Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L Students Boost Their Community Service

More than half of Washington and Lee’s students engaged in some form of community service during a 12-month period, according to a new report from W&L’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

A total of 1,482 W&L students engaged in almost 54,619 documented hours of community service during the year ending on June 30, 2012. Included in those figures are 342 students who engaged in at least 20 hours of community service during a semester. The figures represent an increase of more than 25 percent over the previous year.

Those figures include a range of activities, from service-learning opportunities that are part of academic assignments to numerous student-created and student-run programs.

Students logged a majority of the community-service hours in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They participated in several of the ongoing programs away from campus, however, such as the annual Volunteer Venture, where entering students perform a week of service prior to orientation.

“Although the report documents significant service hours, what is most impressive is the breadth and depth of individual and group community service given by W&L volunteers,” said Bryan Price, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness. “These individuals, singularly and collectively, have a profound impact in the community and in individual lives.”

The significant increase in the hours of volunteer work may be a factor of greater activity, said Price, and is certainly a result of better record-keeping that documents the work. Washington and Lee created a community engagement database for this purpose, and volunteers are using it in greater numbers.

“However, even though we were able to do a more effective job of identifying and documenting the activity, I am also quite sure that many volunteer activities in our community go undocumented, as students work individually or in very small groups to make a difference both here in Lexington and beyond,” Price said.

Some examples of new activities in which the W&L students participate are Student-to-Student, a W&L alternative to the national Big Brother-Big Sister Program, and College Access, a mentoring effort in which W&L students help students at Rockbridge County High School search for and apply to colleges.

In addition to the numerous ways in which the undergraduate students help in the local community, students in the School of Law also participate in several clinics that serve local clients. For instance, since 2003, the Community Legal Practice Center has provided free legal services to low-income residents in the Rockbridge area, with particular emphasis on services for the elderly and for victims of domestic violence. During the 2011-12 academic year, 15 law students gave approximately 6,210 hours of service to local clients.

Several other Law School clinics serve the region, including the Criminal Justice Clinic, the Tax Clinic, the Black Lung Clinic and the Immigration Clinic.

In each of the past two years, Washington and Lee has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction on the basis of its strong institutional commitment to service and its compelling campus-community partnerships that have produced measurable results for the locality.

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


Wilner Named W&L's First Venture for America Fellow

Mikel Wilner, a Washington and Lee University senior from Owings Mills, Md., has been selected as a Venture for America Fellow.

“Honestly I’m ecstatic. The shock hasn’t really worn off yet,” said Wilner of his selection.

Venture for America (VFA) is an organization working to funnel the best and brightest college graduates toward American start-up companies in cities with struggling economies. Its ultimate goal is to immerse talented graduates into the world of start-up companies and encourage them to become socialized and mobilized entrepreneurs, while also assisting start-up companies survive in the rocky economy.

VFA sent its inaugural class of 40 fellows to work in start-ups in Detroit, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Providence. This year, VFA is working to expand by recruiting 80 to 100 fellows and adding companies from cities like Baltimore, Cleveland, and New Haven to their program.

Wilner, a business administration and mathematics double major, is the first W&L student selected for a fellowship. “Venture for America provides people like me with the opportunity to work at a start-up company, which is usually a very risky thing,” said Wilner

Wilner also explained that, as a VFA fellow, if a start-up company were to go under for some reason, the fellows working for that company would then be moved to another company.

“It’s that kind of that security that enables people to go for it and immerse themselves in the start-up culture,” said Wilner.

Although Wilner always knew he would do something in the business field, he said his interest in entrepreneurship was first sparked two summers ago at an internship he had with a Baltimore venture capital firm.

Last summer, Wilner worked for J.P. Morgan and although he believes it was a good experience, he said he knew after a few weeks that the banking industry was not for him.

“I think a lot of business students are pushed in the banking direction without knowing what else there is out there,” said Wilner. “I was fortunate enough to take a step back and have a moment of clarity and realize I definitely belonged in more of an entrepreneurial field.”

Wilner said he values his time at J.P. Morgan because he first heard about VFA from a friend while interning there.

“One thing that influenced me to become involved with Venture for America was the idea of being a part of something that was bigger than ‘I’m gonna get mine’,” said Wilner. “It’s almost patriotic in a sense.”

Jeffrey Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entreneurship and Leadership at W&L, was not surprised at Wilner’s selection for the fellowship.

“I’m glad that Mike’s tenacity to find a truly entrepreneurial opportunity paid off, and it’s no surprise that VFA saw the same desirable characteristics and skills that Mike demonstrates on a daily basis, ” said Shay.

When he graduates in May, Wilner will enter the Venture Fellow Training Camp where he will meet with seasoned investors and entrepreneurs and learn more about the business world in general.

Once in the program, Wilner and the other Fellows are matched with and apply to work at the various companies that partner with VFA. Each fellow is eventually placed depending on which company best aligns with the fellow’s background, skills and experience. While at the training camp, Wilner and the other fellows will assist real businesses in order to gain practical skills to use during their fellowships.

By the conclusion of the training camp Wilner along with the other fellows will be assigned to the start-up company for the next two years. The fellows will also be assigned mentors to advise them throughout their fellowships.

“Hopefully, after the two years of the fellowship I’ll be trying to start my own company,” said Wilner about his future plans.

Applications to become a VFA fellow are still available on the organization’s website and due by Feb. 18. VFA will hold an information session at Washington and Lee on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. in Elrod Commons 345.

— by Sara J. Korash-Schiff ’15

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

A W&L Alum Is Hell on Wheels

Fans of the AMC Network’s series, “Hell on Wheels,” were no doubt delighted to learn that the show will return for a third season. But what Washington and Lee fans might not know is that a W&L alumnus, Mark Richard, of the Class of 1980, is an executive producer and has written several episodes during the show’s first two years.

For the uninitiated, “Hell on Wheels” is a post-Civil War western set in a town that travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

Mark is the author of two award-winning short story collections, “The Ice at the Bottom of the World” and “Charity,” a bestselling novel, “Fishboy,” and, most recently, a highly-praised memoir, “House of Prayer No. 2.” The memoir, now in its fifth printing, was listed as one of the Top 10 books of 2011 by The Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly and was a book-of-the-month selection of The New Yorker.

“Hell on Wheels” is not Mark’s first foray into writing for television. He’s also written for such shows as “Party of Five,” “Chicago Hope” and “Huff.”

In a 2011 interview with the website Blogcritics, Mark talked about writing for television:

Television writing is the most difficult for me. It’s a craft all to itself. So much information to transmit in such a short amount of time. There’s a shorthand to television writing that I am still learning and am a great admirer of when I see it done well. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of room for nuance in a lot of cases. An early producer told me ‘If it’s not on the nose, it’s not on the page.’

He described “Hell on Wheels” as “large in scope – veterans, Irish workers, freed slaves, robber barons, Indians — all colliding on the Great Plains.”

Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Mary Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters, and a National Magazine Award for Fiction. He teaches fiction writing and screenwriting at the University of Southern California. You can watch a PBS interview with Mark talking to Tavis Smiley here.

“Hell on Wheels,” which stars Anson Mount, is scheduled to return in the third quarter of 2013 with 10 new one-hour episodes.


W&L Law Student Wins Prestigious Skadden Public Interest Fellowship

Washington and Lee University third-year law student Sam Petsonk has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Skadden Foundation. These highly-coveted, post-graduate fellowships provide funds to law students who want to devote their professional life to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.

The Skadden Fellowship Program, often described as a “legal Peace Corps,” provides fellows with a salary and benefits consistent with the public interest organization sponsoring the law student’s fellowship application. In Petsonk’s case, this organization is Mountain State Justice, a non-profit, public interest law firm based in Charleston, WV.

Petsonk, who was born and raised in the coal-mining area around Morgantown, West Virginia, will focus his fellowship on representing coal miners who have experienced unsafe working conditions. He will also help miners gain access to a variety of state and federal health services and assist them in public hearings before regulatory agencies.

