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.

Related //
Tagged //

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

Related //,
Tagged //

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

NSF Grant Funds Replacement Electron Microscope at W&L

An award of $355,319 from the National Science Foundation will allow Washington and Lee University to replace its much-used but outdated scanning electron microscope with a state-of-the art version.

“The existing machine works well for teaching purposes,” said Jeffrey Rahl, assistant professor of geology at W&L and principal investigator for the grant application, “but in terms of producing publishable cutting edge research, it’s too old. The new equipment will have capabilities that are much more powerful than our current microscope.”

The grant application describes the new variable pressure scanning electron microscope (SEM) as a powerful analytical tool that will enable detailed analyses of materials too small to be resolved with standard light microscopes.

Rahl noted that the sciences at Washington and Lee have a strong record of involving undergraduates in important scientific research. “We need the new SEM for faculty to fully realize their potential in existing lines of research as well as launching new endeavors that enhance the training of undergraduate researchers. There are some great opportunities across the sciences for W&L students to get involved with really exciting research that’s pushing things forward and could potentially lead to publishable work,” he said.

At least nine courses across four departments will use the SEM in laboratory courses, including geology, physics and engineering, chemistry and biology. Rahl expressed his appreciation for the help he received from the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations as well as from faculty who wrote descriptions of their research and teaching applications. They included Ken Van Ness, in physics and engineering, the co-principal investigator for the application, who wrote about his research into the characterization of novel polymers. In the geology department, Lisa Greer wrote about her research into climate change and coral reefs, and David Harbor described his study of weathering rates and landscape evolution. Erich Uffelman from the chemistry department wrote about how he will use the new SEM in his chemical analysis of materials in art paintings.

Newly-developed areas of research that require the new SEM technology include Rahl’s own research on zircon fission-track dating of exhumation in the Appalachians, Robert Humston’s study of fish ecology in the biology department, and Dan Mazilu’s research of the characterization of anti-reflection coatings in the physics and engineering department.

“I’m very excited about the research and educational impact the new SEM will have at Washington and Lee,” said Rahl. “It’s going to make a huge impact on our curriculum and I think it will get a lot of use because it’s a really powerful and flexible tool.”

The new SEM is expected to arrive on campus early next year. It will initially be placed in the Science Center, but the long term plan is for it to form part of a suite of instruments in the planned Integrative Quantitative Science Center (IQ Center), which will promote student and faculty collaborations both within and between departments at W&L and at several neighboring institutions.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Related //,
Tagged //

Law of Slavery and Washington College Lecture Topic

On Thursday, Sept. 29, distinguished legal historian Alfred Brophy will deliver the 2011 Hendricks Lecture in Law and History. The topic of Prof. Brophy’s talk is “The Jurisprudence of Slavery, Freedom, and Union at Washington College, 1831-1861.”

The lecture will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

In his talk, Prof. Brophy will discuss the ideas about law and constitutionalism at Washington College—and in Lexington more generally — in the thirty years leading into Civil War. He details the shift from Enlightenment ideas about freedom —even if circumscribed by economic reality — to the reluctant embrace of slavery, because it was part of the Constitution.

In contrast with Virginia Military Institute, where pro-slavery and pro-secession ideas were more prevalent, Brophy argues that at Washington College there were a wide range of ideas related to Union, slavery, utility, sentiment, Republicanism, and constitutionalism.  He says Washington College and Lexington emerge as important formulators of the Southern response to changes in the United States in the years leading into Civil War, as Southerners discussed the mandates of jurisprudence and constitutionalism and the future of slavery and Union.

“I’m very excited that Professor Brophy will be delivering this year’s Hendricks lecture,” said W&L law professor and legal history scholar David Millon, who will introduce Prof. Brophy. “Drawing on unexpected and generally overlooked sources, Professor Brophy’s lecture promises to shed interesting and important light on thinking about law, property rights, and slavery at Washington College during the decades leading up to the Civil War.”

Al Brophy is the Judge John J. Parker distinguished professor of law at the University of North Carolina and the author of Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921 (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Reparations Pro and Con (Oxford University Press 2006), co-author of Integrating Spaces: Property Law and Race (Aspen 2011), and co-editor of Transformations in American Legal History: Essays in Honor of Morton Horwitz (Harvard 2009 and 2010). He is completing a study of jurisprudence in the old south, tentatively titled University, Court, and Slave.  It focuses on academics’ writings and those of judges and politicians.  Washington College and VMI loom large in that study.

“I’m extraordinarily honored to be in the company of the three distinguished senior scholars who have delivered the Hendricks lecture in previous years,” said Brophy. “And I’m delighted to have the chance to talk about the extraordinarily rich records at Washington and Lee’s archives, from debates of the literary societies, to landscape art, to graduation addresses, and how we can recover the sophisticated ideas about law and constitutionalism in circulation there.  We can see our country’s struggle over slavery and Union in microcosm in Lexington.  The ideas discussed and promulgated here helped shape our nation’s course.”

The Law and History lecture series was endowed by alumnus Pete Hendricks (’66A, ’69L), who has a private practice in Atlanta specializing in land use zoning and government permitting. A history major himself, Hendricks also endowed the Ollie Crenshaw Prize in History at the University several years ago in honor of his favorite professor.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
(540) 458-8782

Related //
Tagged //

More Honors for Uri Whang '13

It’s been a memorable few months for Uri Whang, a Washington and Lee junior from Collierville, Tenn., near Memphis.

First, she won a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace 2001. With that grant, Uri established a program called Benefitting All Children in Korea, or BACK. Her goal is to help North Korean refugees better integrate into South Korean society by focusing on educating North Korean children and adults. The project recruits bright American students studying or working in Seoul to mentor and tutor North Korean refugees.

Uri’s goal is to see her project grow into a non-profit comparable to Teach for America. As she has noted, learning English is critical for the refugees, since South Korea requires it to be taught in public schools, and a knowledge of English is essential to finding jobs in Seoul. Uri is interested in North Korean refugees, at least in part, because her grandparents escaped from North Korea and made their way to Seoul during the Korean War.

Uri began developing BACK while she was spending the Winter Term abroad on the Seoul Arts and Sciences Program sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). After finishing, she stayed in Seoul for the summer to get BACK going.

Uri’s work so impressed the resident staff of her study-abroad program that she was nominated for, and won, the CIEE Student Recognition Award. She’ll go to New Orleans in November to receive the award at the CIEE Conference.

You can read Uri’s own description of her experiences on A Day in the Life, which chronicles the work of Uri and other winners of Johnson Opportunity Grants.

JAG Corps Honors W&L Alum Mike Holifield

Navy Cmdr. Michael C. Holifield, a 1989 graduate of Washington and Lee, was nominated for the 2011 Outstanding Career Armed Services Attorney Award for outstanding achievement. He received the recognition for the superior performance of his duties as a Navy judge advocate while assigned as staff judge advocate, Navy Region Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.  In 19 years of Navy service, Mike has performed 15 assignments, which have garnered him many awards and honors. He has also helped train more than 100 judge advocates.

After graduating from W&L with a degree in philosophy, Mike went on to the Indiana University School of Law, where he earned his J.D. Mike’s particular expertise is in the law of the sea, and he is head of the Law of the Sea Department for the Office of the Judge Advocate General. In November 2009, Mike spoke on that topic at an event hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts and Belmont University.

You can watch Mike’s presentation on the short YouTube video below:

W&L to Screen Documentary on New York Times

Washington and Lee University will hold two screenings of “Page One,” the 90-minute documentary about a year in the life of The New York Times on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 26 and 27, at 7 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.

The movie is free and open to the public.

On Sept. 26, the screening will be followed by a short panel discussion with three faculty from W&L’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. The panelists will be
Douglas Cumming, associate professor of journalism; Toni Locy, Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting; and Glenn Proctor, former editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and this term’s Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Directed by Andrew Rossi, the film had its premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The Times provided the filmmakers with unprecedented access to the newsroom for a year.

One of the film’s reviewers, Eric Kohn of Indiewire, wrote that “Rossi captures the minutiae of the newsroom, from the rapid transcription of interviews to the rush of deadlines, as if observing an Olympic sport.”

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Elrod Commons are sponsoring the screenings.

