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Diabetes Management App Wins W&L Business Plan Competition

A business plan to provide diabetics with a better way to manage their disease by using smart phone technology won Washington and Lee University’s third annual Business Plan Competition.

Members of the winning team, all 2013 graduates, were John (Jack) Apgar, an economics major from Lexington, Clark Jernigan, a double major in accounting and business administration from Greenville, S.C., Drew Martin, a business administration major with a minor in creative writing from Midlothian, Va. and Stephen Stites, a business administration major from Richmond.

Washington and Lee alumni, faculty, parents and students chose the winning proposal from among the five finalists. The Business Plan Competition is part of the capstone course in W&L’s Entrepreneurship Program, which began in 2009.

“The plan stood out for the judges,” said Jeffrey P. Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “It was thoroughly researched and came from a real problem one of the students observed.”

The WatchDog Diabetes Management plan arose from the experience of Stites who worked alongside a diabetic last summer. “Every day before lunch he  would have to take his blood sugar levels using a big bulky kit with a glucometer about the size of a walkie-talkie and then write down the reading and any notes in a physical log book,” recalled Stites. “It was a very inconvenient process.”

The team’s business plan noted that 44 percent of diabetics cite managing their blood glucose levels as their biggest challenge and 30 percent say that their current method of doing so is unsatisfactory. And 87 percent said they would be willing to spend $50 for a smartphone integrated solution.

Approximately 25.6 million Americans suffer from diabetes. The market for diabetes management products is $16 billion and is expected to triple by 2018. Simultaneously, more than 114 million people use smartphones, of which approximately 12 million are diabetics.

The WatchDog system reduces the glucometer to the size of a quarter which plugs directly into the headphone jack of any smartphone—a characteristic their competition lacks—and transfers blood glucose readings to an integrated smartphone app. “This makes it the first truly mobile diabetes management solution and nobody has a kit this small,” Martin explained in his presentation to the judges.

The app allows users to log and read their blood sugar levels as well as make notes and look at trends and graphs of their readings. The app also provides encouragement by sending a congratulatory message if, for example, they keep their blood sugar levels under control for a full week.

Diabetics can also share their data by sending their blood sugar readings directly to their physician and receive reminders about doctor appointments or to check their levels. Finally, users can connect to a supportive community of diabetics through the website DogPark, where they can share data, recipes, fitness programs and troubleshooting tips.

WatchDog employs a “captive pricing model” similar to the printer industry that makes more revenue from selling printer ink than printers. A diabetic goes through a pack of approximately 50 test strips a month. While it costs only 10 cents to manufacture the strips, they sell for 76 cents to retailers. Given this extremely high margin, the team expects test strip revenue to outpace glucometer revenue by the second month.

“We’re definitely surprised that we’re the first to think of this exact idea,” said Martin. “One of the judges actually asked us why a company such as Johnson and Johnson or Pfizer hasn’t done this yet.”

“Quite frankly, if the students of the winning team didn’t have jobs already, WatchDog is a very executable business plan,” said Shay, noting that the plan received an honorable mention at Virginia’s first Governor’s Business Challenge as the “Most Significant Market Disruptor” (tied).

“The judges and I continue to be amazed at the creativity of the ideas that the students are coming up with and the sophisticated level at which they are researching, writing and presenting their plans,” Shay added.

While the members of the WatchDog team shared the $1,000 first prize, second place went to GreenSpark, a smart phone app to reduce use of vampire current consumption. Hitched, a do-it-yourself wedding store, was third and Touch and Go, a mobile app for a biometric fingerprint scanner to access hotel rooms was fourth. sQRibe, utilizing QR (Quick-Response) codes to promote events, came in fifth.

Teams presented their business plans to panels of W&L alumni at the end of the fall and winter terms. The alumni panel selected five finalists which were featured on a website that included executive summaries along with videos of each team’s presentation, and the site invited members of the W&L community to vote.

Robots and Spring Term

The video above shows Upol Ehsan, a 2013 graduate of Washington and Lee, controlling a drone with hand gestures — the result of a project that he and classmates Dia Bisharat, Gabi Tremo and Fred Gisa completed during the four-week Spring Term course on robotics taught by Simon Levy, professor of computer science.

There’s lot to admire about the project — aside from the fact that the videos is just plain cool.

From the professor’s point of view, it’s pretty remarkable that the students could complete such a project in such a short time span. That was Simon’s goal at the outset. As he explained: “A couple of years ago, I developed a software tool to enable non-experts to control the AR.Drone using the Python programming language. It has proven very popular at W&L and other institutions.”

Simon went on to say how software like the one he created permits students to complete ambitious projects in a short amount of time. “If you look for similar-looking projects on YouTube or Google, you’ll likely find, as did my other students and I, that such projects are typically ‘one-off’ demonstrations that are difficult to replicate or modify. In contrast, part of our mission in the Computer Science Department is to train students to write software that can actually be used and improved by others, through good design principles.”

So with that software available, one four-member team in the class determined to see if they couldn’t turn a person into a control stick by using an Xbox Kinect, which allows controller-free, full-body game playing.

“The person becomes the controller,” said Upol, a double major in physics-engineering and philosophy with a minor in mathematics, who is from Bangladesh. “The natural thing people have is their touch. Touching and swaying your hands is intuitive. In creating the software to control the drone, we wanted to pick up on that and bypass any sort of sensors or joystick.”

Upol noted that lots of potential applications exist for a drone that is operated by gestures, and that the next step would be to add artificial intelligence that would allow the drone to go off and do the job on its own after a little training.

“The real advantage that we saw was the ability to get the drone out of precarious situations with gesture control,” he said. “You can get it out of a very tight spot.”

Because of his background in philosophy, Upol said that he pays very close attention to how humans interact with machines, so the project blended his interests. And Simon said that students solved a pretty tricky problem by figuring out how to get the output of the Kinect to control the movements of the drone.

The gesture-controlled drone wasn’t the only cool robot that came out of the Spring Term class. Have a look at this video of a Neato XV-11 vacuuming robot programmed to avoid obstacles using lidar. Kinsey Schell, a sophomore computer science major from New Orleans, had charge of that project.

W&L Boosts the Value of Study-Abroad Experience for Students

With college graduates looking for an edge as they enter the job market, does listing a study-abroad experience on one’s résumé make a difference to potential employers?

Laurent Boetsch, director of international education at Washington and Lee University, posed that question to a couple dozen W&L alumni whose jobs include reviewing applications.

“I asked these alumni who live all over the world this question: ‘What value do you give to somebody who applies for a job or internship and lists study abroad on the résumé?” Boetsch said. “Their answer was, basically, that it had no value. . . . unless . . . the applicants can articulate why the study abroad experience was important to them, what use they made of it when they returned and why it’s important for the job that they are applying for.”

That answer validated for Boetsch the approach Washington and Lee has adopted for study abroad as part of the University’s new strategic initiative for global learning.

In the past, Boetsch acknowledges, study abroad was primarily a personal experience for individual students who chose to venture out of the country at some point during their four years.

“It used to be that you came back from study abroad with an experience that was very, very personal,” Boetsch said. “You had great memories. You had a photo album. You had postcards that your mother had collected. But that was as far as it went.”

Beginning in the 2011–2012 academic year, W&L began to view study abroad in three phases: the preparation, the opportunity abroad, and the integration of the experience into their lives back on the campus. Boetsch believes that improving the third phase can help students in a job search.

At the same time, Boetsch acknowledges that the return stage is the most complicated. Some students may have had more exhilarating experiences than others; some students will be less inclined to share their experiences with a wider audience.

“We have  to be able to accommodate the variety of experiences and to allow students to reflect on the time spent abroad,” he said. “Then, rather than  give students a list of topics we think they ought to address, we are providing many different contexts for them to engage with students and faculty on campus about their time away .”

For instance, a group of students themselves created a group, Plan for Tomorrow, that has put developed sessions for returning students to share their experiences in an academic setting  . At Parents’ Weekend in the fall and Alumni Reunions in the spring, students present poster sessions on their trips. In addition, the University’s Writing Center helps students write about their experience, and the Career Development Center is incorporating questions about study abroad into mock interviews.

In addition to the traditional semester-long or year-long immersion programs, W&L students now have other types of experiences abroad. There are the four-week Spring Term trips with W&L faculty members, summer internships, and even brief tours like the University Singers took to Italy earlier this year.

For Boetsch, each of those experiences counts as study abroad, but they must all be viewed differently.

“In the past, study abroad was probably for the more adventurous student. That may still be true for those students who choose to be immersed in the culture and language for as much as a semester or even a year,” he said. “But there are all kinds of experiences abroad, and every one of them has a certain value.

“For instance, some students are looking at opportunities that are less adventurous than spending a year living with the Bedouins. For those students, four weeks with a W&L professor in Denmark is what they may find comfortable, and who knows where that can lead?”

Boetsch emphasized that while the new initiatives could provide a graduate with an advantage in the job search, the driving force behind the program is not job placement, it’s education.

“For today’s students, all of these various study-abroad experiences open up opportunities, both professional and non-professional. Once they begin nurturing them in themselves, it never stops,” he said. “That makes a difference in today’s world. It’s how this generation of students is going to live their lives.”

This is the first year that W&L is awarding Cultural Immersion Certificates as an incentive and a reward to those students who have shown significant commitment to and understanding of global interaction. The University awarded the first such certificate in December 2012 to Dani Breidung, a member of the Class of 2013, who completed her degree requirements early. This spring, 33 students in the graduating class spent enough time abroad to qualify; 10 students applied for and received certificates.

W&L Student Explores Media Coverage of Africa

When Waringa Kamau arrived at Washington and Lee University in the fall of 2011, she had talked herself into the practicality of a business major. Her longtime love of journalism, though, tugged at her so much that she soon switched her major. The worldwide responses she’s been getting to a brief documentary titled “Africa in Western Media” have confirmed the wisdom of her decision. “This is what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

Kamau, a rising junior, created “Africa in Western Media” during her winter term course, Race, Gender and Religion in the Media, taught by Phylissa Mitchell, a visiting assistant professor of journalism (and a 2001 graduate of W&L’s Law School). The final assignment: explore the way the media portrays a people, a race or a religion.

“This is a topic I’m passionate about anyway,” said Kamau, who is from Nairobi, Kenya. “For a long time now, Africa’s story has been told by CNN, BBC and everyone else. Western news outlets often parachute into various African countries and think they can tell that country’s story, or even the entire continent’s story, after being there for one day. Complexities are often overlooked and stark generalizations are made, resulting in very unbalanced reporting of Africa.”

She wrote the script and partnered with classmate Papa Osei ’13, who handled the photography and the editing. The pair stationed themselves outside Elrod Commons, where Kamau buttonholed random students while Osei, who’s from Accra, Ghana, filmed the conversations.

The interviewees often mentioned famine, AIDS and poverty when Kamau asked them what kind of images came to mind when they viewed traditional media coverage of Africa. She also interviewed five fellow African students, who expressed their shared concern over skewed representations.

“There’s a saying they have at home,” Kamau explained. ” ‘Unless the lion learns to tell its story, the hunter will always be glorified.’ That’s basically the whole essence behind my documentary. Everyone, not just Africans, needs to learn to tell their own story. Because if someone else is going to write it, they might misrepresent it, they might tell it a certain way that fits their interest, which might not necessarily be your interest.”

Thanks to Kamau’s mentor and aunt, Mary Murigah, who works in human resources for Capital Group Limited, a Kenyan media company, the documentary busted out of the W&L classroom. After Kamau posted the video on YouTube, Murigah sent the link to an editor at her company. “And then he did a story on it,” said Kamau. “Then people started seeing it a lot.”

So far, stories about and mentions of the documentary have appeared on the websites Diaspora Messenger, Mwakilishi.com, African Press International and several others.

Kamau was thrilled to hear from reporters, including Caroline Mutoko, a broadcaster on Nairobi’s Kiss 100 FM radio station, part of Radio Africa. The host of a popular show called “The Big Breakfast,” she invited Kamau to meet her later this summer, when she comes home for a visit after an internship in Johannesburg with Times Media, a leading newspaper and magazine publisher.

“I listen to her radio show every day,” marveled Kamau. “Half the time I was talking to her, I was like, “I cannot believe I am talking to you.’ “

Other responses to the documentary are more complex. “Some of the feedback I got was, ‘So you want media to lie?’ No! As journalists, they have the obligation to cover the political instability, the droughts, the famine, whatever else is going wrong there,” she said. “But at the same time, they have the same obligation to cover what’s going right, the good things that are happening. That’s what I was trying to say. They have obligations to cover both sides of the story.”

Her family and friends have given the video and her career goal a collective thumbs-up. Before, her parents, Susan Wanjiru and Peter Ng’ang’a Kamau, had not been entirely sold on their daughter’s desire to be a journalist, especially given the possible dangers of practicing the craft in Africa, which, she said, “is trying to define the whole idea of democracy and what a free press is.” She understands her mother’s worries. “After she saw the video, she was like, you know what, I think this is what you want to do—go for it. And my dad too.”

Kamau grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, and attended high school at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I was always involved with the school magazine and writing,” she said, “and I participated in a lot of writing competitions.”

Once she enrolled at W&L, she explained, “I was iffy about majoring in journalism. At home, people want you to major in law, and medicine, and engineering, and I’m this kid who wants to do something else. I was battling with ‘this is what I want to do’ as opposed to ‘what I’m expected to do because it will make me money’.”

Thus her initial decision at W&L to major in business. “I was miserable. I hated it,” she remembered. “It is really stupid now that I think about it. Why was I trying to please everyone?”

Kamau had applied mostly to U.S. colleges in large urban areas, so Lexington came as a shock. “It was so different from everything, because I’ve never lived in a small town. I was coming straight from Johannesburg.” The first few months were hard, but her mother encouraged her to stick with it. “You find that there’s a lot to do here, actually,” she said. “I’m always busy.” Among her activities is the presidency of the African Society.

Kamau’s professor, Phylissa Mitchell, shares her pupil’s satisfaction with the assignment. “A special kind of student takes this class,” said Mitchell. “It’s incredibly time consuming, and they often become uncomfortably familiar with their own biases and prejudices. Students learn that the key to be successful in it is to open their brains and hearts. Waringa exceeded expectations at that. She made us, as U.S. nationals, confront our sometimes warped visions of exceptionalism and how it often harms the rest of the world. I loved her project, and I loved that she worked with another African, Papa Osei, a Ghana national, to show the world what Africa has and what its incredibly talented students can do.”

With two years to go at W&L, Kamau sees her long-term goal as “empowering people to tell their own stories. Which is why I want to go back to Africa to do journalism, because I want to tell the African story. I can’t tell it all, but that’s what I want to do.”

News Contact:
Julie Campbell
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Back in Business on the Jersey Shore

Back in November, not long after Superstorm Sandy had decimated the Jersey Shore, Washington and Lee alumna Victoria Taylor, of the Class of 2011, wrote this on FoxNews.com: “The Jersey Shore I know and love will bounce back.” (Here’s our blog on that story.)

On Tuesday, Victoria was back in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., where her family owns Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. She was there to watch President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proclaim that the Jersey Shore is back, indeed.

After watching Tuesday’s rather soggy festivities up close, Victoria wrote a first-person account for the New York Daily News, where she now works as a reporter.

Victoria’s account of the visit was extremely personal. She recounts the seven-day work weeks that her family put in all winter in order to get Jenkinson’s — and much of the family’s other Jersey Shore amusement park, Casino Pier in Seaside Heights — up and running.

Here, in part, is the way Victoria described the experience:

Lackluster weather made for a dreary beginning to Memorial Day weekend, but by Sunday and Monday it felt more like May than March in Point Pleasant. The nice weather attracted the crowds, and they helped breathe life back into the boardwalk. Customers lined up for funnel cake and won giant bananas. The carousel jingle played, and children begged their parents for cotton candy. It almost felt as if nothing had changed.

But on Tuesday, I watched Christie sink the pigskin in the “Touchdown Fever” game and win the Chicago Bears stuffed animal for the President of the United States on the boardwalk where I grew up. Obama shook my hand as he walked down the line, and I was reminded of how much has transpired over the last seven months. The boards are newer, and some of the arcades have been redone. But the resilient spirit of the Jersey Shore is still the same, and it is definitely open for business.

Seven W&L Graduates Commissioned into Military

Several hours after they received their diplomas in front of Lee Chapel, seven members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2013 filed inside the chapel to participate in commissioning ceremonies.

Two graduates were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps: Connor Smithson, of Cary, N.C., and Lee Brett, of Raleigh, N.C.

And five graduates who participated in Army ROTC with VMI’s Marshall-New Market Battalion were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army: Nick Cianciolo, of Cincinnati; Parker Mangold, of Westport, Mass.; Brian Ross, of Brick, N.J.; Marissa Thompson, of Chatham, N.J.; and Sasha Vandalov, of Vienna, Va.

On Memorial Day

Remembering some of Washington and Lee’s fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. (Click each image to enlarge).

W&L's Spring Term Course on Chicano Art Featured on KCET

The Washington and Lee Spring Term course on Chicano art was featured in a story titled “Virginia is for Chicano Art Lovers” in the “Departures” section of Los Angeles KCET’s website on May 23, 2013.