This is not Petsonk’s first foray into public service for coal miners. After leaving home for college at Brandeis, Petsonk returned to West Virginia with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, helping miners access health services and educating the community on public health and other matters.

“It was only after I left home for a time that I realized how much of who I am I owe to the region and the people of Appalachia,” says Petsonk. “I have always felt powerfully drawn to return to West Virginia and work on these issues.”

Following his service with AmeriCorps, Petsonk worked in the office of U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, where he continued to work on coal miner health and safety issues including black lung disease and safety regulation.

sampetsonk-400x600 W&L Law Student Wins Prestigious Skadden Public Interest FellowshipSam Petsonk ’13L

Petsonk says he chose W&L Law for his legal education in part due to the school’s innovative efforts to involve third-year students in serving the low-wage and working families of the region, and in part because he knew its strong, close-knit alumni network would allow him to find opportunities and connections in his chosen field.

“I am grateful that W&L creates space in the curriculum and in the student experience for students to dig in to their interests and personal aspirations and commitments,” says Petsonk. “There is a certain humanity about this law school that makes it possible to create projects like this that are deeply resonant and personal legal endeavors.”

Rockbridge County was also a fine spot, Petsonk notes, to pursue his passion for old-time music. But for Petsonk, who has played the banjo since childhood and more recently taken up the fiddle, his musical interests go beyond hobby or diversion. Rather, he sees music as an extension of his work.

“Public interest legal advocacy is not just about relationships in a courtroom, it’s about building a community of advocates,” says Petsonk. “Music is a big part of that community and the community of clients I have worked with in the past and will be working with as a fellow.”

The Skadden Fellowship Program was started in 1988 by the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to commemorate the firm’s 40th anniversary and in recognition of the dire need for greater funding for graduating law students to enter public interest law. So far, the Program has funded 677 law school graduates and judicial clerks to work full-time for legal and advocacy organizations. Petsonk is only the second W&L Law student to receive a Skadden Fellowship.

After the fellowship is over, Petsonk fully hopes to remain in West Virginia to continue his work with coal miners. He is dedicated to making sure there are good, safe job opportunities for miners and providing innovative and low cost legal services to the community.

“West Virginians have done the heavy lifting of mining the coal to make the steel to build the factories and cities of this country,” says Petsonk. “This fellowship is just a part of a broader commitment to establishing simple justice for those workers.”

News Contact:
Peter Jetton
School of Law Director of Communications
pjetton@wlu.edu
(540) 458-8782

Houston Economic Group Honors Fred Griffin '60

Congratulations to Washington and Lee alumnus Fred B. Griffin, of the Class of 1960, for winning the 2013 Quasar Award from The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP).

Fred, or Buzz as W&L classmates will remember him, will receive the award next month at the organization’s 21st Annual Quasar Award Banquet. The Quasar Award is presented each year to a prominent individual “who has contributed greatly to the economic wealth and diversity of the Bay Area Houston region.”

Fred is owner and co-chairman of Griffin Partners, Inc., which operates as a commercial real estate development, management, and leasing company. The company develops office parks, industrial buildings, and healthcare-related complexes, as well as retail shopping centers, including single-tenant, large-scale, and multi-tenant buildings.

In an announcement of the award, the president of BAHEP, Bob Mitchell, said that “Fred Griffin has spent most of his life developing communities that have added greatly to the economic development of the region as well as to the quality of life of its residents.”

Fred responded to the news of the award by saying: “When I learned that I was going to be presented with the 2013 Quasar Award I was almost speechless. For the past 20 years, this award has been given to outstanding men and women who have devoted their careers to help make our lives better. To be included among them is such an honor for which I am very grateful.”

Previous recipients of the award have included Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Houston Mayor Bill White, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

After earning his B.S. degree in physics and engineering at W&L, Buzz received his M.B.A. from the University of Texas. He began his career with Exxon Company USA and began his real estate career with Friendswood Development Company, a subsidiary of Exxon.  In 1980, he formed formed Griffin/Juban Companies, the predecessor to Griffin Partners. The companies have completed ground-up development projects encompassing more than 4,000,000-square feet of corporate office and retail space.

Buzz’s son, Ed, a 1985 W&L graduate, is now president of Griffin Partners.


Electoral College Thriller

On Monday the 50 states cast their votes in the Electoral College, making the results of November’s presidential election official. West Virginia cast its five electoral votes without controversy. But that’s not the way it worked in the novel by Washington and Lee law alumnus Brent Wolfingbarger.

Brent, a member of the W&L law class of 1993, is the author of “The Dirty Secret” (Smallridge Publishing, 2012), a political thriller set in his home state of West Virginia.

Currently a deputy director in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the Inspector General in Washington, Brent began his legal career in Elkins, W.Va., before opening his own practice in Charleston where he handled a variety of cases, including several involving election law. He argued two of those election law cases before the W.Va. Supreme Court.

As he told the West Virginia Gazette-Mail in an extensive interview in November, one of those cases was a major impetus for his novel:

“…I represented Jennings Miller in an election law dispute in Boone County where two candidates in the primary for assessor were separated by 18 votes. Every challenged ballot mattered. Every absentee ballot mattered. Jennings won that canvas. The opponent didn’t request a recount in time. We ended up in front of the state Supreme Court and won.

“That experience, that counting every ballot, crystallized my thinking. I understood how I could make it tie in with a book. I wanted it to be a West Virginia book.”

Back in October, when the presidential campaign was at its peak, the Kindle version of “The Dirty Secret” moved up to No. 9 on Kindle’s list of top 10 political thrillers. The novel has gotten plenty of five-star reviews, too.

The book is available in the alumni section of the W&L’s University Store and also on Amazon.


Evans '07 on the Forbes List

Forbes Magazine has tabbed Washington and Lee alumna Kelly Evans, of the Class of 2007, to its annual list of 30 Under 30: Media — “the next wave of power players in the news and information industries.”

Kelly is an on-air correspondent with CNBC, based in London. She reports for the network’s business day program and anchors “Worldwide Exchange” on CNBC Europe.

She joined CNBC in February 2012 after working as a reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal since 2007. Not only did she write the “Ahead of the Tape” column and write for “Heard on the Street” for the Journal, but she also hosted the daily “News Hub” program on WSJ.com.

In its description of Kelly, Forbes wrote that “she’s one of the recognizable young faces on CNBC, where she reports on ‘Squawk Box’ and throughout the day. She honed her financial news chops as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.”

Of course, Kelly actually began honing her chops on “The Rockbridge Report” in W&L’s Reid Hall.

W&L Historian Pens New York Times Op-Ed

An op-ed by Washington and Lee historian Rachel Schnepper in Saturday’s New York Times explores the history of the so-called “war on Christmas.”

Rachel, who’s in her second year at W&L as a Mellon Junior Faculty Fellow, is working on a book titled “Preachers, Polemicists, and Print: Translatlantic Religious Experiences and the English Revolution.” She is examining the explosion of printed matter on churches in the Atlantic colonies published in the 1640s and 1650s.

In her Times piece, “Yuletide’s Outlaws,” Rachel compares the current controversy in the United States over what some cite as censorship or avoidance of the term “Christmas” in advertising with a similar historic instance.

As she observes: “The contemporary War on Christmas pales in comparison to the first — a war that was waged not by retailers but by Puritans who considered the destruction of Christmas necessary to the construction of their godly society.”

In fact, as Rachel notes, Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed the celebration of Christmas and, between 1659 and 1681, fined anyone caught celebrating Christmas in the colony five shillings.

You can read Rachel’s piece on the New York Times site, where you may need a password, or on the History News Network site.

Related //,
Tagged //

Former Virginia State Senator Hopkins Dies; WWII Grad of W&L

The passing on Dec. 11 of William B. Hopkins Sr. has produced a substantial profile and an admiring editorial in the Roanoke Times. He was a member of the Washington and Lee Classes of 1942 and 1944 Law.

As a respected and successful member of Virginia’s General Assembly from 1960 to 1980, Bill enriched both the state and his home of Roanoke. A Democratic member of the Virginia Senate, he was that body’s majority leader from 1972 to 1976. He was a key factor in the success of Roanoke’s Center in the Square and the Science Museum of Western Virginia.

“The benefits of his labors . . . still are felt in the greater efficiency of state government, and greater opportunities for children in Southwest Virginia to expand their horizons,” opined the newspaper.

The Roanoke Times profile is well worth a read, as is the editorial.

The president of the Martin, Hopkins & Lemon law firm, Bill belonged to the generation of W&L alumni whose education here was compressed due to World War II. After receiving a B.A., he left his law studies at W&L in 1942 and became a Marine, serving in the South Pacific. During the Korean War he also saw combat, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He wrote two books about his wartime experiences.

Two members of his family also attended W&L: his son William B. Hopkins Jr., Class of 1976, and his granddaughter Virginia S. Hopkins, Class of 2008.


W&L's Black Lung Clinic Featured on WMRA

Timothy MacDonnell, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Black Lung Clinic at Washington and Lee School of Law, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on Thursday, Dec. 13, to discuss the work of the Black Lung Clinic.

Tim has called the clinic’s clients some of the hardest-working, most dedicated people he has ever met. And, he said, it is because of that dedication that those people are now “dying by inches.”

The Black Lung Clinic assists coal miners and their survivors who are pursuing federal black lung benefits. Law students, working with law faculty, represent the clients and evaluate claims, develop evidence, conduct discovery, depositions and hearings, and write motions, arguments and appellate briefs.

In attempting to collect benefits, miners and their survivors face formidable teams of lawyers, paralegals and doctors that the coal companies assemble to challenge these claims. The Black Lung Clinic has a success rate roughly five times the national average. Although the clinic is unable to represent every request for representation, it has represented about 200 clients since 1996.

Tim, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is a former legal advisor to the Iraqi High Tribunal, Baghdad, Iraq, and a former special assistant United States attorney.

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

Related //
Tagged //

National Industry Award for Hap Stein '74

Washington and Lee alumnus Hap Stein, of the Class of 1974, received the 2012 National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) Industry Leadership Award at REITWorld 2012: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT, in San Diego. He is the chair and CEO of Regency Centers Corp.

Hap and others received the award on Nov. 12 for “outstanding contributions to the REIT industry and to NAREIT’s own programs,” said W. Edward Walter, president and CEO of Host Hotels and Resorts and 2013 NAREIT chair, at the awards ceremony.

Hap received the Edward H. Linde Leadership Award, named after the late CEO of Boston Properties, for “consistently giving generously of his time to participate in NAREIT’s Washington Leadership Forum events and providing leadership and support for NAREIT’s Investor Outreach program.”

An emeritus trustee of W&L, Hap served as NAREIT’s chair in 2008 and vice chair in 2007 and on its executive committee from 2003 to 2010. Stein was also credited with making Regency Centers an industry leader in sustainability initiatives.

Regency Centers owns, operates and develops retail centers in most major U.S. markets. Hap has served as CEO since the company’s initial public offering in 1993 and as chairman since 1999.  While Regency has developed office, residential and commercial property, Hap is credited with sharpening the company’s focus on its current niche: grocery-anchored shopping centers.


Andrew Delbanco to Address W&L Founders' Day

Andrew Delbanco, the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, will address Washington and Lee University’s Founders’ Day / ODK Convocation on Friday, Jan. 18, at 11:45 a.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of Delbanco’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “What is College For?”

Delbanco is the author of the 2012 book “College: What it Was, Is and Should Be” (Princeton University Press) and will address some of the issues he has raised in his convocation address.

“America’s colleges are indispensable for the education of democratic citizens,” said Delbanco in describing his talk. “In the face of growing public skepticism about the cost and value of higher education, America’s colleges — of which Washington and Lee is a leader with a distinguished history — must move into the future while preserving the best traditions of their past.”

Among Delbanco’s other book are “The Abolitionist Imagination” (Harvard University Press, 2012) and “Melville: His World and Work” (2005), which was published in the United States and Britain, and has been translated into German and Spanish.

“Melville” was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography and appeared on the  Best Books lists in the Washington Post, the Independent (London), the Dallas Morning News and TLS. It was awarded the Lionel Trilling Award by Columbia University.

Other books include “The Death of Satan” (1995), “Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now” (1997) and “The Real American Dream” (1999), all of which were named notable books by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, New Republic, The New York Times Magazine and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.

Delbanco was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.” In 2003, he was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities. In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named by Time Magazine as America’s Best Social Critic.

He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a trustee of the Library of America and the Teagle Foundation. Delbanco received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

As part of the annual convocation, Washington and Lee’s Alpha Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, will initiate, or “tap,” new members among the undergraduate and law school student bodies as well as several honorary members. ODK was founded at W&L on Dec. 3, 1914, by 15 student and faculty leaders. The organization encourages superior scholarship, leadership and exemplary character, recognizing achievement in five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus/community service, social/religious activities and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts.

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

Florida Firm Boasts Four W&L Grads

Given the close friendships that develop while people are attending Washington and Lee, it’s unsurprising that four graduates are partners in business. What makes this a bit different, however, is that this quartet graduated from W&L over three decades.

The Silverfield Group, based in Jacksonville, Fla., comprises the Silverfield Development Co. and Silverfield/Cranford Commercial Realty Co.

Gary Silverfield, who started the company in 1989 and serves as president, belongs to the W&L Class of 1969. He holds a B.S. in commerce.

Next comes Jimmy Cranford, Class of 1975, senior vice president of Silverfield/Cranford; he joined the firm in 1996. He also has a B.S. in commerce.

Then there’s Gary’s son, Leed Silverfield, Class of 1999, who came aboard in 2002 and is vice president of both areas. Leed holds a B.S. with special attainments in commerce; he majored in business administration.

And finally there’s Karl Hanson, vice president of Silverfield Development, Class of 1990, who is new to the company. Karl earned a B.A. in economics.

The Silverfield Group describes itself as “a full service real estate firm” with “over 120 years of combined real estate development and brokerage experience in Northeast Florida, and across the Southeast.”


Dani Breidung Awarded First Certificate of International Immersion at W&L

Washington and Lee University senior Danielle (Dani) Breidung has become the first student at the University to earn a Certificate of International Immersion, which is awarded to students who demonstrate significant commitment to and understanding of global interaction.

Breidung’s achievement will be recognized with a notation on her transcript and an indication in the Commencement program.

W&L’s faculty adopted the Certificate of International Immersion in 2011 as part of the University’s Strategic Initiative for Global Learning, which aims to prepare graduates to be engaged in a global and diverse society. The new award considers the student’s overall academic record along with a portfolio created by the student to illustrate his or her international experiences while at W&L.

“We could not be happier to have awarded the first certificate to Dani as she sets a very high bar for future candidates,” said Larry Boetsch, director of international education at W&L. “She gave a lively presentation to the committee and submitted a stunning portfolio of her work in order to demonstrate her fulfillment of the requirements.”

Breidung, from Waunakee, Wis., is a sociology and anthropology major, with minors in poverty and human capability studies and environmental studies. During her first three years at Washington and Lee, she spent a total of 12 months studying, interning and serving communities abroad. She was in Manaus, Brazil, for much of the time but also traveled to northeastern Brazil for a social science conference, visited Nicaragua during Spring term and taught English in the Dominican Republic during February break with W&L’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) organization.

Breidung arrived at W&L with an interest in international affairs, travel and culture. Already fluent in Spanish, she decided to learn Portuguese.  She enriched her college experience by taking such classes as a sociology course on cross-cultural psychology, culture and poverty; a philosophy course on social equality and fair opportunity; a business course on the ethics of globalization and a history course on U.S.-Latin American relations.