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

Examining 1960

The Amazon description of G. Scott Thomas’s new book, A New World to Be Won, reads this way: “In 1960, Pat Robertson created the Christian Broadcasting Network, an issue of Time magazine describes the drug LSD as a useful ‘facilitating agent’ for therapy, and smokers in the United States bought nearly one million cigarettes every minute in that year—truly ‘a different time.’ Yet many aspects of what we take for granted in modern American culture were birthed in that critical year over half a century ago.”

Scott, a member of the Class of 1977, examines the many ways in which that year, 1960, represented a turning point in American life. The book, Scott’s eighth, will be released on Sept. 30 and is published by Praeger. (You can pre-order it on Amazon now.)

Organized chronologically, with each chapter a different month, one of the key themes running throughout the book is the political battles leading up to John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon for the presidency. Scott makes the point that, when you factor Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson, into the mix, these three men — Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon — would rule the U.S. from 1961 to 1974 “elevating America to rhetorical peaks and plunging it to the depths of despair.”

Scott, who majored in journalism and communications, is projects editor for a national chain of business publications, American City Business
Journals. He writes ACBJ’s daily demographics blog, On Numbers, which uses data to provide a daily glimpse of American society with recent stories highlighting the communities with the richest populations and citing the minor league baseball teams with the highest attendance.

His previous titles includes Advice From the Presidents (2008), Leveling the Field: An Encyclopedia of Baseball’s All-Time Great Performances as Revealed Through Scientifically Adjusted Statistics (2002), The United States of Suburbia (1998), The Rating Guide to Life in America’s Fifty States (1994), Where to Make Money (1993), The Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities (1990), and The Pursuit of the White House (1987).

Wendelbo, Patterson Honored as Generals of the Month

Washington and Lee University students Morten Wendelbo and Cortney Patterson will be recognized at the first Generals of the Month presentation of the academic year on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 12 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Wendelbo, a senior from Aalborg, Denmark, is majoring in global politics with a minor in environmental studies. He was a Bonner Leader and finished 900 hours of community service to graduate the Bonner Program in October. He is a recipient of a Summer Student Independent Research (SSIR) grant for independent thesis research. In 2010 he was a nominee for Volunteer of the Year and Visionary of the Year both with Campus Kitchens Project (CKP), nationally. Wendelbo also has been a student coordinator of the Campus Garden and was a R.E. Scholar for Prof. Tyler Dickovick.

Patterson, a senior from Kansas City, Mo., is double majoring in politics and psychology. She is the president of Adopt-a-Classroom Literacy Campaign and has worked with Adopt-a-Classroom for four years; she has been a peer tutor since fall 2010; and has been the president and vice president for membership of Kappa Delta sorority. Patterson also is currently the Missouri State Chair for Mock Convention 2012.

Generals of the Month is coordinated by the Celebrating Student Success (CSS) initiative and sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs to inspire engaged citizenship at Washington and Lee University. CSS seeks to recognize students who are not typically or sufficiently touted for the depth and breadth they add to our campus community.

Wendelbo and Patterson were selected by the CSS Committee, which is composed of students, faculty and staff. Any member of the campus community can nominate a W&L student at any time with the online form at go.wlu.edu/css.

Future CSS presentations during the 2011-2012 academic year will be during lunch in the Marketplace in the Elrod Commons on Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Dec. 7, Jan. 25, Feb. 15, Mar. 21, Apr. 11 and May 9.

Drink Local Water

W&L’s University Sustainability Committee (USC) has provided all new students — both undergraduate and law — with a stainless-steel water bottle, emblazoned with a “Drink Local Water” logo, as part of the committee’s promotion of sustainability on the Washington and Lee campus.

The USC aims to educate not only entering students but also returning students, faculty and staff about the advantages of tap water over bottled. The accompanying materials note the connection between the health of the Maury River and the water that campus community members drink and shower with.  Lexington’s water comes from the Maury River upstream of Lexington. The Maury Service Authority’s water-treatment plant filters, chlorinates and fluoridates the water and distributes it to Lexington and portions of Rockbridge County.  The E.P.A. sets water-quality standards that municipal water systems must meet, and reports on Lexington’s water are public.

According to the USC, the cost of local water in Lexington, including sewer charges, starts at 1 cent per gallon and increases with higher consumption.  By comparison, bottled, imported Fiji water costs $7.54 per gallon.

The Drink Local Water program is related to the local-food movement that W&L’s Dining Services has championed and for which it continues to gain statewide recognition. W&L will join the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, the Virginia Food System Council and the Virginia Cooperation Extension as co-hosts of the 2nd Virginia Food Security Summit, to be held in December at U.Va.’s Alumni Hall. More details will be available closer to the event.

W&L Professor Predicts Advantages to New Patent Law

The new America Invents Act, signed into law last week by President Obama, will have a substantial impact on the pace of innovation in the country, according to Alan C. Marco, a Washington and Lee University economics professor who specializes in intellectual property rights.

Much of the media coverage of the new law focused on the change in the way the U.S. will award patents to inventors from a first-to-invent basis to a first-to-file basis.

Marco, who spent a recent leave as an expert adviser with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), said that while the shift is important, he believes it is even more significant that the patent office will now be able to set its own fees and manage its own budget.

“Allowing the director of the patent office to set fees will permit them to take those fees and invest them in more patent examiners and better technology that will hopefully improve quality and speed of the process,” said Marco. “The PTO will still be required to be revenue-neutral, in the sense that it must set aggregate fees to recover its long-run costs.”


This part of the new act will, Marco said, help address the growing backlog, which has meant that it takes inventors seeking a patent up to three years to get the first decision and as long as five years to get the patent grant. Since the patent term runs from the date of application, examination delay effectively shortens the period where patent holders can recoup their research costs.”

In addition, Marco said that by now allowing the patent office to set its own fees rather than having to seek permission from Congress, the fees will be set in what he calls a “rational way from an economist’s perspective.”

Said Marco: “It enables the patent office to establish fees that are more in line with consumers’ interests and with innovation.”

Meanwhile, the shift from the first-to-invent standard to a first-to-file brings the U.S. more closely in line with the rest of the world.

“We are not adopting the same system of first-to-file that is the case in the rest of the world,” noted Marco. “Instead, we are adopting the first inventor to file. That’s a significant difference.”

“In the past in the U.S., it had been first-to-invent. So if there was a question about whether or not you were the first to invent, that could be a pretty painstaking and bureaucratic process. Now it is the first inventor who files. If there are multiple inventors, the first one to file is the one who gets the patent. We won’t have people sitting on the sidelines, grabbing an idea and still getting a patent. Furthermore, the new system means that inventors have an incentive to bring their ideas forward in published applications. That information benefits everyone.”

Marco said some people fear that this new system will prove a disadvantage for small inventors as opposed to large companies since the small, individual inventor with the same resources of a big company may have a harder time getting to the office as fast.

The new act provides tactics that small inventors can use, Marco said. There are, for instance, provisional applications that serve as placeholders for 12 months without having to be fully developed patent applications.

“I think the ability of small inventors to use those provisional applications really handles a lot of problems with the first-to-file system,” Marco said.

In addition, there is now a fast track that will allow, at the outset, 10,000 applicants to pay a higher fee but get a guaranteed 12-month response for the first decision.

“For those who are worried about the backlog and delay, this provides an opportunity for them to get quick responses. This could be important for big firms, but this can be vitally important for small entrepreneurial firms that are seeking venture capital funding,” Marco noted. “When venture capitalists are looking at small startups, one of the things that they are interested in as a signal of the quality of their inventions is patents. This can be really important in gaining funding. It is a higher fee but not something that would be prohibitive to a smaller firm.”

Marco also noted that the new act establishes a “micro-entity” status that provides a 75 percent discount on the fees and is targeted at individual inventors.  There is also a new system under which someone can challenge the validity of a patent by going to the patent office rather than having to make that challenge in the courts.

“If someone goes to the patent office in a certain period of time to make a challenge, the opposition will be handled in house,” said Marco. “There will always be an appeal to the federal courts but this new process could allow inventors to challenge an issued patent without having to go to the courts.”

The act is seen as the most significant change to the patent laws since the 1950s. Marco agrees with that assessment.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re going to see flying cars in a matter of years,” he added. “But I do believe it will improve innovation.”

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

Julie Campbell's Book on Virginia Horses Honored

“The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History,” written by Julie Campbell, associate director of communications and public affairs at Washington and Lee, won first place for nonfiction book/history in the 2011 communications contest of the National Federation of Press Women.

Terry Vosbein CD Reviewed on All About Jazz

The new CD, “Fleet Street,” featuring Washington and Lee music professor Terry Vosbein’s compositions of the music from the Stephen Sondheim musical “Sweeney Todd” merited a review on the website, All About Jazz. The review, originally from JazzWax, described the music as “a superb reworking and a throwback to an age of introspective interpretation.” Vosbein not only composed the music, but he also conducted the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s performance. According to the review, “The immediate beauty of Fleet Street is that it never bogs down in somber neo-classical configurations. From the start, Fleet Street swings, zig-zags and constantly catches your ear before shifting into new territory. And it’s big. There are 20 musicians here-five saxophones, five trombones, five trumpets and a five-piece rhythm section.”

Related //,
Tagged //

W&L's Shay Discusses Entrepreneurship on WMRA

Jeff Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Washington and Lee, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s Virginia Insight show on Monday, Sept. 19, to discuss key lessons for small business success.

An entrepreneur himself in his early 20s, Jeff has more than 20 years of consulting experience through his company, Shay Consulting International. He provides these services in order to keep current with the practical application of what he teaches in his courses.

Listen to an archive of the program below:

W&L's Hoover's New Book Helps Students Land Wall Street Jobs

With fewer jobs available in investment banking these days, Washington and Lee University professor Scott Hoover’s new book “How to Get a job on Wall Street” (McGraw-Hill August 2011) has already had an effect on the interviewing skills of W&L’s students. He now believes it can have a similar effect on college students elsewhere.

“I gave it out in manuscript form to my students last year,” said Hoover, associate professor of business administration in W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. “Virtually every company that interviewed at W&L came back and said that students were much better at interviewing. So I think it’s having an impact in that students get the base knowledge down, and they don’t make the silly mistakes so many people make.”

While improving the success of W&L students in landing jobs on Wall Street was the main motivation behind the book, “it was also somewhat selfish,” admitted Hoover. “Over the last 11 years, literally hundreds of students have asked my advice on the subject and I would get the same questions over and over again. Last year I tracked the number of students who contacted me and it was 226 out of 900 students in the junior and senior classes.”

Hoover noted that although other books on the subject are available, the real difference in his book is its approach to the questions interviewers ask candidates. “Other books primarily deal with giving the correct answers to those questions. The problem is that anyone who applies to Wall Street probably knows the correct answers. That isn’t going to get you a job. You need to understand why those are the correct answers.

“I’m trying to give students a real understanding of the types of questions they will be asked and what the interviewer is looking for. Interviewers don’t really care that much whether the candidate gives the right answer,” Hoover said. “What they care about is whether he or she understands the intuition behind the right answer. Students need to take advantage of every single answer to demonstrate knowledge of finance and understanding of the basic concepts. This book also gives common sense, practical advice on how to phrase answers and control the interview.”

Hoover emphasized that every sample interview question in the book has been asked repeatedly in some variation. “A lot of the questions are designed in a similar fashion to see if candidates can think through how to estimate something that seems incredibly obscure,” he said. “One example is: ‘How many ping pong balls will fit in a bus?'” In the book, Hoover shows how simply guessing at 10,000 ping pong balls does nothing to help the candidate’s case, but if he or she can think aloud how to estimate the number in three steps, that demonstrates intellectual curiosity.

In writing the book, Hoover turned mostly to Washington and Lee alumni on Wall Street for help. “Every person I contacted was enthusiastic, and I think a good bit of the reason was that the book would help W&L students perform better in interviews,” he said. “Interestingly, nearly everyone said that they would have to check with their compliance people first. So some provided anonymous comments and a few said the compliance people didn’t want them to talk to me for fear of divulging secrets about how they interview.”

In the book’s preface, Hoover argues that because W&L is the only top 25 liberal arts school with a business program, it produces a unique brand of student but also one that needs to compete against students from higher profile colleges. “I think the key to landing a job on Wall Street is for students to understand that you need to be really aggressive to get these jobs,” he said. “If you aren’t willing to call someone three or four times without hearing back from them, then you’re not going to get the job anyway. You’ve got to be that aggressive.”

He added that another key ingredient is having a passion for the world of finance. “Students often come to me and say they’ve got an interview in a couple of weeks and what books do I recommend they read. My response is it’s probably too late. If you’re not passionate enough to have already read those books, then it’s probably not for you.”

In the book’s introduction Hoover observes that although it is aimed at investment banking candidates, it will also help candidates with little financial knowledge successfully compete for top-tier jobs at major financial services companies. The book covers the role financial institutions play in society, how to read balance sheets and income statements, the four main concepts of finance and the basics of company valuation. It also discusses recent financial events, which Hoover described as the most interesting chapter for a general audience.

Hoover also sprinkled quotes throughout the book from people in the financial services industry who have been active participants in the hiring process, providing insight from the other side of the hiring process.

Hoover said that he believes the book will also be useful to people who have worked in other careers and want to move into finance. “Those people are in the same boat as undergraduates, so it would be ideal for them,” he said. He noted that banks routinely ask about students not just from technical fields such as engineering, computer science and math, but also from fields such as psychology. “Some of our most successful alumni in finance are English majors so you certainly don’t have to major in anything business related,” he said.

He concluded by saying, “Although job openings are down fairly significantly since 2006, and so it’s a bit tougher to get those jobs, at some point the economy is going to turn around and the people who get those Wall Street jobs now will be in really good shape down the road.”

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Tom Wolfe '51 Lectures on Modern Art

Best-selling author and journalist Tom Wolfe, a member of Washington and Lee University’s Class of 1951, returned to his alma mater for the 60th reunion of his class to give a lecture on “Art, Tenure Art, and the American Art World Today” during the Five Star Festival.

Audio only of the Tom Wolfe lecture

Wheeler is Finalist for Prestigious Literary Award

Congratulations to Lesley Wheeler, the Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and Lee. She is one of three finalists in the poetry category of the 2011 Library of Virginia Literary Awards, for her book Heterotopia (Barrow Street Press).

Lesley, in fact, won a prize for the volume when it was still in manuscript, the 2009 Barrow Street Poetry Book Prize. We blogged about it at the time; you can read it here. Heterotopia is Lesley’s second book of poetry.

For the poetry award, judges selected three finalists out of a pool of 24 nominees. The Library of Virginia will bestow the Literary Awards on Oct. 15. You can read more about them here.

Lesley and her family, which includes her husband, Chris Gavaler, visiting assistant professor of English at W&L, recently returned from six months at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Lesley worked there under the auspices of a Fulbright Scholar senior research grant.

It’s not the first time the library has recognized W&L faculty members for their literary talents. Rod Smith, editor of Shenandoah, won the poetry prize in 2002 and 2008 and was a finalist in 2004; Dabney Stuart, professor of English emeritus, was a finalist for fiction in 1998 and the winner for poetry in 2006; and Domnica Radulescu, professor of Romance languages, won the fiction prize in 2010.

Alumni have won recognition too. In 2007, Tom Wolfe, of the Class of 1951, received the library’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mark Farley '88 to Address Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe

Mark Farley, a Houston-based attorney who specializes in environmental issues, will present a public lecture on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, in Northen Auditorium of Washington and Lee University’s Leyburn Library.

The lecture, “Lessons from Deepwater Horizon and Similar Environmental Catastrophes,” is open to the public at no charge.

Farley is a 1988 graduate of Washington and Lee, where he majored in both English and biology.

A partner with Pillsbury, he heads the Houston office’s environment, land use and natural resources section. In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident, he has advised energy companies with upstream operations on emerging regulatory requirements and systems for overseeing environmental, health and safety performance.

Farley focuses on internal investigations and crisis response and routinely advises companies in connection with major industrial accidents, whistleblowers, process safety incidents and workplace fatalities. He has been the lead attorney in the most significant refinery accidents in the United States in the last 20 years.

In addition to the public lecture, Farley will be speaking to both a philosophy and environmental studies class and will be meeting with students in the university’s Career Services office.

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

First Amendment, Criminal Law Cases Featured at W&L Law Supreme Court Preview

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, faculty at Washington and Lee University School of Law will discuss several of the most compelling cases on the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court docket during the School’s annual Supreme Court Preview.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

During the panel discussion, law professors will analyze several key cases currently on the high court’s docket, framing the important issues of the case and explaining the routes the cases took through the lower courts before being accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases and participating faculty are as follows:

Prof. Josh Fairfield will discuss Golan v. Holder, which asks whether Congress, by removing works from the public domain, exceeded its power to enact copyright laws to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” or violated the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Prof. J.D. King will talk about two cases, Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye. These cases both explore whether a criminal defendant has any recourse when his lawyer performs deficiently during plea bargaining, either by providing grossly incompetent advice regarding the plea offer or by failing to inform the defendant of the offer at all.

Prof. Erik Luna will discuss United States v. Jones. The issue in Jones is whether the government may attach a GPS device to your car and monitor your travels for several weeks, all without obtaining a warrant.

Prof. Brian Murchison will discuss FCC v. Fox, in which the court will decide whether the FCC’s new policy of fining broadcasters for fleeting expletives violates broadcasters’ freedom of speech.

The Supreme Court Preview is sponsored by the American Constitution Society.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
(540) 458-8782

Related //
Tagged //

“Taking on Tradition,” Williams School Gallery’s New Exhibit, Opens Sept. 15

“Taking on Tradition: Six Young Virginia Painters and Printmakers,” the newest exhibit in The Williams School Gallery in Huntley Hall at Washington and Lee University, opens Sept. 15 and runs until Dec. 15.

“Taking on Tradition” is an invitational group show of young artists working in the two-dimensional art mediums of drawing, printmaking and painting. The artists are Kathleen Hall, Becca Kallem, Brian Kelley, Devin Mawdsley, Anna Wagner and Amanda Wagstaff. All are exploring the expressive potential of traditional materials while being rooted in the discipline of drawing and coloring from perception.

They all received their undergraduate degrees at Virginia universities and are at various stages of their educations and careers in fine arts.

This exhibition is curated by Linda Carey who teaches at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

The Williams School Gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Director of W&L Poverty Program Discusses Latest Poverty Figures

This past August, Harlan Beckley, the director of W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program, told a group of entering Washington and Lee University students headed out to volunteer in impoverished communities that the U.S. poverty rate would soon rise above 15 percent.

So Beckley was not surprised when the U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that 15.1 percent of the U.S. population, or 46.2 million Americans, fell below the poverty line in 2010.

“But this did not take any great insight. I’m not clairvoyant,” he said. “Anybody who knows about poverty predicted it would go to this level.”

Beckley, who helped create W&L’s innovative program in poverty studies, said that data consistently show that in the first year after a recession, the poverty rate continues to rise.

“After the last recession, the poverty rate went up for several years after the recession was over. It’s simply following a pattern we’ve had in the past,” he said. “It may go up again next year, because the expansion after this recession has been so weak and the kinds of policies that might help bring people out of poverty have not been put into effect.”


As bad as the figures are, Beckley pointed to one program that has protected the working poor from going below the poverty line but which is excluded when the bureau calculates the poverty figures: the earned-income tax credit.

“When we figure whether a person or a household is above or below the poverty line, we do not include either tax or in-kind assistance,” he noted. Consequently, food stamps and school lunch programs are not counted, and payroll taxes are not subtracted.

“Very few people in the country are aware that the earned-income tax credit is about twice as large, in dollar figures, as TANF, or temporary assistance to needy families,” Beckley said. In a household with two children, where the head of the household works 2,000 hours a year and makes a relatively low income, he or she can get a $4,300 tax credit at the end of the year.

“That doesn’t count in terms of whether or not they come above the poverty line. But that $4,300 is just as good as cash in terms of that family’s disposable income.”

The census report also demonstrated the continuing trend that those individuals in the fifth, or highest, quintile of earners see their incomes grow, while the incomes of those in the lower three quintiles remain flat. That increasing inequality between those in the middle class and the highest income earners is, said Beckley, especially problematic.

“Some people will draw the conclusion immediately that you just have to take money away from the highest quintile and give it to the lowest quintile,” Beckley said. “But the problems are much more dramatic. Somehow we have to change the culture and the policies, so that those who are least skilled and in the middle area have more resources and more opportunities to do better relative to the most well-off in society. We are not in a position now where a rising tide lifts all boats. We’ve got to change that somehow.”

And changing the trend will not be simple, said Beckley. He does point to four areas that have to be addressed – the labor market, healthcare, education and family stability.

“We want to be careful not to jump to the conclusion that there is some simple way to make that change. But we have to address it,” he said. “We can no longer continue to allow that fifth quintile to go up, up, up and up while every other quintile is virtually flat.”

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

W&L Team Installs Stream Gauge on Woods Creek

A team of Washington and Lee students, staff, and professors worked together to install a new stream gauge in Woods Creek during the 2011 Spring Term. The instrument is located on the W&L campus behind the Woods Creek Apartments and replaces one that was washed away in a flood a number of years ago.

Meredith Townsend, of the Class of 2011, and W&L Environmental Management Coordinator Chris Wise came up with the idea to try to reestablish a gauging station on Woods Creek as a work study project. Geology professors Paul Low and Dave Harbor, geology technician Emily Flowers, and Elizabeth George, Class of 2012, with the Environmental Studies Service Learning program all helped make it a reality. The group planned the installation, purchased the needed equipment, built the structure and installed the gauge.

There are two primary reasons for having a stream gauge on Woods Creek. First, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) monitors stream flow conditions on three larger streams in Rockbridge County, but only one other small stream, Kerrs Creek, is monitored. Data from smaller streams is just as important to research efforts.

These streams behave differently than larger waterways, especially during flood events. In smaller streams, flood levels are much higher and rise (and fall) more quickly because the creek is unable to accommodate the large influx of water. The new gauge will contribute to understanding the behavior of smaller creeks, both locally and nationally.

Another reason for having a gauge on Woods Creek is the unique nature of its watershed. While most of the watersheds in Rockbridge County consist primarily of undeveloped land, the Woods Creek watershed has a large portion ( between 30 and 40 percent) of developed land and is the only local stream that is affected by urban development. Development usually means a loss of canopy cover and vegetation and an increase in impermeable surfaces such as roads and roofs. This results in less soil absorption of rain, quicker runoff into streams and higher water temperatures as well as more pollutants.
The newly-installed stream gauge will provide additional data on water quality in Woods Creek. These data allow for comparisons between a more developed watershed and the undeveloped watersheds like Kerrs Creek elsewhere in the county.

The new gauging station consists of a thermometer, a pressure sensor and a conductivity meter. The pressure sensor is used to measure stage (i.e., height of the water surface) and to calculate water discharge (i.e., the volume rate of water flow). As the stage rises, more water presses down on the sensor, indicating a higher water level and thus greater total discharge. The conductivity meter measures total dissolved ions, which is an indicator of overall water quality.

W&L’s Low is particularly interested in how the water quality in Woods Creek will change seasonally and with various flow, pressure, and temperature levels. Monitoring how discharge and conductivity are related, as well as the frequency of large discharge events, will allow insight into factors affecting water quality in smaller streams.

The exact relationship between water pressure, stage height, and discharge for a gauging station is determined through the development of a rating curve. In order to create a rating curve, water discharge is measured during different flow levels in the creek by measuring both the cross-sectional area of the stream and the average velocity of the flow. By correlating water discharge levels with certain pressures, the rating curve allows discharge data to be determined from the gauge’s pressure readings.

George has already been completed some of the rating curve, but measurements will continue to be made as an ongoing project for the department of geology in the fall of 2011. The gauge takes readings every four to five minutes, and data will be downloaded and analyzed once a month.

The stream gauge will also be used as a hands-on tool to educate students of all levels. Most professors in the geology department do a few introductory laboratories on water dynamics, often using Woods Creek as an easy-to-access laboratory. The data from the gauge will be eventually made accessible to the entire W&L community, as well as the general public.

World-Renowned Oceanographer to Speak at W&L

Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and an accomplished oceanographer, will give a public talk as the first speaker in the 2011-2012 WS2: Women Scientists and Women in Science speaker series. Her speech will be Monday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at the Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons.

The title of Earle’s talk is “The World is Blue.” She will be speaking about the state of our oceans and her experiences as a pioneer in her field. A book signing will follow her talk.

Earle is the author of scientific papers to children’s books and is considered a “living legend” by the Library of Congress. She led the Tektite II Mission 6 in 1970, an all-female team that lived in an underwater habitat at 50 ft. doing marine research for two weeks. She holds multiple diving records, including still intact untethered deep diving records. She has been instrumental in the development and engineering of ROVs (deep water submersibles).

Former chief scientist at NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), Earle is founder of the Mission Blue Foundation and chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. In recent years has turned towards advocacy for ocean and marine health.

Earle has authored more than 150 scientific, technical and popular publications, including Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans and, most recently, co-authored Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas. She has been given numerouw honors including the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, inclusion in the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Achievement.

Earle is executive director for corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Aspen Institute, the Conservation Fund, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Duke University Marine Laboratory, to name a few.

Earle has a B.S. from Florida State University, an M.S. and a Ph.D. from Duke University and 15 honorary degrees.

The program is sponsored by the Geology Department, the Office of the Provost, The Office of the Dean, CONTACT, The Biology Department, the HHMI Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program (WGS), the Environmental Studies Program, Campus Activities and Leadership Development, the Outing Club, Women in Technology and Science (WITS), and Women in Math and Science (WIMS).

New W&L Course Explores Terror Laws in a Post 9/11 World

Terrorism was not born on 9/11 or in Oklahoma City. It is, in fact, an ancient concept. But what is new about terrorism, says Washington and Lee law professor Erik Luna, is the development of a distinctive legal regime and heightened enforcement efforts in the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks.

It is this legal framework, including such well-known provisions as the Patriot Act, that Luna focuses on in his new course at W&L, the Law of Terrorism.  Both rapidly evolving and controversial, few areas of law are so ripe for inquiry Luna argues.

“9/11 unsettled people’s understanding of global terrorism and their expectations of government in responding to potential threats,” says Luna. “The resulting policies and practices – from ethnic profiling and domestic spying to enhanced interrogation and indefinite detention of suspects – all challenge core American values and principles. For instance, how much deference can be accorded to the executive branch in the so-called ‘war on terror’ without undermining the constitutional system of checks and balances?  And how much liberty and privacy are we willing to sacrifice in service of counter-terrorism efforts?”

During the course, students will explore government powers available to prevent terror attacks and the limits of those powers. They will also examine the full process of investigation, apprehension, prosecution and punishment of individuals believed to be terrorists and extraterritorial enforcement of American law when dealing with incidents of terrorism abroad.

To address these issues, says Luna, students have to grapple with important concepts.

“Colloquial understandings of ‘terrorism’ tend to overlook the underlying complexity and long-standing difficulty in reaching a meaningful, consensus definition,” says Luna. “Other terms get tossed around in public discourse without a full appreciation of the legal consequences. The detention facility in Guantanamo Bay stands as a testament to the dispositive nature of the phrase ‘unlawful combatant.'”

Of course, much of the discussion of responses to terrorism occurs in a global context, and Luna makes sure that his students understand how other nations deal with domestic and international terrorism.

“The U.S. is hardly alone in its anxiety over terrorism,” says Luna. “Nations around the world have developed their own laws and processes for suspected terrorists, and some of these countries have been dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism for decades and in the face of greater threats to domestic security. There is much we can learn by comparing approaches.”

And at the very least, Luna thinks the 10- year anniversary of 9/11 is a time to reflect on the efficacy of the laws and policies we have implemented to prevent another attack. For example, in an article titled “The Bin Laden Exception,” Luna scrutinizes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), part of a trillion dollar expansion of counter-terrorism spending over the last decade. Risk assessment experts have concluded that the likelihood of dying in an airplane hijacked by terrorists is far less than dying in a hunting accident or even drowning in a bathtub. Luna wonders then, if the fiscal cost, to say nothing of the loss of privacy and liberty, is worth it.

“Obviously, 9/11 is the single worst event of my generation, raising many of the concerns the greatest generation faced in the wake of Pearl Harbor,” says Luna. “But some perspective is required here. Al Qaeda is a genuine, international menace, but the danger it presents is incomparable to the threat posed by the Axis powers in World War II. Today, we should be asking ourselves whether the costs of the past decade, both fiscal and constitutional, were actually justified by the risk of terrorism.  Our form of government is not a suicide pact, for sure, but people who sacrifice liberty on promises of safety often end up with neither.”

Luna acknowledges that the law of terrorism is a moving target, and often unwieldy as is touches on so many fields. But he believes that makes it a great vehicle to teach students because it will force them to draw together all of their knowledge in addressing an unprecedented development in the law.

“With this course as part of their legal training, our students can play an important role in the evolving law of terrorism, as attorneys, advisors, lawmakers, and even judges, as many of our alumni become.”

Run, Annie, Run

Annie Howard, a Washington and Lee sophomore from Alexandria, Va., has entered the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6, with Team for Kids. She’s hoping to raise at least $100 for every mile that she runs. If she succeeds, that will translate into a $2,600 donation to Team for Kids, which supports health and fitness programs. As of today, Annie has raised almost 60 percent of her goal.

The funds will bolster free or low-cost school- and community-based health and fitness programs for children who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity. Team for Kids serves nearly 100,000 children each year.

You can support Annie at this link.

Jumping Grasshoppers

When Washington and Lee engineering professor Jon Erickson introduced a new bioengineering course last fall, he said he wanted to show the students how many “beautiful problems at the intersection of biology, physics and engineering can be tackled using a synergy of ideas and techniques.”

His students started out studying the structure and function of the grasshopper’s nervous and muscular systems, then they learned how to build electronics components to interface with them. They implanted an electrode into grasshoppers’ abdomens to tap into the central nervous system. Then, with the right key strokes on the computer, the students cause the grasshoppers to jump.

As it turned out, the project had, ahem, legs. Last month, Jon and two of his students, seniors Susie Giampalmo and Ben Absher, went to Boston for the 33rd IEEE — Engineering in Medicine and Biology conference. Susie and Ben gave an oral presentation on their cyborg grasshopper research, which they continued during the summer.

Watch the video below for a story about the research:

Life of an Oyster

The liner notes on David Klabo’s CD, Life of an Oyster, describe the music as “a kaleidoscope of a journey through different moments when we are falling in and then falling out of love.”

David, a 1989 alumnus of Washington and Lee, goes on to list some of his favorite musicians, writers and songwriters, who make “subtle and not so subtle appearances” in the music. They include everyone from The Police to Miles Davis, Buddy Holly to Oscar Wilde.

In the liner notes, David refers to a Homecoming weekend in either 1987 or 1988, when he and Scott Hamilton, of the Class of 1990, didn’t have dates and spent the weekend in the basement of the Sigma Nu house recording an instrumental that they called “Homecoming Weekend.” Scott plays drums, does some engineering and co-produces several of the tracks.

You can learn more about the CD, listen to some of the songs, and buy it on David’s website, which includes a blog where he discusses the music’s creation: davidklabo.com. There’s also a Facebook page to connect with him and his music.


On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, members of the Washington and Lee community will once again gather in front of Lee Chapel on Sunday morning for a prayer vigil. On this coming Tuesday, Sept. 13, a panel of faculty will examine the attacks 10 years later.

Members of this year’s entering class were about eight years old on Sept. 11, 2001. They, like all their fellow students, will have their

own memories and, perhaps, personal connections.

At Washington and Lee, we remember two alumni who were killed — Cmdr. Robert Allen Schlegel, of the Class of 1985, died at the Pentagon, and James A. Gadiel, of the Class of 2000, died at the World Trade Center. Profiles of both men can be found on the Remember: September 11, 2011 website. Robert’s profile is here; Jamie’s is here. Both profiles include guest books.

