Feature Stories Campus Events

Putney '50, '57L Retires from Virginia General Assembly

Delegate Lacey Putney was the subject of a front-page profile in the Roanoke Times on Sunday, Dec. 15. The occasion was the conclusion of his distinguished 53-year career in the Virginia General Assembly, a post he has held longer than anyone.

Lacey, from Bedford County, Va., holds two degrees from Washington and Lee, a 1950 B.A. and a 1957 L.L.B. His first election to the House of Delegates came in 1962, and he served as the interim speaker of the House in 2002. He started out as a Democrat and became an independent in 1967.

He’s been the guest of honor at several celebrations lately, including one in Bedford County on Dec. 4, which the Roanoke Times covered in this story. His last visit to campus came just this past October, when he joined classmate Roger Mudd at the dedication of the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics.

And the Winter 2014 issue of the alumni magazine will include our own profile of Lacey Putney, with plenty of anecdotes about his years at the University. The writer interviewed him at his home—in his blue-and-white W&L room.

Alumni Offer Expertise in December Southern Living

Readers of the December issue of Southern Living magazine are enjoying the expertise of two W&L alumni: event designer Calder Britt Clark and cookbook author Alex Hitz.

Calder, a member of the Class of 1999, operates Calder Clark, a consulting and design firm that handles weddings and other events. It’s based in Charleston, S.C., which is where Calder and her family have recently settled into a renovated house, the subject of the Southern Living profile. Given Calder’s profession, it’s no surprise that she told the magazine, “We wanted to create a home that everyone feels free to descend on.”

We blogged about her a couple of years ago when her work on a celebrity wedding made the pages of another magazine, People. You can learn about her company at the Calder Clark website.

We’ve blogged about Alex Hitz, too, on the 2011 publication of his latest cookbook.

The member of the Class of 1991 offers Southern Living readers advice on “An Easy & Elegant Christmas Eve,” one of a trio of menus from other well-known hosts. Alex writes in the piece, “Here’s hoping one of your rambunctious cousins doesn’t knock over your spectacular wreaths, garlands, or table settings, but, let’s face it, it could happen.” The article is not online but Alex’s recipes are; here’s his take on Blue Cheese Straws.

W&L Magazine, Fall 2013: Vol. 88 | No. 3

In This Issue:

  • Building a Community: Welcoming First-Year Students to W&L
  • Nick Tatar ’96, Bricklayer

General Stats

  • The W&L Promise, Online Course Registration, Teach for America, Disposable Cups


  • Hurrah for the Honor System
  • Omicron Delta Kappa

Along the Colonnade

  • New IQ Center Dazzles Users
  • Larry Connolly ’79 Transforms Entrepreneurship and Shepherd Programs
  • Alumna Headlines Convocation
  • The Class of 2017 Hits the Ground Running
  • Alvin Dennis Celebrates 50 Years of Sartorial Success
  • W&L Names Two Trustees
  • Speaker’s Corner
  • Keen Named Dean of The College
  • Adventures in Art for Three Students and a Professor
  • Books & CDs
  • Meet the W&L Promise

Generals Report

  • Hall of Fame Welcomes Newest Class

Lewis Hall Notes

  • Top Honors for The Law News
  • From Representative to Lieutenant Governor


  • Alumni Weekend 2013


  • Alumni President’s Message
  • Beau Knows — The More Things Change …
  • W&L Traveller — The Galapagos Islands: A Family Adventure
  • President Ruscio’s Message: Three Dimensions — and More — of W&L
  • Art of Giving: Joe Burkart ’64

Last Look

  • Roger Mudd Center for Ethics

Two Grants Support Jewish Life at W&L

Brett Schwartz, director of Hillel at Washington and Lee University, has received a grant from the Richmond Jewish Foundation to support W&L’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Week, taking place this year from April 26-May 4, 2014, on campus.

Hillel is the foundation for Jewish campus life with local chapters at more than 550 colleges and universities across the country.

Hillel’s 2014 Holocaust Remembrance Week/Yom HaShoah will include a visit by a Holocaust survivor; a visit from Joe Fab, the producer, writer and director of Paper Clips, a documentary about a project to gauge the magnitude of the Holocaust; and a screening of Paper Clips. There also will be a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Va.

“Our Holocaust Remembrance Week provides opportunities for the University and Lexington-Rockbridge communities to learn about the Holocaust, and turn their attention to other genocides happening around the world today,” Schwartz said.

