Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L's Brodie Gregory on “Virginia Insight”

What does it mean to be “in the zone”? How do you get there?

Brodie Gregory, visiting professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University, discussed peak performance and how to achieve it during an appearance on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show, on Monday, April 30.

Gregory, a 2003 graduate of Washington and Lee, is teaching a Spring Term class about peak performance. She has managed leadership development for Procter & Gamble and is the incoming president of the Washington and Lee Alumni Association.

“Virginia Insight,” hosted by Tom Graham, is a live call-in show. You can listen to the archive of the program below:


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Art in Science on Display at W&L's Kamen Gallery

Images highlighting the work of Washington and Lee University alumni who are scientists form an unusual art exhibit in the University’s Kamen Gallery, opening April 30 and continuing through May 17.

Alumni scientists were asked to submit images not from their hobbies as painters, sculptors or photographers but rather from their scientific work. Consequently, the show offers an assortment of subjects and techniques. For instance, there are microscopic images of an adult mouse hippocampus, illustrations of sea stars of the Galapagos, and a post-operative computed tomography, or CT, scan of the brain.

One of the works depicts a microscopic nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, which was genetically engineered to illuminate the muscle cells lining its body. The image, taken in the University of Alabama laboratory of Guy Caldwell, a 1986 Washington and Lee alumnus, was the official representation of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Martin Chalfie (Columbia University) for the discovery of the jellyfish Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), a revolutionary tool for cellular imaging now used worldwide.  The image appeared in the program for the 2008 Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm.

“What all of these images have in common is that they convey the scientists’ findings with poignancy, clarity and, quite often, beauty,” said exhibition organizer Tyler Lorig, the Ruth Parmly Professor of Psychology and chair of the Neuroscience Program at W&L.

A student panel selected the works and curated the show. Alumni with artwork included in the exhibit represent class years ranging from 1953 to 2011.

A reception to celebrate these works of art is planned in the Kamen Gallery on Friday, May 11 at 4 p.m. Following the reception, Corinne Sandone, associate professor of art as applied to medicine at Johns Hopkins University, will lecture on the power of the image in science in the concert hall of Wilson Hall.

Sandone specializes in surgical illustration and has used watercolors to create several surgical atlases. The co-author of the “Cameron-Sandone Atlas of Gastrointestinal Surgery,” she teaches and illustrates in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine. A board-certified medical illustrator (CMI), Sandone received her B. A. in studio art from Oberlin College in 1982. She did graduate work at Johns Hopkins, receiving her M.A. in medical and biological illustration in 1986.

See a sample of the images below. Click on each image to enlarge.

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

Bill Johnston '61 on Career and Retirement

When the Bradenton, Fla., Herald decided to run profiles of retired executives of U.S. companies who now live in the Bradenton and Sarasota area, the paper chose Washington and Lee alumnus Bill Johnston, of the Class of 1961, as the first subject.

The result is a Q&A with Bill on his tenure from 1996 to 2001 as president and chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange, as well as his volunteer roles in the Brandenton/Sarasota area where, among other things, he serves on the board of trustees of the New College of Florida.

In describing how he got involved in the financial industry in the first place, Bill told the Herald that because his father was in the financial business, “the conversations around the dinner table when I was a child were stocks and bonds.”

A trustee emeritus at W&L, Bill also told the Herald about his post-retirement plans: “My wife and I made a conscious decision when I retired, it was time to give back. I definitely enjoy that. The reason I love it so much is because young people keep people my age young. They challenge us.”

Bent Presents Childress Professor Lecture at W&L

George Bent, professor of art history and head of the Department of Art and Art History at Washington and Lee University, will present the Sidney Gause Childress Professorship Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday, May 2, at 8 p.m. in Northen Auditorium of Leyburn Library. Bent is the first to hold the professorship, which was established in 2008.

His lecture, “Art into Science, Science into Art: Leonardo da Vinci and the Body,” is open to the public at no charge.

A member of the Washington and Lee faculty since 1993, Bent focused his early scholarly work on artistic production, the function of liturgical images, and institutional patronage in early Renaissance Florence. He is the author of the 2006 volume “Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco’s Florence.” His current research interests revolve around paintings produced for public spaces in Florence between 1250 and 1450. He is working on a book to be titled “Public Pictures for Common People in Late Medieval Florence.”

Earlier this year, Bent filmed 36 half-hour lectures for The Great Courses program, which offers DVDs of courses by professors from leading colleges and universities in diverse fields such as philosophy, history, literature, science and the arts. The title of Bent’s course is “Leonardo da Vinci and the Italian High Renaissance,” and it covers da Vinci’s personal and professional life within the framework of the political instability of Europe during the High Renaissance of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

Bent has received two Fulbright Scholarships for study in Italy and two Mednick Grants from the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges.

At Washington and Lee, he served as associate dean of the College from 2003 through 2006 and has chaired both the East Asian Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies programs in addition to the Department of Art and Art History.

Bent received his bachelor’s degree in history from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of art from Stanford University.

The Sidney Gause Childress Professorship in the Arts was established in 2008 through a gift from J. Donald Childress, of Atlanta, Ga. Childress, a 1970 graduate of W&L, is rector of the University’s Board of Trustees. The professorship, named in honor of his wife, supports a faculty member in one of the departments in the visual and performing arts, with preference for art or art history. The professorship is also the University’s first dedicated solely to the arts.

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

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The Auto Industry and the Economy

By Michael Smitka
Professor of Economics
(This piece originally appeared in The Roanoke Times.)

Overall, the United States remains mired in unemployment, still above 8percent some five years after the onset of the Great Recession. Against this backdrop, the auto industry seems to offer hope of recovery.

Yes … but.

Yes, car and truck sales are booming. March’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13.8 million units represented a 60 percent increase from the 8.5 million rate of February2009. Output tripled; jobs followed.

Since the doldrums of the summer of 2009, factories have added 140,000 workers, while new and used car dealerships hired 232,000. That’s roughly 8percent of the jobs added during our anemic recovery, and well above the industry’s 2 percent share of overall employment.

Other slices of the data show a similar story. Michigan has added 150,000 jobs overall, lowering unemployment by 1.9 percentage points during the past 12 months, the sharpest decline in the nation. That recovery continues, with the auto industry featuring prominently. For example, Toyota and Nissan will add 150 engineers each to their engineering centers, reflecting Michigan’s role as the world’s single biggest nexus of vehicle development.

And it’s not just Michigan: exports are at a 20-year high, helped by plants such as BMW’s in South Carolina, which ships 70 percent of its output of X-3s and other high-value products to other countries. Spartanburg is an island of low unemployment in a state performing worse than average.

But looked at from another angle, the news remains grim. Sales may be up sharply but are still 2.5 million units below the 16.3 million average pace of the previous 15 years. In the mid-2000s, the industry employed 3 million workers. Despite the recent gains, we are still more than 500,000 jobs below peak. On the employment front, the glass is not yet half full.

Will recovery add back all these jobs? On the negative side, the U.S. is now the third-largest car market, behind China and the European Union. As the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other economies grow, sales will rise and investment to assemble cars locally will increase. Over time, design and engineering jobs will follow.

We face long-term, and not just short-term, challenges as the industry continues to globalize. China, for example, is serious about electric cars. But in the face of an outcry by Congress over a failed solar panel venture, the U.S. has pulled the plug on electric vehicle startups, refusing to disburse funds for firms that have finished the engineering stage to hire the workers and buy the parts needed to commence production. If the Chinese market grows, we can expect to see technology — high-tech jobs — flow to where the money is.

It’s not just batteries, either. For the first time ever, more than half of the finalists for the Automotive News PACE supplier innovation competition were based outside the U.S. As an independent judge for the competition, one firm I visited this year was Continental, a German company launching a new telematics system that will facilitate hands-free services outside the luxury segment.

The first company to adopt the system is GM — but it will be on Chevys sold in China, not in the U.S. That’s where the growth is. The hardware was developed at Continental’s telematics R&D center outside Chicago, but the software engineering was done in Shanghai, where the electronics “black box” is also assembled. We’re a player, but with globalization, we’re not as big a player as in the past.

On the flip side, there is encouraging news: BMW and Mercedes chose to base plants in the U.S. to make key global products, while Korean and Japanese assemblers and suppliers continue to move jobs here: Production follows sales, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan — the Japanese Big Three — now have full-fledged vehicle engineering capabilities in the U.S.

Given current exchange rates, we remain an attractive production base, with a wide array of suppliers and specialized engineering firms, good infrastructure, stable politics and a robust ability to overcome shocks. But the slower the recovery, the more we will see new technologies and the accompanying skilled jobs shift to where the sales are. On net, I doubt we’ll ever fully recover.

Michael Smitka, professor of economics at Washington and Lee University, has conducted research on the auto industry for more than two decades.

Holocaust Remembrance Week at W&L

Washington and Lee University will observe Holocaust Remembrance Week April 26 through May 3 with a variety of activities beginning with a vigil and featuring several films, a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and a talk by Holocaust survivor Jay M. Ipson.

The Holocaust Vigil will be observed at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at the Hillel House. According to Brett M. Schwartz, director of W&L’s Hill, the vigil will feature music and readings “to help those in attendance remember the six million lost in the Holocaust and also the many lost through oppression in Darfur, Bosnia, Kashmir.”

On Saturday, April 28, Hillel will sponsor the visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Busses will leave Lexington at 9 a.m. There will be a three-hour, self-guided tour of the museum, including several hours to experience Washington. Busses will leave Washington around 8 p.m. to return to Lexington.  To participate in the trip, which is free for W&L students, contact Schwartz at bschwartz@wlu.edu by Monday, April 23, to reserve space on a first come, first served basis.

“The Last Days,” winner of  Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1998, will be shown on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m. in Hillel. The film combines interviews with five Hungarian survivors of HItler’s “Final Solution” with stark historical footage to tell the story of the Nazi destruction of Hungarian Jews in the last year of the war.

On Wednesday, May 2, “Sarah’s Key” will be shown at 6 p.m. at Hillel. This 2011 film tells the story of 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski, who was among the Jewish families of Paris who were rounded up and deported by French police in June 1942.

Jay M. Ipson, a Holocaust survivor and executive director and founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, will share his experiences on Thursday, May 3, at 6 p.m. at Hillel. Born in Lithuania in 1935, Ipson was forced into a concentration camp with his family at age six. After escaping with his parents in 1943, he endured bleak post-war conditions until the family immigrated to Richmond when he was 12. In 1997 Ipson and two other Richmonders founded the Virginia Holocaust Museum in an effort to preserve and educate people on the atrocities of the Holocaust of World War II.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

A W&L Family and a Military Deployment

Jenny Williams and David Foster are both members of the Washington and Lee Class of 1998. Jenny teaches English and writing in a high school near Philadelphia. Dave, a former lawyer and former Army officer, is the president of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, an organization that’s revitalizing Camden, N.J. They met at W&L, married in 2002 and have two children.

Now Dave is deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the Army Reserves. And Jenny has written a moving essay about that signal event in their family’s life for the New York Times.

In the April 5 “Modern Love” column, Jenny details their post-W&L lives in Tennessee, when Dave served with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. “My friends were 24, single and living in San Francisco, Washington and New York,” she writes. “But as the saying goes, sometimes you don’t get what you want but what you need. I had spent my high school years naïvely bashing the military, so now I would live with a soldier in a military town.”

After they married, Dave left the Army, although he wanted to continue with the National Guard or the Reserves. Jenny resisted. “It was always easy for me to explain why the timing was wrong,” she writes. “Couldn’t he finish law school first? And what about the debt we faced and the promise of being grown-ups with children and money to spend?”

An accumulation of events and observations led Jenny to change her mind. Read why in her graceful column, “A Surrender to War, After an Uneasy Peace.”

W&L bestowed the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award on Dave in 2010. And the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the alumni magazine detailed his work with the predecessor of Cooper’s Ferry, the Greater Camden Partnership, which in both old and new guises often employs students from W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program. You can read that article here.

Last spring when he was back on campus, Dave videotaped a Generals’ Perspective. You can watch it below:

W&L Anthropologist Creates Exhibit on Race Relations in Brownsburg, Va.

The new exhibit “Sentimental Attachments” at the Brownsburg (Va.) Museum aims to provide visitors with more understanding of the ambiguities of race relations in the small Rockbridge County community before and after the Civil War.

