Allison Ballard, Young Gun
Washington and Lee alumna Allison Ballard, of the Class of 1996, has been honored by West Virginia Executive Magazine as one of the Mountain State’s “Young Guns.” The magazine identifies individuals who “represent West Virginia’s next generation of leaders who are already accomplishing great things through their careers both in the business world and in their communities.”
It’s the second such honor for Allison this year. Earlier she was named to the State-Journal’s Generation Next: 40 Under 40, which honors people younger than 40 who are making a difference in their business and communities.
An accounting major at W&L, Allison is a partner in the Charleston, W.Va., office of Dixon Hughes Goodman L.L.P., certified public accountants and advisors. Allison is part of the firm’s assurance group and provides accounting and assurance assistance to energy, manufacturing and service industry clients.
In an interview with West Virginia Executive, Allison said that she considers earning the partnership her greatest success thus far. “Not everyone accomplishes this goal in my profession, and I am honored that the other partners in the firm felt confidence in my skills and abilities to ask me to become an owner.”
W&L Law Alum Bob Goodlatte '77L to Chair House Judiciary Committee
U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte ’77L has been elected chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Congress convenes in January. As reported in the blog of the LegalTimes, Goodlatte released a statement saying:
“The Judiciary Committee, which has far-reaching legislative jurisdiction, is one of the most active committees in Congress,” Goodlatte said in a written statement. “Under my leadership, the House Judiciary Committee will play an active role in advancing a pro-growth agenda that will help to create jobs and restore economic prosperity to America.”
Goodlatte said that under his leadership the committee will focus on a number of issues, including “protecting onstitutional freedoms and civil liberties, oversight of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, legal and regulatory reform, innovation, competition and anti-trust laws, terrorism and crime, and immigration reform.”
Goodlatte, who represents Virginia’s 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, recently won reelection to his 11th term in congress.
W&L Law Students to Serve as Court-Appointed Advocates in Child Abuse Cases
Several law students at Washington and Lee School of Law recently completed training to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children appearing in local juvenile and domestic courts. The students received the training through Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children, part of an association of CASA organizations nationwide.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges in abuse and neglect cases to gather information to help the judge decide what is best for the child, whether that means removing the child from his or her home or helping a struggling family get access to social services. The students’ duties will include talking to everyone involved in the child’s life – including parents and relatives, foster parents (if any), teachers, medical professional, attorneys, and social workers. The students will use the information they gain to provide information to the court and to assist with the determination of what would be the best placement for the child.
W&L adjunct professor Tammi Hellwig, director of externships and third-year program administration, serves as a facilitator for students volunteering for CASA. A CASA volunteer and former guardian ad litem herself, Hellwig says that the most important role these advocates play is as a reliable presence in the child’s life.
“Child abuse and neglect cases are very complex and children often interact with a number of different social workers or lawyers as the case proceeds through the system,” says Hellwig. “CASA volunteers are the one adult constant in the child’s life and they stay with the cases until it is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.”
“The students are given a unique opportunity to vigilantly fight for the rights of children in abuse and neglect situations and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect,” adds Hellwig.
The CASA program was started in 1977 by a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making such difficult decisions about child welfare in the absence of complete information. Over 600,000 children are placed in foster care each year in the U.S., but with a nationwide compliment of fewer than 78,000, CASA volunteers are often assigned to only the most difficult abuse and neglect cases.
The W&L law students serving as CASA volunteers are Cara Parcell, Mitzi Hellmer, Alisa Abbott, Lydia Cancilla and Rebecca Reed. Reed, a second year law student, served in a similar capacity in Florida before attending law school. She says children show remarkable resilience in these situations, recalling one child she worked with who channeled her anger and fear into poetry, eventually winning a competition and a scholarship to a poetry camp.
“It is such a privilege to see how strong children can be and to help them along the way,” says Reed. “In these cases, the state has lawyers and both parents have lawyers, but the one person this is supposed to be about doesn’t have a voice unless you give it to them.”
Abbott, a third-year student, interned over the summer with the Office of the City Attorney in Richmond, helping represent the department of social services. She interacted with CASA volunteers during several cases and was eager to sign on to the program when it became available in the area.
The W&L students will receive their first cases soon, and after two years of mostly analytical exposure to the law, Abbott is eager to move even closer to experiencing the law’s true impact on people involved with the justice system.
“Law students don’t get much of a perspective on human interaction and how law changes peoples’ lives,” says Abbott. “This program helps make it real.”
Doug Scovanner '77 Earns Career Achievement Award
Doug Scovanner, a 1977 graduate of Washington and Lee, was honored by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal when he received the Career Achievement Award in the magazine’s fifth annual CFO of the Year Awards.
Doug retired in March after 18 years as CFO of Target. He has stayed with the company part-time to assist in his successor’s transition.
As the MSP Business Journal reported, Doug played a key role in several major initiatives at Target, including its relaunch of Target.com, the sale of its credit card receivables portfolio and its upcoming expansion in Canada. But, the article added, “it’s the company’s commitment to a fully-funded, defined-benefit pension plan that he cites as ’emblematic of how the whole enterprise goes about accomplishing its objectives in a disciplined framework.’ “
Doug joined Target in June 1994, when it was named Dayton Hudson Corp. In addition to CFO, he also served as executive vice president at Target Corp., from February 2000 to March 31, 2012, and as its chief accounting officer until March 31, 2012. Prior to joining Target, he was senior vice president of finance at Fleming Companies Inc. and a vice president and treasurer at Coca-Cola Enterprises.
In a Minneapolis Star Tribune article announcing his retirement plans a year ago, Doug was called “the oil that greased the company’s wheels.”
Lincoln Scholar at Washington and Lee Praises New Lincoln Movie
If anyone learns about Abraham Lincoln only by watching Steven Spielberg’s highly praised new film, “Lincoln,” Lucas Morel thinks they would be “miles ahead” of previous generations in their understanding of the 16th president.
Morel, the Lewis G. John Term Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University, is a Lincoln scholar who has written one book on the president and is working on a second. He is chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, and he teaches an annual seminar, Lincoln’s Statesmanship.
“Some people get disturbed that kids and adults get their history from the movies,” said Morel. “But with this Lincoln movie, if that’s all they were to get on Lincoln, they will come away with an accurate understanding of Lincoln’s political cunning, his personality, his temperament, his home life, his work as politician, how he dealt with his cabinet and how he dealt with his enemies and his allies.”
For Morel, one small scene demonstrates how scrupulously Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner did their homework.
“With all the scenes that must have been left on the cutting-room floor, they included this little interlude where Lincoln is talking to telegraph operators from the War Department about the concept of self evidence in Euclid’s geometry,” Morel said. “That the filmmakers would think to include that is, in my view, really remarkable, because it is so very telling about Lincoln’s turn of mind.
“Here’s a man who had less than a year’s schooling in his life but who was an autodidact, who taught himself over and over. He trained his mind because he wanted to get off the farm. We have it in Lincoln’s writing that, as a congressman, he read Euclid’s Elements. Learning Euclid as a congressman, rather than reading, say, the Federalist Papers, was Lincoln’s way of sharpening his best tool. Kushner found the right telling examples. I’ve read more than my share of Lincoln, and this is fine, fine work.”
In Morel’s experience, some historical movies can be so conscientious about accuracy that they forget to tell a good story. In contrast, he points to the opening scene of “Lincoln.” “That first scene, with Lincoln talking to white and black soldiers, never happened,” Morel said. “But it’s still true in the sense that it showed the diversity of the soldiers’ admiration for President Lincoln — especially the black soldiers.”
While some commentators have lamented the absence of abolitionist Frederick Douglass from the film, Morel thinks that such a cameo appearance in a movie focusing on the 13th Amendment would have marginalized Douglass’ long-standing contributions to America’s progress. “There’s no question that Frederick Douglass deserves his own movie,” he said.
By focusing on the last four months of Lincoln’s life, noted Morel, the movie is able to portray Lincoln as both the great emancipator and the preserver of the Union. It does this by setting up the choice that Lincoln had to make: end the Civil War soon, or get the 13th Amendment passed.
“I think Spielberg and Kushner do a very good job of showing Lincoln trying to do both of these things — trying to get that amendment passed, especially getting it passed before the war is over, so that when the war is over, slavery is on its way out,” said Morel.
Morel is not the least surprised that the movie has created a significant buzz and drawn big crowds. In fact, he missed his first chance at seeing it because the showing was sold out.
What is it about Lincoln that makes him a draw today? Unlike the other popular president, George Washington, it’s impossible to be neutral about Lincoln, Morel said, adding that Lincoln remains a lightning rod for public opinion. He has critics on both sides of the political spectrum, right and left.
“People are either high on him or they hate him,” Morel said. “Everyone recognizes, I think, that he did something incredible at our most delicate time as a country. The question is whether he kept the country together in a way that was sound, a way that was constitutional and consistent with what our forefathers intended.”
When students enroll in his Lincoln seminar each year, they bring what Morel calls a “sophisticated assessment” of the president. That is, they rarely accept the icon at face value. “Somehow they’ve picked up that Lincoln gets maybe two cheers, but not three,” he said. “They want to be hesitant in their appreciation for Lincoln.”
Morel has no such hesitation. He considers Lincoln not just a good politician but one of the greats. He wants students to come to their own conclusions, however, through a careful reading of Lincoln’s speeches as well as through what his contemporaries said and wrote about him.
“I’m hoping that whatever impressions they have of Lincoln when they get to the class, they will get context that will help them understand him,” Morel said. “Implicitly, I trust his words and actions make the case for him.”
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Calculating Your Powerball Odds
If you’re playing tonight’s $500-million Powerball lottery, good luck. You’ll need it. How much luck exactly?
According to Aaron Abrams, assistant professor of mathematics at Washington and Lee, you are 100 times more likely to die of a flesh-eating virus than you are of winning the lottery.
But, as Aaron has told numerous media interviewers in the past 48 hours, people still play because it’s fun.
Aaron has been in demand this week because of a paper that he wrote with a colleague some years back when he was at Emory University. That paper, “Finding Good Bets in the Lottery, and Why You Shouldn’t Take Them,” was published in the January 2010 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly and won the 2011 Lester R. Ford Award as one of five “articles of expository excellence.”
When the Mega Millions jackpot approached a lottery record of $640 million in March 2012, Aaron’s phone started to ring, and he was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN, and BBC’s Newshour. He was quoted far and wide about the astronomical odds facing lottery players.
Fast forward seven months to this week, and the media discovered that Aaron had moved from Atlanta to Lexington. And again the phone started ringing. He did a Fox News interview (which has not yet run) and then local spots for Roanoke’s WDBJ7 (with W&L alumnus Joe Dashiell ’80) and with WVTF’s Beverly Amsler with others in the offing. You can watch Aaron’s interview with WDBJ7 here and listen to the WVTF piece below:
In addition to the flesh-eating virus response, Aaron offered this additional illustration that appears on WDBJ7’s website: “Imagine sometimes in the next four years, a bell is going to ring. It’s going to go off for one second. You have to guess right now when that’s going to happen. What year, month, day, hour, minute, second. You write it down and you place your bet. The odds of your winning that are about the same odds of you winning the jackpot.”
Now, if you haven’t yet bought your Powerball ticket, will you? Aaron says he probably won’t.
W&L Law Prof Tim Jost on Liberty University's Affordable Care Act Challenge
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty has been pursuing a challenge to both the individual insurance mandate as well as the employer mandate, which requires all employers with more than fifty employees to provide them with adequate insurance coverage. The Fourth Circuit had not ruled on the challenges because it ruled that Liberty was barred by the federal Anti-Injunction Act from suing to stop the mandates.
Washington and Lee University law professor Tim Jost, a health law expert and supporter of the Affordable Care Act, told the Los Angeles Times:
“It’s a frivolous argument. Congress had regulated wages and benefits issues under the commerce clause for decades.”
Keaton Fletcher Wins Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology
Keaton Fletcher, a Washington and Lee University senior from Littleton, Colo., has been named the 2012 recipient of the David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology.
The Elmes Pathfinder prize recognizes a student who has shown extraordinary promise in psychological science or in the application of psychological science in the professions through outstanding scholarship in basic or applied psychology.
Fletcher, a double major in neuroscience and psychology, worked as a research assistant with W&L Professor of Psychology Wythe Whiting, researching the difference in positivity bias between older and younger adults. He also worked with W&L Leonard Jarrard, an emeritus psychology professor, on the effects of a high fat diet on memory.
He also spent the 2012 summer as an intern for Dana’s Angels Research Trust, conducting research in Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC), a rare genetic disease. W&L alumnus Phil Marella, whose two children have been diagnosed with NPC, sponsors three W&L student interns to work in different laboratories each summer.
In addition to his involvement in psychological research, Fletcher serves as co-president of LIFE, a student-run organization that provides information, programs and campus-wide speakers for students to make informed decisions about their lives.
He is also co-president of Washington and Lee Chamber Singers, recognized as one of the finest a cappella choirs in the region, and is a member of W&L’s student-run a capella group, General Admission, that performs frequently on campus.
He is a member of both Beta Beta Beta, the Phi Xi Chapter of the National Biological Honor Society, and Psy Chi, the National Psychology Honor Society, and vice president of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Fletcher’s future plans include a career in the health profession, and he is applying to public health programs and industrial organizational psychology programs.
The Elmes Pathfinder Prize was established in 2007 through the Elmes Fund, a permanently endowed fund that honors David G. Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology at Washington and Lee. The fund was created by contributions from the many alumni, colleagues, and friends who benefited from Elmes’ abiding integrity and commitment to learning during his 40-year career as a scientist, teacher and mentor at Washington and Lee.
W&L Alumnus Named Head of Peddie School
Peter Quinn, a 1978 graduate of Washington and Lee, has been named the next headmaster of Peddie School in Hightstown, N.Y.
Peter will assume his duties on July 1, 2013, when the current head of school, John Green, retires after 12 years.
Peter has had a successful 16-year tenure as the headmaster of Wakefield School, a preschool through 12th grade college preparatory school in The Plains, Va. He started his teaching career at Wakefield after his graduation from W&L, left to go to Peddie School where he was a teacher, coach and director of admissions, and then returned to Wakefield in 1996 when the school opened its campus in The Plains. Since then, Wakefield has increased from 245 to 400 students and graduated its largest class in 2012.
In an announcement on the Wakefield website, Peter was quoted as saying: “Peddie is one of three schools I have lived in and loved over my career, and it would be a new and very different opportunity from Wakefield. One does not control the timing of these opportunities, and I was not planning on leaving Wakefield until retirement. Life is what happens when you are making other plans, as they say.”
Peter was the director of admission and financial aid at Peddie when the school received the $100 million gift from Walter H. Annenberg, a member of the Peddie School class of 1927. The gift helped create the Annenberg scholarship program and applications to the school tripled. Peter was credited with being a “voice of integrity” during that period.
An English major at W&L, Peter received an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia.
Reminders Along the Way
by Christian Roden ’11
Dusty and footsore, my 17-year-old brother, Nathan, and I trudged into Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, one of the most beautiful villages in France, one day this past June. I wondered why I had taken us on a two-day detour from the Camino de Santiago to see the summer home of artist Pierre Daura (1896-1976), who had lived for many years in Rockbridge County. We’d be lucky to find anyone who knew who he was, let alone track down his house. Then a poster for a museum exhibition caught my attention: “Pierre Daura: A Catalan-American Artist in France.” I had been told my experiences at W&L would stay with me for the rest of my life. No one mentioned such a reminder would be waiting halfway around the world.
Seeing Daura’s work was the first of many college experiences that lapped into each other to bring me to the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James). As a high school senior on a visit to campus, I saw the 2007 exhibition of his paintings of the Virginia countryside. His depictions of the mountains caught my imagination; later, as I’d drive down Route 64, House Mountain would herald my imminent arrival in Lexington. I double-majored in art history and English, and under the superb tutelage of Pam Simpson transformed my strong interest in art into a powerful interest into its continually evolving cultural significance. I worked with this interaction firsthand through posts at the Lee House and the Reeves Center.