Taught by Andrea LePage, assistant professor of art at W&L, the course benefitted from the Stanier Gallery exhibition “Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection” and from a lecture by the entertainer/art collector at the opening.

Read the KCET story here: http://myw.lu/110nVxe.

A W&L First for the Garrett Family

A member of the first coeducational class at Washington and Lee, Patience Jones Garrett met her future husband, fellow student Bill Garrett, at a fraternity party during her sophomore year. Since then, they have experienced all kinds of firsts together: first date, first child, first home. Thanks to their son Will Garrett, a member of W&L’s Class of 2013, they can add another first to that list: they are the first parents who are both W&L undergraduate alumni to have their child graduate from the University.

“Little did we know at the time,” said Bill, reminiscing about their introduction. Patience belongs to the Class of 1989, Bill to the Class of 1987.

“One of Patience’s roommates was dating one of my fraternity brothers,” remembered Bill, a member of Beta Theta Pi. They continued their relationship after Bill’s graduation with a B.S. in business administration and accounting. “We made it two years while she was at school, and I was working up in New Jersey, and then we started our family very early.”

“We got married in November after I graduated,” said Patience, who holds a B.A. in history.

Today they have three children, sons Will and Thompson and daughter Hayden, and live in Purcellville, Va. Bill is the CFO of Global Aviation Holdings Inc., a major provider of worldwide air transportation. Patience runs Appointments, a gift boutique that she founded and transformed into an online-only retailer.

Growing up, Will came to campus a few times with his folks. When he was picking a college, he said, “after my visit here, I was pretty much sold.” Having enjoyed a stellar career in lacrosse and soccer at the Highland School, in Warrenton, Va., he’d boiled down his choices to Middlebury and W&L. “I didn’t want to go to Vermont,” he said.

“It was never an expectation,” he said of any possible parental influence on his decision to attend W&L. He played lacrosse all four years and earned a B.S. in business administration. He’ll soon start a consulting career at Cerner Corp., in Kansas City, Mo., which handles health-care technology.

Of his pioneering status as the first W&L graduate with both parents also undergraduate alumni, Will reported, “The University has such a rich tradition and history. It’s kind of a cool fact to tell people. Everyone thinks it’s really neat.”

When Will decided on W&L, said Bill, “It was a happy day. We were very proud because we know what a great school it is and how, when you come here, you are set for taking on the world.”

Patience, who has attended just about all of Will’s lacrosse games, added, “It was also fun because you could visualize what he was doing and where he was, because you had done it all yourself.”

The couple shared their main emotion on Commencement day with that of all the other families who packed the Front Lawn. “We’re just so proud of him,” said Patience.

W&L Bestows Honorary Degree Upon Law Alumna Pamela White

Washington and Lee University awarded an honorary doctor of law degree to the Honorable Pamela J. White, a 1977 graduate of the University’s School of Law and an associate judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court for the 8th Judicial Circuit.

White received the honor during the University’s undergraduate commencement exercises on Thursday, May 23.

In honoring White, the University paid tribute to her as a “talented and tenacious advocate” who, as an attorney in Baltimore for 30 years, handled “countless cases that dealt with employment controversies that arise in a complex economy.”

The degree citation also noted White’s volunteer work on behalf of Washington and Lee and also for her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Mary Washington. She serves as rector of the Mary Washington Board of Visitors. From 1995 to 2004, she was the first Washington and Lee alumna to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees, having previously served on the Law Council and the board of directors of the Alumni Association.

The citation continued: “In all these capacities, you have been an advocate for access, diversity, integrity and quality in higher education. By your own example, you have shown how a lifelong commitment to learning can foster professional success and civic responsibility.”

• Citation for Pamela J. White (pdf)

White received her bachelor’s degree from Mary Washington in 1974 and her juris doctorate from Washington and Lee in 1977. She joined the Baltimore firm of Ober/ Kaler, Grimes & Shriver and became the first woman to be named a partner.

A past president of the Maryland State Bar Association and a member of the American Bar Association house of delegates, White has served as a trial judge on the Circuit Court bench in Baltimore City since February 2007. There, she has worked on criminal and civil dockets and in the family division.

A recipient of numerous awards, White has been named a Distinguished Alumna of both Mary Washington and W&L, was named to Maryland Top 100 Women by the Daily Record, received the Maryland Leadership in Law Award, also from the Daily Record, and won the Charles H. Dorsey, Jr., Mentor Award from the Baltimore City Bar Association.

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

W&L Celebrates 226th Commencement

As they spent the final hours of their four years at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, May 23, members of the Class of 2013 were urged to think boldly and creatively and to cherish the ideals of a liberal education.

Robert W. Strong, interim provost at W&L, offered that advice during the University’s 226th undergraduate Commencement exercises, on the Front Lawn.

Though the weather had seemed threatening, blue sky appeared overhead just before the graduates stepped off on their march. When he opened the ceremony, Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio made a point of welcoming everyone to the outdoor commencement ceremony.

The 438 members of the Class of 2013, including 14 students who graduated in December, represent the second-largest class in W&L’s history. Of the 424 who participated in the ceremony on Thursday, a record 21 earned two degrees — both a B.A. and B.S. — while 34 percent completed more than one major, and one student had three majors. The graduates were divided equally between men and women and came from 38 states and 16 countries.

The class valedictorian was Maggie Lynn Holland, a biology major from Bartow, Fla., who compiled a 3.989 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale during her career. Kendré Barnes, from Omaha, Neb., and Wayde Marsh, from Milford, Del., received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which the faculty bestows on students who excel in “high ideals of living, in spiritual qualities, and in generous and disinterested service to others.”

The University awarded an honorary doctor of law degree to Pamela J. White, a 1977 graduate of the W&L School of Law and currently associate judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court for the 8th Judicial Circuit.

In his remarks to the class, Strong, the William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at W&L, told the graduates that while they will always remember the beauty of the campus where they have lived and studied, the campus is inseparable from the people who populate it.

“People and place are interwoven in a tapestry of memories that enhances your response to both,” said Strong. “And people may matter more than place.”

In addition to the people and the place, Strong asked the graduates to think about the ideas that they had encountered at Washington and Lee — ideas like honor, which pervades the University, and ideas of a more personal nature, based, for instance, on “a crucial encounter in a classroom or outside with an observation or an insight that became a pivot point in what you think, what you feel or what you plan to do next.”

The liberal education that they have acquired at Washington and Lee is a rare commodity, said Strong. Referring to the persistent conversations in higher education about online education, he said that a liberal education “is not something you could easily acquire on your own, in front of a computer, or outside of a complicated community like this one.  It takes a village; it takes a college; it takes spending time in the company of others committed to the serious and systematic exchange of ideas.”

He added: “At its best, a liberal education is cultivated curiosity, tolerance for alternative points of view, humility in response to deeply challenging questions, capacity for making connections between disparate disciplines, and independence of thought anchored in an acquaintance with the enduring mysteries of the human condition.”

Steele Burrow, a politics major from Dallas, Texas, and the president of the student body during the 2012-13 academic year, spoke for his classmates. He referred to the time of continued uncertainty in which the students are graduating.

“The best response to this sense of mistrust and skepticism is the sort of community we foster here at Washington and Lee, one that cultivates honor, integrity and trust,” said Burrow. “We commit ourselves to a higher standard, and in turn we receive higher benefits. Trust itself is a sort of freedom. You don’t have to look over your shoulder to check your neighbor’s honesty. You are free from the restraints of skepticism and fear.”

Concluded Burrow: “As bittersweet as graduation and the end of our time as students here may be, we can leave today knowing that we begin the rest of our lives with a unique and valuable gift; not just a Washington and Lee degree, but a Washington and Lee experience.”

W&L President Ruscio offered the last words while formally welcoming the graduates as alumni. He asked that they pause for one final second and consider the setting: on the historic Front Lawn between Washington Hall, named for the University’s first major benefactor and one of the most consequential figures in history, and Lee Chapel, final resting place of Robert E. Lee, the institution’s 11th president who shaped the education still offered by W&L.

“Consider,” he told them, “the legacy that has been handed down from Washington to Lee to you here today, manifested in such perfect architectural alignment.  Forever, you will be known as a graduate of this University, and you should carry that distinction not only with pride, but with responsibility and a sense of honor.”


• Text of Remarks (pdf)

• Text of Remarks (pdf)

• Watch Commencement LiveStream Archive

• View Flickr Photo Album

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

Renata Carlson and Taylor Maxey Joining JET Program in Japan

Renata Carlson from Boise, Idaho, and Taylor Maxey from Poway, Calif., members of the Washington and Lee University Class of 2013, have accepted the offer from the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program to work as assistant language teachers (ALT) in Japan.

Maxey will be living in the Fukui prefecture and Carlson will be living in the Fukushima prefecture although they don’t know specifically what city yet.

Each year the JET Program recruits new participants to work as either assistant language teachers, coordinators for international relations or sports exchange advisors. The JET Program focuses on promoting grass-roots international exchange between Japan and other nations.

Carlson will receive the B.A. with majors in East Asian Languages and Literature (Japanese emphasis) and American history, with a minor in music. She was a resident advisor, supervising upper-division residents, president of the Washingtones a cappella group, the alto leader in the Washington and Lee University Singers and Idaho State Chair in the 2012 Mock Convention.

She belonged to the Washington and Lee Tea Society, was an R.E. Lee Summer Researcher helping to create a Japanese language curriculum taught weekly in area elementary schools and was a summer intern in the University Collections of Art and History.

Maxey will receive a B.A. in psychology with a minor in theater. She participated in varsity volleyball and varsity track as a discus, shot putt and hammer thrower. She belonged to the GLBT Equality Initiative, the Washington and Lee Tea Society and the Washingtones a cappella group.

She was co-founder of 23, a student-run organization committed to creating and promoting a united community of student-athletes. She belonged to Mindbending Student Productions serving as a costume designer and was awarded a scholarship from the theater department to study abroad in Sweden.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Kendre Barnes and Wayde Marsh Awarded 2013 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion

Kendré Barnes and Wayde Marsh, 2013 graduates of Washington and Lee University, have been named this year’s winners of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion.

W&L has been awarding the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion continually since 1927. It is awarded by a vote of the faculty to a male and female in the graduating class who excel in high ideals of living, in spiritual qualities and in generous and disinterested service to others.

Barnes, from Omaha, Neb., received a B.A. with majors in Spanish and in English. She has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Panama for next year. At W&L, she held the Henry Louis Smith scholarship and John Rugel Memorial scholarship and belonged to Omicron Delta Kappa. Barnes was a literacy tutor at Waddell Elementary School and in Rockbridge County, a peer counselor and was a member of the Chamber Singers and SAIL.

She served as co-chair of the Nabors Service League and received the Barritt-Williams Prize in Spanish, a Johnson Opportunity Grant and the Wornom Award for Distinguished Critical Writing from the English Department. Barnes was an immigration and refugee services intern for the Lutheran Family Services Inc. She also was a WLUR DJ, presenting “The Flamenco Hour.”

Barnes participated in Green Dot Bystander training to help the campus lower the rate of sexual assaults. She lived in Buenos Aires during the summer of 2012 as a Shepherd Alliance Intern, assisting families who came to the city for medical treatment. She also taught English classes there to women and children.

Marsh, from Milford, Del., received a B.A. with majors in politics and religion, with honors in religion. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and participated in varsity track and field. He was the captain of varsity swimming and All-American in swimming, was All-Bluegrass Mountain Conference Selection (swimming) and held three school records in swimming.

Marsh was president of Phi Eta Sigma First-Year Honor Society, won a Religion Department Award for Excellence and belonged to Pi Sigma Alpha Politics Honor Society, Generalprobe (German Play Company) and the German Club.

Marsh was president of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society and vice president of 1 in 4 Sexual Assault Prevention group. He was head resident adviser for upper division housing and a student leader in this year’s Questioning the Good Life seminar series.  He also volunteered as a Special Olympics swim coach.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Charlotte Collins Awarded the G. Holbrook Barber Scholarship Award

Charlotte Collins, from Dallas, Texas, a member of the Class of 2014 at Washington and Lee University, has been awarded the G. Holbrook Barber Scholarship Award.

The Barber Scholarship Award honors a member of the junior class who manifests superior qualities of helpfulness and friendliness to fellow students, public spirit, scholarship and personal character.

“It is hard to imagine a student who better ‘manifests superior qualities of helpfulness and friendliness’ than Charlotte,” said Kirk Luder, University counselor and psychiatrist. “She has had an unfailingly compassionate and non-judgmental attitude toward peers in distress, and has often gone the extra mile in providing them needed support.”

Collins is a psychology major and poverty and human capability studies minor with a pre-medical focus. She was head peer counselor and president of Active Minds, which increases awareness of issues surrounding mental health symptoms. She belongs to LIFE, the Student Recruitment Committee and was the philanthropy chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Collins belongs to the Bonner Leaders Program and in the past has volunteered at many non-profit organizations, including Campus Kitchens, Big Brother/Big Sister, Rockbridge Area Free Clinic and Waddell Elementary School. She also is a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

“I’ve worked with many other peer counselors who have been idealistic, outreaching and compassionate, but in the last nine years that I have supervised the program, I have never seen another student who has been as actively and positively engaged as Charlotte in broad efforts to help the W&L community,” said Luder.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Two W&L Alumni Nominated for Loeb Awards

Two Washington and Lee journalism alums, both of whom work for Bloomberg News, are finalists in the prestigious Gerald A. Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.

Mary Childs, of the Class of 2008, and Mehul Srivastava, of the Class of 2004, belonged to Bloomberg teams that have been nominated in two different categories.

Mary, who is based in New York City, worked on a team that is one of five finalists in the beat reporting category for “Beached Whale: JPMorgan’s Huge Loss.” Mary is a corporate finance report at Bloomberg. You can read her Bloomberg stories here and can follow her on Twitter: @marydchilds.

Mehul’s team is one of three finalists in the international category for “Mother India Starves Her Children.” Mehul is reporter-at-large for BusinessWeek and Bloomberg News, covering mostly India and sometimes South Asia. One of the stories he has been covering most recently is the Bangladesh factory collapse, and he did an interview about that story on NPR’s “Morning Edition” earlier this month. Here is a list of recent articles by Mehul, and you can follow him on Twitter: @30_Dash

The Loeb Awards will be announced on June 25. The awards were established in 1957 by the late Gerald Loeb, a founding partner of E.F. Hutton, who wanted to encourage reporting on business and finance “that would inform and protect the private investor and the general public.” The awards are widely considered the most prestigious in business journalism.

Baccalaureate 2013: W&L Seniors Urged to be “Mediators of Grace”

On the day before they were to receive their undergraduate degrees, the members of Washington and Lee University’s Class of 2013 heard a reminder of their obligations to others and an exhortation to be “interactive mediators of grace.”

Addressing the University’s traditional baccalaureate service on the Front Lawn, Harlan Beckley, director of W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program and the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion, told the soon-to-be graduates that they must not only acknowledge the power of grace in their lives but also live by it.


• Download a pdf of Harlan Beckley’s Baccalaureate Address

• View a Flickr album of images

“Perhaps most of us can agree that these graduation days are not merely for celebrating our achievements, but also for recognizing that powers beyond our control and upon which we depend have graced us,” Beckley said. “However, acknowledging the power of grace in our lives and the lives of others is insufficient.  Gratitude, especially gratitude for powers that have redeemed us from our mistakes and shortcomings, entails obligations to others.”

A member of the W&L faculty since 1974, Beckley helped create the Shepherd Program and became its first director in 1997. Now the most popular minor at W&L, the Shepherd Program aims “to reduce domestic and international poverty that devastates individual lives and undermines communities and nations,” as its website states.

Relating stories of the service of two Washington and Lee graduates to others less fortunate than themselves, Beckley reminded the students of such encounters they have had with “persons, surprisingly like ourselves, who have not had the good fortune to receive the institutional and personal support that has enabled us to be here today.

“All of us know persons who have made mistakes for which they were at least partially responsible and who have not been granted the fraternal correction and forgiveness that we have needed on numerous occasions in order for us to celebrate this day,” he said. “Even the honor that we value and cherish is possible, insofar as we embody it, largely because of the institution and our friends who support and expect honorable behavior.”

These experiences with others recall our sense of dependence on others, Beckley said, adding: “Perhaps most importantly, these memories help us realize that despite our differences from who struggle, usually in anonymity, we and they are united by what I am willing to call grace.”

We are, Beckley said, all touched by grace, and we all depend upon others. And as a consequence, we should feel obligated “to sustain the interactive and interdependent care that has brought us to this day.”

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

W&L Celebrates 226th Undergraduate Commencement on May 23

Washington and Lee University celebrates its 226th undergraduate commencement on Thursday, May 23, awarding bachelor’s degrees to slightly more than 400 members of the Class of 2013.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the historic Front Lawn in front of Lee Chapel. Washington and Lee’s Robert A. Strong, interim provost and the William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics, will present the principal commencement address to the graduates.

Strong has served as interim provost for the past two years. A 1970 graduate of Kenyon College, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He joined the W&L faculty in 1989 as head of the Department of Politics. He conducts research on the presidency and American foreign policy. Prior to being named interim provost, he had been associate provost since 2008. He recently received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to serve as the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin during the 2013–14 academic year.

