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
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

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Pit Bull of 10th Street

Rick Williams, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1977, has dubbed himself the “pit bull of 10th Street” because of his passionate pursuit of issues in that Roanoke, Va., neighborhood.

The Sunday, Feb. 19, edition of the Roanoke Times wrote about Rick’s latest efforts to alter the Roanoke landscape. He recently purchased a three-acre plot of land in the northwest part of the city — the site of a former nursery that was described as “a tangled mass of weeds and brambles, dilapidated buildings and mountains of trash.”

Rick intends to establish an urban farm with a farmer’s market on the land. As the Times piece observes, the project is beginning to take shape. This spring and summer, he plans to plant annual vegetables, tree and cane fruits, herbal and medicinal plants and a “forest garden.” He’ll also adopt permaculture principles and hopes to begin the farmers’ market with a weekly farm stand.

The vegetables and fruit are not the only things that will be taking root. He also expects the nature of the community to change. As he told the Times, “In a broader sense, the local farm becomes an element in the broader sociology of the place.”

A mathematics major at W&L, Rick went on to study mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. His day job is with TMEIC Corp. in Roanoke.


Small World Department

When Laura Henson, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee, began graduate studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, Calif., she found herself in a challenging quantitative-modeling course required for all incoming students.

Turns out, her professor was Jim Williams, of W&L’s Class of 1980. Laura aced the course.  “She got 100 percent on a difficult final exam and had by far the best overall course grade out of 32 students,” Jim says, with a burst of W&L pride.

Laura, an avid scuba diver, is pursuing her passion for ocean conservation in the marine policy program at the MIIS’ new Center for the Blue Economy. She majored in English literature and environmental studies and, after graduation, spent two years in Mozambique with the Peace Corps.

A physics major, Jim leads the energy and climate change track of the International Environmental Policy program at the Monterey Institute. He has worked in the fields of energy and climate change for more than 25 years as a researcher, teacher and consultant.  He specializes in energy technologies, markets and policies for electric power systems, with experience ranging from regulatory policy and carbon-market design to grid integration of renewable energy, transmission planning, energy efficiency and demand response, electric vehicles, energy storage and distributed generation.

In addition, he is chief scientist of the San Francisco consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics (E3). He has just published a research article in the Jan. 6, 2012, edition of Science about the long-term technology and policy changes required to deeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


Washington and Lee Professor Finds that Reading Fiction Leads to Empathy, Helpful Behavior

A study by a Washington and Lee University psychology professor has demonstrated that reading a short work of fiction can lead readers to empathize with the work’s characters, to detect subtle emotional expressions more effectively and to engage in pro-social behavior.

Dan Johnson, assistant professor of psychology at Washington and Lee, published the results of his study in the November 2011 edition of the journal “Personality and Individual Differences.”

With the help of three W&L students — senior psychology majors Lauren Borden (Lake Leelanau, Mich.) and Grace Cushman (Wilton, Conn.) and sophomore Madison McCune (Nacogdoches, Texas) — Johnson had 200 subjects read a five-page fictional short story written specifically for the experiment, designed to elicit compassionate feelings for the characters and model pro-social behavior. The subjects then participated in exercises to measure the impact of the reading.

Based on the results of the post-reading exercises, Johnson concluded that the more immersed the readers were in the story, the more empathy they felt for the characters. In addition, he found that the heightened empathy led to an enhanced ability to perceive subtle emotional expressions such as fear or happiness. Individuals who experienced higher levels of empathy were also nearly twice as likely to engage in pro-social, or helpful, behavior as individuals experiencing low levels of empathy.

“An interesting component is that it really seemed to be a lot about the imagery and visualizing the face of the main character and the events they experienced,” said Johnson. “Those who experienced more inherent imagery were more likely to develop empathy for the characters and be more helpful.”

Johnson’s interest in the subject was sparked both by his wife’s profession as an English teacher and by conversations with his colleague, Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English and department chair at W&L, who wrote Empathy and the Novel (Oxford University Press, 2007).

In his discussions with Keen, Johnson said, “I realized that the empirical literature is just not there, especially in experimental form. There are no true experiments out there that demonstrate that reading can actually, causally, lead to a development of empathy.  How do we know that those individuals drawn to reading fiction aren’t already naturally more empathic people?”

Johnson is working with students this term on ways to implement the experiment. “It’s an inherently interesting topic, so it’s really fun to work with students on this,” he said. “They are all very interested in it and have an opinion and their own experiences to share, because they’ve been reading in some capacity their whole lives. I also enjoy the challenge of taking something subjective such as empathy and reading, and making it work experimentally.”

Having demonstrated that reading fiction leads to greater empathy, Johnson said, he now wants to find out why it works. “If we can enumerate those reasons, then we will have information we can actually apply in an educational setting,” he said. “Students are reading at all levels, so we assume they are already developing empathy through reading. First, we should test this assumption. Then we need to find ways to maximize its development. Maybe there are ways we can frame lesson plans while reading a fictional story that would lead to more or less empathy.”

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Six National Titles for Nicki Ross '15

When Nicki Ross, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 2015, and her teammate, Corey Delaney, captured the 2012 Girls 18 and Under Junior National Platform Tennis championship in Franklin Lakes, N.J., last month, they compiled a number of firsts.

Nicki and Corey, who are from Chatham, N.J., have dominated their age groups in the sport for years. In 2010, Nicki was pictured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd after she and Corey won their second 18-and-under title.

With the latest victory (and their last time competing in the junior divison), they became the first team ever, boys or girls, to win four consecutive 18-and-under Junior National titles and the first team ever, boys or girls, to win five consecutive titles and to record six titles in total. No one person has ever won six titles, boys or girls. Nicki and Corey finished their junior career with national titles in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, including one 12-and-under, one 14-and-under and four 18-and-under championships.

And Nicki (right) proudly displayed her Washington and Lee colors during her team’s march to the title:


Ken Auletta Addresses W&L's 12th Institute for Honor

Ken Auletta, one of America’s premier media critics, will present the keynote address to Washington and Lee University’s 12th annual Institute for Honor on Friday, March 2, at 4 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The institute is exploring “The New Conversation: How Are the News Media Shaping Our Political Beliefs.” The title of Auletta’s speech is “The News Media’s New Challenges.” His presentation will be open to the public at no charge.

Auletta has written the “Annals of Communications” column for The New Yorker since 1992. His columns have covered a variety of subjects includ­ing profiles of media powers and political giving from communication companies seeking legislative change in Washington.

Prior to writ­ing his column for The New Yorker, Auletta was a weekly columnist at the New York Daily News from 1977 to 1993. He has been a staff writer and columnist for The Village Voice, as well as a contributing editor at New York magazine. He had also been the chief political corre­spondent for the New York Post. His articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, the New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Vanity Fair and Esquire.

Auletta has written six books including two na­tional best-sellers, Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way, and Greed and Glory on Wall Street. His oth­er books include The Streets Were Paved With Gold, Hard Feelings, The Underclass and The Art of Corporate Success.

The recipient of numerous national and local journalism honors, Auletta was selected as a Gannett Fellow at Columbia University during 1990 and as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. His awards include the Gerald Loeb Award from UCLA’s Graduate School of management, and twice he has won the Champion-Tuck award from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, Dartmouth College.

Other speakers at this year’s Institute for Honor include Washington and Lee alumnus Tom Mattesky, a former award-winning producer for CBS News, W&L journalism and communications faculty Claudette Artwick, Toni Locy, Pam Luecke, and Brian Richardson and W&L law professor Brian Murchison.

Aside from Auletta’s keynote, other presentations at the institute are open to members of the University community, while others may register for the event by contacting the Office of Special Programs at (540) 458-8916. Additional details are available at this website address: http://www.wlu.edu/x56440.xml

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

An Elephant's Memory

On Valentine’s Day, a column in The Lima (Ohio) News headlined “Stray thoughts on life and love” carried the byline of Tom Harrison, of the Washington and Lee Class of 1983, a reporter with that newspaper.

The second part of the two-part column was a love letter to the W&L Mock Convention and especially to Jewel, the elephant that marched in the parade that year.

One of Tom’s former football teammates, Ron Magee, of the Class of 1984, also lives in Lima, where he is a vascular surgeon. Ron’s son, Ron Jr., is currently a W&L junior.

The W&L portion of Tom’s column begins by noting how he, Ron Sr. and now Ron Jr. all have the experience of a Washington and Lee Mock Convention in common.

Tom, who was a freshman in 1980, played a distinctive part in that Mock Convention, which correctly nominated Ronald Reagan. Here’s how he described his performance in his column:

My most vivid recollections of my participation in the 1980 mock convention were the nomination of Ronald Reagan, Sen. Barry Goldwater as featured speaker, and my role in the convention parade of states. My roommate and I donned gas masks, shouldered shovels and followed “Jewel,” the GOP elephant, while pushing a shiny trash can on wheels. For this act we were paid a half-keg of beer for a grand old party at a later date. I still have the photo of my roommate, Andy , in his gas mask and cowboy hat, clipped from a Sunday edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Sadly, Tom’s roommate and teammate, Andy Foley, died in February 2008. And, of course, last Friday’s parade for the W&L Mock Republican Convention did not include an elephant. The organizers cancelled its appearance rather than have protests by animal-rights activists overshadow the events.

Tom and Ron Jr. traded Facebook messages about the event, and the absence of an elephant came up. Wrote Ron Jr.: ”As much as I regret the loss of such a spectacle, I’m sure we W&L students can more than compensate.” He was right. If you missed it, you can see all the parade floats on our Facebook page and can even watch a video of the parade here.

We asked Tom to send us a copy of that issue of the Times-Dispatch. He’s still looking: “I’m not quite at the point yet where I can hide my own Easter eggs,” Tom wrote. “That clip must be just where I left it. If only I could remember where that was.”

Once he remembers, we’ll post it here. Meantime, we’ll have to do with this shot of Sen. John Warner ’49 and then Virginia Gov. John Dalton meeting Jewel before that 1980 parade.


W&L Black Lung Clinic Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Health Care Case

Like any large piece of government legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed with numerous provisions and addendums, some of which have little if anything to do with health insurance. But the fate of these laws is now equally at stake next month when the U.S. Supreme Court hears challenges to the ACA and the constitutionality of the Act’s individual mandate.

Two provisions of the ACA that do not concern health insurance affect the ability of coal miners and surviving spouses to receive payments through the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA). Because the fate of these provisions may be affected by the approach the Court takes in considering the ACA, the Black Lung Clinic at Washington and Lee University School of Law has filed an amicus brief with the Court, seeking to protect the two BLBA provisions. If the ACA is struck down in its entirety, 740 coal miners and spouses nationwide, including 19 of the Clinic’s own clients, will lose benefits.

“This is not a theoretical argument about what may or may not happen. These amendments are in place and working,” said Tim MacDonnell, associate clinical professor and director of the Black Lung Clinic. “If the entire act falls, money will stop coming.”

The brief, written by third-year W&L law students Parker Kasmer and Chris Miller under the supervision of MacDonnell, centers on two sections of the ACA that were part of the BLBA prior to 1981, when that law was amended. The provisions were reenacted as part of the ACA, and because their operation and funding is not attached to health care reform, they took effect immediately.

One section provides that if a coal miner has a totally disabling lung disease and worked for more than 15 years in an underground coal mine or similar conditions, it is presumed the lung damage was caused by coal dust. It then becomes the burden of the coal company to prove otherwise. The other section applies to surviving spouses and provides that if a miner fights and wins a claim for benefits, those benefits pass on to the surviving spouse when the miner dies rather than requiring the spouse to re-litigate the claim.

The brief takes no position on the constitutionality of the individual mandate itself, the most controversial component of the ACA, which requires that all Americans purchase health care insurance. Lower courts have split on whether the individual mandate is constitutional and what impact that should have on the rest of the Act if the individual mandate is struck down.

The legal question at issue in the Clinic’s brief is known as “severability.” The brief, beginning from the assumption that the individual mandate may be struck down, argues that the absence of the mandate should have no impact on the rest of the ACA. In other words, the individual mandate is severable from the rest of the Act.

“If you look at precedent and the Court’s tradition of judicial restraint and respect for congressional intent, our analysis points to only one conclusion,” says Kasmer. “If the choice is between no act and an act severed, then it is clear Congress would have passed the ACA even without the individual mandate.”

But the brief also considers the possibility that the Court will hold that the individual mandate is too connected to the rest of the Act, and that the entire ACA must be struck down. In this case, the brief argues that the black lung amendments can still stand.

“The severability argument that can be made for a single invalid provision can also be made for a single valid provision,” says Miller. “The black lung amendments don’t affect health care reform at all and can stand alone.” The fact that these provisions are already funded and working well ahead of the scheduled start date for the individual mandate only strengthens this claim, Miller says.

W&L’s Black Lung Clinic represents coal miners diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease, in their pursuit of benefits from the Department of Labor. The Clinic has represented hundreds of clients since its creation in 1996.

“We know the people who will be affected if these provisions fall,” says Miller. “When you form a theoretical argument, you do it from an academic perspective, but when you do it for someone you have been working for, it’s much more personal.”

Kasmer sees the process as the embodiment of a W&L legal education.

“On the one hand, you have the academic exercise of crafting a legal argument from a complex area of law,” he says. “And then there is the practical experience of writing a brief and submitting it to the Court in arguably one of the most significant cases of our generation. Having that opportunity is what makes W&L unique.”

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

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Campus Kitchen at W&L Receives Food Lion Grant

Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee (CKWL) has received more local support for its creative Weekend Backpack Snack Program. The Food Lion Charitable Foundation has given CKWL a $1,800 grant to support the Backpack Program, which provides backpacks filled with food to students at elementary schools in the area.

Handing over the oversized check on Wednesday, Feb. 15, Shaam Wheeler, store manager at the Lexington Food Lion, said, “I think it’s wonderful program, and I’m happy that we can be a part of supporting the local community.”

The Backpack program started in 2009 at Natural Bridge Elementary School, providing 360 backpacks in its first year. Since then, the program has expanded to four more elementary schools, including Mountain View Elementary School in January 2012. As a result, the number of backpacks being distributed to area school children has increased to 5,448 in 2011.

The Food Lion grant will underwrite the cost of 1,800 fully-stocked backpacks, since each costs $1 to produce through buying items at discounted rates through the Feeding America Food Bank and using donated items.

Meantime, Stephanie Furlong, a member of AmeriCorps VISTA, joined CKWL in November 2011 as a volunteer for the year. “AmeriCorps VISTA is a national program that’s like a domestic Peace Corps,” said Jennifer Davidson, Campus Kitchen Coordinator, “at least that’s how people typically describe it. We were very lucky to get a VISTA position and to have Stephanie working with us.”

CKWL is one of 17 local agencies supported by the United Way of Rockbridge.


W&L Professor's Book Links Early Modern Comediennes and Women Comics Today

Women comedians today owe a great deal to the pioneering women in comedy in the 16th and 17th   centuries in Italy and France, as demonstrated for the first time in a new book by Domnica Radulescu, professor of Romance languages at Washington and Lee University.

Women’s Comedic Art as Social Revolution (McFarland, 2011) is based on eight years of archival research and traces the lives of five women theater artists who, according to the book’s description, “created revolutionary forms of comic performance that subverted patriarchal attitudes, conventional gender roles and stereotypical images of women.”

Jill Dolan of Princeton University wrote in her review of the book, “Never before has the history of Western women in comedy been written with such scope or comparative detail.”

“My goal is to demonstrate that women have created comedic art throughout the centuries which has counteracted sexist humor as well as resisted forms of gender and sexual discrimination,” said Radulescu. “The book is both a historical study as well as a theoretical study of what makes women’s humor different from male humor, how it initiates and incites social change, and how it is cathartically rewarding and empowering for women both in the theater as well as in society at large.

“My book goes against the grain of some feminist studies that have neglected to make the link between the commedia dell’arte actresses who produced such a revolution in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and the new 20th-century feminist theater. I show the connection and that women have actually developed a tradition of comedy across the centuries.”

In the book, Radulescu demonstrates how the five performers, defying the stereotype that women are not funny, were complete artists in that they did not play parts written by male playwrights, but wrote their own parts, directed themselves and acted on stage. “That is why I placed them together in this group,” said Radulescu, “I was fascinated with this type of female artist who was very revolutionary in the 16th century and continues today in the form of many women standup comics and performance artists. So I follow the way this comedic art has developed across the ages in the context of each woman’s time.”

The first of this line of actresses was the 16th-century playwright and performer Isabella Andreini, who was among the first actresses in Europe to perform on a stage. Known for her gracefulness on stage, she was one of the greatest comedic actresses of her time and was greatly admired for her improvisation. “Andreini was part of a generation of actresses that brought improvisation to the stage and took their comic performances to such a high level of virtuosity that they were better than the men in the troupes,” Radulescu noted.

Andreini was followed by the 17th-century French Italian actress Caterina Biancolelli, who performed as a part of a troupe of Italian actors during the time of Louis XIV in France. “Biancolelli developed the role of the sassy maid and took comedic and improvisational art to a new, higher level where she derided the society of men and patriarchy,” said Radulescu. “She used body language and played all sorts of tricks on the male characters, always having the last laugh.”

Franca Rame was a 20th-century Italian playwright and performer who dealt with modern issues such as female sexuality, domestic violence, marriage, contraception and abortion. “She developed a kind of feminist stand-up comedy,” explained Radulescu. “She created quite a revolution in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s because she dealt with issues that had been taboo before then. The women in the audience would often feel vindicated and empowered by her. For example, she broke down the very rigid gender roles of the woman who stays at home and the husband who goes to work, or the woman as a passive object of desire.”

Taking the story to the present day, Radulescu  examines several performers who create a similar kind of comedy but in the context of post-modern life: Deb Margolin, award-winning playwright and performer, and Kimberly Dark, a performance artist who deals with issues of sexual identity and women’s size. “I show that there is a strong link between these five women and that today’s feminist comedians draw a lot from the earlier tradition but with a modern theater strategy.”

The final chapter of Radulescu’s book provides a practical guide for performers and teachers of theater for creating improvisational comedy that deals with various gender and feminist issues in comedic form.

Domnica Radulsecu is a professor of French and Italian at W&L and the cofounding chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies program. She has authored or co-edited nine scholarly books and collections of essays, two best-selling novels and numerous articles. She is the founding director of the National Symposium of Theater in Academe.

Women’s Comedic Art as Social Revolution is available at the University Bookstore or find it on their website at http://bookstore.wlu.edu

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

W&L's 26th Annual Lip Sync Contest Benefits Local Food Orgs

Students Against Rockbridge Area Hunger (SARAH), a Washington and Lee student organization, raised $8,500 for local food organizations through the University’s 26th annual Lip Sync Contest in late January.

Proceeds from the event were distributed to Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry (NBGFP), Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA), and Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee.  Due to the success of the event, contributions to all of the organizations came in above last year’s level, with RARA receiving $5,950, NBGFP getting $1,700, and Campus Kitchen, which received support from the contest for the first time, collecting $850.

Joey Brown, a senior from Germantown, Tenn., Perry Given, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., and Chaz Patrick, a sophomore from Palmyra, Va., organized Lip Sync this year.

SARAH president Brown said the students decided to support all three organizations because a significant number of people rely on their services. “This is one of the only events at the University where all the fraternities and sororities can get together and contribute to one local, significant cause,” he said. “These hunger-relief efforts depend on generous contributions from the community, and Lip Sync is a great way for students to contribute.”

The Lip Sync Contest was founded by Jerry Darrell, the long-time head of W&L’s food services who remains a Rockbridge County resident.  His efforts to raise money for area hunger relief allowed Lip Sync to prosper.  He has become an advisor to SARAH and has helped the team determine how to allocate its funds.

“I’m so proud of what SARAH has accomplished and the contribution it has made over the past 25-plus years,” said Darrell. “The local pantries so heavily rely on the generosity of W&L students, especially the largest pantry, RARA.”

Darrell was even able to drop into the event this year, the first time since he retired.  “I was so pleased with the turnout of the acts and spectators and the usual great enthusiasm,” he said.

Thirty teams participated in Lip Sync, with well over 300 people in attendance this year.  About 90 percent of the participants were first-year students.  Brown noted that the event “is a great bonding experience for them, because it is usually right after they have pledged to join a new fraternity or sorority.” The event was held in the Pavilion on Jan. 27.

— by Heyward Brockinton ’12

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


W&L Student Maps Out the Past

Washington and Lee senior Jenks Wilson, a double major in history and philosophy from Charleston, S.C., spent the past summer conducting research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of its Preserve America project, “Charting a More Perfect Union.” That project collects electronic images of Civil War-era maps and charts for free use by the public.

Back in July, NOAA issued a news release about Jenks’ work on two maps connected with the First Battle of Manassas, also known as the First Battle of Bull Run.

This week, stories about two more maps in the NOAA collection have been released and include Jenks’ interpretation. These maps of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson were created after Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant captured the two Confederate forts guarding river passage from Kentucky into Tennessee’s northwestern border.

The backstories are fascinating since, as Jenks concludes, disputes over tactical approaches combined with personal mistrust between Grant and Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck led to their creation.

In the case of the Fort Donelson map, Jenks wrote: “The disagreement over tactics and Halleck’s mistrust in Grant is what prompted Halleck to send engineer, Lieutenant Colonel James B. McPherson, into Grant’s service. With initial instructions to report on Grant’s drinking habits, McPherson would prove indispensable to Grant’s reconnaissance.”

Both the Fort Donelson map and a second map, a sketch showing the relative positions of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, were created after Grant won an unconditional surrender of Fort Donelson in February 1862.

Jenks concluded, “These maps further solidify the fact that the Union was disadvantaged relative to the Confederates in waging war on Southern soil.  It would take resourceful officers like Grant to overcome these disadvantages and push the Federal army on the offensive.”

Jenks got involved in the project after W&L alumnus Ben Sherman, of the Class of 1975, asked for a recommendation of a student to help from Holt Merchant, professor of history at W&L and a 1961 alum himself. Ben is a public affairs specialist with NOAA.

You can read a story about the Fort Donelson and Fort Henry maps on this website, and all of the maps are on NOAA’s Charting a More Perfect Union site.


Sawdust in the Veins

Sunday’s Roanoke Times ran an extensive front-page story about the Vaughan-Bassett furniture company in Galax, Va., prominently featuring two of the company’s principals, who also are Washington and Lee alumni — John D. Bassett III, of the Class of 1959, and his son, Wyatt, of the Class of 1988.

The piece describes the battles that the Bassetts are waging to keep their family business afloat while many other furniture companies in the area have failed in the face of competition from China.

Last month, the Times had reported that Vaughan-Bassett was adding 115 more jobs in Galax and announcing an $8 million expansion. In making that announcement, John said: “You can’t compete with China and Vietnam and Malaysia unless you have the finest equipment money can buy and the best employees in the world.”

The feature story begins by relating a trip that John and Wyatt had taken to China in 2001 to size up the competition by searching for the source of a chest of drawers.

Colleagues and observers quoted in the piece say that John “has more sawdust in his veins than anyone in the business” and that, unlike many in his position, he chooses to put people ahead of profits.


New Volume by W&L Historian Examines Tax and Spend Politics

Molly Michelmore, assistant professor of history at Washington and Lee University, hopes that her new book (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2012) will not only help readers to think more clearly about taxes and government spending but also to re-think their ideas about what exactly constitutes welfare.

Michelmore traces the development of taxing and spending policy, two areas not usually examined together, from the New Deal of the 1930s through the Reagan revolution of the 1980s, providing a new interpretation of post-New Deal American liberalism in the process.

According to one review, “This most important book has the potential to transform how we think about the historical origins of the current crisis in the welfare state.” Another review declared that the book “shows why many Americans have come to hate government but continue to demand the security it provides.”

“Nobody ever talked about how taxes pay for the welfare state,” said Michelmore, “but it seemed that taxing policy and spending policy should be examined together. It’s impossible to talk about any kind of American political debate without thinking about how you’re going to pay for the things that people want.”

Drawing archival evidence from Congress, the White House, federal agencies and grassroots organizations, Michelmore shows how Democrats –even at the height of their power in the mid-20th century—adopted a political program that essentially hid government benefits from the people receiving those benefits.

“One of the things I point out in my book is that there has been a timidity on the part of liberals, including Roosevelt, the New Dealers, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy, to really embrace the idea that the state can be good,” said Michelmore. “Instead, they have done their best to obscure what it is that they’ve achieved. As a result, few Americans realize that, if you look beyond the obvious programs that we call welfare, the middle class is quite dependent on federal assistance. It’s not simply the poor.

“But we have this erroneous idea as a nation that welfare is an illegitimate give-away program that taxes hard-working people in order to give money to irresponsible people who don’t want to work, can’t take care of themselves and make bad choices.”

Michelmore cited Social Security and Medicare for retirees, as well as home ownership tax programs such as the home mortgage tax deduction and the deduction for local property taxes, as well as tax breaks for child care and health insurance, as examples of this “hidden middle-class welfare state.”  But although these benefits go mostly to the white, salaried, middle class, these are exactly the people most like to feel like the victims, rather than the beneficiaries, of federal welfare policy.  “When you don’t have to pay the government $2,000 in federal income tax because you own a home, it doesn’t feel like you’re getting $2,000 from the government. It feels like something you deserve as opposed to something the state is doing for you.”

By hiding these benefits, liberals actually set the stage for the rise of the Republican right in the last decades of the 20th century. Republicans could adopt an anti-state attitude because most people didn’t feel the government was doing anything for them. “Because a lot of the liberals’ accomplishments were hidden and felt very different from what people define as welfare, the term has become a regular punching bag for people trying to score political points. Even when you look at left-wing populist discourse, it attacks welfare for corporations,” said Michelmore.

On tax policy, Michelmore said that the idea of “tax and spend” liberals is largely fiction, and that from the 1930s through the 1960s, the so-called “golden age of American liberalism,” liberals in fact cut taxes rather than raising them. She then pointed out that the Republicans’ anti-state idea of “starving the beast” articulated in the early 1980s — if you cut off the tax stream you can ultimately shrink the state — hasn’t happened either. “In fact welfare programs, largely for the middle class, have grown during periods of so-called conservative governance. So what you have is a period of tax-cut-and-spend liberalism giving way to a period of tax-cut-and-spend conservatism in the 1980s,” she said.

“One of the stories I’m trying to tell is the way in which the American Right manages to claim this mantle of defenders of the taxpayers, how that happened and what its consequences have been,” she added. “A lot of people in the 20 to 30 age demographic today don’t feel as if they’re getting anything from the state, even if they are. They feel that they are being sucked dry and getting nothing back.”

In her book, Michelmore proposes shedding more light on what it is that the government can do and has historically done. “We need to think more clearly about connecting what we pay and what we get from government, because the invisible financing of certain benefits has made politics really difficult,” she said. “For example, a few years ago it was fairly common to see people at Tea Party rallies arguing to ‘get the government’s hands off my Medicare.’ It doesn’t make any sense since Medicare is a government program and wouldn’t exist without the government.

“Connecting taxes and spending more clearly by throwing some sunshine on these issues would help us make more informed and coherent policy choices about what we do want from government,” she concluded.

Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics, and the Limits of American Liberalism will be available at the University Bookstore or find it on their website at http://bookstore.wlu.edu

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

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Seniors Rutherford, Edgar Named Generals of the Month for February

Washington and Lee University seniors Bobby Rutherford and Caitlin Edgar will be recognized at the Generals of the Month presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 12:30 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Rutherford, from Birmingham, Ala., is a double major in accounting and business administration and economics. He is the executive director of W&L’s Student Consulting Group and is a member of the Williams Investment Society and Kappa Alpha fraternity.

He was also the fundraising co-chairman for the 2012 Mock Convention and was on the Honor Roll and Dean’s List. He was a pre-orientation trip leader in ’09 and ’10 and was a summer 2011 analyst in Financial Sponsors Group for J.P Morgan Securities in New York.

Edgar, from De Pere, Wis., is a biochemistry major. She is the president of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) and was recognized her sophomore year with the ODK Rupert Latture Award. She is a Johnson Scholar, a Bonner Leader, is on the Residential Life Committee and chair of the Johnson Tribute Project.

She was also the chief financial officer of General Development Initiative Inc. and was a founding member of NEXT, the 21st-century Grant Initiative student leadership team for mentoring middle school children.

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.

Rutherford and Edgar 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 March 21, April 11 and May 9.

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

From Magazines to Museums

The McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Ala., has just named Washington and Lee alumnus Tom Angelillo, of the Class of 1974, as its new president and CEO.

The center, a cornerstone of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization, is housed in what was previously Loveman’s department store. As its new leader, Tom will oversee the opening of the Birmingham Children’s Museum, a $5 million project to create a museum within a museum by renovating the second floor of the McWane center. It’s scheduled to open in 2013.

Tom is former president and CEO of magazine and book publisher Southern Progress, where he had spent 15 years as head of the company that produces the magazines Southern Living and Cooking Light, among others. He had helped launch Cottage Living and Coastal Living, two of the company’s most widely read titles.

Tom retired from Southern Progress in 2008. He told the Birmingham News that he planned to bring his business experience to the non-profit sector by joining the museum.


W&L Introduces Living Philosopher Series with Andy Clark

Senior philosophy majors at Washington and Lee University will have the opportunity next month to meet and interact on campus with a major contemporary philosopher whose work they are studying.

Andy Clark, whose research includes philosophy of mind and artificial intelligence — including robotics, artificial life, embodied cognition, and mind, technology and culture — will be at W&L from March 5 to March 9. He is currently a professor at the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom.

Clark’s lecture, titled “Messy Minds: Embodiment, Action and Explanation in 21st Century Cognitive Science,” is on March 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Northen Auditorium of the Leyburn Library and is open to the public.

The “Living Philosopher Series” is a new initiative by W&L’s department of philosophy through which a different prominent philosopher will be invited to W&L each year to provide a public lecture, eat meals with the students, sit in on classes and take part in informal discussions with students.

“The seniors will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with and critique the ideas of someone at the forefront of his or her field,” said Paul Gregory, associate professor of philosophy and department head. Describing Clark’s views as cutting edge and controversial, Gregory explained that, prior to Clark’s arrival, the students will have studied not only Clark’s extensive publications but also those of his collaborators and critics.

“Philosophy is an amazingly lively and active area of current research,” said Gregory, “and is best pursued in face-to-face discussions. This visit gives students the chance to do just that. They will go beyond reading texts guided by a professor to being able to interact directly with, question and challenge, and get to know the personality of someone who actually works in and is prominent in the field. And it’s always exciting to meet someone famous.

“The Living Philosopher Series is basically in place of the senior thesis, and we wanted to come up with a seminar that brought all the seniors together in one class,” said Gregory. “And we realized we had the funding to do this through the Pollack Lecture Fund.”

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

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Scott Tinker, State Geologist of Texas, to Discuss the Energy Industry

Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, will give a lecture on energy at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons.

The title of Tinker’s talk is “The Global Energy Transition.” It is sponsored by the Johnson Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

Tinker will talk about the energy industry being in transition from using oil and coal resources to new alternatives and the need for more information so that the public can make better-informed decisions. He will explore the future of energy, showing segments from his soon-to-be-released documentary, “Switch.” Tinker will answer questions such as:

  •  If coal is dirty, why do we keep using it?
  • Can we really clean it up?
  • Will oil get too expensive or run out?
  • How quickly will we adopt alternatives and which ones?
  • How dangerous is nuclear energy?
  • What are the biggest challenges, and best solutions, to our energy transition?
  • What can each of us do?

At the Bureau of Economic Geology, Tinker is responsible for the strategic direction and financial health of a $40 million soft-money organization with federal, state and private grants and contracts, among other things.

Tinker is also the state geologist of Texas and serves as the Edwin Allday Endowed Chair of Subsurface Geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the director of the Advanced Energy Consortium, chairman-ex officio, of the AEC Board of Management and executive director of activities for the $10 million-per- year consortium to facilitate pre-competitive research in the recovery of oil and gas.

He earned his B.S. in geology and business administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, his M.S. in geological sciences from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Colorado.

W&L Root Lecture Presents Religion Professor John Dunne

John Dunne, associate professor of religion at Emory University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, March 8, at 4:30 p.m. in Parmly Hall 307. The talk is free and open to the public.

The title of the lecture is “Derealizing Self: Frontiers of Contemplative Science.” Dunne’s talk is sponsored by The Root Lecture Fund and hosted by the Religion Department.

A co-founder of the Collaborative for Contemplative Studies at Emory,  Dunne’s work focuses on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, especially in dialogue with cognitive science. He also is co-director of the Mind and Life Humanities Initiative and its Contemplative Studies Fellowship program.

Dunne’s published work includes Foundations of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy (2004), in which he examines the most prominent Buddhist theories of perception, language, inference and justification. Within Buddhist studies, his most recent publications include essays on Madhyamaka philosophy, Buddhist philosophy of language, non-dual mindfulness and yogic perception. In cognitive science, his work includes a co-authored review article on “Attention Regulation and Monitoring Meditation” (Trends in Cognitive Science).

Dunne’s current research includes an inquiry into the notion of mindfulness in both classical Buddhist and contemporary contexts, and he is also engaged in a study of Candrakirti’s Prasannapadā, a major Buddhist philosophical work on the metaphysics of emptiness. His co-authored translation of Nāgārjuna’s Ratnāvalī will appear in 2012.

His collaborative research is conducted with colleagues at Emory University and through the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. His work at the interface of Buddhism and science is often facilitated through the activities of the Mind and Life Institute, where he has served on the board of directors and the Program and Research Council.

Dunne studied at the United States Air Force Academy, Amherst College and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. from the Committee on the Study of Religion in 1999.

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

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W&L's Ikeda Joins Delegation to Japan

Janet Ikeda, associate professor of East Asian languages and literature at Washington and Lee, is part of a 10-member delegation of Japanese-American leaders from across the country to travel to Japan next month for meetings with top officials in that country.

The goal of the 2012 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program is to further develop the U.S.-Japan relationship and establish a meaningful role for Japanese-Americans.

In a news release issued by the U.S.-Japan Council, which is organizing the program, Ikeda said: “My primary teaching objective is that students develop skills that will enable them to become true global citizens. The study of Japan is perfect for understanding nuance and non-verbal ways of communicating, which can empower students wherever they may go in the world.”

She added that the trip will be especially meaningful because of her family ties to Fukushima, the site of the nuclear crisis that accompanied the Great East Japan Earthquake.

“JALD creates a meaningful intersection where, for the first time in my life, the personal and professional can converge in a way that allows me to contribute most effectively,” she said. “Like many others, I feel an urgency and commitment in the wake of 3/11 to continue this work long into the future.”

This is the 12th year of the program and the first time that the delegation will visit the city of Sendai, in the Tohoku region, to show support for the region devastated by last year’s earthquake and tsunami. The delegation will also visit Tokyo for meetings with high-level leaders. In past years, delegations have met with the prime minister and foreign minister of Japan.

The program is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and organized by the U.S.-Japan Council, a national non-profit that acts as a catalyst by energizing Japanese-American leaders to strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations.

Ikeda has been a member of the W&L faculty since 1999 and previously served as associate dean of the College.

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

Blogging Mock Convention: Day Three

And It’s Romney

On the first ballot, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got the Washington Mock Convention endorsement when Indiana’s delegation gave him its votes.

Coincidentally, the announcement that Romney had been put over the top came within minutes of a Washington Post News Alert that Romney had won the presidential straw poll of activists attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday in Washington.

While the W&L delegates put Newt Gingrich a distant second followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the CPAC  poll had Paul in second place.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had addressed the convention on Friday and reiterated his support of Romney, was a favorite son selection as the vice presidential nominee.

It was clear from the start of the roll call that Romney was going to breeze to the nomination — a far cry from W&L’s 1924 Democratic Mock Convention, which needed 23 ballots to select John W. Davis, a dark horse candidate who happened to be an alumnus of the University. In the end, that prediction proved accurate and actually came much more readily than the actual convention which took 17 days and 103 ballot to nominate Davis.

Haley Barbour Offers Keynote

As the Mock Convention moved toward its climax with the roll call vote, the final speaker of a weekend filled with big names took the stage. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was introduced by senior Sorelle Peat, who chaired the speaker committee which was responsible for bringing the all-star lineup.

It was Barbour’s second visit to a W&L Mock Convention. He appeared at the 1996 event, which correctly nominated Bob Dole as the GOP nominee.

“I can’t wait til the afternoon’s over,” Barbour told the delegates, “because I know you’re going to get it right. And I can you tell right now I have no idea who’s going to be our nominee, so you’re ahead of me.”

The basic question, Barbour said, is “What kind of America do we Americans want to have?”

Photo Gallery from Session Three

Washington and Lee campus photographers Patrick Hinely and Kevin Remington have been providing a steady stream of images that the W&L web team of Jessica Willett, Jim Goodwin and Eric Owsley have been using to update Scene on Campus throughout the weekend.

You can see their handiwork at our Scene on Campus page.

* * *

Virginia’s George Allen Makes His Mock Con Appearance

George Allen, former U.S. senator and Virginia governor, followed Goodlatte. Allen addressed the students about the job market, student loans and “the youth-misery index” in the context of what he called an “overreaching federal government,” “dangerous levels of debt” and “counterproductive energy policies.” With these themes, he echoed remarks by Goodlatte and other speakers. Allen is running for the U.S. Senate seat he held from 2000 to 2006.

 * * *

Henry McMaster, Former S.C. Attorney General

After a talk by political consultant Dick Morris (who also spoke at the Mock Con Spring Kickoff in 2003), Henry McMaster, the former attorney general of South Carolina, took the stage quoting song lyrics by Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. McMaster, the former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, told the assemblage home-spun lawyering stories about such personalities as U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and his friend, the late Jack Kemp, who ran as the Republican candidate for vice president with Bob Dole in 1996.

 * * *

Mock Convention Featured on Fox News

When he left Lexington after delivering his speech at the W&L Mock Convention on Friday, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor stopped off in Charlottesville to do a spot with Greta Van Susteren for her “On the Record” program on Fox News.

The piece aired last night, and the Mock Convention got a big boost from Cantor, who referred numerous times to the work that the W&L students do in producing the event and selecting the candidate.

You can watch the video on the “On the Record” website.


Washington and Lee Mock Convention Picks Romney as GOP Presidential Nominee

Washington and Lee University’s 2012 Mock Republican Convention awarded its nomination to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Saturday.

The Indiana delegation put Romney over the top by awarding all 46 of its delegates to him, touching off a flag-waving celebration in the University’s Warner Center.

Following the nomination of Romney, the convention’s tri-chairs announced the choice of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as the vice presidential nominee.


AUDIO
 


Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, accepted the nomination on behalf of her husband in a telephone call to the convention that was played on a loudspeaker: “This is awesome,” she said. “We are so pleased. This is a great tradition, and we are glad to see so many students so engaged and involved in the political process in Virginia, a state with a rich history and one that will play a pivotal role in the next election.” (The candidate was in the air and so unable to make the call himself.)

Romney, who finished with 1,781 delegate votes, was followed in the voting by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 222, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 151 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 130.

Zachary Wilkes, a senior politics major from Farmersville, La., and the political chair of the convention, said he thought the W&L prediction will stand up when the GOP meets in Tampa this summer.

“Romney has the ground organization and the appeal in all 50 states,” said Wilkes. “People can challenge him in the South and challenge him in the West, but no one can challenge him across the nation.”

The roll call of states climaxed three days filled with political speeches from Republican luminaries, including former GOP candidate Jon Huntsman and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who gave the keynote address prior to the prediction.

• Photo Slideshows

Barbour, who had addressed the 1996 Washington and Lee Mock Convention that correctly nominated Bob Dole as the GOP nominee, told the student delegates that this was going to be the most important election of their lifetimes.

“I can’t wait until the afternoon’s over, because I know you’re going to get the nominee right,” said Barbour. “And I can you tell right now, I have no idea who’s going to be our nominee, so you’re ahead of me.”

The convention, planned and executed entirely by students, involved virtually the entire undergraduate student body and about half of the law school students.

In addition to promoting their own agendas and endorsing candidates, the speakers uniformly praised the student organizers and exhorted the student delegates to stay involved in politics.

Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, who entertained the crowd by playing a Rolling Stones tune on his guitar, told the audience: “The future of the U.S. is in your hands. Trust yourselves, do not trust politicians.”

Huntsman warned them not to become cynical about politics. “Don’t become detached from the system,” he said. “The world is waiting for your generation to lead.”

Former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watt said that he wants his children and grandchildren to inherit “an exceptional America” and challenged the students, saying: “We all have a role to play in sustaining the greatness of America.”

In their remarks, both Huntsman and House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor cited Washington and Lee’s motto, “Not unmindful of the future,” to emphasize the important roles students will play in the world.

This event was the 25th time the W&L students have predicted the nominee of the party out of power. The event began in 1908. Heading into this convention, their record stood at 75 percent overall (18 of 24), and they had been incorrect on only two occasions since 1948 — picking Edward Kennedy instead of George McGovern in 1972, and Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama in 2008.

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


Blogging Mock Convention: Day Two

J.C. Watts Has the Last Word

Although Herman Cain was a last-minute scratch, the Mock Convention delegates got plenty of political rhetoric, with former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts offering the final speech of the second session.

Watts noted that he’d been in Lexington for the 2000 Republican Mock Convention. The strength of America, he said, “is you, it’s me, it’s us.”

Referring to his own children, who are in college, Watts said that he wants his kids and his grandkids to inherit “an exceptional America.”

“We all have a role to play in sustaining the greatness of America,” Watts concluded.

The second session was adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Session three will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m. The roll of the states is set for Saturday afternoon.

Not Unmindful of the Future

Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and former ambassador to China, received a warm welcome to Warner Center, where he became the second speaker of the day to use Washington and Lee’s motto in his speech. Earlier, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor had also referred to that motto: Not unmindful of the future.

Huntsman, an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination, told the audience that Americans are a “blue-sky, problem-solving, optimistic people.” Referring to the polarization of politics, he drew applause when he said: “In order to get the work done, we’ve got to remember that we are first and foremost Americans. I’m an American before I’m a Republican.”

Speaking directly to the students, Huntsman exhorted them not to become cynical about politics: “Don’t become detached from the system.”

“The world is waiting for your generation to lead,” he concluded.

* * *

W&L Alum Chris Burnham ’80 Endorses Romney

Chris Burnham, a 1980 grad, turned to the Bible, Isaiah 6:8, asking, “Who shall go for us?” He believes the Republican presidential candidate will be, and should be, Romney. “It is my privilege to be here as an advocate for Mitt Romney,” he said.

Romney is not a community organizer, Burnham noted. He focused on Romney’s experience in turning around the troubled Salt Lake City Olympics, restructuring foundering companies and the state of Massachusetts. Romney, he said, cut taxes 19 times, balancing the Massachusetts state budget and setting aside money for a rainy-day fund.

He quoted Daniel Webster: “Power to tax is the power to destroy.” Burnham also said, “We labor under a tax code that is outdated for the times in which we live.”

* * *

Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter Jams

At the end of his speech at the W&L Mock Convention, Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter plugged in his guitar to play a seldom-performed Rolling Stones number, “Parachute Woman.” Since 2005, Rep. McCotter has played lead guitar in the bipartisan congressional rock band named The Second Amendments.

Before he broke out the red, white and blue ax, he spoke about the concept that the most government is the one with the least government. In that vein, he discussed the economy, Obamacare, entitlement programs, terrorists and communist China. “The future of the U.S. is in your hands,” he told the students. “Trust yourselves, do not trust politicians.”

* * *

Cantor Heads to Greta Van Susteren’s Show

After making his speech at Washington and Lee’s Mock Republican Convention this afternoon, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor left Lexington and prepared to go on Fox News’ “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren tonight to discuss the proposals he made in Lexington.

The Hill has already written about Cantor’s W&L speech, and you can look for photos by W&L staff photographer Kevin Remington on tonight’s “On the Record.”

* * *

Odds and Ends from Session One

Mock Convention Personnel Chair Tucker Pribor noted that 98 percent of the student body was participating in Mock Con—even though Warner Center was noticeably empty for the afternoon session. He surmised that the other 2 percent was probably studying abroad and therefore not on campus.

Two of Virginia’s top elected officials addressed the opening session: Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

McDonnell arrived a few minutes late to the podium, because he had just come from the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. The governor spoke to the importance of Mock Con by mentioning his daughter, who, when she was stationed in Iraq, witnessed Iraqi women voting for the first time. In that 2006 election, he said, over 70 percent of Iraqis voted; in the election that brought him to the Virginia governor’s office, McDonnell noted, only 45 percent of Virginians went to the polls. “Americans have died and continue to die to protect our freedoms,” he said. “We should never take the right to vote for granted.”

McDonnell reiterated his enthusiastic endorsement of Mitt Romney for president, calling him “the right guy at the right time for America.” He said that students who would be looking for a job after graduation should support a candidate who will be actively creating jobs for them.

Cuccinelli, bolstering his reputation as an activist attorney general who has made state and national headlines, spoke of how “Americans are fighting back to preserve their constitution” and of what he views as an “assault on liberty by this administration . . . an assault on the constitution itself.”

Mock Con co-chair Tricia King thanked their advisor, Bill Connelly, John K. Boardman Professor of Politics, for instilling in them “the power and the virtue of the notion of student self-governance.” She told her fellow students that “this weekend will stay with you forever” and affirmed, “There’s nothing ‘mock’ about this convention; it’s the real deal.”

* * *

Herman Cain Last Minute Cancellation

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who was a late addition to the list of speakers for the 2012 Mock Convention, was a last minute scratch.

* * *

South Carolina Float Wins

The State Float Awards go to South Carolina (first), Kentucky (second) and Oklahoma (third place). The winner of the Storefront Decorating Contest is Alvin-Dennis, the clothing store that has outfitted delegates for many a Mock Con. See the float slide show here.

* * *

Rep. Cantor to Make Headlines 

Reports in both Mike Allen’s “Playbook” on Politico and Mark Halpern’s The Page blog on TIME magazine’s website indicate that House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor is going to make some national news today at Washington and Lee, when he addresses the Mock Convention in this afternoon’s session.

Both sources say that Cantor will offer a response to President Obama’s “fair shot” vision and that he will unveil a “20% tax cut for small business in America.”

Mike, a 1986 alum and White House correspondent for Politico, was back on campus yesterday long enough to co-moderate the Mock Convention’s James Carville-Ann Coulter debate with fellow alum Kelly Evans, Class of 2007, who’s now with CNBC. He headed back to Washington after the moderating gig and has a lengthy preview of the Cantor speech in “Playbook.” Here’s a link; the reference is about midway down.

* * *

Down Main Street They Came

Cheeseheads under Lambeau Field goalposts from Wisconsin, Kentucky’s Churchill Downs with the Derby in progress, a horse-drawn Sooner wagon from Oklahoma, 10 brides (but no groom) from Utah, and a Maine lighthouse with the promise of lobsters —the annual Mock Convention parade rolled quickly down Main Street this morning. The 50 floats were on and off Main in less than 30 minutes, moving crisply because of the chilly February temperature.

The absence of an elephant didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. After working hard to find an elephant, the Mock Convention organizers opted on Monday to cancel its appearance rather than have potential protests by animal-rights activists overshadow the entire event. As one parade watcher was overheard to say, “I guess there was no elephant because they spent all the money on (Herman) Cain.”

Watch for a gallery of floats on the University’s Scene on Campus page shortly.


Jed Dunn ’82 Named Trustee of Washington and Lee

James E. (Jed) Dunn Jr., of Greensboro, N.C., has been elected to the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees.

A 1982 graduate of W&L, Dunn majored in economics. He was sworn in as a trustee during the board’s meeting in Lexington on Feb. 10, 2012.

He served as chief executive officer of Piedmont Hematology Oncology Associates P.L.L.C. until its merger in 2011 with Novant Health. Prior to PHOA, he was president of Coleman Resources, a manufacturing firm in Greensboro. Dunn began his career with First Union Corp., in Charlotte, N.C., as a corporate lender in the world banking division.

Dunn currently serves on the board of directors of the Community Oncology Alliance and was previously a member of the board of Forsyth Regional Cancer Center and other related professional associations. He served as chair of the board of visitors for the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and president of the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art. He was a member of the Duke University Heart Center Leadership Council and a charter member of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies.

An active alumnus of Washington and Lee, Dunn has served as president of the Greensboro Alumni Chapter, chair of the Alumni Board of Directors, and chair of the Annual Fund. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church.

Dunn and his wife, Gwyn, have four children, including Jimmy, a 2008 W&L graduate; Fletcher, a 2010 W&L graduate; and Hanes, a member of the W&L Class of 2013.

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


Blogging Mock Convention: Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee: Best Government is Self-Government

After the dust settled from the Carville-Coulter debate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee brought calm to the setting with a quietly passionate appeal to personal responsibility.

The best government, Huckabee said, is self-government. “Freedom does not exist in a moral vacuum,” he added.

Huckabee told the crowd that he was a generation away from a mother who lived in a house with a dirt floor and no electricity. “I am living a life that would be unimaginable in most cultures, because where you start is where you’re stuck,” he said.

