Feature Stories Campus Events

Suzanne Keen Named Co-Editor of Prestigious Journal

You might think Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English, would feel her schedule these days is quite full enough, what with her July 1 appointment as the interim dean of the College. But when an esteemed scholarly journal asked her to serve as a co-editor, she couldn’t say no.

Contemporary Women’s Writing “critically assesses writing by women authors who have published approximately from 1970 to the present” and reflects “retrospectively on developments throughout the period, to survey the variety of contemporary work, and to anticipate the new and provocative in women’s writing.”

It is published by Oxford Journals, which is part of Oxford University Press. Suzanne’s new endeavor, which enjoys a worldwide readership, won the Best New Journal award in 2009 from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. And it is healthy enough to have recently increased its publication from two to three times a year and boosted the number of pages.

In announcing Suzanne’s appointment, Susan Stanford Friedman, the director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “We are very fortunate to have Suzanne Keen and Emma Parker as the new co-editors; together, they have extensive experience and a great commitment to women’s writing.” Her co-editor is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom.

Recent W&L Graduate Receives Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Nico Gioioso of Baltimore, Md., a 2012 graduate of Washington and Lee University, recently received a U.S. English language teaching assistantship to Austria for the 2012-2013 academic year.

While at W&L, Gioioso was a Johnson Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was president of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He was also a member of English for Speakers of Other Languages, was a member of Kathekon, was a DJ for WLUR and acted for Generalprobe (German Department theater productions). Gioioso was a double major in economics and Spanish.

“During my academic career at W&L, I tried to expand my focus beyond the U.S. borders,” said Gioioso. “I got a taste of the German and Austrian cultures when I went abroad my freshman spring term, and had a very different experience when I spent two summers down in Argentina.

“It’s the type of experience for which only W&L could have prepared me, and hopefully I can inspire other young people to take advantage of the type of opportunities that put you out of your comfort zone.”

According to the website about the U.S. English language teaching assistantships to Austria, “U.S. teaching assistants not only enhance the instruction of English from a linguistic perspective; they are also valuable resources for first-hand information about the ‘American way of life’ and representatives of the United States.”

W&L's Kester Leads Workshop in China on Case Method of Teaching

George Kester, the Martel Professor of Finance in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics at Washington and Lee University, recently returned from leading a workshop on the case method of teaching at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT) in China. Participating faculty were from various business disciplines.

After discussing an assigned case study that faculty participants read and analyzed beforehand, the workshop topics included course design, different approaches to teaching cases, case sequencing, grading, and the use of group projects.

Kester uses the case method of teaching in his finance classes at W&L. Instead of relying on lectures and text books, the case method uses cases that describe problems faced by businesses, giving students the information that management had at the time they had to make a decision. “Most business decisions involve the future, so there’s a lot uncertainty,” said Kester. “You never have all the information you need. These are unstructured problems and very different from what might be presented in a text book.”

Kester said that for most of his teaching career he has been a proponent of  the case method of teaching, which was popularized by the Harvard Business School. “It’s a bit more unusual to teach cases to undergraduates,” he said. “My argument in favor of using cases is that undergraduates have very little business experience or exposure to companies. Students can learn models, theories and concepts, but it’s very difficult for them to understand how they relate in the real world of business. I think cases place specific topics in their broader business context.”

According to Kester, SIFT had expressed an interest in learning how the case method can help students develop analytical and decision-making skills in ways that may not result from the lecture method of instruction that is prevalent in China. “They were especially interested in ways to improve the participation of students in classroom discussions, which is essential for the success of the case method,” said Kester.

While at SIFT, Kester also presented a research paper to the faculty and led a one-day seminar for undergraduates on “Financial Analysis, Forecasting and Decision-Making.”

Kester has led teaching workshops at other universities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States and has authored cases and articles on the case method of teaching. In 2011 he received a competitive paper award from the Financial Education Association Conference for his paper “Reflections on Thirty Years of Using the Case Method to Teach Finance.”

Kester received his B.B.A from Wake Forest University, his M.B.A from the University of North Carolina and his D.B.A from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He joined the faculty at Washington and Lee in 2000.

W&L Senior Honored by Sodexo Foundation

Kathryn Marsh-Soloway, a Washington and Lee senior from Woodbridge, Conn., has been named the Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Regional Honoree by the Sodexo Foundation for her work on hunger issues, including with the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee.

Kathryn is majoring in art history and business administration with minors in museum studies and poverty studies. She is a Bonner Scholar and was a team captain of the Nabors Spring Service Day 2010. She has been a member of the Campus Kitchen Student Leadership Team and active in the Campus Kitchen Backpack Snack Program. She was named a General of the Month in January 2011.

The Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship is named for Sodexo Foundation’s founder and former president, who was devoted to ending hunger. To date, Sodexo Foundation has recognized 90 such honorees with grants totaling $90,000 for their hunger-relief charities. In addition, it has awarded 30 students with $260,000 in scholarships and matching grants for the hunger-relief charities of their choice.


Social Media Amplified Errors in Supreme Court Coverage, Say W&L Journalism Professors

Pamela Luecke knows all about journalists’ need to be first with the news.

For Luecke, head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University, the misreporting on Thursday by both Fox News and CNN of the landmark Supreme Court decision on the health-care law was neither new nor unusual.

What has changed, in her view, is the megaphone effect that caused those two reports to go farther, faster, on the wings of social media.

“I can remember instances in my own career where we occasionally advanced something that we ought not to have advanced,” said Luecke, former editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald. “Trying to get things first is a time-honored tradition in news. Occasionally screwing up is also a time-honored tradition.

“But being wrong, whether you’re first or last, still erodes the credibility of any news organization. Just because it happens, it shouldn’t be acceptable.”

In this instance, Fox News and CNN both reported in the first minutes after the decision was made public that the court had struck down the individual mandate at the heart of the health-care law.  Headlines on the TV screens and websites of both organizations were unequivocal.

• Read W&L journalism professor Toni Locy’s perspective

As their reporters and producers read through the court’s finding more carefully, both Fox and CNN had to backtrack and correct. CNN eventually issued an apology for the error.

“It used to be that the prime directive for professionals in an intensively competitive industry was, ‘Get it first, but first get it right,'” added Brian Richardson, the Redenbaugh Term Professor in Journalism at W&L. “Now, with cable news networks leading the charge, it’s “Get it first, and then, maybe, get it right. If we screw it up, we can fix it later. Most people will probably still be watching.'”

The role of social media was especially noticeable when the two erroneous reports were tweeted and re-tweeted in the minutes between the first reports and the eventual correction.

“I think social media does make it far more tempting to get things out without any reflection or even a pause to consider what is being reported,” Luecke said. “That megaphone effect causes an untruth to be heard all around the world in seconds. That simply wouldn’t have been the case in the past.”

In addition, she thinks that consumers of news may have lowered their standards for accuracy in the social media age, too.

“I think many come to believe that, ‘Oh, well, this may be wrong this second, but over time we’ll get the truth.’ Among the young generation, in particular, there seems to be more tolerance for being ‘close to the truth.'”

Luecke added that the opinions rendered by the Supreme Court are especially dangerous when it comes to quick interpretation and reporting.

“I understand the intense interest in having it first, but it’s almost impossible for a mortal to absorb that much information, synthesize it and present a cogent headline that quickly,” Luecke said.

Richardson, who teaches basic reporting classes, was clear about the way he’d grade the efforts of CNN and Fox.

“When one of my reporting students makes a fact error in a story, she gets an ‘F.'” said Richardson. “I get some flak for that policy, even from a few of my colleagues. But you know what? Too bad. Democracy is poorly served — or not at all — when we don’t put audiences first by making sure we’re right.”

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

Jack the Jackalope and Emily Ecton '92

A jackalope named Jack that sports weapons-grade antlers is the central figure in a new novel published this spring by Washington and Lee alumna Emily Ecton, of the Class of 1992.

“Project Jackalope” is Emily’s fourth book for middle schoolers, though she’s aimed this one at a slightly older audience than her first three novels — a series featuring Arlie and Ty. With her latest effort, Emily mixes mad scientists and espionage to spin a thriller that she described as “just-scary-enough, but not wake-you-up-at-3am-scary” in an interview in TimeOut Chicago Kids.

A theater major at W&L, she earned a master’s degree from Northwestern in playwriting. One of her plays, “Reign of Tara,” was presented in a reading as part of the Flournoy Playwright Festival at Washington and Lee in November 2003. “Reign of Tara” also was a semifinalist in the Chesterfield Film Company’s Writer’s Film Project and a finalist in the McLaren Memorial Playwriting Competition.

Emily’s day job is assistant producer for the popular National Public Radio program, “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” In fact, her research for that quiz show comes in handy, having led her to some of the bizarre-but-true technology she cites in the novel — things like The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) or the One Way Invisible Self-Healing Shoot-Through Shields, among others. You can learn about these and other such weird devices on Emily’s website.