Steele Burrow, who served as the 2012-13 president of the Executive Committee of the student body, will deliver remarks on behalf of his classmates. Burrow is a politics major from Dallas, Texas.

The commencement activities will begin on Wednesday, May 22, with the traditional baccalaureate service, also held on the Front Lawn, at 10 a.m.

Harlan Beckley, director of the Shepherd Poverty Program and the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion, will be the baccalaureate speaker.

Beckley has taught in the Department of Religion at W&L since 1974. In 1997, he helped to create and design the Shepherd Program and became its first director. He now directs the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, which comprises about 20 colleges and universities that have developed poverty programs. A graduate of the University of Illinois in economics, Beckley received a Ph.D. in Christian theological ethics from Vanderbilt University.

In the event of rain, the events will take place in Cameron Hall at Virginia Military Institute.

During the commencement ceremony, the University will recognize five retiring members of the faculty: Bruce Boller, visiting professor of physics; Robert J. deMaria, professor of journalism and mass communications; J. Holt Merchant, the Martin and Brooke Stein Professor of History; Michael Pleva, the Robert Lee Telford Endowed Professor of Chemistry; and Vaughan Stanley, associate professor and director of Special Collections in Leyburn Library. Those five have served the University for a total of 173 years.

Among this year’s seniors will be a record 21 who are receiving both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts. In addition, 31.8 percent of the class will have completed more than one major, and one student will have completed three majors. In the fourth year of students graduating with minors, two students will have, for the first time, completed two majors and two minors. The graduates represent 38 states plus the District of Columbia and 14 countries.

Among this year’s outstanding graduates are students receiving special honors and highly competitive scholarships.

Six students have won awards through the prestigious Fulbright Program for postgraduate study or teaching abroad: Derek Arthur George Barisas (Iceland), Kendré S. Barnes (Panama), Max Laitman Chapnick (New Zealand), Bethany Anne Reynolds (China), Rachel Lynn Urban (Bangladesh) and Isaac Daniel Webb (Ukraine).

Mikel Dylan Wilner won a Venture for America Fellowship, which provides two years of work and mentoring as an entrepreneur with American start-up companies.

Details on all activities are available on the Commencement website. Commencement exercises will be streamed live on the web at http://new.livestream.com/wlu/ugrad-2013.

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

Sigma Nu Fraternity Wins Power-Down Competition

When other competitors in the Spring Power Down Challenge at Washington and Lee University started to gain on the Sigma Nu fraternity, members turned to drastic measures by opting to live in the dark.

No wisecracks, please. It worked.

Sigma Nu won a close victory with a 26 percent reduction in energy use over runner-up Gilliam Residence Hall, which racked up an impressive 24 percent reduction. Kappa Alpha fraternity won third place with a reduction of 21 percent.

The Power Down Challenge was the creation of W&L’s Energy Education Program and aimed to engage students in conserving energy in creative ways. It lasted for one week in May, and every building that participated was measured against its own previous electrical use through utility meters.

According to Carl (Alex) Retzloff, a sophomore and Sigma Nu house manager and assistant treasurer, support for the challenge was lackluster at first, with some members thinking it a pointless exercise. But once the numbers started rolling in via Twitter feeds from W&L’s Energy Education Specialists Jane Stewart and Morris Trimmer, and members could see how much they had decreased their power consumption, everyone started to pitch in, trying to cut a greater percentage of power each day.

They turned off all the lights during the day, and at night when everyone was asleep. They turned off air conditioners and fans and turned their computers off when not in use. When the competition heated up and that was no longer enough, members encouraged their chef to limit her power consumption as best she could, cutting off the exhaust fan at the end of the day and turning off lights in the kitchen when she was out running errands, Finally, they just lived in the dark, prompting some members to compare it to reenacting the Blitz.

All the campus housing took part in the challenge, from dormitories and theme houses to fraternities and sororities. The Lee House, home to President Kenneth P. Ruscio and his family, also joined the competition, although the timing was unfortunate for them, since the first two days of the competition coincided with the many events they hosted during alumni weekend. “The Ruscios didn’t win, but they were enthusiastic and are eager to be role models on how to conserve electricity,” said Energy Education Specialist Stewart.

Stewart noted that many buildings made a concerted effort to reduce energy consumption, and that while lights in dormitories are usually left on during the day, they were quickly extinguished for the competition.

Another change Stewart noticed was that fraternity house porch lights were not constantly burning. “During challenge week, the problem of porch lights being left on was almost completely gone, which was fantastic,” said Stewart. “It showed that people who weren’t doing particularly well in the competition were still paying attention to things that they usually don’t notice.”

Stewart and Trimmer posted daily updates on their Energy Education website of how each of the competitors was faring, and broadcast the results on monitors in W&L’s Elrod Commons. And as a result of their first foray into connecting with students via Twitter, their small number of followers doubled during challenge week. “It was a fun way to interact with the students,” said Stewart, “and it seemed like people were waiting for the daily results and re-tweeting them.”

The prize for winning the Spring Power Down Challenge was an ice cream sundae party at Lee House, hosted by President and Mrs. Ruscio and sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs, which Stewart credited for its support and for promoting the competition among students.

“Everyone in the Sigma Nu fraternity was extremely excited and proud to have won,” said Retzloff. “And they were astounded when they realized how much they had cut energy consumption. I think it was both a rewarding and enlightening—no pun intended—experience for everyone.

“Now, having won, we are ready for next year and hope to shatter this year’s record by hitting that sacred 30 percent reduction mark.”

In the meantime, Retzloff expects students at Sigma Nu to continue to limit power consumption, albeit by a smaller percentage. He recalled that one of the fraternity members commented to him that before the Power Down Challenge, he never bothered to turn off lights in his room or in common areas when they were not occupied, but that now he can’t help but turn everything off. “It’s crazy,” he told Retzloff, “I just can’t stop myself.”

The Washington and Lee Energy Education Program is an energy management and conservation initiative that works to change the personal behavior, institutional habits and collective culture at W&L to significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed on campus. Further information can be found at the department’s website.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Jackie Yarbro Named Winner of the Decade Award

Jackie Yarbro from Suwanee, Ga., a member of the Class of 2015 at Washington and Lee University, has been selected as the winner of this year’s Decade Award.

The award is given to a rising junior who has shown involvement and leadership at W&L, in both academic and extracurricular activities, and has furthered discussions of women’s issues on campus and beyond.

Yarbro is a philosophy and religion double major, with a minor in women and gender studies. She is founder and co-president of the new Campus Culture Initiative, which works to foster closer social relationships among W&L men and women.

“Campus Culture Initiative is an organization that works to bridge the gender divide present on Washington and Lee’s campus,” said Yarbro. “We provide programming that helps students in different sororities, fraternities and those without Greek affiliation interact outside of the classroom.”

She is treasurer of the Panhellenic Council, was a Rho Gamma helping freshmen women going through recruitment and is president of Washington and Lee’s Mock Trial. Yarbro belongs to Chi Omega sorority and the peer tutoring program. She appeared as Rosalind in “As You Like It,” was projector technician for “MacBeth” and assistant director for “MacBeth Jr.”

Yarbro is part of the Law School Mentorship Program, attended the Women’s Leadership Summit during the winter term 2012 and has just been named to a yearlong appointment to the Student Faculty Hearing Board.

“Jackie recognizes what is positive about living in a small community like W&L, and seeks to enhance the sense of community for which there is already a foundation,” said Melina Bell, associate professor of philosophy at W&L.  “She also  acknowledges the ways in which W&L culture could reflect a more cohesive and inclusive community, and she is committed to making that vision, shared by many of her peers, a reality  through her excellent leadership.”

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Julie Cline
News Writer

W&L Law Grad's Work with Children's Organizations Highlighted

Kerry Wilson, a 1981 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, is the subject of this week’s Monday Profile in The Ledger of Winter Haven, Fla.

Kerry, a Winter Haven native, recently became president of 6/10 Corp., an investment company. He has been a lawyer with Peterson & Myers in his hometown since 1987, and his practice has primarily involved structuring business deals. “I’ve always felt good about closing a deal,” he told the Ledger. “The client is happy and wants to pay you.”

The Ledger profile also spotlights Kerry’s work with several organizations that help children in the Winter Haven area. He has served on the board of the Citrus Center Boys & Girls Clubs and has twice been the organization’s president. According to the article, Kerry spent plenty of time in the Boys Club when he was growing up and said that he saw the club save some kids’ lives.

In addition, he was a founding director and president of Speak Up for Children in the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Inc., which promotes guardian representation for all of the abused, neglected or abandoned children in a three-county area of Florida.

Kerry and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons: Max, who graduated from W&L in 1999, and Calder.

Jim Rallo, Class of 1988, Named CFO of the Year

James M. Rallo, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1988, was honored last week when the Tech Council of Maryland named him its CFO of the Year during TCM’s 25th Annual Tech Awards Celebration.

Since 2005, Jim has served as chief financial officer and treasurer of Liquidity Services, which is based in Washington D.C. and offers online auction marketplaces for surplus, salvage and scrap assets in the U.S.

According to a story about the awards, Jim won recognition for “his strong financial leadership through his company’s tremendous growth, managing the organization through mergers and significant expansion of its staff.” The report went on to note that since Jim joined the company, Liquidity Services has acquired nine companies in the U.S., Canada, Asia and Europe, and has increased sales more than 10 times and profits more than 20 times.

Before he joined Liquidity Services, Jim served as CFO and treasurer of Sleep Services of America Inc. and vice president of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown’s Healthcare Investment Banking Group.

In addition to his W&L degree, Jim holds an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland. Earlier this month, Jim joined classmate and co-chair Baker Gentry to present the Class of 1988’s 25th reunion gift of $2 million to W&L during the Generals’ Assembly in Lee Chapel.

W&L Faculty to Present Collaborative Project at LAWDI Institute

Rebecca Benefiel, associate professor of classics at Washington and Lee University, and Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at W&L, will present their prototype of a new web application involving the ancient graffiti of Pompeii at the Linked Ancient World Data Institute (LAWDI) later this month.

“It’s a great honor,” said Benefiel, “because this institute has been organized by leading figures in the field of digital humanities; it is being sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is designed specifically for projects that are working with the ancient world . This is a very competitive field and we’re thrilled that our project was selected to participate.”

The institute will bring together an international group of humanities scholars, library and museum professionals, communications and IT specialists, and advanced graduate students who are implementing and planning projects using digital resources (digital humanities).

Benefiel’s ongoing research into ancient graffiti has received significant acclaim. She explained how difficult it is to visualize precisely where certain graffiti were located in Pompeii since much wall-plaster, and sometimes even the walls themselves, have now crumbled away. In addition, the graffiti are recorded only briefly and in the two-dimensional format of books, with little visual or spatial documentation. This makes it difficult to get a sense of their aesthetics or relationships to each other, let alone to have a clear idea of where they occur in the city. So she proposed creating a visual interactive model where one could, for example, identify all the graffiti that came from a particular location.

Benefiel is also a supervisor for the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (EAGLE), a large international federation of different epigraphic databases that aims to reassess all Latin and Greek inscriptions up to the seventh century A.D., digitize them and make them available online. EAGLE is based primarily in Europe, with two main centers at the University of Rome (La Sapienza) and the University of Heidelberg. Professor Benefiel’s W&L classics students are the first American students to participate in the project and have added more than 200 inscriptions to the database already.

“EAGLE is designed so you can search any inscribed text from the classical world,” said Benefiel, “but some of my graffiti consist of inscribed drawings as well, and I wanted to figure out a way to visualize inscriptions in an ancient city that was able to work with both text and images.”

So Benefiel approached Sprenkle to create a program that would allow researchers to search topographically for graffiti by location.

“Neither one of us came to this project with much of a sense of the other’s academic field,” said Benefiel, “but Sara has been great at explaining her ideas and she’s very good at asking the right questions. As we worked through our ideas, additional questions surfaced, so the last six months have really been an ongoing process of working out how we envision the design of the project, what sort of scale we want it to be and how this project would work in coordination with EAGLE.”

Benefiel’s students prepared and entered the inscriptions during the winter term, creating the building blocks for the prototype. Then students in Sprenkle’s Spring Term computer science course built an interface that can search all the inscriptions of one city-block of Pompeii. The resulting project draws on both teams’ efforts and will be demonstrated at the LAWDI institute this summer.

“It’s been a great incentive for my computer science students to know that someone will actually be looking at this project,” said Sprenkle.

With the new interface, a researcher can search by location or keywords to look at the graffiti inside a particular building and can then see the text and images alongside each other. “It’s a different type of search,” explained Han Gil (Paul) Jang, a sophomore computer science and math double major from Oro Valley, Ariz., and one of four students who worked on the project. “I learned what we can actually do in terms of developing web applications, bringing in other people’s work and incorporating it into our project.”

Jin (Ginny) Huang also worked on the project and is a junior computer science and math double major from China. “What I really like about this class is that it provides a platform for us to use our programs and communicate with a lot of other users. We’ll put it on the internet and everybody can use it, even the non-technical people, which feels very nice” she said.

The other students who worked on the project are Onyebuchi (Onye) Ekenta, a sophomore mathematics and computer science double major from Lehigh Acres, Fla., and Anton Reed, a junior computer science and economics double major from East McKeesport, Pa.

The classics students who contributed to the project are Jacob Bowe ’15, Emily Crawford ’15, Caroline Hutchinson ’16, and Amy Nizolek, Vergil Parson, Caroline Sutherland, Angela Tuminno, and Joshua Zacks (all W&L Class of 2013).

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Frank O’Reilly ’87 Lectures at VMI on May 19

Our next-door neighbor, Virginia Military Institute, is hosting a lecture this Sunday, May 19, at 3:15 p.m, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson, who taught there before gaining fame as a military leader during the Civil War. The keynote speaker, though, is a graduate of Washington and Lee: Frank O’Reilly, a National Park Service historian.

Frank, of the Class of 1987, is based at Virginia’s Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park. He frequents the lecture circuit, has contributed to several documentaries, and has written two books: “Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg” (1993) and “The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock” (2003). That volume won several prizes.

The lecture is a kind of homecoming for Frank. According to the VMI story about the lecture and related events, “Frank began his career as an historian by acting as a weekend tour guide at the Stonewall Jackson House while he was an undergraduate at Washington and Lee,” said Michael Lynn, the site director of the Stonewall Jackson House. “He’s gone on to a long and distinguished career.”

As for the topic of Frank’s lecture, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, he taught at VMI but lived on the W&L campus when he was married to Elinor Junkin, the daughter of the college’s then president, George Junkin. Wed in August 1853, the couple occupied the small northern portion of what we call today the Lee-Jackson House, a wing built just for them. Elinor died in childbirth in October 1854. The Lees lived there from 1865 to 1869. It has since served as administrative offices and the home of the dean of students. It now houses the office of the dean of the College.

NPR Features W&L Visiting Law Professor Judy Clarke

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition Sunday aired a profile of Judy Clarke, visiting professor of law at Washington and Lee who has been appointed to defend alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The report, which ran on May 13, 2013, included interviews with visiting law professor Jonathan Shapiro, who teaches a course with Clarke, and Christina Becker, a 2013 law graduate who was a student in Clarke’s class.

Listen to the story at http://myw.lu/17h1mLY.

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W&L Senior Jonathan Stutts Wins Boehling Memorial Award

Senior Jonathan Stutts, of Charlotte, N.C., has won the Alexander Thomas Boehling ’10 Memorial Award at Washington and Lee University.

The Boehling Award, selected by the vice president for student affairs, honors a senior for his or her campus leadership.

Stutts, an economics major, is co-executive director of W&L Student Consulting, which provides pro bono consulting services to for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and community organizations. He has worked with WLSC for the past three years, serving as a member of the James Moore Real Estate team his sophomore year and project leader of the End the Horrible Hire team his junior year. In addition, he co-hosts “The Wheelhouse,” a weekly sports talk show on WLUR-FM.

A three-time all-Old Dominion Athletic Conference baseball player, Stutts organized the a breast-cancer awareness event in conjunction with a Generals baseball doubleheader, which raised more than $3,500 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Stutts, a shortstop and the Generals’ captain, completed his four-year career with the most hits in Generals’ history, 189. As a junior, he won both the Coach Joseph F. Lyles Baseball Award (for unselfish dedication and contribution) and the Tommy Baker Batting Award (for highest batting average). As a senior, he finished third in the ODAC batting with a .403 average and second in slugging percentage at .676. He led the league in on-base percentage at .485.

“His professors were uniformly complimentary of Jonathan’s work and his leadership,” said Sidney Evans, dean of students and vice president for student affairs. “They comment on his ability to juggle his responsibilities as a varsity athlete and other leadership roles while maintaining a strong academic record.

“In addition, I found him to be conscientious, persistent, thoughtful and engaging in working with him directly on the baseball team’s breast cancer awareness event.  He is clearly a leader both on and off the baseball field.”