“What makes America a great country is the way we treat each other,” he said. “It is not our economy that will fail us. We will crumble because we have lost our moral center, because our compass internally does not point due north, and we will not be able to claim the moral high ground for every single human being.”

To be free, Huckabee said, a country has to be able to feed itself, fuel itself and fight to manufacture for itself.

Huckabee told the student conventioneers that “I want your world, the one you’re going to inherit, to be every bit as good as the one I’ve been blessed to have. Unless we make some changes in the way we govern ourselves, that’s probably not going to happen.”

Greatness, he said, is what we choose to be in our individual responsibility as citizens before God and before each other.

• • •

Carville v. Coulter: Romney Will Be Nominee

A standing-room crowd in Washington and Lee’s Warner Center settled in for an animated debate between James Carville and Ann Coulter as the opening event of the Mock Convention

As senior Tricia King, general chair of the convention, noted, Carville’s appearance marked the first time that a representative of the party in power (the Democrats, in this case) had addressed a Mock Convention, which is always for the party out of power.

Although there were many points of disagreement on issues like immigration, foreign policy and government spending, they did agree on one thing: when all is said and done, Mitt Romney is probably going to be the Republican presidential nominee.

Carville compared the potential nomination of Romney by Republicans to trying to give  a dog a pill — he just keeps getting spit out. Coulter plainly is not keen on Newt Gingrich: “Newt Gingrich is in the Newt Gingrich business, not the fixing-the-country business.”

Added Carville about criticism of the media: “People use biased media like a drunk uses a lamp post — for support not illumination”

• • •

Calm Before the Storm

Warner Center’s transformation into the convention center is nearly there. Chairs on the floor, stage in place, sound and big screens all working.

In addition to live video on the Mock Convention site and on Cable Channel 18 (Comcast in Lexington), tonight’s opening debate, featuring James Carville and Ann Coulter, will be streamed live by WDBJ-TV, Roanoke’s Channel 7, on its website (www.wdbj7.com/) starting at 5 p.m.

In case you missed this news from earlier in the week, Kelly Evans, the 2007 Washington and Lee alumna who will be moderating the debate with 1986 alumnus Mike Allen, of Politico, has left the Wall Street Journal and will be moving to London later this month to work for CNBC.

* * *

Welcome to our 2012 Mock Convention blog.

Throughout the next three days, we’ll providing a running commentary on the events as the convention unfolds. So check back often.

For starters, those who cannot make it to the sessions have several ways to keep track:

1. The events will be streamed live on the Mock Convention website at http://mockconvention.com.

2. WLUR-FM is carrying gavel-to-gavel coverage over the air and on the Internet. WLUR is at 91.5 on the FM dial and can also be heard through its website, wlur.wlu.edu.

3. Finally, if you are in the Lexington area with access to Comcast, the proceedings will be shown on Cable Channel 18, a production of the W&L Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.


W&L Law Students to Assist Area Residents with Tax Preparation

Students from Washington and Lee University School of Law will be offering free tax preparation assistance for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers in the Rockbridge County area.  These services are free to members of the local community earning up to $50,000 annually.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) office will be open on Monday evenings beginning February 13 through April 2 from 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. in Room 2010, Wilson Hall at the Lenfest Center of Performing Arts, located on the corner of Nelson and McLaughlin Streets.  No appointment is necessary.

The office will be closed Monday, March 5th while students are away on break.

The VITA program requires students to undergo extensive training and certification testing before they are eligible to help prepare tax returns.  As a result of this training, law students can help local residents complete their tax forms and claim valuable tax credits.

To take advantage of VITA’s services, taxpayers must bring the following documents to their tax preparation session:

  • photo identification
  • social security cards and birth dates for taxpayers and dependents
  • information for all deductions/credits
  • all tax forms received from employers, banks, etc., including Forms W-2 and 1099
  • total paid for day care services and day care provider’s tax identification number
  • any other relevant information about income and expenses
  • bank routing numbers and account numbers if direct deposit of refund is desired

For more information about the VITA program, or for directions to the Lenfest Center, contact Vera Mencer at 458-8570.

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

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BLSA Mock Trial, Moot Court Teams Take Second at Regionals, Headed to National Competition

Members of the Washington and Lee University School of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) recently participated in the moot court and mock trial competitions at the organization’s regional convention, placing second in both competitions. Those teams willl now move on to the national competition in Washington, D.C. in March.

The team of Kassandra Haynes and Curtis Wilson took second in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court competition, which focuses on appellate advocacy. Teams from the law schools at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Baltimore also advanced to the national competition.

W&L entered two teams in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial competition. After five rounds, the team of Britteny Jenkins, Amber Boyd, Doris Okafor, and Josh Laguerre earned a bid to nationals, finishing second overall. Teams from the law schools at Widener University and William and Mary will join W&L at the national competition.

In addition to the teams’ success, mock trial team member Britteny Jenkins won a best advocate award for her work during the competition. W&L also fielded a mock trial team that included Summer’s-Grace Green, Maisie Osteen, Dominick Taylor, and Chrishon McManus.

W&L law student Asheigh Greene served as Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the mock trial competition. This was W&L BLSA’s first ever outing to the regional competition.

The moot court and mock trial competition are sponsored by the National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA). NBLSA is a national organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and effectuate change in the legal community. According to its website, NBLSA is the largest student run organization in the United States with nearly 6,000 members.

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

Related //
Tagged //

Smith, Allen Named to Virginia Communications Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Hampden H. Smith III, Washington and Lee professor emeritus of journalism and communications, and Mike Allen, a member of W&L’s Class of 1986 and currently chief White House correspondent for Politico, on their election to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame inducts Virginia-born communicators, and persons born elsewhere who have become distinctively identified with Virginia, who have made outstanding long-term contributions in the field of communications.

Ham served on the W&L faculty from 1974 until his retirement in 2007. He is being recognized for “a 40-year career in newsrooms and in journalism education in Virginia, nationally and internationally.” In addition to his work in W&L’s classrooms, Ham also taught journalists in Eastern Europe’s emerging democracies about the responsibilities of a free press. As head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications for 14 years, he saw the changes coming in journalism and steered W&L’s journalism students toward learning how to  work on several news platforms simultaneously. He joins other W&L faculty in the Communications Hall of Fame, including Louis W. Hodges and the late Ron MacDonald.

Mike, a native Californian, was one of Ham’s students in the ’80s. He was editor of the Ring-tum Phi and went on to a career with several national news organizations, including the New York Times, Time magazine and the Washington Post. At Politico, Mike is renowned for his daily “Playbook” blog as well as his tenacious reporting on political issues. He graced the cover of a 2010 New York Times Magazine, which dubbed him “The Man the White House Wakes Up To.” Mike will be back in Lexington Thursday night, Feb. 9, to join another journalism grad, Kelly Evans, of the Class of 2007, to co-moderate the Mock Convention debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville.

Ham and Mike will be among the 12 individuals inducted on April 12 at the Hotel John Marshall, in Richmond. The emcee for the evening will be W&L alumnus Roger Mudd, of the Class of 1950, who was one of the inaugural inductees, in 1986. This newest class of 14 inductees will bring the total number of Hall of Famers to 140.

Politics and Pomp — W&L's 2012 Mock Republican Convention

When critics say that today’s generation of college students doesn’t care about politics, Washington and Lee University senior Tricia King can only shake her head.

“All they have to do is watch what happens here in Lexington this coming weekend to see that’s not true,” said King, an English and politics double major from Norfolk, Va. “I heard that young people are too jaded, that we’re disconnected. And yet when we have our Mock Convention, you’ll see young people participating in droves.”

King’s passion for the quadrennial event is understandable. She and the event’s other tri-chairs — Zachary Wilkes, a senior from Farmersville, La., who’s the political chair, and Tucker Pribor, a senior from Madison, N.J, the personnel chair — have spent virtually their entire college careers preparing for 72 hours that will take place this weekend.

The 2012 Mock Republican Convention will not only draw a remarkable lineup of political luminaries to address the students and spectators in the University’s Warner Center, but it will also bring the climactic roll call of the states and the students’ prediction of the Republican presidential nominee on Saturday.

“Everyone focuses on our speakers and our prediction,” King said, “but the really important part of Mock Convention is that we have virtually every single student spending hours and hours of their time on a political event. People are passionate about it.”

Indeed, that passion goes way back. W&L held its first such event in 1908, when a Democratic Mock Convention nominated William Jennings Bryan on the first ballot. Over time, the exercise has grown in stature based, in part, on the accuracy of the prediction. Overall, the record is 18 correct predictions in 24 attempts, with only two errors since 1948. The prominence of the speakers and all the attendant hoopla have continued to gain attention over the years.

• Live streaming on mockconvention.com and live audio on WLUR-FM
• See below for historic Mock Convention images.

In a Mock Convention retrospective that he wrote in 1998, the late Washington and Lee politics professor William “Buck” Buchanan pointed to 1948 as the year the Mock Convention became a truly national media spectacle. “The first parade through the streets of Lexington had Virginia Military Institute and high school bands, floats and an elephant. Reporters and photographers from Life, Time, Associated Press and United Press and newsreel cameramen from Paramount and MGM poured into town,” Buchanan wrote. “A major effort by Publicity Director Lea Booth  discovered the baby elephant at a circus playing in Kentucky and persuaded Mason-Dixon truck line to carry him and his trainer to Lexington.”

In ensuing years, the parade grew bigger and media coverage did, too, with legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow covering the 1952 convention for CBS. The death of a former vice president and U.S. senator, Alben Barkley, of Kentucky, during his 1956 keynote address made international headlines. Former President Harry Truman spoke at the 1960 event, which also featured Miss America, Lynda Mead, riding on the New Jersey float.

• • •

William F. Connelly Jr., the John K. Boardman Professor of Politics at W&L, is the faculty adviser to Mock Convention. He is as impressed by this group of student leaders as any in the past.

“Hundreds of students put in endless hours. And for key Mock Convention leaders, their efforts amount to working a full-time job while also completing their responsibilities as full-time students,” said Connelly. “Every four years, I am proud of how effectively the Mock Convention leaders balance their responsibilities as students and as student leaders.

“I have been particularly impressed this year with the superb chemistry among the Executive Committee members, coupled with the substantial contributions by all the Steering Committee members,” Connelly added. “Mock Convention remains the most significant and broad-based example of student self-government and civic activism at W&L year after year.  This broad-based effort involves our students in politics, political science, journalism, business administration, computer science, accounting, the study of history and more.”

The students are fully aware of the challenges that they are facing to stay relevant in the era of primary elections.

“Mock Con reinvents itself every four years,” said Wilkes, a politics major. “If you look through past cycles, Mock Con was so in tune with the Republican Party before 1972 that we were able decide who was going to win before anyone else in the nation. After 1972, everything changed. The public got very involved with primary elections, which caused our research methods to change fundamentally.”

King and Wilkes and others on their committee know that Mitt Romney will be the likely choice by the time the roll is called this coming Saturday. They’ve been watching the primaries closely, and the political team has made picks for each of those.

“At various points, we’ve thought the answer to the question of who will be the nominee is a foregone conclusion,” said King. “But then something happens to change that. It’s the nature of politics.”

The students have moved the convention dates earlier and earlier to try to make the prediction as challenging as possible. This year, the organizers thought they had chosen the best possible date by putting the convention between the original dates for the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

“We read the Republican National Committee rules, which said that if anyone jumps ahead of those dates they would forfeit delegates,” said Wilkes. “Then the rules changed, the dates of primaries changed, and it stole some of our thunder. We’re hoping that, going forward, the national party will stick to its rules so we can decide when to hold our next convention.”

• • •

The research began months ago and is painstaking. Wilkes said his political team looks at everything on a state-by-state basis — the candidates’ organizations, their fund-raising, the strength of the overall message.

“Take South Carolina,” Wilkes said. “With Romney coming off the New Hampshire win, we had been prepared to pick him early. But we waited because all of our fundamentals said that (Newt) Gingrich should win in South Carolina. We waited for a last-second Gingrich surge. Sure enough, it came seemingly out of nowhere, and everyone said it was positive momentum from the debates. But actually Gingrich lined up perfectly with the fundamentals of South Carolina. It was more of a restoring of order in a southern state.”

