team. There she compiled a career record of 87-3 in three years, guiding her team to national semifinals berths two years in a row.
At Colby, Bethany joins first-year head coach Julie Veilleux on the Mules’ staff.
W&L's Kahn Keynotes International Conference
James R. Kahn, the John F. Hendon Professor of Economics and director of Environmental Studies at Washington and Lee, has been invited to provide one of the keynote addresses at the 2011 LOICZ Open Science Conference in Yantei, China, in September 2011. LOICZ, the Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone, is an international research institute, based in Germany
The title of Kahn’s presentation is “Think Globally but Model Locally: The Use of Panel Data in Estimating Behavioral Models of the Relationships Between Human Behavior and Environmental Change.”
According to the organizers, the aim of the LOICZ OSC 2011 on “Coastal Systems, Global Change and Sustainability” is to bring together the international research community working on land-ocean issues, show-case the width and scope of ongoing research, help to build a community in this highly interdisciplinary field, and to inspire new research, theory building and applied science.
Jane Judges the Royals
If you are a royal watcher, this has been a few months to savor, what with Prince William marrying Kate Middleton and Prince Albert of Monaco marrying Charlene Wittstock. Washington and Lee alumna Jane Lee, a 2009 graduate, has it all covered with her video report for Forbes Lifestyle.
Jane is an associate editor and producer of Forbes Lifestyle, where she covers luxury fashion, property and culture with what she describes as “a dash of biting social commentary—think Jane Austen with a MacBook Air.”
After receiving her degree in journalism from W&L, Jane earned an M.S. at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. She’s been with Forbes for almost a year now, moving to her current position in March. She manages online content, multimedia and video. You can read her Forbes profile here. When she hasn’t been paying attention to the royals, Jane has done stories ranging from a feature on a Lego artist to how Oscars jewelry makes it to the red carpet.
Watch her feature “Best Royal Style Down the Aisle” below:
Fit to a T: Honoring Cy Twombly
Two young alumni of Washington and Lee recently paid their respects to the late Cy Twombly ’53 in a most appropriate way — by seeing his art in person at two of the world’s great museums.
Two days after Cy’s July 5 death, siblings Matt Null (Class of 2006) and Andrea Null (Class of 2010) began a family trip to European museums. The first stop was the Tate Modern, in London, which remembered the Lexington-born artist in front of his three paintings titled “Bacchus, Psilax, Mainomenos” with what Matt calls “an elegant memorial to the artist: a simple bowl of white roses. The Tate was busy with people coming to pay tribute. Pretty good for a boy from Lexington.”
Next stop was Paris and the Louvre, which houses Cy’s “The Ceiling” in the Salle des Bronzes. We blogged about that historic installation in March 2010. “The blue composition is a stunning complement to the room,” says Matt.
Let Matt explain the photo of the siblings, which his mother snapped: “I know you usually aren’t supposed to take pictures in museums, but the Louvre allows non-flash photography (for private, noncommercial purposes) in their permanent collections.”
We’re glad the Nulls didn’t break any rules, and we’re glad they shared their pilgrimage to the art of a fellow alum.
Traditional Journalism Critical to Understanding Debt Crisis
Although social media seem to dominate conversations about the future of journalism, the current debt-ceiling impasse underscores the value and importance of traditional journalism, according to Pamela Luecke, a journalism professor at Washington and Lee University.
“I don’t mean to dismiss the power and potential of new forms of journalism,” said Luecke, the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism at W&L. “But this isn’t an easy subject – the debt ceiling, the national debt, the deficit, budget issues. These are not topics that can be condensed to 140 characters on Twitter. This is where mature, seasoned journalists who understand economics, who understand the political process, really come into the spotlight.
“There has been a trend toward news websites and organizations aggregating information and thinking that is sufficient for the journalism we need to have a free and democratic society,” she continued. “This is a prime example of where you need people who understand complexity and can translate that to the general public.”
In Luecke’s view, the national print media, especially The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, have been doing an excellent and exhaustive job of covering the story for many months. The story is not as easy for much of television news, she added, because it does not lend itself to short sound bites, and television’s use of pundits and partisans simply adds to the polarization.
But Luecke also said that citizens have a responsibility to educate themselves on the issues, and that means both investing time and seeking out different perspectives.
“You can’t just say, ‘I want to understand this topic, and I’ve got one minute to do it.’ Not all stories can be reduced to a 15-second sound bite, so it’s going to take a little work to understand this issue. We’re citizens in a democracy. We have a responsibility to be informed about this issue,” Luecke said. “There are different points of view and legitimate differences of opinion about what ought to be done and what would happen if nothing is done. I think we need to seek out opinions and points of view that differ from ours, even though it’s not always comfortable.”
If someone is accustomed to getting his or her news from one specific source, say CNN or MSNBC, Luecke said, then he or she should take time to see what is being said at Fox News, and vice versa. Luecke thinks that citizens have a responsibility to understand the differences in the way the issue is being presented
“I think journalists have a responsibility to present all sides as well, and I think many are doing that,” she added. “But if you feel that your news source is not doing that, there are many ways that you can get other perspectives on this issue.”
One place to get other perspectives on the debt ceiling, Luecke noted, are the numerous blogs written by economists – the so-called “econoblogs.”
“Someone who wants an unfiltered perspective on what economists are thinking can tap into this,” she said. “Economists are not a monolith. They have very, very different perspectives on this issue and on most issues. By reading these blogs, you feel as if you have a front-row seat on this high-level debate.”
W&L Alum Did Something
When the devastating tornado tore apart his hometown of Joplin, Mo. in May, Washington and Lee alumnus Brent Beshore, of the Class of 2005, felt helpless. He was miles away in Columbia, Mo., but he wanted to do something.
And he did.
Brent created a Facebook page, Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery, that was designed, in part, to raise funds for the Heart of Missouri United Way. That page attracted 170,000 fans and helped raise $1.7 million, which, Brent told the Columbia Daily Tribune, all goes to Joplin with no overhead or fees removed.
Now Brent’s decision to do something has been recognized by DoSomething.org, a website that offers a variety of causes that people can join. The Joplin Facebook page is one of five such efforts that have been nominated for the 2011 Do Something Facebook award. He’s already received a $10,000 grant but voting is currently underway on the Do Something Awards page. The contest is sponsored by VH1, and the grand prize winner will receive a $100,000 prize, to be presented at a ceremony on Aug. 18 on VH1.
Brent’s business, AdVentures, provides equity investments, marketing resources, strategic planning, and operations management for communications companies. According to the AdVentures website, it has founded seven companies, acquired two and exited from two since 2007.
Remember to vote for Brent’s Joplin Facebook page in the Do Something Awards.
W&L Journalism Wizards Report on Harry Potter
As the Harry Potter saga draws to a close with the July 15 opening of the final movie, stories abound in the media about what the event means for faithful readers and viewers. Many of them focus on college students in their late teens and early 20s who have literally grown up with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
At least two of those newspaper stories emerged from the keyboards of Washington and Lee journalism students who are also members of that cohort: Becky Mickel, a rising junior, and Eleanor Kennedy, a rising senior.
Eleanor, from Munster, Ind., is interning this summer with the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. She did a preview of the movie’s arrival on July 14 and then, in her July 15 piece, the Pi Beta Phi president interviewed the self-dubbed “Charlotte Geeks” and others who’d been waiting in line for hours to catch the midnight premiere.
Becky, who’s from Monroe, La., is spending her summer at the Roanoke Times. She put together a quiz on Harry Potter for July 14 and also wrote about a Roanoke man in his 30s who read every Potter book and watched every Potter movie. That’s not unusual — except he did it all in the last four months.
As Pam Luecke, head of the department of journalism and mass communications at W&L, observes, there is one story each summer that the W&L journalism interns are asked to “localize” no matter where in the country they are working. Last summer, several W&L interns provided perspective for local readers on the Gulf Oil Spill. This summer it was Harry Potter.