In addition, Breidung is a Bonner Scholar and has served over 1,000 hours of community service in the Rockbridge area. The Bonner Scholars Program provides students with the framework to engage in community service, while providing financial support to help make their education more affordable. Her Bonner activities included volunteering for Campus Kitchen at W&L (CKWL) and for ESOL, which facilitates communication between local English and non-English speaking populations.

Breidung initiated the program “Lazos Más Fuertes,” supported by CKWL and ESOL, which organizes dinners to bring together Spanish-speaking adults and children with English-speaking individuals in the Rockbridge area and helps coordinate tutoring.

In commenting on her award, Breidung said, “I think the Certificate of International Immersion is a great initiative by Washington and Lee because it rewards students who connect their study abroad experiences with what they do on campus, and celebrates those who choose to take classes that either prepare them for or help them better understand their experiences abroad. Being at W&L has opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to visit places I always dreamed of traveling to. I’ve been to Brazil five times while I’ve been here.”

Breidung credited the process of creating her portfolio for bringing together memories of her experiences. “It was a really rewarding experience and I would encourage anyone who has been working on a lot of things to try and put them together and see how they all intersect with one another,” she said.

Breidung will graduate in December in order to take a position with an entrepreneurial company exporting fruit from Brazil to the United States. She was offered the job as a result of her research and an internship in Brazil.

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

Interdisciplinary Research at W&L Helps Measure Health of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are on the brink of collapse throughout the Caribbean, and there is a great need for an automated method to assess the health of the reefs more quickly, according to Lisa Greer, associate professor of geology at Washington and Lee University.

So when she heard about the computer vision research of her W&L colleague Joshua Stough, assistant professor of computer science, she invited him to collaborate on producing such a method.

“The kind of work we are doing is a perfect fit for W&L,” said Greer. “At a small school you are more likely to hear about what faculty in other departments are doing and I heard about Joshua’s work from a colleague in the biology department.”

For his part, Stough wasn’t sure that his expertise was a good match for working with coral reefs, at least not when Greer first approached him.

But he decided to give it a try, and last summer the two W&L scientists co-authored a paper on their research which was presented at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Australia. Their paper, “Texture and color distribution-based classification for live coral detection,” was co-authored with Matt Benson, a 2012 graduate from New Orleans, and William Sullivan, a sophomore from Vienna, Va.

Greer described the current method of assessing the health of coral reefs as “incredibly painstaking. We literally trace digitally on a computer the live coral versus the dead coral. This new machine learning technique will be able to accurately recreate that work in a fraction of the time it takes us to do it manually. If this works, then people throughout the coral reef community could use it to create rapid assessments of this type of coral reef.”

Greer and her students are tracing the live coral in a particular species of endangered coral that is found in abundance in only a very few places, such as the north coast of the Dominican Republic and Roatan, Honduras. The coral forms thickets that look like branches piled up together so it is possible to see the skeleton of the coral forming in the thickets. However, it is hard to assess how much is live coral as opposed to a dead skeleton covered by algae.

“People in coral reef studies have argued for years about what a healthy coral reef looks like and how much live coral is necessary to call a reef healthy,” said Greer. “When you’re measuring the health of something, you have to compare it to what it was before or to a similar system and it must be quantitative.”

Stough’s computer vision technique essentially trains the computer to recognize live coral by looking at its color and texture. He explained that much computer vision research can be summarized as considering various dimensions of the image data — how much blue is in one area, or how blurry or pronounced the edges are — then using machine learning, or prior knowledge, to determine patterns in those dimensions that allow people to discriminate or make conclusions about the images.

“With coral reefs the dimensions are different, such as the local distribution of color in the image, and the question is different, but the tools brought to bear for determining the patterns are the same,” said Stough.

Initially, Stough and Greer worked on a test case using several underwater photographs of coral reefs Greer and her students had collected off the coast of Belize. “We achieved strong results in the test case, and we are past phase one of trying to see the utility in this,” said Greer. They plan to add a second data set of 120 photographs during the summer of 2013.

“When we started, I knew nothing about the kind of work Joshua does, and he knew nothing about coral reefs,” she added. “We’ve had a lot of fun learning about each other’s fields. It’s so nice to be working with someone outside of geology.”

Stough pointed out that computer scientists often do collaborative work. “One focus of computer science is the computer scientist as a ‘toolsmith,’ where we work directly with domain experts like Lisa and help them use computers to solve the harder, or more time-consuming, problems in their field,” he said.

“Improving rapid assessment techniques is of course just one way to contribute to the science focused on reversing coral reef decline. Attending the conference in Australia with Lisa was great. I got to meet so many people passionate about their work with coral reefs, with different perspectives from fields like chemistry, ecology and biology. I am definitely motivated to see more coral reefs before they change too drastically.”

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

W&L Historian Offers Context for the Fiscal Cliff Debate

With the “fiscal cliff” looming closer and closer, a Washington and Lee University historian whose 2012 book examined the history of United States tax policy says it is difficult to find a comparable moment in the past that looks just like today’s crisis.

Molly Michelmore, associate professor of history at W&L, is the author of “Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics, and the Limits of American Liberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2012).

Her book traces the development of taxing and spending policy, which are areas not commonly examined together, from the New Deal of the 1930s through the Reagan revolution of the 1980s.

“Certainly taxes have been the point of contention in the past, but it’s hard to say that there is a similar moment insofar as this is a crisis of Congress’ own making,” said Michelmore. In the previous instances, the minority party has been willing to negotiate with the White House over tax policy. She pointed to the case of the so-called Reagan revolution when the Democrats ultimately worked with the president to shift the tax code in ways that that were more in line with voters’ desires.

“For the Republican Party, this crisis is extraordinarily difficult because to avoid it means they have to rethink the party’s identity for the last 30 years,” she said. “Nobody wants to be responsible for raising taxes, particularly on people who don’t make a lot of money. The Republican Party has become almost a cult of tax cuts. So switching their position now becomes very difficult and may be impossible for them.”

Michelmore said that if there is anything good to come out of this crisis it could be the prolonged discussion about taxes and tax reform, leading to “a growing recognition of the extent to which the tax code is used to fund various national priorities, from medical insurance coverage to home ownership.”

Related //,
Tagged //

W&L Announces November Community Grants

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 12 grants totaling $26,665 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the first part of its two rounds of grants for 2012-13.

The committee chose the grants from 27 proposals requesting more than $134,000.

W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:

  • CASA for Children: funds to offset expenses associated with supervising CASA volunteers specifically serving child victims in Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County.
  • The Community Table:  funding to assist with food purchasing needs.
  • Fine Arts in Rockbridge: funds to support the Youth Strings program.
  • Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center: funds to provide scholarships for needy riders.
  • Lexington Police Department Foundation: funds to go toward the construction of a training building at the Brushy Hill firing range.
  • Woods Creek Montessori: funds to support playground improvement projects.
  • Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry, Inc.: funding to assist with food purchases and operational expenses.
  • Parry McCluer High School Girls Basketball: funding to assist with the purchase of new equipment.
  • Project Horizon, Inc.: funds to support the volunteer program/24-hour crisis hotline.
  • RAISE Infant Program: funding of four programs to assist local children diagnosed with developmental delays.
  • Rockbridge Area Relief Association: funds for client rent assistance.
  • Rockbridge Area YMCA: funds to assist with the purchase of gymnastics equipment.

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

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

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

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


W&L Students Help Local High-Schoolers Apply to College

High school students in the Rockbridge area who don’t understand how to navigate the sometimes confusing process of applying to college are now receiving extra encouragement and assistance from the new “College Access” program that a group of Washington and Lee University students has developed.

Working through guidance counselors at Rockbridge County High School, the W&L volunteers are helping seniors, and some juniors, with their college applications. “For instance, they bring us their college essays and we help edit them, or they may have questions about certain colleges,” said Angelica Tillander. She is a junior with a double major in history and politics and a double minor in poverty studies and African American studies at W&L, and one of the program’s founding members.

The W&L students have also conducted a series of workshops on completing the college application, how to write a good essay, building a resumé, and hands-on interviewing skills.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the high school students so far,” said Tillander. “I’ve struck up friendships with many of the students, and they e-mail me their essays or questions. It’s helping us to expand our program by making it better known as they begin to trust us more.”

College Access is also informing the high school students about Questbridge, a non-profit organization that connects talented low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. College Access has formed a partnership with the Quest Scholars Network, and many of the project’s volunteers are Quest Scholars.

College Access was developed through “Impact Area Groups,” another new W&L initiative. It brings together W&L students who are engaged in serving the local community to work on specific and measurable goals that have been identified in partnership with community agencies and W&L faculty. Other Impact Area programs are “Local Food and Hunger” and “Health and Prevention.”

While College Access has 15 volunteers, only five or six are working directly in the high school, with others organizing the educational side of the program on campus. For example, they are planning a panel discussion on the problems of access to further education with faculty members from different disciplines.

Tillander is one of four students who created the program after attending a college boot camp at Rockbridge County High School in the summer, organized by the school’s guidance counselors. The other founding members are Melissa Derby, a junior psychology major in the teacher education program; Hilary Nelson, a junior psychology major with a mathematic minor, and Katja Kleine, a junior major in economics with a minor in poverty studies, who is currently studying abroad. All four students are Bonner scholars. The Bonner Program develops leadership skills for students with an interest in service and civic engagement

“Part of our vision with College Access is to establish a full-scale mentoring program in local schools,” said Derby. “We want to provide one-on-one mentoring with W&L students helping throughout all the steps of the college admissions process such as deciding which schools to apply to and getting recommendations.”

“We could then start working with younger grades and getting them involved in the process earlier,” added Nelson. “A lot of things need to be started during a student’s freshman year, such as deciding which classes to take and what they need to be doing as far as getting ready for tests.”

College Access has assisted over 20 Rockbridge High School students to date, but the group plans to expand to Buena Vista’s Parry McCluer High School in the future.

W&L's Campbell Appears on WMRA's “Virginia Insight”

Julie Campbell, associate director of communications and public affairs at Washington and Lee University, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” call-in radio show Monday, Dec. 10, discussing the history of Virginia’s horses.

She is the author of “The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History” (University of Virginia Press, 2010). The program marks the National Day of the Horse, which was Dec. 8.

“Virginia Insight” is a call-in hosted by Tom Graham. Listen to program below:


W&L Professor Examines the Economics of Streaming Music Services

Remember when your ability to hear your favorite song on the radio depended on either the disc jockey’s decision to play that tune or your ability to reach the request line?

For the millions who use such pure-play radio sites as Pandora, the DJ has been replaced by an algorithm and the request line has been replaced by a thumbs up or a thumbs down. But, as Washington and Lee University business administration professor David Touve notes, the business models facing Pandora are becoming more challenging as they gain users, and as those users shift from listening on desktop computers to mobile devices.

On the one hand, the increase in mobile listening has an impact on Pandora’s ability to sell advertising. “Advertisers consider ads heard on mobile devices like smartphones as somehow different from ads heard on ‘terrestrial’ radios,” Touve said. “Time will tell whether such a difference truly exists, as far as the impact of such advertising on brands and consumer action.”

On the other hand, the cost structure for music differs as far as the rates Pandora pays for music and the rates traditional radio pays.

Research and blog posts released by Touve on the subject have been quoted extensively in industry publications, including Billboard, and the CEO of Pandora referred to Touve’s research during a Congressional hearing on music licensing last month.

“Webcasters such as Pandora pay for certain uses of music for which broadcast radio does not presently pay,” explained Touve. “In fact, Pandora pays record labels, featured artists and performing musicians for its use of sound recordings — the music you hear — while traditional radio broadcasters in the U.S. do not pay for such use. Both ‘casters, however do pay publishers, composers and lyricists for their use of musical works — the ‘song’ expressed in the recording.”

Then there are the satellite broadcasters such as Sirius/XM, which pay for their use of sound recordings as well. But Pandora faces a different cost structure than these broadcasters, too.

“While satellite and cable music broadcasters pay for their use of recordings according to a percentage of revenue (approximately 8 percent of gross revenue), Pandora pays per stream per listener,” said Touve.

The current rate Pandora pays as a pure-play webcaster is $0.0011 per stream per listener. That, Touve said, would appear to be quite small until it is applied to the billions of streams Pandora will serve. “The total dollar amount becomes significant: potentially in excess of $240 million for the most recent fiscal year,” he said.

Touve’s comparison to the terrestrial radio industry’s royalty bill is what had gained considerable attention.

“That $240 million in royalties Pandora will pay in the current fiscal year is greater than any entire radio industry pays to sound recording owners in any country where such payments are made,” Touve said, such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany.

“My estimate of the per-play, per-listener costs for radio in the United Kingdom, for example, is approximately £0.000841, or $0.000134,” he said. “Given that estimate, Pandora pays eight times more for its use of sound recordings than this estimated effective rate paid by radio broadcasters — both commercial and BBC — in the UK.”

Or, as Touve put it on his blog, “If Big Radio were treated like a Default Webcaster, at 12 songs per hour given an average radio listening audience throughout the day of 8.8% of the population age 12 and higher, then Big Radio would owe $4,714,107,000 in royalties for the performance of sound recordings.”

Besides being a really big number, that $4.7 billion attracted attention for reasons related to an ongoing debate in Washington over how rates are set for these uses of music across the range of “‘casters.”  Two competing versions of legislation are now being proposed across the House and the Senate, and each proposal deals with the settlement of royalty rates in a very different way.

Earlier this year, the National Association of Broadcasters proposed a payment of one percent of its net revenues, or approximately $100 million dollars, were the industry required to pay for the performance of sound recordings on broadcast radio.

In that context, Touve’s research quantified, in big dollar terms, the scale of the difference in these methods being applied to determine the rates paid by different ‘casters — webcasters and broadcasters — for their quite similar uses of music.

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


Judge Waugh Crigler '70 Announces Retirement

A 1970 graduate of Washington and Lee who has enjoyed a long career as a judge has announced his retirement from the bench. The Hon. B. Waugh Crigler has been the U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Virginia since 1981. He will step down at the expiration of his current term, Sept. 30, 2013.

Waugh, who grew up in Culpeper, Va., earned a B.A. in history from W&L and obtained his J.D. in 1973 from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

“I certainly will miss , but there are other things I need to turn my attention to after 40 years as a lawyer and as a law student,” Waugh told the Charlottesville Daily Progress in a story about his retirement. You can read that article here.

As a new lawyer, Waugh clerked for the Hon. Robert Love Taylor in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Back home in Culpeper, he practiced law with Davies, Crigler, Barrell and Will, P.C. He handled state and federal civil and criminal litigation and was licensed to practice in Tennessee, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He also was admitted in the U.S. District Courts for Eastern and Western Virginia, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Taylor moved Waugh’s admission to the U.S. Supreme Court; it is a rare occasion when an active U.S. District Judge appears before the Supreme Court.

As a judge, Waugh served mostly in the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville divisions of the court. According to a press release about his retirement, “some of his most memorable civil cases have involved landfill, water supply and trash disposal disputes in both Charlottesville other communities in the Western District, the anti-trust action between the Daily Progress and the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, and the bitter dispute over customers between the area’s two early cable television providers.”

“Every case that comes into court is about a broken relationship,” Waugh said in the Daily Progress interview.

He spent six years on the Judicial Conference of the United States Criminal Rules Advisory Committee and belonged to the Virginia State Bar Litigation Board of Governors and the VSB Professionalism Committee. He was vice-chair of the Virginia State Bar Board of Governors for the Education of Lawyers, the founding chair of the Law School Professionalism Committee and a member of the Virginia Bar Association Professionalism Commission.

Waugh has also taught for more than 25 years as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and at professionalism and continuing legal education programs throughout Virginia.


Rachel Urban, Daniel Raubolt Named Generals of the Month for December

Washington and Lee University students Rachel Urban and Daniel Raubolt were recognized as the Generals of the Month for December during a presentation on Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Urban, a senior from Opelousas, La., is an English and Japanese double major. She holds a R.E. Lee Scholarship and the Maxwell P. Wilkinson Scholarship in English. She is a University writing tutor and teaches a Japanese course to children at Waddell Elementary School in Lexington. She has been on the Dean’s List and Honor Roll.

A graduate of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, La., Urban is the advisory chair of Student Association for International Learning (SAIL) and a member of the Washingtones a cappella group, Pan Asian Association for Cultural Exchange and the “Tea Society,” the Japanese Tea Ceremony student group.

Raubolt, a sophomore from Acworth, Ga., is an accounting and business administration major. He holds a Robert E. Lee Scholarship and an H. Lamar Mixson honor scholarship. During his freshman year, he was chosen as a Kemper Scholar by the Kemper Foundation business leadership program.

A graduate of Harrison High School, Raubolt is the sophomore representative to the Executive Committee, is the executive assistant to General Development Initiative Inc., a selective micro-finance investment group that provides development opportunities for non-standard clients, is a Volunteer Venture Leader for incoming first-year students, is a peer counselor and has been on the Dean’s List and Honor Roll. He also is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society and Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.

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

Urban and Raubolt 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 Elrod Commons on dates in Jan., Feb., March, April and May, yet to be determined.

W&L Law's Powell Papers Online Collection a 'Treasure Trove for Academics'

A recent report from  journalist Tony Mauro, who covers the U.S. Supreme Court for the National Law Journal, brought some attention to the growing online collection of material from the archives of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell ’29, ’31L, whose papers are housed in Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Powell’s papers first becoming available to the public, archivist John Jacob began putting material approved for disclosure online, including more than 200 complete case files from Powell’s 15 years on the nation’s highest court. As Mauro reported:

Powell abided by an informal agreement among some justices, restricting access to case files until after all the justices with whom he served left the court. Any request for files had to be approved by Powell – or Jacob, since Powell’s death in 1998. The last sitting justice with whom Powell served is Antonin Scalia.

Jacob said Powell never denied a request for access. Jacob’s policy now is to post online any case file that has been requested and approved for disclosure.

Jacob met Powell several times in his later years and has fond memories of their encounters. While circumspect in some ways, Powell had a “strong sense of history” and of the need to make his papers accessible for historical research, Jacob said.

Jacob writes about all things Powell at the Powell Archives website, where you can see a “best of” list of Powell’s opinions and learn which historians and biographers have used Powell’s papers to research their subjects, which have ranged from Edward R. Murrow to Clarence Thomas.

Mauro’s complete article is available online, with subscription, from the National Law Journal.

W&L's Heinsohn Wins the Willie Lanier Award

RICHMOND, Va. – Washington and Lee senior running back/placekicker Luke Heinsohn received the 2012 Willie Lanier Award as the top college division football player in Virginia.

The award was presented at the Dudley Award banquet sponsored by the Touchdown Club of Richmond and the Richmond Times Dispatch on Wednesday evening.  Heinsohn is the Generals’ second straight winner of the award as quarterback Charlie Westfal, a 2012 graduate, claimed the trophy last year.  Heinsohn was also honored as the top offensive back of the year, while classmate Jake Pelton was named the defensive back of the year.

Heinsohn adds the honor to a list that already includes being named First Team All-ODAC, First Team All-South Region and ODAC Offensive Player of the Year.  He is also one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, which is presented to the Division III Outstanding Player of the Year.

Heinsohn leads all NCAA Divisions with an ODAC-record 188 total points.  He rushed 183 times for 1,253 yards and a school-record 22 touchdowns, hit 48-of-52 PAT attempts and went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts.

A First Team All-ODAC honoree as a sophomore and second team pick as a junior, Heinsohn finished his career as the Generals’ all-time leading rusher (3,517) and scorer (344).

A three-time First Team All-ODAC selection and 2011 Honorable Mention All-American, Pelton led the Generals with a career-best 102 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble.  He completed his career with 282 tackles and 12 interceptions, which are tied for the fifth-best total in school history.

Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke received the Dudley Award as the top player among the FBS and FCS football programs in the state.

The Dudley Award is named for Bill Dudley, a star player at the University of Virginia and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Lanier Award is named for Willie Lanier, a Richmond native who was a star player at Maggie Walker High School, Morgan State University and as a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.  Lanier also is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

News Contact:
Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
blaubsch@wlu.edu
540-458-8676


Moyers '81 Writes New Book About Addiction and Recovery

William Cope Moyers continues his quest to help addicts and their loved ones with the publication of his second book, “Now What: An Insider’s Guide to Addiction and Recovery” (Hazelden). The 1981 graduate of Washington and Lee is the vice president of public affairs and community relations at the Center for Public Advocacy for the Hazelden Foundation. Hazelden is, of course, the famed center for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction.

As the organization’s website puts it, William “ ‘carries the message’ about addiction and recovery into the public arena, especially to policy makers and civic groups across America. He uses his own personal experiences to highlight the power of addiction and the power of recovery.” His parents, Judith and Bill Moyers, the well-known television host, have often joined him in carrying the message.

Among the themes in William’s latest book is his effort to dispel what he considers are many of the myths surrounding addiction. Responding to a question about those myths in an interview on the Hazelden site, he says:

One of the biggest is the whole notion of hitting bottom. That an addict has to hit bottom before they can be saved…I stoutly disagree. The only bottom to this illness is death. So families shouldn’t wait until the end, because that’s too late. It’s never too early to start moving the addict from the problem to the solution. Another myth is that treatment is the cure. There is no cure to this illness.

William’s first book, “Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption,” came out in 2006. It’s a memoir of his years of drug and alcohol addiction and his recovery. He’s also produced “A New Day, a New Life,” a journal and DVD for addicts just starting their recovery. A journalism major at W&L, William reported for CNN, the Dallas Times Herald and Newsday before joining Hazelden.

The new book, “Now What,” provides answers for addicts and their loved ones “through contemplation, intervention, treatment, and recovery.” William also writes a column, “Beyond Addiction,” which is syndicated by Creators.com; his Dec. 1 edition can be found here.


W&L Law Faculty Named Finalist for Most Influential in Legal Education

The faculty of Washington and Lee University School of Law has been named to the National Jurist’s list of the 25 most influential ‘people’ in legal education. Joining some of the most prominent voices from law schools around the country, the W&L faculty was recognized for their visionary leadership in adopting the School’s third-year curriculum reform.

The National Jurist requested nominations from every law school in the nation. Its editorial team narrowed the list down to 50 and then asked 350 people in legal education, including every law school dean, to rate each nominee based on how much they influenced them in the past 12 months.

W&L has led the way on law school curriculum reform since announcing the third-year reform in March of 2008. After several years of partial implementation, the program is now in its second year of full operation.

“It is exciting to see our faculty recognized for the monumental amount of effort it has put into the development of the 3L curriculum and for its commitment to making a major change in legal education become reality,” said Dean Nora V. Demleitner.

W&L’s third-year curriculum is entirely experiential. The course of study consists of practice-based simulations that bring together doctrine and practice across the curriculum, real-client experiences, and advanced explorations into legal ethics and professionalism. The curriculum builds upon and expands the lessons of the first and second years of instruction, moving students from a passive classroom role into one more closely connected to a sophisticated world of legal practice.

The Most Influential finalists will be published in order of influence in the January issue of National Jurist, due on stands at the start of January.