The exhibit is the work of Sascha Goluboff, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Washington and Lee University, and draws on her four years of ethnographic fieldwork and archival research. A poster in the museum describes the exhibit as exploring “the sentimental connections among white landowning families and their slaves, and later hired African-American laborers and domestics, in the Brownsburg area.”

“This exhibit is not just about African-American history,” said Goluboff. “We need to understand the history of African-American life through understanding the emotional relationships between blacks and whites and talk about them together. And it can be both uncomfortable as well as enlightening to try and understand the ambiguities of their everyday experiences.”

The exhibit shows that the 100- to 200-acre family farms in the Shenandoah Valley generally had small slave holdings. The average number of slaves per household was 5.97 compared to 10.9 in the South as a whole. According to New Providence Presbyterian Church records, there were 200 white families and 300 slaves in the Brownsburg region.

“As an anthropologist, I’m really interested in how people live their lives,” said Goluboff. “The examples in the exhibit give little vignettes into the details of how people made their way through their daily lives and how they reinforced racism, but also how their relationships challenged racism. So it’s the messiness of how everyday life was lived. Obviously, it was a system of oppression, but there were ambiguities, especially in the reliance that whites had on their slaves.”

One example, titled “Aunt Peggy: Queen of the Kitchen,” focuses on the main cook to the Rev. James Morrison, the pastor of the local white church who said he wouldn’t have had his status without Aunty Peggy’s cooking such wonderful breads and food. But when he tried to get her to attend family services in the house every Sunday she would refuse to come. “He was really reluctant to force her to attend, so there was this back and forth tension,” said Goluboff.

Another example highlights the underlying racism that existed among whites. One of the letters on display tells the story of a woman from Brownsburg who went to school in Ohio and saw a black nanny who made her nostalgic for home. “There were restrictions involved in these emotional attachments,” said Goluboff. “On the one hand she wrote that this nanny made her remember her home fondly, but when someone suggested she kiss her, that was like anathema to her.”

According to Goluboff, all the posters reveal different aspects of the attachments between blacks and whites. “One of the important things to remember about race relations before the Civil War is that slaves were seen as both family and property,” she said.

“The Museum has the diary of Captain Henry Boswell Jones, an entrepreneur who lived near Brownsburg, on display from Special Collections at W&L. An excerpt from the diary is on a poster. At the beginning of the New Year in 1854, he tabulated how many family members he had, both black and white, and that’s a common thing you see throughout the slave period. But on the other hand, slaves were property so they were worth money and he would hire out his slaves to family members or he would sell them.”

During her research, Goluboff discovered newspapers advertisements for slaves from Brownsburg. “Some of the ads talk about selling a slave just as property for sale,” she noted. “Some mention that the person who is selling the slave feels bad about it and wants the slave to remain in the area because he or she had family there. And some ads were reward notices about slaves who had run away.”

Goluboff said that one of the things she found fascinating was trying to trace what happened to slaves after the Civil War. “A significant number of slaves stayed and settled in the area after emancipation and worked for former owners or other white people they knew,” she explained. “One would imagine that the same sort of relationships that existed before emancipation still existed afterwards when the main work for African-Americans was to work for white people.

An interesting feature of the exhibit is a Maytag wringer-washer displayed beneath the poem Ode to a Washerwoman by Langston Hughes. “The poem talks about the work that black women did for whites, washing their laundry every day so they could send their kids to school and pay for food and other things,” said Goluboff. “So I thought it was important to talk about that. The machine was owned by the Porterfield family, African-Americans who are descendants of Agnes Craney who did the laundry for several white families in the area.”

The exhibit is on display until November 2012 and was funded in part by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Goluboff’s research was supported by a Sabbatical Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society, an Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations Fellowship and a Washington and Lee Lenfest Grant.

Goluboff received her B.A in sociology/anthropology and Russian studies from Colgate University. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Jewish Russians: Upheavals in a Moscow Synagogue (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003).

Further information about the Brownsburg Museum can be found at http://brownsburgva.org/museum.htm. See below for a slideshow of images from the exhibit.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Memphis Alumni in the News

Two Washington and Lee alumni in Memphis made the business news in that city recently.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that Tom Baker, of the W&L School of Law Class of 1971, was lured out of retirement to become executive vice president for business development and strategy with the Memphis office of CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), which provides services to real estate owners, investors and tenants.

Tom had retired two years ago as vice president and chief procurement officer with First Horizon National Corp. in Memphis. According to the Commercial Appeal, he had been in charge of “6 million square feet of building space First Horizon owned or leased in more than 40 states.”

Tom and his wife, Elizabeth Beach Baker, have three children and six grandchildren, and he told the Commercial Appeal that one of his goals of retirement was to have time to enjoy the grandchildren before they were “too cool” to spend time with him. But he based his decision to return to CBRE on his ability to set his own hours. “Technology,” he noted, “allows you to do things without being in the office.”

Back in March, the Memphis Business Journal featured the Fulmer Companies and its president, Arthur F. Fulmer Jr., of the Class of 1983. Arthur’s grandfather began the family business in 1919.

It began as a manufacturer and seller of automobile seat covers, and transitioned over time to a manufacturer of motocycle helmets and then other items associated with motorcyles, including gloves, jackets and windshields.

The MBJ story noted that Arthur got his start with the company making saddlebags. Fulmer has begun renovating its headquarters in downtown Memphis and, as the story explains, has taken the unusual step of creating 60 apartments in space previously used for warehousing and manufacturing.

Kerry Egan '95 on PBS This Week

Washington and Lee alumna Kerry Egan, of the Class of 1995, was featured on the April 26, 2012, edition of the PBS series “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.”

Watch the video on the PBS website.

Kerry is a hospice chaplain in Massachusetts. In January, we wrote about her remarkable essay about death and dying on CNN.com. That essay resulted in more than 4,000 comments, pro and con.

On the PBS show, she discussed discussing how she works with dying patients. You can see a preview of the show on the “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” website.

Kerry is the author of the 2004 book, “Fumbling: A Journey of Love, Adventure, and Renewal on the Camino de Santiago,” a journal of her experiences with her then boyfriend (now husband), Alex Ruskell, of the Class of 1994, on the pilgrimage route in southern France and northern Spain known as Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James.

Benamou Serving as Glynn Family Professor at W&L

Marc Benamou, an ethnomusicologist and associate professor of music at Earlham College, in Indiana, is serving as the John and Barbara Glynn Family Professor at Washington and Lee University during the 2012 Spring Term.

Benamou, who is teaching a new course in world music during the four-week term, specializes in gamelan music, a traditional form of music, popular in Java, that incorporates various percussion instruments, including gongs.

He has performed extensively in Java and elsewhere as a vocalist of traditional Javanese music, has founded and directed a number of gamelan ensembles in the U.S., and currently leads Earlham’s gamelan group.  He is the author of “Rasa: Affect and Intuition in Javanese Music” (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Benamou received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and the D.E.A. from Universidad de Paris.

The John and Barbara Glynn Family Professorship (Glynn Family Scholar) was established in 2001 to fund annually a visiting professor who is an accomplished scholar and teacher, preferably one who brings new expertise to cover under-represented areas of importance within the curriculum. The endowment is the gift of John W. Glynn Jr. and Barbara A. Glynn in honor of their daughter, Alexandra Glynn Rowe ’92, and other family members.

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W&L Student Consulting Advises Valley Program for Aging Services

When a local agency caring for the elderly wanted to explore all possible options for improving their services, they turned to a student-run organization at Washington and Lee University for help.

“We wanted to know the feasibility of changing from contracting out our personal care services for home-bound clients to possibly providing these services in-house by employing our own personal care aides. The project relates to Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge County,” said Jeri Schaff, director of senior services at Waynesboro, Va.-based Valley Program for Aging Services (VPAS).

Schaff recently received the final report from Washington and Lee Student Consulting (WLSC), a student-managed organization created to provide pro bono consulting services to for-profit and not-for-profit business and community organizations. “I can’t begin to express how impressed I am with the quality of the report,” said Schaff. “The students showed remarkable resourcefulness, professionalism, thoughtfulness and — especially — patience as we all wandered in relatively uncharted territory. The final report is professional, realistic and exactly what we need to help us make an informed decision.”

“The students deserve the accolades,” said Rob Straughan, associate dean of W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics and professor of business administration/marketing. “It was a challenging project involving a good bit of research and forecasting.”

The three students who worked on the project were project manager Doug Poetzsch, a junior double major in economics and accounting from West Islip, N.Y., senior Mac Davis, a double major in European history and politics from Prospect, Ky., and sophomore Dillon Myers, a double major in business administration and East Asian languages and literature from Foxborough, Mass.

“We spent almost the entire winter semester working on this, and I learned a lot about how the health care industry works,” said Poetzsch. “I also learned a lot about regulation, Medicaid reimbursement rates and the general role of the personal care industry and the struggles of providing personal care to people who really need this service.”

VPAS receives funding from state and federal governments and currently provides personal care services to 20 clients through outside agencies who employ personal care aides. The aides look after clients’ personal hygiene such as bathing, skin care and shampooing. According to service standards enforced by the state, all aides must be trained and certified, and the agency employing them must also be certified.

During the research phase the students conducted interviews with a home care consultant, collected information from industry publications and business journals and conducted a survey of randomly selected personal care providers.

During the analysis stage, the students explored different options, including having VPAS apply for Medicaid funding.

“If VPAS wants to expand the number of clients it serves, it will have to find an alternative source of funding such as Medicaid, which means restructuring the agency,” explained Davis.

“That’s feasible under some very strict assumptions,” added Poetzsch, “but VPAS would need to invest a lot into significantly expanding its client base and hiring a decent number of personal care aides while managing costs really well.”

However, Medicaid reimbursement rates are modeled on personal care service to clients in urban settings, where clients are grouped closely together. “In rural areas like Rockbridge County you might have clients that are 20 miles apart, and that increases you’re overhead,” explained Davis.

Another downside to applying for Medicaid funding would be the difficulty of paying personal care aides more than the minimum wage, which VPAS considers a priority. “The hard reality is that our society entrusts the care of our most vulnerable to people that are paid very little,” noted Schaff. “That means that the jobs are unattractive and have a lot of turnover. This leads to disjointed service from people who are only ‘marking time’ until they can find something better. Our hope is that by actually employing personal care aides ourselves, we can help them see that this is a very important service as a career, not a stopgap on the way to something better.”

In the end, the option the students found potentially feasible would be for VPAS to keep the same state funding and the same number of clients, while employing their own personal care aides. One advantage to keeping the number of clients to 20 (rather than increasing to 30 clients) would be that the savings they would realize would provide a safety net to provide for unforeseen expenses.

All three students credited the WLSC faculty advisors, Straughan and Elizabeth Oliver, the Lewis Whitaker Adams Professor of Accounting, for volunteering their time to advise the project team. “We have our Student Consulting meetings every Monday'” said Poetzsch. “We would give them an update, and they would provide feedback to keep us going in the right direction, or give us ideas on how to attack a problem.”

“This project would not have been possible without them,” added Davis. “I know that everyone in Student Counseling is grateful to them for giving us this opportunity.”

“I think Elizabeth would agree with me that when the pieces fall into place, this is some of the most rewarding work that we do,” said Straughan.

According to Schaff, the WLSC report has been sent to the Valley Program for Aging Services board of directors for consideration. “I expect that they will act on the recommendations at their meeting at the end of May,” she said.

Over the years, WLSC has worked with a diverse group of clients in the Lexington and Rockbridge County area and beyond. Some of the recent clients include:

  • TeraDact, a Missoula, Montana-based redaction software firm
  • PIATAM, a NGO in Manaus, Brazil assisting indigenous communities along the Amazon with sustainable development
  • Horrible Hire, an Atlanta-based human resources software startup
  • W&L Sustainability Committee, a campus faculty, staff, and student committee involved with, among other things, development of the campus solar energy initiative
  • Rockbridge Choral Society, a local not-for-profit supporting choral music

For additional information, see the WLSC website: http://www.wlu.edu/x38891.xml.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L to Launch Interdisciplinary Seminar Series on Happiness

Washington and Lee University will introduce a new, year-long interdisciplinary seminar series that will examine our national obsession with happiness during the 2012-13 academic year.

“Questioning the Good Life” will feature six visiting speakers, each of whom is recognized as a leader in their respective discipline (economics, literature, philosophy, psychology/sociology, neuroscience, and business).  The speakers will bring their considerable insight and expertise to bear on the topic of happiness.

Five W&L faculty have teamed up to plan the series, which they believe takes advantage of the University’s particular strengths.