Additionally, we know of these other losses that were reported in the W&L Alumni Magazine — Chris Edwards, of the Class of 1999, lost an aunt, and Jonah Glick, of the Class of 1990, lost a brother. We are now aware that there were others, too. As this blog reported yesterday, Paul Arpaia, of the Class of 1985, lost a cousin. The magazine reported that a current student lost a parent, but the family requested anonymity.

On the day of the attacks, Acting President Larry Boetsch, of the Class of 1969, sent a message to the campus that concluded: “The world in which we live now is different from the one to which we awoke this morning.”

And we continue to remember.

Personal Reflections on 9/11 by Paul Arpaia '85

Paul Arpaia, a 1985 Washington and Lee graduate, represented the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows earlier this month as part of an Italian-American delegation that traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet Afghan families of the victims of terrorism and war and the representatives of Afghan civil and international organizations working in the country.

Paul is an award-winning associate professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches modern Italian and German history.

On Sept. 11, 2011, Paul’s cousin, Kathy Mazza was a captain for the New York Port Authority police force. She died at the World Trade Center carrying a person on a stretcher down a flight of stairs in the North Tower.  Paul is one of 200 members of Peaceful Tomorrow from 31 states and seven foreign countries.  The organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace.

On the Peaceful Tomorrows’ website, Paul writes a moving essay about his cousin and the profound influence that she had on his life. Asked by DemocracyNow about the trip that he made to Afghanistan, Paul said: “I’m coming for two reasons, mainly. The first is to bring a declaration of solidarity and support for Afghanistan and for the people who, like ourselves, have lost members, family members, in this war on terrorism. The second reason I am coming is, on this 10th anniversary, to have people look at Afghanistan, not just New York, to think about how we can help. And so, I’ve been asking people here in Kabul, ‘How can we help?'”

Paul won the Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome for 2007–2008. Since 1999, he has been the editor of H-Italy, one of the many networks that make up H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine

Brand New Websites on wlu.edu

Two popular destinations on the Washington and Lee website have undergone facelifts in recent weeks through the work of W&L’s web communications team.

WLUR-FM unveiled its new site in the summer. In addition to links to the weekly schedule and to a list of WLUR’s Top 30 Albums, the site offers listeners several different ways to log in to WLUR on the Internet. The “Listen Now” page provides links to Windows Media Player, Quicktime, and iTunes and Winamp connections. In addition, users of smartphones or tablets are directed to the TuneIn Radio app, which allows users to stream WLUR on their mobile devices.

Earlier this month the new Campus Life site went live. The site is organized around eight different areas of campus life, ranging from Housing and Dining to Community Services to Health and Safety. One of the key features is a new blog to which members of the Student Affairs staff are contributing. Not only can you read the blogs on the website, but you can subscribe by RSS or e-mail. There is also a Twitterstream, featuring tweets from various W&L Twitter accounts.

Be sure to check out both new websites.

Ike Smith '57, '60L Honored by W.Va. Chamber

Congratulations to Isaac N. “Ike” Smith Jr., of the Classes of 1957 undergraduate and 1960 law, who was one of six West Virginia business leaders inducted into the inaugural class of  the new West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame.

Announcement of the induction, part of the West Virginia Chamber’s 75th anniversary, was made during the organizaiton’s annual meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier earlier this month.

Ike is the former president and CEO of Charleston-based Kanawha Banking & Trust Co. and Intermountain Bancshares. He has served as chairman of the West Virginia Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce and as a district governor for Rotary International.

Ike, a trustee emeritus of Washington and Lee University, also managed four family land companies: Kanawha City Company, West Virginia Coal land Company, Kanawha Company, and Roxalana Land Company, the operation of which caused him to be named in The State Journal’s 1997 Who’s Who in West Virginia Business. These four companies merged to form a new company, Kanawha-Roxalana Company, and Ike is president and CEO.

W&L's Goldsmith Discusses Obama Jobs Proposal on WMRA

Art Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics at Washington and Lee, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s Virginia Insight show Thursday, Sept. 15. He was part of a panel that discussed President Obama’s latest job creation proposals. Other panelists were Robert North Roberts, professor of political science and public administration at James Madison University, and Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the The Tax History Project and a visiting scholar in the department of history at the University of Virginia.

Goldsmith is a specialist in labor economics and is author of “Rethinking the Relation Between Government Spending and Economic Growth,” in the Spring 2008 edition of the  Journal of Economic Education.

Listen to the program below:

W&L Observes 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Rev. John Talley, minister of the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), told those gathered at a prayer vigil in memory of the 9/11 terror attacks on Sunday morning in front of Lee Chapel that the events 10 years ago represent an opportunity to change as individuals.

The prayer vigil was sponsored by W&L’s College Democrats and College Republicans and was one of two events scheduled to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The second event, a panel discussion, will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Hillel House multipurpose room. The panelists will be Ayse Zarakol, assistant professor of politics; Mark Drumbl, the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and director of the Transnational Law Clinic; and Bob Strong, the William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics and interim provost.

The panel is open to the public.

Addressing a group of students, faculty, alumni and community members, Talley said that there is considerable talk about the way that 9/11 changed us as a country, but that he wanted to focus on how it changed us as individuals.

“How has it changed the way you think about terrorism? About the way you think about our country, as a people divided or united? How you think about political issues? How has it changed how you think about religious and spiritual issues? Has it changed the way you think about people who don’t think the way you think?” he asked.

“As I was thinking about all of these questions for my own life, I was struck that if we, as individuals and as a country, fail to miss this opportunity to reflect on those personal questions, we have missed a great opportunity to see change in our own lives, not just as a country but as individuals.”

Two Washington and Lee University alumni were killed in the 9/11 attacks — Commander Robert Allen Schlegel, of the Class of 1985, at the Pentagon and James A. Gadiel, of the Class of 2000, at the World Trade Center.

It Works for Charlie Sweet '65

Charlie Sweet, of the Class of 1965, has just co-authored the seventh book in the “It Works for Me” series that he has written with Hal Blythe, a colleague at Eastern Kentucky University. This latest edition is titled. The books all offer shared tips for teaching. Some of the other titles in the series are It Works for Me As a Scholar-Teacher and It Works for Me Online.They are all part of The New Forums Better Teaching series.

This book is designed to demonstrate that “everyone possesses creative talent, though it may be latent in some and difficult to bring out in others.  It’s not just a talent possessed by artists and engineers, mind you, but everyone.”

Charlie is Foundation Professor and Co-Director of Eastern Kentucky’s Teaching & Learning Center, which he helped establish along with his co-author. The Teaching & Learning Center offers EKU faculty development activities, including one-on-one consultations, small-group workshops, learning communities, guest lectures, university-wide forums, and Center-sponsored conference trips. One of the popular programs is the Faculty Consultation Program, which includes peer classroom observation.

A member of the Eastern Kentucky faculty since 1970, Charlie taught in the English and Theatre Department. In 2005, he won the Acorn Award presented by the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education to the professor who best demonstrates excellence in service and commitment to students.

GLBTQ Resource Center to Have Housewarming for Its New Headquarters

Washington and Lee University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ) Resource Center is throwing a housewarming for its new headquarters on the second floor of Hill House on Friday, Sept. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The center is a project of the student organization GLBT Equality Initiative (G.E.I), itself a recent evolution from the earlier Gay-Straight Alliance. G.E.I advocates equal rights, justice and opportunity for all members of the W&L community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a division of Student Affairs, oversees student GLBTQ matters.

“W&L has been striving hard to enhance campus climate for our community,” said Beth Curry, university counselor. “The GLBTQ Resource Center is an important step in that quest by creating a focal point for resources, services and programs. Specifically, the Resource Center will serve to meet the needs of GLBTQ students by providing a safe space for them to socialize, study and access resources.”

The center works to diminish the prejudice that limits the educational experience and safety of GLBTQ community members and others within the university. It provides an open, diverse and safe environment in which all members of the W&L community may explore sexual and gender identity issues and serves as a focal point for campus GLBTQ resources, services and programs. It further contributes to the University’s commitment to intellectual exploration, diversity and responsible leadership, and upholds W&L’s values of honor, integrity and civility.

“The new GLBTQ Resource Center is important to everyone at Washington and Lee,” said Bob Strong, interim provost. “It will help us build a safer and more inclusive campus by fostering recognition and understanding of issues related to sexual identity and gender.”