Asked to provide her previous occupations on her Simon & Schuster “Author Revealed” page, Emily writes: “I’ve scooped ice cream, written plays, been a costume character, wrangled chinchillas, worked as a production assistant and answered questions from cranky people about public television.”

Jay Turner '95 Publishes First Book

James Morton Turner, a 1995 graduate of Washington and Lee who is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College, has published his first book, “The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964” (University of Washington Press).

Jay explores how the idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands in the decades since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. According to Jay’s Wellesley website, he wanted to examine two questions: “How have debates over the public lands affected modern environmental politics and how have debates over environmental reform affected American politics more broadly?”

Jay received a B.S. in independent studies (neuroscience) from W&L and then went to Brown University, where he earned a master’s in American civilization. Next he went to Princeton, where he earned both a Ph.D. in history (concentrating on the history of science) and a Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He joined the faculty in environmental sciences at Wellesley in 2006 and teaches courses in U.S. environmental history and U.S. environmental politics, among others.

According to his website, for his next project, Jay will examine the environmental history of batteries. “Today, batteries are seen as crucial to a wide range of sustainable technologies, such as electric automobiles and renewable energy.  But batteries have a long history as an enabling technology, making possible the systems of transportation and communication that transformed society in the twentieth century. By focusing on the history of this ubiquitous consumer product, this project reframes the social and environmental costs of the modern consumer economy and raises questions about the role of technological innovation in environmental sustainability.”

In the short video interview below, Jay discusses his new book:

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LinkedIn's Most Connected Woman

To say that Stacy Donovan Zapar is plugged into the world of social media is to understate the matter considerably.

After working as a recruiter for a number of Fortune 500 tech companies, Stacy, a 1995 graduate of Washington and Lee, has her own firm that specializes in social media recruiting. So she clearly has a good reason to be connected. But there’s connected and then there’s Stacy, who bills herself as the most connected woman on LinkedIn, the popular professional social-networking platform.

Stacy reached 30,000+ first-level connections three years ago, and she blogs and speaks frequently on LinkedIn topics. For instance, just last week she was cited on Huffington Post in a feature about the nine things you should never do on LinkedIn. In this case, she was offering advice on what photographs not to use as your LinkedIn avatar. (Hint: Your avatar shouldn’t be too sexy, too juvenile or too showy, among other things.)

When LinkedIn had 6.5 million of its users’ passwords leaked on the Web earlier this month, Stacy was among the victims. She quickly posted advice about passwords, not only for LinkedIn but for all your social media sites.

LinkedIn is not the only social media tool that Stacy uses. She has a well-read blog where she writes about various social media issues, mostly as they relate to recruiting.

She is also active on Twitter @StacyZapar and has 11,248 followers. You can follow her at @StacyZapar.

Saluting Rich Murray '71

Friday (June 22) marks the end of a storied career at the University of Virginia, where Washington and Lee alumnus Rich Murray, of the Class of 1971, retires after 29 years promoting Cavalier athletic programs, and especially its basketball teams.

A journalism major at W&L, Rich was news director of WAYB radio in Waynesboro, Va., right out of college, but soon joined James Madison University as that school’s sports information director. He became JMU’s public information director in 1975 and then joined U.Va. as the SID in 1983.

Through a calm, gentlemanly demeanor in all his interactions with what could sometimes be hostile interactions with media, Rich became one of the most respected professionals in the field.

In recent days, two Virginia newspaper columnists — Whitey Reid of the (Charlottesville) Daily Progress and David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press — have praised him.

Wrote Reid: “The thing I grew to respect most about Rich was his professionalism. Never heard him curse once or really raise his voice in my entire time with him—no matter how boiling on the inside he may have been.”

Added Teel, who was a JMU student when Rich worked there: “Sports information is a thankless gig. Coaches want publicity, all of it glowing. Media want access, all of it exclusive. Rich balanced those conflicting worlds with grace, humor and energy.”

Teel’s column included words of praise from former U.Va. basketball coaches Terry Holland (“They don’t make them like Mr. Murray anymore, and the ‘class’ with which he did his job will be sorely missed.”) and Jeff Jones (“He’s the epitome of old-school values. Honesty, integrity, hard work, and he never compromised those principles.”)

His peers have also recognized Rich’s excellence and, in 2007,  the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association (VaSID) named a scholarship in his honor — the Rich Murray Scholarship for Sports Journalism is presented annually by VaSID to a Virginia high school student who excels in the area of sports journalism.

Cavalier athletics won’t be the same without him. Congratulations, Rich.

Endowment Established at W&L in Honor of I-Hsiung Ju

The family of I-Hsiung Ju, the award-winning professor of art and artist-in-residence emeritus at Washington and Lee University, has established an endowment for traditional Chinese art studies in his honor with an initial gift of $50,000.

Ju died in March. He had taught and served as artist-in-residence at W&L from 1969 until his retirement in 1989. An extremely popular professor, he was named Professor of the Year by the Ring-tum Phi, Washington and Lee’s student newspaper, in 1971, and won several other awards for his teaching.

There will be a memorial exhibition of Ju’s work at The Princeton Art Gallery in Princeton, N.J., from July 1 through July 15. Paintings at the exhibition will be on sale, with proceeds benefiting the endowment.

A memorial service will be held on July 7 at 2 p.m. at All Saints Church in Princeton, where Ju established his studio after relocating from Lexington in 2002.

The I-Hsiung Ju Endowment for Traditional Chinese Art Studies will provide funds to continue Ju’s legacy of nurturing and encouraging the study of traditional Chinese art, art history, and language and literature among Washington and Lee students.  The dean of the College will administer the endowment in cooperation with the Departments of Art and Art History and East Asian Language and Literature.

The ultimate goal of the endowment will be to offer multiple and varied opportunities for our students to explore and study the artistic expressions related to the literati culture of the Chinese past.

The preferred use of income from the endowment will support students who travel to China or Taiwan to study traditional Chinese art and culture, with special attention given to learning the practice or history of traditional Chinese brush painting and calligraphy in either a University-approved program or as an apprentice to an artist.    The endowment will be flexible enough to allow other uses on and off campus related to Chinese artistic expression.

For information about the endowment, contact Nancy McIntyre, director of development for the College, at (540) 458-8291 or nmcintyre@wlu.edu.

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

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Virginia Governor's Language Academies Begin at W&L

Washington and Lee University will host three Virginia Governor’s Language Academies this summer with 165 of the Commonwealth’s top high school language students coming to campus for a three week full-immersion residential program beginning June 23 and continuing through July 14.

After hosting a successful French Academy last summer, the German and Spanish academies have been added for this year. Dick Kuettner, professor in the Romance Languages Department and Teacher Education Program at W&L, will coordinate all three academies.

Over the course of three weeks, students from across the state will be permitted to speak, read and write in only their target languages. To achieve this goal, students will take classes, complete cultural projects and investigations, learn about each language’s artistic and musical base and go on field trips related to the languages’ history, culture and relations with the United States.

The full-immersion experience will apply to residential life as well, as students will have access to reading and listening material in only their target languages.

The participants will utilize W&L’s facilities and resources — classrooms, computer labs, art studios, theaters and sports fields — to interact in their respective languages and improve their oral and written communication.

The inclusion of the Spanish and German Governors’ academies at W&L comes from the success of the French academy in 2011 when the University welcomed 60 students from across the state for an intensive experience in the French. Kuettner and W&L received praise from the Virginia Department of Education and academy attendees last year, and W&L has been selected to host all three academies through the summer of 2016.

Kuettner said, “W&L is pleased to have been chosen to host the language academies again this year. As members of the Virginia Governor’s Language Academies for 2012, the students will have many opportunities to encounter competitiveness, challenges and serenity, while achieving the many goals and objectives established by the superior faculty and staff.”

The Governor’s Foreign Language Academies were originated in 1986 by the Virginia Board of Education with the aim of providing an exemplary experience in foreign language education. Beginning with a French Academy, the program’s early conception also included Governor’s Foreign Language Academies in Asian Studies, German, Latin, Russian Studies and Spanish.

Washington and Lee Names New Elrod Fellows

Washington and Lee University’s Shepherd Poverty Program has named six members of the Class of 2012 to John and Mimi Elrod Fellowships.

The fellowship gives recent W&L graduates the opportunity to develop a lifelong commitment to civic engagement and to prepare for civic leadership. The competitive program connects young alumni with innovative public service organizations that address poverty and significant social issues in the fields of health care, law, education, economic development and housing.

In terms of one or two years with partner organizations, Elrod Fellows acquire valuable professional skills and connections while working on significant public interest issues.

Washington and Lee alumni in Baltimore, Houston and Washington, D.C., are key to the Elrod Fellowship program, developing and maintaining relationships with partner organizations who hire program fellows. They also assign mentors to fellows and hold a speaker series that enriches the fellowship experience.