The movie broke all records by earning $168.6 million in the U.S. and Canada in just three days and earning the biggest international debut ever, with $307 million overseas in 59 foreign countries. Lexington did its part. The R/C State Cinema 3 sold out of its midnight showing.
If you, too, spent your childhood at Hogwarts or if you’re a Potter fan whose age is closer to that of Severus Snape and Sybill Trelawney, share your thoughts about the end of an era in the comments section of this blog (below).
A River of Music: Ron Pen '73 and his passion for harmony
Ron Pen ’73 is awed by the power of music, and even more so by its social potential when people make music together. These interests have evolved in such a way that he is now director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the University of Kentucky, where he is a member of the graduate faculty, and where his biography of that famed and controversial musicologist was published last year. Pen returned to W&L this past February and delivered a lecture on Niles.
He was back on campus-as he put it, “returning to the scene of the crime”-to participate in the Flournoy Playwright Festival, an annual event underwritten in part by the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment, that brings artists of stage and song to Lexington. This year’s emphasis was on Appalachian culture, so Pen’s talk on the essential and mercurial Niles was right at home, giving him an opportunity to share some enticing glimpses into Niles from his 25-year labor of love, I Wonder As I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles.
The book began life as Pen’s doctoral dissertation; he was, luckily, much closer to his sources than most. “The best scholarship is actually personal,” said Pen. “In Niles, I saw a mirror of myself in some ways, an objective lens for viewing things both musical and cultural that interest me in my own life. Niles’ widow, Rena, lived about a mile away, and I could experience so much of his life through her keen and enthusiastic memory. A vast collection of his letters, journals, publications, photographs and recordings had recently been deposited at the University of Kentucky library, so most of the research materials were close at hand and had not been examined by other scholars.”
The Niles biography is Pen’s magnum opus to date. His 1992 debut, Introduction to Music, covers a much wider waterfront, evincing the breadth and depth of his musicological knowledge. While it does not mention Niles, the book is a concise, insightful and comprehensive work of reference, condensing an entire history of music into little more than 300 pages, spiced here and there with the same sorts of tidbits and asides that peppered the lectures of the late Jim Cook, who, in the day, was half of the Music Department.
The other half was the late Rob Stewart, who became a mentor as well as advisor to Pen, helping him create an independent major with a concentration in music, since a full major in music was still in W&L’s future. He was, he said, “handed off” to Stewart by Professor H. Robert “English Bob” Huntley (as distinguished from then President Robert E. R. Huntley ’50, ’57L) after Pen turned in a tape of original music as his paper on T. S. Eliot’s “Wasteland.” Stewart immediately recognized an evolving talent already somewhat developed, and pretty much turned Pen loose to create at will, albeit within those structures required by academe. (Pen also received an A from English Bob for his Eliot opus.)
Those who attended Pen’s senior-year composition and performance recital in Lee Chapel may recall more than a dozen musicians, plus dancers from Hollins College, a light show and tape loops of natural sounds he recorded near his residence out in the county. The concert had everything but a smoke machine. While a student, Pen also began developing his teaching techniques, when he demonstrated the rhythmic pattern he wanted to the drummer in his Cartoone House Band by playing it himself.
Meanwhile, in a far more extracurricular fashion, Pen was discovering old-time music via Odell McGuire. A member of the Geology Department and a spirited banjo player, McGuire, who died in 2008, was an essential figure in the rebirth and burgeoning of that musical tradition around these parts and beyond. Pen’s chosen instrument is fiddle; he and a changing cast of fellow members of a very part-time old-time band in the other Lexington (Kentucky), known as Lettuce Turnip the Beet, regularly play at tailgate parties for UK home football games. More formally, Pen also oversees a performance series of Appalachian artists at the Niles Center, and has traveled as far as Kyrgyzstan to lecture on one facet of music or another.
Pen’s credentials also include co-founding the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers, which, he says, “sounds far more organized than it really is,” which some might also say about the music itself. As a member of that group, Pen performed on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” His current writing project is co-authoring a work on Ananais Davisson, a pivotal figure in the development of Sacred Harp.
During the Flournoy Festival, Pen also visited a W&L music-history class, giving them a condensed history of Sacred Harp and then leading them in song. Pen sees community-created music, primarily in religious contexts, as an important influence in the development of American culture. Out on the frontier, what first musically empowered many people was this simpler system of musical notation that uses shaped symbols to indicate specific notes, thus its other name: shape note. Under either moniker, it is a living, thriving tradition to Pen.
Pen shares his interest in Sacred Harp music with a W&L music-history class. He told them, “Music that springs from a sense of place, from a group of people rooted to a place, that gathers to sing in a place sanctified by their collective singing has the most power to affect us. The joy of gathering together in song, the joy of creating a community whose only purpose is sharing a song is a wonderful thing. Harmony is a pleasure. It is perhaps the finest hillbilly intoxicant. Musical harmony creates social harmony and that is what attracts me to this.”
“The music has a power all its own not tied to denominations or worship services,” he explained. “It is a spiritual expression, but it is not sacred worship. We are re-creating the singing schools of a past alive in the present. It is as all-inclusive a way as I have found to share the river of music that winds through us all.”
To witness Pen enthusiastically impart its rudiments to students and transform them from seated takers of notes to active producers of notes around the four sides of the traditional hollow square, so-called for the physical configuration of the singers, holding forth in harmonies sometimes more spirited than precise, is to observe a progression bordering on the miraculous. It was exhilarating for Pen as well, who stood, beaming, in the middle of the square, himself in full voice as he spun like a dervish in slower motion, happily holding it all together.
“I was thinking of strategies to incite avenues for personal curiosity and learning in each student as I was responding to the more inquisitive students,” Pen said. “I suddenly felt even more deeply and directly connected to my friend and mentor, Rob Stewart, in a way I never had before.” Pen has also taught most every summer since the 1990s at the Swannanoa Gathering near Black Mountain, N.C., guiding string players into the intricacies of old-time fiddling as well as welcoming all comers for shape-note songfests. Faculty colleagues at this nationally renowned fusing of the scholarly and vernacular through hands-on ensemble music-making have included fellow alumni Scott Ainslie ’74 and James Leva ’80.
At this year’s Flournoy Festival, in fact, the finale was the premiere of Leva’s full-length work honoring a fiddler he and Pen both informally studied under, the late Tommy Jarrell. (See p. 23.)
At separate times, both men trekked to Jarrell’s front porch and parlor conservatory in rural North Carolina, a lively learning lab for an entire generation of young players hankering to hear old-time mountain music the way it sounded when it was still learned through being handed down by playing it rather than by listening to recordings.
On campus in February, Pen delivered a lecture on John Jacob Niles and signed copies of his book. “In Niles,” he noted, “I saw a mirror of myself in some ways, an objective lens for viewing things both musical and cultural that interest me in my own life.”
This prepared Pen well for writing about Niles, who had done the same thing decades earlier in Kentucky, amassing a repertoire with which he took music of the soil into the salon. That’s a stretch too far for the comfort of some, even today, but in keeping with Niles’ concept that music could be elite, traditional and popular all at once.
“Niles was a chameleon, and while it is true he could change his tune to appeal to different audiences, and play the folk tradition off against the art tradition, Niles was one of the first to grant our own American folk traditions the same degree of respect we have long given to European classical music,” explained Pen. “Rather than violins, viola and cello, a hillbilly string quartet might comprise fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. But the resulting music can be every bit as expressive and profound as anything Europeans have charted out, and with a far more personal sound.”
Niles’ career casts shadows over several fields, some not considered related until he made them so. The crazy-quilt pattern of American history includes few musicologists with Niles’ breadth; his story is an unlikely and fascinating one. Pen tells it well, and English Bob can be proud of Pen’s prose, even though he ended up not majoring in English. It’s an authoritative book that also happens to be a pretty good read.
When it comes down to it, what many great teachers do is successfully share their own fascination for their subject with their students. In his W&L lecture, Pen recounted the experience that made him feel closest to Niles, having recently played, for a radio concert, an instrument built by Niles himself. Niles was, among other things, a skilled luthier. Pen christened this particular axe a “Niles-cimer.” It is perhaps most accurately described as a cello dulcimer and hadn’t been played since Niles’ death in 1980.