The Boehling Award was established in 2012 by classmates, fellow students, friends and family following Alex Boehling ’10’s death in March 2011 from a congenital condition of the nervous system. The award celebrates Alex’s passion for W&L and the concept of leadership. It is presented near Commencement each year to recognize a senior undergraduate leader who demonstrates commitment to the mission of the University and the concept of leadership. Alex was valedictorian of his high school in Edenton, NC and a refounding brother of Beta Theta Pi, serving as recruitment chairman and vice-president. He was also vice president of the IFC and president of W&L’s Rugby Club.

The first winner of the award was Gregory “Woodie” Hillyard, of the Class of 2012.

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

Pickett Named New Director of W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program

Howard Pickett has been named director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee University.

Pickett will succeed the program’s founding director, Harlan Beckley, at the end of the academic year.

Robert Strong, interim provost at Washington and Lee, announced the appointment, which is effective July 1.

“We are happy that Howard is able to accept this important position,” said Strong. “He has taught in the Shepherd Program for the past two years and is very familiar with the program and the students who participate in it.”

Although Beckley will step down as director of the program, he will remain at W&L next year and manage the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), which comprises about 20 colleges and universities that are introducing poverty studies into their curricula.

The Shepherd Program began in 1997 and integrates academic study and learning through service and reflection. Poverty and human capability studies has grown into the largest minor at the University, giving students the opportunity to acquire skills and qualities of character that dispose them to serve communities and disadvantaged individuals.

Pickett is currently an adjunct professor in the Shepherd Program, having taught in the program since 2011. He was previously adjunct instructor in religious studies at the University of Virginia, where he received both his master’s degree and Ph.D. in religious studies.

A graduate of Millsaps College, where he majored in religious studies and classics, Pickett taught philosophy and English at the Brentwood School, in Los Angeles, where he also chaired the Interdisciplinary Senior Seminar Department.

In 2010, he won the Religious Studies Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Virginia and was a BB&T Teaching Fellow in Business, Ethics and Society at U.Va.

Pickett is a member of the vestry and chair of the stewardship committee of R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church, in Lexington.

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

W&L's Warren Writes Introduction to Limited-Edition Book

A fine-press, limited-edition collection of six short stories by Barry Lopez, the prize-winning American author, essayist and fiction writer, features an introduction by James (Jim) Warren, the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University.

“Outside” (Nawakum Press, 2013) was designed and illustrated by Barry Moser, the renowned American book designer, printmaker and illustrator, and includes 11 engravings by Moser.

“I’m so proud and humbled by the production of this gorgeous book,” said Warren, who is writing a book about Lopez. “I am very lucky to have been asked to write the introduction. This is not exactly the normal faculty publication.”

Only 12 copies of a deluxe edition ($3,500) and 28 of a slip-cased edition ($2,200) are available for purchase.

The spine and fore edges of the deluxe edition are black Levant goatskin, and the side panels are made of copper Asahi book cloth. On the spine, the title is stamped in gold on a red leather inlay. The front of the book features an accent of recessed Sycamore veneer and black leather. The deluxe edition includes a portfolio containing all 11 prints from the book, and both editions are numbered and signed by the author and the artist.

The book is printed by letterpress on an archival sheet, and the engravings are printed directly from the blocks on handmade Gampi Torinko, a legendary paper from Japan.

The short stories are drawn from Lopez’s “Notes” trilogy, which he wrote over 20 years, from 1967 to 1994, with stories from “Desert Notes,” “River Notes” and “Field Notes.” Lopez is best known for his book “Arctic Dreams,” which won the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1986, as well as for “Of Wolves and Men,” which won the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing.

“Some people would say Barry is a nature writer, but he resists that label,” said Warren. “He is a storyteller, both in his fiction and non-fiction, and tries to tell stories that connect human beings to the physical landscape in many different ways, but especially through the imagination. He shows how human beings can belong to and flourish in a place for centuries, and the people that he’s drawn to believe in the collective wisdom of their culture and have a very deeply spiritual view of the land.”

Warren has known Lopez since 2001, when Lopez visited Washington and Lee through W&L’s Glasgow Endowment, which was established by the late Arthur G. Glasgow for the “promotion of the expression of art through pen and tongue.”

Lopez returned to W&L in the spring of 2007 as the first Glynn Family Scholar, through the John and Barbara Glynn Family Professorship, established in 2001 to fund annually a visiting professor who is an accomplished scholar and teacher.

Lopez stayed on campus for two weeks and gave three public performances. He also taught a course for a handpicked group of 10 students and team-taught a Spring Term course with Warren and John Knox, emeritus professor of biology, on field biogeography. “He was a wonderful visitor, and, although it was not in his contract, he was with us all day, every day, even out in the field,” said Warren.

The book is available at the Nawakum website.

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Alumni Bring Their Experience to Stroke Awareness Month

Two alumni, Rick Dunlap and Andrew Asimos, became acquainted while they worked out at the Harris YMCA, in Charlotte, N.C., where Rick is the director of financial development. They got a kick out of the discovery that they’d both graduated from W&L, Rick in 1970 and Andrew in 1984. Last December, the day after one of their conversations at the Y, they met up under more dramatic circumstances, this time at Andrew’s workplace—the Emergency Stroke Care Center at the Carolinas Medical Center.

Rick had experienced a stroke while having dinner with a quick-witted friend, who recognized the symptoms. The ambulance took him to the center, which Andrew directs. “I wasn’t even scheduled to be in the area Rick was in,” Andrew told News 14 Carolina. “I just heard the page and thought I should go over and see if I could help out at all.” Once he got there, he was astonished to find his friend from the YMCA. “I said to everyone in the room, believe it or not, I was speaking to this guy, literally yesterday morning.”

Andrew immediately treated Rick with t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator), a drug that can restore blood flow to the brain. Just three days later, Rick was out of the hospital. “I have seen and experienced and lived a true miracle,” he said in a video produced by the Carolinas HealthCare system.

The friends are telling their saga as part of National Stroke Awareness Month. In addition to the story on the local TV station, they are conducting stroke-awareness clinics at the Y and appear in the succinct but hard-hitting video.

W&L's Ballenger Discusses Online Tax Debate on WDBJ

Robert Ballenger, professor of business administration and a specialist in e-commerce issues, discussed the Marketplace Fairness Act in an interview with WDBJ-TV in Roanoke on May 14, 2013.

Ballenger’s interview can be seen at http://myw.lu/10yIkZ7.

W&L's Locy's MSNBC Column on Justice Department and AP

Washington and Lee University journalism professor Toni Locy is the author of a column on MSNBC in response to reports that the Justice Department examined phone records of Associated Press reporters.

Locy, the Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting and a journalist for more than 25 years, wrote: “In the coming days, reporters should be relentless in figuring out whether the Justice Department followed its rules, 28 CFR 50.10, in obtaining and executing the AP subpoena.”

Read Locy’s commentary on MSNBC: http://myw.lu/19trhwD

Media Coverage for W&L Aerial Dance Class

Several Roanoke media outlets featured Washington and Lee’s Spring Term aerial dance class, which held its concert on the wall of Wilson Hall on May 15 and 16.

Stories about the class and the performance appeared in the following:

WVTF Public Radio: http://myw.lu/16A5vuy

WSLS-TV: http://myw.lu/18Lj3CB

WDBJ-TV: http://myw.lu/12v37Rq

WSET-TV: http://myw.lu/13oK6xB

Roanoke Times: http://myw.lu/13v98yK

Kendré Barnes Awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Panama

Washington and Lee University senior Kendré Barnes, of Omaha, Neb., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Panama.

The ETA will give Barnes the opportunity to teach English at a university and work with a non-profit that specializes in alleviating childhood poverty in Panama’s most impoverished regions.  “I knew that I needed to take some time off before graduate school in order to see if I want to pursue a university-level teaching career in the future,” Barnes said.

She chose Panama for a variety of reasons. “I have a particular academic interest in questions concerning race, identity, poverty and the experience of diaspora and marginalized communities in the literature of the Spanish-speaking world. Panama seemed like the perfect place for me to pursue my intellectual interests while gaining teaching experience.”

Teaching English abroad has appealed to Barnes for a long time. “As an English and Spanish major, I believe teaching English is more than just instructing someone about the linguistic and grammatical rules,” she said. “Rather, teaching English is about exposing the world to the various people, perspectives and voices that make up the ‘United States experience,’ which is part of a larger American (North, Central and South) and global story. In my opinion, literature is the most illuminating and perceptive way to do this.”

“Kendré will enrich her classroom teaching with cultural expression from the U.S.,” said Matthew Bailey, professor of Romance Languages. “Her love for literature and music will enable her to share a wide range of American cultural expressions with her students, from African-American writers to a wide variety of traditional and popular music. The cultural component that Kendré will bring to the classroom will no doubt generate enthusiasm and a deeper curiosity for American culture.”

Barnes lived in Buenos Aires during the summer of 2012, as a Shepherd Alliance Intern, learning about the country’s poverty and assisting families who come to the city for medical treatment. She also taught English classes to women and children there. As a peer counselor at W&L, she aids first years during the transition period from high school to college, providing an ear for students during times of crisis. She also participated in Green Dot Bystander Training to help the campus lower the rate of sexual assaults and to demonstrate a commitment to speaking out against such violations.

Barnes belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa, serves as co-chair of the Nabors Service League and has received the John Rugel Memorial Scholarship, Henry Louis Smith Scholarship, Barritt-Williams Prize in Spanish, Johnson Opportunity Grant and the Wornom Award for Distinguished Critical Writing from the English Department. During Spring Term 2013, she currently is a WLUR DJ presenting “The Flamenco Hour.”

“Kendré’s work with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at W&L has allowed her to show how she would approach teaching, especially the methods she would use to help gain the trust and attention of impoverished and marginalized students,” said Bailey. “For her post-Fulbright plans, teaching at the university level in Panama, and continuing her work with children in poverty, will be invaluable experiences that will continue to shape her life.”

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

W&L Senior Releases Dance-Beat EP

Closing in on their May 23 graduation from Washington and Lee University, every senior has a portfolio of accomplishments they’ll take along when they leave Lexington. Joe Sussingham, of Lakeland, Fla., may be the only one, however, with a new, four-song EP that’s the subject of a Huffington Post item.

Joe and his duo partner, Bryce Bresnan, who attends Florida’s New College, call themselves Coyote Kisses. “Thundercolor” is their second recording; their first, “Acid Wolfpack,” came out in February 2012.

They met in high school, with Joe on guitar and Bryce on keyboards. They started off as a “lo-fi punk band,” as Bryce told the Huffington Post, and moved on to “electro/synth pop” and then “hard electronic dance music.”

While they’re busy at school in different states, they compose music at night and on the weekends. When they are both home in Florida for breaks, they enjoy “little music binges.”

“We feel like we are about to depart on a journey, so the music has a dreamy, emotional, wide-eyed feel. That’s how we’re feeling right now,” Bryce, speaking for both of them, told the Huffington Post. With graduation nearly here, those words seem apt.

You can read the entire interview here, and you can listen to “Thundercolor” on SoundCloud (login required).

W&L Tax Clinic Receives IRS Grant for Sixth Straight Year

The Tax Clinic at the Washington and Lee University School of Law has been awarded a multi-year matching grant from the Internal Revenue Service’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic program (LITC).

This year’s grant of $70,000, the largest in the Clinic’s history, will help fund the Clinic for the 2013 calendar year. This is the sixth straight year that the Tax Clinic has received federal dollars to support its efforts.

“We are grateful for the continued support of the LITC grant program,” said Michelle Drumbl, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Tax Clinic. “Our clinic students enjoy the opportunity to advocate for their clients while learning tax procedure and preparing to enter the legal profession.”

Law students working in the Tax Clinic provide free legal representation to low-income taxpayers in resolving their controversies with the Internal Revenue Service. The Clinic is not involved in routine tax preparation, but the students do help with audits and a wide array of collections issues.

The work of the Tax Clinic was featured in several recent news stories, including on local NPR affiliate WVTF and in the Roanoke Times.

The Tax Clinic serves the entire state of Virginia. At least 90% of the clients represented by the clinic are “low-income”, meaning their incomes do not exceed 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines published annually by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, a family of four making less than $58,875 per year is eligible to use the Tax Clinic’s services.

The LITC grant program is administered by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which operates independently of any other IRS office and reports directly to Congress through the National Taxpayer Advocate. Likewise, clinics funded by the grant program remain completely independent of and are not associated with the federal government. The LITC grant program was created as part of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.

W&L Law Professor Jonathan Shapiro in Christian Science Monitor

Jonathan Shapiro, visiting professor of law at Washington and Lee, was cited in a Christian Science Monitor story that examined how media leaks might impact a trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Shapiro was one of the attorneys in the D.C. Beltway sniper case.

Read the Monitor story here: http://myw.lu/17Zt7q7

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Alumni Named Finalists for Prestigious Business Award

Two members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2000 — Stephanie Leffler and Ryan Noble — are Central Midwest finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year awards, which are billed as the most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.

According to an announcement of the honor, Ernst & Young annually recognizes business leaders whose contributions inspire people with their leadership, vision and achievement. Each finalist from the Central Midwest region in this year’s awards grew their individual company’s employment numbers by over 12 percent in 2012, and revenues by 24 percent between 2010 and 2012.

Stephanie and Ryan founded Juggle.com in 2008 and have grown it from a reference resource website with 10 employees to an umbrella organization with eight different tech companies, including CrowdSource, ROIMedia and ClickableNames. Today Juggle.com has more than 50 team members and builds websites, software and services to help businesses save time and money.

In describing the company’s philosophy, Ryan said: “We are continually motivated to find ways to leverage speed and scale to solve internal business problems. The ability to remain forward-thinking and strive to make process improvements is a daily goal within our company.”

Both Stephanie and Ryan have received other honors for their work. Stephanie was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women and also made the magazine’s “40 under 40” list earlier this year, while Ryan became one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 under 30” young entrepreneurs back in 2004.

Juggle is headquartered in Swansea, Ill., about 20 miles from St. Louis.

Bethany Reynolds Awarded Fulbright to China

Bethany Reynolds, of Timonium, Md., a senior at Washington and Lee University, has received a Fulbright research/study grant to China for her project “Acquiring an Education for Migrant Children in Zhejiang Province.”

The idea behind Reynolds’ Fulbright is two-fold.  She will focus on the education of migrant workers’ children, “I also hope to conduct exploratory research on immigrant identity.

“If I can find Spanish-speaking immigrants in my province, I hope to do fieldwork with them, tracking trends in transnationalism and the shifting paradigms of deterritorialization as it relates to the development of one’s cultural identity, all novel fields in cultural anthropology,” she said. “I have always to connect my interests in the Spanish-speaking world and Mandarin-speaking world, so studying the immigrant population in China will enable me to finally bridge those interests.”

Reynolds studied abroad through Middlebury University’s language-immersion program in Hangzhou, China, where she conducted research on migrant workers and their children, alongside sociology Professor Wang Ping of Zhejiang University of Technology. She realized that she could dive even deeper into the issue with her Fulbright by visiting local schools and villages and districts of the city heavily populated by migrants, including Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou and Jinhua.

“Bethany is a student who has been doing liberal arts for the 21st century by applying her proficiency in languages of global significance (Chinese and Spanish) to her social science project abroad on migration between China and Latin America,” said David Bello, associate professor of history.

“This burgeoning population of transitory and marginalized peoples is a critical social issue in China today,” Reynolds continued in describing the idea and plans for her Fulbright grant.  “Some statistics say 10-15 percent of China’s population is of migrant status; so their issues of identity development, educational opportunity, assimilation into urban society and lack of welfare provisions (among others) are becoming increasingly relevant to China’s future wellbeing.

Reynolds is an East Asian languages and literature major with a concentration in Chinese. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman National Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, the W&L Singers and the Dean’s List. She works for W&L’s Tucker Multimedia Center in the language/humanities lab and is an advanced pianist.

She is the founder of Preparing for Tomorrow, a biannual series of discussion forums aimed at educating W&L about contemporary global issues. She presented a research paper to the Society for Applied Anthropology in March 2013 on her work at the NCSU Ethnographic Field School in Guatemala (summer 2012).

Post-Fulbright, she plans to enroll in an M.A./Ph.D. program for sociocultural anthropology, specializing in China, and then enter academia, consulting or NGO-work.

“Her Fulbright award has confirmed for me that, as the Chinese saying goes, ‘青出于蓝,而胜于蓝,’ (the student has surpassed the teacher),” said Bello. “She’s truly plugged into two of the right cultures during the right century.”

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Isaac Webb Awarded Fulbright to Ukraine

Washington and Lee University senior Isaac Webb, of Portland, Maine, has received a Fulbright research/study grant to the Ukraine for his project “Disability and Invisibility: Human Rights for the Handicapped in Soviet Ukraine from Brezhnev to Gorbachev.”

“I became interested in the disabled through my work at the Magnolia Center with W&L’s Campus Kitchen,” Webb said. “Through my coursework in Russian Area Studies and history, I learned about the Soviet Union’s often inhuman treatment of the disabled.  The Fulbright presents an interesting opportunity to investigate the impulses behind this treatment and will hopefully raise questions about society’s obligations to its most vulnerable citizens.”

Webb will review records in various places, mostly in Kiev, including the Central State Archive of the Highest Organs of Government and Administration of Ukraine to research the agencies of health care, insurance, social welfare and education to understand how the Soviet government handled the problem of disability in Ukraine.

