Feature Stories Campus Events

W&L's Colón Quoted in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Firing of Wendy Bell

Aly Colón, the Knight Professor in Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee, was quoted in a March 30 Pittsburgh News-Gazette article about the termination of award-winning television journalist Wendy Bell after controversial comments she made about a news story on her Facebook page. Colón noted that since viewers depend on reporters for fair and accurate information, Bell should not have stated opinion as fact regarding an ongoing news story.

You can read the full article online.

W&L’s Community Grants Committee Will Evaluate Proposals in May

Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee would like to remind the community of its Spring 2016 proposal evaluation schedule. Community Grants Proposals may be submitted at any time but are reviewed semiannually: at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the Spring 2016 evaluation is 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 15, 2016.

Established in the spring of 2008, the purpose of the program is to support non-profit organizations in the Lexington/Rockbridge community. The program began its first full year on July 1, 2008, coinciding with the start of the University’s fiscal year. The University will award a total of $50,000 during the program’s 2015-16 cycle.

During the first round of the 2015-16 evaluations held in November, 2015, 23 organizations submitted proposals for a total of almost $81,000 in requests. The University made $25,243 in grants to 15 of those organizations. Those organizations were:

  • Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center
  • Buena Vista Arts Council
  • Coffeehouse of Rockbridge Inc.
  • Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
  • Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center
  • The Lexington Woman’s Club
  • Maury River Middle School Agriculture
  • Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry, Inc.
  • Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc.
  • Rockbridge Area Relief Association
  • Rockbridge Area Transportation System, Inc.
  • Rockbridge County SPCA
  • Roots & Shoots Intergenerational Garden
  • Rockbridge Area YMCA
  • Rockbridge Regional Library, Youth Literacy

Interested parties may access the Community Grants Committee website and download a copy of the proposal guidelines at the following address:

http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.

Please call 540-458-8417 with questions. Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (word or pdf) via email to kbrinkley@wlu.edu. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to 540-458-8745 or mailed to:

Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee
Attn: James D. Farrar Jr.
Secretary of the University
Chair, Community Grants Committee
204 W. Washington Street
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA 24450


DePaul Law Professor Susan Bandes to Lecture on Empathy and the Rule of Law

Next week, Susan Bandes, Centennial Distinguished Professor of Law at DePaul, will deliver a lecture at W&L Law titled “Empathy, Compassion and the Rule of Law.” The talk is a companion lecture to the University’s year-long interdisciplinary seminar series “Questioning Passion.”

The lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5 at 5:00 pm in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

Bandes is widely known as a scholar in the areas of federal jurisdiction, criminal procedure and civil rights, and more recently, as a pioneer in the emerging study of the role of emotion in law. She edited the leading text on the topic, “The Passions of Law.” Her pro bono work has focused on criminal justice reform, with a particular focus on the death penalty.

Her legal career began in 1976 at the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender. In 1980, she became staff counsel for the Illinois A.C.L.U., where she litigated a broad spectrum of civil rights cases, and helped draft and secure passage of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. She joined the DePaul faculty in 1984, and was named a distinguished research professor in 2003. She has received numerous awards from both the law school and the university for her teaching, scholarship and service.

Bandes presents her work frequently at academic symposia and workshops, as well as to non-academic legal groups such as the American Constitution Society. Her recent pro bono activities include acting as co-reporter for the Constitution Projects bipartisan Death Penalty Initiative, which produced the report Mandatory Justice: Eighteen Reforms to the Death Penalty, and serving on the advisory board to the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice study of the criminal justice system in Cook County, IL.

Professor Susan James to Lecture on Freedom and Nature as Part of W&L’s Ethics of Citizenship Series

Susan James, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College in London, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on April 7 at 5 p.m. in Huntley Hall 221.

She will speak on “Freedom and Nature: A Spinozist Invitation.” The talk is free and open to the public.

Her talk is part of the year-long series on The Ethics of Citizenship and is sponsored by W&L’s Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. For more information about this series, see: http://www.wlu.edu/mudd-center/programs-and-events/2015-2016-the-ethics-of-citizenship.

James’s overlapping areas of philosophical research are the history of 17th- and 18th-century philosophy, political and social philosophy, and feminist philosophy. Within the history of early modern philosophy, her work has focused on the passions and their ethical and political implications.

She is the author of “Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion and Politics: The Theologico-Political Treatise” (2012); “Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings” (2003); and “Passion and Action: The Emotions in Early Modern Philosophy” (1997); and a forthcoming collection of essays, “Spinoza on Learning to Live Together.”

Prior to teaching at Birbeck College, James worked at the University of Connecticut and the University of Cambridge. She has held visiting positions at Hebrew University, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Boston University and the University of Sydney. In 2013-14, she was a Laurance S. Rockefeller visiting faculty fellow at the Center for Human Values, Princeton University.

She is the president of the Aristotelian Society and was the previous president of the European Society for Early Modern Philosophy.

Intellectual Historian Quentin Skinner to Speak at W&L on April 4 and April 6

Quentin Skinner, the Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London and an intellectual historian, will give two lectures at Washington and Lee University on April 4 and April 6.  W&L’s Mudd Center is sponsoring both talks.

On April 4, he will speak on “How Should We Think About Freedom?” at 5:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. This talk is part of the Mudd Center’s “Ethics of Citizenship” series. For more information about this series, see http://www.wlu.edu/mudd-center/programs-and-events/2015-2016-the-ethics-of-citizenship.

On April 6, Skinner will speak on “Why Shylock Loses his Case: Judicial Rhetoric in ‘The Merchant of Venice’” at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room (101). This lecture on Shakespeare is part of his weeklong residency at W&L under the auspices of the Mudd Center.

Skinner is the author of “Forensic Shakespeare” (2014), “Hobbes and Republican Liberty” (2008), and a three-volume collection of essays, “Visions of Politics” (2002). His two-volume study “The Foundations of Modern Political Thought” (1978) was listed by the New York Times Literary Supplement in 1996 as one of the 100 Most Influential Books published since World War II.

Previously the Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, he is a fellow of the British Academy and a foreign member of several other national academies including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Skinner has received the Wolfson History Prize, the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize of the British Political Studies Association and a Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Fraternity Among Peoples.

Engineering Opportunity Angel Vela de la Garza Evia '18 and Walker Brand '18 built assistive technology to help the employees at Rockbridge Area Occupational Center do the jobs they love.

“RAOC offers not only an employment opportunity, but also a huge social, emotional and psychological role in the lives of not only these individuals but also their families.”

— Alessandra Del Conte Dickovick

RAOC-l Engineering OpportunityRAOC Executive Director Roy Funkhouser is flanked by W&L engineering students Angel Vela de la Garza Evia (left) and Walker Brand.

Most people are delighted to have a vacation day, but the employees at Rockbridge Area Occupational Center can think of nothing better than reporting for duty.

“This is the only place I’ve ever been where someone has wanted to come to work,” said RAOC Executive Director Roy Funkhouser. “If they have a day off, they are fussing about not being able to be here.”

The employees of RAOC are all adults with some kind of disability that precludes them from holding a traditional job. The occupational center was founded about 1970 by parents who wanted something for their adult children to do.

“I think the biggest thing they get out of it is the pride of being able to say they have a job,” the director said. “All sorts of things we take for granted in our daily lives, these folks may not have that type of exposure.”

Now, engineering students at Washington and Lee have made the RAOC jobs even more rewarding by creating a device to help them in their furniture workshop. Angel Vela de la Garza Evia ’18 and Walker Brand ’18, along with other students in Professor Kacie D’Alessandro’s winter 2015 Computer Aided Drafting and Design class, designed and built an apparatus that allows RAOC employees to make garden benches without having to measure the dimensions of the bench. These long wooden benches are one product in a line of outdoor furniture that is made-to-order and sold by RAOC.

At RAOC, a nonprofit that operates as a business, employees do a variety of jobs such as shredding documents, general lawn care, stuffing envelopes, sorting and assembling. They must be able to do the work by hand or with simple hand tools, Funkhouser said, because they don’t have the capability to use automated tools or power tools.

This type of work used to keep RAOC plenty busy, but as some of its clients have gone out of business and technology has been automated, the amount of work has slowly dropped. As a result, RAOC is struggling to stay relevant and has tried to diversify, adding outdoor furniture to the offerings. Other items made at the center include picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and cornhole boards.

Funkhouser said the center used to have an employee who was fairly skilled at woodworking, but he got a job in a local factory — a blessing for him, but a big loss for RAOC.

“The guy we have now doesn’t do math, he can’t do fractions, so it’s very difficult for him,” Funkhouser said. “He can put the pieces together, and if I go out there and make the measurements for him, he can cut the pieces and put them together, but he is not at a point where I can just say, ‘OK, go out there and build a bench.'”

Enter Alessandra Del Conte Dickovick with the Community-Academic Research Alliance (CARA), a community-based research initiative that is part of the university’s Shepherd Program. One day, she visited RAOC to talk to Funkhouser about how CARA could help them, and they came up with the idea to ask an engineering class for help.

“I didn’t even know that W&L had this program at all,” Funkhouser said. “Really, Alessandra led the charge on this one.”

When Dickovick visited the facility, it was clear to her how important the work is to the employees.

“RAOC offers not only an employment opportunity, but also a huge social, emotional and psychological role in the lives of not only these individuals but also their families,” she said.

Since the center already had jigs for making the Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, Funkhouser decided they could really use one for the garden benches. That way, all his workers would have to do is measure the wood using a template, saw the wood, place the pieces on the device and screw them together — and one person can do it alone.

D’Alessandro’s class toured the center, then Funkhouser loaned them a bench to use as a reference. D’Alessandro broke her class into teams and had each one design a device for RAOC. At the end of the year, they presented their designs, and Funkhouser pointed out what he liked about each one.

That was the end of the project for most students in the class, but Brand and Vela de la Garza Evia took it a step further. They wanted to combine the best parts of each design and create a final version so RAOC could use it. The hardest part was finding the time to do it — in addition to classwork, Brand plays football, and Vela de la Garza Evia is a resident advisor who serves in the Bonner Program.

Often, when they met at the Howe Annex to construct the piece, they figured their task that day would only take about 30 minutes. Two hours later, they would be still tinkering with it, but they enjoyed every minute.

“I think that one of the coolest parts of the project was all the trial and error,” Brand said.

The finished product allows RAOC workers to place the legs of the bench in holes that space them apart the correct distance and hold them upright. The slats for the seat and back of the bench are then placed on the device, which spaces them apart the accurate distance. Then, workers simply screw the pieces together and remove it from the jig.

On March 14, the students were ready to hand it off to RAOC. Funkhouser drove to campus, inspected the device, and loaded it into his pickup truck to take it back to the center.

“These two guys have taken it a little bit further, and I would hope they are getting some reward out of the fact that they are doing something that is going to help a group of people that might not otherwise get this kind of assistance,” Funkhouser said. “They’ll get to look at it and know that in some small part they are going to get to enhance someone’s life. And it helps the organization because we make these things to sell, and that supports our own overhead.”

The students said they did derive a great deal of satisfaction from the project, and it reinforced their decision to study engineering at W&L.

“I think [with] engineering you can really reach out to many areas of the community,” said Vela de la Garza Evia. “You can build stuff and know that the things you build are going to help a person or a whole community.”