“Here I was with this instrument in my hands that Niles had played on stages around the world, from Carnegie Hall to the first-ever Newport Folk Festival,” he said. “Suddenly I was part of a lineage and history of an instrument that was created by one person but was now being transferred to another. When I strummed across the strings for the first time, a huge, rumbly voice, loud as a freight train, yet as sweet as bee’s honey, rang out. It is as close as I have come to playing a duet with Johnny Niles. I had finally found a way to marry the performance and preservation aspects of my association with Niles.”
That instrument couldn’t have passed into a more proper pair of hands.
Story and Photos by Patrick Hinely ’73
Sexiest Startup CEO
Business Insider website has just named the country’s sexiest startup CEOs, and Washington and Lee alumnus Ross Hinkle, of the Class of 2001, is No. 8 on the list.
Ross is the CEO of Liveset, which started up last year and presents live concert events for the Web and mobile devices in what it describes as “handsome HD.” Prior to founding Liveset, Ross worked in the private equity industry in New York. Now he’s relocated to New Orleans, where his new company is to live concerts what MLB.tv is to live baseball. For a fee, you can log in to Livestream and watch live concerts by artists such as The Civil Wars, Ben Kweller and Andrew Duhon.
The Civil Wars concert was the latest feature. It was streamed live on July 8 from One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans. You can catch a clip from that concert on the Liveset website, where other archived concerts are available for a fee.
In a story on the NOLA.com website in April, Ross said the company aims to stream not just the concerts but behind-the-scenes content, too. Liveset does not charge artists up front but splits profits. It benefits from being part of the LaunchPad Ignition, a New Orleans-based startup accelerator that helps new businesses refine their models and raise capital, and the Idea Village Entrepreneur Challenge.
W&L Magazine, Spring/Summer 2011: Vol. 86 | No. 2
Roger Mudd Receives Washington Award
At the opening assembly, President Ruscio presented the Washington Award to Roger Mudd ’50(above). The award recognizes distinguished leadership and service to the nation and extraordinary acts of philanthropy in support of W&L and other institutions. Ruscio said that throughout his career, Mudd “covered history and has been a part of it, and throughout it all he earned a reputation for the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”
In recent years, Mudd has made a number of important gifts to W&L, including a treasured collection of first-edition books by 20th-century Southern writers and tapes of his broadcasts. Last fall, he gave the University $4 million to establish the Roger Mudd Center for the Study of Professional Ethics.
Mudd, who received two standing ovations from the Lee Chapel audience, gave a brief, entertaining acceptance speech in which he echoed the opening remarks of Provost June Aprille in her speech, “The Meaning of Alma Mater.” “I am proud,” he said, “because imprint on me is indelible. What the provost says is true: that imprint, that stamp, that’s put on you cannot be eradicated. That’s why I come back. That’s why all of us come back.”
Watch his talk at wlu.edu/x54020.xml.
Studying Democracy in China
Roger Jeans found the hot, humid July weather in Lexington a bit of a shock when he returned from an out-of-town conference. His dismay is understandable, for the meeting, at which he was an invited speaker, took place in the balmy environs of Oxford, England.
Roger, the Elizabeth Lewis Otey Professor Emeritus of East Asian History, may be retired from W&L, but that just gives him more time for researching and writing. At this particular conference, An Audit of Democratic Development in the Republic of China(pdf), he discoursed on “Why Early Republican Democratic Attempts Failed.” The conference was a joint production of St. Antony’s of the University of Oxford and the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham. It drew scholars from Taiwan, China, the United Kingdom, German, France and the U.S.
Despite the shock of re-entry into a Southern summer, Roger reports, “The conference was extraordinary, and I’m glad I was invited.”
Roger also has edited a new book, which is coming out next month: “The Marshall Mission to China, 1945–1947: The Letters and Diary of Colonel John Hart Caughey.” It follows his 2009 book, “Terasaki Hidenari, Pearl Harbor, and Occupied Japan: A Bridge to Reality,” which we wrote about when it was published.
Bilingual Journalism Student Finds Her Niche at Miami Newspaper
When Killeen King started learning Spanish in the sixth grade in Richmond, Va., the Washington and Lee University rising senior probably never imagined herself with a byline on a front-page story for one of the nation’s top Spanish-language newspapers.
Three times already this summer, King has had A-1 bylines and she has written plenty of other stories for el Nuevo Herald, the sister paper to the Miami Herald, where she is spending her summer as W&L’s Todd Smith Fellow.
“It was overwhelming at first,” admitted King. “Everyone who works for el Nuevo Herald has Spanish as a first language – except for me. So there have been some intimidating moments. But everyone has helped me out. It’s been the perfect internship for me.”
King is a double major in journalism and Spanish. When she was looking for an internship earlier this year, two W&L faculty members recommended that she consider el Nuevo Herald, which is the United States’ largest Spanish-language Sunday paper and second-largest daily. As it happened, King had met the executive editor of el Nuevo Herald, Manny Garcia, when he spoke at W&L during her first year.
“I got his business card when he was at W&L but had forgotten about it,” she said. “But this made perfect sense.”
While King was looking for her internship, the W&L journalism department was restructuring the Todd Smith Fellowship. It was established in memory of 1982 graduate Todd Smith, who was murdered in Peru in November 1989 while reporting on links between Shining Path guerrillas and drug traffickers.
Smith’s colleagues at The Tampa Tribune, including then-managing editor Lawrence McConnell , a 1971 W&L graduate, provided the impetus for establishing the fellowship. They wanted to do something in his memory that acknowledged Todd’s interest in international reporting. At first, the fellowship was connected with The Tampa Tribune, the newspaper for which Smith worked. Later it was affiliated with Reuters. This year, for the first time, the fellowship was changed to support an intern at el Nuevo Herald. It was an especially timely change for King.
“The fellowship has undergone several changes over the years,” said Pamela Luecke, head of Washington and Lee’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. “We want to continue to honor Todd’s passion for international reporting, and we hope that the relationship with el Nuevo Herald will work well for both parties and that it will be a lasting partnership.”
Luecke noted that King is the first W&L student to intern with a Spanish-language newspaper, adding that it is increasingly important for students considering careers in journalism to be able to function in more than one language.
“More and more newspapers are looking for truly bilingual reporters,” Luecke said. “It’s not just in Florida, Texas and California, as was once the case. Spanish is a real boon to any journalist’s résumé.”
King said that given the bilingual nature of the Hispanic population in Miami, she conducts about 60 percent of her interviews in English and 40 percent in Spanish. The reporting, she added, is more difficult than the actual writing, even though she has an impressive background in Spanish. In addition to studying the language for 10 years, she has tutored Mexican-Americans in her hometown of Richmond, worked as a teacher’s aide in a summer school for English as Second Language students, volunteered at a Hispanic radio station, and spent a term in Spain.
“With all that experience, you still read and write the language more than you speak it,” she said. “Besides that, the dialects are so different. The Spanish that I spoke during my study-abroad term in Spain is very different from what I speak here. One of my co-workers is Salvadoran and Mexican. Sometimes I’ll hear her on the telephone talking with someone from Venezuela, for instance, and she has a hard time understanding him or her because, although they both speak Spanish, the colloquialisms are very different.”
King’s assignments have been varied. Her first page-one story was about a set of quintuplets who had been born in Miami. She was assigned to the news conference, her first ever, at the hospital when three of the five babies were released to go home.
“Being in a news conference with all the TV stations and other reporters was very different from going out and doing reporting,” King said. “But I came back, wrote the story and then worked through it with my editor, who is wonderful about helping me understand the changes he’s making.
“The next morning I picked up the NH on my way into work and saw my story on the front. It was quite a thrill. Once I got to the office, Professor (Edward) Wasserman (Washington and Lee’s Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics) was in the newsroom, which we share with The Miami Herald, and he came up to tell me that the professors back in Lexington had already been alerted to it.”
