Feature Stories Campus Events

Professor's Wall Street Journal Column Praises “Peanuts” Holiday Program

Stephen J. Lind, assistant professor of business administration and an expert in the intersection of religion and the entertainment industry, published a guest column in The Wall Street Journal on Dec. 21 on the lasting impact of the television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Lind wrote that the 50-year-old program, technically rudimentary by today’s standards and at first reluctantly broadcast by TV networks, has become a Christmas tradition for millions of viewers because it communicates the true meaning of the season.

“The annual spiritual validation on mainstream television is a breath of fresh air,” Lind said in his column. “Free from gross humor or double-entendres, the show is a reminder that Hollywood need not reach to the lowest common denominator.”

Lind recently published “A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz,” a book made possible by the support of Schulz’s family and friends. His work also can be found in academic journals including The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, ImageTexT, Text and Performance Quarterly, and Communication Teacher. Lind teaches courses in modern professional communication, such as presentation design and digital video creation in W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

Lind and faculty colleague Amanda Bower, the Charles C. Holbrook Jr. ’72 Professor of Business Administration and a marketing specialist, hosted a one-hour public radio special program, “The 12 Questions of Christmas,” produced on campus at the studios of WLUR 91.5 FM and broadcast Dec. 20 by WMRA 90.7 FM, Harrisonburg. Lind and Bower posed answers to such issues as saying “happy holidays” or “merry Christmas,” lying to children about Santa Claus and Supreme Court rulings on public displays of nativity scenes.

Variety Obituary Recounts Estrada's “Second Career”

Jorge E. Estrada ’69, a former trustee of Washington and Lee University and celebrated producer of cinema in Argentina, died Dec. 9 at age 68. Variety, the entertainment industry newspaper, has reviewed Estrada’s international professional accomplishments in an obituary

After graduating from W&L with a bachelor of science degree as an independent major in geophysics, Estrada attended MIT for graduate studies in seismology. He taught geophysics in Colombia at the National University in Medellin, then worked for several oil exploration firms before launching a second career as a film producer.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy O’Toole, and five children: Annie ‘04, Carolina ‘05, Juan ‘06, Estefania and Javier.

Changing Perspectives: Josh White ’16, George Park ’17 and Corey Guen ’17 in San Pedro, Belize Changing Perspectives

“Our hope is that Ambergris Caye becomes a yearly destination for Shepherd Interns and our respective communities can maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Greetings from San Pedro, Belize!

Our Shepherd Internship has brought us to paradise, an island along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, with sandy beaches, colorful buildings and pristine emerald water. Ambergris Caye is increasingly becoming a top tourist destination in the Caribbean, offering world-class diving, snorkeling and plenty of perfect spots to relax. Beneath the tourists’ paradise exterior, however, lies a forgotten community, passed over time and again by tourists and the government alike. This community is called San Mateo, and it resides over the bridge connecting the main town with the northern stretch of the island. Without reason, no tourist or expatriate ever enters San Mateo; the smell alone is enough to repel most curious visitors. See, the Belizean government grants land for free to citizens, and a community of very poor people were given the land that comprises San Mateo, on the condition that they build something on their plots. However, San Mateo wasn’t land at all—rather it was a lagoon surrounded by mangrove swamp. With nowhere else to live, the people built plywood shacks on stilts over the water, and rickety “London bridges” to reach their doors. With no money to afford sand or concrete, the residents had no choice but to begin throwing trash, seaweed and other waste into the water, hoping to build the waste up above the water line to create land. This terraforming process can be seen in varying stages of completion today; some houses—the lucky ones—have seaweed and sand covered lots. Others have cesspools filled with garbage, human waste and water that has been standing for years. Cholera, a disease contracted by ingesting water tainted with human waste, still exists here. Electricity, septic systems and running water are luxuries, and rarer still are systems that function consistently.

San Mateo is what brought us to the island. During a Spring Term 2014 class with Professor Casey, George Park and I were struck by the community, and resolved to return to do what we could. Adding Josh White to our team, we have spent the past month working with any organization entering the community. We work primarily with the San Pedro Food Bank, which serves the poorest families on the island. Most are headed by single women, who never finished high school and scrape by on less than $200 per week in income, if they are employed at all. They have many children and understand the value of educating them, but some simply can’t afford to do so.The food is handed out weekly, and much of our work revolves around fundraising to expand the roster of families we can serve and improving the quality of what we can give. We will spend the next few weeks organizing a major event to provide funds before the director leaves to travel.

We have also worked with the Red Cross on successful food and blood drives, and more importantly, the most comprehensive survey of San Mateo ever conducted. With a group from the School of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, we measured every single plot, took thousands of pictures and talked to every available family about their water, power and sewage.Through this work, we got to know the residents much better, and we discovered an overwhelmingly friendly people, hardworking and unwilling to let their living conditions break their spirit.

The data will represent the best and most expansive source of information about the vulnerabilities of the community, and can hopefully be applied in a number of useful respects. We hope to introduce Engineers Without Borders to the area, and Josh is already working with GenDev on setting up a microfinance project. Our hope is that Ambergris Caye becomes a yearly destination for Shepherd Interns and our respective communities can maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.

George Park and Corey Guen extend a special thanks to the Vernon Holleman Fellowship and the The Class of 1975 Shepherd Poverty Alliance Summer Internship Endowment, respectively, for providing the funding to make their trips possible.

More about George:

Hometown: Fairfax Station, VA

Majors: Economics and Business

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement: LEAD, Student Recruitment Committee, Sigma Chi Fraternity (philanthropy chair), Traveller

Off-Campus Experiences: Spring Term Abroad in Ambergris Caye, Belize; Summer abroad in Barcelona and Amsterdam (funded through the Johnson Scholarship summer stipend)

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I was inspired to apply for this particular internship after coming to Ambergris Caye last Spring for an Economics course taught by Professor Jim Casey. Our class spent some time volunteering at a local school and got a quick glimpse of the impoverished conditions in San Mateo, one of the local neighborhoods. After that, I really wanted to come back, especially because I felt as though the local community was being neglected. From conversations with locals, it seemed like the government was doing very little to help, and most people outside of the local community appeared to be oblivious to the poverty on the island. Although there are volunteers that do come to Ambergris, most of them come through church youth groups and focus their efforts primarily on the school. Doing this internship has given Josh, Corey, and I the opportunity to make an impact in so many different ways, whether it’s through bagging and distributing food every week for Raise Me Up (a local non-profit) and the San Pedro Food Bank, collecting data for the Red Cross, advising a local business, organizing a fundraiser, spending an afternoon picking up trash, or volunteering at an island blood drive.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? Though this internship does not necessarily have a direct application to my studies beyond the Poverty minor, I do think that this work experience has still been of tremendous educational value. The past five weeks have been a great lesson in being more independent and proactive. Before I arrived in Ambergris, I expected this experience to be much more structured. However, our internship has been pretty unique in that we do not have a consistent daily routine with people telling us what to do. In a way, this has proven to be a blessing in disguise. We find ourselves doing something different every day, and everything we have done has been the product of network building and actively searching for different ways to help. Through this process I have learned more about how to find ways to be impactful without having someone there to tell me what to do. This is something that I think will continue to help me as I finish my last two years at W&L.

Post-Graduation Plans: Still deciding, but will probably go to either Law School or Business School.

Favorite W&L Memory: Dancing with my family at a band party during my first Parents Weekend at W&L.

Favorite Class: Poverty 101

More About Corey:

Hometown: Exeter, NH

Majors: Economics, Chinese (EALL)

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement: Kathekon member, Appalachian Adventure Pre-O Leader, Venture Club, Traveller Employee, Outing Club Employee, CRUX Climbing Team founding member, Phi Gamma Delta, Johnson Scholar

Off-Campus Experiences: Spring Term 2014 in Belize, Winter 2016 abroad in New Zealand at Otago University

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? This internship, planning included, has taught me a great deal already about being proactive and taking control of my education. The task seemed daunting when I set out to organize the internship, as I was having trouble finding contacts and organizations that I could work with. Now, three of us are here and we have built several excellent, sustainable relationships in what we hope will become a long-term destination for Shepherd interns and other W&L organizations. We envision working with groups from the Generals Development Initiative (a microfinance loan is already in the works!) to Engineers Without Borders in San Mateo and beyond.

Additionally, its easy to talk about the intricacies of poverty in a classroom setting (Professor Pickett is unparalleled in his ability to demonstrate the complex nature of poverty), but it is another thing entirely to look at it firsthand, and even harder to do something about it. What can you do for families run by single mothers, who are unemployed, with five children under 10, living in shacks in San Mateo? These are the sorts of questions one comes up against when doing this sort of work, and there is no better way to wrap your head around the scope and difficulty of helping the impoverished.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? The near-universal friendliness of the people we encountered during our survey of San Mateo. Upon learning we weren’t affiliated with the Belizean government, people were helpful, patient and always smiling. We even had “the Boss Man”, a huge Belizean man who owns a compound deep in San Mateo, offer to barbeque for us if we would return the next day. In the first day of surveying, I was genuinely nervous making the treacherous approach to the doors of some of the houses, but by the third day I was attempting to conduct interviews in Spanish, petting guard dogs and conversing with the people about their living conditions. I hold the people of San Mateo in extraordinarily high esteem following our survey, for their friendly nature and their refusal to submit to despondency in the face of often terrible living conditions.

Post-Graduation Plans: Unknown at this time, but I plan on finding an internship in China next summer that should guide my decision. Regardless, I love to travel and hope to see and live in as many places as I can.

Favorite Class: Professor Eastwood’s new class: Culture, Neighborhoods and Poverty. By extension, every course I have taken in the Shepherd minor. The professors and student alike have been nothing short of fantastic, and they showed me an academic passion I wasn’t aware I had. Nowhere else have I found my personal and academic interests overlapping so consistently, and Professor Eastwood’s class in particular was an incredible chance to explore urban poverty through a unique and personal lens.