To learn more about the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center, go to raoc.org.

Repertory Dance Company Celebrates 20 Years of Dance at W&L

The Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company will present a concert celebrating the first 10 years of W&L’s academic dance program and 20 years of dance at W&L on April 1-3 in the Keller Theater of the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Performances are April 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and April 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are required. For information on tickets, call the Lenfest Center Box Office at 540-458-8000.

The performance is under the artistic direction of Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance/theater. Works will be choreographed and performed by faculty, students and alumni.

W&L dance alumni have been rehearsing for the past year in preparation for this anniversary concert in cities around the country, such as Atlanta, Houston, New York City, Washington, New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina.

A broad range of dance styles will be performed at the concert including modern pop culture, contemporary ballet, modern dance, African culture and aerial/modern.

Twenty years ago, about 10 students formed a W&L dance club and student-led classes. Two years later they successfully requested dance classes, which were offered by the Physical Education Department and taught by a Lexington dance instructor.

In 2006, W&L officially created an academic program in dance, offering classes in history, composition, technique and performance. Five years later, the program became a dance minor.

Enrollment grew and the program now offers ballet, modern dance, theatre dance, world cultural dance and other classes. Its new studio houses permanent rigging for aerial silks, bungee, and rope and harness classes.

“In keeping with W&L’s deeply held values in the liberal arts, the university supported the dance program and allowed it to grow in new and exciting ways,” said Davies. “We became one of the first colleges in the country to offer aerial dance, which really set us apart in terms of excellence and innovation.”

In addition to concerts on the Lenfest stage, the W&L Repertory Dance Company has traveled to New York City every year to perform in various places. It has also presented work at the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ailey Citibank Theatre in Manhattan; Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington; and the International Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Emily Wallace, W&L class of 2009, who will be performing in the concert said, “I started at W&L worried that it was not the perfect school for me. I realized that I was going to meet long-lasting friends and receive an unparalleled education in the most gorgeous campus in America, but W&L did not offer a dance program. Little did I know that, in 2006, Jenefer Davies would change that, and my almost-perfect college experience would become perfect and complete.”

Artistic Director Dave DeChristopher '75

Dave DeChristopher, a 1975 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has been named the new artistic director at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre in Toledo, Ohio.

Following graduation, Dave, a Toledo native, spent several years in his hometown teaching, performing and directing at a number of establishments, including the Children’s Theatre Workshop, Jim Rudes’ Commodore Perry Dinner Theatre and the Toledo Repertoire Theatre. He also was an original member of Friar Tuck’s cabaret company.

In 1980, he moved to New York City and began his career in professional theater. He was a member and artistic director of the Greenwood Theatre Company and an actor for the company of the Castillo Theatre, as well as a member of the Jewish Repertory Theatre for Young Audiences. He also starred in the acclaimed musical “Fiorello!”

After 24 years in New York, Dave returned to Toledo, where he was a director at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre and an instructor at the University of Toledo. He now teaches theatre and creative writing at Notre Dame Academy.

One of his main goals as the new artistic director is community outreach. He noted in an interview with The (Toledo) Blade, “I have a pretty strong background in theater education from all my years in New York; we want all the education programs to have a legitimate education component, to really give kids something, especially with all the arts cuts in schools.”

In addition to acting and directing, Dave has published nine plays and wrote “The Force,” a collection of spy novels.

–by Wesley Sigmon ’16

Davis Projects for Peace Grant Winner Sees Power of Music

Viet Linh “Chris” Tran ’17 has won a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant that will allow him to establish a music program for blind students in his home city of Hanoi, Vietnam.

The program, which he will implement over the summer, is called “Music Brings Light.” It was inspired by Tran’s own love of music and by a boy he met in 2012 at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu Special School for the Blind.

While volunteering at the Hanoi school, Tran observed that a student named Long, who could play five different instruments, stood out from the rest of his classmates. While the other blind students were quiet and reserved, Long was confident and gregarious.

Tran, who is majoring in music and business, realized that if the other students had an opportunity to learn music, it may help them blossom into more outgoing, self-assured people. After all, he’d witnessed the same metamorphosis in himself when he picked up a guitar in high school and started to study singing at Washington and Lee.

“The system is just about math, literature and science. I wasn’t really exposed to music,” he said. “It changed me a lot as a person.”

His research for the Davis application turned up no music schools for the blind in all of Vietnam.

Mark Rush, director of international education and Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law, said Tran’s project is “truly a humanistic endeavor.”

“First, it is a manifestation of the depth of the human spirit,” Rush said. “In seeking to bring music to the blind, Chris demonstrates the transcendence of the arts. Those without vision obviously have voice.  With music, Chris will give another voice to the students he will work with this summer.”

“Music Brings Light” is a multi-phase project that will start with the creation of a music lab at the school for the blind. Tran said he will use the grant money to furnish the lab with five digital organs, 10 guitars, speakers and microphones, a mini stage, music stands and Braille music sheets. He will then recruit 10 to 15 high school- or college-aged musicians willing to learn how to teach music to the blind. Several voice, piano and guitar teachers at Musicsoul Institute in Hanoi have already agreed to train the volunteers.

For the next eight weeks, 40 to 50 students from the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School will be chosen to learn an instrument, with lessons taking place three days per week for three hours at a time. Volunteers will also help the students to bond with one another and increase their confidence by exposing them to guest speakers, concerts and trips.

At the end of the summer, Tran wants to organize a recital. He also plans to fund additional training so the most successful students can continue to learn after his program has ended.

“I strongly believe that music education can help them overcome their diffidence and foster the belief/notion that anyone can contribute to the beauty of life,” Tran wrote in his grant application. “Moreover, our goal to raise public awareness will help … people understand and adopt a supportive attitude toward the blind. We hope to live in a society where blind people have a stable position.”

As a partner school of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, Washington and Lee is eligible to receive Davis Projects for Peace grants. The program is funded by the late Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who established it on her 100th birthday in 2007 as a way to challenge young people to plant seeds of peace throughout the world with innovative projects.

At least one Washington and Lee student has won a Davis grant each year since the award’s inception.

Rachel Adato, Past Member of the Knesset, to Speak at Washington and Lee

Rachel Adato, an Israeli doctor, lawyer, politician and former member of the Knesset, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 31 at 5:30 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room (room 101).

She will speak on “Israeli Healthcare and Social Issues.” Her talk is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by W&L Hillel, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Shepherd Poverty Program and Hillel International.

Adato is a champion of healthy body image, having been vocal in Israel’s Photoshop Law which banned ads featuring underweight models. She also is an outspoken advocate of provisions to make healthy food cheaper and more accessible.

She has been instrumental in the administration of other health-related issues, including benefits for disabled veterans, health care for the elderly and emergency hospital services.

Adato was the first female gynecologist in Jerusalem and practiced medicine for 12 years before moving to administrative hospital positions within Jerusalem. During her tenure in the Knesset, between 2009 and 2013, she was chair of the Welfare and Health Committee, focusing mainly on public health care and women’s health.

Mellon Seminar on Human Rights in Africa Presents Next Lecture by Professor S. N. Nyeck

S. N. Nyeck, assistant professor of political science at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, will lecture at Washington and Lee University as part of the Mellon Seminar on Human Rights in Africa. The event will be April 1 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Nyeck will speak on “Embedding Queer Rights in Africa: The Premises of a Dialogical Approach to Advocacy.” The talk is free and open to the public. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

In her talk, Nyeck will focus on queer rights in Africa to highlight strategic and conceptual challenges that governments and advocates face. The overall point of her talk is that because public opinion matters, the struggle for queer belonging in Africa is first and foremost sociological. A paradoxical approach to advocacy for queer belonging is necessarily a dialogical engagement with the aspirations of African people and governments.

Nyeck is pursuing two research tracks: the political economy of development with a focus on public procurement reform or government outsourcing in comparative perspective, and sexuality and politics with a focus on LGBT politics in Africa.

Her publications include “Public Procurement Reform and Governance in Africa” (2016) and “Sexual Diversity in Africa: Politics, Theory and Citizenship” (2013).

Nyeck is a recipient of several academic, research and community leadership awards. She serves as a board member of the Consortium for International Management, Policy and of the Association of African Women for Research and Development.

Historian and Professor Emerita Tessa Rajak to Speak at W&L

Tessa Rajak, a British expert on Hellenistic and Roman-era Judaism, will lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 29 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House, room 101. While at W&L, she will be the Class of 1963 Visiting Scholar in Residence sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Departments of Religion and Classics.

She will speak on “How Josephus the Jew Shaped Christianity.” Her talk is free and open to the public.

She is a historian of social and cultural history of the Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, as well as Jewish culture. Her work reflects a keen eye toward the interrelationships between ancient Romans, Greeks, Jews and the early Christians.

Rajak received her B.A., M.A. and D. Phil. at Oxford University. For many years she was professor of ancient history in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading in England. In 2008, she became professor emerita and moved to Oxford as senior research fellow of Somerville College and senior research associate of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

With the publication of her first book “Josephus: The Historian and His Society,” Rajak became known as an expert in the thought and social, cultural and historical world of Josephus. The book helped catalyze renewed interest in the ancient Jewish historian. She is also partly responsible for creating a newly defined field of study devoted to him.

Other publications include: “The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome: Studies in Cultural and Social Interaction” and “Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible and the Ancient Jewish Diaspora and Philosophy.”

She is co-investigator in a project on “The Jewish reception of the historian Josephus since 1750” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom and based in Oxford. In 2012, she held a Sackler Fellowship at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and in 2013 she was Croghan Centennial Visiting Professor at Williams College in Massachusetts.

While at W&L, Rajak will participate in a faculty colloquium, visit classes and visit Hillel students and faculty. She also will be interviewed on WLUR 91.5 FM.

Professor Prete Will Lecture on Teaching Science and Math

Frederick Prete, associate editor of the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, will give a lecture on March 31 at 5 p.m. in Parmly Hall room 307 in the Science Center of Washington and Lee University.

Prete, who is also on the faculty of the Biology Department of Northeastern Illinois University, will speak on “If You Want Students to Learn Science and Math, Teach Them Like You Teach Sports: Lessons from My Special Ed. High School and University Students.” The talk is free and open to the public.

After teaching in a diverse range of settings, including sheltered workshops for students with special needs, math and science classes for high school students, work-study programs and athletic coaching, Prete said, “This range of experiences has taught me several lessons: teaching is basically the same no matter what the subject; teaching is difficult but not complicated; and, teaching doesn’t require special equipment, rigid lesson plans or uniformity.

“Instead, good teaching requires patience, originality, flexibility and a willingness to celebrate (rather than squelch) individuality. Interestingly, this is precisely how we teach athletics (or music, art and dance), but it is exactly the opposite of the way we teach science and math.

Selected publications include “Visual Stimuli Eliciting Tracking and Striking in the Praying Mantises,” in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2013); “Macroscopic Characteristics of the Praying Mantis,” in the Journal of Insect Physiology (2013); and “Differences in Appetitive Responses to Computer-Generated Visual Stumuli by Female Rhombodera basalis, Deroplatys lobate, Hierodula membranacea and Miomantic sp. (Insecta Mantodea),” in the Journal of Insect Behavior (2013).

Prete has taught courses in the history of learning theory, the biology of learning, brain and behavior, neurobiology, and physiology. His current research interests are in the neurobiology of vision and teaching in the STEM disciplines.

