Feature Stories Campus Events

Mellon Foundation Grant to Enhance International Education at W&L

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Washington and Lee University a four-year, $577,000 grant in support of the University’s efforts to enhance the quality of programs and projects in international education.

The grant comes as W&L is embarking on a strategic initiative to integrate international experiences more effectively into the undergraduate program. Part of this initiative includes plans for a new $13.5 million Center for Global Learning.

“This grant from the Mellon Foundation arrives at an ideal time, and we’re very grateful to the foundation,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Not only are we in the planning stage of the new building to house our international education program, but we are also introducing well-planned enhancements of our curriculum. This grant will be invaluable as we continue to develop the academic programming in this important area.”

The programs to be supported by the Mellon grant are divided into three distinct areas— preparation, enhancement and reintegration—that correspond to the strategies developed to maximize the value of W&L students’ experiences abroad.

“Regardless of the kind of international engagement that students choose, each requires an intentional, three-stage approach to learning in order to integrate fully our students’ experience into their W&L education”, said Laurent Boetsch, director of international education at Washington and Lee. “The Mellon grant will assist us in helping students who spend time abroad to become active resources for global learning in our classrooms and on our campus.”

The grant will provide funding for a variety of activities including:

  • faculty travel to explore new overseas study opportunities or to lay the groundwork for new W&L spring term abroad courses
  • student summer research stipends in connection with faculty-supervised research overseas
  • special courses that prepare students for a forthcoming overseas experience
  • new courses that help returning students integrate their study abroad with their regular on-campus work
  • conferences on pedagogical issues in international education

“This grant is especially exciting because it offers us the support that we need to maintain our momentum in international education,” said Robert Strong, interim provost at W&L. “We are very pleased that the Mellon Foundation recognized the strides that we have made in this area and also the thoughtful planning that will make our efforts distinctive.”

The Mellon Foundation has awarded Washington and Lee more than $3 million in support in recent years. In 2011, the Mellon Foundation gave the University a $700,000 grant to establish a new Mellon Junior Faculty Fellows Program in the Humanities, which brings postdoctoral scholars to the University for mentored experience to prepare for independent careers.

Among other programs that have benefited from Mellon funding: enhancements to the four-week Spring Term; strategies to enhance international education at W&L; efforts to create a more diverse faculty; the addition of a Chesapeake Bay Watershed initiative to W&L’s Environmental Studies Program; the creation of a leave program for assistant professors to pursue research; the development of in-house funding for technology in teaching; and the addition of a post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies.

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

No Cells, No iPods, No English: Governor's Language Academies at W&L

Shortly after the 165 high school students from around the state of Virginia arrived on Washington and Lee University’s campus last weekend, they made a promise, in writing: no cell phones, no iPods, no iPads, and no English for the next three weeks.

The students are participants in three Virginia Governor’s Language Academies in Spanish, French and German.

The full-immersion experience means that the only contact the students are permitted to have with anyone outside the academy is limited to short letters home, and those can be in English. Otherwise, they are forbidden to speak or write in English during their stay.

“This is clearly the best way to learn a language,” said Dick Kuettner, professor in romance languages and teacher education at W&L and coordinator of the academies. “Research has shown clearly that you learn language through usage. These students will be using the language just as they would if they were living in the particular culture.”

This is the second year that the three academies have been at W&L, and Kuettner believes that the previous experience with the program has led to improvements in what is offered.

“We do not use textbooks. Everything is focused on the practical use of language inside and outside of the classroom,” he said. “It’s speaking and speaking and writing and writing. I’ve seen tremendous progress in the students. I’ve heard of students who have been in the program, then returned as college-level students to serve as resident advisors. They have told me that this three-week experience in full immersion made a bigger difference in their language skills than a semester or a year abroad.”

One wrinkle to the program is that the students will actually leave with three languages. Each academy is teaching its students an additional foreign language. For instance, students in the Spanish academy are learning Japanese, but they are being taught in Spanish. German students are learning Russian, and French students are learning Arabic.

“We had a very positive response to this when we introduced it,” said Kuettner. “The additional language takes advantage of the particular expertise of those teachers in the program who are multilingual.”

The program features several special activities, ranging from a popular inter-academy soccer tournament to dances in which students will demonstrate cultural specific dances to members of the other academies.

Kuettner has been especially pleased with the response the students have received throughout the W&L campus. He noted that people from the campus bookstore to the library who speak one of the languages are happy to engage the students in casual conversation.

“Students may go into the bookstore for supplies and wind up speaking in the language of the academy,” he said. “That’s wonderful practice for them. We have a diverse society here on the campus, and it’s open and welcoming and I have felt very proud that we have people who are energetic about having these talented high school students around.”

Of course, the presence of the language academy students puts a twist on W&L’s speaking tradition — the long-standing convention that people greet one another when they pass on the campus. Instead of the common hellos, campus visitors are as apt to hear “Bonjour” and “Guten Tag” and “Buenos Dias” for the next three weeks.

“The agreement that the students have made is that they will not speak a word of English until after the closing ceremony,” said Kuettner. “Then they can speak English — if they want to.”

The Governor’s Foreign Language Academies were originated in 1986 by the Virginia Board of Education with the aim of providing an exemplary experience in foreign language education. Beginning with a French Academy, the program’s early conception also included Governor’s Foreign Language Academies in Japanese, German, Latin, Russian Studies and Spanish.

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

Unique West Virginian — and W&L Alum

Back in 2012 when the Charleston Gazette wrote a review of the book by Washington and Lee alumnus Perry Mann, here is the way he was described in the lead paragraph:

“Hinton lawyer-thinker-farmer-writer-philosopher-teacher-father-veteran-iconoclast-rebel-reformer-progressive-curmudgeon Perry Mann is a unique West Virginian.”

Perry received a bachelor’s degree from W&L in 1949 and then received his law degree from the University in 1962.

He turned 92 this past March. An attorney in practice with his daughter in the Hinton firm of Mann and Mann, Perry is renowned for his essays that have appeared regularly in the weekly Nicholas Chronicle and occasionally in the Charleston Gazette.

His book, “Mann & Nature,” is a collection of 30 of his essays, which were characterized as “poetic tributes to the quiet nobility of working the land, enjoying the forest, and feeling the serenity of it all” by the Gazette’s reviewer.

You can sample some of Perry’s essays on his website: perryemann.com. As he explains on the site, he attended W&L on the GI Bill after serving four years in the Army Air Corps. At W&L, he notes, he met “Plato, Tolstoy, Dickens, et al.” Originally a school teacher in Virginia, he was fired for writing letters-to-the-editor in opposition to segregation. That’s when he came back to W&L for his law degree.

You can purchase Perry’s book on the publishers website: Kettle Moraine Publishing Co.

Here’s just a taste from an essay titled “New York Watches Iowa Corn Grow.”

“The Associated Press reports a camera focused day and night on an Iowa cornfield since May 17 has captured the attention of thousands of Web watchers who are ‘fascinated by the sight of the cornstalks getting taller with each passing day and have been e-mailing their appreciation.’ A teacher in New Jersey uses the CornCam Web to teach her students about farm life. And a publisher in New York says the view of the corn growing is the rage among his co-workers. As cheerleaders they recite encouragement: ‘ Go, Corn! All of New York City is pulling for you.’

“It is well they do pull for the corn, for without it and all else Iowa and other farm states grow, the Big Apiple would starve or have to roam the countryside in armed bands to forage at their peril.”

Another W&L Alum Named to Bankruptcy Court

Washington and Lee continues to dominate the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Roanoke lawyer Paul Black, of the Class of 1982, has been appointed a U.S. bankruptcy court judge by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Paul succeeds William F. Stone Jr., ’68, ’70L. Bankruptcy judges serve 14-year terms, and Bill was appointed in 1999.

But the court will still be two-thirds W&L since Paul will be joining Rebecca Connelly, a 1988 law school alumna who became the first woman to serve as a bankruptcy judge in the district. She was appointed last year.

Paul is a member of the Roanoke firm of Spilman, Thomas & Battle. He has specialized in litigation, banking and finance, and bankruptcy. A graduate of T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, he was a law clerk for the Hon. Black N. Shelley of the bankruptcy court for Virginia’s Eastern District prior to entering private practice.

The Western District stretches from Winchester to Lynchburg and to the state’s western tip. Paul is expected to take the bench by the end of the year.

Commentary: A Backwards-Looking Profession

Washington and Lee law professor Jim Moliterno argues that for its own self-interest, the legal profession should welcome the input of non lawyers and even cede some measure of power to them. This op/ed appeared originally in the National Law Journal.

by Prof. Jim Moliterno

To say, as I do, that the American legal profession is ponderous and backward-looking is no slam on individual lawyers. In describing the legal profession as resistant to change and determined to cling to its own status quo and past, I prescribe a controversial cure for the profession’s recalcitrance: Engage the expertise of creative non­ lawyers in the management of the profession itself. In times of change and challenge, some individual lawyers have seen change around them and adjusted and some have not. But never has the profession seen change and adjusted. Instead, the profession as an entity has acted as if it had eyes on the back of its head. But none on the front.

My recent book, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, has received some electronic attention from The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. The blogosphere’s attention so far has focused on the last chapter of the book, in which I offer some possible remedies for this disease. The most controversial remedy that I suggest is that nonlawyers — such as creative managers of cultural, economic, technology and business trends — should be enlisted to take a role in managing the legal profession (not managing any individual lawyer’s work) to help the profession move forward with the flow of the society it claims to serve. For its own self-interest, the profession should welcome their input and even cede some measure of power to them. In exchange, the legal profession would become a more positive force in the change that inevitably comes.

Many of the commenters on the blogs are missing the point and seem to think that the book is just more lawyer-bashing and that I am another pointy-headed academic suffering from a midlife crisis whining about lawyers’ faults. Nothing could be further from the truth: I think the vast majority of individual lawyers are good people trying to serve a vital function in society and make an honest living. My grievance is with the organized profession itself and its institutional responses to change and crisis. Indeed, many individual lawyers are frustrated with backward tendencies of their profession that prevent them from competing effectively in the global legal marketplace, from delivering legal services at lower cost to people, and from taking full advantage of technology and other developments.

