Feature Stories Campus Events

Syrian Scholar Dr. Issam Eido to Speak at Washington and Lee

Syrian scholar Dr. Issam Eido will deliver a talk at Washington and Lee University about “Scholars of Islamic Law and the Syrian Revolution” on Monday, March 31, at 5:30 p.m. in W&L’s Law School Lewis Hall, Classroom C. The talk is free and open to the public.

Eido’s lecture will examine the role of traditionally trained Muslim scholars, called ‘ulama in Arabic, in the recent conflict in Syria. Religion, law and the state have been intertwined in complicated ways in the context of the Syrian uprising. Eido’s talk will offer a map to the complex geography of the ‘ulama and their changing relationship to the state.

Eido is a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he teaches in Islamic Studies and Qur’anic Arabic.

Prior to the uprising, Eido served as a lecturer in the faculty of Shari’a in the Department of Qur’anic Studies and History of Islamic Sciences at the University of Damascus. Eido obtained his doctoral degree at the University of Damascus under the supervision of two internationally renowned scholars of prophetic traditions, Dr. Nur al-Din ‘Itr and Dr. ‘Ajaj al-Khatib.

Joel Blecher, W&L assistant professor of religion, said, “Issam’s doctoral work, ‘Early Hadith Scholars and their Methodology of Hadith Criticism,’ broke new ground in understanding the criteria used by Muslim scholars in accepting or rejecting traditions attributed to Muhammad and the transformations of that criteria from the classical to the modern period. His research has helped change the way both historians and Muslim scholars alike think about the authenticity of traditions attributed to Muhammad, as well their application in Islamic law.”

While undertaking his doctoral work in the mid-2000s, Eido solidified an international reputation among Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies experts across disciplines by working closely with visiting researchers and Fulbright scholars in Damascus through an Arabic and Islamic studies institute he founded the Dalalah Institute.

In 2011, as the political situation in Syria deteriorated, Eido fled to Jordan with his family. He taught at the Qasid Institute in Amman, and, in 2012, he joined the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin as a fellow to work with the comparatively focused research program on Europe in the Middle East/Middle East in Europe.

With the help of the Institute for International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, Eido found his current home at the University of Chicago Divinity School where he continues to explore his current research interests in the Qur’an in late antiquity, Hadith Studies, Sufism and Arabic literature.

While on campus, Eido will be meeting with undergraduates and law students in Blecher’s Profit and Prophecy in Islam and Islamic Law in Society classes to discuss their on-going research projects in Islamic studies.

Appeals Court for Veterans to Hear Case at W&L Law

On Wednesday, April 2, Washington and Lee School of Law will host the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. with an introduction and remarks from the Clerk of Court. The Court will then convene at 10:00 a.m. to hear a case on its docket involving a veteran’s benefits claim with its origins in World War II.

The session will take place in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The hearing will last one hour and be followed by a question and answer session with the judges. The event is free and open to the public.

During the session, the Court will hear arguments in the matter of Juliet T. Tagupa v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Mrs. Tagupa filed a claim for benefits in 2008, contending that her husband, who died in 1993, had served with the Filipino guerillas in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II. The Manila, Philippines VA regional office (RO), acting on information from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), denied the claim because there was no record of Mr. Tagupa’s service in the Philippine Commonwealth Army, including the recognized guerillas in service of the United States Armed Forces.

After the RO’s denial, Mrs. Tagupa submitted her husband’s identification card for the Anderson Fil-American Guerillas that noted that he had active participation in the anti-Japanese resistance movement. She also submitted affidavits from comrades testifying to his service and informed the VA that the previous requests for service verification sent to the NPRC used the wrong service number for her husband. The VA then submitted another request to NPRC that included Mr. Tagupa’s Fil-American Guerilla identification card and affidavits from his comrades.

