Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L Offers Admissions to 18 Percent of Strong Applicant Pool

Washington and Lee University has offered admission to 1,064 of its applicants, or 18 percent of its applicant pool, for the Class of 2016, which will matriculate in the fall.

The applicant pool, which was slightly fewer than 6,000 students, includes more than 600 who applied during the University’s two Early Decision programs. Of those Early Decision applicants, 232 were accepted, which represents nearly half of the entering class. The goal for the Class of 2016 is 474.

The admitted students have impressive academic credentials. The average combined score on the math and verbal sections of the SAT is 1,415 (of a possible 1,600). The average score on the ACT is 31. The admitted applicants ranked in the 95th percentile of their high school classes, and 90 percent are in the top decile.

“This is another exceptional group of admitted students, and the grades and scores tell only part of the story,” said William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid at W&L. “The accomplishments of the individual students in any number of activities, from leadership to community service to athletics, are truly exceptional. We are delighted at the outcome, and the work of our admissions staff in guiding this process has been superb.”

The 1,064 accepted students come from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 21 countries and possessions. There are 518 men and 546 women in the group with 21 percent multicultural students, including 194 American minorities. Seventy of the students are children of W&L alumni.

Meanwhile, 443 of the students, or 42 percent, have received financial aid offers totaling just more than $16 million. The average financial aid package is $37,000, and none of those packages includes loans. There are 90 students eligible for Pell Grants.

W&L has offered 84 students a prestigious Johnson Scholarship. Now in its fifth year, the Johnson Scholarship provides full tuition, room and board and is awarded on the basis of both exceptional academic ability and leadership potential. Finalists for the Johnson competition spent several days on campus earlier this month when they had interviews with faculty, current Johnson Scholars and members of the admissions staff.

The University will hold its annual Accepted Students Day on Wednesday, April 25, when admitted students will be invited to attend a series of events on the campus.

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

Alumnus Focuses on Civil War Horses

Washington and Lee law alumnus Kent Masterson Brown, of the Law Class of 1974, wrote, hosted and narrated a film about horses in the Civil War that aired this month on HRTV, The Horse Network.

Unsung Hero: The Horse in the Civil War” discusses how the horses were procured and trained for field use, how they were fed and maintained, and the toll taken on them due to service in the field. As Kent explains, millions of horses were utilized by the armies in all theaters of war. “In the large armies, anywhere from 40 to 60 thousand horses (and mules) were used in the infantry, cavalry, artillery and quartermaster services. Regularly feeding, shoeing and maintaining the horses and mules was a near impossible task. As a result, thousands of horses were lost due to incapacity and malnutrition. Thousands more were lost on battlefields.”

As part of the film, memoirs of soldiers are read, recounting the stories and sacrifices of the horses. More than 1,500,000 horses (and mules) died during the war.

Kent highlights the story of Robert E. Lee and Traveller, featuring period photographs and scenes from the W&L campus. Some of the war’s other famous horses – Cincinnati, Winchester, Baldy, Highfly and Little Sorrel, to name a few – are highlighted. Repeat broadcasts are scheduled by HRTV through March and April 2012. You can also watch the film online with a premium membership to HRTV.

Kent is in private law practice in Lexington, Ky., but continues to research and write on Civil War topics. He is the founder and former editor in chief of The Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society and has won numerous awards for his books, which include “Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign,” “Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander” and “The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State.”

South Carolina's No. 1 Financial Advisor

In Barron’s magazine’s annual list of America’s Top 1,000 Financial Advisors on a state-by-state basis, Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Hagood Ellison, of the Class of 1972, ranks as South Carolina’s top advisor.

This is the third consecutive year that Hagood has been on the Barron’s list, and he’s No. 1 in the state this year based on Barron’s rankings. Factors weighed are assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, and quality of practice and philanthropic work. As Barron’s notes, “Investment performance isn’t an explicit component because not all advisors have audited results and because performance figures often are influenced more by clients’ risk tolerance than by an advisor’s investment-picking abilities.”