“The exploration of happiness lets us see just what promise interdisciplinary practices hold for universities that are more and more looking for topics that can bring together divisions that seem to grow increasingly distant and autonomous,” said Jeff Kosky, associate professor of religion and one of the seminar’s planners. “We believe Washington and Lee is uniquely qualified to organize around big questions such as happiness.”

In addition to Kosky, the professors who have planned the series are Tim Diette, assistant professor of economics; Jon Eastwood, associate professor of sociology; Art Goldsmith, the Jackson P. Stephens Professor of Economics; and Karla Murdock, associate professor of psychology.

Although the series will be centered around the visitors and their public lectures, students, faculty, and staff who choose to join the seminar series will also meet the speakers during luncheon programs and attend additional sessions on the topic throughout the academic year.

Students, faculty and staff can sign up to participate through the seminar’s website: go.wlu.edu/GoodLife.

The series speakers:

  • Sept. 13, 2012 — Carol Graham, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and College Park Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. She is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). She is the author of “The Pursuit of Happiness” (Brookings Press, 2011), which was the subject of a recent discussion hosted by the Brookings Institute (“Measuring Happiness and Opportunity around the World”) that considered happiness as a national performance indicator. Her other books include “Happiness around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires” and “Safety Nets, Politics and the Poor: Transitions to Market Economies.” She offers a wide-ranging and thorough overview of what researchers in economics and psychology know about happiness.
  • Nov. 8, 2012 — Eric Wilson is the author of numerous books including a memoir, “The Mercy of Eternity,” that recounts his struggle with and ultimate embrace of manic depressive illness in the context of the birth of his daughter, and “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy.”  Making a compelling case that the loss of sadness would be sad for our culture, Against Happiness adds a healthy note of caution about our national obsession with flourishing and happiness.  The book appeared on the bestseller list of the LA Times and was featured NBC’s Today Show, NPR’s All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, the BBC’s Today Programme, and CBC’s The Current.  It has been translated into nine languages.
  • Nov. 29, 2012 — Charles Taylor is widely considered one of the most important philosophers and social theorists of our era.  In his work “A Secular Age,” he offers a historical account of the emergence of an idea of happiness that detaches the good from ends beyond human flourishing.  This account allows us to see shortcomings in and conceive alternatives to the modern vision of happiness.  Professor Taylor received the Templeton Prize in 2007 for progress towards research or discoveries about spiritual realities.   And in 2008, he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in the arts and philosophy category.
  • Jan. 17, 2013 — Corey Keyes, professor of sociology, Emory University. Keyes is a leader in the field of positive psychology. His influential empirical work has focused on the measurement of positive mental health as a complement to the well-elaborated measures of mental illness that exist in the field of psychology. Optimal mental health is conceptualized as flourishing, characterized by fulfillment, purpose, meaning, and happiness. Keyes’ work has far-reaching policy implications, and in 2012 he was invited by the Department of Health and Human Services to participate in the first historic “health-related quality of life and well-being” working group to create health objectives for the US “Healthy People 2020.”
  • March 19, 2013 — Richard Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Founder and Director, Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. Davidson is a pioneer in the field of affective neuroscience. Using techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), he has studied neural substrates of depression and anxiety as well as neural plasticity, which is the ability of the brain to reorganize itself on the basis of new experiences. He has investigated meditation as a potential mechanism for physically changing one’s brain and generating greater health and well-being. Through this work, Dr. Davidson has developed a longstanding relationship with the Dalai Lama and helped to launch a new field of contemplative neuroscience. Among a host of other honors, Davidson has been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. His latest book is called “The Emotional Life of Your Brain.”
  • March 28, 2013 — Richard, “Duke” Cancelmo, Jr. is a partner with Bridgeway Capital, an investment management company based in Houston Texas.  The mission of Bridgeway Capital is to contribute to the enrichment of the local community and the world at large by establishing a work environment dedicated to ensuring that workers flourish, rather than a traditional corporate focus on profitability.  Cancelmo believes that employees prosper, and feel happy and empowered, when they are able to integrate their work life with philanthropy while also being able to participate as full partners in business decision making.  Half of Bridgeway Capital’s after-tax profits are distributed to charitable organizations each year, with employees staffing the committees that distribute the funds.  Duke envisions a society operating under the principle that Work and the Good Life are Compatible, the theme of the talk he will deliver at Washington and Lee.

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

ABA House of Delegates Chair to Deliver W&L Law Commencement Address

Linda A. Klein, a 1983 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law and chair of the American Bar Association House of Delegates, will deliver this year’s commencement address during the 2012 graduation exercises at her alma mater.

Commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 5 beginning at 11:00 a.m. on the lawn between the Colonnade and Lee Chapel. The event is open to the public. A complete schedule of events is available at the commencement website.

The ABA House of Delegates is the policy-making body of the largest voluntary membership professional organization in the world. The House of Delegates includes  more than 550 members and meets twice each year to set association policies on issues ranging from service to the legal profession to national policies related to the law.

As chair, Klein presides over meetings of the House for a two year term that began in February 2011.  Klein has demonstrated leadership in the ABA in a range of positions, from chairing a section devoted to the substantive law of tort trials and insurance and the association’s Coalition for Justice, to chairing the association Committee on Rules and Calendar and membership on the Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services, which strives to increase access to legal assistance for persons in every income group.

Klein is managing shareholder of the Georgia offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C., with offices in five states, the District of Columbia and London.  Her practice concentrates on litigation, alternative dispute resolution and counseling business owners.

A past president of the State Bar of Georgia, Klein is committed to increasing access to legal services for Georgia’s indigent. She devised and executed the plan to achieve the first state appropriation of tax dollars to support legal services.  She is vice-chair of the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, which works for increased access to courts, and a member of the Supreme Court Commission on Civil Justice.

Klein also has worked to uphold judicial excellence, and served as co-chair of a state Judicial Evaluation Committee, a member of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission, and a member of a committee established by former Sen. Max Cleland to advise on filling federal judicial vacancies in the Northern District of Georgia.

She has held leadership positions in the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the Atlanta Bar Association and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, and is a founding as well as a member of the Georgia chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Gate City Bar and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Klein received her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.

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

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Newspaper Honors Emma Thomas Dean '03

Emma Thomas Dean, a 2003 graduate of Washington and Lee, has been named one of the “20 Under 40″ honorees by The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. According to the newspaper, the 20 young professionals on the list are “making an impact on the community and also show great promise for tomorrow.”

Emma kept the award in the family–her husband Gavin, a 2000 W&L alumnus, was named to the “20 Under 40” list a year ago.

Currently assistant chief counsel for the S.C. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Emma majored in politics and economics at W&L and received her law degree from the University of South Carolina.

Asked by The State about her motivation for helping others, Emma said, “service to others was part of my childhood. When I attended Washington and Lee University, I further developed my sense of honor, fairness and duty because those are key principles of the school. There, I met my husband, Gavin. Gavin inspires me to serve our community because he is constantly aware of the needs of others and tirelessly seeks solutions.”

You can watch a short video with Emma on The State’s website.

W&L's Woodson Wins Photography Award

Mary Woodson, assistant director of communications and public affairs and director of publications at Washington and Lee University, was awarded second place in the feature photography category of the Virginia Press Association’s annual contest on Saturday, April 21, during the VPA’s annual meeting in Roanoke.

The photograph, “Ferris Wheel,” was taken at the Raphine, Va., carnival in June 2011 and appeared in The News-Gazette. The photo placed second in the category for weekly newspapers with circulation between 5,000 and 10,000. It was the second time in as many years that one of Woodson’s photographs in the News-Gazette was recognized by the statewide press organization.

New Zealand Author Robert Sullivan to Give Poetry Reading

Author Robert Sullivan, head of the School of Creative Writing at Manukau Institute of Technology in Manukau City, Auckland, New Zealand, will give a public poetry reading at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room.

The reading is free and open to the public. There will be a book signing in the lobby of Hillel after the reading. Sullivan will also be visiting W&L classes while in Lexington.

Sullivan is a from South Auckland, New Zealand, is a member of the Nga Puhi and Kai Tahu tribes and Irish by heritage. He previously was an associate professor of English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he also directed the creative writing program.

His books include Cassino City of Martyrs/Città Martire (Huia Press, New Zealand, 1999), Shout Ha! to the Sky (Salt Press, London, 2010), Star Waka (Auckland University Press, 1999, the latest edition was published in 2011) and Weaving Earth and Sky: Myths & Legends of Aotearoa (Random House, 2002).

He has won several New Zealand Awards for his children’s writing, poetry and editing. His most recent poem “Kawe reo/Voices carry” is engraved on the front steps of Auckland City Library.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

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W&L’s Staniar Gallery Presents Spring Term Exhibit

“Volume,” drawings and sculpture by Virginia artist Craig Pleasants, will open at Washington and Lee’s Staniar Gallery on April 23 and will remain on view through May 25. Pleasants will present an artist’s talk at the exhibition opening event on Tuesday, April 24. The lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall and will be followed by a catered reception.

The exhibit and the lecture event are both free and open to the public.

Craig Pleasants creates sculptural structures that blur the line between form and function, architecture and art. Based on what he calls an “aesthetics of necessity,” Pleasants uses alternative materials to expand the definition of shelter, housing and home.

The artist has exhibited widely for over 30 years and has been recognized with numerous grants and fellowships from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission, among others. He is currently the program director for the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, an international working retreat for artists, writers and composers located in Amherst, Va.

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

W&L Journalism Professors, Alumni Examine Community Newspapers

Washington and Lee journalism faculty joined their colleagues at the University of Missouri to collaborate on a one-day conference in Roanoke in April that focused on the future of community newspapers.

Underwritten in part by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which has provided funding for several programs in the department of journalism and communications at Washington and Lee, the event was named for Walter B. Potter Sr., a 1948 graduate of W&L who owned several community newspapers in Virginia. In addition to the Reynolds Foundation, funding was provided by Potter’s son, Walter Jr., a member of the Class of 1972.

Pamela Luecke, the Reynolds Professor of Journalism, was joined on the program by Claudette Artwick, associate professor of journalism, and W&L alumni Andy Waters, a 1991 graduate who is president and general manager of the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, and Bruce Potter, a 1985 graduate who is vice president for editorial business development at NewsiT.

Other participants with Lexington connections on the program were Hunt Riegel, son of former journalism department head O. Thomas Riegel, and Matt Paxton, president of the News Gazette Corp. in Lexington.

Career Change

A  features Theresa Brion, a 1985 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, who recently became vicar at not one, but two, Episcopal churches in Western Maryland — St. George’s Episcopal Church in Mount Savage and Holy Cross-St. Philip’s in Cumberland. She is also bishops’ deputy for Western Maryland for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Theresa made that move after working as an editor for Thomson Reuters for 10 years and also teaching as an adjunct at the College of Financial Planning for 15 years.

After receiving her masters of divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School, she joined the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland in 2009, coordinating programs for eight churches in Allegany and Garrett counties. Then, after being ordained in October 2010, she was selected to serve as vicar of the two Maryland churches in late 2011, and began her ministries earlier this year.

In the Times-News’ story, Theresa describes her decision to enter the ministry this way:

“It was something that just would not let go of me, the call kept tugging at me over the years. And after a while, you no longer can say ‘no’ or ‘later, God’ to God. You just know deep within you that that is who you are and, thus, that is what you need to do.”

Theresa is married to W&L law professor Denis Brion.

Evans, Lorig Attend National Liberal Arts Conference

Washington and Lee Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sidney Evans and Director of Career Services Beverly Lorig joined college leaders, academic advisors, career center directors and business leaders from around the country at a summit, “Rethinking Success: From Liberal Arts to Careers in the 21st Century,” at Wake Forest University in April.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley were featured speakers at the three-day event that examined issues related to the relevance and value of the liberal arts education to the world of work in the 21st Century.

A story about the conference appeared in Inside Higher Education.

Actor and Filmmaker Adrian Grenier Will Speak at W&L

Actor, director and filmmaker Adrian Grenier will speak at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel. W&L’s Contact Committee is sponsoring the talk, which is free and open to the public.

Grenier is best known for his starring role in the Emmy-nominated HBO series Entourage, which aired from 2004 through 2011. Since making his big screen debut in 1997, Grenier has also branched out into filmmaking, producing, and directing.