The new Elrod Fellows and their assignments:

  • Dory Blackey is an English major and art minor from Versailles, Ky. She will work with YES College Preparatory School in Houston.
  • Emily Leary is a psychology and global politics double major and a poverty studies minor from Loveland, Ohio. She will work with Pathways to Housing DC in Washington, D.C.
  • Catherine McColloch is an economics major and poverty studies minor from Dallas. She will work with KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in Houston.
  • Alex Shabo is a psychology and business administration double major from Hingham, Mass. She will work for BUILD in Washington, D.C.
  • Jordan Wilson is a global politics major and poverty studies minor from Midlothian, Va. He will work for the Democratic Governors Association in Washington, D.C.
  • Shiri Yadlin is a religion major and a poverty studies minor from Irvine, Calif. She will work at Pathways to Housing DC in Washington, D.C. Yadlin’s fellowship has been deferred a year, since she has won a U.S. teaching assistantship in Austria for the 2012-13 academic year.

Since Washington and Lee began its Elrod Fellowship program in 2005, nearly 30 Elrod Fellows have been placed with organizations in New York, Baltimore, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The Elrod Fellowship is based on the model established by the Princeton Alumni Corps (formerly Princeton Project 55) and other affiliates of The Alumni Network (TAN), a consortium of alumni-driven public interest organizations at institutions including Washington and Lee University, Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Bucknell, Stanford and the University of Virginia. Association with TAN offers Elrod Fellows access to a broader pool of opportunities and a network of like-minded fellows.

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

W&L's Kolman Selected as AP Music Theory Reader

Barry A. Kolman, professor of music at Washington and Lee, was selected to participate in the College Board’s Annual AP Reading in Music Theory. Each June, AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world gather in the United States to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams.

AP Readers are high school and college educators who represent many of the finest academic institutions in the world. “The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and College Readiness at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Dr. Kolman.”

The Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both — while still in high school.

At W&L, Kolman conducts the 65-piece University Wind Ensemble and the 

W&L's Kahn Participates in Rio+20 Summit

Washington and Lee University economics professor Jim Kahn participated in the parallel scientific sessions of the Rio+20 United Nations Environmental Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June.

Kahn, the John F. Hendon Professor of Economics at W&L, presented the results of joint research between Washington and Lee University and the Federal University of Amazonas in the parallel session sponsored by the International Society of Ecological Economics.

The first paper was about the economic, environmental and social consequences of planned hyrdoelectric facilities in the Amazon watershed. Carlos Freitas, Miguel Petrere and Naziano Fizola are co-authors on this paper.

The second paper looked at ecological and economic modeling of sustainable development in a highly intact area of the Amazon watershed. Carlos Frietas, Larry Hurd and Alexandre Rivas were co-authors of this work.

Kahn also participated in a workshop sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology which looked at economic, engineering and environmental issues involving rare earth elements, a critical component of wind turbines and electric cars.

Travels with Moron?

When Ben Long, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2007, won a prestigious Watson Fellowship in his senior year, the title of his year-long project was “Bovine Bonanza: The Changing Face of Cattle Farming.” He planned to explore how that agricultural pursuit is being transformed around the world. If his entire year resembled the opening few days, it proved more than fascinating.

Earlier this month, Intelligent Travel, a blog on the National Geographic website, published a two-part essay by Ben,  “Travels with Moron,” about how he became a traveler during those first few days in Tanzania, where he had gone to learn about the Maasai cattle culture.

He describes his arrival in Arusha and how he connected with a Maasai guide, Moses, who led him deep into the bush, where he wound up at a Maasai wedding, drinking moonshine and donating two cases of Coca-Cola. Really. And that’s only part of his story.

The moron reference? You’ll have to read the essay to find out what that was all about — it will be worth your while.

And you should also explore Ben’s wonderful photography from his trip on his Flickr page. It features images from India, Argentina, Australia, Namibia, South Africa and Malawi, as well as Tanzania.

The Last Great Ape

David McDannald, a 1994 alumnus of Washington and Lee, is the co-author of a fascinating new book, “The Last Great Ape: A Journey Through Africa and a Fight for the Heart of the Continent.”

Dave co-wrote the book, which is published by Pegasus, with Ofir Drori, a former Israeli military officer and founder of an organization called LAGA (for Last Great Ape), the first Wildlife Law Enforcement NGO in Africa. According to its website, LAGA was created because “the survival of Africa’s great apes demanded urgent action.” The organization focuses on bringing to justice dealers in the illegal bushmeat business, the ivory trade and the pet trade.

Dave lives on a West Texas ranch, where he not only tends cattle but also writes both fiction and non-fiction. He has recently published a short story in TriQuarterly and has had articles in Sierra Magazine and North Dakota Quarterly. A piece he co-authored with Ofir is in the Huffington Post.

He has also traveled in South America and Africa. He was on a trip to Kenya in 2000 when he met Ofir, and they became fast friends.

The book has been described as “a call-to-action memoir.” It recounts Ofir’s often harrowing adventures on behalf of the endangered animals, including his rescue of a baby chimp called Future from poachers who had slaughtered the chimp’s family and tied him up in a kitchen.

You can listen to a Voice of America interview with Ofir from earlier this year on the VOA website, and you can read more about the book on the website, The Last Great Ape: Adventure, Activism & The Book. One of the features there is the trailer for a documentary on Ofir that is being produced by Dave’s brother, Mark McDannald, a member of the W&L Class of 1997. You can watch the trailer on YouTube.

Sanborn '01 Wins VMI Teaching Award

Howard Sanborn, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2001, has been recognized for outstanding teaching at Virginia Military Institute, which awarded him the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.

Howard is an assistant professor of international studies and political science at VMI. He holds his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Iowa. Howard’s research focuses on the development and support of democratic institutions in East Asia, specifically China and Taiwan.

In the current issue of VMI’s Institute Report (page 7), Col. Jim Hentz, head of the VMI international studies department, described Howard’s work with cadets outside the classroom as “quickly becoming legend.” Col. Hentz went on to note that Howard “has taken cadets on day trips to the State Department, the Brookings Institution, the CIA, Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian.”

Howard has also taken VMI cadets on trips to China, and said “it was almost like taking kids to Disney World. They’re discovering a lot of different aspects of the Chinese culture and government for the first time.”

He told the Institute Report that he models his teaching on his own experiences as a W&L undergraduate: “I remember really responding to the classes where the professor was very passionate, we were reading really challenging stuff, and we were pushed a lot. I try to do a lot of that in my classes.  They’re reading cutting edge research and they’re doing a lot of hands-on site visits.”

Hobbs Attends AAMG Seminar

Patricia Hobbs, associate director/curator of  University Collections of Art and History at Washington and Lee, is one of only 32 academic museum and gallery leaders from throughout the United States attending the inaugural Leadership Seminar of the Association of Academic Museums and Gallery (AAMG). She will be the only person from Virginia to attend the event. AAMG is the leading educational and professional organization for academic museums, galleries, and collections.

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W&L's Beckley Discusses Poverty WMRA's Virginia Insight (Audio)

Harlan Beckley, director of Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, and W&L senior Joe Landry discussed poverty issues on WMRA’s call-in talk show, Virginia Insight, Monday (June 18) on WMRA, the National Public Radio affiliate in Harrisonburg.

Harlan is the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion at W&L and has developed and directed the Shepherd program since it began in 1997 with support from Nancy and Tom Shepherd ’52.

Joe is history major and poverty studies minor from New Ipswich, N.H. He is a Bonner Scholar and a Johnson Scholar and is spending this summer in Lexington as an Robert E. Lee Summer Scholar, working with Harlan on a project to note trends on social spending and inequality in the U.S. economy in comparison with other nations.

The audio of their interview is below:


W&L Promotes Faculty Members to Full, Associate Professorships

Washington and Lee University has promoted eight members of its faculty to full professor, while promoting 14 faculty members to associate professor and also making tenure announcements.

The University’s Board of Trustees approved the promotions and tenures during its meeting in Lexington in May.

Promoted from associate professor to full professor:

  • Edward Adams, English. A member of the W&L faculty since 1993, he received a B.A. in classics from Amherst College and an M.A. in classics from the University of California at Berkeley before earning an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in English from Yale University.
  • Robert Ballenger, Business Administration. He joined the W&L faculty in 2002. He graduated from W&L in 1976 with a B.S. in natural sciences and mathematics and earned a Ph.D. in business and economics from Lehigh University.
  • Amanda Bower, Business Administration. She joined the W&L faculty in 2002. She holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Richmond and a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina.
  • Chris Connors, Geology. A member of the W&L faculty since 1999, he holds a B.S. from Penn State, an M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton.
  • James Mahon, Philosophy. He joined the W&L faculty in 2000. He received a B.A. in philosophy and modern English from Trinity College Dublin, an M.Phil. in philosophy from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University.
  • David Marsh, Biology. A member of the W&L faculty since 2000, he received a B.A. in biology from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in population biology from the University of California, Davis.
  • Adam Schwartz, Business Administration. He joined the W&L faculty in 2006. He received a B.S. in applied physics and an M.S. in management from Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Georgia.
  • Julie Woodzicka, Psychology. She joined the W&L faculty in 2000. She received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Dayton, and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Boston College.

