Feature Stories Campus Events

The Butterfly Effect

Balentine L.L.C., the investment advisory firm headed by Robert Balentine, a member of the Class of 1979 and a member of the Washington and Lee Board of Trustees, recently broke the $1 billion barrier of assets under management.

And while Robert clearly knows the investment business, he also knows a thing or two about biology and biodiversity. He and his wife, Betty, are founders of Southern Highlands Reserve, a private woodland garden in western North Carolina dedicated to sustaining the natural ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We blogged about the Balentines and the Southern Highlands Reserve not long ago, when Garden and Gun magazine featured Robert and his wife, Betty, in its April/May 2011 edition.

To get a better understanding of the particular values that Robert is cultivating there, you will want to watch the video below, “The Butterfly Effect: Biodiversity and the Blue Ridge.” Robert discusses the biodiversity of the region and the interdependence of life. TedX talks are part of a national program designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue about “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

W&L’s Five “Leaplings” Celebrate Fifth Birthday

When Jena Glavy arrived at Washington and Lee University from her home in Stafford, Va., she had never before met someone who shared her birthday—Feb. 29.

She knows now that she is one of five members of W&L’s Class of 2014 who were born on Feb. 29, 1992. They all turn 20 years old this Feb. 29 and can celebrate on their actual date of birth for only the fifth time. “I don’t think any of us knew too many people who were born on that day before coming to W&L,” said Glavy. “Now there are five of us in the same class. That’s definitely strange.”

In fact, it’s about 10 times the national average.

According to statistics posted on the Enchanted Learning website (http://www.enchantedlearning.com/time/leapyear/), the percentage of the population born on a leap day is less than one-tenth of a percent. For Washington and Lee’s Class of 2014, with 440 members, the percentage of the class born on a leap day is 1 percent.

In addition to Glavy, W&L’s leap-day babies, known as either “leaplings” or “leapers,” are Lauren Boone, of Louisville, Ky., James (Jed) Helvey, of Winston-Salem, N.C., Anne Howard, of Alexandria, Va., and Andrew Seredinski, of Flourtown, Pa.

For the leap-day babies, the actual date for their birthday parties happens only once every four years. In the non-leap years, some celebrate on Feb. 28, others on March 1. Glavy said she celebrates on Feb. 28 “because I can’t wait to open my presents.”

Seredinski also celebrates on Feb. 28, although he pointed out that his parents celebrate both days. “I prefer Feb. 28 because I was born in February,” he said.

In past leap years, however, both Glavy and Seredinski said, the occasion was a good excuse for a special celebration. “When I turned eight, or two years old technically, two separate people gave me a $2 bill. They were the first ones I’d ever seen,” recalled Seredinski. “I didn’t know the bills existed.”

Glavy said that every leap year her mother would throw a party and invite everyone. “It was a big thing,” she said. “I particularly remember my 16th birthday party.  I was really four years old, and my mom threw me a surprise party that was Disney princess-themed. I totally didn’t expect it, and it was fun.”

When she was growing up, Boone remembers enjoying the distinction of having such a rare birthdate — “but I didn’t like not having a ‘real’ birthday every year.” She adopted the practice of spreading her birthday across two days in non-leap years.

Both Seredinski and Glavy said that being a leapling is useful when it comes to meeting new people. “When you go to a camp, or somewhere like that, and you have to tell two truths and a lie about yourself, I always say that Feb. 29 is my birthday,” said Glavy. “To me, it’s cool that I have an interesting fact about myself.”

Helvey, who also celebrates on Feb. 28 in non-leap years, said that he’s never considered the unusual birthdate to be a really big deal but that “everyone thinks it’s kind of amusing that I’m technically turning five.”

Glavy noted that being a leapling means you never have the problem of someone else sharing your birthday in school and two different mothers bringing cupcakes. “You were special. It was your own day,” she said.

“When I turned 16, or 4, a girl had transferred into my high school with the same birthday,” said Boone. “We had a big party for both of us that year.”

This year, Glavy and Seredinski will celebrate with friends once they’ve completed their studies, while Helvey’s parents and siblings are coming to Lexington for a birthday dinner. “I’ll probably spend my birthday writing up an optics lab,” said Seredinski.  Glavy said that with a test the next day, she’ll be studying chemistry and thermodynamics. “That won’t be too much fun,” she said.”But I’ll have a good time with my friends afterwards.”

When asked if there was a downside to being a leapling, Glavy laughed and said that next year, when she turns 21 and there is no Feb. 29, her driver’s license shows that she doesn’t turn 21 until March 1. She noted, “I’ll have to wait a whole extra day” to celebrate her 21st legally.

Remembering an Alumnus and World War I

World War I is having a moment in popular culture these days, what with the movie “War Horse” and the PBS series “Downton Abbey.” Another example comes from the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and on Feb. 26 published a look at Tennessee veterans of WWI,  one of them a Washington and Lee alumnus: Kiffin Yates Rockwell, of the Class of 1913, who was a pioneering military aviator.