Webb also will study the Central State Archive of Public Organizations of Ukraine’s records to determine if and how the Central Committee and various public organizations considered disability.  He will also examine other archives, letters and newspaper articles to understand Ukrainian disability better.

“I will investigate whether the provision of social welfare benefits to the disabled in the Ukrainian republic differed from the provision of these benefits the Russian republic,” Webb said.

“Isaac has combined his deep interest in, and concern for, the disabled with his fascination of the Slavic world,” said Richard Bidlack, W&L professor of history. “He has already studied in three different language programs in Russia and just completed a superb history honors thesis, based on unpublished Russian archival materials, on a dissident group that sought to protect the rights of the disabled in the late Soviet era.  Now, as a Fulbright scholar, he will extend his study of grass-roots advocacy for the disabled to Soviet Ukraine in the 1980s.”

“The World Bank calculates that the disabled represent 15 percent of the world’s population,” Webb said. “Yet, although the field of disability studies has been expanding, the disabled remain an understudied segment of the population. This is particularly true of the disabled in former Soviet states.”

Webb will study the Soviet state’s treatment of the disabled, exploring what this reveals about human rights in an authoritarian state. “I hope that this analysis will both advance our understanding of the history of human rights and contribute to the conversation about human rights in contemporary Eastern Europe,” Webb added.

A history and Russian Area Studies double major, Webb has received honors in history and the Elizabeth Garrett Scholarship for Excellence in History. He was awarded a Johnson Opportunity Grant for the summer of 2012 when he worked at the Memorial Society in Moscow, examining the relationship between disabled veterans living in Moscow after World War II. He was a Marshall Undergraduate Scholar and belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

He was overall student coordinator for Volunteer Venture Pre-orientation Program, a leader on the Campus Kitchen Leadership Team, manager of Campus Garden Operations for Campus Kitchen, a driver for Traveller Safe Ride Program and a student representative to the International Education Committee. He studied at the Middlebury College C.V. Starr School in Moscow in spring and winter 2013.

“Isaac is an immensely capable and thoughtful student,” said Anna Brodsky, W&L associate professor of Russian. “He has a high sense of purpose and profound dedication to his work. He studied in Russia through various study abroad programs and was a recipient of a prestigious Critical Languages Scholarship and Marshall Undergraduate Scholarship from the George C. Marshall Foundation. As a result, Isaac’s Russian has reached fluency and his understanding of Russian culture has become truly impressive.”

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Documentary by John Dean ’76 Tells Story of an Innocent Man

Recent headlines out of Texas tell the sorry tale of a former county district attorney under arrest for allegedly hiding evidence, thus convicting an innocent man of murder. Now free after nearly 25 years in prison, that man is the subject of a new documentary, “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story.” One of its co-producers and co-writers is John Dean, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1976.

W&L’s Department of Theater and Dance is sponsoring a showing of “An Unreal Dream” in the Stackhouse Theater on Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m.

John, of Kerrville, Texas, has combined a career in the oil and gas industry with a career as a filmmaker. In the latter capacity, as a visiting assistant professor of theater, he teaches a course at W&L in motion picture screenwriting. In 2004 and 2005, he brought to campus WorldFest Lexington, a showcase of independent films that had first appeared at the Houston International Film Festival.

John’s other credits include writing a 2009 movie called “God Thinks You’re a Loser,” which won the Experimental Award of Merit from the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood; and producing “22 Hours,” a 2008 short film. According to IMDB, John pulled double duty in “22 Hours” with his acting role as “Man in Hat.”

“An Unreal Dream” arrives in Lexington on the heels of its premiere this past January at the famed South by Southwest, in Austin, Texas, where it won the SXSW 2013 Audience Award—Documentary Spotlight. Al Reinert, the director, has won two Academy Awards: for his documentary “For All Mankind” and for his screenplay “Apollo 13.”

“In 1986 Michael Morton’s wife Christine is brutally murdered in front of their only child, and Michael is convicted of the crime,” reads the film’s synopsis. “Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he has years to ponder questions of justice and innocence, truth and fate. Though he is virtually invisible to society, a team of dedicated attorneys spends years fighting for the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene. Their discoveries ultimately reveal that the price of a wrongful conviction goes well beyond one man’s loss of freedom.”

Variety called the film “a stirring story of triumph.” Recent stories about the film and about Michael Morton also appear in the Huffington Post and the Austin American-Statesman. The film’s website contains a bounty of information, as well as a video clip:

School of Law Honors Graduates at 2013 Commencement Ceremony

The Washington and Lee University School of Law celebrated its 158th commencement on Saturday, May 11, awarding 141 juris doctor degrees.

Graduation festivities began Friday afternoon on the Lewis Hall lawn with the annual awards ceremony and presentation of walking sticks. The John W. Davis Prize for Law, awarded to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average, was awarded to Alan James Wenger of Columbia, SC. Three students graduated summa cum laude, 22 graduated magna cum laude, and 19 graduated cum laude. 14 students were named to Order of the Coif, an honorary scholastic society that encourages excellence in legal education. A list of honors and awards appears below.

In addition to achievements in the classroom, the Class of 2013 distinguished itself with its pro bono service to the law and the community. In all, the class completed 11,817 hours of service during this academic year, and 46 students were recognized for completing 100 hours or more of service.

The Student Bar Association Teacher of the Year award was also presented at the awards ceremony. This year’s recipient was Prof. J.D. King, who directs the Criminal Justice Clinic and teaches classes on evidence and criminal procedure.

The commencement ceremony began at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday with an opening invocation by James Thomas Bailey, president of the Law Class of 2013. After the official welcome from President Ken Ruscio and remarks from Dean Nora Demleitner, the candidates were awarded their degrees.

Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator and former Governor from Virginia, delivered this year’s commencement address. In his remarks, Kaine said that while the newly graduated lawyers may not fully grasp it now, “one of the great things about having a law degree is the degree to which it puts you in position to be someone’s hero.”

Kaine related the story of Virginia Tech engineering professor Livlu Librescu, who was killed during the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007. Librescu prevented the gunman from entering his classroom in Norris Hall while all but one of his students successfully escaped through a window.

Kaine described how Librescu, before he saved his classroom of students, had survived the Holocaust and was forbidden to work in Romania when he refused to join the Communist Party.

“I never knew Livlu Librescu personally,” Kaine said. “But I can’t help but think that because of the person he was, he decided what he wanted to be. And he decided he wanted to be a hero.”

Read more about Kaine’s address and hear audio of the speech.

After Kaine’s address, third-year class officers Jim Bailey and Rob Caison presented Senator Kaine with his very own walking stick, traditionally given to students at the awards ceremony preceding graduation. The walking stick, or cane, originated in the 1920’s as a way to distinguish third-year law students on campus. At that time, only two years of law school were required, and the walking stick served as a way to reward and honor those students who stayed for a third year.

Special honors at Friday’s awards ceremony went to the following students:

  • Alan James Wenger was awarded the John W. Davis Prize for Law, given to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average.
  • Steven A. Nunes won the Academic Progress Award for the most satisfactory scholastic progress in the final year.
  • Alexander Michael Sugzda won the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Award for effective trial advocacy.
  • Mary Margret Nerino won the Calhoun Bond University Service Award for significant contributions to the University community.
  • Kathryne Marie Gray and Scott M. Weingart shared in the Frederic L. Kirgis, Jr., International Law Award for excellence in international law.
  • Haley W. Schaefer won the National Association of Women Lawyers Award given to an outstanding woman law student.
  • Christopher Lee Edwards won the Charles V. Laughlin Award for outstanding contributions to the moot court program.
  • Monica Kay Tulchinsky won the Randall P. Bezanson Award for outstanding contributions to diversity in the life of the Law School community.
  • Sabrina Noelle Chester won the Virginia Bar Family Law Section Award for excellence in the area of family law.
  • Thomas Tillman McClendon in the American Bankruptcy Institute Medal for excellence in the study of bankruptcy law.
  • Alan James Wenger won the Barry Sullivan Constitutional Law Award for excellence in constitutional law.
  • Shane Matthew Vandenberg won the James W. H. Stewart Tax Law Award for excellence in tax law.
  • Gordon McLeod Jenkins won the Thomas Carl Damewood Evidence Award for excellence in the area of evidence.
  • Emerald Irene Berg won the A. H. McLeod-Ross Malone Advocacy Award for distinction in oral advocacy.
  • Amy Margaret Conant won the Student Bar Association President Award for services as the President of the Student Bar Association.
  • Alexander Michael Sugzda won the ALI-CLE Scholarship & Leadership Award for the student who best represents the combination of scholarship and leadership.

Summa Cum Laude

Paul Bennett IV
Alan James Wenger
Charles Anthony Wolfe IV

Magna Cum Laude

Daniel Owen Callaghan
Eric Daniel Chapman
Andrew John Cronauer
Kathryne Marie Gray
Claire Marie Hagan
Todd Michael Heffner
Joanna Louise Heiberg
Gordon McLeod Jenkins
Matthias John Kaseorg
Catherine MacMurphy Long
Lisa Alyn Markman
Kimberly M. Marston
Kristopher Richard McClellan
Thomas Tillman McClendon
Chloë Bell McDougal
Kelly Maureen McGuire
Anthony David Raucci
Brandt Haywood Stitzer
Alexander Michael Sugzda
Jeffrey Scott Thomas
Samuel Chase Vinson
Scott M. Weingart

Cum Laude

Joseph Donald Antel
Luther Ray Ashworth II
Brian Douglas Baird
David Richard Bean II
Emerald Irene Berg
Alana Vera Dagher
Douglas Lawrence Dua
Christopher Lee Edwards
Robert Barksdale Hamlett Jr.
Stephen Mackenzie Holland
Britt any M. Hornady
Kyle Russell Hosmer
Tyler James Kaido
Jacob Allen Lewis
Lauren Kimberly Neal
Katie Nicole Reese
Carney Nicole Simpson
Jessica Rae Unger
Shane Matthew Vandenberg

Order of the Coif

Paul Bennett IV
Daniel Owen Callaghan
Joanna Louise Heiberg
Matthias John Kaseorg
Kimberly M. Marston
Kristopher Richard McClellan
Chloë Bell McDougal
Kelly Maureen McGuire
Anthony David Raucci
Brandt Haywood Stitzer
Alexander Michael Sugzda
Scott M. Weingart
Alan James Wenger
Charles Anthony Wolfe IV

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine Urges W&L Law’s 141 Graduates to be Heroes

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, of Virginia, had a simple message for the 141 students who received their juris doctor degrees from Washington and Lee University’s School of Law on Saturday, May 11: “Be someone’s hero.”

Addressing the 158th commencement ceremony in the W&L Law School’s history, Kaine said that while the newly graduated lawyers may not fully grasp it now, “one of the great things about having a law degree is the degree to which it puts you in the position to be someone’s hero.”

• Watch the Commencement Exercises

Weather forced the exercises to be moved from the historic Front Campus into the University’s Warner Center. The change in venue, however, did not dampen the enthusiasm of the graduates, their families and their friends.

Illustrating his message, Kaine related the story of Liviu Librescu, the engineering professor who was killed during the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007. Librescu prevented the gunman from entering his classroom while all but one of his students successfully escaped through a window.

Kaine described how Librescu had survived the Holocaust and had been forbidden to work in his native Romania when he refused to join the Communist Party.

“I never knew Liviu Librescu personally,” Kaine said. “But I can’t help but think that because of the person he was, he decided what he wanted to be. And he decided he wanted to be a hero.”

The good news, Kaine said, is that there are many ways to be a hero that do not involve putting your life on the line, adding that “your law degree gives you the chance to do that.”

Citing the requirement that all Washington and Lee law students must complete 40 hours of community service in order to graduate, Kaine told them that they already had a good start on becoming heroes.

“This class has done 12,000 hours of community service, which, by my calculation, means the average is about 85 hours,” he said. “These students have done, on average, double what they are required to do in public service. It seems like you’re already absorbing the lesson.”

Kaine, who graduated from Harvard Law School 30 years ago, said that few people get to go to work every day and be a hero to someone else.

“But you do,” he told the graduates. “You don’t have to be a Liviu Librescu, risk-your-life hero. You don’t have to be an everyday, full-time, public-interest hero, but whether you are a litigator or whether you are a transaction lawyer or whether you decide to work in the business world or the non-profit world, you have a chance to represent somebody in a case, help a non-profit organization file papers to get their non-profit status so they can do good things, help a family straighten out their financial situations.”

He told the graduates that they would have the opportunity to decide to be a hero again and again, adding that it is “an enormous blessing and an enormous responsibility.”

“W&L tries to inculcate the value of being a hero, but, at this point, that is the everyday choice that you have to make,” he said. “I am here to urge you to make it your choice throughout your career, because, if you do, you will love the opportunity to be a member of the legal profession.”

In their remarks to the graduates, both W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio and School of Law Dean Nora Demleitner emphasized the difference they believe W&L law graduates bring to the profession.

Demleitner, who presided over her first commencement after becoming the dean in 2012, acknowledged that these are difficult times for young lawyers. “But let me remind you that you are not any lawyer, but a W&L lawyer,” she said. “Why will this make a difference in your future? W&L has a long and proud tradition of educating skillful and ethical lawyers who have the ability to seek not only compensation but justice.”

Added Demleitner: “You are among the most highly educated members of our society, and with that education comes privilege, opportunity—even in difficult economic times—and responsibility. Your first responsibility runs to you. Use your education wisely, build on it and allow others to help you.”

Ruscio closed the ceremony by telling the graduates that their lives should be characterized by “a sense of duty, or obligation, and of a commitment to a greater good.”

Describing the profession of law as a “higher calling,” Ruscio reminded the graduates that the life they have chosen provides them with the capacity to do so much good, “but with real consequences when you do not.”

Ruscio concluded: “Your years at Washington and Lee have prepared you in ways that are not readily apparent today. During our time here, we come to take for granted the benefits of collegiality and civility, or how trust in others leads us to respect for individuals. We tell the truth as a matter of course. When we face a decision about how to behave, we don’t ask first, ‘What are the consequences to me?’ We ask, ‘What is appropriate and right?’ The character of our community develops within us certain habits of the heart.”

The John W. Davis Prize for Law, awarded annually to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average, went to Alan James Wenger, of Columbia, S.C.

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Announcing the Winners of the New Yorker Caption Contest

The results are in and, as Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker, made clear, the results are final.

Marthe Honts, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1997, won the special New Yorker/W&L cartoon caption contest:

Marthe came in just ahead of W&L Registrar Scott Dittman (“We need to talk about where this marriage is going.”). Art Professor Larry Stene won third: “And now for the good news . . . your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.”

The contest ran in conjunction with Mankoff’s presentation in Stackhouse Theater on Thursday, May 9. And that presentation was held in conjunction with a Spring Term course, “The Psychology of Humor,” taught by Julie Woodzicka, professor of psychology.

The cartoon Mankoff chose for the contest is one of his own. His original caption? “Brad, we’ve got to talk.”

As Mankoff explained on Thursday, Marthe’s winning entry was evaluated just the way the “real” New Yorker caption contest is. Mankoff selected about eight finalists and then sent them off to New Yorker editors to cast their votes. Marthe came out on top and, for her humor, will be receiving a signed copy of Mankoff’s book, “The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.”

In addition to describing the way the New Yorker’s caption contest has evolved and expanded over the years, Mankoff discussed the nature of humor and the particular kind of humor New Yorker cartoons represent.

Humor, he said, is extraordinarily subjective:  “Me telling you that what you think is funny isn’t funny is like you saying you like pizza, and me saying, ‘No, you don’t.'”

Surprise is the essential ingredient in humor, Mankoff said. “Surprise is always bad for an organism. You should always predict exactly what’s going to happen. The minute surprise occurs there is a slight negative emotion. Then you find out there’s nothing to worry about in a joke, and you laugh — like a waiter dropping the dishes or a balloon popping. This violates our expectation.”

When it comes to New Yorker cartoons, Mankoff said that they “remove some of the main levers by which we’re funny—and they do it intentionally—which are obscenity, aggression and cruelty. That’s our game plan. One of the reasons that is, is that the New Yorker is not an isolated comedy environment. It’s not a comedy club. It’s not even a comic strip. Right there in the New Yorker are stories about famine, and AIDS, and other very, very serious topics.” In that frame of mind, he said, people are enormously offended by humor that relies on obscenity or cruelty.

So unless you find the price of plumbing especially cruel (and some of you undoubtedly do), Marthe’s caption is clearly fit for the New Yorker pages.

W&L's Kerin Awarded Mednick Grant to Study Tibetan Buddhist Shrines

Melissa Kerin, assistant professor of art history at Washington and Lee University, has been awarded a Mednick Memorial Fellowship Grant to conduct research on an aspect of Tibetan Buddhist shrines in India that has been overlooked by art historians.

Kerin will travel this summer to the Western Himalaya in northwestern India, an area that is politically part of India but culturally Tibetan Buddhist. She will document the visual material at the shrines through photography, interviews and assessments of how they are constructed and how they have been expanded over time.