New Mexico-born and New York-bred, Grenier was raised by his mother. He attended Bard College. In 2002, he embarked on a year-long search for the father from whom he was estranged for 18 years. He documented the journey, and the result was a feature-length film and his directorial debut, Shot in the Dark.

In addition to Shot in the Dark, Grenier has produced four documentaries, the second, Teenage Paparazzo, is full length and focuses on the complex relationship between celebrities and the media. It premiered at Sundance 2010 and aired on HBO the same year.

He founded Reckless Productions in 2002. Through television and film, and both documentary and narrative, his company aims to challenge thoughts and ideas and to evoke dialogue on current topics.

In 2008, Grenier’s new show, Alter Eco, premiered on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green. The show features Grenier and his team of green experts showing changes that can be made to become more eco-friendly. The following year he co-founded a green lifestyle website, SHFT.com, which offers original video series, curated shopping and a host of resources that speak to a modern, inspirational, eco-conscious lifestyle

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Introducing General Perspectives

Why did you choose Washington and Lee? What is your favorite memory? What is your current job? How did W&L help you get there?

Those are some of the questions that alumni answer in General Perspectives, a video series that highlights a variety of professions, and the roads that W&L alumni took to get there.

For instance, Beth Provanzana, of the Class of 1995, discusses her work with Northern Trust Global Investments in Chicago, Ill., in the video below:


You can see all the videos currently available in the series both on the video tab of the social media page on the alumni site or by going directly to this album: https://vimeo.com/album/1850478

W&L Law Alumna Chief Judge of Copyright Royalty Board

Suzanne M. Barnett, a 1981 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, has been appointed a new chief royalty judge for the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) by the Librarian of Congress.

Suzanne is currently a superior court judge of King County in Seattle, Wash. She joins two other chief judges on the panel, which sets reasonable royalty rates and terms for all licenses made compulsory under the Copyright Act and oversees distribution of certain royalties collected by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.

She becomes the first new judge on the CRB since the judges were first appointed in January 2006, shortly after Congress passed legislation creating the CRB in 2004 and placed it under the auspices of the Library of Congress.

According to the legislation that created the CRB, the three judges must have different experiences. One must have background in copyright law; a second must have background in economics; and the third must be someone with “at least five years of experience in adjudications, arbitrations, or court trials.”  Suzanne fills this third category. As the announcement from the Librarian of Congress noted, Suzanne “hears cases of all types and presides over both jury and non-jury trials” in her current position as superior court judge. The announcement went on to say that Suzanne “has served on all the King County calendars — civil, criminal, family, and juvenile — and at all three superior court locations.”

She was first elected to the court in 1996 and had previously practiced law for 16 years with Lane Powell in Seattle, the Houston office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Barnett MacLean law firm, which she co-founded in Seattle.

Christian Wiman '88 Wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Christian Wiman, a 1988 graduate of Washington and Lee and editor of Poetry magazine, is one of 180 scholars, artists and scientists from the United States and Canada to win a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for 2012.

According to the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, it awards the fellowships on the basis of “prior achievement and exceptional promise.” The foundation chose this year’s winners from almost 3,000 applicants. Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted almost $290 million to more than 17,000 fellowship winners.

One of 10 Guggenheim Fellows named in poetry, Chris has been editor of Poetry, the oldest American magazine of verse, since 2003. His first book of poetry, “The Long Home,” won the Nicholas Roerich Prize. His 2010 book, “Every Riven Thing” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), was chosen by poet and critic Dan Chiasson as one of the best poetry books of 2010. His poems, criticism and personal essays appear widely in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker.

Seven years ago, Chris was diagnosed with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, an incurable cancer of the blood. He has written about the disease and his response to it in several essays, including “Gazing into the Abyss,” in the summer 2007 edition of The American Scholar, and “By Love We Are Led to God,” in the Winter/Spring 2012 edition of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

In February, Chris appeared on “Moyers and Company” with journalist Bill Moyers (father of William Moyers, W&L Class of 1981) and discussed how finding true love and being diagnosed with the illness reignited both his religious passion and his creative expression. Watch the video of the interview below:

W&L Magazine, Winter 2012: Vol. 87 | No. 1

In This Issue:

  • W&L Unpacks a Global Learning Initiative
    By Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L
  • Where Everyone Asks to Get Involved: The 2012 Mock Convention
    By Michael McGuire ’13

By the Numbers

  • Women in Computer Science, Leap Day Birthdays, Early Decision and Outstanding Faculty Awards


  • Dr. Pamela H. Simpson

Along the Colonnade

  • W&L and The 2012 Summer Olympics
  • Improving Campus Life for GLBT Students
  • Noteworthy
  • Service and Sisterhood: Alpha Kappa Alpha Arrives on Campus
  • Fitting It All Together: New Electives for Business Administration Majors
  • Kahn and Wheeler Win 2012 SCHEV Awards
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
  • Founders’ Day, ODK Initiation
  • Books & CDs
  • Andy Warhol Photos Come to W&L

Generals Report

  • General for a Day: W&L and Special Olympics Partner Up

W&L Law

  • Demleitner Named Law School Dean


  • Generals Go Global
  • W&L Traveller
  • Beau Knows
  • What is Quality?

President Ruscio’s Message

  • What Keeps Me Up at Night?

Last Look

  • Putney’s 51st Legislative Session

Mock Con 2012 by Cartoonist John Cole '80

Where Everyone Asks to Get Involved: The 2012 Mock Convention

By Michael McGuire ’13
From the Winter 2012 Edition of the W&L Magazine 

For three days, in the most patriotic gymnasium I’ve ever seen, I’ve watched my classmates introduce governor after congresswoman, and wield television cameras and a wooden gavel. They’ve come dressed like the politicians-in-training many may be. My friends and the rest of the people I pass along the Colonnade are participating in one of the most impressive displays of political involvement that can be seen around the country and, really, around the world.

I don’t say it to be hyperbolic. I spent last fall in Seville, Spain, learning to trust my tongue in another language and to live outside the United States. While I was there, I saw 44 percent of the Spanish people elect their next president and learned how they did this. Spain has no primaries and no nominating conventions. The electoral campaigns begin a few short weeks before ballots are cast. It was only one week before election day that portraits of the candidates were hung on the light posts all around the city.

This may sound appealing for a moment: fewer political ads and no televised debates among party members. The final two go at it only once or twice. There’s no media frenzy, either. Spaniards pick up their papers knowing El País will predict victory for the Socialist candidate, and ABC will champion the Partido Popular.

In short, there’s no real participation and public discussion is contained, in a land where olive and orange trees grow without bound. The Spanish people are political, sure. But my friends there wouldn’t talk politics in class for fear of losing friendships. When myseñora, host mother, cast her vote in November, she dropped a lista cerrada, a closed list, into the giant Plexiglas ballot box. She was voting for a party-not a person-because there the parties control the people. It’s not the other way around.

This mock convention, the 24th to be held here at Washington and Lee, would be impossible at the University of Seville. That we nominate our candidates and then elect our presidents and mayors separately doesn’t quite translate. The sevillanos don’t get to talk with their congressmen and attorney generals, like we’ve been doing these past few days. The people don’t decide which candidate best fits the party platform.

So we celebrate this weekend. The Warner Center, outfitted with blue curtains, red banners and hundreds of white chairs, is full of excitement. It’s not just about nominating a Republican candidate or, even better, getting it right. It’s not just about parties, Jon Huntsman’s address, greetings from afar by House Speaker John Boehner

We’re reveling in our right to participate. For this we build 54 floats-one for each state and territory-and hang the U.S. flag all about campus. Our pride in our country and in ourselves increases tenfold this weekend. We know that this right to participate is not only a hallmark of our American democracy, but it’s also what drew many of us to Washington and Lee in the first place.

We came to be where everyone asks to get involved.

We’re also grateful to have a forum for debate, because our political persuasions vary like our neckties-contrary to popular belief. On Thursday night, James Carville and Ann Coulter had their fair shares of fans in the audience, even though their politics differ as much as their hairstyles. No one asks the students who stand up and cheer for Ron Paul to sit down. The audience is happy to see their passion. (Coulter’s heckler has been the only person the crowd has discarded this weekend.)

I’ve been sitting in the press section for the whole of the convention, watching reporters watch us. And I’ve noted a definite admiration for what we’re doing, and it comes just as much from outsiders as it does from the students wearing state-delegate lanyards around their necks.

As the delegates’ votes are tallied, as Mitt Romney becomes our nominee, as bursts of red, white and blue confetti fall from the rafters, the thunderous applause from all is in no way a predictor of the votes we’ll cast in our state primaries or the national election this fall. This deafening sound is gratitude-gratitude for everyone from the ROTC color guard to the three student chairs who made this weekend happen.

We’re cheering for the school and for the country where this tradition can come to life every four years.

Michael McGuire is a student of journalism and Spanish, pursuing a minor in creative writing, too. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Star Democrat (Easton, Md.). He is the 2011 recipient of the Landon B. Lane Memorial Scholarship in Journalism and, with the aid of the Todd Smith Fellowship, will be writing for El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Fla., this summer.

W&L Unpacks a Global Learning Initiative (Magazine)

By Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L
From the Winter 2012 Edition of the W&L Magazine 

After participating in a program in China that partnered American and Chinese students, Robert Warneford-Thomson ’12 voiced the discovery that most Washington and Lee students make after their immersion in another culture. “Learning that the world is bigger than you previously thought is such a cool experience,” the Johnson Scholar said. “And it can’t just be distilled to one or two sound bites or a picture in a magazine.” Maybe not. But the magazine’s going to give it a shot anyway with this look at W&L’s proposed Global Learning Initiative and its potential impact on future generations of students.

If it is fully adopted, the initiative will provide far more than the traditional study-abroad experience that W&L students have been enjoying for years. “Global learning means that by understanding a foreign culture, a student not only gains new knowledge about that place but also learns to appreciate better his or her own country and its cultural attributes,” said Larry Boetsch ’69, director of W&L’s Center for International Education. “International education is an aspect of that. It is not just a matter of crossing borders.” The initiative, in fact, proposes no less than a redefinition of a liberal arts education.

Recommendation 1: Articulate an institutional commitment to global learning

In 2009, Boetsch and a steering committee organized five task groups and subsequent focus groups-100 students, faculty, administrators and alumni in all-to review international issues relating to curriculum, students, faculty, administration and policy. The result was the proposal for the Global Learning Initiative. Anchored in the 2007 strategic plan, it contains seven recommendations, plus proposals for implementation in three stages over seven to 10 years. It flows from the W&L Mission Statement, which declares that W&L will prepare graduates for “engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”

W&L has heretofore taken a piecemeal approach to global education, according to Boetsch, with pockets of support in discrete departments. Today, however, that’s an ineffective way to prepare students. “We realize that none of the problems that require solutions for the next generation are, one, going to be done in one country; and, two, are going to be solved by a single discipline,” said Boetsch. “Interdisciplinary and internationalism go hand in hand. It’s all connected, and we have to be thinking about it.”

Students also must be prepared to compete for jobs in a global economy. “When I sat in a classroom at Washington and Lee and thought about the guy sitting next to me as my competitor, that was fair,” said Boetsch. Today, however, “any student sitting in a classroom at Washington and Lee has to think they’re sitting next to a Chinese person or a Bulgarian or a Russian or an Indian,” he continued. “That’s who they’re competing against.”

An international banker and consultant who has lived and worked internationally for 35 years would agree-and he’s also an alumnus, Bruce MacQueen ’70. “We live in a world that is globalized, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said, “but that means it’s a world to which one has to adapt throughout one’s career.”

Recommendation 2: Further engage the faculty in international learning

Beginning this winter term, faculty liaisons are advising students about studying abroad. These professors represent a variety of disciplines, advocate international study and help students integrate international experiences into their coursework.

Faculty liaisons will also investigate the academic worth of international programs. “We want them to determine what programs abroad make sense academically for the humanities or sciences or the Williams School,” said Boetsch. “That’s not something the Center for International Education should be doing, that’s something faculty should be doing. So they’ll be doing the site visits to programs and doing a better job advising students.” Site visits have become increasingly important as more students choose to study abroad throughout the year and during Spring Term and attend programs that faculty have not yet vetted. With the shortening of Spring Term from six weeks to four, the trips now cost less, so more students can participate.

Faculty liaisons will streamline program selection by establishing pre-approved programs. “We’ve had a couple of these in the Williams School, where enough of our faculty have reviewed a particular program and felt comfortable with their faculty and the rigor of their courses and the breadth of their curriculum,” said Rob Straughan, associate dean of the Williams School.