Favorite W&L Activity: Anything James Dick has his hands in is guaranteed to be a good time. Trip Leader training is a blast, as are the pre-orientation hikes. Everything from climbing competitions at our bouldering wall to the break trips to the Everglades and beyond. If you haven’t been on an Outing Club trip yet, you are missing an essential part of the W&L experience.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? W&L offers wonderful opportunities in quantities that approach absurdity. By the time I graduate, I will have been all over the world, worked side by side with brilliant professors, hiked some of the best stretches of the Appalachian Trail, rafted the toughest whitewater in the country, and countless other things. If you feel bored or complacent, try something you haven’t done before. Find friends who have different interests than you do; they will lead you to places you never imagined, and I promise you will leave W&L with more memories and meaningful experiences than are possible to express.

More About Josh:

Hometown: Shoreline, WA

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Philosophy

Extracurricular Involvement: Outing Club, Venture Club, General Development Initiative

Off-Campus Experiences: Spring Terms abroad in Argentina, Spain, and the Caribbean. Internship summer after my freshmen year at Holy Trinity College, Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Internship with the microfinance organization, the General Development Initiative, in Quito, Ecuador the summer after my sophomore year.

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I applied for this internship so that I could develop a more grounded understanding of the poverty issues the world is dealing with today and make a tangible positive impact using the skills I have learned at W&L.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? Economic development has been the focus of my studies at W&L. One of the ways that can be applied in the real world to help people is through micro-finance and the development of socially minded enterprises. In my internship I have had opportunities to work with growing organizations and pursue possibilities in financing small businesses. Through hands on work I have developed a better understanding of the challenges and practicalities of such endeavors.

Post-Graduation Plans: I’ll be taking life as it comes.

Favorite W&L Memory: While in my second year at Washington and Lee I took a political philosophy class with five other students that met at 9:00 in the morning three times a week. Many of our classes were held at our professor’s house where he would provide us with breakfast foods, coffee, and tea. Sipping coffee and chatting with my classmates and professor on these mornings are the best memories I have at W&L.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Take risks and explore things that are unfamiliar to you. The things that have made the greatest impact on me at school were the ones I previously knew nothing about!

Toy Story: Psychology Professor Lends Her Voice to No-Gender December

‘Tis the season for giving gifts, and Megan Fulcher, associate professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University, appears on an Australian website promoting a no-gender December.

As the website notes: “Many toy retailers use gendered marketing which influences children and consumers alike, by sending strong messages about the appropriateness of their choices. Colour codes, labels and imagery all have a narrowing effect on our children’s perspectives.”

Fulcher, who teaches a class on gender role development, agreed to lend her voice in support for the public service announcement. In the video, alongside her students, she said, “Knowing a child’s gender tells you very little about their interests, abilities, wishes or aspirations.” She noted her favorite toy was a bike, and her students each reveal their favorite childhood toy.

The website, says Fulcher, is a clever idea because people are trying to figure out what to buy at this time of year. “This reminds people to not make a choice just based on gender. Historically, we’ve always seen toys just for boys or just for girls, but surprisingly, there’s been a real push to have more pink toys and more blue toys. Even though we’re encouraging girls to do more masculine activities, we are still color coding those toys pink.”

One example she points to: LEGO®. “People are interested in building girls’ skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). So LEGO® came out with pink sets. One of the things we’re finding is that the pink LEGO® sets are less complicated than the regular ones. They are not as hard to put together and don’t have as many pieces. You build it and then play with it, and the second part leads to very feminine play. Essentially the message is, you can do this as long as you do this in a particularly feminine way. It also gets parents to buy two of everything if they have also have a boy, so it is sort of a clever marketing ploy, too.”

Boys don’t often play with non-traditional male toys. “Parents are much less likely to give boys non-traditional toys than they are to give girls non-traditional toys,” Fulcher said. “What we do know is that when children play with kitchen sets and dolls, they build relationship skills. They also build language skills because they end up talking a lot while they are playing with someone else. If you’re playing cars or kicking a ball around outside, children aren’t interacting as much.”

Confused? Don’t be. While the phrase “gender-neutral toy” is a useful one, Fulcher said, “it doesn’t mean children should have only unpainted wooden blocks to play with. I think dolls are great toys. I think LEGOs® are great toys. I think cars are great toys. The point is that children learn different skills from all of those toys, and boys and girls should have access to all of them. When you’re deciding what toy to buy, don’t let gender be a deciding factor. Think about the children and what kind of skills they have and what kind of skills you want to help them build.”

Related //,

The Intersection Between Psychology and Environment Psychology major Maya Epelbaum worked as an intern at Henry's Fork Foundation in Ashton, Idaho.