King’s other A1 stories have been a co-byline on the Miami mayoral election and a feature about the introduction of café con leche to the menus of area McDonald’s.
“That was a big deal here,” she said. “Of course, I went to a McDonald’s to get some reaction, but no one would talk with me. I finally had to wait to talk with a PR representative from McDonald’s and didn’t leave the newsroom until about midnight.”
King said she has, thus far, been undaunted by the prospect of meeting deadlines, although she had worried about that part of the reporting profession. Things only get nerve-wracking, she said, when an interview subject doesn’t get back in touch with her and the clock is ticking.
The internship has increased her desire to pursue a journalism career, and she would love to use her Spanish. “But I’ll go wherever I can get a job,” she said.
Meantime, her articles are available on el Nuevo Herald’s website, where her mother reads them every day. “She has no idea what the articles are about because she can’t read Spanish,” King said. “But she does read every one.”
Economic Consequences Huge in Debt Ceiling Standoff, Says W&L Professor
For Washington and Lee University economics professor Linda Hooks, who specializes in the study of money and banking, there is no way to overstate the potential calamity that would befall the U.S. and world economies if Congress and the president do not reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.
“From the economics perspective, the consequences are huge and deep. No one is distorting that,” said Hooks. “If the debt ceiling is not increased, the first thing we would see is a crisis in the U.S. Treasury securities market, something like we’re seeing in Greece. It would be the U.S. essentially saying that they don’t know what is going to happen with their debt any more.”
The U.S. Treasuries market, Hooks noted, is one of the largest markets and generally considered one of the most efficient. It is also a very quiet market, safe and secure because the U.S. does not tamper with its debt, as it is threatening to do in this instance.
A Pew Research Center survey, released Thursday, indicated that only 25 percent of the American public was closely following the issue of the debt-ceiling crisis. At the same time, the survey concluded that the issues are not well understood, with only 18 percent of the respondents indicating that they understand this issue very well, while another 37 percent said they understand it fairly well.
Hooks said that President Obama’s recent comments about how Social Security checks may not be available if the agreement isn’t reached might personalize the matter in ways that cause people to pay more attention.
“While it is true that the government could be forced to stop payments on all kinds of things, I see that as almost the smallest of the threats given how bad the financial market fallout could be,” Hooks said. “We just had a huge financial crisis that we’ve said is the sort that happens only once in 100 years. We don’t want two in 10 years.”
Hooks believes the odds are high that a politically feasible solution will be found, precisely because the economic consequences are so dire.
“The politics perspective makes it so hard to analyze,” she said. “There may be a lot of bluffing going on right now, and they’re going to come together and cut a deal at the last minute.
“This isn’t really rocket science. It’s pretty simple and basic. We have to either cut spending or raise revenues. It’s not that nobody knows what to do; it’s just that we don’t like our choices.”
A W&L Face at Facebook
When she was communications director for the House Democratic Caucus in 2007, Sarah Feinberg, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1999, described her résumé as a “bit schizophrenic” in an interview with Politico. The latest entry on that packed résumé is a new position at Facebook, where she will be focusing on communications about privacy, safety, security and litigation.
Sarah is the latest Facebook hire who brings Washington insider credentials to the company. In June, Joe Lockhart, former White House spokesman, became Facebook’s spokesman. In its story about Sarah’s move, The Hill wrote that Sarah’s appointment underscores the importance to Facebook of the upcoming debate over comprehensive security and privacy legislation.
Prior to this move, Sarah had been with Bloomberg L.P., where she had served as director of global communications and business strategy since May 2010. Before that, she was special assistant to President Obama and senior adviser to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. She was the chief of staff’s liaison to the Obama economic team and press and communications departments. She helped coordinate the Obama administration’s responses to the country’s fiscal and economic crisis, the H1N1 flu pandemic and the 2009 mine disaster in her native state of West Virginia.
Before joining the White House, she had worked with Emanuel at the House Democratic Caucus, where she earned a reputation as being invaluable in helping freshman members of Congress get up to speed on the issues.
You can learn more about Sarah’s impressive career, including the way she got her start in politics by campaigning for her father when he ran for the West Virginia state legislature, on the Washington Post’s Who Runs Gov website.
W&L Enjoys Record Year in Fundraising
Washington and Lee University closed the books on another successful fund-raising year in 2010-11, with $35.5 million in new gifts and pledges and the highest percentage of alumni in history donating to the University’s Annual Fund.
The Annual Fund exceeded its $7.3 million goal, recording a $400,000 increase over last year’s record-setting total. The more than $7.4 million that the Annual Fund received reflects a 5.8 percent increase over 2009-10.
University Records New Gifts of $35.5 million; Annual Fund Participation Tops 50 Percent
Overall, Washington and Lee received more than $60.8 million in cash receipts during the past fiscal year. New gifts and pledges totaled $35.5 million. The majority of the donations benefit the endowment, but they also support the general academic operating budget and the physical plant, such as the historic Colonnade. Gifts and income from previous endowments provide more than 40 percent of the University’s budget each year.
For the first time in Washington and Lee’s history, more than 50 percent of its undergraduate alumni made a gift during this past fiscal year. Over 40 percent of law alumni made gifts as well. The total number of donors-including alumni, parents and friends-making a gift to the University increased by 3 percent.
“Having more than 50 percent of Washington and Lee’s undergraduate alumni make a gift to the University is a historic milestone that we are very pleased to have reached,” said Tres Mullis, executive director of University development. “It is a tangible indicator of the level of affinity and connection that we know alumni feel toward their alma mater. As the support of alumni plays a critical role in sustaining the University each year, maintaining broad participation at 50 percent and above is a high priority.”
Every gift received in 2010-11 counts toward the University’s capital campaign, “Honor our Past, Build our Future.” To date, W&L has raised $339 million of its $500 million campaign goal.
“As President Kenneth P. Ruscio reminded us at the public launch of the campaign in October, ‘Our inheritance from the past becomes our duty to the future’,” commented Dennis Cross, vice president for University advancement. “Washington and Lee’s alumni, parents and friends showed once again this year that they want to support an institution and campus that is very important to them. They are willing to give generously to support today’s remarkable students, dedicated faculty and staff, and programs at the heart of a strong liberal arts and legal education built on integrity and character and relevant to personal and professional lives in the 21st century.”
Catering with a Conscience
Readers of the Roanoke Times on Sunday, July 10, may have noticed a familiar face and name in the Business section — Jenny Elmes, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1991. She made the news for her status as an environmentally conscious caterer.
The Q&A explains how she decided to make her business, Lexington’s Full Circle Catering, as green as possible, and how she uses as much local produce as she can find. In fact, in the summer, she says, 75 to 85 percent of the produce she uses in her recipes comes from local farms. She also patronizes a local butcher, a local dairy and a local cheesemaker (as does W&L’s Dining Services). In addition, Jenny and her staff compost nearly everything as they prepare food and clean up after a party.
The article talks about her “environmentally conscious parents” who, she says, “were just really down-to-earth, and they wanted to preserve the environment when it wasn’t a big thing.” Her father, of course, is David Elmes, professor emeritus in the W&L Psychology Department.
You can read more about Jenny’s business and philosophy, plus her advice on how to start composting, in the Roanoke Times’ article at this link.
New Editor in Arkansas
Congratulations to Washington and Lee alumnus Lindsey Millar, of the Class of 2002, who has been elevated to editor of the Arkansas Times, a weekly alternative newspaper in Little Rock.
A native of Searcy, Ark., and a history major at W&L, Lindsey has written for the Times since 2007 after holding previous positions at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Oxford American, the Little Rock Monthly and the Localist. He had most recently served as lifestyle editor for the Times and has written on a wide variety of subjects. He’s also hosted the newspaper’s Week in Review podcast.
The Arkansas Times bills itself as “Arkansas’ Newspaper of Politics and Culture.” In the newspaper’s announcement of his appointment, Lindsey was quoted as saying that he expects the newspaper to continue to grow because it is committed to covering important stories that are often ignored elsewhere.
