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Local History Comes Alive in “Letters to the Editor”

Residents of Lexington and Rockbridge County, will undoubtedly turn first to the index to see if they recognize the names of the letter writers in the new book The Lexington Letters: Two Centuries of Water Under the Bridge (Mariner Publishing, November 2011), which collects 200 years of letters to the editors of the local newspapers.

“I think that part of the dynamic of this book is that people will see letters from their fathers, grandmothers, neighbors and ancestors,” said Doug Cumming, editor of the book and associate professor of journalism at Washington and Lee University. “The history is alive and present, and the names of the letter writers are also the names in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery and the local phone book.”

• See below for audio of the letters read by the author

Cumming described the book as perfect for browsing. “You can pick it up, open it anywhere and read for one minute or 45 minutes,” he said. “It shows how in a particular place in America the local newspaper was a public forum where people expressed themselves, complained and generally interacted. I hope readers find it challenging and engaging and that it opens their eyes to some of the tensions and ironies in local history.”

Letters to the Editor is the culmination of research that started in the summer of 2010 with W&L students and community researchers reading 8,000 letters to the editor and transcribing 1,367 of the most interesting ones. “Matthew Paxton IV, publisher of the Lexington News-Gazette, was essential to the project,” said Cumming. “He allowed the researchers into the back rooms of the newspaper where many bound copies were stored.”

The criteria for selecting letters were suggested by Kimberly Jew, associate professor of theater at W&L, in preparation for turning some of the letters into a stage play, “Lexington’s Letters to the Editor,” which was performed at the Lime Kiln Theater in May 2011. The script is included at the end of the book.

However, fewer than 200 of those letters were used in the stage play. “The unused letters had been selected because they were interesting,” said Cumming, “and I didn’t think they should go to waste.”

Cumming said that he tried not to favor any particular segment of local life in selecting which letters to publish and decided to organize the letters into themes. “I wanted to follow a chronological arc generally in the book, and again within chapters,” he said. For example, “The Gathering Storm,” is about the ante-bellum Civil War period, “Remembrance and Commemoration” follows the Civil War, and then there are chapters on “Prohibition” and “World War II.” Other themes in the book include race, holidays, farming, fires, firecrackers, traffic, parking problems, tourism, and guns and hunting.

“These letters are direct communication, unmediated to a large extent by either editors or historians,” Cumming pointed out. “You can hear your neighbor from 150 years ago talk about things that are either familiar to you or are now alien because of history. Also, while some of these events can be found in local history books, other events have never been cited in any history book.”

One of Cumming’s favorite chapters concerned Stonewall Jackson Hospital. “I found it fascinating,” he said. “The chapter starts with a letter from Mary Nelson Pendleton, the daughter of the local Episcopal rector William Nelson Pendleton, and quotes the widow of Stonewall Jackson and her circumstances. The widow has this house and she can’t afford to keep it up, but can’t afford to give it away either. So she’s politely asking for donations to turn it into a hospital. The chapter ends with a letter from Washington and Lee English professor Suzanne Keen thanking the hospital for being there when she had her first child.”

Another favorite chapter is one describing a fire in 1915 on the corner of Nelson and Jefferson streets. “As the letters say, the fire destroyed a third of the block, but it could have been much worse than it was,” said Cumming. “It’s interesting to read the letters thanking the members of the volunteer fire department.”

Cumming also found and included in the chapter a photo of the fire taken by Matthew Paxton II, grandfather of the current publisher of the Lexington News-Gazette, who was a student at Washington and Lee at the time. Being from a journalism family, Paxton always kept his camera at the ready and so was available to take pictures of the fire.

Local residents were not the only writers of letters to the editor as the last chapter shows. For example, someone who passed through Lexington wrote to say they how they appreciated all the American flags flying in the streets when the business community first started paying for the flags.

Elaine Emerson wrote the following in 1991 from Turkey:

“…the place I would very much like to be at this moment—sipping a cold brew and floating a tube at Goshen. I look up from my laptop to the still Aegean, and think of another paradise, Rockbridge County. Goshen Pass is still as green as I once was. It is first picnics, first swimming lessons, first loves, and I want to go back.”

Five newspapers were included in the research, beginning with The Lexington Gazette, the primary newspaper of the 19th century dating back to 1804, but under different names. Then, in the 1880s, the Rockbridge County News was launched. The two newspapers merged in 1962 to become the News-Gazette. Other newspapers were the Ring-tum Phi at W&L and the VMI Cadet. Copies of the newspapers, either in bound volumes or on microfilm, are in W&L’s Special Collections in Leyburn Library, Preston Library at VMI, Rockbridge Regional Library and at the News-Gazette archives.

Both Cumming and Jew received Lenfest grants from Washington and Lee for the project.

The Lexington Letters will be available at local book stores Books & Co. and The Bookery.

Audio of letters read by Doug Cumming:

Response to a 1915 fire in Lexington

W&L professor emeritus Milton Colvin on free market enterprise in 1983

A Rockbridge County senior citizen writes in 1980

The Sunday movie show debates of 1942

W&L librarian Annie White on vandalized newspapers

Former W&L Professor Marshall Fishwick on the University’s namesakes


News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director
stschiggfrie@wlu.edu
540-458-8235

W&L Alum Heads National Horse Racing Organization

Washington and Lee alumnus Phil Hanrahan, a retired Army brigadier general and a Lexington, Ky., attorney who has specialized in bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and equine law, has been named the chief executive officer of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA).

The NHBPA is a non-profit corporation that works “to improve the economic health and public acceptance of the Thoroughbred horse industry in the United States and Canada.”

Phil received his undergraduate degree in 1976 and spent almost seven years on active duty in the Army as an armor officer. He then returned to W&L and its School of Law, from which he received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1986.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., Phil grew up working on a horse farm there, and, according to a release from the NHBPA, he learned to ride in exchange for mucking stalls. He also spent part of a summer at Belmont Park, walking “hots” at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens.

Once a licensed Thoroughbred trainer, he has owned, bred and “pinhooked” racehorses (bought them as yearlings, sold them as two-year-olds). He is currently a handicapper and plays in handicapping tournaments.

Phil, who will start in the organization’s Lexington, Ky., office next month, retired from the Army in 2009 after rising through the Army Reserve as an armor and cavalry officer. He not only earned the rank of brigadier general but also served in two commanding general positions and received a master’s degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College.


Eyewitness to the Clemson-S. Carolina Pigskin Rivalry

Brent Breedin, of the Washington and Lee Class of 1947, enjoyed a long career in newspapers, sports information, and the corporate and political world. The South Carolina native now lives in Columbia, S.C., and recently gave an interview to the Columbia newspaper, The State, about the legendary rivalry between the football teams of Clemson University (for which he worked as sports information director) and the University of South Carolina. It was published on Thanksgiving Day, two days before the Tigers and Gamecocks played their 103rd consecutive game. You can read the feature story here.

Among Brent’s many vivid memories dates to 1956, when he was working for Hunt Petroleum. He had to travel to Pakistan on business and arrived back in Columbia only the day before the game. “I didn’t have a ticket,” he told the paper, “but I went to the stadium and was standing outside when (Clemson assistant coaches) Banks McFadden and Carl Wise came by on their way to the coaches’ box in the press box. They said, ‘Come on with us,’ and I got in that way and watched from the coaches’ box.”

Unfortunately for Brent and other Clemson fans, the Tigers lost, 34-13, to the Gamecocks on Nov. 26. There’s always next year.


In Spain for Thanksgiving, pining for Dundalk

The following piece by Washington and Lee University junior Michael McGuire was published in The Baltimore Sun on Nov. 24, 2011, and is reprinted here with permission.

By Michael McGuire

SEVILLE, Spain—Here, the orange trees are the only things changing color as autumn takes its hold. The palmeras and the jasmine vines that climb the wall outside my apartment — and fill the patio below with an inimitable scent — are alive and will flourish well into winter. The cypress trees in the gorgeous royal gardens of Alcázar, silent witnesses to endearing displays of Spanish affection, have been that same dusty green for dozens, if not hundreds, of years and won’t start changing now.

But it’s not the fall colors I miss while I’m spending this semester in Spain, even though not a thing could compare with seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains ablaze with autumn. When the sun is shining in Seville, I can still find those beautiful colors in terra cotta roofs and on the sides of buildings painted albero, the golden color of the soil that fills the bull ring downtown. Even the oranges, now half-ripened on trees all over the city, mimic the changing maple leaves that are now being raked into piles all across Maryland.

I miss something more. My mind, ever conscious that Thanksgiving is approaching, is wandering through memories of my grandmother’s table as I make my way down the sinuous cobblestone streets I walk every morning.

We flock there at least once a year, to her tiny kitchen in Dundalk, to share a meal and an afternoon. My family usually gets there first. Dad and my brother Logan retreat to the living room to find a football game on TV, and my sister finds a quiet place to send text messages until my cousins arrive. Mom offers her help to my grandmother Martha, though it’s always in vain. Additional hands are, more often than not, interference. They couldn’t possibly peel potatoes, whip cream or kneed the dough for her world-famous rolls — at least not the right way.

She’s completely focused, my grandmother, whom I’ve always called Mammies. She moves back and forth between the sink and the stove, probes her sweet potato bake in the oven and takes what’s ready to her meticulously planned buffet line. She rarely comes up for breath, and when she does, it’s usually just to apologize.

“I’m sorry,” she tells me, taking a few seconds for eye contact. “I don’t mean to be rude. I’ve just got to —” Ding! A timer sounds, and without finishing her sentence, Mammies is back to business.

My grandmother directs her apology to me since I’ve taken a seat at the table nearby, watching her maneuver her way from dish to dish and snacking on the Jordan almonds or whatever treat she incorporated into this year’s table decorations.

I’m amazed by her as she prepares a feast for 12 more easily than I make my own lunch. Although, that’s not to say it’s effortless.

The day before we celebrate — I assume this, because she couldn’t possibly have time on Thanksgiving Day — she decorates her table with tiny gourds, Indian corn, candles and bunches of colored wheat bound together with twine. She sets out silverware and glasses, and on top of each plate she rests a tiny place card to make sure we seat ourselves in an orderly fashion.

The same handwriting found on these cards is littered about her kitchen. My grandmother writes down quotes, lists and promises to herself, and she hangs them on the fridge between our old school portraits and family engagement photos. (My personal favorite: “I’ll give 110 percent if you give 109.”) She even wrote my name on the kitchen doorframe a few years ago, measuring my height in a moment of respite.

Not long after I’ve taken a seat, my aunt Kathy comes in with her own children in tow. She balances pies and cakes in her hands until my grandmother rushes over to help, and the admiration begins.

I don’t know how she does it, but every year her desserts are more beautiful, and more delicious, than the last. Layered pumpkin cake with homemade cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache, lemon meringue pie 4 inches thick, apple pie covered with little pastry oak leaves, egg washed and sprinkled with coarse grains of sugar: I remember them all. She’s too modest, for sure, always answering our compliments by explaining how whatever she did was “nothing, really.”

The sound of the electric carving knife means dinner is moments away. Once the buffet is set — salads, gravies and sauces in their proper places — Mammies stops to say a blessing, and then we move the food to our plates. My cousin Erin starts to tease about our predetermined lineup for the buffet, and Dad reminds us all of the year my grandmother, his mother, forgot the sweet tea.

Once we’re all seated, the stories drift further back into time as we collectively recall odd Thanksgiving guests, stories of my great-grandfather and the year we had Thanksgiving dinner at a small church in Wye Mills. (My parents had just been in a car accident, so the rest of my family brought the Thanksgiving feast as close to them as possible.)

Our Thanksgiving table becomes the birthplace of inside jokes. Only here would the phrase “Slice it, wrap it and freeze it” cause an outburst of laughter. Certain jokes are even more intimate; my brother nudges my leg underneath the table every time we want to laugh and can’t.

I’ve heard every one of these stories before, and that’s my favorite part. We’re not here to inform, to recount our days like we would at any other meal. We’re instead here to entertain each other. Every old yarn about my crazy uncle Mike is treasured because these stories, this holiday — they are the constancy we lack 364 days a year. They’re familiar, and they change only if Dad decides to exaggerate a little more this year. We’re thankful for these stories and the storytellers themselves, more than anything.

Because of this, the food has always been secondary to me. What matters most is the sound of my father’s laughter, the pleasure that registers on my aunt’s face when people ask to try “a little bit of everything” for dessert, and the way my grandmother watches over all of us from her own little table in the next room. She has invited too many people once again this year. And after a marathon day of slicing, basting, mashing and baking, she’s happy to sit just outside of all the action, to watch her family be just that.

Especially this time of year, this beautiful Spanish city by a river cannot compare to my Maryland hometown by the bay. The centuries-old Universidad de Sevilla, whose massive lecture halls and sunlit courtyards are steeped in history, is no substitute for my tiny Lexington, Va., university, right now surrounded by mountains of red and gold. My señora (host mother) cooks like a dream, but she knows nothing about sweet potato bake, homemade applesauce or my mom’s Chesapeake chowder.

The table in the dining room here, passed down to my señora by her own grandmother, won’t be crowded today. It holds different stories than the ones I’m used to, all of them told with an Andalusian accent and punctuated by the laughter of a different language. It celebrates its own holidays.

So instead, I’ll gather with a few other American students at an Irish bar named Flaherty’s. I’m not sure whose idea that was, but I suppose it’s better than eating at one of the American restaurants in Seville: McDonald’s, KFC or TGI Fridays.