The main thrust of my argument is that the legal profession persistently struggles to preserve its own status quo when change is happening all around it. I examine the actions of the profession during periods of time from the early 20th century to the present, when the legal profession self-announced it was in crisis, such as immigration trends in the early 1900s, growing civil rights activism and awareness in the 1950s and ’60s, heightened competition in the 1980s and ’90s, and the current changes in globalization, technology and economics. In every instance, although by different means, the legal profession sought to preserve its status quo against waves of cultural, economic, technological and other change. Mostly these efforts have failed because as the world changes around the profession, eventually the protective walls built around the profession are washed over. Change comes, no matter how much it may be resisted.

Ask members of American Bar Association reform commissions (Ethics 20/20 or Multijurisdictional Practice or Multidisciplinary Practice, for example) about their frustration with the process of profession-reform, and the message is the same: Navigating reform through the ABA House of Delegates is like threading a needle. Major reforms need not apply and often may not even be openly discussed. Commissioners regularly lament that they must avoid even remotely controversial proposals. Success for such a commission is defined as proposing such modest changes that they might be approved by the ABA House of Delegates. The changes approved never quite catch the profession up to the present, let alone thoughtfully project into the future. The 2009 charge issued by the ABA to its Ethics 20/20 Commission, created to examine the dramatic changes taking place in globalization and technology, was to “preserv…, protect…, and maintain.” In the 1870s, the goal of the first bar associations was little different. They were founded to “protect, purify and preserve” the embattled legal profession of the time. Success for the organized profession is about staying as much the same as possible.

Nothing changes in the functioning of the profession, while everything changes around it. But an indictment of the profession is no indictment of individual lawyers, whose proper role for individual clients is to look backward to precedent and protect client interests. Those same traits that make individual lawyers great and useful make them less able managers of a profession that must grow with and adjust to changes in the society it claims to serve.

James E. Moliterno is Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law. His book The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change was published by Oxford University Press.

From the Classroom to the Operating Theater

In May, Maggie Holland graduated as valedictorian of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2013. Only a few weeks later she was scrubbing in for a hysterectomy operation in Antigua, Guatemala.

She admits that she nearly fainted.

“It’s a good thing I don’t want to become a surgeon,” wrote Maggie in a letter back to Ellen Mayock, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish at W&L.

Maggie, a biology major, will enter Duke University’s physical therapy program in the fall.

So why a hysterectomy operation in Guatemala?

She was participating as an interpreter on a trip with a team representing the Faith in Practice program, which describes itself as “a community of health care volunteers who work to improve the physical, spiritual and economic conditions of the poor in Central America.”

Last winter, when Maggie knew that she was going to make the trip, she approached Professor Mayock with a request to help her learn some medical Spanish and also gain background information on Guatemala. That simple inquiry turned into a one-credit course for Maggie and two of her W&L classmates, something that all the participants said is indicative of the way things work at W&L. Here’s a story on that class.

With that course as a foundation, Maggie served as one of two interpreters on the 34-member team that made the trip, and she sent the following first-person report:

The first day was the triage day on which we evaluated people to determine their needs. I interpreted for the doctors while they evaluated the patients. I was very happy with the interpretation. The dialect was pretty easy to understand, and I used many words that we learned in our class! We did the surgeries over the next four days. The great majority of the cases were hysterectomies and hernia repairs. The surgeons also removed many gall bladders and very large tumors. My work consisted of speaking with the patients, calming their nerves and praying for them.  Besides that, I interpreted for the doctors and anesthesiologists and spoke with the families after the operations. I had a ton of fun!  I even got to scrub in to watch/help with a hysterectomy and I almost fainted. It’s a good thing I don’t want to become a surgeon!

The hospital in Antigua is the permanent home to 250 handicapped children and adults, and there’s a center for malnourished babies.  After I finished my work each day, I would play with the babies, and I loved that. The last day we were in Antigua we went to Nido Jesús Niño, a home for orphans started by two Spanish nuns 15 years ago. A group from Faith in Practice helps to support them. Visiting the orphanage was one of my favorite activities.

W&L Alumna on CBS Big Brother

When the new season of the reality game show Big Brother premieres on CBS tomorrow night, one of the 16 residents of the house will be a Washington and Lee alumna.

Helen Kim Fitzpatrick, of the Class of 1998, is leaving her Chicago home behind to compete for the $500,000 prize. She’ll be living for about three months (depending on how well she plays the game, of course) in a house in California that features 53 cameras and 97 microphones to record her, and her housemates’, every move.

This is the 15th season for the show. If you haven’t seen it, it is based on competitions to see who becomes Head of Household (HOH). The HOH is responsible for nominating three house guests for eviction in the live weekly show. Real devotees of the show can watch the interactions on live web feeds throughout the day.

Helen has been a political consultant, working most recently as government relations manager at Health Care Service Corporation. On her official bio on cbs.com, Helen admitted that the most difficult part of her quest will be being away from her family. She has two children — 2 1/2-and 4-years-old. “While I love my husband dearly, I have never been away from my kids longer than one week.”

W&L alums can give Helen an assist by voting for her as the Big Brother Most Valuable Player (BBMVP). New this season, the weekly winner of that vote will be awarded a special power. In fact, you can start voting even before the season begins at cbs.com.

Meanwhile, catch up with Helen and hear why she chose to get into the reality contest and what her strategy will be in the video below from the WeLoveBigBrother.com website:

W&L Law's Seaman on Voting Rights Decision (Audio)

Christopher Seaman, assistant professor of law at Washington and Lee University, provides background and context to today’s (June 25, 2013) landmark Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. Seaman is the author of two journal articles on the Voting Rights Act, including “An Uncertain Future for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: The Need for a Revised Bailout System,” which was published in the Saint Louis University Public Law Review in 2010. Listen to Seaman’s commentary below:

W&L Law's Ann Massie on Fisher Case (Audio)

Ann Massie, professor of law at Washington and Lee University, examines today’s decision (June 24, 2013) by the Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Listen to Massie’s commentary below:

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W&L's Wayde Marsh Named ODK National Leader of the Year

Wayde Marsh, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in May, has been named the national leader of the year by Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

Each year, ODK chapters, or circles, from throughout the country are invited to nominate an exceptional leader to be considered for the national award. The General Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year award is given to the student who has shown the greatest dedication to all of the five phases of campus life that ODK considers. Those areas are creative and performing arts; campus and community service; athletics; scholarship; and journalism, speech and the mass media.

Marsh, who becomes the first Washington and Lee student to win the prestigious award, will be awarded a $4000 scholarship toward his graduate studies at Duke Divinity School and a $300 grant from W&L’s Alpha Circle, of which he was president during his senior year.

“Wayde stands out among a very impressive group of leaders in the Alpha Circle for his easy demeanor, ability to find common solutions, and his dedication to upholding common values,” said Linda Hooks, Canaan Professor of Economics and faculty advisor to ODK. “Wayde’s election as student president of Alpha Circle last year reflects the high regard he earned from his peers at W&L.”

A politics and religion double major from Milford, Del., Marsh was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of Phi Kappa Psi social fraternity. He was honored at Commencement as the male winner of the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Medallion, awarded by a vote of the faculty to the male and female students in the graduating class who “excel in high ideals of living, in spiritual qualities and in generous and disinterested service to others.”

In her letter of recommendation on Marsh’s behalf, Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, noted his role as head resident advisor for upper division housing during his senior year: ” shows maturity, consistency and dependability in his approach to working with younger students,” wrote Evans. “He is responsible and thoughtful in his leadership, looking out for those who need assistance and challenging those around him to do their best. He is not a leader who demands the spotlight. However, he is comfortable taking charge and being up front when that is the best way to handle a situation.”

Added Evans: “Wayde also has the ability to develop and articulate a vision and to motivate others to work towards it. I expect great things from this outstanding young man. He is a leader in the truest sense of the word.”

Alexandra Brown, professor of religion and advise Marsh’s senior honors thesis in religion, described him as “a person of parts,” adding “in each part I know — academic, athletic, social, musical and spiritual — he shows depth, character, and great promise as a leader of his generation.”

Marsh was a two-sport athlete, excelling in both swimming and track and field. He earned a combined seven letters, four for swimming and three for track and field. He was captain of the swim team as a senior and a four-time All-American.

In May, Marsh won the William D. McHenry Male Scholar-Athlete Award and a month later he was named the winner to the 2013 Capital One Division III Academic All-America At-Large team.

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. He was vice president of 1 in 4 Sexual Assault Prevention group.

The process for selecting the Dougherty winner included recognizing one outstanding student from each of the five ODK phases of campus life. Marsh was cited in the athletics category.

Founded at Washington and Lee in 1914, ODK was the first college honor society of a national scope to accord recognition and honor for meritorious leadership and service in extracurricular activities and to encourage the development of general campus citizenship.

W&L Law Alum Reviving Cornbread

So here’s an intriguing question: “How does a Midwestern jazz pianist turned lawyer then cornbread baker find himself selling the Southern staple at Brooklyn’s most competitive flea market?”

That’s the lead sentence in Diana Tsuchida’s review on chef Marcus Samuelsson’s website of Jack’s Chedbred, the new product produced by Washington and Lee law alumnus Jack Sorock, of the Class of 2010.

According to the Jack’s Chedbred site, Jack decided in 2012 to retire from his two-year career as a practicing lawyer and began focusing on his passion to bring cornbread out of the shadows and back onto the table.

In the MarcusSamuelsson.com interview, Jack attributes his fascination with cornbread to summers at the Baldpate Inn in Colorado and the cornbread he had there. Now he’s making his own combinations — the Original, Jalapeno, Maple Bacon, Raspberry and Honey Sea Salt.

According to the review, it’s cornbread to remember: “moist, hearty and full of roasted kernels of corn and cheddar cheese that holds together bite after bite.”

The website promises that online ordering is coming soon. For the moment, you have to be in New York City to sample the delicacy at Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn Flea Food Market.