Lucas Morel Joins Board of American Political Thought
Lucas Morel, the Lewis G. John Term Professor of Politics, has been named to the editorial board of the new interdisciplinary journal, American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture. Published by the Jack Miller Center, the journal “is concerned with classic texts and authors in the American political tradition and with key political ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.” Morel has been a member of the W&L faculty since 1999 and was appointed to the John Term Professorship in 2010. He has served as the Garwood Visiting Fellow at Princeton University and as a Supreme Court Historical Trustee.
W&L Students Win SSIR Grants
Seven Washington and Lee University seniors are pursuing research projects over the summer after winning Student Summer Independent Research (SSIR) grants from the University.
Now in its fifth year, the SSIR program complements the University’s R.E. Lee Scholars program, established in 1960. The SSIR grants underwrite students’ independent research and creative projects, with faculty serving as mentors.
“While the R.E. Lee Scholars program supports collaborative research in which students participate in and contribute to the research projects of their faculty mentors, SSIR grants are designed for more solo efforts,” said Hank Dobin, dean of the College at W&L. “The Lee Scholars’ model works well in the sciences, and SSIR is designed to focus in the humanities and arts. They allow us to support students during the summer before their senior years to pursue original projects.”
The grants-up to $3,100 each for four to 10 weeks of work-cover travel and living expenses, as well as other costs associated with the recipients’ projects. The program is funded by the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.
This year’s winners and their topics:
• Henri Hammond-Paul, English major, Nyack, N.Y.: Researching an honors thesis in English focusing on the works of Henry David Thoreau, especially considering how people in the 21st century can contextualize Thoreau’s ideas to inform their lives.
• MaKenzie Hatfield, archaeology/anthropology and geology double major, Charleston, W.Va.: Conducting soil analysis to benefit the archaeological research being conducted at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.
• Kuan Si, mathematics major, Guiyang City, China: Understanding the proof in the paper written by Diego Marques, “On the Intersection of Two Distinct k-generalized Fibonacci Sequences,” and analyzing the intersection of the Fibonacci sequence with the Tetranacci, the Pentanacci sequences and so on. Based on this, he plans to propose a conjecture and prove it.
• Chris Washnock, religion and Spanish double major, Greer, S.C.: Exploring the institutional and historical effects on selfhood and soteriology, a dual philosophical and sociological exercise.
• Morten Wendelbo, global politics major, Aabybro, Denmark: Examining and comparing the emergence of the Washington Consensus and the more amorphous Beijing Consensus, which are the foreign-policy approaches of the U.S. and China, respectively, toward the developing world.
• Stephen Wilson, politics and studio art major, Columbia, S.C.: Using photography to capture the dynamics of personal belief at Glasgow Presbyterian Church and how this affects the entire rural community.
• Carl Wolk, religion major, Danbury, Conn.: Researching an honors thesis to determine the extent to which the economic model of distributism was realized in medieval England.
Rupke Named Johnson Professor in the College
Washington and Lee University has appointed Nicolaas A. Rupke, currently of the University of Göttingen, Germany, to the Johnson Professorship in the College, where he will focus his teaching and scholarship on the intersections of leadership and the history of ideas.
Hank Dobin, dean of the College, announced Rupke’s appointment, which will be effective on Jan. 1, 2012.
This new endowed professorship is one of several University-wide initiatives funded by the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity. The Johnson Professorship in the College is one of two professorships funded by the program. The other is the Johnson Professorship in Entrepreneurship and Leadership in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, which is held by Jeffrey P. Shay.
“With the appointment of Professor Rupke will come a strong new connection across the College disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, the natural sciences and mathematics, as well as a broad international component to the curriculum,” said Dobin. “He will be a member of the Department of History and will be a wonderful addition to our faculty. We look to Professor Rupke to introduce exciting, innovative, and appealing courses to the College curriculum.”
A native of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Rupke was trained in earth sciences in Groningen (B.S.) and in marine geology at Princeton University (Ph.D.). After establishing an impressive research record in marine geology, Rupke turned his interests to the history of science, particularly to late-modern biological and physical sciences as they developed in Germany and Great Britain.
He has employed a biographical approach to historical figures in science — an approach that blends historiography and the history of ideas to show the ways in which scientific leadership is a product not only of individual genius, but also of collective ideas and institutional forces. His books include works on William Buckland, the 19th-century British geologist, and Richard Owen, British contemporary and critic of Charles Darwin and founder of the British Museum of Natural History. Rupke has also written a major book on Alexander von Humboldt, the German naturalist and explorer whose work in botanical geography laid the groundwork for the field of biogeography.
Rupke held the Nelson O. Tyrone Chair in the department of history at Vanderbilt University prior to joining the University of Göttingen, where he has also directed the Göttingen Institute for the History of Medicine and currently directs the Göttingen Institute for the History of Science. He has held distinguished research fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Oxford, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, the National Humanities Center and the Australian National University Institute for Advanced Studies. He has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of London, the Royal Historical Society, the German Academy of Science Leopoldina and the Göttingen Academy of Science.
A New Direction for Gary Franke
After a career spanning 38 seasons, 7 University presidents and 5 athletic directors, Gary Franke has stepped down as W&L’s head wrestling coach.
“I just felt like it was time,” said Franke. “I realized that the older I got, I couldn’t wrestle with the guys anymore, and it’s just become more challenging. So I was doing more of the instructing from the sidelines. I’ve also found some things that I like to do in the summer, and it felt like it was a good time to turn it over and let someone else direct the program.”
Franke’s path to W&L included a standout collegiate wrestling career at Mankato State, in his native Minnesota; Army service as an assistant wrestling coach at West Point; and a bronze medal from the 1972 World Military Games. He heard about W&L from a West Point friend of W&L’s athletic director, Bill McHenry. Each W&L coach then had two responsibilities. And so, in 1973, Franke started as head wrestling coach and assistant athletic trainer.
“I had taken an athletic training course in college,” said Franke, “and then athletic trainer Tom Jones more or less took me under his wing and introduced me to the world famous ‘Franke Tourniquet Wrap.’ “
At age 23, he was the youngest head wrestling coach in the country. After a 7-11-1 record in his first season, Franke saw his teams enjoy success in his second season, the first in five straight winning campaigns. Over his first six seasons, he led the Generals to three ODAC titles and gained two stints as ODAC Coach of the Year.
In 1979, Franke jumped all over a new challenge. He dropped his athletic-training post, learned to play tennis and became the head tennis coach. That spring, he led the Generals to the 1979 ODAC tennis title.
“It was a new learning experience for me, learning how to teach and direct,” said Franke of tennis. “In the very early years, it was kind of a trial-and-error, and I sort of developed as time went by.”
Franke recruited top-notch talent to the tennis program and went on to win 17 conference titles over the next 21 seasons, earning the conference coach of the year award nine times and being named the National Coach of the Year in 1987. His most significant accomplishment was guiding the Generals to the school’s first-ever Division III Championship in 1988.
“I didn’t know where this experience would take me,” said Franke. “One thing led to another, and we just kept bringing some outstanding players to campus who loved the game, were real competitors, who kept developing and wanted to get better.”
Despite his aces on the tennis courts, it is wrestling that has shaped and defined Franke’s career, which is twice as long as any coach in the program’s storied history. His 196 career victories are the most in program history by 118 wins. His teams claimed a .500 or better record 19 times, led by the 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams, which went a combined 24-4-1 overall. He has coached 24 Academic All-Americans and the program’s only Division III All-American, Richie Redfoot ’89.
The accomplishments of his athletes away from the courts and mats, however, have cemented Franke’s legacy. “Some are now lawyers, doctors, preachers and professors, and others are on Wall Street or serving in the military,” he said. “They have gone off to accomplish a lot.”
Franke has also left a significant mark on the sport overall. He was a volunteer assistant for the 1976 U.S. Olympic wrestling team and served on the National Wrestling Coaches Executive Committee. He worked as a wrestling official for 20 years and serves on the NCAA Division III Wrestling Committee.