I haven’t a clue about the menu, but I doubt it will be very traditional. It’s a real challenge to find autumn staples in this city. Spanish stores sell iPods, Orbit gum and Heinz ketchup, but the seasonal joy of warm apple cider is lost on the sevillanos. My señora prepares flan, natilla and arroz con leche — not apple pie — when something she’s making calls for dessert.

Apples are out of season here, anyway, for now the orange is coming into its own.

But we’ll celebrate, nonetheless, because Thanksgiving is a holiday that cannot be skipped. As we sit there, Americans carrying on our conversations in stilted Spanish, some of my friends will be thinking about football games and turkey. Someone will bring up Black Friday shopping, I’m sure.

And my mind will be elsewhere, drifting through honey-colored oak leaves, imagining the whir of an electric carving knife, the taste of a long-anticipated forkful of pecan pie and the sound of the stories being passed around at my grandmother’s table.

Michael McGuire studies Spanish, journalism and creative writing at Washington and Lee University and is this year’s recipient of the Landon B. Lane Memorial Scholarship in Journalism. His work has appeared in several newspapers. His email is mcguirem13@mail.wlu.edu.

Saying something doesn't make it so

The following piece by Washington and Lee University finance professor Scott Hoover appeared in the Nov. 27, 2011, editions of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and is reprinted here with permission.

By Scott Hoover

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

–John Adams

Listen to some pundits and you hear that conservatives are rabid protectors of the rich while liberals are staunch defenders of the poor. Listen to others and you hear that liberals fight to kill the American dream in favor of a socialist society while conservatives preserve incentives for people to be inventive and entrepreneurial. This is clearly shown in the tax debate, a longtime political battlefield that has recently been fueled by various budget proposals. We can endlessly discuss whether the current tax system is fair, but what ultimately matters is whether higher taxes on the rich would make a difference.

The IRS provides useful data on individual income taxes. For example, in 2009 (the most recent data year), the 723,000 households earning more than $500,000 per year raked in $900 billion dollars of taxable income. Sounds like a lot, but it is not. To understand this, let’s pretend a bit. Let’s pretend that our political leaders agree on a balanced budget that applies to each year now and forever. Let’s pretend that they also increase the tax rate on rich households to 100 percent yet these rich people maintain the same level of productivity. What would that do for the economy?

Those rich households currently pay an average income tax of 29 percent, leaving them with about $640 billion dollars after federal taxes. A portion of that goes to state taxes and other fees, so let’s pretend that there is $600 million left to play with, all of which is collected by the government under the new 100 percent tax law. How long would it take to pay off the national debt? Not one year or two or three, but 25 years.

Note that our national debt has grown by more than a trillion dollars each year recently. Implication? A 100 percent tax on the rich would not even offset the annual deficit. The national debt would never be retired. It’s that simple. Note also that that one recent proposal is for a 5 percent surcharge on the rich, a mere fraction of the 100 percent rate in our pretend world. The reality? The rich make a lot of money relative to most of us, but they don’t make enough to make much of a difference in the big picture. The fate of America rises and falls on the backs of the middle class. Solutions must start there.

Most find it difficult to argue against raising taxes on the rich. After all, we tend to be jealous of the rich and wish, albeit secretly, to somehow bring them down to our level. Greed is a sin, but so too is envy. This is the same sort of envy that causes us to root against teams like the New York Yankees. We justify our demands for higher taxes on the rich by saying that higher taxes would be fairer, yet we offer no definition or assessment of what “fair” means. We claim that our tax laws favor the rich, but we fail to show that higher taxes will actually solve our problems. Unfortunately, saying that higher taxes are fairer and would solve our problems does not make it so.

Legend has it that a man asked Abraham Lincoln for some appropriation, citing questionable facts to support his request. In denying the request, Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?” “Five,” the man replied, to which Lincoln answered, “No, four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one.”

Is it too much to ask that we stop pretending that taxing the rich will solve our debt and deficit problems?

Scott Hoover is an associate professor of finance at Washington and Lee University. He is the author of How to Get a Job on Wall Street: Proven Ways to Land a High-Paying, High-Power Job and Stock Valuation: An Essential Guide to Wall Street’s Most Popular Valuation Models. Contact him at hoovers@wlu.edu.

W&L Offers Two Evenings of Seasonal Holiday Music

Come and kick-off the holiday season with the W&L Men’s Glee Club, Cantatrici (W&L women’s choir), the University Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble and the W&L Swing for a family-friendly evening of seasonal holiday music.  Two identical concerts will be presented, on Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in Wilson Concert Hall in the Lenfest Center at Washington and Lee.

The earlier start time is intended to allow families to come and hear the festive music.  Tickets are free but required and may be picked up at the Lenfest Box Office.  Due to the large performer setup, seating will be limited.

The concert will open with pieces from Chanticleer’s Christmas Spiritual Medley and then move immediately to favorites such as Carol of the Bell, The First Nowell and Sleigh Ride performed around the audience by Cantatrici and the W&L Swing.

The University String and Wind Ensembles will close the concert with energetic renditions of The Eighth Candle and Sleigh Ride before closing with Leroy Anderson’s classic A Christmas Festival that will include a festival audience sing-along. It is sure to be a great evening of joyous music for the entire family.

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Antique Scientific Instruments Show How W&L Students Used to Learn

An exhibit of 19th-century scientific instruments on the main floor of the Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University shows how students used to study physics, chemistry, mathematics, surveying and other scientific disciplines.

Yolanda Merrill, humanities librarian and associate professor, originated the idea for the exhibit after noticing similar instruments on display in the library’s Boatwright Room. “I thought they were very pretty, but I never knew where they came from,” she said.

• See Gallery Below

Tom Williams, who retired last May after teaching physics at W&L for almost 40 years, told Merrill that many more such instruments lay unidentified and uncategorized in the attic of W&L’s Science Center. “Every physics department has an attic filled with this stuff because physicists can’t throw anything away,” admitted Williams. “Some of the items, like those on display in this exhibit, are well worth keeping and chronicling.”

Williams and Merrill collaborated in selecting items for the exhibit, concentrating on those that were most interesting, aesthetically pleasing and practical. “We had to move a lot of dusty items to get to other dusty items,” said Williams.

Merrill, who acknowledges she has no scientific background, cleaned the selected items for exhibit and prepared captions with the assistance of Williams and Tom Greenslade, professor emeritus of physics at Kenyon College, who researches the history of science

“One thing I learned was that hardly any of these are stand-alone instruments,” said Merrill. “They all have to be attached to something else such as a jar or a pump in order to work. That’s why I can’t do demonstrations with them. But all these instruments do turn and move and you’re allowed to touch them.”

Williams said that one of his favorite instruments among those on display is the Wimshurst electrostatic generator. “This device has a crank handle that you turn and through an arrangement of pulleys it turns and rubs metal discs against a brush and generates electricity, the same way you might in scraping your feet against a rug in winter time and touching a doorknob,” he explained.

Williams added that Benjamin Franklin used an electrostatic generator to make public displays of electrical experiments to shock people. “He would have five or six people hold hands and one touch here and another touch there and they would all be shocked. It was also a popular entertainment to show sparks and how things moved because of electricity,” he said.

He went on to describe how in the 1970s he and Taylor Sanders, W&L emeritus professor of history, took this particular electrostatic generator on tour. “Taylor lectured on the college curriculum in the sciences in 18th-century America, and I did a series of electrical experiments. We would put this item in the trunk of our car and carry it around as part of our show and tell,” he remembered.

Both Merrill and Williams pointed out the attraction of another instrument, Thacher’s Calculating Device, on display in a glass cabinet. “It’s quite fun,” said Williams, “It’s a precursor to the slide rule, which is a precursor to the calculator and the computer. It’s not only historically interesting but pretty to look at. We’ve also displayed the instruction book that came with it.”

Other favorites are the optical devices and prisms displayed in a cabinet near the front entrance. “They are gorgeous,” said Merrill. Williams pointed out that such items are still used quite often in class and demonstrations today. “But they are not nearly as pretty as these prisms, which are French and beautifully made,” he said.

Unable to identify one of the items on display, instead of a caption Merrill wrote “What is this?” on a card. Williams noted that one person wrote that the item was a string model of a hyperboloid. “That is correct,” he said. “It was a way of demonstrating a three dimensional surface by simply stretching strings and attaching them to different points.”

Williams explained that although computer demonstrations have displaced much of what used to be the standard way of teaching, many of the instruments on display could still be used in teaching today. Merrill added that she hopes the exhibit will make students curious as to how people 100 years ago used these instruments to try and achieve the same things students do now on high tech computers. “In a way it was a much more joyful way to understand science,” she said.

Student feedback on the exhibit has been positive. “I’ve had several students tell me that this is the most awesome exhibit they’ve seen,” said Merrill.

Merrill is a member of the University Collections of Art and History committee, and she pointed out that one of their missions is to highlight university collections. “This was part of the collections that was sitting in the dark and unseen and I wanted to bring it out,” she said. She is also creating a website as an online inventory of the items on display that will last after the exhibit concludes at the end of the academic year.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director
stschiggfrie@wlu.edu
540-458-8235

W&L's Blaise Buma Addresses International Youth Summit

In a speech to 1,200 youths from 170 countries earlier this fall, Washington and Lee University junior Blaise Buma urged attendees at the One Young World summit to support a resolution calling for leaders in Africa who have ruled for more than a decade to hand over power to the next generation.

Buma, a mathematics and economics double major from Cameroon, was one of 32 delegates chosen to debate six key resolutions at the summit.

“It was quite a momentous event for me,” Buma said in an email exchange from London where he is spending the year on a study abroad program at the London School of Economics. “I was about to open the session on leadership when we got the news that President Nicolas Sarkozy had tuned in to watch. I had come to the summit with the hope of sending a strong message to world leaders about the grievances that young people like me feel about their performances as leaders. I could not in my wildest imagination have thought that President Sarkozy would be watching when I spoke.”

• See Video Below

Buma said he was mindful of the fact that France enjoys “a cozy relationship” with Cameroon and all other former French colonies in Africa. “Indirectly, my speech was also a message to President Sarkozy because those African dictators wouldn’t be in power in the first place without French support,” he said.

The One Young World summit was held in Zurich, Switzerland, in September. It was the second such summit, designed to give young people a platform to partner with world leaders in solving issues facing the world today. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, musician and activist Bob Geldof, Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Antony Jenkins, CEO of Global Retail Banking for Barclay’s, and other notables joined the delegates for the event.

Buma said that the opportunity to network with those luminaries made his experience at the summit one of the most memorable moments in his life. “I was encouraged and inspired by their passion, motivation and works,” he said. “I met ambitious and talented young people from all walks of life who had already achieved so much and were eager to share their learning and experiences with others. When I left Cameroon to study abroad at Washington and Lee, I wanted to immerse myself in a different environment and learn about different cultures. One Young World was a unique opportunity for me to do exactly that. I made many new friends from diverse backgrounds and I had the chance to talk with them and learn about their perspectives on different global issues.”

As a result of attending the summit, Buma is currently working with other One Young World delegates to establish an organization that will provide an efficient mechanism for providing relief aid to disaster-stricken regions of the world such as the Horn of Africa and Haiti. “The advantage of being part of the One Young World family is that we have thousands of counselors and ambassadors to reach out to if we need any help or support,” he said. As an example, Buma pointed out that former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who co-founded Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiéres), is advising the new venture.

Buma, who comes from a middle income family and went to public school in Cameroon, said that he is passionate about world affairs and politics. He stressed that his native country is rich in resources and has great potential. “But as with most other African countries, the resources are a curse and not a blessing,” he said. “Our leaders are more concerned with enriching themselves off the resources than in helping young Cameroons to realize their potential.” He added that, in his opinion, “corruption, lack of transparency, diseases, famine, wars, economic stagnation and many other problems common in Africa are symptoms of poor leadership.”

In his speech at the One Young World summit, Buma told the delegates: “As a young man growing up in Cameroon, I dreamed of a better future for my country. I even dreamed of becoming a leader in my country one day. But those dreams were dashed when I grew up and confronted the grim realities of my society.

“People are fed up with a failed system rife with corruption, such as the one I grew up in, and become apathetic to the political process and leave it entirely up to politicians to do with it as they see fit. As a result they become unrepresented, disempowered and disenfranchised.”

Citing the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, he also noted that technology has enabled the free flow of information on the Internet and that “young people today are more empowered than any other generation of youths before them.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                             In conclusion, Buma called on world leaders to reform the United Nations and for Africa, India and Brazil to have permanent seats at the United Nations Security Council.

“For me, W&L has provided a gateway into the world,” said Buma. “I was attracted by W&L’s commitment to help me realize my potential. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when other schools were cutting back funding for international students,W&L awarded me financial aid covering more than 90 percent of the cost of my education.”

Now at the London School of Economics, Buma said that the support he receives as a member of the W&L community has extended beyond the campus. “I have met many alumni here in London who are very supportive of my initiatives. Right now I am teaming up with an alum to continue my effort of collecting and sending books to my former high school in Cameroon,” he said.

Buma’s attendance at the One Young World summit was supported by a Johnson Opportunity Grant and the Eric T. Wooley Fellowship. He also received support from W&L Provost Bob Strong, Laurent Boetsche, director of the Center for International Education, Dean of the College Alison Bell and Amy Richwine, international student advisor.