Kiffin, a native of Newport, Tenn., attended both W&L and the Virginia Military Institute. According to his biography at the VMI Archives, he volunteered for the French Foreign Legion along with his brother, Paul, in 1914, before the U.S. entered the conflict. Kiffin was wounded twice during his infantry service but recovered and transferred to become a founding pilot with the Lafayette Escadrille, a French aviation squadron. During a dogfight in May 1916, he became “the first American to shoot down a German plane,” according to the Knoxville newspaper. Kiffin earned a reputation and medals as a daring pilot; he earned immortality in September 1916, when he died in aerial combat. He is buried in France. His hometown has a historical marker outlining his exploits, and a marker in Lee Chapel commemorates his life as well.

Virginia Landscape Subject of Staniar Gallery Exhibit

Land Not Lost: Contemporary Views of the Virginia Landscape opens at Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery on Monday, March 12. The exhibition, which features paintings and photographs, will be on view through March 23. There will be a reception for the artists on Wednesday, March 21 at 5 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Lykes Atrium.

The exhibition is organized in conjunction with the 2012 Virginia Sesquicentennial Signature Conference on the Civil War at Virginia Military Institute on March 22.  Nearly 60 percent of the fighting in the war took place on Virginia soil, a fact which remains ingrained in the collective memory of haunting conflict.

Land Not Lost features eight contemporary artists who were selected for their works expressing a deep connection to the regional landscape: Ron Boehmer, Ray Kass, Sally Mann, Rob McDonald, Gordon Stettinius, Cy Twombly, Robert Williams and Willie Ann Wright.

VMI and Rockbridge Regional Tourism contributed to the support of this exhibition as one of several events surrounding VMI’s conference, which are detailed on the organizations’ websites.

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

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

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W&L Law Team Wins Best Draft Award at Transactional Lawyering Competition

Washington and Lee University law students Steve Harper and Lauren Meehan earned the Best Draft award for the term sheet they prepared for the regional Transactional LawMeet, held Feb. 17 at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Now in its third year, the Transactional LawMeet was created to give students an opportunity to compete against other schools in the realm of “deal making.” While there are many opportunities for law students to test their trial and appellate advocacy skills, few opportunities exist for students interested in transactional law practice.

Although the Meet’s specific agreement and transaction vary from year to year, each Meet’s agreement presents essential challenges in transactional problem solving, the type that corporate departments at law firms or in-house counsel at corporations tackle on a daily basis. The competition is judged by panels of senior deal lawyers.

For this year’s competition, Harper and Meehan used information provided and email interviews conducted prior to the competition to prepare an executive compensation package proposal on behalf of their client, a top executive being recruited by another company. The W&L students then represented their client in negotiations with students from other schools representing the company trying to lure her away.

Harper and Meehan received top honors for submitting the best draft term sheet in the regional competition, which featured teams from the law schools at Emory, the University of Virginia, Drexel, William and Mary, and American University, among others. With the award comes the opportunity to compete at the National Competition, to be held March 29 and 30 at Drexel University.

Recognizing the need for more transactional training for law students, W&L Law put substantial focus on helping students develop deal making skills when it reformed its third-year curriculum. In addition to choosing from an array of rigorous practice simulations that expose students to planning, negotiating, and document drafting in connection with business transactions, all W&L law students participate in a two-week transaction skills immersion, during which they handle a simulated purchase and sale of a business, representing either the buyer or seller at each stage of the transaction.

To learn more about W&L Law’s innovative third-year curriculum, visit law.wlu.edu/thirdyear.

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

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Law Alumna to Hold Circuit Court Judgeship in Virginia

Congratulations to Louise DiMatteo, a 1989 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, who has gotten the nod for a circuit court judgeship from her local delegation to the Virginia General Assembly. As icing on the cake, she also received the highest possible recommendation for the post from the Arlington Bar Association Judicial Screening Committee.

Louise has been an assistant county attorney for Arlington County since 2004. She has previously worked as an assistant county attorney and a senior assistant public defender in Fairfax County and as an insurance attorney with the firm of Siciliano, Ellis, Dyer & Bocarosse. She earned her undergraduate degree, in history, from the University of Virginia. She also is the president-elect of the Arlington Bar Association.

The judgeship she will occupy is one of two recent vacancies on the 17th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, which includes the cities of Arlington and Falls Church.

Check out this story in the Sun-Gazette (Springfield, Va.) for more details on Louise’s appointment.

David Shambaugh to Give Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Lecture at W&L

David Shambaugh, professor of political science and international affairs and a founding director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, will give a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar lecture at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The title of the lecture is “China’s Global Identities: The Conflicted Rising Power” and is free and open to the public.

A number of things will influence what kind of role China will take on the international stage, but, Shambaugh says, “China’s own conceptions of itself and its global responsibilities will be a major determining factor.” He will explore “the domestic discourse in China concerning its international identities” and will link these to alternative foreign policy postures that Beijing assumes on the world stage.

