Feature Stories Campus Events

Légion d'Honneur for Gerry Lenfest '53, '55L

In a ceremony earlier this month at the American Revolution Center in Philadelphia, His Excellency,  Ambassador of France to the United States François Delattre, presented Washington and Lee alumnus and benefactor Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L, with the Insignia of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, commonly known as the Legion of Honor.

Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 in recognition of outstanding military and civil achievements, the Legion of Honor is France’s highest award and one of the most coveted distinctions in the world. While the Legion of Honor may be awarded to foreigners, such recognition is rare.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Delattre praised Gerry as “an excellent friend of France” whose achievements in commerce and culture have positively impacted the lives of countless citizens of the city of Philadelphia, of the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. He paid tribute to Gerry for his work as a successful businessman, as a philanthropist and as “an enthusiastic francophile.”

“There is within you a fascination with life, about its potential for creation and invention, about its ability to evolve and go beyond,” the ambassador said of Gerry. You can read the ambassador’s remarks in their entirety on the French embassy’s website.

In addition to the ambassador, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and Gerry both made remarks at the event.

Adam Schwartz Credentialed as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Adam Schwartz, the Lawrence Term Associate Professor of Business Administration in Washington and Lee’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, has been credentialed as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

He took three levels of exams over an 18-month period to achieve the CFA, a self-study program for people interested in learning more about investments. An article in Bloomberg Businessweek describes the qualification as “the gold standard of the investment management field, and those who have the credential are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the investment industry, with many going on to careers as portfolio managers or research analysts at hedge funds and private equity firms.”

The CFA allows Schwartz to offer five CFA scholarships per year to reduce the costs of W&L seniors enrolling in the CFA program. W&L seniors can sit for the level 1 exam immediately after graduation. After achieving all three levels of exams, they can then apply for a charter.

Details of the CFA scholarships can be found here.

Two W&L Law School Professors on NPR Today

Two members of Washington and Lee’s School of Law are sharing their expertise with National Public Radio listeners today.

Jon Shapiro, professor of practice, was interviewed for a Morning Edition story about the decision by the “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to fire his lawyers and represent himself. Shapiro discussed general issues of self-representation, including Shapiro’s own work on the case of accused D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad.

The story, including audio, is available on the Morning Edition site.

Meantime, Michelle Drumbl, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” as part of a panel that discussed whether the current tax debate includes class warfare. Drumbl is a former staff attorney in the Chief Counsel’s Office of the Internal Revenue Service.

She was joined on the live, call-in program by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, professor of history and the Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, and Chris Saxman, conservative political activist and former chair of the Cost Cutting Caucus in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The audio from that program is below. Drumbl is introduced at the nine-minute mark in the show.

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John Jensen Named Assistant Dean in W&L’s Williams School

John Jensen, currently a director of global equities for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has been appointed assistant dean in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics at Washington and Lee University.

Larry Peppers, dean of the Williams School, announced Jensen’s appointment, which is effective Dec. 15, 2011.

A 2001 graduate of Washington and Lee, Jensen will work with faculty and deans of the Williams School to coordinate a variety of student-centered initiatives encompassing co-curricular programs, professional development, internships, alumni outreach and international opportunities.

“We are especially pleased to appoint someone with John’s experience in business and liberal arts, his links to Washington and Lee, and his demonstrated passion for working with students and faculty,” Peppers said.

Jensen has been with Bank of America Merrill Lynch for 10 years, first in London and most recently in New York, as a sales trader covering European and Canadian institutions. He recruited interns for Bank of America from many of the country’s top colleges and also recruited W&L students to the firm.

A European history major at W&L, Jensen has been an active alumnus on behalf of the University in New York.  He served as vice president of the New York City alumni chapter, chaired the New York City Fancy Dress committee, and belonged to the Alumni Admissions Program. He has been a class agent for five years and is currently co-chairing his 10th reunion committee.

Jensen and his wife, Lauren Stearns Jensen, a 2002 W&L graduate, have two children: Jack, 4, and Grace, 3 months.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459

Mike Allen, Member of the New Establishment

The October 2011 issue of “Vanity Fair” magazine contains its annual list of movers and shakers, “The New Establishment and the Powers that Be: 2011.” At Number 39 in the 50-person list of the New Establishment, right in there with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder; Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon; and J.K. Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, is a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1986: Mike Allen, the chief White House correspondent for “Politico.”