“I wanted a summer internship that allowed me to research human impacts on the environment.”

epelbaum-maya-m-234x350 The Intersection Between Psychology and EnvironmentMaya Epelbaum

Maya Epelbaum ’16
Henry’s Fork Foundation
Ashton, Idaho

Hometown: Morristown, N.J.
Major: Psychology
Minor: Environmental Studies and Philosophy
Company Name: Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF)

Location: Ashton, Idaho
Organization Size: For the majority of my summer, I worked with a team of 4-8 people from two non-profits (Henry’s Fork Foundation and Friends of the Teton River) doing fieldwork. Each organization had about 10 employees.
Industry: Conservation research with an emphasis on “conserving, protecting, and restoring the Henry’s Fork watershed and its legendary wild trout.”
Position: Intern
Paid? Funded by the A. Paul Knight Scholarship

What attracted you to this internship? Curious about the intersection between psychology and environmental studies, I wanted a summer internship that allowed me to research human impacts on the environment.

How did you learn about it? The geology and environmental studies departments sent emails advertising the A. Paul Knight Scholarship. Additionally, I found it on Lexlink and the W&L website.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship? As president of Student Environmental Action League, Compost Crew leader, and an Outing Club Trip Leader, I have learned about how we interact with our environment, and want to improve these interactions. While the classes I took for my major and minors helped me understand the importance of this research, I believe my passion for the environment was my most important credential.

What were some tasks/projects you worked on? I spent the majority of my time analyzing how the trout population in the Teton watershed changes every five years. To do so, the team used an electro fisher, which temporarily stuns the fish so they are easier to catch and count. The goal of the study was to see if the native cutthroat trout are becoming endangered due to the invasive brook and rainbow trout.

Other projects included sampling and testing water quality, analyzing fish migratory patterns up and down the man-made fish ladder along a hydroelectric dam, and preparing for HFF’s annual fundraiser auction.

Did any courses and/or professors help you prepare for this internship? Environmental Ethics with my philosophy advisor Professor Cooper helped me realize that there is nothing straightforward about conserving the environment. He inspired me to find research opportunities to try and figure out more about what it means to treat the environment ethically.

What did you learn from your experience? I learned that conservation is not just keeping the ecosystems the way they are meant to be because there is no “way they are meant to be.” Rather, it is finding a balance among the competing needs of industries, ecosystems and anyone else impacted by the conservation efforts.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship? During the workweek I bushwhacked through the most glorious views in the Teton Mountains in the Wydaho (Wyoming and Idaho) area. I’d then go explore these same areas on weekends. That my work and recreation consisted of the same activities is the best perk a job could ever have.

What did you learn from city where the internship was located? The “city” of Ashton has three grain elevators, a few old-fashioned soda shops and fly-fishing stores. No chains, few people, and no nightlife. At first I craved civilization, but by the end of the summer, the people I met, places I saw, and nature I became a part of made me realize you do not need a city to have a great time.

What key takeaways/skills are you bringing back to W&L? This summer I pushed my limits — both mental and physical. I overcame my fears by bushwhacking through treacherous hills with a fifty-pound electro fisher on my back, and learned through experience.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this? Be open-minded and ready to stretch your mind and body to the fullest.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so? It opened up a field of careers outside the bounds of city offices.

Describe your experience in a single word. Eye-opening

Changing Perspectives: Laura Penney ’16 Changing Perspectives, Shephed Intern at House of Ruth, Baltimore, MD

“During my time at House of Ruth, I saw firsthand the positive impact the organization has on domestic violence victims.”

As a poverty minor at Washington and Lee, I like to think of myself as open-minded and well-informed about the needs and experiences of low-income individuals. In the past two years, I have engaged in countless discussions in and out of the classroom about all of the things poor persons are not. They are not selfish. They are not stupid. They are not lazy. I came into this summer believing that I knew just about everything there is to know about impoverished persons. It was not until I began my internship that I began to consider something to which I had previously given little thought: What the poor are. They are frustrated. They are rational. They are resilient. And, like any other human, they are imperfect, and they are doing the best they can given their circumstances.

This summer, I worked at the House of Ruth domestic violence legal clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. I spoke with dozens of victims of intimate partner violence, each with her own heart-breaking story. It was incredibly challenging to speak with these men and women about the trauma they had suffered at the hands of people they trusted, whether it be their partner, their spouse, or the parent of their children. From the woman who was sexually assaulted on a nearly daily basis by her husband, to the man whose ex-girlfriend stalked and threatened to kill him, I learned from each of the clients I spoke with. They reacted to their circumstances with varying degrees of shock, embarrassment, fear and anger, but what stood out most was their bravery and their determination to break away from dangerously unhealthy relationships. Every day, I went home from work completely exhausted and usually preoccupied with worry for the clients who seemed to be in particular danger. Given the high level of stress that working with domestic violence victims induced in me, I can only imagine what they must feel. After all, for me this was merely an eight-week educational experience; for them, it is an unrelenting reality.

