Feature Stories Campus Events

A Legacy of Love: Liza Haynie Heaton '11

About a year ago, W&L posted the heartwarming story “Love for Liza” on its homepage. It generated an enormous number of hits, and for good reason.

Liza Haynie Heaton ’11, who had been battling synovial sarcoma for a number of years, had become a bit of a celebrity after marrying Wyatt Heaton ’09 in December 2014, days after learning that she had less than a month to live. That story made headlines all over the country, including the “Today” showCNN and Fox News.

What gave the story extra appeal was the emotional support of the W&L community, which rallied around Liza on her important day. In the short term, her health improved, and she started chemotherapy treatments.

In November 2014, Liza’s sister, Ann Marie Haynie ’13, and several of Liza’s friends had launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for research into Liza’s disease. As Liza said in an interview with the Shreveport Times, “People will forget about me in 15 minutes, but this money will go on helping people with the disease for a long time.”

In 15 days and with the help of almost 3,000 people, the fund raised $466,342. It hit $560,000 by the end of February.

Unfortunately, Liza won’t be able to benefit from any medical breakthroughs funded by new research. She died on Oct. 17, having exceeded doctors’ expectations by 10 months.

Her close childhood friend, Allie Kittrell, said in her eulogy at Liza’s service: “Liza, it is so hard to imagine you not in my future. I don’t think you will ever know how much you changed my life. Just look at this entire church with all the people you made an impact on.”

Liza’s legacy, though, will have an important impact on others fighting the disease. Through the support of the Love for Liza Fund, Johns Hopkins was able to hire a postdoctoral fellow to focus specifically on Liza’s rare type of sarcoma. The team has already made considerable strides in their research, and Liza has singlehandedly helped change the course of synovial sarcoma treatments.

Read Liza’s obituary in the Shreveport Times >


W&L Professor Melissa Kerin Publishes Book on 16th-Century Buddhist Paintings

Melissa Kerin, assistant professor of art history at Washington and Lee University, first became interested in Tibet as an undergraduate at Trinity College, after hearing about the Tibetan diaspora.

“I knew very little about Tibet except for the fact that many Tibetans lived in exile because of the political situation with China. At the time, I was very interested in the role that art played, potentially, in creating a sense of community for people who were in diaspora. As a junior, I participated in a Tibetan studies program in India and Nepal, where I lived at a nunnery for a month and studied traditional thangka painting (a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene or mandala) with a teacher from Swyamabhu (Kathmandu). After I graduated from Trinity, I received a Watson Fellowship that allowed me to continue my study of thangka painting. This gave me the chance to live in India and Nepal for 16 months interviewing and studying with thangka teachers.”

In graduate school, Kerin continued her research on Tibetan art, ultimately focusing on its history from the 15th to 17th centuries. That work is now presented in her book, “Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya
” (Indiana University Press), which examines 16th-century wall paintings in a Buddhist temple in the Tibetan cultural zone of northwest India. It received the Edward C. Dimock Jr. Prize for the Indian Humanities, American Institute of Indian Studies.

“The book focuses on a set of paintings in a temple in Nako, in the western Himalayan region of India,” said Kerin. “These paintings reveal that a certain type of Tibetan Buddhism was practiced in this village for which there was no written documentation or painted evidence. This fleshes out a religious history that we previously didn’t know about.” The book also provides an intensive stylistic analysis of a 15th- through 17th-century painting style that is known to have been used in the Tibetan court and at religious centers, but less so at the kingdom’s periphery. By charting the geographic spread of this late medieval style, Kerin hopes to provide a deeper understanding of the different idiomatic and regional expressions of it.

Kerin did most of the fieldwork for her book 10 years ago, while she was in Nako on a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation research grant. “The village was part of a network of religious Buddhist centers in the western Himalayas and was situated along pilgrimage paths in the early days of Tibetan Buddhism,” she said. “As an art historian, it’s pretty typical to go in and take tons of photos and do lots of interviews. At the time I was just gathering, gathering, gathering and only started to make sense of the iconography and inscriptional evidence after I left the village.”

The paintings Kerin found were coated with mud and were not well preserved. “Because of climate change and the poor condition of the temples, the wall paintings suffer a great deal from water damage. These temples are made of baked brick — rammed earth, and if that gets excessively wet, the mud starts dripping over the paintings. Unfortunately, you can’t take that mud off without removing the pigment.”

Beneath the mud, Kerin noticed that the paintings pointed to an iconography directly related to Drikung Kagyu, a very specific form of Tibetan Buddhism that’s part of the larger Karma Kagyu tradition. “That was significant because the village, in its living memory, was Drukpa Kagyu, another form of the Kagyu tradition. After I had this information, I asked the villagers about Drikung, but they had only known the village to be Drukpa.”

In taking a closer look at the inscriptional evidence at the temple, Kerin concluded that all the graphic evidence “very pointedly and clearly showed that this was originally a Drikung temple. For the villagers, though, they understood and used the temple as part of a different, though related, lineage of Kagyu. When I spoke to the villagers about the seeming discrepancy, they weren’t very bothered by it,” she said. “Their response was, ‘Oh, well, yeah that’s interesting, but no, it’s Drukpa, not Drikung.’ The meaning and intent of the temple had changed over time. Even though the original iconographic form of the temple dates back to the 16th century, there was a different narrative existing alongside it. This wonderful realization allowed me to delve into the religious history of this area, specifically of the Drikung Kagyu tradition.

“Thoroughly documenting this site provides insights into the complex, overlapping, and sometimes nebulous networks of meaning, use and reuse, and reception at a single site over time,” Kerin said. “These paintings reflect the complex social, religious and political environments in the area during the late medieval period through today.”

Although Kerin has returned to India and the western Himalayans many times, she hasn’t been back to Nako since her initial fieldwork (2004 and 2005). “It’s really a difficult place to get to,” she said. “It’s a 12-hour ride from Delhi to Manali, and then once in Manali you have to register for an Inner Line permit because Nako is located in the conflict zone between Tibet and China. After you get the permits, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, you need to find a jeep and driver to make the harrowing two-day drive.” At an altitude of 11,500 feet, “life becomes so focused, and simple, but also incredibly rich. There isn’t the static of everyday stuff, you’re just there doing your work, and, for me, it is the most beautiful place in the world.”

She noted, “What’s remarkable is that in this tiny village in the middle of nowhere along former pilgrimage and trade routes (now closed due to the 1962 Sino-India conflict) Nako still has a story to tell. It was a good reminder that you always need to look at areas considered the periphery — at the faded, forgotten remains — because chances are, there’s an interesting story there that, in this case, changes history a little bit.”

At the Mouth of the River

“The lessons I learned will always stay with me and steer me in the right direction.”

gose-leah-l-400x533 At the Mouth of the RiverLeah Gose

I ended up with a most dreadful gown tan at graduation, but it was totally worth it. The day was out of the brochure W&L sends prospective students in the mail. I remember sitting with my fellow graduates, roasting in the sun, thinking “Yes! It’s the end! It’s the end?” As President Ruscio delivered his commencement address, I couldn’t help but wonder about the river to which he compared Washington and Lee — constantly moving away from its source, providing life to all it touches, carrying the same water to exciting new places. It was a beautiful metaphor, one I think of often as I wake each morning to go to work… and not class.

I have a feeling most graduates get a taste of what I now call “wandering syndrome.” It is the realization (and possible denial) that your college river has reached its mouth on the edges of a big, scary, real-world ocean.

“Wandering Syndrome” began like Lexington’s spring rainstorms: quick and unannounced. I was five weeks into my current Elrod Fellowship position with a non-profit called Linden Resources. I had just emailed my “ex” professors updates about working to find employment opportunities for people with disabilities and wounded veterans. Walking out to my car after a long day, I greeted an older man on the sidewalk with a smile and “hello,” realizing from his confused reaction that the Speaking Tradition was not universal. A lot of things outside of Lexington struck me in that moment as totally foreign to non-Generals.

I cook all my meals now (okay, most of them). The wonderful sorority chefs aren’t around to make mac and cheese for me anymore. I had to pay for my gym membership. The barista at Starbucks still doesn’t remember my order. I paused on that sidewalk, mid-step, and felt like I was back on the graduation stage, diploma in hand with, what was then, my entire world in front of me. I realized nothing, from that point on, would ever be like my time at Washington and Lee.

There is something freeing about graduating: the world is yours because it has to be. But it’s scary, too. There is no going back — admissions won’t have it, and that’s not how this river metaphor works. It can be challenging, too, with the pressure to be the same successful student you were on campus, but without the constant support network.