Ernani DeAraujo ‘08L Receives Emerging Leader Award from Community Health Organization

Ernani DeAraujo, a member of the law class of 2008 and general counsel at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), was named an Emerging Leader by the Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy, part of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

A life-long resident of East Boston, except for his time at W&L Law, DeAraujo has served this community in several capacities. Prior to joining EBNHC, where he is also compliance manager, he was Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s community liaison to East Boston. DeAraujo practiced in the business department of the law firm Foley Hoag LLP before joining the Mayor’s office, which he left in 2012.

Each year, the Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health honors young professionals currently working in community health. According to an article in the East Boston Times-Free Press, DeAraujo was nominated by EBNHC to receive the honor because he exemplifies the mission and vision of Dr. H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, pioneers of the community health movement.

A graduate of the Boston Latin School and Harvard, DeAraujo served as a White House Intern for Presidents Clinton in 2000 and Bush in 2001, and after graduating from Harvard in 2003, worked as an investment banker with JPMorgan Securities, Inc. in New York and Texas.

Rachel Lewis, George Mason University, to Lecture on Queer Intimacies

Rachel Lewis, assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program at George Mason University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 24 at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.

She will speak on “Queer Intimacies: Visualizing Black Lesbian Desire in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” The talk is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program.

“Despite South Africa’s move to legalize gay marriage in 2006, the violent attacks against black lesbians have increased significantly during the past 10 years,” said Lewis. “Human rights reports repeatedly stress how black lesbians in South Africa suffer from triple discrimination by virtue of being female, black and lesbian.”

In this talk, Lewis will examine visual art produced by lesbian human rights activists in South Africa that is emerging to contest the racialized, gendered and sexualized constructions of black lesbian vulnerability within mainstream humanitarian advocacy.

Her research and teaching interests include transnational feminisms, queer theory, media and cultural studies, sexuality, race and immigration, human rights and transnational sexualities. She has published articles in journals such as Sexualities, Justice, International Feminist Journal of Politics, and Music and Letters.

Her latest publications are “Introduction: Queer Migration, Asylum and Displacement,” in Sexualities (ed., 2014); “‘Gay? Prove It’: The Politics of Queer Anti-Deportation Activism,” in Sexualities (ed., 2014) and “Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” in Feminist Formations (2013).

The Lee Chapel Spring Lecture Presents Professor Andrew Levy

The Lee Chapel Spring Lecture will be held at Washington and Lee University on March 29 from 12-1 p.m. in Lee Chapel Auditorium. Speaking will be Dr. Andrew Levy, the Edna Cooper Chair in English at Butler University and author of the award-winning biography, “The First Emancipator” (2005).

The title of Levy’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Slavery, Religion and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Carter III.”

“In 1791, Robert Carter III, a pillar of Virginia’s Colonial aristocracy, broke with his peers by arranging the freedom of his nearly five hundred slaves,” said Levy. “It would be the largest single act of liberation in the history of American slavery before the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Despite this courageous move—or perhaps because of it—Carter’s name has all but vanished from the annals of American history. In this talk, Levy will explore the confluence of circumstance, conviction, war and emotion that led to Carter’s extraordinary act.”

Levy’s “The First Emancipator” won the Virginia Historical Society’s Slatten Prize for biography. Levy is also the author of “A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary” (2009). He is co-editor of the “Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction” (1997) and co-author of the textbook “Creating Fiction: A Writer’s Companion” (1995).

His essays and reviews have appeared in Best American Essays, Harper’s, the American Scholar, Chicago Tribune and elsewhere.

Levy is co-director of the Writers’ Studio and he has been at Butler University since 1992. He teaches courses in a range of American literary topics, including African American and Native American literature as well as creative writing and freshman English.

Staniar Gallery Exhibits Senior Art Projects

Washington and Lee University studio art majors will present their senior projects in an exhibition that opens in Staniar Gallery on March 28 and runs until April 11. An opening reception for the artists will be March 31 at 4 p.m. in Lykes Atrium, Wilson Hall.

Every year, Staniar Gallery showcases work by the Art Department’s graduating studio art majors in an exhibition that is the culmination of a year-long thesis project. During that year, the students develop a body of work and prepare it for exhibition in a professional gallery setting.

This year’s show features a variety of media by five artists. Abigail Pannell imagines elaborate fictions that she then documents with paintings, drawings and sculptural objects. Nathaniel Purdy will exhibit paintings on canvas, wood, paper and a microwave. In Bailey Russell’s short film “Tension Response,” she uses brightly colored lights, jarring sounds and frenetic pacing to convey to the viewer a sense of heightened anxiety.

In a series of prints entitled “Fortune or Folly,” Leigh Stauffer invites viewers to glean their own personal parables from her images of skeletons, animals and flowers. Laura Wiseman explores different notions of beauty with an installation of large black-and-white portraits juxtaposed against colorful wallpaper of her own design.

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

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Former Virginia Supreme Court Justice John Charles Thomas to Deliver Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture

The Fourteenth Annual Lewis F. Powell Jr. Lecture will be delivered by John Charles Thomas, former justice on the Virginia Supreme Court and senior partner at Hunton & Williams. Thomas will speak on his professional and personal relationship with Justice Powell.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, at 5:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

Thomas received his B.A. with distinction (1972) and J.D. (1975) from the University of Virginia. He is a senior partner at Hunton & Williams, LLP, in Richmond, Virginia, where he is chief of the appellate practice group and also handles general litigation, mediation, and arbitration.

In 1983, Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court of Virginia. He was the first African American to sit on the Court. He served on the court for seven years, ruling on thousands of appellate matters addressing the full range of Virginia law including contracts, torts, property, public utilities, trust and estates, and taxation.

Thomas is an AAA certified Mediator and Arbitrator and serves on the AAA Panel of Commercial Arbitrators as well as on the AAA Panel of International Arbitrators. Since June 2005 he has been a Judge of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The students at Washington and Lee University School of Law founded the Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series in 2002 in honor of Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. ’29A, ’31L, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Justice Powell’s judicial legacy was defined by a respect for both sides in a dispute and a desire to craft judicial opinions that struck a middle ground. This student-run lecture series features nationally prominent speakers who embody this spirit in their life and work.

Thomas R. Shepherd, W&L Benefactor and Emeritus Trustee, Dies at 86

Thomas Ringgold Shepherd, an emeritus trustee, alumnus and significant benefactor of Washington and Lee University, died on March 19, 2016. A resident of Stow, Massachusetts, he was 86.

Shepherd and his wife, the Rev. Nancy H. Shepherd, started W&L’s Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability in 1997. One of the university’s signal programs, it integrates academic study and learning through service and reflection; informs students about poverty and what can be done to foster human capabilities; and enables students to acquire skills and qualities of character that dispose them to serve communities and disadvantaged individuals.

The program has served as the prototype for programs at nearly two dozen institutions, which were united in 2011 as the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty.

Shepherd graduated from W&L in 1952 with a B.A. in economics. As an undergraduate, he served as president of the Sigma Chi fraternity and as secretary of the 1952 Mock Convention.

He also held an M.A. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and completed the executive program at the Amos Tuck School, Dartmouth College. He served on active duty with the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1952 to 1954.

Shepherd served as a W&L trustee from 1996 to 2000. Also at his alma mater, he belonged to the George Washington Society and sat on the Shepherd Poverty Advisory Board, on two of his reunion class committees, as a SPEAK volunteer, and on area committees for two capital campaigns, chairing one of the latter.

During Shepherd’s business career, he served as a director of Berkshire Wireless Inc., Community Resource Systems Inc., 4R Systems Inc., MyUtility.com, Rayovac Corp., Vermont Teddy Bear Co., Amerace Corp., General Nutrition Companies Inc., Playtex Family Products Corp., PNC-New England, Signature Brands Inc. and Thermoscan Inc. He was treasurer of the Fieldstone Foundation Inc. and chair of the Shepherd Group.

As an independent consultant from 1986 to 1998, he served as managing director of the Thomas H. Lee Co., Boston. From 1983 to 1986, Shepherd was president of GTE (Sylvania) Lighting Products.

In addition to Washington and Lee, his many philanthropic interests included the United Way, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp., several land trusts and other nonprofits.

In 2006, both Tom and Nancy Shepherd received honorary doctor of law degrees from Washington and Lee University in recognition of their “commitments to social justice and dedication to public service.”

Among his survivors are his wife, the Rev. Nancy Shepherd, and four children, Ruth H. Shepherd, Katharine G. Shepherd, Elizabeth S. Beneche and T. Nathanael Shepherd.

W&L Law BLSA Members Honored at National Conference

Washington and Lee law students traveled to the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) annual meeting last weekend and returned with several honors.

Maureen Edobor ‘17L was elected NBLSA Attorney General in a general election by representatives of BLSA chapters from around the nation. In this position, Edobor will write an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, as well as a public comment to a regulatory agency.

Additionally, the NBLSA Attorney General plans Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Weekend with the CBC staff, organizes an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, responds to issues facing communities of color via memos and official statements to the press, and plans national NBLSA advocacy events.

Vincent Smith 16L, former W&L Law BLSA Chapter President, won the NBLSA Oliver Hill Award. The award, named after the civil rights giant, recognizes one NBLSA member for their contributions to the community, specifically in fighting against racial discrimination through their service.

W&L Law also sent a team for the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial competition. While the W&L team was unable to repeat as national champions, one member of the team, Adrianne Williams ‘17L, was named the third best oral advocate for the competition.

Lastly, Hernandez Stroud, 15L, a past National Champion of the NBLSA Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, served as as one of the head judges of the final round of the moot court competition.

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W&L Law Prof. David Eggert Comments on Obama SCOTUS Pick

President Obama today announced federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland as his choice to fill the slot on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Garland currently services as Chief Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Current Justices John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas all served on the D.C. appeals court before being elevated to the high court, as did Justice Scalia.

David Eggert, a visiting professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, practiced law with Garland at the large Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter. Eggert describes Garland as a consensus builder with a brilliant legal mind.

“If confirmed, I think he would be an intellectual leader on the Court,” Eggert says. “I view him as a liberal counterpart to Chief Judge John Roberts. He understands the limits of the Court and would seek to decide cases on the issues of a particular case rather than using the bench as a soapbox.”

Eggert remembers Garland as an exceptional lawyer and gifted writer who was a welcoming mentor to his younger colleagues. Eggert said that though Garland viewed many issues from a liberal perspective, he was always willing to listen to the other side and was not ideologically motivated when it came to the law.

Eggert says this is consistent with his reputation on the bench.

“He is a judge’s judge. He cares about the development of the law but also understands the limits of what the law can do. His opinions are characterized by cogent legal analysis of the highest level, but he doesn’t go beyond what is necessary to resolve a particular case.”

Indeed, Garland is being praised as the perfect choice for the Supreme Court, and Eggert says it is hard to imagine a democratic nominee more likely to be confirmed, in normal times.

“His excellent credentials aside, President Obama is likely hoping to break the log jam and apply pressure on the Republicans to confirm him,” says Eggert. “However, it strikes me as not politically feasible at this point for Republicans to back away from their commitment not to consider a nominee until after the election.

Eggert added, “It would take immense political courage for Republicans to confirm the nomination in this environment, but it may well be the most principled course of action. If they hold up this nomination, what will Democrats do if a Republican president ever nominates a Supreme Court Justice?”