Shambaugh, one of the nation’s leading experts on China, is a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He has authored or edited 25 books and over 200 articles and book chapters. His most recent publications are Charting China’s Future; China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation; International Relations of Asia;  China-Europe Relations; and China Goes Global (forthcoming).

Shambaugh is a board member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States Asia Pacific Council.

Before joining the faculty at GWU, Shambaugh taught at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, where he also was editor of The China Quarterly. He has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an honorary research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and a senior Fulbright research scholar at the China Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of World Economics and Politics.

Shambaugh earned his B.A. from George Washington University, his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

The Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program makes available each year a dozen or so distinguished scholars who will visit colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. They spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions in addition to giving a public lecture.

The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the faculty and students. The program was established in 1956.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Philosophy Professor to Lecture on “Who Are Refugees?”

Matthew J. Lister, a visiting assistant professor at Villanova University School of Law, will give a lecture on Monday, March 19, at 5 p.m. in the Hillel Multipurpose Room. The talk is free and open to the public.

The title of Lister’s lecture is “Who Are Refugees?” He will discuss the definition of refugees, what could be done to help them and how a broader refugee definition may lead to problems.

Lister also lectures at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on international business transactions. He writes in a number of areas including immigration, criminal and international law, often from a philosophical perspective.

Lister’s publications include “Immigration, Association, and the Family” (Law & Philosophy, 2011); “Citizenship in the Immigration Context” (Maryland Law Review, 2010); “Desert: Empirical, not Metaphysical” (Comment on Robinson) in Criminal Law Conversations (Paul Robinson & Kim Ferzan, eds., Oxford University Press, 2009).

Lister clerked for the Hon. Judge Donald Pogue, United States Court of International Trade, from 2007 to 2009 and taught in the United States Peace Corps Volunteer Program in Western Russia at Ryazan State Pedagogical University.

He earned his B.A. from Boise State University (philosophy), his M.A. from the State University of New York at Albany (philosophy) and his J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (philosophy).

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Elrod Fellows Making a Difference

Not that there was ever any doubt about its benefits, but it was nice to see a video mentioning Washington and Lee’s Elrod Fellows Program down in Houston. That’s where three of the fellows, all 2011 graduates of W&L, are program coordinators with Genesys Works, a non-profit that trains and employs disadvantaged high school students by enabling them to work in meaningful internships at major corporations during their senior year. The intent is to show the students that they can succeed as professionals in the corporate world.

The three Elrod Fellows as Genesys Works are Crystal Spencer, Marie Locke and Emily Darling. As program coordinators, they work with the students on gaining internships, assist with college applications and serve as liaisons between corporate supervisors and interns.

During a recent ceremony, one of the young interns cited Crystal during the course of her talk about what the program had meant to her. You can watch the moment below.

The competitive John and Mimi Elrod Fellowship connects recent graduates with innovative public-service organizations that address poverty and significant social issues in the fields of health care, law, education, economic development and housing. In addition to Houston, Washington and Lee alumni in Baltimore and Washington help develop and maintain relationships with partner organizations who hire program fellows in those cities. 

In Baltimore, Elsa Friis, of the Class of 2011, is a residential counselor at Boys Hope Girls Hope, living with and serving as a mentor to eight boys who will likely succeed in school and go to college thanks to the program. Other recent Elrod Fellows: Steph Schaefer, of the Class of 2010, with The Choice Program in Baltimore; Micaela Coffey, Class of 2009, Communities In Schools, and Stephanie Stelter, Class of 2009, YES Prep Public Schools, both in Houston; Class of 2010 graduates Maureen Ford, Carpenter’s Shelter; Roz Klann, BUILD; Megan Steinhardt, Septima Clark Public Charter School; and Michael White, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, all in Washington.


Playwright C. Rosalind Bell to Give Reading at Washington and Lee

Playwright C. Rosalind Bell will give a public reading at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. She will read from her play “New Orleans Monologues.” The reading is free and open to the public.

“New Orleans Monologues,” named a Top Ten Entertainment by the Tacoma News Tribune, had simultaneous November 2010 productions at City College San Francisco and the University of California Santa Cruz’s Rainbow Theater.

Bell is the author of two other plays, “1620 Bank Street” and “Under the Circumstances.” She is also the author of short stories, among them “Baby Ray” and “First Friend,” which was made into a short film “Tootie Pie.”

One of Bell’s screenplays, “Le Cirque Noir,” about the rise and fall of the Duvaliers of Haiti, received a staged reading at the 2008 Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.  An excerpt of her novel-in-progress, Love, Me, was featured in the May, 2008, issue of the magazine, City Arts Tacoma.

Bell, who will be a guest lecturer at several W&L classes, taught poetry to fourth graders as part of the public schools’ Seattle Arts and Lecturers Writers in the Schools program. Also, Bell hosts “Good Eating with Ros,” a television show that highlights her love of cooking and gardening.

Bell was the 2010 Dollover Artist in Residence at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and a former professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. She received her B.A. from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., and worked as a civil rights investigator with the Treasury Department.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

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