The more my experiences at W&L become memories, the more I realize how the lessons I’ve learned in those four years are perhaps the best protection in the “harsh conditions” of my new reality. I decided to pretend as if the Speaking Tradition was universal after my sidewalk revelation. I bring W&L with me now like a little lifejacket to keep from drowning. I keep in touch with my professors and, unsurprisingly, they all write back. I hold myself to the Honor System. I occasionally listen to a recording of “Oh Shenandoah” by the University Singers when I’m feeling really blue. The song says it all:

Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away you rolling river.
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away, I’m bound away
‘Cross the wide Missouri.

Even though I’m thankfully only ‘cross the Shenandoah River, the song speaks to the longing I have for what is familiar, what is home. I never imagined I would feel so connected to a well-constructed pile of red bricks; however, I cannot fathom who I would be without Washington and Lee. I’m in D.C. now because of the University’s Elrod Fellowship program. I am who I am because of the amazing opportunities that were so generously made available to me.

I finally understand why so many graduates fervently hate change when it makes news back on campus: It feels like our time there is becoming history, our water source is drying up. That version of the story seems far too morose to be the story of us gentlemen and gentlewomen. I want to think that like that gown tan I still have, our memories of Washington and Lee travel with us forever, the water that carries and sustains us. The feelings and appreciation we have now are what remain constant for future graduates — the bonds that connect graduates throughout the years.

You can take the woman out of Washington and Lee, but you can’t take Washington and Lee out of the woman. I might submit business reports instead of term papers now, but the lessons I learned will always stay with me and steer me in the right direction. Because of Washington and Lee I can comfortably say I have no idea what I want to do after I finish my fellowship. But it’s okay. As I sail out into the open waters, I’m not scared. I know, somewhere in the sometimes dark waters below me, at least one of those currents originated from our enduring alma mater. I’ve decided wandering isn’t so bad after all. And if I ever get too lost, I at least know our Annual Fund committee will always find me.


DC-Based Privacy Think Tank Future of Privacy Forum Partners with W&L Law

Affiliation to Advance Privacy Scholarship, Create Business/Academic Ties, and Incubate Tomorrow’s Privacy Lawyers

WASHINGTON, D.C. & LEXINGTON, Va. – Thursday, October 29, 2015 – The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and Washington and Lee University School of Law today announced a unique strategic partnership designed to enrich the legal academic experience and to enhance scholarship and conversations about privacy law and policy.

The FPF/W&L Law collaboration will:

  • Include new curricula for W&L Law students
  • Create internships for students with both FPF and its Advisory Board companies
  • Involve W&L Law Faculty in FPF Conferences and Research Initiatives
  • Provide a Washington, D.C. home in FPF’s new offices for classes associated with the W&L third-year D.C. program

“This partnership is such a great opportunity to combine the resources and talent of a top-tier law school with the mission and objectives of a privacy-focused think tank,” said Christopher Wolf, co-chair of FPF. “FPF policy staff and fellows and W&L Law students and faculty already are working together on issues such as the privacy of data collected by connected cars and the ethical review processes for big data. As a 1980 graduate of W&L Law, I am so pleased to have brought together my law school with the Future of Privacy Forum, the think tank I founded in 2008.”

W&L Law Dean Brant Hellwig said “Through this partnership, we will expand our footprint in Washington, creating even more opportunities for our students in Lexington and in the D.C. program.”

“It also leverages our growing faculty expertise in privacy and national security law, so we can have a larger impact on policy deliberations.”

FPF Executive Director Jules Polonetsky added: “We are thrilled that as another feature of the partnership, W&L Law professors Margaret Hu and Joshua Fairfield will serve on the FPF Advisory Board.  Professor Hu is well-known for her research on national security, cyber-surveillance and civil rights, and her recent writing on government use of database screening and digital watch listing systems to create “blacklists” of individuals based on suspicious data. Professor Fairfield is an internationally recognized law and technology scholar, specializing in digital property, electronic contract, big data privacy, and virtual communities.”

On Thursday, November 5, FPF and W&L Law are celebrating the partnership, along with the opening of FPF’s new headquarters in Washington, with a panel discussion addressing the future of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Former FTC Consumer Bureau Director David Vladeck and James Cooper, former Acting Director, FTC Office of Policy Planning, will discuss key Section 5 issues – such as materiality, harm, the role of cost benefit analysis and other issues raised in the FTC’s privacy and data security actions. The program will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by an open house reception at FPF offices, 1400 I Street, N.W., Suite 450, Washington, D.C. 20005.