If Garland were to make it through the nomination process, he would become, at 63, the oldest justice appointed since 1971 when Washington and Lee alumnus Lewis Powell Jr., was named. Powell was 64 at the time of his appointment. Eggert notes that this bucks the recent trend of President’s appointing relatively young judges in hopes of ensuring their political legacy on the Court, where Justices have lifetime tenure.

“As one ages and faces experiences, you gain better wisdom in making decisions,” says Eggert. “This is the very quality we most prize in judges.”

Danielle Breidung ’13 Named Lowcountry Emerging Leader

The Islands Society named Danielle Breidung, a 2013 graduate of Washington and Lee University, as its inaugural Lowcountry Emerging Leader by its constituent society for the Lowcountry — the Sea Islands Society. She received the award based on her focus on empowering local communities in the Lowcountry through collaborations with human services and other organizations in South Carolina.

Danielle is a program coordinator for the Lowcountry Area Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Coalition and a civic engagement coordinator on the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort campus. Her previous work experience includes expanding economic opportunities available to small agricultural cooperatives in the Brazilian Amazon.

At W&L, Danielle majored in sociology and anthropology, with minors in environmental studies and poverty and human capability studies. She was the first student to earn a Certificate of International Immersion, which is awarded to students who demonstrate significant commitment to and understanding of global interaction. She also initiated the program Lazos Más Fuertes, supported by Campus Kitchen at W&L and ESOL, which organized dinners to bring together Spanish-speaking adults and children with English-speaking individuals in the Rockbridge area and helped coordinate tutoring.

Last year, she received her master’s in education in higher education from Loyola University.

You can read a Q&A with Danielle on the Islands Society website.

“Mapping Colonial Virginia: The Fry Jefferson Map of 1775” To Be Discussed

Washington and Lee University will present several short lectures on March 22 from 5-6:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. It is sponsored by University Collections of Art and History (UCAH).

The title of the program, which is free and open to the public, is “Mapping Colonial Virginia: The Fry Jefferson Map of 1775.” It will examine the importance of the celebrated Fry Jefferson Map of Virginia as an invaluable resource for the study of Colonial America.

The speakers include:

  • Henry Taliaferro, partner, Cohen & Taliaferro LLC, Dealers in fine antique maps, atlases, globes and voyage books, will speak on “Fry and Jefferson Revisited”
  • Margaret Beck Pritchard, senior curator and curator of prints, maps and wallpaper for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, will speak on “To Educate and Adorn: The Decorative Aspects of Fry and Jefferson’s Map of Virginia”
  • Willie Balderson, manager of public programs, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, will speak on “Surveying in the 18th Century: Techniques and Tools.”

The Fry Jefferson Map of Virginia was originally drawn in 1751 by Joshua Fry, a mathematician from the College of William and Mary, and surveyor Peter Jefferson. His son, Thomas Jefferson, called it the “First accurate map of Virginia which had ever been made.”

In this program, Taliaferro and Pritchard, experts in maps, prints and public history will discuss the importance of the Fry Jefferson Map as historical document and evidence of material culture. Balderson also will describe the techniques and tools of surveying during the colonial period.

Taliaferro is a dealer in rare maps and has worked for 45 years in the business. He has helped to develop some of the most important private and institutional collections in the U.S. He has lectured extensively and published an article on the Fry and Jefferson map in the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. He is co-author (with Margaret Pritchard) of “Degrees of Latitude” (2002); author of “Cartographic Resources” (1987); and co-editor of “American Cities” (2005). He has also published articles on historical cartography and Southern genealogy.

In her role as senior curator for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Pritchard acquires new objects for the collections and conducts research in the area of her specialty. She selects appropriate prints, maps and wallpaper to hang on the walls of buildings in the historic district and curates exhibitions for the art museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

She has lectured and published on subjects relating to the collection for which she is responsible. Her most recent publication was a comprehensive catalog of the map collection at Colonial Williamsburg, “Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America.” In 1978, she received a fellowship at Colonial Williamsburg to assist with the refurnishing of the Governor’s Palace.

Pritchard also serves on the board of trustees of Old Salem Museums and Gardens, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts Advisory Board and the Board of Governors for the Decorative Arts Trust, and chairs the board of the Williamsburg Community Foundation.

Before joining Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, Balderson was manager of public history development for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he worked since 1997. There, he helped to create the Revolutionary City living history program and coordinated programs in the historic area.

One of the founders of the Richmond-based Living History Associates, he is nationally known for his first-person portrayals that span two centuries in time. As an actor, he is known for his roles in “Emissaries of Peace” (2007), “Flames of Freedom” (2001) and “Enslaved” (1999). Exhaustive research and preparation distinguishes Balderson’s work, and his repertoire includes knowledge of 18th-century surveying techniques and equipment.

This lecture is presented in honor of retiring president W&L Ken Ruscio and recognizes a recent gift from Peter Agelasto, a 1962 W&L alumnus. The map was given “in recognition of and appreciation for the leadership of the men who have occupied the office of president of the university and to the memory of George Washington who surveyed property in Augusta County in 1749 at age 17.”

W&L's Rush Discusses the Supreme Court Nomination on WRVA

Mark Rush, Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of international education at Washington and Lee, discussed President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee on The Jimmy Barrett Morning Show on Thursday, March 17, at 7:05 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.

W&L Law Alumni Bring Down ‘King of Coal’

This March, CBS aired a riveting feature from 60 Minutes exploring the 2010 disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners, and the subsequent prosecution of mine owner Don Blankenship.

In December of 2015, Blankenship was found guilty in a landmark ruling of willfully violating mine safety laws. This was the first time the CEO of a major company was convicted of a workplace safety crime.

W&L Law alumni Booth Goodwin ‘96L, U.S. attorney for West Virginia, and Stephen Ruby ‘06L, assistant U.S. attorney, led the prosecution of Blankenship.

“This could be likened to a drug organization and the defendant was the kingpin,” Goodwin said in the report.

Ruby and Goodwin argued that Blankenship ignored regular reports of safety violations and instructed employees to ignore safety laws and mislead mine inspectors.

“The men and women that we talked to who worked in this mine said that it was absolutely understood, it was expected that if you worked at that mine, you were going to break the law in order to produce as much coal as possible, as fast and as cheaply as possible,” said Ruby.

Blankenship will be sentenced in April. His misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum 1 year prison sentence and fines.

The full CBS 60 Minutes report is available online.

Phi Beta Kappa Honors Two Sophomores

At its convocation on March 13, the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Washington and Lee University bestowed its J. Brown Goehring Sophomore Award on two students: Ram H. Raval ’18, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Mallory E. Stephenson ’18, of Fincastle, Virginia.

They received it because they are the students with the highest cumulative scholastic average through the end of the fall term of their sophomore year.

The award honors J. Brown Goehring, a professor emeritus of chemistry who, during his 38-year career at W&L, spent 22 years as the secretary-treasurer of the university’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

You may read more about the Phi Beta Kappa convocation, which included the induction of 53 new members and a keynote speech by Shakespearean scholar Ayanna Thompson, and watch it online.


A Successful “Say Thanks” Week

As members of the W&L community made their way across campus March 7–10, they noticed a myriad of posters, signs, postcards — and people — all of them giving thanks. The goal of this gratitude was to remind students of the many ways that donors make the W&L experience special.

Annual Fund Signs in front of the Elrod Commons told the story of the Annual Fund.

Student Scholarships in the Marketplace featured three student recipients of an endowed scholarship.

Signs on professors’ office doors as part of Endowed Professor Recognition told about the donor the professorship is named after.

Faculty/Staff Who Give tipped the hat to all faculty and staff members who made a recent gift to W&L. Those folks sported a button to acknowledge their contribution, and they posted signs in their offices elaborating upon the reasons behind their philanthropy.

Students filled out Postcards in Elrod Commons near the Marketplace, thanking members of the community and donors. They filled out a punch card for each day’s entry, making them eligible to win a gift card. Each day, students thanked a different group for making W&L the great place it is:

  • Monday—Faculty/Staff
  • Tuesday—Parents
  • Wednesday—5-Star Generals
  • Thursday—Young Alumni

A Career Development Brown Bag Lunch explored the field of development and fundraising. In “How to Turn Thanks into a Lifetime of Development,” Robert Koch (regional director of development) and Cassie Hunt ’01 (director of prospect development and analytics) talked about their experiences in this field.

Lunch and Learn with Annual Giving featured Annual Fund staff and students interested in learning more about W&L’s Annual Fund and how the institution benefits from philanthropic giving.

Keep up with the Annual Fund by following:


Emeritus Trustee Michael Monier ’62 Dies at 75

Michael Harrison Monier, a trustee emeritus and 1962 graduate of Washington and Lee University, died on March 9, 2016, at age 75.

A resident of Wilson, Wyoming, he was president of MHM Associates and co-founder and managing director of Woodhaven Investors Inc., Landmark Management Inc. and Samson & Monier Associates Inc., independent investment advisors in venture capital, real estate, leveraged buyouts, cable television and agriculture. Prior to founding these firms, he worked at Citibank from 1962 to 1970 and at United States Trust Co. from 1970 to 1972. He served on the boards of several private corporations.

Monier, who held a B.S. in commerce from W&L, served on the university’s Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2009. During his time at W&L, he played baseball and basketball and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta social fraternity. An active alumnus and generous benefactor of his alma mater, he served on the campaign cabinet for the On the Shoulders of Giants Capital Campaign; led and participated on his class committees for several reunions; served as a SPEAK volunteer; and belonged to the George Washington Society.

He and his wife, Carolyn, were particularly supportive of Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. They also donated to a variety of charities with educational, environmental and medical goals.

An avid fly fisherman, Monier pursued his passion both nationally and internationally and assembled an extensive private collection of fly-fishing art. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Carolyn Monier; his daughters, Brett Giuliano and Nicole Monier; and four grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory to The Three T’s Foundation, 115 E. 69th St., New York, NY 10021.


W&L's Williams Examines Gravitational Waves Discovery in Roanoke Times

The following oped by H. Thomas Williams, Edwin A. Morris Professor of Physics Emeritus at Washington and Lee, was published in the Sunday, March 13, 2016, edition of the Roanoke Times and is reprinted here by permission.

A Perfect Pass

by H. Thomas Williams

Whenever I see an NFL quarterback throw a pass to a receiver running with his back to the quarterback but who makes his cut at precisely the right place and time for the pass to be completed, I marvel at the planning and precision of such a play.

That is the image — a perfectly executed forward pass — that came to mind in February as I watched a live-stream status report from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).

If you are not aware of the news from LIGO, you should be. Although this report might have been lost among other major media events and breaking news during February, it is far more consequential than the presidential debates, the Grammy Awards or even one presidential candidate’s dustup with the Pope.

In fact, that report is the most significant scientific news of my half-century-plus career as a scientist — by far. And there have been many stunning breakthroughs during this period: practical advances such as lasers and superconductors, revealing new views of our solar system, and the 2013 discovery of the Higgs boson, explaining the notion of mass of fundamental particles.

The LIGO announcement featured three compelling narrative threads: confirmation of Albert Einstein’s century-old theory, the remarkable achievement represented by the wave detectors themselves, and the staggering cosmic coincidence that delivered a significant piece of data to those detectors just as they were turned on.