“These have all been such great learning experiences for me,” noted Franke. “I look at the people that I’ve been able to meet and interact with, and I feel fortunate for the relationships. I’ve also had some tremendous experiences in learning how to promote the sport. And having a role in several rule changes on the scholastic and collegiate levels has been rewarding.”
For all the successes, Franke finds the most basic of lessons have shaped his athletes’ lives and his legacy. “When I first got to W&L, I started writing on 3×5 cards all the things that I needed to do to be a successful coach,” he recalled. The one he’s used the most reads: “To teach leadership to these young men and women and give them direction.”
“This not only applies to the mats or tennis courts,” said Franke, “but also to all aspects of their lives.”
Response to British Phone-Hacking Scandal Sets New Standard, Says W&L Professor
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s decision to shut down the British tabloid News of the World in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal sets a whole new standard for the response to a newspaper’s ethical lapse, according to Edward Wasserman, media ethics professor at Washington and Lee University.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen ethical breaches have this kind of strategic consequence,” Wasserman said, the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at W&L. “It’s a remarkable story. I’ve never seen a news organization go down in flames because it did wrong. By and large, they clean house, punish a few people, grovel to their readers, and then they go on.”
Murdoch announced he would close the 168-year-old tabloid, Britain’s best-selling newspaper, following allegations that reporters bribed police officers for information and hacked into voice-mail messages.
“This was a tremendously harmful and painful and scandalous bit of misbehavior,” said Wasserman. “It provoked an enormous expression of public revulsion over intrusive and callous disregard for the harms that could be done. These are, front and center, issues of professional ethics in journalism.”
Wasserman said that in some respects, the wonder is it took so long for the British public’s outrage to take hold. For years, he said, the reporters were undoubtedly engaging in such unethical behaviors. But the targets were rarely ordinary citizens; more often, they were members of the royal family or other famous individuals.
“It was never clear how private conversations of Prince Charles were acquired, but it can’t have been by legitimate means,” Wasserman said. “But there was not any outrage as long as ordinary people weren’t getting skewered. Then there was the case of the murdered schoolgirl whose messages were hacked and even erased. That changed everything.”
The British press, Wasserman said, has always operated with a much looser set of ethical guidelines than the U.S. press. And the British press has long viewed the U.S. media as being docile and much too worried about angering people in power. The U.S. media frowns upon a reporter bribing one’s way into a hotel or posing as an employee to gain entrance to a hospital. The British media, however, routinely engage in such behavior, he added.
Given those differences in media culture, Wasserman said, the decision to shutter the tabloid in response to these ethical breaches make it clear how far over the line the journalists had gone.
“There are other ripples to the story, of course,” he added. “There’s every reason to suspect that the scandal has given News Corp. a pretext to close a property that made less and less sense in terms of its UK market strategy, since a substantial part of the newspaper’s readership is likely to be recaptured by Murdoch’s Sun, another downmarket tablolid, which would then start publishing Sundays as well as weekdays.
“I think Murdoch’s issues with his U.S. media properties (the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the New York Post) are likely to be more political. The people at his company, News Corp., are mindful that they have some vulnerability here. So one of the reason that they moved so quickly and harshly was to stop the rot and make as powerful a statement as possible that they disapproved of what’s going on.”
Wasserman believes the scandal will strongly affect the world’s media, and that reporters who might have been tempted to dabble in such activities will recognize the potential ramifications.
At the same time, he noteed that cell-phone hacking does point to many unresolved issues related to new communications media.
“What was done in the News of the World case was so clearly over the line that it doesn’t seem, initially, to have that many lessons,” said Wasserman. “But there are some gray areas to consider. Should a reporter, for instance, log on to a person’s Facebook page, misrepresent himself or herself by using somebody else’s sign-on, to gather information? This is one of those instances where there is a certain amount of deception, but it’s not as transparently wrong as, say, wire-tapping somebody, which is plainly illegal.
“There are other areas of new media that open up where lesser degrees of deception are involved and where it’s not clearly against the law.”
Back to the Farm
Readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch got a treat on Independence Day in the form of a story about Washington and Lee alumnus James A. Tyler Jr., of the Class of 1967.
Jim is the great-grandson of President John Tyler. But he didn’t make his mark in politics. As T-D reporter Carol Hazard wrote, he worked for 42 years and 11 months at Scott & Stringfellow, the Richmond-based brokerage and investment banking firm. The firm’s chairman, S. Buford Scott, said that Jim was the longest-serving syndicate manager of any investment firm in the U.S.
But now he’s retired from that high-stress world and is working on his Charles City County farm full-time. The T-D’s story quotes Jim as saying: “I am Charles City born and bred and when I die, I will be Charles City dead.”
He grows wheat, soybeans, corn and hay for his Angus cattle and drives a 1928 Model A to church. It’s a fascinating portrait and worth the read: A farmer at heart leaves a job in the city.
Summer Construction Spruces Up W&L Campus
Washington and Lee’s campus is a hub of activity this summer, with a variety of projects underway to maintain the historic campus and enhance undergraduate teaching spaces. The work ranges from the completion of Payne Hall’s restoration, to the installation of new turf on an athletic field, to the continuing implementation of the campus landscape master plan.
“Compared with last summer, when we were undertaking significant work on the core campus, I think this summer’s projects may not appear to have the same level of impact,” said Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer. “But it is a fairly typical summer in terms of the number of projects that are underway.”
Lee House Landscape Maintenance and Improvements
More than 6,000 guests participate in University events at Lee House throughout the year, and the turf cannot withstand that level of use without extensive repairs to maintain the grass. According to Carole Bailey, construction project manager at W&L, much of the landscape has become overgrown to the point that key areas of the property were unusable.
“A number of plants are obscuring the architectural character of the Lee House, and the level of required maintenance to keep the plants in bounds increases every year,” Bailey said. “Our aim is to simplify and organize the landscape. The best of the landscape and plants from the 1992 Garden Club of Virginia efforts will be retained as the backbone of a thoughtful renovation.”
Bailey said W&L will ensure that the renewed landscape conforms to the key principles of the landscape master plan, which the University adopted in 2010, by using the best native and historically appropriate plants for the garden precinct. Siteworks Studio, in Charlottesville, created the master plan.
The University will incorporate a brick terrace into the landscape to support the large number of gatherings at the house. So doing will help avoid the constant turf maintenance required for such events.
“We will select a balanced combination of lawn, ground covers, shrubs and trees for their ability to flourish and be admired for many decades to come,” Bailey said. “We’ll magnify the success of the landscape by using plants that will be long-lived and require minimal maintenance.”
In addition to the work on the yard, repair and rebuilding of the chimneys of the historic Lee House have been underway since earlier in the summer.
The Lee House landscape work is being paid for capital funds allocated for implementation of the campus landscape master plan.
Gilliam Admissions House Landscaping and Additional Parking
One of the key areas the master plan identified for improvement was the front of the Gilliam Admissions House. This summer’s work there “is a direct result of recommendations to address inadequate and difficult-to-access visitor parking at Admissions,” said McAllister. “Siteworks quickly homed in and developed a recommended concept to resolve the issue.” Accordingly, there will be 14 new parking spaces for admissions visitors.
“We are still finalizing the designs,” Bailey said. “But we hope to have the spaces available in early fall.”
Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House
This University’s sixth sorority house is adjacent to the five houses that opened in 2000. Alpha Delta Pi will have 20 beds plus a director’s suite. It will be ready for occupancy on Aug. 1, according to Bailey.
The architects designed Alpha Delta Pi house to be almost identical to the other five houses, although there are a few differences based on changes in building codes and ADA requirements, along with the University’s commitment to seek LEED certification on its new construction and renovation projects.
“The differences will be slight,” said Bailey. “There was a great deal of attention given to parity in the design and construction in order to make sure that students all have the same kinds of resources in the house.”