Straughan and other faculty will also broaden the pool of countries offering pre-approved programs. “Specifically, we don’t have anything of that sort in Asia or Eastern Europe,” said Straughan. “We need to get a presence in other parts of the world, particularly in the Far East. We have to get China involved, given the prominence that the country plays.”

Brook Hartzell ’00 supports the details of this recommen-dation. A member of Alumni Abroad, a group that advises Boetsch, she works in Singapore as part of the Asian Pacific marketing strategy team for Seagate Technology. “The selection of courses and foreign university partnerships has always been available in the W&L curriculum,” she said, “but you can’t forget that as an 18-year-old, a little structure in how to order the classes can only help for you to get the most benefit.” She studied abroad after graduation, earning a master’s in management, economics and international relations as a Ransome Scholar at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

Recommendation 3: Attract international scholars

This recommendation includes existing and new institutional relationships with foreign universities, plus more visiting scholars, lecturers and performers. In 2010, one particular lecturer, a North Korean refugee, talked about escaping from Kim Jong-il’s oppressive regime. His story grabbed Uri Whang ’13, a classics and politics major from Collierville, Tenn. “It was just very moving. I can’t even imagine how someone would be able to do that, and I think a lot of our students felt the same way, because if you were there, everyone was silent, and some people were crying,” recalled Whang, the outreach co-chair for the Pan-Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE).

Blaise Buma ’13, of Buea, Cameroon, who started the W&L Foreign Affairs Society, would like to see public debates about high-profile, international current events. “It would bring international students together and get people on campus,” he said. Further, booking well-known speakers from around the world, said Buma, “would really raise the profile of W&L on a national stage.”

Recommendation 4: Integrate global learning into the undergraduate curriculum

One of the items under this recommendation involves technology. Along those high-tech lines, Boetsch described a Global Learning Center in a recent letter to international alumni:

On one wall, a student-produced slideshow of images depicts literary themes in public architecture in Germany….In a 3-D display, visitors can hear the voices and smell the cooking fires of the village in Ghana that hosted last Spring Term’s course in the economics of developing countries. An open classroom reveals small groups of W&L students in animated conversations with groups of Italian students at one of our partner institutions abroad. A large screen helps viewers walk through an archaeological site in Turkey, where W&L students and their professors discuss the importance of a recent discovery.

Still in the planning stage, the center would ideally occupy duPont Hall, which would be renovated, funded by the Honor Our Past, Build Our Future capital campaign.

“We see duPont Hall as an opportunity to create a showcase spot that incorporates the most advanced technologies and creates some of the most exciting learning experiences,” said Jeff Overholtzer, manager of strategic planning and communication for Information Technology Services (ITS) and a member of the initiative’s steering committee. The goal is communication between W&L and international communities, he said, and “to set W&L apart as a leader in the use of technology for teaching and learning.”

Technology can also bring the world into the classroom in hard-hitting ways. “Let’s say we were talking in a politics class about the genocide in Rwanda,” explained Eduardo Rodriguez ’09, an Argentinian alumnus who worked in the Tucker Multimedia Center and for the Center for International Education. Seeing a speaker via Skype or videoconferencing, “brings something way more tangible to the classroom and to the subject rather just reading and discussing it,” said Rodriguez, another member of Alumni Abroad.

Recommendation 5: Make learning abroad an integral part of the undergraduate experience

The faculty recently established four categories of international experience and assigned different values to each. Although foreign study will not be a Foundation and Distribution Requirement, it will become a vital component of a W&L education.

The initiative does not set a target figure, but the number of students studying abroad is expected to increase once all the new strategies are in place. By way of comparison: In 1998-1999, the first year W&L kept study-abroad statistics, 132 students studied overseas. By 2010-2011, 201 students-11 percent of the student body-went abroad. Of the Class of 2011, 56 percent studied internationally.

“The first category is the gold standard-cultural immersion,” said Boetsch. “These are students who are going to learn another language and truly understand the dimensions of another culture through the use of that language.” Immersion candidates will integrate themselves into another culture through a series of international experiences. ” they’ve been abroad for an entire year, that would work for international immersion,” said Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English and faculty chair of the International Education Committee (IEC). “But more likely, they did a spring trip as a freshman, then they did an international internship between sophomore and junior years.” A subsequent term abroad and an honors thesis written in a foreign language would also likely count toward immersion.

The IEC would consider the various international experiences of immersion candidates and determine whether the students had sufficiently integrated the experiences into their course of study. Qualified students would earn a certificate and a special notation on their transcript. “It says to future employers, this is a person who’s done more than just a standard study abroad. This is a person who’s really gone the extra mile,” explained Keen. Graduate schools would notice as well. By offering the certificate and notation, the IEC hopes to encourage repeat international experiences.

Meredith Hibbard ’06, another member of Alumni Abroad, gives a firsthand look at the value of cultural immersion. “You can’t just sit . . . in the U.S. in a classroom. No matter how good Rosetta Stone is, it’s important for you to really be there and be surrounded by the language,” she said. The two-time Fulbright Scholar spent two terms in Vienna and a summer internship as an undergraduate. “It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.” Hibbard is now pursuing her master’s in international studies at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.

The second category is the traditional term spent in another country. Though insufficient by itself for the certificate and notation, it may be the best option for athletes or students with significant on-campus responsibilities. Other academic work abroad, such as a summer course, will be a third type of international coursework. The fourth category might include an internship abroad or a spring trip to South Korea with the Wind Ensemble. W&L is still reviewing how to assign value to these non-immersive categories.

Recommendation 6: Make the Center for International Education a major resource for internationalism

The staff comprises director Boetsch, who’s also a professor of Romance languages; Amy Richwine, international student advisor and associate director; Kip Brooks, study abroad advisor and program coordinator; and Latha Dawson, Spring Term abroad program coordinator.

In their promotion of global citizenship, they handle students’ studies abroad; support the faculty in their international pursuits; and assist international students, faculty and visitors. Now located on Letcher Avenue, the office would move into duPont Hall after its proposed renovation into the Global Learning Center.

Recommendation 7: Attract strong international students

W&L had 121 international undergraduates enrolled as four-year students during 2010-11, including students with dual citizenship and U.S. permanent residency. They represented 48 countries and composed about 6 percent of the student body. Countries with the most were South Korea, China, Bulgaria, Argentina and Vietnam.

“The professors are very welcoming, and they actually love to have international students in certain classes, like politics or economics, because they bring a completely different input on issues,” said Rodriguez, the 2009 graduate.

Outside the classroom, international students are active if sometimes low-key members of the campus community. “There’s this impression at times that international students don’t integrate well into the community, but when we actually look at it seriously, we find that’s not the case,” said Boetsch. “It’s unlikely that an international student will be captain of the lacrosse team or president of the EC, but our international-student community plays an important role in a variety of campus activities.”

They may also be perceived as such because of the off-campus location of the International House (I-House). Home to about 20 students, both international and domestic, it occupies the former Delta Tau Delta fraternity on Lee Avenue. Many international students are active with the Student Association for International Learning (SAIL) and the Shepherd Poverty Program. A new collaboration between the Shepherd Program and the Center for International Education aims to make the current I-House the permanent home for the Campus Kitchen and a vibrant cross-cultural lab for international and domestic student residents. A renovated I-House will open next fall as the Global Service Center.

So there you have it, a first look at an ambitious and far-reaching proposal. Some aspects are underway, some are still under consideration. One thing is clear, however. If W&L adopts and successfully implements the Global Learning Initiative, “we would no longer talk about international education or global learning on the campus,” said Boetsch, “because it would be a part of the fabric of everything that we do here.”

W&L Magazine Website

Honeymooning on the River of No Return

As honeymoons go, Washington and Lee alumna Bjornen duPont Babock’s was, well, you can be the judge.

On Wednesday, April 18, the PBS series “Nature” will air “River of No Return,” which documents Bjornen’s year-long honeymoon trip with her husband, Isaac, as they travel through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.

Isaac had spent many years tracking wolves as part of a wolf reintroduction program in central Idaho, and he wanted to introduce Bjornen, of W&L’s Class of 1998, to the experience. The couple spent days waiting and watching for a chance to observe wolves and were rewarded for their patience with a number of fascinating encounters.

The Salmon River, which runs through the River of No Return Wilderness, was also a major character in the story, featuring the Chinook salmon migrating up the river to spawn, and the small birds known as dippers that feed on aquatic insects.

Adding to the drama of their adventure was Bjornen’s diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis just before they set out. Walking down the street would be problematic enough, but hiking through rugged terrain with a heavy backpack?

Bjornen’s physical struggles were a constant sub-theme. At one point during the film, she discussed her decision to persevere: “You make your choices and take your chances. Life comes with no guarantees. I choose an adventure with hardship over no adventure at all every time.”

After it airs on April 18, the video will be available online on the “Nature” website at PBS.org/nature, and DVDs can be purchased at the online store.

Earlier this month, Bjornen and Isaac discussed their honeymoon adventure on an episode of Idaho Public Television’s “Dialogue.” See that program below to hear from the producers themselves with a web special following that first video:

Redesigning GOP Nominating Rules

As political chair for Washington and Lee’s 2012 Mock Republican Convention, senior Zach Wilkes spent three years immersed in the process by which the GOP selects its presidential nominee.

Like many observers, Zach found that system something less than ideal. So he devised a plan of his own. Earlier this week, former Congressional Quarterly writer and political blogger Rhodes Cook wrote about Zach’s proposal on his blog, RhodesCook.com.

Zach calls his plan the “Republican ‘Super Four’ Primary Reform Proposal.” Cook calls it “provocative, creative and straightforward.”

Among the plan’s features, Zach proposes, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Wisconsin would hold their primaries on the first Tuesday in February. Wisconsin replaces Iowa in the early voting, and representatives of all geographic regions vote on that first Tuesday. Meantime, other states would begin the primary and caucus season two weeks later, and that might make the third Tuesday in February the new Super Tuesday.

If such a plan were adopted, and if states stuck to the schedule (Zach proposes a stiff penalty if they don’t), Mock Con might be in January four years from now, in order to make their prediction as tough as possible.

Meantime, Zach and his team on the political committee can take a bow this week because of Rick Santorum’s decision to drop out of the race. Mitt Romney will almost certainly be the nominee, which would confirm the Mock Con’s Feb. 11 prediction of Romney. Barring some strange twist, Mock Con’s record will move to 19 correct predictions in 25 tries.

Tax Day Tangle

By Molly Michelmore
Assistant Professor of History
(This piece appeared originally on the University of Pennsylvania Press Log)

At this time of year, we’re all painfully aware that the federal tax code is a complicated mess. At more than 5200 pages, the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) is far too complex for the average person to understand. Few people file without some assistance. The IRS estimates that more than 60 percent of filers hire someone to help them do their taxes. Another 32 percent use some kind of tax preparation software.

Paying your taxes was not always as complicated as it is today. The first federal income tax was imposed during the Civil War, but the modern income tax is of a more recent vintage. Although the states ratified the 16th Amendment in 1913, the income tax as we know it today did not take shape until the Second World War.

For three decades after the 16th Amendment’s ratification, very few Americans owed anything in federal income taxes. The change came in 1942, when President Franklin Roosevelt, looking for a way to pay for WWII without having to borrow too much, worked with Congress to transform the federal income tax from a class tax paid by only a small and wealthy minority to a mass tax shouldered by members of the middle and working classes, as well as the rich.

This law brought millions of Americans into the federal tax system for the first time. To ensure compliance, the Treasury Department introduced a new, simplified tax form for lower-income taxpayers. Paying your taxes was so easy that even Donald Duck could do it. In the first of two government-sponsored tax films featuring Walt Disney’s favorite waterfowl, Americans learned that all you need to do your taxes was a “tax blank, your pen, some ink and a blotter.”

The tax code grew more complicated after WWII. Cold War-era hostility toward anything that even hinted at statism helped to turn American opinion against public spending programs – or at least against certain kinds of public spending.  In the late 1940s, a series of local “welfare crises” in places like New York City, Detroit and Baltimore focused public attention on “waste, fraud and abuse” in public assistance programs. These crises both reflected and reinforced public anxiety about direct and visible government spending. As one welfare investigating committee concluded in the late 1940s, the “public treasury” should not be a “dependable substitute for frugality, prudence and self denial.”  Most Americans surely would have agreed.