Watch a video of Buma’s participation below:

Further information on One Young World can be found at www.oneyoungworld.com/home.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director
stschiggfrie@wlu.edu
540-458-8235


From Words to Windows: Elizabeth O'Byrne ’00

For more than two centuries, students, professors and staff have watched the comings and goings of their colleagues from the windows of the Colonnade. With the historic structures now under renovation, one of those students is helping preserve those windows. Liz O’Byrne ’00 and her two-year-old company, O’Byrne Contracting Inc., restored the windows of Payne Hall, which re-opened this fall after a year of construction. She’s on tap to work on other buildings around campus, including the rest of the Colonnade.

O’Byrne, who grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., developed an interest in construction and how things work as a child. When she was 12, she bought lumber with her babysitting money and built her own room in the basement. With guidance from her dad and from books, O’Byrne put up stud walls and hung the drywall. “I was surprised when she took on that project. She’s a very motivated lady, but I didn’t extrapolate that into a future career,” said her father, Michael O’Byrne. “I thought she just wanted a space away from her sister.”

Despite that early start in the construction business, O’Byrne came to W&L to be a reporter, graduating with a major in journalism and mass communications. “The academic side of it appealed to me,” she said. “You stand up and hold government accountable and stand up for the little guys, and I loved that. I thought that journalism would really be like that, and it wasn’t.”

It was only after buying and remodeling her house in Lexington, a project she took on herself, that O’Byrne considered construction as a career. She started digging ditches for a company in town, moving through the ranks until she became a project manager. As for her formal qualifications, O’Byrne said, “Most of construction is really hands-on and learning it that way.”

W&L hired O’Byrne to handle the windows for the Colonnade project due to her professional experience in the preservation of glass. “She has a unique process for refurbishment and restoration of historical elements of the buildings,” said Tom Kalasky, director of design and construction at W&L.

O’Byrne first restored windows as a project manager for another contracting company. Doing so without breaking the glass can be tricky. The window sashes are removed from the building and transported to a shop, where someone must remove the putty that attaches the glass to the wood, restore the windows and then transport them back to the building. In this process, there are five opportunities to break the glass. Steam is often used to soften the putty and allow the glass to be removed. Afraid of raising the grain of the wood with steam, however, O’Byrne’s previous employer cut the putty out of the sashes, breaking around 80 percent of the glass in the process.

After reading about steam and talking to people who had used it, O’Byrne had a steam cabinet built and began to experiment on window sashes she purchased from an antique mall. She developed a process that worked beautifully, so when she started her own company in 2009, she took it with her.

O’Byrne Contracting is based in Fairfield, north of Lexington. “I wanted to do my own thing,” she said. “There is a lot of risk and there’s a lot of reward, too. I decided that eventually I want to be the one make the decisions.”

Walking onto her company’s first job, O’Byrne said, “I had been thinking of my company as an experiment. I was very intimidated at first and then it got better. Now that I have a shop, tools, more infrastructure and everything else, it’s not my little thing that I do out of the back out of my house. Now it’s a real job.”

Besides window restoration, the company focuses on commercial construction for businesses and universities. Often companies hire her to fulfill punch lists by seeing to the final details of a project, such as retouching paint and realigning ceiling tiles.

O’Byrne plans to grow her business, starting with getting a bond. The state requires a bond on jobs over $100,000 to cover the financial risk. She can see herself taking a break from commercial construction and using her creativity and design skills to remodel homes.

Don’t think she has left her journalism major behind. “It was good, because it lets me write good proposals in order to get work, and it taught me to do research,” she said. She also finds it beneficial knowing how to do “the more pragmatic research, which is more, ‘where do I find this,’ and clever ways of thinking and approaching problems.” She can also speak Spanish, which comes in handy on a construction site. “She’s a real go-getter,” Kalasky said.

Of O’Byrne’s status as a graduate who is helping to renovate the Colonnade, he added, “There’s a sense of stewardship.”

— Story by Campbell Massie
— Photographs by Kevin Remington


W&L's Annual Christmas Candlelight Service Dec. 8

Washington and Lee University’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service, which dates from 1880, will be held Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. in Lee Chapel. Seating will begin at 7:15 p.m.

The public is invited to the presentation. Admissions is free, and no tickets are required.

The “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” broadcast each year from King’s College Chapel, University of Cambridge, and widely used in England, the United States and around the world, is an ancient form for corporate worship at the Christmas season. The prayers, lessons and music tell the story of sacred history from the Creation to the Incarnation.

Music for the traditional service again will be provided by the University Chamber Singers, this year conducted by Shane M. Lynch, director of choral activities. Timothy Gaylard, professor of music, will be the organist for the service.

Nine members of the W&L community are chosen to read the lessons.  The Rev. Tom Crittenden, the Rector at R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church will be presiding over the service.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954


A Thanksgiving Memory from Stacy Morrison '90

As you’re flipping through the November issue of “Martha Stewart Living” magazine, reading the advice about wine, pie, turkey and  leftovers, don’t miss the last page. There you will find an essay, “Home Is Where the Art Is,” by Washington and Lee alumna Stacy Morrison, of the Class of 1990.

Stacy is the former editor of “Redbook” magazine and the author of a well-reviewed 2010 memoir, Falling Apart in One Piece, about her divorce. We blogged about the book when it came out; you can read that here. Her “Martha Stewart Living” essay describes a Thanksgiving during that tumultuous time, and how she found solace in two creative pursuits: painting the bedroom of her new apartment while also preparing a feast for her family.

“The first turkey I’d ever roasted came out perfect,” writes Stacy in the essay. Looking at her freshly painted bedroom, “the satisfaction I felt ran deeper than I could have imagined.”

The essay isn’t online, but you can read more about Stacy at her website.


W&L Students Choose Art Around Campus

Student interns with the Washington and Lee Collections of Art and History (UCAH) had an assignment this summer to roam around the campus and find two pieces of art that had gained their attention. And that meant looking everywhere: offices and common spaces, nooks and crannies.

Once they identified their favorites, they had to research them, provide information on the pieces and tell why they liked them.

The result is Art On Campus, a microsite where you can view videos of the interns describing their choices.

The summer internship, based in the Reeves Center, is a highly selective annual program. Pat Hobbs, associate director of University Collections, emphasizes that the interns aren’t all art majors, either. “This year we had 17 applicants, and we could hire only five,” said Pat. “And it’s not just for art majors. Our student interns had a wide variety of majors, such as Japanese language, Chinese language, math, physics, philosophy and history.”


W&L Senior on Chinese TV

When Washington and Lee senior Morten Wendelbo undertook two weeks’ study in Beijing, China, little did he know that he would wind up appearing on a Chinese television show. He is appearing today on “Dialogue,” a program on China’s state-run, 24-hour news station, CCTV News.

Morten is meeting analysts, researchers and academics while he researches his thesis on global politics. Guiding his work are W&L politics professors Tyler Dickovick and Ayse Zarakol.

How did he land a TV spot? “One of my contacts here in Beijing, a professor at one of the capital´s universities, recommended me to the TV station to participate after meeting with me this past week,” Morten wrote in an email from Beijing.

According to Morten, the particular edition of the show is focused on youth and the perception of China-U.S. and China-West relations. He will join two Chinese students and an American student. Although Morten is from Aalborg, Denmark, the producers consider him an American student.

Morten’s thesis focuses on Chinese policy toward Taiwan, and the consequences of that relationship for international security. In particular, he is examining the shaping forces of nationalism with respect to how policy emerges.

In addition to his global politics major, Morten has 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 was named General of the Month for September.


Higher Education — The Cost, The Price, The Value

This summer, the editors W&L: The Magazine of Washington and Lee talked with President Ken Ruscio ’76 about two interrelated topics that are not only in the headlines but also very much on President Ruscio’s mind: the cost and the price of higher education. Here is our conversation.

Q: These are turbulent and uncertain times, not just for higher education but for our entire economy. As president of Washington and Lee, how are you managing the challenges facing the University?

I have three touchstones. The first is ambition. I take seriously the leadership principle that all of us have an obligation to leave things better than we found them. If that lesson has resonance anywhere, it’s at Washington and Lee. For two and a half centuries, this University has constantly improved itself in order to prepare its students for a challenging future. Because we have benefited from the wisdom of those who came before us, we have an obligation to be ever mindful of those who will come after us. In 2007, the trustees endorsed a plan designed to build upon our traditional strengths and enable us to remain distinctive in the world of higher education. It is a uniquely Washington and Lee plan that was appropriate before the economic downturn and now seems even more appropriate.

The second touchstone is discipline. Our ambition is laser-like, not scattered, and even without the necessity of adjusting to new economic realities, we had decided to concentrate on our core mission, pursuing our needs, not our wants. We’ve had to make some tough choices. Our tuition increases have been restrained. We’ve set clear priorities in how we spend our resources and identified ways to trim costs on a number of fronts. Because of the direction provided by the strategic plan and the effects of the economic downturn, we have become highly disciplined in our decision-making.

The third touchstone is excellence. Amidst all the turmoil in higher education, there’s precious little discussion about how to maintain excellence, at least the kind of academic excellence those of us associated with W&L seem to grasp intuitively. We can’t achieve our educational goals without the close personal relationships that characterize everything we do, whether in small classes, in work between students and faculty outside the classroom, in guidance by staff members, or in the friendships that come from spending four years with interesting and bright classmates from all over. In the world of higher education, liberal arts colleges should be the gold standard for excellence. In the liberal arts world, Washington and Lee should be the gold standard.

Q: You mentioned “turmoil in higher education.” What do you mean by that, and what does it mean for Washington and Lee?

During the last couple of decades, colleges and universities have drifted into a pattern of trying to be all things to all people. Large universities promoted their research activities, even as they claimed to be focusing on undergraduate students. Small colleges expanded their programs by offering very specialized degrees, sometimes at the graduate level. The next decade and beyond will bring a period of differentiation, requiring colleges to decide firmly who they are and what makes them distinctive.

While Washington and Lee was not completely immune from the tendency to be all things to all people, we fared better than most. We remained small, and we still have no intention of increasing the size of the student body. We remained committed to finding the very best students, and to recruiting the kind of faculty who are challenged by teaching the very best students. Our careful blend of liberal arts and professional programs in business, law and journalism distinguishes us from other national liberal arts colleges. Our continuing commitment to educating students for character also-sadly, in some ways-sets us apart. When I say this is Washington and Lee’s moment of leadership in the liberal arts world, that’s what I mean. Our approach to the liberal arts is distinctive and one that other institutions will try to emulate in the coming years. We didn’t have to re-teach ourselves how to be distinctive.

Q: In the last year or so, there’s been a series of critiques of higher education, sometimes focusing on cost, other times focusing on how students are not learning. How do those critiques apply or not apply to Washington and Lee?

At the risk of over-simplifying, there are two general themes in the critiques. One is that college is unaffordable. The other is that colleges are ineffective. They come together in the conclusion that college isn’t worth the investment. The difficulty, though, is that the remedy for high costs often diminishes the ability to provide excellence.

Here’s what I mean: America’s system of higher education is the most diverse in the world. Public and private institutions, large and small, good and bad, religious and secular, all exist alongside each other. Not in perfect harmony by any means, but in a way that creates a system of enormous variety. The sources of this complexity are historical, political, economic and, in some cases, just serendipitous. But it means that generalizations about higher education must carry the standard disclaimer: It all depends on the type of college under discussion. Broad-brush commentaries crumble under the weight of so many exceptions.

It is particularly difficult for liberal arts colleges to recognize themselves in general discussions of higher education. Less than 5 percent of students reside in liberal arts colleges. And the selective and financially sound institutions, such as W&L, are a minority within that minority. Not only do generalizations about higher education rarely apply to Washington and Lee, but generalizations about liberal arts colleges rarely apply to us.

So when I read commentaries about faculty not teaching anymore, I don’t see Washington and Lee in that story. Our faculty have the highest teaching loads among the top national liberal arts colleges. And when I read that college students aren’t asked to write papers or speak in class or work directly with faculty on research projects, I am reassured by what we are doing at W&L.

Q: Another part of the critique is that colleges have rested on those claims for years without any formal assessment. How does Washington and Lee know that it is achieving what it claims to be achieving?

When we were writing W&L’s mission statement in the late 1980s, the concept of assessment was beginning to get a lot of attention. The group charged with writing the statement was told that we should write it so that we can measure what we say and do. We looked at things like the value of associations between faculty and staff, and at an education that seeks to inculcate honor and integrity. There was an argument that we should take these out, because we’re never going to be able to measure those qualities. We finally said, no, we’re putting it in there, because it says what we’re trying to accomplish.

That is not to suggest that we are not actively engaged in assessment. We participate on a regular basis in national studies such as the College Learning Assessment and the National Survey of Student Engagement, among others. We are generally gratified by the results that often show us above our peer institutions on many of these measures. At the same time, we pay attention to areas where the data show that we may not be as effective as we would hope to be.

But to be perfectly candid, the features that define a quality liberal arts education are among the hardest to measure and quantify, so it becomes especially problematic for an institution like W&L when the discussion turns to assessment and accountability. Being asked to prove that you are doing what you claim to be doing is a perfectly legitimate question. But some of the most important outcomes of a liberal arts education, and a Washington and Lee education specifically, do not lend themselves to metrics that inspire a lot of confidence.

Philosophers argue that the mere attempt to measure something like love or friendship strips the concept of its defining characteristics. Attempts to capture our progress in teaching integrity, empathy or trustworthiness are similarly problematic, not simply because it’s a technically daunting challenge, but because even the attempt to do so is at odds with the essentially qualitative nature of the concept itself.