I could study my tangential interest, ocean liners, only through cultural memory, also an important component of W&L’s culture. That academic subject is uncommon, but Simpson’s research into concrete-block and butter sculptures gave me the courage to apply for a Fulbright grant to work with the Association French Lines, which studies liners in the cultural development and exchange of the 20th century. I received the grant and happily discovered that my French colleagues applied the same principles so important to cultural studies at W&L.
It is because of the Chamber Singers, however, that I found myself in a tiny village in the middle of rural France this summer. The director, Shane Lynch, continually pushed the group to greater excellence than any of us envisioned, and still fostered our joy in music. Inspired by his example, and by a song we sang during my bittersweet final year, I took on a new challenge: hiking the Camino de Santiago. It proved difficult, but I found plenty of encouragement, from my brother and other pilgrims, and from the breathtaking scenery and long history.
On Aug. 3, five weeks and several hundred miles after seeing the Daura exhibition, we arrived at the end, in Santiago, Spain, still dusty and footsore. As we wandered around the crowded city, giddy with accomplishment, I spotted a baseball cap sporting a familiar blue trident. Jess, a 2009 law graduate (I never did catch her last name), was just completing her own trek. That was one final lesson I learned. Your time at Washington and Lee will indeed always stay with you-and reminders will turn up along the way to cheer you on.
A Liberal Arts Education in Three Dimensions
by Kenneth P. Ruscio ’76
President, Washington and Lee University
This is an unsettling period for higher education, but also for virtually every political, economic, religious and social institution. Words like volatility, anxiety, caution, risk and uncertainty dominate our conversation.
When I was teaching at Washington and Lee, I saw my role as providing intellectual equilibrium for the students. If they were looking at things too simplistically, confident they had it all figured out, I complicated their thinking. If they seemed utterly confused, it was my job to simplify things. Now, in the midst of the uncertainty we face every day, I find myself on the far end of the complexity scale, searching for a few orienting principles of my own to make sense of the confusion.
One of those principles is this: I choose to think of a liberal arts education in three dimensions rather than two.
There is a basic but misleading view of a college education that goes like this: Imagine a continuum, which like all continua is, of course, two-dimensional. At one end is the pure liberal arts. At the other is job training.
To hear the discussion these days, you would think the main task for us as educators is to find a comfortable spot somewhere along the continuum, a spot that balances the need to educate students for lives of consequence and virtue, the traditional focus of the liberal arts, with the increasing need to prepare students for careers and jobs.
Graduates should lead the good life; they should also lead a productive life of economic self-sufficiency.
Think of a third dimension, however, described simply as problems. My thought is prompted by what I have seen here at W&L, where law, business and journalism exist side by side with philosophy, classics, literature, the sciences and history, among other disciplines.
Recent years have seen the creation of the Shepherd Poverty Program, the Environmental Studies major, an expanding Entrepreneurial Studies Program, the Law School’s innovative Bridge to the Profession curriculum and several interdisciplinary fields of study.
These entities often come together around problems. A discussion of corporate governance is different when philosophy and politics professors sit at the same table as business and law professors. An analysis of a free-speech case is richer and more grounded when a historian and a literature professor work with an expert in journalism. A debate over the sources of and solutions to poverty is deeper when sociologists, philosophers, economists and lawyers provide different perspectives.
The relevance of the liberal arts to today’s world is a much more subtle and nuanced conversation than simply job training versus creating knowledge. Our students want to solve problems, and even shape their careers to meet the challenges. In order to do so, they have to understand the world, and an education in the liberal arts makes that possible.
Within this three-dimensional space, it is possible to imagine a great deal of variation among liberal arts colleges. To be sure, the beauty of the diversity in liberal arts education today-and in the future-will be the subtle differences in how we prepare students for the world they will enter, blending in distinctive ways our concern for the traditional liberal arts, an orientation to the world’s problems and a sensitivity to the practicalities of work.
From Blackboards to iPads: Technology in the Classroom
MOOC, Tegrity, Sakai.
When professors talk about technology in the classroom, these are some of the terms they employ. It’s a hot-button issue in higher education today, posing larger implications for colleges and universities as well as questions about the day-to-day value of gadgets and software in the classroom. At W&L, where we pride ourselves on top-notch teaching and personal attention, how does it affect those qualities?
To explore the topic, we gathered several professors one September afternoon and turned them loose. The setting for this cutting-edge discussion could not have been more traditional: Payne Hall 212, a seminar room containing a wall of books, a view of Lee Chapel and a blackboard.
Our participants were: Robert M. Ballenger ’76, Associate Professor, Department Head, Business Administration: Alexandra R. Brown, Jessie Ball duPont Professor of Religion; Shawn Paul Evans, Associate Professor of Theater; Hongchu Fu, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature,Department Head, East Asian Languages and Literature; Suzanne P. Keen, Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English, Interim Dean of the College; Toni R. Locy, Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting; Tyler S. Lorig, Ruth Parmly Professor of Psychology, Chair,Neuroscience Program; Maryanne C. Simurda,Professor of Biology
They started out by discussing MOOCs-massive open online courses, which are free and offer no credit-and went from there.
LOCY: Universities should take a lesson from newspapers-if you start offering free courses, if you start giving certificates, people aren’t going to want to pay for them when you want them to pay for them.
KEEN: We might think this is completely irrelevant to the kind of education we offer. But Bob runs a class that is totally online, and it’s not dissimilar.
BALLENGER: It’s Information Technology Literacy. It’s required of everyone in the Williams School. A lot of people in the College take it. It’s an online course for a wide variety of reasons. It was the most efficient, economical way to deliver this content, because people come to W&L with what I call “lumpy knowledge” when it comes to information technology such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, basic networking tools. We needed some vehicle where students could self-assess. When we first put the course up, students waited until the last week to study, with high failure rates. So we put milestones in to force them to learn on a more even schedule. The students come to a classroom at an assigned time, they download a project and instructions, they do it and upload it. It acts as a one-credit pass-fail course. This course shows them how to use this technology. From that perspective it is beneficial, but we’re not opening it up to the whole world.
LORIG: The idea of MOOCs is wonderful. We should fear it just as much as we fear books or public TV. You’ve got this other source of information that allows people to learn things that only enrich the stuff that we do and brings more content to the kinds of discussions that we have. But I also think that we’re going to find ourselves in trouble if we ever give certificates. We might go down that slippery path of giving away something that we hold as very valuable. We undervalue in a lot of ways what it is that we do and what students really get out of it. Certainly, it’s an expensive kind of education. It’s something that actually has real merit. We’ve just had difficulty measuring what it is, and measuring the real economic impact that an education has on somebody. A recent study about economic impact said, “The only thing more expensive than a higher education is not having one.” It’s just a matter of quantifying that.
BALLENGER: That ties in to how employers perceive all this too. That’s unknown. Employers put a premium on recruiting at the best schools because they get quality education and very bright students. The employer piece is a very important piece of this whole. And W&L is a very high-touch environment where the students expect interaction with professors. That’s part of what they’re paying for, and the value-added that employers are paying for as well.
SIMURDA: Why aren’t universities making use of those companies like Great Courses? They’re very good courses. I listen to them. That would be a very good way for universities to make use of their professors. What are these professors being paid for the MOOCs? If they’re doing these for Great Courses, they’re getting royalties, they’re getting CDs, the university is probably getting some money out of it. I initially thought it was strictly an advertising tool or maybe a recruitment tool for Harvard.
BALLENGER: There is a pretty good argument for really bright high school students gravitating to these courses. They’re bored, they want something to do. Harvard and MIT are going to have access to who those students are. I belong to a group on campus that talks about MOOCs. We said there are a lot of lectures out there from very prominent lecturers, and there’s no reason why we can’t flip the classroom and have the students watch them for homework. That’s where we as an institution can leverage that type of material.
KEEN: We have such a small class size. We’re really set up to maximize knowing the students as individuals. Flipping the classroom-this is how the humanities have been doing it for years. Right now W&L doesn’t give any credit for transfers from online courses, even though in many cases we’re sort of hybrid. Hongchu has a hybrid course.
FU: That’s an Associated Colleges of the South pilot program, in which three professors from three institutions, W&L, Rollins College and Southwestern University, taught together. I gave a lecture on Chinese drama. The professor at Rollins gave a lecture on Chinese music. The one at Southwestern gave a lecture on Chinese calligraphy. We complemented each other. It’s a good way of doing collaborative teaching. The main technological provider is Rollins College. We used live video conferencing and wireless microphones to make that work. It went very well. The students liked it.
EVANS: When I taught a live online course, I was video-projected to another school. There were challenges. My body language didn’t transfer, so other techniques to convey information became really, really important. There certainly was a lot of flipping the classroom, where the students would look at material when we weren’t together. The in-person time was a lot of discussion about that material. The payoff of me being with them physically was most important.
BALLENGER: That’s a synchronous environment. Most online courses are asynchronous; students work on them when they want. That environment was totally ungratifying as a professor. I do not really understand how the students could get it, because it’s almost all self-taught. Some might argue that what we do is self-taught too.
KEEN: I have a couple of relatives who teach graduate-level education courses for Walden University. These courses are really valuable, because they enable people who are teaching full-time to pursue graduate degrees and improve their salaries and their teaching jobs. They have a certain amount of Skyping built into them for the face-to-face stuff, but mainly it’s a set unit. The syllabus, the activities, the quizzes are designed from start to finish. The professor does not have the authority to alter a single bit. I love that at W&L, we know our students well enough to know two or three weeks into the class that either they’re more capable of much more than you had anticipated, which is often the case, or maybe there’s a crowd that needs a little bit of a different style or intention in order to catch up. You can easily make those adjustments, because you know them as people. You can use technology like Sakai, which I love. You can throw up an adjustment to the syllabus easily, e-mail everybody instantaneously, or even break the class into subgroups where one group is using a particular sub-technology available through Sakai.
EVANS: When I was doing online courses, I did that more often. I do that as I teach now. I had to force myself to do that more frequently when I was online. When you’re not in the physical space with someone, knowing whether they got it or not is judged by other means.
KEEN: We can find out before they turn in their graded work. We know from the expressions on their faces.
LORIG: Correct. You change the lecture instantaneously. If somebody has interest in something that you’re talking about, you immediately get the class involved. That’s where the learning comes from in class. I have a very rough syllabus, and it really does change depending upon what’s happening in the class at that moment. Talking about new technology-I’ve started using an iPad in my classes. I have this entire palette of my teaching materials sitting here in front of me, literally a touch away. So when a student asks a question, if there’s a YouTube video that I’ve already got on the iPad, I can immediately play it. Interactivity, getting that feedback on the course as it’s happening, is one of the real things that you’re getting. As well, you get better and better at reading the faces of the students. And we’ve all walked back to the office after it hasn’t gone well. But sometimes, you walk away from that class with a wonderful feeling that you did good work that day. The future is going to have very different models. We’re going to see students who get online credit. We’re going to have totally online universities that will give a bachelor’s degree. It’ll be interesting how the accrediting goes.
KEEN: Just because something’s delivered online doesn’t mean that it’s low quality. For instance, long before networked computers, there were correspondence courses for writers, where you got it through the mail and learned how to write. Remember the ads you used to see in comic books?
LORIG: Or how to draw the pirate.
KEEN: That’s a perfectly legitimate way of learning. It’s self-paced. There are a lot of things about it that are admirable. MOOCs kind of recapture that sense. I love the idea of students finding an additional course to supplement what they’re learning. I don’t know how often that’s really happening. I think a lot of high school students are doing these.
EVANS: Have you seen Khan Academy? He’s delivering very personable material, almost one-on-one, engaging a particular topic in a very short amount of time, 10 or 15 minutes. Sitting in front of a computer for three hours is not productive. So doing these shorter segments, you can move to the next and take a break in between. It really does allow more learning to occur.
SIMURDA: What do you think is the difference? When we’re talking about MOOC courses, we’re talking about full-length lectures. In Khan Academy, you’re talking more about a tutorial.
EVANS: And now they’re transitioning to where the homework is. “Go watch these four Khan Academy segments, come into class with the homework done, and I’ll answer any other questions you have.” The lecture has been eliminated. That’s where the teacher then re-engages. Khan has tracking software, so they know how long the student spent on each video, which questions they got right or wrong. The teacher gets all of that in a spreadsheet and can say, “Now I know where to focus my teaching, because this is the one question that didn’t make it through the Khan Academy.”
SIMURDA: There are two aspects here. One is the initial learning that takes place in what we would call a traditional lecture. And then what happens after that in these tutorials? I’ve created some PowerPoints with my voiceover as reviews for students who don’t remember something they should have learned two courses ago. But they’re short, 15 to 20 minutes. They’re not taking the place of my class, they’re supplementing with background information.
EVANS: Right. I’m doing the same thing, though I’m doing it with stuff that there’s no time in class to cover.
KEEN: Let’s think about whether there’s an economy to technology in the classroom. Or whether technology in the classroom extends teaching hours out beyond the regular hours or costs you time as a teacher.
SIMURDA: That question has come up about film courses. Do you spend your time in class viewing a film, or do you tell the students, “You have to look at this two- to three-hour movie outside of class”? Is it connected to a reading assignment, or is this part of what you should be doing in the class?
BALLENGER: When you implement technology the first time, there’s a big time suck. But you reap the benefits several semesters down the road. One of the things that saves me an enormous amount of time is Tegrity.
KEEN: This is the lecture-capture system. Some of the classrooms have these creepy cameras that follow your movements.
BALLENGER: I rarely use the creepy cameras, even though I teach in one of those classrooms, because I teach highly technical classes, and we’re using software. The students have homework. I ask them how they did it, and they show people how they did it. I almost always show them how I would do it, and that’s not always the same, but that’s all captured by Tegrity. So when it comes time to do a project, I don’t have them knocking on my office door, “Professor Ballenger, I’m stuck on how you create Cascades.” I can say, “That’s on Tegrity, watch it, and if you’re still confused, come back.” Most of the time, they get it when they watch it a second or third time. So now I spend my time in the office more on design questions, more on real problem-solving-type questions.
SIMURDA: You can use it so when the student comes to your office, they’re not asking, “Would you please repeat your lecture for me?”
BROWN: Is there any danger of training students not to pay attention the first time? Or training them not to remember? We no longer have really oral culture because everything’s recorded, everything’s written down. Nobody remembers a poem anymore. We don’t remember anything in this culture.
BALLENGER: We have some anecdotal evidence in the Williams School. Last year one of our professors got ill, and he recorded an entire semester’s worth of lectures on Tegrity for the class to play back. There was not a very good reaction from the students. They would much rather have the in-face, in-classroom interactions than watch a talking head. The students will tell you Tegrity’s not a substitute for being in class, it’s a backup. It’s a way for them to try to get it before they ask for help.
KEEN: A lot depends on motivation. When MIT first started putting up courses on iTunes U, I listened to 45 intro-to-neuroscience lectures. It was clumsy because you couldn’t really hear the questions the students were asking, though you could hear the professor’s answers. But it was just fantastic because I had one professor, Tyler Lorig, who was teaching it one way, and I was listening to another professor, at MIT, with a completely different angle of approach. It really helped me learn it a lot better to have a second professor. The idea of having no professor except for the talking head on the screen is a bad idea, but if you can have a supplementary professor, a second voice or even a third voice, different perspectives really consolidate your learning.
BROWN: There’s a New Testament series at Yale, and I’ve thought of using those lectures and asking the students to listen to Dale Martin’s lecture on this topic, and then we’d talk about how different points of view on the same subject come together. That’s using the online lecture as the substitute reading.
KEEN: This student generation is slower at dealing with printed text, which is the single most efficient way of delivering information: a single-spaced, typed page of instructions. The students can’t read the same old page of instructions and process it. The same exact words broken into 17 PowerPoint slides and then delivered over a period of 20 minutes-wasting class time-results in complete comprehension of the assignment?
BROWN: They complain if you’re just putting text up on PowerPoint.
BALLENGER: PowerPoint is not used correctly 95 percent of the time. When Amanda Bower does a presentation on PowerPoint, everyone asks her, “What software did you use?” It doesn’t look like PowerPoint because there are just one or two words on a slide. She knows what’s there; she knows the material. That’s what presentation should be.
SIMURDA: We ran into that same problem when overhead projectors first came out, and people were using transparencies. They made a copy of the whole page of the textbook and put it up there.
LORIG: There’s a wonderful opportunity to use these online materials to do exactly this kind of supplementing. I like the 15-minute TED talks. It’s worth it in class sometimes to have 15 minutes of somebody who disagrees with you. It lets students know that not everything in science has an absolute definition.
KEEN: There’s some kind of extraordinary egalitarianism about education in some of these MOOCs. But there’s also the dark side-a lot of cheating and plagiarism. It’s a free course and it’s not really graded. Or if it’s graded, it’s not for real credit. It’s a hilarious conundrum-why would you be cheating if you’re not doing it for any credit?
BROWN: I think that’s an experiment for the Psych Department.
EVANS: The people using the technology without having someone to set that standard for them don’t realize that it really is cheating.
LOCY: I actually had a student take his laptop to an interview and take notes on it. You’re trying to break down barriers, and here you are creating one. I tell my kids you cannot conduct interviews via e-mail or text. You just can’t. You take notes the old-fashioned way because you’re trying to establish a connection, a rapport. I’ve told the students, “Close your laptops and look at me.”
BROWN: I finally asked a seminar last year to please not bring the computer for the same reason-it sets up a barrier. The whole idea of the seminar is that we’re around the table so we can see each other and talk to each other.
BALLENGER: This device right here , in the classroom environment, might help break down that barrier because it’s not as big.
BROWN: But it still directs your eyes.
LOCY: People don’t make eye contact any more. They’re looking at their devices. On campus I look to see how many kids speak, and most are, but some of them have their noses right in their hands.
BALLENGER: That’s when I always talk to them.
FU: That’s why sometimes I send e-mail in Chinese as a practice. I teach language. Repetition is very important, and in that aspect, the technology really helps. Tegrity I use a lot. I tape every session of my language class. Those who lag behind use the sessions the most. Also I use some other technologies to expand the classroom. We have only one hour each day. It’s simply not enough for students to learn a hard language like Chinese, so I try to get them, at home, to listen to what I have taped and translate it. Also I provide questions based on the text. I have that timed, so they have to provide the answer after the first day of the class. They have to review the lesson so that they can answer the question during the first day.
BROWN: Are you using Sakai to sequence those assignments?
FU: I use Sakai. Michigan State University has a very nice program called Conversation Online, I use that. We were also fortunate that the dean’s office gave us a Smart Board that we make use of very nicely. The Chinese-Japanese language is so graphic, so by interacting with the Smart Board, I can dissect it and ask students to put it back together in the right order. Students love it.
BROWN: Foreign language class was the first place any of us had technology in class-we had those big earphones.
FU: There could be a drawback. First of all, it takes a lot of time for the instructor to really incorporate technology. Secondly, you like the fun of it, but you forget the purpose is to teach. Does it really serve the purpose? You have to constantly ask yourself whether the presentation you have spent so much time in doing will be as effective as you want to be. So it could be a pitfall.
EVANS: I always have to ask myself, is this tool allowing me to do it better, easier, faster?
LOCY: The challenge is not to let the technology use you. In the Intro to Digital Journalism course, I still want to teach them how to use a tape recorder. It’s a storytelling tool, but it’s not the end-all.
KEEN: It’s technology when you take out a pen and paper, and I pose a question and you write for a couple of minutes. You turn to one another and discuss what you’ve written. The act of writing is a form of thinking that’s different from the kind of thinking you do when you talk. You don’t need fancy materials in order to employ that technology.
EVANS: That’s a great piece of technology right there-the blackboard.
KEEN: We love these chalkboards. Another thing I love about teaching in this room is that old set of the Oxford English Dictionary, because it’s different to look up a word at the OED online than it is to look it up in the real OED, where you can see the entire entry on the page with all the historical etymology. You can get that online, but it doesn’t show it all to you right away.
BROWN: The same with going into the stacks to find a book. Suddenly you see what’s all around it.
KEEN: And with 12 weeks of a term, 55 minutes of class three times a week, it’s just so short. Are we really going to give away 5 or 10 minutes out of every single one of those classes while the classroom technology boots? I always have a plan that involves things we do with live humans that doesn’t involve any technology.
EVANS: The students say, “The computer crashed.” That’s like saying your pencil broke. You can’t say the computer crashed and that’s why you’re not turning in the homework. You have to learn how to deal with the tools. Backing up, saving more frequently, doing all of these things becomes your pencil sharpener. That’s part of what we have to teach them. It’s a tool. They can’t see it as a crutch or an excuse. “The Internet was down so I couldn’t find all my research.” Well, there’s this huge building over here where you don’t need the Internet to search.
KEEN: I take every group of first-years I teach into the library, and we play a research quest game in the stacks. They know how to ask the librarian a question but not how to actually use the physical library.
BROWN: It’s amazing how many of our students don’t know how to do that.
EVANS: When I give assignments for research, they have to bring in the physical book from the library.
KEEN: The electronic library catalog auto-sets at keyword searching. So I say, “OK, kids, I want you to read Milton’s ‘Areopagitica.’ ” They say, “The library doesn’t have ‘Areopagitica.’ ” And it does!
LORIG: We have the problem of databases that go to 1966 and not beyond. So the students think, “This is when science began.”
SIMURDA: One of the important things about teaching generally is the value of a face-to-face professor teaching you how a professional thinks about that topic. I’ve always thought, sure, I could give the students microbiology problems and tell them to figure them out, and they would get the idea. But there are other concepts that I need to explain. They need to read it in the textbook, they need to see my picture of it, and they need to hear me talk about it. Because I’m explaining to them how to think about it.
LORIG: You hit the central difference between even the best online class and an in-person class. In person it’s about learning professional behavior, learning how to have an argument. That’s going to be lost in these online classes if they concentrate solely on content. Interacting with people around the table, as we’re doing, or interacting with people in a class and maintaining civility, the decorum that you want to have in class as well as getting the right thing across-that is one of the most important things people are going to learn in college.
W&L's Molly Michelmore's Book Cited in The New Yorker
In her book, Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics, and the Limits of American Liberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2012), Washington and Lee history professor Molly Michelmore traces the development and taxing and spending policy from the New Deal through the Reagan Revolution.
As Molly explained in an article about her book earlier this year, “Nobody ever talked about how taxes pay for the welfare state, but it seemed that taxing policy and spending policy should be examined together. It is impossible to talk about any kind of American political debate without thinking about how you’re going to pay for the things that people want.”
Molly’s arguments are called “timely, shrewd and important” in a piece by Harvard historian Jill Lepore in the Nov. 26 edition of The New Yorker. (Here’s the link to the edition, but suscription is required.)
In The New Yorker piece, Lepore notes how Molly’s study concluded that “liberal policymakers who created the welfare state in the nineteen-thirties were squeamish about taxes, an aversion most manifest in the decision to fund the Scoial Security act of 1935 with an indirect tax, on payroll.”
Lepore goes on to quote from Molly’s book on the way that “old-age and unemployment assistance” programs were cast as different from poverty programs:
“Defended, sold and understood more like private insurance than public welfare,” Michelmore writes, old-age and unemployment assistant programs “not only escaped the hostility heaped on other forms of public provision, but have often fallen outside the public’s understanding of welfare altogether.”
In June 2011, well before “fiscal cliff” had become such a pervasive media phrase, Molly wrote about the debt crisis in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed. It began: “The United States has a debt crisis, but almost no one is willing to point out that the best way to solve the nation’s financial problems may be to raise taxes. Not just on the rich, but on the middle class as well.” In July, her piece, “Don’t Blame the Republicans for the No-Tax Pledge — Democrats Are Allergic to Tax Hikes, Too,” appeared on the History News Network.
Molly’s current research project, “As a Taxpayer and a Citizen: Rights, Obligations and Democracy in Modern America,” examines how various groups, including women, African Americans, property owners, pacifists and anti-war activists, immigrants and anti-immigration activists, the poor, and gay men and women have used their political and legal identities as taxpayers to effect policy changes and to expand (or defend existing) boundaries of citizenship.
Paul Hanstedt Featured at Studio 11
Writers at Studio 11 reading series features author Paul Hanstedt reading from his new book, “Hong Konged,” on Monday, Dec. 3, at the Studio 11 Gallery.
The reading is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served and books will be for sale. Audience members are requested to bring a food or monetary donation for the Rockbridge Area Relief Association.
Hanstedt, professor of English at Roanoke College, is the author of two books. He has written articles, short stories and nonfiction and has been published in “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” “Liberal Education,” “Shenandoah Review,” “Berkeley Fiction Review” and “Kyoto Journal,” to name a few. He has also read eight of his essays on WVTF Public Radio and had a one-act play performed by Theater Roanoke College.
Hanstedt received a Pushcart nomination for nonfiction in 2011, was a 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar in General Education at The Hong Kong Institute of Education and received a 2006-2009 Federal Initiative for Post-Secondary Education Award on Sustainable Faculty Development for Integrative Learning.
He studied at The Ohio State University (Ph.D.), Iowa State University (M.A.) and Luther College (B.A.).
The event will include brief readings by student writers. Shearry Hodges from Buena Vista, Liz Pringle from Rockbridge County and Taylor Ellesse Goodwin from Buena Vista attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. Cabell Willis from Richmond and Alyssa Ford from Lancaster, Va., attend Virginia Military Institute. And finally Drew Martin from Richmond attends Washington and Lee University.
Also reading will be Janice Bell, Ted Duke, Josie McElroy and Sharon Mueller representing Sub Terra and Margo Solod from Rockbridge County.
Studio 11 is located at 11 S. Jefferson St. in downtown Lexington. Artist Tim Wilson’s show “Exile of Nature” will be on display at Studio 11 through Dec. 22. The series is coordinated by Mattie Quesenberry Smith of DSLCC and Lesley Wheeler of W&L with help from both schools. This event is sponsored by the Glasgow Endowment at Washington and Lee.
Ann Fisher-Wirth to Give Glasgow Endowment Reading on Dec. 6
Ann Fisher-Wirth, poet, author and scholar, will give a Glasgow Endowment-sponsored reading on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 4:30 p.m. in the Hillel House at Washington and Lee University. The reading is free and open to the public.
Fisher-Wirth will read from her new book, “Dream Cabinet,” and other works. Books will be for sale.
Of “Dream Cabinet,” author Claudia Emerson writes “Fisher-Wirth reminds us that the earth’s uncertain passage is inextricable from our own as she deftly interweaves the political with the personal — crafting again and again ‘the made thing out of the sheltering darkness.’”
Fisher-Wirth is the author of four books of poems and four chapbooks, including “Dream Cabinet” (2012), “Five Terraces” (2005) and “Blue Window” (2004). The chapbooks include “Slide Shows” (2009) and “Walking Wu Wei’s Scroll” (2005). She is also a co-editor of a collaborative anthology.
She has a forthcoming publication, “The Ecopoetry Anthology,” with Laura-Gray Street (2013). She also over 100 poems in publications (some online), including “Mississippi” in “(Revolution)esque,” 2012; “La Garde Guérin” in “Poemeleon” (online), 2011; “Thirty Years After I Left Your Father” in “Poemeleon” (online), 2011; and “If Not, Winter” in Copper Nickel, 2011.
Fisher-Wirth’s awards include a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, a Poetry Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and two Poetry Fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Commission. She has received six Pushcart nominations and a 2007 Pushcart Special Mention.
She has held a Fulbright lecturership at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. Fisher-Wirth is a professor in English and environmental studies at the University of Mississippi.
W&L’s Glasgow Endowment was established by the late Arthur G. Glasgow for the “promotion of the expression of art through pen and tongue.” In the past four decades the endowment has hosted authors including W.S. Merwin and Mary Oliver.
Watch Live Tonight: W&L's Annual Christmas Candlelight Service
Washington and Lee University’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service featuring the W&L University Singers will be held Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in Lee Chapel. Seating will begin at 7:15 p.m. The public is invited to the presentation, which is free.
The “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” broadcast each year from King’s College Chapel, University of Cambridge, and widely used in England, the United States and around the world, is an ancient form for corporate worship at the Christmas season. The prayers, lessons and music tell the story of sacred history from the Creation to the Incarnation.
In 1880, E.W. Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, drew up a service of lessons and carols for use on Christmas Eve in the wooden shed which served as his cathedral. In 1918 this service was adapted for use in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. In the early 1930s, the BBC began broadcasting the service on overseas programming, and it is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide.
The service has been held for many years in Lexington, the earlier years at Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church. The W&L Men’s Glee Club participated in the service held at the Episcopal Church, but when the Candlelight Service moved to Lee Chapel in the early 1990s, the newly founded W&L Chamber Singers became the featured choir.
Music for the traditional service again will be provided by the University Singers, the evolution of the Chamber Singers, conducted by Shane M. Lynch, director of choral activities at W&L. The singers’s anthems will feature a wide variety of music, from Malcolm Sargent’s wonderful version of Silent Night and Kenneth Jennings’ classic arrangement of Thy Little Ones, Dear Lord to modern and beautiful Christmas masterpieces like Morten Laursidsen’s O Magnum Mysterium and Healey Willan’s The Three Kings.
Timothy Gaylard, professor of music, will be the organist for the service, leading the familiar hymns and carols and rounding out the evening’s experience with a festive organ prelude and postlude.
Nine members of the Washington and Lee University community are chosen to read the lessons. William C. Datz, former coordinator of Religious Life at W&L and current Catholic Campus Minister, will preside over the service.
W&L Senior Researches Effect of Taxes and Social Spending on Poverty
As the U.S. tax code draws increased attention during the debate over avoiding the fiscal cliff, a Washington and Lee University senior brings a new perspective with his comprehensive study of whether or not tax expenditures that reduce revenues for social and economic purposes are helping those citizens who live in poverty.
Joe Landry, of New Ipswich, N.H., conducted his study with Harlan Beckley, director of W&L’s Shepherd Program on Poverty and Human Capability, over the summer under an E.A. Morris Research Grant. He is an American history major with a minor in poverty studies.
“Joe’s research gives us a clear picture of how tax expenditures impact low-income people,” said Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion. “It’s important to see that the benefits are going mostly to the upper middle class and the upper class, reducing the progressive nature of the income tax code. The tax system is still slightly progressive, but over the past 30 years it has become less and less so. A 2011 report by the Congressional Budget Office is important support for the comprehensive work that Joe has done on social spending and tax expenditures.”
Political leaders from both sides of the aisle are giving more attention to the role of tax expenditures. They are a form of government spending because the tax code allows exemptions, deductions or credits to select groups for specific activities. These expenditures often advance goals that are in themselves laudable. For example, provisions in the tax code allow people to deduct their mortgage interest, charitable contributions and health-care premiums, or to receive a tax credit for children.
Tax expenditures mean revenue losses at the federal level and currently run around $1.04 trillion annually, excluding reduced rates for capital gains and dividends. If included as part of federal spending, they would equal about one quarter of total spending.
According to Landry’s study, the latest data show that, on average, households in the top 1 percent of income received $101,089 from these tax expenditures in 2007. Special tax rates on capital gains and dividends reduce tax revenues even further and benefit high-income taxpayers almost exclusively. Including these latter data would show that the benefits of tax breaks are even more skewed in favor of upper-income households. In 2007, households in the bottom 10 percent of income received on average only $1,154. In addition to material from the Congressional Budget Office, Landry used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Office Management and Budget (OMB).
One reason for this difference is that the mortgage tax deduction does not benefit renters or homeowners who do not have a positive annual tax obligation. As Landry explained, the deduction also disproportionately subsidizes home ownership for people whose higher-income bracket makes their deductions more valuable, and who qualify for larger mortgages, sometimes on two homes, that lead to higher interest deductions.
Other examples of tax expenditures are exemptions for employer contributions for medical insurance and retirement plans, life insurance savings and health-care flexible spending accounts. “If you don’t have health insurance, then you don’t get any benefit,” said Beckley, “and 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance. That’s one sixth of the population.”
Landry’s study is controversial but not politically partisan. During the recent presidential campaign, both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney proposed ways to increase revenues by reducing deductions, and House Speaker John Boehner has called for increasing revenues from the well-off by this kind of tax reform.
“I don’t think my research comes across as partisan, because both liberals and conservatives indicate that they want a simpler tax system,” said Landry. “Nevertheless, these political leaders resist eliminating specific deductions that benefit their constituents. Political discourse requires understandable information on the distribution of benefits from these tax benefits.”
Landry also examined social spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He showed that while spending on those programs has increased, overall benefits for those with lower incomes have decreased. The CBO data show that low-income households now receive a smaller percentage of social spending than they did in 1979.
“Over the years, more and more of the benefits of social spending have been given largely to people who have high incomes as well as people who have been middle class for most of the their lives,” said Beckley. “Exceptions to this are Food Stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), both of which increased during the period of the recession.”
Landry also examined historical trends and international comparisons, showing that the United States ranks significantly below average among OECD nations in social spending as well as in revenues collected through taxes and other means. “We can know what social spending is in the United States now, at a certain point in time, but it’s important to be able to place this in historical and comparative context,” he said.
Landry continues his research, which will soon be posted on the Roosevelt Institute’s “Next New Deal” blog. Contributors to that blog include such well-known authors as Joseph Stiglitz, the institute’s senior fellow and chief economist; Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor and U.S. senator-elect from Massachusetts; and Jonathan Alter, journalist and former editor of Newsweek. Beckley is using the research in the classroom and in talks to groups interested in poverty, both locally and on other campuses.
Poetry Fit to Tweet
When the English Department wanted to promote its new Twitter account and Facebook page, it could have touted its accomplished faculty members or investigated the Payne Hall ghost. Instead, with senior Eric Gehman leading the way, the department conducted a contest for poems about the so-called Purple Painting, which hangs on the landing between the second and third floors of Payne. What does that have to do with social media? The poems had to be tweet-sized: 140 characters or less.
“I’m kind of a technology nerd, so I figured I could handle it,” said Gehman of his first assignment, to initiate the departmental social media. He’s the work-study student for the English Department; Suzanne Keen, who chaired the department last academic year, tasked him with the project. He then spent a summer internship doing media accounts for a retirement community—an audience with a different set of technological skills and needs than the recent W&L graduates who are the primary users of Facebook and Twitter.
“I brought a lot of know-how when I came back in the fall,” Gehman said, “knowing that I would be fostering a community of people who are really invested in technology and the community that goes on in social media.”
The notion of a promotional contest also emerged last spring, from conversations among Gehman; Lesley Wheeler, a poet and the Henry S. Fox Professor of English; and senior Max Chapnick, who will take Gehman’s place when Gehman graduates this December.
“What I had was a wouldn’t-it-be-fun idea, with no ability whatsoever to put it into action given my current workload,” said Wheeler. “It became clear that Eric was going to run with the idea. He made it happen—I’m really impressed with him.”
Wheeler suggested the painting as the subject of the poems. “I teach creative writing classes in the building, and every once in a while I’ll do a writing prompt, or I’ll say, ‘OK, go somewhere for 10 minutes and look at something—there’s a lot of art around—and write about what you see.’ There are always Purple-Painting poems that come up.” She and her fellow poets on the third floor of Payne, professors Deborah Miranda and Leah Green, occasionally compare notes on what they see in the abstract, color-saturated painting.
For his part, Gehman wanted to hold “a fun, English-oriented contest.” From Lancaster, Pa., he is majoring in English and minoring in philosophy and women’s and gender studies. He’s worked with the student organizations End It, which seeks to end sexual assault on campus, and Active Minds, which educates students about mental health. A swimmer, he received a Scholar-Athlete Award in 2009.
For the contest, he drew inspiration from Wheeler’s course in creative writing and poetry, which he’s taking this term. “I thought, ‘What if we had people write poems?’ It would jell with the social media construct. I thought 140 characters is a good way to make it a low-impact creative assignment.”
He agreed with Wheeler about the artwork. “The painting’s perfect because it’s abstract enough that you can read anything you want into it,” he said. “There’s a big window for creativity.”
Officially titled “Mood Indigo,” the undated painting is the creation of Evelyn Dawson Wynn (c. 1909–1990). The multitalented artist had careers as a painter, a dancer with the pioneering Denishawn modern dance company, and a fashion designer for the Suzy Perette label. Her husband, Larry Wynn, of the W&L class of 1934, donated it and many of her pieces to W&L.
The painting graces Payne Hall thanks to Suzanne Keen, now interim dean of the College. As department chair when the Payne Hall renovation wrapped up, she got to select new artwork for the building. “I love color-field images, and the super-saturated violet really caught my eye,” Keen said. “I relished the idea of the students passing into the Purple Zone where the poets are, up there on the third floor of Payne Hall. And the rest is Twitter literary history.”
In addition to social media, Gehman publicized the contest through the old-school methods of talking it up to faculty members so they’d promote it in their classes (“one of the biggest ways to drive turnout”) and slapping flyers on walls and doors. “That’s sort of the great irony,” he noted, “this utopic vision of technology we all have, that we’re all moving into the digital space for all of our communications to take place online.”
Gehman also relied on Jamie Goodin, a 2010 alumnus who handles the University’s overall social media efforts and re-Tweeted information about the contest. “This project is a testament to how quickly and effectively the social media ecosystem has developed here over the past year,” said Gehman.
The contest was open to current students (category one), alumni (category two), and faculty, staff and W&L community members (category three). Gehman, Wheeler and poet Andrea Null, a 2010 graduate of W&L, judged the entries.
“The poetry contest, I hope, ends up being a perfect storm of what makes social media really fun and interesting,” said Gehman.
The department announced the winners on its Facebook page. Here are the first place winners in the three categories.
Student Division – Anne Persons, ’15
It is the night sky
Smattered with my grape
Cough syrup, and I
Pass it en route to
class, forecasting symptoms of
#brainflu and #payneflu
Alumni Division – Jeanne Dillon-Williams, ‘96
Even then I saw her. That plummy
little heliotrope. Mommy’s nymphalid!
Spun up in crimson empyrean,
dreaming of milk and light.
Faculty/Staff Division – Laura Brodie, English Department
Rising from purple fog
The ghost descends to the classroom
To push pale fingers leftward
Yes, yes, yes.
Follow me back to the painted door.
Read the complete list of winners and their poems on the English Department Facebook page.
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Holiday Cooking with George Washington and Robert E. Lee
Looking for a way to bring a taste of Washington and Lee—that would be George and Robert E.—into your holiday cuisine? You can do just that with the help of a 2011 book published under the aegis of Mount Vernon, and the current issue of Southern Living magazine.
“Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon” is your source for information on “the daily lives of George and Martha Washington, on their ceaseless stream of household guests and those who served them, and on the ways food and drink reflected the culture of 18th century America,” says the Mount Vernon website. One of the contributors to the book, culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump, gave a lecture on campus in October titled “ ‘An Elegant Variety’: At Dinner with the Washingtons.” She adapted the 90-plus historic recipes in the book.
The November issue of Southern Living offers up a recipe for Robert E. Lee Bundt. The editor, M. Lindsay Bierman, writes that “it has its origins in an 1879 cookbook titled ‘Housekeeping in Old Virginia’.” Loaded with orange and lemon zest, lemon and orange juice and six eggs, it no doubt lives up to Bierman’s description of the dessert as “moist and lemony.” Fire up the mixer and see if it lives up to those adjectives; here’s the recipe.
W&L's Whang Featured in “International Educator”
Washington and Lee senior Uri Whang is featured in the cover story of the November/December edition of “International Educator,” the journal of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Uri, a politics major from Germantown, Tenn., was cited in the story “Transforming Lives,” which focused on students and faculty from throughout the country who are helping refugees around the world.
In 2011, Uri won a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace and used it to establish a program called Benefitting All Children in Korea, or BACK, which aims to help North Korean refugees better integrate into South Korean society.
Asked about her work by “International Educator,” Uri said: “Through this experience, I’ve learned to question stereotypes and celebrate diversity, feeling empowered by the strength of our refugees.”
Read “Transforming Lives” here or download a pdf of the story here.
Habitat Hotel Featured on WVTF Public Radio
As students, alumni and parents of Washington and Lee know better than anyone, housing options can become scarce during Parents and Family Weekend. The Habitat Hotel program has become an important housing option — and a good way to serve an important cause.
The program, developed a half dozen years ago, asks Lexington residents and members of the W&L staff and faculty to turn their homes into bed and breakfasts for families of W&L students during the annual weekend. The guests then donate $150 per room to the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity Chapter.
Habitat Hotel is the Washington and Lee Habitat Chapter’s most successful fund-raising effort each year. Junior Laura Beth Ellis, of Atlanta, led the project this fall.
Habitat Hotel has gained lots of steam in recent years, and the program received a big boost when Sandy Hausman, an award-winning reporter for WVTF Public Radio, in Roanoke, paid a visit earlier this month.
In interviews with former Dean of Students Lew John and his wife, Annette, who open their home to visitors; parent Sarah Scott Thomas, of New Orleans; and local Habitat official Emily King, Sandy spins a wonderful story about the project. Her piece also ran on the Virginia Public Radio network. Listen below:
Charles Taylor to Address W&L's “Happiness Seminar”
Charles Taylor, emeritus professor of philosophy at McGill University, is the third speaker in Washington and Lee University’s year-long “Questioning the Good Life” interdisciplinary seminar series. His talk will be Thursday, Nov. 29, at 4:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, University Commons.
The title of the talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Relating Morals to Ethics.”
One of the issues he addressed in his seminal work “A Secular Age,” is an historical account of the emergence of an idea of happiness that detaches the good from ends beyond human flourishing. This account allows people to see shortcomings in and conceive alternatives to the modern vision of happiness.
Taylor is the author of more than 10 books including “Sources of the Self” and “Dilemmas and Connections: Selections Essays.” His writings have been translated into 20 languages, and have covered a range of subjects, which include artificial intelligence, language, social behavior, morality and multiculturalism.
Taylor was appointed a member of the Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor, in 1996. He was also a winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities (2007) and the Kyoto Prize for significant contributions to the scientific, cultural, or spiritual betterment of humankind (2008).
Taylor received his B.A. in history and his B.A. in politics, philosophy and economics from McGill University, and his M.A. and DPhil. from Oxford.
Bestselling Novelist Lev Grossman to Read at W&L
Lev Grossman, The New York Times bestselling novelist and Time magazine book critic, will present a reading at Washington and Lee University on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 4 p.m. in the Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.
The public is invited at no charge, and there will be a book signing of “The Magicians” and “The Magician King” following the reading.
Grossman is the author of four novels: “Warp” (1997), the international bestseller “Codex” (2004), and The New York Times bestselling installments of his fantasy trilogy, “The Magicians” (2009) and “The Magician King” (2011). The New Yorker named “The Magicians” one of the best books of 2009 and in 2011 Grossman won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Grossman has written about books and technology for The New York Times. He has also written for Salon, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Lingua Franca, the Village Voice and The Believer, as well as NPR.
The event is sponsored by the Glasgow Endowment.
W&L Alumna Releases New Album
The third and latest full-length album by singer/songwriter Julie Slonecki, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2011, was released last week. “Truth/Ideals” is Julie’s third album, and it’s available for digital download on her website, julieslonecki.com.
For anyone in the Charleston, S.C., vicinity, the release show for Julie’s album will be this Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Tin Roof in Charleston.
In a 2009 article on the Washington and Lee website, Julie credited her music theory classes with W&L composer Terry Vosbein for her growth as a musician: “Professor Vosbein has taught me most of what I know about how music all fits together. He is very relaxed and comfortable with his students, and we always manage to have fits of roaring laughter in class. I hope one day to be as fluid as he is in talking about music and analyzing chords.”
Since graduating from W&L with a double major in music and psychology, Julie has been performing as a solo artist in the Charleston area. At W&L, she played with several campus bands, including Julie & the Mountain Men, which won the Washington and Lee Battle of the Bands. She also sang in the Chamber Singers.
According to her bio on Amazon, Julie’s music “is often hard to place in one genre. Her infectious melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and soulful voice come together to create a merging of pop and folk. It is at once easy and upbeat while maintaining a focus on the importance of solid, innovative songwriting that has both depth and relatability.”
Hobbs Presents at Southeast Museums Conference
Patricia Hobbs participated in the Southeast Museums Conference (SEMC) 2012 Annual Meeting, held Nov. 7-9 in Williamsburg, where she was a presenter on the topic of “Sustainable Partnerships with Academic Museums.” Hobbs was also recently named to be the State Representative from Virginia to the Association for Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG).
Winners of 2012 W&L Law Client Counseling Competition Announced
The 2012 Client Counseling Competition concluded in the Millhiser Moot Court Room with the final round on Wednesday, November 14. Jessica Piltch and Shahnam Yazdani emerged as the winning team. The team of Emily Feenstra and Chelsea Richmond received second place. Fizza Naqvi and Brittany Rainey also competed in the finals.
Washington and Lee alumnus and local attorney, John Vita, ’84, ’88L, judged the final round. While a law student at Washington and Lee, Mr. Vita received Best Oralist in the 1986 John W. Davis Moot Court Competition and later served on the Moot Court Executive Board.
During the competition, the client receives a fact pattern, and the competitors receive a brief description of the reason for the client’s visit. The competitors interview and counsel the client on his/her legal problem. The competition evaluates students’ ability to establish a rapport with the client, discover relevant facts, spot legal issues, and adhere to codes of professional responsibility.
Administrators for the Client Counseling Competition were third-year students Christopher Bou Saeed, Misha Daha, and Garrett Greiner. The Moot Court Executive Board administers all competitions for the Moot Court Program, which includes the Robert J. Grey, Jr. Negotiations Competition, the John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Competition, Client Counseling, Mock Trial, and Mediation in Representation. For more information about Moot Court and upcoming competitions, please visit http://law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.
2012 German Law in Context Project Ends with Keynote from German Military Attache
On Nov. 26, Brigadier General Dirk Backen will deliver the keynote for Washington and Lee’s 2012 German Law in Context Program, discussing the role of the military in contemporary Germany.
The keynote and discussion will take place at 5:00 p.m. in the Pogue Auditorium in the Marshall Museum on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute. The event is open to the public.
The German Law in Context Project is an annual research seminar led by W&L Professor Russell Miller. The Project seeks to involve W&L students who are associated with the work of the German Law Journal in an interdisciplinary examination of German legal issues by exploring how history, politics, social institutions, the economy, and culture help illuminate and explain German law and legal doctrine.
Gen. Backen is currently the Military Attache to the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. In that post he oversees relations between the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Ministry of Defense. The Germany Army, Navy and Air Force are represented on his staff.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students to explore a really interesting comparative law issue with one of the most knowledgeable experts on the social and political issues implicated by the German law we’ve studied,” said Miller.
Prior to his assignment in Washington, Gen. Backen’s distinguished career included service as Adjutant to the Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces (2004-2006) and service as Chief of Staff of the 1st Armored Division of the German Armed Forces (2006-2009). Most recently, Gen. Backen served as part of the German contingent in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He assumed leadership of the Northern Regional Command (Afghanistan) after his predecessor was wounded.
“Very often, our comparative law efforts reveal dramatic differences between the U.S. and Germany,” said Miller. “The German Law in Context Project is meant to help us better understand and explain those differences.”
The 2012 Program, titled “Parliament’s Army: Lessons from Germany on Law and War,” began with just such a glaring difference, noted Miller. Contrary to the robust military policy and extensive foreign military deployments that have dominated American foreign policy for the last 30 years, Germany has only cautiously flexed its military muscle in the same period.
Germany’s military reluctance has been frequently noted by the media, with Time Magazine asking in a 2009 article “Will Germany’s Army Ever be Ready for Battle?” More recently, in the run-up to the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, German and American media and security analysts complained that “Germany’s reputation in NATO has hit rock bottom” and that “German weakness is NATO’s most significant problem.”
“Our work this semester has been two-fold,” explained Miller. “First, we wanted to know if the law had somehow contributed to this state of affairs. Second, if the law does play a role, we wanted to know what forces in history and society helped shaped the relevant legal regime.”
Alongside a number of round-table discussions of prominent German Constitutional Court cases on the topic, the seminar heard from experts in German history as well as scholars in German literature and film. The group attended a brief theater performance of Wolfgang Bochert’s anti-war play Draußen vor der Tür (The Man Outside) and held two film screenings (Die Brücke and Das Boot ).
The reference to “Parliament’s Army” in the program’s title acknowledges the German Constitutional Court’s insistence that the German constitution makes the post-war German Army a parliamentary institution, giving the parliament sole authority over non-defensive deployments.
The 2012 German Law in Context Project involved a highly-successful collaboration between the W&L Law School, the German and Russian Department at W&L, and the Bigg’s Chair in Military History at VMI. Other faculty involved in the 2012 program include Prof. Roger Crockett (W&L German); Prof. Paul Youngman (W&L German); Prof. Bill Patch (W&L History); and Prof. Geoff Jensen (VMI History).
Past German Law in Context programs have focused on “The Immigrant in German Law and Culture,” “The German Social State,” and “Germany’s 1968 and the Law.”
For more information, please contact Prof. Russell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Book by W&L's Gertz Explores Women's Literature in Heresy Trials
The irony of the heresy trials in England in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was that, although women were banned from preaching in society, the trials gave them a forum to do exactly that, while generating some of the earliest records of women’s literature.
In her book “Heresy Trials and English Women Writers, 1400-1670” (Cambridge University Press 2012), Genelle Gertz, associate professor of English and writing program director at Washington and Lee University, analyzes the interrogations of several women to chart the complex dynamics behind the emergence of women’s writing from the procedures of heresy trials.
Gertz explained that many heresy trials took place in chapels, chapterhouses and other ecclesiastical buildings. The women’s interrogators were often some of the most powerful leaders in church administration. A heresy judgment, without an accompanying admission of error, usually led to death. But rather than actively seeking the women’s deaths, the interrogators hoped to gain a defendant’s submission to articles of faith so that she could be “reconciled to the church.”
The words of the defendants were therefore particularly important, with both sides focusing intently on their meaning. The women defended themselves using speech usually reserved for preaching, which made the trials the only occasion when women were allowed to preach and be listened to by men. Some women were required to provide a written confession, and in a few cases they turned their confessions into full-blown accounts of their trials. These trial narratives are among the first and often the only compositions authored by English women.
“I’m really interested in how the trial itself became a forum for argumentation, debate and preaching, and how writing emerged from this procedure, and then autobiographical writing about belief came out of that,” explained Gertz.
Gertz studied women’s accounts of their trials across Catholic, Protestant and Sectarian communities as well as the medieval/early modern divide. She makes the historical argument that similar conditions and similar experiences of being dissenting or nonconformist, resulted in these women writing about their beliefs. “Their portrayals of their trials show they figured themselves as religious leaders and preachers and as equals to the men in their congregation who were directing theology,” said Gertz.
“I’m interested in all those little historical details that are suggestive of what was happening, because we don’t know for sure,” she added. “I’ve tried to recover a lot of the context and tease out what it would have been like to be a woman who was part of a dissenting religious group in this time period.”
Gertz acknowledged that, of the women she writes about, she most admires Anne Askew. She was a Protestant who was burned at the stake for heresy under Henry VIII in 1546. The account she wrote of her interrogation before priests and privy counselors greatly influenced later texts by other prisoners accused of heresy.
Gertz also explores the trial accounts of four women who were less educated than Askew: Margaret Clitherow, a Catholic butcher’s wife; Alice Driver, a plowman’s daughter; Agnes Prest who seems to have been a domestic; and Elizabeth Young, who smuggled books about the reformation from Germany into England.
“Elizabeth Young is fascinating because she went up against this churchman who really abused her in terms of how he spoke to her. He was very angry with her lack of education, lower class status and the fact that she was a woman. So I love all the ways in which she offended him and still comes across as a forceful character. She was never killed because they couldn’t get enough evidence, so we have her story because she survived and told about the nine examinations she endured.”
The four women differ from Anne Askew in that their accounts are all biographical. While the narratives were written by someone else, the accounts of Elizabeth Young’s trials are particularly interesting since they change into the first person voice at times, which indicates that they are a transcript of an interview with Young.
Even the texts written by women were edited by men. “There’s this overall question of how much of the women’s voices we are actually getting,” said Gertz. “I’m trying to make a strong argument about the importance of these texts because they survived, while at the same time I don’t have the autographed manuscripts. Based on other archival work I did, I found out that a lot of people attended these trials and were interested in what was being said, and that there was a network of people who were copying out trials within the prisons.”
Gertz spent 10 years examining historical and archival sources such as original trial accounts and John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs,” first published in 1563. Many manuscripts did not survive, so Gertz based her research on those that did. She also researched the actual procedures of the heresy trials.
“It was a lot of painstaking work trying to figure out how the heresy trials worked because they varied so much,” said Gertz. “That was partly because of regime and policy changes, but they also varied based upon a person’s class standing and connection with the court. It was extremely dangerous, particularly in the 16th century, to have a belief that was different from what was being prescribed, which would change all the time, especially under Henry VIII. Heresy trials became more prevalent under Queen Mary, and 270 Protestants died during her brief five-year reign.”
Gertz’s research was funded by a fellowship from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and by Lenfest and Glenn grants from Washington and Lee.
Gertz received her B.A in English and philosophy from Wheaton College. She received her M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. and Ph. D. from Princeton University
“Heresy Trials and English Women Writers, 1400-1670” is available at the University Bookstore or find it on their website at http://bookstore.wlu.edu
Mini Reunion at NYC Media Event
Washington and Lee journalism majors Alex Scaggs, Class of 2009, and Michael Morella, Class of 2010, joined about two dozen other national journalists who quizzed college presidents, including W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio ’76, during an event sponsored by Arizona State University, at the Penn Club in New York City, on Wednesday night, Nov. 14.
The biannual media dinner, which celebrated its 25th anniversary, brings together college and university presidents and media for a free-wheeling, on-the-record session about current issues in higher education. Washington and Lee’s Ruscio was one of 10 presidents who participated.
Alex is a reporter with the Dow Jones Newswires and covers breaking news for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. She covers the equity market for Dow Jones. Michael is an associate editor with U.S. News & World Report, where his assignments have varied from UFO sightings to road trips to college campuses.
During a two-hour dinner, the journalists quizzed the college presidents on everything from MOOCs (massive open online courses), to costs and price, to the role that colleges and universities should play in improving race relations, to their thoughts on the fiscal cliff.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, TIME magazine and CBS “Sunday Morning” were among those represented at the event.
W&L Law Prof Helps Explain Tax Consequence of Garofalo’s Mystery Marriage
Washington and Lee law professor Michelle Drumbl contributed her insight on tax law to a recent edition of Slate’s Explainer column, which examined the tax consequences of comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo’s recently revealed marriage.
Garofalo says she was married twenty years ago in what she thought was a sham ceremony in Las Vegas. It turns out the marriage was real, and Explainer columnist Brian Palmer wondered if that meant that Garofalo and her husband would need to file two decades worth of amended tax returns. The answer is no:
“The statute of limitations on honest mistakes in tax filing is three years, so Garofalo and Cohen are off the hook for 85 percent of their union. Even for the last three years, it probably wouldn’t make sense for the couple to amend their returns. Taxpayers have no legal obligation to notify the Internal Revenue Service of innocent errors, and the couple would likely owe more taxes plus interest if they were to amend.”
Drumbl, who directs W&L’s Tax Clinic, will publish an article in December in the Columbia Journal of Tax Law that explores similar issues. The article, titled “Decoupling Taxes and Marriage”, tackles the issue of joint and several liability for married couples filing joint returns, examining how the law creates an unfair conundrum for low-income taxpayers in particular.
Read the full Explainer column at slate.com.
W&L Alumna Named AP's Director of Polling
Polls made plenty of news during the just-concluded presidential election. Jennifer Agiesta, a 2000 graduate of Washington and Lee, knows the subject inside and out—she’s the new director of polling for the Associated Press.
Jenn, who has worked at AP since 2010, was previously the deputy director of polling there. In her new post, she will set strategy and provide guidance on the subject for the entire organization.
The Washington bureau chief of AP, Sally Buzbee, referred to Jenn’s “strong polling expertise and journalistic expertise” and lauded her as “a fluid and graceful writer.”
Jenn has worked as a polling analyst at the Washington Post and its Behind the Numbers blog, and has managed exit polling for Edison Research and Voter News Service. She has also researched communications strategies for private companies.
Just a few weeks ago, Oct. 26, Jenn did a telephone interview on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” about the gender gap in the presidential race. You can listen to her here. And in the day before the election she wrote an AP story about the way that polls became political tools in the campaign, and then her polling was the basis for AP’s comprehensive look at the changing U.S. electorate a week after the election. You can read that piece here. For more of Jenn’s work, she her writer’s page on Salon.
Joe Lyles, Legendary W&L Coach, Dies at 83
Joseph F. Lyles, who coached and taught at Washington and Lee University for 50 years, died Tuesday, Nov. 13, in Roanoke. He was 83.
“Joe enjoyed a long and colorful career throughout half a century at Washington and Lee. Not only did he coach soccer and baseball for almost 20 seasons, but he also taught every required class in our physical education curriculum,” said W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Alumni across a wide range of class years will remember Joe fondly and no doubt can recite more than one of his Lylesisms. He was one of the legends.”
Lyles was born on Oct. 28, 1929, in St. Louis, Mo., and grew up there. He attended St. Mary’s High School, where he is a member of its Hall of Fame. He studied at St. Louis University from 1947 to 1949 and received his degrees in physical education from Springfield College—a B.S. (1958) and an M.S. (1959, with honors). He served in the Army in 1952.
He left St. Louis University in 1949 to play not one but two professional sports: baseball with the American League’s St. Louis Browns organization (1949–1954) and basketball with the St. Louis Bombers (1949–1953). He also had stints with the Washington Generals and the Philadelphia Spas, both basketball organizations. On the diamond, he played in the outfield and as a pitcher; on the court, he played as a guard and a forward. In 1952, he traveled around the world to 44 countries as a member of the United States All-Stars, playing against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Lyles arrived at W&L in 1959. He served as the head baseball coach from 1959 to 1978 and head soccer coach from 1959 to 1976. He also was the assistant basketball coach from 1959 to 1969. He compiled a 108-229-3 record in baseball and a 100-85-17 record in soccer. W&L named him Coach of the Year for baseball in 1972, and for soccer in 1974.
He later directed club sports at W&L and headed the football chain crew through the 2011 season. Long after leaving his post as head baseball coach, he assisted the baseball program, serving as the team’s fall ball coach while the head coach served as the football team’s offensive coordinator. Lyles retired in 2009 as an associate professor of physical education. Even in retirement, he attended as many W&L athletic events as possible.
Members of the W&L community relished his sense of humor and what they called his Lylesisms, such as “I want the left-handers over here, right-handers over there, and the rest of you come with me,” and “This year, all our home games are going to be here.” One of his best stories concerned his first game pitching for the St. Louis Browns, when he hit Stan Musial, the legendary St. Louis Cardinal.
“Joe Lyles was one of a kind, and I mean that in the most positive, respectful way possible,” said Jan Hathorn, W&L director of athletics. “He loved W&L and W&L athletics, and he gave his heart to the men he coached and the students he taught. His support of our physical education program, as well as the club sports program—in particular, the Squash Club—was second to none. He was very proud to have served W&L for 50 years, and his loyalty to the Blue and White was unswerving. I think I speak for many in our department when I say that we are grateful for the opportunity to have known and worked beside Joe during his remarkable tenure. We are going to miss him enormously.”
“Joe Lyles enriched the fabric of life at Washington and Lee,” said Mike Walsh, the longtime former athletics director at W&L, who worked with Lyles for 17 years. “Whether it be for a Lylesism, from a conversation at a W&L athletic contest or from being coached or taught by Joe—he will be remembered as an unforgettable person. He dearly loved this University, its students and our athletes. He was our most devoted fan and always saw the good in young men and women. Oh, how he loved the Generals. He will be missed and fondly spoken of for generations to come.”
“In his 50 years of service, he crossed the paths of thousands of individuals; in all his dealings, his warmth and friendliness have always stood out,” read the official citation upon his retirement from W&L. “This is a big man with a big heart.”
Beyond the campus, Lyles served as the chair of the Penn and South Region, the conference that preceded the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). He also worked on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) committees for baseball, including as national chair of the newly formed Division III for five years after its formation, national chair of the Division III All-American selection committee and a member of the Divisions I, II and III National Baseball Rules committee. He served on NCAA committees for Divisions II and III for soccer.
In the off seasons, he represented baseball and softball equipment in Virginia for Jo Paul Industries; directed programs and entertainment at hotels in Atlantic City, N.J.; served as a consultant and recreation specialist for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity; trained personnel for the Springfield College Job Corps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA); and directed summer camps in Virginia and New Hampshire.
His wife, Patricia Nolan Lyles, who was equally popular with the W&L community, died in 2002. He was also preceded in death by two brothers, Claude E. Lyles Jr. and Gordon T. Lyles, and a nephew, Thomas Lyles.
He is survived by his nephews, Claude E. Lyles III and John Lyles; his nieces, Valerie Drane Bellman, Patricia Wanko, Suzanne Frisella, Theresa Kettenbrink, Janean Hensley, Joan Chenault and Diane Boliaux; and a sister-in-law, Carol Lyles Dustmann.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory, Lexington. A mass of Christian burial will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lexington, with burial to follow in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Washington and Lee University, Development Office, 204 W. Washington St., Lexington, VA 24450.
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs
W&L Alumnus Named President of the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation
Dr. Hughes Melton, a 1989 graduate of Washington and Lee, is the new president of the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation.
Hughes is the vice president and chief medical officer for the Virginia Operations of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) in Abingdon, Va. MSHA is the largest health-care system in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.
Prior to MSHA, Hughes worked with C-Health, P.C., the practice he founded in June 2000 and where he provided a full spectrum of family medical services to people in rural southwest Virginia. C-Health grew to 17 full- and part-time providers serving more than 18,000 patients. Along the way, Hughes has earned numerous awards, including the American Academy of Family Physicians 2011 Family Physician of the Year and the 2009 Virginia Family Physician of the Year.
One of the summer interns in Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty worked with Hughes this past summer.
The Medical Society of Virginia Foundation (MSVF) is the philanthropic partnership between the Medical Society of Virginia and the Medical Society of Virginia Alliance. The organization aims to better equip the physician community to improve the health of Virginians. The Medical Society of Virginia is the professional association for physicians in the commonwealth.
Hughes received his M.D. from the University of Virginia and returned to the U.Va. medical school in September 2011 to present “Stretching to Serve: Health Professionals’ Altruism and Vulnerability When Meeting Community Needs.” You can watch it at this link.
W&L Seniors Alexandra Fernandez, Ronald Magee Named Generals of the Month for November
Washington and Lee University seniors Alexandra Fernández and Ronald Magee will be recognized at the Generals of the Month presentation for November on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 12:30 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.
Fernández, of San Antonio, is an economics major in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. She is a Johnson Scholar whose full-merit scholarship is based on leadership, personal promise and academic achievement. She is a member of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and W&L Student Consulting, an organization that provides local and international pro bono consulting services.
Fernández, a graduate of Health Careers High School, also is a member of the W&L Venture Club that promotes entrepreneurial spirit through consulting, microfinance and marketing projects, and is a Key Staff for the Outing Club. She is a disc jockey for WLUR, and was a member of the Bonner Leader Volunteer Program.
Magee, from Lima, Ohio, is double majoring in biochemistry and Spanish and is a Johnson Scholar. He is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society and has been on the Dean’s List.
Magee, a graduate of Shawnee High School, is the secretary and alumni chair of the Xi Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.; is on the W&L Campus Kitchen Leadership Team; and is a member of Student Association for Black Unity (SABU). He volunteered at Clinica Tamboril-Caritas in Santiago, Dominican Republic, last summer.
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.
Fernández and Magee 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 Dec. 6, and dates in January, February, March, April and May that are yet to be determined.
W&L's “Student to Student” Seeks Local Children to Mentor
When the national Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization closed its Staunton agency in 2011, Washington and Lee junior Meredith Roberts was determined to continue mentoring the little brother with whom she had been paired since her first year at W&L.
Roberts and Kathryn Marsh-Soloway, a senior at Washington and Lee, along with Alex Shabo who graduated from W&L last year, had been instrumental in bringing Big Brothers, Big Sisters to the University. So they decided to keep all the matches between local children and W&L students and turn the program into a student-run organization called Student to Student.
Their decision to keep a mentoring program alive has been vindicated. Student to Student has made 36 matches between W&L students and local children, and there is currently a long waiting list of students looking for children to mentor. That list is likely to increase as first year W&L students apply to be mentors, and juniors re-apply in the hopes of finding a match.
“This program is a great opportunity for kids to meet someone they wouldn’t have met otherwise and to get one-on-one mentoring,” said Marsh-Soloway. “We’re looking for children between four and 14 years old, and we want to encourage parents to apply for their children to be mentored.”
Student to Student refers to W&L students as “Bigs” and the children they mentor as “Littles.”
Roberts explained that recruiting first-year W&L students as Bigs is particularly important since the aim is for the match to last throughout their four years at Washington and Lee. “We want the Littles to know that they have someone they can go to as a mentor, as a friend, to help with homework as well as for fun activities,” she said. “It’s important for Littles to have that safety net and to know that they have someone to talk with if they need anything.”
When a match is first made, the parents (or parent) meet with the Big and the Little to brainstorm ideas of what they can do together. “We strive to make matches that are based on common interests and that will last,” said Marsh-Soloway. “Bigs are encouraged to get to know their Littles by taking advantage of free events on campus and in the community and to talk with their Littles to make each outing new and exciting.”
The Bigs, who come together each month to discuss progress with their Littles, are required to spend at least one hour a week with the children and to maintain contact during breaks in the academic year.
Roberts was matched with her Little two years ago when he was six years old. “The biggest thing for me,” she said, “was seeing him grow up and being able to support him and get to know him. It’s very exciting to see him go through school and be able to form that connection with him and to be there for him.
“Sometimes we work on reading. He’s just starting to get homework so now we get to work on that. There are all sorts of things we can do in the community that aren’t too expensive, and I take him to places he’s never been before. I also introduced him to college students and what college is, which was very exciting for him. I just really enjoy hanging out with him. My goal is to keep in contact with him after I leave Lexington because he’s been a big part of my life during almost all of my college experience.”
Participants in Student to Student have access to sports equipment at W&L and the program organizes events such as a Christmas Carnival and plans are already already underway for a Service Day this spring that will focus on the gardens of Campus Kitchen at W&L.
Student to Student raises funds for these activities, and recently received a $1,000 grant from Youth Serve America, an organization that improves communities by increasing the number and the diversity of young people serving in substantive roles. Marsh-Soloway was recently a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. She represented the project and the cause at the organization’s conference in September as one of 51 youth ambassadors that received the YSA Grant. While some of the grant will support the program’s activities, the remainder will help with running costs such as performing background checks.
“We have to do full background checks whenever an adult spends time with a child,” noted Marsh-Soloway. Last year, background checks were done through a private agency and cost $56 per match, but this year the checks will be done at a reduced rate through the sheriff’s department.
Marsh-Soloway and Roberts are both W&L Bonner Scholars, a leadership development program for students with an interest in service and civic engagement. As such, they have a lot of experience working with local schools and have received help with developing Student to Student from guidance counselors and after-school program directors.
“They’ve really helped us by getting the word out to the community,” said Marsh-Soloway. “Our community relationships have helped with everything from providing spaces to meet with parents, handing out fliers in backpacks, to recommending parents who might be interested in having a mentor for their child.”
According to Marsh-Soloway, Student to Student is also great for W&L students, providing a way for them to leave campus, get to know people in the community and build relationships, although she conceded that they would prefer Littles from schools near Washington and Lee so that W&L students don’t need a car.
Marsh-Soloway doesn’t have a Little of her own. “I’ve been working behind the scenes and making matches,” she said. “With such a long waiting list of Bigs looking for Littles, I didn’t want to be greedy and match myself with someone before others have had a chance to find their Little. I’ve really enjoyed seeing matches evolve and develop. My whole experience with the program has given me insight to how a non-profit functions and how much work it entails!”
Parents and W&L students interested in applying to Student to Student should contact Meredith Roberts at email@example.com or Kathryn Marsh-Soloway at firstname.lastname@example.org
W&L Entrepreneurship Summit Joins Aspiring Students, Successful Alumni
Bold. Curious. Relentless. Creative. Obsessed. Tired. Resilient.
Asked for words to best describe an entrepreneur, participants in Washington and Lee University’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Summit offered those adjectives.
For W&L’s young Entrepreneurship Program, the summit, held this past weekend, allowed students to hear firsthand from almost three dozen alumni and area businesspeople who have experienced the highs and lows of starting a new business.
“Perhaps the most important things that we achieved were to inspire both students and new entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, and to instill in them the belief that with a solid business idea, hard work and dedication, anything is possible,” said Jeff Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Washington and Lee. “In addition, we strengthened our rapidly growing community of W&L entrepreneurs, which was evident by participants exchanging contact information and promising to stay in touch.”
In addition to panel discussions featuring the visiting business professionals, the summit allowed students to participate in small-group mentoring sessions with budding entrepreneurs and to network with the participants.
Shay has emphasized how the Washington and Lee program is distinctive because of a natural fit between the liberal arts and entrepreneurism; discussions during the summit underlined his point. Many of the W&L alumni not only cited their non-business majors but also credited the liberal arts courses they had taken as key to their success.
For instance, Reid Thompson, a 2004 graduate, majored in Spanish but singled out his courses in philosophy as especially valuable. Thompson has developed Hatch’d, an online crowd-sourcing and project-management platform.
“Philosophy encouraged me to think about thinking and questioning everything,” Thompson wrote in an informal questionnaire that the summit participants completed.
Lev Raslin, a 2012 graduate who majored in politics and anthropology and is an account manager with Sonic Notify, referred to the political philosophy course that he had taken from W&L professor Eduardo Valasquez. The course taught him that “opposites exist to everything,” Raslin wrote, adding that he also learned to “take any mistakes and use them as positive learning experiences.”
Andrew Ruppar, a 1998 graduate, is the chief operating officer of Inventory Source Technologies, an e-commerce company that handles supply-chain logistics and B2B application development. Ruppar remembered learning about the concept of the tragedy of the commons in a public-policy course taught by W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio (a professor at W&L from 1987 to 2002) and praised the religion courses he took with Harlan Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion. Concluded Ruppar: “If you are always expecting there to be a clear answer or a perfect approach, you will never start a business.”
Other alumni referred to courses in English, psychology, journalism and mass communication, and politics as the most useful to their current career trajectory.
In the panel settings, the alumni freely shared their hard-earned wisdom.
Tom Faulkner, a 1974 graduate who majored in philosophy, has won several CLIO awards for the music behind Motel Six radio ads, and is famed for writing the “I Want My Baby Back Ribs” jingle for Chili’s. Faulkner said he was “born to create.” Creative minds, he said, are driven by enthusiasm for a product, while business minds are more pragmatic and less emotional.
“I am a creative mind, and because of that I’m going to miss things, so I align myself with at least one well-trusted ‘biz whiz’ friend and mentor who can help me through the process,” said Faulkner.
Several of the W&L alumni entrepreneurs cited another distinctive characteristic of the University that has been critical to their success: W&L’s Honor System.
Faulkner, for instance, advised the students: “Don’t lie, cheat or steal. You cannot compromise your values.”
Bill Pifer, a 1976 graduate, added: “You should never compromise your honesty in a business relationship. If you give up on the honor and honesty, it’s a huge compromise that you may never get over.”
That sentiment was also echoed by 1999 alumna Elizabeth Warland, vice president of sales for Purgenix Inc., who concluded: “If you do not do your business with integrity, it will come back to you. If you are not representing what W&L has taught us, you’re not going to make it.”
W&L Law Alum Parker Denaco ‘68L Wins ABA Labor and Employment Award
Washington and Lee University law school alumnus Parker Denaco ‘68L received the American Bar Association’s Arvid Anderson Public Sector Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year award for 2012. The award is designated for attorneys who have devoted their entire careers to the advancement and development of public sector labor and employment law at the state and local level.
The award was presented by Joel A. D’Alba, Chair-Elect of the section, before 1200 lawyers attending a nationwide continuing legal education program. Denaco has been an active member of the ABA since 1968, spent fourteen years as the neutral co-chair of the State and Local Government Collective Bargaining committee and, likewise, is an active member of the ADR Section and Judicial Divisions of the ABA.
Denaco graduated from the University of Maine with a B.A. in History and Government and returned to earn an MBA in business after attending law school at W&L. He attended, taught and contributed to courses offered to military officers both at the US Army JAG School in Charlottesville, VA and the US Air Force JAG School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL. He has written about and lectured on topics related to labor law, primarily in the public sector, as well as alternate dispute resolution.
Denaco’s interest in labor law generally dates back to his time in law school when, during the summer months, he was a Labor Investigator for the Maine Department of Labor. His job involved visiting, inspecting and interviewing business owners and employees as part of wage and hour audits as well as workplace safety issues.
After graduating from law school and employment at the Eaton & Peabody law firm in Bangor, ME, Denaco was called to active duty with the Army, as a military police officer. He was the honor graduate from the Military Police Officer School at Ft. Gordon after which he served at Ft. Bragg, NC, both as an executive officer and S-1. During this time, he was certified by the Department of the Army as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), qualified to try courts martial. Thereafter, he was assigned to Inchon, Korea, as the commander and Provost Marshal of the 503rd MP Detachment. During this assignment, he observed and handled labor problems involving civilian employees of the U.S. Army and their terms and conditions of employment.
After returning from Korea, Denaco became the first Executive Director of the Maine Public Employee Labor Relations Board, later to be renamed the Maine Labor Relations Board. This agency originally had jurisdiction for the labor relations activities of police, fire, teacher, and other municipal public employees. While at the Maine board, Denaco was instrumental in the training and preparation of court mediators, served as President and Vice President of the Association of Labor Relations Agencies (ALRA), and was a founding member and director of the New England Consortium of State Labor Relations Agencies (NECSLRA).
Denaco’s article “How Mediation and Fact Finding Break Deadlocks” and later articles on the organizational composition of bargaining units and the use of unit determination hearings were starting points on what had previously been a barren road map Denaco’s involvement with public sector labor disputes continued to grow, measured, in part, by his placement on the AAA’s “Labor Panel” in 1974, followed by listing with the FMCS and various governmental entities at the state and local government levels. He has been an arbitrator/mediator/fact finder in more than a dozen states and has mediated settlements for bargaining units in excess of ten thousand employees, several on a statewide basis.
Denaco was inducted into National Academy of Arbitrators in 1988 and as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 1998. He has generously given of his time in the profession, serving as director for Academic Collective Bargaining Information Service from 1978 to 1981, and as a director for Public Employment Relations Services. He was a charter member of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution as well as a founding member/director of the New England Consortium.
Denaco is a former member of the W&L Law Council and has been active in both state and national bar associations. His participation in ABA sections spans the Labor and Employment Section, the ADR Section and the Judicial Division. He was co-chair of the Labor Section of the Maine Bar Association and the chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the New Hampshire Bar Association. He was the recipient of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Distinguished Service award for fourteen years of service as neutral co-chair of the Committee on State and Local Government Collective Bargaining and Employment Law, from 1987 to 2001. In 2007, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court presented him with a “Special Recognition Award” for an “outstanding contribution to the founding and success of mediation in the Maine courts.” He currently serves as a member of the University of Maine Foundation and the Phoenix Foundation, a non-profit entity.
A Proclamation for W&L Alumnus Bruce Rider
Bruce Rider gets around in a variety of media. A member of the Class of 1966, he was the subject of this blog three years ago about the new Kindle on which Bruce, who’s legally blind, listened to the many published letters to the editors that he sends to the New York Times and other outlets. And now he’s the subject of another kind of publication: an official resolution from the state of Texas on the occasion of his 70th birthday, which he celebrated on Nov. 1.
The proclamation mentions Bruce’s attendance at W&L, of course, as well as his military service during the Vietnam War, his membership in a number of veterans’ organizations, and his career in sales and marketing.
The lengthiest section details his many civic activities in his town of Grapevine, Texas, where he serves the local Rotary Club and Masonic Lodge as well as the historical society and public library.
“Bruce Rider has benefited his fellow residents . . . through many years of purposeful endeavor, and in so doing, he has set an inspiring example of generosity and citizenship,” reads one paragraph.
We’re betting that Bruce’s favorite paragraph in the whole resolution, though, is the one that talks about his family, which includes two sons and five granddaughters.
For an example of Bruce’s own writing, here is the essay he wrote for W&L on the occasion of his 45th reunion at W&L.
From Couch Potato to Rising Star: Grant Gish '04
Grant Gish, the executive director of 20th Century Fox TV Animation, just received quite an accolade from an industry publication. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 2004 graduate of Washington and Lee is one of Next Gen 2012: Hollywood’s Fastest-Rising Stars.
In a brief yet detailed Q&A with the publication, Grant talks about his big break, which came after his stint as an NBC page; the documentary he produced, “Barbarian Days” (which was directed by another W&L alumnus, Damian Horan); and how he spends his time when he’s not at the office.
Grant’s resume includes work on the shows “Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show,” as well as a post as manager of development for Good Humor TV and three years at NBC developing comedies. In addition, he developed the Fox hit “Bob’s Burgers” and helped sell IFC’s upcoming — and first — animated show, “Out There,” from “South Park’s” Ryan Quincy.
W&L cropped up when the reporter asked Grant, who holds a journalism degree, about his career inspiration: “I was always a massive couch potato, but I didn’t realize it could be a career until I got to Washington and Lee and was writing reviews for the paper.”
Hollywood Reporter’s Next Gen 2012 “the 50 superstars 35 and under who are moving up fast (and having fun) in film, TV, digital, law and news.” Grant was among 10 people recognized in the TV category.
You can read the entire Hollywood Reporter interview here.
W&L Alums Win Award at Arkansas Law School
Two members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2010 — Jon Brown and Donavon Sawyer — won the 2012 William H. Sutton Barristers’ Union Trial Competition at the University of Arkansas School of Law earlier this fall. Jon and Donavon are second-year law students there.
A total of 32 teams competed in the two-week, tournament-style event, which was open to all second- and third-year law students. The competition involved teams working with a previously drafted record, presenting an opening statement, examining and cross-examining witnesses and giving closing arguments in a mock trial setting.
The teams argued the fictional case of State of Lone Star v. Dennis Sloan. In the case, the State charged Sloan with filing a fraudulent insurance claim to obtain funds to avoid foreclosure on his house. Sloan contended that the theft associated with the claim was carried out by his former girlfriend’s brother.