In describing the state of financial advising at the moment, Hagood told Barron’s that clients are still “shell shocked” by the financial crisis. “They are still desperate for guidance and direction,” he added. “All year we were making sure clients had the correct recovery strategy in place, and we were doing risk audits on their portfolios. People still don’t understand risk.

“Sometimes can assume that clients are looking for ‘lights out’ returns,” he added. “But that’s not what they want. The pain of losing money is much more than the excitement of the upside.”

Hagood joined Merrill Lynch in 1976. He focuses on investments, income management and retirement solutions for Ellison Kibler & Associates in Columbia, S.C.

In addition to W&L’s board, Hagood has served on the board of the Columbia Museum of Art and the Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, and serves now on the local board of the Boy Scouts. He received the Merrill Lynch Lifetime Community Achievement Award in 2003.

Two Share First Prize in Inaugural W&L Pitch Contest

Students promoting an app allowing seat upgrades at halftime of sporting events, and a first-class bus service between Washington and New York, shared first-place honors in the first Pitch Competition, which showcases student entrepreneurship at Washington and Lee University.

Sponsored by W&L’s Venture Club, a student group that promotes entrepreneurism, the contest was open to all members of the student body. A panel of W&L alumni who work in business selected 12 finalists, who had three minutes each to pitch their idea. The contest ended in a tie between Aaron Digregorio, a sophomore from Keswick, Va., and Jonathan Cahill, a sophomore from Pekin, Ill. They share the $1,000 first prize.

Kathleen Yakulis, a sophomore from Pittsburgh, was the runner-up.

Digregorio’s idea was an application that would allow sports fans to upgrade their seats from the nosebleed section to something closer to the action during halftime of a sporting event.

Cahill proposed a bus service between Washington and New York, targeting it to business travelers and featuring Wi-Fi connectivity, electrical outlets and seats that recline completely flat.

Runner-up Yakulis pitched a reverse-auction website that pits car dealers against each other after a prospective buyer inputs the most they are willing to pay for a car.

One of the contest’s organizers, Mark Sowinski, a sophomore and a double major in business administration and history, said that limiting each pitch to three minutes allowed the contestants to present a lot of ideas without rambling. “The students were judged on whether their ideas were fundamentally sound, creative and profitable,” he said. “Obviously, how the ideas were presented is a huge part as well. So it was a balance of both.”

The prize money was part of a generous donation from a current W&L parent, Sowinski said. “It’s the catalyst to get people excited about thinking of ideas and also to get people involved so they learn more about the Venture Club, since we’re so new,” he said. “That way, when we have events in the future, they’ll know about the club.”

Students founded the Venture Club in 2011 to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship on campus. “Entrepreneurship is so central to what a lot of people end up doing after college,” said Sowinski. “For example, for artists trying to sell their artwork, it would be helpful for them to have thought about how to start and run a business. People who are creative tend to do well as entrepreneurs, and the Pitch Competition gives all majors the chance to present an idea they feel passionate about.

The other pitches:

  • A tool that keeps any size of book open for convenience and reading ease. It consists of two hooks that can be clamped on either or both sides of the book, and is tight enough to keep the book open but loose enough to turn the pages easily.
  • An app that makes fast dining easy by allowing people to view menus on a smart phone, place an order and submit payment electronically.
  • Molded bottoms that can attach to athletic cleats or spikes to prevent damage from the pavement and maintain the quality of the cleats.
  • An online vending machine/delivery service that creates personalized snack packs for late-night delivery on college campuses.
  • An app that aggregates information on the number of parking spaces, time restrictions and pricing information to aid drivers in their search for parking spots.
  • An app that simplifies searching for a cab by letting users send a request for a cab using their current GPS, their destination and when they need to be picked up. The user can see when a driver has accepted their ride and track the cab as it approaches.
  • A lunch delivery service for faculty and staff at Washington and Lee to make lunchtime less of a hassle. Individuals could place orders at the beginning of the week and have lunch delivered from restaurants in town as well as from W&L’s Café 77 and E-Café.
  • An online site that allows people to search for destinations and see photos that were taken there. It combines the capabilities of Google Earth and Flickr for the ultimate visual-trending experience, using increased GPS abilities in point-and-shoot cameras and smart phones.
  • An app that combines visual and auditory connections by recognizing songs and placing them with the scene from movies, TV shows, musicals or commercials.

