Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L's Rush Discusses Primary Results on WRVA

Mark Rush, Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of international education at Washington and Lee, will discuss Tuesday’s Virginia presidential primary results on The Jimmy Barrett Morning Show on Wednesday, March 3, at 6:35 a.m. You can listen to the broadcast online.

The Jimmy Barrett Morning Show airs on Newsradio 1140 WRVA Monday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in Richmond, Virginia. The program is archived on the WRVA website.

Washington and Lee Announces New Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Jessica L. Willett has been named executive director of communications and public affairs at Washington and Lee University.

Dennis Cross, vice president for advancement at W&L, announced the appointment of Willett, who had served as assistant director of communications and public affairs since 2012.

“I am delighted that the university will have Jessica’s leadership and talents in this key position,” said Cross. “Throughout her tenure in communications, Jessica has demonstrated that she manages well with creativity and vision. She has been instrumental in developing our electronic communications strategy and is a proven partner with all areas of the campus community.”

Willett is a 1995 honors graduate of Washington and Lee where she majored in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

She began her career at Random House, Inc. (now PenguinRandomHouse), in New York, where she held a number of positions with the international publishing house, eventually moving into the organization’s new media ventures. She was manager of promotion and new media for Vintage/Anchor Books from 1998-2000 before being named director of new media and online marketing for the Knopf Publishing Group. She returned to her alma mater as a web writer and editor in 2002, later serving as web editor and the director of web communications.

Throughout her tenure at W&L, Willett has been instrumental in creating the university’s online presence. She has overseen two comprehensive website redesigns, implemented a University-wide web content management system and created the University’s award-winning student social media team, wluLex.

In her latest position as assistant director of communications and public affairs, she managed a team of technical and communications professionals responsible for content strategy, information architecture, website design, user support and training, social media and multimedia for the university’s websites.

Willett serves on numerous university committees and has also been active in the College Communicators Association of Virginia and the District of Columbia.

In her new role as executive director of communications and public affairs, Willett will oversee an office that comprises digital communications, news and media relations, publications and graphic design, alumni magazines, photography, videography, sports information and WLUR radio station.


Gone Fishing

One of Chattanooga’s biggest tourist attractions, the Tennessee Aquarium, has tapped businessman and 1980 Washington and Lee University graduate Keith Sanford as the institution’s fourth president and CEO.

“I’m excited,” said Keith in an interview with the Times Free Press. “It’s a way for me to give back to the community that’s been so good for me.”

Keith, an executive vice president at First Tennessee Bank, has been active in his community, serving as the chairman of the 2015 United Way Campaign and as director of the Tivoli Foundation, which aims to restore the iconic downtown Tivoli Theatre.

He noted that one of his first goals will be to raise money for the Tennessee Aquarium Freshwater Conservation Institute, a $4.5 million structure under construction on the Baylor School campus that will raise fish, including lake sturgeon and brook trout, for release into the wild.

“The aquarium, other than capital needs, is fairly self-sufficient,” said Keith. “But the conservation institute is going to need community support.”


W&L to Show the Documentary “Who Owns Water”

Washington and Lee University will have a screening of the award-winning documentary “Who Owns Water” on March 8 at 7 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

The film is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker David Hanson, Washington and Lee Class of 2000.

“Who Owns Water” is a 50-minute film telling the story of a water crisis in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Hanson paddled from the source of the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola Rivers to the sea.

Florida is suing Georgia in an interstate water battle concerning the rivers in the film. Interstate lawsuits require that the U.S. Supreme Court appoint a special master to consider the various arguments and offer some form of advice.

“The water wars date back over two decades,” Hanson said. “It’s a well-rounded, liberal-arts dilemma, involving politics, law, hydrology, biology, agriculture, city planning, recreation and the full spectrum of free-market industry from giant energy corporations to family-owned oyster businesses.”

The showing is sponsored by University Lectures, the Geology Department and the Outing Club. See the film’s trailer at www.whoownswater.org.

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Professor Jurgen Brauer of Georgia Regents University to Speak on Economic Aspects of Genocides at W&L on March 4

Jurgen Brauer, professor of economics in the James M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University, will lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 4 at 3:45 p.m. in Huntley Hall 221. This event is hosted jointly by the W&L/VMI Economics Seminar Series and the Transnational Law Institute.

Brauer will speak on “Economic Aspects of Genocides, Other Mass Atrocities, and Their Prevention.” His lecture is free and open to the public.

The ongoing scourge of genocide has received widespread attention from scholars—thus far with the curious exception of economists. What can economists usefully contribute to the study of genocides, other mass atrocities and their prevention?

Brauer will focus on concepts, measurements, theoretical and empirical results, and provide examples of practical implications and applications of the research that policymakers might wish to consider.

He has consulted for the World Bank, the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S. National Defense University, and for the chief economist for the Office of the Comptroller in New York City. He is a former Peace fellow of the United States Institute of Peace.