About Future of Privacy Forum
The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is a Washington, DC based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. The forum is led by Internet privacy experts Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf and includes an advisory board comprised of leading figures from industry, academia, law and advocacy groups.

About Washington and Lee School of Law
Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia is one of the smallest of the nation’s top-tier law schools, with an average class size of 22 and a 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio. The Law School’s commitment to student-centered legal education, emphasis on legal writing, and dedication to professional development is reflected in the impressive achievements of its graduates, which include seven American Bar Association presidents, 22 members of the U.S. Congress, numerous state and federal judges, and Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell.

Media Contacts
Nicholas Graham, for FPF: 571-291-2967, fpfmedia@futureofprivacy.org
Peter Jetton, for W&L Law: 540-461-1326, pjetton@wlu.edu

Related //

A Day in the Life: Daniel Rodriguez Segura

“During my four weeks in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was able to explore Grameen’s services, organizational structure and idiosyncrasies in depth.”

Daniel Rodriguez Segura ’16
Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner
Intern at Grameen Bank, Dhaka, Bangladesh

“So as the money supply decreases, the interest rate initially increases, meaning a higher level of savings,”  said my Econ professor.

“And what if people don’t have access to saving accounts?” I asked.

“We assume savings accounts are readily available”

“…what if they say saving interferes with their basic spending?”

“We assume that the general level of spending is well above autonomous spending”

“…And what about developing countries?”

“Yeah… this model makes assumptions about level of income as well.”

I was not satisfied. Through personal experiences from back home and my Shepherd internship last summer, I knew this is not always how the poor behave. Heck, I actually wasn’t even sure this is how anyone behaves. This didn’t catch my attention from a mere academic standpoint: Access to financial services is not a luxury but close to a need for expanding businesses. In poor countries, where the poor derive their income from highly entrepreneurial activities, being able to take a loan or have a savings account can make all the difference.

I chose to intern at Grameen Bank because it allowed me see in practice all the blank spots in the model taught in class. Grameen is indisputably one of the world’s leaders and pioneers in microfinance. Its methodology has been replicated in many countries after its great success in Bangladesh. They have been able to empower some of the planet’s poorest people through a fair inclusion in the financial markets in a way that is respectful of the culture but also willing to challenge norms to improve people’s well-being. In 2006, Grameen won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with its founder, Muhammad Yunus, for its efforts towards poverty eradication through their innovative financial services.

During my four weeks in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was able to explore Grameen’s services, organizational structure and idiosyncrasies in depth. Specifically, I learned about the connection between their mission and the type of loans they give, and all of the background work that this involves. For instance, Grameen’s vision is that microfinance is an incredible tool for development, but not a magic bullet. They believe that in order to avoid the perpetuation of intergenerational poverty, education must be made available to the children of the borrowers, especially women. Therefore, they have higher education loans at rates that are cross-subsidized by their regular loans, making university loans highly accessible. I quickly learned that there is a huge gender gap in terms of human capital due to a highly conservative Muslim culture, especially in rural areas. In order to tackle this issue, half of these college loans are reserved for women, and the other half is distributed between both genders. In this sense, my internship allowed me to connect the business model of Grameen to the social and cultural context of Bangladesh, and gain a better understanding of how they now endogenously affect each other.

I also got the chance to visit Grameen’s field operations several times and actually stay in a rural village for a week. This gave me the chance to see their methodology for myself and dig a little deeper, with the help of a translator, into the lives of the borrowers. I was truly surprised to see how most borrowers, without much formal education, were able to run businesses successfully. Some even expand them in rather ambitious manners. I doubt that without access to affordable credit, these businesses would have even started, much less grown.

On the other hand, I am not trying to say that I fully agree with the Grameen methodology and approach. I think that there are several areas where it could definitely improve: the productivity of some workers, the red tape that hinders the speed of response, the stubbornness against investing in a research division, and the reluctance to digitalize a larger share of their operations. However, I do fully believe that Grameen’s heart is in the right place and that the impact they have had on Bangladesh’s development has been enormous. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I got to learn in depth about how a devoted institution can use access to financial services as a means to improve people’s well-being.

More importantly, the fact that models are simply approximations of reality became much more tangible. Towards the end of my internship, I was not as frustrated as I was when I was told about all the assumptions that the economics model made. I finally understood that these models are simply a type of tool to understand the complexity of reality, and that the real world has many more complications than what is feasible to model. Ultimately, I learned that in order to understand a broad and complex issue like financial services for the poor, one needs a balance between the simplifying models and the overwhelming real-life experience, like the one Grameen gave me.

More about Daniel

Hometown: Santo Domingo, Costa Rica

Major: Economics

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • GenDev Inc
  • ESOL
  • Shepherd Program
  • Research Assistant, Economics

Off-Campus Experiences:
• Study abroad – Milan (Winter 2016, coming up!)
• Intern at Grameen Bank, Dhaka (Summer 2015)
• Study abroad – Paris (Winter 2014)
• Internship at Favela Experience, Rio de Janeiro through the Shepherd Program (Summer 2014)
• Poor Alleviation Conference at INCAE Nicaragua (Summer 2014)

Favorite Campus Landmark: the back-campus trail is definitely one of the best places to have a quiet afternoon and relax.

What professor has inspired you? Although definitely not the only one, I would say that Prof. Pickett really inspired me to bring the development component into my studies. He raised important questions to me about the practical and ethical details of poverty that I had never thought about. These are lessons that have stuck with me since, and I hope I can keep for the rest of my life and future career.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Lexington is great! The professors at W&L are great! So are the classes! But there is an amazing, weird, fascinating, brave new world out there. Use every in-class and abroad opportunity to explore it. Bring back your knowledge and experiences, and share them with the W&L community. Doing this truly widened my perspective, my analytical abilities and boosted my motivation for post-graduation plans… it’s a win-win for everyone!

Related //

R.T. Smith Publishes a New Collection of (Really) Short Stories

R.T. Smith, the award-winning author and editor of “Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review,” has published a new work of fiction, “Chinquapins” (Fiction Southeast).

His fifth collection of short stories is named for the Chinquapin oak tree and its edible acorns, an indigenous species in the Southeast. Like the tree, Smith’s stories in this book are indigenous to the region. “They’re very peculiar stories,” he said. Ranging from one to three pages, “they’re full of Appalachian vernacular and folkways and customs and religion, but are not set within any particular time frame.”

Smith has written four other collections of stories, “Sherburne,” “Faith,” “Uke Rivers Delivers” and “Calaboose Epistles.” He is the author of over 14 poetry collections, including “The Red Wolf: A Dream of Flannery O’Connor,” “Outlaw Style: Poems,” “The Hollow Log Lounge,” “Brightwood” and “Messenger.”

Although the stories in “Chinquapins” cover the age-old themes of love, death, courtship, murder and widowhood, Smith noted that what binds them together is his exploration of how the hard life in the Appalachians leads his characters to such extremes and anguish. “An agricultural life, where the rhythm of life conforms to the farmer’s almanac, brings all kinds of ordeals that people have to go through, like absolutely killing weather,” he explained. “Some of the stories are uplifting, a lot of them are not.”

His publisher offers this description of Smith’s newest book: “In the short short stories of ‘Chinquapins,’ Smith exposes crucial moments in the lives of Appalachian characters and culture while exploring thresholds between poetry and prose, as songbirds fall from the sky, borders are violated and old war wounds linger over in the hills and hollers. Whether the issue at hand involves dulcimers, mill accidents, bear hunts or lost children, passion and peril entwine in a hardscrabble world where the sorrowful lyrics of ballads and the robust vernacular of the rural Blue Ridge Mountains echo on the wind.”

In addition to editing “Shenandoah,” Smith is W&L’s writer-in-residence, and teaches creative writing and literature courses at W&L and directs an internship program at “Shenandoah.”

He has received one fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Virginia Arts Commission fellowships, three Alabama Arts Council fellowships and the Alabama Governor’s Award for Achievement by an Artist. He also received three fellowships for an individual artist from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Smith’s writings have won the Pushcart Prize three times, have been published five times in “New Stories from the South,” and have also been published in “Best American Short Stories,” “Best American Poetry,” “Atlantic Monthly” and “Southern Review,” among others.

He twice won the Library of Virginia Poetry Book Award, for “Messenger” and for “Outlaw Style: Poems,” and the 2013 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry.