The Richmond Jewish Foundation, established in 1979, provides funds to central Virginia charitable, educational and religious causes, as well as services to the community and its donors. It also makes grants and undertakes community leadership and partnership activities to address a wide variety of needs in its service area.

In addition to the Remembrance Week grant, Hillel received a $5,000 grant from the Sam and Marion Golden Helping Hands Foundation to expand the number of Shabbat dinners (Friday dinners) currently offered. At the moment, Hillel provides a First Fridays at 5 once a month, but this grant allows Hillel to offer Shabbat every Friday.

“This grant will also allow non-Jewish students to attend and to learn more about their Jewish friends’ religion and culture,” said Schwartz.

New Exhibit in Williams Gallery at W&L Runs from Jan. 15-May 15

A new exhibit of paintings, “All My Friends and Enemies,” by Elise Schweitzer, is on display at the Williams Gallery in Huntley Hall at Washington and Lee University from Jan. 15-May 15, 2014.

The exhibit is sponsored by W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics and is free and open to the public.

Schweitzer makes exuberantly large oil paintings of people dancing, playing music, fighting and fleeing from metaphorical and actual upheaval. The settings are stages for peak experiences, and her facility with paint combines expressiveness with specificity in color and form. Her paintings embrace a grand figurative tradition while exploring themes of anxiety and autobiography.

In 2013, Schweitzer joined the faculty of Hollins University as an assistant professor of art, where she teaches painting and drawing. She has shown her paintings in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Roanoke, Philadelphia and Umbria, Italy, among other places.

She has won numerous awards and grants to support her oversized paintings including the Vermont Studio Center Residency and Arts Grant, the Prizm Award from the Harrison Center for the Arts (Indianapolis, Ind.) and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant (Montreal).

Schweitzer has taught landscape painting classes in Italy and participated in an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Her paintings are included in Manifest Gallery’s Painting Annual 1, 3 and 4.

She received her M.F.A. from Indiana University in 2009, and a Certificate in Painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and a B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.

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

A Pledge Fulfilled

Mike Hughes, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1970, died in Richmond recently at the end of a 16-year battle with lung cancer. He was 65.

Mike was president of The Martin Agency, named the top ad agency in the country by AdWeek in 2010, and we blogged about him in January 2011 after he had been inducted into the One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame and had a building named for him at Virginia Commonwealth University. He was later named to the Advertising Hall of Fame.

There have been numerous tributes to Mike’s amazing work over the years and to his spirit in the face of his cancer. The Martin Agency posted a wonderful video interview with him on its home page (video link is at the bottom of that page) and the Times Dispatch had a front page obituary.

But Mike also wrote his own “autobiographical obituary” on Unfinished Thinking, his personal blog, where, starting in earnest last December, he shared his thoughts on everything from his bad handwriting to advice on creativity. If you start from his initial post on Dec. 12, 2012 and work forward, you will be captivated by the stories Mike tells.

Back in January, Mike’s oncologist told him he had maybe two weeks to live. In a Jan. 24, 2013, entry, Mike wrote, “It’s amazing how freeing being given a limited time frame can be. . . I completely stopped worrying about the items in my written lists and the lists that exist in the cracks in the back of my mind.”

And yet, there was one list that he still felt guilty about failing to tackle, and it involved Washington and Lee:

When I was a senior English major in 1970, the world was going a little crazy. Protests, students taking over University, riots, Kent State, etc. Of course (of course!) we couldn’t take tests in that environment. So a skeptical but graceful professor in my “Modern British Novel” course, made us pledge that we read five specific novels. I took the pledge and immediately lost the reading list. I’ve been meaning for the past 43 years to see if I could find it to finish my assignment. I’m not sure, but I’m betting that’s not going to happen now.

Having read that entry, some of Mike’s colleagues at The Martin Agency called Washington and Lee to see if someone could resurrect that list. It took some doing, but eventually they wound up in contact with Rhea Huntley Kosovic, whose father is Bob Huntley (English Bob, as he was known, to distinguish him from President Bob Huntley). Bob, who taught at W&L from 1962 until his retirement in 1994, was indeed the author that list.

With some help from others, some conversations with her father and some searching in his old class files (but mostly because she knew her father’s preferences so well), Rhea was able to recreate the list and make it available to the folks at The Martin Agency.