As the weeks went on, I began to realize that domestic violence and poverty are deeply intertwined. Both operate in cycles that are difficult to escape; the majority of people born into poverty in the United States remain poor as adults, and individuals who grow up exposed to domestic violence have an elevated risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. Furthermore, domestic violence and poverty often coexist and exacerbate each other. Imagine, for example, a man who works long hours at a dangerous construction job that barely pays enough to cover rent for his family’s moldy two-bedroom apartment, while his wife stays home with their four children. The man returns from a stressful day at work to find that his wife has not prepared dinner. She attempts to explain that she has not had time to cook because she has been caring for their sick son, but her husband does not hear her over the sound of his own yelling. After telling the children to leave the kitchen, the man begins beating his wife. For what seems like the thousandth time, the woman contemplates leaving him, but although she fears her husband, she also fears what would happen to her and her children without him. Where would they go? How could they afford to get by? She has little education and no work experience, and even if she did find a job, she would have to pay somebody to watch the children. Furthermore, what if her husband came after her? Reluctantly, she decides to stay, desperately hoping her husband will change. The woman’s seemingly irrational choice may be the most practical for the immediate well-being of herself and her children.

Breaking away from domestic violence is far from simple. Success is never guaranteed, there is rarely a single-step way out, and the consequences for attempting to move forward may be severe. This is why House of Ruth, along with other programs that assist victims of domestic violence in protecting and supporting themselves and their families, are so essential. If the woman in this story never leaves her abusive husband, she will never provide for herself, and her children will never see an example of a healthy relationship, which will hinder them academically, socially and emotionally. Although domestic violence is not unique to the poor, it is one of many serious problems that must be mitigated before we can hope to effectively diminish poverty.

During my time at House of Ruth, I saw first-hand the positive impact the organization has on domestic violence victims. For many victims of domestic violence, taking legal action is the first step toward moving on, and the attorneys and legal advocates at House of Ruth thoroughly explain the legal process to clients and make sure they know what to expect in court. They also inform clients about options of which they may not be aware, such as Emergency Family Maintenance, a type of financial assistance that can be required as part of a protective order. Additionally, the staff refers clients to other organizations such as counseling, address-confidentiality services, and child support that assist with emotional and financial recovery from domestic violence. Perhaps most important, the staff at House of Ruth listens to clients without judgment and makes them feel validated. By supporting clients throughout the legal process, House of Ruth empowers them to help themselves, and I believe it would serve as a great model for the formation of similar organizations.

Hometown: Durham, N.C.

Majors: Psychology and Spanish

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Active Minds secretary
  • SPEAK executive committee
  • University Singers
  • JubiLee a capella group
  • Pi Beta Phi
  • ESOL volunteer
  • Project Horizon volunteer

Off-Campus Experiences: Studied abroad in Cádiz, Spain last spring term

Why did you apply for this particular internship? I am very passionate about domestic violence and wanted an internship that would help me alleviate this issue.

How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? My work applied most directly to my poverty coursework. Although intimate partner violence is not a class-based problem, poverty and intimate partner violence often coexist and can contribute to each other.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience? I was surprised by how quickly I bonded with all of the House of Ruth legal staff. It was an office full of intelligent and compassionate women, and I learned a great deal from each of them.

Post-Graduation Plans: Law school

What professor has inspired you? Professor Mayock, my Spanish advisor, has been an enormous source of support and inspiration for me. She is always available to answer questions or chat about my plans.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Explore your options! I highly recommend taking a variety of classes and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities your first year, even if you think you already know what path you’re interested in. You may end up changing your plans completely or discovering a new passion.

W&L's Strong on Donald Trump and Ross Perot in the Roanoke Times

The following opinion piece by Robert Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee, appeared in the Dec. 14, 2015, edition of the Roanoke Times and is reprinted here by permission.

Trump, Perot and easing political paralysis

by Robert A. Strong

Will Rogers, the cowboy comedian, used to say, “I’m not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” If you change the party in the punch line, that joke works just as well as it did in the 1930s.

Republicans in the current presidential primary process don’t appear to be an organized political party. Instead, they are providing a playground for wildly irregular candidates, Donald Trump first and foremost among them.

There is nothing new about unusual candidates in a presidential race. Often individuals with no prior elected political experience show up on a debate stage or a primary ballot; think Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, or Herman Cain.

These candidates sometimes do well in polls or in particular state contests. At other times they justify their campaigns as efforts to give voice to some group or set of ideas within the party.

What is different in this election cycle is the long period of time in which an irregular candidate has dominated public attention, and done so even after making outrageous policy proposals about immigration and practitioners of the Islamic faith. That rarely occurs. Why is it happening this time around?

Perhaps we can learn something from the only recent example of a highly successful irregular presidential candidate.

In 1992, Ross Perot, the Texas businessman, did not run in any primaries, but he was a frequent guest on the TV program hosted by Larry King and converted his television popularity into a third party candidacy. He won nearly 20 percent of the national vote — a remarkable accomplishment.

Was 1992 anything like 2016? In both years there was a rising national debt, regular annual deficits, and a sense that politicians were not addressing the problems facing the nation. In both periods there were controversial trade agreements and divided government that produced deadlock.

In 1992, George H.W. Bush was in trouble for compromising with Congress on taxes. When Bush abandoned his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, he damaged his public standing more than he, or political observers at the time, realized.

On the Democratic side of the contest, the winner in the 1992 primary season was another damaged candidate. Bill Clinton faced accusations about his marital infidelity, draft status and use of marijuana.

The nation had a choice between the guy who didn’t keep his word on taxes and the guy who said he didn’t inhale. That left an opening for a plain spoken candidate with nativist rhetoric, business success and a few charts showing everything you needed to know about how to make Washington work.

The Perot phenomenon befuddled Washington elites. Commentators could not imagine that voters would take the Texas software salesman seriously. But they did.

Will 2016 be another 1992? Today we clearly have debt and divided government. And there is an added dimension of division in the current era because the Republican caucus on Capitol Hill is itself divided.

Lots of important issues are in some stage of stalemate: immigration, entitlements, infrastructure, taxes and our response to ISIS. And a few issues that have no business on the national agenda (like willfully destroying the good faith and credit of the United States) are occasionally given serious attention.

In the early stages of this campaign season, the most talked about contenders had the same surnames as the candidates in 1992 and looked like they were going to deliver politics as usual. Is it really surprising that some voters have gone fishing for new candidates in waters far from the mainstream?

We should probably not push the 1992/2016 comparison too far. But it is worth noting that the strange three-way election in ‘92 ushered in a period that included some serious policy accomplishments. Washington, in the eight years that followed, actually did something about taxes, budgets and deficits; reformed welfare; passed crime legislation; brokered peace in Bosnia; reduced poverty and income disparity; and, as a bonus, gave us a soap opera sex scandal.

Maybe periods when voters turn to unconventional candidates in large numbers are also periods when regular politicians begin to pay attention to widespread voter dissatisfaction. And maybe that sets in motion actions that make our political system work better — at least for a while.

Could Trump scare the establishment in both political parties enough to get them to do things that make inexperienced outsiders less likely to prevail?


Former W&L President Robert E.R. Huntley dies at 68

“We have lost one of W&L’s most important and beloved figures.”

huntley-lj-350x346 Former W&L President Robert E.R. Huntley dies at 68Robert E.R. Huntley

Robert Edward Royall Huntley, president of Washington and Lee University from 1968 to 1983, died on Dec. 10, 2015, in Lexington. He was 86.

He held two degrees from W&L, a B.A. (1950) and an L.L.B. (1957). Huntley also served the university as the dean of its Law School from 1967 to 1968; as a professor of law from 1958 to 1968; and as the secretary of the Board of Trustees and legal advisor to the university from 1966 to 1968.

“We have lost one of W&L’s most important and beloved figures,” said President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “President Huntley made innumerable and invaluable contributions as a student, as an alumnus, as a member of the faculty and administration, and as the president. He personified our highest values of civility and integrity, and was able to articulate and explain those values with eloquence and force. He was indeed a Washington and Lee legendary figure.”

Huntley was born on June 13, 1929, in Winston-Salem, N.C., to Benjamin F. and Elizabeth Royall Huntley. He was educated in the public schools of that city and graduated from Reynolds High School.

Huntley and his brother, Benjamin, decided to attend W&L partly because of their family’s friendship with Francis Pendleton Gaines, president of W&L from 1930 to 1959. Gaines had been the president of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem; Huntley’s great-grandfather served as chair of English and Latin at Wake Forest, and his maternal grandfather was an alumnus and trustee there for more than 50 years.

At W&L, Huntley majored in English as an undergraduate, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude. He won election as vice president of the student body and received the Washington Literary Society Award for the most distinguished service to the university of any graduating student. As a law student, he served as editor in chief of the Washington and Lee Law Review. He belonged to the Order of the Coif, the legal honorary society; Omicron Delta Kappa, the honorary leadership fraternity; Phi Delta Phi, the legal fraternity; and Delta Tau Delta social fraternity. He also earned an LL.M. from Harvard University in 1962.

As an undergraduate, “I had a wonderful four years, made lots of friends whom I’ve still got, and I managed to learn something in the process, despite an indifferent approach to academia,” Huntley said in “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee: The University at 250 Years.” “I had some great teachers who eventually managed to stimulate even an intellect as dull as mine.”

From 1950 to 1953, Huntley served in the U.S. Navy, enlisting as a seaman apprentice. He attended boot camp and electronics school in Great Lakes, Illinois, and the U.S. Naval Reserve Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He served as ensign and lieutenant j.g. aboard a destroyer in the Atlantic.

He married Evelyn Whitehurst, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Aug. 14, 1954. They had three daughters, Martha, Catherine and Jane.

Before returning to W&L to teach, Huntley practiced law with Boothe, Dudley, Koontz and Boothe, in Alexandria, Va., from 1957 to 1958.

As a law professor at W&L, “Bob Huntley was probably the smartest teacher I ever had,” said Ike Smith ’57, ’60L in “Come Cheer.” “He was the most naturally intelligent man I ever knew. He’d bring out the best in you and explain the law and the reasoning behind the law as well as any man I ever listened to.”

The 20th president of W&L, Huntley was the first and only alumnus to be inaugurated as president in the 20th century. When he was named president on Jan. 3, 1968, he was 38 years old and had only recently taken the dean’s post at the Law School. “My daughter says I was dean for a day,” Huntley said in “Come Cheer.” He took office on Feb. 5, succeeding acting president William W. Pusey III, and was inaugurated on Oct. 18 that year.