Promoted to associate professor with tenure:

  • Mary Abdoney, Science Library. She joined the W&L faculty in 2006. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and an M.L.S. from the University of South Florida.
  • Monica Botta, Romance Languages. A member of the W&L faculty since 2006, she received her B.F.A. from Eastern Connecticut State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from the University of Connecticut.
  • Niels-Hugo Blunch, Economics. Formerly a consultant for the World Bank, he became a W&L faculty member in 2006. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in economics from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, an M.S. in economics and econometrics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and a Ph.D. in economics from the George Washington University.
  • Shawn Paul Evans, Theater. He received a B.A. in English from the Virginia Military Institute and an M.F.A. in drama from the University of Virginia.
  • Stephan Fafatas, Accounting. A member of the W&L faculty since 2006, he has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an M.S. in accounting from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • Megan Fulcher, Psychology. After first serving as a visiting assistant professor at W&L from 2004 to 2006, she was appointed assistant professor in 2006. She holds a B.S. in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Virginia.
  • Joseph Guse, Economics. A member of the W&L faculty since 2005, he received a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Chicago, a master’s of forest science from Yale University, and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
  • Robert Humston, Biology. He joined the W&L faculty in 2008 after serving as visiting assistant professor 2003-2004. He holds a B.A. in biology and English from Bowdoin College and a Ph.D. in marine biology and fisheries from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
  • Frederick LaRiviere, Chemistry. He joined the W&L faculty in 2006 after a year as a Dreyfus Teaching and Research Fellow in Chemistry at Colby College. He received his B.A. in chemistry and biochemistry from Clark University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a graduate certificate in biophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • Molly Michelmore, History. A member of W&L’s faculty since 2006, she received a B.A. in history from Amherst College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
  • Jeffrey Rahl, Geology. He joined the W&L faculty in 2006 after serving as a Turner Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan. He received a B.S. in geology from the University of Dayton and an M.Phil. and Ph.D., both in geology, from Yale University.
  • Sandy Reiter, Business Administration. She came to W&L in 2006 after a career in private industry with AlliedSignal Corp. and Honeywell International. She received a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and a Ph.D. in business from the University of Washington.
  • Jacob Siehler, Mathematics. He served as visiting assistant professor of mathematics from 2003 to 2005, when he was named assistant professor. He received a B.S. in both mathematics and computer science from Frostburg State and an M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Virginia Tech.

Promoted to associate professor:

  • Joshua Williamson, Athletics. He joined Washington and Lee in 2004 as assistant athletic trainer and was promoted to head athletics trainer and assistant professor of physical education in 2006. He received a B.S. and M.S. in athletic training from Indiana State University.

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

A New Yorker Shout-Out to Terry Brooks '69 Law

The New Yorker magazine devoted its June 4 and 11 double issue to science fiction and published several essays by well-known writers in the genre. One of the contributors chose as her subject a member of the Washington and Lee Law Class of 1969: novelist Terry Brooks.

The essayist is Karen Russell, author of the acclaimed recent novel “Swamplandia!” She writes in “Quests” about reading Brooks’ “The Sword of Shannara” in fifth grade during a reading contest that awarded gift certificates to the local Pizza Hut. “You’re only ten,” she writes, “but you’re still pretty sure you ought to feel embarrassed about the unnameable emotions stirred in you by imaginary beings, the elves especially.”

She devoured his books around the clock, especially after she learned that some adults —like her parents — didn’t exactly consider them literature. Her response? “In the dead of night, keep reading Terry Brooks until you’re out of books.”

The object of Russell’s affection, Terry Brooks, grew up in Illinois, earned his undergraduate degree in English literature, and then attended W&L. As he tells it on his website, he’d been writing all kinds of stories since high school. During college, he read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” and he knew he’d found his calling. For a while, he practiced law and wrote simultaneously. After he published the Shannara trilogy, though, he turned to writing full time. Today he has at least 30 books to his credit, with more to come.

The New Yorker essay online requires a subscription, but is well worth a read. If you don’t have the double issue on your bedside in that stack of New Yorkers you’re planning to read at your leisure, maybe you can borrow it from your neighbor or peruse it at the library.

Critical Praise for CD by W&L's Vosbein

The tradition of turning music from Broadway shows into jazz recordings is far from new. According to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, the first such example was 1944, when Charlie Spivak, a trumpeter and bandleader, turned “Porgy & Bess” into jazz.

So Washington and Lee music professor Terry Vosbein was following in a honored tradition when he composed the music for “Fleet Street,” music based on Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.”

Terry’s work was cited in that same Wall Street Journal article, which praised “Fleet Street” as a “stunner.”

The story continues: “This full-length instrumental treatment of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ Mr. Sondheim’s 1979 masterpiece, is not only a tribute to Mr. Sondheim, but also to bandleader Stan Kenton; the overall groove and tonal colors of ‘Fleet Street’ owe much to Kenton’s classic 1962 jazz version of ‘West Side Story’ (with lyrics also by Mr. Sondheim).”

Discussing the CD when it was released a year ago, Terry said that he had been mesmerized by the music of “Sweeney Todd” from the moment he saw the musical in 1979, calling it “the most amazing thing that I had ever seen on every level — the performance, the writing, the dialogue. I’ve always loved it.”

He composed ‘Fleet Street’ for the 20-piece Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The CD of their performance is available from Max Frank Music at http://www.maxfrankmusic.com/cd2.html.

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Shepherd Interns Spend the Summer Learning about Poverty

If their internships are anything like the one Washington and Lee University senior Tilden Bowditch had a summer ago, the 73 students who began their Shepherd Alliance internships this week are in for life-altering experiences.

“My internship changed my world view in the best of ways,” said Bowditch, a journalism and mass communications major from Williamsburg, Va. “It’s something that I’ll carry with me wherever I go in the future, and I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity.”

Bowditch spent the summer before her junior year working in Chester, Pa., as a Shepherd Intern, working with a non-profit organization that helps students succeed in high school and make it on to college. She shared her experiences with the current interns during their two-day orientation program on the W&L campus last weekend.

“For me, the experience was completely eye-opening. I got a glimpse of a part of life that I didn’t know before and had a personal experience of what it’s like to grow up in a low-income community,” Bowditch said. Although she witnessed the limited opportunities students had because of their circumstances, she said she was encouraged to see “the hope in the community and to see how the people there were striving to better their students’ lives.”

This is the first year that the internship program has operated as part of the newly formed Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), which is introducing coordinated poverty studies into undergraduate education at the 14 member schools.

Previously, W&L had administered the internship program in collaboration with a small group of institutions. This summer, for the first time, all 14 members of SHECP will have interns. The member institutions, in addition to Washington and Lee, are Baylor University, Berea College, the College of Wooster, Elon University, Furman University, John Carroll University, Lynchburg College, Middlebury College, Niagara University, Spelman College, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Notre Dame and Virginia Military Institute.

Based on 15 years of success by W&L’s groundbreaking poverty program, the Shepherd Consortium seeks to initiate and advance sustained curricular and co-curricular education focused on poverty and human capability in order to prepare students for a lifetime of professional, civic and political efforts to diminish poverty and to enhance human capability.

Addressing the interns during orientation sessions, Harlan Beckley, Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion and director of the Shepherd Program at W&L, emphasized the educational benefits of their experiences.

“You’re going to be serving individuals and agencies and communities in efforts to get people who are being held back by poverty to a point where they can function and then flourish in our society,” he said. “But your primary motivation, I hope, is not simply to serve and to be involved in the community. Instead, you will be participant observers and will learn for yourselves what poverty is and how to deal with it.”

The summer internship places students in both urban and rural settings, from Boston, Mass., to Klagetoh, Ariz. Some of the agencies with which they will be engaged include the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, the Fan Free Clinic in Richmond, the N Street Village in Washington, D.C., and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Fayetteville, W.Va.

Joseph Wegener, a senior at Notre Dame, will work at PAVE Academy, a charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I’ve taken a few poverty classes at Notre Dame and gotten that side of the story,” Wegener said. “Now I want to be involved on a grassroots level. I don’t know exactly what this summer is going to be like, but I know that I want an experience that is going to change me as an individual and as a citizen.”

Lauren Gunderman, a junior at John Carroll University, plans to be a physician and will be working in rural southwest Virginia at C-Health, a clinic serving 18,000 area residents that was founded by Washington and Lee alumnus Dr. Hughes Melton.

“As a physician, I want to make a difference on poverty instead of being someone who is blind to the issues,” Gunderman said. “This opportunity will allow me to figure out how a free health clinic functions.

Caroline Gill, a Washington and Lee junior minoring in poverty and human capability studies, believes her internship with the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership in Camden, N.J., will take her beyond textbooks or lectures. “I’m anxious to be learning from people who’ve dedicated their professional lives to addressing issues of poverty,” Gill said.

The Shepherd Consortium anticipates expanding from its current membership to 20 partner institutions by 2014. Each institution has signed a memorandum of understanding that commits it to coordinated courses focused on poverty and human capability and to funding summer internships for its students. In addition to the internship program, the consortium offers an annual symposium on teaching poverty in undergraduate and professional education as well as a website for networking, disseminating information and knowledge, and facilitating applications and meetings.

At the conclusion of their internship, the students will reassemble at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., where they will be hosted by the Clinton School of Public Service and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for a two-day session, in which they will report on their experiences.

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

Keen Named Interim Dean of the College at Washington and Lee

Suzanne H. Keen, the Thomas Broadus Professor of English, has been appointed to a two-year term as interim dean of the College at Washington and Lee University, effective July 1.

Keen succeeds Hank Dobin, who served as dean of the College for seven years and will return to the faculty in the 2013-14 academic year following a sabbatical leave.

“I am delighted that Suzanne Keen has accepted this appointment,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Throughout her career at W&L, she has served with distinction on several of the University’s key committees, and both Interim Provost Bob Strong and I look forward to working with her and with the College faculty as we make this important transition and move ahead with new initiatives.”

A distinguished scholar of the English novel and a gifted teacher, Keen is chair of the English Department. She is a member of the Courses and Degrees Committee, which she will now chair, and is an elected faculty representative to the Board of Trustees. She has also served on the Advisory Committee, which reviews tenure and promotion cases. In 2008, she received the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

Keen, who has taught at W&L since 1995, holds an A.B. in English literature and studio art and an A.M. in creative writing from Brown University, and an A.M. and Ph.D. in English language and literature from Harvard University. She taught at Yale from 1990 to 1995. During the summers of 2003 through 2010, she served on the faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.

She is the author of “Empathy and the Novel” (2007), “Narrative Form” (2003), “Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction” (2001) and “Victorian Renovations of the Novel: Narrative Annexes and the Boundaries of Representation (1998). She has also published a book of poetry, “Milk Glass Mermaid” (2007).

“I appreciate the important contributions that Dean Dobin made during his tenure as dean,” said Ruscio, noting that Dobin helped guide the implementation of new general education requirements and the revamped Spring Term.

Dobin joined W&L as dean in August 2005 after serving nine years as associate dean of the college at Princeton University. He received a B.A. from Yale University in philosophy and psychology and a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University. He taught English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he chaired the College Park Campus Senate 1993–1994. He joined Princeton as associate dean in 1996.

Under Dobin’s leadership at W&L, the College restructured the First-Year Writing Program; implemented minors; introduced the First-Year Seminar Program; undertook curricular initiatives in teacher education and dance; and expanded resources for faculty summer research. He worked on the Colonnade restoration project; reorganized the Office of the Dean of the College; and helped attract resources for College programs and facilities. Dobin will use the sabbatical in the 2012-13 academic year to re-start several scholarly and creative projects.

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

New Home for Cy Twombly in NYC

The late artist Cy Twombly, of the Class of 1953, left Washington and Lee after only one year because Marion Junkin, who had founded the Department of Art at W&L, made it clear there wasn’t much he could teach Cy because the young man possessed such an advanced talent.

So Cy left Lexington for New York and the Arts Student League there; as he developed his art and increased his stature, he spent most of his time in Rome and Lexington. Now his work will again be a presence in New York since, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Twombly Foundation has purchased a mansion on East 82nd Street to create “an education center and a small museum to celebrate the artist’s work and burnish his reputation.”

As Ralph Lerner, secretary of the foundation, told the Journal: “He is an American painter and deserves an American presence.”

Last year, the Twombly Foundation further strengthened Cy’s ties to W&L, by awarding Washington and Lee a $400,000 grant to help fund two scholarships at the University — the Class of 1943/Cy Twombly Scholarship and The Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly Scholarship. Both scholarships, which are awarded to students based on financial need, were established in honor of Twombly’s father, Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly Sr., who served for 53 years as swimming coach, golf coach and athletic director at W&L.

The Class of 1943/Cy Twombly Scholarship was established in 1993 by members of the Class of 1943. The Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly Scholarship was established in 1972 by many friends of Cy Twombly Sr. This is the second gift that the Twombly Foundation has made regarding these scholarships. In all, the foundation has awarded $475,000 in support for their endowment.

Washington and Lee Announces June Community Grants

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made nine grants totaling $23,160 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the second part of its two rounds of grants for 2011-12.

The committee chose the grants from 17 proposals requesting more than $96,000.

W&L awarded grants to these entities:

  • Blue Ridge Autism & Achievement Center – funds to purchase a Smart Board to optimize learning opportunities for their students.
  • Boxerwood Educational Association – funds to help integrate the NEST (Nurturing Environmental Stewardship Together) program in local schools grades 1-3 during the 2012-13 school year.
  • Lexington Skate Park – funds to assist with the revitalization and restoration of the city skate park.
  • Rockbridge Area Free Clinic – funds to allow RAFC to partner with three area school districts to provide school-based dental services.
  • Rockbridge Area Hospice – funds to make it possible for the Outreach Coordinator to attend a Hospice liaison training program.
  • Rockbridge Area Occupational Center – funds to purchase lawn care equipment for RAOC’s Mobile Work Crew project.
  • Rockbridge Dog Rescue and Cats Unlimited – funds to assist local elderly and/or disabled individuals with veterinary care for their dogs and cats.
  • Rockbridge Area Shop for Tots – funds to assist with holiday gift giving for those who otherwise could not afford to do so.
  • Youth Literacy Program – funds to purchase tutoring material; gift books; educational games, and for educational activities.

Established in 2008, W&L’s Community Grants Committee evaluates requests for financial donations and support from Lexington and Rockbridge County. While the University has long provided financial and other assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations in the community on a case-by-case basis, the Community Grants Program formalizes W&L’s role in supporting regional organizations and activities through accessible grant-making.

During its 2011-12 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually. The submission deadline for the two rounds of evaluations for 2012-13 will be: by the end of the work day (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, November 9, 2012, and Friday, May 31, 2013. Interested parties may download the proposal guidelines at http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.

Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (Word or PDF) via e-mail to kbrinkley@wlu.edu. Please call (540) 458-8417 with questions. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to (540) 458-8745 or mailed to Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee, Attn: James D. Farrar, Jr., Office of the Secretary, 204 W. Washington St., Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116.

Bradbury Goes Home

By Chris Gavaler
Visiting Assistant Professor of English
(This piece first appeared in the Roanoke Times.) 

At 91, Ray Bradbury was five years older than my father-in-law, who died five days earlier. In a stroke of creepy prescience, the current science fiction issue of The New Yorker includes a personal essay, which will now be the last piece Bradbury published during his lifetime.

It’s short, but I skimmed only the first half while flipping through the mail on my kitchen counter, surprised the author was still alive and writing. It’s called “Take Me Home,” and the editors included an illustration of a red flaming skull, a choice they are probably regretting. I got as far as Bradbury’s 8-year-old self shouting the title at the tiny red speck of Mars from his grandparents’ front lawn.

That would have been 1928, just months before the name “science fiction” was coined. English professors and New York Times book reviewers prefer to call it “speculative fiction” now, and though Bradbury labeled most of his work “fantasy,” the genre and our larger culture would be worlds emptier without him. Like most of us, I can track my life in relation to Bradbury’s alternate realities.

“Fahrenheit 451,” the only one of his 11 novels he was willing to term science fiction, was adapted for film in 1966, the year I was born. NBC turned “The Martian Chronicles” into a miniseries in 1980, the year I started high school. I hear Bradbury wasn’t much of a fan, but I enjoyed it enough to find a copy of the 1953 novel in my school library.

Although I had a shelf of Heinlein in my bedroom, and my adolescent psyche was poised for a Vonnegut conversion, I flipped a few pages but didn’t carry “Chronicles” to the circulation desk. I still remember the line that turned me off. After a description of the first men to colonize Mars, those brave and lonely frontiersmen, a single sentence floated between paragraphs: “Everyone knew who the first women would be.” It took my 14-year-old, proto-feminist brain a moment to click. Oh. He means prostitutes. I wasn’t offended, just uninterested, vaguely aware that I was listening to the vaguely embarrassing chatter of a displaced time traveler. I closed the book and slid it back onto its shelf.

Bradbury adapted “Something Wicked This Way Comes” for the screen himself. I saw it in 1983, before starting my senior year of high school. I understand the Jason Robards character now, an aging father who almost but not quite sells his soul for a few more years with his still school-aged son. I can still see the demonic Mr. Dark ripping pages from a magical library book, each shimmering with a lost chance. My son is careening toward 12 — I try to play a couple of games of chess with him every day, jog a mile together, chat about whatever he’s willing to chat with me about. My daughter turned 15 this year, a little more than a year older than the children in the novel. She spends her time with her friends.

