Feature Stories Campus Events

Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Contest for Virginia Writers

The annual Graybeal-Gowen Prize will be awarded by Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review for a single poem by a writer born in Virginia or with current established residence of more than a year in Virginia. The prize is for $500.

Entrants are invited to submit up to three previously unpublished poems. Send two copies of each poem (one with name and address and one without), a self-addressed stamped envelope and brief biographical note, which should confirm the basis for eligibility to:

The Graybeal-Gowen Prize
Shenandoah
17 Courthouse Square
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA  24450-2116

No entry fee is required. Entries should be postmarked between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15, 2012 and the winner will be published in Shenandoah, Sept. 2013.

Past winners have been Jennifer Key, currently of Dallas, Texas, for “Jefferson’s Daughters;” Elisabeth Murawski of Arlington, Va., for “Emma Hardy Speaks from the Grave” and Margaret Mackinnon of Falls Church, Va., for “Writing on the Window” which will appear in the next issue of Shenandoah. Past judges have included Betty Adcock (winner of The Poet’s Prize), Brendan Galvin (finalist for the National Book Award) and Kelly Cherry (former Poet Laureate of Virginia).

The Graybeal-Gowen Prize is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Priscilla Gowen-Graybeal’s father, Howerton Gowen (W&L ’30), a lifelong lover of poetry. The prize is donated by Mrs. Graybeal and her husband James (W&L ’49).

For more information, contact http://shenandoahliterary.org/graybeal-gowen or the magazine’s editor R.T. Smith at rodsmith@wlu.edu.

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


R.E. Lee Research Scholar Turns Art Detective

The intriguing question for Teresa Soley, a senior art history major at Washington and Lee University, was how an indigenous native of Brazil could appear as one of the magi adoring the Christ child in a painting in Portugal, complete with feathered headdress and holding an arrow.

The painting in question dates between 1502 and 1506, and, though debated by experts, it is thought to be by famous Portuguese artist “Grão” Vasco Fernandes. What is certain is that the painter had never been to Brazil, since the Portuguese had discovered the country only a few years earlier in 1500.

Soley received a R. E. Lee Undergraduate Research Grant this summer to work with Andrea Lepage, assistant professor of art history at W&L, to research the painting. Soley will use the research in her senior honors thesis. They also plan to co-author a paper on why the figure is in the painting, what it means and what kind of statement the artist was trying to make by including it.

Lepage explained that while many art history scholars focus on the impact of European art, ideas and beliefs on the indigenous populations of the Americas, she recently decided to focus on the conversation flowing in the opposite direction—how indigenous art and ideas in the Americas impacted Europe. So she asked Soley to see if she could find any evidence of European painters incorporating indigenous people from the Americas.

“Originally, we expected to encounter many examples of this sort of thing,” said Lepage. “But in fact there are very few, and almost nothing has been published about them in English. Also, the painting that Teresa is researching is a rare example of a sympathetic representation of an indigenous person in Europe.

The painting was interesting not only because of the extraordinary twist of adding the Brazilian native to the very traditional subject of the adoration of the magi, but also because Soley could find relatively little written about it. “Considering how important you’d assume this painting would be, there’s almost nothing written about it in English,” said Soley, who has Portuguese language skills.

The painting is part of a large altar piece called the “Viseu Altarpiece,” which was painted in oil on 18 chestnut wood panels. Only 14 of the panels currently survive and are now located in a local museum in the city of Viseu.

In addition to conducting an online search for primary source material from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, Soley took a trip to Portugal to see the real painting and gained permission from the director of the museum to spend time studying it and taking photographs. She used an IR-modified camera to collect images enabling the examination of possible underdrawings in the painting. “Professor Erich Uffelman in the chemistry department was very helpful,” said Soley. “He outfitted me with the infrared camera and suggested exploring the possibility of an underdrawing so that I could see any changes the artist made at the compositional stage.”

She was also able to access the conservation records of the painting and works that had been written about it that have never been published outside Portugal.

“It was a tremendous experience,” said Soley. “Most students don’t have the opportunity to spend a whole summer working with a professor doing this kind of original research. Professor Lepage was a great mentor. I’m a minor in mass communications so I understand both fields of research—the academic part and the more investigative side. I felt like an art detective and I loved it.”