Journalist David Hanson to Speak on Developing Healthy Food Movement in Low-income Communities

Journalist David Hanson will give a talk on “Breaking through Concrete: Next-level Grassroots Initiatives Developing a Healthy Food Movement in Low-income Communities” at Washington and Lee University on March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Hillel House, room 101.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by University Lectures, the Geology Department, Campus Kitchen at W&L and Nabors Service League.

Hanson, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 2000, will relate stories of urban farming from his book of the same name. He will report on the people and communities he met while covering the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Food Grant recipients.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced a year ago the availability of $9 million in funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and independent food systems.

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Leyburn Library’s Author Talk Series features Chris Gavaler and Lesley Wheeler

Chris Gavaler, assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University, and Lesley Wheeler, the Henry S. Fox Professor of English at W&L, will discuss their latest books on March 15 at 5 p.m. in the Book Nook in Washington and Lee University’s Leyburn Library.

The event is part of the University Library’s Author Talk Series and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

Gavaler’s latest book is “On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics No. 1” (2015) and Wheeler’s most recent book of poems is “Radioland” (2015).

Gavaler is the author of “School for Tricksters” (2011) and “Pretend I’m Not Here” (2002). He has written 17 academic publications including book chapters and scholarly articles, and 44 literary publications including short stories and creative non-fiction. He has also written for stage and film.

Gavaler has won numerous awards and honors including Outstanding Playwright Award from the Pittsburgh New Works Festival in 2015, 2009, 2008 and 2007; Best American Short Stories of 2009; and four nominations for a Pushcart Prize.

In addition to “Radioland,” Wheeler has written six books of poetry and two scholarly books, including “The Receptionist and Other Tales” (2012); “Heterotopia” (2012); and “Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920s to the Present” (2008). She’s the author of 27 essays and book chapters and 110 published poems.

Wheeler has won numerous awards and honors for her work. In 2012, she also won an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.

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Human Rights in Africa Film Series Continues at Washington and Lee

“Yesterday,” an Oscar-nominated movie about HIV/AIDS in the Zulu community, and “Call Me Kuchu,” a film by Malika Zouhali-Wollall and Katherine Fairfax Wright, are the next two films to be shown at Washington and Lee University. Both will be shown at 6:30 p.m. in Elrod Commons’ Stackhouse Theater.

“Yesterday” will be shown on March 1 and “Call Me Kuchu” on March 16.

The movies are being presented by W&L’s Center for International Education, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is the third in a series of African films as part of the university’s 2015-2016 Seminar on Human Rights in Africa.

Admission is free and open to the public. A 30-minute discussion will follow the screening. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

“Yesterday” is a 2004 South African film written and directed by Darrell Roodt that explores cultural and social reactions to HIV/AIDS and divided between rural and urban environments. It is the first full-length, commercial film completely in Zulu (unrated, 96 minutes).

“Call Me Kuchu,” a documentary focusing on the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda, follows the life of late activist David Kato. Also a 2004 film, it explores the international discourses on gender, nationalism and sexuality that converge in contemporary Uganda (unrated, 87 minutes).

Pittsburgh Professor to Speak on The Indecisive Murmur of Color

Mazviita Chirimuuta, assistant professor in history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 4 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Chirimuuta will speak on “The Indecisive Murmur of Color.” The talk is free and open to the public. The lecture is sponsored by the Philosophy Department.

“In my book, ‘Outside Color,’ I defend the idea that colors are not properties of either the objects we see, or of our inner mental states, but instead properties of the perceptual interaction between the seeing subject and the object viewed,” Chirimuuta said. “This proposal invites the objection that colors appear to be stable, intrinsic features of things around us and thus cannot be properties of an inherently changeable activity.

“In this lecture I will discuss how the apparent constancy of color can be understood according to my interactionist views. In particular, I will review some relevant findings from the psychology of color vision and relate them to a longstanding puzzle concerning our experience of perceptual constancies.”

As well as “Outside Color: Perceptual Science and the Puzzle of Color in Philosophy” (2015), Chirimuuta has written or co-written 10 articles, including “Psychophysical Methods and the Evasion of Introspection” (2014), in Philosophy of Science; “Extending, Changing and Explaining the Brain” (2013), in Biology and Philosophy; and “Magnitude of Perceived Change in Natural Images May be Linearly Proportional to Difference in Neuronal Fining Rate” (2010), in Seeing and Perceiving.

She is also on the adjunct faculty of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and the secondary faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Sidney M. B. Coulling III, S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English Emeritus, Dies at 92

Sidney Mathias Baxter Coulling III, the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English Emeritus at Washington and Lee University, died on Feb. 22, 2016, at Kendal at Lexington. He had celebrated his 92nd birthday earlier this month. He taught for 35 years at his alma mater, from 1956 to 1991.