I used to read to them over the breakfast table. The computer-generated yet parent-chomping lions of “The Veldt” sent them both into wide-eyed horror. But Bradbury’s most poignant story is “All Summer in a Day.” I’ve never taught it, but Junot Diaz — he’s in The New Yorker’s science fiction issue too — alludes to it in “The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” a novel on my syllabus last winter: “Sucks a lot to be left out of adolescence, sort of like getting locked in the closet on Venus when the sun appears for the first time in a hundred years.” Bradbury worms into my own allusions, too.

The day he died, I was working on a scene in my current novel-in-progress. I needed a quick description of a tattooed nude, and my brain churned up “The Illustrated Man,” another book from my bedroom shelf. A bedroom boxed up decades ago. When did I become the displaced time traveler?

It doesn’t matter if he’s dead or not. Bradbury is permanently with us. “Take Me Home,” it turns out, isn’t about Mars — it’s about his dead grandfather. “Even at that age,” writes Bradbury, “I was beginning to perceive the endings of things.” He remembers how they lit a paper balloon together and watched it float away in flames before slowly vanishing, leaving Bradbury’s boyish self in silent tears, ready to dream its return all night. I wish the same dreams upon my children after their grandfather’s funeral.

Chris Gavaler is visiting assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University and the author of the 2011 novel “School for Tricksters.” He blogs about pop culture at thepatronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com.

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A WSJ “House of the Day”

The Atlanta home of Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee Robert Balentine, of the Class of 1979, and his wife, Betty, was featured last week as the Wall Street Journal’s “House of the Day.”

The online version of the Journal features a dozen photographs of the 10,500-square-foot stone house — a replica of a classic English Cotswold manor — that Robert and Betty restored. It was built in 1929 for a former president of the Georgia Power Company.

Robert told the Journal that all of the stone used for the exterior was quarried from Georgia’s Stone Mountain. When he and Betty expanded the home in 2005, they wanted to match the look and went back to Stone Mountain for the stone.

Robert heads the investment advisory firm Balentine L.L.C.

W&L Names 13 Faculty to Endowed Professorships

Thirteen members of the Washington and Lee University faculty have been named to endowed professorships— two each in the School of Law and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and nine in the College.

W&L currently has 45 endowed full professorships and 10 term professorships, which recognize worthy teachers who have made meaningful contributions to Washington and Lee but are not yet eligible for a full professorship. The term professorships rotate among faculty.

The University has added 14 of the named professorships and all 10 of the term professorships as part of a fund-raising challenge issued by Gerry Lenfest, a member of the W&L Classes of 1953 (undergraduate) and 1955 (law), to increase support for faculty. Lenfest pledged $33 million for faculty salaries, including professorships, if the University’s alumni, parents and friends matched the amount. That challenge was successfully met in 2010 and is part of the University’s $500 million campaign, Honor Our Past, Build Our Future.

In addition to the professorship added as part of the Lenfest Challenge, three other new professorships have also been added through the campaign — the Rupert H. Johnson Jr. Professor of History, held by Nicolaas Rupke; the Rupert H. Johnson Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership, held by Jeffrey Shay; and the Roger Mudd Professor of Ethics, which has not yet been filled.

Faculty appointed to professorships in the College:

  • Marc Conner (English), the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Endowed Professor;
  • Chris Connors (Geology), the inaugural William E. Pritchard III ’80 Endowed Professor in Geology;
  • Kevin Crotty (Classics), the inaugural J. Donald Childress Professor in Foreign Languages;
  • Nathan Feldman (Mathematics), the Rupert and Lillian Radford Endowed Professor in Mathematics;
  • Ellen Mayock (Romance Languages), the Ernest Williams II Endowed Professor;
  • Mike Pleva (Chemistry), the Robert Lee Telford Endowed Professor;
  • Domnica Radulescu (Romance languages), the Edwin A. Morris Endowed Professor;
  • Brian Richardson (Journalism and Mass Communications), the Harry E. and Mary Jane W. Redenbaugh Endowed Term Professor;
  • Erich Uffelman (Chemistry), the Cincinnati Endowed Professor.

The two members of the Williams School faculty named to professorships:

  • Scott Boylan (Accounting), the Ehrick Kilner Haight Sr. Term Professor;
  • Michael Anderson (Economics), the inaugural Robert E. Sadler Jr Professorship.

In the School of Law, the two faculty members named to professorships:

  • Joan M. (Shaun) Shaughnessy, the inagural Roger D. Groot Professor of Law;
  • Eric Luna, the Sidney and Frances Lewis Professor of Law.

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

Keen Named Interim Dean; France New Associate Dean; Provost Search Underway

Suzanne H. Keen, the Thomas Broadus Professor of English, has been appointed to a two-year term as interim dean of the College at Washington and Lee University, effective July 1.

Keen succeeds Hank Dobin, who served as dean of the College for seven years and will return to the faculty in the 2013-14 academic year following a sabbatical leave.

“I am delighted that Suzanne Keen has accepted this appointment,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Throughout her career at W&L, she has served with distinction on several of the University’s key committees, and both Interim Provost Bob Strong and I look forward to working with her and with the College faculty as we make this important transition and move ahead with new initiatives.”

A distinguished scholar of the English novel and a gifted teacher, Keen is chair of the English Department. She is a member of the Courses and Degrees Committee, which she will now chair, and is an elected faculty representative to the Board of Trustees. She has also served on the Advisory Committee, which reviews tenure and promotion cases. In 2008, she received the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

Keen, who has taught at W&L since 1995, holds an A.B. in English literature and studio art and an A.M. in creative writing from Brown University, and an A.M. and Ph.D. in English language and literature from Harvard University. She taught at Yale from 1990 to 1995. During the summers of 2003 through 2010, she served on the faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.

She is the author of “Empathy and the Novel” (2007), “Narrative Form” (2003), “Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction” (2001) and “Victorian Renovations of the Novel: Narrative Annexes and the Boundaries of Representation (1998). She has also published a book of poetry, “Milk Glass Mermaid” (2007).

“I appreciate the important contributions that Dean Dobin made during his tenure as dean,” said Ruscio, noting that Dobin helped guide the implementation of new general education requirements and the revamped Spring Term.

Dobin joined W&L as dean in August 2005 after serving nine years as associate dean of the college at Princeton University. He received a B.A. from Yale University in philosophy and psychology and a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University. He taught English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he chaired the College Park Campus Senate 1993–1994. He joined Princeton as associate dean in 1996.

Under Dobin’s leadership at W&L, the College restructured the First-Year Writing Program; implemented minors; introduced the First-Year Seminar Program; undertook curricular initiatives in teacher education and dance; and expanded resources for faculty summer research. He worked on the Colonnade restoration project; reorganized the Office of the Dean of the College; and helped attract resources for College programs and facilities. Dobin will use the sabbatical in the 2012-13 academic year to re-start several scholarly and creative projects.

France Named Associate Dean

Marcia France, the Herwick Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University, is the new associate dean of the College, beginning July 1. She succeeds Alison Bell, who has held that post since 2010 and is returning to the classroom as an associate professor of archaeology.

France, who teaches organic chemistry, arrived at W&L in 1994. She holds an S.B. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in chemistry from Yale University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. She helped develop and serves as co-director of W&L’s partnership with the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, which provides a study-abroad opportunity for W&L students studying science and preparing to enter a health profession. She also has taught the Science of Cooking course in Italy. France is active in the University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, having served in several posts, including president. She will serve a four-year term as associate dean.

“I am really looking forward to serving W&L in this new capacity,” said France. “While I will miss teaching, I will enjoy working with a larger number of students from all the disciplines in the College. I know I will face many challenges, but the job will also provide me with valuable experience. W&L has given me a lot in the time I have been on the faculty, and I hope that I can give back to the University by taking on this role.”

The associate dean of the College focuses on academic performance and support, collaborating when appropriate with the Office of Student Affairs. The associate dean also coordinates fellowship applications.

Provost Search Committee Named

Brian Murchison, the Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law, has been named to chair the search committee to select a new provost, replacing June Aprille who retired in June 2011.

The goal is to bring finalists to campus for interviews in early 2013 and to have a provost named next spring.

In addition to Murchison, the complete is composed of Michael Anderson, professor of economics; Marc Conner, professor of English; Blair Hixon Davis, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1994 and a member of the board of trustees; Jonathan Eastwood, associate professor of sociology; Rebecca Harris, associate professor of politics; Erin Hutchinson, senior associate director of admissions; Shana Levine, associate director of athletics for compliance; Karla Murdock, associate professor of psychology; and Caroline Osborne, director of law library and professor of legal research.

Valerie Cushman, senior assistant to the president, will provide administrative support, and the committee will be assisted by the Washington, D.C., search firm, Isaacson, Miller.