Payne Hall Restoration
The Department of English will move back into Payne Hall during the week of July 25, according to Tom Kalasky, director of design and construction. Faculty and staff will discover a vastly improved building that is comparable to the 2009-2010 historic rehabilitation of Newcomb Hall.
Payne Hall is the second phase of what is now a five-phase rehabilitation and restoration of the historic Colonnade. Newcomb was completed a year ago. The Colonnade project is one of the main priorities in the University’s capital campaign, “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee.”
“The buildings on the Colonnade will have a similar feel,” said Kalasky. “Each of the buildings has its individual personality and architectural features as well as programmatic needs. But there will be a common thread with the finishes and level of amenities. It is simple but elegant. We don’t want to distract from the historic fabric of the building.”
As was the case with Newcomb, the University has incorporated all the modern academic technologies into the building, along with new mechanical, electrical and fire-prevention systems. Faculty offices have been reconfigured with increased bookshelf space and new furniture.
At the same time, much of the building’s character remains, including the original slate blackboards in the classrooms.
“When you consider that those slate blackboards are now in rooms with ceiling projectors and recessed screens and equipment to capture lectures, you have more than 100 years of technology in each of those rooms,” Kalasky said.
Washington Hall Restoration
The summer game of musical offices will get underway in mid-July, when occupants of Washington Hall move to temporary quarters in anticipation of work beginning on that project in early September.
The offices of the president, provost and the vice president for University advancement will move to the renovated Mattingly House on the corner of Washington and Lee streets. The Classics Department and the office of the dean of the College will be relocated to Baker Dorm, which has served as swing space this past year for the English Department.
Kalasky said that at present, the schedule for the Washington Hall work is September 2011 to December 2012.
“We have already developed a site logistics plan for our construction fencing and lay-down areas,” Kalasky said. “Once everyone has moved out, we will start our activities there. We hoped to have the approval of the Board of Trustees to begin on Sept. 1, but I expect that we will operate with a phased approach.”
The current cost estimate for the Washington Hall phase of the overall Colonnade project is $7.5 million.
One of the features of the Washington Hall project that will be different from either Newcomb or Payne is the building’s lobby, which features the Honored Benefactors Wall. That area contains the names of those individuals who have given $1 million or more to the University.
“Last spring, President Ruscio invited a committee to recommend a design plan for the lobby that would honor George Washington’s philanthropy to W&L, connect future support to that tradition and create a welcoming destination that reinforces the centrality of Washington Hall to the visitor and student experience,” Kalasky said.
The fourth phase of the Colonnade project, tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2013, will be the restoration of Robinson Hall.
Replacement of Turf Field
After 10 years of heavy use, the artificial surface of the W&L Turf Field is being replaced. The surface will continue to be a knitted nylon product of the sort known generically as AstroTurf. The field is home to Washington and Lee’s field hockey team and also serves as an alternate practice and game field for soccer, football and lacrosse. The University also uses it for intramurals, club sports and recreational use.
“This is a life-cycle replacement,” said Kalasky, “and the surface is what is preferred for field hockey. Although it is similar to what was on the field, it is a product made by a different company. And, in the 10 years since we first installed a turf field, there have been significant improvements in this generation of turf.”
In addition to the new surface, Kalasky said, a sprinkler system has been installed to help automate the procedure of wetting down the field prior to games.
Terry Metz Named University Librarian at W&L
Terry Metz, library director and a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., has been named University librarian at Washington and Lee University.
Metz’s appointment, announced by Robert Strong, interim provost at Washington and Lee, is effective Sept. 1. Selected at the conclusion of a national search, Metz succeeds Merrily Taylor, who retired in 2010.
As University librarian, he will be responsible for the overall administration of Leyburn Library and the Telford Science Library.
“Terry Metz is energetic, articulate and well versed in the challenges that face academic libraries at liberal arts colleges and graduate universities,” said Strong. “He will be an outstanding addition to the excellent staff who currently serve the growing and complicated information needs of our university community.”
Metz has been the library director at the U.S. Naval War College since September 2009. In that capacity, he leads the college’s Henry E. Eccles Library and the Naval Historical Collection (NHC).
Prior to his current post at the U.S. Naval War College, Metz was associate vice president, and later vice president, for library and information services at Wheaton College, in Norton, Mass. In that role he oversaw the college’s library and information technology operations. Before arriving at Wheaton, he held various positions in the library and computing units at Carleton College, Northfield, MN, including interim appointments as both college librarian and director of administrative computing.
Prior to his employment at Carleton, Metz worked as consortium manager for the Cooperating Libraries in Consortium (CLIC), a library consortium of seven private colleges and universities in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. He began his library career at Hamline University in St. Paul.
A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, Metz received his M.A. in library science from the University of Minnesota. He participated as a Frye Leadership Institute Fellow at Emory University in 2000. He has been active in the Association of College and Research Libraries, EDUCAUSE, and the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Professionally, Metz is particularly interested in issues related to integrating campus information services (e.g., libraries, information technology units, media services, etc.); developing the staff of these organizations; assessing and benchmarking library and information technology services; enhancing library and information technology support of learning, teaching, and research; and fostering collaborative library and information technology initiatives among institutions of higher education.
W&L's David Touve Discusses Wicked Problems on Virginia Insight
Washington and Lee University business administration professor David Touve discussed the concept of “wicked problems,” the subject of his recent Spring Term course, on WMRA radio’s Virginia Insight program on July 7, 2011.
In his description of the course, Touve wrote: “Simply put, the purpose of this course is to find a few ways and a few people willing to change the world.”
The concept of “wicked problems” was introduced formally in 1973 to describe problems (e.g., hunger, disease, poverty, energy shortage) that cannot be tackled with traditional problem-solving.
Touve talked about the concept and the course with Tom Graham, host of Virginia Insight, and callers to WMRA.
Braxtons Choose W&L's Michael McGuire
The morning after finishing his Winter Term finals and then driving from Lexington to his home in Easton, Md., Michael McGuire, a rising junior at Washington and Lee, got up bright and early to record a song that he hoped would earn him $2,500 and a chance to meet one of his favorite singers, Toni Braxton.
Turns out, it did.
Late last month, Michael was named the winner of We TV’s “Unbreak My Heart” Cover Contest, which is a feature of the reality TV show “Braxton Family Values.” One of the 100 videotaped entries submitted to the contest website, Michael’s version of “Unbreak My Heart” earned enough votes to get into the semifinals and, from there, into the final five finalists. Then it was up to the Braxtons to choose their favorite.
“Toni Braxton is one of my favorite singers,” says Michael, “and I was happy that she watched me.”
A journalism and Spanish double major, Michael is a member of Washington and Lee’s Chamber Singers. He also performs as a solo artist on campus. He has been playing piano and singing for private parties back in Easton since his sophomore year of high school. You can listen to him on his YouTube channel.
Getting to claim the non-cash part of the prize — the three-day, two-night trip to meet the Braxton sisters — is posing some logistical challenges. The contest stipulates that Michael will have a two-month notice about his trip. Trouble is, he is spending the Fall Term in Spain on a study abroad program, leaving on Sept. 1 and not returning until Dec. 1.
“We’re trying to work it out,” he says. “I can go at a moment’s notice.”
Click below to watch Michael’s winning video:
Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen Receives Walmart Grant
Serving more than 600 meals a week to people in the community, the students of Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University (CKWL) will take all the help they can get. The Rockbridge County-based organization recently received a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program to help them do more to fight hunger in the community.
Opened in 2006 and run by a student leadership team, CKWL is one of nine Campus Kitchen organizations dedicated to combating hunger in the local community by recovering and reusing food that would otherwise go to waste.
“This grant is going to be incredible for the Campus Kitchen operations in terms of being able to expand our reach and being able to allow our student leadership members to step up,” said Jenny Davidson, CKWL coordinator of student service-learning.
The grant, which will fund CKWL’s Weekend Backpack Snack Program as well as the purchase of a vehicle, is part of the Walmart Foundation’s commitment to spend $2 billion through 2015 to support hunger-relief efforts in the United States.