“When I think of Sid Coulling, I remember that he was called ‘the heart and soul’ of W&L by our former president John Wilson,” said President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “That is the perfect description. And Sid was one of the finest teachers who ever graced a classroom at Washington and Lee.”

Sidney Coulling was born on Feb. 13, 1924, in Bluefield, West Virginia, and grew up in Tazewell, Virginia. He earned a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University (1946) and an M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. in English (1957) from the University of North Carolina. As an undergraduate, he belonged to the Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946.

A scholar of Victorian literature and of British poet Matthew Arnold, he taught at Florida State University (1949–1952) and the University of Maryland (1955–1956) before returning to his alma mater in 1956.

Coulling was named the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English in 1983, and chair of the English Department the same year; he served as chair for three years.

He wrote a book, “Matthew Arnold and His Critics: A Study of Arnold’s Controversies” (1974), and many articles, mostly about Arnold, which he published in such journals as The Review of English Studies, Studies in Philology, Victorian Studies, Studies in English Literature and The British Studies Monitor. He also contributed many book reviews to the Roanoke Times.

He belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, the academic honor society; the Modern Language Association of America; and the National Council of English Teachers.

At W&L, Coulling coordinated a five-year program, partly funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library Resources, to increase the familiarity of students and faculty with the resources of the university’s library. He also served as president of the university’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter (presiding over its 60th anniversary, in 1971), as chairman of the board of Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, on the executive committee of the faculty, and on the president’s advisory committee.

For his contributions to W&L, Coulling received several honors. In 1972, the student newspaper gave him the Ring-tum Phi Award for service to students. In 1982, he was elected to honorary membership in Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society founded at W&L. And 1986, he received the Dr. William Webb Pusey III Award from the Executive Committee of the Student Body as a member of the faculty or administration who has made the greatest contribution to W&L. In 1989, Coulling received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.

In another recognition of Coulling’s influence, in 1986 William C. Porth, the parent of a W&L student, established the Sidney M. B. Coulling Prize in English. It is given annually to a first-year student or sophomore for the best essay on a literary topic.

And in 1993, the Sidney M. B. Coulling Scholarship Endowment was established by the estate of Mary Esther Streng. The student recipients demonstrate the greatest promise for academic achievement, and manifest in their personal lives the sense of honor and integrity that Coulling conveyed both in and out of the classroom.

Coulling contributed to the Lexington community as well, with service on the board of directors of Stonewall Jackson Hospital from 1969 to 1974, including a year as the board president. He also belonged to the Fortnightly Club and was a longtime member of the Lexington Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon and an elder.

In 1977, Coulling spoke to the W&L Richmond alumni chapter about the importance of professors’ pursuing their own research interests. “I think it’s good for me to be on leave, and good for my students; they’re never the last to get the point. Seeing me go daily to my office, not to prepare for classes but to engage in my harmless and esoteric study, they gain a new sense of Washington and Lee’s commitment to the pursuit of knowledge.”

In 2010, he again demonstrated that commitment when he gave the opening address at Alumni Weekend, “W&L’s Legacy of the Past.” The Class of 1960, which celebrated its 50th reunion that year, had invited their former professor to speak; the class and Coulling had both begun their careers at W&L in 1956. At age 86, he gave a witty and eloquent speech — from memory, without notes.

Upon his 1991 retirement, his English Department colleagues Ed Craun and Dabney Stuart wrote: “There used to be a podium standing in Payne 21 on which the following graffito had been scrawled: ‘Sidney Coulling taught God the English language.’ Hyperbolic no doubt, like so many undergraduate utterances, the quotation captured well both Sid’s deep commitment to literature and language and the even deeper admiration in which three decades of students have held him. And still his reputation reached well beyond the confines of this campus. While he will deny it, his is a voice which is listened to with respect by Victorian scholars all across the land.”

His uncle, Sidney M. B. Coulling Jr., graduated from the W&L Law School in 1916; his brother, the late Louis Roberdeau Coulling, was a member of the W&L Classes of 1943 and 1949 Law.

Coulling is survived by his wife of nearly 58 years, Mary Greenwood Price Coulling, whom he married on June 23, 1958; their children, Margaret Coulling Miller (and her husband, Brock), Anne Baxter Coulling (and her husband, Dr. Timothy McMahon, a member of W&L’s Class of 1987) and Philip Coulling (and his wife, Sandra Hayslette); and six grandchildren, Nathaniel Tracey-Miller, Rebecca Miller, Elizabeth Miller, William McMahon, Mary Catherine McMahon and Maria Celeste Hayslette.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions go to Washington and Lee University, Lexington Presbyterian Church or the Fellowship Fund of Kendal at Lexington.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 5, at 2 p.m. at Lexington Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow in Kendal Hall at Kendal at Lexington.

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