Feature Stories Campus Events

Fan on the Run: Dave McLean ’78 and Paul McCartney

Last week, on June 23, several denizens of W&L trekked from Lexington across Afton Mountain to Charlottesville for a memorable concert by Paul McCartney. Along with everyone else, they applauded when Sir Paul invited a member of the audience on stage to celebrate the fan’s 100th McCartney concert. Turns out that lucky man was Dave McLean, a member of the University’s Class of 1978, and his moment of glory is splashed on McCartney’s Facebook page.

The first McCartney show for the lifelong Beatles fan occurred in May 1976, when Dave was wrapping up his sophomore year at W&L. It was part of the Wings Over America tour, at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. “As a sophomore, I didn’t have much disposable income, or I would’ve done more,” he said.

So the second — and third and fourth — shows had to wait for 13 years, until 1989. The Paul McCartney World Tour was playing a multi-night stand in Los Angeles, where the McLeans were living. The first night, his wife, Tammy, stayed home with their new baby, Emily; the next, Tammy accompanied Dave; the night after that, “I risked my marriage,” he jokes, and went alone.

On that fateful night in 1989, Dave wound up in the front row, about eight feet from the star. McCartney made eye contact and, “with a grin as wide as a Cheshire cat,” gave Dave a thumbs-up. “I was hooked,” he said. “That started it.”

Since then, he reports, “I have tried to go to the first and last shows in the U.S. of every tour.”

Dave also has traveled to England, Canada and Spain for McCartney shows. His 100 concerts include one-offs, like a 1993 Earth Day concert with Ringo Starr, and a 2010 Sirius XM gig at the historic Apollo Theater. (That night, Dave ended up, quite by coincidence, sitting next to Nancy Shevell, McCartney’s then girlfriend, now wife.) Last year, he was also lucky enough to attend the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the Beatles’ first appearance in the U.S., at the Grammys and at the television show “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute.”

Along the way, Dave started taking oversize signs to concerts, modifying them for each occasion. At a 2005 show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, Dave took his son, Michael, to the teenager’s first McCartney experience (and first rock concert of any kind). Dave’s sign listed all the shows he’d attended. It must have been an impressive list, for it elicited the first time McCartney spoke to him from the stage. “You have way too much information on that sign,” the legend joshed.

With all that concert-going, Dave has gotten to know McCartney’s staff — “the inner circle,” he calls them — because he often holds the ticket that permits attendance at the pre-performance sound checks. There the interaction with McCartney continues. At Dave’s 60th show, McCartney said, “Sixty? You hardly look like you’re 60.”

As for his big centennial moment at the June 23 show in Charlottesville, “I didn’t know it would happen until it happened.” McCartney only occasionally brings fans on stage. When it does occur, he says, “They pull you out during the first encore. It’s Paul’s call.” At the Charlottesville sound check, “there was talk it could happen. The security guy knew of my strong desire.” When McCartney acknowledged his 100th concert from the stage, Dave was thrilled. “Honestly, I thought that was it. That was kind of cool. But there was still a hope.”

Then came the encore, and hope became reality. The staffer “gave me the high sign,” and up on stage Dave went, poster in hand, for a handshake and a hug from McCartney — plus a shout-out from Dave to Tammy, who was in the audience, and to McCartney’s inner circle.

Dave found out about his Facebook fame the next morning, when he and Tammy were driving back home to New York and Dave was catching up with work e-mail. To his delight, as his McCartney friends and W&L friends became aware of the Facebook photograph, personal e-mails flooded his inbox.

“In the meantime,” he says with a laugh, “I actually have a life, a job, a family.” An attorney with a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, Dave is a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins L.L.P., serving in the litigation department and practicing international arbitration, employment law, securities litigation, and professional liability and insurance coverage litigation. He hails from New Jersey and obtained a B.A. in politics from W&L. He and Tammy have been married for 30 years, and children Emily and Michael are in their 20s.

See Dave’s big moment and read the comments on McCartney’s Facebook page (scroll down to the June 24 entry) and watch him on YouTube (at about 1:13).


Sunday Morning in Charleston

On Sunday, June 21, just days after nine people were killed during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, Kate Shellnutt, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee University, attended Sunday service with members of the congregation.

Kate, who is a reporter for Christianity Today magazine and co-editor of its blog Her.meneutics, wrote that it was a day filled with praise for the Lord. “Tucked away in the back row of the balcony, part of me wondered, ‘Rejoice? Right now? On this day?’ I was overruled by the 500-plus crowd below, who shouted along with him .”

She added, “It kept coming. Prayers thanking God for his blessings. For waking them up this morning. A reading from 1 Thessalonians: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’ (5:16-18, KJV). They literally sounded the trumpet, making a joyful noise with praise anthems and soloists walking the aisles until the cordless mic started cutting in and out.”

Despite all eyes on Charleston and talk focusing on the Confederate flag and racism, Kate noted that the major topic for most people focused on justice and forgiveness. “Black and white residents—at least the churchgoers I spoke with—largely defy Roof’s premise, striving to come together in prayer, discussion, and action, rather than letting the deadliest hate crime in the state’s history divide them further.”


Watson Pavilion Offers New Japanese Export Porcelain Exhibit

A new exhibit of Japanese export porcelain is now open in the Watson Pavilion at Washington and Lee University.

Though often confused with and overshadowed by Chinese export porcelain, much of the most exotic, desirable and expensive porcelain available in Europe came from Japan from 1660 to 1740.

“Japanese export porcelain’s brief period of prominence had much to do with China,” said Ron Fuchs, curator of the Reeves Collection. “Prior to the 1640s, China supplied most of the world’s porcelain. Conflict resulting from the collapse of the Ming dynasty in 1644 and the establishment of the Qing dynasty disrupted porcelain production and export. For a few decades, Japanese potters filled this void. By the late 1600s, Chinese production resumed and by the 1740s, the greater quantities and lower prices of Chinese porcelain drove the Japanese from the export market.”

Japanese porcelain was made in the city of Arita, which had abundant sources of clay. From there, finished products were shipped from the nearby port of Imari throughout Japan. Much of the Japanese porcelain exported to Europe came via the Dutch, who were the only Europeans allowed to trade with Japan.

A global product, Japanese porcelain was influenced by indigenous Japanese, Chinese and European ceramics. Often richly decorated, it combined familiar Western shapes with unfamiliar Asian designs to create objects that were both practical and exotic.

The Japanese export porcelain exhibit is on display in the Watson Pavilion, which is part of the Reeves Center at Washington and Lee University. It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Deborah Miranda’s Poem Featured in West Trestle Review

“Juliana, 1803” by Deborah Miranda, the John Lucian Smith Term Professor of English at Washington and Lee, is the featured poem of the week on the website of West Trestle Review.

Deborah, an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area, has authored “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir,” as well as two poetry collections, “Indian Cartography” and “The Zen of La Llorona.” She is also co-editor of “Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two Spirit Literature.”

At W&L, her main areas of research and teaching include contemporary American literature by authors from the margins of U.S. culture.

McAllister Receives Virginia CFO Award

Virginia Business magazine has named Steven G. McAllister, vice president for finance and treasurer of Washington and Lee University, as the leading chief financial officer among large non-profit organizations in the state.

The magazine presented its 10th Annual Virginia CFO Awards at a banquet in Richmond to McAllister and others in five business categories: Small Nonprofit Organization; Large Nonprofit Organization; Small Private Company; Large Private Company; and Publicly Traded Companies.

The judges — themselves past winners of the awards — recognized McAllister’s contributions to Washington and Lee’s efforts to limit the rising cost of tuition, increase employee compensation, reduce energy costs and wisely invest its $1.5 billion endowment.

“It’s easy to forget that nonprofits have to meet a bottom line, just like any other business. They were not immune to the challenges posed by the recent economic downturn,” the judges wrote in the award citation. McAllister “met the test head-on by leading his institution through an important belt-tightening program. The organization trimmed expenses (cutting energy costs, for example, by 25 percent over four years) while increasing employee salaries and financial assistance to the people it serves.”

“Responsible for a $125 million budget, this CFO also manages an endowment of nearly $1.5 billion. The endowment has benefited from a $500 million fundraising campaign, which is scheduled to end this month. Philanthropy now exceeds other traditional revenue streams in the annual operating budget,” they continued.

The judges noted that McAllister “has proven that he possesses the ability to work through the complexities of financial management while relating well to all constituencies. He is a careful manager and a conscientious steward of the resources. As a result of that stewardship, no student from a family with income of less than $75,000 has to pay tuition to attend one of the most respected liberal arts colleges in the U.S.”

W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio said that McAllister “richly deserves the award for management of the University’s finances in a way that directly benefits W&L’s students and its employees. He has been a careful and smart steward of the University’s resources during one of the most challenging periods in the economy and higher education.”

For more than 25 years, Virginia Business has served as a leading source of information about the people and industries most significantly affecting Virginia’s economy. Publisher Bernie Niemeier said the awards “are a testament to the quality of financial leadership in the commonwealth. The nomination process yielded many impressive candidates, and our judges were confronted with the difficult task of selecting the top CFO from each category.”


Kaylee Hartung ’07: Live From the College World Series

If you’ve been watching the College World Series on ESPN, you might have spotted Kaylee Hartung, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2007 with a double major in politics and journalism. This week she’s in Omaha, Nebraska, reporting on the 2015 Division I baseball championships. If you missed her on ESPN, you can check out her photos from the event on her Instagram account or follow her on Twitter.

Sports fans might recognize Kaylee from her earlier reporting gigs. Before she joined ESPN’s SEC Network as a studio and field reporter, Kaylee was an anchor and reporter for ESPN’s The Longhorn Network, a sideline reporter for CBS Sports Network and a correspondent for CBSNews.com.

As well as hosting The Longhorn Network’s flagship program, “Longhorn Extra,” she covered the 2013 College World Series and the 2012-13 college football and college basketball seasons. During her career at CBS Sports, she covered CBS and Turner Sports’ online NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and CBSSports.com’s PGA Championship and tennis’ U.S. Open. She also contributed to NCAA.com and SI.com’s College World Series and BCS National Championship coverage.

Along with her duties at CBS Sports, Kaylee also worked in the CBS News Washington Bureau as a reporter on the daily “Washington Unplugged” program and was a featured correspondent for “Unplugged Under 40.” Kaylee first joined CBS News as Bob Schieffer’s assistant and quickly advanced to associate producer of the Sunday public affairs program “Face the Nation.”

W&L Law’s David Baluarte Joins Advisory Council of Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion

Washington and Lee law professor David Baluarte has been named to the advisory council of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI), an independent non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an integrated, human rights based response to the injustice of statelessness and exclusion.

Through research, education and advocacy, ISI seeks to build awareness of the plight of the stateless and disenfranchised and to work with partners in civil society, academia, the UN and government to strengthen human rights protections for these vulnerable groups.

Baluarte teaches and writes about topics ranging from immigration, refugees and stateless persons, and transnational law with a specific focus on international human rights law and practice. He also serves as director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, a semester-long practical lawyering experience available to third-year students as part of W&L’s innovative third-year curriculum.

Baluarte and his students recently won asylum for a client in one of the best-known cases of statelessness in the U.S. Mikhail Sebastian, sometimes referred to as the ‘most famous stateless person in the U.S.,’ was granted asylum after 15 years in legal limbo.

Sebastian had been marooned in America Samoa for nearly a year when Baluarte became involved in the case. Baluarte had recently completed a comprehensive report on statelessness in the U.S for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a version of which was later published under the title “Citizens of Nowhere,” and was asked by the UN to provide pro bono counsel. Baluarte says that stateless individuals, who lack any lawful status, access to rights or protections, are highly vulnerable to discrimination and abuse.

Baluarte, together with other advocates for the rights of stateless persons, worked hard to ensure that the U.S. Congress would include a legislative solution to statelessness as part of the comprehensive immigration reform initiative in 2013. Baluarte continues to help individual clients, and to research and write about the problem.

“The way that we have written our laws to exclude stateless persons is simply inhumane. We have identified a gap in our laws that produces real human suffering and that urgently needs to be addressed,” Baluarte says.

Baluarte is currently attending a regional conference organized by the Open Society Foundation on this issue in Costa Rica. He will present on statelessness in the U.S. and engage in a dialog about the protection of stateless person in the Americas.

Before coming to W&L, Professor Baluarte was a Practitioner-in-Residence and Arbenz Fellow in the International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) at American University Washington College of Law. In addition to his clinical teaching responsibilities in that capacity, Professor Baluarte managed projects and consulted for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI).

Before beginning his teaching career, Professor Baluarte served as a staff attorney in the Immigration Unit the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as a staff attorney at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). Professor Baluarte earned his J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, where he was a Public Interest and Public Service (PIPS) Scholar, and his B.A. from Brown University.

Digitized Archives of the Ring-tum Phi Now Available Online

W&L’s student paper, the Ring-tum Phi, made its first appearance in 1897 and has, with the exception of World War II, been in print ever since. Leafing through back issues in Special Collections, the curious can read about Fancy Dress, homecoming queens, Glee Club concerts, changes to The White Book, even extensive coverage of W&L’s long-ago Division I football team. The only catch is you had to be on campus to do so.

That has now changed. Over the past two and a half years, Alston Cobourn, digital scholarship librarian at W&L, has worked with an outside vendor, Backstage Library Works, to create a text-searchable digital archive of the Ring-tum Phi (http://myw.lu/studentorgsarchive). “It’s been a long process,” said Cobourn. “With over 100 years worth of material, there was a lot of prep work involved. It’s very exciting to now have the Phi archives online.”

The biggest users are classes from the journalism and history departments. So far, most searches are for stories on Lee Chapel and coeducation. Geographically, Texas, with its large alumni contingent, produces the highest number of hits nationally, while France leads the way for international readers.

“The digitized archives aren’t supposed to replace physical access of the Phi,” said Cobourn. “But it’s really useful in helping people discover new details about the University.”

Regarding its online presence, ringtumphiwlu.com, Coburn said, “We’re hoping to capture and preserve the digital version of the paper for the archives as well.”

As for the ongoing print version, the Phi’s coeditors for the 2015-16 academic year will be Krysta Huber ’16 and Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder ’16, with Hannah Howard ’16 as managing editor. Having worked as writers and editors of the Phi, they “believe we can lead the Phi to new levels of in-depth reporting, and will strive to give equal coverage to every group and issue on campus, no matter the size. We are also expanding our social media websites, and we will be introducing a new social media editor.”

You can subscribe to the Phi’s weekly paper for $45/year. Contact Ring-tum Phi, Elrod Commons #341, 204 W. Washington St., Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116


W&L's Ruscio on Continuity and Change in The Roanoke Times

The following op-ed by W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio appeared in The Roanoke Times on Sunday, June 21, 2015, and is reprinted here with permission.

Continuity and Change

by Kenneth P. Ruscio
President, Washington and Lee University

At Washington and Lee, we tell this old joke on ourselves: “How many W&L alumni does it takes to change a light bulb? Five — one to change it and four to talk about how great the old bulb was.”

Washington and Lee has a storied past. We stand on the shoulders of those who sacrificed on our behalf. We look upon the accumulated wisdom of the ages as a gift. We mostly avoid the conceit of thinking we are somehow wiser, smarter or more enlightened than those who preceded us. We preserve what matters in our history. And, we learn from it.

But, this is a university, not a museum, and while the past shapes an institution, the past does not, and should not, dictate the future.

Imagine a university as a river. A river has a source, its headwaters, typically in a remote mountain spring somewhere. That origin defines not just the natural history of the river but also its character and the way we think about it. At any point along the way, you can find signs of where it began. To understand a river you have to know where it came from.

But a river always flows forward, away from its source. It never reverses itself. Sometimes the river’s waters are placid and calm, the current barely perceptible. Sometimes they are treacherous, flowing violently over rocks and rapids. Sometimes the river floods its banks. Sometimes it is diminished by drought.

A river, like a university, moves along in its own varied rhythms, changing through different stages, linked forever to where it began, even as it heads toward a different destination.

I grew up in suburban New Jersey in the shadow of New York City, where a Washington and Lee alumnus named Walt Kingsbery lived down the street. When Mr. Kingsbery heard I was interested in applying to his alma mater, he did what any self-respecting alumnus does. His sales pitch was aggressive and irresistible. He sold me.

Mr. Kingsbery was a member of the Class of 1948 and when he returned for his 50th reunion, he found that, in many ways, the university he knew as a student no longer existed. The football team had played its last national bowl game — the Gator Bowl against Wyoming — in 1951, and shortly thereafter abandoned scholarship sports in the wake of a cheating scandal. The dress code — coats and ties every day and in every place — was long gone. So were Saturday morning classes. The student body had been integrated in the 1960s, and half of the students were now women since the university became coeducational in the 1980s. The law school had moved, there was a performing arts center, a new library, and, well, you get the picture — the river had been rolling along.

But even with all the changes that greeted his return, Mr. Kingsbery knew that what mattered was unchanged. Here’s how he described what he found:

“I will never forget my first sight of the red buildings and white columns perched on a ridge overlooking the town streets. In May 1998 to Lexington for my 50th Class Reunion. Those red and white buildings still stand as firm, silent and impressive as ever. ‘Old George,’ the statue of George Washington, tall and silent, gazing over the campus and the town, was then, and even now is, a bit awesome. But the buildings and ‘George’ offered a strong and warm welcome to a world of learning, friendship and integrity.”

I know how you graduates feel today, or I know how you should feel or how I want you to feel. With your departure today, you are certain that your university will shortly begin an inevitable decline away from perfection.

However, as your life goes on, as you assume the duties of citizenship in this democracy, as you contribute to your communities and professions, I wish for you the quality of discernment — the ability to distinguish between what is important and what is not; to distinguish between what is real and what is artifice.

Judging wisely and carefully has always been in short supply. With the steep decline in public discourse these days, it seems on the verge of extinction.

Celebrity is not leadership. The volume of an argument is not a measure of its quality. Repeating a false statement over and over again does not eventually make it true. Sticking with an opinion in the face of contradictory evidence is not principled conviction but intellectual laziness.

Cultivate that quality of discernment in every corner of your lives.

Change is inevitable. Light bulbs burn out. This will be a different place — a better place — 50 years from now. Or if it’s not, you, as alumni, should be ashamed of it and of yourselves. What truly matters are the intangible attributes — the virtues of honor and integrity, of respect for each other despite our differences, of civility. Pay attention to the character, not the artifice.

To move forward, to improve, to change, is not a rejection of the past. It is the way to honor the past.

This is based on remarks that Ruscio, a 1976 graduate of W&L, made during the university’s recent commencement exercises.


New York Times Editorial Discusses New Study by W&L’s Bai

The New York Times editorial on June 16 discussed a new study by Ge Bai, assistant professor of accounting at Washington and Lee University. She is the lead author of “Extreme Markup: The Fifty US Hospitals With The Highest Charge-To-Cost Ratios,” that lists the 50 hospitals in the United States with the most extreme price markups. To date, more than 300 media outlets have written about the research.

The study was published June 8 in “Health Affairs” and was co-authored by Gerard F. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers used Medicare cost reports from 2012 to show that these hospitals have markups approximately 10 times their allowable costs under Medicare. The study shows that one for-profit hospital system owns half of the 50 hospitals, 98 percent of the hospitals are for profit, 92 percent are owned by for-profit hospital systems and 40 percent operate in Florida.

Bai noted in media interviews that their research found that many hospitals charge 1,000 percent of their costs and that the effect trickles down to every single consumer, although it is worse for vulnerable populations, such as the uninsured and out-of-network patients. “It really plays an important role in the rise of overall healthcare spending,” she said.

Bai and Anderson claim that these markups are largely motivated by profit rather than the quality of service. They suggest that since patients find it difficult to compare prices and market forces fail to constrain hospital charges, federal and state governments may want to consider limiting the charge-to-cost ratio, setting a rate for all payers or mandating price disclosure in order to limit these hospital markups.

Outlets covering Bai’s research include:

Kate Shellnutt ’08 Blogs About the Duggar Family

Kate Shellnutt, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2008 and works for Christianity Today (CT), has been a go-to source on the Duggar Family scandal story. She’s been on CNN and quoted in the Washington Post.

On the blog she writes for CT, Her.meneutics, she said, “Take it from me, a TLC viewer, former reality TV blogger and Christian journalist: The most fascinating aspects of the Duggar family never appeared on the show that made them famous, ‘19 Kids and Counting.’ … The Duggars’ conservative Christian beliefs and ties with Republican politics were an invisible force in the show, and those familiar with this subset of evangelicalism could easily fill in the blanks. But the Duggars rarely brought up the specific teachings or scriptural backings behind their beliefs and practices. Theirs was a ‘family values’ program that largely skipped over where those values came from, as well as any controversy they caused.”

One TV critic, Ken Tucker, suggested the show should return to “confront what happened in their lives as a result.” Kate disagrees. She said, “ a good idea in theory, but that’s hugely overestimating the capacity of reality TV. TLC avoided focusing in on the Duggars’ theology during 10 seasons of the show. I doubt a network best known for series like ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ could appropriately portray the complicated factors in child sex abuse, recovery and restoration — especially in a way that would be healthy for Josh’s victims, who allegedly include some of his younger sisters.”

Kate follows current events and religion news across the web from her home outside of Augusta, Georgia. A former religion reporter and web producer for the Houston Chronicle, her work has earned honors from the Society for Features Journalism and Religion Newswriters Association. She studied religion and journalism at Washington and Lee University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Kate serves on the W&L Journalism and Mass Communications Department’s advisory board.

W&L Law’s Danforth Weighs in on Sweet Briar Case

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Virginia breathed new life into the fight to keep Sweet Briar College open.

The Court ruled that Circuit Judge James Updike had erred when he held at trial that, because Sweet Briar is a corporation, Sweet Briar could not also be a trustee. The correction is important, said Washington and Lee law professor Robert Danforth, because, if Sweet Briar is both a corporation and a trustee, it means that Sweet Briar is subject to the law of trusts, and the Sweet Briar board cannot close the school if it would violate the terms of the original trust establishing the college in 1901.

“Because Sweet Briar Institute (the non-profit corporation that runs the College) was established pursuant to the terms of a trust under a will, the Institute is operating the College as the trustee of a trust and is therefore subject to the Virginia Uniform Trust Code,” said Danforth.  “The most important implication of being subject to the Uniform Trust Code is that the corporation cannot unilaterally decide to cease operations.”

This was the position Danforth and two other Virginia wills and trusts professors argued in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court ahead of the decision. In an interview with Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Danforth said that the Supreme Court’s ruling requires the trial court to consider whether the Sweet Briar trustees must seek court approval for their plans for the school.  The trial court’s earlier ruling would have eliminated this possibility.

The Supreme Court left a second issue undecided, declining to rule on whether Amherst county attorney Ellen Bowyer has the statutory authority to challenge the closing decision on behalf of the state. Danforth and his colleagues also argued in their brief that based on both the language of the Uniform Trust Code and on basic trust law principles Bowyer does have standing to sue to enforce the terms of a charitable trust.

The case now heads back to Judge Updike in circuit court for reconsideration. Meanwhile, Sweet Briar has no plans to enroll students this fall and many students have already transferred to other institutions.

“It may be that the end result will be no different, unfortunately,” Danforth told VLW. “Our concern, as professors, was the process. As a trust, the trustees can’t just shut it down.”

Reflections on W&L

On his blog, Cobbloviate, James “Jim” C. Cobb, who holds the B. Phinizy Spalding Professorship in History at the University of Georgia, reflected on his recent trip to Washington and Lee University, where he received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the May 28 commencement ceremonies. Earlier in the year, he visited campus as the keynote speaker for W&L’s Founders’ Day.

W&L Provost Daniel Wubah introduced Jim to graduates and their guests as “one of the foremost scholars of Southern history, a teacher who has had a profound impact on generations of students, and a writer who has interpreted the South for academic and lay audiences alike.”

So it’s not surprising that Jim, who refers to himself the Ol’ Bloviator (O.B.), chose to mull over his experience through the lens of a historian and educator.

He noted, “Neither Robert E. Lee or George Washington are really dead on a campus marked by so much statuary and truly imposing architecture bearing their names and likenesses. Though the Lee connection has grown socially problematic at times, as recently as last summer, in fact, W&L’s dynamite prez, Ken Ruscio, a stand-up dude if ever there was one, has steadfastly maintained that the school’s special place in history is integral to its identity. Lest ye be deceived, President Ruscio’s position does not imply dogged defense of an ossified, uncritically venerated past, but quite the opposite.”

Jim added, “It is for this very insistence on reason over emotion and thoughtful discourse over shouting that, since the O.B.’s first visit to the campus nearly 20 years ago, he has been a walking infomercial, touting Washington and Lee as the place to go if you want to see undergraduate education done right, and his more recent trips have not only affirmed but, if anything, strengthened that conviction.”


Silliman: Project-Based Learning

by Mary Elizabeth Silliman

“College is no longer about acquiring knowledge, but rather about knowing when, why, and how to use it,” said the provost of Washington and Lee University in his lecture about the ever changing system of higher education. Daniel A. Wubah makes a great point; back when finding information was labor intensive and time consuming, the primary function of college was for students to come to listen to professors share their wisdom and knowledge. Today, however, technology  makes information easily accessible, and essentially anyone who knows how to work a computer or cell phone can have whatever information he needs with the click of a button from the comfort of his home. As a result, students  rely less on college to give them information and more on the schools to help them apply what they have learned as they prepare to enter the real world. As a student today, I still desire and value the wisdom and knowledge my professors have to share with me, but I am eager for more, and what I want is real-world and project based learning.

An article on edutopia.org called, “Why is Project-Based Learning Important?” explains the many merits  of using project-based  learning in the classroom. For one, it “helps students develop skills for living in a knowledge-based, highly technological society” (edutopia.org). College is generally a point in a student’s educational career where he has figured out how to read and write effectively, and he thrives in the comfortable  classroom setting. What they need is to work on developing the 21st century skills, which include planning, reasoning, critical thinking, creativity, and decision making that are essential to possess in order to thrive and survive in this day in age. Project-based learning forces students to develop these skills, as they are pushed to solve real problems and work with different people.

Another benefit of project-based l earning is the “new relevance it brings to the learning at hand” (edutopia.org). By implementing real-life context into learning, students can see how they can apply what they have acquired in the classroom. It is very powerful for a student to feel like what they are studying will help them in the real world, and they feel encouraged and inspired to find and pursue something they are passionate about.

Project-based learning “lends itself to authentic assessment,” as teachers and students can evaluate each other and track the progression of the research or project (edutopia.com). Students develop independence and demonstrate responsibility while also working in groups and improve essential teamwork skills. Additionally, this kind of experience “promotes a lifetime of learning” as students l earn to love the engagement and sense of purpose that comes with working with others to complete a project.

I am only a freshman, but my favorite class I have taken here at W&L was a conversational Spanish class with a service-learning component. A few times a week, I would go to an elementary school in a low-income area to teach Spanish. This experience benefited me and enhanced my learning in more ways than I could have imagined. I saw first hand how it helped every person in my class. It provided an awesome topic for class discussion because every student was working with different organizations, and we could share experiences and work together to solve any problems that arose. The class engagement and participation levels were so high, which provided awesome opportunities for lateral learning, and our speaking skills improved drastically.Although my focus was Spanish, I learned a lot about poverty while I  was volunteering at the school. Through talking to the students, teachers, and program directors as well as being in the classroom, I learned so much about problems facing education today with regards to children in low-income areas. This type of interdisciplinary learning is also a huge benefit of project-based classes.

My experience is one small example of how getting outside the classroom and acquiring hands on experience can be so impactful. I can only imagine how beneficial it would be for me to have the opportunity to work with an entrepreneur or someone in business, as this is the field I hope to enter one day. Being in a classroom is great in some aspects, and there is a lot to be learned from reading textbooks and participating in class discussions. However, actually going out and doing work in the world is an experience I personally want more of as a student and one I think needs to be more standard in colleges.

Mary Elizabeth Silliman, of the Class of 2018, is from Orlando, Fla.


Works Cited
“Why Is Project-Based Learning Important?” Edutopia. http:/ jwww.edutopia.orgjproject-based-learning-guide­importance


National Media Feature Research by W&L's Bai on Extreme Markups by Hospitals

Ge Bai, assistant professor of accounting at Washington and Lee University, is lead author of a new study, “Extreme Markup: The Fifty US Hospitals With The Highest Charge-To-Cost Ratios,” that lists the 50 hospitals in the United States with the most extreme price markups. To date, more than 300 media outlets have written about the research.

The study was published June 8 in “Health Affairs” and was co-authored by Gerard F. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers used Medicare cost reports from 2012 to show that these hospitals have markups approximately 10 times their allowable costs under Medicare. The study shows that one for-profit hospital system owns half of the 50 hospitals, 98 percent of the hospitals are for profit, 92 percent are owned by for-profit hospital systems and 40 percent operate in Florida.

Bai noted in media interviews that their research found that many hospitals charge 1,000 percent of their costs and that the effect trickles down to every single consumer, although it is worse for vulnerable populations, such as the uninsured and out-of-network patients. “It really plays an important role in the rise of overall healthcare spending,” she said.

Bai and Anderson claim that these markups are largely motivated by profit rather than the quality of service. They suggest that since patients find it difficult to compare prices and market forces fail to constrain hospital charges, federal and state governments may want to consider limiting the charge-to-cost ratio, setting a rate for all payers or mandating price disclosure in order to limit these hospital markups.

Outlets covering Bai’s research include:

New Study by W&L’s Susan Franck Examines Diversity in Legal Profession at International Level

A new article by Washington and Lee University Law Professor Susan D. Franck is tackling some of the most topical issues in international arbitration and the legal profession in general.

Tapping themes from , which identifies the challenges of fostering diversity within the legal profession, the article examines transnational levels of diversity in the bench and bar, as well as within international courts and tribunals.  It also discusses W&L alumnus Robert Grey’s Minority Corporate Counsel Association to explore the role of corporate counsel in fostering a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

“. The article was a collaboration from a transnational team lead by Franck and including Anne van Aaken, James Freda, Kellen Lavin ’13L, and Tobias Lehmann.

The article originated from the authors’ groundbreaking 2014 research at the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and its prestigious biennial congress. With the aid of Washington and Lee alumni and students, including Kellen Lavin, Mac Mackie, Trista Bishop-Watt, Krystal Swendsboe, Bret Marfut, Sharon Jeong, Rachel Kurzweil and Stephen Halpin, the research team conducted a “live data collection exercise” designed to examine and shed light on the international arbitration community.

The article analyzes the results of some 548 subjects (including 412 who served as counsel, 262 who served as arbitrators, and 62 who served as investment treaty arbitrators), and explores the identity and experience of international arbitration practitioners. By examining the arbitration community’s self-assessments on issues such as diversity, Franck and her coauthors present the first broad results demonstrating the arbitration community’s own realization and awareness of diversity issues within the field.

“This is a first-of-its-kind wide scale research into the core demographic information about the “invisible college” of arbitrators, who have a profound impact on the resolution of global commercial and investment disputes,” says Franck. “The demographic information, and the arbitration community’s self-assessments contained within the article, are incredibly unique and highly relevant assessments of international arbitration that will be of interest to lawyers, corporations, states and other stakeholders interested in an empirical look at how the international arbitration community views itself.”

The article’s discussion of demographic data provides key insights into diversity challenges in international arbitration, including results showing that only 17.6% of the arbitrators were women, and that, depending on how development status was defined, only 15 to 20 percent of the arbitrators came from the developing world. The research team hopes the article will prove valuable to practitioners, policy-makers and academics interested in exploring the demographics and functionality of international arbitration.

The survey identified disparities in gender and development status in international arbitration, with key findings including:

  • The gender disparity in international arbitration was stark. The data indicated that 76% of those who acted as counsel in an international arbitration were men and 24% were women. Of those who had served as an arbitrator, 82.4% were men and 17.6% were women. Female respondents tended to be younger than men.
  • Most international arbitrators were nationals of Europe or North America. There was a pronounced geographic distribution amongst arbitrators at the conference: 48.2% of arbitrators were European nationals; 27.9% were North American nationals; 10% of arbitrators were Asian nationals; 9.6% of arbitrators were South American nationals; 4.0% of arbitrators were nationals of Australia or New Zealand, and 0.4% of arbitrators were African nationals. Statistics on international arbitration counsel are also available in the survey.
  • Most international arbitrators came from developed states. The study analyzed respondents’ development status using multiple variables, including how the OECD, World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (HDI) classified respondents’ home states. Regardless of the definition of development status, our data demonstrated that individuals from developed states dominated the demographics of counsel and arbitrators. For example, 82.4% of international arbitrators were OECD nationals and 17.6% were not. Using World Bank classification, 84.8% of international arbitrators were from high income countries; 10.8% of international arbitrators were from upper-middle income countries; 4.4% of international arbitrators were from lower-middle income countries; and there were no international arbitrators or arbitration counsel from low income states. The median HDI score showed that half of the international arbitrators surveyed came from States with “very high human development.” International arbitration counsel showed a similar “development gap.”
  • Women were more likely than men to identify the possibility of diversity challenges in international arbitration; however, developing country nationals were less likely than developed country nationals to perceive diversity challenges in international arbitration. The data also revealed that women respondents were more conscious of perceived diversity challenges in international arbitration than the men. Younger respondents were also more likely to perceive those same challenges when compared to older respondents. Nevertheless, one surprising finding was that developing country nationals were less likely than their developed country counterparts to state that there were diversity issues in international arbitration.
  • Once women crack the “glass ceiling” of becoming an international arbitrator, the data did not reveal a meaningful difference in the number of appointments they obtained as compared to men. Yet, the data revealed that developing country arbitrators received fewer appointments than their developed country counterparts. Although development status and gender are often considered together under the general rubric of “diversity,” the survey data suggested that the experiences and challenges that women and developing country nationals face in international arbitration may be different.

The authors of the article expressed gratitude for the critical support they received from the W&L Law administration, the W&L Transnational Law Institute, the W&L Frances Lewis Law Center, the W&L Law Library, the ICCA Miami Congress host committee, Lucy Reed, the ICCA Congress’ conference program, and the University of St. Gallen Law School.

Garcia: Online Courses and Crediting

by Riley Garcia

Today, college students have more learning methods available than ever before. Students can learn face to face, a hybrid method between online courses and face to face, a flipped classroom where they learn content outside of class and solve problems in class, or learn everything online (Wubah). Although the classic learning style is face to face, hybrid learning and online learning are becoming much more popular. Critics and advocates are both speaking out loudly about online learning. Schools such as the University of Florida are beginning to require students to take a certain amount of credits online before being allowed to enroll into a face to face course. Other schools do not give any credit to students taking online courses. Big name universities like Harvard have begun offering online courses however they do not allow their own students to take these courses for credit. This discrepancy in crediting students is not only confusing to students but also unjust.

Another controversial issue with online courses is cheating. Hopefully, cheating would not occur, but truthfully, some students will fall to temptation. One reason students do not cheat is the loyalty they have not only to the teacher but to other students as well. If a student does not interact with peers and works completely alone 24/7, what loyalty would they have? Temptation is hard and taking a course online, with the answers easy in reach, can definitely taint some students. I know at the University of Florida pre-med students take Intro to Biology online. I’ve also heard stories of rampant cheating in said biology classes. These students are training to be doctors, training to save peoples’ lives, and they’ve never even taken a basic level of biology.

Crediting some students and not others raises issues in quality. Harvard offers online courses to the public, but their own students cannot get any credit. Does Harvard expect other schools to allow their own students to take Harvard courses for credit? Why are Harvard online courses good enough for other students but not for actual Harvard students? If Harvard produces these courses and takes the time to actually create them, then they should make them a high enough standard of quality that should allow Harvard students to take these courses for credit. A school should only be allowed to release online courses if their primary objective is to use it to further the education of their own students. Yes, a school can advertise these courses to other universities as well and allow other students to take them as well, but a school’s own students should be their focus, as it always should be.

Washington and Lee University, a liberal arts college in Virginia, has just this past year begun to let students take online courses for credit. The department must approve these courses and students are only allowed to take a certain amount of credits online. The university puts an emphasis on lateral learning, the idea that students learn best from their peer interactions, so the limit placed is very understandable. An upperclassman student at Washington and Lee that is planning on graduating early described his experience with an online course as surprisingly well run. Although I do not know many students who took an online course this past year, I feel the popularity of them will only increase, as they become better known. I was not aware of the availability to take online courses for credit until the end of winter term, even as a Washington and Lee student. Online courses are definitely something that I will look into in the future. On a campus that strictly adheres to an honor system, I feel the cheating controversy would be nonexistent here.

Crediting for online courses needs to become clearer to all college students because not only will more students take advantage of it but it may even allow driven students to take more courses and to graduate earlier. Universities could offer online courses for credit to their own students to allow advanced students to take an easy class at a faster pace than a semester or a student that struggles with a certain class to take it at their own pace. This method could be used as a way for students to overload and universities could still require students to take the normal required course load. If a university offers its own online courses then it should be trustworthy enough for their own students to take it as credit.

Riley Garcia, of the Class of 2018, is from Manhasset, N.Y. 


Hendricks: Alternative Forms of Higher Education

by Shelbi Hendricks

Read about higher education in the news today and it is almost guaranteed that the word “crisis “ will be utilized.  Tuition is too high, access is too low, the admissions process is in shambles and a college education just might not be worth it. After emerging on the other side of the problems facing higher education, the interesting pieces begin to emerge: the solutions. Suggestions include transitioning learning online, getting rid of tuition at highly selective institutions and getting rid of the SAT and ACT, among others. What if, however, higher education simply transformed itself and became a more highly evolved institution with very little resemblance to what we have today? What if instead of tweaking the current system, alternative options emerged making traditional institutions of higher education more like Blockbuster Video Stores, completely useless in the age of Netflix? This, according to some, just might be the solution.

According to these critics, the new college should look radically different, with lower costs, less structure and more teaching of transferable “real-world” skills. Examples include a proposed alternative made by Salman Kahn in his book, the Thiel Fellowship set up by the founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, a new university program called the Minerva Schools at KGI, and the French coding school, “42.” These forms of alternative education are supposed to be different than college in a way that benefits the students, such as cost, quality, and diversity. At its core, however, this alternative higher education fails to solve two of the bigger concerns surrounding traditional higher education as they fall short in terms of affordability or access and, in some cases, both. Therefore, these alternate forms of higher education are really no better than what exists currently.

Let’s first look at affordability. Minerva boasts its $10,000 tuition as a beacon for affordability; however, a closer look uncovers additional costs that bring the price of attending the Minerva school closer to $30,000. All of a sudden, Minerva has entered a level of cost similar to some traditional universities, with even more cost increasing caveats such as international travel and the high cost of living in cities such as San Francisco, London, and New York. Therefore, Minerva realistically is not quite the affordable option it appears to be.

Minerva is not the only alternative form of higher education falling short in terms of affordability. Salman Kahn’s vision, although not yet a reality, details a business model that promotes cost, not cost-savings. Kahn’s model involves night seminars, internships, close living quarters, and the services of traditional professors alongside “real-world” professionals as both teachers and mentors. The model sounds great, and the possibility for quality sounds impressive. The catch is that in order to have close student-professor/professional mentorships, small student-professor/professional ratios are required. Just like small class sizes at a traditional university, that involves increasing costs, not reducing them. Further, finding mentors willing to given up their evenings, especially professionals who work during the day, will likely require a great monetary sacrifice on the part of the institution, further increasing the cost. Therefore, the business model of a would-be higher education institution based on Kahn’s vision would likely fail in terms of affordability, once again placing it in a sphere with current institutions of higher education.

Cost aside, alternative institutions of higher education face a critical problem that derails the goal of replacing the traditional college and university. This is the problem of access. Traditional institutions of higher education face access challenges in terms of diversity, as popular opinion believes that everyone should have access to higher education. The access problem proves slightly different for these alternative forms of higher education, however. It stems from the fact that in order to attend and succeed at these institutions, a student must be highly intelligent and highly driven, not to mention self motivated. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the average student. In fact, this student might be considered an outlier in the population. The film “Ivory Tower” details the party habits of many college students, a phenomenon that spans students and universities across the country. There is a reason colleges and universities have grades, requirements and advising systems — because not every student is an outlier. Some students need a push or a deadline in order to complete their coursework. In a self-paced, or self-driven institution, what would happen to those students? The outliers would be fine, excelling as they moved through the necessary steps toward their future. Those who are not outliers, which could be a large portion of the population, would be easily distracted, choosing other activities such as partying, TV or being with friends over educational pursuits. Then the current problem would remain: not enough students prepared for the job market, and even worse, large numbers of students taking longer to finish a degree, if they ever finish it at all. Therefore, despite the brilliant innovation that alternative forms of higher education bring to the market place, they fail to actually address two of the major problems in higher education today. Until they can do so, they will remain outliers, similar to their students, and will never reach the magnitude of impact that traditional institutions of higher education can claim.

Shelbi Hendricks, of the Class of 2016, is from Louisville, Ky.


“Admissions – Tuition and Fees | Minerva Schools.” Admissions – Tuition and Fees | Minerva Schools. Minerva Schools at KGI, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.
“Khan Academy Founder Proposes a New Type of College.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (2015): n. pag. Wired Campus Khan Academy Founder Proposes a New Type of College Comments. 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 May 2015.
Ivory Tower . (2015).


Harrigan: Four Years, Four Cities, One Platform

by Ravenel Harrigan

The future of higher education has been expanded from the traditional classroom setting to teacher lectures online to live online platforms. Each model caters to students’ education in various ways, but Minerva, an online platform university, is a new form of education worth looking into further. It is different than the typical university, in which there is no campus with a dining hall, gym or library. There are administrative offices and a dorm in which all students live together allowing for constant lateral learning. Students are required to supply themselves with an Apple laptop in order to take part of Minerva’s seminars on the platform. Since the professor is actually present on the platform, not just a recorded video, it keeps students attentive since they are continually watched. Minerva is a model worth considering because of the active learning through group exercises, ability to obtain an educational experience in four cities over four years, and the freshmen “habits of mind” and “foundational concepts” courses.

Minerva takes group work to a new level. Although the students are not physically present with one another, the professor can easily group students together by a click of a button, which makes all students vanish from the screen except the ones in your group. This cuts back on wasted class time of students trying to pair themselves and the shuffling of desks. All Minerva courses are small, seminar based classes, allowing groups to work together intimately, rather than at a big university that has large classes and minimal group discussions. Since the classes are seminars, not lectures, this keeps students attentive and constantly intermingling with one another. Lectures are easy to teach, but hard to learn from because there is little discussion or participation to keep one’s attention. I agree with Minerva’s model of not having lecture classes, especially because it is only catering to one type of learner. The various ways the teachers can manipulate the screen from giving a short quiz to grouping students within a second to open discussions on the platform allows multiple ways of understanding concepts.

Unlike most other universities, freshmen 101 courses do not exist, but instead the “habits of mind” and “foundational concepts” are the first-year classes. During a regular freshmen 101 class, the majority of material has either been previously taught in high school or useless knowledge for the future. By eliminating 101’s it allows the curriculum to start from the basis of the “habits of mind” and “foundational concepts” courses, which are the core for all logical thinking (Wood). These classes develop critical thinking in all fields. For example, in the sciences, since there are no labs, instead of conducting an experiment, the students would acquire a deep understanding for why a constant or control is necessary for an experiment. Instead of going through the motions and checking the box, students develop a base of knowledge that is helpful beyond a single lab class. These skills will help them throughout the future. Therefore when choosing between Minerva’s five majors—arts and humanities, social sciences, computational sciences, natural science and business—the students have a deeper understanding about each subject beyond the surface. Additionally, professors will try to pair students of different majors together, giving one another new perspectives and different points of view on a topic. This expands their horizons by broadening their knowledge outside of the core classes.

Students at Minerva become their own community despite not having a campus since they live together in one dorm for four years in four different cities around the world. Not only do the students learn on the platform about foreign sites, but also they learn by experiencing these places. It is not studying from afar like a normal curriculum, but immersing oneself into the culture. Students learn how to interact with multiple types of people, which enable them to communicate with various cultures. This way of learning and experiencing at the same time expands ones perspective on life. Living in another country is very different than visiting one. Students have to put themselves out there and figure out their daily routines and possibly a new language. Minerva has a dorm in San Francisco, and hopes to expand to campuses in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong, New York and London, giving students a vast international experience, unlike other institutions that only stay in one central area.

Minerva is a model not worth considering for everyone, however, but it offers a unique experience for others who find this type of education just right. Many students might be opposed to this since it is not the “typical” college experience at a traditional university, although others might be intrigued by the idea of an online platform in various countries. If I could do college twice, I would definitely consider Minerva or something similar for my second go round of college. The major draw for me would be the intense cultural experience the students receive every year while learning in a new form. However I believe this model should be considered for further expansion, because there could be some difficulties. Even though Minerva advertises on being cheaper since they take out most aspects of a regular university, once calculating flights to foreign places every year and living expenses there is a high probability that it is equally as expensive as many other institutions. Another problem Minerva might face is how they have no library, gym or dining area for all students to use. Despite these issues, it still offers a very unique college experience.

Minerva’s educational design of using an online platform to teach students is one worth considering. The concept of living in four different places over four years is beneficial to the student’s growth. It gives them the ability to interact with people in various cultures and backgrounds. Through group work on the platform and one dorm for all students, it creates a community despite not having a real campus. Minerva allows students the freedom they want, but also while receiving an educational experience in various places.

Ravenel Harrigan, of the Class of 2018, is from Richmond, Va.


Hoskin: Social Class Distinction and College Success

by Hannah Hoskin

As tuition continues to rise at public and private universities across America, the striking similarity between social class distinction and the hierarchy of higher education is more apparent than ever. The current structure of college and higher education systems reflects the issues surrounding inequality of income throughout the nation; the most prestigious universities possess the largest percentages of students from privileged families and some of the smallest percentages of students from low-income families. Performance on the SAT and ACT influence this trend to a certain extent, but test scores do not fully explain the controversial hierarchy associated with college acceptance, attendance, and retention. The wealthy have numerous unfair advantages over low-income families, such as ability to afford extracurricular activities, SAT/ACT and AP test prep, and better access to information about colleges. Students from low-income families are also plagued with more problems when trying to attend college such as financial aid issues and family obligations, leading to lower graduation rates. Income inequality and social class are substantial issues that will greatly affect the future of higher education in America if changes in the higher education system are not made.

Students from high-income families have a significant advantage over students from low-income families regarding ease of being admitted to top colleges and earning four-year degrees. Children from privileged families have the opportunities to participate in copious numbers of extracurricular activities, leading to more decorative and impressive resumes. Wealthy families are able to pay lofty sums of money to ensure that their children receive the best possible SAT, ACT, and AP test preparation and tutoring. Additionally, if wealthy parents are not satisfied with the caliber of the public school system their children attend, they can afford to send their children to high caliber, college preparatory private schools. Students from low-income families most likely reside in areas with ill-equipped public school systems and therefore do not receive the same quality of education as wealthier students. Public schools in poor areas do not offer as many AP courses as public schools in wealthy areas or private schools, further inhibiting poor students from succeeding and getting into good colleges. Despite setbacks such as these, some poor students achieve high grades and excellent SAT and ACT scores. However, College Board president David Coleman reports that over half of the students from low-income families who score in the top ten percent on the SAT and ACT don’t even apply to the most prestigious institutions in the nation. The influence of social class distinction and growing up in economically disadvantaged environments can negatively influence poor students, blinding them to all of the opportunities they have in the higher education setting.

The lack of admission of students from poor families into good colleges only composes a part of the issue of the future of higher education in America. Graduation and retention rates are more telling with regards to the relationship between socioeconomic status and the higher education hierarchy. Students from low-income families are significantly less likely to earn a four-year degree by age 24 than students from well-off families; even poor students who score between 1200 and 1600 (on SAT 1600 scale) on the SAT are forty percent less likely to earn a degree than students from wealthy families. This astounding graduation gap is the result of a number of issues, including ill preparation for the rigor of college, financial aid issues, and family obligations. Students from economically disadvantaged communities do not experience the same rigor of academic work in high school as students from wealthy backgrounds; when poor students actually get to college and begin taking classes, they can be discouraged by failure and lack of preparation. The decreased amount of government funding for college costs can leave disadvantaged students struggling under massive student loans and enormous amounts of debt. Students from low-income families are also more likely to be forced to return home due to family obligations; oftentimes the student must return to work due to inability of the parents or guardians to make ends meet on their own and support the family.

Though increasing numbers of students are choosing to attend college as time progresses, the higher education system is becoming more sorted by class. The future of higher education in America is riddled with uncertainty and a drastic number of issues regarding decreasing opportunities for students from low-income families. The increase in tuition coupled with decrease in federal financial aid leaves poor students either unable to attend college at all or struggling under tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Students from low-income families face significantly more problems when trying to get into and complete college, while the wealthy have the advantage of extracurricular activities, SAT/ACT and AP test prep, and better access to college information. There are and will continue to be substantial issues relating to the future of higher education in America surrounding social class distinction and college opportunities for students from poor families, especially if the higher education system continues to operate in the same manner it is today.

Hannah Hoskin, of the Class of 2018, is from Berkeley Lake, Ga.


Sands: More Money, More Problems

by Maggie Sands

1,000,000,000,000. It’s a number we’ve all heard in the media: student debt in the United States has surpassed one trillion dollars. As the cost of college—even that of the net price—continues to rise, schools are giving more institutional grants; but, at the same time, low-income and middle class families are forced to take out more loans to pay for higher education. However, the problem is not so much in the amount of debt students have, but instead in how this debt is repaid. There is an inevitable connection in which as the number of government loans increase, the number of defaults on those loans also increases. Since the cost of college does not seem to be decreasing any time soon, reform measures should be focused on student repayment of federal loans in order to decrease the number of defaults.

One of the upcoming reforms to tackle what some may consider a student loan crisis is the proposal of income-based repayment. In this method of expunging student loan debt, students are given ten years after they graduate to repay their debt as a certain percentage of their income each month. On the surface, it seems as if a crisis has been averted—in a month, a person will never be asked to pay an amount that they do not possess because it is always a percentage of their earnings. And what if someone can’t pay off his or her loan in ten years? Those who complete their payment before the ten years end continue to pay to make up for those who can’t. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Two major aspects of this proposal that I believe require consideration include the decision to set a concrete timeline for repayment as well as the method’s effect of students’ choice of major.

In the current proposal, a strict amount of time (10 years) is outlined as the period in which students must pay back their loan debt. Since repayment is based on a percentage of income, graduates who make larger amounts of money may repay their debt before the ten years is over, and low-income graduates may not be able to pay off their debt in ten years. The proposed solution to this issue is that even after full debt is repaid, previous debt-holders must continue to pay a percentage of their income for the entire ten years in order to make up for the lost repayment by low-income graduates. However, high-income graduates would likely not approve of paying for someone else’s debt if they have already paid their own. If people dislike the idea of paying for someone else’s education debt, it could be suggested that loan debt is still paid back based on income percentages but without a strict deadline. But in this case, low-income graduates could be in debt for the rest of their lives. Both of these options have pros and cons, and while this is an ideologically charged issue with disagreements in opinion from either side of the aisle, the greatest questions that this issue raises is that of education as a societal good.

Early in American history, it was believed that education was essential for the political health of the country. However, today that topic is debated. Some argue that it is important to have an educated public—we do, after all, mandate education until a certain age and have public schools funded by taxpayers’ money. Although free education ends with high school, the government does provide federal aid and loans to students for higher education. In one respect, if taxpayers already pay for education across the country, how different it is for previously indebted graduates to continue to pay off someone else’s debt? At the same time, some people find education to be a private benefit as it is about the discovery and production of new information, with the goal to make one’s mind an interesting place to live for a lifetime. If this is the case, then people would argue that the sacrifice they make for their education is purely their own, and they should be responsible for compensating for any borrowed money. Because the issue of education as a public good is so contested, it is difficult to determine whether others are responsible for paying for the debt of others.

Additionally, when considering the prospect of income-based repayment, there is the potential for an adverse effect on students choosing majors. There is argument today that students going into college are too career-driven and aren’t enjoying higher education for the experience and love of learning that used to convince students to attend college. Decades ago, students chose majors that fit their passions and took classes that genuinely interested them. However, today that is not the case. There are articles all over the internet with headlines such as “Highest Paying College Majors” and “To Make the Most Money, Major in This”, suggesting that students’ top priority is to graduate with a high-paying job. If income-based repayment includes a strict amount of time in which graduates pay back their debt, students may gradually begin to more frequently choose majors because they are passionate about them rather than for the salary they will grant them after graduation because there is less pressure to pay off the entirety of their student loan debt. However, this could result in less high-paying careers and therefore less extra money to offset the cost of low-income graduate debt at the end of the ten years. On the other hand, if graduates are given a lifetime to pay off debt but they must pay it themselves, it would further influence students to pick high-paying majors in order to pay off debt as quickly as possible and reduce the chance that they default on their loan. While it would eliminate passion from major selection, it would hold every student accountable for the debt that they accrue.

There are pros and cons to both the idea of a fixed period for income-based repayment as well as lifetime repayment in terms of major selection and education as a societal good. It raises the question of whether education benefits an entire society, and therefore whether others should aid in paying back a single students’ loan debt. Additionally, this issue questions whether our society is moving to be completely career-driven going into college and whether or not passion should play a role in choosing a major. Income-based repayment has the potential to become a successful reform for settlement of student loan debt, but there are many factors to consider before it can be implemented on a large scale.

Maggie Sands, of the Class of 2018, is from Glen Arm, Md.


Von Hassell: How Not to Graduate College in Three Years

by Christian von Hassell

I am someone who gets anxious in the classroom. So, last summer, just before I started my junior year at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, I decided that this year would be my last. After a very, very busy year, I have slowly come to realize how incredibly ill-suited I was to graduate in three years.

When told myself I was going to finish up in three years, I was plainly on track to finish in four. I had been taking a regular course load at W&L. I did not have a bunch of extra credits from summer school or AP courses. I had procrastinated on graduation requirements like a lab science and PE courses.

Now, it is late May, and I am finishing up my last week of college. Thankfully, I was arrogant enough to embark on this plan without first doing the math and stubborn enough to continue moving forward when I truly had no idea how it all would work out. I have benefited tremendously from supportive administrators and professors – and would have long since flopped without their help. However, in the beginning I knew that my plan would look like insanity, so I remained shrewdly mute on my intentions until I had already made substantial progress.

As I comprehend how poorly positioned I was to finish up in three years, I increasingly believe that it would be a challenging but very manageable goal for motivated students who plan correctly. I think many students do not fully comprehend that – with AP credits, summer courses, and just little bit of extra work during the school year – they could finish up in three years as well.

For many, a three-year degree is wholly desirable. It saves money and – more importantly – time. Even at schools like W&L that offer considerable financial aid, the opportunity cost of spending an extra year in college often materially outshines the fees themselves.

Moreover, W&L charges by the semester, rather than the credit. Students who take double the typical course load are responsible for the same tuition as everyone else. This makes graduating in three years much cheaper for the student – though ultimately unsustainable for the university. Schools that charge by the credit could more easily manage swaths of three-year degree students. Students would not receive the same financial windfall from accelerating their studies, yet they still would benefit tremendously from shaving off one year of forgone wages.

I do wonder what students lose by shaving off the fourth year. Through the Venture Club at W&L, I ended up spending a considerable amount of my time working with entrepreneurs – helping them write their first business plan, build their company’s first financial model, or just talk through a new idea. I bring this up because this sort of experiential, out-of-the-classroom learning probably would be hurt if students are rushing to pursue their degree. And, in many ways, that sort of learning can prove more essential to a complete education than more traditional courses. If students need to take 7 classes, they will have less time to devote to research, study-abroad, clubs, internships, and other extra-curricular projects.

I have been talking about squeezing a four-year degree into to three years. I am confident that most students could achieve this, especially if they planned on doing so from the very beginning. However, if we are just trying to get students through college in three years, universities also could reduce their requirements, maybe following curricula more similar to English universities. Such a shift would undoubtedly provoke chaos with accreditation boards, and probably could only successfully arise from a widespread national movement to speed up college.

In the meantime, colleges and universities have a tremendous opportunity for differentiation. Without abbreviating its curriculum, a school could propose a clear track toward fulfilling four years of requirements in just three. This could include more lenient acceptance of AP credit, increased availability of summer courses, and general institutional endorsement of a three-year track. Dartmouth – whose D-Plan divides the entire calendar year into four equal academic terms – would be particularly well equipped to launch such a plan. That would surely bring a welcome headline for their communications’ office.

Christian von Hassell, of the Class of 2016, is from Orange, Va.


Hu and Katterhagen Earn Top ODAC Awards

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference announced on Monday that Washington and Lee University has swept the conference’s top scholar-athlete awards for the first time since the 2010-11 school year.

Senior men’s tennis player Christopher Hu (Ridgewood, N.J. / Ridgewood) will receive the Harry G. “Doc” Jopson Award as the top male scholar-athlete in the conference, while senior track & field athlete Jillian Katterhagen (The Woodlands, Texas / The Woodlands) will be presented the Marjorie Berkley Award as the top female scholar-athlete.

Hu was tabbed for the award after also taking home the William McHenry Scholar-Athlete Award as the top male scholar-athlete at last month’s W&L Athletics Awards Ceremony.  The biochemistry graduate was a four-year letterwinner with the men’s tennis team, earning seven All-ODAC citations over the course of his career.

A First Team All-ODAC honoree in doubles this spring, he teamed with junior Michael Holt (Henrico, Va. / Mills Godwin) to form the eighth-ranked doubles team in the Atlantic South Region.  He was a W&L Johnson Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa and he graduated with a 40-25 singles record and a 61-21 doubles mark.

Hu is W&L’s first recipient of the Doc Jopson Award since Greg Kurkis ’11 took the honor in 2011.

Katterhagen was honored as the Berkley Award winner, marking the second straight Berkley Award for W&L.  Annelise Madison ’14 took home the honor last year.

Katterhagen earned degrees in politics and history and also took home the William McHenry Scholar-Athlete Award as the top female scholar-athlete at W&L.  She was a four-year letterwinner for the track & field team and she served as a team captain for her senior campaign.

Katterhagen was a six-time ODAC champion in the pole vault, racking up a total of 10 All-ODAC citations during her career.  She also competed in the 60 meter hurdles, the 100 meter hurdles and the long jump, and she was a member of the 4×100 meter relay team.  She holds the school record for the outdoor pole vault at 3.60 meters.  Katterhagen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa and she served as a University Peer Tutor.  She will enter law school at Stanford this fall.

Inaugurated in 1981 and 1984, respectively, the Harry G. “Doc” Jopson and Marjorie Berkley Scholar-Athlete Awards are given each June to member college seniors and conference sport participants who exhibit the highest athletic, academic and extracurricular achievements. Ms. Berkley began her collegiate teaching career at Lynchburg College.  Several years later, Ms. Berkley moved to Hollins University where she coached tennis, field hockey and soccer, and served as the athletic director for 30 years.  The Jopson Award is named in honor of the Bridgewater College professor and coach who retired in 1981 following 45 years at BC. Dr. Jopson, who initiated and directed the Eagles’ cross country and track programs, led his teams to ODAC indoor track titles in 1979, 1980 and 1981, and outdoor crowns in 1978 through 1981.

Granirer: Diversifying Admissions

by Jonathan Granirer

The collegiate admissions process has been receiving much attention in recent years, and despite many attempted reforms, one of the most glaring issues has remained largely untouched -the fact that socioeconomic diversity remains unchanged at many top institutions. The rich greatly outnumber the poor at highly-selective universities, and this is antithesis to the American dream. Top colleges have a shockingly low number of Pell recipients, especially when compared with lower level ones; and if education is to truly become an equal opportunity for all, this needs to change. Not only colleges, but high schools too need to create a new system for bringing low income competitive students into the education system.

One of the biggest reasons that top schools have such a disproportionate number of wealthy students is due to the way they weight admissions. ..Jt seems that having legacy status gives some priority in admissions, as revealed in a 2003 report that discovered that 40% of legacy applicants were admitted to Harvard, whereas the admissions rate for non-legacy students was 11% (Bruenig). This sort of preferential treatment creates a dynastic system, where it is easier for the rich to get richer as their family name earns more power over generations. Across all Ivy Leagues as well, it is estimated that around 30% of all students are legacies. Poorer students are at an incredible disadvantage already due to their lesser level of preparation, and systems like these that automatically favor the wealthy make it even tougher. The rich children have always been tutored and prepared and have the financial backing from their families, so it is completely unfair to also give them an advantage by birth. A major reason that schools give preference to legacies is because their parents are often rich alumnus who give generous donations to the school, and these donations help to support many programs, including financial aid for poorer students. Unfortunately, this creates an enormous problem for schools, as they need the donation money from alumnus but then feel obligated to accept the legacy students despite the unfair advantage. This problem does not have a total solution, but small steps can be made.

Another huge problem is the failure of many schools to provide proper information about higher education. Starting in high school, many of the lower tier and poorer schools have an inadequate system of counseling that completely fails to inform potentially competitive students of possible outcomes. Now, only 50% of potentially competitive Hispanic students even apply to college, and this is unacceptable. Poorer schools and students need to be taught earlier that they can have the option to attend a top school. Colleges, too, need to make more of an effort to seek out and make contact with poorer students who could potentially thrive at their school. A barrier to many poorer students is that the cost of college is so high, and many think that they would never even be able to afford college, so they don’t bother applying in the first place. If top tier colleges developed an effective outreach program, they could certainly reach out to many students and bring in a whole new group of people who normally would not have even dreamed of entering a highly ranked institution. While schools could not pay for all of the needs of poorer students, they could at least be more transparent about the cost and maybe even offer loans with lower interest rates for those in a lower socioeconomic bracket. I was lucky enough to attend an excellent public high school where all of the counselors were extremely helpful and encouraging in everything college related, and it felt like the purpose of this school was to prepare for moving on to college. There was even a point in my senior English class where we dedicated a week to learning how to write college admissions essays. This is not the same at many schools, however. Many schools in poor areas lack these resources, and students are unprepared to move on to higher education, so they finish after high school and enter the work force as low level grunts. Maybe a lucky few will move on to trade or vocational school and have better lives, but the ones who tried the hardest and got the best grades may simply _got lost in the crowd and lose their chance to expand their horizons.

One of the reforms that has to be implemented here is for colleges to set a cap on legacy students. While this may not be a perfect solution, it will at least give more opportunities for less lucky students. One student should not have an advantage over another for something they had absolutely no control over. Rich alumnus should not be able to pave the road for their children at a prestigious institution as if it was some sort of birthright. All students should be considered completely new to the college, and as such the decision of who will be accepted will become much fairer. Furthermore, all high schools need to send information about all of their students above a certain GPA to colleges, and a standardized system of high school counseling needs to be implemented. This will help all competitive students look at more options, and a specific set of college help mandated by counselors could help unlikely candidates move on to higher education. If a poor student with fantastic grades can be noticed through this system, it could be absolutely life changing. A whole new generation of low-income students could be exposed to higher education, and as such a more diverse workforce could be created. America would move closer to the dream of being a nation where anyone can go to college and create an amazing life, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status.

Jonathan Granirer, of the Class of 2018, is from Oak Park, Calif.


Works Cited

Bruenig, Elizabeth Stoker. “The 1 Percent’s Ivy League Loophole.” Saloncom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2015..salon.com/2013/09/09/the_1_percents_ivy_league_loophole/>.


Musgrave: The Rule of Three

by Monica Musgrave

It’s no secret that college is expensive. It’s also no secret that progress towards cheaper education is slow. However, the solution might lie in something a bit unconventional: three-year degrees. With the option of three-year degrees, the obvious benefit goes toward the families and students now only having to pay three years’ worth of tuition as opposed to four. This could mean up to $65,480 in savings for a family (assuming no financial aid is given).

The only problem? There isn’t just one problem.

While many of the arguments against widespread availability of three-year degrees in colleges center on the colleges themselves, it’s important to start with the main beneficiary: the student. It is argued that students in the three-year track would lose some of the college experience. They might not be able to engage in activities as much as they would like because their time on campus is shortened and mired in school work. However, this argument ignores the fact that three years is plenty of time to become engaged in campus life. Current Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth, a beneficiary of a three-year degree, was able to be “president of fraternity, published fiction, took music lessons, held down more than one job, and sought to excel in classes” (De Vise). And President Roth is no exception. For students, the realization that they’re only there for three years is motivation to take full advantage of all their school has to offer.

But what if widespread three-year degree programs encourage parents to place more pressure on their student(s)? To ask this, however, would just be ignoring the fact that students already receive pressure from their parents, no matter how loving and understanding they may be. But what if the student decides he or she doesn’t want to complete the three-year track anymore, or if someone who wasn’t originally in the three-year program wants to jump in? Well, for the student that wishes to leave the program, it would be no more complicated than that: leave. For the student that wishes to jump into the program, while it would be more difficult catching up on credits, it is not impossible. College students already do this, deciding they want to graduate a semester or a year early, spending their summers earning extra credits to accomplish this goal.

But won’t employers find three-year degree students less desirable, since they’re younger and less experienced? While yes, the students are younger, an employer can see that a student who graduates in three years is driven and a hard worker. Besides, the student still graduates with the same degree that requires the same credits as their four-year competitor. Furthermore, the student could easily opt into completing an internship for course credit, a program that many schools already offer, giving them experience their future employer might want.

Okay… but won’t this give more benefits to the more well-off students that come into college with AP or IB credit? Yes, there’s no denying that students from higher income backgrounds are likely to have an easier time with the three-year degree given their already accrued credits. However, those same students from more affluent backgrounds

are also the students least likely to take this route. Given the main motivation for graduating early is financial, those more well off are less likely to be taken with the idea of getting their degree in three years. Regardless, three-year degrees will benefit low-income students immensely and be an incredible motivator for these students to attend college now that it is more affordable.

Okay, but what about the eight credits (32 credits ÷ 4 years = 8 credits/year) that three-year students get essentially for free? Well, with the implementation of MOOCs, such an issue can be avoided at low cost to the student, as low as $25 per course. In the sample pathway, the student is taking 11 credits online, more than compensating the eight-credit loss. A school could even require a mandatory number of online courses to be taken by the student to ensure no loss. But wouldn’t the MOOCs the student would take be subpar? Well, given the fact that many MOOCs come from high-caliber universities like MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley, no. The schools could create a catalogue of approved MOOCs the student could take for satisfactory credit. This would help maintain education to the level that the college desires.

Okay, so there’s nothing but benefits for the students involved, but what about the college? These students are only paying for three years of education and getting four years’ worth. Doesn’t that mean that the college will lose money? Yes, but only if colleges keep the same model they have now. Instead, students could have the option to apply to the three-year degree program at the college within their regular application. In the beginning, schools could accept a number of students equivalent to 12.5% of the total class size into the three-year program. To help offset the decrease of students in the final fourth year, the college could then to accept a number of students equivalent to 10% of the total class size into the regular four-year group. These numbers are hypothetical of course, and could easily be adapted and personalized for each college. By using three-year degrees as a selling point to increase class size, these institutions are able to make up the difference from the new students’ tuition.

But wait… doesn’t that mean that the talent pool of the college would go down? No, actually. Even at Ivy Leagues’ admissions desks, there is an overabundance of talent. Even former dean of admission at both Stanford and Princeton, Fred Hargadon, said that what admissions does is “precision guesswork” (O’Connor). In fact, once the outliers are removed from the application pool (either underqualified or overqualified), that still leaves anywhere from 60% to 80% of applications where a student is qualified to get in. From there, SAT scores and GPAs have negligible differences, and only personal essays, recommendations, and extracurriculars are left as evaluators (Ollove). One of the reasons why they don’t get in is because the schools lack the space. But once the implementation of three-year degree programs is put in place, an effort to increase class size is able to be made. In short, there’s no scarcity of qualified applicants, even at the highest level.

Okay, but what about the increase in the size of the student body? Won’t that put a strain on the school? While yes, this may be true, the college can adapt the numbers in any way they wish to fit their school better. Moreover, bringing in more students will bring in more alumni. Alumni that can donate in the future, maybe even to aid the three-year program. Finally, the implementation of three-year degrees would only increase accessibility for the school, increasing its status in the eyes of everyone: peer institutions, potential students, parents, ranking systems, etc.

All in all, three-year programs really aren’t as difficult to implement as they initially seem.

Monica Musgrave, of the Class of 2018, is from Clayton, N.C.


Works Cited

De Vise, Daniel. “Wesleyan President: A Degree in ‘Three Marvelous Years’.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 May 2012. Web. 20 May 2015.

Figueroa, Rafael S. “A College Counselor’s View of Affirmative Action.” The Chronicle of Higher Education: Head Count. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 Oct. 2012. Web. 21 May 2015.

Goldman, Leah. “The 10 Most Expensive Colleges In America.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 May 2015.

O’Connor, Patrick. “Why Harvard Doesn’t Take Every Straight A Student.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 May 2015.

Ollove, Michael. “Picking between Students on a Whim and a Prayer.” The Baltimore Sun: College Park. The Baltimore Sun, 04 Mar. 2001. Web. 22 May 2015.

“Three-Year Option.” Wesleyan University Academics. Wesleyan University, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015.


Bearden: Why State Schools Should Offer Three-Year Programs

by Caroline Bearden

When a person thinks of college, they imagine the best four years of their life, the years where they learned about what interested them and their social life was more than fulfilling. But what if those four years could be three years, saving families money and allowing a student to jump into the labor force more quickly? The time is now to implement change in the way we think about college, and state schools are where these three-year programs should start.

You might be thinking, why should the state schools pilot these three-year programs as opposed to smaller liberal arts colleges? The answer is that with big state schools, more students would be able to enroll in a three-year program, so experts would be able to better evaluate the success of a three-year system. Furthermore, state schools often require fewer core classes than small liberal arts colleges, allowing freshmen to get started with classes towards their intended major more quickly. This allows students to fast track their learning and enables them to take all of their required classes for their major in a shorter amount of time.

Summer sessions would be a requirement in order to earn enough credits to graduate in a three-year program, but these sessions are relatively inexpensive for students and families. According to Wesleyan president Michael Roth, even with summer session expenses, families save nearly twenty percent in these three-year programs. That is a significant amount of money, especially for families of lower socioeconomic status. For these families struggling to decide whether or not they can send their child to college, these savings in a three-year program would enable more families to pay for their child’s education. While a student does sacrifice a few weeks in their summer vacation to go to school, the savings more than make up for it.

Many people believe that four years of college is important for a young adult to grow and finish maturing. Some people might think three years is just too short a time span for a student to be ready to go out into the real world. However I am inclined to think the opposite is true. The first two years of college is the time that students grow the most, transitioning fully from high school adolescence into young adult life. It is incredibly difficult to tell a junior and senior student apart on a campus based on how they comport themselves, while it is easy to tell a freshman apart from an upperclassman. In a three-year program, students would grow even more quickly in their characters, as they would be forced to balance more responsibilities in a faster paced educational system. They would be just as ready and capable to go off to their first job as a traditional college senior.

A three-year program would not be for everyone. Students applying to these programs would have to have a fairly concrete idea of what they want to study or a career they want to pursue, as there would be little time to change majors and graduate in three years. The students who would benefit most would also come into college with some AP credit to account for foundation or distribution requirements. These programs would most immediately benefit students of lower socioeconomic families that are in the top of their class but just can’t afford to go to college. But there would be benefits too for the campuses as these programs would bring diversity to schools, allowing for a more fulfilling and dynamic undergraduate experience.

These three-year programs, starting in state schools, would help solve the problem of accessibility of higher education as well as the expense without sacrificing quality. The labor market would also benefit greatly from gaining more qualified applicants more quickly, spurring on the economy at a faster rate. These three-year programs are a first step in solving some of the big issues with higher education, while still leaving the traditional four-year college in tact for the families who are still willing to pay full price for that forth year.

Caroline Bearden, of the Class of 2016, is from Summit, N.J.


Price: Reaching Out to Low-Income Families Before The Application Process

by Hayley Price

The question of how to increase economic diversity in schools circles the minds of numerous politicians, educators and admissions officers today. Low-income students stand behind high-income students when it comes to the types of schools they attend. People apply to college in hopes of social mobility and advantages in their future, but these outcomes tend to benefit the wealthy more than those less well off. Trends show that low-income students apply to less selective colleges, actually attend a college less often, and if they attend less graduate than higher-income families. Politicians should focus efforts and money on creating services to change these issues. If low-income students had the information and assistance, they would apply and attend schools that fit their academic and economic needs. In my opinions these low-income students need the information ahead of time and before they begin the application process.

Many low-income families are falling through the cracks when it comes to information about college. Often students have parents that did not attend college and may attend schools with poor or no college counselors. With such little guidance these disadvantaged students often find themselves lost and alone when it comes time to apply for college. With extensive financial aid packets, SATs, essays, and thousands of colleges it is no wonder the numbers show less low-income students applying to college. If these students simply were taught the availability of aid to assist them when paying for all these processes of application, the number of low-income applicants would rise drastically. Not only that, but if students had information packets and counselors to walk them step-by-step through each process that must be done to apply to schools more of these students would apply to college.

If the students decide to apply to college they often go to the less selective colleges. Students at under matched schools may be less prepared after completion because their schooling did not challenge them and therefore did not prepare them for the job market. If better college counselors were placed in low-income schools students could receive better information about colleges that would prepare them for the future job market as well as meet their financial needs. The daunting sticker price of colleges deters numerous students from applying to prestigious institution, but many of those big name schools are the ones that have large financial aid packets and may prepare them more for finding a fulfilling career. Some students also just do not know what a liberal arts college is for example. Some students lack basic information about schools and therefore do not even attempt to apply to what they do not know. Schools need to target low-income families and send information packets on the extent of financial aid and the future that may lie ahead after attending a more selective school. If these students simply had the information about college they would be much more likely to apply to selective colleges.

The final issue facing low-income students revolves around graduation rates. Statistics show low-income students are less likely to graduate than their wealthier peers. This may be for a variety reasons including: not enough money to complete school, boredom if the school is not challenging enough, dropping out to get a job, or not fitting in. Many of these problems would not occur if the students simply had proper education about different institutions ahead of time. Information packets about financial aid, difficulty, basic school atmosphere and activities on campus could help these students pick a college more tailored to their needs. Once again, college counselors with better knowledge about financial aid could help these students pick a school they could afford to attend for four years. Finally, if students saw trends about how attending college, and specifically a college that fits their academic needs, would help their career path in the long run, students would see the benefit of going to school and staying to finish the degree.

Statistics prove that families in bottom quintiles need college degrees more than those in the higher quintiles. Children at the top are much more likely to stay at the top, but lower groups need the college degree to have a shot at social mobility. Low-income families are in a vicious cycle of needing the degree more, but either not having the means to pay for school, not attending school or the right school, or not graduating and often leaving with more debt. These issues need to be addressed to allow social mobility in our country, and I believe the first step is to tackle students in high school who have yet to apply and supply them with the information and faculty to allow them to reach these goals.

Hayley Price, of the Class of 2018, is from Atlanta, Ga.


Nedell: You're Only in College Once

by Kendra Nedell

The ability to cut college costs would be appealing to every student and parent. Going to school for three years instead of four could save families thousands, especially at smaller liberal arts schools. This sounds so great, but it might just be too good to be true, especially for everyone. Cutting a year off of college would save money for those students who are even able to get everything done in three years, but it could easily limit the exploration of other important areas that one takes part in during their college career.

First off, it is hard to give up a year of college. Your forth year cumulates your time as a student for some and is one more year without true “real world” responsibilities. Everyone loves being in college with their friends and wants to drag out this time for as long as possible. Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, is correct in saying that giving up your last year is a decision you have to be willing to make; you have to decide if saving the money is worth loosing a year of college. For many it is, and for others it probably isn’t. However, for those families who do need that money, it would probably be worth it.

These are the families who need to guarantee that their students are prepared to rush through college. Yet these are the students who are often least prepared during high school. One component that would help a three-year completion is entering college with many credits from AP and IB exams. Many students from poorer backgrounds do not always attend high schools where they can take an abundant number of these exams or if they are offered, the teachers might not prepare them as well as a student at a higher achieving preparatory school.

These students may also have to work during summers to earn money that they would not be able to earn if they were required to take summer classes. Yes, it would be cheaper to take a summer class and save a years worth of tuition, but those scouring for funds might need that little bit of extra income in the present even if it will just go straight back into education. Even for those students who don’t require the extra summer income, the summer job experience would be lost. A majority of students begin with internships over their summer years, especially sophomore through senior years of college. These often turn into jobs where the student impresses the employer who then asks them to continue working at their company. Without these summer options, students could lack some of the experience they really should have before entering this “real world” after college.

For any student looking into completing college in three years, they must weigh their losses. If one must overload every semester and spend every day in class and in the library after those classes commence, there will not be significant time for anything else. Not only would this cut down on social lives and time with friends, but it would also limit their ability to participate in numerous clubs, athletics, Greek life, student councils, and any other external interests. Roth almost appears as a superhuman from this point of view, as he pursued music, employment, Greek life, and even publishing. This honestly just isn’t possible for most people to do while still committing themselves to their academics and focusing on completing everything in three years. These external activities are huge in developing a person, as college is often seen as the time when young people mature into adults and find their true passions and interests. If these components are removed from one’s college experience, what impacts will that have on their self-development?

Not only will a three-year college track be challenging for most students, but the schools will also have to figure out how to manage it. It isn’t as easy as just letting students overload, come in with many credits, and do online programs. Many higher education institutions have strict rules about what external classes they give credit for and how many credits students can bring from high school. A more rigid three-year program would have to be developed. Even with this, they would still have to figure out if the students would pay for three semesters. If an undergraduate takes the required amount of credits at their school in three years instead of four, why are they only paying for three years if they are still using the resources it would take to do it in four years? These are all questions that schools would have to look at if they thought about moving towards three-year options.

Cutting college costs sounds perfect for families struggling to pay for four years, or even those who could substantially benefit from saving the extra money. However, it is a question of importance as well as a question of practicality. Is it worth giving up extracurricular activities and possibly summers in order to cut off a year of college? Are students able to come in with enough credits and get enough credits fast enough to complete school in three years? It comes down to a student-by-student and family-by-family basis. If the answer to both of these questions is yes, than it makes complete sense to finish school in three years. However, this will likely be very difficult for those students who need it most.

Kendra Nedell, of the Class of 2018, is from Spotsylvania, Va.


Parker: Online Education Will Supplement, Not Supplant Traditional Colleges

by Matthew Parker

In today’s discussion revolving around higher education, online courses are beginning to dominate the conversation. Whether you are a supporter or a detractor, the fact remains that online education is changing the landscape of college education. Online classes are more flexible, more accessible, and most importantly, they are cheaper. Many people believe that MOOC’s, which are servicing upwards of 100,000 students at one time, and other forms of online education, will eventually replace the traditional four-year college as we know it today. Well as of now, even though the MOOC’s may start with huge numbers, only about 7% of people on average complete the MOOC, according to one study. Also, very few of these MOOC’s actually offer credit for completion, and the one’s that do are not free. So will these MOOC’s and other forms of online education eventually supplant the traditional four-year college? Well, from the results of MOOC’s so far and for other reasons, I believe that online education will not carry the serious consequences that many expect. While some lower-tier institutions may eventually close their doors if prices continue to climb and the online education system is fine-tuned, the traditional college landscape on a whole will remain relatively unscathed.

There are many reasons as to why I believe that the traditional four-year college, as we have come to know them, will remain intact. First, there is already a huge market of untapped students in the category of those that graduate from high school but do not go on to college. For the 2014-2015 school year, there will be around 3.3 million high school graduates, but as of last year, only 65.9% of high school graduates go on to college. That means there will be around 1,125,300 eighteen year-olds that finish high school, but will not go on to college. The main reason for this is the cost of college, so these students would benefit greatly from a cheaper alternative to higher education. If the goal of online education is to make college more accessible and more affordable, online education could reach out to millions of potential students without having a negative effect on the traditional four-year college.

The second reason that online education will not be able to replace traditional four-year colleges is that there are certain limitations that online education will not be able to fix regardless of how many improvements are made to the system. Students that are pre-med will not able to do labs, dissections, etc. without hands on experience with other lab partners while under the watch of a professor. A pre-law student will not be able to participate in moot court or mock trial from his laptop. An engineering major would be hard pressed to collaborate with partners, design a bridge, and then actually create the bridge with their partners. Invaluable experiences such as these would be lost behind a screen, giving four-year colleges a huge advantage over online education that quite simply can’t be mitigated.

Another reason that online education will not fully supplant the traditional four-year college is a little more difficult to define, but nonetheless is vital to the success of students: independent growth. The four-year residential college experience makes the student become more and more independent as the years go on. Many people move off campus after a year or two and begin to learn how to live on their own. Budgeting and time management become vital to a college student’s success, not just in college, but also in the workforce, and these sort of lessons can not be learned in front of a computer. That eighteen year old high school graduate pursuing online education would most likely have to spend his or her next four years or so at home, and then finally upon graduating, would either be sent out into the real world with no prior experience of living alone, or be a 24 year old still living with his or her parents. I think both children and parents would agree that is not an ideal route. Traditional four-year colleges allow for an eighteen year old to naturally mature, and grow more independent as they take on more and more responsibilities.

The final reason that four-year residential college will continue to exist, even with the threat of online education, is an abstract concept that can be extremely difficult to define or quantify: the college experience. The college experience consists of social experiences, friendships, networking, college amenities, athletics, and more. These things all contribute to the personal enhancement of self that online education will never be able to replicate. The college experience can be anything from conversations in the dining hall with people on your floor on the differing views you all have on the role of government, to playing in your conference championship game, to going on a weekend camping trip through your school’s outing club. Some argue that the hefty prices colleges carry far outweigh the benefits of such experiences, and in a way they may be right. The 31 year old single mom may not care about those things, she just wants to go back to college to get her bachelor’s degree because she knows the earning potential with a college degree is a lot more than only having her high school diploma. In that case online education may be an ideal fit. For the average eighteen year old though, with their physical and mental prime ahead of them, the experiences and opportunities afforded to them through a four-year residential college make it an incredibly desirable option. Even with the prospect of student debt, the earning potential with a college degree coupled with “college experience” will forever make the traditional four-year institution the primary vessel of higher education.

While online education continues to grow, there are still far too many flaws and shortcomings to make it a potential threat to the traditional four-year college. Some of these shortcomings will be made up in an unknown amount of time, but others will continue to persist. Colleges will incorporate online components to their curriculum in order to reduce costs and be more accessible, making the prospect of a complete takeover by online education that more implausible. There are still too many things that one can get out of a traditional four-year college that will always make it a far more desirable option than online education.

Matthew Parker, of the Class of 2018, is from Owings, Md.


Boyd: Online Education — Present and Future

by Annie B. Boyd

Many people think that the answer to fixing the cost, quality and access crises in higher education is the use of online courses. Massive Open Online Courses or “MOOCs” have been increasing in availability and popularity. Even the most prestigious universities like Harvard and Stanford have experimented with them. But until technology improves, MOOCs can only improve the cost and access of higher education while sacrificing quality or they can keep quality and improve access somewhat while still keeping cost relatively high. This is why online courses should only presently be used in addition to traditional, face-to-face classrooms.

The idea behind a MOOC is that students all over the world can be taught by the most elite professors whenever is convenient for them. This sounds great on paper but MOOCs remove lots of elements of quality that are brought by a classroom setting. First, there is no interaction between professor and student or between students. While there would not be a lot of this interaction in a large lecture class anyway, it is also difficult or sometimes impossible to even ask the professor questions about the material. While I have never taken a MOOC, I took an online course on a smaller scale this past semester. INTR is a course required for many majors at Washington and Lee University. It is a computer literacy class done online by watching videos and then taking tests. I found it difficult to even get help from the professor in charge of this. There are usually about seven sections offered with around 30 students in each. With 210 students, it was very difficult for the professor to be able to answer any questions. Even during testing periods, which were with individual sections, it was frustrating to try to ask questions because of the amount of students. I could not imagine being confused and needing to ask a question in a MOOC. Another problem with MOOCs that sacrifices quality is the form of assessment. In most cases, there are only multiple choice quizzes or tests. While these are sometimes appropriate for some subjects, they are usually not the most challenging or effective way to test students. Especially today, as schools are moving away from memorization of facts and toward application of knowledge, multiple choice is an outdated form of testing. In order to have more comprehensive assessments, classes would need to be smaller and more faculty would need to be hired which would raise the cost and lower the access.

At least for the next few years, the best place for online classes in higher education is alongside traditional classroom learning. Websites like Kahn Academy can improve students learning experience but cannot replace the classroom setting. Additionally, smaller online courses can be helpful for students who need to take classes that their school does not offer. Small online classes can be more interactive through the use of Skype and can have effective forms of assessment since the professor does not have as many students. This is definitely helpful; it just does not help lower costs as classes have to be small so there need to be more faculty. It does, however broaden the access somewhat since students are able to take the courses they need regardless of if their school offers them.

In the future when online courses can offer high quality learning, personalized interaction and effective assessment, they will become a well-recognized form of higher education. With initiatives like Project Minerva, traditional, residential campuses with classroom learning will become a minority in higher education. Technology is being developed that will allow professors to get real-time feedback from their MOOCs that captures student reactions via their webcams. There will be more efficient ways than Skype for large groups of people to communicate which will facilitate a more interactive experience for a large group of people. As online education becomes more credible, colleges will be able to move away from residential settings and follow something like Project Minerva’s model, allowing costs to be cut as campuses will not be traditional and have residential dorms and other expensive buildings and centers but will be able to be more fluid.

While online courses might not be the most effective or respected way of learning in higher education right now. They certainly will start to be. With technological advances, I think society will undergo a cultural shift. The most elite and oldest of the traditional universities will continue to exist for a long time. But, lesser universities will have to shift to non-traditional methods to keep cost down and to continue to attract students.

Annie B. Boyd, of the Class of 2018, is from Martinsville, Va.


Case: All About The Experience

by Elizabeth Case

As years pass by, computers get smaller, cell phones get faster, and cars get more automatic. It is no secret that our world is developing new technology with one goal in mind: to make whatever needs to be modified more efficient. With an increase in efficiency comes an increase in reliance on technology—as technology does more and more for us, we have less and less to do for ourselves. Since new technology has helped to make our lives easier, we try to implement it whenever we can: in business, in communication, and even in education. In April 2015, Arizona State University announced that by Fall 2016, freshmen will be able to complete their entire first year of college online. Although other universities may not be making as drastic of changes, they are certainly searching for ways in which students can fulfill some of their required courses online. At a glance, this increase in efficiency may appear beneficial to both students and faculty; however, when you look closer, you realize that this adjustment would cause students to miss out on many key learning experiences throughout their college careers.

When a student takes courses online, he or she misses out on what Andrew Delbanco calls “lateral learning” in his book, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. In an intimate classroom setting, students and professors can interact with each other and explore the materials that they read. During these interactions, they form new hypotheses and discoveries, as well as arrive at new questions. In an online course, this is not possible. A live class is composed of a unique array of students with different backgrounds and perspectives. This allows students to question not only the professor’s but also each other’s ideas and opinions, resulting in a conversation and conclusion distinct to a given class. A professor can give two separate classes the same readings and ask them the same questions, but the conversations will never be identical. This experience unique to a real classroom setting can clearly never occur in an online course, thus putting students who take classes online at a disadvantage. A main component of the so-called “college experience” is learning not only from your professor, but also from your peers—an aspect unattainable in online courses.

To me, one of the biggest dissimilarities (if not the biggest) between high school and college is living on your own. In high school we have curfews, chores, and other sets of rules. Our parents more or less control our lives, giving us relatively little independence. However, once we unpack all of our belongings in our dorm room and send our parents on their way, we have a newfound independence that we have never had before. No one forces you to wake up in the morning to go to class. No one tells you that you cannot go out to a party on a given night. No one is there to bring you to the doctor when you’re sick. From this experience, students learn how to mature and take care of themselves, while still having their college or university at hand if they need anything. College is one step closer to the real world. Those who take online classes do not have the advantage of easing their way into the working world. They would be overwhelmed by the vast differences between living at home with Mom and Dad and living alone in the working world. Not only this, but students taking online courses would also miss out on maturing and becoming an adult. College students generally have to deal with their own healthcare, classes, bank accounts, travelling, and rent, skills that are valuable in the real world. Doing all of this on their own would not simple overwhelm online students, but probably be impossible for them, making their important first years at work extremely strenuous.

In our busy world, it is easy to confuse fast for efficient. Just because something takes a shorter time, does not mean it is better; in fact, too often processes are rushed and people make mistakes. One of the main arguments for MOOCS (massive online classes) is that students can take classes and earn credits whenever they want, allowing them to fulfill their course requirements quickly. I believe that there is a reason that college has historically lasted four years. Each year, a student matures a great deal; the difference between a freshman and senior in college as far as maturity goes is drastic. Attempting to speed up the college experience could be very harmful to students, as they do not have the opportunity to fully mature and learn from their mistakes. Furthermore, taking online classes to cut a year or even a semester off of college is not necessarily efficient. As discussed in Nathan Heller’s article “Laptop U,” the grading and feedback methods of MOOCS are shaky at best, meaning that the class may not be as valuable to a student as sitting in a classroom and waiting an extra four months to graduate.

On one hand, there is no harm in taking one or maybe two online courses in order to fulfill general requirements. On the other hand, online classes start to become dangerous when students use them to complete a whole year’s worth of courses. We get much more out of a classroom setting in which students and professors have lively conversations about the existence of free will than we get out of sitting in front of our computers listening to a voice explain what the mockingbird symbolizes in To Kill A Mockingbird. Students are not able to form their own opinions and ideas with online courses, a talent nearly priceless in the real world. In addition, a high school student needs a fair amount of time to mature before tackling the working world all by his or her self; college is the perfect place for a student to do that. Although it appears that higher education is on track to be completely online, this cannot be the case, because the college experience would be lost, degrading the value of college itself tremendously.

Elizabeth Case, of the Class of 2018, is from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.


Liz Berry ’09 Vanderbilt University Medical School, Nashville, TN

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A tragedy set the course for Liz Webb Berry’s career.

The 2009 Washington and Lee valedictorian is finishing her first year of residency at Vanderbilt University Medical School, after obtaining an M.D. degree there in 2014. She and husband Vance Berry ’09, will then move to Atlanta, where Berry will spend the next three years as a resident in dermatology at Emory University Medical Center.

As a child, Berry was extraordinarily close to her mother, a part-time emergency medical technician, whom she describes as “a born healer.” While Berry doesn’t know how her life might have turned out in the absence of tragedy, it was the death of her mother from melanoma when she was 13 that made her dedicate her life to treating people with the deadly form of skin cancer.

“I think about her every day,” said Berry. As she has matured and earned the M.D. after her name, she says she has “a unique perspective as a doctor, having understood and cared for a person and not a disease.”

Berry’s quest to become a dermatologist began in earnest in 2008 when she served as an intern in melanoma research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Berry grew up in Colorado before her family moved to Virginia in 1998, and while at the center, she met the doctor who first diagnosed her mother with melanoma, Dr. William Robinson. A few years later, that connection would be instrumental at another turning point in her life.

Berry knew she wanted to be a dermatologist, and during her senior year at W&L, she decided to pursue a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research with leaders in the melanoma field in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Robinson had been a Fulbright Scholar and helped her make connections to researchers studying human pigmentation genetics. After corresponding with them, she formulated her project proposal with the help of George Bent, Sidney Gause Childress Professor in the Arts, who served as W&L’s Fulbright advisor.

Erich Uffelman, Bentley Professor of Chemistry, read and helped her revise the proposal, and then-Provost June Aprille signed off on it. After a long wait, Berry came back to her dorm one evening after a track meet to get ready to attend that evening’s Fancy Dress Ball. Between her “sweaty track clothes” and donning formal attire, she received word that she had received a Fulbright.

The rest of the semester and the following summer were busy – graduation from W&L, followed by a wedding in July and the move with her new husband to Australia.

There was more good news, however. Berry learned that she had received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship to help pay her medical school tuition.

An award-winning runner for W&L’s track and cross country team, Berry said her track career was “serendipitous.” She said she wasn’t very good at high school track; however, Kris Hoey, W&L’s coach at that time, wanted her on the W&L team. “Under her coaching, I thrived,” said Berry. “I dropped nearly 4 ½ minutes from my 5K time. I competed at a national level. It was an incredible experience.”

In Brisbane, Berry worked with three leading researchers, Dr. Adele Green, the scientist who first proved that sunscreen use decreases the likelihood of developing skin cancer; Dr. Rick Sturm, a prominent human pigmentation geneticist; and Dr. Peter Soyer, a dermatologist who is pioneering digital imaging. In addition to conducting research, Berry met with patients to photograph their moles and collect saliva samples. The photographs, along with DNA extracted from their saliva, helped the team understand the genetic underpinnings that might put a person at risk for skin cancer.

After 10 months in Australia, she returned to the states to enroll at Vanderbilt Medical School. “I adore Nashville. There was a similar feel to W&L in my medical school class,” she said, citing the supportive, nurturing environment.

When her four-year residency is completed and she passes an exam to be board certified in dermatology, Berry hopes to become associated with an academic medical center, so she can teach as well as treat patients. She is also looking for a framework to provide care to people who can’t afford health care or don’t have access to a dermatologist. “I want to provide compassionate, comprehensive care to those who otherwise would not have access,” she said.

Berry recently traveled back to her high school in The Plains, Va., to give the graduation speech. She spoke about leadership and communication, things she learned at W&L. As a student leader on the track team, she participated in several workshops conducted by Burr Datz, then-director of leadership development and coordinator of religious life. Those experiences taught her that the two most important things a leader can say are “I need help” and “How can I help you?”

“I have taken these lessons through medicine,” she said. “Clear communication in a non-threatening environment is essential for patient care.”

As Berry remembers the concern for others she saw in her mother’s eyes, she aspires to use the skills she learned at W&L and in Australia and medical school to be the same type of healer and comforter that she saw exemplified in her mother.

W&L Law Releases Updated Employment Data

Washington and Lee University’s School of Law has released an update to an April report on employment rates for its classes of 2014 and 2015. The information provided by the school’s Office of Career Strategy (OCS) includes an update to the 2014 data as well as at graduation employment numbers for the law class of 2015.

The data continue to show significant improvement in employment rates as compared to previous years.

Now 12 months out from graduation, 80.3 percent of the class of 2014 has secured a full-time, long-term job that either requires a J.D. degree or for which a J.D. degree is preferred. This is a better than five percent increase from the April report, which captured employment rates 10 months after graduation.

The overall employment rate for the class of 2014, which includes other types of professional employment and graduate school, is 94 percent 12 months after graduation.

The OCS is also reporting that 63.5 percent of the class of 2015 was employed at graduation in a full-time, long-term J.D. required or J.D. preferred position. This is roughly an 18 percent improvement over last year’s at graduation employment rates.

The long-term, full-time J.D. required or J.D. advantage positions are the job types that the ABA has identified as the most desirable employment outcomes for students. However, many students seek jobs beyond these criteria based on their career objectives. Read more about law student career paths online.

Registration Open for 2015 Entrepreneurship Summit

Registration is now open for Washington and Lee University’s 2015 Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by the Williams School’s Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship. The Summit will take place Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26 and is open to all alumni, students and friends of the university. Attending the Summit is free but all attendees must register by Friday, Sept. 18.

Last year, close to 100 alumni attended W&L’s Entrepreneurship Summit. Registration includes breakfast and lunch on both Friday and Saturday and two full days of programming. A full schedule of events is available online, with more details to be released throughout the summer months. On Friday night, registrants attend a cocktail party before eating dinner in town; on Saturday night, the Summit concludes with a formal dinner program.

One of the most popular portions of the program has become the alumni pitch session. Alumni entrepreneurs who are looking for investors and other forms of support pitch their start-ups and business ideas to their classmates and current students. A separate application to participate in the alumni pitch session is required.

Washington and Lee students attend the majority of the Entrepreneurship Summit’s programming. In 2015, more than 300 students participated in some portion of the Summit. Both students and alumni benefit from listening to alumni entrepreneurs describe their setbacks as well as their successes. While on campus, alumni with interest in recruiting or mentoring W&L students are invited to conduct mock interviews as well as regular internship and job interviews.

Alumni who choose to stay in town through Sunday can register to play an early morning round of golf at the Lexington Country Club on Sunday. Golf registration costs $50 and includes green fees and cart rental. Contact Kerri Ritter to reserve a spot.

The Williams School has secured blocks of hotel rooms at two hotels in the area. Rooms at the Holiday Inn Express are $119 per night plus tax. Call (540) 463-7351 by August 25 to book using the code ENT. Rooms at the R. E. Lee Hotel are $175 per night plus tax. Call (540) 461-8484 by August 25 to make your reservation. In addition, there are a limited number of rooms available at the Morris House, on campus. Those rooms should be booked directly through Kerri Ritter. Contact Kerri at (540) 458-8932 or e-mail ritterk@wlu.edu.

Washington and Lee’s Entrepreneurship Summit was launched in 2012 by Jeffrey Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Associate Professor of Business Administration Drew Hess also serves on the faculty of the entrepreneurship program. For more information about the Summit, please contact Jeff Shay at shayj@wlu.edu.

W&L Announces Winners of 2015 Johnson Opportunity Grants

Washington and Lee University has announced the students who will receive 2015 Johnson Opportunity Grants.

The 29 students will work within the United States and travel to variety of countries, including Spain, Palestine, Bangladesh, Argentina, the United Kingdom, China, Greece, Chile, Jamaica, South Korea, Nigeria, Vietnam, Belize and France.

The grants are designed to help them in their future careers and fields of study, which include geology, chemical engineering, business administration, economics, neuroscience, physics, mathematics, art history, journalism and mass communications, psychology, biology, sociology, politics, music, Romance languages, French, English, Spanish and Japanese.

The grants, which are funded as part of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, cover living, travel and other costs associated with the students’ proposed activities and vary in amount from $1,000 to $4,500.

  • Stephen Ball and Franklin Wolfe, both junior geology majors, will use structure in form (SfM) software to construct virtual 3D models of famous geologic features and cultural sites in Europe. Sites include the outcrops at Montserrat in Spain, the Glarus Thrust in Switzerland and the Pyrenees National Park in Southern France. Ball is a Johnson Scholar from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a member of both the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. Wolfe, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is the treasurer of SEAL (Student Environmental Action League) and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Mohammad Abudayyeh, a junior from Palestine, will work for Beit Jala Pharmaceutical Company, the oldest pharmaceutical company in Palestine, where he will learn about quality assurance, good manufacturing practices and production of drugs such as Celex, which treats osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and trauma induced pain. Abudayyeh is a major in chemical engineering and hopes to use his studies to return to Palestine and improve the lives of its citizens. He is a member of Engineers Without Borders and the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma.
  • Anna Paden Carson, a junior from Roanoke, Virginia, is a Spanish major with a minor in poverty studies. She will intern for six weeks in the Detained Adult department of Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR) in Washington, D.C., which provides pro bono legal assistance for detained immigrants. She will assist in legal orientations and educate detainees about their rights and legal options. Carson is a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.
  • Alexander Colleen Mahoney, a junior business administration major from Raleigh, North Carolina, will intern with Lela Rose, a fashion designer based in New York. The designer chose Mahoney through a competitive process to manage the e-commerce sales of the business, a convergence of technology and fashion. Mahoney tutors at Waddell Elementary school.
  • Daniel Rodriguez Segura is a junior economics major from Costa Rica, and will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to intern for one month at Grameen Bank, a world leader in the growing field of microfinance, where he will learn financial implementation systems and loan policies. Rodriguez Segura is chief financial officer of the General Development Initiative at Washington and Lee and has worked as a research assistant in W&L’s economics and engineering departments.
  • Rachel Solomon, a junior neuroscience major from Jacksonville, Florida, and a Johnson Scholar, and will undertake medical fieldwork in Cordoba, Argentina, for 12 weeks. She has been selected for the InterCambioCultural program and will shadow doctors and assist with patients, at first in a pediatric hospital and later in an emergency hospital. Solomon is a varsity member of W&L’s cross country and track teams and a member of Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society, Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Katherine Uhlir, a junior English major from Boulder, Colorado, will travel to the United Kingdom for four weeks to delve into the archives of the Globe Theatre to research her honors thesis on performances of Coriolanus and Titus Andronicus. Uhlir is a tutor at W&L’s Writing Center.
  • Xiaoxiang Yang, a junior from Vermillion, South Dakota and a native of China, will intern at China Construction Bank in Beijing. Working in investment and trading, he will study financial products including bonds, stocks and foreign exchanges. Yang is a triple major in physics, economics and mathematics and plans a career in finance. He tutors at W&L’s Math Center, is a student teacher of Chinese and plays violin in the University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society.
  • Oyumaa Daichinkhuu, a junior economics major from Mongolia, will work in Athens, Greece, as a research assistant in the Center of Planning and Economic Research—a partner institute of the Hellenic Observatory and an economic think tank for the Minister of Development and Competitiveness. She will assist in the quarterly report on trends and medium-term prospects of economic growth in Greece. Daichinkhuu is a Bonner Scholar and a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Sophie Epstein is a sophomore business administration and art history double major. She will intern for 10 weeks with the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, where she will compose artist biographies, format press releases and help prepare the gallery for major meetings. Epstein is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and served on the auditing committee of W&L’s 108th Annual Fancy Dress Ball.
  • Jenna Faude is a junior from Sagle, Idaho, and a major in journalism and mass communications. She will work at Rawle Murdy Associates in Charleston, South Carolina, as a brand leadership intern in account services. Faude is creative director of the 2016 Mock Convention and layout and design editor of the student publication, InGeneral.
  • Addie Healy, a junior psychology major from Waterford, Virginia, will conduct research at the University of Virginia’s Early Development Psychology Laboratory with Dr. Angeline Lilliard. She will work with data entry, coding, data analysis, study design and participant recruitment. Healy plays soccer at W&L and is a member of Psi Chi National Honor Society in psychology.
  • David Heinen, a junior psychology major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will pursue the Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Adults at the Chilean-Britannic Cultural Institute in Santiago, Chile. Heinen is a tutor at W&L’s Writing Center, and is a member of the Glee Club, Active Minds, LIFE and the Outing Club. He is also a peer counselor.
  • Ijezie Ikwuezunma, is a junior Johnson Scholar and a double major biology and sociology, from Richmond, Texas. He will conduct research with Dr. Minoli Perera at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago on a cultural medical phenomenon. He will assist in the project “Mining Genetic Variation Important to Warfarin Pharmacogenomics in African Americans,” which studies the variation in drug metabolism in the African American population. Ikwuezunma is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-med Honor Society and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society.
  • Griffin Johns, a junior geology major from Chicago, Illinois, will study fossils in the Bowden Formation in Jamaica with a fellow undergraduate student attending the University of the West Indies. They will co-author a scientific paper recording their findings. Johns is a Johnson scholar, a member of the Contact Committee and was a founding member of W&L’s Green Offices Initiative.
  • Meera Kumar is a junior economics major from Portland, Oregon, and will intern in the Islamic art and contemporary Indian art departments at Christie’s Global Headquarters in London. Kumar is a Johnson Scholar and a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Wonhee Lim is a junior from South Korea and will travel there to work as regional assistant director of Summer Programs at Hanvit Welfare Association. Lim will direct community outreach while beginning a community-based research project to ascertain the most beneficial and effective ways to present charitable afterschool programs. He is a Johnson Scholar and a double major in English and politics. He is also a Bonner Scholar, has served as a residential advisor for the past two years and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and University Singers.
  • Emma Payne, a sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, will intern at Inslee by Design in New York City. Payne will assist with customer service and event planning while she furthers her knowledge of art history and gains practical experience in curating. Payne is a major in art history with a minor in museum studies and French. She tutors first grade students at Waddell Elementary School.
  • Scott Phillips is a sophomore neuroscience major from Charlotte, North Carolina. He will work as an intern in the Icahn Medical Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. The internship is primarily funded by Dana’s Angels Research Trust, and Phillips will assist in research to develop new treatments for Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a rare genetic metabolic disorder. Phillips is the student coordinator at Carillion Stonewall Jackson Hospital and a member of Tri Beta Biology Honor Society. He is a tutor at Natural Bridge Elementary School.
  • Cole Schott is a junior from Nashville, Tennessee, and will work as a campaign manager at Friends of Russ Pulley in his hometown. He is a politics major and will form initial fundraising and campaign coverage strategies. Schott is a member of the varsity swimming and diving teams.
  • Armani Smith is a junior from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and a double major in journalism and mass communications and Romance languages. He will be a social media intern at Fitz & Co. in New York City, working on in-house and client social media campaigns.
  • Nancy Stephen is a sophomore from Houston, Texas, and will travel to Nigeria to work for PwC, a global consulting firm, while also doing community service in the area. Stephen is a double major in economics and French, a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and is a student assistant in W&L’s Office of Admissions.
  • Emma Swabb, a junior from Erie, Pennsylvania, will work at the Washington Jesuit Academy (WJA) in Washington D.C., as a teaching assistant through the Shepherd Program. WJA is a middle school for boys from low-income communities and Swabb will screen incoming students, plan events and oversee field trips. She is a psychology major and a member of the Nabors Service League, and Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma and Psi Chi honor societies. She is co-president of SPEAK and a volunteer at Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee. Swabb is a member of the W&L swim team.
  • Chris Tran, a sophomore from Vietnam and a major in music, will travel to his home country to intern at MATO Corporation, a startup company that invents and produces educational board games for children. Tran will be a member of the team that improves the design of products. Tran will also study voice and musicianship with a leading classical singer, Ha Pham Than Long, in Hanoi. He is a member of Phi Eta Sigma honor society, the first-year orientation committee, the W&L Men’s Glee Club and the a capella group The Washingtones.
  • Tanner Waggoner is a junior from Scottsdale, Arizona, and will travel to Belize to study the growth and survival of staghorn coral alongside Lisa Greer, associate professor of geology at W&L. He will dig and retain coral samples then return to Lexington to analyze them in preparation for his senior thesis. Waggoner is a geology and business administration major and has served as a resident advisor since 2013. He is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Wan Wei, a sophomore from China, will participate in the Hollins Program’s London Summer Internship, a seven-week program in the United Kingdom sponsored by W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics in collaboration with Hollins University. The program combines internship, classroom study and exposure to British culture. Wei is a double major in journalism and mass communications and Japanese with a minor in music. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Josh White, a junior from Shoreline, Washington, will travel to Ambergris, Belize, to study economic development in an area that contrasts a tourist hotspot alongside native inhabitants living in poor conditions. He will volunteer at Raise Me Up, a local non-profit organization, and at Holy Cross Anglican School, a local school. White will identify future projects that can be funded by the General Development Initiative, a microfinance organization created, owned and operated by Washington and Lee students. White is a business administration major and the project is part of the Shepherd International Internship Program. White is member of W&L’s Venture Club.
  • Mary Ciera Wilson, a sophomore double major in English and politics from Gray, Tennessee, will intern with the Tennessee State Government. The intern program trains college students in public service, promotes active citizenship and allows students hands-on experience in the Governor’s Office. Wilson is a member of the Student Recruitment Committee.
  • Marshall Woodward, a junior from Houston, Texas, will visit Paris, France, for ten days to conduct research for his French thesis on the modernist art theory “mise-en-abime,” in which an image contains a smaller copy of itself in a sequence that appears to recur infinitely. Woodward is a double major in French and geology.

W&L Registrar Scott Dittman Elected Vice President of AACRAO

Scott Dittman, university registrar of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, has been elected vice president at large of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

In the position, Dittman serves on the organization’s board of directors and is its first elected vice president at large. The vice president at large assists in the advancement of AACRAO’s strategic plan, in addition to regular board governance duties. He has distinguished service awards from both the Southern ACRAO and Virginia ACRAO professional associations, and served on the executive committees of both for multiple years and in various capacities.

Dittman has been W&L’s registrar since 1985, supervising academic records, registration, student information database, institutional statistical reporting and research, and classroom scheduling related to the College, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and the School of Law. He also recommends, develops and implements academic policy and serves as secretary of the university’s faculty. Dittman also was W&L’s first director of institutional research from 2002-2007.

Dittman was registrar at Muskingum College from 1982-85 and assistant director of admissions from 1977-1982. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University with a major in interdisciplinary computer science.

AACRAO has more than 11,000 members, representing 2,600 higher education institutions in more than 40 countries. It provides professional development, guidelines and voluntary standards regarding the best practices in records management, admissions, enrollment management, administrative information technology, student services, and more.


Washington and Lee Announces May Community Grants

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 13 grants totaling $25,700 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the second part of its two rounds of grants for 2014-15.

The committee chose the grants from 28 proposals requesting almost $170,000.

W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:

  • Buena Vista Arts Council – Funds to support art projects in Buena Vista.
  • Community Action Network – The Saturday’s Child program.
  • The Community Table – Food purchasing project.
  • Hull’s Drive-In – Sound equipment project.
  • Kling Elementary School – Children’s book purchasing program.
  • Miller’s House Museum Foundation – Funds for museum signage.
  • Mission Next Door – Home repair and maintenance for area residents who are financially or physically unable to provide these services for themselves.
  • Project Horizon – Raising Hope project.
  • RCHS Music Boosters – Four bass drums and drum heads.
  • Rockbridge Area Housing Corporation – Water saving project.
  • Rockbridge Christmas Baskets – Food purchasing program.
  • Rockbridge Regional Drug Task Force – Purchase of investigative equipment.
  • Yellow Brick Road Early Learning Center – Purchase of a new telephone system.

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 2014-15 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually, at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The submission deadline for the two rounds of evaluations for 2015-16 will be: by the end of the work day (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, November 6, 2015, and Friday, April 15, 2016. 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.


Smitka Discusses Auto Financing on WalletHub

Mike Smitka, professor of economics at Washington and Lee University, discusses auto financing in WalletHub. Smitka answers questions on the best time of year to buy a car; whether auto financing deals may change during the next year; how to make the car-buying process more transparent and hassle-free; tips for buyers with fair or poor credit and signs that the buyer may be getting ripped off in the auto buying process.

You can read Smitka’s advice on the WalletHub website.

W&L Law’s Brant Hellwig Publishes Book on U.S. Tax Court

Washington and Lee law professor and incoming dean Brant Hellwig recently completed a manuscript detailing the historical evolution and jurisdiction of the United States Tax Court.

The text, titled “The United States Tax Court – An Historical Analysis,” is an expanded second edition of the seminal Tax Court history published by Professor Harold Dubroff in the late 1970s. Dubroff’s edition was written shortly after Congress established the Tax Court as a court of record under Article I of the Constitution.  The Tax Court commissioned Hellwig to update Dubroff’s work in light of the considerable expansion in the Tax Court’s statutory jurisdiction in recent years.

“Professor Dubroff’s original manuscript served as a critical source of information about the Tax Court, and it is an honor to bring the text in line with more recent developments,” said Hellwig.

Among the updates, the revised and expanded text analyzes subsequent cases affecting the Tax Court’s constitutional status, including the Supreme Court’s 1991 decision in Freytag v. Commissioner as well as the 2014 decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Kuretski v. Commissioner.

New topics include the discussion of a number of innovations in the Tax Court’s jurisdiction that are intended to improve the efficiency of tax litigation.  Hellwig also explores the jurisdiction of the Tax Court to review the administration of a variety of recently created taxpayer rights.

U.S. Tax Court Chief Judge Michael B. Thornton announced the publication of the text recently at the opening of the United States Tax Court Judicial Conference. In addition to making the two-volume bound version of the text available for purchase through the Government Printing Office (GPO), the Tax Court has provided a free electronic version of the book through the GPO as well, available online here.

Hellwig joined the W&L law school faculty in 2012. He teaches a variety of tax courses, including Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, Partnership Taxation, Corporate Taxation, and Estate and Gift Taxation. His scholarship in the field is similarly broad, ranging from the income tax treatment of deferred compensation arrangements to the estate tax treatment of closely held business entities employed as trust substitutes.

In February, Hellwig was appointed dean of W&L Law, effective July 1.

W&L Receives Virginia Bar Access to Justice Awards

Washington and Lee University has swept the 2015 summer access to justice awards given by the Virginia State Bar (VSB).

Katherine Moss, a member of the law class of 2015, won the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award. Moss won the award based on her extensive pro bono work in indigent criminal defense, and specifically indigent death penalty defense. During her three years in law school, Moss devoted over 1200 hours of pro bono service beyond her academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities. More from the VSB website.

Jeremy P. White, a member of the law class of 2002, received the Legal Aid Award presented by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services. Recipients are chosen for their advocacy, quality of service, and impact beyond their service area. White, who is managing attorney at the Lynchburg office of the Virginia Legal Aid Society, was praised for his work protecting consumers from violations of federal law. More from the VSB website.

And finally, Robert “Robin” C. Wood III, who received his undergraduate degree from W&L in 1962 and is an adjunct professor at the law school, received the Tradition of Excellence Award from the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section. The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. More from the VSB website.

The awards will be presented during the annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar in Virginia Beach on June 19.