Some of the shrines Kerin will study are at Buddhist temples while others are family shrines. According to Kerin, these Tibetan Buddhist shrines are a very rich yet untapped area of study with an accumulation of both high and low art.

High art is defined within art history circles by its antiquity, how well it is crafted and the materials used. Low art is largely associated with mass produced imagery that can be widely circulated and made of materials that aren’t especially precious.

Tibetan Buddhist shrines are sites where people make devotional offerings to deities of objects that Kerin called “incredibly layered,” including statuary, paintings, texts, photographs, lithographic prints, textiles, clay-tablet mortuary offerings and butter lamps. Kerin considers these “low art” offerings to be overlooked by art historians.

“Oddly enough, very little of the material at these Tibetan Buddhist shrines or the actions of giving have really been studied,” said Kerin. “That has a lot to do with the fact that we are dealing with mass-produced imagery. Often art historians are trained to look past the mass-produced imagery to get to the singular object of importance, that piece of high art.”

Kerin maintains that the rich visual and material worlds of the shrine are reflective of aesthetic and cultural conventions (such as gift giving) as well as devotional practices.  By not looking at the material that constitutes a Tibetan Buddhist shrine, historians are saying that this art, low and high, shouldn’t be part of the narrative written about Tibetan Buddhist art history.

“All this kitschy stuff that art historians don’t pay attention to is a legitimate part of the shrines,” she said. “My project is to look at these shrines honestly, not just to comb through them to get to the singular 11th or 15th century piece of high art. I will study them in an integrated, holistic fashion to see how all this material culture is working together to maintain devotional and ritual practices and to express religious identities.”

Kerin explained that she is less interested in making the argument that mass-produced photography and lithographic prints are “art.” But she is interested in paying attention to it because the material has a story to tell. For instance, she is particularly interested in the way photo-icons of religious teachers are incorporated into shrines as a way to update and extend iconographic programs at temples, as well as to express cultural identities, especially for those Tibetans living in exile.

“By ignoring this material culture we art historians are ignoring a whole realm of Tibetan Buddhist art and that’s dangerous. There’s a tendency in the Western art market and academic circles to uphold a certain romanticized idea of Tibet that’s pre-modern and pre-photography,” she said. “It’s an antiquated image, and that sensibility is one of the reasons why this incredibly rich material culture of the Tibetan Buddhist shrines has not been looked at. It’s because Western academics don’t know how to deal with all these mass-produced images in relation to Tibetan and Himalayan culture.”

Kerin pointed out that recently-published catalogues and images featuring Tibetan Buddhist shrines don’t show shrines with modern mass-produced imagery such as photographs and lithographic prints. “These shrines have been completely sanitized,” she said. “As a scholar who works in the field, I find that unacceptable. That’s not a Buddhist shrine, that’s the Western perspective of how beautiful Tibetan Buddhist shrines should be and how they should look according to Western aesthetics. But they don’t. We need to stop romanticizing Tibetan Buddhist culture.”

The Maurice L. Mednick Memorial was created in 1967 in honor of a young Norfolk industrialist who died from accidental causes. His family and business associates wished to perpetuate his name by establishing a memorial that would emphasize his and the donors’ strong interest in higher education.

The Mednick Memorial Fund is administered by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC). It exists to encourage the professional development of college teachers and improve their academic competence through fellowships for research and advanced study. A committee of VFIC business trustees and college presidents oversees the selection of research proposals for funding on an annual basis.

Kerin earned her B.A. in women’s studies from Trinity College, Hartford, an M.T.S. in Buddhist studies from Harvard Divinity School and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Rockbridge County Universities Form Teacher Education Consortium

Washington and Lee University and Southern Virginia University have partnered to form the Rockbridge Teacher Education Consortium (RTEC), the first new teacher education program to be approved by the State Board of Education in almost a quarter of a century.

Through RTEC, undergraduate students at the two liberal arts colleges will get a richer teacher education experience and an easier path to licensure. It will also benefit the local school system through professional development and partnering.

The program has been designed to offer more courses, more frequently, and to take advantage of the knowledge, skills and values in the teacher education departments of the two institutions. Students will also benefit from exposure to a range of opinions and interests by interacting with their RTEC peers.

Participating students will travel between the institutions to complete their teacher education courses—SVU is six miles away from W&L in Buena Vista.  Prior to RTEC, students enrolled in teacher education at W&L had to travel to Mary Baldwin College in Staunton to take some courses, which were often scheduled in the afternoon, making it difficult for those who had other commitments such as science laboratory or athletics.

Now completely independent of Mary Baldwin, the RTEC colleges will each teach Foundations of Education and the upper-level education courses will be taught at the different schools.

“Neither of the schools has a complete program on its own,” said Lenna Ojure, director of the teacher education program and associate professor of education at Washington and Lee. “By pooling our resources we now have the faculty necessary to provide many more courses. For example, Southern Virginia University has some excellent faculty in elementary education which means Washington and Lee doesn’t need to hire more people in those areas.”

Southern Virginia University will offer three teaching endorsement areas to start: elementary education, music and Spanish which Kaye Hanson, director of teacher education at SVU called “an exciting beginning.” SVU is a relatively new college — it opened in 1997 and recently received regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school expects participation in RTEC to grow over the years.

Washington and Lee has already seen a recent increase in the number of students taking education courses, which Ojure credits in part to students knowing that RTEC was becoming a reality. “We’re all very excited because it has taken seven years and a lot of work to bring this program about. We think it has great potential, and we hope many exciting things will come out of it in the future,” said Ojure, who recalled that when she began teaching at W&L there were only two education courses that have now burgeoned to 15 courses.

Ojure described running an education program as “really complicated” because it has to provide a program of study at the elementary, middle and secondary levels, with a required number of courses offered on a regular basis. “By collaborating in RTEC the two schools will now have enough volume of students to make this possible,” she said.

Also, because it can be hard for students to fit the required student teaching—comparable to holding down a full time job—into their schedule, RTEC will allow students at W&L and SVU to complete a semester of directed teaching after graduation for a low fee. It is hoped that this arrangement will attract more students to earn their teaching licensure, required by the Virginia Department of Education.

A further advantage of RTEC will be more emphasis on and coordination of student fieldwork in local schools. Having an accredited teacher education program also allows RTEC to receive grants to help with professional development in local schools and other programs that would not otherwise be available locally.

The consortium’s stated mission is to prepare teachers who are “intelligent, compassionate, honorable, and dynamic leaders in their classrooms, schools, and communities.”

The website for the Rockbridge Teacher Education Consortium can be found at http://www.wlu.edu/x22572.xml

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Taylor Gilfillan Named 2012-2013 General of the Year

Taylor Gilfillan, a Washington and Lee University senior, from Raleigh, N.C., has been named the John W. Elrod General of the Year for 2012–2013.

The Celebrating Student Success (CSS) Initiative announced the award on May 9 during a presentation in Elrod Commons. Gilfillan was one of the 19 Washington and Lee students that CSS recognized with General of the Month awards during the academic year.  All of the winners voted for General of the Year.

The CSS committee, comprising students and staff and sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, recognizes students who bring depth and breadth to the University.

After graduation, Gilfillan will teach mathematics and/or science at a school in Houston, Texas, as part of Teach for America. A physics major, he serves as president of the W&L chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society. He was a R.E. Lee Research Scholar during the summer of 2012 and presented his research at the annual Optical Society of America Conference last October.

He is assistant head resident adviser for the First-Year Leadership Council and was activities chair for the First-Year Orientation Committee last fall. He is a Student-to-Student mentor, spending a few hours a week with a child in the community, and is active in the Traveller Safe-Ride Program. A three-year member of the varsity basketball team, Gilfillan belongs to Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Generals of the Month for 2012-13:

  • September: Taylor Gilfillan ’13, Joni Deutsch ’14, Rachel Pityk ’13;
  • October: Ali Hamed ’13, Jen Ritter ’13;
  • November: Alexandra Fernandez ’13, Ronald Magee ’13;
  • December: Daniel Rauboldt ’13, Rachel Urban ’13;
  • January: Shannon McGovern ’13, Keaton Fletcher ’13;
  • February: Connor Smithson ’13, Bethany Reynolds ’13;
  • March: Wayde Marsh ’13, Megan Bock ’13;
  • April: Alicia Bishop ’13, Scott Diamond ’13;
  • May: Alvin Thomas ’14, Erica Schwotzer ’14

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

Composition by W&L's Vosbein Set for Carnegie Hall Premiere

A new composition by Washington and Lee music professor Terry Vosbein will have its premiere later this month at Carnegie Hall.

“Charleston Episodes,” a new work for flute, bassoon and string trio, was commissioned by Chamber Music Charleston for the group’s Carnegie Hall debut. The group will perform it in the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, during a Celebration of Charleston.

“They wanted something that reflected the rich musical traditions of Charleston, with jazz and classical influences,” Terry explained. “They also wanted something that could reflect a particular locale, and I’ve created many works with these elements.”

Terry, who is on sabbatical this year, wrote most of the piece on the road; he also went to Charleston. “I spent February in Charleston, absorbing the city’s feeling and listening to and working with the musicians,” he said. “And I finished the composition there.”

“Charleston Episodes” is about 15 minutes long and has three movements: “All Day Long,” “Dusk in the City” and “After the Sun Goes Down.” The piece will serve as the finale of the concert, and Terry will introduce the performance.

The concert will be repeated on May 26 in Charleston as part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

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CNN Health Features W&L's Barry Kolman

CNN Health featured the story of Washington and Lee University music professor Barry Kolman’s experience teaching clarinet to his 13-year-old daughter, Emmanuela, and the impact those lessons have had on her autism.

Kolman is the music director and conductor of the University- Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra (USSO). His wife, Grace, is a counselor at James Madison University.

As the article reports:

Her father thought it would help Mano “channel her frustration through music.” Her mother was interested in the neuroscience behind how the brain deals with music.

“We cannot prove anything, but there are many studies that say how the brain can change when you do music-making … the part of the brain that wasn’t working very well has to find another way to work.”

Read the CNN article here: http://myw.lu/11mqhwu

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W&L President Ruscio on “Virginia Conversations”

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio was a guest on the Virginia Public Radio program, “Virginia Conversations,” on Friday, April 26, 2013.

The program focused on a new book, “The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future,” and Ruscio appeared with the book’s author, William E. White, on the weekly call-in program produced at WVTF radio in Roanoke.

Listen an archived verison of the show here: http://myw.lu/11YAGs9

W&L Law Student Helps Refugee Artists Get Started in Business

When Washington and Lee law student Ernest Hammond learned about Virginia Lawyers for the Arts, he jumped at the chance to help this Virginia Bar Association committee that arranges legal services for artists in need.

Hammond, a third year law student from Chicago, reached out to the group to fulfill his law-related service obligation, one of the key components of W&L’s innovative, client-focused third-year curriculum. He also hoped to gain some real world experience in area where he hopes to practice.

“I am interested in entertainment and arts law with a transactional focus, and this seemed like a great opportunity to get exposure in that area,” says Hammond.

Hammond was right. When the committee received a request for services from a group of Burmese and Bhutanese women based in Charlottesville who were interested in forming a business to sell their traditional artwork, Hammond voted with the other committee members to accept the project. Equipped with a third-year practice certificate, he then volunteered to take on the project himself.

The artists, who are refugees, use traditional looms and weaving practices to produce handbags, hats, and scarves. They then sell their unique items at arts and crafts fairs across Virginia. The group had received some initial financial support from the International Rescue Committee but was interested in establishing themselves more permanently.

Hammond’s first step was to help the artists find a legal structure that fit their business needs. He advised them to set up their craft cooperative as a Virginia non stock corporation, which would create a stable business entity even as individual artists might come and go. In addition, Hammond thought the business was a strong candidate for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

“These artists are as interested in involving the community in their culture and heritage and teaching their skills as much as they are in making money,” says Hammond.

So far, Hammond has drafted the articles of incorporation and the corporate by-laws, making sure all of the material is in compliance for 501(c)(3) status when the paperwork is filed with the state. He was advised on the project by W&L professor and corporate law expert David Millon as well as Charlottesville attorney Tim Lyons, a member of the Lawyers for the Arts committee.

Hammond, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, transferred to W&L Law after a year at American University. He was drawn to W&L’s close knit community and strong student-faculty relationships, and in the end it was those relationships, especially the encouragement of Dean Mary Natkin, that led Hammond to this opportunity.

“It has been really rewarding,” he says. “I never thought I would in a position to help people this way while still in law school.”

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

W&L Alumna Running for Scranton Mayor

Washington and Lee alumna Elizabeth Randol, of the Class of 1993, is bidding to become the first female mayor of Scranton, Pa.

Liz is one of four Democratic candidates on the ballot in the May 21 primary.

This is not her first foray into Pennsylvania politics. In 2011, she ran a primary campaign for Lackawanna county commissioner. She lost that race by 403 votes to the incumbent, but many observers considered her showing a surprise, and local media see her as a strong contender in the mayoral race.

If you’ve followed the news about Scranton (beyond stories about this week’s series finale of “The Office”), you know about a series of national stories last July that the city might file for bankruptcy.

The theme of Liz’s campaign, as seen on her website, is “Recover. Reclaim. Rebuild,” and she makes plain that the “most daunting task of the next Mayor will be addressing the city’s financial future.”

A philosophy major at W&L, Liz wound up in Scranton when she joined the faculty of the University of Scranton after earning her Ph.D. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

She taught in the departments of philosophy, sociology and women’s studies and directed the university’s Jane Kopas Women’s Center. She also served as the university’s director of civic engagement before moving into politics, first as campaign manager for the Democratic team running for Lackawanna county commissioners, and later as a candidate in her own right. She’s also been a policy director for the Pennsylvania treasurer and, most recently, director of strategic operations for a Scranton construction company.

W&L's Sprenkle Named Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month

Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at Washington and Lee University, was recently named W&L’s inaugural “Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month” for her work on several collaborative projects on campus.

Sprenkle has special interests in using her expertise in computer science to work on projects in the humanities, according to Paul Youngman, associate professor of German and member of the “Digital Humanities Working Group,” which explores new ways to use technology in the University’s humanities disciplines.

“Although I was a math and computer science major, I loved my classes in humanities and these projects are a great opportunity to see what you can do with a humanities subject and computer science,” said Sprenkle. “These are cool projects my students enjoy working on and the humanities professors get so excited about them so it’s really fun.”

Her work with Paul Gregory, associate professor of philosophy at W&L, began five years ago and is an ongoing project. She created a translation tutorial web app to help his students practice their symbolic logic skills as well as assist with grading by automatically correcting symbolic logic quizzes.

“Sara’s work has been extremely valuable to me and to my Introduction to Logic students,” said Gregory. “It gives them a great way to practice outside of the classroom and is an excellent platform for administering quizzes and exams.”

The 14 students in Sprenkle’s 2013 spring term course on web applications are currently working on two other digital humanities projects, both concerned with finding new ways to search collections of ancient inscriptions.

The first is with Rebecca Benefiel, associate professor of classics at W&L, and creates a new interface to look at graffiti in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The second is with Sarah Bond, a former Mellon Junior Faculty Fellow in Ancient History at W&L and now on the faculty at Marquette University. That project is designed to find trends in epigraphy—writing on stones—across ancient Rome to learn more about the people inhabiting the lower orders within the diverse communities of the Roman Empire.

“Digital Humanities Scholar of the Month is just one more way to raise the profile of digital humanities at Washington and Lee'” said Youngman.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L Professor Examines Pros, Cons of Marketplace Fairness Act

When Robert Ballenger was looking for a new gas grill, he found the one he wanted at a local store. Then he went online, where he found the identical grill for $130 less.

“It’s the same, exact grill,” he said. “The only question was: Did I need it today? Or could I wait for it to be delivered?”

Ballenger is a professor of business administration at Washington and Lee University, where he specializes in e-commerce issues. So he uses his grill-buying experience to illustrate the dilemma that faces many brick-and-mortar stores — a dilemma that will not, he suggests, be solved simply by adding state sales tax to all online purchases.

This past Monday, May 6, the U.S. Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require online sellers with more than $1 million in annual revenue to collect sales tax on transactions across state lines. Now the legislation moves to the House of Representatives, where a battle is said to be brewing.

Ballenger believes the bill’s fate will most likely hinge on whether or not state governors, especially Republican governors, can push hard enough on their need for the income — estimated at $23 billion in 2012 — that their states would receive from the sales tax.

Another aspect of the discussion is fairness. “The issue you hear with sales tax on these purchases has to do with creating that level playing field,” said Ballenger. “Mom-and-Pop stores have had to collect sales tax on day one on sales in their states. So they are immediately at a disadvantage against online stores that do not charge that tax. That is a disadvantage. It’s absolutely true.”

Another disadvantage isn’t always included in the conversations. “They talk about this legislation helping the brick-and-mortar stores. I don’t know how true that is,” said Ballenger. “The simple fact is that brick-and-mortar stores are innately at a disadvantage to online stores in terms of price.”

Had the law been in effect when Ballenger was grill shopping, he would have had to pay an additional $30 or so in sales tax. He would still have saved around $100 on the purchase, and that, he thinks, is probably enough to cause him, along with many, if not most, other shoppers to go the Internet route.

“Some people will pay more to buy locally, to give back to the local economy,” said Ballenger. “But there are a whole lot of people who won’t.”

More and more, Ballenger said, consumers are engaged in the practice of “showrooming” — visiting a local store to examine an item, perhaps getting advice on a purchase from the store’s customer service representative, and then going home to shop via computer.

“This whole ‘showrooming’ effect has had a significant effect on Mom-and-Pop stores. It’s also had an effect on big box stores, particularly Best Buy,” said Ballenger.

By taking advantage of customer service representatives at brick-and-mortar stores, customers help online stores keep their overhead down, since they don’t need a customer service representative to wait on every potential buyer.

“From the number of people you need, to the kind of space you have to rent, the very nature of the amount of overhead that an online store has to have is so significantly less that there is an inherent disadvantage,” said Ballenger. “The online business cannot only lower its price, but may be making a greater profit while doing that. It’s really harder for a brick-and-mortar store to compete unless they offer something unique in terms of customer service, in terms of the items they’re selling, in terms of the variety of things they may have to offer.”

The sales tax bill has interesting political elements, noted Ballenger. On the one hand, people are listening to the small businesses’ complaints about fairness; on the other hand, they are hearing some conservatives argue that this represents a new tax. “So they may want to promote business and vote for the sales tax, but then there is the camp that is so anti-new-tax that they would rather say no than level the playing field,” said Ballenger. “It’s an interesting set of political alignments within the Republican party.”

That’s why Ballenger looks for Republican governors to be important players by putting pressure on Republicans in the House.

“The states really want this. That may be the way that it ends up getting through,” said Ballenger. “The argument the states will make is that this is a tax that we’ve always had in place. It’s just an easier way for us to collect it, a more fair way for us to collect it. If they can win that argument at the end of the day, then I think that could be a winning argument.”

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

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Alumni, parents and friends interested in more frequent updates from the University can engage with us on a variety of social media channels:

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  • Washington and Lee: Like our official Facebook page for a little taste of Lexington.



  • Reunion Weekend: Couldn’t make it back to campus for Alumni Weekend? See our complete social recap of last weekend’s festivities. And while you’re there, check out more stories, including the 2013 AdLib conference, Accepted Students Day, Science, Society and the Arts and more.
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Lost and Found: 1995 W&L Class Ring

Sometimes Washington and Lee turns up in the news in the most surprising ways. For Scott Sina, a member of W&L’s undergraduate class of 1995 and the law class of 2000, his lost 1995 class ring turned up in a similarly surprising manner.

Last week, in Huntington, W.Va., “Susan and Randal Custer were pulling weeds when something caught their eye,” wrote Bill Rosenberger in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. “They were hoping it was Randal Custer’s wedding ring, which he recently lost, but it was a bulky gold ring that once cleaned revealed an inscription identifying its owner.”

That would be Scott. But how to find him and return his W&L class ring? The Custers’ grandson, Josh Engelbrecht, did some detective work online and on the telephone. His search led him to Scott, who is studying at a Virginia seminary.

According to the paper, “Engelbrecht said Sina returned his call and told him he had lived in Huntington for a short time in 2003, and the ring and other possessions were taken in a burglary. ‘He was just really shocked,’ Engelbrecht said. ‘And he was really relieved.’ “

The Custers, Engelbrecht and even a local jeweler have gone above and beyond the call of duty to return the ring to Scott. Read their story here.

Memorial Gates Plaque Honors Chris Coffland '88

Washington and Lee honored its late alumnus Chris Coffland, a member of the Class of 1988, by dedicating to his memory a plaque on the Memorial Gates on Saturday, May 4, during Reunion Weekend. He was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 13, 2009.

Many of Chris’ classmates, who were back on campus for their 25th reunion, attended the short ceremony.

Chris captained the Generals’ football and lacrosse teams. After traveling around the world — playing professional football in Finland, living with Pygmies in Africa, rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars, earning a master’s degree in anthropology — Chris joined the Army Reserve a month before he turned 42, the enlistment cut-off date. An intelligence specialist, he had volunteered for the mission on which he and two others were killed by an improvised explosive device, just two weeks after he arrived in Afghanistan.

Addressing the gathering at the Memorial Gates, Chris’ classmate and football teammate John Packett described Chris’ “whirlwind tour of life.”

“Chris is the picture next to Renaissance man in the dictionary: a world-class athlete, humanitarian, fashionista (depending on your clothing taste), soldier, brother, son, uncle, and, most importantly, true friend to everyone he touched,” Packett said.

“His run through this world was like I have never seen or probably will ever see again. He never let too much moss grow underneath his feet before embarking on a new adventure. He lived every minute of every hour of every day.”

Chris’ father, David Coffland of Baltimore, also spoke at the gathering. On behalf of the family, he thanked the W&L administration and all of his son’s friends “for the tribute honoring Chris and all fallen heroes on this gate.”

He added: “It should remain foremost in our minds that all alumni remembered here on the Memorial Gates gave the ultimate sacrifice in order that we may live in peace and freedom.”

W&L Teacher Education Students Create Literacy Kits for Pre-kindergartners

Some children preparing to enter kindergarten at Central Elementary School in Lexington, Va., have received a helping hand from teacher education students at Washington and Lee University.

During the University’s winter term, nine W&L students created 25 kits for at-risk children and their families to use during the summer in order to help develop early literacy skills and reading motivation. The kits consist of materials, activities and instructions to parents.

The project was part of the teacher education class at W&L taught by Laura Tortorelli, visiting lecturer in education. “I was surprised at how little I needed to direct the students,” said Tortorelli. “They knew exactly what they wanted to do and did a terrific job. They put high quality thought into what the kids and their parents would need at home to be successful with the kits. They included colorful items to make the kits appealing and laminated some items so they wouldn’t get destroyed by young children.

“A major focus of my class was early intervention to prevent reading difficulties, so we spent a lot of time talking about what kids need to know to be successful in kindergarten. Kids come to kindergarten with different levels of skills and that can affect their progress in reading development once they get to school.”

Tortorelli added that the literacy kits are a real world application of what she has been teaching in class and very similar to the type of work W&L students will be doing in the classroom; applying what they know to create activities for children.

The literacy kits consist of:

  • A Dr. Seuss book with read aloud tips for parents
  • “The Very Lonely Firefly” and a CD of an audio reading of the book
  • A name writing board (laminated) with instructions to parents and white board markers
  • Letter cards, both upper and lower case with a key picture for each letter sound and instructions to parents about games and activities to use with the letter cards.
  • Copies of several beginning sound picture sorts, with instructions to parents about using the sort and safety scissors
  • A make-your-own book project with crayons
  • Several easy phonemic awareness activities
  • Magnetic alphabet letters

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L Honors Three Alumni, Returning Classes at Reunion Weekend

Washington and Lee University presented Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday to a highly decorated public-service lawyer, a successful private-wealth adviser and a former U.S. senator who is now a college president, during the annual meeting of the W&L Alumni Association, in Lee Chapel.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the three alumni, the University announced the significant fund-raising achievements by members of the reunion classes, especially by the Classes of 1963 and 1988, who were celebrating their 50th and 25th reunions, respectively.

The three Distinguished Alumni awardees:

Ashley T. Wiltshire Jr., a member of the Class of 1963, from Nashville, Tenn., was executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands for more than three decades. The organization grew under his leadership and now serves low-income individuals in 48 Tennessee counties. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from W&L, he earned a master’s of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York and served as a missionary and teacher in Thailand. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt University. He has received the Reginald Heber Smith Award of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Tennessee Bar Association created the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award in 2007 for representation of the indigent above and beyond the call of duty. W&L recognized him for a “lifetime of distinctive and lasting achievements in legal services for the indigent, and public service impacting the greater good.”

Paul S. Trible Jr., a 1971 graduate of the School of Law, has served since 1996 as the fifth president of Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Va. He is widely credited with CNU’s transformation into an institution recognized for making the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus and facilities in recent years. Prior to becoming CNU’s president, Trible held several elected offices in Virginia. He was commonwealth’s attorney for Essex County from 1974 to 1976, when he won election to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1982, he successfully ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Harry F. Byrd Jr. After one term in the Senate, Trible declined to run for re-election. He has also served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations and was a teaching fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Trible’s “lifetime of distinctive achievements in politics, higher education and support of Washington and Lee.”

Floyd M. (Buck) Wiley graduated from Washington and Lee in 1988 with a major in history. He received both a law degree and an M.B.A from the University of Georgia. He also obtained an L.L.M in international law from the University of Brussels. He began his career with KPMG’s international tax practice. He worked in the Moscow office of a private equity firm, leading a team on corporate acquisitions in Eastern Europe. Since returning to the U.S, Wiley has worked for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in private banking and investment. As a managing director in the firm’s Global Institutional Consulting Group, he assists clients in 30 states and several foreign countries. Barron’s magazine recognized him as one of the top 25 financial advisors in Georgia and nationally in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In honoring Wiley, the Alumni Association praised him “for life well and productively lived, his sterling reputation in financial matters and his devotion to alma mater.”

In announcing the 50th reunion gift, William P. Boardman, co-chair with classmate Daniel T. Balfour of the Class of 1963 reunion committee, noted how meaningful it was for the members of the class to repay their debt to the University.

The gift, he added, “will help others benefit from the superior education in an environment where honor, integrity, civility still matter. It fills us with great joy and pride to show that our classmates have left such a legacy at W&L, a place we all cherish so much.”

The Class of 1963, which also won the Reunion Bowl for the highest percentage of members registered for the weekend, presented W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio with a check for $2,159,143.75.

The 25th Reunion Class — 1988 — made a $2 million gift to the University, the largest ever by a class celebrating its 25th.

“We had originally set a goal of $1,988,000, but we blew through our goal,” said James M. Rallo, who served as co-chair with J. Baker Gentry.

In accepting the gifts on behalf of W&L, Ruscio said he was reminded that W&L is distinctive in many ways, especially because of “this intergenerational contract that we have here at the University. It goes like this: if we benefit today from the sacrifice of those who come before us, which we surely do, then we should take advantage of that sacrifice today, provided that we sacrifice equally for those who come after us.

“Over the course of this institution’s history, that intergenerational bond, or agreement, contract, bargain, whatever you want to call it, has made this institution better and better over the years.”

Other awards presented:

  • Reunion Trophy to the Class of 1993, recognizing the class with the most members registered for the weekend. The class had 107.
  • Reunion Traveller Award, recognizing the alumnus who has traveled the farthest for the reunion. Jeff Branflick, of the Class of 1988, journeyed to Lexington from his home in London.
  • John Newton Thomas Trophy to the Class of 1988, recognizing the class with the largest percentage increase in Annual Fund gifts over the previous year. The class had an 84 percent increase. It also won this award at its 20th reunion.
  • Trident Trophy to the Class of 1968, recognizing the class with the highest percentage of members participating in the Annual Fund. The class had 66 percent.
  • Colonnade Cup to the Class of 1973, recognizing the class with the largest reunion gift to the Annual Fund, including current gifts and future pledges. The class gave $742,000.

The meeting was the last as president of the Alumni Association for Brodie Gregory, a 2003 graduate, from Arlington, Va. The incoming president is J. David Stewart III ’96, of Birmingham, Ala.

Elected to the board were Kirkpatrick Adamson ’08, of London; Meghan Hayde Bollens ’04, of Pittsburgh; Ryan Duffy ’04, of Washington; Donald Eavenson Jr. ’73, of New Hope, Pa.; Elaine Harris ’92, of Louisville, Ky.; and Elizabeth Thompson ’99, of Denver. Virginia Wortham ’07, of Richmond, was elected to the University Athletic Council.

W&L Students Honored by Cabell Brand Center

Congratulations to two W&L students for winning competitive scholarships from the Cabell Brand Center to Promote the Common Good: Jinae Kennedy and Ellyn Kirtley.

Jinae, a first-year student from Blacksburg, Va., won the $1,000 Harlan and Debby Beckley Scholarship. It is named for W&L’s Harlan Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion and director of the Shepherd Poverty Program, and his wife.

Ellyn, also a first-year student, is from Wauwatosa, Wis. She receives the $1,000 Sheila and Ken Garren Scholarship. The two W&L students are among six winners total.

The scholarships acknowledge the students’ commitment to work toward the common good and encourage them to “accept the challenges of diminishing poverty, promoting the environment, and advancing peace and justice,” according to the center’s press release. The students had to write an essay about what they plan to do with their studies and their lives for the common good.

The Garrens and the Beckleys are donors to the scholarship program, which is part of the Cabell Brand Center for Global Poverty and Resource Sustainability Studies, based in Salem, Va. Brand is the founder of the Roanoke, Va., organization Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) and the author of a book, “If Not Me, Then Who? How You Can Help with Poverty, Economic Opportunity, Education, Healthcare, Environment, Racial Justice, and Peace Issues in America.” The organization supports W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program.

Boetsch Addresses Opening Assembly of W&L Reunions

Facing a future that is increasingly complex and moving with often incomprehensible speed, today’s generation of college students must be prepared both to compete and to collaborate on a global scale.

That was the message that Laurent Boetsch, director of international education at Washington and Lee University, delivered as the keynote speaker at the University’s annual Alumni Weekend on Thursday, May 2, in Lee Chapel. The event features reunions for eight classes, including those celebrating their 50th reunion (Class of 1963) and 25th reunion (Class of 1988).

Also at the opening assembly, W&L’s Alpha Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, inducted seven new undergraduate members and recognized two honorary initiates — Peter J. Abitante, a 1978 W&L graduate and special assistant to the commissioner of the National Football League, and Steven G. McAllister, W&L treasurer and vice president for finance.

In his keynote address, Boetsch, a member of W&L’s Class of 1969, discussed W&L’s new global studies initiative, telling the alumni that “we are on the cusp of major societal transformation” on a global scale.

“When you or I sat in a classroom up in Payne Hall or fumbled around a lab over in Howe Hall, we were basically competing with our classmates from Houston or Long Island or Richmond or Memphis,” he said. “Today’s students in classrooms and labs in Lexington are competing with their peers in Moscow and Mumbai, Beijing and Amsterdam.

“The challenges that they confront will not be resolved by any one genius, any single discipline or any nation acting alone. Not only must our students learn to compete on a global scale, they also need to know how to collaborate with people who think, act, speak and view the world differently — and we must prepare them to do so.”

Explaining how the University has recently developed a blueprint for global studies, Boetsch said that the committee that created the new initiative concluded, first, that every international opportunity students have — from internships to study abroad to a trip to Italy with a musical group — is valuable but does not necessarily have the same value. The second conclusion, he said, was that regardless of the international experience, students can profit only if they are prepared to ask the right questions before they leave, are encouraged to immerse themselves when they are there, and have opportunities to articulate what they have learned when they return.

“It is essential that our students understand how time abroad fully complements their work and their lives on campus,” he said, “and we encourage them to build from one experience to the next with the goal of acquiring inter-cultural competence.”

Among the ways in which the University is now striving to make this work, Boetsch said, are changing the advising process from a single study-abroad advisor to include faculty, alumni and other students. In addition, those students who return from study abroad are invited to present poster sessions, photo essays and class presentations. Alumni who live and work abroad are now helping students to talk about their experiences in ways that will helpful in seeking employment.

“In short, we are using the breadth of our resources to integrate, not separate, a valuable global learning tool,” Boetsch said. “With what we hope to accomplish through our global learning initiative, we are confident that W&L students will be uniquely distinguished and will leave here among the most well-educated men and women . . . in the world.”

The ODK inductions were held prior to Boetsch’s keynote. The honorary initiates:

  • Peter J. Abitante, Tenafly, N.J., joined the NFL in 1978 as an assistant in the public relations department following a summer internship prior to his senior year at W&L. He moved into his current role in 2006, shortly after Roger Goodell was selected commissioner. Prior to that, he had held various positions in the league’s public relations department, including director of information for the American Football Conference and senior director of international public affairs, where he was the NFL’s primary contact for international media around the world. He also served as the league’s military liaison and helped lead five USO-sponsored player tours to Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2000, Abitante joined the board of the Boomer Esiason Foundation to assist in its mission of serving individuals with cystic fibrosis while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure.
  • Steve McAllister, treasurer and vice president for finance at W&L since 2002, received a B.A. in economics with a second major in business administration from Roanoke College in 1986 and an M.B.A. from Lynchburg College in 1997. He began his career at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1986, where he served as assistant to the director of business affairs and later as director of budget. From 1991–1993, he held the position of business manager. McAllister joined Washington and Lee as assistant treasurer in 1993. He later served as director of budgets and financial planning (1998–2000) and associate vice president for finance (2000–2002). He is co-chair of the University’s Budget Advisory Committee and serves on numerous other University committees. In addition, he is a past treasurer and president of Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity, former treasurer of Yellow Brick Road Childcare, and a former treasurer and president of the Lexington Downtown Development Association. He serves as president of the Rockbridge Regional Library Foundation and as treasurer of the Lexington/Rockbridge Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Virginia Business Small Business CFO Award.

The juniors who were tapped into membership: Jennifer Bulley, an economics major from Gainesville, Ga.; William Michael Fulwider, an East Asian languages and literature major from Columbus, Va.; Caroline Hodges Gill, an economics major from Charlotte, N.C.; Nathan A. Kelly, a politics and economics double major from McKean, Pa.; Meredith Nicole Roberts, a psychology major from Sequim, Wash.; Angelica Tillander, an American history and politics double major from Mount Prospect, Ill.; and Greta Bradford Witter, an economics major from Houston.

ODK also presented the Rupert Latture Award, which recognizes the sophomore with the most leadership potential, to Katherine H. LeMasters, a global politics and economics double major from Abilene, Texas. It gave the James G. Leyburn Award, for community or campus leaders who provide exemplary service, to the Boxerwood Education Association.

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

W&L Senior Mohamad Shawki Amine Assists in Earthquake Research

Washington and Lee University senior Mohamad Shawki Amine was a member of a team from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering that presented the results of its earthquake research at Posters on the Hill in Washington last month.

Amine’s teammate, Virginia Tech student Elizabeth Godfrey, presented the paper “Site amplification in the Washington area during the 2011 Virginia earthquake,” and was among 60 students invited to present their work to members of Congress and Congressional staffers at the annual event.

The research investigated the 2011 Virginia earthquake whose epicenter was in Reston, Va., 80 miles southwest of Washington. While relatively little damage occurred in Reston, the earthquake severely damaged the inside of the landmark Washington Monument.

“Our research shows that the International Building Code is not safe enough for the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS), an area with low tectonic activity, because it is based on decades of research done solely on the West Coast,” explained Amine, a physics/engineering major from Lebanon. “The East and West Coasts are each unique with different soil profiles and different bedrock, but not much research has been done on the East Coast relating to earthquakes.”

Amine and the team members researched site response and soil amplifications in Washington, Charleston, S.C., and Columbia, S.C. and compared their results to the International Building Code’s amplification factors.

They found that the sharp shear wave velocity contrasts in the District of Columbia resulted in significant amplification of ground motions that were not accounted for in the International Building Code. They also found that Washington is more vulnerable to earthquakes hazards than expected. According to Amine, other research has confirmed the team’s findings.

While other members of the team focused on field research, Amine and Godfrey worked on processing data.

“I loved working on this project so much that sometimes I didn’t even stop for lunch,” said Amine. “It got me interested in civil engineering, so now I will be going to the University of Virginia to study structural engineering. Hopefully, after graduate school I can split my work between the United States and Lebanon and do 80 percent structural engineering and 20 percent natural hazards.”

Amine’s research was funded through a Johnson Opportunity Grant. The grants are part of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity and are designed to help students in their chosen fields of study as well as in their future careers.

More than 800 applications were submitted to the 2013 Posters on the Hill, an annual event sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Contact Presents Elite Navy SEAL Clint Bruce

Navy SEAL Clint Bruce will speak on leadership at Washington and Lee University on Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.  Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The talk is open to the public, and no tickets are required.

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a decorated athlete, Bruce entered the Navy SEALs after leaving the National Football League where he had played with the Baltimore Ravens and then the New Orleans Saints.

During Bruce’s tenure in the SEALs, he operated in the Pacific and Middle East in multiple leadership positions prior to, and after, 9/11.

Bruce is the founder and president of Trident Response Group, a risk and threat management firm headquartered in Dallas since 2005. Trident was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina upon completion of a successful rescue operation.

While serving with the Naval Special Warfare Community, Bruce developed a deep knowledge of defense technology. In both national and international environments, he was involved in the development and application of new assets and technology that enhanced detection, communication and battle-space awareness. He has worked on hybrid vehicular and body armor efforts and the application of nano-technology to existing and new materials.

“Rockbridge Report,” W&L Students Win National Honors

The Society of Professional Journalists has named Washington and Lee’s “Rockbridge Report” newscast the Best Independent Online Student Publication in the nation, and has recognized a W&L senior and three alumni for the best Online In-Depth Reporting in the country.

The awards came in the organization’s annual Mark of Excellence Awards competition. W&L competes in the Society of Professional Journalists’ small-schools division for institutions with 5,000 or fewer students.

“Rockbridge Report” is produced weekly by students in W&L’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. It covers stories in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County with both a television broadcast and the local news website.

W&L senior Billy Crosby and 2012 graduates Tory Dickerson, Killeen King and Jessica Strait were honored for their report, “Poor Diet: Not Enough Food and the Wrong Kind,” a comprehensive examination of food issues in Rockbridge County. The report looked at issues ranging from healthy eating to obesity in the schools to local food pantries.

The SPJ had previously recognized both “Rockbridge Report” and the four students with regional awards.

The winners will be acknowledged at the Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference this August in Anaheim, Calif.

W&L Magazine, Winter 2013: Vol. 88 | No. 1

In This Issue:

  • Power Grab: W&L Saves Energy and Money
  • President John Delane Wilson: 1931-2013
    By Jeff Hanna
  • 2011-2012 Financial Annual Report

General Stats

  • Twitter, Math Department Puzzler, Stonewall Cemetery Graves, Treadmill Miles


  • Energy Error
  • Pam Simpson
  • Chuck Phillips
  • Corrections

Along the Colonnade

  • Global Learning
  • Noteworthy (Promotions, Posts, Prospects and More)
  • ODK and Founders’ Day Celebrations
  • Poverty Fit to Tweet
  • Naturalized Woman
  • New Trustee: Rowan Taylor ’89 Joins the Board
  • Rising Star: Professor Jasmin Darznik Wins SCHEV Award
  • Books & CDs
  • W&L Traveller: A Safari in Tanzania

Lewis Hall Notes

  • Sam Petsonk ’13 Named Skadden Fellow

Generals Report

  • Going the Extra Mile … in Ghana
  • 25 years of Volleyball


  • Understanding How Life is Made
  • Alumni President’s Message: An Engaging Opportunity
  • Outstanding Alumni Chapter Awards
  • Rodney Mims Cook ’46, Alumni Association President
  • Joseph Goldsten, Martel Professor of Management Emeritus
  • Joe Lyles, Legendary Coach
  • Oliver M. Mendell ’50, Distinguished Alumnus
  • Chuck Phillips, Former Economics Professor and Lexington Mayor
  • Ted Sjoerdsma, First Professor of Computer Science

President Ruscio’s Message

  • A Lifetime of Curiosity and Inquiry: John Wilson

Last Look

  • The 1749 Circle

W&L's Price Selected for Senior Leadership Academy

Wendy Price, assistant dean of the College at Washington and Lee, has been chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the American Leadership Institute (AALI) to participate in a yearlong Senior Leadership Academy during 2013-14.

The 26 individuals chosen for the academy are mid-level administrators in higher education who aspire to senior leadership positions in independent colleges or universities. The purpose of the academy is to prepare prospective leaders to assume positions as the chief officers in any division—including academic affairs, student affairs, finance, enrollment management and advancement—in independent higher education.

In addition to attending a mentoring program, experiential learning projects and a series of readings and case studies, Price will join the other academy members at two seminars—one in Pittsburgh in November, and the other in Washington next June.

“The need to prepare future leaders of colleges and universities has never been greater, because the generation of people now in senior leadership positions on campus is rapidly approaching retirement,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “Competition for the available places in the program was intense, and the review committee found the nomination materials to be most impressive.”

Since the program began in the 2010–2011 academic year, many participants have experienced upward mobility. Eight have been appointed to vice presidencies at other institutions, three have been appointed to vice presidencies at their home institutions, 15 have earned promotions to positions of greater responsibility within their home institutions, and four have advanced to higher positions at other institutions.

Price joined W&L in August 2010 after previously serving as team leader in historic preservation at Historic New England. A graduate of Southern Methodist University. where she earned a B.A. in history, Price holds a law degree from Duke University and a master of historic preservation degree from the University of Georgia.

After practicing law for three years, she became assistant professor of historic preservation at the University of Mary Washington in 1996. She earned promotion and tenure in 2002 and became a department head the same year.  She joined Historic New England, the oldest and largest regional preservation organization in the United States, in 2005.

As assistant dean of the College, Price administers the College buildings and classrooms, the operating and capital budgets and the non-faculty staff.  Additionally, she administers undergraduate disability accommodations and collaborates with other campus offices to address student health issues.

“I feel honored and privileged to be selected for participation in the 2013-2014 Senior Leadership Academy,” said Price. “I look forward to gaining new knowledge and insight into higher education administration and further developing my skills through the invaluable experience offered by this program.”

CIC is an association of 645 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and more than 90 higher education organizations. Since 1956, it has worked to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. AALI provides leadership identification and development programs across all sectors of public and private higher education. The organization creates and implements programs and assistance for academic leaders in various administrative positions, enabling them to be successful in their roles and to advance the institutions they serve.

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Knapp, Conner Appointed to New Posts at W&L

Washington and Lee University has announced new appointments in the University administration.

  • Elizabeth Knapp, associate provost and associate professor of geology, will become senior assistant to the president and director of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity;
  • Marc Conner, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Professor of English, head of the English Department and director of Spring Term, will become associate provost.

Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio and Provost-Elect Daniel Wubah jointly announced the appointments, which are effective July 1.

A 1990 graduate of Washington and Lee, Knapp returned to her alma mater as assistant professor of geology in 1997 after receiving her Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of Virginia. She teaches courses in geochemistry, hydrology and biogeochemistry. She has also taught courses on the geology of Hawaii and the geology of the Pyrenees. Her research has focused on low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, geochemical evolution and paleoclimate, aquifer redox chemistry and iron geochemistry.

In addition to her teaching and research in the Geology Department, she served as associate dean of the College for four years. She joined the provost’s office in July 2011 and has worked with undergraduate academic advising, new faculty orientation, student research opportunities and teaching award nominations, among other assignments.

Knapp moves into a redefined position that was previously held by Valerie Cushman, who recently left the University. Among her broader will be work with the Johnson Scholars, the 160 or so students who have won the University’s major scholarship competition. She will administer the new Johnson endowment, which will help each Johnson Scholar conduct special summer projects and research. She also will assess the Johnson program. In addition, she will work on initiatives for the president’s office with alumni, faculty and staff.

Conner joined the W&L faculty in 1996. He received bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy at the University of Washington and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in English literature at Princeton University.

His primary area of scholarship and teaching is literary modernism, both narrative and poetry, including Irish modernism, the modern American novel and African-American literature. He has written extensively about the work of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson and James Joyce. He created the Spring Term program in Ireland and has accompanied W&L students to Ireland on six occasions to experience the literature and culture there.

In addition, he teaches Shakespeare, the Bible as literature, and related courses in literature and religion and literature and philosophy. He recently completed “How to Read and Understand Shakespeare,” a collection of 24 audio and video lectures, as part of The Great Courses series.

As director of Spring Term since 2010, he has been responsible for curriculum planning and assessment of the University’s innovative four-week term, which has resulted in the creation of almost 300 new courses. He will continue to direct Spring Term as associate provost and also will work with undergraduate academic advising, new faculty orientation, student research opportunities and teaching award nominations, among other assignments.

W&L Visiting Law Professor Joins Defense of Accused Boston Bomber

Judy Clarke, a visiting professor of practice at the Washington and Lee School of Law, was appointed this week to join the team that will defend alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In addition, the Associated Press reported that the lead defense attorney in the case, Miriam Conrad, the chief federal public defender, had requested that David Bruck, clinical professor of law at W&L and director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, also be appointed to the team as a second specialist in death penalty cases. But the judge in the case, Marianne Bowler, denied that request for the time being.

W&L Juniors Alvin Thomas, Erica Schwotzer Recognized as Generals of the Month for May

Washington and Lee University students Alvin Thomas and Erica Schwotzer will be recognized at the Generals of the Month presentation for May on Thursday, May 2, at 12:20 p.m. in the Marketplace in Elrod Commons.

Thomas, a junior from Skokie, Ill., is majoring in chemistry-engineering with a minor in poverty and human capability.  He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. He is also a Bonner Scholar, representative of the Class of 2014 to W&L’s Executive Committee, the junior class justice to the University Board of Appeals, coordinator for the Volunteer Venture pre-orientation trips, alternative break chair for Nabors’ Service League and vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

A graduate of Niles North High School, Thomas started the Robotics Club utilizing a $2,000 grant from NASA and using LEGO NXT robots to introduce middle school students in Lexington to robotics, electronics, computer science, programming and engineering design. He also is a student neuroengineering researcher, is a clinic and client support intern at the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic and a shift leader for Campus Kitchens.

Schwotzer, a junior from Pittsburgh, is a biochemistry major. She has a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship grant to support research in the biology department with Professor Gregg Whitworth, is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society and Pi Beta Phi Sorority and is on the Honor Roll and Dean’s List.

A graduate of Peters Township High School, Schwotzer is a volunteer at Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center in Lexington, is a peer tutor in chemistry and is a member of the Western Pennsylvania Dressage Association and the Southwest Virginia Dressage Association.

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.

Thomas and Schwotzer 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.

This is the last CSS presentation of the 2012-2013 academic year. The presentations for the 2013-2014 academic year will begin in September.

Derek Barisas Awarded Fulbright to Iceland

Washington and Lee senior Derek Barisas, of Fort Collins, Colo., has received a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Iceland.

Barisas’ Fulbright grant project is “Evolutionary Status of the Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit.” He will be doing genetic testing of the black-tailed godwit under the supervision of Dr. Snæbjörn Pálsson at the University of Iceland.

“The Icelandic subspecies of the godwit could be at the rare point of becoming a new species,” said Barisas. “Although understanding of how species develop is the heart of evolutionary biology, relatively little is known about the process.”

Barisas’ first trip to Iceland was, as he said, “by accident,” but it’s why he chose Iceland for his Fulbright research grant. An extended layover in Reykjavic occurred when he was on his way to a W&L Spring Term 2012 course in Stockholm. It opened his eyes to the extraordinary genetics that Iceland has and to the unique biological histories of its inhabitants.

Barisas explains that due to geographic isolation, settling an island is an event that favors the formation of a new species, known as speciation. “Now is the opportune time to study the Icelandic subspecies of the black-tailed godwit because its population is increasing and moving into new habitats. Analyzing the genetic makeup of the godwit population in Iceland may clarify the origin of Icelandic avian diversity and the process of speciation.”

“Derek’s many research experiences make him well suited for his proposed project studying the genetics of the Icelandic black-tailed godwit,” said Professor of Chemistry Fred LaRiviere. “His intellectual curiosity extends well beyond science, so I know that he will also immerse himself in as much Icelandic culture as possible. He is a wonderful and unique individual and is well deserving of this Fulbright grant.”

Barisas, a biochemistry major, belongs to Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Delta Honor Society (pre-medical), Beta Beta Beta Honor Society (biological) and the American Chemical Society. This year, he is the director of public relations for WLUR, and he has hosted a weekly radio show since 2009.

He is working as a research assistant in Riviere’s chemistry lab and has co-written two publications with faculty, staff and students that are in various areas of publication. He has presented three posters at various intramural research poster sessions and has been an R.E. Lee Summer Scholar.

Barisas received the James Lewis Howe Award for distinguished chemistry students in the Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society, and the Todd Jones Scholarship in 2011, a paid scholarship to travel and study music or dance.

“Derek is the epitome of a true liberal arts student: he has wide-ranging interests and a real love of learning,” said Professor of Biology Paul Cabe.  “He’s added a lot to my Spring Term course that he’s taking right now simply by his curiosity. His questions encourage questions from other students. Derek is a great person and will represent the United States and Washington and Lee very well when he is in Iceland.”

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

Lynchburg Attorney Honored by Washington and Lee School of Law

Attorney Robin Wood, principal at Edmunds & Williams in Lynchburg, was honored recently during the annual Order of the Coif ceremony at Washington and Lee School of Law.

Wood, who has taught Virginia Law and Procedure at W&L Law since 1980 as an adjunct professor of law, was inducted as an honorary member of Order of the Coif, a national scholastic society that encourages and supports excellence in legal education.

In expressing her gratitude for Wood’s service to the School, Law Dean Nora V. Demleitner remarked that Wood’s “impact on generation of lawyers in Virginia is likely unrivaled and unsurpassed.”

Others who spoke during the event included Eric Sorenson, a 1991 graduate of W&L Law and one of Wood’s partners at Edmunds & Williams, and Andrew (Uncas) McThenia of the W&L Classes of ’58, ’63 Law, a W&L law professor and a contemporary of Wood’s at W&L as an undergraduate.

“Your presence in the classrooms of Lewis Hall has made this a better place than it would otherwise be,” said McThenia in his introductory comments. “Your enthusiasm for lawyering is a wonderful gift. And even better it is catching. Your students leave here with a vision of what it means to be an exemplary lawyer.”

Wood received his B.A. from Washington and Lee in 1962 before attending law school at the University of Virginia. The Lynchburg native was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1965 and joined Edmunds & Williams in 1967. He specializes in litigation and corporate and business law. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Commercial Litigation.

During his distinguished legal career, Wood has held leadership positions as president of the Lynchburg Bar Association and executive committee member of the Virginia Bar Association. In addition, he has served as chairman of the Litigation Section of the Virginia State Bar. Wood is a Member of the Virginia Law Foundation and a participant in and former chairman of the Boyd-Graves Conference on Virginia Procedure, an influential law reform group.

Outside of his life as a lawyer and teacher, Wood served for many years as a football referee for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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