First, Einstein: In 1915, he developed a generalized version of his iconic special theory of relativity. It explained the behavior of accelerating objects and its intimate relationship to gravitation. With the general theory, Einstein provided an answer without a question, exercising his deep intuition to develop arcane notions such as black holes and gravitational waves well in advance of any experimental evidence for their existence.

The intrinsic weakness of the gravitational force suggested that for gravitational waves to be detectable, they would have to originate in events involving huge masses experiencing extreme accelerations. The merger of two black holes, each about the mass of 30 suns, resulting from a violent gravity-driven collision would seem to be just what was needed. A century following Einstein’s insights, we have now used gravitational waves to detect for the first time a binary black hole system —one that met its cataclysmic demise 1.3 billion years ago.

Beyond the discovery itself, the LIGO detection mechanism itself is a modern wonder. It consists of two identical instruments called laser interferometers — one in Hanford, Washington, the other over 1800 miles away in Livingston, Louisiana. In each device, a laser beam is split and its pieces are sent down and reflected back along two perpendicular arms, each of which is four kilometers long. The light beams, recombined, are capable of detecting miniscule differences in the length of the arms. To separate infinitesimal gravity wave effects from more common and less interesting vibrations from a passing vehicle or a chair sliding on the laboratory break room floor, unprecedented levels of vibration isolation were developed. Despite this, local vibrational noise remains problematic.

To distinguish gravitational signals from vibrational noise, the two widely separated interferometers are monitored simultaneously. The notion is that the hiss and burble of random local vibrations will be recorded in each location, with no correlation between the two: truck traffic in Louisiana will affect the signals there, but not those at the Washington site. If, however, these two signals become correlated, even briefly, the cause must be not local, but cosmic — i.e., gravitational waves.

The side-by-side traces of signals from the Hanford and Livingston interferometers at 5:51 a.m. EDT on a September day last year show separate random wiggles evolving into a breathtaking synchrony lasting roughly two-tenths of a second before returning again into unrelated noise. The signal was unmistakable, and stunning. The modern-day watchmakers who crafted this instrument array for the sole purpose of seeing such a signal were rewarded richly, and immediately.

This takes me back to that NFL pass play, and the precision necessary to achieve a completion. Just consider: the initial gravitational wave event recorded by LIGO was triggered by the merger of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. The resulting wave spread like a ripple caused by a stone dropped into an otherwise smooth pond, the size of the ripple diminishing with its distance from its source. Moving at the speed of light, this gravitation ripple passed through the LIGO detectors in 0.2 seconds, and then was gone. Its fleeting arrival — a pass thrown 1.3 billion years ago — appeared on LIGO’s receivers during the first week in the history of mankind when we had an instrument capable of detecting it!

Even more surprising — this tiny “chirp” was detected on September 15 of last year, a week before the instruments were scheduled to go live, in fact during its final “dress rehearsal.” To consider this mere coincidence goes beyond reason. It might be read as near-definitive proof of the existence of a benevolent God — one, in fact, who has particular interest in the success of this scientific project.

Another explanation is that this violent cosmic event is far from unique, and the advanced LIGO observatory has opened a window on the universe that will flood us with such data and new discoveries. This notion is supported by the fact that during the four months of active observation with LIGO since that initial celebrated event, scientists have recorded and are now analyzing at least four more potential gravitational wave events.

So now what? It is hard to say, but chances are that in opening this new channel of communication with the universe we will be treated to a constant stream of unexpected revelations about our cosmic home. This is a channel to which we should all stay tuned.

Thomas Williams is the Edwin A. Morris Professor of Physics Emeritus at Washington and Lee University where he taught for 37 years prior to his retirement in 2011. His research has been focused on theoretical nuclear and particle physics.

W&L English Professor and Alumnus Highlight the Virginia Festival of the Book

It’s March, and that means it’s time for the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville — and for two members of the Washington and Lee University literary community to shine.

First up is Lesley Wheeler, the Henry S. Fox Professor of English, on Thursday, March 17, at 2 p.m. at the New Dominion Bookshop (404 E. Main St., Charlottesville) for “Together and Apart: A Poetry Reading.”

Lesley’s latest book of poetry is “Radioland” (Barrow Street). “These poems concern many of the ways people send and receive their most urgent messages, including radio but also letters, cellphones, websites, newspapers, literary works, and even dreams and hauntings,” Lesley writes on her website. “Some of the trickiest communications in this book occur between my father and me. He was born in Brooklyn in 1925, so the dated sound of the word ‘radioland’ also conjures the generation gap between us, as well as the difficulties I have decoding my own teenagers.”

Matthew Neill Null, a 2006 graduate of Washington and Lee (and one of Lesley Wheeler’s former students), takes his stand on Saturday, March 19, at noon, also at the New Dominion Bookshop (404 E. Main St.), for “Haunted Souls and Public Hangings: Fiction.” His first novel is “Honey from the Lion” (Lookout Books).

In the Winter 2015 issue of the W&L alumni magazine, Matt talked about that book and about his upcoming volume of short stories, “Allegheny Front,” coming in May from Sarabande Books: “They balance one another. The book of stories ranges over more of an expanse of time. There are stories that take place 300 years ago. There are ones that take place in what signifies today. But ultimately it’s the same world as the novel, and they have the same thematic skeleton.”

The popular festival, now in its 22nd year, is a signature program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Its president also has a W&L connection: Rob Vaughan ’66.

Annual LEAD Banquet Recognizes Leadership Across Campus

The Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Banquet was held March 13 at Washington and Lee University and was an evening of celebration. It recognized the many individual and student accomplishments that have been completed within the past year.

“The LEAD Banquet continues to bring together members of our community in celebration of the meaningful work happening across campus,” said Megan Hobbs, assistant dean of students and dean of sophomores.

“It’s time to showcase the efforts and impact of our dedicated campus leaders, and it’s a time to thank advisors and students alike for their commitment to student engagement, personal development and continued mentorship. The true spirit of the Washington and Lee experience lies within the influence made by our students and the banquet reminds us of all that goes on, on an annual basis.

“I would like to also publicly recognize Bailey Russell ’16 and Armani Smith ’16, who have been committed to the banquet and its mission since the revitalization of the event in 2014. They have been the co-chairs for all three banquet events, collaborating with each other and the other committee members. I’ve had a wonderful run with them and they truly have made the hours behind the scenes way more fun! We will miss them as we move forward with planning for 2017 in the fall; however, I am confident the returning committee members have learned a lot from the example they have set.”

The LEAD Banquet awards and the 2016 recipients are:

Nabors Service League Award for Volunteerism: Chloe Doto
Recognizing a student who demonstrates a commitment to their community through innovative service.

Best Service Event: Diversity Day
Recognizing the campus group or specific event that proved to be impactful by engaging and educating a significant number of volunteers and created a meaningful difference for the population served — whether locally or in another community.

Excellence in Artistic Event Management (Lenfest Center for the Arts): Gabriela Collado and Richard Snyder

Outstanding Philanthropic Effort: Relay for Life
Recognizing the student organization/chapter whose philanthropic efforts have made the most impact on our campus while supporting a local/national/global cause. The most funds raised per capita and the most innovative way of raising those funds is a factor in selection.

Outstanding Peer Counselor:  Hannah Gilmore and Thomas Cain

Outstanding Residential Adviser (New): Ralston Hartness

Outstanding Residential Adviser (Returning): Aalekhya Tenali

Distinguished Summer Work:  Melina Knabe and Kate Sarfert
Recognizing a student’s summer work experience/research that best exemplifies Washington and Lee’s values of service, leadership, and character.

Emerging Leader of the Year:  MaKayla Lorick
Recognizing a student that is passionate about leadership education and its practice. This student should bring innovative ideas to the table and exude a high level of commitment to empowering other student leaders.

Christopher Noland Student Activities Leadership Award:  Melina Knabe
Recognizing a student whose leadership has been most impactful during the past academic year.

Greek Man of the Year:  Chris Ahn
Recognizing a Greek man making the greatest and most positive impact on the fraternity and sorority system during the past academic year.

Greek Woman of the Year:  Megan Axelrod
Recognizing a Greek woman making the greatest and most positive impact on the fraternity and sorority system during the past academic year.

Chapter of the Year:  Chi Psi Fraternity
Recognizing the Greek chapter that best embodies W&L’s ideals of honor, integrity, and civility. The Greek governing councils select the recipient of this award.

The G. Holbrook Barber Scholarship Award:  Elliot Emadian
Honoring a rising senior (current junior) who manifests superior qualities of helpfulness and friendliness to fellow students, public spirit, scholarship and personal character.

The Decade Award: Kassie Scott
Recognizing a rising junior (current sophomore) who has shown involvement and leadership within the W&L academic and extracurricular communities and who has furthered discussions of women’s issues on campus and beyond.

The Edward Lee Pinney Prize:  Paqui Toscano, Matt Carl
Awarded by the Student Affairs Committee to an undergraduate student who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to personal scholarship and to the nurturing of intellectual life at Washington and Lee.

Anece F. McCloud Excellence in Diversity:  Ijezie Ikwuezunma
Recognizing a senior undergraduate student whose efforts have done the most to bring a greater awareness and competence of diversity on campus.

Best Event of the Year:  Mock Convention
Recognizing the event that best impacted Washington and Lee during the current academic year.

Not Unmindful of a Sustainable Future Award:  Sequyoa Bua-lam and Maya Epelbaum
Recognizing a student who leads sustainability efforts either for the W&L campus or for our global community.

Greenest Group Award:  Slow Food W&L
Recognizing the student organization or student-led event that has made an impact towards sustainability related efforts either on W&L campus or in our global community.

Adviser of the Year: Kelsey Goodwin
Recognizing a campus adviser that goes above and beyond in their efforts to support student initiatives, foster relationships, and provide opportunities for new experiences.

John W. Elrod General of the Year:  Lainey Johnson
Recognizing a student who has brought the most depth and breadth to the University during the past academic year.

Best Student Organization (Americus White Award):  Friday Underground
Recognizing the student organization that has shown excellence in leadership, management, and programmatic efforts. Allocation of funds is a factor in selection.

The Frank J. Gilliam Award: Matt Carl
Recognizing a student who has made the greatest contribution to the Division of Student Affairs.

Larry Stuart Memorial Award:  Skyler Zunk
Recognizing a student who exemplifies Public Safety Senior Sergeant Larry Stuart’s character and commitment to the community.

The Alexander Thomas Boehling ’10 Memorial Award:  Myers McGarry
Honoring a senior for his or her campus leadership.

Best Student Composition of the Year: Paqui Toscano

The Third Generation Student Achievement Award: Max Garrett and Julianne Campbell


Joseph Slights ‘88L Appointed Vice Chancellor of Delaware Chancery Court

Joseph Slights, a member of the law class of 1988, former Delaware Superior Court Judge, and a partner at the law firm Morris James, has been confirmed by the Delaware state Senate to become a vice chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Delaware’s Chancery Court is widely recognized as the nation’s preeminent forum for the determination of disputes involving the internal affairs of thousands corporations and other businesses through which a vast amount of the world’s commercial affairs is conducted.

Before joining the bench in 2000, Slights was a trial litigator first at Richards Layton & Finger and then at Morris James. During his 12-year term with the Superior Court, he presided over hundreds of cases and was integral to the creation of the Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division.

Slights returned to private practice in 2012 as a partner at Morris James. He was a member of the firm’s business litigation practice, specializing in complex commercial and corporate litigation before the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Court of Chancery and Superior Court.

Slights also chaired Morris James’ alternative resolution practice group, serving as a mediator and arbitrator in business disputes.

Work of Five W&L Photography Students Included in Southwest Virginia Exhibition

The work of five Washington and Lee University photography students was included in the new Southwest Virginia Juried Student Photography Exhibition at the Radford University Art Museum.

The photographs of Jillian Leigh ’17, Emerson Scheinuk ’17, Kiki Spiezio ’17, Laura Wiseman ’16 and Ellen Kanzinger ’18 were included in the exhibition. Several of these students also won awards for their work including Scheinuk (1st place, digital print), Kanzinger (2nd place, silver gelatin print), Wiseman (2nd place, alternative process print and overall honorable mention) and Spiezio (overall honorable mention).

The competition included work by students from 11 colleges and universities in the area. Entry was open to current undergraduates who were taking photography courses as part of their studies.

The schools taking part included Blue Ridge Community College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Longwood University, Mary Baldwin College, New River Community College, Radford University, Roanoke College, Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College and Washington and Lee University. More than 30 students had work in the exhibit.

“There are many smaller photography programs in Southwest Virginia, so I wanted to find a way to connect students and teachers to a broader photography community than they may find within their schools,” said assistant professor of art at Radford University Andrew Ross, who organized the effort.

W&L Tea Society Hosts Women and Girls’ Day Tea Ceremony

The Washington and Lee University Chanoyu Tea Society will host its second Woman and Girls’ Day Tea to celebrate International Women’s Month. It will be held on March 12 in the Japanese Tea Room, Senshin’an, located in the Watson Pavilion at W&L. Observe a traditional Tea Ceremony by W&L students and enjoy sweets and a bowl of green tea.

There will be three seatings: 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Individual tickets for this event are free, but are required due to limited space. Tickets must be picked up at the Reeves Center Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

For more information, contact Cassie Ivey at (540) 458-8034 or civey@wlu.edu. For more information about the tea room, see http://tearoom.wlu.edu.

W&L’s Tea Room serves as a classroom and cultural laboratory where students study and practice temae, or the making of tea, which introduces them to history, literature, art, traditional customs, aesthetics and perceptions of beauty.

In 2011, Sen Genshitsu, the 15th-generation grand master of the Urasenke tradition of tea, presented the university with the tea room’s name, Senshin’an or Clearing-the-Mind Abode.

Tea room names are special gifts, as Janet Ikeda, associate professor of Japanese at W&L, explained, and “W&L’s tea room name was significant as it came from such a distinguished person.”

“At last year’s Women and Girls’ Day, the Chanoyu Tea Society, a student organization dedicated to learning the tea ceremony, was delighted to welcome many guests to the W&L Senshin’an tea room,” said Ikeda.  “Girls’ Day is celebrated throughout Japan with the display of elaborate doll sets and the serving of special sweets.

“Last year, the Tea Society purchased a special swaying kettle that hangs from a chain in the ceiling. The subtle movement of the kettle reminds us of the gentle spring breeze that will soon arrive. Tea Society once again looks forward to welcoming women and girls, men and boys, to celebrate International Women’s Month.”

For pictures, see https://www.facebook.com/Chanoyu-Tea-Society-of-Washington-and-Lee-University-125724700790277/.

Watch: Introducing President-Elect Dudley

W&L’s Board of Trustees elected Will Dudley as the university’s 27th president during its meeting on Feb. 12. He was introduced to the campus community in the Elrod Commons.


Ruscio Publishes Journal Article on Presidential Leadership

Washington and Lee University President Kenneth P. Ruscio is the author of an article in the March/April 2016 edition of Public Administration Review, the preeminent professional journal in the field of public administration research, theory and practice.

Titled “Leadership in Organized Anarchy,” the article is part of a lead feature in the journal called Perspectives, which showcases viewpoints from thought leaders about a variety of issues. Ruscio is one of four university presidents who were invited to reflect upon experiences or principles that have helped guide their careers in higher education for Perspectives in this edition of the journal.

The other authors are Mark Emmert, currently president of the NCAA and former president of the University of Washington and chancellor at LSU; Rebecca Blank, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin; and Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University.

Ruscio’s article is available on the the President’s website at http://myw.lu/ruscio_par.


W&L Law Team Wins Energy and Sustainable Development Moot Court Competition

Washington and Lee School of Law students Max Gottlieb ‘17L, Jenna Lorence ‘17L and Bo Mahr ‘17L won the sixth annual National Energy and Sustainable Development Moot Court Competition this weekend, hosted by West Virginia University College of Law.

During the competition, students tackled a legal problem that involved an environmental group’s appeal of a federally approved interstate natural gas pipeline. Allegations included violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.

The final round of the competition was judged by Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Judge Irene M. Keeley, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia; Senior Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia; Senior Judge David A. Faber, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia; and Judge Frank W. Volk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of West Virginia

The W&L students faced off against teams from 23 law schools, including Appalachian School of Law, Catholic University, University of Colorado, Duquesne University, George Washington University, Louisiana State University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, University of North Dakota, Pace University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah, Washington and Lee University, College of William and Mary, and University of Wyoming.

The National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition, the first of its kind in the nation, was established in 2011 by WVU’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. It is run by the Moot Court Board at WVU.

The Intersection of Poverty and Health

“I realized that large, systemic issues often prohibited people from having the capability to achieve good health, and that without good health, people couldn’t live a life they valued.”

kate_lemasters The Intersection of Poverty and HealthKate LeMasters ’15

Kate LeMasters ’15
Edwin A. Morris ’26 Distinguished Research Scholar
Cluj, Romania

By taking advantage of all that Washington and Lee has to offer, Kate LeMasters ’15 forged an educational path that took her from Lexington to the Southwest United States, Western Africa and Romania to tackle issues of poverty and public health.

Back in Romania this year through The Edwin A. Morris ’26 Distinguished Research Grant, a post-graduate grant from W&L, she continues to expand her research on maternal health among disadvantaged and ethnically marginalized women.

LeMasters first explored how societal context shapes peoples’ well-being through the Bonner Scholar and Shepherd Programs, her work with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) with Ellen Mayock, Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish, and through courses in global politics and economics of social issues taught by Tyler Dickovick, Grigsby Term Associate Professor of Politics, and Arthur Goldsmith, Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics.

“I realized that large, systemic issues often prohibited people from having the capability to achieve good health, and that without good health, people couldn’t live a life they valued,” LeMasters said.

Dickovick, who was LeMasters’ advisor and continues to be her mentor, encouraged her to explore public health and think critically about how institutional and political contexts influenced peoples’ health. The summer after her sophomore year, LeMasters conducted research with the West Africa AIDS Foundation in Accra, Ghana, where she interviewed HIV-positive pregnant women about disclosure of their HIV status to partners and families.

“In many situations, women did not take their medication for fear that loved ones would discover their diagnosis and abandon them,” she said. Throughout that summer, “it became clear that the health of many families, including that of unborn children, was sacrificed by medical establishments and society ignoring the implications of HIV’s stigma.”

Returning to W&L, LeMasters arranged a semester-long study abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, to learn how public health issues in developing areas were being approached at the international level.

At the end of the semester, LeMasters conducted an independent study in Romania, at the suggestion of Anne Wallis, professor of epidemiology and population health at the University of Louisville. Wallis formerly lived in Lexington and had given a lecture on maternal health at W&L, after which LeMasters discussed her research interests with her.

Funded by W&L’s John M. Evans Endowment for International Study, the research in Romania involved studying the social determinants of smoking during pregnancy and strengthened LeMasters’ interests in maternal health, which had been growing since her time in Ghana.

Back in Lexington during the summer before her senior year, she worked with Dickovick and Niels-Hugo Blunch, associate professor of economics as a Summer Research Scholar to analyze how Ghana’s localizing of its institutional structures affected health after the country decentralized from 65 districts to more than 200.

While her international experiences and internationally focused research were invaluable to LeMasters’ growing body of knowledge of public health, she wanted to learn more about marginalized groups domestically. So, through the mentorship and guidance of her global politics thesis advisors Dickovick and Jon Eastwood, Laurent Boetsch Term Associate Professor of Sociology, during winter break of her senior year, she traveled to Arizona to speak with Western and traditional healthcare workers on the Navajo Nations.

Funded through a Mellon grant from the Provost’s Office, the experience “helped shed light on how medical practices often ignore cultural context,” she said.

“While health issues in Navajo Nation, Ghana and Romania are distinct challenges, they are all examples of how health problems are rooted in societies misunderstanding the lives of those suffering, specifically the socially marginalized.”

LeMasters’ collective experiences enabled her to write two honors theses for her majors in global politics and economics and a capstone for her minor in poverty and human capability studies, all of which focused on understanding maternal health risk factors for ethnic minorities across political and cultural contexts and the injustices involved in those risk factors. Howard Pickett, director of the Shepherd Program, advised her capstone and encouraged LeMasters to explore not only risk factors but the ethical issues involved in administering healthcare to ethnic minorities, which greatly expanded the scope of her work.

But she wasn’t finished with her work just yet.

“I was looking for a way to go back to Romania after graduation to research Roma women’s pregnancy experiences,” she said, “because while the health inequalities between Roma and non-Roma women in Romania intensify throughout life, they often begin in utero.”

She says that experiences of Roma women “are best understood by complementing a traditional epidemiologic approach with one that reexamines the boundaries of assumed pregnancy experiences, gathers the life experiences of women, and examines the interplay of Roma women’s lives and their pregnancies.”

LeMasters expressed her desire to return to Romania to faculty, including her economics thesis advisor, Katherine Shester, assistant professor of economics, and Robert Straughan, now dean of the Williams School.

The school offered her the first Edwin A. Morris ’26 Distinguished Research Grant for post-graduate research. She returned to Romania in September 2015 and will conclude her work in summer 2016.

LeMasters is back at the Cluj School of Public Health as an international fellow, where she has the support of a research team, including a translator for field work (although she is learning Romanian), and continues to receive support and guidance from W&L professors and staff. She has interviewed academics, general practitioners, gynecologists, social and community workers, Roma health mediators and others.

The final component of her research now involves collaboration with World Vision for interviews with Roma and non-Roma women who have given birth within the past five years. “I hope that my work will elucidate the determinants of pregnancy-related health among the Roma and will help others better understand this stigmatized population, as they are increasingly scrutinized,” she said.

She’ll return to Lexington next year to give a talk about her experience. LeMasters will enter graduate school next fall for global public health, and hopes eventually to earn a Ph.D. and teach and conduct research at a university.

LeMasters says she is driven by believing that “better understanding the lives of those suffering from poor health is the first step towards ending unjust health inequalities that affect children before they are even born.”

She would like to thank Professors Blunch, Dickovick, Eastwood, Goldsmith, Mayock, Pickett, Shester, Wallis, and Ms. Carol Karsh for their invaluable mentorship and support while at W&L, and their continued guidance today. She would also like to thank Professor Razvan Chereches and Ms. Alexandra Brînzaniuc, Andreea Silaghi, and Andreea Varga for their research support in Romania.

W&L's Colón Quoted in Washington Post on Cruz Allegations of a Media Conspiracy

Aly Colón, the Knight Professor in Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee, was quoted in a March 7 Washington Post article about Ted Cruz’s assertion that media outlets have delayed publishing damaging exposés on Donald Trump to influence the outcome of the Republican nomination. Colón suggested several possible reasons for Cruz’s claims, but noted that journalists would not usually share their plans with a candidate.

You can read the full article online.

W&L's Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter Receives State Farm Grant

Washington and Lee University’s Habitat for Humanity campus chapter received a $5,000 matching grant from State Farm®, the national corporate sponsor of Habitat’s youth programs. Across the country, State Farm has provided grants to more than 30 youth groups to engage youth in Habitat’s home construction and neighborhood revitalization activities.

“We are grateful to have been selected as one of the matching grant recipients,” said chapter co-chair Brodie Chittum ’16. “The grant will help us to construct a house for a deserving family in our community.”

A Habitat campus chapter is a student-led, student-initiated organization on a high school or college campus that partners with the local Habitat affiliate to build, fundraise, advocate and educate to support the work of Habitat for Humanity.

The W&L Habitat campus chapter has partnered with Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity for several years and will use the funds it raises to supply materials and tools needed to construct a house in partnership with a local low-income family.

Grant requirements include raising matching funds. Scheduled fundraising activities include food sales, sports tournaments and an on-campus dunk booth. The W&L Habitat campus chapter also raises funds through the popular Habitat Hotel, where local hosts provide accommodations for students’ parents during Parents and Family Weekend each fall. This year, the students raised $19,700 by November, applied for an external matching grant of $5,000 and received it from State Farm®.

“We are proud to present this award for Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity to the Washington and Lee Campus Chapter,” said State Farm agent Trey Tilson. “When State Farm was told the W&L Habitat chapter had met the condition of the grant, the match took effect.”

The W&L campus chapter encourages all students to become involved with Rockbridge Area Habitat and help provide funding and volunteer labor to build houses for local low-income families.

“We believe W&L is not only a community in itself, but is also a part of the larger Rockbridge County community,” said chapter co-chair Bennett Henson ’16. “It is our responsibility to give back to the greater Rockbridge area, and building houses for Habitat partner families is a great way to do so.”


Shakespearean Scholar to Address W&L’s Phi Beta Kappa Convocation

The Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Washington and Lee University will induct new members into the prestigious academic honor society at the Phi Beta Kappa/Society of the Cincinnati Convocation on Sunday, March 13, at 3 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will recognize and honor 48 members of the junior and senior classes and five graduates from the Class of 2015, all of whom were accepted into Phi Beta Kappa based on their exceptional academic achievements.

It will be streamed live online.

The event will feature a keynote talk, “Commencing with Shakespeare,” by Ayanna Thompson, a professor of English at the George Washington University and a trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America. Thompson, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race and performance. She is a Phi Beta Kappa member from Columbia University, where she received her B.A.

Thompson’s most recent book is “Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach,” co-written with Laura Turchi. Her other books include “Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America” and (as editor) “Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance.” She is now working on one book about Peter Sellars’s approach to directing Shakespeare, and on another book about Shakespeare and revenge.

Thompson’s speech to Phi Beta Kappa dovetails with the university’s celebration of Shakespeare 2016!, part of the worldwide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Also at the convocation, the chapter will announce the winner of the Phi Beta Kappa J. Brown Goehring Sophomore Award. The award goes to the student with the highest cumulative scholastic average through the end of the fall term of his or her sophomore year.

Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Its motto is “Love of learning is the guide of life.”

Class of 2015 Initiates:

Betsy Buchanan Cribb
Roger Thomas Day, Jr.
Sarah Elizabeth Hampton
Colton Tyler Klein
Katherine Clark Strickland

Class of 2016 Initiates:

Laura Margaret Spencer Ackell
Stephen Michael Ball
Kennedy Antony Castillo
Christina Cheadle
Grace Victoria Duncan
Lindsay Paige George
Ryley Michelle Goldsworthy
María José Herrera Quesada
Ijezie Aloysius Ifechukwu Ikwuezunma, Jr.
Emily Katherine Jaekle
Christina Kamis
Alexandra Kinzer
Gabriella Dawn Kitch
Kiril Todorov Krendov
Brian Michael Krouskos
Amanda Maner
William Payson Miller
Andrea Mason Owen
Danielle Marie Rosenthal
Caroline Mae Sanders
Crystal Rae Santos
Richard Lester Snyder, II
Emma Maria Swabb
Geoffrey Lines Tickner, III
Jean J. Turlington

From the Class of 2017:

Mauricio Jose Bustamante
Alice Lane Cannon
Matthew Louis Carl
Katie Clemmons
Brooke Rose Donnelly
Joshua Michael Duemler
Elliot Emadian
Melina Lauryn Knabe
John Wilson Miller, II
Stephen Carrington Mitchell, Jr.
Christopher William Myers, II
Ashley Ooms
Zoe Helen Ottaviani
Scott Valentine Philips
Austin William Piatt
Jacob Stuart Roberts
Zachary Santangelo
Kristin Angelle Sharman
Elizabeth Stanton
Padget Ayres Sutherland
Zachary Joseph Taylor
Jenny J. Wang
Jamie Layne White

My Old Kentucky Home

During February, PBS aired Kent Masterson Brown’s ninth documentary film, “The Lincolns in Kentucky,” which chronicles the 34 years Abraham Lincoln’s family lived in Kentucky. Kent is a 1974 graduate of the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Beginning with Lincoln’s grandparents, Capt. Abraham Lincoln and Bathsheba Lincoln, and continuing through the years that his parents, Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, spent in Kentucky, the documentary focuses on the lawsuits against Thomas Lincoln over land claims in Hardin County. Kent first uncovered this aspect of the Lincoln story in the mid-1990s, when he conducted a title examination for the National Park Service of the Knob Creek Farm, the place of Abraham Lincoln’s first memory.

As a result of Kent’s work, the National Park Service was able to add the Knob Creek farm to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park.

“The Lincolns in Kentucky” drew rave reviews and had more than 1.5 million viewers, rivaling Kent’s previous broadcast production, “Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West in 2015.”

Kent practices law with offices in Lexington, Kentucky, and with Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and former editor in chief of The Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society and has won numerous awards for his books, which include “Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign” and “The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State.” In addition, he has hosted and produced nine award-winning documentary films for public and cable television on various aspects of American history. In October, he was named a 2014 Distinguished Graduate of Centre College of Kentucky for his efforts challenging government authority as a practicing lawyer, as well as for his Civil War scholarship.

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U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit to Hear Cases at W&L Law

On Wednesday, March 23, Washington and Lee School of Law will host the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for oral argument. W&L also has been named the “continuity of operations” site for the Court.

The court session will begin at 10 a.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The session is open to the public. Use of electronic devices is prohibited. No audio recordings or photography is permitted while the Court is in session.

Established in 1982 under Article III of the Constitution, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is unique among other appeals courts in that it is the only appeals court defined by its jurisdiction rather than geographical boundaries.  The Court has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas including but not limited to international trade, government contracts, patents, and trademarks.

As the continuity of operations location for the Federal Circuit Appeals court, W&L will serve as the home of the Court if for some reason it is unable to convene in Washington, D.C. As part of this designation, the Court will hear cases in Lexington each year.

During the upcoming visit to W&L, the Court will consider two cases. Slated for oral argument are Grandeye Limited v. Google, a dispute over a patent related to rendering images in a virtual environment; and Milik v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, which involves the contention that a measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused a child to develop spastic diplegia.

A question and answer period with the judges will follow the Court session.

Experience, W&L Law: Kerriann Laubach ’16L

Kerriann Laubach is a third-year law student at Washington and Lee School of Law. She graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2013 with a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies and a minor in Poverty and Human Capability Studies.

kerriannprofile Experience, W&L Law: Kerriann Laubach '16LKerriann Laubach ’16L

As a double General, I owe the Shepherd Program at Washington and Lee University for shaping my interests and career goals throughout my undergraduate and law school education. I came to Washington and Lee as a freshman with a passion for environmental advocacy and a vague sense that I wanted to help the underserved. My first two years centered mostly on learning the science behind sustainability and environmental impacts. I became involved with the Shepherd Program beginning in my junior year and quickly learned of the social justice consequences of environmental damage, poor health, and limited resources.

I spent my Shepherd internship during my third summer with an attorney in Chester, Pennsylvania. There, I worked with the youth court system-an alternative school disciplinary system focused on restorative rather than punitive justice. The Shepherd Program gave me this opportunity to learn about the justice system and how lawyers can create positive social change. I began college with the idea of pursuing a law degree, but that summer opportunity revealed just how much a legal career fit with my social justice goals. The coursework for my minor in Poverty and Human Capability Studies allowed me to explore issues like environmental racism, the impacts of pollution, and unequal access to healthy communities and resources. I knew that I wanted to pursue an advocacy career at the intersection of public health, environmental justice, and sustainability, but I did not yet know what specific opportunities might fulfill that goal.

Once I knew I would attend Washington and Lee School of Law, I looked to the Shepherd Program to support my ambitions to advocate for the underserved. Through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, I spent my 1L summer with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (ACLC) in Whitesburg, Kentucky. There, I worked on cases involving the externalities of coal production-pollution, property damage, and coal mining regulation. I also worked on black lung cases, which involve helping miners afflicted with pneumoconiosis (commonly known as black lung) obtain federal benefits. My undergraduate internship exposed me to urban poverty near Philadelphia, but my law school internship exposed me to rural poverty in Eastern Kentucky.

Given the opportunity to write a Note for the Washington and Lee Law Review, I researched and wrote on how epigenetics-an emerging scientific field-can inform causation in toxic tort cases. Toxic tort litigation is one avenue for recovery if environmental pollution causes health harms, and epigenetic changes seem to link many environmental exposures with disease onset. After my second year of law school, I worked for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, I learned more about environmental litigation and the most pressing environmental issues facing the Southeast.

As a third-year law student, I now serve in the law school’s Black Lung Clinic, applying some of what I learned at ACLC. The Clinic serves clients who need no-cost legal assistance in obtaining federal black lung benefits. Because these cases deal with extensive medical records and expert evidence, they provide the perfect opportunity to apply my scientific background to legal advocacy.

Black lung litigation is an excellent example of the intersection of public health, sustainability, and social justice. Coal is relied on to produce energy, requiring coal mines and miners to extract it from the land. For many in Appalachia, coal mining is the only way to make an income. Generations of families are involved in the industry as sons go into the mines with their fathers. Coal is part of the Appalachian culture and heritage-a culture and heritage that Washington and Lee shares and can contribute its resources to representing. Beyond climate change and air and water pollution, coal impacts communities at a more basic level-by invading the lungs of miners as they work. For many, black lung is simply part of the cost of making an adequate income. Advocating in the black lung world helps current and former miners mitigate the personal and financial costs of the disease.

The Shepherd Program introduced me to the full spectrum of social justice issues, which I will continue to explore after my time in Lexington is complete. Coming full circle, I have accepted a tentative offer of employment to clerk with the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges-the judges who decide black lung and similar workers’ compensation cases. I am excited for the chance to continue black lung work from the perspective of an impartial decision-maker. I know that, whatever the future holds, the lessons I learned in the Shepherd Program and Consortium will continue to inform my personal and career pursuits.

Media Executive Vivian Schiller to Give Keynote Lecture at 61st Institute of Media Ethics at Washington and Lee

Media executive Vivian Schiller will deliver the keynote address at Washington and Lee University’s 61st Institute of Media Ethics on March 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons. The address will be streamed live online.

Schiller will speak on “Ethics: From The Times to Twitter.” Her talk is free and open to the public. The institute is funded by the Knight Program in Journalism Ethics and is co-sponsored by W&L’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

As executive editor in residence at Weber Shandwick, Schiller works with Weber Shandwick and its clients to broaden thinking on media change and to inspire brands to innovate the way they engage audiences in the digital era.

Previously she was global chair of news at Twitter; senior vice president and chief digital officer for NBC News including oversight of the networks’ presence on the web, mobile, devices and social media; president and CEO of NPR; senior vice president and general manager of NYTimes.com and senior vice president and general manager of the Discovery Times Channel; and head of CNN Productions, where she led CNN’s long-form programming efforts.

Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She sits on the boards of the College of the University of New York Journalism School; the Investigative News Network; Society for Science and the Public; and International Center for Journalism. She was the founding board chair for The News Literary Project.

W&L Professor Barton Myers Awarded Research Fellowship at Filson Historical Society

Barton Myers, assistant professor of history at Washington and Lee University, has won the Filson Historical Society’s 2016 Ballard Breaux Visiting Research Fellowship.

The Breaux Fellowship allows awardees to conduct research within the Filson Historical Society’s collections. Meyers’ award will help him with research on guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War.

“I’m very excited to receive the Ballard Breaux Visiting Research Fellowship,” Myers said. “The archival holdings in Louisville are exceptionally strong for the American Civil War era. The excellent archival staff has been extremely helpful during previous trips to present and research at the Filson, and I’m looking forward to spending two weeks in residence there this summer.”

The work will build on a topic Myers visited as part of his forthcoming book “The Guerrilla Hunters” (LSU Press, 2017), and also in his previous books “Rebels Against the Confederacy” (2014) and “Executing Daniel Bright” (2009).

“While I’m in residence at the Filson, I’ll be researching my new book project on the Confederate partisan rangers, sanctioned petite guerre forces recruited to use the tactics of guerrilla warfare alongside the regular armies of the South,” Myers said.

“In an effort to establish a new Confederate nation-state, Southerners experimented on the edges of accepted military activity. There has never been a comprehensive study of the Confederate government’s experiment with guerrilla warfare in its official, sanctioned form, and I look forward to producing a first-rate study of the Confederacy-wide problem of guerrilla conflict through an examination of this policy.”

Founded in 1884, the Filson is Kentucky’s oldest privately supported Historical Society. Its mission is to collect, preserve and tell the significant stories of Kentucky and Ohio Valley history and culture. The Filson Society’s fellowships encourage the scholarly use of their nationally significant collections.

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Matthew Talbert to Keynote 2016 Mudd Undergraduate Ethics Conference

The 2016 Mudd Undergraduate Ethics Conference, with keynote address by Matthew Talbert, associate professor of philosophy, West Virginia University (WVU), will be March 5 from 12:45–4:10 p.m. and March 6 from 9 a.m.–12:10 p.m. in the Hillel House, room 101. The keynote address will be March 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the same location.

Talbert will speak on “Doing What You Think is Right.” The conference and keynote address are free and open to the public.

Talbert is the author or editor of more than 10 articles and book chapters including “The Significance of Psychopathic Wrongdoing” (ed., 2014), in “Being Amoral: Psychopathy and Moral Incapacity;” “Unwitting Wrongdoers and the Role of Moral Disagreement in Blame” (ed., 2013), in “Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility;” and “Accountability, Aliens and Psychopaths: A Reply to Shoemaker,” in Ethics (2012).

He has been at WVU since 2007 and is current chair of the WVU Philosophy Department. Previously, he was a faculty fellow researcher and lecturer in philosophy at the University of California at San Diego. Talbert’s research focuses on approaches to moral responsibility, conceptions of blameworthiness, ethics, moral psychology and philosophy of agency.

Eight students from six different schools and states will present their papers that will appear in the inaugural Mudd Journal of Ethics. The students represent Colorado, California, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.

All the papers address issues arising in moral or political philosophy or ethics. Topics include the morality of economic redistribution of resources, environmental ethics, the nature of ethical value, and the legal regulation of prostitution, among others.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Bernstein Headlines W&L’s Institute for Honor Symposium

Carl Bernstein, investigative journalist and author, will deliver the keynote address at Washington and Lee University’s Institute for Honor Symposium “The Press and the Presidency: The Battle for Public Opinion in War, Peace and the Digital Age” on March 18 at 4:15 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

Bernstein will speak on “The Rise of Investigative Journalism and the Modern Presidency.” His lecture is free and open to the public.

Along with Bob Woodward, Bernstein is known for breaking the 1970s Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He shared a Pulitzer Prize with Woodward for his coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post.

His most recent book is “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” (2007). He is the co-author, with Woodward, of “All the President’s Men” (1974) and “The Final Days” (1976), and co-author of “His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time” (1996). He is also the author of “Loyalties” (1989), a memoir about his parents during McCarthy–era Washington.

He has written for Vanity Fair (where he is also a contributing editor), Time, USA Today, Rolling Stone and The New Republic. He was a Washington bureau chief and correspondent for ABC News. At The Washington Post, Bernstein also was a part-time rock critic, and he still occasionally writes about music.

Established in 2000 at Washington and Lee by a generous endowment from the Class of 1960, the Institute for Honor includes an array of initiatives and specific programs designed to promote the understanding and practice of honor as an indispensable element of society. The Institute for Honor Symposium is dedicated to the advocacy of honor as the core value in personal, professional, business and community relations. For more information, contact spclprog@wlu.edu.

Professor Dale Jamieson of N.Y.U. to Lecture on Climate Change

Dale Jamieson, professor of environmental studies and philosophy at New York University (N.Y.U.), will lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 17 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House, room 101. The event will be streamed live online.

He will speak on “How to Live in the Anthropocene (Human Dominated Planet).” The talk is free and open to the public. This lecture is sponsored by W&L’s Department of Philosophy and the Root Lecture Fund.

At N.Y.U., Jamieson is also affiliated professor of law, affiliated professor of bioethics and founding director and chair of environmental studies and animal studies. In addition, he is distinguished visiting professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College in London and adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Jamieson is the author of “Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed—and What It Means for our Future” (2014); “Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction” (2008); and “Morality’s Progress: Essays on Humans Other Animals and the Rest of Nature” (2002).

He is editor or co-editor of nine books, most recently “Love in the Anthropocene” (ed., 2015) and “Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy” (ed., 2012). He has also authored more than 100 articles and book chapters.

Jamieson is on the editorial boards of several journals including Environmental Humanities, Science and Engineering Ethics; and Journal of Applied Philosophy. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Office of Global Programs in the National Atmospheric and Aeronautics Administration.

Formerly, he was the Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carleton College and professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has held visiting appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona University and Monash University in Australia.

Geology Professor Patricia Kelley to Lecture on Evolution and Creation: Conflicting or Compatible? at Washington and Lee

Patricia Kelley, professor of geology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 18 at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Kelley will speak on “Evolution and Creation: Conflicting or Compatible?” The talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by W&L’s departments of Geology, Biology and Religion.

As a distinguished lecturer of the Paleontological Society, Kelley seeks to bridge the divide between acknowledgement—even celebration—of the reality of evolution and beliefs maintained by the great religious traditions.

Her expertise is in invertebrate paleontology and her research focuses on evolution and paleoecology of Coastal Plain mollusks. Ongoing studies include tempo and mode of evolution; role of biological factors such as predation in evolution; predator-prey coevolution and escalation; and mass extinction and recovery of mollusk faunas.

Kelley has edited six books and 38 articles including “Assessing the Influence of Escalation during the Mesozoic Marine Revolution: Shell Breakage and Adaptation against Enemies in Mesozoic Ammonites,” in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (2015); “Shell Ornamentation as an Exaptation: Evidence from Predatory Drilling on Cenozoic Bivalves,” in Paleobiology (2015); and “Validation of Taxon-specific Sampling by Novice Collectors for Studying Drilling Predation in Fossil Bivalves,” in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (2014).

She is a Centennial fellow of the Paleontological Society and received North Carolina’s 2014 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. She also received the United States Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year Award in 2014.

Auto Recall Bill Named in Honor of W&L Law Student Moves Closer to Becoming Law

A new bill before the Tennessee state legislature that would require auto makers to repair any vehicle with an open recall before selling or renting the car may soon be a law.

Lara’s Law is named in honor of Washington and Lee law student Lara Gass ‘14L, who died in a car accident in March of her 3L year. Unbeknownst to Lara, the Saturn Ion she was driving had a critical safety defect that caused the driver side airbag to fail to deploy.

After her death, Lara’s family launched the LiveLikeLara Foundation devoted to keeping Lara’s legacy alive. Her family has also advocated for policy changes related to the auto industry.

Lara’s parents, Jay and Gerri, recently described their battle to create the law in a commentary in the Tennessean.

“Right now, a potential buyer could walk into any used car dealership in the state and purchase a vehicle with an active safety recall notice without even knowing it because dealership personnel are not required to inform the buyer about open safety recalls,” they wrote. “That’s a significant flaw in the used car buying process here in Tennessee and across the country.”

Lara’s parents are asking Tennessee residents to urge state legislators to pass the law before they adjourn this spring. You can read the complete commentary online.

Alumni returning to campus for Law Alumni Weekend on April 15-17 can support the LiveLikeLara Foundation during a fundraiser benefiting the Lara D. Gass ‘14L Memorial Law Scholarship. Tickets for the annual beer/wine tasting on Cannan Green from 2-4 p.m. are available at the foundation website.

Lara’s Law

Two years ago, Lara Gass, a third-year law student at Washington and Lee University, died when her car crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer truck. Her Saturn had a critical safety defect that prevented her driver-side airbag from deploying.

Since then, Lara’s parents, Jay and Gerri Gass, have been advocating for important public policy changes to add greater accountability to the auto industry.

In an op-ed piece for The Tennessean, they wrote, “We have been working with state Senator Mark Green and state Representative Curtis Johnson to introduce Lara’s Law, a bill intended to ensure that a used vehicle with an open recall on that vehicle be fixed prior to it being sold, rented and/or leased.

“Right now, a potential buyer could walk into any used car dealership in the state and purchase a vehicle with an active safety recall notice without even knowing it because dealership personnel are not required to inform the buyer about open safety recalls. That’s a significant flaw in the used car buying process here in Tennessee and across the country.”

They note, “The bill in its current form needs amending to accomplish what our family originally intended it to do by having all used cars repaired prior to selling that vehicle. The problem we face now is time.

We need the public’s help to encourage the legislature to pass Lara’s Law this year, and are asking people to call or write their state senator and representative to let them know recalls must be fixed on all used vehicles before they can be sold.”

For more information about Lara, visit www.livelikelara.org. Jay and Gerri are also members of the GM Recall Survivors Group. For additional information about this organization, visit http://www.gmrecallsurvivors.com.