While Americans expressed considerable concern about public spending, by the early 1950s they had also come to expect and even demand that the government defend their economic security and facilitate their upward mobility.To reconcile these demands with widespread antipathy to government spending, lawmakers turned to the tax code. By writing certain exceptions into the tax law – exceptions that applied lower rates to some kinds of income, exempted other income from taxation, or allowed taxpayers to deduct some expenses from their taxable income – lawmakers found they could reduce the tax liabilities of individuals or businesses.

These exceptions are known as tax expenditures, or tax spending.

The term tax expenditure many be unfamiliar to many Americans. But most of us have heard about “loopholes” – a pejorative term for tax spending that benefits the rich or corporations. In the 1970s, a group of progressive activists – many of them veterans of sixties social movements – attempted to foment a popular tax revolt among the middle and working classes by calling attention to how corporations and the rich exploited and manipulated the tax code.

But while these groups were right to call attention to the problem of “tax millionaires” – wealthy individuals who escaped most federal income tax – they ignored the fact that many ordinary taxpayers benefit substantially from tax spending. The most well-known tax expenditure is probably the deduction homeowners can take for interest paid on a home mortgage. By subtracting that interest from their taxable income, homeowners can reduce their taxes significantly. This amounts to a kind of government subsidy to homeowners – the functional equivalent of getting a check from the federal government to offset your housing costs. But few of the millions of Americans that claim this deduction would think of themselves as receiving any kind of public assistance.

Tax spending has become increasingly important over the last few decades. As more and more Americans seem to agree with Ronald Reagan’s conclusion that the government is not a “solution to our problems” but rather the source of them, lawmakers have become especially adept at manipulating the IRC to underwrite social priorities. In 2010, the U.S. government spent $1025 billion through the tax code; that same year, Medicare and Medicaid, by far the most expensive part of the American social welfare state, cost only $729 billion. Much of this tax spending promotes social welfare objectives. According to one study, federal tax spending to promote homeownership and health and retirement security totaled $291 billion in 2010.

The tax code is complicated because people have a vested interest in keeping it complicated. And it’s not just tax lawyers or big business. It’s workers who benefit from the exclusion of employer contribution to health plans, or parents who take the child care tax deduction, or retirees living on money invested 401(k) plan. And unless we figure out some other way to help these workers, parents, and retirees, the tax code is only going to grow longer, and even more complicated.

Molly C. Michelmore is Assistant Professor of History at Washington and Lee University and the author of  “Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics, and the Limits of American Liberalism.”

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Deborah Miranda Co-Edits Book of Fiction by “Two-Spirit” Native Americans

A new book co-edited by Deborah Miranda, associate professor of English at Washington and Lee University, is a finalist for three awards. Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two-Spirit Literature (University of Arizona Press, 2012), which brings together fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry by “two spirit” Native American writers, is not only a finalist in the 2011 ForeWord Book of the Year Awards in the anthology category but is also a finalist in two categories of the Lambda Literary Awards.

“Two-spirit refers to a person who is gender variable,” explained Miranda.”In the English vernacular we might call them gay, although that doesn’t connote the deeply spiritual side of the role. There have always been two-spirited people in many Native American communities and each tribe had its own word for them. At a conference in 1990 a group of Native people came up with two-spirit as a description that was not tribally specific yet indicated the connection between duality and spirituality.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this,” Miranda added. “This is really a landmark collection and is only the second collection of gay native writing since a creative anthology was published in 1988.”

Miranda said that some of the authors in the anthology are very famous writers, including some from Canada and New Zealand. “We interpreted the meaning of indigenous very broadly,” she said, “so the collection is pretty widespread. Most of the writers have never been together in the same anthology, so this is quite an accomplishment.” Miranda’s own tribe is the Esselen tribe around the Carmel, Monterrey and Big Sur area of California.

In a book review, Publishers Weekly described the collection as: “At turns angry and wounded, sexy and joyous, hopeful and wistful, this outstanding anthology belongs on the shelves of all readers interested in contemporary American Indian writing and American LGBTQ topics.”

“Publishers Weekly surprised us with their great review of a collection from such a small writing community,” said Miranda. “We also had a lot of outside support for the book such as funding from a new organization called First People’s New Directions to Indigenous Studies. Also, University of Arizona Press arranged for me to do a signing at the Associated Writers Program this year, which had 20,000 people in attendance. Other co-editors are also doing readings and signings at conferences around North America, which has really increased our visibility.”

Miranda is one of four editors of the book and also contributed two pieces of creative writing. The first is a short story, Coyote Takes a Trip, which the Publishers Weekly review described as a “rollicking modern Coyote tale that puts the trickster’s attraction to a two-spirited man in the historical context of two-spirited people.”

Her second contribution is a short poem. “It’s the last piece in the collection and it’s a very erotic view of eating a clementine,” said Miranda.

In explaining the history of two-spirited people, Miranda pointed out the Spaniards who colonized the coast found two-spirited people up and down the coast in every tribe, usually men dressed as women, who performed as women, did women’s chores, helped raise the children and were partners with other men. “They lived as women and nobody treated them any differently. In fact, they were much sought after as wives because they could work harder,” she said. “There were also women who lived non-standard gender lives but they weren’t as easily noticed by the Spaniards, so they kind of slipped under the radar. The men were much more obvious.”

The Lambda Literary Awards are now in their 24th year and celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2012. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in June in New York at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Miranda received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She is the author of Indian Cartography: Poems (Greenfield Review Press, 1999), and was the winner of the 1997 Diane Decorah Memorial First Book (poetry) from the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas. She is also the author of The Zen of La Llorona (Salt Press, 2005). Her book Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir will be published by HeyDay Press in January 2013.

Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two-Spirit Literature is available at the University Bookstore or find it on their website at http://bookstore.wlu.edu

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

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W&L Senior Camille Cobb Finalist in National Computer Science Competition

At the recent Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference in Raleigh, N.C., Washington and Lee senior Camille Cobb from Huntersville, N.C., was one of five finalists in the student undergraduate research competition.

Cobb, a computer science and physics double major, presented her research Exploring Text-Based Analysis of Test Case Dependencies of Web Applications and was one of five finalists out of 13 undergraduate competitors.

“This is huge,” said Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at W&L. “We’ve never had a student who participated in a research competition at a national level before. It was a tough competition, and the finalists were all very strong. I was so proud of Camille.”

Cobb presented her research, the basis for her senior thesis, in a four-hour poster session and then two days later in a 12-minute power point presentation.

“My research is on how to automatically generate test cases for web applications,” said Cobb. “They are really hard and expensive to test to see if they are working correctly, mostly because they are always changing and there are a lot of things users can do, such as linking to other pages. A group I’m part of in the Computer Science Department at Washington and Lee is using user-session-based testing, which involves letting people use a version of an application, recording what they do and then recycling that information into new test cases.”

Sprenkle explained that the group realized that the model they currently have to generate the test cases does not ensure that the test cases are in a certain order. For example, in an application where professors make quizzes online and students take those quizzes, the model is not taking into consideration that the professor needs to create something before the students can use it. “That’s what Camille is trying to correct,” said Sprenkle.

Cobb plans to attend a Ph.D. program for computer science at the University of Washington after graduation and perhaps pursue a career in academia.

The Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education provides a forum for educators to discuss issues related to the development, implementation and/or evaluation of computing programs, curricula and courses, syllabi, laboratories and other elements of teaching and pedagogy.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

From Banker to Filmmaker

Growing up in Houston, Damian Horan, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2003, thought he wanted to be a filmmaker. Once he got to college, he majored in business administration and chose a safer path by becoming a banker.

Then, according to a feature story in the Houston Chronicle, he had a health scare and reversed field, leaving the world of corporate banking and heading to Los Angeles and film school at the University of Southern California.

For his master’s thesis at USC, Damian created a 20-minute film, “Children of the Air,” which has been winning awards on the film-festival circuit in recent months. It stars Katheryn Winnick (“Love and Other Drugs” & “Bones”) and Travis Van Winkle (“Friday the 13th” and “Transformers”). To see some of those awards and also to find out where the film will be screened next, go to the “Children of the Air” Facebook page.

Since getting his master’s, Damian has been working as a freelance filmmaker and photography director. He has done a number of commercials and music videos, including pieces for the Foo Fighters, Coca-Cola, Sony and Forever 21/Hello Kitty.

Damian is also the director of “Barbarian Days,” a full-length documentary that follows fans of the late writer Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and other characters, on their annual pilgrimage to Cross Plains, Texas, for Howard Days. That film was produced by Grant Gish, a 2004 alumnus of W&L who is currently director of animation development at 20th Century Fox TV.

Talking to the Houston Chronicle back in December, Damian mused on the transition from banking to filmmaking: “I guess the biggest surprise has just been going from project to project. That weekly paycheck you always have to look for — that project that’s going to help pay the rent for the next month. When you are working, it’s not really work. So it’s hard to complain.”

Watch the trailer for “Children of the Air” below:

W&L Senior Wins National Mental-Health Advocacy Award

Lauren Ashley Tipton, a Washington and Lee University senior from Myrtle Beach, S.C., has won the Jed Foundation’s annual Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award.

The award recognizes “a student who is reducing stigma around mental illness, raising awareness of mental health problems on campus, or encouraging help-seeking among his or her peers.”

Tipton will receive a $2,000 cash award, a trip to New York to attend the Jed Foundation’s annual gala in June and a video highlighting her award-winning work, which will be shown during the event.

A neuroscience major who plans to attend medical school and become a psychiatrist, Tipton founded and serves as president of Washington and Lee’s chapter of Active Minds, the organization that supports campus-wide events and national programs to remove the stigma that surrounds mental-health issues.

Under Tipton’s leadership, the W&L chapter grew from a small group to an organization that presented its successes at the Active Minds national conference last year. The group has tackled a variety of topics, ranging from eating disorders to bipolar disorder to depression. They achieved this by using a wide array of programming tactics that included large exhibits in central campus areas, numerous posters, hosting anonymous online story drives, and organizing Mental Health-based panels in which both undergraduates and law students participated.

Tipton was appointed to a four-person task force by the student Executive Committee in 2011 to explore issues of mental health on the W&L campus. Earlier this year, Active Minds raised almost $9,000 through a Walk-a-Thon in support of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

In an essay supporting her application for the Greenspan Awards, Tipton wrote: “I have personally struggled immensely with understanding people’s absolute refusal to acknowledge the stark reality of mental illness because it is ‘too uncomfortable’ or ‘too intense’…. It seems as if students are willing to participate in mental health advocacy and outreach, a catalyst was just needed to forcefully start the conversation on our campus and being a part of that catalyst is the achievement that I am most proud of.”

In addition to her work with Active Minds, Tipton  was recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa; belongs to the Student Recruitment Committee; and chaired public relations and marketing for Chi Omega sorority. She belongs to the Beta Beta Beta Biology honor society and the Psi Chi psychology honor society. W&L named her a General of the Month last October.

The Jed Foundation was founded in 2000 by Donna and Phil Satow after they lost their son Jed to suicide. While trying to learn more about suicide and make sense of their unthinkable loss, the Satows discovered an urgent and unmet need for programming and resources that helped colleges, students and parents recognize and address the signs of emotional distress and suicide.

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

Snagajob Founder Snags Another Award

Shawn Boyer, the founder and CEO of Snagajob, is adding another honor to his résumé today (Tuesday, April 10), when the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business names him its Executive of the Year. Shawn, who graduated from W&L’s School of Law in 1997, will also give a talk, “Leading a Purposeful Life,” at the school’s honor convocation.

Shawn, a former attorney, founded Snagajob in 1999. The company says its mission is “to help hourly workers find jobs they love—and help hourly employers find the best people for their jobs.” Since his company began operations in 2000, Shawn has received other awards: the Virginia Business Person of the Year from Virginia Business magazine, and the National Small Business Person of the Year from the Small Business Association. We wrote about those honors here and here. Further, the Great Place to Work Institute has named Snagajob a Best Small and Medium Company to Work for in America.

After obtaining his undergrad degree from William and Mary and his law diploma from W&L, Shawn practiced law with Brown & Wood L.L.P. (now Sidley Austin L.L.P.) and Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald L.L.P.

Three Recognized as Generals of the Month for April

Washington and Lee University students Austin Branstetter, Claire Oliver and Luke Andersen will be recognized at Generals of the Month on Wednesday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Branstetter, a senior from Nashville, Tenn., is a mathematics major and the recipient of a George Washington Honor Scholarship. He is the president of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Med Honor Society, president of Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society, member of Phi Beta Kappa, member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and winner of The Williams Prize for the junior with the highest G.P.A. in mathematics.