As a Feeding America food bank, CKWL already receives from Walmart around 2,000 pounds of food each week that is unrelated to the grant, including post-dated produce and meat as well as slightly damaged goods. Along with donations from the kitchens at Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, Campus Kitchen is able either to turn this food into meals, to freeze it or to donate it to other food pantries in the area, including the Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA) Food Pantry.
In 2009, W&L’s Campus Kitchen started the Weekend Backpack Snack Program, in which volunteers fill backpacks with food and deliver them to elementary schools in the area.
“The students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch are guaranteed lunch Monday through Friday at school, but when they go home we don’t necessarily know what the situation is,” Davidson said. “By sending home food Friday night, we ensure that they are at least going to have food over the weekend.”
Currently, CKWL’s backpack program operates only in Natural Bridge Elementary School and Fairfield Elementary School, but with the grant money the organization hopes to expand to the rest of the elementary schools in Rockbridge County.
“The backpack program is different than the other things we do with the Campus Kitchen because there isn’t nearly as much interaction with clients,” Davidson said. “One of our favorite things is taking a hot meal, serving and getting to know the kids at an after-school program, or adults at one of our partner agencies.”
The purchase of a vehicle for the organization, which it would use to pick up and deliver food, would be invaluable, Davidson said. While there are 18 members of the student leadership team for the organization, many don’t have their own cars. A vehicle will allow students to cover shifts on their own and take on more responsibility.
Cy Twombly '53, 1928-2011
Famed artist Edwin Parker “Cy” Twombly Jr., who died today in Rome at the age of 83, attended Washington and Lee for only one academic year — 1949-1950. But he and the University (and the city of Lexington, too) had a much deeper history than that single year suggests.
Born and raised in Lexington, Cy Twombly was the son of a Washington and Lee athletic legend. His father, Cy Sr., who took his nickname from major league pitcher Cy Young, was a major leaguer himself who was rumored to have once struck out Babe Ruth. He coached and taught at W&L for more than 50 years, including 39 as the swim coach. He was athletic director from 1954 to 1968 and coached golf beyond his retirement. The University’s swimming pool is named in his honor.
Cy Jr. was born in Lexington in 1928. In an article in the Spring 2007 issue of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, Pamela H. Simpson, Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History at W&L, writes that his mother, Velma, gave Cy Jr. a book on Picasso when he was 12, and that he knew from that point on that he wanted to be a painter. He created a copy of the painting on the book’s cover, Pam writes, and his parents were so impressed that they arranged lessons with Pierre Daura, the modern artist who had moved here from Spain. (Here is a pdf of the Shenandoah article.)
After graduating from Lexington High School, Cy entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. But when Marion Junkin ’27 founded the art department at W&L in 1949, Cy Sr. told his son to come back to Lexington and study at the University.
“Cy was here for the first year that the program was running,” Pam said. “Junkin told me that Cy was so advanced when he got him that he couldn’t do very much but give him a place to work and encouragement and direction.”
During his year at W&L, Cy worked as an editorial assistant on two issues of Shenandoah, which published two of his paintings. Tom Wolfe ’51 was one of the magazine’s editors.
When he left W&L, Cy went to the Art Students League in New York, partly with a grant that Junkin had helped him get from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He also studied at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, and won the Virginia Museum Traveling Scholarship in 1952, using it to visit Italy and North Africa.
Although several of the obituaries that began showing up on line Tuesday indicate that Cy had “settled permanently” in Italy, Lexingtonians know better. The fact is that Cy had owned a home not far from the W&L campus since the early 1990s. He had built a studio behind it and spent springs and summers in Lexington.
“Cy was a delight,” Pam Simpson said. “I saw him regularly, as did many others here in Lexington. He loved to go look around town at everyone’s art and talk about it with them.”
In her Shenandoah article, Pam recalls the time that Cy showed up without warning in her office one day. “He sat down on my couch and pulled several books from my bookshelf and began to page through them,” she wrote. “We chatted about the books for a while and then he got up and wandered off.”
Pam also notes that for a time, Cy helped Harry Pemberton, philosophy professor emeritus, with a class on aesthetics, but he didn’t want to be pinned down to any regular schedule.
Cy received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from W&L in 1993. The citation read, in part: “For the last forty years Cy Twombly has been delighting, and occasionally puzzling art audiences with his work. An internationally famed painter, he is, nonetheless, equally well known locally as the son of E.P. ‘Cy’ Twombly Sr. . . . Often classified as a ‘second-generation Abstract Expressionist,’ his work, like that of his friends Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, has pushed the limits of that definition. The canvas for him has been a writing surface in which he has explored with a remarkably subtle calligraphic gesture the nature of signs and memory. It is poetic and elusive marking that dissolves and re-emerges like memory itself. These graffiti-like scrawls, scribbles, and notations form an all-over pictographic ensemble that has earned him lasting fame.”
Here are links to several of Cy Twombly’s obituaries (some articles may require registration):
New York Times: American Artist Who Scribbled a Unique Path
New York Times: Cy Twombly, Idiosyncratic Painter, Dies at 83
New York Times: The Art of Cy Twombly (slide show)
The New Yorker: Remembering Cy Twombly
Wall Street Journal: Painter Drew Upon Mythology for Singular Abstract Images
Washington Post: Cy Twombly, influential Va.-born abstract artist, dies at 83
The Telegraph: Cy Twombly
Guardian: Knockout. Hero. Genius: Cy Twombly
Los Angeles Times: Cy Twombly dies at 83; internationally renowned American artist
San Francisco Chronicle: Cy Twombly, known for signature scrawl, dies at 83
National Public Radio: Artist Cy Twombly Dies At 83
Roanoke Times: World-class Lexington artist Cy Twombly dies in Rome
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Painter Cy Twombly dies at 83
PBS Newshour: American Painter Cy Twombly Dies at 83
Alumna, W&L Knitters Comfort Nairobi Kids
Paige Smith, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2006, is spending the summer in Nairobi, Kenya, working with impoverished children. In her luggage are handmade gifts for the kids from a Lexington organization that includes many W&L employees, and from the mother of a new graduate.
Paige made her first visit to Africa last year with a group from her Hollywood, Calif., church. In Nairobi, they work with local organizations that care for impoverished residents of the Kibera slum. As she wrote to Cathy McElhannon, administrative assistant in the W&L Department of Theater and Dance, “The main focus of these organizations is to care for orphans, teens and widows affected by poverty and AIDS, by providing everything from meals to schooling to developing sustainable businesses.” Paige writes about her work and travel on her blog, which you can read here.
Cathy had contributed to Paige’s 2010 trip and wanted to help again this year. Having learned of comfort dolls, small, hand-knit toys that donors make and send to children around the world, Cathy asked Paige if her group would like to take some along to Nairobi. “The response was an enthusiastic yes,” Cathy tells us, “and she said they would need 350 by the first of July.”
That was in May. So Cathy swiftly enlisted her fellow members of WiNKS (the Wednesday Night Knitting Society), which includes about 12 W&L employees and alumna Liz O’Byrne, a member of the Class of 2000 who lives in the area. “With each doll taking three to four hours to complete,” reports Cathy, “our needles started clicking furiously in May. On June 22, we reached our goal of 350 dolls.”
But wait—there was one more contributor. At the end of May, Cathy had as houseguests Nela and Alex Bratu, the parents of Cristina Bratu, who were visiting from Romania to celebrate Cristina’s graduation from W&L. (Her sister Becky is a 2009 graduate.) “They couldn’t help but notice the 200-plus comfort dolls lined up on the fireplace hearth,” says Cathy. Nela Bratu, a schoolteacher, had Alex Bratu translate a pattern from English into Romanian, and she knit a doll before she left. “It is her hope that she will be able to teach her students to knit,” reports Cathy, “so they can make comfort dolls for the many children who live in orphanages in Romania.”
When Becky Bratu arrived for the festivities and heard about the project, she added to the story one more detail: she and Paige Smith, the impetus for the whole thing, had been good friends when they were students.