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.”

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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.

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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.