Feature Stories Campus Events

Fred Ramsay '58: Priest and Professor Turned Author

If you are looking to read a “finely wrought” (says Kirkus Reviews) and “entertaining” (per Publishers’ Weekly) mystery, not to mention one set in Jerusalem in 29 C.E. and starring a crime-solving duo composed of a rabbi and a physician, look no further than “Holy Smoke,” the third volume of a trilogy by Frederick Ramsay. He’s a member of W&L’s Class of 1958.

Fred’s new book comes out Tuesday, Feb. 5, from Poisoned Pen Press, and follows the previous two installments in his Jerusalem mystery series, “Judas: The Gospel of Betrayal” and “The Eighth Veil.”

Fred has taken quite a path to authorship. In addition to his B.S. from W&L, he holds an M.A., M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He served in the Army and taught anatomy, embryology and histology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He also served as an associate dean there. According to his website, he’s also worked “as a Vice President for Public Affairs, . . . an insurance salesman, a tow man and line supervisor at Baltimore’s BWI airport, a community college instructor, and substitute.” Oh, and in 1971, he was ordained an Episcopal priest. He’s retired from those many careers now and spends his time writing. He lives in Surprise, Ariz.

The Jerusalem mysteries make up only one of Fred’s series. He also pens the Ike Schwartz mysteries, set in a fictional, Lexington-like town called Picketsville, Va., and the Botswana mysteries, which take place in Africa.

You can read more about Fred’s books and even order signed copies on his website.


Hullie's Photography

During Hullihen (Hullie) Moore’s student days at Washington and Lee in the 1960s, he took photographs for the Richmond Times-Dispatch as a freelance stringer. He received $5 for each picture the T-D published.

Hullie, a 1965 graduate of W&L and a law graduate of the University of Virginia, went on to become a prominent Richmond attorney and a member of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. He also served as an adjunct professor in the W&L School of Law. All along the way, though, he kept his camera close by. He studied with Ansel Adams at a 1978 seminar in Yosemite National Park and with landscape photographers John Sexton and Philip Hyde.

His work is part of the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has been featured in numerous magazines, and is depicted in his 2003 book, “Shenandoah: Views of Our National Park” (University of Virginia Press).

Earlier this month, Hullie and his photography appeared in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. That story focused on his current work at Menokin, the Richmond County, Va., home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

As the story notes, Hullie is making numerous visits to the Northern Neck: “He wants to be there in different kinds of light, at different times of year and as the images change—like when a growing branch of a bush transected the lines of boards and bricks on one section of the main house.”

For many years, he used a wooden 4 x 5 view camera and worked out of the darkroom in his home. When the Free-Lance Star joined him to tramp around the grounds at Menokin, Hullie wielded a digital camera.

His photographs have been widely praised. In a 2003 story on National Public Radio, former “Weekend Edition” Sunday host Liane Hansen compared Hullie’s work to that of Ansel Adams:

Hullie Moore’s book of photographs, “Shenandoah: Views of Our National Park,” may be doing for Shenandoah what Adams did for Yosemite. Moore captures the park’s waterfalls, vistas, ice-laden trees and budding flowers in black-and-white images that are both simple and profound.

You can read more about Hullie’s work, view many of his images and purchase posters and books on his website, Hullihen Williams Moore Photography.


W&L's Rebecca Benefiel on Roman Graffiti in National Geographic

Washington and Lee University classics professor Rebecca Benefiel comments on graffiti scrawled on the walls of the Colosseum in Rome in a National Geographic article.

In her research Benefiel has focussed on the social and cultural history of the Roman Empire.One of latest projects is an examination of the thousands of wall-inscriptions from the city of Pompeii.

Read the National Geographic piece with Benefiel’s comments: http://myw.lu/14rPoLB

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W&L Economist Surveys Changing Auto-Industry Landscape

Washington and Lee economist Michael Smitka, who studies the automobile industry, reacts to the announcement that Toyota is again the world’s largest automaker. Listen to his comments below:


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Monday’s announcement that Toyota has regained the No. 1 spot for global sales among automobile companies did not surprise Washington and Lee University economist Michael Smitka.

But Smitka, who specializes in the economics of the auto industry, is unconvinced that the unit sales number is the best metric on which to judge the comparative strength in the industry.

Toyota sold a record number of 9.75 million vehicles worldwide, placing it ahead of General Motors at 9.29 million and Volkswagen at 9.1 million.

“Toyota had faced a number of severe disruptions in production, not only from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan but also from floods in Thailand,” said Smitka. “In addition, the U.S. recall of Toyota models because of unintended acceleration had a temporary hit on sales. All of these things combined to disrupt Toyota sales, so what we’re seeing is a significant recovery on Toyota’s part.”

On the other hand, Smitka points to General Motors’ strength in growing markets such as China, where the American automaker is No. 1, while Toyota is No. 3. He also notes that GM has shed several of its brands and is deliberately selling fewer cars now.

“As an economist, the metric I tend to look at is profitability,” Smitka said. “In examining the most recent data from Toyota and GM, two things stand out. One is that GM is significantly more profitable in terms of income relative to assets. And second, GM is doing that with a comparatively small share, about 7 percent, of its profits coming from its financial services arm, whereas 25 percent of Toyota’s profit comes from that part of its operation. When GM went into bankruptcy, it shut down the financial services arm and will be rebuilding it over time. That should help its profits in the future.”

The sales number, said Smitka, is a reminder that Toyota is “not done and finished because of these short-term issues that were big negatives, but neither is it totally dominant in the automotive sector.”

Even with Toyota and GM battling for the 1-2 spot in unit sales, Smitka said that Volkswagen out-earns GM and Toyota combined. “They may be weak in the U.S.,” he said, “but globally they are the gorilla.”

For more details on Smitka’s views on the Toyota story, see his blog at Autos and Economics.

New Analysis Calls W&L Law Best Legal Education Story of 2013

Bill Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University School of Law and one of the most influential legal bloggers writing today, has posted a thorough exploration of Washington and Lee University’s third-year curriculum on his site, The Legal Whiteboard.

The essay, titled “Washington & Lee is Biggest Legal Education Story of 2013,” includes an extensive analysis of W&L’s Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) data and concludes that “there is empirical evidence that is delivering a significantly better education to 3L students—significantly better than prior graduating classes at W&L, and significantly better than W&L’s primary competitors.”

The LSSSE survey includes 100 questions on a variety of topics related to student classroom experience, faculty interaction, type and quantity of assessments, time allocation, and perceived gains on dimensions related to personal and professional development. W&L’s results on the 2012 survey show major increases across all dimensions when compared with surveys from 2004 and 2008.

Henderson first saw the LSSSE data during a presentation by Jim Moliterno, Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at W&L and one of the third-year program’s chief architects, at a meeting of the 2012 Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers conference at the University of Denver.

“When I presented this data at Denver, people in the room literally gasped,” says Moliterno. “The fact that we now have empirical data that support what we have been saying about the third-year program is incredibly important, and I believe it will encourage other schools to emulate what we have done at W&L.”

Henderson, a tough critic of legal education and outspoken advocate of legal education reform across the curriculum, notes in his post that despite W&L’s gains, there remains room for improvement. Nevertheless, he writes that “W&L is tooling around in a Model-T while the rest of us rely on horse and buggy.”

W&L Law Dean Nora Demleitner views this report as verification that W&L graduates can be meaningful contributors once they graduate and begin to practice.

“Our LSSSE data demonstrate that the much-maligned 3L year can be not only a valuable bridge to the profession but also engage and inspire students and help them grow professionally,” says Demleitner.

View the entire post on The Legal Whiteboard.

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Obama Second Term Energy Policy Focus of JECE Symposium at W&L Law

On Feb. 1, the Journal of Energy, Climate and the Environment at Washington and Lee University School of Law will explore energy policy developments during the second term of the Obama administration.

The symposium is titled “The ‘All of the Above’ Strategy: Evaluating the Obama Administration and the Future of Federal Law and Policy on Energy and Climate Change.” It will run from 10am to 4pm in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

The symposium will address the outlook for certain pivotal areas of federal energy and climate policy in the second term of the Obama Administration. Discussion panels will feature leading legal scholars and practitioners in energy and climate law and policy. Speakers include Davitt McAteer, former U.S. Assistant Sectary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Becky Norton Dunlop, Vice President of External Relations at the Heritage Foundation, among numerous others. Panel topics will cover wind energy, coal slurry impoundment and oil and gas.

The event is geared toward attorneys and those with an academic or professional interest in federal energy and climate policy. However, the JECE welcomes the attendance of anyone who would like to join.

The Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment is a student-edited periodical whose mission is to engage and educate the legal community, policy-makers, and the general public through publications and symposia on climate change, energy, and environmental issues affecting local, national, and global communities. Learn more about the Journal at http://law.wlu.edu/jece.

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W&L Law Prof Examines ACA Requirements on Employers

Washington and Lee Law Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson has published an op/ed in the Tulsa World examining Hobby Lobby Store, Inc. and the company’s decision to challenge the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that employers provide access to birth control.