More Honors for Pamela Simpson

Washington and Lee art historian Pamela Hemenway Simpson, who died in October after four decades at the University, has been honored by her alma mater, Gettysburg College.

Pam received a posthumous Distinguished Alumni Award from Gettysburg’s Alumni Association. It is the highest honor that the association bestows and is awarded for “extraordinary personal accomplishments, professional achievements, or humanitarian service” to alumni who exemplify Gettysburg’s “promise to prepare graduates to be leaders and active citizens in their professions, communities, nation, and the world.”

Pam received her bachelor’s degree in art from Gettysburg in 1968.

Meanwhile, a memorial to Pam will be unveiled in Hopkins Green in downtown Lexington at the end of June. It is the creation of Lexington stone sculptor John Mason and is based on conceptual drawings by Peter Simpson, Pam’s son. Mason told the Lexington News-Gazette that the sculpture is an effort to “capture Simpson’s spirit with its multiple surfaces, curves and upwards intent.” The objective, he said, “is to convey a sense of timelessness.”

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Washington and Lee Graduate Creates a Cabin, and a Legacy

“Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary.”
                                                                                   — Henry David Thoreau

For six weeks during the summer of 2011, Henri Hammond-Paul followed in Henry David Thoreau’s footsteps through Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He hiked the woods. He canoed the streams. And he read Thoreau’s essays.

When he returned to Lexington for his senior year at Washington and Lee University, Hammond-Paul was plenty prepared to pursue an honors thesis in English. But he had something more on his mind.

“I actually got the idea last year at some point and didn’t think about it at all over the summer, really,” Hammond-Paul said. “Then I got here in the fall and started thinking about it and asking around. And I began to think it might be something worth doing.”

The something worth doing is now an 8-by-10-foot timber-frame structure nestled in the woods in the northern part of the W&L campus.

When Hammond-Paul wanted to let the community know what he was doing, he referred to it as the Walden Cabin Project. But somewhere between hatching the initial concept to pounding the final nail in the roof, Hammond-Paul switched his focus from simply a Thoreau-like experience to the creation of an organization around the idea.

Jim Warren, the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English, was Hammond-Paul’s thesis adviser. He still remembers his student’s moment of realization, and it still leaves him with goose bumps.

“Henri had this idea for the thesis and the cabin project, and they went side by side,” said Warren. “We would meet every week in my office, and we’d talk about the thesis, and we’d talk about the cabin. Some weeks it was more about the thesis; some weeks it was more about the cabin.

“One of the most amazing meetings in this room is when he came in and said he had a breakthrough with the cabin. He said he had realized that it’s not about the cabin; it’s about building an organization that will create and maintain the cabin. For me, that represented a remarkable insight from a 21-year-old man.”

In his 28 years at W&L, Warren said, Hammond-Paul’s is one of the most amazing senior projects with which he’s ever been involved.

As Hammond-Paul worked away on the thesis, titled “A Point of View a Little Higher: Thoreau’s Process of Discovery,” he also began to build the organization that would, in turn, build the cabin and then keep the project alive once he had graduated.

He began by pitching the philosophy of the cabin and really didn’t have a specific structure in mind. He knew he wanted it to be something like Thoreau’s 10-by-12-foot cabin on Walden Pond, but mostly he wanted it to be something of meaning to the entire W&L community.

“As someone who is interested in the way communities work, I have been interested in these concepts of isolation and reflection and removal as a way to evaluate your own community,” explained Hammond-Paul, who has been accepted to the Peace Corps and ultimately wants to work on international development.

“For me, traveling and being away from my communities has given me a lot of perspective to understand them better,” he said. “At some level, I would hope that this space created through the cabin can encourage that thought process for students or community members as a way to get away from the grind of an academic routine.”

As he began planning, Hammond-Paul discovered all the levels of approval that he would need to put a structure on University property and figure out how it would be regulated. He raised funds from campus organizations, got financial gifts from alumni and donations of lumber from a community member, and received help in the form of lessons about digging foundations and putting a timber-frame structure together. Then he posted notes to the daily Campus Notices to recruit volunteers for the construction.

“I had begun thinking that I would build this all by myself,” Hammond-Paul said. “I’ve been amazed by all the help I’ve had to make it a reality.

Construction took more than a week, delayed a bit by rain. As he envisions it, the cabin will eventually be outfitted with a desk, a chair, a bookcase and a platform for a sleeping bag. There will be a reservation system through the Outing Club.

“Henri has really done everything single thing one could imagine to pursue this project,” said Warren. “And I do think it will be an ongoing project, because he has set it up so well.”

Hammond-Paul will take many lessons from the experience and expects to put them to good use.

“What I’m interested in ultimately is working on infrastructure in the developing world,” he said. “This has been very useful in understanding how systems work. A university works a bit like a government. Once you talk with one person, you think you’re done. But then you have to go deal with several other people.”

Meanwhile, back in Lexington, the Walden Cabin will remain as a sturdy wooden testament to Hammond-Paul’s vision.

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

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Georgia Museum Exhibits Work of Bob Trotman '69

Summer travelers in the vicinity of Augusta, Ga., should enter the Morris Museum of Art into their GPS. In addition to exhibitions of English watercolors and paintings of the American frontier, the museum is currently featuring work by a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1969: “Office: Sculpture by Bob Trotman.” 

As the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle described Bob’s work in a notice about the exhibition, “His carved wooden figures, often surprisingly posed, are designed to evoke both humor and anxiety.”

Bob had an exhibition, “Business as Usual,” at W&L’s Staniar Gallery in 2008, and we blogged about his big 2010 exhibition, “Inverted Utopias,” at the North Carolina Museum of Art. On that occasion, the museum displayed Trotman pieces from its own collection, from private collections and from the artist himself.

Bob, who lives and works in Casar, N.C., will be giving a talk at the Morris Museum next Friday, June 15. If your GPS leads you in that direction, check out the museum’s website for more information.

Congrats to a Recent Gunn Scholar

Congratulations to Bermet Zhumakadyr kyzy, who studied at Washington and Lee as an exchange student during 2010–2011. She recently graduated from the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as the valedictorian.

Bermet, a member of the Class of 2011, attended W&L as the John M. Gunn International Scholar. During her year here, she co-chaired the International Development and Relief Group of SAIL (the Student Association for International Learning) and made the Dean’s List.

The scholarship provides international students of exceptional academic, personal and professional promise with a year of study at W&L. Alfred Harrison, vice chairman and director of Alliance Capital Management Holdings L.P., created the scholarship to honor John Gunn, professor emeritus of economics at W&L. John is a member of the Class of 1945; Alfred, of the Class of 1961. Alfred received his degree from Christ’s College, Cambridge University, in his native England, but, like Bermet, spent a year as a visiting student at W&L.

Thanks to Rich Bidlack, professor of history at W&L, for sharing Bermet’s good news with us.

Another Major Award for Roddy Roediger '69

Henry L. (Roddy) Roediger III, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1969, was honored with another major award when the Association for Psychological Science (APS) gave him its 2012 William James Fellow Award during the APS annual convention in May.

Roddy, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, is internationally recognized for his research on human memory.

In its announcement of the award, the APS wrote: “His original and creative experimental observations and theoretical ideas have profoundly influenced what is now known and believed about some of the most enduring problems that have faced explorers of memory ever since Hermann Ebbinghaus’ pioneering work in the 19th century. These problems can be encapsulated in the question, ‘What is memory?’ “

Roddy is perhaps best known for his work on the development of false memories, erroneous memories that people misperceive as being accurate. He developed a laboratory method at Washington University that studies false memory under strict experimental conditions. Roddy’s award address at the APS convention was titled “The Surprising Power of Retrieval Practice in Improving Retention: From the Lab to the Classroom.”

He previously won the Society of Experimental Psychologists’ highest honor, the Howard Crosby Warren Medal.

Roddy is co-author, with Barry H. Kantowitz of the University of Michigan, and his W&L mentor, David G. Elmes, professor emeritus of psychology at W&L, of “Research Methods in Psychology,” which recently entered its ninth edition.

Courtney Santo '98 Feels “Crazy Lucky” About New Novel

Courtney Miller Santo, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1998, is the subject of a fascinating profile in the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal. The reason for the story? Her first novel, “The Roots of the Olive Tree,” is coming out this August, from William Morrow.

Courtney, who teaches fiction and literature at the University of Memphis, wrote a manuscript about a family of olive-growing women in northern California, and last year entered it in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award competition. She made it as far as the top 50 out of 5,000 entrants. Even though she advanced no farther in the competition, she did sign on with a literary agent. She was on vacation last year when she found out that William Morrow wanted to publish it—and had asked for another manuscript as well.

“It just doesn’t seem real; it didn’t seem real for a very, very, very long time,” Courtney told the newspaper. “This is the dream; this does not happen that you get a company that is so excited about a debut novelist that they put this much publicity and effort into it. I feel crazy lucky.”

The article describes her childhood near Portland, Ore., where she was the oldest of seven kids in a Mormon family, raised to tell stories and read books and make up plays. “I come from a long line of storytellers on both sides,” she said. At W&L, she studied Russian and journalism, and after graduation she worked as a newspaper reporter in Roanoke and Charlottesville. She has since earned an M.F.A. from the University of Memphis.

At W&L, Courtney also met her husband, Charles A. Santo, a member of the Class of 1996. He’s a professor of city and regional planning at the University of Memphis; we blogged about his involvement with the Memphis Music Magnet a while back. They have two kids, Sophia and C.J. You can keep up with Courtney via her thoughtful blog at CourtneySanto.com.

W&L's Energy Education Program Saves Money, Reduces Carbon Footprint

The sight of two individuals prowling around Washington and Lee University in the middle of the night might ordinarily be a cause for alarm. But when W&L’s two energy education specialists, Jane Stewart and Morris Trimmer, are the ones doing the prowling, the only people who need to worry are those who have left on a computer, an air conditioner or some other energy-wasting device.

Stewart and Trimmer are helping W&L reduce its utility consumption and carbon footprint through the Energy Education Program (EEP), which began in June 2011. An important part of the program involves changing the habits of members of the University community and how they use energy resources.

“We go through buildings when nobody is there, and when we find things that are left on — such as computers, lights and air-conditioning — we leave notes on people’s desks as a gentle reminder to turn things off when they leave the office,” said Stewart. “It’s really interesting to see how many little things people just don’t think about until you point it out.”

Trimmer added that people need ongoing reminders. “If I can get somebody to agree to start doing something differently, but don’t come back, then they fall back into to their old habits. It’s very easy to do, and understandable,” he said.

Stewart’s favorite story involves a visit to a fraternity last December. “There was a bunch of guys in this room with their window air conditioner on high, because they didn’t realize that they could turn down the radiator, which was blasting heat and making the room too hot. They were very apologetic about it because they knew who we were, but they thought it was their only option,” she said. “The amount of waste due to misunderstanding and misinformation is incredible. What’s compelling to me is that whether your interest is saving money or saving the environment, people can make a very big difference by just paying a little bit of attention.”

One primary example involves the failure to shut down computers at the end of the work day. “We’ve got thousands of computers on campus,” said Trimmer. “If all of them are shut down completely, we will save a significant amount of energy. So each little bit does make a difference, and collectively we can make a big difference.”

W&L’s program is a partnership with Energy Education Inc., a Texas firm that has helped educational organizations nationwide reduce energy consumption. It is predicted that, over time, the combined efforts will reduce the University’s carbon footprint by 30 percent and save $2 million per year in energy costs. W&L aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Stewart and Trimmer spend a lot of time figuring out schedules for how each building on campus uses energy. For example, heating or air conditioning typically would run 24 hours a day. But some buildings are not used overnight. “Turning off the heating or cooling in a building when nobody’s there seems like a fairly obvious thing to do,” said Stewart.

Some of the University’s facilities, such as Leyburn Library and Elrod Commons, can get complicated. “People are used to being able to show up whenever they want and finding the building fully air conditioned or fully heated. We also have to take into account any events that might be going on in the buildings. In some places such as the Science Center, it’s even more nuanced because you can’t have temperature fluctuations because of the work they are doing,” she said.

The team also checks mechanical rooms and the equipment used for heating or cooling buildings to make sure they are working correctly. “We work closely with Facilities Management in managing the systems,” said Trimmer.

The team records every utility meter on campus in their database, along with all the billing information since June 2009. “Every month we enter information from all the utility bills, so we can see if energy consumption is going down,” said Trimmer. “Our software takes into account differences such as the weather and the fluctuation of utility rates. For the last couple of months, we’ve seen a consistent 20 percent reduction across the board, and that’s after you subtract the varying factors.”

Providing educational information and promoting conversations about energy conservation across campus are also important parts of the EEP. To that end, Stewart and Trimmer have regular conversations with people around campus. They also created a website and blog:  http://energyeducation.blogs.wlu.edu/.

During the winter break, they organized a competition to see which area of the residence halls did the best job of following a checklist of energy-saving activities. “Overall they did a very good job,” said Stewart. “One floor in particular did a great job, so we had a little pizza party to celebrate with them.

“I think that people sometimes feel overwhelmed by the numbers on increasing global energy demands and climate change. This program has really opened my eyes to how much you can do individually,” she added. “It’s so easy and intuitive once you get into the habit that you don’t even know you’re doing it. But these small things really do make a legitimate difference.”

Here are some tips from Trimmer and Stewart on saving energy and money in the home. “It all comes down to paying attention and running things only when you’re using them,” said Stewart. “And it adds up to great savings on utility bills.”

  • Turn exhaust fans off in kitchens and bathrooms when you don’t need them. Exhaust fans are designed to suck all the air out of a room to get rid of smoke and odors, but all that air has to be replaced with outside air that has been heated or cooled. Your heat pump or air conditioner has to work hard to get the air to the right temperature, while your exhaust fan is sending that conditioned air right out of the building, wasting energy and money.
  • Manage your thermostat—don’t “set it and forget it.” Turn the setting down when you leave the house in the winter, and turn it up in the summer.
  • Unplug items such as chargers, toasters or hair dryers when you’re not using them. They continue to draw power even when they are off. One way to make this easier is to plug home electronics into a power strip and turn the power strip off when not in use. If you’re going to be gone for a long period of time, unplug as many items as possible.
  • Electronic equipment generates heat, which can impact your heating and air-conditioning efficiency. So don’t place a table lamp or electronic appliances near your thermostat.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater and put it on standby mode if you leave for vacation.
  • Microwave and save. When practical, use a microwave to heat your food and drinks — it is very efficient and uses much less energy than toaster ovens or full-size ovens.
  • Turn off the faucet in between each dish when washing dishes to save water. Take shorter showers and run your dishwasher and washing machines only when they are full.
  • Save your flushes. Every time you flush a toilet, a lot of water goes down the drain. Don’t use your toilet as a trashcan, and save your flushes when you can.
  • Turn off the hose when washing your car. Keeping the hose running the whole time while washing the car wastes water.
  • Fix that dripping tap — a dripping faucet on average leaks 3,000 gallons a year.
  • Change the filters on your air conditioner and hot water heater.
  • Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Close windows and doors when heating or cooling your home.
  • Turn off lights when you’re not in a room.

Find out more about how W&L’s Energy Education Program is helping the University save:

W&L's Suzanne Keen Discusses the “Potter Effect” on WMRA's “Virginia Insight”

Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, discussed the impact of the Harry Potter series on today’s students during an appearance on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show, on Monday, June 4.

Suzanne is the author of “Empathy and the Novel” (Oxford University Press) and specializes in contemporary British fiction. She believes that J.K. Rowling’s Potter novels have been instrumental in developing a different attitude toward reading for pleasure among today’s generation of college students. Earlier this year, she discussed the Potter phenomenon on the first episode of a new podcast called “Mugglenet Academia.”

“Virginia Insight,” hosted by Tom Graham, is a live call-in show. Listen to the archive below:


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W&L Reeves Center's Diamond Jubilee Exhibit

As Britain celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II from June 2 to June 5, the Reeves Center at Washington and Lee University is displaying teaware commemorating her coronation.

Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth 60 years ago, after her father, King George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952. The actual coronation was delayed until June 2, 1953, to allow for a period of mourning. Queen Victoria is the only other British monarch to have had a reign of the same longevity as Queen Elizabeth.

The three cups and saucers on display in the Reeves Center were probably donated by Euchlin and Louise Herreshoff Reeves, founders of the Reeves Collection. “The Reeveses traveled to Great Britain in 1953 and likely scheduled their trip to be in London for the coronation,” said Ron Fuchs, curator of the Reeves Collection. “They probably bought these commemorative pieces at that time as a souvenir and to add to their growing collection of ceramics.”

Volunteer Marcy Molinaro selected the pieces, catalogued them and wrote the label.

Sad Day in Belltown USA

Last December we blogged about the Bevin Bros. Manufacturing Co., owned by Washington and Lee University alumnus Matt Bevin. The company, which makes 200 varieties of bells, and Matt had been featured on a National Public Radio story.

Matt, of the Class of 1989, was back on NPR again this week. But this was no holiday story. 

Last weekend the Bevin Bros. factory in East Hampton, Conn., burned to the ground in a fire likely caused by a lightning strike. Meanwhile, thieves apparently stole hundreds of the bells that had survived the fire.

Bevin Bros., founded in 1832 by Matt’s great-great-great grandfather, was the last of 30 bell factories that once existed in East Hampton, which is known as “Belltown.” The company manufactured the first bicycle bells.

Matt told the Hartford Courant that he will rebuild, and added in the NPR interview that he was willing to take the significant financial hit because “this is Belltown, baby. And bells should be ringing in Belltown.”