To divert ourselves from those educational goals and focus on ones we can accurately measure, just because we can measure them, is to compromise our loftiest ambitions and define away what has historically made a W&L education something more than merely a college education. The understandable effort these days to determine whether a degree is worth it makes life difficult for a college that educates students for lives of integrity and purpose, develops their ability to reason ethically and critically, teaches them to be aware of their obligations to others, helps them discover their individuality even as they commit themselves to the betterment of their community, and sends them forth with the courage of their convictions-as well as the humility to know they still have much to learn. At Washington and Lee, we need enough confidence in the enterprise that we can live with the ambiguity.

Q: You have not yet addressed the other part of the critique you mentioned-the cost of higher education. Isn’t afford-ability a challenge for schools like Washington and Lee?

Absolutely. And I have my own personal set of indicators.

When I was at W&L in the 1970s, I had a summer job that enabled me to earn tuition-tuition when I graduated from W&L was $2,400. It was a fantastic summer job, and I worked hard and earned $2,200. It essentially paid my tuition.

The next marker I have is 1990, when my son, Matthew, was born. Kim and I decided to put away $200 a month with the idea that over 18 years, we would invest it, and that it would largely offset the cost of a private higher education.

But today, no student could ever earn tuition over the summer for a place like W&L, or probably any college for that matter; certainly not at a private liberal arts college. If you put yourself in the place of a parent today, saving $200 a month simply doesn’t seem enough to cover the sticker price of college, especially for families with a few children. The economics of paying for college may have changed. But so has the psychology. We have a challenge to explain the economics of higher education in the midst of these changing perceptions.

Q: How can that be explained?

For one thing, price and cost are different. The price of a W&L education is about $50,000 per year. The cost is about $70,000. Everyone who attends Washington and Lee, even the so-called full-pay students, receives a discount. Those who do not pay the full sticker price receive a greater discount in the form of financial aid. Some of that financial aid comes from annual revenues and the operating budget. Some of it comes from funds in the endowment dedicated to scholarship support. Thus, the greater the endowment, the greater the ability of the college to provide a quality education. It enables all students to benefit from a high-cost education without paying the full cost, even when they are paying the full price.

It also enables the University to admit the best students regardless of their ability to pay-and one of the markers of quality in a liberal arts college is the overall quality of the students who share a classroom. Unlike a business, Washington and Lee isn’t indifferent about who purchases its product. We try to assemble a class defined not by the individual capacity of the students to pay, but by their academic and personal promise.

The sticker price is also not exactly like how a business determines a price for its product. It is the result of a complex three-sided relationship: endowment (or subsidy); the full cost of delivering the service; and the revenue needed annually to meet costs not covered by endowment, including the cost of financial aid to attract highly qualified students who cannot pay the full price. One of the consequences of this triangular relationship is that the stronger the endowment, the less pressure to raise the price to meet costs. That is, in fact, one of the best ways to describe our current strategic plan. We are seeking endowments to support financial aid, which will mean less reliance on tuition revenue to cover the cost of financial aid, which will mean less pressure on the sticker price.

From a purely economic standpoint, in other words, Washington and Lee’s circumstances are straightforward, and our strategy makes perfect sense. There are always hard decisions to be made. There are always lines to hold on costs. There are always pleas to do certain things that need to be resisted because they stretch what we mean by “core mission.” But structurally we have things lined up as they should be. We have imposed the discipline to do only things we need to do to advance our mission and improve quality, and not do the things we cavalierly want to do just because they’re a nice idea.

Q: That’s a complicated story to tell prospective students and their families, not to mention donors choosing to invest in Washington and Lee.

Yes, while people like me are immersed in these details every day, I recognize that sometimes the details obscure the basic principles. So here are some shorthand ways of thinking about it.

First, W&L’s plan to build endowment to support financial aid is an affordability strategy. It keeps pressure off tuition increases for those who are not receiving financial aid. And it enables us to create what I call a Dean Gilliam approach for the 21st century. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard from alumni who, as students during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, found themselves in a financial bind and were rescued by a scholarship somehow created on the spot by Dean Gilliam. We want to admit the very best students regardless of their economic backgrounds. We want to preserve the meritocracy.

Second, here is an indicator I watch carefully. Compared to our peers-the top national liberal arts colleges-our overall costs are below the mean. Within that measure, however, is another data point: the resources we devote to education and instruction, as opposed to what might be called administrative overhead. For us, that is well above the mean. We spend money where it has the greatest direct impact on the education of our students. It is an efficiency indicator, and a quality indicator.

Third, unless we want to become a different college than what we are now, we have to admit to ourselves that the features of the University that ensure academic excellence are and will continue to be costly. Science labs; instruction in the arts, music and theater; information technology; putting students out into the world through study abroad and special projects; small classes with highly qualified faculty-the list goes on. The headwinds of cost facing higher education are strong across the board, but they are especially strong at a high-quality liberal arts college such as Washington and Lee. The answer is to have a clear sense of mission, confidence in who we are, and a commitment to devote our resources to the things that matter.

Q: It appears that many people see higher education in terms of a commodity instead of an investment these days. Do you think it’s still possible to talk about a college education as a long-term investment?

When I went to college nearly 40 years ago, there was a notion that was part of your fiber-you would sacrifice to get a college education. You would sacrifice in the short term because you saw it as a long-term investment. So you would save, you would work very hard in the summer, your parents would make compromises. My father said to me, “You choose your college. I will do whatever it takes to get you through.” It’s only recently that I realized what that meant for him-a significant commitment that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. A college education wasn’t viewed as a product that you consumed. It was viewed much more as a privilege, as an investment over a lifetime.

As we think about how we frame this idea of investment in the future, I believe it has to be a values-based argument, as a philosophical argument about what you’re going to get out of higher education: You’re going to learn things about yourself and about the world during your four years here that you otherwise would not. And that will serve you well throughout your life.

When I talk with some of our alumni who have led very successful and very well-compensated lives, they tell me that every day, when they come to their office, they are thinking about leadership and integrity, and it’s all due to W&L. We have affected the way they do their jobs and the way they lead their lives. These are not isolated stories. I hear repeated testimonials. What I want for my successors is that when they go out and talk to students who are graduating today, they will hear those same stories about our alumni’s experiences at Washington and Lee.


W&L's DeLaney Discusses Civil War on NPR Affiliate WMRA

Ted DeLaney, chair of the Department of  History and the Harry E. and Mary Jayne W. Redenbaugh Term Professor at Washington and Lee, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” program on Monday, Nov. 21, for a discussion of the Civil War.

He was joined on the live call-in show by historian Ed Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and co-host of the syndicated public radio program “BackStory,” with the American History Guys.

DeLaney is a 1985 graduate of W&L.

Listen to to the entire archived show below:


Wedding Planner to the Stars

When Eva Amurri, daughter of actor Susan Sarandon, married Kyle Martino in Charleston, S.C., earlier this month, their black-tie reception was the work of Washington and Lee alumna Calder Britt Clark, of the Class of 1999.

Calder’s company, Calder Clark Designs, was cited in the People magazine article about the Amurri-Martino wedding. It’s the latest publicity that the company has received for its work in Charleston.

In addition to the People magazine mention, Calder was quoted last month in the Los Angeles Times, which did a feature on October weddings that included images from a Halloween wedding she planned.

Calder started her design work in Washington, D.C., where she worked with Design Cuisine and, according to the bio on her company website, planned such events as the 2001 inaugural luncheon, the Kennedy Center Honors, a Rockefeller-Carnegie wedding, and the Bloomberg News/White House Correspondents’ Dinner after-party.

She moved to Charleston and opened Blue Moon Events in 2006. It eventually became Calder Clark Designs, which plans a “limited number of exclusive weddings and events annually.” You can keep up with Calder’s work on her blog.


Praise for W&L Law Alum

Ernani DeAraujo, a 2008 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, received praise last month for his work as neighborhood liaison for Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino.

Ernani joined Adrian Madaro, legislative aide to Massachusetts State Representative Carlo Basile, in assisting East Boston residents who were displaced by the collapse of one building and the subsequent demolition of another.

Ernani helped 70 affected citizens find housing and made sure that they had food and support.

A story in the East Boston Times-Free Press provided details of Ernani’s work during the crisis.


Liberal Arts Grads Report High Satisfaction, New Study Finds

A new study of the graduates of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, including Washington and Lee University, has found that alumni of these institutions report higher levels of satisfaction with their college experience than graduates of any other types of colleges.

The study was commissioned by the Annapolis Group, a consortium of America’s leading liberal arts institutions. W&L is one of 130 residential liberal arts institutions that compose the organization. The member schools commissioned the survey to determine how their graduates perceive their undergraduate experience.

Conducted by Hardwick Day, a higher-education consulting firm, the study is based on 2,700 telephone interviews. An earlier study was conducted in 2002, and the current data were collected during the summer of 2011. The study explored the lasting effects of college in such areas as career preparation and advancement, skill development, development of personal and professional values and attitude, and community involvement.

Some of the key findings:

  • 75 percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their overall undergraduate experience as “excellent,” compared to 53 percent for graduates of flagship public universities;
  • 79 percent of liberal arts college graduates report benefiting “very much” from high-quality teaching-oriented faculty, compared to 63 percent for private universities and 40 percent for alumni of flagship public universities;
  • 88 percent of liberal arts graduates said there was a sense of community among students, compared to 79 percent for private universities and 63 percent for public flagship universities;
  • 89 percent of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor or role model, most frequently a professor, while in college, compared with 66 percent for public flagship universities.
  • 56 percent of liberal arts college graduated reported that they worked directly with professors on independent study or faculty-directed research compared with 42 percent at private universities and 35 percent at public flagship universities.

“Although the results of this study are not at all surprising to those of us who have long understood the benefits of the liberal arts model of education, it is heartening to see that alumni of our institutions report a strong sense of satisfaction,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “In particular, the impressive percentage (89 percent) of those who indicate that they found a mentor while in college speaks to what we at Washington and Lee have always valued so highly in our teacher-scholars.”

Liberal arts college graduates also are more likely to graduate in four years or less, giving them a head start on their careers. Several of the results were directly concerned with career preparation. For instance:

  • 60 percent of liberal arts college graduates said they felt “better prepared” for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34 percent who attended public flagship universities;
  • 76 percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly  for preparing them for their first job, compared to 66 percent who attended public flagship universities.

James H. Day, director of the study and a principal of Hardwick Day, notes that “on virtually all measures known to contribute to positive outcomes, graduates of liberal arts colleges rate their experience more highly than do graduates of private or public universities.”  He added that alumni of all three types of institutions — liberal arts colleges, private universities and flagship public universities — were more likely in the 2011 survey to rate their overall experience as “excellent” than was the case in the 2002  survey. The increase was particularly pronounced for graduates of liberal arts colleges, who went from 66 to 77 percent, and of public universities, who went from 41 to 53 percent.

The study found that graduates of liberal arts colleges are more likely than graduates of both private and public universities to give their college a high effectiveness rating for helping them learn to write and speak effectively.

In addition, the study concluded that liberal arts college graduates are more likely than alumni of other types of institutions to say all of the following about their college experience:

  • Their professors often challenged them academically and personally helped them meet those challenges;
  • Most of their grades were based on essay exams and written reports;
  • Their experience often included extensive classroom discussions;
  • They participated in faculty-directed research or independent study;
  • They often engaged in conversations with professors outside of class;
  • They participated in service learning or community service;
  • They were involved in an extracurricular activity.

A PDF version of the study’s executive summary and a PowerPoint presentation of the findings are available at the links below:

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

W&L Mock Trial Team Claims 2nd at Major Event

Washington and Lee’s Mock Trial “A” team won second place at the Eighth Annual Great American Mock Trial Invitational (GAMTI) in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Only 23 out of the 600 mock trial teams in the U.S. were invited to compete in the invitational, hosted by the University of Virginia.

During the two-day tournament, each team competed in four trials, two rounds as prosecution and two rounds as defense.  Rounds followed standard court procedure, with a jury and presiding judge. The trial took place at the Moultrie Courthouse in downtown Washington.

The W&L team finished behind the University of Virginia’s “A” team and ahead of the University of Georgia, Virginia’s “B” team and Duke University.

The W&L team faced some challenges in making it to the top.  While other teams started preparing in August, W&L had one less month to practice for the trial due to its academic calendar.

Matt Rasmussen, a third-year law student, assisted the team in preparation for the invitational.  Rasmussen commended the students on their commitment to Mock Trial. “The team spent the week before the competition running practices once a day for several hours,” he said. “They are an extremely gifted and dedicated group who come to practice every day ready to work.”

The “A” team had only three returning members from a year ago: Chris Schneck, a senior from Exton, Pa., who is president of W&L’s Mock Trial and captain of the “A” team; junior Nate Reisinger of Urbana, Ohio, external vice president; and junior Abbie Caudill of Urbana, Ohio, internal vice president.  The remaining five members of the team include four first-years, John Houser of Chaptico, Md., Samantha Sisler of Worcester, Pa., Elizabeth Elium of Garrettsville, Ohio, and Jackie Yarbro of Suwanee, Ga. Christina Lowry of Lexington is the lone sophomore member.

Schneck, the only senior who competed at GAMTI, believes that the young Mock Trial team has promise. “Despite our inexperience, we were still able to take second at GAMTI. This is a great sign for the future.”

The team will again compete in Durham, N.C., on the weekend of November 18-20.

To learn more about the Mock Trial team at Washington and Lee, visit their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/wlumocktrial, or follow them on Twitter, mockeybalboa@twitter.