The NPRC responded that this information did not warrant a change of its previous determination. On appeal, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals determined that Mr. Tagupa did not have the requisite active military service for status as a veteran and denied Mrs. Tagupa VA benefits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is part of the U.S. judiciary and not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court reviews Board decisions appealed by claimants who believe the Board erred in its decision.

The Court’s principal office is in Washington, D.C., but the Court is authorized to sit anywhere in the United States and does so a limited number of times each year.

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Transnational Law Institute Hosts Lecture on Post-Genocide Rwanda

On Tuesday, April 1, Washington and Lee School of Law will host Notre Dame professor Luc Reydams, who will speak on his paper “Let’s be Friends: The United States, Post-Genocide Rwanda, and Victor’s Justice in Arusha.

The talk is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Classroom C, Sydney Lewis Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

In this paper, Reydams examines whether the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was doomed from the start to be a court of ‘victor’s justice.’ He has conducted interviews with (former) U.S. and U.N. ambassadors and examined hundreds of declassified diplomatic telegrams (‘cables’) and intelligence reports of the U.S. Department of State to shed new light on this process. Reydams argues that once Washington entered into a partnership with the ‘new’ Rwanda, it was committed to moving forward – and this implied burying the past and often times also ignoring the present.

Reydams’ talk is sponsored by the Transnational Law Institute and the W&L Politics department. In addition to the talk, Reydams will appear on WLUR with Prof. Larry Boetsch, director of the Center for International Education at W&L, and two W&L law students to discuss the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

Reydams was educated in Belgium and the U.S. He teaches at Notre Dame and the Catholic University of Lublin (Poland). He has published three books: “Universal Jurisdiction: International and Municipal Legal Perspectives” (Oxford University Press 2003), “International Prosecutors” (Oxford University Press 2012), and the “Global Activism Reader” (Continuum Publishing 2011). The paper he will present is part of his new book project “The Politics of International Justice in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (1994-2014).”

W&L Law Alumnus to Discuss Arab Spring

On Friday, March 28, Ahmed S. Younis, a 2004 graduate of Washington and Lee School of Law, will speak at the Law School on the Arab Spring. His talk is scheduled for 12 noon in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall.

Younis’ talk is titled “Revolution and The Law: Ethical Challenges of the Arab Spring.” During his presentation, he will speak on the role of the lawyer of the future and what questions the modern lawyer must answer to bring about global change.

Younis is an adjunct assistant professor and Ph.D. student in the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. He has served as a Senior Consultant for the Gallup Organization and Senior Analyst for the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies from 2007 to 2012. As part of his work for Gallup, from January 2009 to June 2011 Younis served as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications for Silatech, a youth employment initiative to promote large-scale job creation in the Middle East and North Africa. From 2004-2007, Younis served as National Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, he was named as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims globally. In 2011 and 2012, Arabian Business Magazine named Younis as one of the “Power 500” of the Arab world and one of the 500 Most Famous Arabs in the world.

Younis is author of “Gender Justice: The Situation of Women and Girls After the Arab Spring” and “American Muslims: Voir Dire ,” a post-Sept. 11 look at the reality of the debate surrounding American Muslims and their country. With his brother Mohamed, also a graduate of W&L Law, Younis co-authored of “The Role of Entrepreneurship & Job Creation in US-Muslim Relations.”

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W&L Magazine, Winter 2014: Vol. 90 | No. 1

Read Online »

In This Issue:

  • A Path to Leadership
  • “A Redneck Country Boy from Big Island”: Lacey Putney ’50, ’57L

General Stats

  • W&L Videos, Old Recordings of the Hymn, Snow


  • ODK Convocation
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Remembering the Gettysburg Address

Along the Colonnade

  • Trustees Adopt Housing Policy, Set Tuition, Approve Global Learning Center
  • Rise and Shine: Students Help Classmates Set Their Biological Clocks
  • Car Accident Claims the Life of Senior Kelsey Durkin
  • Fraternity Suspended in Wake of Car Accident
  • ODK Welcomes New Members
  • W&L Elects Two new Trustees
  • Blunch Undertakes Educational Study in India
  • Proposal for Car-Buying Site Wins Business Plan Competition
  • Books & CDs
  • W&L Traveller: A Wildlife Safari in Kenya

Generals Report

  • Piranian Phases into Retirement After Stellar Career
  • Moot Court Team Competition Results

Lewis Hall Notes

  • W&L Law Student Wins Prestigious Skadden Public Interest Fellowship
  • From Representative to Lieutenant Governor


  • Alumni Weekend 2013


  • Alumni President’s Message
  • Beau Knows — Leading the Way
  • Former Law Dean Randy Bezanson Dies at 67
  • Emeritus Trustee Ray V. Hartwell III ’69, ’75L
  • President Ruscio’s Message: Something to Talk About

Last Look

  • Snow!

Studio Eleven to Feature Authors Angie Hogan and Kevin McFadden

The next Writers at Studio Eleven reading series will feature Angie Hogan and Kevin McFadden and will be Monday, Monday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at the Studio Eleven Gallery in Lexington.

The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for sale. Refreshments also will be served. Writers at Studio Eleven is co-sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Glasgow Endowment and Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

Hogan’s poetry has been published widely in journals, including “The Antioch Review,” “Ploughshares,” “Bellingham Review” and “The Virginia Quarterly Review,” among others. Her work also appears in “The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee.”

She works in the acquisitions department at the University of Virginia Press and lives near Charlottesville with her husband, the poet Kevin McFadden.

McFadden is the author of “Hardscrabble,” which received the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ George Garrett Award for New Writing and the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writing Award. His poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals, including “American Letters & Commentary,” “Denver Quarterly,” “Fence” and “Kenyon Review.”

He was selected to read in the 92nd Street Y’s Ninth Muse Poetry Series by then United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. He works at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

There will be shorter readings by Iyan Roseborough ’16 from VMI and W&L students Jok Asiyo ’16, Walter Ramsey ’14 and Josy Tarantini ’15 and from SubTerra, Peggy McCaulley and Sharon Mueller.

Studio Eleven is located at 11 S. Jefferson St. in downtown Lexington. The artist exhibiting his work during the April event is Rex Russell.

The Writers at Studio Eleven event is coordinated by Mattie Quesenberry Smith of DSLCC and Lesley Wheeler of W&L.

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Federal Judge Paul Niemeyer to Deliver Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture

The Twelfth Annual Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture will be delivered by Paul V. Niemeyer, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Judge Niemeyer’s topic is “Revisiting the 1938 Rules Experiment.”

The event is scheduled for Thursday, March 27, at 4:30 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

Judge Niemeyer was appointed to the Fourth Circuit in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that, he sat on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, having been appointed to that court by President Reagan in 1988.

Judge Niemeyer received his A.B. degree from Kenyon College in 1962 and his LL.B./J.D. degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1966 where he was on the editorial board of the law review. Following graduation he joined the Baltimore law firm of Piper & Marbury where he practiced in commercial litigation until his appointment to the bench.

Judge Niemeyer chaired the project to rewrite the Rules of Procedure in Maryland and co-authored the Maryland Rules Commentary, which is now in its third edition. For his work he received the Special Merit Citation of the American Judicature Society. He was also a member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for seven years, chairing the Committee for four. During his term as Chair, he oversaw the 2000 changes to the discovery rules, and the 1998 changes to the class action rule.

In 2006, Judge Niemeyer published a historical and biographical book about his family, A Path Remembered. He has also written for numerous law journals.

Judge Niemeyer is a member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was a lecturer on Advance Business law at Johns Hopkins University and currently is a senior lecturing fellow in appellate advocacy at the Duke University Law School.

The students at Washington and Lee University School of Law founded the Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series in 2002 in honor of Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. ’29A, ’31L, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Justice Powell’s judicial legacy was defined by a respect for both sides in a dispute and a desire to craft judicial opinions that struck a middle ground. This student-run lecture series features nationally prominent speakers who embody this spirit in their life and work.

For more information, visit the Powell Lecture web site.

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Two Washington and Lee University Juniors Win 2014 Goldwater Scholarships for Research Careers in Science, Math and Engineering

Washington and Lee University juniors James Biemiller of Lancaster, Pa., and Eric Schwen of Cottage Grove, Minn., have each won a highly competitive 2014-15 Goldwater Scholarship, which promotes research careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

Biemiller, a double major in geology and physics, and Schwen, a physics major, were among 283 winners selected from a field of 1,166 sophomores and juniors nominated by their professors at colleges around the country. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Both students plan careers in research and teaching at the university level, Biemiller in planetary geophysics or global seismology and Schwen in applied physics.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Congress in 1986 to honor the former Arizona senator. The program is the premier undergraduate award of its type. Numerous recipients have gone on to win other prestigious scholarships, including 80 Rhodes, 117 Marshalls and 112 Churchills, as well as National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Including Biemiller and Schwen, 16 Washington and Lee students have won Goldwater scholarships since the program’s inception.

Eric Sundquist Will Give the Winter Shannon-Clark Lecture

Eric J. Sundquist, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities and chair, Department of English at Johns Hopkins University, will give the Shannon-Clark Lecture at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, March 27, at 8 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The title of Sundquist’s lecture is “The Historian’s Anvil, the Novelist’s Crucible: What Literature Can Tell Us about the Holocaust.” It is free and open to the public.

Sundquist is the author or editor of 13 books, including “King’s Dream” (2009); “Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America” (2005), which received the Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute Book Award; “To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature” (1992), which received the Christian Gauss Award from Phi Beta Kappa and the James Russell Lowell Award from the Modern Language Association;  and “Home as Found:  Authority and Genealogy in 19th-Century American Literature” (1979), which received the Gustave Arit Award from the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States.

He has edited essay collections devoted to Mark Twain, Ralph Ellison, Harriet Beecher Stowe and W. E. B. Du Bois and contributed to the “Cambridge History of American Literature” (reprinted as “Empire and Slavery in American Literature, 1820-1865”).

Sundquist has served on the National Council of the American Studies Association and the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association and directed four summer seminars for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1997, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on its council. In 2007, he was named a recipient of a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Shannon-Clark Lectures in English, established by a gift from a Washington and Lee alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous, honor the memories of Edgar Finley Shannon, chairman of Washington and Lee’s Department of English from 1914 until his death in 1938, and Harriet Mabel Fishburn Clark, a grandmother of the donor and a woman vitally interested in liberal education.

Sundquist received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Northwestern University where he was dean of the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from 1997 to 2002.

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W&L's Sarah-Jean Vallon Awarded Fellowship for Study in Germany

by Sally Platt ’14

Sarah-Jean Vallon, a senior mass communications major and studio art minor from Hewlett, N.Y., has received a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) fellowship.

Competition for CBYX fellowships is highly competitive. Vallon was chosen from a pool of 700 applicants following interviews in February.

“We spoke some German and were asked questions to gauge how we would cope with culture shock,” Vallon explained.

She will spend a year studying and interning in Germany, where she hopes to immerse herself in German culture while, she said, furthering “positive relations between German and American millennials.” She hopes to bridge the culture gap and promote mutual understanding by, among other activities, participating in the many carnival celebrations in Germany, particularly Oktoberfest. CBYX will place Vallon in her city of residence after her July arrival.

She also plans to travel around the country and to visit its many castles, “especially the Neuschwanstein Castle, because it served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle,” she said.

Vallon, who has studied German for two years at Washington and Lee, is pleased about the chance to improve her fluency in a native setting. In addition, through the internship part of the program, she hopes to use her communications degree.

At Washington and Lee, Vallon serves as president of the Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) and as the Multicultural Advisory Board representative on the Student Activities Committee. In addition, she hosts two radio shows on campus radio station WLUR and is a founding member of the Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG).