Feature Stories Campus Events

Nellie Rice Retires after 53 Years at W&L

It’s the end of an era. After 53 years and 7 months at Washington and Lee, Nellie Rice is retiring. Her last day is today, Friday, Aug. 31.

A member of the Student Affairs staff since 1991, she served as the executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs and dean of students. In that capacity, she coordinated Parents and Family Weekend, one of the most popular and successful events on the University calendar every fall.

“I am so grateful to Nellie for all she has done for me during the last year,” said Sidney Evans, who became vice president of student affairs and dean of students in June 2011. “She has patiently guided me through processes large and small, always with a smile on her face. I feel so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her.”

Nellie’s first day at W&L was Feb. 1, 1959, the year that Evans Dining Hall and Baker and Davis residence halls were completed. Before becoming a mainstay of Student Affairs, she worked in the Alumni Office and for the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps).

Nellie also served her colleagues all over campus through her contributions to the Office Staff Employee Advisory Committee and the University Safety/Environmental Committee.

She even shared in winning an award of excellence from the Printing Industries of Virginia, for the brochure for the 2009 Parents and Family Weekend, which she created in partnership with Communications and Public Affairs.

Nellie worked with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, arranging for visiting families to stay with locals during Parents and Family Weekend rather than at hotels; the families then donated money to Habitat. “The program is a lifesaver to those parents who realize at the last minute they can attend but are unable to find motel rooms,” Nellie said last year, “or to those parents who just want to stay with a local family.”

A celebration of Nellie’s stellar career at W&L will take place later this fall.

W&L Professor Advises Caution with Facebook IPO

By Adam Schwartz
Lawrence Term Professor of Business Administration

The Facebook IPO reminds me of two pieces of advice to avoid “classic blunders” from the character Vizzini in the movie “The Princess Bride.” As he tells the Man in Black: “The most famous . . . is ’never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!’ “

For finance, there are two classic blunders: Entering a market buy order for an IPO at the open on the first day of trading, and paying a multiple of more than 50 for any stock without a strong earnings growth story.

Researchers have shown IPO shares to underperform the market. In a study of 7,531 IPO offerings from 1980 to 2010, Jay Ritter, the Cordell Professor of Finance at the University of Florida, finds that the newly issued shares underperformed the market index by almost 20 percent in their first three years of issue.


You might counter, “Well, some IPOs go up 100 percent on the first day.” True. There is sometimes an initial run-up on the first day. If the IPO is worth owning, you won’t get any shares at the initial price. Your market order will usually fill after the run-up has occurred (over $40 for Facebook, if I remember correctly).

I would avoid IPOs in the first few months after issue before the lock-up restrictions are lifted. Facebook investors are well aware that an additional 1.3 billion shares of the stock will be eligible to trade in November.

The biggest reason for the Facebook drop is simply that it was overpriced. Facebook trades at a very high multiple and doesn’t pay a dividend. Even at a price of $20, Facebook is still trading at almost 69 times earnings. Other high-growth tech stocks don’t trade at such a high P/E multiple. According to Yahoo Finance, awesome Apple trades at only 15 times earnings, and Google at only 20 times earnings. Facebook trades at a high P/E multiple, because the market is expecting a great deal of earnings growth. If that growth doesn’t materialize, the multiple of Facebook stock might fall.

The price of a stock is equal to the earnings times the P/E multiple. There is a great deal of risk even at $20 a share. If Facebook doesn’t post great earnings for several quarters, the price could drop lower still.

Although I’m not always right, I would personally rather hold shares in an S&P 500 index fund than Facebook shares at the current price. I don’t see how they can grow fast enough to justify a multiple of 69, unless they come up with a better revenue model—or a planet without a social network pulls up next to

Gerry Lenfest, Hall of Famer

H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest — Washington and Lee alumnus, benefactor and former trustee — received another major honor recently, when The Cable Center inducted him into the 2012 Cable Hall of Fame.

A committee of industry peers and leaders chooses honorees based on their outstanding dedication to and impact on the cable industry. Among the other 2012 Hall of Famers are newsman and talk show host Larry King and Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks.

In a video tribute to Gerry (Classes of 1953, 1955 Law) as part of the induction ceremonies, Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said that Gerry is “so persuasive. He’s clearly smarter than almost anybody I’ve ever met. He was a lawyer, he’s a businessman, he’s an entrepreneur. Now, of course, he’s one of the great philanthropists in America.”

The short video below includes an interview with Gerry that’s well worth watching:

A Summer Going in Circles

TJ Fisher, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 2015, grew up just a 15-minute ride from Maryland’s Glen Echo Park. He’d go to the park with his family and ride the tigers and rabbits and lions on the historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel.

Those rides left a lasting impression on TJ, and this summer he helped visitors to Glen Echo Park form their own lasting impressions and fond memories when he worked as one of the carousel’s operators and historic preservationists. That latter title meant that TJ helped keep the 91-year-old carousel running, doing everything from checking the oil to figuring out why an instrument in the Wurlitzer was off key.

In this past Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine (Aug. 26), TJ wrote a wonderful essay about his summer experience with the carousel for the magazine’s “First Person” feature.

TJ plans to major in history and theater with a museum studies minor; his work with the carousel combined all three of those areas. He studied the history of the carousel and of the 1926 Wurlitzer band organ. He even learned how to create new music for that organ, one of only 12 left, on paper rolls. As he wrote in the Post, he considered himself an entertainer more than an operator, telling the carousel’s story to its patrons.

Be sure to read TJ’s piece and enjoy the photos he provided in the gallery below:

New Pre-orientation Program at W&L Encourages Student Leadership

This week, 12 incoming students at Washington and Lee University are taking part in the new Leadership Venture pre-orientation program to develop their leadership skills. The aim is for the students not only to come away with an understanding of the foundations of leadership, but also to develop their personal vision and mission for leadership on campus.

Leadership Venture represents the third track in W&L’s Leading Edge pre-orientation program, which brings entering students together for the week before they undergo orientation with the entire class beginning on Saturday, Sept. 1.The two other tracks are the Appalachian Adventure, with students hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail, and the Volunteer Venture, with students performing volunteer work in one of six cities.

Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at W&L, proposed the new program on leadership in response to a recent Princeton University study on the decline of women in leadership roles during college. “One of the things the study talked about was the importance of getting in front of women at the very beginning of their college career, to get them talking about leadership,” explains Evans.

As they developed the idea, Evans and Tamara Y. Futrell, the associate dean of students at W&L, who directs the program, determined that early introduction to leadership study would benefit all participants.

“I’m glad they expanded it to include men,” said Pasquale (Paqui) Toscano, of Kettering, Ohio. “It’s really great that all of us come from such diverse backgrounds — both gender and geography — because it adds to the texture of the experience.”

Futrell developed the basis of the program with the help of Brodie Gregory, a 2003 graduate of W&L and current president of the university’s alumni association. Gregory, who holds a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology, is an expert in leadership and a former visiting professor of psychology at W&L. Megan Schneider joined Student Affairs this academic year in the new position of associate director of leadership and residential learning initiatives. She oversees leadership programming on campus, and created the curriculum and activities for Leadership Venture as well as serving as the lead facilitator.

With 28 applicants this first year, the organizers expanded their original aim of recruiting 10 students — five women and five men —to 12. Applicants had to submit essays describing what leadership means to them, their own perspective on leadership, and the characteristics and behaviors of effective leaders.

The students spent two and a half days this week on campus examining the foundations of leadership, leadership theory, what the students admire in leaders, and what they see as their own strengths in leadership. “We’ve learned different approaches to leadership and how it can be situational, and the different aspects that make a leader,” said Hannah Howard, a first-year student from Waco, Texas. “We’ve also learned how people you would originally not expect to be leaders are actually some of the best ones we have. While the other possibilities for trips before orientation sounded great and a lot of fun, I’m really glad I got into Leadership Venture, because it’s been fun, and we’re learning a lot.”

To help the students identify their individual strengths in leadership, Futrell purchased books that allowed them to go online, answer questions, and establish five strengths they should develop during the program and afterwards. For example, is the student’s strength in discipline or harmony; in being a developer, a relater or a learner?

“I always thought of myself as somewhat of a leader, but by no means the finished product,” said Arriana Nastoff, of Cincinnati, Ohio. “I hope this will help me develop some of the areas I know I need to develop.”

For the rest of the week, the students are in Washington, D.C., to meet with W&L alumni. The alumni will talk about their own involvement in leadership when they were students at Washington and Lee, how those experiences translated into their current careers, and how their leadership style has evolved.

“It’s really exciting, because we have alumni who are really strong in their fields and have been able to secure meetings with some other leaders, including Rebecca Blank, the acting secretary of commerce,” said Futrell. Other alumni the students will meet are Bennett Ross, of the Class of 1983, a partner in the law firm Wiley Rein L.L.L.P., and a trustee of W&L; Meredith Attwell Baker, of the Class of 1990, senior vice president of Comcast and former member of the Federal Communications Commission; and Dr. Nicole Ehrhardt, of the Class of 1998, an endocrinologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Trip leaders are senior Kahena Joubert and junior Trevor (Trey) Hatcher.

The students are also learning about the opportunities for leadership on campus and in the community. “The hope is that the Leadership Venture students will want to continue to be involved in leadership development throughout their time at W&L,” said Futrell. “It’s not about just serving in formal leadership roles, but being invested in being educated leaders as well.”

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

From the Magazine: Q&A with Law Dean Nora Demleitner

Nora V. Demleitner is the new dean of the Law School. She becomes the first woman to hold that position and is the 17th dean in the 145-year history of W&L’s law school. She also holds the Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professorship in Law.

Where are you from? Where did you go to college and law school?

I was born and grew up in Bavaria, Germany. All my family is German, but thanks to amazing parents, who encouraged me to study abroad and had saved enough money to support my stud­ies, I ended up attending Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Washington and Lee has brought back many fond memories of the fabulous three years I spent at Bates. After college I attended Yale Law School, and subsequently earned an LL.M. in interna­tional and comparative law from Georgetown Law Center.

What drew you to the legal profession?

My parents were avid readers, and early on I discovered some Perry Mason mysteries (in translation) in our house. My father and I early on spent many an evening and Sunday afternoon dis­cussing the lines of argument in the mysteries, the identities of the offender and anything else that had to do with the law. He often re-read the books just to talk to me.

I am confident he would be happy to know that criminal law, sentencing and collateral sanctions have become my academic passions.

How did you become interested in your area of sentencing and collateral sentencing consequences?

Part of this interest goes back to my excitement about criminal law issues in general. The late Professor Dan Freed is to credit—or blame—for my interest in sentencing. At a time when the federal sentencing guidelines were only a few years old, I took a sentenc­ing seminar with him, which riveted me. As part of the class, he secured a travel grant that allowed me twice to go to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to observe a state court judge and interview her about her sentencing practice. Inge Johnson, who is now a federal district court judge, was amazing. As a Danish LL.M. student at the Uni­versity of Alabama Law School, she met her future husband, also a lawyer, and ended up staying. Ultimately she was elected to the state bench and appointed to the federal court. What a role model for a then 24-year-old immigrant from Germany.

Collateral sanctions came a few years later. To explain, collateral sanctions are all those sanctions that befall an offender upon conviction, often automatically, usually without being an­nounced in court. Among them are felon disenfranchisement, deportation, denial of welfare benefits. I began to focus on these consequences when my husband, who is a practicing lawyer, was retained by a woman in nursing school who was trying to fight a very long exclusion from the Medicare program because she had pled guilty to a minor role in a fraud scheme years earlier in ex­change for a probationary sentence. At the time, she had no idea that the guilty plea would prevent her from working as a nurse. It was particularly irksome, as the two major players in the alleged conspiracy had fought the charges and won—and consequently could continue to work in the medical field. If the nursing student had known at the time of the collateral consequences, she might have fought the charges as well.

The situation of this woman, who was devoted to becoming a nurse after having taken care of her very ill husband for years, struck me as inequitable and unfair, and it piqued my interest. As I learned quickly, the United States has one of the most exclusion­ary regimes of collateral sanctions imaginable, concealed from view, often racially discriminatory, and overall harsh. The panoply of collateral sanctions in any state has made it impossible to com­pile them all. And their overall impact on an offender often leads to greater exclusion and recidivism rather than provide assistance with reintegration.

One example may highlight the irony of this regime: Many prisons teach inmates the skills to qualify as barbers; in many of the states in which these prisons are located, convicted felons are ineligible for a barber license. While we may agree that some­one who committed assault with a knife should perhaps not be licensed as a barber, it is far less understandable why a drug or fraud conviction should have this impact.

You clerked for the Hon. Sam Alito. What was that experi­ence like?

It was a wonderful experience clerking for now Justice Alito, who at the time was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The justice is an excellent mentor and teacher. I could not have worked for someone who cherishes the law more and believes in and models integrity and hard work. On top of it, Justice Alito has a marvelous sense of dry humor.

The justice never once asked anything of his clerks that he would not do himself. While many judges give their clerks the pro se cases, which are hard to decipher, he dealt with all of them himself.

Let me give you a few examples of some of the events in chambers that surely shaped me. On integrity: Justice Alito kept a role of stamps in his desk to assure that no personal letter would go out charged to the government. On hard work and the value of family: Every night the justice left in time to have dinner with his family. Unfailingly, he took two heavy bags, filled with briefs, with him to read after dinner. Today I am trying to live up to his example—and will blame him for a bad back carrying those heavy bags home.

Did you think you’d ever move from teaching into academ­ic administration?

I love being an academic—I enjoy teaching and scholarly pursuits. However, when the then dean at Hofstra Law School, Aaron Twerski, asked me to become his academic dean, I did not hesitate. It was a steep learning experience, but I was proud to be able to help shape the academic component of the law school and support the faculty in its creative endeavors.

Sometimes being in the right (or some would say, wrong) place at the time makes all the difference. I did not plan my career paths but have enjoyed every part of both my scholarly and my administrative career.

Why W&L?

What a question! I firmly believe that there is no other law school in the United States that is as exciting and has as much potential as W&L. It is already a very fine law school with a great history, but its future strikes me as even brighter in light of its creative and innovative faculty, who are dedicated to their students and the institution, the support from the University and its board, and a large and strong group of supportive alumni.

The 3L curriculum is the most forward-looking and com­prehensive curricular reform in any law school, and the first-year curriculum combines the traditional courses with those that prepare law students for practice in the 21st century.