Earlier this year, one of the state coordinators, Thomas Meric, a senior economics and theater major, from New Orleans, took it upon himself to create a database with county-by-county information on every election since 1972 for both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

“When you pop in data from South Carolina alone, you get 372 pages of graphical data and detailed breakdowns of what has happened in those primaries,” Wilkes said. “So we knew what we needed to see in the way of county margins in South Carolina.”

Before the students make their prediction on Saturday, Feb. 11, two dozen speakers will have had their turn at the Warner Center podium. King and her team have been working for months to get the best speakers available, landing former presidential candidates Jon Huntsman, who was governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, and businessman Herman Cain, just days before the convention.

“When Zach, Tucker and I started this process, it was just the three of us for a while,” said King. “We had a kind of crazy wish list for speakers, and we are almost spot on.”

In addition to Huntsman, the list includes former governors Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas, and Haley Barbour, of Mississippi; current Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor; former Sen. Fred Thompson, of Tennessee; and former Rep. J.C. Watts, of Oklahoma. It’s an impressive list, despite unexpected competition.

“We are competing with C-PAC 2012,” said King, referring to the Conservative Political Action Committee that is meeting in Washington the same weekend. “I guess they thought it would be cool to schedule their annual conference the same weekend as our convention, but we’re still doing OK.”

For King and her fellow members of the steering committee, the hours upon hours of work will be rewarded when the balloons fall after the announcement of the 2012 nominee on Saturday.

“The students receive neither pay nor academic credit for their efforts,” said Connelly. “But they uphold the tradition and honor of W&L by working assiduously to get the prediction right — and to produce a splendid political spectacle of a convention.”

Click on individual images for captions.

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


Herman Cain to Address W&L Mock Convention

NOTE: Herman Cain cancelled his scheduled appearance at the Mock Convention on Friday, Feb. 10, telling organizers he had lost his voice earlier in the day.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain will address Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.

Cain dropped out of the race in December but was the GOP frontrunner before allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity derailed his campaign.  Former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain ran as a Tea Party candidate from Georgia.

Cain will address Mock Convention at the evening session on Friday.  He joins former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as one of two former 2012 candidates.  Cain and Huntsman top off an impressive array of speakers, including the opening night speech by Gov. Mike Huckabee, presentations by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.S. House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, and former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts.  The Convention also includes a debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, as well as a keynote address by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Mock Convention is a three-day event that will feature speeches by other distinguished politicians and analysts.  The event will culminate in the students’ prediction of the Republican presidential nominee.

W&L’s Mock Convention is a quadrennial tradition in which students pick the presidential nominee for the party out of power.  Nearly the entire student body, roughly 99%, research potential candidates, track polls, and gather on-the-ground data.  This year, the students have correctly picked the outcome of the New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada races.  With only two incorrect predictions since 1948 and an overall accuracy rate of 75%, Mock Con has been called “the most realistic” exercise of its kind by Newsweek magazine.

After incorrectly selecting Hillary Clinton as the 2008 Democratic nominee, the students are eager to prove their skills in the upcoming convention.  Speakers of Cain’s caliber solidify the convention’s credibility and will ensure that in 2012, the W&L Mock Convention will reaffirm its place as “the biggest and boomingest” of student political organizations (TIME Magazine).

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday, Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Virginia GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Mr. Herman Cain, Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter,  Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday, Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson and Attorney General HenryMcMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459


Nuclear Power Report Co-Prepared by Washington and Lee Debuts Feb. 8

A new report examining the future of nuclear power in the United States, prepared by the Federation of American Scientists and Washington and Lee University, will be released on Wednesday, Feb. 8, during a luncheon in Washington, D.C.

The report, funded in part by a grant from H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest of Philadelphia, a Washington and Lee alumnus, is designed to provide policymakers, educators and the general public information on which future decisions about nuclear power can be made.

“This report does not advocate, but it does inform,” said Frank Settle, visiting professor of chemistry at Washington and Lee. “We have gathered together a strong group of experts to write chapters on their areas of expertise — from the legal issues to safety to a comparison of nuclear power to other energy sources.”

Settle and Charles D. Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists, edited the report and wrote the foreword, which cites the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as an event that has focused new attention on the nuclear industry.

“It is still too soon to know the full implications of this accident for the United States and the global nuclear industry,” Settle and Ferguson write, adding that the motivations for the report are still relevant regardless of the accident.

“The primary motivation,” they write, “is to educate policymakers and the public about where nuclear power in the United States appears to be headed in light of the economic hurdles confronting construction of nuclear power plants, the aging reactors (most of which were built more than 30 years ago), and the graying workforce (many of whom are nearing retirement age).”

Authors of the report’s articles:

  • John F. Ahearne, director of the ethics program at Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, a lecturer in public policy at Duke University and an adjunct scholar at Resources for the Future;
  • Albert V. Carr, Jr., professor of practice at the Washington and Lee School of Law and of counsel with the international law firm Duane Morris L.L.P., working with the firm’s energy and construction departments in developing a nuclear licensing practice;
  • Harold A. Feiveson, a senior research scientist and member of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs;
  • Daniel Ingersoll, senior program manager for the Nuclear Technology Programs Office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
  • Andrew C. Klei, professor of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at Oregon State University;
  • Stephen Maloney, a partner at Azuolas Risk Advisors and longtime energy risk analyst in oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas and electric power;
  • Ivan Oelrich, an independent defense analyst and former vice president of the strategic security program at the Federation of American Scientists;
  • Sharon Squassoni, director and senior fellow of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to joining CSIS, she was a senior associate in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • Richard Wolfson, the Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics at Middlebury College, where he also teaches Climate Change in Middlebury’s Environmental Studies Program.

The report is the latest phase of a project that began in 2008 as the result of an $850,000 grant for “Nuclear Education in the 20th Century” from Lenfest and has involved four organizations: W&L, the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Energy Education Development Project, and the Federation of American Scientists.

The project has had a variety of elements, including a course on nuclear power that Settle has taught at W&L every other year, workshops for high school and middle school students and teachers conducted with National Energy Education Development, and the development of a website, the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues, which now features more than 2,700 vetted, indexed annotations to diverse references on nuclear topics.

“This has been a multi-pronged approach to helping provide greater understanding about nuclear power in the U.S.,” said Settle. “This report is the culmination, and we are indebted to Gerry Lenfest and the Lenfest Foundation. His dedication to educating the public about nuclear energy is what has made this work.

“In addition, I am very appreciative of the way that Charles Ferguson and the Federation of American Scientists has made Washington and Lee a central part of the project and of this report.”

The report will be unveiled at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Senate Meeting Room SVC 203-02 of the Capitol Visitor Center. Settle and Ferguson will be joined by several of the report’s authors, including Carr, the Washington and Lee law professor who wrote the report’s chapter on licensing and regulation.

Copies of the report are available from the Federation of American Scientist 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 Mock Convention Picks Santorum in Minnesota, Romney in Colorado

Washington and Lee’s 2012 Mock Convention political team is picking Rick Santorum to edge Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Minnesota caucuses and for Romney to win the Colorado caucuses. The student researchers did not make a pick for Missouri, which is non-binding and is generally regarded as a beauty contest.

The Mock Convention is only days away, with the first events scheduled for Thursday night and the final prediction of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee set for Saturday, Feb. 12.

The Minnesota prediction was prepared by Stockton Bullitt, the state chair and a senior from Darien, Conn., along with Zach Wilkes, a senior from Farmersville, La., and the Mock Convention’s political chair, and the rest of the political team.

“Candidate favorability ratings, second-choice preferences and an overall upward trajectory seem to indicate that Santorum will benefit the most from a large segment of late-breaking undecided voters, but, in such a small voting universe, voter turnout will trump all on caucus night,” wrote Bullitt, adding that the caucuses could have far-reading implications.

“Almost anything is possible in Minnesota, and, while we are predicting a Santorum win, we would not find a victory by Romney, (Newt) Gingrich or even (Ron) Paul to be all that surprising.”

In terms of the implications of a Santorum win, Wilkes suggested the biggest loser would be Gingrich “who desperately needs to establish himself as something other than a Southern regional candidate.”

In Colorado, on the other hand, Charles Martin, the Colorado state chair and a senior from St. Louis, writes of Romney’s predicted victory in that state’s caucuses that “his more moderate stance in this nominating cycle will prevent him from approaching 60 percent of the statewide vote as he did in 2008, he will still finish well ahead of the field. Romney will be buoyed by the strong organization left over from his 2008 campaign, endorsements from many of Colorado’s top Republicans and momentum stemming from his victory in Nevada.

In terms of the national implications from Colorado, Wilkes writes that Romney’s Colorado win “will create a buffer against potential losses in Minnesota and Missouri. If, as we expect, Santorum secures second in Colorado, and finishes strong in Missouri and Minnesota, he will once again emerge as a viable Romney alternative.”

The quadrennial Mock Convention, in which W&L students choose the nominee of the party out of power, will feature major speakers. It has been correct more than 75 percent of the time, with only two incorrect predictions since 1948.

The Mock Convention festivities begin on Thursday, Feb. 9, with a debate between top Democratic strategist James Carville and GOP pundit Ann Coulter, followed by a speech by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. A parade throughout downtown Lexington will be held on Friday, Feb. 10. The lineup of speakers includes former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, and former Oklahoma Rep. J.D. Watts, among others.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday, Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Virginia GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter,  Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday, Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson and Attorney General Henry McMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459


W&L Mock Trial Team Advances

Washington and Lee University’s young Mock Trial team finished fourth with a 6-2 record in last weekend’s American Mock Trial Association regional tournament at Chapel Hill, earning a spot in the Opening Round Championship Series in Greenville, S.C., on March 23-25.

The W&L “A” team competed against Campbell University, Patrick Henry College, Vanderbilt University and Furman University during the regional event.

According to Christopher Schneck, a senior from Exton, Pa., and captain of the team, the results were particularly gratifying since the W&L team met rival Furman in the fourth round with the trip to the championship series on the line.

“We split the round with them, which was enough for us to qualify for the opening round of the national championship,” Schneck said. “We’ve had a pretty intense rivalry with Furman for the last several years, and we respect that program a great deal, so this was a gratifying way to advance.”

The W&L “A” team features five first-year students and three upperclassmen.

“We couldn’t have made it this far without the massive contributions of our first-year competitors,” Schneck said. “They have constantly risen to and competed at a level well beyond our expectations.”

Members of the “A” team are first-years Samantha Sisler of Worcester, Pa., Elizabeth Elium of Garrettsville, Ohio, Naphtali Rivkin of Teaneck, N.J., John Houser of Chaptico, Md., and Jackie Yarbro of Suwanee, Ga., along with juniors, Abbie Caudill ’13 and Nate Reisinger ’13, both of Urbana, Ohio, and Schneck.

Two W&L competitors were recognized as witnesses. Christina Lowry, a sophomore from Lexington and a member of the W&L “B” team, earned perfect score of 20.

“Every judge who saw Christina compete thought that she was the best witness in the room,” said Schneck. “This was her second witness award on the season.”

In addition, Houser was recognized with a witness award, which was his first of the season.

Before going to the Chapel Hill regionals, the W&L Mock Trial teams tuned up by competition in the University of Richmond’s Spider Classic Jan. 21-22 where the “A” team finished second with a record of 6-1-1 while the “B” team had a 4-4 record.

Individually, Reisinger won an attorney award while Lowry, Rivkin and Jasmine Jimenez all won witness awards.


Former Post Iraq Bureau Chief Named Fishback Visiting Writer at W&L

Jackie Spinner, a former Washington Post reporter who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be the Fishback Visiting Writer at Washington and Lee University this month.

She will present a public lecture at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in Stackhouse Theater of Elrod Commons. The lecture, titled “Stay Back 100 Meters or You Will Be Shot: War Reporting and Objectivity,” is open to the public at no charge.

Currently an assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College in Chicago, Spinner was a metro reporter and a financial reporter at the Post before becoming its Bagdad Bureau Chief. She reported from Iraq during the Battle for Fallujah and survived a kidnapping attempt outside Abu Ghraib prison.

After leaving the Washington Post in 2009, she founded “Angel Says: Read,” an international literacy project based in Belize. She has started independent student newspapers at both The American University of Iraq and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, where she taught journalism as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in 2010-11.

Adedayo Abah, associate professor of journalism, said that Spinner will offer students “a fascinating professional background as a journalist and a writer” that will help them understand the current challenges faced by media.

Spinner’s 2006 book on her experience is titled Tell Them I Didn’t Cry: A Young Journalist’s Story of Joy, Loss and Survival in Iraq. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Journalism and Women’s Symposium and Military Reporters & Editors Association. She is co-director of Conflict Zone, a groundbreaking multimedia exhibit featuring some of the world’s best combat photographers and journalists.

The Fishback Program for Visiting Writers at Washington and lee was begun in 1996 thanks to a generous gift from Sara and William H. Fishback Jr., of the Class of 1956, in memory of Margaret Haggin Haupt Fishback and William Hunter Fishback. The program brings an outstanding writer to the W&L campus annually. The Fishback Fund is administered by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Previous Fishback Visiting Writers have included New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, author and journalist Steve Coll, author and legal scholar Stephen Carter, political scientist Larry Sabato and columnist and Brookings Institution Fellow E. J. Dionne.

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

Gordon Spice to Give Morris Professorship Inaugural Lecture

Gordon P. Spice, professor of music at Washington and Lee University, will give the Edwin A. Morris Professorship Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the concert hall of Wilson Hall.

The title of Spice’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Words and Music: Creating a Synthesis.”

During his lecture, using recordings and video examples, Spice intends to “show how composers of the Middle Ages to the present have created the text-music synthesis, the result of which can be greater than the sum of the component parts.” He continues, “What roles do melody, harmony, rhythm and other building blocks of music play in creating such a synthesis?”

Spice joined W&L’s faculty in 1973 and will retire at the end of June. He has been head of the music department for 20 years. He has served as the conductor of the Washington and Lee Chamber Singers, the W&L Glee Club and the W&L University Chorus. He also has conducted the Rockbridge Community Chorus and the Rockbridge Community Orchestra.

Spice’s areas of specialization include Moravian music, choral literature, Baroque music, Renaissance music, music history survey and music appreciation.

Spice received a B.B.A. from the University of Toledo, B.A. and M.A. degrees in music history from Ohio State University and his Ph. D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina.

The Edwin A. Morris Professorship was established in 1993 by a grant from Edwin A. Morris, of Greensboro, N.C., W&L class of 1926. Morris was the chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Bell Inc., of Greensboro. H. Thomas Williams, who retired in 2011, is the Morris Professor of Physics Emeritus.

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

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W&L's Strong Discusses Carter Foreign Policy (Audio)

Robert Strong, interim provost and William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University, discussed the foreign policy of President Jimmy Carter in an interview with the radio program, True South, on WGAU radio in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.

Strong is the author of the 2000 volume Working in the World: Jimmy Carter and the Making of American Foreign Policy and an earlier book about the foreign policy of Henry Kissinger, Bureaucracy and Statesmanship.


AUDIO:


In 1988-89 he was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and worked in the offices of Congressman Lee Hamilton and Senator Richard Lugar. His commentary on political events has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald, Roanoke Times and Richmond Times Dispatch.

True South is a live, weekly call-in program on which co-hosts Neal Priest and Russell Edwards explore timely state and national stories and discuss history and natural history, with experts from around the country.

Jon Huntsman to Address W&L's Mock Convention

Former Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will address Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention on Friday, Feb. 10.

Huntsman dropped out of the presidential race Jan. 16th, after he finished third in the New Hampshire primaries.  Huntsman is the former governor of Utah (2005-2009) and served as U.S. Ambassador to China (2009-2011).

Huntsman’s speech at the evening session on Friday adds to an impressive array of speakers, including opening night speech by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, presentations by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and U.S. House Majority Leader and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, and former Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts plus  the Saturday keynote by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

The public is invited to attend the event, which will be held in the Warner Center. Tickets are still available on mockconvention.com in limited quantities.

Mock Convention is a two-day event that will feature speeches by other distinguished politicians and analysts.  The event will culminate in the final prediction of the Republican presidential nominee.

W&L’s Mock Convention is a quadrennial tradition where students pick the presidential nominee for the party out of power.  Nearly the entire W&L student body, roughly 99% of all students, works for three years researching potential candidates, tracking polls, and gathering on-the-ground data.  With only two incorrect predictions since 1948, and an overall accuracy rate of over 75 percent, Mock Con has been called “the most realistic” exercise of its kind by Newsweek magazine.

After incorrectly selecting Hillary Clinton as the 2008 Democratic nominee, the students are eager to prove their skills in the upcoming convention.  Speakers of Mr. Huntsman’s caliber solidify the convention’s credibility and will ensure that in 2012 W&L Mock Convention will reaffirm its place as “the biggest and boomingest” of student political organizations (TIME Magazine).

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday, Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Virginia GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter,  Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday, Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson and Attorney General Henry McMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459


W&L Mock Convention Sees Romney Landslide in Nevada

The student political researchers for Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention are predicting a landslide win for Mitt Romney in Saturday’s Nevada caucus, with second place going to New Gingrich and third to Ron Paul.

With the Mock Convention itself less than a week away, the student political team has been gearing up to make its prediction of the eventual Republican nominee during the convention’s final session next Saturday, Feb. 11.

The Nevada prediction was issued by Spencer Frantz, a senior from Salem, Va., and the Nevada State Chair for the convention, along with Zach Wilkes, a senior from Farmersville, La., and the convention’s political chair, and the rest of the political team.

“Going into Saturday’s caucus, we expect Romney to garner at least 45 percent of the vote, and he could easily break the 50 percent threshold on Saturday night,” Frantz wrote on the Mock Convention’s blog site. “Gingrich should take 24 to 30 percent, with (Ron) Paul edging into third with 12 to 18 percent, and (Rick) Santorum winning the remaining 6 to 12 percent.”


• Live streaming of Mock Convention will be at mockconvention.com


In preparing their state predictions, members of the Mock Convention political team combine the latest polling data with correspondence with key political figures in each state. Previously, they picked Romney to win Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich to win South Carolina, and Romney to win Florida.

“Since his landslide victory in the Nevada caucus during the 2008 election cycle, Romney has maintained the most well-funded and established organization on the ground in Nevada,” wrote Frantz. “Gingrich is backed by millions of dollars in financing from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, but his hastily organized campaign efforts in Nevada are a mess, marred by a recent struggle between his local and national campaign advisers about whether to tour the rural areas of the state to obtain support before the caucus.”

As for third place, Frantz notes that while recent polling gives an edge to Santorum, “Paul’s grassroots mobilization efforts are hard to quantify in polling data, and we believe that his supporters will show up and boost him above Santorum, especially considering that Santorum has already begun to campaign in Missouri and has no more official events scheduled in Nevada prior to the close of polls tomorrow night.”

In terms of the implications of Romney’s win, Wilkes wrote that “the sheer scale” of his win there will perpetuate the post-Florida momentum.

“The margin of victory is especially important to the Romney camp, though, because it will allow him to shirk off any potential underwhelming performances in the low turnout elections leading up to Arizona and Michigan at the end of the month,” added Wilkes. “For the Gingrich campaign, the result in Nevada should come as no surprise, but it is absolutely essential for Gingrich to continue to finish ahead of Santorum throughout the rest of the month.”

The quadrennial Mock Convention, in which W&L students choose the nominee of the party out of power, will feature major speakers. It has been correct more than 75 percent of the time, with only two incorrect predictions since 1948.

The Mock Convention festivities begin on Thursday, Feb. 9, with a debate between top Democratic strategist James Carville and GOP pundit Ann Coulter, followed by a speech by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. A parade throughout downtown Lexington will be held on Friday, Feb. 10. The lineup of speakers includes former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, House Majority Leader and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, and former Oklahoma Represent J.D. Watts, among others.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday, Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Virginia GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday, Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson and Attorney General Henry McMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459


W&L Celebrates Chinese Year of the Dragon

Washington and Lee University welcomed the Year of the Dragon with songs, dances, presentations, and Chinese food and drink during a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year on Thursday, Feb. 2, in Elrod Commons.

“This was definitely a singing year,” said sophomore Victoria Van Natten, who was among a group of students who performed a song in Chinese called (in translation) “Sorry, My Chinese Is Not Good,” which celebrates the mistakes the British pop trio Transition made when learning to speak Chinese. Another group of students performed a Backstreet Boys song in Chinese.

The celebration was sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, the Pan Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE) and the Students Association for International Learning (SAIL).

Hongchu Fu, professor of East Asian languages and literature and department chair at W&L, explained that the Chinese Lunar New Year, which arrives on a different day each year, fell on Jan. 23 this year. This is the Year of the Dragon, which comes only once every 12 years, since there are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. “The Chinese Lunar New Year is always the most important event in Chinese culture, similar perhaps to a combination of Thanksgiving and New Year in America,” said Fu.

“Although the dragon is a fictitious animal, it has always been regarded as a propitious one,” he added. “Since early Chinese history, it has been regarded as a symbol for Chinese culture. Chinese emperors always liked to associate themselves with the dragon; their robes were called dragon robes and were decorated with dragons, their throne was the Dragon Throne, and even their faces were called Dragon Faces. That is why a lot of people rush to get pregnant so they can have what we call a dragon baby. But I heard of some people who gave birth just one day before the New Year, and they were very upset.”


W&L Alum To Lead America's First Team

Maj. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, a 1982 graduate of Washington and Lee, has just been chosen as the commanding general of America’s First Team — the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Established in 1921, the 1st Cavalry is among the most famous and most decorated of all the Army’s combat units.

Tony, a business administration major, was commissioned at his graduation and is coming up on 30 years of service this June, when he expects to take over at Fort Hood.

In an e-mail interview with the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald, the current division commander, Maj. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, called Ierardi “a proven combat leader of great experience who is fully ready for the incredible privilege of leading 1st Cavalry Division forward in support of our nation’s future missions.”

Tony, who was promoted to major general in November 2010, is currently the director of force management for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in Washington. He’s had numerous assignments during his career and spent two previous stints with the 1st Cavalry — division operations officer and commander of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade.

Among his other recent assignments, Tony was deputy commander of the transition command in Afghanistan. He has also served on a group charged with examining ways to respond to the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.


Philosopher Lydia Patton to Lecture at Washington and Lee

Lydia Patton, an assistant professor of philosophy at Virginia Tech, will give a talk at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. in Huntley Hall 327. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The title of Patton’s talk is “Kant’s Neglected Anti-metaphysical Arguments.”

About her talk Patton says, “Principles, for Kant, are a priori rules that govern all experience. Contemporary empiricists have objected that we can’t know anything about reality a priori, so Kant’s arguments about principles fail.” Contrary to this, Patton will present a novel reading of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, according to which Kant argues that all sensations must register on a purely subjective scale for sensation to be a possible source of knowledge.

Patton contends that “Kant uses this result to argue against metaphysical claims of the Scholastics and mechanistic philosophers. Kant’s argument is about the possible content of empirical concepts, not about determining the properties of reality a priori.”

Patton has published on the history and philosophy of science, especially in the Kantian and neo-Kantian traditions. In addition to Virginia Tech, she has taught at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago.

Patton earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from McGill University in Montreal.

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

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New W&L Class Examines Rhetoric from Plato to Today’s Politicians

What better time to teach the rhetorical principles of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian than during the heat of a presidential election?

The U.S. political scene combined with the upcoming student-run Mock Republican Convention on Washington and Lee University’s campus provide a fitting backdrop for David Carlisle, a visiting assistant professor of classics, to introduce a new course, “The Language of Leadership: Classical Rhetoric in Theory and Practice.”

“I think people become much more interested in how words can influence others in public speaking because of Mock Con and the presidential election,” said Carlisle.

So it was that President Obama’s State of the Union address gave Carlisle a ready tool for teaching his class about anaphoras and polyptotons, epistrophes and anadiplosis. Carlisle provided his class the following examples from that speech of the President’s use of rhetorical repetition. President Obama’s quotations are in italics followed by Carlisle’s explanation.

This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. “This is repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of each sentence and is called an anaphora.”—Carlisle.

Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. “This is repetition of words derived from the same root and is called a polyptoton.”—Carlisle.

What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. “This is repetition of a word or phrase at the end of several clauses and is called an epistrophe.”—Carlisle.

Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. “This is repetition of a word occurring at the end of one clause and at the start of the next and is called an anadiplosis.”—Carlisle.

According to Carlisle, there has been an ongoing debate for at least the last 2,500 years about whether studying rhetoric is a good thing or whether it should be condemned and eliminated from society because of its potential to mask lies and deceive people. “In some contexts ‘rhetoric’ is now a dirty word and we’re going through a period when it is generally looked down upon in society,” he said. “The majority opinion is that the truth speaks for itself, and anyone who uses rhetoric must be doing so to cover something up. But the minority view is that it’s a good thing to study rhetoric and try and perfect it, and that it’s a powerful and useful thing.”

The practice of rhetoric, defined as the art of persuasive discourse, first rose to prominence in Classical Greece when democratic systems of government and justice were created. “Suddenly, law courts were administered by average people, and they realized that they needed to be able to convince other people that they were right when they argued a case, or argued for a particular political course of action,” said Carlisle.

Carlisle noted that rhetoric has largely fallen out of today’s education system, although it is still taught at some schools, whether from a philosophical, historical or practical point of view. (Carlisle’s class combines all three approaches.) “People don’t really study rhetoric anymore, so a lot of the modern examples of rhetoric, especially in political races, are cases where people have accidentally stumbled upon a rhetorical trick,” he said. “It’s what we call natural rhetoric, where a person is naturally talented in speaking and persuading people. In most cases the person didn’t think ‘I want to convince a person of something, so I’m going to use this particular trick.’ They just thought, ‘That’s a good way of putting this.’”

Carlisle said that one of the things he wants students to take away from his class is that rhetoric is only as good or bad as the person who wields it. “In today’s politics, different people have different rhetorical tricks,” he said. “One of the most common is to change the emotional appeal of a word by associating it, or replacing it, with another word that has already built up a positive or negative association.

“For example, politicians use ‘family values’ as a code word to say they don’t support gay rights. They call President Obama a ‘socialist’ when he clearly doesn’t fit the description if you actually sit down and think about it. But they don’t really care whether it is true or not. What they care about is the word ‘socialist’ having a generally negative effect in this country and getting people not to like Obama by calling him a socialist over and over again. Will it work? It probably will, and that’s one of the dark sides of rhetoric. It’s also one of the common things, across the board, that I see people using. It is also a part of rhetoric that if you say something enough times it makes it harder for a person to rebut it.”

Carlisle added that another popular rhetorical trick is the logical order in which a speaker puts things. “In classical rhetorical training there’s a great emphasis on structure and the idea that you can bury in the middle of your speech those things you don’t want people to pay attention to. You’ll see it again and again in public speeches or debates today. And speakers always end with an emotional platitude that gets everyone on their side.”

Rhetorical persuasion through an emotional appeal is something that goes back to the rhetorical handbooks of Classical Greece, which used emotion to construct the most persuasive argument, said Carlisle. “You can use different emotions. But emotional appeals, or pathos, do lie at the base of fear-based politics such as Nazism. And that can be the worst type of rhetoric and can lead to all sorts of bad decisions and actions.”

A second tool of persuasion is character-appeal, or ethos. “It’s essentially saying ‘I’m the kind of guy you can trust, so believe me when I say this.’ Like the emotion-based appeal, the character-based appeal tends to win elections,” said Carlisle. “For example, in the first George W. Bush election there was this idea circulating that he would be a nice person to sit down and have a beer with. That’s the character appeal in a nutshell.”

Logic is the third persuasive tool. “Logic has been traditionally considered a higher level of rhetoric but also one that doesn’t historically get you that much support, because it’s a lot harder to mask the truth with logical argument,” said Carlisle.

Carlisle cited various ways of dividing the study of rhetoric, including how you come up with topics, the structure of speech and stylistics — the different verbal techniques and construction of sentences. “Crescendo is an example of stylistics,” he said, “and is the arrangement of several elements in increasing order. For example, in ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,’ it is the order of the syllables. It starts with one syllable, then two, then three and then four. It builds up the impact of each phrase making each one seem a little weightier and ending on this rising tide of words.

“But, as Demosthenes said, there are three things that are most important in rhetoric — delivery, delivery, delivery,” sad Carlisle. “Delivery was considered the key to an effective speech. For example, if you listen to any of Hitler’s speeches, what he’s actually saying is not good rhetoric; it’s not even that persuasive. It does have the emotional argument that can be very effective in the right context, but it’s the way he delivered his speeches that you can see got to people in the end.”

In addition to studying the rhetoric of others, including classical speeches and those delivered at the Mock Convention next month, Carlisle’s students will practice their delivery on one another.

Said Carlisle: “I want students to at least consider the possibility that we might have a more nuanced understanding and therefore make better leadership decisions if we have a world more open to this traditional sort of public speaking.”

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

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Alumna's Tuneful Journey from Teacher to Troubadour

For Washington and Lee alumna Jenny Keel, of the Class of 1989, the transition from teacher of high-school French to bluegrass bass player has apparently been a smooth one — at least based on the press that she and the band, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, are getting nowadays.

Just this week Jenny is featured in a Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette story, “From teacher to troubadour: Bluegrass bass player Jenny Keel,” that ran in advance of the band’s upcoming Charleston appearance.

The Gazette story explains that Jenny was never into bluegrass until she got to W&L. She met Larry, her eventual husband, when she went to watch another bluegrass act and saw him performing with the band called Magraw Gap.

Jenny taught herself the bass, but she hadn’t really thought about performing until Larry left Magraw Gap, formed his own band, and told Jenny that she was going to play bass.

In a recent article in the Fredericksburg (Md.) News-Post, Larry was asked about performing with his spouse. He responded: “When I married Jenny, we decided we wanted to create a career where we could work closely together. . . . We work together as partners to make (a living) and we’re always working together as marriage partners. That’s an ongoing work. We’re just very happy to go out (and play music). It’s a blessing.”

Jenny has become an accomplished performer, and, she explained to the Charleston Gazette, “The goal every time is to connect, share the music and be a team . . . to create the best music possible, the best vibe, and have a great time. Be it 2000 strangers in an auditorium or music hall, our goal is to get everyone on the same page through the music, and be comfortable, and fired up . . . or just transported.  Whatever the emotion of the song calls for, if it’s scary or just wide open, joyous . . . anywhere, anytime that’s what we’re going for.”

Listen to clips from their music, watch videos of performances and buy CDs at larrykeel.com.


W&L English Professor Thanks Rowling for Students’ Appreciation of Dickens

Harry Potter is helping a new generation of college students appreciate the work of Charles Dickens, according to Suzanne Keen, a Washington and Lee University English professor. She recently taught a seminar on the British novelist, whose 200th birthday is Feb. 7, and whose work has long been considered a staple in classrooms.

But Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English and head of the department at W&L, said the students who took her seminar, “Charles Dickens and His Circle,” were mostly familiar with only one of his novels — A Christmas Carol.


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“I think it is not now standard to teach Dickens in secondary school, as it once was,” she said. “About six or seven years ago, I taught a long Dickens novel, Little Dorrit, in a course on the novel, and the students had a hard time with it. They had a hard time following the plot. They did not enjoy it. They did not find it funny.”

After that experience, Keen asked colleagues at other institutions about their experiences teaching Dickens and received reports that they, too, were having trouble teaching the novels.

“It seemed that students were losing their connection to Dickens,” she said. “That was alarming, because, amongst the Victorian novelists, Dickens is the most popular, the most fun, the easiest to read — right up there with Jane Austen.”

Then came the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Students who are college freshmen and sophomores this year grew up reading the stories. Consequently, said Keen, “they get Dickens.”

Reading Harry Potter, she added, is like taking a crash course in reading Dickens because “it’s got the humor, it’s got the caricatured names, it’s got the multi-plots, it’s got the really long stories that you read for hours and hours and hours, and you enjoy the fact that they’re long.”

Although she had scheduled the Dickens seminar with admitted trepidation, the student response was entirely different from what she encountered with Little Dorrit. And she gives all the credit to Rowling for the sea change.

“She primed them,” said Keen. What this younger generation of college students enjoys about Dickens comes straight from the things that J.K. Rowling herself learned from reading Dickens, she said.

“It’s pretty direct. She’s doing a kind of kids’ book version of a Dickensian world, complete with the terrible villain — Lord Voldemort is a Dickensian villain.”

Keen said she began to see some shifts in her first-year writing classes over the past couple of years, as the Harry Potter readers began entering college. “There is a different attitude toward reading for pleasure,” she said. “They like to read. They like long books. They talk about books. If you’re willing to meet them where they are and talk to them about what they’re actually reading, there are a lot more kids in this younger generations of college students who are pleasure readers. Any time you have a whole bunch of pleasure readers, then an English professor is happy.”

An additional, wholly unexpected development heightened her students’ appreciation of Dickens, said Keen: the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. In particular, she recalled media coverage of an event in Washington, where protesters turned themselves into a human red carpet and invited lobbyists to walk over them.

“My students recognized that as a Dickensian piece of social satire and street theater,” she said. “They were reading novels in which the villain is the Circumlocution Office, which is a government bureaucracy designed to tell people ‘How Not To Do It.’ Dickens is harsh on big government and incredibly selfish rich people. It was great to be teaching Dickens with that backdrop.”

Keen ranks Dickens and Shakespeare as the great English-language writers who contributed catchphrases to the language, and characters that people know, even if they haven’t read the books.

Although Dickens was a popular novelist in his own era, it took nearly a century after his lifetime for academia to come around.  “People always loved Dickens, but there was a resistance to him as a serious novelist because he was so popular,” Keen said. “But the academy came around in the mid-20th century, and now there is a huge, lively critical establishment.”

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Law Alum Sailed into a Career

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk featured a fascinating first-person story by Washington and Lee Law alumnus Phil Davey, of the Class of 1974, on Jan. 23, as part of the newspaper’s “At work with” feature.

Phil is a partner in the Norfolk firm Davey & Brogan, P.C., and specializes in maritime law. He entered the W&L Law School after serving in Vietnam (and taking his LSATs in Danang).

After his first year of law school, he worked as a police officer on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. During that time, he interviewed with a law firm. As he told the newspaper, he was “prepared to be a little defensive” because he didn’t rank in the top half of his class. “Instead, to my amazement, I was asked if I had ever brought a ship to anchorage or gotten a ship under way from anchorage, or if I had ever brought a ship to a dock with tugs or gotten a ship under way from a dock with tugs.” 

Why, yes, as a matter of fact. Phil served with the Navy on board an amphibious ship. His love of the sea came early; his father worked for a steamship company, and Phil grew up in Peru. The family traveled between Peru and New York by water, with Phil traversing the Panama Canal more than once.

He got that first job. After working with maritime law for a couple of firms, he started his own firm in 1990. It handles a wide variety of cases, based on a list of recent trial experience.


Thompson, Watts, Capito, McCotter to Address W&L's Mock Convention

Four more prominent Republican leaders — Senator Fred Thompson and Representatives J.C. Watts, Shelley Moore Capito, and Thaddeus McCotter — will address Washington and Lee students at the school’s 2012 Republican Mock Convention.  Watts and McCotter will speak Friday, Feb. 10and Thompson will speak Saturday, Feb. 11.  They join a growing list of speakers currently announced for the three-day event. (See the complete schedule below.)

Thompson is a former United States senator from Tennessee and former Republican presidential candidate.  While in office, Thompson served as the chair of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.  He is also a celebrated actor, having portrayed district attorney Arthur Branch for five seasons on Law & Order and several of its off-shoots.


• Mock Convention will be streamed live at mockconvention.com.


Capito, the only woman in West Virginia’s congressional delegation, has represented the second district since 2001.  She serves on the House Financial Services Committee as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, as well the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

McCotter has represented the 11th district of Michigan since 2003.  He is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and plays lead guitar in the congressional rock band “The Second Amendments.”

Mock Convention will also feature a debate between analysts James Carville and Ann Coulter; an opening address by Mike Huckabee; a keynote address by Haley Barbour; and speeches by leading Virginia politicians, including Governor Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Majority Leader and Representative Eric Cantor, Representative Bob Goodlatte, and former governor George Allen.

The public is invited to attend the event, which will be held in the Warner Center. Tickets are available at mockconvention.com.  Mock Convention begins on Thursday, Feb. 9 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 11. The event culminates in the students’ prediction of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

W&L’s Mock Convention is a quadrennial tradition in which students pick the presidential nominee for the party out of power. Roughly 99 percent of all students are involved, researching potential candidates, tracking polls and gathering on-the-ground data. With only two incorrect predictions since 1948, and an overall accuracy rate of over 75 percent, Mock Con has been called “the most realistic” exercise of its kind by Newsweek magazine.  This year, the students have correctly predicted the outcome of the New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida primaries and are eager to prove the 2012 W&L Mock Convention will continue to be “the biggest and boomingest” of student political organizations (TIME Magazine).

Schedule of Events

Thursday Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Va        GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson, and Attorney General Henry McMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459