“Chinquapins” is available as both a traditional-bound book or as an e-book at fictionsoutheast.org and on Amazon.

Related //,

Chris Collins ’54, Champion Rower

Christopher Collins, a 1954 graduate of Washington and Lee University, returned to Boston on Oct. 17 to defend his title in the Grand Veterans age group at the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing festival. It’s the largest two-day rowing event in the world and is attended by some of the world’s best rowers.

The 82-year-old, who has participated in every Head of the Charles since 1994, rowed the course in 23:43, marking his seventh victory in the single sculler race.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Chris said he discovered his talent in his 60s when he used a rowing machine at the gym to get into shape. Ever since, he has been competing at the top of his division in rowing events all over the East Coast. Fellow rower Carlo Zezza, a three-time Senior Veteran II winner, who rowed for Harvard in college, described Collin’s stroke as “truly original…there’s none other like it.”

Chris grew up on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley before attending W&L. During World War II he served on submarines for the Navy, after which he worked as a tour guide in the U.S.S.R. Eventually, after teaching and writing about Russian literature, Chris became a real estate broker with Virginia Estates.

His accomplishments on the water are clear considering he still holds the course record for the Veterans Singles Division at the Head of the Charles Regatta, set in 2001.

– by Wesley Sigmond ’16


W&L Offers Arabic On Campus for First Time

Anthony (Antoine) Edwards has reassured students learning Arabic at Washington and Lee University that his own first encounter with the language was as a first-year student. “My first words, my first class, were as a freshman and I didn’t know any Arabic or even a Semitic language. But it’s not difficult if you put enough time into it,” he said.

This is W&L’s first year of Arabic language courses on campus; previously, students wishing to study Arabic attended classes at Virginia Military Institute. The new Arabic classes are part of W&L’s comprehensive plan to infuse global learning into students’ experiences across curricula, disciplines and schools.

In addition to Edwards, visiting assistant professor of Arabic, who will teach for three years, W&L also recruited Ismail Slitine Alaoui, from Morocco, who is a one-year Student Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant.

Suzanne Keen, dean of the college and the Thomas Broadus Professor of English, called the reaction of students to the new classes “very positive.” The initial offering of one course section on Arabic for 18 students filled up immediately, so W&L added a second section which accommodated an additional 12 students.

Edwards recently completed his doctorate in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at The University of Texas at Austin, and has lived in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Jordan, and has taught Arabic in Morocco. “I think it’s important to learn to speak Arabic and learn about the cultures and people of the region because it enlarges your perspective on the diversity of the world,” he said. “Also, there’s a lot of economic, political and cultural awareness that needs to happen regarding the Middle East.”

Edwards will teach both Modern Standard Arabic (the written, formal language that is not used on a daily basis for communication) and the Syrian dialect. He explained that there are several different Arabic dialects and that linguists group these according to the major capital cities in the region. The Syrian dialect is based on the language in the capital, Damascus. While most of these dialects are mutually understandable, differences emerge the farther you move from the capital. “I’m from California, so when I listen to someone from Boston I may take an extra 10 seconds to hone my ear in to what they are saying, and it’s the same with the Arabic dialects,” he explained.

To help students gain more experience in speaking Arabic, Edwards is already encouraging them to apply in 2016 to the Critical Language Scholarship Program, a fully funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. He also has plans for a 2017 Spring Term course on Arabic language and culture in Jordan that will examine what makes the language and place uniquely Jordanian.

“I am very excited that with our teaching assistant, Ismail, we have a native speaker of the language and someone who brings the Arabic culture here to W&L,” said Edwards. “Since Ismail is from Morocco, he nicely complements my expertise, which is more of Egypt and Syria; i.e. the Levant. So culturally, linguistically, cuisine-wise, he’s going to bring a lot of insight that I am unable to bring except from a theoretical perspective.”

Alaoui said that he sees himself as a cultural ambassador and is looking forward to helping students with the language, as well as hosting cultural events to introduce them to Arabic culture. “I will do that by sharing with the students, preparing dishes and telling them about the ceremonies and celebrations in the region,” he said. Alaoui is a graduate of Moulay Ismail University in Morocco and is also a calligrapher.

Edwards also studies literature and has a syllabus for a course on Arabic literature (read in English translation) that he will offer in winter 2016. In the meantime, he plans to organize an open-literature night since “poetry readings and the orality of language performance are very important in Arabic culture. I would like to introduce that to the student body and to the W&L community,” he said. Other cultural events will include an Arabic conversation table in W&L’s dining facility, movie nights in Arabic and a cooking night.

The impetus to include Arabic classes at W&L came from the Middle Eastern/South Asia (MESA) cohort — a group of W&L faculty from different departments dedicated to the development of interdisciplinary learning about the region and sponsored by the office of the dean of the College. “MESA was very interested in Arabic language classes and advocated for it as a complement to the things they were already teaching,” said Keen.

MESA members from the college include Joel Blecher, assistant professor of religion, who teaches the religion and history of Islam; Tim Lubin, professor of religion and an expert on India and areas of South Asia; and Melissa Kerin, assistant professor of art history who researches in India and Tibet. Members from the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics are Seth Cantey, assistant professor of politics, who teaches Middle Eastern politics; Shikha Silwal, assistant professor of economics; and Mark Rush, director of W&L’s Center for International Education and the Waxburg Professor of Politics, who recently served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Sharjah in the Middle East.

“We were very lucky to recruit Antoine Edwards since he was our first choice, and we were very fortunate to successfully apply for a native language speaker in a competitive situation,” said Rush. “Arabic really is one of the most important global languages right now, and this is a region where our graduates will certainly be working. It is our mission to provide students with a complete global education. It is exciting to see the new energy of the younger faculty who are really coalescing around a region and new areas of study and teaching.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to Speak at W&L Law

The Hon. Richard J. Leon, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, will speak this week at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Among Judge Leon’s notable decisions, he ruled in 2013 that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records likely violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The title of Judge Leon’s talk is “Battle Hymn of a Federal District Judge.” His lecture is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 30 at noon in Classroom B, Sydney Lewis Hall. His talk is free and open to the public.

Judge Leon was appointed to the United States District Court in February 2002. He received his A.B. from Holy Cross College in 1971, his J.D. cum laude from Suffolk Law School in 1974, and his LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1981.

Immediately prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Leon was in private practice in Washington, D.C., as a partner in the Washington office of Baker & Hostetler (1989-1999), and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease (1999-2002).

Prior to and while in private practice, Judge Leon served as counsel to Congress in the investigations of three sitting Presidents. In 1987, he was the Deputy Chief Minority Counsel for the U.S. House Select “Iran-Contra” Committee. From 1992-1993, he was the Chief Minority Counsel to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s “October Surprise” Task Force. In 1994, Judge Leon was Special Counsel to the U.S. House Banking Committee for its “Whitewater” investigation. He also served in 1997 as Special Counsel to the bipartisan U.S. House Ethics Reform Task Force.

Earlier in his career, Judge Leon served at the U.S. Department of Justice in a number of positions including Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Environment Division, Senior Trial Attorney in the Criminal Section of the Tax Division, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He also served as a Commissioner on the White House Fellows Commission and the Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Asset Control.

Judge Leon’s lecture is sponsored by The Federalist Society.

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Annual Law and Literature Seminar to Explore McEwan’s “The Children Act”

Washington and Lee University School of Law will host the 2015 Law and Literature Seminar on Nov. 6-7. Now in its 23rd year, the seminar will focus on “The Children Act,” a new novel by acclaimed British writer Ian McEwan, author of “Atonement,” “Amsterdam” (which won the Booker Prize), “Sweet Tooth,” and other works.

In The Children Act, legal issues and personal repercussions take center stage. The woman at the heart of the story, Fiona Maye, is an English judge whose docket consists of highly contentious family law cases. In one case, legal rules and religious belief come into sharp conflict, allowing McEwan to delve deeply into questions of identity, responsibility, and the limits of human understanding.

Another conflict in the novel concerns the intersection between the private self and the public, judicial persona in Fiona, a conflict compounded by a marital crisis that unsettles her settled life and nudges her closer to judicial misconduct. A reviewer in The New York Review of Books wrote that this book is “among the best and most accomplished novels has ever written.”

Faculty for the weekend will include law professors Brian Murchison and Ann Massie, former W&L law professor David Caudill, and English professor Marc Conner.

The program is co-sponsored with the W&L Alumni College program. The seminar has been approved for two hours of CLE ethics credit and is open to anyone interested in law and literature.

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