Feature Stories Campus Events

Rentschler Leads Social-Media Use

A company in Mason, Ohio, that deals with machine tools may not seem the likeliest candidate for a social-marketing initiative, but Washington and Lee alumnus Mark Rentschler, of the Class of 1982, has made Makino a leader in adopting the new technologies for an old-school industry.

Earlier this year, BtoB Magazine, which focuses on marketing, named Mark one of its 25 Top Digital Marketers for 2011.

Mark has been marketing manager at Makino for 11 years. Not only has he implemented Facebook, Twitter and YouTube strategies for the company, but he also developed a blog, EDM Matters, for keeping people current on the latest technologies and processes. He adopted the webinar format early on. Since Makino offered its first webinar in 2006, the company has offered 150 programs that 10,000 people worldwide have seen.

According to the story about his award, Mark is now experimenting with pay-per-click technology on Bing and Google and has a new LinkedIn program. He’s also getting Makino’s print publication ready for tablet and smartphone viewing.

Second Annual Nobel Symposium at W&L

The Second Annual Nobel Prize Symposium at Washington and Lee University, coordinated this year by Wayne Dymacek, professor of mathematics, will feature presentations by W&L faculty who will give background on the individuals who have won this year’s Nobel Prizes and the activities that earned those honors. All sessions are open to the W&L community and the general public.

“These sessions by volunteer members of the W&L faculty will help educate all of us about the content and significance of the work that earned the 2011 Nobel Prize winners this high honor,” said Hank Dobin, dean of the college.

The first session was held Thursday, Oct. 20, with Maryanne Simurda, professor of biology, presenting on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded jointly to Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity” and to Ralph M. Steinman “for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.”

Additional Nobel Prize presentations will be held as follows:

Turing Prize in Computer Science, Friday, Nov. 4, 12:30 p.m. in the Women’s Resource Room, Elrod Commons

Joshua Stough, assistant professor of computer science, will present on the prize awarded to Leslie G. Valiant, who teaches computer science and applied mathematics at Harvard University, “for his research that paved the way for computers that more closely mimic how humans think.” The Turing Award is considered the Nobel Prize of computing and is named after the famous British mathematician Alan M. Turing.

Nobel Peace Prize, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 12:30 p.m. in Hillel House                 

Dayo Abah, associate professor of journalism, will present on the prize awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Nobel Prize in Physics, Thursday, Nov. 10, at 12:30 p.m. in the Women’s Resource Room, Elrod Commons

Bruce Boller, visiting professor of physics, will present on the prize awarded jointly to Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae.”

Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 12: 30 p.m., in Hillel House

Mike Smitka, professor of economics, will present on the prize awarded jointly to Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims “for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy.”

Abel Prize in Mathematics, Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 12:30 p.m. in Hillel house

Jacob Siehler, assistant professor of mathematics, will present on the prize awarded to John Milnor “for pioneering discoveries in topology, geometry and algebra.”

Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 12:15 p.m. in Hillel House

Erich Uffelman, professor of chemistry, will present on the prize awarded to Dan Shechtman “for the discovery of quasicrystals.”

The presentation for the Nobel Prize in Literature has not yet been scheduled.

Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Roger Strong Wins Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology

Roger Strong, a Washington and Lee University senior from Rochester, N.Y., has been named the 2011 recipient of the David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology.

The prize recognizes a W&L senior who has shown extraordinary promise in psychological science or in the application of psychological science in the professions through outstanding scholarship in basic or applied psychology.

Strong, a neuroscience major, worked as a research assistant with Wythe Whiting, associate professor of psychology at W&L, with support from W&L’s Robert E. Lee Summer Research Fellowship program. He also served as a teacher’s assistant to Dan Johnson, assistant professor of psychology, for psychology statistics courses for the past two years.

In addition to his involvement in psychological research, Strong serves as a captain and a starting pitcher on the Washington and Lee baseball team. Strong was a member of the 2009 ODAC championship team and in 2010 was named to the ODAC All-Conference second team.

A member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Strong plans to work in a research facility after graduation before applying to a graduate program in sensory neuroscience or a related field

The David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize is supported by the The Elmes Fund, a permanently endowed fund established by alumni in 2007 in honor of David G. Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology.

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W&L Student Teams Compete in Computer Programming Contest

Two teams of three students from Washington and Lee University recently placed second and fourth in a computer programming contest at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

A total of 16 teams, comprising 46 students from eight colleges and universities in Virginia, competed on Oct. 22 in the inaugural invitational contest sponsored by Longwood’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The aim of the contest was to design programs for problems faster than opposing teams. The W&L teams were among only four teams that correctly solved five problems out of nine. A five-minute penalty was added for each incorrect solution to a problem. The winning team, from Longwood University, had a penalty time of 540 minutes, while W&L’s second-place team had a penalty time of 682 minutes.

“It was a grueling four hours,” said Joshua Stough, assistant professor of computer science and the teams’ coach. “But on the bright side it was a real geek-fest and you learned a lot about yourself. It’s for the glory of it and for sharpening your skills as a problem solver and coder/hacker.

“The problems, which were submitted by faculty from the participating schools, ranged greatly in difficulty and subject matter,” said Stough. “One example of a simpler problem was ‘Given a football quarterback’s statistics, compute the quarterback rating, for which a formula is provided.’ The problems varied right up to what are basically advanced math problems, from combinatorics to graph theory.”

The two teams were only recently organized by W&L sophomore Richard Marmorstein. “We should all thank Richard for marshalling interest, organizing the teams and making us proud,” acknowledged Stough.

The second-place team consisted of Lee Davis ’13, Garrett Koller ’14 and Anton Reid ’14. Members of the fourth-place team were Marmorstein, Alex Baca ’14 and Suraj Bajracharya ’14.

“Given their finishes, the teams are hungry for more competition,” said Stough. “They will compete again in the ACM regionals at Shippensburg, Pa., against the likes of Penn State, West Virginia and Dickinson College.”

Other colleges taking part in the Longwood contest were Bridgewater College, Hampden-Sydney College, Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon College, Southside Virginia Community College and the College of William & Mary.

Williams School's NY Road Trip

Thirty students from Washington and Lee’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, along with members of the faculty and representatives of W&L’s Career Services, descended on New York City last week to get a sense of what might await them after graduation.

The Williams School Annual Investments Trip allows students to observe and talk with individuals engaged in the functions of financial markets and to explore the potential in advertising and marketing. Twenty students headed to Wall Street, 10 to Madison Avenue.

The Wall Street group visited and heard presentations from Bloomberg, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lincoln International, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange.

Amy Perkins, career adviser and recruitment manager in the Career Services Office, snapped the shot below of the group on the floor of the exchange.

W&L Students Trending Toward Macs, Smartphones

When they arrived on campus this fall, members of Washington and Lee University’s entering class of 2015 continued the recent trend toward a preference for Macintosh computers and smartphones, according to a survey by the W&L Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

More than 97 percent of the entering class completed the survey, which identified the types of electronics the students brought with them.

According to the data on computers, 67.1 percent of the students brought Macs, compared with the 32.9 percent who brought Windows machines. The vast majority of those computers were laptops.

That represents a significant shift from 2008-09, when a survey found that 68 percent of the student body at W&L owned Windows-based computers, while only 34 percent had Macs.

Meantime, 98.4 percent of the entering class brought cell phones, with 76.8 percent of those being smartphones, including iPhones, Android-based phones and BlackBerries. By comparison, two years ago only 43.7 percent of the cell phones that the entering students brought with them were smartphones.

“There is little doubt that smartphones will approach 100 percent with next year’s entering class,” said Jeff Overholtzer, manager of strategic planning and communication with Information Technology Services.
Tablet computers began to make their presence felt for the first time with this entering class, leapfrogging the e-readers like Kindle and Nook. Almost 10 percent of the class brought a tablet—the overwhelming majority have Apple’s iPad—which represented a 400 percent increase over last year. Most tablet owners are not relying on them as their solo computing device; only four of the students who brought tablets did not also bring a laptop computer.

W&L Alumna Rebecca Makkai Reads from Her Novel

Washington and Lee University alumna Rebecca Makkai presented the Glasgow Reading at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 26, 2011, when she read from her novel, “The Borrowers.”

A member of W&L’s class of 1999, Makkai is currently a Montessori school teacher in Chicago. She has had a story published in Best American Short Stories for four straight years and is currently finishing a volume of her short stories while also working on her second novel. She earned her M.A. in English from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English.

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Beckley Named to Campus Kitchens Project's National Board

Harlan Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion and director of the Shepherd Poverty Program at Washington and Lee University, has been named to a three-year term on the Board of Visitors of the Campus Kitchens Project (CKP).

Beckley is one of nine new board members who CKP announced at its annual conference on Thursday (Oct. 27, 2011) in St. Louis. He is joined on the board by several celebrated chefs, food advocates and leaders from business and non-profit communities.

“We are extremely excited to have so many visionary leaders as part of the same group,” said Robert Egger, president of the Campus Kitchens Project and its parent organization, DC Central Kitchen. “Their skills and talents all share a common passion for fighting hunger and food inequalities.  As our Campus Kitchens continue to grow, such leadership is essential.”

The Campus Kitchens Project is the national food-recovery and hunger-fighting organization now active on 31 campuses in 21 states.

Washington and Lee has one of the most successful Campus Kitchen organizations. Founded in 2006 by Ingrid Easton, a 2006 Washington and Lee graduate, the W&L program provides hunger relief in Rockbridge County. It accomplishes this goal through recycling food, which comes as donations from the University’s Dining Services, Lexington’s Walmart and Kroger grocery stores, Aramark food services at VMI, fraternities and restaurants. Student volunteers serve about 600 meals a week during the academic year and often dine with the food recipients.

“I am honored to be invited to serve Campus Kitchens on the national level,” said Beckley. “We are immensely proud of our Campus Kitchen here at Washington and Lee, and I think we can do even more to use it as an opportunity to educate our students about community, hunger, nutrition and health.”

A member of the Washington and Lee faculty since 1974, Beckley helped create and became the first director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability in 1997. He was named the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion in 1999 and, in 2002, received the Commonwealth of Virginia’s highest award for excellence in education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award. He has served as vice president and president of the Society of Christian Ethics and as acting president of Washington and Lee in 2005-06.

In addition to Beckley, the other new board members are Robert Egger, chair, founder and president, DC Central Kitchen and The Campus Kitchens Project; Jose Andres, owner of Think Food Group, which includes restaurants in Washington, Beverly Hills, New York and Las Vegas; Alice Waters, founder of Edible School Yard and owner of Chez Panisse restaurant; Gary Oppenheimer, founder and executive director of AmpleHarvest.org; Timothy Cipriano, executive director of food services for the New Haven (Conn.) Public Schools; Ken Meyer, vice president of Whole Foods’ mid-Atlantic region; Cathy Ahlschlager, community outreach director, The Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina; and Tony Geraci, food service consultant and former director of food and nutrition for the Baltimore City Public Schools.

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

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Garrett Fagan to Discuss Infamous Roman Games in W&L Lecture

Garrett G. Fagan, associate professor of classics, history and ancient Mediterranean studies at The Pennsylvania State University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Oct. 31, at 6:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.

The title of the talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Watching the Fighters: Exploring the Roman Fascination with Violent Spectacle.” It is presented by W&L’s History Department.

Sarah Bond, the Junior Faculty Fellow in Classics and History, at W&L, said, “In this talk, Fagan will draw on his recent book “The Lure of the Arena” to explore the psychological processes at work among the arena crowd, and so offers a new perspective on the infamous Roman games.”

Fagan also has co-written “From Augustus to Nero: An Intermediate Latin Reader,” edited “Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public” and has published numerous articles in international journals. He has an extensive research record in Roman history, Latin epigraphy and method in archaeology.

Fagan has held a prestigious Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Cologne. He received his B.A. and M.Litt. from Trinity College, Dublin, and his Ph.D. from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

Laura Brodie’s Book Surprise Hit in Germany, Possible Movie

“The Widow’s Season,” by Laura Brodie, visiting assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has become a surprise hit in Germany. The book, which prominently features places around W&L and Lexington, was published by Berkley Books (part of Penguin Books) in 2009.

A German translation was published in the summer of 2010 and has since become a surprise hit, reaching number 11 on Der Speigel’s bestseller list (the German equivalent of the New York Times’ bestseller list). It stayed on the list for 24 weeks. Word of mouth among independent booksellers, combined with strong magazine and blog reviews, helped to make the book a success. This past summer, a new, mass market edition in German was published and it too reached the bestsellers list. To date, the German version of “The Widow’s Season” has sold over 120,000 copies.

An independent German film company has purchased the film rights to the book and negotiations are underway for a movie to begin production in 2012. “We have our fingers crossed that the movie deal will come through, but nothing is certain until everyone signs on the bottom line,” said Brodie.

Brodie’s third novel, “All the Truth,” is also set in Lexington and features a college similar to Washington and Lee. It will be published in both German and English in 2012.

For further details about “The Widow’s Season”:   http://www.amazon.com/Widows-Season-Laura-Brodie/dp/0425227650

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