W&L Alumna Founds NYC Green Blog

Earlier this month, a website that focuses on sustainability in New York City made its debut, with Washington and Lee alumna Alden Wicker as its founder and blogger-in-chief.

EcoCult bills itself as “a curious, provocative, utterly enthusiastic view into the NYC sustainable scene.” And there’s more. “EcoCult is stunningly informed. EcoCult loves anything local, sustainable, eco-friendly, handmade — when it’s done well.”

The site is divided into six distinct areas:

  • Do provides the latest green-related events;
  • Eat is, well, self-explanatory;
  • Shop has posts about where and what to buy, including Alden’s personal revelation of “How I Fake Good Hair, Sans Chemicals”;
  • Look is all about sustainable style;
  • Know offers New Yorkers tips on everything from where to find solar charging stations to a note on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to require composting;
  • Listen has music playlists and highlights upcoming musical events.

Alden, a member of the Class of 2009, has lived in New York for four years. As she notes on the site, however, she’s been living “the green lifestyle” since she was nine and attended a summer camp in the North Carolina mountains. From that early experience, sustainable living has become her passion.

A double major in mass communications and business administration, Alden has done lots of freelancing for publications ranging from Forbes to Huffington Post. She has also worked as assistant editor and social media coordinator for LearnVest, Inc., a personal finance website.

Whether you live in New York City or not, EcoCult has plenty of green tips to make a visit worthwhile. Check out Alden’s Twitter feed, too, at @AldenWicker.

W&L Alumnus Robert Balentine Honored by Metro Atlanta Chamber

Congratulations to Washington and Lee alumnus Robert Balentine, who has received the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s 2013 Business Person of the Year — Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award honors a business person “who has contributed over the whole of his or her career and is seen as a role model and inspiration to others.”

Robert, a 1979 graduate and a member of W&L’s Board of Trustees, is CEO of Balentine L.L.C., an investment advisory firm in Atlanta. The firm was started in 2009 and now has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management. Balentine’s business model is to serve as “the outsourced chief investment officer” for clients, a model that the Atlanta Business Chronicle described as targeting “entrepreneurs who have recently sold their business to larger firms, and foundations and endowments looking for more active management of their funds.”

The announcement of Balentine’s award also notes that he is an Eagle Scout and volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club, the East Lake Community Garden and the United Methodist Children’s home.

The video below from the Metro Atlanta Chamber shares “2:00 Minutes with Robert Balentine”:

W&L's Interim Provost on MIICs vs. MOOCs

The following op-ed appeared in The Richmond Times-Dispatch on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, and is reprinted here with permission.

MIICs, not MOOCs, at Washington and Lee

by Robert Strong
Interim Provost
Washington and Lee University

You can’t read about higher education these days without coming across multiple references to MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses. More people are probably writing and talking about MOOCs than actual students are completing online courses, but either way you count it, MOOC mania is widespread. On my campus, however, we might not have MOOCs, but we do have MIICs — Massively Intensive Innovative Courses.

Allow me to explain.

A few years ago, at the conclusion of a long, drawn-out discussion about calendar and curriculum, the faculty at Washington and Lee adopted a plan to revitalize the short term at the end of our regular academic year. For many years, W&L had a six-week spring term with students taking either two courses on campus or one six-credit course off campus. It was a January term with good weather. It worked, but not perfectly.

The revitalized spring term is shorter and more intense. We now expect students to take one four-week course each spring that will fully engage them. The faculty developed new courses with innovative pedagogies and course enhancements that often involve travel, guest speakers and special activities outside the classroom.

A generous grant from the Mellon Foundation helped the faculty create more than 200 spring term courses. A grant from the Teagle Foundation supported our efforts to enhance and expand our Spring Term Abroad programs.

The new spring term is now four years old, and the early results are in: The faculty is exhausted, and the students are excited. Off campus, students are doing internships in Washington, D.C., shadowing physicians in Richmond, and traveling abroad with W&L professors in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. On campus, they are taking courses titled Computer Forensics, the Science of Cooking, Introduction to Robotics, Aerial Dance, Animal Behavior and Human Morality, the Mathematics of Puzzles and Games, Genetic Engineering and Society, Motion Picture Screenwriting, Diplomacy in Practice, Superheroes and Great Trials in History. The list goes on.

Many of the courses involve travel and special guest speakers. Cheech Marin, the comedian and actor, is an avid collector of Chicano art. He spent time on campus with students taking a course on that subject and shared a gallery display from his personal collection. A philosophy course studying the abortion controversy went to Washington to hear oral argument in the Supreme Court. History students studying the civil rights era traveled to some of the landmark locations where demonstrations and assassinations shaped the national agenda on those issues. An economics class on the auto industry included a trip to Detroit to meet with executives of the Ford Motor Co. Students in a geology course stood next to lava flowing from a Hawaiian volcano into the sea, and a class on Shakespeare traveled to the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton and did their own performance of “Hamlet.” The outside-the-classroom enhancements go on and on.

The idea behind the new intensive and innovative spring term is to break free from the bonds of regular classroom learning and to overcome the tendency of students to spread themselves thin across a variety of academic activities. For four weeks in the spring, our undergraduates study one, and only one, subject. During those four weeks, they become deeply involved in their single course, and they go beyond regular and routine classroom lectures and discussions. This is not education as mere content or packageable instruction. No, these courses are massively intensive and massively innovative and could legitimately bear the acronym of MIIC.

Of course, we do not call our new spring term courses MIICs or use any other clever terminology to describe them. I do so here for the cheap trick of attracting attention to a worthwhile educational project that might otherwise be ignored.

At many liberal arts colleges, faculty and administrators are working hard to maintain and improve an educational model that runs in the opposite direction of MOOC mania. At liberal arts colleges, we don’t want our students to be distance learners; we want them to work side by side with faculty. We don’t want to design educational activities for the masses; we want to continue to provide excellent students with the time and attention of dedicated, creative teacher-scholars, even if that time and attention is expensive. We don’t constantly look for ways to deliver generic educational products to large groups of people; we do pay attention to improving the special educational experience available on small, close-knit campuses like Washington and Lee.

The diverse world of higher education might need both MOOCs and MIICs. Intensity and innovation are just as important as openness and accessibility. MOOCs might earn their place in some colleges and universities, but we should not allow them to overshadow and overwhelm other worthwhile educational reforms that happen to lack an acronym and a patina of revolutionary change.

Robert A. Strong is interim provost and the William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University. 

W&L Archaeologists Unearth Major Find on Robinson Hall Construction Site

As work began this month on the restoration of Washington and Lee University’s Robinson Hall, one of five buildings composing the historic Colonnade, Alison Bell paid an obligatory visit to the work site.

As chair of W&L’s Historic Preservation & Archaeological Conservation Advisory Committee, she routinely visits construction projects on campus as they get underway to determine if there are any preservation issues.

In this instance, Bell, associate professor of archaeology at W&L, doubted there would be much to see around the site of Robinson, which was constructed in 1840 and now serves as home to the Department of Mathematics.

Within minutes of walking onto the lawn behind Robinson and between Washington and Tucker halls, Bell knew she’d been wrong just by virtue of the numerous artifacts that she found on the surface.

“There was a dense scatter of artifacts from the early 1800s — not at all what I had expected,” she recalled. “Steven Lyle, W&L archaeology intern, and I put in one 2½-by-2½-foot test unit and found a remarkable assortment of material.”

That happened on Wednesday, June 12. After a rainy Thursday kept them away from the find, Bell and her team converged on the site last Friday, June 14, to start digging in earnest. They worked about 10 hours a day for the next three days, uncovering literally thousands of early-19th-century artifacts buried only two inches under the surface.

As it happened, the ground behind Robinson had been virtually undisturbed for more than 200 years, resulting in what Bell calls a “rich, rich site” that will help paint a more complete picture of student life at Washington and Lee in the years immediately after the institution moved from Liberty Hall, west of the current campus, to the ridge nearer Lexington, where the Colonnade stands today.

Bell is fairly confident that what they have uncovered is the construction site of Graham Hall, a combination classroom and dormitory building constructed in 1804 and demolished in 1835. Graham was one of a pair of identical, two-story brick structures; its twin was Union Hall. These were the first buildings the Washington Academy trustees built with funds from George Washington’s gift of canal stock. Eventually the Center Building — today’s Washington Hall — would be constructed between Graham and Union; it opened in 1824.

“The time frame is perfect,” said Bell. “Most of the artifacts are from the early 1800s up until about 1840, although there are some later objects that date to the Civil War. This tracks with the construction of Graham Hall, and then its destruction in 1835.”

By the end of that first weekend, Bell and her team, including W&L staff archaeologist Donald Gaylord, had dug 22 2½-by-2½-foot quadrats and had removed bags upon bags of soil to sift through later in a makeshift laboratory in nearby duPont Hall.

Once the team had cleaned the artifacts from each numbered quadrat on the site, they placed the most interesting items on a table, which they marked off with the same grid as the dig site so that the proximity of one artifact to another is clear.

Some of the items that stand out for Bell are a complete pocketknife, bone toothbrushes, slates, nibs for pens, medicine vials, pieces of a Rockingham Pottery pitcher displaying Rebecca at the Well, bone handles, ammunition of varying kinds, and a jaw harp. And the list goes on.

“There are so many things to be excited about regarding this site,” Bell said. “Not only do we have the evidence of the construction of Graham Hall with bricks left from that, but then we can see so much of the daily lives of the students by looking at all that we’re finding,” said Bell, who is herself a graduate of W&L, in 1991. “As we look, for instance, at the type of buttons and buckles, we have found a range of quality, from copper alloy (brass) and delicate mother-of-pearl buttons to bone buttons.

“Some of the most interesting objects are those that show the academic experience,” she continued. “Lots of slate to write lessons on, and what we think are many examples of science labs — pieces of beakers, thermometers, glass stir rods. It’s rare to get a glimpse of early college life like this. We were, after all, among the earliest colleges in the country, so we are one of only a few that would even have an opportunity to see a site like this.”