For more information about the Venture Club and the W&L Entrepreneurship Program, see http://entrepreneurship.wlu.edu/.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L's Jasmin Darznik on NPR

Jasmin Darznik, assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee, is scheduled to appear today on the National Public Radio Show “Tell Me More.”

Jasmin will be discussing her critically acclaimed memoir, “The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life,” with Jackie Lyden, as part of the International Women’s Day Program on “Tell Me More.” “The Good Daughter” tells about Jasmin’s quest to unravel her mother’s past in Iran. The interview is the last installment of the “Tell Me More” series about women rewriting their roles in society.

To find out when “Tell Me More” airs in your area, go to the broadcast schedule and enter your state. You can listen to the archived program on the show’s website or on the audio link below:


Bob Fishburn '55, 1934-2012

In the feature stories, editorials, blog entries and obituaries that have been written about the passing of Washington and Lee alumnus Bob Fishburn, of the Class of 1955, the adjectives used most consistently have been “passionate,” “gentle” and “generous.”

Bob died on Saturday, March 24, of complications from lung cancer. He was 77.

After graduating from W&L, Bob attended Columbia University and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Once he returned to Roanoke in 1960, he joined the family business as a staff reporter for the Roanoke Times and World-News. His family owned the Roanoke papers for six decades. Bob worked as a copy editor, a state editor and an assistant city editor. He was named editorial page editor at the World-News in 1969 and then became commentary page editor in 1977, when the two papers merged.

In an editorial about Fishburn’s passing in the Roanoke Times, former colleague Geoff Seamans called him “one of those old-school guys, one of the gentle, bespectacled purveyors of the culture.”

And on his blog, Fromtheeditr, another former Roanoke Times colleague, Dan Smith, wrote this about Bob: “He was a marvelous writer at a time when writing was a significant strength of the paper, and I don’t know that he ever aspired to anything more than that in the business. He was one of those rare birds who finds a comfortable limb and stays put.”

As much as for his newspaper work, Bob was known for his philanthropy in the Roanoke area. As his son-in-law, Michael Farr, told the Roanoke Times in its A-1 story, “He was an advocate of anything that would be good for Roanoke, and he was pretty passionate about it.”

Bob was also a strong advocate of his alma mater. Back in the mid-1970s, he worked closely with the W&L Alumni Affairs Office to rejuvenate the Roanoke Alumni Chapter. He also returned to campus often to attend Alumni Colleges and frequently traveled with the University’s Traveller program.

Services will be held at Roanoke’s Second Presbyterian Church on Friday, March 30, at 11 a.m.

Staniar Gallery Presents Senior Projects of W&L Studio Art Majors

Washington and Lee University Studio Art majors will present their senior projects in an exhibition that opens in Staniar Gallery on March 27. The show will be up through April 10 with an opening reception for the artists in Lykes Atrium, Wilson Hall on Wednesday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m.

Each spring, Staniar Gallery showcases work by the Art Department’s graduating studio majors in an exhibition that is the culmination of a year-long thesis project.  During that year, the students explore their chosen medium in order to develop a body of work for exhibition in a profession gallery setting. During the process, the young artists are responsible for writing artist statements and researching presentation methods to display their works.

This year’s show features photography projects by Jeanne Rene Barousse, Vanessa Ndege and Stephen Wilson; paintings and drawings by Claire Moryan and kinetic sculptures, videos and collages by Franco Moiso.

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

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

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Al-Jazeera Washington Bureau Chief to Speak at W&L

Abderrahim Foukara, the Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera T.V., will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

His talk is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Contact Committee at W&L.

A veteran journalist for the Qatar-based satellite network, he has been a prominent commentator in U.S. media during the recent events throughout the Middle East. He manages a team of 40 people at Al-Jazeera who cover a broad range of political, cultural and economic issues.

A native of Morocco, Foukara was a producer, reporter, anchor and senior instructor on BBC World Service from 1990-1999. From 1999-2001, he was producer and reporter on The World, a co-production of the BBC, Public Radio International and WGBH Boston. From 2001-2002, he was a BBC reporter from Washington before joining Al Jazeera.

Foukara also hosts a weekly show called “Min Washington” (From Washington) on American politics and culture.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Novelist Colum McCann to Address Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar at W&L

Colum McCann, the winner of the 2009 National Book Award, will present the keynote address, “The Art of Knowing the World,” at Washington and Lee University’s Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar on Friday, March 30, at 4 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The theme for this year’s Wolfe Seminar is “Knowing the World Through the Art of Fiction.” The keynote address is open to the public without registration for the seminar.

McCann is the award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories. His most recent novel, “Let the Great World Spin,” won worldwide acclaim, including the 2009 National Book Award in the U.S, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, a short-listing for the International Impac Award, as well as a 2011 literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Let the Great World Spin” became a best-seller on four continents. J.J Abrams, the acclaimed director and creator of the TV series “Lost,” bought the film rights, and McCann is currently adapting the screenplay along with Abrams.

McCann’s fiction has been published in 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Bomb and other publications. He has written for The New York Times, the Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, the Guardian, the Times and the Independent.  He received received a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2010.

Born in Ireland, McCann is considered, in every sense, an international artist.  He has travelled extensively around the world.  He and his wife, Allison, lived in Japan for two years.  He currently lives in New York City, where he holds dual Irish and American citizenship.

The topics of McCann’s work have ranged from homeless people in the subway tunnels of New York, to the troubles in Northern Ireland, to the effects of 9/11, to a poetic examination of the life and culture of the Roma in Europe. McCann is known as a poetic realist, a writer who is known to tackle the dark in order to get through to the light.

“I believe in the democracy of story-telling,” McCann has said in an interview. “I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries.  I feel humbled by the notion that I’m even a small part of the literary experience.  I grew up in a house, in a city, in a country shaped by books. I don’t know of a greater privilege than being allowed to tell a story, or to listen to a story.  They’re the only thing we have that can trump life itself.”

The annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate Tom Wolfe, who will be in attendance and will offer remarks during the weekend.

In addition to the keynote address on March 30, the seminar includes several panels led by Washington and Lee faculty members Marc Conner and Jonathan Eastwood on Saturday, March 31. Those presentations are open to members of the University community, while others may register for the event by contacting the Office of Special Programs at (540) 458-8723. Additional details are available at http://www.wlu.edu/x56441.xml.

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

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2012 Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture by SCOTUSblog Author

The Tenth Annual Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture will be delivered by Lyle Denniston, lead reporter for SCOTUSblog. Denniston’s talk is titled “Lyle Denniston’s Take on the Modern Supreme Court.”

The event is scheduled for Thursday, April 5, at 7:00 p.m. on the patio in front of Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University.  The event is free and open to the public.

Denniston is chief reporter and analyst for the popular blog SCOTUSblog, the first stop for anyone interested in the goings on of the U.S. Supreme Court. Consistently ranked as one of the top legal blogs in the country, SCOTUSblog contains all the briefs, argument schedules, analysis and news for cases before the nation’s highest court.

Denniston has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for fifty-four years, and has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, and American Lawyer. During his career, he has covered one-quarter of all of the Justices ever to sit on the Court, and he has reported on the entire careers on the bench of ten of the Justices. He has been a journalist of the law for sixty-four years, beginning at the Otoe County Courthouse in Nebraska City, Nebraska in the fall of 1948.

The students at Washington and Lee University School of Law founded the Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series in 2002 in honor of Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. ’29A, ’31L, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Justice Powell’s judicial legacy was defined by a respect for both sides in a dispute and a desire to craft judicial opinions that struck a middle ground. This student-run lecture series features nationally prominent speakers who embody this spirit in their life and work.

For more information, visit the Powell Lecture web site at law.wlu.edu/powelllecture.

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

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