Branstetter also is the chair of the White Book Review Committee, a member of the University Board of Appeals and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. During his junior year he was an S. Cullum Owings Jr. Fellow and during his sophomore and junior years he was on the Key Staff of the W&L Outing Club and a member of the Executive Committee.

Oliver, a junior from Charleston, W. Va., is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in art history. A Johnson Scholar, she is a Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society member and an R.E. Lee Research Grant participant. She is a member of the W&L Residential Life staff, Traveller Safe Ride Program, Active Minds and Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Oliver is a volunteer at the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic, an assistant in the Dean of Students Office and a subcommittee chair of the Fancy Dress Steering Committee. She has been a lab assistant in the Department of Surgery at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Andersen, a senior from Rock Hill, S.C., is an economics major. A Johnson Scholar, he was a Class of 2012 Representative to the EC during his junior year and was a member of the Student-Faculty Hearing Board and copy editor of the Ring-tum Phi during his sophomore year. He was a member of Habitat for Humanity, W&L Campus Kitchen Project and Reformed University Fellowship Ministry.

Andersen is a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society, Traveller Safe Ride Program and the Student Association for International Learning. He was also a peer interviewer for W&L scholarships and a member of First-Year Orientation Committee.

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.

Branstetter, Oliver and Andersen 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.

The last CSS presentation during the 2011-2012 academic year will be held during lunch in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons on May 9.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Jeans Gives Lecture at Marshall Foundation

Roger Jeans, Elizabeth Lewis Otey Professor of East Asian History Emeritus at Washington and Lee University, provided fresh perspectives on George C. Marshall’s famous mission to China in a talk he gave at the George C. Marshall Foundation earlier this month.

For the presentation, Roger drew on his recent book, “The Marshall Mission to China, 1945-1947: The Letters and Diary of Colonel John Hart Caughey” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011), for detailed portraits of the mediation roles of several famous Americans and Chinese as seen through the eyes of Marshall’s executive officer, Col. Caughey.

Roger used Caughey’s letters and diary for a behind-the-scenes view of Marshall’s unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a unified government between the Communist Party of China and the Nationalists. The material also offers intimate glimpses of such major Chinese figures as Chiang Kai-shek, Madame Chiang and Zhou Enlai, along with details of life in China during the Civil War.

Roger taught at Washington and Lee from 1974 until his retirement in 2006. He is the author or editor of numerous books, articles and papers on modern East Asian history. The site of his talk, the George C. Marshall Foundation, is just a few steps from W&L, on the southern end of the VMI campus.

Alum Releases Book about Supreme Court Law Clerks

Timing is everything, and the release of Todd Peppers’ new book about Supreme Court justices and their clerks comes at a time when the court is very much in the headlines.

Peppers, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1990, is a visiting professor of law at W&L and the Henry H. and Trudye H. Fowler Professor of Public Affairs at Roanoke College.

He is co-editor with Artemus Ward, of Northern Illinois University, of “In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices” (University of Virginia Press).

The essays in “In Chambers” are written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians and political scientists. They provide the inside stories of clerking in the Supreme Court. Todd has two original essays in the book, including one based on an interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

According to Todd, “The book focuses on the personal and professional bonds that form between Supreme Court justices and their clerks.  Essayists include former W&L law dean Randy Bezanson (writing on his clerkship with Justice Blackmun), United States Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (writing about his clerkship with Lewis Powell), and Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz (on his clerkship with Arthur Goldberg).  Other justices who are the subject of essays include Horace Gray (the first justice to hire a law clerk), Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, Felix Frankfurter, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and William H. Rehnquist.”

In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of clerking has evolved over time, from the first clerks in the late 1800s to the clerks of Ginsburg and the late Rehnquist.

An Associated Press review of the book in The Washington Post noted: “Without a doubt the best parts of the book are the behind-the-scenes descriptions of life at the court: Justice Hugo Black cooking breakfast for the two clerks that lived with him during the 1953 term, Justice Byron White engaging in in-office golf putting competitions with his clerks, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist putting together NCAA betting pools and taking walks outside the court with his clerks.”

Todd’s 2006 book along the same lines is “Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk” (Stanford University Press).

W&L's George Bent Teaches Leonardo da Vinci in DVD Set

As George Bent has discovered, it’s one thing to prepare to teach a Washington and Lee Spring Term course on Leonardo da Vinci, and it’s quite another to film 36 half-hour lectures as part of The Great Courses program.

Bent, the Sidney Gause Childress Professor in the Arts and department head at W&L, admits that the production of the DVDs for The Great Courses required additional research in order to cover both Leonardo’s personal and professional life within the framework of the political instability of Europe in the late 15th- and early 16th-century, a period known as the High Renaissance.

The Great Courses will publish Bent’s Leonardo DVDs on April 6, 2012, making them available to a wide audience as part of the program’s efforts to meet an increasing demand for lifelong learning. The Great Courses maintains a catalog of more than 390 courses by professors from leading colleges and universities in diverse fields such as philosophy, history, literature, science, and the arts.

Bent was perfectly at home creating the Leonardo course on video.

“Italy was a battleground with French, Spanish, Germans and Swiss marching through the Italian countryside,” said Bent. “They were burning things, taking territory and threatening the people who were spending money on art. Usually, great artistic movements tend to happen in times of relative stability where patrons, audiences and artists feel comfortable spending money on big art projects. So it raises the big question: why are these patrons continuing to expend a lot of energy on art and architecture in the face of these very real threats?

“I tend to take the stand that these dukes, princes and kings were using art and architecture as an arm of diplomacy. They used it to make themselves culturally significant in an effort to carve alliances with other people and make them think Italy was worth protecting and saving. It was pure propaganda and very interesting.”

While Bent does discuss Leonardo’s art in some detail, he pointed out that the artist was not very prolific. “He did only 18 paintings that we know of. And in some regards Leonardo’s influence was minute because he had so few students and kept so few friendships and alliances. So when he died there were only a handful of people who actually tried to copy his style and fewer still who could do it. He was such a gifted draftsman that no one could copy him,” said Bent.

But some of Leonardo’s ideas were appropriated by other artists — compositional motifs, themes of Madonnas and modern portraiture, which Bent said Leonardo invented. “A great example of his influence is that Leonardo was one of the first artists we know of in the early modern period to deal with the theme of erotica,” said Bent. “He painted a picture that is now lost, but that seems to have influenced 16th- century paintings of nudes by Titian and others. So directly, he influenced very few. But indirectly, he influences artists up to this day.”

Much of the lecture series revolves around Leonardo’s scientific drawings, engineering ideas, examinations of the human body and anatomy and his exploration of human flight, to name a few.

“Obviously, Leonardo had a brilliant mind and imagined things that would never come to fruition until the 20th century,” said Bent. “He anticipated a lot of things that we have today, particularly in military science. He was hired as a military engineer by Ludovico Sforza, the future Duke of Milan in 1481 to invent weapons of mass destruction. So he invented the tank, the submarine, the machine gun and the parachute. He also invented this wild giant scythe which rotated as a horseman rode his stallion onto the battle field. It was a machine intended to cut opposing soldiers off at the knees and it was both diabolical and brilliant.”

Bent said that the one thing that held Leonardo back was the lack of the combustion engine. “He didn’t have any way to drive these things with the force that he needed. His designs for the airplane, for example, really form the fundamentals of aeronautic design in the 19th and 20th centuries, but he didn’t have a way to get a human being up into the air and keep him up there,” said Bent.

Bent described Leonardo’s work as representing the single greatest break with the past that history has seen. “Everything that he did, everything that he touched, was a complete departure from the past. That’s what makes him and his period the High Renaissance as opposed to the Early Renaissance,” said Bent.

“He was a completely modern thinker and is very relevant to us today.”

Bent received his B.A. in history from Oberlin College and his M.A. and PhD in history of art from Stanford University.

Further information about The Great Courses can be found at http://www.thegreatcourses.com/

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

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Challenge Gift Made to New Simpson Endowment for Art

Jamie and Alison Small, of Midland, Texas, have made a $100,000 challenge gift to a new endowment fund that Washington and Lee University has established in memory of Pamela Hemenway Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History, who died in October 2011.

The Pamela H. Simpson Endowment for Art will enrich the educational mission of the Department of Art and Art History, including its ability to bring prominent visitors to campus and to support students who visit studios of visiting artists.

Jamie Small, a 1981 Washington and Lee graduate and current president of the Alumni Board of Directors, and his wife, Alison, made their gift to encourage other alumni and friends to support the fund. The Smalls, whose daughter Eileen is a first-year student at W&L, will match gifts on a dollar-to-dollar basis.

“It is important to acknowledge the impact Pam had on the W&L community, including me,” said Small. “Being a geology major, I was not draw to art naturally. After taking one of Pam’s courses as an elective, however, the love of art was nurtured and continues to thrive even 30 years since my graduation. Alison and I want to support the University’s commitment to bringing talented artists and visiting faculty to campus, who add another dimension to the program and will foster a love for art among the student body.”

“The challenge from Jamie and Alison is a wonderful gesture on their part and offers important impetus as we establish this fund in tribute to Pam Simpson,” said Robert Strong, acting provost of the University. “Through the many activities that this fund will support, we will be constantly reminded of Pam’s countless achievements during her 38 years on the W&L faculty.”

Simpson, who was the first female tenure-track professor at W&L and the first female professor to receive an endowed chair, served in numerous roles during her career. She was assistant and associate dean of the College and chair of the Co-Education Steering Committee, which implemented the University’s decision to admit women in the mid-1980s.

An art and architectural historian, she wrote three books, numerous exhibition catalogues, articles in both the academic and popular press, and book reviews. In September 2011, the University established the Pamela H. Simpson Professorship. It will be held by a member of the undergraduate faculty who, like Simpson, exemplifies the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service.

The Smalls’ challenge gift is part of the University’s “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future” campaign, which began publicly in 2010 with a goal of $500,000,000 to be raised by 2015.

To contribute to the Simpson Fund, go to go.wlu.edu/simpsonfund. For additonal information, contact Nancy McIntyre, director of development, at 540-458-8921 or by email to nmcintyre@wlu.edu.

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

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Two New Alumni Books Generating Political Buzz

New books by two Washington and Lee alumni — Jack Goldsmith of the Class of 1984 and Mike Allen of the Class of 1986 — are generating considerable buzz in the media these days, helped out by their authors’ national television appearances on networks ranging from CNN to Comedy Central.

Last night, Jack Goldsmith, the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, published his latest book, “Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11,” which examines how presidential powers have changed in the aftermath of the 9-11 terror attacks. Jack served as assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush Administration and was also special counsel to the general counsel to the Department of Defense.

In an interview Wednesday night on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, Jack said: “Everybody focuses on how powerful the post-9-11 presidency is, and it is powerful. We’ve forgotten, or we haven’t seen, all the different ways in which courts, Congress, the press, human rights organizations, people inside the executive have pushed back against the presidency and changed what he was doing, both in the Bush administration and the Obama administration.”

You can watch the entire “Daily Show” interview online. And you can also read a review of the book in BusinessWeek as well as a piece that Jack wrote on the subject for Slate last month.

Meantime, earlier this week, “Inside the Circus,” the second e-book on the current presidential campaign by Mike Allen, chief political writer for Politico, and Evan Thomas, formerly of Newsweek and now Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, was released. It immediately got considerable media attention for several of its behind-the-scenes stories from the Republican primary campaigns. The first installment in what is to be a three e-book series, “The Right Fights Back,” was published in November. In an interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Mike described the concept of short e-books as “Theodore White in real time,” referring to historian White’s “The Making of the President” books about John F. Kennedy.

Mike was also interviewed by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, and you can watch him and Evan Thomas discuss the new book on Politico’s website. Reviews of “Inside the Circus” are on The Atlantic and TIME websites, among many others.

A Donation of Doors

Two years ago, Lida Steves, now a junior at Washington and Lee, volunteered to help build a house in Rockbridge County as part of the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity.

Lida had a casual conversation about her experience with her father, Sam Steves, back in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Sam Steves happens to know a thing or two about the construction business: He is president of Steves & Sons, Inc., which manufactures and sells wooden doors. Based in Texas, the company has production facilities in San Antonio; Lebanon, Tenn.; and Richmond, Va.