Even during my initial visit, I was struck by the caliber and dedication of everyone and have gained additional admiration and respect for faculty, administrators and all University person­nel with whom I have interacted. I do want to single out Mark Grunewald, the interim dean, for special recognition. I could not have wished for a more thoughtful and helpful predecessor than Mark. His judgment is unfailingly excellent, and I have truly en­joyed spending time with him. I am looking forward to continu­ing to work closely with him and all members of the faculty and administration in the years to come.

It is an honor to serve Washington and Lee’s Law School as a dean and to be able to build on the impressive foundation those preceding me have built.

What are your plans for the Law School’s future?

Initially, I have to listen and learn so much more about the Law School and the University with its incredible people, resources and programs that might provide exciting synergies with the Law School. Whenever I mention to anybody—and I truly mean anyone—that I am the incoming dean at W&L Law, I find out about another project, another exciting initiative, another confer­ence that is in the planning stages. I want to support innovation, initiative and creativity, and that means first learning about all the initiatives and then hopefully bringing them together in a meaningful way so that we can tell the W&L story more loudly within the legal academy, to potential applicants and to potential employers.

In terms of priorities, one of my first goals will be to focus on student and graduate employment. As a professional school, our preeminent emphasis has to be on helping our students gain meaningful employment upon graduation, which allows them to build a successful career. As I learned in my clerkship, it is impor­tant to have an employer who presents a strong professional role model and who is invested in the professional development and learning of the young lawyers working with him or her. I hope and wish that each of our graduates will be in a position to have that experience, in a clerkship, private practice, a not-for-profit setting or in government service.

To help create these opportunities, I plan on meeting with alumni around the country and non-alumni employers who might be interested in hiring our students. I hope you will all join me in this effort! Ultimately, the test of the third-year curriculum will be in the success of our graduates in the marketplace.

As part of these employment efforts, we will also consider other strategic opportunities in the Washington market, as well as around the country. We will explore more public service posi­tions for our graduates. The employment efforts may have to be matched by an attempt to expand our public service opportu­nities within the Law School and the need to expand our loan forgiveness program.

We also have to be able to adjust to some of the coming changes that will impact the legal profession and our country. One of our goals will be to increase overall diversity in the Law School. In conjunction with this effort, we will continue build­ing programs that are focused outside the borders of the United States, as the practice of law will likely be increasingly across international borders.

Those opportunities are part of the ongoing efforts to improve our curriculum. We will continue to hone the third year and then will start taking a close look at the second year, to which admittedly no other school is paying much atten­tion at this point. We will also respond to the teaching chal­lenges brought by enhanced technology. In light of increasing open-source access to information and even great teaching, it becomes crucial for us to enhance our students’ learning in novel ways. As part of this effort, I expect us to explore the use of online education as well, perhaps with the goal of turning the classroom experience into collaborative team-based learning and teaching tutorials.

What are the greatest challenges facing legal education today?

The value proposition of law school: tuition and employment prospects. All of higher education has to learn how to control tuition increases going forward. This will be challenging and may require substantial structural changes. A number of mem­bers of our faculty have already given serious thought to the tuition and cost structure, and I expect that institutionally we will take a lead in that area as well.

On the employment front, I hope to create new opportuni­ties for our students, inside and outside the law. For that reason, we will begin strategic conversations with other institutions about possible joint degree programs and other career-enhanc­ing initiatives.

W&L’s Third-Year Program is well underway. What’s next for the program?

I am excited about attending some of our third-year simula­tion classes and the immersions. My goal is to be better able to convey the incredible richness of the third-year curriculum to various audiences. We will likely bring industry leaders to the Law School to give them a real feel for our innovations and to expose our students to the most advanced thinking in the profession.

Of course, the academic dean, together with Dean Mary Natkin, will keep an eye on the quality of courses offered and placements. We will try to add cutting-edge simulation courses that respond to market changes and bring together our first-rate faculty with leading practitioners. It will be an exciting under­taking, and I am thrilled to find myself in the company of deep thinkers who are also able to bring true change to an institution.

What book(s) would you hope every incoming law stu­dent would have read?

Good literature is most important. Read well-written, thoughtful and interesting books. One may give some thought to the classics: Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” and, of course, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”; not high literature but surely spellbinding is John Grisham’s very first book, “A Time to Kill”; throw in some Shakespeare and mix it all up with some of Martin Luther King’s great speeches and “The Federalist Papers.”

There are so many great books out that I am always loath to recommend some over others. Here are a few of my recent favorites. Nancy Gertner’s “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate” is an inspiring ac­count of lawyering and an inspirational read for those who believe law should be about justice. Tom Morgan’s “The Vanishing American Lawyer” provides an insightful account into the changes in the legal profession.

Scott Turrow’s “One L” has become a classic. It should go on the must-read list—not because it reflects reality in to­day’s law school but because it has become part of the shared lingo of lawyers today—for the same reason, one should read (or watch) “The Paper Chase.”

How do you like to spend your downtime?

Other than reading, which is largely a solitary activity, any­thing I can do with my family: traveling, enjoying good food, hiking, skiing, swimming.

My two children, Cordell, 11, and Venetia, 8, make me laugh, challenge me, keep me humble and “fix” iPhones, iPads and any other technical gadgets. My husband, Michael, is a fabulous father and a great supporter of my work—and he makes sure that I never lose sight of what he considers the most important constituency: students. My mother, who lives with us, is my worst critic—no others needed—and makes sure I make time for our family. Together they are quite a combination, and I try to spend every free minute with them.

We are looking forward to exploring the Lexington area and all of Virginia and surrounding states. All of us are already excited about fall hikes and winter skiing in our new neighborhood. And, of course, I will make sure we also get to travel abroad regularly—one of my passions.

Related //
Tagged //

Goldsmith to Address W&L's Fall Convocation

Arthur H. Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics at Washington and Lee University, will address the 2012 Fall Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Warner Center.

Goldsmith’s address is titled “Finding Your Path to a Life Well Lived.”

• Watch Fall Convocation Live

Washington and Lee will open its 264th academic year and the 164th year of the School of Law when classes begin. The law school orientation begins on Aug. 22 with the first day of classes on Aug. 27. Orientation for new undergraduate students begins on Sept. 1, and class begin on Sept. 6.

Goldsmith joined the W&L faculty in 1990 after having taught at the University of Connecticut and the University of North Carolina. He also held visiting professorships at Wake Forest, Victoria University in New Zealand and Bond University in Australia. He was appointed to the Stephens Professorship in 1997 and chaired the department of economics from 1998 to 2003.

Goldsmith received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Bridgeport and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois.

His areas of specialization include labor economics, the economics of race and ethnicity, macroeconomics, and economic psychology, including the psychological impact of long-term unemployment. He has published extensively and lectures widely at economic and academic conferences. He belongs to the American Economics Association, is currently vice president of the Southern Economic Association, serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics, and is a member of the National Economic Association.

In 2008, Goldsmith won the inaugural H. Hiter Harris Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

The convocation is open to the public.

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

Silver Linings for Phil Timp '79

A little more than a year has passed since Phil Timp, a 1979 Washington and Lee graduate, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS.

A journalism major at W&L who once worked as a city editor for the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier before embarking on a public relations career, Phil was a marathon runner and a triathlete. Now he walks with a cane, wears a brace on his lower right leg, and uses a motorized chair in the Bristol, Tenn., offices of Corporate Image, where he is a senior vice president.

Phil, his family and their friends have established Team Timp, which sponsors fund-raising activities to support the ALS Association. Many of those activities are based on Phil’s speaking engagements throughout the tri-state area and beyond. He also has produced a CD, “Silver Linings,” on which he tells “how to rejoice in life in the face of some of life’s most daunting obstacles.”

Long before he began experiencing the symptoms of ALS, Phil was familiar with daunting obstacles. His 30-year-old daughter, Beth, has battled Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder of the brain that affects females almost exclusively, throughout her life. In 1998, Phil and his wife, Cindy, started The Beth Foundation to honor their daughter, who was 14 when she was diagnosed. The foundation assists families with children who have rare or severe disorders and provides funding for research. For many years, Phil has been speaking about how his family has dealt with Beth’s illness.

“Beth has given us the blueprint for courage,” Timp told the Bristol Herald Courier in May. “She’s had thousands of grand mal seizures, she’s lost her ability to talk and walk and she’s had Scoleosis surgery. Her courage is amazing. It’s amazing that we still have her at 30 years.”

In an article in May, this one in the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press, Phil connected Beth’s illness with his own: “After 30 years of all Beth’s struggles, my wife and I thought we were finally on the down hill. Then this thing. What it’s caused us to do is realize that as hard as we thought we had lived, we were only living life at 80 percent and we needed to ratchet that up to 110 percent.”

Praised for his courage in the face of these challenges, Phil says his underlying philosophy can be found in his statement on the front of the Team Timp website: “In this special life where Mount Everest seems to always be out in front of me, I have gained the perspective that the greatest Silver Lining of all is God’s complete intervention in every moment of my life!”

W&L's Gavaler Discusses Superheroes on WMRA's “Virginia Insight”

Chris Gavaler, visiting assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University, discussed the literary genre of superheroes on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on Monday (Aug. 27).

Chris, who teaches a Spring Term course on the early development of the superhero character and narrative form, has been studying comic book characters for years — both as a scholar and as a fan.  His findings show that our choice in superheroes can reveal a lot about each of us as individuals, and about our society as a whole.

In addition to his scholarly research, Chris created and maintains the blog “The Patron Saint of Super Heroes.” He is also the author of the novels “School for Tricksters” (Southern Methodist University Press) and “Pretend I’m Not Here” (HarperCollins).

Hosted by Tom Graham, “Virginia Insight” is a live call-in show. WMRA is found at 89.9 in Lexington, 90.7 in Harrisonburg and 103.5 in Charlottesville. Listen to the program below:

A Shakey Award for W&L Alum Overholtzer

Congratulations are in order for Adam Overholtzer, of the Washington and Lee Class of 2004, who captured an award called “the Shakey” for a promotional video that he helped produce.

Adam’s video won the prize at the Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s annual conference in July. According to the AAAI, the goal of the competition is “to show the world how much fun AI is by documenting exciting artificial intelligence advances in research, education, and application.”

The Oscar-like Shakeys are modeled on Shakey the Robot, the first mobile robot able to reason about its surroundings. The Stanford Research Institute developed it in 1966.

Adam’s winning video promotes an iPad app on which he’s worked as an interaction designer at SRI International’s Artificial Intelligence System. Called “Inquire,”  it is the prototype of an intelligent textbook. As students read the text (based on “Campbell Biology,” one of the most popular college-level introductory textbooks), they can highlight concepts and get definitions. Or they are prompted to ask their own questions, and the software, using artificial intelligence, guides them to the answer.

The app is still in the testing phase; here’s an article from New Scientist that gives a good description of what it hopes to do.

SRI International is a Silicon Valley nonprofit research institute whose work has included development of the voice-enabled virtual personal assistant, Siri, that was incorporated in the Apple iPhone.

As an undergrad computer science major, Adam worked with Simon Levy in the W&L Computer Science Department on a video game designed to make the challenge by computerized “opponents” less predictable. He and Simon presented a paper on the game at the First Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference in 2005. He received a master’s in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon. And because, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it’s interesting to note that Adam is the son of Jeff Overholtzer, the manager of strategic planning and communication in W&L’s Information Technology Services.

W&L Hosts Inaugural Knight Poverty Journalism Conference

Journalists from around the country who write about poverty and economic justice will convene at Washington and Lee University next month for the inaugural Knight Poverty Journalism Conference.

Political activist and author Barbara Ehrenreich will present the conference’s keynote address on Friday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater in the Elrod Commons. Ehrenreich’s presentation, which is open to the public, is titled, “Poverty Reporting: Investigating the Manufacture of Misery.”

The three-day conference, which runs from Sept. 7 through Sept. 9, will include panel discussions and workshops for the invitees.

According to Edward Wasserman, the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at W&L who, with W&L students and a steering committee of outside professionals, has helped organize the conference, 40 journalists and professors will participate.

“With wealth and income inequality finally getting unprecedented attention in the media, the time for such an initiative couldn’t be better,” Wasserman said.

A team of Washington and Lee students has created a website under Wasserman’s direction, OnPoverty.org, to serve journalists in the field by aggregating current coverage, publishing interviews with practitioners, and offering digests of useful social-science findings. The conference, Wasserman noted, is a natural extension of the development of that site.

Washington and Lee has led the development of poverty studies in the curriculum through the interdisciplinary Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. The University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications offers courses as part of that program.

“The overall objective of this conference is to build competence and community among journalists who deal with these topics,” said Wasserman, noting that sessions will deal with interpreting social-science findings, understanding the perspectives of activists and using data sources.

Ehrenreich, the keynoter, has written 21 books, and is known best for “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” a 2001 memoir of three months that she spent working at minimum wage jobs.

A graduate of Reed College where she majored in physics, she has a Ph.D.in cell biology from Rockefeller University. After completing her studies, she became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement and, according to her official biography, began to question “whether she wanted to spend her life at the laboratory bench.”

She eventually became a full-time writer and contributes essays and opinion pieces to such publications at the New York Times, Harper’s and the Progressive. She is a contributing writer for TIME magazine and also writes a blog for the Huffington Post. She has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and shared the National Magazine Award for Excellence in Reporting in 1980.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.

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

California Dreams, Iranian Décor

by Jasmin Darznik
Assistant Professor of English
(This piece first appeared in the Opinionator Blog of the New York Times and is reprinted here by permission) 

In 1978, my mother packed two maroon, leatherette suitcases, and she, my father and I boarded a plane for the United States. Just about everyone who could leave Iran had done so already; friends and relatives had been selling off their houses for months. But “revolution” and “exile” were not words my family applied to our circumstances. We left our apartment on Pahlavi Avenue completely intact. The two suitcases suggested, if not a vacation, at most a temporary absence.

“We’ll be back in a few months, a year tops,” my mother explained coolly. It was a line she’d repeat often over the next three decades, which is to say long past the point when she still believed in the possibility.