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

Mike Allen '86, One of the Powers That Be

Mike Allen got a raise. While we don’t know what that member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1986 pulls down as the reporter who writes Politico’s “Playbook” (the “must-read briefing on what’s driving the day in Washington,” according to Politico itself), we do know that Vanity Fair magazine boosted him to #19 in its list of 25 “Powers That Be” from #39 on last year’s “New Establishment.” The magazine publishes its list of influential figures each year.

“Allen’s audience is relatively small but extremely influential,” writes the magazine. The profile, which appears in the October issue, also mentions Mike’s friend Tom Brokaw and his first day off in 990 days.

“Having earned their place in the firmament,” writes VF, “the top 25 mandarins include titans of industry and media moguls—not to mention a smattering of comedians.” Keeping Mike company in “Powers That Be” are such luminaries as Rupert Murdoch (mega-publisher), Jon Stewart (TV satirist), Jill Abramson (New York Times editor), Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post founder) and Peter Jackson (director of “The Lord of the Rings.”). We blogged about Mike’s earlier “New Establishment” ranking exactly a year ago today.

In February, Mike took time from his hectic schedule to attend Mock Con on campus, co-moderating with CNBC’s Kelly Evans ’07 a debate between pundits Ann Coulter and James Carville. Wait, didn’t that count as a day off?


Theodore J. Sjoerdsma, First Professor of Computer Science at W&L, Dies at 83

Theodore J. Sjoerdsma, professor of computer science at Washington and Lee University from 1984 to 1995, died on Sept. 22 in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was 83.

Sjoerdsma served as the first head of the then brand-new Computer Science Department, and his arrival heralded the establishment of computer science as W&L’s 31st undergraduate major.

He received his introduction to computers in 1963, during a summer course at Oregon State University that didn’t have an actual computer. “We simply wrote programs as if the computers were there,” he told the W&L alumni magazine in 1985. “It was purely an intellectual exercise.”

At the time of his arrival at W&L, Sjoerdsma didn’t think that students needed their own computers and could instead use the banks of PCs available around campus. He did, however, believe “there is no end to the use of computers . . . in a liberal arts setting.”

He also offered advice for alumni who were feeling intimidated by using PCs, which in 1985 were just starting to permeate offices and homes. “Borrow a friend’s machine, take it into an empty room, and close the door. Most of the time, the phobia is primarily a matter of having someone looking over your shoulder as you make mistakes. No one wants to be made to appear foolish or stupid—especially by a dumb machine.”

Sjoerdsma was born in Grand Rapids on Jan. 5, 1929. He received an A.B. in mathematics from Calvin College in 1954, an M.A.T. in mathematics from Michigan State in 1961, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Iowa in 1975.

He taught math at high schools in Michigan and in Guam from 1952 to 1957, and at Dordt College from 1957 to 1967.  At the University of Iowa, he chaired its computer science department from 1967 until 1984, when he came to W&L. He retired in 1995 after 11 years.

In addition to his teaching, Sjoerdsma obtained several grants from the National Science Foundation, advised many colleges and universities about academic computing, published numerous papers and presented at conferences. He served such national organizations as the National Educational Computing Conference, the Conference on Computers in the Undergraduate Curriculum and the World Conference on Computers in Education.

In retirement, Sjoerdsma built homes for Habit for Humanity. He served his church as a deacon and an elder, and in Grand Rapids belonged to the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.

Sjoerdsma is survived by his wife of 61 years, Barb De Zeeuw Sjoerdsma; four children, Ron Sjoerdsma, Gregg Sjoerdsma, Joel Sjoerdsma and Lisa Vande Lune; a daughter-in-law, Kate Sjoerdsma; sisters Ann VandenBerg and JoAnn DeKoekkoek; sisters-in-law Hilda DeVries and Lillian Entingh; thirteen grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; many cousins; and many friends. His son Doug Sjoerdsma preceded him in death.

The family suggests that remembrance donations be made to the Hauenstein Neuroscience Center at St. Mary’s, 220 Cherry St., Grand Rapids, MI 49503, or to your local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

News Contact:
Julie Campbell
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jcampbell@wlu.edu
540-458-8956


W&L's Bower on “Virginia Insight”

Amanda Bower, professor of business administration at Washington and Lee University, discussed the mistakes that marketers make on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Bower studies what works, and what doesn’t, in commercial marketing strategies. She discussed the approaches that succeed, and the ones that don’t, when it comes to people trying to sell to consumers.

Bower is the lead author of a new report examining the influence of online retailer shipping policies on customer satisfaction, repeat business and profitability.

“Virginia Insight,” hosted by Tom Graham, is a live call-in show.

Listen to the program below:


W&L's Kolman Publishes Book on How to Read, Write Music

One of the challenges that has always faced Barry Kolman, professor of music at Washington and Lee University, is teaching the fundamentals of music theory to students who know nothing about music and often find it a very dry subject.

His solution? He’s written his own book on the subject. “The Language of Music Revealed,” Kolman’s first book, was published earlier this year by Universal Publishers.

“Quite honestly, music theory can be drier than the Sahara desert,” said Kolman. “It’s not like music history where you can play a Beethoven symphony, an excerpt from an opera, or jazz and rock and roll. Even with the excitement I try to bring to the class I was finding the subject boring myself.”

Six years ago, when Kolman couldn’t find a textbook he liked and that engaged the students, he decided to write the book himself. Initially aimed at his students, he also wanted the volume to be useful to any intelligent reader who wants to learn to read and write music.

“You would be surprised at how many amateur composers there are who like to write songs,” he said. “Maybe they can plunk out a melody with one hand on the piano. This book will teach them how to play harmony with their left hand, and which chord goes better with a certain part of the melody and why.”

Kolman included a lot of graphics, cartoon characters and a few jokes here and there to guide the reader through music theory. “I introduce a cartoon character to act as a guide, and he appears throughout the book in many manifestations,” he said. “Sometimes he’s stern, sometimes he’s a jokester and sometimes he introduces a brand new concept in an unusual way. But each time he appears, he’s really helpful. It’s an approach to learning music theory you won’t find anywhere else.”

Kolman introduced the book to his Music 100 class last year in manuscript form, receiving positive feedback from the students along with some suggestions that he incorporated into the final version.

Undeterred by the hard work of writing this book, Kolman already has a publisher interested in a second volume, “The Origins of American Wind Music,’ which explores the origins of wind bands.

Kolman conducts the University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra (USSO), along with teaching music fundamentals, introduction to music, applied clarinet, and conducting. He is a frequent guest conductor of orchestras around the world.

He received his B.Mus. in music education from the Crane School of Music, his M. Mus. in clarinet performance from Illinois State University and his Doctor of Arts degree in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado and was awarded the Dean’s Citation for Excellence for his graduate research.

“The Language of Music Revealed” is available at bookstores and online, as well as at W&L’s University Store (http://bookstore.wlu.edu).

Related //,

Winners of W&L Law Negotiations Competition Announced

The 2012 Robert J. Grey, Jr. Negotiations Competition at Washington and Lee University School of Law concluded Friday evening, September 21, with the team of Dominik Taylor and O’Dane Williamson taking first place.  Also competing in the finals were Justin Feinman and Po Lutken (second place), Jim Bailey and Emerald Berg, and Stephen Donaldson and Katie Reese.

Sponsored by the American Bar Association Law Student Division, the Negotiations Competition helps students develop practical legal skills and emphasizes teamwork and the ability to resolve disputes in a negotiation setting.  During the competition, teams of students acting as lawyers for opposing parties receive confidential information about how they can best represent their clients’ interests.  The teams work together in a limited time frame to find a compromise that is acceptable to both of their clients.

The problem for this year’s finals involved a contract dispute between a the Lexington Bricks, a team in the Law School Football League, and its newly drafted, rookie running back, Mo Allen.

Christopher Bou Saeed, Misha Daha, and Garrett Greiner administered the competition.  David S. Eggert, former Partner at Arnold & Porter, The Honorable Robert S. Ballou, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Virginia, and Mr. Robert J. Grey, Jr., ’76L, Partner at Hunton & Williams, judged the final round of the competition.

The Moot Court Board named the competition in honor of Grey, past president of the American Bar Association and a member of the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees, because of his extensive experience in dispute resolution.  Grey’s practice has focused on administrative matters before state and federal agencies, mediation and dispute resolution, and legislative representation of clients.