That casual conversation led to the generous donation of interior and exterior doors from Steves & Sons for all the homes that Rockbridge Area Habitat will build in the coming year.  In addition, the Richmond facility has donated surplus doors to the Buena Vista ReStore for sale to the public.

W&L’s Campus Chapter of Habitat partners with Rockbridge Habitat to provide volunteer assistance not only for home-building but also for fund-raising. In 2009, the W&L chapter was one of only seven nationally to receive a State Farm Insurance Companies $5,000 Matching Grant.


W&L's Afshad Irani Co-authors Research on CFO Compensation

A study that investigates the compensation of chief financial officers (CFOs) has found that they are rewarded not only when their firms meet or beat analysts’ earnings forecasts, but that they also receive incremental rewards for managing earnings and/or expectations that allow their firms to meet or just beat those targets.

Afshad Irani, associate professor of accounting at Washington and Lee University’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics was one of three researchers who completed the study “Impact of Job Complexity and Performance on CFO Compensation.” His co-authors are Steven Balsam of Texas University, who led the team, and Jennifer Yin of the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Their research was discussed in a recent blog on CFOWorld.com where it was called “a groundbreaking paper.” The paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Accounting Horizons.

Irani said that while the compensation of chief executive officers (CEOs) has been thoroughly researched, CFO compensation has not. This study tracked 2,107 CFOs working for 1,477 companies over a 13-year period.

“When firms hold conference calls with analysts, it is both the CEO and the CFO, and many times just the CFO, answering questions regarding the financial aspects of the firm,” said Irani, explaining the researchers’ focus on CFO salaries. “In addition, both the CEO and the CFO are required by law to sign off on financial reports, stating that they fairly represent the financial position of the company as far as they know. Also, in 2006 the Securities and Exchange Commission started to require that firms report both CEO and CFO salaries, plus three others who are highly paid.”

The study initially found that, not surprisingly, CFOs are rewarded with bonuses for meeting or beating market expectation. But, Irani said, they took their research one step further and looked at firms whose earnings were either equal to market expectation or beat it by one cent or less to determine whether or not that had an impact on CFO compensation.

“We found that in those cases, the CFOs received even higher bonuses if they either managed the analysts’ forecast downward or if they managed earnings expectations upwards,” said Irani. In fact, the bonuses for those CFOs who used these methods to achieve a “small beat” were 42 percent higher than for CFOs in companies that failed to meet expectations.

Irani acknowledged that managing earnings and/or market expectations is not necessarily bad. “The stock market doesn’t like surprises and would prefer that firms report a nice increasing trend in earnings. That’s the ideal world,” he said. “So as long as it is kept within limits, it is not bad when CFOs use such tactics to smooth out fluctuations in earnings. But at the same time, once you take it outside acceptable limits, which are subjective, and start hiding things then it becomes a problem and you get fraud cases and investor confidence begins to diminish.”

The study also concluded that CFOs were paid more based on the relative complexities of their job. Complexity was measured by the size of the firm, how many analysts were following the firm, and whether the firm issued debt or equity or was involved in mergers and acquisitions activity.

Irani joined the Washington and Lee faculty in 2010 after 12 years at the University of New Hampshire, where he served as academic director of the Master of Science in Accounting Program. He received his bachelor’s degree from The College of Wooster in Ohio and his Ph.D. from Penn State.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Recent Alumnus Wins California Legal Honors

Congratulations to Christopher L. Martin, a 2009 graduate of Washington and Lee, on two recent awards he’s received while attending law school at the University of California at Berkeley.

Last fall, he won the fourth annual Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing at Berkeley Law. CEB, a joint committee of the University of California and the State Bar of California, established the award to honor Berkeley Law students who demonstrate outstanding performance in the First-Year Skills Program.

Then, last month, Latham & Watkins L.L.P., a Los Angeles-based law firm, named Chris one of its six Diversity Scholars for the current academic year, awarding him a $10,000 scholarship.

At Berkeley, Chris is a member of the California Law Review and the Berkeley Law Queer Caucus. He recently served as an extern for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland, where he drafted orders regarding civil rights actions and matters involving homeowner mortgage defaults.

Ph.D. Student Writes Novels for Varied Audiences

By day, Sybil Nelson, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2001, is a Ph.D. student in biostatistics at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston. She’s got another identity, too: as the creator of Priscilla the Great, “an ordinary seventh grader with extraordinary gifts” and the heroine of her novels for middle schoolers. If that weren’t enough, she’s also the author of nine more novels for adults and young adults under the name Leslie Dubois.

Last week, the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier published an excellent feature story about Sybil and her writing. After graduating from W&L, Sybil worked as a math teacher at Georgetown Day School, in Washington. It was there, she says, that she began to get back to her writing and started making notes about stories.

Then she moved to Charleston and taught math at Ashley Hall School while getting her master’s in math at the College of Charleston. That was when she wrote her first book, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” under the Dubois pen name.

While Sybil was teaching at Ashley Hall and writing several other books as Leslie Dubois, she found inspiration for the character of Priscilla the Great from two of her students. She’s now written four books in the series, plus a collection of short stories, and has a fifth Priscilla book due out later this year.

As the Post and Courier reports, Sybil gives a talk called “Poverty to Ph.D.” at schools in the Charleston area, relating her story of being raised in Florida and then Washington by a single mother who urged her to read. As she said in the interview:

I think the system is broken. But until it gets fixed, I’m the one who has to take the steps and get to where I want to be. When I give talks, I say there’s no excuse. You know where a library is. You go, you read, you figure out how to get from A to B, because someone else might not do it for you.

You can learn more about Sybil’s writing at her website, SybilNelson.com, which includes a blog that provides tips for other authors on how to publish and market their books.

UNC Professor to Deliver Hoyt Lecture in Classics

Richard J. A. Talbert, the William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will deliver the Hoyt Lecture in Classics at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

The title of the talk, which is free and open to the public, is “The Magnificent Peutinger Map: Roman Cartography at its Most Creative.”

Romans, more than any other ancient people, came to realize that maps are not mere factual records, but also value-laden documents. Then, as now, maps could even be designed to promote and reinforce values, from peace and civilization to unashamed pride in conquest and entitlement to world rule.

Calling on newer, more sensitive scholarly approaches to interpreting the cartographic products of pre-modern societies, Talbert looks at Roman cartographic practice, reconsidering the thinking behind the immense marble plan of the city of Rome and exposing powerful meaning and purpose in the so-called Peutinger Map, an elongated, astonishingly rich, Roman world map.

Talbert constructs a compelling fresh context for this underrated masterpiece (which is 22 ft. long), identifying its creation as a pivotal moment in Western cartography, an inspirational awakening with a long-term cultural impact that would influence Christian mapmaking through to the Renaissance.

Talbert received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
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Rudy Giuliani to Speak at W&L on April 9

Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City when the Sept. 11 attacks hit the World Trade Tower, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel. The title of his talk is “Principled Leadership: In the Face of Change and Crisis.” The CONTACT Committee is sponsoring Giuliani’s talk.

The talk is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Tickets will be available in Elrod Commons on the W&L campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Wednesday, April 4, through Friday, April 6. The doors open at 6:15 p.m. Ticket holders will need to be seated by 7:15 p.m. at which time whatever seating is left, if any, will become available.

Giuliani served in the U.S Attorney’s Office from 1983 to 1989, for the Southern District of New York, eventually becoming U.S. Attorney. He prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including ones against organized crime and Wall Street financiers.

Giuliani served two terms as mayor of New York City and was credited with initiating improvements and reducing crime. He ran for the United States Senate in 2000 but withdrew for health and personal reasons. Giuliani gained international attention for his leadership during and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. For those actions, he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.

After leaving office as mayor, Giuliani founded Giuliani Partners, a security consulting business firm and then joined the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm, which changed its name when he became a partner. Giuliani ran for the Republican Party nomination in the 2008 United States presidential election. After leading in national polls for much of 2007, his candidacy faltered late in that year, and he withdrew from the race.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Novelist McCann Pays Tribute to Tom Wolfe at W&L (Audio/Video)

In his keynote address to Washington and Lee University’s annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar on Friday, March 30, in Lee Chapel, award-winning novelist Colum McCann said that the beauty of literature is its ability to last.

“The word ‘fiction’ comes from the Latin ‘to shape.’ Fiction doesn’t lie; fiction shapes things,” McCann said. “Literature reveals a truth that the world so often obscures or wants to obscure.”


The theme of the annual Wolfe Seminar was “Knowing the World Through the Art of Fiction.” 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, and a short-listing for the International Impac Award, as well as a 2011 literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Born in Ireland as the son of a newspaper editor, McCann said that “we get our voice from the voices of others,” adding that much of his voice came from his father and also from the work of Tom Wolfe, the 1951 Washington and Lee alumnus for whom the seminar series is named.

How we live, McCann said, is governed by how we tell stories. “We all tell stories in different ways or for different reasons,” he said. “We tell stories for people to fall in love with us. We tell stories for people to give us money. We tell stories to our children so that they might go to sleep at night. We tell stories to other children so that they go to war. There are so many reasons to tell stories. When we enter the world of storytelling, we enter the most stunning democracy that we have, because everyone has a story, and everybody has a deep need to tell a story.”

McCann, who teaches in the creative writing program at New York’s Hunter College, said that his first lesson is that you don’t write what you know. Instead, he said, you write “towards what you want to know.

“It seems to me that Tom Wolfe has spent his whole writing life writing towards what he wants to know In the most majestic and perfect manner,” he said. “It’s been a lesson for everybody who has come up and been influenced and been drafting behind him.”

In the process of writing toward what you want to know, “you learn things that you knew but weren’t entirely conscious of in the first place.

“Ultimately, it’s philosophically impossible to write what you don’t know,” he added. “But in the leap of writing about what you supposedly don’t know, you learn things that were there, that are written so deep in our DNA. We all have access to it.”

When we read a good book, McCann said, we recognize those characters and somehow empathize with them.

“One of the beautiful things to me about literature is that you can feel such hurt: you can cry, you can laugh, you can weep and you don’t come out with scars the next day. And you don’t have the hangover or you don’t have the bills to pay,” he said. “The beautiful thing about literature and the art of becoming ‘other’ is the consequence you can bring to other people’s lives.”

Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 sponsors the Wolfe Seminar in honor of its classmate. Wolfe introduced McCann, saying that McCann “is such a delight to discover in an arid period like this of the American novel.”

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

W&L Veggie Brigades Descend on Rockbridge County Schools

Cole Snyder, a first grader at Mountain View Elementary School, carefully picked out a selection of fruit and vegetables to try. “I’ve got carrot, cucumber, a blueberry and a grape, but I don’t know what that is,” he said, pointing to a yellow pepper. “I’ve never tried it before.”

Snyder was one of the many students selecting fruits and vegetables provided by the Veggie Brigade on March 22 at Mountain View Elementary School. The program is a partnership between Let’s Move Lexington and Bonner Scholars from Washington and Lee University, a leadership development program for students with an interest in service and civic engagement.

The organizers aim to introduce students at four Rockbridge County schools to different fruits and vegetables. The Veggie Brigade has also visited Natural Bridge Elementary School and Fairfield Elementary, with the final event planned for Central Elementary on April 5.

“It’s a lead-up to Rockbridge Fun Day on April 28 at Rockbridge County High School,” explained Ellie Stoops, a Bonner Scholar, adding that the Fun Day is a free community event to celebrate health and healthy lifestyle choices in the community. “There are four or five Bonner Scholars doing the Veggie Brigades, and we’re in a group that focuses on childhood nutrition, so it was a good fit for us. I think the kids really enjoy it and they get to try foods they haven’t tried before.”

For each food item a student selected they were given a bead of corresponding color to create a bracelet.

“The beads are an attempt to get the students more excited about fruits and vegetables,” said Stephanie Furlong, an Americorps VISTA member who volunteers with Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee, one of 17 local agencies supported by the United Way of Rockbridge. “If they eat a cherry tomato they get a red bead, an orange bead for a carrot, a green bead for cucumber and so on. If they eat them all they’ll have a whole rainbow on their bracelet.”

Meanwhile, Snyder sat down to try his selection of food. “Yuck!” to the cucumber. “No way!” to the yellow pepper. But “Good!” to the grape and the blueberry.

“I’m just thrilled,” said his mother Wendy Snyder, who was eating lunch with her son that day. “I’m trying to convince him to eat well and have exposure to fruit and vegetables.”

Further information about Rockbridge Fun Day can be found at   http://www.lexingtonva.gov/letsmove.htm

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director