W&L's Simpson Draws Parallel Between Architecture, Educational Objectives in Convocation Address

Addressing the Fall Convocation to open Washington and Lee University’s 263rd year, Pamela Hemenway Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History at the University, told the Warner Center audience that development of the W&L campus over several hundred years resulted in not just a collection of buildings, but a symbol.

“What we so value today came together over a period of several hundred years,” said Simpson, a member of the Washington and Lee faculty since 1973. “Each generation built on the past. What resulted was not only a collection of historic, distinguished buildings; we also ended up with a symbol.

“This is who we are. When we think of our most deeply held values – academic excellence, collegiality, civility, and most of all, honor, all of them are embodied here.”

• See an audio slide show below or at this link.

Although originally scheduled to be held on the historic Front Campus between Lee Chapel and Washington Hall, the convocation was moved inside because of weather conditions.

Simpson had planned to use the location to present an on-site lecture on the University’s architecture, while the audience sat in the midst of the real thing. Instead, she fell back on the art historian’s familiar tool – a slide show – to illustrate her story about the institution’s growth over time.

She took the audience, which rewarded her with two prolonged standing ovations, on a guided tour of the buildings as they were originally constructed – from Liberty Hall Academy, the ruins of which are just west of campus, to the design and construction of what is now Washington Hall in the 1820s.

That building, currently under renovation in the center of the Colonnade, was designed by the local firm of Jordan and Darst and was Lexington’s first classical revival building, Simpson explained.

“Jordan and Darst had already worked for (Thomas) Jefferson at Monticello and drew on that experience to introduce Jefferson-championed neoclassicism to the campus,” said Simpson, who also recounted the raucous dedication featuring a 40-gallon barrel of rye whiskey and leading to what University historian William Henry Ruffner described as “a glorious exhibition of what free whisky can do to the noble creature made in the image of God.”

She also recounted the construction of Lee Chapel and the Lee House, both designed by VMI professors and built during Gen. Robert E. Lee’s presidency. “Both buildings were influenced by contemporary ideas about the picturesque, and both were based on design books,” Simpson said. “That was typical for architectural design at the time. The goal was to create something practical, but also minimal in cost. The Colonnade and the resulting chapel certainly form a contrast.”

The Colonnade reflects antebellum optimism and confidence while the Romanesque chapel “evokes an ecclesiastical tradition of medieval churches.” The contrast between the two buildings was not as obvious when the chapel was first constructed because they were separated by a road in front of the chapel. In the early 20th century, that road was removed, and the contrast became obvious. In fact, in the 1920s, the University’s board of trustees wanted to tear down the chapel and replace it with a neo-Georgian structure.

“During a controversy that lasted for two years, college officials fought with the local United Daughters of the Confederacy who led the preservation effort,” said Simpson, “arguing that the associations between Lee and the chapel were so sacred that no matter what one thought of its style or its small size, it was too important a building to change in any way, let alone tear down.”

In the end, the trustees decided to use the money they had raised to repair and fireproof the chapel.

As Simpson noted, the historic Front Campus, now a revered space by generations of alumni, did not come together all at once.

“Instead, like the institution itself, it grew over time as each generation built on the past,” she said. “The unity that we now so value was the result of a shared vision about who we are as much as it was an architectural statement of coherence.”

In his introductory remarks at the convocation, Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio ’76 told the gathered students – members of the Class of 2015 along with the senior and third-year law classes – to consider the value of community.

College, Ruscio said, is not only a place where individuals learn about their unique strengths but also a time to discover “what we share in common.”

He added: “Convocations like this with all their pomp and circumstance remind us that being with each other, and not being alone, is fulfilling and that working together for the common good is immensely gratifying. Here at W&L that sense of community reaches across generations. Our longevity and strong traditions cause us in surprising ways not to look back to the past but forward to the future. The debt we owe to those who preceded us becomes our deep obligation to sacrifice for those still to come.”

Undergraduate classes at Washington and Lee begin on Thursday while the School of Law is completing its second week of classes.

W&L's ITS Staff Members Become QR Billboards

When the Class of 2015 arrived at Washington and Lee University on Saturday, members of the University’s Information Technology Services offered them a quick way to find popular websites and add contact information to address books with their smartphones and the new QR code technology.

QR codes, short for Quick Response code, is a two-dimensional barcode designed specifically to be read by smartphones.

The staff members had QR codes printed on the T-shirts that they wore while they staffed the first-year check-in and orientation and several dozen students took advantage by using their phones to scan the code, which then loaded the web page or prompted to save the new contact.

On the front of the shirts were codes for ITS services such as Help, Campus Notices web sites, and the Information Desk contact information. On the back were codes for both campus and local attractions, ranging from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the University’s Nabors Service League.

David Saacke, chief technology officer, said the T-shirt design reflected students’ increasing use of the various smart phone technologies.

“Year by year we have seen a steady increase in the percentage of students who bring smartphones to campus and use them to do an increasing variety of tasks,” said Saacke. “We expect that this year’s entering class will be relying even more than usual on this technology, and the QR code T-shirts seemed an appropriate welcome for tech-savvy kids.”

Washington and Lee Welcomes Largest-Ever Entering Class

Washington and Lee University welcomed the largest entering class in its history on Saturday, Sept. 3, when 497 members of the Class of 2015 arrived for a five-day orientation.

The entering students and their families unloaded their cars and, with the help of upper-division student “movers,” hauled their possessions into the residence halls on an especially hot and humid September morning.

Classes start on Thursday, Sept. 8.

W&L selected the 259 men and 238 women who compose the class from a pool of almost 6,400 applicants. Although the University offered only 18 percent of those applicants a place in the class, the “yield,” or the number who accepted the University’s offer, was a remarkable 44 percent. That is 6 percent higher than a year ago, and accounts for the record class size.

The largest entering class to date was the Class of 2005, which had 487 students when its members enrolled in the fall of 2001.

“We are delighted to be welcoming another exceptionally strong class to W&L,” said William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid at Washington and Lee. “It was especially gratifying to have such a high percentage of our admitted students accept our offer of admission. For our yield to jump from 38 percent last year to 44 percent this year is remarkable, and the quality of these students is extraordinary. We’re also very pleased that this will be such a diverse class in terms of the economic, racial and ethnic, and geographic profiles.”

Members of the class come from 43 states and 14 countries. The top five states are Virginia (60), Georgia (42), North Carolina (38), and Texas and New Jersey with 31 each. The top countries are Korea (4) and the Philippines (3).

In terms of their academic credentials, 77 percent of the entering class ranks in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes, while the average SAT score was just under 1400 on critical reading and math sections.

• Listen to W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio’s remarks to Parents of the Class of 2015

An unprecedented 53 percent of the first-year class received more than $10.1 million in grant assistance from the University. That includes 53 recipients of a Johnson Scholarship, the University’s prestigious program that recognizes students with exceptional leadership potential, personal promise and academic achievement regardless of their ability to afford tuition and other expenses. This is the fourth class of Johnson Scholars to enroll at W&L since the University received the $100 million gift that established the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity.

Almost 10 percent of the class comprises children of W&L alumni, and more than 20 percent are members of American ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college students or recipients of Pell Grants.

More than 200 students, about 40 percent of the entering class, participated in a week-long pre-orientation program, The Leading Edge. Twelve groups backpacked on the Appalachian Trail, while six other groups worked on volunteer programs in six different cities.

After all the members of the class move into their residence halls on Saturday, they will attend formal and informal events to introduce them to the many aspects of campus life.

In addition to meetings with first-year resident advisers and faculty advisers, there is a mandatory, student-led session on the University’s Honor System. An academic fair will display the different courses, subject disciplines, majors and minors. The Study Abroad session will show students the wide array of opportunities for overseas travel. The Campus Activities Fair will tout the many campus organizations and other extracurricular activities. And for the second year, the students will participate in Sodalis, a team-building program run by upper-class students to welcome the incoming students.

The University will celebrate its Fall Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. prior to the first day of classes on Thursday.

Staniar Gallery Kicks off 2011-12 Season with Two-Person Exhibit

Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery will open the academic year with “Abandon,” a two-person exhibition featuring prints by Barbara Duval and a film installation by Meredith Root. The exhibit will be on view from Sept. 6 through Oct. 6.

Barbara Duval will present a public lecture in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 5:30 p.m. followed by an opening reception in the adjacent atrium. Meredith Root will present her artist’s talk on Monday, Oct. 3, at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall, room 2018.

Both Duval and Root capture a mysterious beauty in their work, set against the background of unnamed desolation. Duval’s paintings and prints are filled with shadow-shaped figures, often depicted in motion and inhabiting a landscape that is eerily empty and dark. Root’s short film is a visual document of a dilapidated building in Milwaukee, Wis., which was left as an institutional dumping ground after serving various manufacturers as a factory site for over 85 years.

Barbara Duval received her M.F.A. from Yale University in 1982 and has since been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Her work can be found in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery; Contemporary Art and Culture Center, Osaka, Japan; and Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass., among others. She is a professor of studio art at the College of Charleston, S.C.

Meredith Root’s animated films have been shown nationally in festivals and curated shows at such venues as The Slamdance Festival, Women in the Director’s Chair, The Knitting Factory and the Pacific Film Archives. Her work has also been screened at festivals in Spain, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and most recently, at The Director’s Lounge in Berlin. Root holds her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is an assistant professor at the Memphis College of Art.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

New Platform for Stacy Morrison '90

Readers of Stacy Morrison, former editor of Redbook and author of the 2010 memoir Falling Apart in One Piece, will be pleased to know that this member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1990 has a new platform. This time it’s online rather than print — she is heading BlogHerMoms.com, an offshoot of BlogHer.com.

Stacy will have an impressive audience. According to a news story on “Fishbowl L.A.,”  a feature of MediaBistro.com, BlogHer.com’s “most recent stats peg monthly uniques at upwards of 26 million (!) and investors include GE/NBC’s Peacock Equity Fund.”

Stacy tells Fishbowl, “This is a thrilling conversation to join and shape, in the best women’s community on the web.”

We did our own blog about Stacy’s memoir when it was published; you can read it here.

Shenandoah Goes Online with 61st Volume

On Sept. 1, the Fall 2011 issue of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review hits the newsstand — the virtual newsstand, that is. The 61-year-old literary journal is now entirely online and free. While its physical form is different, its spirit is the same.

“Different can be just as good,” said R.T. Smith, Shenandoah editor since 1995. “The online format amplifies the aesthetic experience rather than diminishes it.”

Founded in 1950 by a group of Washington and Lee professors and students, Shenandoah has won wide acclaim over the years. Its contents are often reprinted in such anthologies as Best American Short Stories, Best American Poems, Best American Essays, New Stories from the South and The Pushcart Prize. Recent issues have featured poems by Pulitzer winners Natasha Trethewey, Claudia Emerson and Ted Kooser, as well as fiction by James Lee Burke, George Singleton, Alyson Hagy, Chris Offutt, Bret Anthony Johnston and Pam Durban. The change to the online format has been in the works since March 2010.

Readers will still find a thoughtfully edited blend of poetry, essays, short stories, artwork and book reviews. They will also discover the new “Snopes Blog” (named after William Faulkner’s literary clan), a poem of the week, a monthly feature, a gallery with musings about that issue’s artwork, and a reprint of a gem from a previous issue.

“Reading online seems to me especially appealing for poetry and short-short stories,” said Smith, himself a writer of poems, stories and novels. “For some of the poems, we have audio. That’s a real boon.”

Smith hopes that readers will conduct an online conversation with the journal. He’s pleased that at least one conversation is already underway, thanks to an e-mail from journalist Christopher Dickey, son of the late writer James Dickey, who was a contributing editor to Shenandoah. This first online issue reprints James Dickey’s poem “Deer Among Cattle” from a previous edition.

In another strand of continuity, Shenandoah will still rely on the work of student interns from Washington and Lee, plus an occasional visitor from nearby institutions like Hollins University and Mary Baldwin College. Their number has increased from an average of one or two per term to 10 interns this fall. They will work on the website and the blog, review submissions, proofread and copyedit, conduct interviews and do a lot of writing. In the course of their internships, Smith said, they’ll also be learning about the wider literary world.

“It’s important the students understand that the whole history of Shenandoah reverberates through everything we do,” he said. “We have a responsibility that we wouldn’t have if we were starting something from scratch.”

In this issue, for example, Tracy Richardson, an English major who graduated from W&L this past May, interviews her fellow alumna Rebecca Makkai, of the Class of 1999. Makkai’s novel The Borrowers came out from Viking this summer to strong reviews and wide publicity. Like Richardson, Makkai interned at Shenandoah while she was a student, an experience she calls “literary heaven.”

The students will also be researching the history of Shenandoah’s new headquarters. Formerly in the Mattingly House (itself once the Sigma Chi fraternity house), the journal now resides downtown in Courthouse Square, in one of the 19th-century offices of Lawyers’ Row. From his desk, Smith has a direct line of sight across Washington Street to the Stonewall Jackson House. “The physical move to such fine quarters seems to me an apt metaphor for the move to the web,” he said.

Smith has spent the past six months assembling the current issue, and he’s got nearly all of the next one on deck. He also judged Shenandoah’s short-short story contest, studied other online literary journals, perused potential artwork, and attended the Oxford (Miss.) Conference for the Book, where he participated in a session that pondered the future of print and online literature.

“I do want to keep reminding people that this is not a new thing, but a new turn to a very old thing, and that we have a lot of leverage behind what we do and say,” said Smith. “The web is the spear point headed into the future. This incarnation of Shenandoah is a well-thrown spear.”

Read the Fall 2011 issue at shenandoahliterary.org/

Recent W&L Grad Exhibits Prints in Wilson Hall's Lykes Atrium

Washington and Lee University’s Art Department will present an exhibition of prints by recent graduate Michael O’Brien which will be on view from Sept. 6 – Oct. 6 in Wilson Hall’s Lykes Atrium. O’Brien will give a brown bag lunch artist’s talk on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 12:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall, room 2017.

O’Brien focused on photography for his studio art major but also studied printmaking and drawing. He will exhibit woodcut prints, etchings and photographic prints made from graffiti found on desks, tables, doors and other public areas around campus. In his artist statement he said, “I view the graffiti like a message board one might find on the Internet…anyone can write anything and with complete anonymity.”

During his time at W&L, O’Brien won the Sally Mann Prize for Photography (2009) and the Studio Art Award (2010). He was also awarded an independent research grant by the university and was a founding member of the Student Arts League. O’Brien, who was a double major in both studio art and English, graduated in 2010.

Since receiving his degree, he has continued his artwork while serving as the photography lab tech in the Art Department and maintaining a full-time administrative position at Stuart Hall in Staunton.

Lykes Atrium is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. The Atrium is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

Entrepreneurial Advice

The Washington Post had a fascinating interview with Washington and Lee alumnus Alex Castelli not long ago. Alex, a member of the Class of 1986, currently heads the 50-person growth-markets practice in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of the Reznick Group, a top 20 national accounting, tax and business advisory firm. He also is a visiting assistant professor of accounting at W&L, teaching an auditing course in the Williams School during Spring Term. And one more thing: he’s the parent of a current W&L junior, who is also named Alex and who is a defensive lineman for the Generals’ football team, just as his father was.

But back to the Washington Post. Thomas Heath, a business columnist, interviewed Alex about the financial and accounting best practices for entrepreneurial and growing companies. Alex was a logical choice to discuss the topic. After spending three years with Price Waterhouse following his W&L graduation, Alex was controller for a family-owned business, Locker Rooms Inc., which sold sportswear with team logos.

So Alex has a special appreciation for entrepreneurs. As he told Heath, “It’s not a 9-to-5 job. And not everybody hits a home run.”

What does Alex recommend for companies that want to achieve financial success? Here are the nine tips he cited in the Post column:

  1. Be proactive on financial matters.
  2. Don’t forget your accounting department.
  3. Stick to your idea.
  4. Innovate.
  5. Be good to your investors.
  6. Borrow money while times are good.
  7. Know when to delegate on the financial side.
  8. Interview accountants and lawyers as if you’re hiring employees.
  9. Know when to sell.