— by Heyward Brockinton ’12


Lacey Putney Wins Another Term in Virginia House

When Washington and Lee alumnus Lacey Putney, of the undergraduate Class of 1950 and the law Class of 1957, heads back to Richmond in January 2012 for the opening of the General Assembly, it will mark the 50th anniversary of the day that he first arrived in the House of Delegates.

Lacey was first elected in 1961. The Bedford, Va., Independent was reelected this month with 42 percent of the vote, which was 10 percent more than the Republican candidate and 16 percent more than the Democrat in the race. Although a comfortable margin, it was nothing like the 70 percent majorities that he’s had in recent elections that were not three-candidate affairs. This was also the first election since Lacey’s district, the 19th, had been redrawn. It now consists of the cities of Bedford and Covington, all of Alleghany County, parts of Bedford County and all but one precinct in Botetourt County.

The 83-year-old chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee will be back for his 51st year.  He is second only to a state senator in Wisconsin (55 years) as the longest-serving state legislator in the United States.

Lacey also has won some awards earlier this year, including one from the Virginia Governmental Employees Association; we blogged about them here.


Lauren Acker ’12, Daniel Hsu ’14 Named Generals of the Month

Washington and Lee University students Lauren Acker and Daniel Hsu will be recognized at the Generals of the Month presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 12:10 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Lauren Acker, a senior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is majoring in sociology and anthropology with an emphasis on anthropology.  She belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa, Lambda Alpha National Honor Society for Anthropology, Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Division III Academic Honor Society. She is a scholar-athlete.

Acker is the president and student founder of 23, an organization whose mission is to create and strengthen a united community of student-athletes by strengthening a sense of personal responsibility and wellness among student-athletes through risk reduction and bystander intervention. She also is captain of the 2011-12 lacrosse team and treasurer of Student Environmental Action League (SEAL).

Daniel Hsu, a sophomore from Richardson, Texas, is majoring in neuroscience. He is the resident advisor for the International House and was the W&L Resident Advisor of the Month for October. He is on the Campus Kitchen (CKWL) leadership staff, co-president of Pan Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE) and co-chair of issues and awareness for the Nabors Service League.

Hsu is a clinic and client-support intern at the Rockbridge Free Clinic and a youth mentor with NEXT Afterschool Program (middle-school children). He also is a Bonner Scholar, historian of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society and a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society.

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.

Acker and Hsu 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 held during lunch in the Marketplace in the Elrod Commons on Dec. 7, Jan. 25, Feb. 15, March 21, April 11 and May 9.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

W&L's Timothy Jost on the Supreme Court Review of Health Care Law

On Nov. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act, setting aside more than five hours next spring for oral argument on this hotly debated issue. Washington and Lee law professor and health care expert Timothy Jost, who believes the law is constitutional, commented on this development in several media outlets, as well as his blog on the Health Affairs website.

Given that several federal circuits have issued decisions on the health care law, the Court had their pick of cases. The justice ultimately elected to hear the case from the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals, which struck down the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Jost told the Washington Times that choosing the case from 11th Circuit made sense because the “case raises all the important issues.”

One of the key questions is whether the health care law can remain intact without the individual mandate. Several experts confirmed in a U.S News and World Report story that even without mandate, most of the law’s provisions will stand. However, Jost argued that the result will mean more expensive insurance for many Americans. “Health insurance would be more expensive for unhealthy people and might be inaccessible to older and unhealthy people,” he said.

Most surprising to all involved was the Court’s decision to hear arguments about the health care law’s Medicaid expansion. Jost told the The Hill that a ruling in the state’s favor on the Medicaid issue is even more significant than striking the mandate. “That would be a very revolutionary finding, because it would call into question all federal spending programs,” he said.

Media Coverage

U.S. News – Will Healthcare Reform Survive Without the Individual Mandate?

The Hill – Supreme Court to hear landmark challenge to Obama health law

The Hill- Supreme Court surprise: Court will also hear Medicaid challenge

Washington Times – Supreme Court will hear health care case

Health Affairs – High Court to Review ACA’s Minimu Coverage Requirement, Medicaid Expansion

Timothy S. Jost is the Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a co-author of the casebook Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law, and several other works exploring health care in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Law Institute and a consumer representative with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
pjetton@wlu.edu
(540) 458-8782


Policy Advisor Indivar Dutta-Gupta to Lecture on Poverty in America

Indivar Dutta-Gupta, a policy advisor with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, will give a talk at Washington and Lee University of Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.

The title of Dutta-Gupta’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Poverty in America: Why Taxes and Spending Matter.”

Dutta-Gupta’s talk will focus on current controversies regarding the benefits and costs of social spending for the disadvantaged population in the U.S. The CBPP is one of the most well-known agencies for policy analysis and advocacy for poor and near poor Americans. The talk will be both informative and provocative for those interested in the current political and policy debate about taxes, the deficit and social spending.

Dutta-Gupta, whose work primarily focuses on federal budget and tax policies and low-income issues, joined the Center as policy advisor in January 2011. Prior to joining the Center, Dutta-Gupta was a staff member with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. While there, he developed and worked to enact safety net and social insurance policies, as well as low-income tax policies, with a focus on poverty measurement, unemployment insurance, refundable tax credits and the distributional impact of policies pricing greenhouse gases.

Previously, Dutta-Gupta consulted for the Center for American Progress, where he co-authored From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half.  He has also consulted for Freedman Consulting L.L.C., on anti-poverty policy. As a 2005-2006 Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow, Dutta-Gupta worked on Food Stamp (now called SNAP) outreach and advocacy for D.C. Hunger Solutions before joining the Center for American Progress as a researcher for the Task Force on Poverty. He has also worked on issues ranging from energy and housing to national security and international development.

Dutta-Gupta received his A.B. from the University of Chicago and is a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

Schweitzer Award to W&L Law Alum

Raj Prasad, a 1999 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, is in Washington, D.C., today to receive the Albert Schweitzer Award from the Animal Welfare Institute in recognition of his work in the Wayne County, Mich., Prosecutor’s Office.

Raj and his colleague, Amy Slameka, are being hailed as pioneers in “aggressively pursuing animal cruelty and animal fighting cases and raising awareness about the need to take such cases seriously.”

The two Detroit prosecutors co-founded the Animal Protection Unit, a volunteer unit that now consists of four attorneys and an advocate who receive and handle animal-related cases. They work closely with local Humane Society investigators and animal control officers. The Animal Protection Unit has achieved a 98 percent conviction rate over the past three years.

In an article in the Detroit Free-Press, Raj and Amy said they still get emotional when discussing one of their cases — a dog, a pit-bull mix, who was set on fire with gasoline and lighter fluid and ran around trying to douse the flames while screaming in pain. The scene was caught on cell-phone cameras.

Raj has been an assistant prosecuting attorney at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office since 2005. He is currently assigned to the homicide unit. He is also on the State Bar of Michigan’s Animal Law Section, is chairman of the Animal Law Section’s Prosecutor’s Committee, and is on its Legislative Committee.

Raj, the owner of two rescue dogs, told the Detroit Free-Press: “These animal cases tug at your heartstrings; you have these truly innocent victims … who can’t speak for themselves.”

The Schweitzer Award is the latest honor for Raj, who also was recently named one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 20 “Up & Coming Lawyers” for 2011.


W&L’s Campus Kitchen Backpack Program Receives NTelos Grant

The Weekend Backpack Snack Program at the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University (CKWL), in which volunteers fill backpacks with food and deliver them to elementary schools in the area, received a much needed boost in the form of a $1,500 grant from the nTelos Foundation on Friday, Nov. 4.

Jenny Davidson, coordinator of student service learning at W&L and director of CKWL and the backpack program, pointed out that the $1,500 donation will provide about 1,500 backpacks for area school children. “We get donations of dry goods from Wal-Mart, but we also have to supplement by purchasing items from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Because we buy in bulk and get items at a discounted rate, it comes to about one dollar to fill each backpack,” she estimated.

Mike Minnis, director of public relations at nTelos, said that members of nTelos’ senior leadership team learned about the backpack program when they visited Lexington to perform a day of service at CKWL. “Conrad Hunter, who is president of our wireless organization, stayed in touch with Jenny Davidson after that,” he said. “Our nTelos Foundation wanted to get involved because we saw an opportunity to support something that seems to be very helpful and growing in the area.”

The backpack program has certainly expanded since it started in 2009 at Natural Bridge Elementary School. In 2010 it grew to include Fairfield Elementary School, and this past September began delivering backpacks for students at Waddell Elementary School and Central Elementary School. Davidson said that plans were underway to include Mountain View Elementary School in January 2012.

Monique Toman, school counselor at Central Elementary School, was at the check presentation at the Lexington nTelos wireless store, and described the backpack program as a tremendous value to students and their families. “It’s definitely helping a lot of families and they have been coming and thanking us and Campus Kitchens. We have about 100 students who receive backpacks every Thursday,” she said. “It’s been a tremendous help and adds something extra to their weekend.”

Davidson noted that the backpack is different to other operations at CKWL. “Most of our Campus Kitchens operations include interacting with clients, but with the backpacks we just send them off in the hope that they are doing some good. So it’s really nice to have feedback and know that the students are enjoying the program,” she said.

Kathryn Marsh-Soloway, a junior at Washington and Lee, has been involved with CKWL since her first year at W&L and has participated in the backpack program since her sophomore year. “I’m the person who delivers the backpacks every Thursday to Natural Bridge and Waddell,” she said. “I take the backpacks to the schools and then the guidance counselors help us deliver them to the students’ lockers.”

The backpack program targets students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Although those students are guaranteed lunch Monday through Friday at school, by sending food home with them in backpacks on Friday nights, the aim is to ensure that they have food over the weekend as well.

Students who receive the backpacks, as a percentage of the student body, are: 64.99 percent at Fairfield Elementary; 53.12 percent at Mountain View Elementary; 61.94 percent at Natural Bridge Elementary; 43.57 percent at Central Elementary and 20.25 percent at Waddell Elementary.

The nTelos Foundation, based at corporate headquarters in Waynesboro, Va., traditionally supports projects that are education-, health- or service-oriented in local communities, and also supports local arts projects.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director
stschiggfrie@wlu.edu
540-458-8235


Minneapolis Artist Featured in Staniar Gallery Exhibit

Washington and Lee’s Staniar Gallery will host an artist’s talk with Minneapolis painter Michael Kareken on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall. It will coincide with his exhibition Salvaged Views, recent paintings and drawings by the artist, which will run from until Dec. 10.

The artist’s talk will be followed by a reception and both are free and open to the public.

The exhibition features a series of works that began as observations of the chaotic urban landscape surrounding Kareken’s Minneapolis studio. The paintings and drawings evoke a quiet elegance, unsettling the ordinary associations with the subject matter he depicts: the accumulation of debris found at garbage dumps, recycling centers and junk yards.

Kareken is a professor of fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he has taught since 1996. His work is included in the collections of The Walker Art Center, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Frederick Weisman Museum of Art and the Minnesota Historical Society, among others.

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, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

A Sharp-Dressed Man

There is, Will Sharp insists, a method to his madness. In an article in Washingtonian Magazine, the 2003 graduate of Washington and Lee admitted that his clothing company, DURKL (it was his first word as a baby), has come a long way since he was designing shirts in his mother’s basement.

From those modest beginnings, Will’s clothing line is now sold in more than 100 boutiques internationally in addition to the company’s flagship retail location at 4th and Eye Streets, NW, Washington, D.C.

As described in the Washingtonian piece, DURKL’s style is “urban preppy with an emphasis on color and casual comfort: logo T-shirts and hats; hoodies and jackets; dress shirts in solids, plaids, and stripes; and denim.”

Will is a self-taught designer. He majored in European history at W&L, but he now cuts all his own patterns. He’s got two partners in the business, including his brother. As he told the magazine about starting his own business, “Ignorance is bliss sometimes. I was too stupid not to try hard, and it was a good thing. I believed in myself.”

Have a look at the magazine story. It’s a good read. And the YouTube video below is an interview with Will from back in 2009.


Retired Richmond Times-Dispatch Editor to Address Journalism's Future

Glenn Proctor, the recently retired editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. in Huntley Hall 327. The talk is open to the public.

Proctor has words of warning for the journalism business: “We need to take back our message.” The steps needed to do this are embedded in the title of his upcoming talk:  “Journalism: Extreme Change, Creative Thinking, Massive Resilience.”

“We need to be absolutely strong to push out the message that newspapers and broadcast still have a place,” Proctor says. And, after a distinguished 40-year career, Proctor is a journalist whose warnings are worth heeding.

Prior to joining the Times-Dispatch in November 2005, he spent 10 years at The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., as city editor, assistant managing editor for local news and associate editor. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal for coverage of the Goodyear takeover, and he has served five times as a Pulitzer juror.

At the Times-Dispatch, Proctor helped the newsroom adapt to delivering journalism online and on mobile devices in addition to publishing a daily newspaper. Under his leadership, the newspaper won the 2008 National Headliner Award for Breaking News for its coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre, as well as Virginia’s top journalism award for public service and freedom of information.

Currently, Proctor is the latest Donald W. Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor at W&L’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. Proctor’s professorship is made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. His talk is sponsored by the department and the foundation.

This semester he is teaching a class entitled “Media Management and Entrepreneurship,” which has students creating business plans for media start-up companies. “I’m teaching reality,” says Proctor. “I’m not an academic.”

Proctor has also worked for United Press International, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Quad City Times.