Bell surmises that the site was near a door of Graham Hall. In that era, the normal way that people got rid of all sorts of unwanted material was to throw it out a back door, creating a midden.

“This wasn’t a class thing. Everybody did this, and we find collections of artifacts often accumulate around doorways,” Bell said. “We might have happened upon a doorway of Graham Hall. That could explain some of the artifacts. Others like buckles and buttons were probably just lost.”

While the vast majority of material dates between 1805 and 1840, there are outliers. One of the pieces that Gaylord points to as an unusual find for the era is a tobacco pipe of white ball clay.

“A pipe like this one would have been more common in the mid- to late 18th century,” said Gaylord, who joined the W&L staff in January after 12 years as an archaeologist at Monticello. “This could be a pipe that a student had kept for some time. Or it could be something that pre-dates the building of Graham Hall, back to the time when this site was a farm.”

On the other end of the spectrum are several pieces that date to the 1850s and beyond. An 1851 penny is one of those representatives of a slightly later period, as are several minie balls from the Civil War era.

“We have one minie ball that was not fired. Our supposition is that it was dropped on the site, perhaps by participants in Hunter’s Raid on Lexington in 1864,” said Bell. “We know that VMI was destroyed in the raid, but Washington College was vandalized but not burned down. This minie ball and some others like it could have come from that event in 1864.”

Gaylord noted that the unusual nature of the finding is largely the result of its having been protected from traffic over the centuries.

“It’s unusual, because so much of what we have found is just as it was when it was dropped,” he said. “This was a low-traffic area. It hasn’t been plowed or dug up except for some utility trenches. So finding things like bone toothbrushes is very atypical.”

During the three days of digging, Bell believes that they have uncovered only about one third of the site. She is now working with W&L’s Facilities Management Department to protect the remaining portions while work proceeds on Robinson. Even though the bulk of the Robinson work is on the interior, the archaeological site will be used for equipment.

“I’ve been in touch with archaeologists around the state to determine the best kind of material that we can get to protect what’s left to dig,” said Bell. “This represents an incredible future opportunity for our students as part of one of our spring digs.”

Along with Bell and Gaylord, the team members for the dig have included Karen Lyle, who works closely with the archaeology program in her capacity as an administrative assistant and has been intimately involved in cataloguing materials; Lauren Hatfield, a senior archaeology and history major, from Charleston, W.Va.; Steven Lyle, a VMI student who is an intern with the archaeology program; Chelsea Dudley, a recent Longwood graduate who has been working in the summers with the W&L archaeologists since high school; and Erika Vaughan, a 2012 graduate of W&L now working in Roanoke.

Robinson Hall is the fourth building to undergo a major renovation in the overall, $50 million project to restore the Colonnade, which was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1972.

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

New Soap Role for W&L Alum

After many years of taking his cues from executive producers of soap operas, Washington and Lee alumnus Grant Kunkowski will get to play one on a soap opera when he joins the cast of “Tainted Dreams.” It begins filming in late July.

Grant, whose stage name is Grant Aleksander, was well known for playing Philip Spaulding on “The Guiding Light” on and off for 27 years. He will now play a character named Adam Clark on the new soap opera about a soap opera.

“With more than 30 years in daytime both in front of and behind the camera, I have experienced many executive producers, and now it will be fun to actually play one,” Grant said in an interview with the website “We Love Soaps.”

“Tainted Dreams” is billed as a “dramedy” that follows the lives of the cast and crew, including the corporate network heads, of a fictional show called “Painted Dreams.”

Grant received his W&L degree in 2012, 34 years after he first entered the University. He left after his sophomore year to pursue an acting career in New York. When he was back in Lexington these past few years, taking classes to finish his major in theater, Grant worked with his fellow students on several productions.

Sociology Professor Wins Prize Linked to Her Shepherd Program Internship

Shannon Elizabeth Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, recently won the 2013 Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association. While we like to take general credit for our graduates’ accomplishments, in this case her achievement really does result from her studies at Washington and Lee.

Shannon, a 2000 graduate with degrees in biology and religion, took the prize for her article “Feminist Activist Ethnography as Resistance to Neoliberal Lockdowns on Democracy: Exposing Environmental Injustices through Photovoice.”

Shannon came up with the idea for Photovoice in 1999, while she was a student intern in West Virginia for W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program. She kicked off the effort in 2008 by providing cameras to 40 women from five communities in southern West Virginia. Since then, the participants have created online essays of photos and text, which you can view on the Photovoice website, which says the project aims “to increase civic engagement in rural coalfield communities and give voice to residents’ concerns and ideas for change.” We blogged about Shannon’s involvement in Photovoice a few years ago.

Shannon, who was a University Scholar here, has compiled a packed academic record since W&L: three master’s degrees, a graduate certificate and a Ph.D. This fall, she will add a book to that résumé, “Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice.” You can read more about her research interests and teaching career at her personal website, http://www.shannonelizbell.com/.

Shannon is donating her prize money to the Sludge Safety Project in West Virginia, where locals are working on a moratorium on underground coal-slurry injections. The Boguslaw Award honors work that addresses “the concerns of ordinary people rather than reflecting organizational or institutional agendas,” says the American Sociological Association’s website.

W&L Law Alum Wins National Award for Writing

Chris Brady, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, was honored, along with a colleague at the Denver firm Husch Blackwell L.L.P., with a Distinguished Legal Writing Award from the 2013 Burton Awards for Legal Achievements.

Chris, an associate with the firm, and David Steefel, a partner, co-authored “The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction,” which appeared in the April 2012 issue of The Colorado Lawyer.

The article discusses the elements for establishing and defending a claim under the Hague Convention and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, as well as various procedural aspects of such a claim — and practical guidance and useful resources for attorneys undertaking their first convention case.

Chris, who served as lead article editor of the Washington and Lee Law Review, practices complex commercial litigation and employment litigation. According to his biography on the Husch Blackwell website, he has represented clients in a wide range of commercial disputes, including breach of contract actions, trade secret enforcement and success for liability disputes.

In addition to the Burton Award, Chris was named a Rising Star in the employment and labor division of the 2013 Colorado Super Lawyers and was named an Up and Coming Lawyer in 2012 by Law Week Colorado.

W&L, RANA Dedicate the Peterson Co-Location Center

The 4,500-square-foot co-location center serving both Washington and Lee University and the Rockbridge Area Network Authority was formally dedicated on Friday, June 14, as the Richard A. Peterson Center.

Situated on the W&L campus just north of the School of Law, the new facility has replaced the aging data center on the University’s campus. It allows multiple service providers to co-locate their network equipment as part of the county-wide broadband project that was initiated in 2010 with the receipt of a $6.9 million federal grant.

The building, which has been in operation since November 2012, when the University moved its servers into the space, is named for Rick Peterson, W&L’s former chief technology officer, who died in January 2011. Peterson had been the guiding force who brought the various parties together to apply for the grant.

“Rick Peterson’s vision led three governments to join the University, and their will to work together led to this,” said Hunt Reigel, chairman of the Rockbridge Area Network Authority. “The center that we dedicate today will be the hub of RANA’s network links. The notion that Washington and Lee could leverage its interest in constructing a data center into a major hub for communications in the region was due, in large part, to Rick’s efforts.”

Washington and Lee contributed $2.5 million of $3 million toward the project. The $6.9 million grant was one of 94 Recovery Act investments in broadband projects in 37 states that were announced in 2010.

The RANA project plans to connect to broadband up to 50 community institutions throughout Rockbridge County.

“Rick was a visionary of what could be,” said Steve McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer at W&L. “He saw the possibility of a plan that could both meet the needs of the University but also provide a greater good to the wider community.”

Since it was completed in November, the Peterson Center has been operating as a node on W&L’s state-of-the-art fiber ring, supplementing a second node on the other end of the campus.

Calling the building “a geek’s paradise,” David Saacke, who succeeded Peterson as chief technology officer, said that the benefits of the center are already being felt.

“This center is the central nervous system to the total (RANA) project. This building is a hub with miles of giver spokes through the cities and into the far extremes of the county,” said Saacke. “It’s going to have huge potential for future technological services to be delivered to businesses and residences.

“The benefit to W&L is in broadband competition. In a rural area, we pay high dollar. But before we light up a single customer on RANA, our new contract is significantly better because they know that we’re coming.”

In describing Peterson’s contribution to the RANA project, Saacke, like McAllister, used the word “visionary,” adding that Peterson had the perfect balance, as a visionary with an appreciation for the “now.”

“He understood the need to deliver instead of simply talking about it,” Saacke said.

Members of Peterson’s family attended, including his widow, Mary Peterson, a customer service specialist in W&L’s Facilities Management Department. Noting that “Rick always found that a good challenge was fun,” she added that the center and Friday’s gathering for the dedication were tributes to “his larger-than-life spirit and his ability to bring people together.”

Globe-Trotting Journalist Agnieszka Flak '03

Agnieszka Flak, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2003, is carving out an adventurous career in journalism, as an energy and commodities correspondent with Reuters. She’s about to leave her most recent posting, in Johannesburg, South Africa, with fond and vivid memories of this excellent 2011 adventure: a 5,600-mile round trip from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salaam—on a Vespa scooter.

Agnieszka kicks off her June 10, 2013, piece for Reuters with style: “It sounded like a shotgun: bang, bang, bang. The back wheel swirled in a slalom and my Vespa scooter came to an abrupt stop. Not even halfway through my two-wheeled trip across parts of Africa and the back tyre burst. I steered away from the traffic that trailed behind me on this pothole-littered mountain pass, just as a truck gently nudged my back license plate. The 200 kg (440 lb) piled on the seat, two carriers and between my legs were too much for the seasoned two-wheeler and I got stuck: on top of a mountain in Tanzania’s Baobab Valley, surrounded by baboons, possibly lions, and without a spare.”

She and traveling companion Alberto Rinaldi also kept a blog about the journey: “Sharp Sharp, Vespa! Africa in Slow Motion on Two Little Wheels.” That catchy name, writes Agnieszka, derives from the phrase South Africans used “to salute and cheer—we use it to tell our beloved Vespa: ‘Don’t give up!’ “

At W&L, Agnieszka majored in theater and in journalism and mass communications. The year after graduation, she held a Watson Fellowship that took her from Croatia to Australia. She began her career with Reuters in 2007, and has since lived in Warsaw, London and Helsinki. She even did a temporary stint in Kabul. You can keep up with Agnieszka’s Reuters stories on the company’s website.

Her four years in Johannesburg may be coming to an end, but she and, presumably, the Vespa, are headed for a new Reuters assignment in another fascinating corner of the world: Italy.

W&L Alum Michael McGuire on Value of Liberal Arts

The following op-ed by Michael McGuire, who graduated in May with a double major in journalism and Spanish, was published in The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, June 13, 2013, and is reprinted here by permission.

A good problem to have: ‘You can do anything’

In quickly changing world, a liberal arts education may be more useful than training for a specific career

By Michael McGuire ’13

When they left me outside my freshman dorm in the fall of 2009, my parents told me I could do anything. It was a wonderful compliment, a sign of confidence that made me feel just a little less guilty for the substantial investment they were making for me in a private liberal arts education.

But a month or so later, when I sat down with my adviser, I realized doing “anything” wasn’t an option. I had to decide on something: a major. I needed to choose a path to follow for the rest of my time at Washington and Lee.

A lot of my friends already knew what their something was, and they directed four years of classes and internships toward being investment bankers in New York City or campaign managers in Alabama. Others knew they were headed to Harvard Law or a Ph.D. program at Columbia.

I wasn’t so sure. I knew I wanted to write and to speak another language. But even though I thought law school might be a next step, I never had a specific career in mind.

My decision to major in journalism and Spanish made me nervous at the start of my senior year. After a wild summer covering cannibals and synthetic drugs for a Spanish-language newspaper in Miami, I wasn’t sure about becoming a reporter. I wasn’t even sure how much longer paying news jobs would be around, with so many newspapers giving away content for free. My coursework couldn’t drown out the nagging thought that my choices weren’t as practical as planning a career in business or computer science.

It took me a while to realize I’d been thinking about the liberal arts education — and a college education in general — all wrong.

College is now too often described as (expensive) four-year job training and an automatic “in” to a wonderful first job. But people who think of it that way don’t understand the true value of a liberal arts education. It’s not about learning to do something; it’s about learning to do everything and to adapt to an environment in which you know how to do nothing. It’s about making use of intelligence, learning how to be a productive citizen in ways that go beyond paychecks and consumer spending.

At a small school like Washington and Lee, it’s also about working with professors and learning from them outside the classroom. It’s about getting an esteemed group of mentors from which to choose and feeding off their passion.

Sure, I’ve learned a lot of things with little application outside of journalism. (Who else would use Avid NewsCutter software?) And I know more about Spain’s colonization of the New World than is likely to be useful. But I’ve gotten so much more out of the past four years than students stuck inside one academic building could ever get.

I’ve gone spelunking with a geology professor and can tell the difference between gabbro and granite. I can explain originalist interpretations of the Constitution and debate the ethical constraints of memoir. I’ve performed with our choir inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone and during a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. I’ve shaken hands with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and dined with civil rights activist Julian Bond. I’ve lived for a semester in Seville, Spain, with a widow who knew just one word of English (artichoke). I’ve written essays and columns for newspapers and magazines and found that getting paid hardly anything (even nothing) did not render the opportunity a waste of time. I’ve anchored a local news broadcast and helped a professor design a book jacket.

I admit I didn’t retain much calculus, but I can think critically and I can write. I’m fluent in Spanish now too.

The point is that the fear that has overwhelmed me for the past several months is irrational. Yes, it would be nice to have an exciting job offer tailored to what I’ve studied. It would be less stressful to know exactly what it is I’m supposed to do.

But it could also be problematic. The world of work is evolving faster than anyone could have predicted during freshman orientation. The job descriptions being written today wouldn’t have made much sense four years ago. And what workers need to know once they have their jobs is constantly in flux.

So what’s the point of training for a specific job, or sending children to school to study just one thing? Why expect at the onset that the end goal is a certain starting salary? It might be better to get to the end of college and, like many of my classmates, have the same problem you had at the start: You can do anything.

Michael McGuire of Easton studied journalism, Spanish and creative writing at Washington and Lee University and graduated in May. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines. His email is askmichael@live.com, and his website is http://michael-mcguire.com.

W&L Alumnus Ordained as Deacon

Scott Sina was in the news last month for a couple of rather different reasons.

First, we wrote about his stolen Washington and Lee class ring, which was found in a Huntington, W.Va., backyard and successfully returned to him.

That story appeared a few weeks before Scott was featured in the Arlington, Va., Catholic Herald, which wrote about his spiritual journey from “the edge of atheism” to his ordination as a transitional deacon in the Catholic Church.

Scott holds both his undergraduate degree (political philosophy, Class of 1995) and law degree (Class of 2000) from W&L. He also earned a master’s degree in legal and political theory from University College in London in 1996.

As the story is told in the Catholic Herald, Scott’s time in London, especially staying at the Newman Center there, “kept me from going over the edge to atheism.”

It wasn’t until he’d begun practicing law, however, first in West Virginia (where his class ring was swiped) and then in Virginia Beach (where his firm did business law for the Richmond Diocese) that he began to attend Mass again. “It was like being called home,” he said.

After moving to a firm in northern Virginia, where he practiced commercial litigation and construction law, Scott got more involved with the church. He entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary because, as he said in a Q&A on the Arlington Diocese website, “I finally felt that my attraction to the priesthood could not be ignored.”

And so Scott was ordained as a transitional deacon on June 1, in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. In that capacity, he is in his last year of seminar study and will be ordained as a priest next June. He began serving the Church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Va., earlier this month.

Zamoiski Honored by Cable TV Pioneers

Washington and Lee alumnus John Zamoiski, of the Class of 1974, was honored last weekend at the 47th annual Cable TV Pioneer banquet, in Washington, D.C.

John is executive vice president for client innovation at Brand Connections, which acquired the Bottlerocket Marketing Group that John founded. He is one of the only inductees in the history of the Cable TV Pioneers who has never worked for a cable company, cable network or cable technology company.

Since 1966, the Cable TV Pioneers have honored individuals who have a minimum of 20 years of direct involvement in the cable industry and have made a meaningful contribution to the development of the cable communications industry.

John’s career in marketing has involved close ties with the entertainment industry, including such cable TV networks as AMC, HGTV, Turner Entertainment and A&E. Through those ties, he and his company have promoted some of the top cable television series, from “The Walking Dead” to “Mad Men.” We wrote about John’s work last July based on the attention his company had garnered for its promotional work at Comic-Con.

In a new release announcing the award, John said: “I have been very fortunate to work in an industry that I love for the past 30 plus years where I have had the opportunity to launch networks, promote programming and introduce groundbreaking services that have changed the way we engage with entertainment and each other.”

Washington and Lee University Recognizes Retirees

Washington and Lee University recognized five retiring members of the University’s faculty during commencement exercises. Six retiring members of W&L’s staff were recognized during the Employee Recognition Banquet in April.

The 11 faculty and staff are Bruce Boller, visiting professor of physics, 2003-2013; Linda Davis, administrative assistant, physics and engineering, 1999-2013; Bob de Maria, professor of journalism and mass communications, 1977-2013; Joan Kasper, administrative assistant, Law Library, 1996-2013; Bill Mack, custodian, Facilities Management, 1972-2013; Holt Merchant, professor of history, 1970-2013;

Mike Pleva, professor of chemistry, 1969-2013; Nellie Rice, executive assistant to vice president and dean of students, Student Affairs, 1959-2012; Jane Stokes, accounts payable coordinator, Business Office, 1996-2012; Vaughan Stanley, associate professor, Special Collections librarian, 1973-2013; and Mike Young, director of public safety, 1991-2013.

W&L Announces Promotions and Tenure

Washington and Lee University announced the promotion of six members of its faculty to full professor, while promoting seven faculty members to associate professor and also awarding tenure.

The Board of Trustees approved the promotions and tenures during its meeting in Lexington in May.

Promoted from associate professor to full professor:

  • Johanna Bond, law. She joined the School of Law faculty in 2008. She received a B.A. from Colorado College in political science; an M.A. from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota with a degree concentration in women and public policy; a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School; and an LL.M. in advocacy from the Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Christopher Bruner, law. He joined the School of Law faculty in 2009. He received an A.B. in English from the University of Michigan, an M.Phil. in English studies from the University of Oxford, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
  • Joshua A.T. Fairfield, law. He joined the School of Law faculty in 2007. He received a B.A. in history from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.
  • Susan D. Franck, law. She joined the School of Law faculty in 2008. She received a B.A. from Macalester College, a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School, and an LL.M. in commercial law from the University of London.
  • Sascha Goluboff, sociology and anthropology. She joined the faculty in 1999. She received a B.A. in sociology/anthropology and Russian studies from Colgate University and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Illinois.
  • Bill Hamilton, biology. He joined the faculty in 2001. He received a B.S. in biology from Syracuse University, an M.A. in plant chemical ecology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Syracuse University.
  • Jeff Kosky, religion. He joined the faculty in 2003. He received a B.A. from Williams College and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
  • Deborah Miranda, English. She joined the faculty in 2004. She received a B.A. in teaching moderate-special-needs children from Wheelock College and an M.A. and Ph. D. in English from the University of Washington.
  • Karla Murdock, psychology. She joined the faculty in 2005. She received a B.A. in psychology from Indiana University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia.
  • Angela Smith, philosophy. She joined the faculty in 2008. She received a B.A. in philosophy and political science from Willamette University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University.

Promoted to associate professor with tenure:

  • Timothy Diette, economics. He joined the faculty in 2004. He received a B.A. in economics and history from the University of Vermont and an M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Carrie Finch, mathematics. She joined the faculty in 2007. She received a B.A. in French from Messiah College, an M.S. in linguistics from Georgetown University, an M.S. in mathematics from Shippensburg University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of South Carolina.
  • Peter Grajzl, economics. He joined the faculty in 2009. He received a B.A. in economics from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland.
  • Afshad Irani, accounting. He joined the faculty in 2010. He received a B.A. in business economics from the College of Wooster and a Ph.D. in business administration from Penn State.
  • Harvey Markowitz, sociology and anthropology. He joined the faculty in 2004. He received a B.A. from Knox College with a major in sociology and anthropology, an M.A. in anthropology from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
  • Debra Prager, German and Russian. She joined the faculty in 2006. She received a B.A. in history from Princeton University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Germanic languages and literatures from Harvard University.
  • Sara Sprenkle, computer science. She joined the faculty in 2007. She received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Gettysburg College, an M.S. in computer science from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Delaware.

Awarded tenure:

  • John D. King, law. He joined the School of Law faculty in 2008. He received a B.A. in history and religious studies from Brown University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and an LL.M. in advocacy from the Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Timothy C. MacDonnell, law. He joined the School of Law faculty in 2008. He received a B.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, an LL.M. from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School, and an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Promoted to associate professor:

  • Brooke O’Brien, physical education. She joined the faculty in 2007 as head women’s lacrosse coach and assistant professor of physical education. She received a B.A. from Amherst College with a double major in psychology and law, jurisprudence and social thought, and an M.S. in exercise and sports studies from Smith College.

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

Smithsonian App Features W&L Tea Room

When the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., was preparing a new app, “Charles Lang Freer: Collecting Korea,” the producers wanted to include a film of a Japanese tea ceremony.

So they came to Lexington and filmed in the Senshin’an Tea Room in the Watson Pavilion at Washington and Lee.

The app, available on iTunes, is a guide to the 540 Korean artworks in the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery. Organized chronologically, the app traces museum founder Charles Lang Freer’s life and has a decade-by-decade examination of art with accompanying features.

Once you arrive at 1895-99 and view several of the bowls and objects that Freer bought during this period, there is a short video of a tea ceremony featuring Janet Ikeda, associate professor of Japanese at W&L.

W&L’s Tea Room had its grand opening in 2007 and serves as a classroom and cultural laboratory where students study and practice “temae,” the making of tea, which introduces them to history, literature, art, traditional customs, aesthetics and perceptions of beauty.

In 2011, Sen Genshitsu, the 15th-generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tradition of Tea, presented the University with the Tea Room’s name, “Senshin’an,” or “Clearing-the-Mind Abode.”

For additional background on the W&L Tea Room, see the video below:

Shepherd Consortium Dispatches Students to Poverty Internships

“We have a problem in this country that we have to attend to. And that’s why you’re here.”

The problem in question was poverty, and Harlan Beckley, director of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SCHEP), was addressing the 92 college and law students who gathered in Lexington last weekend to prepare for their unusual eight-week internships.

“More than one-fifth of Americans under the age of 18 live in households in poverty,” Beckley told the students, who represented 17 of the 19 consortium members. “We have a lot of evidence that people who live in those households for any appreciable time are going to have trouble with school, are going to have trouble with their health, are going to have trouble succeeding in the labor market. Not everybody will have trouble. Some people do just fine. But it’s not a good thing.”

As the students fan out across the country for positions with agencies that work to benefit impoverished members of society, Beckley warned them not to think that they are going to save the world in the next eight weeks.

“You can’t do everything,” he said. “But you can begin to figure out where you’re going to focus so that you can make a difference.”

The experience, he added, has the potential to be a transformative one. Past interns continued to testify to the importance of the internships in their lives.

Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion at W&L, who founded the University’s Shepherd Poverty Program, told the students that while they are going to be involved in service and in civic engagement, the most important part of the summer will be what they learn.

“This is part of your education,” he said. “Don’t think of the internship as going out and doing good things for people, though you will be doing that. Think of it as a part of your education, and the focus of this education is on poverty.”

This is the second year for the SCHEP-sponsored internships. The consortium was established in 2011, and the internships carry forward a collaborative program that was previously coordinated by Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. The orientation program was held at both Washington and Lee and neighboring Virginia Military Institute, which is a consortium member.

Through their internships, students learn firsthand about the multiple dimensions of poverty in the United States. They work alongside individuals who are seeking to improve their communities. The agencies are located in urban and rural sites in the U.S. and focus on education, health care, legal services, housing, hunger, social and economic needs, and community-building efforts.

Washington and Lee junior Nicky Peacher, a politics major from Weston, Mass., will be in Baltimore, working with Bridges at St. Paul School, a program that equips motivated Baltimore City youth with the tools to become future leaders.

“I’m anxious to get a good perspective on what these students need in terms of getting access to college,” said Peacher. “Ever since I came to W&L, I’ve been interested in getting involved in the Shepherd Program, and I’m now minoring in poverty studies.”

Maris Howell will be a junior at John Carroll University in the fall. A Bowie, Md., native, she is majoring in peace, justice and human rights at the Cleveland institution. Her internship will be in Washington, D.C., with Bread for the City, a private, non-profit organization that provides vulnerable residents with services including food, clothing, medical care and legal and social services.

“We’ll actually be living in Georgetown but working with Bread for the City, where I’ll be a case worker with people who are without income and trying to find public housing,” Howell said. “Among other things, I want to try to understand how it’s possible for people with such widely different income levels to be living just down the street from one another.”

Dominik Taylor, of Yorktown, Va., is a third-year student in Washington and Lee’s School of Law. His goal is to become a public defender, and he has been assigned to the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.

“I’m looking to see what it’s like defending indigent clients in the big city,” Taylor said. “I’m anxious to understand how all these issues — poverty, lack of education, mental health problems — play in these clients’ lives, and how they end up in the criminal justice system. All these issues will have an impact on my job as a future lawyer, and I want to see how that plays out.”

Among the other agencies where the SCHEP interns will be working are the Atlanta Food Bank, Legal Aid of West Virginia, the Clinton Foundation, in New York, the Family Center, in Helena, Ark., and St. Anne’s Mission to the Navajo Nation, in Arizona.

At the end of the internships, the students will reconvene at Washington and Lee for a closing conference and for a symposium at VMI featuring presentations by national leaders in the field of poverty studies.

“Ultimately, what we want you to learn is how your profession can diminish poverty,” Beckley told the students. “What can you do as a future physician, a future educator, a future lawyer, a future businessperson, a future policy maker, a future academic, whatever you choose to do — what can you do to diminish poverty in this country? What can you do in your future civic leadership to diminish poverty?”

The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty comprises Baylor University, Berea College, Centre College, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, the College of Wooster, Elon University, Furman University, Hendrix College, John Carroll University, Lynchburg College, Marymount University, Middlebury College, Millsaps College, Niagara University, Spelman College, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Notre Dame, Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.

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

Toni Locy Appears On WMRA

Toni Locy, the Reynolds Professor of Legal Reporting at Washington and Lee University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show on June 10 to discuss her new book, “Covering America’s Courts: A Clash of Rights” (Peter Lang Publishing, 2013).

As a newspaper reporter, Locy spent almost three decades reporting on the courts and America’s justice system for the Washington Post, Associated Press and USA Today, among others. Now she’s written a book aimed at helping others become better reporters.

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

Triple Crown Anniversary: Secretariat and a W&L Alumnus

As you watch the Belmont Stakes tomorrow, be sure to toast the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s winning of the Triple Crown—he sped to that honor on June 9, 1973. You’ll also want to salute Christopher Chenery, who graduated from Washington and Lee in 1909. He founded The Meadow, the Virginia farm that gave the world Secretariat (as well as many other fine Thoroughbred racehorses and breeding stock). He chose blue and white for his racing silks after the colors of his alma mater.

Chenery’s granddaughter Kate Chenery Tweedy visited campus last fall to talk about the book she co-wrote with Leeanne Meadows Ladin, “Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, the Family, the Legend.” Kate had never visited W&L, and she was delighted to tour campus and to read her grandfather’s handwriting in the matriculation records stored in Leyburn Library’s Special Collections. She also posed with a painting of her grandfather that used to hang in his dining room at The Meadow, in Doswell, Va. Now it graces a wall in Leyburn Library.

We blogged about the authors’ visit at the time; you can read that post here. We also blogged a couple of years ago about the 2010 movie, “Secretariat,” which focuses on Chris Chenery’s daughter, Penny Chenery. Read that blog here. She ran The Meadow after her father became ill and guided Secretariat’s astounding career. Now 91, she talks about Christopher Chenery and Secretariat in this interview. We bet she’ll be doing some celebrating on June 9.

Campus Kitchen Receives 2013 Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Award

Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University (CKWL) was awarded the Outstanding Educational Institution Volunteer Program award for 2013 by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on Thursday, June 6.

CKWL was represented by two W&L seniors, both of whom have volunteered with the program since their first year at W&L and are members of its leadership team: Angelica Tillander, a history major from Mt. Prospect, Ill., and Emily Warner, a psychology major from Rockledge, Fla. Both students are also minors in poverty and human capability studies.

The students attended a semiprivate breakfast with the governor, who presented CKWL with an engraved glass award and posed for photographs with the winners.

“It’s important that we celebrate the positive impact individuals, families, businesses and non-profits make in their communities through volunteerism each year,” said Governor McDonnell. “The honorees recognized here today are agents of change and inspire all Virginians to engage in their communities.”

CKWL combats hunger and promotes nutrition by recovering and reusing food that would otherwise go to waste and using it to provide balanced meals for low-income members of the community in Rockbridge County. In April 2012, the kitchen served its 100,000th meal. As of this spring, CKWL has served 131,328 meals, recovered 297,147 pounds of food and logged 23,653 volunteer hours.

The kitchen also operates a Weekend Backpack Program which covers all seven elementary schools in the Rockbridge area. Volunteers deliver backpacks filled with non-perishable food to the schools, targeting children who are eligible for free or reduced lunches and providing them with nutritious snacks for the weekend.

Another venture of CKWL has been the development of an organic garden on W&L’s campus that is used not only to secure produce for the kitchen’s operations, but also as a hands-on classroom for nutrition education.

CKWL began in 2006 operating out of temporarily vacant fraternity buildings at Washington and Lee. Six years later it moved into a newly-renovated permanent home equipped with walk-in coolers and new industrial appliances. The program is directed by Jenny Davidson, coordinator of student service learning at W&L.

“Campus Kitchen started out serving a few hot meals to a few places,” said Warner. “When I joined the kitchen, I was absolutely amazed at how many different communities it is involved with in Rockbridge County. We serve every population — elderly, disabled, youth — pretty much anyone you can think of who might be in need.”

Tillander pointed out that CKWL also engages students from across the W&L campus and from a wide array of backgrounds as well as fostering good student/community relations. “To have Campus Kitchen recognized for its volunteerism is a great thing for the organization,” she said.

The Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for almost 20 years. The awards are coordinated by the Office on Volunteerism and Community Service in the Virginia Department of Social Services each year through solicitations of nominations from around the commonwealth.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L Law Student Publishes Award Winning Article on Network Security

An article by Washington and Lee School of Law Class of 2013 graduate Matthias Kaseorg exploring unauthorized computer network access law was published recently. The paper was published as a part of the 2012 Edward F. Langs Writing Competition, in which Kaseorg placed third.

The article, titled “Wanderlust—The ‘Curious Exploration’ Partial Access Problems in Campus Local Area Networks,” appeared in the May 2013 issue of Michigan IT Lawyer. In the piece, Kaseorg explores the law and policy around access to the internet and local area networks in institutions of higher learning, with a special focus on the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (VCCA).

Kaseorg, a University of Virginia graduate from Charlotte, notes that the nation’s economy has globalized and grown increasingly interconnected, and that as a result, computer networking has become extremely important, especially within institutions of higher learning. Consequently, network security has become a major public policy issue.

“However, the legislative and judicial responses to computer crime have been over-broad and unpredictable, and have resulted in badly-formed jurisprudence,” Kaseorg argues. “Partial-access problems are difficult to address, but those in government need to better inform themselves about modern computer technology and cyber-crime issues.”

In conclusion, Kaseorg argues for a reformed VCCA that separates a criminal standard for network breaches from contractual violations. He says this would better address the realities of modern computer networking and cyber-crime.

The annual Edward F. Langs Writing Competition, run by the Michigan State Bar, celebrates the work of three student essays each year that in the opinion of the judges make the most significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of information technology law.

W&L Dancers Perform Aerial Dance at Corcoran

Performing aerial dance is challenging under any circumstances, but Washington and Lee University’s Repertory Dance Company confronted some special challenges when it performed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., last month.

Appearing before an audience of W&L alumni, members of the Corcoran and the general public, the W&L dancers had to choreograph their dance works with the historic Corcoran space in mind.

“Definitely, the Corcoran is one of the most unusual and beautiful places we have performed,” said Jenefer Davies, artistic director and assistant professor of dance at W&L.

The six dancers performed in a rectangular open space in a two-story atrium that is about 40 feet high and surrounded by columns.

Aerial rope and harness is often performed against a wall to give the dancer a solid base from which to push away and fly through the air. The Corcoran was especially challenging since the dancers were not able to use its columns or moldings as a base because of their historic nature and vulnerability. Instead, under the direction of Davies, the dancers were challenged to work creatively and create visually stunning movement in new ways.

The dancers created their own choreography in collaboration with Davies and prepared by visiting the space, studying images of the interior and working with computer-aided design drawings so that the choreography reflected the style of architecture specific to the Corcoran. The resulting dance highlighted various aspects of the architecture through movement and brought attention to detail that may not be evident to the passing eye.

“It was really exciting to be in that space and use it in a new way, especially in front of alumni since I’m a new alumna” said Jennifer Ritter, who graduated last month with a major in religion and a minor in dance.

For the W&L alumni who attended, the program was an introduction to the dance program, which is now in its seventh year and is, according to Davies, one of only two programs in the United States to offer aerial technique classes.

The aerial dance at the Corcoran was the culmination of a partnership between the Corcoran and Washington and Lee that began at the suggestion of Suzanne Humphries, a 2007 graduate who studied dance while at W&L and subsequently graduated from the Corcoran College’s M.A. program.

As part of the partnership, W&L dance students visited the Corcoran in April, and Corcoran students gave presentations on using space to create aerial installation art. The following week, the Corcoran students visited W&L and the dance students presented their work on using vertical space to create dance and showed them how to work with aerial ropes to see what it felt like to travel through space.

In addition to Ritter, the W&L dancers were Erin Sullivan ’13, Dana Fredericks ’12, Emily Danzig ’16, Abigail McLaughlin ’16 and Ashleigh Smith, box office coordinator at the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

W&L's Other Famous Resident: Patsy Cline

Country music icon Patsy Cline died 50 years ago this past March, and so a flurry of feature stories about her have cropped up in the past few months. One that caught our eye appeared in The Morning News, an online magazine of “essays, art, humor, and culture.” What does Patsy Cline have to do with Washington and Lee? More than you might know.

As writer John Lingan recounts in “A Closer Walk with Thee,” Patsy’s father, Sam Hensley, was the head boilerman at W&L from 1937 to 1942, and the family, including Patsy (her real name is Virginia; she was called “Ginny” at the time), lived in a house across Woods Creek from Doremus Gymnasium.

Patsy was five when the family moved to Lexington. The first professional music she ever heard, writes Lingan, wafted from the big bands that visited W&L. “For five years,” he writes, “Ginny sat by her bedroom window and heard weekly dance concerts by the world-class jazz orchestras that came on campus to soundtrack fraternity parties.”

You can find the more detailed story about Patsy Cline’s Lexington and W&L days in the book “Patsy Cline: The Making of an Icon,” by Douglas Gomery. He conducted research in Leyburn Library several years ago. He devotes a dozen pages to the family’s Lexington period, even listing many of the bands and, especially, female singers who performed during those years at Fancy Dress, Cotillion Club Opening Dance, Sophomore Prom and other functions, many held in Doremus.

One particular Fancy Dress that Gomery mentions was the 1940 event, when the CBS radio network broadcast Kay Kyser’s band nationally from W&L. Writes Gomery: “That W&L was even considered for a remote broadcast meant that the Hensleys (including Ginny/Patsy) would listen live or tune in on the CBS radio network and hear the same music.”

Patsy Cline’s Lexington period is part of the story that guides tell visitors to the Patsy Cline Historic House and Museum, which is now open for its second full season in Winchester, Va.

W&L's Gavaler on Superheroes and War in Roanoke Times

Chris Gavaler, visiting assistant professor of English, writes about the surge of superhero movies since 9/11 in an op-ed titled “Downsizing the super war on war” in the Roanoke Times on June 3, 2013. The terrorist attacks, he writes, are a “transformative accident” that doubled the superhero’s powers.

Gavaler teaches a Spring Term course on the literature of superheroes and writes a blog, “The Patron Saint of Superheroes.”

Read his Ronaoke Times piece at http://myw.lu/19FGU7e.

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Getting Real with W&L Alumna's Diet Book

Summer’s here, and you may be looking for a way to take off a few pounds —and keep them off. A new book by Lindsay Harris Hill, a 1997 graduate of Washington and Lee, could help.

“The Get Real Diet: Say Goodbye to Processed Food, Learn to Love Whole Food and Never Worry About Your Weight Again” offers what the author says is a “step-by-step plan to embrace a plant-rich, real food diet that will help you look and feel better in a matter of weeks.”

Lindsay was an English major at W&L, went on to get a master’s in communications at Georgia State and then earned a certification in integrative nutrition counseling from the Institute for Integration Nutrition. She’s the founder of Inhabit Health in Atlanta, where she provides one-on-one holistic health coaching and conducts healthy cooking workshops and healthy eating seminars.

Her new book explores such topics as why fad diets fail and the problems with processed foods. It also has plans for meals and menus to help readers lose weight.

Lindsay’s book is available in print and electronically at Amazon.

Exhibition “Observable Traits” Open In McCarthy Gallery until August 28

“Observable Traits,” an exhibit by Jason Clary and Doug Norman, is on display in McCarthy Gallery in Holekamp Hall at Washington and Lee University. It will run until August 28.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

“Observable Traits,” featuring the works of contemporary realist artists Clary and Norman, is a collection of paintings and drawings that are representational in nature and reflect a clear and unwavering commitment to observation as a formal directive, a method of discovery and a means of communication.

Clary works primarily within the figure/portrait idiom. “I am not interested in generalities, literary narrative, expansive gestures or exaggerated emotions,” said Clary. “I wish the people in my paintings to be self-contained and singular, to exist as they are (or at least as Ii can observe them). I see my progress as being a series of observational dialogues between painter and model; suggestion and substance—one of asking questions and receiving partial answers.”

Norman works with still life, portrait and figure in his paintings and drawings. “The still life paintings are all about something,” said Norman. “The arrangement of the various objects on the table is somewhat like the location of actors on a stage or a still from a movie. Each has its own mark, its place to stand and each has a role to play in the larger presentation.”

Although all of the works of both Clary and Norman are firmly rooted in the idiom of observational representation, the imprint of the individual artist is clearly evident. The works in “Observable Traits” are a clear reflection of the practical approaches of the artists, as well as their complementary but varied translations of the nature of observation.

The McCarthy Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer

W&L Alum Honored for PGA Leadership

Charles Robson, a 1972 graduate of Washington and Lee, will be honored by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association later this month when he receives the organization’s Distinguished Service Award.

Charlie has served as the executive director of the Metropolitan NY Professional Golfers’ Association since shortly after he graduated from W&L. According to the announcement, Charlie has overseen “a dynamic growth in the scope and membership of the organization.” The Metropolitan Section, one of 41 PGA sections throughout the country, administers programs for more than 700 PGA professionals and a 1,300-member Met PGA Junior Golf Association.

Charlie established the junior association and Junior Tour and began the organization’s Golf in Schools program in 1988. That program has been a model for other inner-city efforts across the nation. He was also credited with helping to found the First Tee of Metropolitan New York.

This is the latest of several awards that Charlie has received. In 2003, the Metropolitan Golf Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award, and he received the John Reid Lifetime Achievement Award from the Met Golf Course Superintendents Association in 1998.

W&L Law Students Receive Summer Funding for Public Interest Work

A number of Washington and Lee Law students have received external awards aimed at helping support students working at law-related public service jobs during the summer.

Several students received awards from the Virginia Law Foundation (VLF). Founded in 1974 as the charitable arm of Virginia’s legal profession, the VLF provides grant support to law-related projects throughout Virginia. Since making its first public service internship awards in 1989, the VLF has awarded over $1,000,000 to support hundreds of internships throughout the Commonwealth.

The VLF funded students are Ashley Hart, who will work for Central Virginia Legal Aid in Charlottesville, Brian Mack, who will work for Southwest Virginia Legal Aid in Christiansburg, and Katherine Moss, who will work for the Office of the Public Defender in Alexandria.

Four law students secured funding through the University’s Shepherd Poverty Program summer internship program. Dominik Taylor will work for the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Ethan Bishop-Watt will work for the Georgia Justice Project in Atlanta, Angelica Hendricks will work for the Fredericksburg Public Defender’s Office, and Amanda Cecil will work for the domestic violence prevention center House of Ruth in Maryland.

The law school also provided support through the Sarah Eckhoff Public Interest Fellowship, established in the memory of Sarah Eckhoff ’08 and awarded annually to a student or students providing unpaid work in the public interest. Receiving the Eckhoff fellowship this year was David Knoespel, who will work for the Federal Public Defenders Office in Newark, NJ.

In addition to those receiving external funding, many students received support directly from W&L for public interest work. The internal funding came from the Law School’s Office of Career Planning and the Federal Work Study program administered by the Financial Aid Office. The majority of students who received funding are working in legal aid and public defender offices.

Makkai ’99 on Visiting Bookstores as an Author

When last we wrote about Rebecca Makkai, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1999, we noted her spot on NPR’s “This American Life” and her first novel, “The Borrower.” Now she’s published a delightful blog over at Ploughshares, a literary magazine from Boston’s Emerson College. It’s titled “How to Shop at a Bookstore: An Easy 20-Step Guide for Authors,” and you can read it here.

Her advice to fellow writers is a mixture of pride, doubt and practicality. A few of Rebecca’s tips:

“See if, for just one second, you can remember what it was like to walk into a bookstore as a reader. Just a reader, a happy, curious reader. With no agenda, no insecurities, no history of bookstores as scenes of personal failure and triumph.”

“March to your alphabetical shelf. If you’ve done this enough, you know where your book should be just by scanning for the landmarks.”

“Thank god there’s a cat on the counter. Stroke the cat manically when you approach. The fact that you hate cats is irrelevant.”

And confirming that writers start out as readers: “Remember the first time your mother took you to a bookstore and told you to pick something out. To keep, not borrow. You were overwhelmed by choice and wonder.”

Fans of “The Borrower” will be happy to know that she has finished a collection of short stories and a new novel. Read more about Rebecca at her website, and more of her Ploughshares blogs here.

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W&L's Smith Wins Gerald T. Perkoff Prize in Poetry

R. T. Smith has been awarded the 2012-2013 Gerald T. Perkoff Prize in Poetry by “The Missouri Review” for his suite of poems, “Mary Lincoln Triptych.”

Smith is writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University, editor of W&L’s literary journal “Shenandoah” and author of a dozen books of poetry. The “Georgia Review” has described him as “one of the most vital voices in contemporary American poetry.”

“Mary Lincoln was far more sophisticated, erudite and sympathetic than I had guessed,” said Smith, “and I was captivated and wanted to find a voice that would do her justice.”

As a southerner from Kentucky, Lincoln was not well received when her husband was elected president, Smith observed. She had a nervous temperament and was very well educated, although she didn’t bear that education lightly. According to Smith, she liked to break into French when people were disagreeing with her so that they couldn’t follow her.

Of the many fascinating things Smith discovered about Lincoln, the ones that struck the most resonant chord involved her obsessive shopping, her immersion in spiritualism and her arrest on charges of insanity. The three monologs Smith wrote each has its own focus, with elements from each one seeping into the other poems.

The first poem, “Gloves,” details Mrs. Lincoln’s obsession with finances on the one hand while also putting up a good show. She was the first President’s wife who said the White House should be a showcase to the American people and visiting dignitaries so they could see it as real sign of prosperity, hope and guaranteed success: If the house was wonderfully decorated how could the Union be losing the war?

So she kept buying things, although it provoked conflict with her husband who referred to them as her “fliberitjibs.”

  “Debt, of course, hovers,
and in private, without his corvid uniform
and cannon hat, he will admonish me: Pray, Mother,
how can I pay Haughwout’s, Galt’s Emporium, Mr. Stewart,
and all the rest of  your glovers while our soldiers
in the field have no blankets?
But his heart knows we are a symbol and must shine.

In “Summoning Shades” Smith addresses Lincoln’s great burden of personal grief. She and her husband lost one son before they came to Washington, and then lost their son Willie after they had been in the White House about a year. A few years after her husband was assassinated, she lost a third son, Tad, who lived only into his teens.

It was more than she could bear, and she never got over it.
Scripture records the intimates of Job counted his suffering just,
reasoning, as he bathed in dust, he must have sinned deeply,
but how have I deserved such wealth of loss?

The rise of spiritualism in American culture in the late 1840s and early 1850s coincided with a time when families had multiple people to grieve. Homes were devastated and people were so desperate they grasped at straws. But much was hocus pocus and fakery, with lamps moving outside windows and somebody talking from behind a curtain as if from the grave. “Mary Lincoln bought all this hook, line and sinker because she was so desperate to talk to her dead sons,” said Smith.

  Veiled, I sail under false flags to test every mystic,
that they will not guess my famous sons and Mr. Lincoln
are the voices I eagerly seek. Can I trust them at all,
my faculties so shaken by grief?

The third poem, “A Serpent’s Tooth,” deals with the open hostility between Lincoln and their only remaining son, Robert.

They disagreed about how to keep President Lincoln’s name and reputation alive. For example, Lincoln ignited a great scandal and outraged her son when she tried to earn more money, not that she really needed it, by selling many of the gowns she had as first lady. Also, Robert didn’t believe in spiritualism and knew that Lincoln had visions and dreamed that there was an Indian in her room.

He decided she was insane.

“The most amazing thing I discovered when researching Mary Lincoln, was that in some states back in the 1870s insanity wasn’t a medical problem: it was a crime. You could be accused of it, taken to court, tried for it, convicted of it and sentenced to incarceration,” said Smith.

Smith described how Lincoln was in her hotel room one day and there came a knock at the door. It was somebody she knew, and he had two other men with him. They told her they had come to take her to court. It was out of the blue, with no warning at all.

They had procured a lawyer for her but he agreed with Robert that she was insane. Ten doctors testified that she was insane although only one of them had ever met her.

Hopeless, I did not ascend the stand, half afraid
they would hold my Kentucky tongue against me,
as RTL sat there, his elf ears and high collar, a local civic pillar
with his official accent bland as clabber.
And it would not have mattered an inch or an ounce,
as already the newspapers were tomahawking me sans mercy:
“The Demented Widow,” “A Nation’s Shame.”

Lincoln was confined in a very fancy resort for the upper class insane where she was probably given morphine, opium and lemonade cocktails to calm her down since that was part of the daily routine. However, she clearly wasn’t reduced to the zombie-like state such medicines were intended to induce since she escaped after a few months with the help of another lawyer.

“In the poem she thinks back a year later about the torture and insult of that place,” said Smith. “But she also talks about conversations she has with a little blue bird that gives her warnings. So maybe she’s not crazy and shouldn’t be locked up, but she’s not playing with a full deck either.

“Since Mary Lincoln didn’t testify at her own insanity trial, or on many other occasions in her life, I hope the three monologues I’ve written will allow a credible version of her voice to be heard today.

“I’m pleased and honored to win this award because “The Missouri Review” is a highly respected magazine and even to have been mentioned as one of the candidates would have been nice,” he said. “To win it is enough to make me dance.”

Smith credits a summer research travel grant from Washington and Lee’s office of the dean with allowing him to conduct research for this project in Gettysburg, where a new museum has a special emphasis on Mary Lincoln.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director

Shenandoah Announces Winner of 2013 Bevel Summers Prize in Fiction

The winner of the 2013 Bevel Summers Prize for the Short Short Story is Seth Brady Tucker of Lafayette, Colo., for his narrative “Jigsaw.”

Shenandoah editor R. T. Smith called “Jigsaw” “a swift and riveting account of the routine brutality of the Gulf War and its impact on the language, behavior and values of a squad of American soldiers.”

The Summers Prize contest is always conducted in March, and the winner receives $1,000 and publication at shenandoahliterary.org, the home site of Washington and Lee University’s 63-year-old literary journal.  Any runners-up selected by the judges also are invited to appear in the fall issue of Shenandoah.

Tucker served as an 82nd Airborne paratrooper in the Persian Gulf, and his first book, a collection of poems entitled “Mormon Boy,” received the 2011 Elixir Press Editor’s Prize.  His other work has appeared in “Iowa Review,” “Antioch Review,” “Witness” and other venues.

The runner-up Prize of $100 goes to Amanda Pauley of Elliston, Va., for her story “Hope,” an unsettling but optimistic tale of the chicken processing business.  Honorable mentions go to Q. L. Barrett for “Aphrodite Always Carries Condoms,” Leah Angstman for “Corner to Corner, End to End,” Nick Ripatrazone for “Cribbing Collar” and Elizabeth Oliver for “Flight.”

This year’s contest received over 400 submissions, and next year the fifth annual contest will run from March 15 to March 31, 2014.  Guidelines can be found at shenandoahliterary.org and clicking on the Submissions/Prizes link.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer