Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L Politics Professor on the Supreme Court's Recent Affirmative Action Ruling (video)

Professor Mark Rush comments the recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of race as a factor in admissions to state universities. Rush is the Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at Washington and Lee University’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

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

The Tax Clinic at the Washington and Lee University School of Law has been awarded a matching grant from the Internal Revenue Service’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic program (LITC). This is the seventh straight year that the Tax Clinic has received federal dollars to support its efforts.

The grant of $75,000, the largest in the Clinic’s history, will help fund the Clinic for the 2014 calendar year.

“It is an honor to continue in the LITC program along with a nationwide network of clinics that provide low-income taxpayers access to pro bono legal representation before the Internal Revenue Service,” said Michelle Drumbl, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Tax Clinic. “The Tax Clinic provides an excellent opportunity for our students to advocate for members of our community and make a meaningful difference.”

Law students working in the Tax Clinic provide free legal representation to low-income taxpayers in resolving their controversies with the Internal Revenue Service. The Clinic is not involved in routine tax preparation, but the students do help with audits and a wide array of collections issues. Students are responsible for their clients in every aspect of representation, an experience that helps prepare them for whichever field of practice they choose.

The Tax Clinic serves the entire state of Virginia. At least 90% of the clients represented by the clinic are “low-income”, meaning their incomes do not exceed 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines published annually by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, a family of four making less than $57,625 per year is eligible to use the Tax Clinic’s services.

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

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W&L Students Learn the Real Value of Money

We live in a society where using money is like breathing. It makes our lives easier, but we don’t really understand why, according to Colin Elliott, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in classics and ancient history at Washington and Lee University.

Elliott teaches the spring term course “Money is Power: Control, Destruction and Revolution in the First 100 Years of Coinage,” which explores how coinage and the historical events it caused acted upon individuals, rulers, states and societies. “I want students to have an appreciation for how the revolutionary concept of money left nothing unchanged,” he said.

Elliott described how coinage began in the 7th or 6th century B.C., although the principle of a medium of exchange started well before that with cattle, precious metals, sea shells, even rocks, depending on where people lived.

In western Turkey people traded balls of metal made from electrum, a naturally-occurring mix of gold and silver, but the problem was that electrum varied as to how much gold and silver was in it. So a man called Phanes decided to put his seal of approval on the metal balls in the form of a deer stamp so that people would know that he was guaranteeing its value. Once money could be simply counted instead of weighed, the possibilities for exchange grew exponentially.

The concept spread like wildfire. The rest of the Greek world adopted it, the Persians adopted it and eventually the Romans adopted it. It spread throughout the Mediterranean world and almost every culture that encountered coinage incorporated it into their own practices of exchange.

Prior to money, people had to engage with people they knew and trusted, but suddenly money that was a set standard and had a set mark that was guaranteed by someone allowed strangers to interact, opening up cultural interaction and long-distance trade.

Elliott is bringing Exeter University’s Richard Seaford to speak to his class; a scholar who has shown that the introduction of money also changed thinking and brought about philosophy and tragedy.

“The ancient world tells us that every time money evolves and changes the way it is used it is a revolutionary process,” said Elliott. “I study the third century of Rome when the first real attempt was made to divorce money from a tangible thing—gold and silver. When the Roman government attempted to pass off coins with virtually no precious metal content it was an unmitigated disaster and is arguably an important reason why the Roman Empire collapsed. Now, of course, we have fiat—money without a tangible thing—and it works reasonably fine.”

Elliott said that the emergence of bitcoins is just such a revolutionary moment and that the ancient perspective tells us that the concept of virtual money will probably endure.

“Bitcoins are really interesting because in our progression of money we’ve gone from money based on something tangible to money based on trust and the state—we trade our U.S. dollars because we believe the government will accept them and guarantee their value. Bitcoins have removed even that aspect because there’s no state associated with it and no central bank controls it. There isn’t even a person associated with it because the inventor is anonymous.

“It basically keeps all of the properties of money but sheds itself of all the steps that money has taken up until the inception of bitcoins. I suspect we will all be using virtual money at some point, maybe in the not too distant future – but there may be quite a few obstacles to overcome before we arrive at that point.”

Elliott received his B.A. in history from the University of Oregon and his Ph.D., in ancient history from the University of Bristol.

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Beauty is Only the Beginning for Ad Class

Washington and Lee’s Ad Class, taught by business administration professor Amanda Bower, earned a third-place finish at the District 3 American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). The event was held in Raleigh on April 4.

The 23-student team, led by senior Colleen Paxton, presented an ad campaign for Mary Kay, this year’s corporate sponsor. The cosmetics giant provided all NSAC participants with a case study, giving a history of the 50-year-old company and identifying its desire to make the brand and some of its products more relevant to young women. NSAC then charged the teams with devising an integrated communications campaign that would increase awareness, improve perceptions and heighten consideration among the target market.

The W&L team’s proposed slogan: “Beauty is Only the Beginning.”

“I am obviously extraordinarily proud of these students. They represent majors from across the University, many of whom had never even taken a class in the Williams School before this,” said Bower. “What they’ve produced is impressive. However, what’s more impressive is the time, thoughtfulness, teamwork and ownership they’ve put into this. They are just fantastic.”

More than 150 colleges and universities participate in NSAC each year. Washington and Lee competed against other colleges and universities in District 3, which includes Appalachian State University, Clemson University, James Madison University, the Art Institute of Washington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina and University of Virginia.

Poet Tim Seibles to Give a Poetry Reading at Washington and Lee

Author and poet Tim Seibles will be reading from his latest book, “Fast Animal” (2012), on Monday, May 5, at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. “Fast Animal” was one of five poetry finalists for the 2012 National Book Award.

The event is free and open to the public and there will be a book signing after the reading. It is funded by the Office of the Provost and the Glasgow Endowment at Washington and Lee University.

Seibles is the author of several poetry collections including “Hurdy-Gurdy” (1992), “Hammerlock” (1999) and “Buffalo Head Solos” (2004). His first book, “Body Moves” (1988), has just been re-released by Carnegie Mellon U. Press as part of their “Contemporary Classics” series. In 2013, he received the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry and received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Misericordia University for his literary accomplishments.

His poetry is featured in several anthologies, including “Rainbow Darkness,” “The Manthology,” “Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry,” “Black Nature” and “Evensong.” His poem “Allison Wolff” was included in “Best American Poetry 2010” and, most recently, his poem “Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged” was featured in “Best American Poetry 2013.”

Seibles was poet-in-residence at Bucknell University during the spring semester of 2010. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow, he also enjoyed a seven-month writing fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts.

Seibles has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem, a writer’s retreat for African American poets, and for the Hurston/Wright Foundation, another organization dedicated to developing black writers. He is visiting faculty at the Stonecoast M.F.A. in Writing Program sponsored by the University of Southern Maine. He lives in Norfolk, Va., where he is a member of the English and M.F.A. in writing faculty at Old Dominion University.

Seibles earned his B.A. at Southern Methodist University and an M.F.A. at Vermont College of Norwich University.

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Founding Director of Mount Vernon Library to Speak at W&L

Douglas Bradburn, the founding director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of Washington and Lee University’s Friends of the Library on Saturday, May 3. His talk, “A Presidential Library Like No Other: George Washington’s National Library at Mount Vernon,” will take place at 1:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium at Leyburn Library on the W&L campus. It is free and open to the public.

Bradburn, who joined Mount Vernon last September, oversees efforts to safeguard original Washington books and manuscripts and to foster new scholarly research about George Washington and the founding era. He also oversees the development of leadership training and educational outreach.

A well-known scholar of early American history, Bradburn is the author of two books and numerous articles and book chapters, specializing in the history of America’s founding era and the early history of the Chesapeake. Before coming to Mount Vernon, he served as a professor of history and director of graduate studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010.

A native of Virginia, Bradburn holds a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.

Immediately preceding Bradburn’s talk, at 1 p.m., the Friends of the Library will hold their annual meeting and award presentation. After his talk, Leyburn Library’s Special Collections will open its doors for a showcase of George Washington material.

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W&L Law Alumnus Christopher Wolf, Pioneer in Internet Law, to Deliver Commencement Address

Christopher Wolf, of the Law Class of 1980 and recipient of the law school’s 2010 Outstanding Alumnus Award, will deliver this year’s commencement address during the 2014 graduation exercises at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 beginning at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public. A complete schedule of events is available at the commencement website. The topic of Wolf’s address is “Preserving Personal Connections.”

A partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, Wolf is director of the firm’s Global Privacy and Information Management practice group. He is founder and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank advancing responsible data practices that already has become a leading platform for discussion and development of best practices. He is also a founder of the Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade, which is seeking durable mechanisms for cross-border data flows that protect privacy.

“We could not have found a more thoughtful Commencement speaker than Chris Wolf,” says Dean Nora Demleitner. “His professional accomplishments and personal qualities, his commitment to making a difference, and his involvement in some of the most challenging issues of our day make him an outstanding role model and the perfect choice for a graduation speaker.”

MSNBC has called Wolf “a pioneer in Internet law” based on his early involvement in legal cases involving technology agreements, copyright, domain names, jurisdiction and, perhaps most of all, privacy. In 1998, a high-profile victory in a pro bono case against the government for its violation of the Electronic Communication Privacy Act brought Wolf to national attention as a privacy lawyer after his almost-two decades as a litigator in complex commercial and technology cases. Today, he is known to clients as a practical problem solver on issues arising from the collection, use, retention, sharing, and security of personal data.

Wolf was the editor and lead author of the first PLI treatise on privacy law and is a frequent author and speaker on privacy and data security issues. In 2012 and 2013, Wolf was a featured speaker at the Annual Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Uruguay and in Poland. He was the first privacy lawyer to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Privacy Subcommittee. He recently presented at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Workshop on “Big Data” in Berkeley, CA and at the Yale Law School “Big Data and the Law” conference, as well as at the Stanford/Future of Privacy Forum Big Data Conference. He was a presenter at the 2013 Federal Trade Commission Internet of Things Workshop. He is an upcoming speaker at the International Association of Privacy Professionals London Data Protection Intensive.

Wolf is a member of the American Law Institute and currently is participating in the ALI project on the Restatement of Privacy law. Washingtonian magazine dubbed Wolf a 2013 “Tech Titan.”

Wolf is National Civil Rights Chair of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and is co-author of the 2013 book on internet hate speech “Viral Hate: Containing its Spread on the Internet.” He co-chairs, with the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition Combatting Anti-Semitism Task Force on Internet Hate. Wolf is on the Board of Directors of WETA Public Broadcasting, Food & Friends, Young Concert Artists, and the George Washington University Hospital.

Wolf is a cum laude graduate of Bowdoin College and graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif from W&L Law. He also participated in the General Course at the London School of Economics. Following law school, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr. in Washington, D.C.

Wolf lives in Washington, DC and is married to James L. Beller, Jr, a playwright.

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Staniar Gallery to Present Alternative Photographic Processes Exhibit at W&L

Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery is pleased to present Tell Me Again the World Will Be Beautiful, an exhibit of works by photographer Alyssa Salomon. The show will be on view until May 23.

Since receiving a camera for her eighth birthday, Salomon has been testing how photography records and interprets the visible world. She uses 19th century photographic processes on handmade surfaces to exploit the medium’s potential for romantic nostalgia, abstraction and quiet beauty. In this exhibition, inspired in part by the writings of British Romantic poets, Salomon investigates her place in the natural world by likening her approach to that of the birdwatcher: “disciplined by skill, attuned to sight and gifted by chance.”

Salomon’s work is held in public and private collections including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Capital One and The Valentine Richmond History Center. She has been awarded two professional fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Theresa Pollak Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.

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W&L Sets New Records for Scholar-Athletes

Many in the University community are well informed as to the athletic exploits of W&L’s 472 varsity student-athletes.  The accomplishments are many.  Thus far in 2013-14, the Generals have already won three conference titles while claiming just better than 60 percent (169-111-6, .601) of their athletic contests.

As impressive as those feats may be, W&L’s student-athletes have been even more impressive in the classroom this school year.

In both the fall and winter terms, W&L student-athletes have set new records for the number of students achieving the scholar-athlete award.  The award is presented to student-athletes who have received a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.5 or better for a term.

In the fall, a total of 190 students received the award, eclipsing the former record of 185 that was set during the 2012 winter term.  That number increased during the recently completed winter term to 210 scholar-athlete award recipients, meaning that 44.5 percent of W&L’s total student-athletes received a GPA of 3.5 or better for the winter term.

Additionally, 22 of the students honored achieved a 4.0 grade-point average, marking the third-straight term in which more than 20 student-athletes achieved a 4.0 GPA.

Among those registering a perfect GPA were:

  •  Junior All-ODAC soccer player Lauren Abraham (Richmond, Va. / Mills E. Godwin)
  • Junior All-ODAC soccer player Holley Beasley (Virginia Beach, Va. / Norfolk Academy)
  • First-year tennis player Brooke Donnelly (Kennesaw, Ga. / Marietta)
  • Sophomore soccer player Becca Dunn (Houston, Texas / Memorial)
  • Senior cross country and track & field athlete Katie Driest (Davidson, N.C. / North Mecklenburg)
  • Senior All-ODAC track & field athlete David Fishman (Westfield, N.J. / Westfield)
  • Sophomore soccer player Liam Gaziano (Dedham, Mass. / Roxbury Latin)
  • Senior All-ODAC field hockey player Riley Hampsch (Hopedale, Mass. / Hopedale)
  • Senior tennis player Trey Hatcher (Knoxville, Tenn. / Webb School)
  • Junior All-ODAC tennis player Christopher Hu (Ridgewood, N.J. / Ridgewood)
  • Sophomore All-America tennis player Michael Holt (Henrico, Va. / Mills Godwin)
  • Sophomore volleyball player Maddie Kosar (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Gilmour Academy)
  • First-year basketball player Darby Lundquist (Chattanooga, Tenn. / Notre Dame)
  • Senior All-ODAC cross country and track & field athlete Annelise Madison (Roca, Neb. / Norris)
  • Junior field hockey player Lindsey Purpura (Yarmouth, Maine / Yarmouth)
  • Senior volleyball player Allison Rouse (Troy, Mich. / Troy)
  • First-year soccer player Kate Sarfert (Winston Salem, N.C. / RJ Reynolds)
  • First-year swimmer Cole Schott (Nashville, Tenn. / Hume-Fogg Academic)
  • Senior soccer and lacrosse player Kingsley Schroeder (Dayton, Ohio / Westminster School/Miami Valley)
  • Senior soccer player Jasmine Soo (Charleston, W.Va. / Culver Academies)
  • Senior golfer Jake Struebing (Amherst, N.Y. / Amherst Central)
  • Sophomore basketball player Franklin Wolfe (Raleigh, N.C. / Sanderson)

Other notable athletes to receive the scholar-athlete award were:

  • Senior All-America football player Connor Hollenbeck (Alpharetta, Ga. / Alpharetta)
  • Senior All-America lacrosse player Leanne Stone (Darien, Conn. / Darien)
  • Junior All-America tennis player Meghan Buell (New Albany, Ohio / New Albany)
  • Junior All-America tennis player Patricia Kirkland (Charleston, S.C. / Ashley Hall)
  • Senior All-America volleyball player Mary Ashleigh Boles (Houston, Texas / St. John’s)

The football team claimed the highest number of scholar-athlete honorees for the winter term, claiming 31 on the list.  The soccer team claimed the highest number of female athletes on the list with 18 of the 23 members achieving a GPA of 3.5 or better.

All but one of W&L’s 24 varsity athletic programs achieved a team GPA of at least 3.000, led by the women’s soccer team, which posted a 3.709 that marked the highest team GPA recorded in either the fall or winter term since 2000.  The highest men’s team GPA was the men’s soccer team with a 3.518 and no team recorded a GPA lower than 2.984.

The Generals will have plenty of opportunities to add to their athletic accomplishments for the spring in the coming weeks beginning this weekend as the ODAC baseball, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s tennis championships will be decided.

Team GPA Listing

  • Women’s Soccer                                    3.709
  • Riding                                                      3.545
  • Women’s Tennis                                   3.539
  • Men’s Soccer                                          3.518
  • Men’s Golf                                              3.483
  • Women’s Basketball                            3.465
  • Field Hockey                                          3.442
  • Volleyball                                               3.427
  • Women’s Indoor Track                        3.406
  • Women’s Outdoor Track                     3.406
  • Men’s Tennis                                         3.383
  • Women’s Cross Country                      3.372
  • Men’s Cross Country                            3.369
  • Wrestling                                                3.358
  • Men’s Swimming                                  3.337
  • Men’s Basketball                                   3.312
  • Men’s Outdoor Track                           3.312
  • Football                                                   3.308
  • Women’s Swimming                            3.301
  • Men’s Indoor Track                              3.298
  • Women’s Lacrosse                               3.279
  • Men’s Lacrosse                                      3.167
  • Baseball                                                  3.162
  • Women’s Golf                                        2.984

Poetry Reading at Washington and Lee on May 1

Poet Anna Lena Phillips will give a reading at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, May 1, at 7 p.m. in the Outing Club Room (room 114), in Elrod Commons.

The reading is free and open to the public. She will be reading from her latest work.

Phillips is the author of “A Pocket Book of Forms,” a letterpress-printed, travel-sized guide to poetic forms. She is also the editor of Lookout Books and “Ecotone,” the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s (UNCW) literary magazine that seeks to reimagine place.

Before joining UNCW, she co-founded the online literary journal “Fringe,” and served as senior editor at “American Scientist” magazine. She is a two-time recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize, the winner of the 2012 Southern Women Writers Conference Emerging Writers Award in poetry, and a winner of the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition.

Her work appears or is forthcoming in “International Poetry Review,” the “Anthology of Appalachian Writers,” “111O,” “Redux” and “Open Letters Monthly,” among other journals.

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