In the commentary, Prof. Wilson examines the costs to employers, and to employees, if companies choose not abide by the ACA’s rules. Hobby Lobby faces a $1.3 millon a day fine for each day it fails to comply with certain provisions of the ACA. But Wilson argues that companies can get around this by simply dropping coverage all together for employees. From the op/ed:

“The mandates precipitate crushing penalties that no institution could sustain. Except for one thing: If these employers drop health-care coverage, incurring the fines, they no longer pay for the even greater per-employee cost of health-care coverage. Today, an individual plan costs $5,429 annually on average, a family plan $20,728 – with businesses footing from 70 percent to 80 percent of the cost.

True, employers might be forced to raise salaries to compete for higher-income employees. Economists generally agree employee benefits are a dollar-for-dollar substitute for wages. But, lower-income employees will not get salary boosts because they will be made better off financially by receiving premium tax credits.

All of this means that the cost of the nuclear option may not be nearly so grave as calculated penalties would lead one to believe.”

The entire commentary is available online. Prof. Wilson, co-editor of the book “Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts,” will speak Jan. 28 at the University of Tulsa College of Law about Hobby Lobby and the contraceptive coverage mandate, in a public debate with Tulsa Associate Dean Tamara Piety, a law professor and First Amendment expert.

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Carson Chambers '00 Wins Regional Emmy

Congratulations to Carson Chambers, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2000, for winning an Emmy for her work with WFTS-TV, the ABC affiliate in her hometown of Tampa.

Carson won her Emmy in the category “On-Camera Talent – Reporter – General Assignment” in the 36th annual competition sponsored by the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Suncoast Chapter comprises television markets in the entire state of Florida; Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, La.; Mobile, Ala.; Thomasville, Ga.; and Puerto Rico.

A journalism and mass communications major at W&L, Carson has covered the Gulf oil spill, Tampa’s 2012 Republican National Convention, the fatal shootings of six Tampa Bay law enforcement officers, the Casey Anthony trial, the 2000 Florida presidential election recount and the space shuttle Columbia tragedy.

In addition, she has covered more than a dozen hurricanes and reported on the severe flooding in Tampa prior to the Republican National Convention there. She was also part of a team that provided 24-hour coverage of Hurricane Charley, a category 4 storm that hit Tampa in 2004.

Follow Carson on her Twitter feed, @CarsonChambers.


Dancer Kay Poursine to Perform the Bharata Natyam Dance Form

Dancer Kay Poursine will perform South Indian’s Bharata Natyam dance form on Wed., Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall in Wilson Hall, Washington and Lee University. This event is presented by the W&L Department of Religion and open to the public at no charge.

Bharata Natyam is among the oldest of classical Indian dance forms. It developed from ritualistic dances performed in the past as offerings to the deities of Hindu temples, and in a more sophisticated form in the courts by solo female dancers.

Poursine, an educator as well as a dancer, has been called one of the greatest living performers of Bharata Natyam. She learned this dance form in the United States and India from the late, legendary Guru T. Balasaraswati. Poursine also studied music with Balasaraswati’s brothers. After receiving her master’s degree from Wesleyan University, she continued studying, performing and teaching in the U.S., India and around the world.

What differentiates Bharata Natyam from other dance forms is its use of drama, poetry and song. The dance movements all convey a meaning and are performed in precise harmony with carnatic music (classical music from South India).

Poursine, from New Orleans, has conducted numerous college and university lectures, master classes and workshops for dance and drama students. She said, “I’ve loved teaching. I think every student takes away something special in this great art. It is important to broaden the students’ understanding of how other people in the world express their emotions about life.”

In addition to her teaching experience, Poursine has contributed to scholarly performing arts journals, including “T. Balasaraswati’s style of Abhinaya,” in The Madras Music Academy Journal (India); “Hasta as Discourse on Dance,” in The Dance Research Journal, Sanskriti; and “The Lotus in Classical Indian Dance,” in Golden Lotus Magazine (Taiwan).

This event is sponsored by the Stanford L. Schewel Fund.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
540-458-8954

Too Hot? Too Cold? Just Right

One of the most common issues that energy specialists Jane Stewart and Morris Trimmer encounter during their rounds of campus are complaints that a particular office space is either too hot or too cold.

“Oftentimes, the person experiencing this issue will assume this is due to energy saving initiatives when, in fact, something is broken,” said Stewart. “We often discover an issue like this purely by change.”

The goal of the energy program, Stewart said, is not to cause discomfort but to have spaces be comfortable when they are in use. “In fact,” said Stewart, ” the temperature set point range with which we are working is more flexible than it was before we started the program.”

The bottom line? If you believe the temperature in your space is unreasonable, submit a work order.