Here is the complete list of finalists in alphabetical order:

  • Catherine Carpenter, Professor, Southwestern Law School
  • Paul Campos, Professor, University of Colorado Law School
  • Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California Irvine School of Law
  • Jim Chen, Professor, University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law
  • Hiram Chodosh, Dean, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
  • The Faculty of Washington and Lee School of Law
  • Bryant Garth, Professor, Southwestern Law School, University of California Irvine
  • John Garvey, Professor, University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • Claudio Grossman, Dean, American University Washington College of Law
  • Phoebe Haddon, Dean, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • William Henderson, Professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington
  • Kevin Johnson, Dean, University of California Davis School of Law
  • David Levi, Dean, Duke University School of Law
  • Lizabeth Moody, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Stetson University College of Law
  • Jerry Organ, Professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law – Minneapolis
  • John O’Brien, Dean, New England Law Boston
  • Sophie Sparrow, Professor, University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • Richard Sander, Professor, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law
  • Brian Tamanaha, Professor, Washington University School of Law
  • William Treanor, Dean and Executive VP, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Kyle McEntee, Co-founder, Law School Transparency
  • Blake Morant, Dean, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Patricia White, Dean, University of Miami School of Law
  • Philip Weiser, Dean, University of Colorado Law School
  • Frank Wu, Chancellor & Dean, University of California, Hastings College of the Law

W&L Music Professor Releases New Christmas Music

Terry Vosbein, professor of music at Washington and Lee University, composed and arranged a new CD of Christmas music, “Stradivarius Christmas,” featuring violinist Jasper Wood and pianist David Riley. From Max Frank Music, the CD collects jazz and classical selections.

Wood and Riley first performed the music at Washington and Lee for the Sonoklect series, a festival of modern music that Vosbein directs.

“The CD has been in the works for seven or eight years,” said Vosbein. “Jasper and Dave came up with the idea for a Christmas CD and asked me to try a couple of pieces. So I arranged ‘O Tannenbaum’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’ They loved them, and I began to pick and choose the titles and figure out a way to make them my own.”

Wood, Riley and Vosbein first met at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Wood and Riley have recorded six duo CDs over 20 years of collaboration. They received the 2004 East Coast Music Award for Best Classical Record for a CD of Igor Stravinsky’s works for violin and piano.

“I did the bulk of the writing for this project in the summer of 2006 in Paris, and it was premiered at a SonoKlect concert that December,” Vosbein said. “We recorded the music in Toronto the following summer, and I decided that I would release ‘Stradivarius Christmas’ on Max Frank Music because it was too good not to put out there.”

The CD includes such traditional pieces as “Away in a Manger,” “What Child is This?” and “O Holy Night/Ave Maria.” Vosbein’s composition of “A Christmas Rag” is also featured.

“The biggest challenge was to be true to the original melodies, yet keep it interesting,” Vosbein said. “Although I stray away, and ornament, I want people to hear these songs and recognize them. I wanted to appeal on many levels, no matter the listener’s musical education or experience, and I didn’t want it ever to be trite.”

Vosbein has received numerous commissions to write new works from such organizations as the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He has composed works for orchestra, wind ensemble, various chamber ensembles and choir. He has written works for jazz bands of all sizes, and his compositions have been performed all over the world.

A member of the W&L faculty since 1996, Vosbein received his master’s in composition from James Madison University under the tutelage of John Hilliard, and his doctorate in composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was a student of Donald Erb.

“Stradivarius Christmas” is available from Max Frank Music, iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.


W&L's Venture Club Helps Student Launch Business

Whenever Washington and Lee senior James Williams wore one of his colorful, hooded shirts from Kenya around campus, people asked him where they could get one.

Now he has an answer — and a new business supported, in part, by W&L’s Venture club, which aims to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship on campus.

A senior majoring in accounting and business administration, Williams’ new import business has several dimensions, including a relationship with the international Feed the Children Organization.

The shirts in question are handmade using a traditional African fabric that includes cotton. When washed they become soft and comfortable to wear. Each shirt is unique. Williams will choose between five and 10 different patterns made from two materials—Kanga made from two embroidered squares that make a pattern with black lines, and Kitenge, which has more of a solid pattern running through it.

The idea for the business stemmed from a friend who returned from a trip to Kenya with hooded shirts made by a village tailor. “I thought that if I can go to Kenya and get these shirts that I think are so cool and sell them in the United States, then it would create a really nice symbiotic relationship,” said Williams, who is from Columbia, S.C. “We benefit from creating a business and a bridge between Kenya and the United States, and we’re also doing infinite good by improving the livelihoods of women through Feed the Children by giving them jobs and a source of income. That’s the ultimate goal of this project.”

During a five-day trip to Kenya in the summer, Williams met with directors of Feed the Children. They gave him a tour of their programs, including “Livelihoods” in the slums of Nairobi. That program aims to reintroduce into society women the organization has helped. About 20 of the women are tailors and to Williams this was a perfect fit.

“I explained that if they could make these shirts then I would buy all of them,” said Williams. “And they agreed. So right now we are working through Feed the Children on product development and getting it just right. We’re close to where we want it to be.”

Meanwhile, W&L’s Venture Club adopted William’s business venture as one of its consulting projects, with a team of five students working on the business plan — senior Daniel Perez, a major in business administration; senior John Rehberger, a double major in economics and accounting and business administration; and accounting and business administration majors senior Burke Anderson, senior Blaire Fowler and junior Monica Devlin.

“We’ve completely changed the business model a couple of times,” explained Williams, who is also a member of the Venture Club. “There’s so much that goes into it and so much that needs to be done. We’re working on manufacturing, production, product labeling, legal requirements and shipping—our biggest cost. There are always new obstacles that we have to find a way around.”

Feed the Children has submitted a proposal to Williams and is now awaiting his business plan. The aim is for the business to be a wholesaler, marking up the product for retail stores and selling for $35 or $40. “We don’t expect to make a very big profit margin,” said Williams. “But the shirts are all hand-made and a lot of time and effort is put into them. A huge part of what we’re doing is trying to convey the message that this is hard-earned money for these Kenyans. It’s not a donation or charity. So people will know that their money is going to Kenya and Feed the Children.”

Williams plans to retail the shirts online and work them into trade shows and galleries in order to try and get the line picked up by retailers.So far, he has invested his own money in the business but eventually will be looking for investors and perhaps a small business loan. He would like to find a retail buyer for the shirts by the end of the academic year but sees the business as a long-term project he expects to continue after graduation and finding a job.

The business is tentatively named “Udu,” after a traditional African drum, and the hooded shirts are called “Livelyhoods,” after the Feed the Children program, and because, as Williams said: “these are hooded shirts and very lively.”

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

Walter Bennett '65 Wins Praise for Civil Rights Novel

As a teenager growing up in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the 1950s, Walter Bennett, a 1965 graduate of Washington and Lee, was cruising with his white friends through the black section of town when someone in the car threw an egg at an African-American man.

That incident stuck with Walter, and he began his first full-length novel, “Leaving Tuscaloosa,” with it.

Walter’s novel was published in October and has received considerable critical praise, including this from novelist Lee Smith: “I’ve been there. I worked on the Tuscaloosa News in the early 70s, and I can tell you flat-out that Walter Bennett has a real gift for capturing time and place, and an absolute genius for creating his larger-than-life yet totally believable characters. ‘Leaving Tuscaloosa’ is deeply moving, disturbing, haunting, and important.”

After graduating from W&L and serving in Vietnam, Walter received an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he later received an LL.M. He began his legal career in Charlotte and served as a district court judge. In 1986, he joined the faculty at the UNC law school as a clinical supervising attorney.

Before “Leaving Tuscaloosa,” Walter had published short fiction in both print and online journals, including Voices and The Courtland Review; essays (most recently “Black Quill,” in Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing, Spring 2012, Skyhorse Publishing); numerous articles on the law; and a highly acclaimed book: “The Lawyer’s Myth: Reviving Ideals in the Legal Profession” (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

The novel was a 2010 finalist for the Bellwether Prize for unpublished work, now called the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

In an interview on the Fuze Publishing website, Walter described the way he approached the novel: “I became passionate about civil rights when I began to understand what ‘we’ –- our white-controlled society and political institutions –- had done to people of color, the irreparable damage it had caused, the horrible, moral offense of it.  Part of my ‘passion’ about it was guilt, but part of it was an effort to set things right, to join a cause that was fundamentally decent and human and dealt with what I believe was the defining moral issue of our time.”

In addition to bookstores and the usual online sources, “Leaving Tuscaloosa” may be purchased in print or digital format at www.fuzepublishing.com. Walter will donate a percentage of profits from all sales through the Fuze website to The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, located in Greensboro, N.C.


W&L Law Alum Yousri Omar '07L BADC Young Lawyer of the Year

Yousri H. Omar ’07L has been selected as the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) Young Lawyers Section 2012 Young Lawyer of the Year. Omar was honored with this award during the BADC Annual Banquet on Dec. 1.

As explained in a release from the BADC, “the Young Lawyer of the Year is presented to a young lawyer whose professional and public service achievements merit special recognition. Recipients will ordinarily be D.C. lawyers who are either under the age of thirty-seven or who have been engaged in the practice of  law for less than five years.”

“Mr. Omar, an attorney at Vinson & Elkins, is an enthusiastic and effective advocate for the BADC’s Young Lawyer Section (YLS). Mr. Omar joined the YLS in 2008 when he began his career in Washington DC. Since then, Mr. Omar has worked tirelessly as a YLS member, Board member, and 2011 YLS Chair to increase the YLS profile, boost member participation and expand the YLS reach in the legal community. Mr. Omar now serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the BADC while still maintaining active participation in advancing YLS initiatives.”

Before beginning his career at Vinson & Elkins, Mr. Omar clerked for the Honorable Michael F. Urbanski in the Western District of Virginia.

Founded in 1871, the BADC is the third oldest bar association in the United States.

Winner of 2012 W&L Law Mock Trial Competition Announced

The 2012 Mock Trial Competition concluded in the Millhiser Moot Court Room with the final round on Friday, November 30.  Kristin Slawter won first place, and Joe Antel received runner-up.  Maggie Burrus and Jeff Wieand also competed in the final round.

The Honorable Thomas E. Johnston, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, the Honorable J. Leyburn Mosby, Jr. ’62, ’65L, Judge for the 24th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, and the Honorable John A. Parkins, ’72L, Judge for the Delaware Superior Court, presided over the final round.

Professors Beth Belmont, J.D. King, and Jonathan Shapiro judged the semifinal round.  Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Billias, Commonwealth’s Attorneys Bucky Joyce and Christopher Russell, and Professors Dan Evans and Timothy MacDonnell presided over the quarterfinal round.  Mock Trial administrators, David Bean and Meg Nerino, judged the preliminary round.  Professor Beth Belmont led the Evidence Primer.

The Mock Trial Competition provides students the opportunity to plan litigation strategies, practice litigation techniques, prepare witnesses, and conduct a complete trial. Each competitor conducts one direct and one cross-examination and presents either an opening statement or closing argument. The competitors are also responsible for presenting oral motions before trial and making and responding to objections while witnesses testify.

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, Representation in Mediation, Client Counseling, and Mock Trial. For more information about the Moot Court Board and upcoming competitions, please visit http://law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.

Alpine Tower Lures Climbers to W&L's Back Campus

Climbing is not a solo sport on the new Alpine Tower, a multi-obstacle ropes course rising 50 feet into the air on Washington and Lee University’s back campus.

The teepee-shaped tower, which is topped by a raised, triangular platform, can handle 36 participants at one time, including climbers and belayers. Designed for leadership training and team building, the course is packed with challenges, from rope swings and cargo nets to unstable ladders and an aerial teeter-totter called the Diabolical Seesaw.

Sitting on a patch of open land beside the Student Activities Pavilion, the tower faced its own challenges before opening on October 13th. Installed in July, it had been open for only a week when the derecho windstorm ripped a 70 mph path through the back campus.

During the storm, a pine tree fell on one of the tower’s stainless steel cables, which was connected to a lag bolt in one of the tower’s supportive utility poles.

“When it fell on that cable it actually split one of the top supporting poles,” said James Dick, director of student programming and campus recreation and ropes course manager. “We had to drop the whole tower on its side again, remove the cracked pole and one of the main struts. Two cranes were involved, so it was kind of a process.”

How challenging are the obstacles? The Corporate Ladder gives a nod to the problems students will face in the workplace. “It’s a set of cables with boards across it, like a ladder, but each rung of the ladder gets further and further apart,” said senior Joseph Moravec of Normal, Ill, an Outing Club Key Staff member. “They start around 3 1/2 feet apart, and they end at 4 1/2 feet apart. As you climb, it becomes more and more difficult.”

Sophomore Margaret McClintock of Tunica, Miss was impressed by The Floating Poles — free-hanging telephone poles with handholds. “I had to jump onto that and then climb… and swing in the air,” said McClintock. “You have someone belaying you, but it definitely feels like you’re going to fall off in mid-air, and it was just kind of scary. It was the hardest one for me.”

The Alpine Tower is a key part of W&L’s evolving leadership development program, which will be called the General’s Leadership Academy. The idea for organized leadership training at W&L was hatched in the 1990’s by Mike Walsh, W&L’s athletic director at the time, and Burr Datz ’75, former director of leadership development.

Walsh and Datz subsequently worked with Scott Fechnay ’69 to develop W&L’s first ropes course, the Fechnay Challenge Course. This course, which opened in 2002, contained a series of high and low elements, or challenges, scattered through a stand of white pines near the Pavilion. It was designed by W&L graduate Karl Rohnke ’60, a leader in adventure education and co-founder of Project Adventure. Many of these original course elements were destroyed during a microburst storm two years ago. After the derecho, the remaining trees and elements were removed.

Fechnay provided funding for the original ropes course as well as the Alpine Tower, which was built by Alpine Towers International. His goal? To improve leadership training for W&L students, particularly student athletes and team captains.

“I was a soccer captain at W&L and, in retrospect, I could have been a much better leader if I had been properly trained,” said Fechnay, who served on W&L’s Board of Trustees and the University Athletic Council. “I did not understand the concept of leadership until I was in Navy basic training and flight school.” He received additional leadership training in business school.

As president of Alliant/Atlantic Food Service Inc, Fechnay used what he had learned to improve the company’s culture and bottom line. He also provided training for his employees. “We started with a ropes course program which broke down the barriers between our departments and created a real sense of team and company-wide responsibility.”

In the coming year, captains of W&L’s varsity athletic teams will be encouraged to attend climbing workshops before their respective seasons. They will supplement their outdoor experience with classroom training. “A certain number of times per year our captains are going to be exposed to, and involved in, more of an understanding of what it means to be a leader, and study what leadership means,” said Athletic Director Jan Hathorn.

Ropes courses, with their destination points and obstacles, force participants to communicate and to trust their team members. Learning to communicate effectively is particularly important for sports captains who have “to work with people who maybe don’t agree on the goal or don’t think they can reach the goal or don’t have enough confidence in themselves to know what to do to get the team to the goal,” said Hathorn.

The tower is also open for use by on-campus organizations. Students who completed the Ropes Course Facilitation P.E. class in October were trained as ropes course facilitators, and they can assist at climbing workshops.

But the Alpine Tower is not all about leadership training and problem-solving. According to Moravec and McClintock, it’s already become a place where students can simply let off steam and enjoy on-campus camaraderie.

“You don’t have to commit to whole day…you can just go and be outside. You get to meet new friends, meet new people, doing something a little physically challenging and mentally challenging,” said McClintock. “It’s a really neat course.”

— by Amy Balfour ’89, ’93L

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