While he was president, Huntley officiated over changes to the curriculum: the 1968 elimination of Saturday classes; the 1969 revision to degree requirements, the first major change since 1937; and, in 1970, the first revision to the calendar in almost 50 years, when the faculty established two 12-week terms and a six-week spring term. The undergraduate population jumped by 20 percent, and the curriculum grew to more than 450 courses.

He also oversaw the changing composition of the student body. The first African-American graduated from the Law School in 1969, and three years later, the first two African-Americans followed on the undergraduate side. In 1970, W&L began an exchange program with the neighboring women’s colleges, and in 1972, the first women enrolled in the Law School.

Huntley presided over the university during the 1970 student protests against the Vietnam War that became known as Eight Days in May. In a less intellectual event — the short-lived streaking fad of 1974 — 40 students challenged the faculty and staff to a streak-off; Huntley said he appreciated the invitation but would decline.

The appearance of campus changed as well during Huntley’s time. In 1977, Sydney Lewis Hall replaced Tucker Hall as the home of the Law School. That same year, the addition of Warner Center enlarged Doremus Gymnasium. In 1979, Leyburn Library opened, and the former library, McCormick, became headquarters of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. Huntley also shepherded renovation and construction of residence halls. The Davidson Park apartments came down and the Reeves Center opened.

During Huntley’s tenure, W&L established the Office of University Development and undertook its first substantial capital campaign, which raised $67 million. During the 1970s campaign, he became embroiled in what is light-heartedly called “The Huntley Caper.” An alumnus gave him a $10,000 check during a reception at the Lee House. When, a few weeks later, the donor asked why his check hadn’t cleared the bank, the development staff searched everywhere but could not find the check. The donor graciously replaced it. Three months later, Evelyn Huntley found the missing check — in her husband’s sock drawer.

Huntley announced his resignation in February 1982, at the end of the capital campaign. “Quite simply, I feel I have been in the job long enough,” he said. “It is better for a new person to lead the institution into the next cycle of its life.”

When he told the faculty the news, there had just been a power outage on campus. “The announcement I am making here and this afternoon’s power failure on the front campus are purely coincidental,” he joked.

Rector James M. Ballengee ’48L called him “the most outstanding president of Washington and Lee since Robert E. Lee.” The student newspaper, the Ring-Tum Phi, wrote that “he was able to handle both the academic and financial crises of this school with precision” and “never lost sight of the value of the liberal arts education.” The Lexington News-Gazette thought he had presided over the university “with brilliance, with humor and with a refreshing lack of pomposity.”

Huntley expressed his thoughts about education in his 1981 Commencement address. “Education gives us power, a kind of power we can get in no other way: power over ourselves,” he said.

After retiring from Washington and Lee, he worked as president and chief operating officer (1984–1987) and chairman of the board and chief executive officer (1987–1988) of Best Products Inc., in Richmond, until it was bought out. He then worked as counsel to the Richmond law firm of Hunton & Williams from 1988 to 1995. The following year, he and Evelyn moved back to Lexington. Since 2010, Huntley had served as honorary chair of the just-concluded W&L capital campaign, Honor Our Past, Build Our Future.

Huntley held directorships of several corporate boards: Centel Corp. (1975–1993); Sprint Corp. (1993–1998); 360 Communications Inc. (1996–1998); Altria Group Inc., formerly Philip Morris Companies Inc., presiding director (1976–2011; Best Products Co. Inc. (1972–1988); Piedmont Airlines (1982–1987); and Shenandoah Life Insurance Co. (1975–1984).

In his public and civil service, Huntley was a member of the Virginia State Board of Education (1970–1974); a staff director and consultant of the Governor’s Task Force on Science and Technology (1983–1984); a member of the Governor’s Committee on the Future of Virginia (1983–1984); the vice chairman of the Governor’s Policy Advisory Commission on High Technology (1984–1985); and the chairman of the Curriculum Study Committee for the Richmond Renaissance Public School Project (1992).

He also served charitable and nonprofit organizations: board of trustees, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (1981–1990) and chairman (1983–1988); board of trustees, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (1968–1995), president (1974–1976) and chairman (1982–1983); board of trustees, Virginia Historical Society (1985–1992) and treasurer (1988–1992); board of trustees, George C. Marshall Foundation (1968–1988); president, Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (1977–1979); and president, Southern University Conference (1981–1982).

Huntley belonged to the American Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar. He served as an elder of the Lexington Presbyterian Church.

Huntley received honorary degrees from Randolph-Macon College, Wake Forest University, College of Charleston, Bridgewater College and, in 1984, from Washington and Lee.

In 1981, he received the W&L Lynchburg Alumni Chapter’s Lynchburg Citation for “absolute commitment to Alma Mater and the quality of his leadership in advancing her to a firm stance of unprecedented strength.” The student newspaper, the Ring-Tum Phi, gave him its award for outstanding service and dedication to W&L in 1982. On Oct. 2, 2004, the university honored him by re-naming the building that houses the Williams School as Huntley Hall.