For several years, Proctor was an executive-in-residence for the Maynard Management Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and he has worked with Maynard’s Media Academy program for new managers.

He is a board member of the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and serves on the executive council for the Virginia State University Reginald F. Lewis School of Business. He is a current member of the Virginia Press Association’s board and is a past board member of Associated Press Managing Editors. Proctor received the National Association of Black Journalists’ Legacy Award in 2007. He’s also the founder of REDDjobb, a motivational training firm in Charlotte, N.C. And, if that weren’t enough, Proctor is also a published poet who has compiled a poetic autobiography entitled, “Life, Kicking Dust.”

Proctor studied accounting at Brandywine College in Wilmington, Del., and is a Vietnam veteran. He spent six years on active duty with the Marines and another six as a reservist. He started his journalism career in 1970 at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

Internationally Renowned Historian of Science to Speak at W&L

Naomi Oreskes, provost and professor of history and science studies at the University of California San Diego, will give a public talk as part of the 2011-2012 Speaker Series WS2: Women Scientists and Women in Science on Monday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater of Elrod Commons.

The title of Oreskes’ talk is “Moving Past Doubt: History, Ideology, and Anthropogenic Climate Change.” A book signing will follow.

Oreskes will be speaking on the topic of her recent book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010), an exhaustive, well-written and fascinating account of how we arrived at the current disconnect between science and society on global warming.

A former geologist, Oreskes’ early work examined the 20th century transformation of earth science, in The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science (1999) and Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (2003).

Oreskes has also written on the under-acknowledged role of women in science in “Objectivity or Heroism? On the Invisibility of Women in Science” (1996, OSIRIS); on the role of numerical simulation models in establishing knowledge about inaccessible natural phenomena in “Verification, Validation and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences” (1994, Science); and most recently, an article on the science of climate change. “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” (2004, Science) is one of the many papers on this subject by Oreskes.

Her opinion pieces have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Nature, Science and The New Statesman, among others. Her book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

She has received grants for her work from the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society, and won numerous major prizes and awards, including, most recently, the Francis Bacon Award in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (2009) and the UC San Diego Chancellors Associates Faculty Excellence Award for Community Service (2008).

Oreskes’ received her B.Sc. from The Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, University of London in England, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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Ohio University Philosophy Professor to Lecture at W&L

Mark LeBar, associate professor of philosophy at Ohio University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 5 p.m. in Huntley 327. The talk is free and open to the public.

The title of LeBar’s lecture is “Eudaimonism and Accountability.”

LeBar commented on the abstract of his talk saying, “Eudaimonist theories of practical rationality maintain that our reasons for action are rooted in our own goal of living well. He argues that such theories can make sense of how individuals hold others accountable for their actions.”

LeBar went on to say, “I propose that accountability relations between individuals arise when, and because, we give others the authority to give ourselves reasons.”

LeBar, who has published articles in moral, social and political philosophy, is completing a book, The Value of Living Well. He has visited at the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona.

He has a B.A. from Westmont College, an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University, an M.A. from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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“Catch Me If You Can” Con Artist to Speak at W&L

Washington and Lee University’s Contact Committee will present Frank Abagnale, the con artist of Catch Me If You Can fame, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel. The talk is free and open to the public.

Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, a college professor and a pediatrician, in addition to cashing $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. His best-selling book, Catch Me If You Can, was made into a film and a play which opened on Broadway in April of this year.

Apprehended by the French police when he was 21 years old, Abagnale served time in the French, Swedish and U.S. prison systems. After five years he was released on the condition that he would help the federal government, without remuneration, by teaching and assisting federal law enforcement agencies.

Abagnale has been associated with the FBI for over 30 years. More than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies use his fraud prevention programs. In 1998, he was selected as a member of “Pinnacle 400” by CNN Financial News – a select group of 400 people chosen on the basis of great accomplishment and success in their fields.

In 2004, Abagnale was selected as the spokesperson for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the National Cyber Security Alliance. He has also written numerous articles and books including The Art of the Steal, The Real U Guide to Identity Theft and Stealing Your Life.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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Saluting Veterans at W&L

Members of Washington and Lee’s faculty and staff (including retirees) and student body who have served in the military gathered in front of Lee Chapel this morning, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, for a brief service of commemoration.

Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio read a message from Rob Rain, a 2007 graduate of W&L who recently finished service in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines. Here is Rob’s message:

This is my first Veterans Day as a veteran and yesterday was my first Marine Corps Birthday as a former Marine.  Last year I was at a patrol base in Afghanistan and the year before that I had just returned from Iraq.  It’s interesting to reflect on the last eight years and to realize that the ethos of the two major institutions in my life, W&L and the Marine Corps, were largely influenced by the same man.  Lee was never in the Corps, but his ideals of duty and honor resonate with Marines still.  His work at Washington and Lee formed the basis of the Honor System that still governs the culture of our campus today.  W&L is not a military school, but those of us who graduate and enter the armed forces recognize a culture that is in many ways similar to our undergraduate home.  While the gentle civility of W&L is notably absent from basic training, the unhesitant adherence to a set of values is identical.

During two combat tours as an infantry officer, I often dealt with the ambiguity that comes from fighting a ruthless and disguised enemy.  I believe that my experiences at W&L helped to keep my honor clean as I attempted to reserve the use of deadly force for the enemy rather than the civilians he hid amongst.  We were not perfect, but the discipline of an Honor System that emphasizes keeping the trust of a community ensured that we dedicated ourselves to protecting civilians while at the same time orchestrating swift and overwhelming force upon our enemies.  I miss W&L and I miss the Corps, but I will forever be honored to have been a Marine Corps Captain and a Washington and Lee General.


Jan Hathorn: Hall of Famer

In October, Washington and Lee’s athletic director, Jan Hathorn, was honored with induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame at her high school, Marcus Whitman Central School, in Rushville, N.Y. She was one of five inductees.

A 1978 graduate of Marcus Whitman, Jan competed in soccer, tennis, softball, swimming and basketball. She was an All-League All Star in basketball her senior year. Jan joined Washington and Lee in 1988 and coached women’s lacrosse and soccer before retiring from coaching in 2007 to become the University’s athletic director.


Johnson Scholarship Program's Impact Significant at W&L

When Washington and Lee University announced that most of the $100 million gift it received in June 2007 would establish a new scholarship program, Bill Hartog, W&L’s long-time dean of admissions and financial aid, knew things were going to change.

He had no idea just how much.

In September, W&L welcomed its fourth, and largest, class of Johnson Scholars — 53 students representing 31 states. With the Class of 2015 now on campus, there are 161 Johnson Scholars currently enrolled at Washington and Lee. That represents roughly 9 percent of the undergraduate student body.

By all measures, the first three classes of Johnson Scholars have had the kind of effect that the University anticipated, with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.642, with 25 of the recipients compiling GPAs above 3.9. Moreover, half of the inductees last year into both Phi Beta Kappa (the national academic honor society) and Omicron Delta Kappa (the national leadership honor society) were Johnson Scholars.

In addition to academic excellence, the Johnson Scholarship celebrates and develops leadership and integrity. And the impact, Hartog says, goes well beyond those numbers.

“We knew that this program would expand the applicant pool, and it has done that. One of the reasons that I had always hoped to have a named scholarship program, similar to the Jefferson Scholars at the University of Virginia or the Morehead-Cain Scholars at UNC-Chapel Hill, was the marketability of such a program,” said Hartog. “It has the ability to draw into the applicant pool a number of young people who otherwise would not have been there.”

The year the University announced the program, overall applications to W&L jumped by 40 percent. Much of that increase could be attributed directly to students applying for the Johnson Scholarships, which offer full tuition, room and board. This year, 68 percent of the entering class applied for a Johnson Scholarship.

At the same time, Hartog noted, the students who are attracted to the University by the program ultimately choose W&L for the same reasons students have always done so.

“The Johnson Scholarship has brought stronger and sometimes more needy students into the mix. It has brought us students from neighborhoods and backgrounds, schools and countries, where we have not been very successful in recruiting over the years,” said Hartog. “It’s true that a lot of the students are initially interested in the University because of the Johnson program. But when you examine their reasons for enrolling here, nothing has changed. Our message about our particular strengths is the same, but we’ve broadened the number of people who find the message appealing.”

Once these students arrive on campus, Hartog said, they give the same reasons for coming as did students 30 years ago. “They will invariably cite the Honor System, the strong academic program, the breadth of the curriculum that includes the combination of pre-professional and liberal arts, close faculty-student relationships, and the sense of community that they encounter here.”

Read the latest Johnson Scholars Report

What Hartog had not necessarily expected with the Johnson program was how it would move the University into a different competitive universe while, at the same time, driving up the amount of need-based financial aid that students receive.

“Those are two points that we underestimated,” said Hartog. “In the four years since the Johnson Program was announced, we have seen dramatic increases in the number of prospective students who request that their standardized test scores be sent to us and to Ivy League schools and other prestigious institutions.

“For example, we have had a 50 percent increase in the number of score reports sent to us and to Harvard, and a 61 percent increase with Stanford.”

Those are in addition to the institutions with which W&L continues to compete for prospective students — for example, the University of Virginia, William and Mary, Duke, Vanderbilt and Davidson.

“We deserve to be competing at this level,” Hartog said. “When you look at what Washington and Lee has to offer — its faculty, its programs, its students, its facilities, its surroundings — we have all the ingredients of the nation’s first-rate institutions. To me, competing with those perceived to be the very best is where we want to reside.”

The change in competition has also meant pressure on the budget, because the University wants to provide competitive financial-aid packages to those applicants who will receive the best packages from almost all the schools to which they apply.

One of the figures Hartog finds especially meaningful is the number of prospective students who initially became interested in W&L because of the Johnson Scholarship, who do not receive one of the awards, but who still enroll. As an example, for this latest class, from 2,161 applicants for the Johnson, W&L selected 210 as finalists. In addition to the 53 award-winners, 291 other members of the Class of 2015 were Johnson applicants.

“The only common denominator that runs through all those applicants is academic excellence,” Hartog said. “They come from all sorts of backgrounds. Many have financial need; many do not. Many are from quintessential middle-class households.”

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


W&L's Mark Drumbl on WMRA

Mark Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Law Professor and director of the Transnational Institute at the Washington and Lee School of Law, discussed child soldiers on Thursday, Nov. 10, on WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” program.

Mark’s new book, Re-Imagining Child Soldiers (Oxford University Press), discusses the plight of child soldiers and whether international law should consider boys and girls aged 16 to 18 to be responsible for their actions when they have been forced to fight.

Listen to an archived recording of Mark’s appearance below:


Washington and Lee Unveils Net-Price Calculator to Help Prospective Students

Washington and Lee University joined all colleges and universities in unveiling a new net-price calculator on its website this fall, as required by federal legislation. Prospective students and families can now enter their financial information into the calculator and find out how much need-based financial aid they can expect to receive from the University.

The government based the requirement on a desire for greater transparency when it comes to what families will actually be paying for college.

“I think that the government’s idea was good, and that it is important for families to understand all of the costs associated with attending college as well as all of the financial aid that is available to offset those costs,” said James Kaster, director of financial aid at W&L.

Although the calculator is still in the early stages of implementation, Kaster believes it will be a useful tool. He cautions, however, that it is not a substitute for the personal attention that W&L provides prospective students in the areas of admissions and financial aid.

“Our calculator is as accurate as we could possibly make it, so that we can provide students and parents who use it with a very good estimate of the type of need-based financial aid that they will receive,” Kaster said. “Our goal wasn’t to make it the simplest calculator possible, or the most complex. It was to be as accurate as we could be and to reflect the way in which we would evaluate need-based aid.

“W&L’s need-based financial-aid packages are very generous. For someone who is concerned about whether or not they can afford the University, the calculator could reassure them. We offer generous assistance to families with need, meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need with a combination of grant and work study.”

Kaster added that the more time families put into the process, and the more complete and accurate they are in entering their income and assets, the more realistic the estimate will be.

“I have seen some articles that indicate certain segments may not bother to use these calculators because they are too complex,” said Kaster. “But I would encourage people not to be intimidated. Unless you have an extremely complex financial picture, it is not something to be afraid of.”

In a normal case, Kaster said, it will take someone about 12 minutes to complete the calculator.

The one concern Kaster has is that people may use the calculator and decide whether or not even to consider applying based on only the calculator’s results.

“We want people to be aware that we are always available for personal consultation,” said Kaster. “This new tool will not change that. Using the calculator would be a great first step. But then people should contact us and tell us about their results, including questions and concerns that might have been raised.”

The net-price calculator is part of a new financial-aid site that provides comprehensive information, including a frequently asked questions page. The website is go.wlu.edu/financialaid, and the calculator is at wlu.studentaidcalculator.com.

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


New Curriculum Integrates Business Major and Liberal Arts

As the only top-tier liberal arts college with a nationally accredited business school, Washington and Lee University has always promoted the value of studying business in the context of the liberal arts.

A new revision to W&L’s business administration curriculum will make that connection even more explicit. Students can now use more than 100 liberal arts courses from across the University’s curriculum to help satisfy the requirements of the business administration major.

“We were concerned that business majors sometimes just want to take business courses and miss the point of why they are at a liberal arts institution,” said Robert Ballenger, associate professor of business administration/information systems at W&L’s Williams School of Business, Economics, and Politics. “The core business courses for the business major will not change, but we’ve added substantially to the elective courses from which students can choose. It’s designed to expand their horizons and push them out, in an organized way, into the rest of the university, so they understand that business is not a silo by itself. For instance, in business you have to be creative, be concerned about the environment and understand psychology and consumer behavior.”

Prior to this change, at least three elective courses for a W&L business administration major were either accounting, economics or journalism. Now those electives will come from among 16 different disciplines ranging from art to psychology. And those courses are in addition to the foundation and distribution requirements that all W&L students must take.

Amanda Bower, associate professor of business administration/marketing and a primary architect of the changes, worked with faculty across the campus to identify appropriate elective courses.  She collaborated both Ballenger and Dennis Garvis, department head and associate professor of business administration/strategy, to gain faculty approval for the change. Ballenger was acting department head in the fall of 2010 while Garvis was on leave.

“I started by defining what business in a liberal arts environment actually is,” said Bower. “We’ve always implicitly understood what it means, but we have never explicitly defined it.”

Bower found no comparable integration of liberal arts courses in her examination of business curricula at other colleges and universities. She defines business in a liberal arts school as the study of human behavior in a business or goal-oriented environment. “That’s really what business is all about,” she said. “You’re taking other disciplines, from statistics to biology or performance arts, and applying them in a field where you’re trying to accomplish something.”

Using the overlapping circles of a Venn diagram, Bower calculated where the interests of the Williams School and liberal arts intersected. She initially identified more than a dozen courses in anthropology, art, computer science, English, environmental studies, music, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology and poverty studies that complement the business major. “These courses offer students a fuller understanding of the connection between business and other fields,” she said.

“Students were already showing us some of the curricular connections that they were making in the courses they were already choosing to take outside the major. Changing the structure of the major now makes those connections explicit,” said Garvis.

For example, if a business major is interested in advertising and marketing, he or she can choose to study theories of personality, learning and retention, gender role development, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. “They all fit, because a lot of marketing is psychology and understanding human behavior,” said Bower.

Ballenger explained that for a student interested in creativity, upper-level courses in painting, photography, print making, theater or dance would be logical choices that will now count toward the major. “Some people may ask what these subjects have to do with business. First, it will help you if you have to manage creative people. Also, if you are in advertising, it will give you an appreciation of what it takes to be creative and give you a sense of aesthetics. A lot of business people don’t have that unless they came up through the creative side of the business,” he said.

Bower cited the example of a sociology course on work, family and community. “That’s definitely business in terms of how you treat employees, the stresses they are under and how they respond at work,” she said. “One of my favorites is theater directing, because it’s about leadership and figuring out visually how things come together. It’s project management plus creativity, and that’s pretty exciting.”

Bower noted that under the new curriculum, students have more latitude in putting together courses that suit their particular goals. “Say a student is interested in working with kids who are worried about obesity. That student might choose theater directing, deviance and developmental psychology as the three electives. Now the student will know the depth of how children process information, and be able to put a project together and present it aesthetically,” she said. “It all depends on how they want to market themselves to future employers.”

If you take elements from other fields and incorporate them into a business class, said Bower, students will get only the business perspective. The new elective courses, however, take business majors to the source material of a subject. “We want students to make their own connections between business and the liberal arts,” she said. “That’s where you make innovations — on the margins, the overlap between two different fields, coming up with innovative ideas from new places. It’s not copycatting or replicating what someone else has done in the past. It’s a different way of thinking. It’s also one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education, to learn how to think independently and creatively.

“And in their future careers, these students won’t read just business blogs for ideas on how to tackle an issue such as social networking. They will know how to read the anthropology literature and come up with a novel solution. The students are excited about this because they understand how it all fits together.”

In Garvis’s view, the W&L students have an advantage over students at larger universities who pursue a more traditional, more narrow business curriculum.

“Our students should be better prepared to handle ambiguous or uncertain situations or decisions,” said Garvis. “If you see a problem and approach it strictly from business courses you’ve pursued, then you might not have all the information that you need. Business problems or organizational decisions don’t come at you as strict case studies in the real world.”

At the same time, he added, the W&L business students have the introduction to the business context that also sets them apart from those students with a basic liberal arts background.

“We’ve found our own way,” said Garvis, “and it’s not the kind of thing that is for everybody. But we think it works especially well for our students and in our setting.”

The curricular change was accomplished during a two-year period in which the business administration faculty met with their colleagues from across the university to finalize the courses that would be included in the major. “We’re extremely excited that we came up with a way to partner with other departments on campus to do this,” said Ballenger.

Bower thinks the liberal arts faculty will enjoy having business majors in their classes. “These students will be really interested in the issues and thrilled to be in their classes,” she said. “They will also bring a diversity of knowledge and a different way of looking at things, which can be helpful to other students.”

The new elective courses are outlined in the 2011-2012 catalog, which also details another change that allows students “to get a taste of business courses earlier, starting in their second year,” said Ballenger. “If students are interested in investment banking, they can begin taking finance in the sophomore year instead of as a junior, which makes them better prepared for interviews for internships.”

One other advantage of the change will be to lighten the burden of students who want to pursue a double major in business and another subject, since some of the electives will count toward both majors and will give students more flexibility in their schedule.

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


W&L Law Professor Cited in U.S. Sentencing Commission Report

The work of Washington and Lee criminal law scholar Erik Luna is cited extensively in a new report issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Titled “Report to Congress: Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System,” the report assesses the impact of mandatory minimum penalties on federal sentencing, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Booker v. United States, which rendered the federal sentencing guidelines advisory.

Luna’s inclusion in the report follows his testimony before the Commission last year on the mandatory minimum issue.  In his testimony, Luna argued that mandatory minimums should be eliminated because they don’t achieve their desired results, and at the same time they compromise the integrity of the criminal justice system.

“Mandatory minimums effectively transfer sentencing authority from trial judges to federal prosecutors, who may pre-set punishment through creative investigative and charging practices, producing troubling punishment differentials among offenders with similar culpability,” says Luna.  Of particular concern, he adds, is the appearance of racial and ethnic disproportionality in criminal justice.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts, including guidelines on the appropriate form and severity of punishment for offenders convicted of federal crimes. One of Luna’s chief concerns is that mandatory minimums redistribute power in the criminal justice system.

Professor Erik Luna was quoted in the report, saying that federal mandatory minimum penalties can “overwhelm” state and local choice on criminal justice issues, thereby “effectively and powerfully nullifying state and local judgments.”  He noted that he was concerned “that law enforcement considers vast sentencing differentials between state and federal systems as some type of unmitigated good, essentially treating the states as the junior varsity.”

An expert in criminal law and procedure, Luna is frequently called upon to testify regarding issues of criminal justice. He previously offered testimony before a U.S. congressional subcommittee on the judiciary on the ability of U.S. states to provide legal services to indigent defendants as required by law. Luna also testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs for a hearing examining whether violence against America’s homeless population is on the rise.

Luna’s varied experience includes service as a Fulbright Scholar researching restorative justice in New Zealand, a visiting scholar in Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, and a visiting professional at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, a public policy research foundation. Earlier this year, Luna was elected to the American Law Institute, the most prestigious law reform body in the U.S.

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
pjetton@wlu.edu
(540) 458-8782

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Schroeder Speaks to Unemployment on PBS

Viewers of “PBS Newshour” might have seen a familiar face last Friday, when Washington and Lee alumna Ingrid Schroeder, of the Class of 1991, provided expert commentary on the United States’ high jobless rate.

As director of the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts, Ingrid led the Pew study “A Year or More: The High Cost of Long-Term Unemployment.” It was released in 2010, and an addendum was published last month.

Appearing on the program with Catherine Rampell, an economics reporter for the New York Times, Ingrid said that the update to their original study looked at the third quarter of 2011 and found that “31.8 percent of people who are unemployed have been jobless for a year or more. That’s a historic high, a rate that we haven’t seen since the end of World War II. And just to put it in a little bit of perspective for you, it’s about 4.4 million people, roughly the population of Louisiana. So, it is still a significant problem.”

You can watch Ingrid’s appearance and read a transcript at the PBS site here.

Ingrid, a member of the Williams School Advisory Board, received her master of public administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Prior to joining Pew, she was a senior executive service branch chief at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Legislative Reference Division. During 17 years at OMB, she also served as a program examiner with the Housing Treasury and Finance Division with the Treasury Branch, as well as a legislative analyst handling Justice and Treasury issues.


Chickasaw Poet Linda Hogan to Give Public Reading at W&L

Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan, internationally known for her poetry, fiction and environmental writings, will give a free public reading of her work on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 4:30 in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room. The reading will be followed by a book signing.

Hogan’s two newest books are Rounding the Human Corner (Pulitzer nominee) and People of the Whale. She is a winner of the Oklahoma Book Award, the Mountains and Plains Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Solar Storms. She was a finalist for the International Impact Award in Ireland.

In poetry, The Book of Medicines was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other poetry has received the Colorado Book Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, an American Book Award and a prestigious Lannan Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation.

Her nonfiction includes Dwellings, A Spiritual History of the Land and The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir. She has written the script, Everything Has a Spirit, a PBS documentary on American Indian Religious Freedom. Hogan was inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame in 2007 for her writing.

Hogan has received a many awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A former professor at the University of Colorado, she now lives and works in Oklahoma. She edited the Inner Journal: Native Traditions, a collection of Parabola Magazine essays from the past 30 years. Her short documentary PBS/​American Experience has been posted for the REEL/​NATIVE series, A Feel for the Land.

Her main interests as both a writer and scholar are environmental issues, indigenous spiritual traditions and culture. Hogan is currently on the Board of Advisors for Orion Magazine, an environmental journal. Her new book INDIOS, a long poem and performance piece, is being scheduled for publication by Coffee House Press.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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Shenandoah Editor Talks Writing and the South

R.T. Smith

When the online journal Portal del Sol asked what advice he would give young writers about crafting a career that includes writing his own work plus editing a literary journal, R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review, offered this analogy: “It’s like dog-sledding uphill; it can be done, but you have to keep cracking the whip and yelling.”

Heather Frese conducted the lengthy, wide-ranging interview,  “Away You Rolling River,” which is the front-page feature on the website.

The conversation ranges from Rod’s own reading preferences to the process of putting a literary magazine together to the nature of Southern literature. On that last topic, Rod provided the following perspective: “Collectively we still have our two old shames – we held people in bondage and we got whipped – and our continuing ones – we love NASCAR and the literal Bible too much and education and art too little.  And we still love to walk forward into was, but I think Southern writers today are all products of more complex identities, and the recognition of that.”

Read the entire interview here.

Portal del Sol is an online journal dedicated to the art of literary magazines and the writers, readers and editors who craft and sustain them.


Bloomberg News Chief to Explore Truth in the Age of Twitter

Matthew Winkler, the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, the global news service he founded with Michael Bloomberg, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Friday, Nov. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.  He is the keynote speaker of W&L’s 52nd Institute on Ethics in Journalism.

Winkler’s talk, whose title is “Truth in the Age of Twitter,” is free and open to the public.

Under Winkler’s direction, Bloomberg News has grown to include more than 1,700 editors and reporters in 146 bureaus serving print and broadcast media throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. The news services produces more than 5,000 stories daily on the economy, companies, governments, financial and commodity markets as well the arts and sports.

Winkler has taken a special interest in the financial education, training and mentoring of Bloomberg reporters. He has successfully recruited, trained and placed over 600 business journalists in Bloomberg bureaus throughout the world.

Winkler is a former columnist for Forbes Magazine, a former reporter in London and New York for the Wall Street Journal and founding editor/reporter for Dow Jones Capital Markets Report. He is also co-author of Bloomberg by Bloomberg (1997) and author of The Bloomberg Way.

Winkler received the Gerald Loeb Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, “recognizing exceptional career achievements in business, financial and economic news writing,” and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences “Emmy” Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Winkler is a trustee of the business journalism program of the City University of New York; a director of the International Center for Journalists; a member of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists; the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of New York and the International Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Journalism in Beijing and

member of the board of YAI, the Institute for People With Disabilities. Winkler also supports the Society of Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, YAI Institute for People with Disabilities, Ohr Somayach (Yeshiva in Jerusalem) and Aish HaTorah (Jewish educational  programs).

Winkler is a trustee of Kenyon College and The Kenyon Review, a literary quarterly; chairman of the board of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program at Columbia University; and a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia College of Columbia University.

Winkler has a bachelor’s degree and an honorary doctorate of laws from Kenyon College.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

W&L's Habitat Hotel Helps Build a House

Each year, the number of Washington and Lee University parents who descend on the college for the annual Parents and Family Weekend places a strain on the capacity of hotels in Lexington, Va.  So for the past five years, the University has joined forces with the local Habitat for Humanity to create an alternative called Habitat Hotel.

The program asks Lexington residents and members of the W&L faculty and staff to welcome parents into their homes for the weekend. In return for a bed, fresh linens, access to a guest bathroom and maybe a morning cup of coffee, the parents donate $150 per room to the local Habitat chapter.

In past years, an average of 22 families, mostly couples, took advantage of the program. But this year the number of parents at Habitat Hotel almost doubled, to 45 families, and raised approximately $15,000 for Habitat.

“That’s one quarter of the cost of materials to build a house,” said Sy Hughes, development specialist at Habitat, who organized the fund-raising event on the Habitat side. His task was to find host families in the community. Meanwhile, student members of the W&L chapter of Habitat for Humanity got the word out to parents. Laura Ellis ’14 was in charge of reservations. “The students did a bang-up job this year,” said Hughes.

Hughes said he found 35 Lexington families to take part in the event, with some hosting more than one couple. “To be honest, the parents are really busy that weekend. They get up early, are on campus all day and come back fairly late in the evening,” he said.

“The program is a lifesaver to those parents who realize at the last minute they can attend but are unable to find motel rooms, or to those parents who just want to stay with a local family,” commented Nellie Rice, executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and coordinator of Parents and Family Weekend. “After staying with a local family, they want to come back to that same family year after year. I daresay that the 45 families who participated in Habitat Hotel this year will want to continue with the program until their student graduates. And it is a great help to me knowing that we have this program we can suggest to parents.”

Another advantage of Habitat Hotel, Hughes added, is that although the students work on building Habitat houses and raising funds year-round, “this event brings us all together and is one of the most fun things we do, because the community works with the students.”

 


Fresh Water for Bolivia

Students and professors from Washington and Lee and VMI spent two weeks this summer in the village of Pampoyo, Bolivia, to oversee the construction of a multi-phase water delivery system that will bring fresh water to the villagers. The clean water will be used for crop irrigation, and those working on the project hope the boost in supply will lead to a substantial increase in arable land for Pampoyo.

• Click here for an audio slide show.

Dana Fredericks ’12, who funded her trip with a Johnson Opportunity grant, noted that clean water will also help improve several problem areas for the villagers. “The Bolivian villagers need more arable land to grow crops for food as well as one-day produce cash crops to exchange for other foods and goods,” she explained “We are looking to increase the village’s crop production by 20 percent at the moment. This will help them diversify their diet as well as create more work, encouraging the young people to stay in the village instead of leaving for the city of La Paz.”

The water delivery system for Pampoyo will be built in multiple phases. Over the summer, the group built the system that will capture and divert water from the stream that serves as the village’s water supply. Phase two will be the laying of over three miles of pipe that will transport clean water to the fields.

Jonathan Erickson, assistant professor of physics and engineering and the advisor to the W&L EWB, said, “Although we’re there to help with the actual building of this system, we’re more like project managers. An important part of the project also is educating the community so they understand how this contraption works so they can maintain it.”

Asked to describe one of her days on the site, Fredericks said:

“Pampoyo is located at an elevation of 11,800 feet and the worksite is at roughly 13,700 feet. At such a high altitude, the three-mile walk to the site quickly takes your breath away. Pampoyo has miles of mountains, some higher than 15,000 feet. Once at the site, we set to work with the men and women of the community at our side. Today we are constructing the dam. We already have the wood mold and the steel rebar in place; next comes the mixing and pouring of the cement. This whole dam must be poured before noon so that it has time to set before nightfall, when it runs the risk of freezing. After pouring the dam, we worked on digging a trench. Together, our team and the community work efficiently until 3 p.m. when it begins to get cold again.”

The group plans to return next year to complete the project. As Erickson noted, “It is one thing to see your plans for this kind of project on paper, but being on location, getting to know the people of the community, is a transforming experience.”

Engineers without Borders in Bolivia — Audio Slideshow

When Washington and Lee’s new chapter of Engineers without Borders joined VMI’s chapter for a trip to Bolivia last summer, W&L University Photographer Kevin Remington made the trip with them. His images accompany the participants’ perspectives on the trip.


Japan's NHK-TV Interviews Professor Emeritus Jeans

On Pearl Harbor Day in Japan (Dec. 8 because of the international dateline), the Japanese equivalent of PBS will air a program that features an interview with Roger B. Jeans, the Otey Professor Emeritus of East Asian History at Washington and Lee.

A Japanese TV crew from NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corp., came to Lexington this week and interviewed Roger at W&L’s Reeves Center. They spent two and a half hours discussing Terasaki Hidenari, a Japanese diplomat and intelligence officer who is the subject of Roger’s 2009 book Teraski Hidenari, Pearl Harbor, and Occupied Japan: A Bridge to Reality. (Following Japanese usage, the diplomat’s surname, Terasaki, comes first when using his full name.)

“I was stunned when I got an e-mail saying Japanese TV wanted to interview me about Terasaki,” said Roger. “The program is part of a historical series, and is about Japanese and American diplomats in Washington on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Terasaki is a perfect example of that.”

Terasaki arrived in Washington in March 1941. His mission was to collect political and strategic intelligence as well as to act as the chief of Japanese propaganda in the United States. A man of peace who was married to an American, Terasaki also cultivated American isolationists and pacifists in an effort to keep the United States out of the war in the Pacific.

“The FBI had him under surveillance, and they wiretapped him,” said Roger. “The Americans had broken the Japanese diplomatic code, so when the Japanese embassy sent cables to the minister of foreign affairs in Tokyo, we snagged them out of the air, decoded and translated them. So every time Terasaki reported, everybody knew about it.”

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Terasaki was among 40 people interned inside the Japanese embassy with unfriendly crowds outside. “After that, they moved him to the Homestead and then transferred him to the Greenbrier,” said Roger. (The Homestead resort is to the west of Lexington; the Greenbrier resort is just over the West Virginia line.) “He was shipped back to Japan in June 1942 in a prisoner exchange.”

Turkey's Lawyers in the U.S.

A recent article in “Modern DC Business” highlights the work of two members of Washington and Lee’s Law School Class of 1991 and their Washington-based firm, which represents the interests of the Republic of Turkey in the United States.

David Saltzman and Gunay Evinch are co-principals in Saltzman and Evinch P.C., which they founded in 1993 after David had spent two years in a large New York firm, and Gunay had been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey.

The Modern DC Business piece is an interview with David, whom the the magazine identifies as one of DC’s “Power Players” — “deal makers and master negotiators can offer more than a few pieces of advice for our gridlocked leaders on the Hill.”

On the Saltzman and Evinch website, the firm describes its practice as concentrating on “matters relating to Turkey and the surrounding region, providing an in-depth understanding of the area, its people and cultures; talent and experience in domestic and foreign legal system; and, an extensive network of professionals and support staff.” David told “Modern DC Business” that he and Gunay based the idea for their practice on their belief that “relations between the U.S., Turkey and the surrounding region were set to expand in the wake of the Cold War’s end. We felt there would be a need for experts who understood the legal structures of both Turkey and the United States to help grow both public sector and private sector relations. We were right.”

Asked to explain in what ways a country needs legal representation abroad, David said that having experts who can help interpret U.S. law and practice, “and, if necessary, vindicate a nation’s rights in court,” is indispensable for a foreign nation like Turkey.


W&L Philosophy Professor's Moral View of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

In Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s popular Millennium Trilogy, the primary protagonists — computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist — engage in deception on numerous occasions as they deal with psychotic villains and the authorities.

Are their actions justified? Can they be excused? Or are some of their activities simply unacceptable, morally or ethically? That is the issue that Washington and Lee University philosophy professor James Mahon tackles in an essay published in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy, edited by Eric Bronson, the latest book in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series from Wiley.

In the book’s closing chapter, “To Catch a Thief: The Ethics of Deceiving Bad People,” Mahon argues that most people would say that Blomkvist’s lies are either justified or excused. “But in the case of the computer hacker Salander,” he said, “many of her lies may be justified or excused, but at least some of her lies are neither justified nor excused.”


AUDIO


Mahon explores the difference between saying that an action is justified and is the right thing to do, and saying that an action is excused and that its doer is not to be blamed for the action.

“For example, if I shout at a child, then my action may be justified if the child was about to touch a hot stove,” said Mahon. “Or it may be excusable if, say, I have been unable to sleep for days and the child is making a racket.”

The Larsson trilogy—The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — has been wildly popular as mystery novels. Mahon said they offer more than just a good story, however.

“There are more things going on in the novels because the author was not any old crime writer,” said Mahon. “He was a very serious man with a very serious political and social cause. While writing these gripping plots, he managed to write novels that are also about really important social, political and moral questions.

“The novels are not presenting us with heroines and heroes whom we can unanimously and unequivocally endorse. There are some ethical differences, I suspect, between readers and these characters. I certainly entertain those differences. I think that is a way to show respect for the novels and to argue that we shouldn’t be so enthusiastic about every single kind of deception and retaliation that is being practiced by these characters.”

For further information on the book, see the publisher’s website.

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

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W&L Student Wins National Award from Campus Kitchens Project

Shiri Yadlin, a Washington and Lee University senior from Irvine, Calif., won the Ingrid Easton Student Visionary Award from the Campus Kitchens Project at its national conference in St. Louis, Mo., last week.

The award is named for Ingrid Easton, a 2006 graduate of W&L who opened the University’s Campus Kitchen in September 2006. It goes to a student leader who “shows entrepreneurial drive, dreams big, and makes it happen.”

“It was exciting not only to have an award named in honor of a W&L alumna, but also to have the award presented to a current volunteer with our Campus Kitchen,” said Jennifer Davidson, coordinator of the Campus Kitchen at W&L (CKWL). “Shiri has been involved as a volunteer with CKWL since her freshman year and has been a key member of the Student Leadership Team ever since. She is our Campus Outreach Intern, organizing fund-raisers, food drives and Turkeypalooza’s Bring Your Turkey to Work Day. Shiri also leads multiple shifts at the kitchen each week.”

Yadlin was chosen from among nominees from the 31 Campus Kitchen programs throughout the country. She is a Johnson Scholar and a double major in politics and religion, with a minor in poverty studies.

In addition to her work with Campus Kitchen, Yadlin is active in W&L’s Bonner Leaders Program, where students provide 900 hours of service over two years.

Melissa Medeiros, W&L’s Bonner coordinator, said that Shiri, through the Bonner Program and her involvement with the broader Shepherd Poverty Program, “has been able to find profound connections between her service and her education at W&L and future career path. I continue to be impressed by the depth of her self-reflection and growth as a leader both on campus and in the local community.”

Yadlin was a Shepherd Alliance intern during the summer of 2010, working on transitional housing and advocacy at N Street Village in Washington, D.C. She has also worked as a coordinator of the Volunteer Venture pre-orientation program and is a campus tour guide.

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


W&L's Eastwood Co-Edits Book on Chávez Government in Venezuela

One review of The Revolution in Venezuela: Social and Political Change under Chávez (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, July 2011) calls it “a comprehensive analysis of the consequences of the Venezuelan experiment for both individuals and institutions.” Another concludes the book provides “much needed nuance to the often abstract, ill-informed international debate on Venezuela.”

Jon Eastwood, associate professor of sociology at Washington and Lee University, is co-editor of the new volume with Thomas Ponniah, a lecturer and assistant director of the social studies program at Harvard University and Eastwood’s former colleague.

Eastwood said that the rationale behind the book lay in the extreme polarization in Venezuelan politics. “We think politics is polarized in the United States,” he observed, “but that’s nothing compared to what you see in contemporary Venezuela. And this polarization has seeped into academic and media discussions of the Chávez government, so a lot of what you read has a really strong angle.”

He explained that by bringing together essays by strong critics of the Chávez government as well as strong supporters and people in the center, the book represents a variety of possible positions people could take on the Chávez government. “Whatever your position is on what’s been happening in Venezuela in the last decade plus, one of the things scholarship can do is puncture simplistic narratives on the right, the left and the center,” said Eastwood.

He described his role as co-editor as a facilitator of dialogue. “We thought that rather than try and impose our own visions, we would present essays by people across the spectrums so that readers can find them all in one place and form their own judgments,” he said. “It will be useful for scholars but also for a lay audience interested in getting a sense of how complicated things are on the ground in Venezuela.”

The Revolution in Venezuela is divided into two sections, with the first looking at the relationship between the state under Chávez and various aspects of society. For example, an essay by a Venezuelan anthropologist examines the coup against the Chávez government in April 2002, and how the underlying patterns of the relationship between the nation, the state and the country’s oil wealth is behind the strategic efforts of the various actors involved in the coup.

Another noted scholar looks at the polarization in Venezuelan society more broadly, contending that the Chávez government has deliberately created the polarization in order to produce electoral payoffs. “He argues that it actually helps the Chávez government to eviscerate the political center and move both sides to the left and to the right,” said Eastwood.

The next essay looks at a very different perspective—the participatory democratic initiatives of the Chávez government. “When you look at the Chávez government, on the one hand you see weakening representative democratic institutions,” explained Eastwood, “but on the other hand you see at the local level a dramatic increase in local community councils and related forms of democratic participatory practice.”

Eastwood described the second section of the book as more evaluative. “It focuses on specific areas of policy and what has happened under the Chávez government in those areas,” he said. Essays include one on the women’s movement and women’s rights under Chávez, Venezuela’s macroeconomic performance and the health care program “Barrio Adentro,” which translates as “Inside the neighborhood.”

The final essay examines Venezuela’s foreign policy. “A typical United States media consumer could get the idea that Chávez’s foreign policy is just erratic and has no underlying rationale,” noted Eastwood. “Regardless of one’s position on it, this essay shows the underlying rationale and what the Chávez government is trying to do in terms of foreign policy.”

Eastwood is also the author of The Rise of Nationalism in Venezuela (2006).

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director
stschiggfrie@wlu.edu
540-458-8235

Law Alumna Fights Child Abuse in South Carolina

Elizabeth Carroll “Betsy” Hocker, a 1990 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, has just been named executive director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving victims of child abuse and neglect in Charleston and Berkeley counties of South Carolina.

Betsy served as a prosecutor for 15 years, during which she handled child abuse and crimes against women and became a subject-matter expert in sexual assault and maltreatment of children for the U.S. Departments of State, Justice and Defense. She was also honored by the FBI for her work in fighting cyber crimes.

She previously served as executive director of the Mississippi Children’s Justice Center, which protects children in Mississippi by facilitating and improving the assessment, investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect.

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