The Moot Court Executive Board administers all competitions for the Moot Court Program, which includes the John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition, Mock Trial, Client Counseling, and Representation in Mediation Competition.  For more information about the Moot Court Board and upcoming competitions, please visit http://law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.


W&L Alum Heads Alabama Chamber

Kirk Mancer, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1984, has recently been named president and CEO of the Greater Shelby County (Ala.) Chamber of Commerce.

Formerly president of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, Kirk started with the Shelby County chamber in July. The organization encompasses 16 different municipalities plus parts of Birmingham.

Although he came to W&L from Philadelphia, Kirk told the Birmingham News that because he has lived below the Mason-Dixon Line since he was 18, even his family recognizes his Southernness.

“They quickly point out how much slower I talk and how I have incorporated ‘y’all’ into my vocabulary,” he told the newspaper. “But when I’m down here, people don’t think I speak like a Southerner at all.”

A goalkeeper for the Generals soccer team, Kirk still holds the save percentage records for both a single season (89.7 percent in 1980) and a career (85.9 percent).


Statewide Language Workshops from W&L

Dick Kuettner, the director of W&L’s Tucker Multimedia Center, has a new assignment. He is running the Foreign Language Teachers Workshop Series, a statewide program that will originate at W&L and be streamed live on the Internet to host schools and divisions all over Virginia. Registration starts today, Sept. 25, and the workshops begin next month.

This program follows on the heels of Dick’s involvement this past summer with Washington and Lee’s Languages for Rockbridge program and with the on-campus Virginia Governor’s Language Academies.

The workshops provide professional development for the state’s teachers of foreign languages. This particular series, developed with the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, derives from teachers’ self-assessments. Teachers can use the workshops to earn points toward recertification.

Dick is also an adjunct professor in W&L’s Romance Languages Department and Teacher Education program.


Generals of the Month for September Named

Washington and Lee University students Rachel Pityk, Joni Deutsch and Taylor Gilfillan will be recognized as Generals of the Month for September during a presentation on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 11:45 a.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Pityk, a senior from Lebanon, PA, is a double mathematics and politics major. She has served as General Co-Chair of the First Year Orientation Committee for the past two years, and is currently serving as Director of Career and Personal Development for Chi Omega sorority.

Pityk also is a member of Chamber Singers, General Admission, Premier Co-Ed Acapella Group, College Republicans, and Reformed University Fellowship. During Mock Convention 2012, she served on the Speakers Committee and the Pennsylvania State Delegation.  She has competed in the Charlottesville Ten Miler, Philadephia Half Marathon, and will compete in the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2012.  She has been named an ODAC Scholar-Athlete and has been on the Dean’s List.

Deutsch, a junior from Charleston, W.Va., is an English major. She has been associate music director, music director and board operator for WLUR FM, W&L’s radio station; co-chair of First Book, a non-profit organization that seeks to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books and music director/intern for Fratmusic.com.

Deutsch also is a co-chair of the First Year Orientation Committee; a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority; SPEAK, a group of women who serve to raise awareness about sexual misconduct at W&L; a volunteer for W&L’s Campus Kitchens; and a member of the Tennis Club, the Dean’s List and the Honor Roll.

Gilfillan, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., is a physics major and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society. He is a student-to-student mentor, spending a few hours a week with a child in the community (age 5-17) and is an announcer for the volleyball games.

Gilfillan is a driver for the Traveller Safe Ride Program, is beginning his third year on the ResLife Leadership Staff serving first-years, is on the first-year orientation committee and is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Generals of the Month is coordinated by the Celebrating Student Success (CSS) initiative and sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs to inspire engaged citizenship at Washington and Lee University. CSS seeks to recognize students who are not typically or sufficiently touted for the depth and breadth they add to our campus community.

Pityk, Deutsch and Gilfillan were selected by the CSS Committee, which is composed of students, faculty and staff. Any member of the campus community can nominate a W&L student at any time with the online form at go.wlu.edu/css.

Future CSS presentations during the 2012-2013 academic year will be held during lunch in the Marketplace in the Elrod Commons on Nov. 1 (for October), Nov. 15, Dec. 6, and dates in Jan., Feb., March, April and May yet to be determined.

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