Where, exactly, were we supposed to wait out the troubles back home? There was no question, at first, of buying a house, so instead we bought a Buick. With the suitcases in the trunk, we set off on a cross-country, yearlong tour of the States. There was a frigid February at a cousin’s house in Wisconsin, and a searing summer at another cousin’s Texas duplex. Along the way, we camped out at a succession of roadside motels about which I remember only the cigarette stink, saggy beds and the late-night news reports that drove my father into silence and my mother into tears.

By the time we reached the West Coast, the violence and chaos back home had reached a fever pitch. Two suitcases or 20, there was no going back to Iran anytime soon. The apartment on Pahlavi Avenue was sold and emptied of its contents. With no trace of our lives left in Iran, it was time to find a house of our own in America.

Money was tight. In Iran my mother had worked as a midwife, and my father as an engineer. Here, their degrees were worthless, so they used their small savings to buy the Casa Buena, a motel off Highway 101 in Marin County. We lived in the decrepit manager’s suite behind the office, until, with the first profits from the motel, we could afford our first real American home: a tiny mud-brown tract house in Terra Linda, a working-class town about 20 miles north of San Francisco.

It was here that my mother finally unfurled her best carpet, a pistachio-green Tabriz beauty that had taken up almost all the space in one of our two suitcases. She also purchased a pair of giant velvet couches that matched the carpet, but were completely out of proportion with the house. Like a woman who buys clothes in too-small sizes in hopes of losing weight, my mother bought furniture to fit a house we did not yet own. “We won’t stay here long,” she said, her voice as cool as always.
Wendy MacNaughton

She was right; within a year, my parents secured a loan on their dream house, a few miles down the freeway in a pretty bayside town called Tiburon. The interest on that loan would soon reach nearly 30 percent, but for a while that unremarkable split-level seemed not just a bargain but a coup. It stood in a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill, with a spectacular view of Alcatraz, Angel Island and the city in the distance.

In short order my mother furnished the Tiburon house in consummately Iranian — which is to say, strenuously French — style. To accompany the velvet couches, there was now a marble-topped, gold-footed coffee table. She draped the windows with silk swags; decorated my bedroom with a white-canopied bed; and outfitted her own room with piles and piles of purple cushions. Each purchase was at once an evocation of Iran and a repudiation of the two suitcases with which she’d left.

As for me, I didn’t notice the Iranian parts of our California house at all, and then, suddenly, around the age of 12, I saw nothing else. I would have gladly traded our velvet couches for a La-Z-Boy armchair and a chintz sofa, swapped our fine silk rugs for wall-to-wall carpeting. Of course, there was no way my mother would go for that, so I did what I could: I redecorated my room. I ditched the fancy white coverlet and cushions, bought a lava lamp, and wallpapered my walls with Duran Duran and Wham! posters. The black–and-white photographs of pre-revolutionary Iran, the antiques, the carpets, everything that made my mother feel at home as she grieved and remembered and longed for Iran, I mocked with the timeless cruelty of the second-generation toward the first.

We lost the Tiburon house in the ’80s. My parents’ hard work and ambition were, finally, unequal to the interest rate, and we moved into a two-bedroom apartment at the edge of town. Undiminished, and sure it wasn’t for long, my mother piled her treasures from floor to ceiling. Again, she was right. A few years later, they sold the motel, secured another high-interest loan and became Marin County homeowners once more.

A Spanish-style house on Richardson Bay was the last house of my parents’ that I’d ever call home and also the grandest of all our houses in America: 4,000 square feet, five bedrooms, two of them master suites, an enormous sitting room and formal dining room and views onto Mount Tamalpais. Here for the first time my mother planted a garden, encircling the property with the flowers she’d loved best in Iran — honeysuckle, jasmine, roses and nasturtium.

Over the years, the value of the house nearly doubled. Then my father died in 1999. My mother couldn’t afford to live there alone. “Just sell it,” I told her again and again. But against all prudence, with the full force of her pride, she refused. Instead, she carved out an in-law unit for herself, hauled all her favorite things into its two tiny rooms, and rented out the rest of the house. The old marble-topped dining-room buffet became her makeshift desk; she took to cooking meals over a hot plate.

And then came the housing crash. Now, of course, the house’s value has fallen drastically. There’s no longer any question of selling it. It’s her only asset, the single source of money for her retirement. The best she can do, yet again, is wait it out and hope for the best. It’s a common enough story nowadays, especially in California.

What surprises me in all this is how much I have learned to love that cluttered, makeshift Iranian house. Back when I left to move into my own first place, a tiny graduate-student apartment, I bought exactly three pieces of furniture: a futon, a chair and a desk. This lack of ornament, this refusal of any discernible history, was to me the sum of perfection. “But where are your things?” my mother wailed on her first visit. Now, I grieve every time she makes another trek to a pawnshop or consignment store, selling off one of her carpets or side tables.

Whenever I visit, she still insists on making me tea in her beautiful brass samovar, steeping it the old way, the Iranian way, with rose essence and cardamom. When she burns wild rue for good luck, I chide her for her superstition, but in the end I’ll always relent, ducking low so she can circle the smoke over my head.

Like so much of our American lives, it defies prediction and common sense, but we have been happier in that house than either of us could have imagined when we set out with our two suitcases more than 30 years ago, looking for a home we could never quite afford or imagine we would finally find.

Jasmin Darznik is a professor of English at Washington and Lee University and the author of “The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life.” 

Related //,
Tagged //

W&L Profs Goluboff, Delaney on “Virginia Insight”

Sascha Goluboff, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Washington and Lee University, was joined by Ted DeLaney, associate professor of history, for a discussion of race relations during the Civil War era, on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Sascha’s research into the history of race relations in the Rockbridge County community of Brownsburg is currently on display as an exhibition at the Brownsburg Museum under the title “Sentimental Attachments.” She is the author of “Jewish Russians: Upheavals in a Moscow Synagogue” (University of Pennsylvania Press). Ted specializes in America’s 20th-century civil rights era.

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

MoonPie Makeover

Back in 1917 when the MoonPie was created at The Chattanooga Bakery, it was one of as many as 150 different products the company was producing.

Today, The Chattanooga Bakery, a family business currently run by Sam Campbell, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1981, makes only one thing — MoonPies. In fact, the bakery makes a million MoonPies a day.

Earlier this month when MoonPie introduced new packaging, it provided some interesting lessons in branding and marketing, as a story in The Chattanooga Times Free Press explained.

As Sam, the company’s president, told the newspaper, MoonPie’s new packaging “is designed to stir up the warm feelings people associate with our brand while also modernizing the look.” He added that the goal is to make it so the package “jumps off the shelf and into your shopping cart.”

This was the first major change in MoonPie’s branding in two decades. The updated logo is based largely on the way the product looked back in the 1930s. Over the years, MoonPie has become as much an icon as a snack cake. Back in the 1920s and ’30s, MoonPies and RC Colas were widely regarded as the Southern working man’s lunch.

Under Sam’s leadership, growth has been steady and the creation’s celebrity has also increased. Starting in 2011, for instance, Mobile, Ala., has rung in the New Year with the MoonPie drop. And the company now operates MoonPie General Stores in three Southern cities.

But, as Sam understand better than anyone, the packaging isn’t nearly as important as the product. That’s why folks on MoonPie’s Facebook page, asked their reaction to the new logo, had predictable responses:

“It ain’t what’s on the outside, it’s what goodness is on the inside ;-)” and “just dont mess with the moon pie!”

Welcoming International Students to W&L, Lexington

Amy Richwine acknowledges that the 25 international students who arrived from 16 different countries for a special undergraduate orientation at Washington and Lee this week will have experienced an understandable culture shock.

“Most will be coming here from urban areas, and I think that coming to a rural area like Lexington is even more challenging than coming to the United States,” said Richwine, associate director of international education at W&L.

Until they actually get to Lexington, many students are unaware of what their surroundings will be, added Larry Boetsch, director of international education.

“Amy is especially good at helping them see what advantages they will have from a setting like this,” Boetsch said. “Lexington may not have the services or entertainment they’re used to having in an urban  area, but there are plenty of virtues associated with a bucolic environment and with, for example, the opportunities for outdoor recreation.”

The orientation schedule is designed with these issues in mind. “Business”  sessions introduce the new students to legal issues and practical matters to assist in their transition to the U.S. Outings range from an afternoon at Goshen Pass, a longtime favorite spot for W&L students to a shopping trip to the local Walmart to the Ghost Tour of Lexington. As Richwine notes, the students do not pull up at W&L in vans filled with supplies like their American classmates, making the shopping trip a critical first step. And the Ghost Tour gives them a walking tour of the town, as well as some local history.

“Our goal is to give them time to get their feet on the ground, get over the jet lag, and take care of basic things like opening a checking account, getting supplies and arranging a cell phone plan,” said Richwine.

Richwine notes that the cell phone has become one of the first things international students want when they arrive, since it helps keep them connected with friends and families back home.

An annual highlight is the Across Cultures session in which six upperclass students lead discussions about U.S. culture,  southern culture, Lexington culture and W&L’s distinctive culture.

“The most interesting portions have to do with Washington and Lee’s academic culture,” said Boetch. “None of these students has any idea what this university is going to be like. They come from completely different systems of higher education. The idea of a relationship with a faculty member is not anything that many of them have ever considered. They’ll ask, ‘You mean you talk to a faculty member outside class? What would you talk about?’ It’s all new to them.”

This year, once the international students have undergone their own orientation session, they will join members of their class who are participating in W&L’s Leading Edge pre-orientation program. The Leading Edge provides incoming first-year students with the opportunity to begin their college careers with friends, a sense of community, sharpened teamwork and leadership skills, and a memorable, meaningful and challenging experience. The program has three different tracks — an Appalachian Adventure with backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail, the Volunteer Venture with service projects in six cities in the region and the new Leadership Venture with sessions on campus and in Washington designed to offer  perspectives on leadership.

Richwine observes: “By participating in these pre-orientation trips, the students can broaden their perspectives and their friendships. International students obviously connect with one another in a special way that carries through for all four years. In the pre-orientation trips, they will be working closely with other classmates in these informal settings early in their careers, and we think that will make a difference to their transition.”

The entering international undergraduate students come from Argentina, Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada, Costa Rica, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Vietnam, South Korea, West Bank, Mongolia, Barbados.

There are also 10 international students at the W&L School of Law hail from six different countries:  Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Nepal, South Korea.

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

W&L Law Alum Honored as Champion of Justice

Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ray Price, a 1978 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, stepped down from the Missouri Supreme Court this month after 20 years, including two terms as chief justice. The longest serving Missouri Supreme Court Judge, he has returned to private practice, joining Armstrong Teasdale’s Litigation Practice Group.

Ray was presented the inaugural Champion of Justice Award from the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) on Aug. 17. The award recognized Ray’s dedication to judicial excellence and his steadfast support of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan for the selection of judges as well as for his role in establishing drug courts and reforming sentencing guidelines. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was the keynote speaker for the event.

An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from June when he announced he was leaving the court said: “Judge Price will be remembered for having as much influence as anybody in the state on the Missouri Legislature’s slow and reluctant movement toward being smarter on crime.”

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Ray discussed his support of Missouri’s drug courts and his contention that the state puts too many non-violent offenders in prison. You can listen to that interview and also hear his views on the Missouri Plan on the St. Louis Public Radio website.

Prior to his 1992 appointment to the Missouri Supreme Court, Price had been a business litigation attorney with a major Kansas City-based law firm. With Armstrong Teasdale, he has a state-wide practice focusing on complex commercial and tort matters and maintains offices in St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City.

Related //
Tagged //

Newspapers, Politics and Critical Thinking

Washington and Lee senior Michael McGuire, who had an internship with El Nuevo Herald this summer, wrote an op-ed for Editor & Publisher’s “Critical Thinking” series this month.

Critical Thinking poses a question about some aspect of journalism and then asks a journalism student and an industry professional to offer their views.

In the Aug. 16 edition, Michael and Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page editor Elizabeth Sullivan both responded to the question “Should Newspapers Make Political Endorsements?”

Michael’s answer, based in part on his experiences with El Nuevo Herald, was that no, they shouldn’t.

He concluded: “Editors don’t want my stories to have a political leaning. And if they think endorsing a politician on the opinion page won’t taint my stories just the same, they’re wrong.”

Ms. Sullivan took the other position, arguing that “olitical endorsements — done right — give voters insight and inside knowledge they might not otherwise have…”

Michael is a double major in journalism and Spanish. He won the Todd Smith Fellowship, which supports the internship with El Nuevo Herald, one of the country’s premier Spanish-language newspapers. The fellowship  memorializes Todd ’82, a talented and devoted journalist who was brutally murdered in Peru in 1989 by The Shining Path guerrillas and drug traffickers.  If you want to see the rest of Michael’s work from the summer (and can read Spanish), here is a link to his stories.

Sculptures by Jim Tisnado Featured in Staniar Gallery

Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery begins its 2012-2013 season with The Father Myths, an exhibition of ceramic sculptures by North Carolina artist Jim Tisnado. The show opens on Sept. 6 and will remain on view through Sept. 28.

The artist will give a public lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall. Immediately following the talk there will be a reception for the artist in the adjacent Lykes Atrium.

For this exhibition, Tisnado presents installations of ceramic works that reference the powerful influence of childhood memories. Often presented in multiples, the repetition of objects evokes the passage of time and an attempt to solidify the fleeting nature of memory. The impetus for each piece is a desire by the artist to not only reflect on his own relationship with his father but also to explore his own role as a parent.

Tisnado is associate professor at East Carolina University where he has taught in the ceramics area for 10 years.

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

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Sounding a Warning

Tom C. Frost’s first job in banking was as a teller. That was in 1950, the same year that he graduated from Washington and Lee with a degree in commerce. When Tom retired in 2007 as senior chairman of the board of Texas-based Frost Bank, he had spent 57 years in the banking industry.

So when Tom talks about banking and the future of the industry, people take notice. And recently, he has been sounding alarms about that future.

Just this week the Dallas Morning News began an interview with Tom this way:

Tom Frost is sounding a clarion call.

The 84-year-old chairman emeritus of Frost Bank — the only chief executive to stay at the helm of a major Texas bank throughout the state’s debacle two decades ago — sees clear and present danger to the financial system again.

This time, he fears the entire nation is at risk. If trends aren’t reversed soon, really soon, he believes the banking system as we’ve known it will be irreparably damaged.

That piece comes several months after Tom wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Big Danger With Big Banks.”  And his WSJ story came less than a week after Tom gave testimony at a hearing on “Is Simpler Better? Limiting Federal Support for Financial Institutions” in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs. You can read Tom’s testimony here and can watch an archived webcast of the entire hearing here.

In his testimony, his WSJ op-ed and the latest Dallas Morning News article, Tom refers to what his great uncle Joe Frost, then CEO of Frost Bank, told him when he joined the bank out of W&L. In the Morning News, he says: “My Uncle Joe told me we were not in the money business. We were in the people business and happened to use money as a way to serve the needs of the people. That’s not anywhere in the story now.”

The Morning News article notes that Tom was Lyndon Baines Johnson’s personal banker “from the time Johnson was president until he died.” And it further credits him with managing to keep Frost Bank and its holding company parent, Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc., intact during the decade “when every other Top 10 banking company in Texas sold out or went broke.”

A trustee emeritus at Washington and Lee, Tom’s solution to the current crisis is to erect “an impregnable firewall” between the investment of commercial functions of banks “so that if the investment side goes up in flames, it doesn’t take the commercial side with it.”

W&L Researchers Examine the Economic Value of Coastal and Marine Resources

How much are tourists visiting Belize willing to pay in conservation fees? A pilot study by Washington and Lee economics professor James F. Casey and a team of W&L students suggests it’s much more than the $3.75 fee that the country currently charges.

Casey and nine students visited Belize during the 2012 spring term to study the economic value of coastal and marine resources, focusing on coral reefs, fish populations, coastal development, and the ecological benefits of marine ecosystems.

While there, the students asked tourists to complete a survey about their willingness to pay a fee to protect natural resources. . The current conservation fee is bundled into a $39 exit charge that is collected when leaving the country. The survey addressed three questions: What is the maximum conservation fee tourists would pay? What do tourists want to protect? Would knowing the current fee affect their maximum willingness to pay?

“The student researchers approached over 220 tourists and got 188 to answer the survey,” said Casey. “Our initial numbers suggest that tourists would pay up to almost $30 if they knew it would go toward conservation.”

The trip wasn’t all paperwork and interviews. Casey’s students snorkeled through patch reef and mangrove ecosystems along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. “The mangroves and the sea grass and the corals and the open ocean and the connection between those things — what better way to learn about it than to actually be in it?” asked Casey.

For 10 days, Casey’s students shared space at the Tropical Research Education Center in Ambergris Caye with W&L classmates studying coral reefs with W&L geology professor Lisa Greer.  “We spent every day on the same boat, from basically eight in the morning until three in the afternoon, snorkeling the same sites,” said Casey

This cross-pollination of disciplines can help students gain a broader understanding of all the forces at play. “As a social scientist who firmly believes in doing interdisciplinary work, it’s paramount to know something about the eco-system that you’re studying,” said Casey. “I think the students learned a lot informally from the students in the other class.”

This summer, juniors Libby Cloos of Covington, La., and Katie D’Innocenzo of Andover, Mass., are analyzing the information that Casey’s class collected during the Belize trip as well as data collected during his research trips to other Caribbean countries. This data includes the results of in-person surveys as well as details about Caribbean tourism.

The two students also reviewed literature about the willingness of travelers to pay to preserve marine environments. “I’ve been doing a lot of database searches so I’m really familiar with econ lit, econ papers, JSTOR and how to skim quickly a 37-page econ paper,” said D’Innocenzo, a Robert E. Lee Research Scholar. “I summarize the papers, pull out the important aspects, and send the summaries to Professor Casey.”

D’Innocenzo and Cloos, who is an intern with W&L’s Chesapeake Bay Program, did not join Casey’s class in Belize because they spent their spring term studying sustainable economic development in Amazonas, Brazil, with W&L economics professor James Kahn. They plan to join Casey when he returns to Belize for the 2013 spring term.

Casey has been studying the economic value of marine ecosystems since 2003, when he taught a class about marine resource economics. By 2006 he had taken a group of students to Mexico, where they conducted their first survey. “Since 2006 we’ve gathered data from Mexico, Belize, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, and have an ongoing relationship with the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill,” said Casey.

In 2010, Casey published a study indicating that tourists to Mexico would be willing to pay up to $55 per visit for coral reef protection (www.wlu.edu/x49300.xml). “We actually try to design most of our studies with an emphasis on answering some type of policy question,” said Casey.

He plans to use the information gathered in Belize to attract funding for a more in-depth round of data collection, one that would be done over a term of six months instead of four weeks. “I’m trying to find a forum through which we can start to discuss these initial results, either in Belize or Washington, and then find funding to go out and gather 500 to 1,000 observations,” said Casey. Cloos and D’Innocenzo spent one week this summer looking for sources of funding for the proposed project.

Analyzing survey data, reviewing journal articles and looking for funding may not be as glamorous as snorkeling off the coast of Belize, but the two summer scholars have learned the ins and outs of graduate-level research while expanding their overall understanding of economics.

“I think what’s been most beneficial has been seeing all the concepts that we learned in the classroom applied to real-world data, like the different valuation methods and survey methods that we learned, and seeing how they’re actually implemented,” said Cloos.

For more information about Casey’s spring term students and their adventures in Belize, visit their blog at http://springterm.blogs.wlu.edu/classes/economics-of-tropical-coastal-seascapes.

— by Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L

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

Building Strong Foundations

President Ruscio’s Message

In late April I met with the 200 high school seniors and their families who attended our Accepted Students’ Day and were trying to decide whether Washington and Lee is where they want to spend the next four years.

I told the students that I wanted them to think not just about the next four years, but a lifetime, and to imagine themselves not merely as students of Washington and Lee, but as alumni. “Consider what it will be like,” I told them, “when you come back in 2066 to celebrate your 50th reunion and look back on lives of accomplishment that were based on the foundation provided during your four years here.”

This brought to mind those numerous conversations I have had with alumni who tell me that they think about leadership and integrity every day and that they attribute this to their time at Washington and Lee.

Here is an example of what I mean

A few weeks before commencement, I received an e-mail from the registrar. This is a time of year when you don’t want to get e-mails from the registrar—whether you’re a student or the University president. So I read it with some trepidation.

The registrar was tracking down last-minute details to make sure that seniors could graduate. One such detail is working with the dozen or so students who have not yet passed the swim test.

The note read: “One day last week, a senior woman came in and told us that her degree audit incorrectly showed that she had completed her swimming test. She said she had never taken the test. She was sent to not taken the test. We removed the incorrect notation from her record, and she is scheduling a time to complete this part of her W&L education. Her example speaks for itself.”

Indeed, it does.

That foundation begins with W&L’s sense of place. There are many specific places that hold special meaning— from the footbridge to Goshen Pass to House Mountain to Alvin Dennis. The most important one to alumni is the historic Colonnade, which is undergoing renovation. The restoration is well underway; Newcomb and Payne Halls are completed. In just a few short months, Washington Hall will reopen its doors. Then it’s on to Robinson and Tucker. Although there are days when I look at budget sheets and architectural drawings and make difficult business decisions on this project, the Colonnade remains, for me, symbolic of everything we are trying to do at this University.

We continue to protect the timeless values as we prepare our students for a different and challenging future.

In 2066, when students who enter this fall return for their 50th reunion, the Colonnade will look exactly as it always has. It will embody the same grace and strength that have characterized the University for centuries. And inside will be a 21st-century education that is still informed by the same values that cause a student not to take a shortcut, but to insist on passing the swim test.

Designing Women

Hollister Hovey ’00 and Sister Porter Transform Blogging into a Business

By Laure Stevens-Lubin, Photos by Porter Hovey

Visitors to the loft that Hollister Hovey ’00 shares with her younger sister, Porter, in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., might find themselves at a loss for words—but not for long. Antique tennis racquets sprout from a porcelain umbrella stand, which is nestled against vintage luggage that has some tales to recount. Tin toys share curio cabinets alongside scientific artifacts and botanical prints. A taxidermied swan wings through a flurry of cotton blossoms, while a papier-mâché leopard that Hollister crafted in the third grade sprawls alongside a zebra-skin rug on the floor before the mantel.

“Your home should be a layered document of who you are and where you have been,” Hollister said of her style. “That doesn’t mean your home needs to be full of antiques. But a few key pieces to foster conversation can go a long way.” Over the past few years, the journalism major, who manages a dual career as a communications consultant and an interior designer, has, with her sister, fostered a newsworthy conversation about style that has taken her to unexpected destinations.

Exotic Gallivanting Ways

Hollister described one of her key design philosophies: “You should let your home reflect who you are and where you have come from, where you have traveled, who your family was.” And so it follows that her aesthetic sensibility reflects the influences of her parents, Porter and Lana Hovey. “My mother grew up in Nebraska, the daughter of a suburban 1950s housewife and a railroad engineer. She was a dreamer and felt wanderlust in a deep way,” she said. Lana, who had always wanted to move to the East, received a post-graduate fellowship at Radcliffe. From there she took a job with Mademoiselle magazine and went on to a career in public relations. “Mom and Dad were introduced at a party given by a woman (Fern Mallis) who now runs Fashion Week,” Hollister recounted.

Porter Hovey père grew up on the East Coast and traveled widely in his 20s, living on a farm in South Africa, running a gold mine in Bolivia and a taking a boatload of cattle to the Philippines. “He had exotic gallivanting ways—he was a big fan of Tintin,” the rambling European comic-book hero, she said. “He really exposed us to that perspective.” He worked in the field of business management. Lana passed away in 2002. From his home in Kansas City, Mo., their father takes a keen interest in the daughters’ blogs and adventures.

And the sisters inherited his traveling tendencies. Between the two of them, they’ve journeyed to London, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona, Marrakech and Budapest. They try to do one big trip a year and sprinkle in lots of short weekend getaways. “We just go for pleasure, but inevitably end up finding loads of inspiration in every place,” said Hollister.

Her favorite destination so far has been Istanbul, where they spent ten days in 2009. “Istanbul is the perfect mix of East and West, and the modern elements are just as wonderful as the old,” she explained. The shopping was not what she’d expected, however. “The much-hyped Grand Bazaar seemed incredibly overpriced and full of replicas,” she said. “But there’s one little area of shops with great relics from the Constantinople days that we finally found off the main artery about seven days in. We bought loads of treasures from there, Ottoman epaulettes and gold-threaded military belts and a canvas-and-leather top-hat box.” The military belt now adorns a dressmaker’s dummy in Porter’s bedroom.

Hollister found shopping in London the easiest given their Anglophile tastes, but not quite as fun without the challenge. “In London, shop after shop seemed curated to our taste perfectly, but that, ironically, made it seem less special than if we discovered one little treasure where we weren’t expecting it.”

The sisters have inherited their father’s taste for exotic objects as well. “He mowed the lawn in a pith helmet and carried a machete for garden work. Mom’s dreaming, combined with Dad’s artifacts, worked out nicely for their colonial aesthetic,” Hollister explained. The sisters were born in Lincoln, Neb., where their parents had moved after Lana’s mother died. “Dad just thought of moving to Lincoln as another adventure,” Hollister said. The girls grew up there and in Mission Hills, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. As a child, her TV viewing included “lots of period pieces” on PBS and “Masterpiece Theater.” She also whiled away the hours at the local natural history museum, cultivating her penchant for taxidermied creatures.


Hollister majored in journalism at W&L, but she was always interested in aesthetics, taking many art and art history classes. One of her favorites was an independent study in sculpture with Larry Stene, professor of art, in which she designed and built a chair.

“It was multimedia. I did welding and carving. I loved using my hands and building something functional,” she recalled. Outside the classroom, Hollister browsed the Lexington antique malls, acquiring a camelback sofa and an Argentinian saddle to decorate her dorm room. “As an undergraduate, I didn’t really have the money to invest in a lot, but I had a few key pieces that I really loved.” Her first big eBay purchase, an Ivory Coast sculpture of a man wearing a pith helmet, “started the slippery slope of spending.”

Two weeks after graduating, Hollister became a wire reporter for Dow Jones. She worked her way onto the pharma and biotech beat, covering North American drug makers. In 2005, she moved to Lazar Partners Ltd., in New York City, a communications advisory firm that focuses on health care; she’s a senior director.

At the same time, she and Porter, who is a photographer, licensed real estate salesperson and blogger, moved into the large Williamsburg loft. “I really began a new phase of my life then,” Hollister said. “I made two major changes at once, starting a new job and moving.” Before then, she had lived in small Manhattan studios. “I had a twin bed until I was 25,” she said. “When we moved into the loft, I got my first adult furniture. I began to live like a grown-up.”

Around 2007, she began blogging about design, in part as a way to curb her expenditures. “I started my blog as a way to organize all the objects that I collect and love,” she recalled. She also has a clickable gallery of objects of desire-some she owns and some she’d like to own-on her Tumblr site (see p. 29).

The New York Times took notice in 2008, when the Home and Garden section featured her in “Shopping with Design Bloggers: Picks from Hollister Hovey.” The reporter called her style “an eccentric version of decaying WASP-y, Teddy Roosevelt by way of John Derian,” the New York decoupage artist.

Soon the Hovey apartment became the focal point for the blog, and for the second Times mention, in a 2009 article titled “The New Antiquarians.” (Porter and Hollister posed for the photo in fencing masks.) The third appearance in the Times, last December, described the trendy Edge condominium they decorated for Peter Jenkins, an executive at the Booz & Company management-consulting firm and a co-founder of Stranger Records. That project led the sisters to unveil Hovey Design.

Hollister juggles the family business with her position at Lazar, while Porter runs Hovey Design alongside her other pursuits. “It’s not easy to balance a full-time day job and a design consultancy firm,” noted Hollister. “So it’s great to have Porter fully dedicated to the company.”

Hollister contributes after work and on weekends, roaming the borough for possible buys. “I’ve always found that the moment you need to find something, it becomes elusive. So, I just make a habit of popping into the little junk, curiosity and consignment shops around Brooklyn to see if anything wonderful has come in,” she explained. Such browsing “has led to some seemingly huge impulse purchases, the most wild being a 1940s Louis Vuitton trunk on what was supposed to be a coffee run.”

The sisters, who are 33 and 29, work well as a team. “We’ve always been close. Even if we are very different in some ways, like many people who live together, we finish each other’s sentences,” said Hollister. “Since we weren’t in high school together, we didn’t have that competition that siblings closer in age might have, although we can sometimes fall into the big sister-little sister dynamic. That’s why it is great that Porter is taking care of the day-to-day business. It puts her in a position of control, which is a nice place for a little sister to be once in a while.” Their current collaboration is not a home but a book; Rizzoli will publish “Heirloom Modern” in the spring of 2013.

Truly Modern Thinking

With her love of stuffed creatures, Hollister is a bit surprised at the lack of commentary regarding what some might view as a controversial aspect of her taste. “With the taxidermy, I view it much more as a scientific, naturalist’s aesthetic than that of the hunter with trophies. However, these animals did die and someone took time to preserve them for some form of eternity. It sort of pays homage to them as beautiful creatures to highlight them in décor,” she explained.

About a year ago, moths infested her favorite piece-a merino sheep with wonderfully regal spiral horns. She had to throw it away to prevent more damage to the rest of the collection, let alone to her clothes. “It was incredibly sad and felt quite wasteful and tragic, because there is some uncontrollable tendency to become connected to them more than you would some ordinary inanimate object,” she said. A new favorite piece is a scarlet ibis, which she added to the menagerie through Craigslist.

Her most beloved objects, however, come from the Hovey family home. “We had a life-sized portrait of a hunter with his hound that our mom found when we were kids, and a beautiful oval, leather-top desk from my dad’s stepfather. That is my favorite piece of furniture,” she said. The fine, one-of-a-kind quality of such items lends them “a distinctive beauty. They aren’t mass produced and disposable. They have been made with care and have withstood the test of time,” she said.

“It’s not about living in the past, though. It’s about having an honest appreciation for the people and lives that were lived before us and what that means today,” Hollister continued. “Truly modern thinking takes the past into consideration. It’s about incorporating that into our lives to make the current that much more relevant and interesting.”

Hovey Design:
Hollister Hovey online:
Porter Hovey online:

Brothers in Farms

The Hansons Tour the Country and Publish a Book

By David Hanson ’00, Photos by Michael Hanson ’03

Michael hands me an old Gatorade bottle half-full of diesel fuel. I pour a splash into the air intake, and Michael cranks the engine. It sputters and conks. We let it rest. The desert sky is a sunset wildfire of lemon pink that darkens to blood orange. Warm light fills the bus, painting everything inside: our wood bunk-benches, the two desks, the rickety kitchenette repurposed from an old RV, and the small dorm-room fridge that holds fresh kale, arugula, carrots and goat cheese picked up at our last farm stop, in Santa Barbara, Calif.

We’ve waited long enough. The sky has faded to a deep, inky blue. We crank the ignition again. It doesn’t work. The first stars come out. On our fifth try, Lewis Lewis (we’ll get to him) revs to life, we shut the hood, close the folding school-bus door and roll onward, ton the glittery oasis of Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Mission

This was late May of 2010. Our mission was simple: Make a book that tells the story, in words and photos, of the visionary people and vibrant farms happening in America’s cities. By Flagstaff, we had been traveling for 10 days and had visited three urban farms since leaving our Seattle home on May 19. Another six weeks and nine cities lay ahead of us if we wanted to complete the journey and make a book.

I am not a farmer or a diesel mechanic. Neither is Michael. I am a freelance writer contributing to magazines such as Southern Living, Sunset, Outside, Mountain and Preservation. Michael is a freelance photographer who has shot for Outside, NPR, the New York Times, Budget Living, Coastal Living, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. Freelance working conditions vary, from cushy four-star resorts to remote villages, like Venezuela’s tiny, boat-access-only town of Chuao, where the villagers grow the world’s finest cacao. So we occasionally find ourselves in situations like the one in Arizona. It’s just the nature of having a big project (driving cross-country in a school bus powered by recycled vegetable grease) and a tiny budget (aka a book deal).

Fresh and Healthy

According to the USDA, over 1,000 new farmers’ markets popped up in America in 2010, bringing the (official) national total to 7,175. That’s up from 1,755 in 1994. A wave of do-it-yourself, back-to-the-land, organic interest is easing across the country. Grocery stores, farm-to-plate restaurants, even mega-corporations are touting their local cred: McDonald’s billboards in Seattle boast of using Washington potatoes, and Domino’s ad campaigns trace their pizza ingredients to family farms.

The tilt toward fresh and healthy is necessary. Our country’s disjointed and transportation-dependent food system has needed an overhaul for decades. While increasing rates of obesity, hypertension and diabetes indicate a vast array of complex social problems, it’s undeniable that our health issues’ main taproot is limited access to fresh, healthy food for a large percentage of our population. It seems we’ve settled for cheap rather than healthy and affordable.

I used to teach in national parks (Olympic and Yosemite). Students ages 8 to 18 had no idea where their food came from. I’d ask about the origin of their cheese slices. The most common answer: “the grocery store.” My brother and I, like most of our contemporaries, are now over a generation removed from the farm. We grew up in the suburbs, and we rarely even had a vegetable garden.

All this is to say, urban farms, at their most fundamental level, are changing the way we understand food by simply opening a piece of the city and letting us look at food growing-slowly and obviously-out of the dirt. Urban farms appear in a hundred different shades, from raised beds shared by neighbors, to small-business incubator farms for refugee immigrants, to educational farms, to rooftop gardens. None of them intend to feed the masses. The benefits to their immediate communities and the ways in which they are evolving our nation’s perspective and conversation around food go far beyond the kale, chard, carrots, tomatoes and sunflowers they produce.

Hundreds of city-farm visionaries are doing this kind of work. Edwin Marty is one. He’s also a close friend whom I met while living in Birmingham, Ala. In 2001, Edwin founded Jones Valley Urban Farm (JVUF) on a patch of soil in downtown Birmingham. He grew it into a city-block farm that teaches youth and adults, provides fresh produce to the city and trains new farmers. Edwin and I often talked about new farms and visionary city farmers we’d been introduced to around the country-Edwin as an urban farmer and me as a magazine editor. We hashed out our ideas over cold, cheap beers in a neighborhood dive: Birmingham’s Garage Café.

Road Trip

Eventually, after I’d relocated to Seattle, our barstool brainstorms turned into a formal book proposal on America’s urban farms. By January 2010 we got a bite. The University of California Press would publish it. Oh, no. Neither of us had ever written a book, and this would require a two-month cross-country road trip to visit and document the farms. Edwin had a newborn at home and a farm to run. He would write the intro and conclusion and the how-tos that accompany each chapter, but he could not hit the road for two months. We needed a photographer and a vehicle.

The photographer part was easy. Michael and I shared a house in Seattle, so I asked him if he wanted to drive around the country and make photos for the book. We’d likely be sleeping and eating out of a bus or van, and we’d make no money. But we’d meet amazing people and tell a good story. He said, “Sure.”

Now we just needed our 21st-century Rocinante. For two months, we scoured Craigslist. Finally, a month before we needed to begin, we found the perfect vehicle on a curb two miles from our house. The short school bus, a ’97 Chevy, which had toted schoolchildren in Washington’s Kitsap County, had been converted to run on recycled vegetable grease (two tanks: one for diesel, one for veggie) and had three bunks, an old-but-functional RV kitchenette and a mini-fridge. Three guys had driven it to Baja and back on a surf trip. I got a lesson in veggie-grease operation and bought it a few days later.

We installed two desks, and Michael signed up for a portable modem. We hung curtains. We spray-painted the bus white, and it looked pretty good. Eventually the name “Lewis Lewis” stuck, in memory of Edwin’s first farm employee, Lewis Nelson Lewis, on JVUF’s original vacant lot. A homeless veteran who volunteered and eventually became a full-time paid employee, he died in 2009. Lewis always had a story, often full of half-truths, and he punctuated the gaps between his own laughter with a pull on the cigarette held between his dry, cracked, soil-darkened thumb and forefinger. We needed his spirit of second chances, the healing power of growing food, and the positive ripples that flow out of projects with intention and authenticity. But Lewis Lewis, the man, also had his vices, so we were not surprised when his namesake bus broke down in Berkeley, then again at sunset outside Flagstaff.

Farm Teams

Between Seattle and Birmingham, we saw six farms, each bursting with the young summer’s new energy. In Santa Cruz, Calif., we met homeless men and women who were changing their lives through a three-year training program at the Homeless Garden Project. In Santa Barbara, Calif., directors at a historic farm had figured out a way to preserve it in the face of suburban residential encroachment. In Denver, a partnership between Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), the city and the Trust for Public Land is rehabilitating a vacant lot in a neighborhood full of refugee immigrants. The new American citizens began growing vegetables on the abandoned lot across from their apartments as a way to curtail grocery bills, create community and reconnect with their agrarian roots.

America’s heartland rushed by us, through eastern Colorado and across the green sea of Kansas. Massive mono-crop farms of corn and wheat reminded us of the troubling trend toward big agriculture and the conversion of the independent family farm to family farms indentured to corporations. Kansas now imports the vast majority of its fruits and vegetables. The tiny towns along Interstate 40 were on the verge of becoming ghost towns. We couldn’t even find a proper diner.

But Kansas City has new ideas for food. Big gardens and small farms harvest from the fertile city soils, and individuals sell the yield at farmers’ markets, most of which now accept food-stamp swipe cards. At New Roots for Refugees Farm, women from Myanmar, Sudan, Somalia and Burma train in a small-business farm incubator program. They learn how to market and sell their robust vegetable yields grown next to a housing project. With support from Cultivate Kansas City and Catholic Charities, the women can resume their agrarian lifestyles, earn income for their families and feel useful in their new home.

We hit New Orleans with a heat wave. Even with every window and roof vent open, Lewis Lewis felt like a tin toaster oven. The Vietnamese community of Versailles sits in east New Orleans, a 1960s planned community whose wide boulevards, cul-de-sacs and modest ranch homes somehow hacked their way into the jungle of wetlands and canals draining Lake Pontchartrain. Versailles recovered faster than any other community following Hurricane Katrina, in large part because the residents grow most of their household food on the canal sides and in backyards the size of a one-car garage.

By the time we reached Birmingham and JVUF, Lewis Lewis was worn out. We weren’t even that surprised, and almost relieved, when he stubbornly refused to start in the parking lot of JVUF. Lewis had made it back home, powered by vegetable grease for much of the 6,000-mile journey from Seattle. The tour was only half over, but we were full of inspiration. How could we argue with such a poetic homecoming? We gathered our gear and grease-stained clothes and relocated to a rental minivan-shiny white with automatic doors, A/C, a CD player and no discernible character.

Our route continued north to Philly’s Greensgrow Farm, then to New York and the 6,000-square-foot rooftop farm on a warehouse with views across the East River to Manhattan. There, founder Annie Novak takes advantage of her postcard-perfect urban view to use Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, in Brooklyn, as a far-reaching educational outlet that brings city kids and adults in direct contact with food growing in dirt.

My favorite farm came near the end, in Detroit, a city that’s become America’s urban revival laboratory. An estimated 100,000 vacant lots tempt urban agriculture pioneers, artists and a radical-thinking mayor who’s toying with the idea of converting massive chunks of abandoned cityscape into farmland.

One public school for teenage mothers and mothers-to-be sits quietly on the fringe of the revitalization fray. The Catherine Ferguson Academy is half school, half urban farm, with vegetable gardens, hoop houses, chickens, goats, ducks, a horse. The girls built a barn that houses hay harvested from vacant lots. Young mothers, many of whom have been rejected from most aspects of their lives, milk goats daily. In between math and English classes, they discover their power and value behind the wheel of a diesel tractor.

Our journey ended north of Chicago at the edge of suburb and farmland. Sandhill Organics farm earns $25,000 an acre growing a diverse range of vegetables. That’s far more than the per-acre average of the nearby mono-crop farms. So maybe there’s hope for the ideas creeping out of small lots in cities.

Round Trip

We made it back to Seattle without Lewis Lewis. But I can now change the glow-plugs and bleed the fuel injectors on a diesel, and I can test the water content of old french-fry grease using a frying pan and camp stove without burning my eyelids off. And our book, “Breaking through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival,” came out in January.

And though I’m still not a farmer (the six rows of greens in my front-yard garden patch aside), I know the new American farmers. He and she seem to be a mix of savvy entrepreneur, educator, marketing director and tractor driver. They use Facebook and Twitter and e-mail blasts and multimedia to reach their audience with the simple message: Come outside and get some food.

David Hanson online: davidhanson3.com
Michael Hanson online:

Eminent Domain and the Housing Crisis

A plan to address the housing crisis by having local governments use their power of eminent domain is garnering lots of attention from coast to coast, and one of its architects is Washington and Lee alumnus John Vlahoplus.

A 1983 W&L graduate and Rhodes Scholar, John is a founder and chief strategy officer of Mortgage Resolution Partners L.L.C., a San Francisco-based firm that promotes Community Action to Restore Equity and Stability (CARES™).

Here’s how Reuters described the plan in a story in June:

A mortgage firm backed by a number of prominent West Coast financiers is pushing local politicians in California and a handful of other states hardest hit by the housing crisis to use eminent domain to restructure mortgages that borrowers owe more money on than their homes are actually worth.

San Francisco-based Mortgage Resolution Partners, in a presentation reviewed by Reuters, says condemning so-called underwater mortgages and taking them out of the hands of private lenders and bondholders is “the only practical way to modify mortgages on a large enough scale to solve the housing crisis.”

Under the ambitious proposal, Mortgage Resolution Partners would work with local governments to find institutional investors willing to provide tens of billions of dollars to finance the condemnation process to avoid using taxpayer dollars to acquire millions of distressed mortgages.

A recent Huffington Post story reported that San Bernardino County in California, where as many as half of all homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, is giving careful consideration to the plan “under which Mortgage Resolution Partners fund would front money to allow local governments to purchase underwater mortgages at market value in exchange for a fixed fee of $4,500 per loan. Homeowners could then refinance at the lower value, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in mortgage payments — while also injecting a shot of adrenaline into moribund local economies.”

In that Huffington Post piece, John Vlahoplus said: “Unnecessary foreclosures are crushing the revenue of these local communities. It is important to realize how frustrated and hurt economically they are.”

The plan has its share of critics as well as proponents, one of whom happens to be actor John Cusack. On a recent HuffPost Live with Ariana Huffington,  Cusack joined John Vlahoplus and others to discuss the proposal. In that forum, John Vlahoplus noted that “the cities are at the point where they need to take action themselves. They’re tired of waiting for Washington. . . . People have been beaten up, they’re fed up, they’re tired, and this is an opportunity to work directly in their own cities.”

You can get a good sense of the plan by watching the HuffPost Live video.

After receiving a law degree at Harvard and a D. Phil. in jurisprudence from Oxford, John was an attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City and has since worked in new business development for the Zurich Financial Services Group, BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse.

W&L Physician Provides Health Tips for New Students

As college freshmen head to their respective campuses in the coming weeks, one thing might be missing from their to-do lists: the simple admonition to stay healthy.

Dr. Jane Horton, director of Student Health and Counseling at Washington and Lee University, offers the following suggestions to avoid the common health problems that befall entering students.

See your doctor. Before you leave for school, prepare for medications that you might need for such chronic illnesses as asthma.

Review your immunizations. W&L requires all students to be immunized with the meningitis vaccine and the combined diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis booster. Horton notes campus health professionals are concerned about both meningitis and pertussis, which may emerge when newcomers to campus live in close quarters.

“The bacteria that causes meningitis is spread through respiratory and oral secretions, and people are in close quarters, sharing food and drink,” said Horton, “And we know that is one of the reasons there’s a special risk in the first few weeks of school.”

Pertussis, or whooping cough, has been emerging as a major threat this year. It is spread by coughs, Horton noted, and entering college students are in the age range where, if they have followed recommendations, they should have received the booster that was introduced in 2005. “If they have gotten the booster during high school, then they’re not likely to be significantly affected,” said Horton. “But they need to check their records to be sure.”

Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest issues that students face in the early days on campus. As Horton notes, there is a lot going on — studying, socializing, early-morning classes. Students are also exploring the freedom that comes with making their own schedules. “Young people’s brains are wired to want to stay up later and sleep in later,” she said. “So they start short-changing themselves on sleep, and that runs down their immune systems and makes them susceptible to the kind of respiratory illnesses that we see so commonly.”

Observe basic good health practices, including respiratory etiquette. Wash your hands frequently. Cover a cough or sneeze with your elbow and/or use a tissue and dispose of it.  Stay three feet away from others if you’re ill with a fever or cough. “That can be a difficult one, since sitting in class is not a good place for someone to be if they’re coughing and have a fever,” Horton said.

Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Although Horton thinks today’s students are more attuned to eating healthy foods, she notes that once a student does not have a parent putting a healthy, balanced meal in front of them every evening, it can be tempting to choose French fries and pizza. “There are lots of options for them now,” said Horton. “It’s their choice. There’s also the option to restrict your food choices because you don’t feel in control when you have so many choices. I think that’s why we see problems with eating disorders. So much of choice is learning self-control. It’s about becoming an adult.”

Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking has declined among W&L students. But Horton said students are often likely to be social smokers who have only a few cigarettes in social settings during a week. “I tell students that one cigarette damages the lining of their respiratory tract for three or four days,” Horton said. “So during those days after even one cigarette, you are more susceptible to allergies and infection. If you have an illness, it’s going to take longer to clear. It’s more likely for a cold to turn to bronchitis. And second-hand smoke has an impact, too.”

Learn to manage your time. Stress in its various forms remains an underlying factor in many of the complaints that students bring to the health center. In part, that is the result of difficulty with time management, with students on their own and having only two or three hours of structured time in classes each day. Much of the stress and stress-related illnesses that students bring to the health center emerge because they are not managing their time well, feeling overwhelmed and getting too little sleep, and thus feeling constantly tired.

“If they’ll think about their academic work as a job and dedicate eight hours a day to getting it done, they would have much better ability to manage their social lives in the evenings,” Horton said. “Athletes often fare better even though they have considerable demands on their time, because the structure of their day requires that they use their time more wisely.”

Use resources on campus. If students are ill or struggling in any way, they shouldn’t wait to take advantage of the Student Health Center or the Counseling Center. “You don’t have to have a major depression to meet with a counselor,” Horton said. “It can be roommate issues or adjusting to time management. The students sometimes wait until it’s too late, and then the issues are having an academic impact.”

The doctor encourages students to visit the professional, helpful staff. “The counselors and the nurses are great resources who can talk to people with concerns and follow up with a visit with a physician or a physician assistant,” she said. “We want W&L students to be healthy and get the most out of their time here. We want to help.”

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

W&L's Students for St. Jude Honored

Washington and Lee’s Students for St. Jude Program, which raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, was recognized during the annual St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar in July, when co-director Olivia Kantwill, a senior from Lorton, Va., received the Danny Thomas Scholarship on behalf of the program.

The $1,000 scholarship recognized the progress that the W&L students have made since the program returned to the W&L campus in the fall of 2009. Olivia, co-director Molly Rountree, a senior from Andover, Mass., and Angela Tuminno, a senior from Buffalo, N.Y., are the three remaining founding members of the W&L organization, which is part of a nationwide collegiate program that raises money and awareness for St. Jude through campus events.

According to Olivia, this past academic year was particularly successful for the group. She cited three major milestones:

  • The addition of a new event, the first annual “Up Til Dodge” Dodgeball Tournament;
  • A doubling of both money raised and participation from the previous year;
  • A total of $20,000 raised during the past three years since the program’s return.

The dodgeball tournament, which was held in May in Doremus Gymnasium, raised just under $13,000. It will be held again in May 2013. The group’s initial fund-raising effort will be done online. Members of the W&L community who raise a minimum amount during the fall will be eligible for a Nov. 8 evening of entertainment. “It will be a celebration of the hospital, the money raised and the amazing things the money will bring to the lives of children with cancer,” said Olivia.

Anyone interested in making a donation to St. Jude via the students’ program should email generalsforstjude@gmail.com.  Their goal for the 2012-13 academic year is $25,000.

W&L's Solar-Energy System Meets Targeted Capacities

Two solar photovoltaic arrays with a total capacity of 444 kilowatts on the Washington and Lee University campus met their performance goals for the first six months of 2012.

The first solar array, with a capacity of 119 kilowatts, operates on a canopy over the upper deck of the University’s parking structure. Lewis Hall, home of the Washington and Lee School of Law, hosts the second array, a rooftop installation with a capacity of 325 kilowatts. Both systems began operations in December 2011. The University is leasing the solar-energy system from Secure Futures, a solar energy development company based in Staunton, Va.

“The overall performance of the arrays has met our expectations,” said Scott Beebe, director of energy initiatives at Washington and Lee. “The system runs each day without any special attention on our part. I have been very pleased with the performance.”

System-performance ratio for the period was 99 percent of expected performance measured at the site of each array. Mild temperatures boosted performance in both systems during the winter and spring, and slightly dampened performance during June, when temperatures were higher than average near the end of the month..

The University’s goal has been to have the solar power reduce the amount of electricity that it purchases from Dominion Power by 3 percent annually, said Beebe, and the current level of performance should meet that goal.

• View realtime statistics at http://go.wlu.edu/solar
• Watch a video about the installation at http://vimeo.com/33231918

“Solar-energy operators project performance of a system based on how much sun they expect to shine on the geographical area where the system is installed. Many people may not realize that solar irradiance actually varies from one year to the next, based on local weather,” said Anthony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures. “Given the amount of sun that the solar panels at Washington and Lee received during the first six months of 2012, the system has performed exceedingly well thus far.”

The Lexington area received lower-than-projected sunshine during the period, resulting in 7 percent lower irradiance than projected at both systems. The reduction in sunshine is likely due to the occasional presence of mountain-effect weather and river fog specific to Lexington.

Combined, the two solar arrays on campus represent one of the most powerful solar-energy systems in the state of Virginia and one of the largest photovoltaic systems installed at a private institution of higher education anywhere in the United States. Solar energy is one component of the University’s program to save energy and promote sustainability. Other areas include composting, using local and organic foods, purchasing, transportation and the management of physical plant. In addition, departments ranging from the University store to printing and copying services have committed to using fewer resources and generating less waste.

News Contacts:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Washington and Lee University
(540) 458-8459

Erik Curren
Director of Marketing
Secure Futures
(540) 466-6128

A Sweet Partnership to Combat Diabetes

A new partnership between a Georgia specialty-syrup company and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University is supporting diabetes education in high-risk communities. It’s the result of another partnership, that of Harry Jones III, a member of W&L’s Class of 1978, who owns the company, Blackberry Patch, and his sister, Randy Jones, who serves on the dean’s council of the Rollins School.

Blackberry Patch, which Harry co-owns with Randy Harvey, operates in Thomasville, Ga. The pair had been wanting to promote good health through diabetes prevention, so after sister told brother about Emory’s Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Program (DTTAC), a partnership was born.

Blackberry Patch contributes proceeds from sales of its sugar-free and no-sugar-added fruit syrups to DTTAC, easing the costs of training for lifestyle coaches in communities with populations at high risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Harry, who holds a B.S. in commerce from W&L, has enjoyed a long career in the food business, including restaurants and distribution. He and Randy Harvey took over Blackberry Patch in 1999; the company has been around since 1988. It produces more than 50 items that are carried by such retailers as Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Le Gourmet Chef, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods.

You can read more about the partnership and Harry’s company on the Blackberry Patch website.

A New “Biggest Case” for Sports Lawyer Gene Marsh '81L

When W&L Law: The Washington and Lee School of Law Magazine profiled alumni Gene Marsh, of the law Class of 1981, and William King, of the undergraduate Class of 1986, in the Winter 2012 issue, author Jake Trotter ’04 described many fascinating examples of the cases Marsh and King have handled as “two of the nation’s preeminent legal experts on NCAA compliance issues.” They have developed the nation’s go-to sports-law practice at Lightfoot, Franklin & White, in Birmingham.

As Jake’s piece notes: “They counseled Michigan when former coach Rich Rodriguez was accused of extending practices past the NCAA-mandated limits. They advised USC after illicit payments to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo came to light. And in their biggest case yet, they represented Jim Tressel, who was ousted at Ohio State after allegations that he tried to cover up some of his players’ receiving illegal benefits so they could remain eligible.”

Those were all big cases, of course. But they also happened before Penn State.

So readers of that W&L story would not have been surprised, then, to pick up the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine and find Gene Marsh’s name in the opening sentence of the account of the NCAA penalties against Penn State as a result of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

As the story relates, Gene was vacationing in a one-room cabin on an island off the coast of Maine (there is even a picture of the cabin) when the NCAA’s general counsel called to discuss the potential sanctions against Penn State.

The ESPN piece is a comprehensive report on how the NCAA came down on Penn State’s football program and of Gene’s pivotal role in the negotiations after the university retained him this summer.

Among the many fascinating revelations, there is Gene’s initial reaction when it seemed the NCAA was poised to ban football at Penn State altogether:

As he sat in his cabin, “I just imagined an empty stadium,” says Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA’s infractions committee who has since defended many schools and coaches before it, including former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “I thought about the wind blowing through the portals and all the economic and social and spiritual ramifications of that empty stadium. And this would last … years?”

The ESPN article is available online. So is the W&L Law School magazine story. Go to the magazine on Issuu and then go to page 20 to read about Gene, Bill and their practice.

Stephen Brooks '84 Debuts Painting Show in N.C.

Stephen Brooks, of the Class of 1984, transformed his initial interest in biology at Washington and Lee into art degrees and careers as a furniture designer and a painter. He’ll be displaying the fruit of the latter talent in an exhibition, “Light in the Forest,” opening today (Friday, Aug. 10), at Art and Artifacts in Blowing Rock, N.C.

As this nice profile in the Boone Mountain Times describes Stephen’s creations, “Whether it be strolling through the woods, painting fantastic images of trees, or creating wooden frames for his paintings, wood is a recurring theme in his life and work.”

In the newspaper story, Stephen speaks warmly of I-Hsiung Ju, the beloved former professor of art and artist-in-residence at W&L, who passed away on March 17. “In addition to teaching me incredible things about art, he taught me about philosophy, Confucianism and cooking,” said Stephen, who lived on Ju’s Art Farm during his undergrad years. “He was simply mind-blowing.”

Stephen, who lives in Hickory, N.C., with his family, holds an M.F.A. in painting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a degree in furniture design from Kendall College. He’s taught art, worked in museums and designed furniture for Henredon; he now creates furniture for Zagaroli & Co.

W&L's Lorig Addresses Careers at Monster.com Conference

Beverly Lorig, director of Washington and Lee’s Career Development Center, today (Thursday, Aug. 9) joins some of the nation’s leading experts on social media and careers at a major conference in Washington sponsored by Monster.com.  Participants will address ways that employers and college recruiters can reach the next generation of job candidates.

At the Social Media Summit titled “Preparing for Today’s Emerging Workforce,” Beverly and representatives from Johns Hopkins University, The MITRE Corporation and the Department of Energy will hold a panel discussion of best practices and current social media challenges for college students, employers and career development professionals.

The use of social media has been one of the top issues in career planning, and Beverly and her staff have been ramping up their efforts to assist W&L students as they map out their careers and search for jobs.

A webpage of the W&L Career Development Center highlights its social media tools, including the center’s Facebook page, Twitter account and a collection of career-oriented stories through a Delicious feed. It also contains resources for students (and alumni) on how best to use all these tools, as well as LinkedIn.

W&L's Millon Begins Term as President of Regional Law School Group

David Millon, J. B. Stombock Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, took the helm as president of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) at its recent annual meeting. Millon will serve as president of the organization for the 2012-13 term.

Founded in 1947, SEALS is an academic organization that sponsors an annual meeting attracting legal scholars from around the U.S. and abroad.  This year’s week-long meeting included 59 scholarly panels and discussion groups on a vast array of topics.  Over 600 professors participated in the conference.

As in the past, the conference was held at a resort, and the relaxed and collegial atmosphere provided rich opportunities for networking and informal interactions among newly minted faculty members and more seasoned colleagues.  Next year’s annual meeting will be held on August 4-10 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.

Millon says he is most proud of the commitment SEALS has made to inclusiveness, bringing together a diverse group of scholars who engage each other actively in formal and informal academic exchange.

“During the coming year, I and my fellow board members are committed to enhancing further this important part of our mission,” said Millon. “In addition, I hope that we can do a better job of ‘getting the word out’ about the exciting and enriching scholarly opportunities that SEALS provides, all within a relaxed and enjoyable family-friendly atmosphere.”

W&L Law School faculty are very active within SEALS. This year professors Johanna Bond, Christopher Bruner, Mark Drumbl, Jill Fraley, Brant Hellwig, John Keyser, J.D. King, Todd Peppers, Joan Shaughnessy, and Robin Wilson all participated in panels or discussion groups to present their research or serve as moderators.

In addition to his duties with the organization during the conference, Millon also served as a panelist in a session on how recent Supreme Court decisions and congressional legislation are affecting business and regulatory issues and in a discussion group focused on teaching business law in a new economic environment.

A highly respected scholar in the areas of corporate law and legal history, Millon has written about some of the most pressing issues of the day, from corporate social responsibility to the Enron collapse to the ramifications of the recent Citizens United decision. His most recent publications include the articles “Human Rights and Delaware Corporate Law” and “Two Models of Corporate Social Responsibility” and a book,Select Ecclesiastical Cases from the King’s Courts 1272-1307, which explores the relationship between the Catholic Church’s court system and the King’s common law courts during the reign of Edward I.

From 2000 to 2006, Millon served W&L Law as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and from 1994-1997 as director of the Frances Lewis Law Center, the law school’s research and scholarship arm. Millon holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Ohio State University, a Ph.D. from Cornell University and a J.D. from Harvard.

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

Related //
Tagged //

The Most Interesting Internship in the World

As an account management intern for Euro RSCG Worldwide in New York City, Washington and Lee senior Josh Bareño has had his share of interesting experiences this summer.

And then this happened: He got to meet the Most Interesting Man in the World.

Dos Equis is one of Euro RSCG’s clients, and the agency created the commercials that feature the character dubbed “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” How interesting is he? He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. Mosquitoes refuse to bite him simply out of respect. And so forth.

So when Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who portrays him in the Dos Equis commercials, came to visit Euro RSCG this month, Josh had a chance to find out for himself.

“Is he really the most interesting man in the world?” we asked Josh in an e-mail.

“I’m not sure if he’s the most interesting man,” replied Josh, “but he has a great sense of humor and is extremely nice!”

We’ll take that as a definite maybe.

Josh is not the only W&L student having an interesting time at Euro RSCG this summer. Ashley Astolfi, a senior business administration major from Victoria, Tex., is also there. And, in fact, Ashley is working on the Dos Equis account, so she’s met Mr. Goldsmith several times. She just wasn’t first on Twitter with a photo of  them together.

Josh and Ashley were not the only W&L folks at Euro RSCG, either. Josh notes that both Stephanie Mansey, of the Class of 2010, and Katherine Barnes, of the Class of 2012, are full-time employees.

Josh, a journalism and mass communications major from Miami, worked on several of Hershey’s summer initiatives, including Camp Bondfire and the fall baking platform. He also helped with such other Hershey’s brands as Jolly Rancher, Reese’s, Kit Kat and Ice Breakers. The company divided interns into groups, and they worked on a project that they presented to the agency.

All that great experience is well and good, but as Josh made plain in the tweet he sent with the photo of him and the Most Interesting Man — “From now on when people ask about my summer, I’ll simply show them that pic.”

Silver for Crockett in Nationals

Competing on Aug. 4 and 5 in the 2012 USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championship in Lisle, Ill., Washington and Lee German professor Roger Crockett captured a silver medal, finishing second in the long jump of the men’s 60-64 age group.

As we noted in an earlier blog post, Roger won a gold medal in the USATF East Region Masters Championships at Howard Community College, in Columbia, Md.. That performance gave him a fifth-place national spot heading into the national meet.

At the nationals, Roger produced his best jump of the year — 4.66 meters — and finished second to Thaddeus Wilson, whose winning jump was 4.98 meters. Roger was the oldest competitor in the field. See the complete long-jump results.

In addition, Roger competed in the triple jump at nationals, finishing just out of the medals in fourth place with a jump of 8.79 meters. See the complete triple-jump results.

W&L's R.E. Scholars Design Software for Surveillance Drones

In a war zone, an abandoned building may be filled with hidden hazards. Bombs. Booby traps. Snipers. Thanks to software designed by Washington and Lee computer science professor Simon Levy and his summer research students, American soldiers may soon be detecting these dangers using miniature surveillance drones.

Levy and his students — junior Suraj Bajracharya and sophomore Bipeen Acharya, both from Nepal, and junior Olivier Mahame, of Rwanda — are working with Advanced Aerials, a Navy contractor, to develop the software, which will be embedded on a wrist-mounted controller. Their program would allow soldiers to tap out simple commands on the controller’s touchscreen.

“Imagine a scenario where they’re trying to figure out what’s in a particular building, and they don’t want to run in there. There may be explosive ordnance…or they may be under attack,” explained Levy. “So the idea is, you can take this out of a pack and toss it in the building and have it flying around looking for things, with cameras on it.” The cameras would record a live feed of the building’s interior.

Levy and Advanced Aerials, a VTOL UAV rapid prototyping company north of Charlottesville, will demo the software for the Navy this fall. The project offers Levy’s students a unique research opportunity because they are building a commercially viable product. “There’s actually a customer who wants this technology,” said Levy.

The students, all Robert E. Lee scholars, spent the first part of the summer coding commands for the drone. Their goal? To keep the coding as clean and simple as possible. They also wanted to create a visually appealing touchscreen.

Levy’s students started coding as soon as the project began. This would not have been possible a few years ago, said Levy. Until recently, the only small computing devices available were micro-controllers. These special-purpose computers have their own language and limitations, and the students would have needed time to learn their computer’s particular platform.

Programming today is much simpler. “You can get an entire computer that’s already good to go, with programming on board. The students don’t have to learn much beyond what they’ve already learned in their computer science courses,” said Levy.

Technology is also more affordable than it was in the past. “We’re currently working with what’s called commercial, off-the-shelf technology,” said Levy. “Most of this stuff costs between $20 and $200. It’s very inexpensive technology. You can buy it at Amazon or some supplier online. I’m just using, basically, little $20 webcams for this.”

According to Levy, the drones and controllers to be used in the demo are supposed to be easily portable and disposable. Part of the challenge for the students was to keep the coding clean and efficient. Levy reviewed their work daily to correct mistakes. “We would be doing it the long way, and he would come in and tell us to use a function,” said Acharya. These functions, or shortcuts, removed repetitive codes and kept the program lean.

The team’s software is highly adaptable and can be embedded in a variety of small, open-source computing devices that operate on a Linux platform, from BeagleBoard to Raspberry Pi to Gumstix. “The code we write for one of the devices can work on any of the other devices,” said Bajracharya. They decided not to design an iPhone-ready program because the Apple device requires a specialized code not easily adaptable to other platforms.

A prototype drone was unavailable in June, so the team tested commands on a server that acted as a substitute for the actual robot. Levy will test the software on a drone later this summer. In September, Levy and the head of Advanced Aerials, Bert Wagner, will demo the device for the Navy. “If that works out, we’ll have a bigger product due a year out from that,” said Levy.

The students agreed that they learned a lot about programming. “It made me get more interested in programming because I hadn’t worked with designing things graphically as an interface,” said Mahame. He also enjoyed “doing the coding to connect to the graphical user interface and making it more dynamic. I think this project was really cool.”

Gaining hands-on experience with a high-level commercial project was another benefit for his research assistants, said Levy.  “You can come to a place like W&L and get some really interesting projects under your belt very quickly,” said Levy. “This industry is really cooking. I know they won’t have any trouble finding a job or going to grad school.”

— by Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L

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

Washington and Lee Exceeds Fund-Raising Goals for 2011-2012

Washington and Lee University raised $32.1 million in new gifts and pledges in the 2011-12 fiscal year, while reaching new highs in the University’s Annual Fund in both the amount of dollar support and the percentage of alumni who donated.

The $7.8 million in gifts to the Annual Fund was the most in the University’s history and exceeded the goal by 5.3 percent over last year’s record result. For the second time in as many years, the percentage of participation by undergraduate alumni exceeded 50 percent, with 51.4 percent making gifts. W&L is one of fewer than 20 colleges in America where undergraduate giving exceeds 50 percent.

Alumni of the W&L Law School also had one of the highest participation rates in the country among law schools, with 41 percent of Law School alumni supporting Washington and Lee.

Giving by young alumni — graduates of the past 10 years — exceeded 50 percent for the first time. Overall, support for the W&L Annual Fund has increased by 78 percent during the past decade.

“We are grateful to the University’s alumni, parents and other supporters,” said Dennis Cross, vice president for advancement at W&L. “Their generosity is responsible for the University’s success in fund-raising each year, and the impressive results in 2011-12 reflect their loyalty and deep desire to support W&L’s students as well as the faculty and programs that make a Washington and Lee education such a transforming and memorable personal experience.

“Our donors share our confidence in the value and importance of a W&L liberal arts and legal education,” continued Cross. “More than 40 percent of the University’s operating budget each year comes from gifts made to the Annual Fund and to departments, and from the income of endowments established by supporters over the generations. They continue a proud tradition of philanthropy originated at this institution by George Washington.”

The $32.1 million in new gifts and pledges marked the sixth consecutive year that this category has exceeded $30 million. The total for new gifts and pledges was supplemented by the second best total of documented planned gifts since 2001.

Cash received during the year was $51.2 million, in the fifth consecutive year that this number has been above $51 million. As a result, $28.1 million was added to the University’s endowment.

Every gift in 2011-12 counts toward the University’s capital campaign, “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future.” W&L has now raised $380 million of its campaign goal of $500 million. The campaign, which was launched publicly in October 2010, continues through June 2015.

Other highlights of the 2011-12 fund-raising year:

  • Gifts to the Annual Fund from non-alumni parents reached a new milestone of $1.1 million, a 27 percent increase from 2010-11 and only the second time parents’ giving to the Annual Fund has exceeded $1 million.
  • Gifts to the Annual Fund from law alumni also reached new heights. The Law Annual Fund increased 8.1 percent to more than $952,000.
  • The President’s Society, recognizing the leadership donors to the Annual Fund, increased 12 percent to 867.
  • The 2012 Senior Class raised the most in the history of the program and achieved 69 percent participation.
  • Reunion classes committed a total of $3.8 million to the Annual Fund, $1.7 million more than the same classes contributed during their previous reunion year, in 2007. Fifty-four percent of alumni celebrating their reunions made an increased gift compared to last year.

Cross said that the success of University Advancement was aided and made possible by more than 2,000 volunteer roles held by alumni, parents, and friends of the University. These volunteers include class agents, leaders of 87 alumni chapters, reunion class leaders, Trustees, and members of several advisory boards. He also thanked the administration and staff of the University including University Advancement, which is comprised of the offices of Alumni Affairs, Communications and Public Affairs, Development, Law School Advancement, Special Events and Special Programs.

Spider-Man Became Popular by Breaking Superhero Mold, Says W&L Professor

The Amazing Spider-Man turns 50 this month, and Chris Gavaler believes the superhero’s abiding popularity can be traced to his origins as, well, a jerk.

Gavaler, visiting assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University, not only conducts research on the superhero narratives but also teaches a course on the subject and writes a blog, “The Patron Saint of Superheroes.”

One of the assignments Gavaler gives students in his Spring Term superhero course is to disrupt the existing conventions that define a character.

That, he said, is what Spider-Man’s creators, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, did when they introduced the character in a 12-page story that ran, almost as an afterthought, in an August 1962 issue of a Marvel comic book titled “Amazing Fantasy.”


For starters, Gavaler said, Spider-Man was a teenager, and teenagers had always been cast only as sidekicks to adult superheroes. In addition, Spider-Man’s origin story shows the character, teenager Peter Parker, as down on his luck.

“The idea that things might not go well for a superhero was a radical idea,” Gavaler said.

What really set Spider-Man apart, according to Gavaler, was something that has been erased from his character over time — the fact that he really wasn’t a sympathetic character.

“The story that introduces Spider-Man is a short morality tale,” said Gavaler. “You have this reasonably nice teenager who is given super powers, and the first thing he does is try to find a way to make money from them. He comes off as egotistical, a real jerk. That’s totally against the idea of superheroes.”

In that initial story, Spider-Man is responsible for his uncle’s murder when he refuses to intervene during a burglary.

“Readers had never seen anything like that before in the genre,” said Gavaler. “It became immediately popular because the superheroes were typically so boring. For instance, Superman is unbearably good. Suddenly, with Spider-Man, you had this idea of ‘Wait. You can have a superhero who actually makes mistakes, where things go bad for him?’ There was an instantly humanizing effect, and readers could relate to the character at the psychological level.

“Before Stan Lee, superheroes had no psychology. For no reason whatsoever, Superman decides to be the hero of the oppressed. Why? But here you have an origin story of this teenager who learned a lesson and now he has to make up for it the rest of his life. It’s a very different way of approaching the character type.”

Still, Spider-Man’s success at the Hollywood and Broadway box offices have not allowed the character to overtake Superman and Batman on surveys of superheroes’ popularity. If anything, Gavaler said, Spider-Man is probably neck and neck with Wonder Woman at No. 3.

With the wide distribution of weekly comic books a thing of the past, the movie franchise is what moves the dial on recognition and popularity.

“When I ask my students on the first day of class about their frame of reference for these characters, only a handful know them from comic books,” said Gavaler, who was a devotee of Marvel comics growing up. “Comic books are now a little sliver. They’re like the minor leagues that feed the big leagues of film, which is far more culturally pervasive.

“When a big Hollywood film comes out, it blankets everyone. That’s why Spider-Man in the last decade has had a much more significant cultural impact than previously. Hollywood is interested in name recognition. They’ve now got this character to sell, and it’s self-fulfilling once you have the character.”

Hollywood released its fourth Spider-Man movie, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” earlier this summer, but the official anniversary of the character will be observed when Marvel releases a special, oversize issue of the comic, #692, on Aug. 15.

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

Related //,
Tagged //

A Talented–and Well Shod–Quartet

“Look @wlunews, 4 classes working together in NYC!”

That tweet, from Washington and Lee alumna Coye Nokes, of the Class of 1997, tipped us off to an event last week that featured four W&L women — two alumnae and two current students.

Coye has her own eponymous brand of women’s shoes. This summer Anna Marie Haynie, a senior art history major from Shreveport, La., and Sarah Jane Schneider, a junior English and business administration double major from Dallas, have interned at Coye’s New York headquarters.

On July 31, W&L alumna Inslee Haynes, a fashion illustrator, from the Class of 2008, joined the three at Coye’s studio for a special invitation-only event to preview the 2013 spring collection. Each guest chose a pair of shoes, and Inslee transformed them into 8×10 watercolor portraits that the guests could keep. You can see examples of those sketches on Inslee’s blog.

It was, as Inslee explained, a trial run for the upcoming major press preview of Coye’s collection, when they plan to do the same thing for editors and fashion reporters.

Learning About Hiroshima at ALSOS Digital Library

Today is a somber anniversary: 67 years ago, a nuclear bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima. To readily explore that event and the wider world of nuclear issues, there’s ALSOS, a comprehensive digital library on the subject housed at Washington and Lee University.

ALSOS provides “a vetted, annotated bibliography of over 3,000 books, articles, films, CDs, and websites about a broad range of nuclear issues,” says its website. It’s also part of the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library, which supports education and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and of Nuclear Pathways, related sites about a wide array of nuclear matters.

For example, someone moved to explore today’s anniversary further can enter “Hiroshima” in the ALSOS search engine and receive a lengthy list of books, articles, websites and so on, including an entry for John Hersey’s 1946 classic “Hiroshima,” a nonfiction account of six survivors. In addition to reading the bibliographical entry and the brief description of the item, the reader can click on a link to WorldCat to find out which libraries carry it.

The library is supported by the National Science Digital Library program of the National Science Foundation, the Lenfest Foundation and Gerry Lenfest, a member of the W&L Classes of 1953 and 1955 Law.

W&L students have worked on ALSOS through the University’s R. E. Lee Summer Scholars Program under the guidance of Frank Settle, who just retired as a visiting professor of chemistry. Frank is a principal investigator of the Nuclear Energy Education in the 21st Century Project and director of ALSOS. We interviewed Frank in 2011 after the Japanese earthquake that damaged nuclear reactors; you can listen to that interview and read the article here.

Gift of Civil War Newspapers Enriches W&L Collections and Classes

More than 150 Civil War-era newspapers have found a home in the Special Collections of Washington and Lee University’s Leyburn Library thanks to Fred Farrar, a member of W&L’s Class of 1941 and a retired teacher of journalism.

“Each one has to do with a major highlight of Civil War history, from the very beginning right up through the end and the assassination of Lincoln,” said Vaughan Stanley, special collections librarian at W&L. “They’re just an amazing collection. Fred is undoubtedly one of the leading collectors of original historic newspapers in the United States.”

The collection, which is in excellent condition, includes a mix of Northern and Southern newspapers, from the Richmond Whig and the Nashville Daily Union to the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. There are also pages from 1860 and 1862 editions of Harper’s Weekly.

In 2005 Farrar, who majored in journalism at W&L, gave about 1,500 historic newspapers to W&L, including copies of the London Gazette from the late 1600s and more than 90 American newspapers covering the Revolutionary War era, from 1765 through 1783. An indexed list of the Farrar Collection of Historical Newspapers can be found on the W&L website at www.wlu.edu/x52088.xml.

“This whole Civil War collection is just the cherry on top of the dessert,” said Doug Cumming, associate professor of journalism and mass communications at W&L. He has worked extensively with Farrar over the years while cataloging the collection. He’s also taught three undergraduate courses built around the papers Farrar gave in 2005. He hopes to offer a class based on the Civil War newspapers in the fall of 2013.

“Having these original newspapers is just a treasure trove for our students, to see what people were saying at the time,” said Dennis Cross, vice president for University advancement.

Farrar began collecting newspapers during his career as an advertising executive. That passion led him to earn a master’s degree in history. In 1980, he began teaching the history of journalism at Temple University School of Communications, in Philadelphia, and he used historic newspapers from his collection as a primary resource.

Using newspaper articles to bring history to life in the classroom has long been important to Farrar. “I started back in the 1950s. An eighth grade teacher asked me to come to her class and talk on the Civil War. Right about that time the New York Times, with the centennial of the war coming up, had reproduced its front pages,” he said. To compress his talk, Farrar focused on just a few days of the war. “I decided to take 13 days and tell them all about those days … and then show them the actual papers.”

For students today, he has found, it’s often hard to recognize how different life was in the past. “I used to say to my class, ‘How do you think the French Army got from Rhode Island to Yorktown to help Washington?’ And they always said, ‘They took the bus,’ ” said Farrar. “C’mon, they walked. It’s out of their consciousness that anybody would walk that far.” Newspaper accounts help students conceptualize the differences between eras.

The Civil War newspapers cover numerous historic events, including South Carolina’s secession, the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac, the Battle of Antietam, the death of Stonewall Jackson, the Fort Pillow Massacre and Sherman’s March. Both Southern and Northern newspapers covered the surrender of Fort Sumter, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, and the assassination of President Lincoln.

The Nov. 20, 1863, issue of the New York Daily Tribune contains one of the first printings of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “That was pretty neat to see, and it wasn’t even a headline. It was buried down in one of the lower columns of the newspaper because Lincoln’s speech came after a two-hour oration by Edward Everett, who was the main speaker at the dedication of Gettysburg Cemetery,” said Stanley. “Lincoln was just on as almost an add-on at the end, but his speech has become by far the most famous one in history. But at the time it was made, it wasn’t highlighted in the headline.”

Several newspapers cover Lincoln’s assassination. The Daily Alta California ran the story on Sunday, April 16, 1865, the day after Lincoln died. “That’s one of the more interesting papers because the Daily Alta in San Francisco was the leading paper on the West Coast,” said Farrar. Because the Pony Express had stopped its cross-country mail delivery, the city had just started to get news via telegraph. “The first news story to go across the country was the peace treaty , and the following week you get the assassination of Lincoln, the second major story to cross the continent.”

The newspapers in the Civil War collection are being indexed, transcribed and digitized. Once digitization is complete, the papers will be available and searchable online.

“They’re one of the best collections of their kind in the U.S.,” said Stanley. “Our Journalism Department and students are very fortunate to have this collection available to them.”

— by Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L

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

Generals on the Fringe

The Olympics aren’t the only cultural extravaganza happening in the United Kingdom this summer. Beginning today, Aug. 3, in Scotland is the famed Edinburgh Festival Fringe — and its roster of performing artists boasts Washington and Lee students, an alumnus and a professor.

On the dance bill is Jenefer Davies, assistant professor of dance at W&L and artistic director of the W&L Repertory Dance Company, and W&L student dancers Jennifer Ritter ’13, Erin Sullivan ’13, Blair Davis ’15 and Jillian Katterhagen ’15, plus Taylor Maxey ’13, the stage manager in charge of lighting and tech. They are part of Danceforms’ 60th International Choreographers’ Showcase. Jennifer and Jillian will perform “Veil of Ignorance,” which Jenefer choreographed to music by Philip Glass, and all four student dancers will perform “Queen Moo,” choreographed by Susana B. Williams to music by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors.

The students first performed “Veil of Ignorance” in the winter 2012 dance concert at W&L and are performing at the Festival Fringe by invitation. For “Queen Moo,” Jenefer brought a guest artist to campus last winter to set it, and the W&L dance company also performed the number. “It’s quite an honor to receive an invitation to the festival and be able to represent W&L on a national level,” said Jenefer.

The W&L dancers debut in Edinburgh on Aug. 5. Before that, however, Jenefer, Jennifer and Erin are doing aerial dance in England with a professional aerial-dance company.

On the musical side, there’s the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” with musical director Joshua Harvey. A member of W&L’s Class of 2000, Josh is studying for his M.A. in musical direction of musical theatre at the Royal Conservatoire.

The festival presents a month’s worth of something for everyone: spoken-word performances, cabaret, children’s shows, comedy, dance and physical theater, events, exhibitions, music, musicals, opera and theater. This is the second time W&L performers have joined the mix; their first appearance came in 2006, when students performed a Neil LaBute play called “Tits and Blood.”

Summer Sendoffs for the Class of 2016

It’s that time of year. The 479 members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2016 are preparing to head to Lexington at the end of the month.

Before they do, W&L alumni around the country are making their own preparations: to see the incoming first-year students off in style with the annual Summer Sendoff parties. In July, seven alumni chapters staged events for entering students from their areas.

Virginia (Baird) Thomas ’06 tweeted following the Chicago reception last week: “Great W&L event in Chicago! Jealous of the 14 Chicago-area students who are starting their freshman year this fall!”

Starting tonight with parties in Lexington, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio, chapters will host almost 35 events during the next three weeks. The schedule is below. For additional details, check the Upcoming Events section of the Alumni Affairs website.

Aug. 2            Bluegrass (Lexington, Ky.)

Aug. 2            Southern Ohio (Cincinnati)

Aug. 5            Arkansas (Little Rock)

Aug. 6            Mid-South (Memphis)

Aug. 7            Atlanta

Aug. 9            Baton Rouge

Aug. 9            Louisville

Aug. 9            Central Mississippi (Jackson)

Aug. 10            Augusta-Rockingham

Aug. 10            St. Louis

Aug. 11            Oregon (Portland)

Aug. 11            Puget Sound

Aug. 11            Fort Worth

Aug. 12            Keystone (Camp Hill, Pa.)

Aug. 12            Los Angeles

Aug. 12            Philadelphia

Aug. 12            Pittsburgh

Aug. 12            Winston-Salem

Aug. 14            Houston

Aug. 14            New Orleans

Aug. 15            Pensacola

Aug. 16            Montgomery

Aug. 16            Palmetto (Columbia, S.C.)

Aug. 18            Mobile

Aug. 19            Austin

Aug. 19            Eastern, N.C. (Raleigh)

Agu. 19            Baltimore

Aug. 19            Charlotte

Aug. 19            Florida West Coast (Tampa)

Aug. 21            Northern Louisiana (Shreveport)

Aug. 21            San Antonio

Aug. 22            Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

Aug. 22            Tidewater (Norfolk)

Aug. 23            Dallas

Aug. 25            SC Piedmont (Greenville)

New Shepherd Poverty Studies Consortium to Hold Symposium in Little Rock

A new consortium of colleges and universities that offer poverty studies will hold a two-day conference on Aug. 7 and 8 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), established earlier this spring, introduces into undergraduate and professional education a collaborative initiative for sustained curricular and co-curricular education focused on poverty and human capability.

The members of the consortium are Baylor University, Berea College, College of Wooster, Elon University, Furman University, John Carroll University, Lynchburg College, Middlebury College, Niagara University, Spelman College, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Notre Dame, Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.

The Clinton School of Public Service has been a collaborating partner with the Shepherd Consortium institutions throughout the preparation for this new venture in higher education.

The conference in Little Rock will mark the first major event in the consortium’s history and will include presentations by students from the member institutions on their recently completed summer internships, plus a symposium on teaching poverty for faculty and students.

“This is a landmark event for the consortium,” said Harlan Beckley, Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion and director of the Shepherd Poverty Program at Washington and Lee. “We are bringing together for the first time a group of institutions that have committed to combining class coursework and co-curricular firsthand service and leadership in the area of poverty studies.”

Joel Anderson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, welcomed the symposium to the UALR campus. “I am pleased that the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has the opportunity to host the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty conference this year,” he said. “We are a proud new member of the consortium and are enthusiastic about its commitment to eliminate poverty. The Shepherd Program’s blend of both coursework and experience dealing with issues of poverty are invaluable to students who desire to pursue opportunities for service to their communities.”

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, added: “As the first school in the nation to offer a master of public service degree, we have focused a lot of attention and energy on issues related to poverty, so we’re pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this symposium with the Shepherd Consortium,” Rutherford said. “We look forward to learning from what is an exciting model for studying and addressing poverty in our country.”

A model for poverty studies education has been evolving at Washington and Lee, in collaboration with Berea and Spelman colleges, for the past 15 years. W&L’s Shepherd Program on Poverty and Human Capability began in response to the magnitude of poverty in the United States. In addition to taking coursework that can lead to a minor in poverty studies, students also commit to eight-week summer internships working with impoverished persons and communities around the country.

“Higher education offers several research programs for undergraduate and graduate students that examine poverty,” Beckley said. “However, no programs combine classroom and firsthand education sustained over multiple years to prepare students, in almost any major or career trajectory, to understand how their work, their civic leadership and their political participation will bear on poverty.”

In June, the consortium began its joint activities when 73 students from the 14 consortium institutions embarked on summer internships in a wide variety of locations and settings. When the students assemble at UALR on Aug. 7, they will each report on their experiences in a day of panels and presentations in the Frueauff Closing Conference, sponsored by the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation of Little Rock.

On the following day, the consortium will hold its first symposium at the Clinton School of Public Service. Sheldon Danziger, the Henry J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center, will present the keynote address.

Danziger’s research focuses on the effects of economic, demographic and public policy changes, on trends in poverty and inequality, and on social welfare policies. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, the 2010 John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, director of the National Poverty Center, and director of the Research and Training Program on Poverty and Public Policy.

The symposium also will have a panel on what undergraduate and professional students should know about community initiatives and policy in order to diminish poverty. Panelists are Rose Adams, executive director, Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association; Raël Nelson James, executive director, LIFT—DC, Washington, D.C.; Schroeder Stribling, executive director, N Street Village women’s homeless shelter, Washington, D.C.; and Dr. James B. Young, chairman of the division of medicine of the Cleveland (Ohio) Clinic Foundation.

News Contacts:
Jeffery G. Hanna, Washington and Lee
(540) 458-8459

Judy Williams, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
(501) 569=3372

Ben Beaumont, Clinton School of  Public Service
(501) 454-2779

Another Honor for John Klinedinst '71, '78L

Washington and Lee alumnus and trustee emeritus John Klinedinst, founder and CEO of San Diego-based Klinedinst P.C., is the top attorney for 2012 in corporate litigation according to San Diego’s Daily Transcript.

The award came from a vote of John’s fellow attorneys. The Transcript received nearly 800 nominations from 14 pre-selected categories. The nominees were narrowed down to 25 semi-finalists in each category, which was then opened up to peer voting.

John, a member of the undergrad Class of 1971 and the law school Class of 1978, was one of two members of his firm to be honored. The other was CFO Heather L. Rosing, voted the top attorney in insurance litigation.

Among John’s recent cases cited by the Transcript was a complex vendor claim against a Fortune 500 company in Los Angeles, as well as the dismissal of a professional malpractice claim against an Am Law 100 firm in federal court.

This is the second major award for John in the past seven months. In December, he was named Most Admired CEO by San Diego Business Journal.

John served as a trustee of the University from 2001 to 2010.

Related //
Tagged //