The competition finals were judged by Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Jim Spears, Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Doug Schrantz and former Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Mary Ann Gunn.
The William H. Sutton Barristers’ Union Trial Competition is organized annually by the School of Law Board of Advocates, a student-run organization that oversees law school competitions.
W&L Professor Examines Stock Price Charts' Ability to Predict Future Patterns
Does a stock’s price chart tell us anything about how that stock will trade in the future? What would happen if you compared the stock price chart of a contemporary stock to historical stock patterns back to 1926?
Those were among the questions that Washington and Lee University business administration professor Adam Schwartz and colleagues from Auburn University and Virginia Military Institute wanted to answer with an experiment that tested so-called technical analysis — the method by which stock traders try to find undervalued securities by studying their price charts.
The result of their study is a paper that is forthcoming in the journal Financial Management. Jimmy E. Hilliard, Harbert Eminent Scholar and Professor of Finance at Auburn, and James C. Squire, professor of electrical and chemical engineering at VMI, authored the paper with Schwartz.
• Download a copy of the paper (pdf)
The study identified recent stock patterns for thousands of random companies. The stock price patterns of the random firms were matched against a database of US stock prices going back to 1926. Using a pattern-matching algorithm, a “twin” or matching stock was identified. Once those twins were discovered, the next step was to test for whether or not the performance of those twins could predict how a stock might perform in the future.
“We began with a random stock pattern for a company over a five-year period. Then we ask if the pattern of that stock looks like the pattern of any other stock that has ever traded,” Schwartz explained. “We start in 1926 and look at every stock that’s ever traded using the CRSP (Center for Research in Security Prices) data base.
If the random stock were, say, Nike for a five-year period beginning in 2000, the computer program would search every possible stock’s five-year pattern back to 1926. The program would save any stocks whose price pattern is comparable to that of Nike stock. Visually the patterns of the target stock and the matching stocks will look very similar.
“We know what Nike has done during a recent five-year period,” Schwartz said. “We’ve found a matching stock that’s done very close to the same thing. We also know what the historical match did over the next two years. What we want to know is will the performance of the twin tell us anything about what Nike will do over the next two years?”
What they found, Schwartz said, is that the target stocks that had the best performing twins — the stocks that were in the top-performing 10 percent — continued to perform well outside the sample period.
“We tested 25,000 random 60-month stock patterns in the sample. After adjusting for risk, the 2,500 with the best performing twins outperformed the average stock in the sample by almost 10 percent over a two-year period,” Schwartz said. That’s a pretty huge win.”
Although the hope would be that stocks with twin performance in next 10 percent would come in second place, that was not the case. Decile Two came in third place. Instead, the second-best performance out-of-sample occurred from stocks with twins showing the worst average performance beyond the sample period.
“According to the efficient market hypothesis, no information from past stock price patterns will help us pick winning stocks. So technical analysts, who search for undervalued stocks using chart data, are wasting their time,” said Schwartz. “When you have a lot of people doing something — that is, technical analysts using price data to find stock picks — you have to wonder why they keep trying. We offer a possible explanation.
“We had no preconception about what we would find. But we did this experiment 41,000 times using daily data and 25,000 times using monthly data to test our idea. We found for both tests that the group with twin returns in the top 10 percent beat all the other groups out of sample. We hope to extend our work in the future to test the value of information used by more main-stream Wall-Street analysts, such as earnings growth patterns.”
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Eliminating Law Schools' Third Year Misses the Mark
by Nora V. Demleitner
Dean, Washington and Lee School of Law
Legal education struggles with one major issue: cost for value provided. But suggestions that a solution is doing away with the third year of law school miss the mark.
At Washington and Lee we have comprehensively revamped that generally maligned and underutilized third year to make it a unique experience, to build the bridge between the classroom and the law office. The third year demands in-depth and hands-on training in both transactional and litigation practice; direct work with clients and attorneys; the application of problem-solving skills through successive writing experiences and presentations, done in teams, by allowing the students to bring together doctrine, critical reasoning and practice-based skills.
This is the type of curriculum that reinforces what it means to be a lawyer in a pressured but still reflective setting, which is based on an all-encompassing experience. The required clinic/externships and the wide range of available practicum-type settings bring together the best of the bench, the bar and academia who combine to teach our students to address sophisticated legal questions and train them on best practices to provide thoughtful lawyering services. We deeply appreciate the commitment – and financial investment — of those forward-looking attorneys and the organizations with which they are affiliated to bringing the best of their training programs in-house with us.
The third year is invaluable in turning law students into legal professionals, in making professional thinking and work habits routine, in exposing law students to the excitement, the challenges and the disappointments of law practice. In a time where ever more knowledge is available, when navigating society and business are more complicated than ever, when law is more sophisticated and more all-encompassing, decreasing the length of legal education by 33 percent seems curious and ill-advised. If this development is merely based on cost, it misses a major point — the increasing lack of professional training in practice.
The value provided in that third year internalizes many of the costs previously absorbed by law firms, which used to train young lawyers but are ever less willing to provide that service because of cost pressures. It also allows law students who discover that the practice of law does not suit them — in contrast to their previous educational experience — to seek out other non-legal careers that present them with opportunities to use their legal skills, albeit in different environments.
For the Washington and Lee program, the question arises why students and the educational institution should alone fund the value provided to private, for-profit enterprises through the third year.
Nora V. Demleitner is dean and Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professor of Law at Washington and Lee.
Terra Firma: Non in cautus praeteriti
“Rocks are records of events that took place at the time they formed. They are books. They have a different vocabulary, a different alphabet, but you learn how to read them.”
— John McPhee
Lexington is surrounded by some of the most interesting and classical geology of the entire Appalachian Mountain system, so it was only natural that W&L’s Geology Department would host a daylong field trip for 40 returning alumni geology majors to some familiar stomping grounds.
Armed with a geologic map of Rockbridge County, alumni descended on Big Mary’s Creek at the Nature Camp, just off South Fork Road near Buena Vista. “So what kind of rock do we have here?” asked Elizabeth Knapp ’90, associate provost and associate professor of geology. Out came several magnifying loops to confirm that they were indeed among high-grade gneiss.
A few steps along the trail revealed a shift in the stratigraphy to a prime example of Unicoi Formation sandstone. “This is a very dynamic environment,” noted Lisa Greer, associate professor of geology. “I like to bring students here because there’s a lot happening geologically in this spot. This is a typical representation of the Blue Ridge basement-cover contact.”
Next up was a drive from the South River Valley to Peniel Farm (adjacent to W&L’s back campus) to take a look at the geomorphology of the land, including a football-field-sized sinkhole. Chris Connors, professor of geology and department chair, and his class are currently conducting geophysical surveys over the area. He noted that the cows that graze the land often knock over the flag markers—one of the hazards of fieldwork.
Lunch was at Poorhouse Mountain, home of Ed Spencer ’53, retired professor of geology. After a brief description of the geomorphology of the valley, the group made its way to the northwest flank of North Mountain, just off I-64. On what was once was a toll road, built in the 1830s to connect Lexington to Collierstown, alumni examined Devonian Millboro shale. Splitting it open revealed an iridescent sheen—evidence of hydrocarbons, but probably not enough to warrant commercial production. However, David Garner ’80 unearthed a much more exciting exhibit. “It’s a fossil, most likely a trace fossil, meaning it is the remains of burrows left by some organism, perhaps worm-like, but we don’t really know,” explained Greer. “The cool thing about it is that these shales are generally pretty black and full of organic material—the makings for oil—and we often interpret them as forming in an anoxic environment. But most organisms do not live well in anoxic environments. So the fossil makes me think we need to consider some reinterpretation of this environment, or at least acknowledge that there is some variability in the depositional environment.”
Near the apex of North Mountain, altitude 2,970 feet, David Harbor, professor of geology, pointed out a rock face displaying longshore ripples, carved out more than 440 million years ago—further proof of the land’s former marine environment. “When I bring my classes here, one of the exercises I have them do is orient the shoreline to north and then tell me which direction the wind was blowing to create this pattern in the rock,” he said. “Geology is a good exercise in imagination. Thinking about the landscape that was once here helps you understand the whole story.”
But the showstopper was the vista—unobstructed views of House Mountain, Brushy Hills and Lake Robertson. While admiring the fall color, several alumni admitted that field trips like this one lured them into a geology major.
Then it was back down the mountain to Indian Pools at Goshen Pass for a quick look at Silurian stratigraphy and an overview of Harbor’s research on knickpoints (changes in slope) of the Maury River. With the sun dropping below the horizon, the convoy set off for the Connors home on Mt. Atlas Road (situated on the Cambrian Elbrook Formation) for a pig roast, music and reminiscing. On the way back to Lexington, Howard Capito ’68, a self-described recovering banker who hangs out with geologists, said, “Having this much fun should be a crime.”
While predictions about Frankenstorm Sandy dominated the news media, the alumni presentations and poster sessions took precedence in the Science Center. They gave brief summaries of their research, ranging from the effects of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill on nannoplankton to the history of coal-bed methane to groundwater management policies in Texas in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling on The Rule of Capture.
The day also included two panel discussions: one on the State of the Geosciences, and the other on the Future of Energy Resources.
Bill Barnhart ’08, Jeff Gee ’84, David Harbor and Woody Wise ’63 started the discussion on geosciences by advocating for a strong liberal arts background. Barnhart zeroed in on three key areas: communication, an interdisciplinary background and quantitative-analysis skills. Many alumni agreed, noting that their background from W&L provided a solid foundation. Alumni also referred frequently to the importance of collaboration. Wise ’63 provided an example: “Take the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill. It was tackled by teams made up of people with all sorts of different specialties.”
The second panel discussion included Jamie Small ’81, Rick Vierbuchen ’73 and Chris Wilson ’00. Acknowledging the world’s expanding energy needs, the panel touched briefly on alternate fuel sources—wind generation, geothermal, methane trash extraction, bio fuels, nuclear—but noted this won’t be enough. The most likely short-term solutions include developing technologies to improve yields from existing petroleum wells, something Wilson’s company is working on in Mexico, to ramping up natural gas extraction from the U.S.’s considerable reserves. Small pointed out that even though “the technologies we use to extract oil and gas are changing rapidly, there will never be a point in time when we don’t need geologists. Oil companies are generally run by engineers, but they need geologists to find the reserves. There will always be a spot for us.”
With those encouraging words, the group wrapped up the day with a banquet and a presentation by Spencer on the history of the Geology Department.
— by Louise Uffelman
W&L Law Alums Win Elections in Virginia, Indiana
Several W&L law alumni were running for office or up for reelection this year. Below is a summary of the results. Congratulations to the winners.
Republican Bob Goodlatte ’77L won reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 6th congressional district. This will be Congressman Goodlatte’s 11th term in office.
Republican Morgan Griffith ’83L won reelection to the U.S. House from Virginia’s 9th congressional district. A former majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates, this will be Congressman Griffith’s second term in office. He was first elected to Congress in 2010 after serving in the General Assembly from 1994-2011.
Democrat Joe Donnelly ’81L was elected to an open seat in the U.S. Senate in Indiana. Donnelly has represented Indiana’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House since 2007. Donnelly became the first Democrat in more than a decade to win a statewide race in Indiana and will succeed Senator Richard Lugar, who lost his primary race to Richard Mourdock.
Did we miss someone? Contact email@example.com with other election news for W&L Law alumni.
W&L Dancers to Perform at Cucaloras Film Festival
Washington and Lee’s award-winning dance program will be on display in Wilmington, N.C., tomorrow at Dance-a-lorus, part of the Cucaloras Film Festival, an annual event that supports innovative artists and encourages creative exchange.
W&L alumna Julia Pleasants, of the Class of 2007, invited her former W&L dance teacher, Jenefer Davies, to apply to the festival. Julia has coordinated Dance-a-lorus, which pushes boundaries by pairing filmmakers and choreographers for an exploration of film and dance.
“This is a wonderful example of the way W&L alumni give back to the University in so many different ways,” Jenny said of the invitation to the W&L Dance Repertory Company.
In response to Julia’s invitation, Jenny created a new dance, “Breathing Lessons,” which the Cucaloras adjudication panel accepted. She will take three of her current dance students — seniors Jennifer Ritter, of Mariposa, Calif., and Erin Sullivan, of Metairie, La., and sophomore Blair Davis, of New Orleans — to perform, take classes and watch performances.
Each choreographer in Dance-a-lorus is paired with a filmmaker. In W&L’s case, that’s Richard Alan Templeman, who recently performed in the campus production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“Breathing Lessons” is a modern dance in three sections, and the W&L troupe will perform a version of it in March at the W&L Repertory Dance Concert. Here’s how the dance is described on the Cucaloras website: “Our breath can be a physical clue to our emotional, psychological and spiritual condition. This work is a satiric lens magnifying images of women and the breath that connects us.”
If you’re in the Wilmington, N.C., area tomorrow, Dance-a-Lorus starts at 7 p.m. at the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts.
Allan Meltzer Presents Willis Lecture at W&L
Allan H. Meltzer, the Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, will give Washington and Lee University’s H. Parker Willis Lecture on Monday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater of Elrod Commons.
The title of Meltzer’s talk is “Socialism is Dead but Social Welfare Lives On.” It is free and open to the public.
Meltzer’s numerous publications include the recently completed two-volume study, “A History of the Federal Reserve,” “Why Capitalism?” and “Politics and the Fed.” He has written 25 books and monographs and over 375 articles.
He is founder and chairman of the Shadow Open Market Committee, an organization originally formed to evaluate the policy choices of the Federal Reserve, which today considers a wide range of macroeconomic policy issues.
Meltzer has served as a consultant on economic policy for the U.S. Congress, U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve System, the World Bank and foreign governments. He was chairman of the International Financial Institution Advisory Commission for the U.S. Congress in 1999-2000 and served on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors in 1988-89.
His many honors include being named Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 2002.
Meltzer’s primary research and teaching interests include the history of U.S. monetary policy, the size of government, macroeconomics and international financial reform.
He received his A.B. and M.S. degrees from Duke University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The H. Parker Willis Lecture series, started by John M. Gunn, W&L Class of 1945, emeritus professor of economics at W&L, was named to honor the first dean of the School of Commerce at W&L, H. Parker Willis (1874-1937).
Previous series’ lecturers have included Dr. Robert McTeer, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System; Dr. Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve (and now chairman of the Federal Reserve); and J. Alfred Broadus, past president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va.
W&L Alumna's Personal Reflections on Sandy's Destruction
One of the iconic images of Hurricane Sandy’s destructive force on the Jersey Shore is the photograph of a twisted, crumpled roller coaster in the Atlantic Ocean. That is the Casino Pier roller coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J. For one Washington and Lee alumna, the image is very personal, indeed.
A member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2011, Victoria is a freelancer at FoxNews.com, and she wrote about the family’s loss in a poignant piece for that website. You can read it here: Beloved Jersey Shore amusement park looks to rebuild after Sandy.
In her own words,
Luckily only the park was destroyed. My family made it through.
I wasn’t with them that day. I waited out the storm in Brooklyn, N.Y. where I live, and I was stuck in my virtually unaffected section of Williamsburg as I watched image after image come in of both boardwalks in ruins. I cannot stress enough how lucky I am that my family and friends are all safe and did not suffer incredible loss of personal property. Amusement piers and boardwalks can be repaired.
Victoria goes on to write that her family does indeed intend to rebuild, though the reconstruction of Jenkinson’s will be easier. In fact, she quoted her father, Ken Taylor, as saying there was never any question that they would rebuild: “This isn’t the first hurricane to ever hit the Jersey Shore. Everyone before us rebuilt. It’s bigger than just one family business. The boardwalks have provided people with entertainment for generations. It’s important to rebuild for future generations.”
We found Victoria’s FoxNews.com piece thanks to a timely tweet from Stephanie Hardiman Simon, of the Class of 2010. Both Stephanie and Victoria majored in journalism and mass communications. One way to follow the progress of the Jersey Shore’s comeback is to follow Victoria’s Twitter feed: @vic_taylor.
As she wrote in the story’s concluding paragraph: “Something that wasn’t washed away is hope. As cheesy as it sounds, hope is what is going to get us through this. The Jersey Shore I know and love will bounce back.”
Stephen Vetter Is Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at W&L
Stephen Vetter, president of Partners of the Americas, will be the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at Washington and Lee University this month.
Vetter is president and CEO of Partners of the Americas, an international grassroots organization that connects volunteers, organizations, and communities.
During his visit to Washington and Lee, Vetter will participate in a variety of campus events, including two public talks, as part of the P4T (Preparing for Tomorrow) Symposium, an interdepartmental event that challenges students regarding global issues that impact U.S. society. It will serve as a platform for students to present global experiences and further global awareness on campus.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Vetter will be the guest expert at public event from 12 to 1:15 p.m. in Room 216 of Elrod Commons. He will present an introduction to foreign aid in its various forms, how it operates globally and what role we play.
Vetter also will participate in a public event on Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room. Those talks will examine foreign aid in Latin America. Vetter and several W&L students will give a series of presentations on foreign aid in distinct regions of Latin America after which a discussion panel of professors and students will invite questions.
With more than 35 years of experience in international and domestic development, Vetter has a rich background in international voluntary service, grassroots community leadership and developing public-private partnerships to reduce poverty and improve the economic and social development of disadvantaged populations.
Prior to working at Partners of the Americas, Vetter held a number of top level positions at the Inter-American Foundation, a public corporation dedicated to supporting the self-help efforts of grassroots communities in Latin America and the Caribbean and also as president and CEO of Eureka Communities, a nonprofit leadership program that provided fellowship support to inner city leaders working to improve the life conditions of children and families living in poverty.
He also has served on a number of philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate boards and committees and currently serves on the advisory board of the 911 Fund, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, and Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance.
Vetter received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Ohio University.
The P4T Symposium and Vetter’s visit are funded by the Johnson Lecture Fund and the W&L’s Class of 1963.
For more than 35 years, the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program has brought prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders, and other nonacademic professionals to campuses across the United States for substantive dialogue with students and faculty members. Through a week-long residential program of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures, and informal discussions, the Fellows create better understanding and new connections between the academic and nonacademic worlds.
W&L Magazine, Fall 2012: Vol. 87 | No. 3
In This Issue:
- From Blackboards to iPads: Technology in the Classroom
- Energy Consumption, New Dance Studio, Campus Climate Index, Blue Bikes
- Integrity and the Honor System
- A Legacy of Acceptance
- Editor’s Note
Along the Colonnade
- Surveillance Software
- Stalking the Praying Mantis
- The Psychology of Cellphones
- Knight Poverty Journalism Conference
- Expedition to Greenland
- Donation by Fred Farrar ’41 Brings History to Life
- Books & CDs
- New IQ Center Amps Up the Sciences
- What’s It Worth: W&L Researchers Examine Conservation Fees in Belize
- Noteworthy (Promotions, Posts, Prospects and More)
Lewis Hall Notes
- Tax, Intellectual Property Experts Join Law Faculty
- 2012 Hall of Fame
- Mini Soccer Reunion
- Alumni President’s Message
- Robb Cooper ’68 Gets Real With Verissima Productions
- Reminders Along the Way
- Memory and Honor
- Beau Knows
- Lexington’s Legacy
- Brian Owens ’97 Shines a Light on Pin Point
- W&L Traveller: America’s National Parks
- C. Westwood Barritt ’43 Dies at 91
- Bruce Herrick, Economics Professor, Dies at 76
- Five Star Festival, Young Alumni Weekend and Homecoming
President Ruscio’s Message
- A Liberal Arts Education in Three Dimensions
- Elizabeth M. “Betty” Bentley
Election Math Special
On Election Day Eve, we bring you a mathematical puzzler courtesy of Nathan Feldman, the new Rupert and Lillian Radford Professor of Mathematics at Washington and Lee.
How little of the popular vote can a presidential candidate get and still win the election?
That was one of a number of mathematic problems that Nathan posed and solved during his lecture, “Beauty & Surprise in Mathematics.” He began by noting that math and W&L go hand in glove. Not only was math the favorite subject of George Washington (a surveyor and map maker), but Robert E. Lee was an acting assistant professor of mathematics at West Point when he was a second-year student there.
After presenting three proofs of the Pythagorean theorem, and exploring the geometry of skateboarding and biking by examining the brachistochrone problem (look it up), Nathan turned to the U.S. presidential election.
Got your answer yet?
The fewest number of votes a candidate can get and still win a U.S. presidential election is . . . 11. That would happen if one person in each of the 11 most-populous states cast his or her ballot for the same candidate and no one else in those states votes, thereby awarding her or him 270 electoral ballots. And suppose that in addition to those 11 votes in those 11 states, every eligible voter in the remaining 39 states all cast a ballot for the other candidate: what would the winner’s winning percentage be? A whopping .000006 percent of the popular vote.
Now, suppose that the statewide voter turnout in every state is identical to the national voter turnout. It doesn’t matter what that percentage is; a candidate can win the election with as little as 21.8 percent of the popular vote. That can be done by winning 39 states with 12 electoral votes or less plus one state with 15 electoral votes.
And now, we trust, you’re ready to vote.
Ellen Mayock to Give Ernest Williams Professorship Inaugural Lecture
Ellen Mayock, professor of Romance Languages at Washington and Lee University, will give the Ernest Williams II Professorship Inaugural Lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.
The title of Mayock’s lecture is “Gender Shrapnel in the Workplace.” It is free and open to the public.
Mayock describes “gender shrapnel as a series of small explosions in the workplace that affect women and men and reveal an uneven gender dynamic at all levels of the organization. Gender shrapnel is damaging, even if the principal actors never intend or understand that the actions they take place at least one woman at a disadvantage and send the message to all male and female laborers that this type of disadvantage is the way of the workplace. How do you describe a phenomenon that you have to experience to understand?
“This lecture will make vivid the concept of gender shrapnel by defining and describing concomitant terms and reviewing and analyzing current literature on women in the workforce,” Mayock continued.
Mayock is the author of “The ‘Strange Girl’ in Twentieth-Century Spanish Novels Written by Women” (UP of the South, 2004). She also is co-editor of “Feminist Activism in Academia. Essays on Personal, Political, and Professional Change” (McFarland, 2010) and “Ven conmigo! Holt Spanish Level 3 Practice and Activity Workbook” (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1996).
She has also written “Selection of poems: La Chingada, Dolores, Mariposas and Serpiente negra” which was published in the Spanish journal “Letras Femeninas,” (2012), as well as 17 journal articles, 13 book articles and 12 book reviews.
Mayock is the interim director of W&L’s Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies for the current academic year. She has served as the faculty athletics representative since 2007, chairing the University Athletic Committee and overseeing the nomination process for the NCAA postgraduate scholarships, among other things. She was the director of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at W&L from 2001 to 2010. She was the associate dean of the College, a rotating responsibility, from 2004-2006.
Mayock was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia in 2010 and was among 12 outstanding faculty members from Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities to receive the award that year.
Mayock received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, her M.A. from Middlebury College and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
The Ernest Williams II Professorship was established by an endowment in 1992 by Ernest Williams II, Class of 1938, and by Williams’ wife, Marjorie O. Williams.
Lenfest Center Presents Staged Reading of “8”
Lenfest Center for the Arts, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, will present a one-afternoon-only Staged Reading of “8,” a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. in the Keller Theatre.
“8” is written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black and will be directed by Rob Mish, director of the Lenfest Center and a 1976 graduate of W&L.
“8” is presented in association with the Lenfest Center for the Arts, W&L Department of Theater and Dance, W&L’s GLBTQ Equality Initiative, Mindbending Productions, and the School of Law arts organizations. “8” is open to the public and tickets are free, but required and can be reserved at the Lenfest Box Office or by calling 540-458-8000. There will be a wine and cheese reception and talk-back immediately following the production in the Kamen Gallery. Donations will be accepted at the door and will benefit W&L GLBTQ and the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and its federal lawsuit for marriage equality. Visit www.8theplay.com and follow “8” on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.
“8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.
Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, based “8” on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
“8” had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City. The production brought in more than $1 million to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
“8” had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles. The West Coast premiere reading of “8” featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker; and Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson. The benefit reading was directed by AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner, and raised more than $2 million for the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.
“People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” said AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black. “The goal of “8” is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. AFER and Broadway Impact are doing all we can to help speed that process along.”
Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” for free to colleges and community theaters nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. Most productions will be followed by a talk back where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.
Director Mish states, “As soon as I heard that there was to be a New York production of this play, I began to research it to see if it would be available for us to perform here. Having heard such wonderfully poignant comments about the script I finally got to see a production in Richmond. I also knew having been present at the debate between Maggie Gallagher (she is featured heavily in the play) and Andrew Sullivan on the W&L campus, we were ready. There also were not many places doing “8” throughout Virginia. Our goal is to present both sides of the trial, just as Black portrays them and let the audience come to its own conclusions.”
The story for “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the Proposition 8 supporters’ star witness, David Blankenhorn, that “we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”
On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark decision upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
W&L Photo Professor Exhibits Recent Work in Staniar Gallery
Roots & Nests, an exhibition of photographic works by Christa Kreeger Bowden, opens on Nov. 12 in Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery and will remain on view through Dec. 12. There will be an artist’s talk, followed by an opening reception, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall.
Christa Bowden, an associate professor of art, joined the faculty at Washington and Lee in 2006. She spent her recent sabbatical year developing a body of work that uses her unique medium of cameraless photography to reflect on profound shifts in her personal definition of home and family. Using a flatbed scanner to capture images of organic material, Bowden then breaks up the prints, mounts the grids on wooden panels and adds a layer of encaustic wax.
The reassembled image expresses the artist’s interest in “how an organic line is broken by a geometric edge, then continued as the viewer’s eye attempts to complete the image.”
Bowden holds her M.F.A. in photography from the University of Georgia. She has exhibited widely and was the recipient of a 2009-10 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship and a 2005 nominee for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography.
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.
Photo Exhibition Showcases Recent W&L Graduates
Return to the Nest, an exhibition of work by former W&L photo students, will be open in Lykes Atrium (and adjacent hallways) in Wilson Hall from Nov. 12 through Dec. 12. This exhibition is curated and organized by Staniar Gallery student interns, Leigh Kendrick and Caroline Schmidt, and will be held in conjunction with W&L art professor Christa Bowden’s sabbatical show, Roots and Nests, which will run concurrently in the gallery.
The four artists included in the group exhibition all studied under Bowden during their time as undergraduate photography students. Amy Harbilas and Michael O’Brien, of the Class of 2010, Dana Statton, of the Class of 2009, and Calder Wilson, of the Class of 2011, have all pursued careers as photographers after graduating from college.
Harbilas received her M.F.A. in photography from Temple University in May 2012. O’Brien maintains an art studio in Staunton, Va. Statton received her M.F.A. in photography from Louisiana State University in May 2011. Wilson is a professional editorial photographer living and working in Winterhaven, Fla.
The student curators, seniors Leigh Kendrick and Caroline Schmidt, are creating this exhibit for the arts management course in the Department of Art and Art History. This unique project provides the students with direct experience in the entire exhibition process from working with the artists to selecting artworks and publicizing the show.
Lykes Atrium is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Building hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.
Saddle Up for Secretariat Stories from a Chenery
Washington and Lee cognoscenti know another Chenery–Penny’s father, Christopher Chenery, who graduated from W&L in 1909 and served as a trustee from 1950 to 1970. He founded The Meadow, the Virginia farm that produced Secretariat as well as Riva Ridge and other famed Thoroughbreds. Today (Friday, Nov. 2), another Chenery visits campus for the first time: Chris’ granddaughter and Penny’s daughter, Kate Chenery Tweedy.
Kate and co-author Leeanne Ladin are giving a presentation about their 2010 book, “Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, the Family, the Legend,” a best-selling, award-winning pictorial history. Penny Chenery wrote the foreword and contributed more than 200 photos from her private collection. Kate and Leeanne will also talk about their new book, “Riva Ridge: Penny’s First Champion.”
The presentation will include thrilling videos of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races. Come re-live the excitement (or experience it for the first time, depending on how old you are) at 3 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons. Both books will be available for purchase, and Kate and Leeanne will sign them for you.
Poetry/Fiction Reading by Author David Huddle
Southwest Virginia native David Huddle will be reading from his poetry and fiction at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m. in Northen Auditorium of Leyburn Library.
The public is invited at no charge, and there will be a book signing following the reading. The event is sponsored by the Glasgow Endowment.
The body of Huddle’s published work includes 45 short stories, more than 120 poems, 25 essays, reviews, as well as reproduction of these in scores of anthologies. His books of poetry include Blacksnake at the Family Reunion (2012), Glory River (2008), Grayscale (2004) and Paper Boy (1979). His books of fiction include Nothing Can Make Me Do This (2012), La Tour Dreams the Wolf Girl (2002), The Story of a Million Years (1999) and Only the Little Bone (1986).
Huddle’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s and Best American Short Stories, among others. He has taught at The University of Vermont and Middlebury College and currently holds the 2012-2013 Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University.
Huddle received two NEA Fellowships in Literature, won the Lawrence Foundation Prize for short story and the James Wright Prize for poetry. His novel Story of a Million Years (1999) was named A Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review and A Distinguished Book of the Year by Esquire.
Huddle served in Vietnam, and this experience is reflected in some of his work, such as “The Interrogation of Prisoner Bung by Sergeant Tree and Mister Hawkins” which first appeared in Esquire in 1971. It also appears in five anthologies, including “The Vietnam War in American Songs, Poems and Stories (1996). His work has also been included in anthologies of writing about the Vietnam War.
His connections to Virginia are visible in his honorary doctorate of humanities bestowed by Shenandoah University, being named 20th Century Virginia Author by the Library of Virginia and being a Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
W&L’s Glasgow Endowment was established by the late Arthur G. Glasgow for the “promotion of the expression of art through pen and tongue.” In the past four decades the endowment has hosted authors including W.S. Merwin and Mary Oliver.
For information about the reading, contact Shenandoah at (540) 458-8908.
W&L's Michael Hanson '03 Goes Outside
Outside magazine has an extensive question-and-answer story with photographer Michael Hanson, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2003. Members of the W&L community had a chance to see and hear from Michael in October, when he returned to campus to give an illustrated lecture, “Documentary Photography of Latin American Resources: From Amazon Oil to Caribbean Baseball.”
The Outside piece focuses in part on Michael’s project documenting Caribbean baseball, in which he followed a young shortstop named Raymael Flores, who signed a major league contract with the Boston Red Sox. Here’s the way Michael described the baseball project to Outside:
I think it’s part of the storytelling thing where I want to know a culture, or a community or a country or whatever you want to call it. You try to find ways to talk to the community. It’s not as easy as just going to document the Dominican Republic. You think, “What are some characteristics that I can see the Dominican Republic through?” and baseball is the most dominating thing. More than Catholicism and Christianity, it’s like a religion and so if you are curious about a community and curious about a country or a culture, baseball is a lens to see that community.
Michael’s focus on baseball is natural, too, because of his own background as a baseball All-American at W&L and a minor league player in the Atlanta Braves organization. In fact, it was during his playing days with the Braves that he began to experiment with photography.
What really seems to characterize Michael’s photography is the broad variety of subjects he treats — from baseball in the Dominican Republic to coastal living in Newfoundland. He took some of his newest images, and among the most intriguing, while he was doing a portrait in Cleveland and decided to drop down to Amish country to shoot, among other things, the Mount Hope Auction.
Michael’s work appeared in the Spring/Summer issue of W&L: The Washington and Lee University Alumni Magazine; his images illustrated the story his brother, David ’00, composed about their travels to write a book on urban farming.