Huntley is survived by his three daughters and three sons-in-law, Martha and Dyer Rodes of Nashville, Tenn.; Catherine (Katie) and James McConnel of Mount Crawford, Va.; and Jane and John Duncan of Staunton, Va.; by six grandchildren, Huntley Elizabeth Rodes (a 2007 graduate of W&L), Sarah Catherine Rodes (a 2011 graduate), Jordan Elizabeth McConnel (a 2010 graduate), Robert Huntley McConnel, William Colin Whitmore and Cole Huntley Whitmore. He was uncle to Robert Huntley ’75. His brother was the late Dr. Benjamin F. Huntley III ’46. His wife, Evelyn Huntley, died in 2010.

When looking back on his life and career, Huntley often said he had never sought the leadership roles he held during his life, but made each decision as it came along. Despite the legacy of leadership he leaves at W&L and beyond, he considered his greatest legacy to be that of the close-knit family he and Evelyn created together. Their three daughters, sons-in-law and particularly their six grandchildren reflect their dedication to that family.

After a family graveside service, a memorial service will be held at Lee Chapel on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 11 a.m. A reception at Kendal of Lexington’s Sunnyside House will follow the service (160 Kendal Drive, Lexington).

Jorge Estrada, Trustee Emeritus and Alumnus of Washington and Lee University, Dies at 68

Jorge Eliecer Estrada, a 1969 graduate and trustee emeritus of Washington and Lee University, died on Dec. 10, 2015, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was 68. He was the president of Petrolera del Comahue, an oil company, and was a film producer, serving as president and chief executive officer of JEMPSA Media & Entertainment. In addition, he oversaw companies in industries ranging from agriculture and cattle production to tourism and wine.

In addition to his wife, Ana Maria “Nancy” O’Toole Estrada, Estrada is survived by their five children, four of whom are W&L alumni and one of whom is a current W&L student: Ana Maria “Annie” Estrada Postma ’04 (and her husband, Will Postma ’02), Maria Carolina “Carol” Estrada ’05, Juan Ignacio Estrada ’06, Estefania Helena “Estefi” Estrada ’13 and Jorge Javier Estrada ’16. He also is survived by four grandchildren.

Estrada joined the W&L Board of Trustees in 2003 and served until 2012, traveling from his home in Buenos Aires to Lexington for all 27 meetings of the board during his tenure. He also served a term on the university’s Williams School Advisory Board and as an alumnus-in-residence to advise students interested in careers in international business. Estrada also had been responsible for the recruitment of several dozen Argentinian students to W&L.

He received W&L’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999 in recognition of his many contributions to the university.

A generous supporter of his alma mater, Estrada was always grateful for the moral and financial support that contributed to his success as an international student at W&L and in his career. The Estrada family’s philanthropy to Washington and Lee includes leadership gifts supporting the Annual Fund, the construction of Wilson Hall (an arts center), renovations to Robinson Hall (part of the historic Colonnade), and the construction of the Center for Global Learning.

Estrada was born on Aug. 15, 1947, in Medellin, Colombia. He came to Washington and Lee through the International Student Exchange Program, graduating in 1969 with a B.S. in geophysics. (In 2004, 35 years after his graduation, he met the late Isadore M. Scott, a 1937 W&L alumnus and trustee emeritus who had funded the scholarship that allowed Estrada to attend.) He then did graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before returning to South America to pursue a career in oil and gas exploration from his adopted home base in Argentina.

Estrada also was the founding shareholder and director of Vantage Drilling Co., Houston; an investor and member of the board of advisors of DLJ South American Partners, a private equity firm; the director of Santillana, the largest Spanish-language textbook publisher; and president of Nostalgie Inc. and Velvet Symphony. He also was a senior advisor and investor in the private equity firm Victoria Capital.

In 2012, the government of the Republic of Singapore, with the provisional accreditation of the government of the Argentine Republic, appointed Estrada as Singapore’s Honorary Consul-General in Buenos Aires, with jurisdiction over Argentina.

He had served as vice president and president of the Lincoln American School of Buenos Aires and had been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative since 2005. Estrada belonged to the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to Fundación Vida Sin Violencia, which helps families affected by domestic violence.

A service will be held on Dec. 11, from 12 to 10 p.m., at Casa O’Higgins funeral home in Buenos Aires.


A Reminder for Civil Discourse

Bill Brock, a 1953 graduate of Washington and Lee University and chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1977 to 1981, published an op-ed in the Friday, Dec. 11, edition of the Washington Post.

He begins, “It is time for Republicans to ask ourselves a question: Are we so obsessed with the damage we believe Barack Obama and the American left are doing to the values we hold dear that we would ignore the serious threat posed by the candidacy of Donald Trump — or is there something even more dangerous going on?”

Bill, who served in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from 1963 to 1977 representing Tennessee, continues, “A truly free society, one that gives its citizens the responsibility of participation, can function only to the extent there is civil discourse. We can engage in a mutual search for solutions only to the extent that we agree a problem exists. That can never happen unless we talk to each other, listen to each other and respect the fact that honorable people can reach different conclusions. When that sense of comity is missing, we are at risk.”