While Mike didn’t get a full-page portrait like entertainer Lady Gaga, or even half a page, like satirist Stephen Colbert, he did get a succinct entry mentioning his “considerable digital cred” and “more than 35,000 fellow tweeters.”

“Vanity Fair” has been publishing the list since 1994, focusing at first on what it calls “a fascinating new breed of buccaneering visionaries and entrepreneurs from the entertainment, communications, and computer industries.” Now it examines “their successors, who are, more often than not, engineering prodigies, founders of their companies, and frightfully young.”

We blogged about Mike earlier this year, when he asked Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell about appearing at the 2012 Mock Con. You can read that entry here.

Gift Establishes New W&L Professorship to Honor Pamela H. Simpson

Washington and Lee University is honoring longtime art history professor Pamela H. Simpson with a professorship in her name. An anonymous gift from a current parent established the professorship, providing the University with the opportunity to recognize a distinguished individual important to the life and history of the institution.

The Pamela H. Simpson Professorship will be held by a member of the undergraduate faculty who, like Simpson, exemplifies the highest standards of teaching, scholarship, and service.

The anonymous gift of $1.25 million was matched by the Lenfest Challenge for Faculty Support to create the $2.5 million endowment.

“It’s an understatement to say that this is a fitting tribute,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Throughout her 38-year tenure at W&L, Pam has been the embodiment of W&L’s teacher-scholar model.

“Pam is among the most important and prominent figures in its recent history and perhaps through the life of the institution.”

Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History, joined the W&L faculty in 1973. She was the University’s first female tenure-track professor and the first female professor to receive an endowed chair. She has paved the way for women faculty at W&L, mentoring them and serving as a role model. She has received recognition for her effectiveness in the classroom with several major awards, including an Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia State Council on Higher Education in 1995, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Southeast College Art Conference (SECAC) in 2010.

In a recommendation for the SECAC award, Simpson’s colleague, George Bent, professor of art history, observed that Simpson’s dedication had caused all members of the department “to show same brand of commitment to the personal growth and intellectual development of each and every student who wanders into our corridors.”

During her tenure, she has served as head of the Department of Art and Art History on two occasions, and as assistant and then associate dean of the College from 1981 through 1986. From 1984 to 1986, she chaired the Coeducation Steering Committee, which implemented the University’s decision to admit women.

A graduate of Gettysburg College, she received her M.A. in art history from the University of Missouri and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware. She is the author of the 1999 book Cheap, Quick and Easy: Imitative Architectural Materials, 1870-1930, and is co-author with the late Royster Lyle Jr. of The Architecture of Historic Lexington. In addition, she has authored numerous exhibition catalogues, articles in both the academic and popular press, and book reviews.

She has been a popular speaker at academic conferences, for lay audiences and to W&L alumni chapters. She has given many talks on the architecture of Lexington to groups in Lexington and Rockbridge County.

The Simpson Professorship is the 15th professorship established through the Lenfest Challenge, a key component of Washington and Lee’s current $500 million campaign, “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future,” which aims to raise $122 million to recruit, retain and develop exceptionally qualified faculty and staff. In 2007, W&L alumnus Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L, issued a $33-million challenge grant to improve compensation for the University’s faculty. The University has completed that challenge by raising more than $33.6 from alumni, parents, and friends.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459

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W&L's Ikeda Speaking on Japanese Language Study

Janet Ikeda, associate professor of Japanese at Washington and Lee, will be participating on a panel in October, “Advancing the Study of Japanese,” with representatives from Southern Methodist University, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Asia Society as part of a program sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council.

The conference is titled “Innovate, Educate, Collaborate: Moving Forward the U.S.-Japan Partnership” and will feature a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The panel on which Ikeda will participate will explore the issue of expanding Japanese language programs at both the secondary and university levels by looking at ongoing efforts to promote Japanese instruction in comparison to other quickly expanding and widely studied Asian languages.

W&L’s Futrell, Gregory Discuss Leadership on WMRA

Tammy Futrell, associate dean of students at Washington and Lee University, and J. Brodie Gregory, visiting professor of psychology at W&L and a member of the Class of 2003, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on Monday, Sept. 26. They discussed issues of leadership, including whether young American women are less willing to seek out leadership positions, as a new study suggests.

Listen to audio of the program below:

W&L Student Poses A Top Question in Debate

When the Republican Presidential candidates held their most recent debate in Orlando, Florida, some of the questions were submitted via YouTube — and Washington and Lee sophomore Yates Wilburn, from Hilton Head, S.C., was one of the questioners.

Fox News and Google received almost 19,000 questions from around the world, and more than 100,000 votes were cast to determine which questions would be asked during the debates. Yates’s question was one of the top vote-getters and was one of about a dozen of the submitted questions actually used during the debate.

As you’ll see on the YouTube video below, Yates asked: “Would you support some form of a federal right-to-work law, allowing all workers whether or not to join a union.” The question was posed to Rick Santorum.

W&L Wellness Program Offers Increased Incentive to Participants

At Washington and Lee University, getting — and staying — healthy is proving to be worth the effort, and the value has just gone up.

As a way to increase participation in Live Well, the University’s wellness program, employees who choose to participate will now receive a $50 per month discount on their health insurance premiums. Couples receive a $75 discount.

“We had close to 50 percent participation in the wellness program this past year and 30 percent of employees earned the incentive. But with this larger incentive we hope to improve that number significantly. Our goal is to get 80 percent of employees participating,” said Amy Barnes, executive director of human resources at W&L.

The Live Well program is available for all employees, whether or not they participate in the University’s health insurance program. And there are rewards for those employees, too. “We’ll raffle some prizes for people who are not covered by W&L’s health insurance but who participate in Live Well and meet their goals,” said Mary Katherine Snead, assistant director for work/life initiatives.

According to Barnes, W&L has developed a program that is more likely to be found at a much larger college or university. “This is very unusual for a small liberal arts college. In fact, a lot of other liberal arts colleges are interested in hearing about our program,” she said.

To receive the health insurance premium discount, participants need to accumulate 300 points through Live Well during the year. Points can be earned in a variety of ways.

“The largest number of points comes from doing the biometric screening and the health risk assessment, which anyone can and should do,” said Barnes. “That accounts for 150 points, or half the total. Then there are lots of options for getting the other 150 points.”

Some of those points can come from preventive care, such as visiting the dentist or eye doctor, or getting a mammogram for women, or a PSA test for men. “Those sorts of visits should be routine,” said Snead. “But this serves as an incentive.”

Snead noted that Live Well is also designed so that people who are not physically able can gain points with options such as seminars, supplemental questionnaires and online courses.

For those who want to be more active, they can set their own personal goals through a health professional at Viverae, the company W&L has partnered with on the Live Well initiative. “Viverae provides the educational resources, online programs and webinars, the things we wouldn’t be able to provide in-house because we lack expertise in those areas,” said Snead.

Barnes noted that the University has an advantage over some other employers by virtue of its facilities. “We have the fitness center, walking trails and a pool. So we have the basics to do a program like this,” she said.

In order to help guide the program, W&L receives aggregate information from Viverae, although individual data are never shared. “This past year’s biometric screenings and health scores indicated that activity levels were lower than they could be and high cholesterol levels were an issue. This information helps us provide more targeted health information in building our program, rather than just guessing, which is what we were doing beforehand,” said Snead.

One major difference in W&L’s wellness program is that it includes spouses in the incentives. “Including spouses is not typical of most places,” said Barnes. “But while it costs Washington and Lee additional money, we are willing to pay to get more spouses involved. One bonus is that if both the employee and spouse are living a healthy lifestyle then that affects the children and makes them healthier.”

“It’s also a lot easier to make changes to your lifestyle if your spouse or partner is on board,” Snead pointed out.

Barnes noted that W&L can afford to offer the health discount incentive because the university received a two percent decrease in its health insurance premiums this year. “That’s pretty rare,” she said. “We expected and budgeted for a 10 percent increase, based on previous years. But instead of simply putting that money back into the operating budget, President Ruscio and Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer, were willing to put it back into the wellness program so we could really increase incentives and thereby increase participation.”

Barnes noted that there is a clear connection between the lowering of premiums and the presence of an effective wellness program. “The insurance company knows W&L has a wellness program and is anticipating that our population is going to be healthier,” she said. “So while Live Well represents a substantial outlay of money, the expectation is that there will be a return on that investment. Studies show that each dollar invested in wellness programs saves three dollars in health care costs.”

W&L has 850 benefit-eligible employees, and Snead estimated that between 350 and 400 employees took part this past year. “It’s a great program,” she said, “and we encourage people to participate.”

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director