So on Feb. 13 this year, Mike received an email from the ITS department at The Martin Agency, telling him that the books were going to be added to his iPad. Now we don’t know with any certainty that Mike was able to fulfill that pledge to Bob Huntley, but we do think it’s pretty much a classic W&L story of students and faculty and community.

And the list? You might want to add these to your iPads as well:

  • The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
Related //,

John Dean's Documentary Now Showing on CNN

Reading our blog last May about John Dean and “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story” may have whetted your appetite to see the documentary, which tells the story of an innocent man convicted of the murder of his wife. Now’s your chance: “An Unreal Dream” premiered on CNN Films this past Sunday; an encore showing is scheduled for this weekend, on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 9 p.m.

John, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1976, is one of the documentary’s co-producers and co-writers. He occasionally teaches a course at W&L on screenwriting.

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

See anunrealdream.com for more info. Come January, February and March 2014, a short version will air on the Discovery Channel.

W&L's Strong on the Tea Party Spirit in Irish Times

The following op-ed appeared in The Irish Times on Dec. 16, 2013, and is reprinted here with permission.

Tea Party spirit still stirs but not in Republicans

Robert Strong
William Lynne Wilson Professor of Politics

Two hundred and 40 years ago today citizens in the city of Boston, wearing Mohawk Indian costumes to disguise their identity, boarded a ship docked in the harbour and threw its cargo into the bay. They destroyed private property and brewed the largest cup of tea in history to draw attention to an unjust law. They succeeded.

Today, a conservative faction in the Republican Party has appropriated the name. But those Republicans may not be the true, or only, descendants of the Boston Tea Party.

In 1773, the property at issue belonged to the East India Tea Company, a corporation that held a British monopoly. The Tea Act, passed by the government of Lord North for the benefit of the company, was intended to undercut tea smugglers, unload surplus product on colonial customers and enhance corporate profits.

In addition, Lord North wanted to challenge quarrelsome colonials, who had protested taxes imposed by parliament, with the collection of a modest tax on tea. The revenue was supposed to pay the governor of Massachusetts and other officials, keeping them under London’s control.

The tax was not a burden. In fact, the Tea Act of 1773 reduced the price of tea in the colonies as part of the effort to undercut smugglers. But principles were involved. There was the matter of being at the mercy of a monopoly corporation, something particularly important to colonial merchants who made an honest living in the dishonest business of smuggling. Then there was being taxed by a distant and unrepresentative legislative body.

Popular opposition
All across the colonies there were protests against the tax. Shiploads of tea bound for other harbours were turned back when the local merchants felt the pressure of popular opposition and withdrew their purchase agreements for the tea. In Boston, the governor refused to send the shipment back to England and kept it at the dock until the deadline for payment of the tax arrived. Then the boys in Boston took matters into their own hands.

What happened in 1773 was a classic act of civil disobedience. It provided a model for Martin Luther King jnr and the civil rights movement. Ghandi invoked it in his struggles against British rule.

If you want to find the contemporary equivalent of the Boston Tea Party, forget Michele Bachmann, think Greenpeace. People who get arrested on an oil platform or in front of a whaling ship fighting corporate power and policy are doing what 18th-century Bostonians did. The Occupy Wall Street movement also resembles the original Tea Party. Protesters who took up illegal residence in New York parks were trying to draw attention to unequal political power and the suffering of recession victims who did not get a banker’s bailout.

Of course, you can violate laws for conservative causes too. But the current Tea Party is content to contest elections and manipulate congressional rules without actually violating laws or accepting the consequences. Moreover, they don’t have the same commitment to democracy as their forebears.

Contemporary Tea Party Republicans would certainly oppose taxation without representation. Unfortunately, they are also against taxation with representation. And when you get down to it, they don’t really like representation.

Suppressing voters
Today’s Tea Party opposes the will of the majority expressed in national elections and vilifies the president who won those elections. They mostly win office in gerrymandered districts and threaten mainstream Republicans with primary election challenges. Worst of all, they favour laws aimed at suppressing voter participation. They may like their liberty, but they are no friends of democracy.

Since 1773 many groups have claimed the legacy of the Boston Tea Party. The events in Boston have a broad appeal. Imagine what it must have meant to stand up to the most powerful empire in the world and risk near-certain retribution for a principled position.

In Ireland that act of imagination is not difficult. All across the world, the courage of revolutionary Bostonians can easily be admired.

Robert A Strong is the William Lyne Wilson professor of politics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. This year he serves as a Fulbright visiting scholar in the department of history and archives at UCD

W&L Law Launches Pilot Externship Program in Washington

This fall, a dozen Washington and Lee law students got the chance to see what it’s like to work and live full time as a lawyer in the nation’s capital.

The third-year students are participating in W&L’s pilot DC Externship program, a semester-long residency program. Students have placements at a variety of federal agencies and courts, as well as in general counsel’s offices at major corporations.

W&L Law Dean Nora Demleitner says the School created the program primarily to facilitate the objectives of students who wish to pursue a career in government.

“Our DC program allows us to leverage our innovative, bridge-to-the-profession, third-year program with federal government agencies, enabling our students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in new settings and gain valuable government experience,” says Demleitner.

The extern placements this semester include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the U.S. Department of Transportation General Counsel’s Office, the Department of Defense Office of the General Counsel, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In addition, one student is working for language learning software giant Rosetta Stone and another for the sports marketing agency Octagon.

While students have held externships in Washington in past years, the School decided that a residence program would give students a complete and consistent experience working in government. Charles Martel, a 1985 graduate of the W&L School of Law who worked in employment law and litigation before turning to a career in public service in and around the district, oversees the interns in Washington.

“By being based in Washington, the students are able to put in more hours at work and build their network of connections with other lawyers,” says Martel. “They are able to appreciate fully what it means to be a lawyer working in the district.”

Kristin Slawter, a 3L from Wayne, PA, is a judicial extern for Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Slawter works four full days each week at her clerkship and is in charge of several of her own cases, including monitoring the docket, communicating with counsel, and drafting all opinions for the cases.

“I learned early on that Judge Lamberth was not going to review my opinion drafts by re-researching the legal arguments,” says Slawter. “He trusts my legal analysis and my judgment. Having this responsibility was invigorating and motivating in a way I had not yet experienced in my early legal career.”

In addition to their externships, where students are onsite anywhere from 20-40 hours per week, the students in the DC program must also complete the required coursework for W&L’s innovative third-year curriculum. This includes taking a practice-based simulation class, known as a practicum, held in the DC offices of the law firms DLA Piper and BakerHostetler.

With an externship in the Division of Investment Management at the Securities and Exchange Commission and a practicum course on International Business Negotiations taught by attorneys from DLA Piper, 3L Chrishon McManus is using his time in DC to build on the knowledge he gained in his second year classes on corporate law and securities regulation.

“I hope to work as a transactional or regulatory lawyer in Washington or in my home state of North Carolina,” says McManus. “I chose to attend W&L Law in part because of the third-year program. The expansion of the program to DC has given me even more opportunities and experience than I anticipated.”

Fourteen students participated in the program this fall and another 24 will be selected for the program next year. At the end of the two-year pilot phase the faculty will assess the success of the DC program and consider potential expansion to other metro locations, such as New York or Charlotte.

“Taking our program and our students out of our campus setting provides the perfect transition from academia into high-level supervised practice,” says Demleitner.

Related //

Washington and Lee Announces November Community Grants

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 11 grants totaling $25,055 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the first part of its two rounds of grants for 2013-14.

The committee chose the grants from 17 proposals requesting more than $88,000.

W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:

  • American Red Cross, Central Virginia Chapter – Funding two generators: one for the American Red Cross trailer in Lexington and one for the Glasgow Community Center
  • Boxerwood Education Association – Funds to assist with the integration of Project Generation NEST within the local school divisions
  • Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry – Funding to assist with food purchases
  • Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity – Funds to go towards the Almost Home financial education program
  • Rockbridge Area Health Center – Dental care program for underserved children in the Rockbridge area
  • Rockbridge Area Housing Corporation – Funding for water conservation project
  • Rockbridge Area Occupational Center, Inc. – Purchase of a new safety-protected office shredder
  • Rockbridge Area Relief Association – Funds to help with client utility and heat subsidization
  • Rockbridge Area YMCA – Purchase of an exercise machine for seniors
  • Rockbridge Regional Library, Youth Literacy – Funds to assist with the purchase of gift books and magazine subscriptions
  • Virginia Horse Center Foundation – Funds towards the general operating cost of the 2014 Rockbridge Regional Fair

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

During its 2012-13 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually. The submission deadline for the second round of evaluations for 2013-14 will be: by the end of the work day (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, May 30, 2014. Interested parties may download the proposal guidelines at http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.

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