Perks of the Parks As superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Sula Jacobs ’00 enthusiastically promotes the virtues of the National Park Service, which turned 100 years old this year.
“To me, every park has this magic. They are really unique and special, and they were designated as National Park Service units for a reason.”
Sula Jacobs ’00 loves national parks so much that she jokingly refers to it as a “sickness.” It doesn’t look like she’ll recover from this obsession anytime soon — as superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, she gets a fix nearly every day.
When she isn’t overseeing operations at the park, which covers just under 25,000 acres and straddles Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, Jacobs spends her days off hiking its 80-plus miles of trails with her yellow lab, Eva, or visiting other national parks around the country.
“I love to go to national parks. They each have their charms,” Jacobs said. “To me, every park has this magic. They are really unique and special, and they were designated as National Park Service units for a reason.”
This year marks 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the park service on Aug. 25, 1916. Since then, the National Park System has grown to cover more than 83 million acres of parks across the U.S. and the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan.
Jacobs, who is one of more than 20,000 NPS employees, said the only place that has captured her affection as much as national parks is her alma mater. She remembers the day she and her father arrived on the W&L campus after an exhausting tour of potential colleges.
“I remember just taking a few steps up that path that goes to Lee Chapel, and looking at the Colonnade,” she said. “Everyone seemed so relaxed. I turned to my father and said, ‘I think I could call this place home for four years.’ From that point, I was desperate. I really wanted to go to Washington and Lee.”
Jacobs graduated from W&L with degrees in economics and East Asian studies, then worked as a strategic consultant before going on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley. During grad school, she interned at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She worked for a time as a management analyst for the Office of Comptroller in Washington, D.C., but she kept thinking back to how much she enjoyed that internship.
In 2006, she began work as an administrative officer at the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean, Virginia. She then worked as assistant superintendent at Biscayne National Park in southern Florida before being named superintendent at Cumberland Gap in 2014. Along the way, she also had temporary detail assignments at other parks, including Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments in St. Augustine, Florida.
Jacobs, who grew up in New York state, says that moving to Cumberland Gap felt like a return to her rural roots.
“It’s mostly the community feeling you get,” she said. “It really reminds me a lot of where I grew up. You feel like you are in a place you can call home.”
Jacobs’ days on the job vary extensively. One day might find her walking a creek bed with biologists to talk about a threatened fish species. On another day, she may analyze the park budget, interview prospective employees or attend meetings. She especially enjoys working with partner agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or various state parks.
“You never know who you are going to meet as part of the job,” she said. “You never know who you are going to form those partnerships with to solve a problem and come up with a solution that’s going to benefit everybody.”
While it may not seem as if degrees in economics and East Asian studies naturally lend themselves to a job in the National Park Service, Jacobs says her entire learning experience at W&L has had a positive impact on her career.
“The ability to think and be analytical while also taking in the full picture is definitely something that both majors taught me. Whether it is an endangered species or whether or not to open a road at sunrise to allow photographers to take pictures, all of that forces you to be both analytical and think broadly,” she said. “Even the general education requirements at W&L, forcing you to take classes outside of your major to expand your palate for learning, really pushes your area of expertise and understanding.”
One of Jacobs’ favorite projects as superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was planning the massive celebration they held there in April to mark the park service’s 100th birthday and the release of Kentucky’s America the Beautiful coin, which features an image of the park on one side. The event took two years to plan, stretched across three days, and featured hundreds of history reenactors, special guests from parks across the country, and a special film made by a park service employee.
Best of all, she said, more than 2,500 children crowded the event tent and took the Junior Ranger Pledge. “It was absolutely one of the most amazing things I have ever seen,” she said.
As part of her aforementioned “sickness,” Jacobs sometimes asks people which national parks they’ve visited, a conversation that segues into recommendations for other parks they might enjoy. She is enamoured with so many aspects of the park system, including the people who work for it, its beautiful hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems, and the amazing stories one can find at any park unit.
“I think that’s the great thing about the park service. We tell these really deep stories, as well as historic stories,” she said. “So I love the combination between paying attention to cultural and natural resources and not forgetting about the recreational aspect. You have to take into account all three things.”
As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, we’d like to also recognize other alumni who have dedicated their careers to the NPS:
Tim Clark ‘91 has been the marine ecologist for the National Park of American Samoa for six years. His job is to preserve and protect the corals, algae, fish and invertebrates that live in the park, which is spread over three islands in American Samoa. His program monitors the health of marine life in the park, manages problems, and conducts research on how to best manage the park’s marine ecosystems. They also do educational programs. “Hopefully this work will keep the coral reefs of American Samoa healthy and vibrant for future generations of visitors and local Samoans,” Clark said.
Frank O’Reilly ‘87 is lead historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He has been employed with the NPS for 29 years. He spends his days writing, lecturing and leading staff rides and tours focused on the Civil War. He has written several books on the Civil War, including a 2003 Pulitzer Prize nominee in Letters, “The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock.” He also served as the Civil War Sesquicentennial special events coordinator for the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Overland Campaign’s 150th anniversary national commemorations, and participated in the 150th anniversaries of the Battle of First Manassas (or Bull Run), Antietam, and Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. “I have spoken across the USA and the UK, even lecturing at Oxford,” O’Reilly said, “but the highlight for me was speaking in Lee Chapel on Remembering Lee in 2013.”
Jeff Driscoll ’72 is a ranger at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park in Middletown, Virginia. Prior to that, he worked in the Education Office at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Driscoll’s job involves giving tours, talks and programs about the Battle of Cedar Creek, as well as other Civil War battles that took place in the Shenandoah Valley. Said Driscoll, “The personal awards are many: meeting people from all over the country — and the world; having the opportunity to learn more about this incredibly important time in our country’s history, then being allowed to share that knowledge and interest with our visitors; and working with some of the finest people you’d ever want to know.”
Did we miss someone? Please let us know by emailing Lindsey Nair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, visit the park website.
Journalism in a New Age Alecia Swasy's new book tackles the impact of social media on journalism.
Coverage of the Economy
Media Management and Entrepreneurship
“How Journalists Use Twitter: The Changing Landscape of U.S Newsrooms” (2016)
“Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company” (1996)
“Soap Opera: The Inside Story of Procter & Gamble” (1993)
Listen to an in-depth interview with Alecia Swasy on her book, “How Journalists Use Twitter,” on the New Books Network.
Q: Your new book, “How Journalists Use Twitter,” is particularly pertinent this election. What is the main takeaway?
A: Social media is an amazing phenomenon that has changed how we do business in an era where anyone with an internet connection can become a publisher. It democratizes the news vs. the days when only the rich could build a printing press. But it’s also quite frightening. Look what it did to this presidential campaign. Trump hijacked the news cycle at 3 a.m. with his tweets, which journalists used to set the news agenda, rather than the normal, thoughtful discussion about what’s most important in all the other domestic and foreign issues of the day. It made the coverage of both Democrats and Republicans lopsided and lacking in depth about what’s really going on in most hometowns, which are a long way from D.C. or Manhattan. And now the pundits and pollsters are stunned by the outcome. There is anger among voters, who feel ignored in the national debate. In the aftermath, I hope there will be calm, peaceful reflection and conversations about where the line is. One of the things that angered me from day one, especially with TV news, was a basic question: What is news? Just because the circus comes to town doesn’t mean we need to cover the clowns every night. Yet that’s what it became. It’s exhausting.
“Twitter” evolved from a project I worked on while I was a Ph.D. student. During the 2012 presidential election, a group of us worked with four metro papers and asked readers to tweet to certain handles about the debates. We captured those tweets in real time for the papers to post on their websites and the next day’s papers. It was fascinating to me. I was never active on social media — I never had the time and much prefer to talk to people on the phone — but I realized that it was a force to be reckoned with. During one of the debates, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the dean of broadcasting, came on after a commercial and apologized to viewers for using the term “schizophrenic” to refer to voters. He had been called out on Twitter. So what used to be a passive audience is now talking back to you. It would usually take days or the Sunday morning talk-show circuit to critique what Brokaw said. But here, instantaneously, he’d been called out and had to respond immediately. Twitter has changed not only what journalists cover, but how they disseminate that information.
Before Twitter, journalists used to do the best they could right up until the presses rolled. Now they are rolling all the time. What I’ve noticed is that millennials now view their career differently from when I started. I was always Alecia Swasy of the Wall Street Journal. They want to be Alecia Swasy Inc. They are creating and nurturing a brand so they can be more portable, because they don’t know if the news organization they are currently working for will be around in five years.
Q: In your first book, “Soap Opera,” you exposed some unsavory details of Procter & Gamble’s business dealings. The CEO, Ed Artzt, wasn’t happy. What happened?
A: P&G got law enforcement and Cincinnati Bell to turn over millions of phone records of anyone who called me at the WSJ or home. It was a witch-hunt to find out who was talking to me. This was a chilling invasion of privacy way before the NSA made it an everyday event. Ed Artzt, the CEO, used the obscure Ohio trade secrets law, which is supposed to protect the secret formula to Tide or Crest, to get ahold of the phone numbers. He thought he could control the media. My stories, which were confirmed many times as accurate, detailed P&G’s failed food and beverage business. It ticked him off. It was “Shoot the messenger” and “You’re liars.” Because of him, I was the target of a police and phone investigation. I was followed and harassed by the company. It was an interesting time, and that experience became the last chapter of my book, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
My brother subscribes to the Journal, so I knew I had to warn my elderly mother that I was about to be page-one news around the globe. I explained that P&G was playing hardball with me, but the Journal and Random House stood behind me. She slammed her coffee cup down on the table and said, “No more Tide in this house.” I told her she’d also have to dump her coffee, because “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” I still don’t buy any P&G products.
Q: Your next book, “Changing Focus,” was quite a different experience.
A: I switched gears for that book. At the end of every year, companies will fire thousands of people, their stock will go up by X number of dollars, and the Wall Street Journal will give them a couple of inches. I wanted to cover the story from the minute an employee got home and said, “Honey, I just lost my job.” I took a long time to troll around the Rust Belt to find my company and ended up at Kodak. At that time, the CEO was new, and he understood how to work with the media. He pretty much gave me free rein.
I spent about 2½ years in Rochester doing more than 300 interviews. It’s always nice, of course, to get a good book review in The New York Times, but for me it was hearing from the people who told me I found the right words to tell their stories. It’s difficult to be just an observer. Often, the couples I profiled would talk to each other through me. And that’s when you go, “Oh, boy, I’m not a trained counselor.” You say a little prayer and hope for wisdom and let them talk. I’m always amazed by how much people will tell you. They told me about their financial situation, their love life, their children, their heartache. You want to do them justice. What ticks me off is when critics try to portray journalists as running roughshod over everything. If they only knew how much we sweat the details. Anyone who has come to an editorial meeting at the WSJ, or any number of papers, comes away going, “Wow, I had no idea there was such debate.” We care. We care so much.
Q: Are you hopeful for the future of journalism?
A: I had someone ask me, given everything that is going on, how do you get up in the morning? My answer: with great exuberance, because I get to teach journalism at a time when now, more than ever, it is essential for our democracy. We must train the next generation how to do it right. I take great pride in that because I am an optimist and the truth will prevail. It’s invigorating to get to teach. I love it.
Changes have been seismic in journalism. There is a fantastic opportunity with the explosion of smartphones and social media and the democratization of the news, where we now can get pictures and news where we no longer have boots on the ground. At the same time, you have this deluge of bad information. That has some serious ripple effects in terms of telling the truth and getting out the message.
Any time I meet a parent who has indigestion about their son or daughter going into journalism, I say, “Wow — I don’t think news is going away, do you? Politics is never going to be tame. And how about Wall Street, and let’s talk about Hollywood and the NFL.” And then they start smiling. Journalism’s business model, the traditional one, is antiquated, and we have to figure out ways to continue to do the investigative journalism, keep the lights on and also try to serve up the whole buffet of information people want. I do not ever want us to become a Kardashian kind of culture, where it’s the lowest common denominator of information. It’s OK to give people entertainment news, but for God’s sake, we’ve got to teach them what is going on in the world.
Q: You’ve got an interesting Spring Term class in 2017. Where are you and your students going?
A: My class is Media Management and Entrepreneurship. I’ve got the Charlotte Observer to partner with me and 12 students, and we are going to parachute in there for a few days and break into teams. Each team is going to come up with a product or a strategy on how to increase millennial traffic to the Observer’s website. It’s a dynamic market with two competing millennial publications in that city already, Charlotte 5 and the Charlotte Agenda. Figuring out how to increase readership is the elusive hunt that has been going on forever.
Q: What’s your next project?
A: I’m going back to an old favorite, which will take me back to a small town in West Virginia. I wrote a couple of stories about 20 years ago on single moms in the Appalachian region, and I’ve been haunted by them. It’s one of those times where I feel a responsibility as a journalist to tell the haves about the have-nots. In America, there is an increasingly big gulf between the two. Everybody should care about that. I know so many people who are one illness away from financial disaster. It is scary.
W&L Announces November Community Grants
Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 10 grants totaling $24,736.22 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the first part of its two rounds of grants for 2016-17.
The committee chose the grants from 16 proposals requesting over $96,000.
W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:
- The Community Closet at Christ Church, Buena Vista: Funds to help improve the living conditions of the needy in Rockbridge County
- The Community Table of Buena Vista, Inc.: Funds to assist TCT to purchase food
- Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center: Purchase bitless bridles
- Lexington Lyme Disease Support Group: To purchase educational materials regarding Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses
- Miller’s House Museum Foundation: Establish an interpretive walking trail at Jordan’s Point
- Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry, Inc.: Funds will be used for food purchase and operational expenses
- Rockbridge Area Relief Association: Help provide heating fuel for at-risk neighbors
- Rockbridge Area Transportation System, Inc.: Funds to assist with the purchase of a new handicap vehicle
- Rockbridge Area Youth Strings (c/o Fine Arts In Rockbridge): Funds to purchase cases for existing instruments and a ¾-size double bass
- Rockbridge Regional Library Youth Services Department: Fund the STEAM after-school program
Established in 2008, W&L’s Community Grants Committee evaluates requests for financial donations and support from Lexington and Rockbridge County. While the University has long provided financial and other assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations in the community on a case-by-case basis, the Community Grants Program formalizes W&L’s role in supporting regional organizations and activities through accessible grant-making.
During its 2015-16 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually. The submission deadline for the second round of evaluations for 2016-17 will be: by the end of the work day (4:30 p.m.) on Friday, April 14, 2017. Interested parties may download the proposal guidelines at http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.
Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (Word or PDF) via e-mail to email@example.com. Please call (540) 458-8417 with questions. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to (540) 458-8745 or mailed to Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee, Attn: James D. Farrar, Jr., Office of the Secretary, 204 W. Washington St., Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116.
Standing Up for LGBT Rights Leading the Fight for Equality for All Americans
“When marriage equality was resolved, there was a vacuum in discussing LGBT issues. Now that is changing.”
When legislation focused on LGBT issues works its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, there is a very good chance that Roddy Flynn ’12L has been involved behind the scenes, crafting strategy and educating members of Congress.
For the past year, Flynn has served as executive director of the LGBT Caucus, a group of 87 representatives engaged in strategy to turn issues of concern to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people into legislation or executive action.
“My job is to give shape and strategy to LGBT legislation,” he said. While the job is self-directed — “I can plan my own initiatives” — he tries to be responsive to what House members want. “We focus on policy development and ask what we can do to help.” The answer might be to draft legislation or ask the executive branch to act.
Flynn discussed his job and the issues he tackles on the national level at a recent Embracing Diversity symposium on campus.
He is proud that during his first year with the caucus, he was able to organize a landmark congressional forum on violence against the transgender community — the first time transgender issues have been the sole focus of congressional testimony.
The forum was set up much like a formal congressional hearing. “I reserved a hearing room and had 12 House members on the dais,” said Flynn. He recruited witnesses to discuss transgender issues in such areas as employment and housing discrimination. “It is a multi-faceted problem.”
News outlets from around the world covered the forum, which Flynn said successfully raised transgender issues to high levels of government, such as the departments of Justice and Education.
Flynn has also helped create and serves as managing director of Equality PAC, a political action committee that works for the election of openly LGBT candidates and strong allies to federal office.
Flynn received his undergraduate degree from American University, where he majored in interdisciplinary studies in political communication and economics. After graduating from W&L School of Law, he clerked for Justice Henry DuPont Ridgely of the Delaware Supreme Court and then spent two years practicing commercial and intellectual property law with Richards, Layton & Finger PA, in Wilmington, Deleware.
While in Delaware, Flynn helped form an LGBT bar association, which now is a section of the Delaware Bar. He also coordinated LGBT pro bono efforts in such areas as family court and insurance. Through those activities, Flynn got to know his congressman, Rep. John Carney.
Through Rep. Carney, Flynn learned of the House caucus job, and although the job “was completely unplanned,” he saw it as an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. “I’ve learned not to plan too much,” he said.
Flynn thinks the caucus is making progress. “When marriage equality was resolved, there was a vacuum in discussing LGBT issues. Now that is changing.”
He has worked hard to develop strategy for the House’s Equality Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act. “It is a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill that creates more awareness of how LGBT issues reach into areas other than marriage,” he said, citing employment, housing, public accommodation, jury duty and other areas
While at W&L, Flynn was the head Kirgis Fellow, which gave him the opportunity to run orientation for the 1L class. He also was a Burks Scholar, a position that allowed him to teach legal research and writing to 1Ls.
He fondly remembers Ann Massie, professor of law emeritus, who taught bioethics and constitutional law. “She pushed everyone to think through issues, such as assisted suicide and surrogacy.” Brian Murchison, the Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law, taught him administrative law and is someone Flynn continues to consult when he wants another opinion. He also credits professors Sarah Wiant ’75L and J.D. King with influencing his career path.
Flynn acknowledges some frustration that Congress moves so slowly. “I’m goal oriented and like to accomplish things,” he said. What makes him happiest in his work is “when I can get a member who doesn’t understand the urgency of an issue to become a full activist or co-sponsor.”
He doesn’t have much time for hobbies these days. “My job is my entire life,” he said. However, he likes to cook and says baking relaxes him. Cooking Italian or American comfort food “provides satisfaction and makes me feel good.”
His path toward his current work on behalf of the LGBT community might have been set at his graduation from W&L Law School, when he received the Calhoun-Bond Award for exceptional service to the university. He believes it was an acknowledgement of the work he did on campus on behalf of the undergrad LGBT population.
W&L’s Strong Reflects on Somalia’s 1992 Thanksgiving
“Memories of the Black Hawks being brought down make people think of Somalia as being a U.S. foreign-policy failure. It wasn’t.”
The following opinion piece by Bob Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee, appeared in Newsweek on November 23, 2016, and is reprinted here by permission.
Somalia’s 1992 Thanksgiving: Reflections on U.S. Humanitarian Intervention in the Horn of Africa
On the eve of Thanksgiving in 1992, then-U.S. president George H. W. Bush, in his final weeks in office, approved a major military intervention to relieve a humanitarian crisis in Somalia.
After losing his bid for re-election, Bush was not expected to make any dramatic foreign-policy decisions; lame ducks rarely quack or take unexpected steps. But the first president Bush did.
Today, we vividly remember the chain of events during the Bill Clinton presidency that led to the American withdrawal from Somalia in 1994—the shot-down Black Hawk helicopters, the body of a U.S. soldier dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, the angry crowds taunting American military personnel. We sometimes forget that those tragic events were preceded by a successful mission that saved lives in a war-torn nation on the brink of self-destruction.
In the early 1990s, a bitter civil war freed the people of Somalia from a brutal dictator, Siad Barre, but failed to re-establish order and stability when clan leaders and their militias fought over succession. A combination of civil war, clan conflict, refugee dislocation and drought left the nation unable to feed its population. The emergency generated a routine international response with shipments of food, medicine and relief workers making their way to the country. But continued fighting, particularly in the south and the capital Mogadishu, was so pervasive that the effective distribution of aid was impossible.
When then U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Smith Hempstone, visited refugee camps on the border with Somalia in the summer of 1992, he described his visit in a memo to Washington titled, “A Day in Hell.” In Somalia, hellish starvation and malnutrition were rampant, and as with every famine, the first to die were the young, the old and the infirm. An estimated one in four children under the age of five years old died in the famine, according to some estimates.
In August 1992, the U.S. began an airlift of food and medicine to the southern regions that were inaccessible to relief convoys. These supplies made a difference, but far too often food was captured on the ground by armed groups, who hoarded it and used relief packages as a currency in the crippled Somali economy. Journalists who were able to get to the refugee camps and remote locations within Somalia came back with harrowing stories and pictures of desperation.
The pictures made their way to television screens, first on CNN—where more resources were devoted to the Somalia story—and then more broadly across the media landscape. Two days before Thanksgiving, on the night before President Bush made his decision to send over 28,000 US troops, NBC broadcast heart-wrenching black-and-white photographs of starving Somali children. Tom Brokaw told his viewers: “In Somalia, children under the age of five have all but disappeared…. It’s a place where a thousand die today, and a thousand will die tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.”
The vivid media coverage gave rise to what came to be called the ‘CNN effect’—the theory that widespread media coverage can influence foreign-policy decisions. With this came the suggestion that the U.S. military intervention was the product of excessively emotional public and presidential reaction to images of suffering and starvation.
There is some truth to that conclusion, but less than many commentators recognize. The wheels of government move slowly and it was not a sudden and surprising presidential decision the day after the NBC broadcast that turned everything around. The staff planning in the Pentagon for possible military action began weeks before the final presidential decision. During those weeks, State Department memorandums made the case that only a U.S. intervention could quickly end the famine. Members of Congress and newspaper columnists lobbied for action.
Bush had a long-term interest in the Somali situation and a consistent desire to do something about it. He ordered the airlift in August, then a full-scale intervention in November after the election. Those who knew him well thought of him as a humanitarian who would surely offer U.S. assistance if the risks to our military forces were deemed acceptable.
When the marines landed in Somalia, there were television cameras on the beach and no serious resistance. Explicit diplomatic warnings and the arrival of an overwhelming military force cowered the clan leaders and allowed for the rapid distribution of food and medicine. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger later told me that the U.S. helped the people of Somalia because it was right, and because it could.
Memories of the Black Hawks being brought down make people think of Somalia as being a U.S. foreign-policy failure. It wasn’t. Tens–perhaps even hundreds–of thousands of lives were saved by the American protected distribution of aid. For Somalia in the final weeks of 1992, there was a very real reason for Thanksgiving.
Robert Strong is a professor of politics at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
W&L’s Rush Shares a Thanksgiving Prayer
“I would encourage angry observers to look to another American tradition that transcends and predates our politics: Thanksgiving.”
The following opinion piece by Mark Rush, Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of international education at Washington and Lee, appeared in the The Roanoke Times on November 24, 2016, and is reprinted here by permission.
A Thanksgiving prayer
I served as dean of a college in the Middle East for three years. It was impressive to see and hear the United States discussed so frequently in critical terms by denizens of a part of the world in which anti-western sentiment is common.
Questions about the USA frequently focused on our politics. Over there, it didn’t matter if the president were a Democrat or a Republican. American military presence in the region had endured under both parties and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan bore the imprimatur of Democrats and Republicans. From this perspective, it was never difficult for an observer to identify the contradictions in our political rhetoric, to find reason to cast aspersions on the performance of our political system or, simply, to be angry with the United States.
This same sort of visceral anger has rendered this election year perhaps the most regrettable, divisive, dangerous, ominous… (the list of adjectives goes on) in our history. The tenor of presidential debates was debased as the candidates spent as much time trading insults as they did addressing the pressing economic problems and growing economic inequality that generate fear and anger among voters of all races and walks of life.
In retrospect, it is horrifying to see that our political system is now as adept at generating anti-Americanism at home as it has been abroad.
It was, at first, a great challenge to try to explain the beauty of the USA to people whose views of our politics and culture are shaped by the same media that has taken sides in this election. As long as an observer focused on our contemporary politics, it was difficult to convince him or her to look further or more deeply.
As an antidote to this outlook (or perhaps, as a distraction), I would encourage angry observers to look to another American tradition that transcends and predates our politics: Thanksgiving. No, not Christmas or the 4th of July…no presents, fireworks, flag waving or gifts that had to be returned. Instead, I encouraged folks to look at the holiday on which Americans put aside politics, join hands in thanks and share a meal that symbolizes the celebration of the harvest.
This is, I would argue, American culture at its best. It was not an exaggeration, I would tell them, that even mortal enemies’ hearts would soften if they knew that someone was spending Thanksgiving alone. Better to share a meal and fall asleep watching football than to expend energy on divisive politics. Life is better if enemies pause occasionally to find common ground (and acknowledge that it exists). It was amazing and heartwarming to see that even the most visceral critics of our politics would soften at the thought of our Thanksgiving tradition.
It is serendipitous that Thanksgiving comes just a couple of weeks after Election Day. This year, more than ever, the country needs to rediscover its common ground in the wake of an election that has exposed and rubbed salt in virtually every political wound imaginable. Despite occasional acknowledgments of accord (Kaine and Pence agreed that our communities and police need to heal wounds and work together) and respect (by God, Donald Trump is a good father and Hillary Clinton is a tenacious fighter) our presidential candidates have done little to suggest that the country can move forward together to solve the economic problems that divide it.
Despite the damage done to the electorate by the septic rhetoric of the presidential campaign and the fallout of the election, Thanksgiving looms once again as a chance to demonstrate to ourselves that there is more that unites the nation than divides it. In ancient Greece, city-states would pause wars and put down their weapons to celebrate the Olympics. Maybe the country can put this election behind us in a spirit of Thanksgiving … Amen.
Journalism Professor Alecia Swasy on Media Coverage of Rural America
“We must teach rigorous, critical thinking so young reporters will be more skeptical and dogged to find the best sources, unpack promises, reveal hidden agendas and follow the money trails.”
Alecia Swasy, Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism at Washington and Lee University, wrote about the media’s coverage of rural America on the Poynter Institute’s website.
Swasy, who has spent seven years studying the topic, analyzing thousands of articles over a fifty year period, argues that “despite the criticism of the biggest newspapers as being out of touch, the best coverage of serious issues facing rural America has been delivered by the New York Times and The Washington Post. Both look for stories that put a face on what really happens when policies made miles away in Congress hit small towns.”
Acknowledging that today’s news media face real challenges in providing consistent coverage of America’s heartland, Swasy points out that the problem is also one of politics. “Just like the problems that vex rural America’s poor, there’s another thing that doesn’t change much — politicians don’t show up in these parts. The reason is quite simple: the back roads of Kentucky and West Virginia do not attract $10,000 a plate fundraiser dinners of filet mignon and haricot verts.”
You can read the full essay below or on poynter.org.
Actually, journalists aren’t failing rural America
By Alecia Swasy • November 28, 2016 • Reprinted by permission
A striking miner sat in a tin-roofed picket shack, whittling a long branch into the shape of a baseball bat. Here in Southwest Virginia’s coal towns, hundreds of union miners like him had walked out of Pittston Coal’s mines in 1989 to protest cuts in health benefits.
As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, I visited the shack to get the miners’ side of the story. When I introduced myself, the miner leapt from his seat and screamed: “Go home, bitch!”
Being young and, well, rather stupid, I argued with the bat-wielding man. Don’t assume that I write only for CEOs, I told him. I’m a farm kid from Pennsylvania coal country. My brother-in-law, Ben Hill, is a roof bolter and shuttle car operator for R&P Coal and a proud member of the UMWA, Local 3548.
The miner smiled, and invited me to sit down and talk. He helped me tell a far richer, more nuanced story of the older miners on strike, men who watched their college-educated sons cross those picket line to work as engineers and managers inside the Pittston office. They were proud that their backbreaking labor meant their children didn’t have to work in dark, dank mines.
Fast-forward to 2016, and much of the post-mortem election discussions focus on whether journalists spend enough time talking to the folks in places like Southwest Virginia.
The pundits, politicians, journalists and academics are scrambling to figure out what happened. The “peasants” rose up. The wage gap fueled anger. Main Street is fed up with Wall Street. In short, nobody is really listening to one another.
Part of the election autopsy has been a predictable “blame the media” refrain that naturally follows when the polls and front pages missed what was really happening in the heartland. In reality, the ebb and flow of coverage of “the haves and have-nots” has been the same for 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the “War on Poverty,” a pledge to create better schools, jobs and highways to connect Appalachia with the prosperity enjoyed in the rest of post-World War II America.
LIFE magazine’s black-and-white photo essay in January 1964 showed Delphi Mobley and her daughter, Riva, who was sick with measles in a family that couldn’t pay for a doctor. Other news reports followed, but soon vanished as the media and politicians focused on Vietnam — LBJ’s other war, which got more funding and ink.
The next five decades repeated the cycle of political and media interest in rural America. The U.S. economic picture was a story of boom and bust for the bulk of Americans: “greed is good” turned into overleveraged consumers. Then all news focused on America’s most frightening and unexpected war — the war on terrorism. Next was the Great Recession in 2008. Once major cities shook that off, the ongoing financial woes of small-town American life remained an occasional story.
So, do we just “shoot the messenger?” It’s not that simple. To understand Main Street America, journalists now must explain the global marketplace, including the meteoric rise of China and India, and the geopolitical stakes of instability in North Korea, Pakistan and Syria.
As a journalist-turned-Ph.D., I’m still chasing stories that matter, especially in this growing gulf between “the haves and have-nots.” I’ve spent seven years studying how the news media cover rural America. For this research, I analyzed thousands of articles spanning 50 years from 1964-2014. The stories were collected in 2009 and again in 2014 from the nation’s largest newspapers, news weekly magazines and the leading Southeastern U.S. papers, largely because they cover most of Appalachia.
The research shows reason for optimism: Reporters and photographers given the chance to travel to remote areas have done a terrific job of putting a face on the plight of the poor. The coverage is guided by what scholars call “frames” to tell the stories. According to media scholar Robert Entman, the frame determines “whether most people notice and how they understand and remember a problem, as well as how they evaluate and choose to act upon it.”
From this review of 50 years of stories, I found the following dominant frames: The rural poor lack basic necessities, such as housing. They don’t have access to good jobs and suffer a disproportionate share of chronic health problems. Federal programs have failed them and politicians only pay attention to them when it’s time to run for office. And, finally, the folks in rural America commit crimes, usually involving moonshine, marijuana, meth and opioids.
The research shows that, despite the criticism of the biggest newspapers as being out of touch, the best coverage of serious issues facing rural America has been delivered by the New York Times and The Washington Post. Both look for stories that put a face on what really happens when policies made miles away in Congress hit small towns.
Times reporter Diana Jean Schemo traveled to Alabama’s so-called “Black Belt” to gauge the impact of the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” mandates to raise test scores. Inside the John Essex School, she found bare electrical wires dangling from the ceiling and antique textbooks that don’t cover the outcome of the Vietnam War and whether a man ever walked on the moon. This remains true in many rural school districts.
Likewise, the Post sends reporters well outside the Beltway to chronicle a hidden economy of selling moonshine when no other jobs are available. Reporter Jerry Markon wrote in 2008 about Rocky Mount, Virginia, where agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives staked out a distillery in the woods. The story was presented without judgment of the locals. Rather, it showed how the rural Franklin County actually prides itself as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.”
“People try to portray us as country bumpkins, but we’re proud of being rednecks and we’re proud of the craft of making liquor,” said Linda Stanley, Special Projects Coordinator for the Franklin County Historical Society, in the Post story. “Around here, people still talk about the war between the states, they still talk about making apple butter and they still talk about moonshine.”
Just like the problems that vex rural America’s poor, there’s another thing that doesn’t change much — politicians don’t show up in these parts. The reason is quite simple: the back roads of Kentucky and West Virginia do not attract $10,000 a plate fundraiser dinners of filet mignon and haricot verts.
The autopsy of the 2016 election must include some tough choices by news organizations on how to do a more consistent job of covering America’s heartland. And those of us now teaching future journalists need to work harder to reinforce the basics of quality reporting. We must teach rigorous, critical thinking so young reporters will be more skeptical and dogged to find the best sources, unpack promises, reveal hidden agendas and follow the money trails. We must teach them that Twitter is not a replacement for knocking on doors and going to the picket lines.
But Americans need be more critical and ask their Washington representatives, senators and president: Are you listening? The W.K. Kellogg Foundation did an anonymous survey of members of Congress to gauge why rural America is ignored by D.C. lawmakers. The research was done 14 years ago, but still holds true today. Only those causes supported by big money get attention.
Rural America is far behind General Motors and Carnival Cruise Lines in getting politicians to listen. Even cats and bunny rabbits have more advocates trying to keep them out of shampoo research labs.
Many unemployed workers in rural America voted for Trump, thanks to his pledge to bring back coal jobs. But energy experts and miners themselves will tell you that the Appalachian coal industry isn’t coming back. Coal’s death knell was lower global demand, the move to cleaner alternatives such as natural gas and renewable energy sources. Indeed, Ben was laid off in the late 1990s when R&P closed the mine. UMWA Local 3548 is now shuttered, too.
Alecia Swasy is the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism at Washington & Lee University. Previously she worked as a reporter and editor of The Wall Street Journal and The Tampa Bay Times. She earned her Ph.D. in Journalism Studies from the University of Missouri. She is working on a book about rural America.
Interns At Work: Michael Sullivan Michael Sullivan spent his summer interning at the Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands in Amsterdam
Hometown: Laurel, MD
Minors: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Organization Name: Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
What attracted you to this internship?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to study medicine and be a doctor. When you follow the Pre-Med track, however, it can feel a bit rigid in expectations. Many of your courses are selected for you, and there are certain kinds of extracurricular activities you feel obligated to pursue, such as spending summers shadowing doctors or volunteering at a hospital. When I heard about the opportunity to study art conservation in Amsterdam, I was thrilled about the prospect of doing something outside the normal “Pre-Med” experience. I have always wanted to study abroad, which is hard to do for a semester as a biochemistry major. This internship has allowed me to spend 3 months abroad in the Netherlands, giving me the chance to have that experience.
How did you learn about it?
I approached Dr. Uffelman about internship opportunities back in September, and he mentioned he might be able to get me a spot interning under Dr. Bill Wei at the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands).
What gave you an edge in landing this internship?
Dr. Uffelman’s recommendation was the only thing that allowed me to land this internship. Without his help, I would never have been able to get in touch with my advisor here, and I am very thankful to him for his help throughout the whole process. I am also thankful for the Washington and Lee community that allowed me to form a relationship with my professor where I can get that kind of help. It has truly opened up the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
Describe your daily duties.
I typically come into work and do some combination of literature reviews, research for my projects, and writing reports for my boss. Every week, I am given a half day off and asked to go to a museum and write a report about my experience as well.
What are some tasks/projects you’ve been workmen on?
For my first project, I am using Photoshop to retouch a painting that has been discolored, and then I am trying to use a digital projector to “fix” the discoloration in the eyes of the viewer. My second task involves another painting that is experiencing crystal growth in the paint layer. I am trying to recreate this crystal growth so we can better understand what conditions lead to this problem.
Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?
Dr. Uffelman’s courses have been integral in my preparation for this internship. Taking CHEM 156 during the winter and ARTH 356 for Spring Term Abroad, both with Dr. Uffelman, have given me the necessary introduction to conservation science that I need for this internship. In addition, my chemistry courses, especially Analytical and Organic Chemistry, have proven to be extremely useful for my internship.
What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?
I hope to better understand how different colors on a painting appear to the human eye when shone with different colors of light. I also hope to learn more about what causes crystals to grow in paint, and what we can do to slow down this process.
What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?
The Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands shares a building with the Rijksmuseum conservation labs, and we often work closely with Rijksmuseum conservation staff. As such, I have gotten to meet and work with international experts in the field of art conservation science.
What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?
Living in Amsterdam has taught me how to bike. Every day, my commute to work involves biking along the canals of Amsterdam and right through the middle of the Rijksmuseum. I have learned how to always appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city to live in, and sometimes I will go for a bike ride with the intention of getting lost just to see more of this amazing place.
What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?
I am learning a lot about how to reconcile science with the arts. For example, just because we can fix a discoloration with a digital projector, does that mean we necessarily should? Is the discoloration now a part of the artistic value of the object? An ability to grapple with these questions will be a key take away of my internship.
What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?
My advice would be to use the W&L community to your advantage. Despite being a smaller school, W&L is boundless and by utilizing the connections I made through the university, I was able to land the internship of a lifetime.
Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?
While I still intend to study medicine, I am interested in looking into the possibility of a gap year or two. I think it would be fascinating to live abroad in the Netherlands for an extended period of time and really get to be immersed by the culture here.
Describe your experience in a single word.
W&L Magazine, Fall 2016: Vol. 92 | No. 3
In This Issue:
- “A Good Place to Spend a Career” Ken Ruscio ’76 Reflects
- “Kim Ruscio’s Tapestry”
- Letters to the Editor
4 – Along the Colonnade
- Consider Yourself at Home: The New Third-Year Housing
- Show Me the Money: The Endowment Explained
- Ward Briggs ’67 donates a James Dickey collection
- Professor Gwyn Campbell trains a service dog
- Geordy Johnson ’05 joins the Board of Trustees
18 – Generals’ Report
- The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees
19 – Lewis Hall Notes
- Linda Klein ’83L named ABA president
28 – Alumni Profiles
- Founder Ingrid Easton Wilson ’06 Celebrates Campus Kitchen’s 10th Anniversary
- Perks of the Parks: Sula Jacobs ’00 Promotes the Virtues of the National Park Service
30 – Milestones
- Alumni president’s message
- Beau Knows
- Alumni news and photos
- President Ruscio’s column
New Yorker Website Features Film by Lorena Manríquez ’88 A short film by Manríquez has been featured on the magazine's website.
Lorena Manríquez, a 1988 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has landed her work on The New Yorker’s website — her short film, “Hopewell,” accompanies an article about a Nov. 1 arson fire that gutted a Baptist church in Greenville, Mississippi.
Manríquez, the director and producer, depicts the destruction of the church, which has a mostly African-American membership, with three evocative minutes of somber images, music and interviews.
She created the film under the aegis of Field of Vision, which describes itself as “a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions and creates original short-form nonfiction films about developing and ongoing stories around the globe.”
Readers of the W&L alumni magazine first learned about Manríquez in “Finding a Hidden Truth,” a profile in the Summer 2013 issue. Author Ann Burton Gerhardt ’13 detailed the trail that Manríquez blazed from a 16-year engineering career to a new calling as a documentary filmmaker. Her first effort, “Ulises’ Odyssey,” explores her uncle’s exile during the Pinochet regime in Chile, her home country.
Ricardo Dominguez to Speak on Disturbance Gestures: Art Between the Lines
Ricardo Dominguez, American artist and associate professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at Hillel House. The title of his talk is “Disturbance Gestures: Art Between the Lines.” It is free and open to the public.
Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group that developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998.
Dominguez worked with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll and Elle Mehrmand to develop the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT), a GPS technology to help immigrants find water stations in the Southern California desert. The TBT won the Transnational Communities Award (2008), a prize funded by Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico–US and awarded by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. The project was the subject of controversy, as it was investigated by the U.S. Congress 2009-2010, and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry.
Dominguez is also co-founder of *particle group* with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman and Amy Sara Carroll, whose art project about nano-toxicology, entitled “Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market” has been presented at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, Brazil (2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009), Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), E-Poetry Festival, Barcelona, Spain (2009), Nanosférica, NYU (2010) and SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico (2015).
Dominguez’s talk is presented by the Center for International Education and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the “Borders and Their Human Impact” lecture series. It is also made possible in part with support of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) and the Center for Poetic Research (CPR).
W&L’s Pasquale Toscano Among 2017 Class of Rhodes Scholars
Pasquale “Paqui” Toscano, a classics and English double major, is Washington and Lee’s 16th Rhodes Scholar.
The Rhodes Trust announced Sunday that Toscano, 22, of Kettering, Ohio, was one of 32 scholars chosen this year. The scholarships, valued at between $50,000 to $200,000, fully fund two to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
The Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. They are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, personal energy, ambition for impact, ability to work with others, a commitment to making a strong difference for good in the world, concern for the welfare of others, consciousness of inequities and potential for leadership.
Toscano, a Johnson Scholar at Washington and Lee, is proficient in Latin and Ancient Greek and plans to pursue a master’s in English and a master’s in Greek and/or Latin languages and literature at Oxford. After completing his studies in the U.K., he plans to return to the U.S. to complete a doctorate in English with a specialty in early-modern poetry, and pursue a career as a professor, scholar and disability-rights advocate.
The summer following Toscano’s first year at Washington and Lee, he suffered a spinal-cord injury in an accident. Forced to take a semester-long leave of absence to learn to walk again, Toscano, who had originally considered a career in law, found that literature provided refuge during his lengthy recovery. An independent study during his absence from campus provided perspective for his changed circumstances.
“We read Donne and Herbert, as well as Herrick, whose exhortation to ‘make much of time’ galvanized me to construe my rehabilitation as an epistemologically-enriching experience —which informed my understanding of human vulnerability and perseverance — rather than a defeating one,” said Toscano. “But it was not until I read the blind John Milton’s verse that I discovered a voice whose reflections on sightlessness struck both an intellectual and visceral chord. The poet’s work highlighted that studying Renaissance literature affords me opportunities to make contributions to disability studies.”
Genelle Gertz, professor of English at W&L, directed Toscano’s independent study while he was away from campus. “I didn’t know at the time what future Paqui would face regarding his health, or whether he would be able to return,” said Gertz, “but I felt privileged to teach a brilliant student who was fighting to recover. I am thrilled, and extremely proud, that he’s now going on to specialize in the area he studied independently with me.” Reflecting on Toscano’s resolve, Gertz said, “His response to the accident has, more than any another thing, proven his immense determination and courage in the face of hardship. We’re all lucky Paqui returned to W&L; he took the campus by storm.”
Kevin Crotty, professor of Classics, said of Toscano, “I was singularly impressed by the excellence of his Latin, and his painstaking interest in attaining as thorough an understanding of Latin as possible. Not many students lavish such loving and intelligent care on a text; even fewer do so, I imagine, when they are fighting their way back from possible paralysis and undergoing a trying course of physical rehabilitation. It is a mark of his intellectual maturity that he could already, as quite a young person, find solace and encouragement in his studies.”
“I am humbled, honored, and excited beyond words,” said Toscano. “I’m speechless. But I do want to remind everyone that although people often say it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise a fellowship applicant. I have been so supported, encouraged, and inspired by my W&L family, and my gratitude truly is ineffable.”
Members of Toscano’s “village” — which includes faculty and administrators at Washington and Lee — are not at all surprised by his accomplishment.
“Paqui will succeed as a college professor or at absolutely anything he decides to do,” said Ken Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee. “He has intelligence, character, diligence and a conspicuous cheerfulness that make him a very rare individual. Everyone on our campus — students, faculty and administrators — knows Paqui, admires him and counts him as a friend. There is a rare sincerity, enthusiasm and uniformity in our judgment of this remarkable young man.”
“Paqui combines extraordinary talent, intellect and spirit,” said Lesley Wheeler, Henry S. Fox Professor of English. “I like and admire him profoundly and believe he will make powerfully positive contributions to any community he joins.”
Rebecca Benefiel, associate professor of Classics and Toscano’s adviser in that major, describes him as “a truly remarkable individual who has overcome the odds multiple times and who will be a brilliant and inspiring professor.”
“Paqui is a dedicated, intellectual student,” said Benefiel, “a true discussion leader, a big thinker and an inspired writer whose words fly off of the page.”
Toscano graduated from Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio. At Washington and Lee, he received the Edward L. Pinney Prize, the G. Holbrook Barber Scholarship Award and the Matthew J. Mason Latin Prize. He also won the Elizabeth B. Garrett Scholarship in English, the Dabney Stuart Prize in English and the Sidney Coulling Prize in English. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma and Eta Sigma Phi classics honor society. The W&L faculty awarded him the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion, which honors the senior man or woman who excels “in high ideals in living, in fine spiritual qualities, and in generous and unselfish service to others.”
As an undergraduate student, Toscano served as chairman of the Student Judicial Council; a member of the Student Affairs Committee; a Latin and English peer tutor; and a Steering Committee member and platform chair for the 2016 Mock Convention. He gave campus tours as a member of the Student Recruitment Committee, and was a member of the University Wind Ensemble.
Toscano was among 20 students awarded a Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study and was recently named a national leader of the year by Omicron Delta Kappa.
Judith Baca to Speak on “Imagining America: Sites of Public Memory”
Judith F. Baca, painter, muralist, monument builder and scholar, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall Concert Hall. The title of her talk is “Imagining America: Sites of Public Memory.” It is free and open to the public.
Baca has been teaching art in the University of California system since 1984. She was the founder of the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into a community arts organization known as the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) which has been creating sites of public memory since 1976.
Baca continues to serve as SPARCs artistic director and focuses her creative energy in the UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab, employing digital technology to create social justice art. Her public arts initiatives reflect the lives and concerns of populations that have been historically disenfranchised, including women, the working poor, youth, the elderly, LGBT and immigrant communities.
Underlying all of Baca’s and SPARC’S activities is the profound conviction that the voices of disenfranchised communities need to be heard and that the preservation of a vital commons is critical to a healthy civil society.
Baca’s talk is presented by the Center for International Education and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the Borders and Their Human Impact lecture series. It is also made possible in part with support of The Pamela H. Simpson Endowment for Art, the Art and Art History Department, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) and the Center for Poetic Research (CPR).
W&L’s Myers to Give Keynote at 154th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg
Barton Myers, associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University, will give the keynote lecture for the 154th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Richard Kirkland Monument on the battlefield.
The title of Myers talk is “A Nation Remembers: Fredericksburg.” It will recall the events of December 1862 and their enduring legacy.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will present a series of special programs and tours that will recall the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 154th anniversary of the battle, on Dec. 10 and 11.
The weekend will feature both traditional programs and new events that tell the story of the battle and its impact on the people who lived there, the soldiers who fought there and the nation at large.
See https://www.nps.gov/frsp/learn/news/upload/2016-11-10-Fredericksburg-anniversary-events.pdf for the other events of the weekend.
Myers is the author of “Rebels against the Confederacy: North Carolina’s Unionists” (2014) and “Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865” (2009) which was a winner of the 2009 Jules and Frances Landry Award for the best book on a southern studies topic.
He has received fellowships and research grants including the Ballard Breaux Visiting Research Fellowship at the Filson Historical Society, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Digital Humanities Grant and the Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship.
Myers joined Washington and Lee University in 2013 and has also taught at Cornell and Texas Tech. His teaching and research interests include the Civil War, war and society, the U.S. South, irregular warfare and political dissent.
Author, educator and social activist Jonathan Kozol to Speak at W&L
American author, educator and social activist Jonathan Kozol will lecture at Washington and Lee University on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.
The title of his talk is “Education, Poverty and Social Justice in an Age of Persistent Inequality.” It is free and open to the public.
“In the face of alarmingly high rates of child poverty and persistent inequality in those basic human services upon which low-income families must rely, it falls, as always, to our nation’s public schools to assume the mantel of protector and defender of those who suffer most and for no fault of their own,” said Kozol.
“But unhealthy pressures placed upon our schools to limit education to that which can be measured on obsessively repetitive standardized exams have rigidified instruction, amputated cultural capaciousness, suppressed the joy of learning for its own good sake alone, and dealt a heavy blow to the autonomy and creativity of far too many of our most devoted teachers,” Kozol continued.
“Can we reignite the legacy of child-centered learning and bring, at once, both joy and justice to the children whom we serve?”
A widely read, highly honored education writer, Kozol has been an eloquent advocate for children of low income and for racial diversity in schools and universities. He has been speaking to overflow crowds as child poverty has risen to unprecedented levels and racial tensions have become the focus of urgent political concern. He has been working with children in inner-city schools for nearly 50 years.
Kozol has received many awards, including the National Book Award for “Death at an Early Age” (1967), a description of his first year as a teacher; and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for “Rachel and Her Children” (1989), a study of homeless mothers and their children.
His 1995 best-seller, “Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation,” received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 1996, an honor previously granted to the works of Langston Hughes and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison wrote that “Amazing Grace” was “good in the old-fashioned sense: beautiful and morally worthy.” Of Kozol’s social activism, author Elie Wiesel said, “Jonathan’s struggle is noble. His outcry must shake our nation out of its guilty indifference.”
Kozol’s most recent book on childhood and education is “Fire in the Ashes” (2013), a sweeping narrative that follows a group of children in a destitute community out of their infancy and elementary grades, through their secondary years, into their late teens and beyond.
His newest book is “The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time” (2016), in which he tells the story of his father’s life and work and how he worked with him through the onset of Alzheimer’s and his slow descent into dementia.
Kozol’s lecture is sponsored by the Mudd Center for Ethics, the Office of the Provost, the Nabors Service League, Teacher Education and the Economics Department.
Lex McMillan ’72 Receives A Lifetime Achievement Award
Albright College President Lex McMillan, a 1972 graduate of Washington and Lee University, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Berks Regional Chapter on Nov. 18.
The annual event honors the extraordinary philanthropic achievements of local individuals, corporations, foundations and volunteers in Berks County.
Lex told the Berks Community Television website, “I am delighted and deeply honored to be recognized by the professionals who do the noble work of fundraising for worthwhile organizations all across our community. They know very well that successful fundraising is a team sport. Whatever I have achieved in my career is due in large part to wonderful colleagues who have been my partners in giving others the opportunity to become philanthropists by sharing generously of their time, talent, and treasure.”
Lex has been the president of Albright since 2005. Through his considerable fundraising experience, he helped the college raise $43 million, exceeding its goal by $8 million. The second and current campaign, That Their Light May Shine: The Campaign for Albright College, is expected to surpass its $55 million goal.
Under his leadership, the school has built two state-of-the-art facilities, the Science Center and the Schumo Center for Fitness and Well-Being, and has also created the technologically advanced, 30,000-square-foot John K. Roessner III ’61 Hall: The Center for Business and Civic Leadership.
Lex serves on the President’s Council and Joint Legislative Steering Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and is a member of the advisory council of the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Wye Seminars. He is a former member of the boards of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and the United Way of Berks County. He also formerly chaired the Higher Education Consortium of Berks County and the Middle Atlantic Conference.
Prior to joining Albright, Lex served as vice president for college relations at Gettysburg College and worked in the Advancement Office at W&L and at Randolph-Macon College.
W&L Researchers See Coral Decline Geology professor Lisa Greer, who has been taking students to Belize since 2011 to monitor the health of coral reefs, said their research indicates that the latest El Niño, on top of global climate change, may be harming the Belize Barrier Reef.
“Corals are pretty sensitive and are really important to the ecosystem as a whole.”
— Mary Frances White
Beneath the jewel-toned waters off the coast of Belize — some 1,500 miles as the crow flies from Lexington, Virginia — Washington and Lee University researchers have eyes.
Geology professor Lisa Greer, along with a number of student assistants, have been monitoring a section of the Belize Barrier Reef since 2011. They have placed devices in the Coral Gardens area of the reef that measure and record temperature, light and salinity at 15-minute intervals. Every summer, they have spent days meticulously photographing 133 separate, 1-meter squares of the reef with underwater cameras.
Only in the past two years has this healthy, robust colony of staghorn coral begun to show the same signs of decline that have ravaged the species in other parts of the world. Although their data is not yet conclusive, Greer and her 2016 student researchers, Mary Frances White ’16 and Lauren McManus ’17, believe El Niño and global climate change could be to blame.
“It appears that [water] temperatures are higher and more variable during the El Niño cycle at this site,” Greer said, “This, in concert with global climate change, has likely resulted in a decrease in the live coral cover. We suspect they are directly related.”
White, a geology major and environmental studies minor, and McManus, who is majoring in geology and minoring in ecology, made two trips with Greer to Belize this year. In June, they spent six days gathering data along five transects of the reef that have been monitored year-after-year. This involves shooting pictures of the 1-meter square sections, then comparing them to photos taken in years past to determine how much of the coral has died.
Scuba diving in Belize may not sound much like work to some, but the research dives are actually quite challenging. McManus and White first had to get SCUBA-certified, then they had to negotiate the water carefully to avoid touching and harming the coral. They dove for about six hours each day.
“It’s not easy to work underwater,” Greer said. “You have to be very aware of where you are so you are not harming the reef. It can be exhausting until you get used to it.”
In addition to photographing the reef in June, the team also gathered the devices that record conditions on the reef, then downloaded data from the computer chips in each data logger before returning them. In October, the trio returned to Belize for several days to re-photograph two transects and replace the old temperature loggers.
White, who is doing her senior research project on the coral study, is still crunching and analyzing the data. But she, McManus and Greer said it’s pretty clear that something changed between the summer of 2014 and October 2016. It is quite possible that El Niño, the recurring climate pattern that disrupts temperature, winds and precipitation across the globe, is responsible for the change. The 2014—2016 El Niño event is one of the strongest on record.
Even a temperature change of less than 1 degree can have an immense impact, White said. “Corals are pretty sensitive and are really important to the ecosystem as a whole.”
Most reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with an algae called zooxanthellae, which live in the coral. The corals provide a safe place for the algae to live, and the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to expel waste. When the water becomes too warm, the algae leave the coral tissue, causing the coral to eventually turn white. This is known as “bleaching,” which leaves coral more vulnerable to disease and potential death.
According to Greer, since the 1980s, there has been up to a 98-percent mortality rate in Atlantic staghorn coral species. “They are kind of the poster child for the impacts of environmental change,” she said.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has received a great deal of attention from scientists and the media because of its declining health, but the primary purpose of this research is to raise awareness of the wellbeing of the highly endangered reefs off Belize. “The goal is to contribute data that hopefully can eventually support conservation and preservation,” Greer said.
The students who have assisted with the project since 2011 have played an important role in working toward that goal, she said, including White and McManus.
“They’re wonderful,” Greer said. “Very competent and responsible. They worked hard this summer, especially on some of the more tedious work.”
McManus and White said they were honored to be involved in the project, and they hope their findings will have an impact on environmental policy.
“There’s so much undergraduate research here at W&L,” McManus said. “I don’t know if in other schools you’d get these kinds of opportunities. I’m grateful.”
W&L to Continue Hosting the Virginia Governor’s Foreign Language Academies
Washington and Lee University’s $1.8 million contract to host three Virginia Governor’s Foreign Language Academies (GFLA) each summer has been renewed through 2021. Dick Kuettner, director of Global Discovery Laboratories in the Ruscio Center for Global Learning, will continue to coordinate the academies.
The academies provide 165 of the state’s top high school language students with three weeks of intensive, fully immersive language and cultural education in German, French or Spanish. Though they are at the heart of the program, participating students aren’t the only beneficiaries of the academies, Kuettner said. “Academy students are the cream of the crop from Virginia’s high schools and are good contenders for admission to W&L. Those that are accepted are top notch.”
Academy students take classes, complete cultural projects and investigations, learn about each language’s artistic and musical base, and go on field trips related to the languages’ history, culture and relations with the United States. W&L’s facilities and environment are a critical component in making the academies successful.
“We are grateful to be able to use Gaines Hall and sorority housing for the program, providing modern and comfortable spaces for the students and faculty,” Kuettner said. “And for learning space, the Center for Global Learning and its Global Discovery Laboratories provide excellent learning and teaching opportunities for all those involved.”
The three academies are fully immersive, meaning that participating students will not be allowed to speak English for the duration of the academies. To ensure this happens, GFLA students reside on campus, are prohibited from bringing cell phones and have their activities scheduled to minimize contact with English-speakers. The students constantly engage in activities that help them acquire the speaking skills and cultural knowledge of their chosen language. Those activities have gained attention around the region.
“Since the academies first arrived at W&L,” said Kuettner, “we have been able – through fantastic support of the university community – to add our own ‘World Cup,’ talent shows, theater performances, music concerts, open air markets and weekly radio shows broadcast through WLUR’s airspace and online. The possibilities for what we may offer over the next five years are limitless!”
The Governor’s Foreign Language Academies were created in 1986 by the Virginia Board of Education with the aim of providing an exemplary experience in foreign language education. Beginning with a French Academy, the program’s early conception also included Governor’s Foreign Language Academies in Asian Studies, German, Latin, Russian Studies and Spanish. In addition to the three full-immersion academies at W&L, the Virginia Department of Education also sponsors partial-immersion Japanese and Latin academies which are currently held at Randolph-Macon College.
W&L Law Professor’s New Book Examines Small Jurisdictions in Cross-Border Finance A new book by Washington and Lee law professor Christopher Bruner explores how “offshore” financial markets emerged and rose to prominence.
The 2016 release of the so-called “Panama Papers” detailing the financial holdings of numerous politicians and affluent individuals from around the world, and recurrent news accounts of companies such as Apple reducing their tax liabilities through foreign subsidiaries, have shone a bright light on the mysterious world of “offshore” finance. Trillions of dollars are now held outside New York, London, and other major-market financial centers, and a handful of small jurisdictions have accordingly become major players in cross-border corporate and financial services.
A new book by Washington and Lee law professor Christopher Bruner explores how these “offshore” financial markets emerged and rose to prominence. Titled Re-Imagining Offshore Finance: Market-Dominant Small Jurisdictions in a Globalizing Financial World, the book is now available from Oxford University Press.
The secrecy and opacity associated with these small jurisdictions have led critics to claim that they profit solely by facilitating money laundering and tax evasion. Others respond, however, that such jurisdictions offer real and legitimate benefits, including specialized expertise and increased competition, as well as financial and regulatory innovations.
Given the controversy, Bruner says the time is ripe for a thorough analysis of these growing markets.
“The nature, legal status, and market roles of small jurisdictions remain under-theorized,” says Bruner. “Lacking a sufficiently nuanced framework to describe their functions in cross-border finance – and the peculiar strengths of those achieving global dominance in the marketplace – it remains impossible to evaluate their impacts in a comprehensive manner.”
In the book, Bruner advances a new conceptual framework to refine the analysis and proposes a new concept that better captures the characteristics, competitive strategies, and market roles of those achieving global dominance in the marketplace – the “market-dominant small jurisdiction” (MDSJ). Bruner’s account focuses on the central features giving rise to the MDSJs’ strengths – some reflecting historical, cultural, and geographic circumstances, while others reflect development strategies responding to those circumstances – and emphasizes their striking ability to bridge major-market economies and financial centers.
Through this lens, Bruner evaluates a range of small jurisdictions that have achieved global dominance in specialized areas of cross-border finance, including Bermuda, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Delaware.
“The MDSJs’ significance will likely continue to grow,” Bruner concludes, “as will the need for a more effective means of theorizing their roles in cross-border finance and the global dynamics generated by their ascendance.”
Praise for Re-Imagining Offshore Finance
“Christopher Bruner’s important and timely book convincingly argues that we need to take seriously a handful of small jurisdictions that, for better and worse, have managed to compete for ever-increasing shares of the market for cross-border finance. Through a careful study of the institutional features of a number of jurisdictions, Bruner identifies a special group, ‘market-dominant small jurisdictions,’ that have excelled in this competition, and distills the essential factors leading to their success. This is a major contribution to the literature.”
Erin O’Hara O’Connor, Dean and McKenzie Professor of Law,
Florida State University College of Law
“Are tax havens good or bad? Professor Bruner brings a fresh new perspective to this tantalizingly simple question in his book Re-Imagining Offshore Finance. By engaging an impressively broad scope of literatures and breaking through old, unhelpful labels, Bruner is able to identify fascinating new themes in offshore tax and financial competition. In bringing to light the concept of ‘market-dominant small jurisdictions,’ Bruner helps move the intellectual debate forward in a truly novel and important way.”
Adam Rosenzweig, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law,
Washington University School of Law
About the Author
Christopher M. Bruner is the William Donald Bain Family Professor of Corporate Law at Washington and Lee University, where he also serves as Director of the Frances Lewis Law Center. His teaching and scholarship focus on corporate law and securities regulation, and he has been a visitor to the law faculties of the University of Cambridge, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Leeds, the University of Sydney, the University of Toronto, the National University of Singapore, and the Southwest University of Political Science and Law (Chongqing, China). He has twice traveled to the Russian Federation at the invitation of the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) to participate in discussions with commercial court judges and economic ministry officials regarding Russian corporate law reform and potentially useful models from U.S. corporate and securities law. Bruner received his A.B., M.Phil., and J.D. from the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School, respectively.
Bruner’s first book, Corporate Governance in the Common-Law World: The Political Foundations of Shareholder Power (Cambridge University Press, 2013), has been called “a revelation” and “a work of monumental significance and scholarly craft,” and has been translated into Chinese (Cambridge University Press & Law Press China, 2016). In the book, Bruner develops a new political theory to explain why shareholders in the U.K. and other common-law jurisdictions are both more powerful and more central to the aims of the corporation than are shareholders in the U.S. He argues that relatively robust social welfare protections in the U.K., Australia and Canada have freed up their corporate legal systems to focus more intently on shareholder interests without giving rise to “political backlash” – because other legal structures accommodate the interests of employees.
W&L Negotiations Team Wins Regionals, Headed to National Championships The W&L Law team of Thomas Griffin ‘18L and Stephen Edwards ‘18L will compete at the ABA National Negotiations Competition in February.
The Washington and Lee School of Law team of Thomas Griffin ‘18L and Stephen Edwards ‘18L will compete at the American Bar Association’s National Negotiations Competition, to be held in Chicago in February.
The ABA-sponsored competition begins in the fall each year with school-based competitions, followed by regional tournaments. The competition tests students’ practical legal skills by emphasizing teamwork and the ability to solve disputes in a negotiation, pre-trial setting.
Griffin and Edwards secured an invitation to Nationals following a first place finish at the regional competition held this month in Baltimore. At regionals, they topped 25 teams across three rounds of negotiations.
At the national competition, the W&L team will face off against teams from law schools spread across the ABA’s ten student division regions.
During the negotiations competitions, teams of students acting as lawyers for opposing parties receive confidential information about how they can best represent their clients’ interests. The teams work together in a limited time frame to find a compromise that is acceptable to both of their clients.
Negotiation is one of several ABA-sponsored competitions that help students develop the kind of practice skills they will employ as professional attorneys. Other competitions include Appellate Advocacy, Mock Trial, Mediation, and Client Counseling.
For more information about Moot Court at Washington and Lee Law School, please visit http://law.wlu.edu/mootcourt.
Annual Christmas Candlelight Service – A Lexington Tradition
Washington and Lee University’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service featuring the University Singers will be held Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. in Lee Chapel. Seating will begin at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to the presentation at no charge.
The “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” broadcast each year from King’s College Chapel, University of Cambridge, and widely used in England, the United States and around the world, is an ancient form of corporate worship at the Christmas season. The prayers, lessons and music tell the story of sacred history from the Creation to the Incarnation.
In 1880, E.W. Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, drew up a service of lessons and carols for use on Christmas Eve in the wooden shed which served as his cathedral. In 1918 this service was adapted for use in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. In the early 1930s, the BBC began broadcasting the service on overseas programming, and it is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide.
The service has been held for many years in Lexington and was held at Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church during the earlier years. The W&L Men’s Glee Club participated in the service held at the church, but when the Candlelight Service was moved to Lee Chapel in the early 1990s, the newly founded W&L Chamber Singers became the featured choir.
Music for the traditional service again will be provided by the University Singers, the evolution of the Chamber Singers, and conducted by Shane M. Lynch, director of choral activities at W&L. The Singer’s anthems will feature a wide variety of music, from Matthew Culloton’s new version of “Still, Still, Still” and Paul J. Christiansen’s classic arrangement of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” to modern and powerful masterpieces like the “Sanctus” from Frank Martin’s “Mass for A Capella Double Choir” and “O magnum mysterium” by Ola Gjeilo. The service will also feature the world debut of Lynch’s new composition “Oratio Fatimae.”
Timothy Gaylard, professor of music, will be the organist for the service, leading the familiar hymns and carols and rounding out the evening’s experience with a festive organ prelude and postlude.
Nine members of the Washington and Lee University community will read the lessons. William C. Datz, Catholic Campus Minister at St. Patrick’s and former coordinator of Religious Life at W&L, will preside over the service.
“The Election and Its Meanings: An Interpretive Panel”
In an effort to understand the recent election and its context, effects and possible consequences from a range of academic perspectives and interpretations, Washington and Lee will host a panel discussion this week titled, “The Election and Its Meanings: An Interpretive Panel.”
The panel will be open to the entire W&L community and will be held Thursday, Nov. 17, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons.
The panel will be moderated by Marc Conner, W&L’s interim provost, and the presenting panelists will include Bob Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics; Elicia Cowins, assistant professor of accounting; Aly Colón, Knight Professor of Ethics in Journalism; Johanna Bond, professor of law and associate dean of The School of Law; Chris Handy, assistant professor of economics; and Lucas Morel, professor of ethics and politics and chair of the Politics Department.
Each speaker will offer a commentary on the election from her or his disciplinary perspective, and will then take questions from the audience. “Our aim with the panel discussion is not to offer a judgment of the election,” said Conner, “but rather an intellectual interpretation of what this election means. This is a crucial role that a university should fill—offering interpretive analysis from a variety of intellectual perspectives.”
Please note, this panel is not open to the public.
A Production for Peace "A Towering Task": Documenting the History of the Peace Corps
“As I have dug into the film, I realized the crucial nature and awesome responsibility of getting the story right. I hope the film will influence our American discourse and help us consider peace as a worthwhile discussion.”
Filmmaker Alana DeJoseph ’92 is about halfway through producing a documentary about the Peace Corps. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, Africa, she is fulfilling a dream that took root in a letter she sent to Peace Corp administrators more than two decades ago.
In the letter, written after leaving Mali, she suggested that the Peace Corps produce a “big picture” film about the organization, founded during the John Kennedy administration. To date, the organization has never been fully documented, other than a few films focused on individual volunteers.
“As I have dug into the film, I realized the crucial nature and awesome responsibility of getting the story right,” she said. “I hope the film will influence our American discourse and help us consider peace as a worthwhile discussion.”
DeJoseph expects the film, “A Towering Task,” to be shown on public television stations, at film festivals, and in communities with accompanying panel discussions. It might also be streamed through online sites, and she will offer lesson plans for college and university professors.
DeJoseph began working in film long before she suggested the idea to the Peace Corps or opened her own production company in Denver. As a 10-year-old in her hometown of Munich, Germany, she auditioned for and won one of three voice-over spots for movie studios based in the city. For about nine years, she worked as a voice-over, stage and film actor.
She eventually realized that she enjoyed the management and planning side of movie-making more than acting. When her American father suggested that she consider attending college in the U.S., DeJoseph researched a variety of universities, settling on Washington and Lee University. “It had the quality of an Ivy League university with a personal touch,” she said.
At W&L, she was able to combine her love for both theater and business with a double major. Professor Michael Gorman even created a theater management course for her — she was the only student. During the semester, she wrote a business plan for a fictitious theater in Seattle, Washington.
At W&L, she continued her on-stage work in student productions, also branching out as a director and stage manager. She credits Professor Joseph Martinez, who taught directing, as an inspiration. Her theater life “was all encompassing,” but she learned the art of coordinating many details while keeping the grand vision. “It was a huge lesson that comes back on a daily basis,” she said.
On the business side, economics professors Michael Anderson and Lyn Wheeler were influential. “All of my professors encouraged me to push myself and learn skills that helped me be tenacious and see projects to the end.”
Anderson’s class, “Food, Population and Poverty,” sparked her interest in joining the Peace Corps. A guest speaker from the Ford Foundation so inspired her that she contacted him later in New York City asking about a job with the foundation. He encouraged her to first volunteer with the Peace Corps.
After a year of waiting, she was assigned to Mali. “I packed my limited luggage and embarked to a continent I’d never been to before to help entrepreneurs develop small businesses,” she said. “It was challenging to adapt to a society where much of the time accounting was done in the head and not in books.”
In a village of 1,000 people who lived in mud huts with straw roofs, DeJoseph thrived. Most people walked, but some were fortunate and used bikes or motorcycles to get around. One day, a young man who operated a motorcycle-repair business approached her. He needed help with his business skills, and she began to teach him accounting.
Two young girls wanted to learn about the rest of the world. With a National Geographic map nailed to the mud wall of her hut, DeJoseph began by pointing to the South. “If you keep walking in this direction, you will get to the Ivory Coast, and then to the Atlantic Ocean.” Another young man wanted to learn English so he could converse with a friend who lived in Ghana. And so the projects kept coming.
Following her Peace Corps assignment, DeJoseph and her husband, whom she had met while they were both in Peace Corps training, took an around-the-world backpacking trip. When they returned, she was hooked on finding important stories to tell.
She became associate producer for several U.S. Forest Service productions, including “The Greatest Good,” celebrating the centennial of the service, and “Green Fire,” the story of Aldo Leopold, known as the “father of conservation.” Both documentaries were featured at numerous film festivals, and both won awards, including an Emmy for “Green Fire.” While screening “Green Fire” in California, she met several Peace Corps alumni, who encouraged her to develop her idea of a Peace Corps documentary.
“It was important to find people passionate about the story. We are losing many of the original voices,” she said. The story is “urgent on so many levels. It is a story poorly understood by the public.”
The mother of two children — a son, 11, and daughter, 8 — DeJoseph tries to balance her professional and private lives in order to be successful in each. Her children have already voiced their desire to join the Peace Corps someday, underscoring her desire to keep the conversation about peace going for the benefit of younger generations.
DeJoseph says more Peace Corps documentaries could be in her future. Because the institutional memory within the organization is not strong, she sees documentaries forming the history of one of the great peace undertakings of our time.
“The Peace Corps is in 141 countries. What’s next could be spin-offs of amazing stories in each country.”
To learn more about Alana’s Peace Corps documentary, visit www.peacecorpsdocumentary.com.
Changing Perspectives: Zach Taylor ’17 Shepherd Intern Zach Taylor explores a holistic approach to middle school education at the Washington Jesuit Academy.
In the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas police officers killed at a Black Lives Matter protest in early July 2016, the school counselors at Washington Jesuit Academy (WJA), where black and Hispanic students constitute the entirety of the student population, decided to have a school-wide discussion led by teachers about the recent violence. As a teaching assistant at WJA, I decided to observe a discussion facilitated by a pair of my teacher-friends, one a white woman and the other a black man, with the seventh grade students whom I taught on a regular basis. In the middle of our conversation, a discussion broke out about stereotypes. For the first time in a public forum, I was called out for my whiteness. “All white people aren’t bad,” the black teacher, Mr. Shepperd, assured the students. “I mean, look at your teachers. Look at Ms. Mallahan, look at Mr. Taylor. They’re nice people. They’re not racists.” The students burst into laughter. I suppose it disoriented them somewhat to consider that their white teachers could actually represent whiteness. For a brief moment, I felt as if my skin color defined me, and that was the first time that had happened because of the privilege I enjoy as a white man in twenty-first century America. It is a privilege that my seventh grade students, who live at the intersection of oppression with respect to both race and class, do not enjoy.
In the end, I walked away from our discussion about police brutality and systemic oppression energized and hopeful, both for the future civic engagement of my students and at the possibility of respectful social justice dialogue between students and teachers in other American schools. This kind of social engagement is not uncommon at WJA, which is a truly special place. Out of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, where WJA is located, D.C.’s public academic performance ranks dead last. As a private, tuition-free, middle school for boys, WJA thereby seeks to address low-income students’ academic concerns before they enter high school, beginning ideally in the fifth grade. In order gain admittance to the school, students must, among other things, qualify for the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program, and private donors sponsor each student to cover the costs of his tuition. The WJA education model is rigorous; students attend school for eleven months of the year, including the mandatory summer program. During the regular school year, students are in school eleven hours a day and receive breakfast, lunch, dinner, and extracurricular enrichment all in addition to academic instruction. During the summer program, students are in school for approximately six hours each day and receive breakfast and lunch, attend three classes, participate in clubs and intramural athletics, and visit Smithsonian museums or the Botanic Gardens on field trips. For perspective, WJA students spend approximately 2,050 hours in school each year—approximately a thousand hours more than their peers at public schools.
WJA’s commitment to the Jesuit philosophy of cura personalis, or care for the entire person, may not be evident to those not working at the school, but it constitutes an important part of its mission. While WJA is first and foremost an academic institution, its administrators, faculty, and athletic coaches are all deeply committed to addressing almost all of students’ needs—academic, athletic, artistic, religious—and their emotional well-being. For instance, every school day at WJA starts with a ten-minute speech by one of the faculty that focuses on a theme for that week. Themes this past summer included “Being Open to Growth,” “Grit,” and “Being Men and Women for Others,” the latter a core Jesuit value that students and faculty constantly try to embody, regardless of their faith. These speeches, carefully prepared by the teachers that give them, typically touch upon students’ achievement goals in the classroom, on the sports field, for the future, and at home. WJA students pay impressive attention to their teachers during these speeches and sometimes reference them in the classroom. I am inclined to think that they actually influence students’ attitudes and behavior in and out of school. This morning ritual represents the unique way in which WJA pays careful attention to the lives of its students.
Students’ families also play a critical role in supporting their children’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular achievement and intellectual and emotional growth. Through its Home to School Association, a board dedicated to parental involvement that parents exclusively govern, WJA strongly encourages its students’ parents or other relatives to volunteer at school events, attend teacher appreciation lunches, and facilitate summer barbeques, one of which I had the privilege to enjoy during my internship. As Marcus Washington, headmaster of WJA, told Shepherd interns at the Frueauff Opening Conference at Marymount University, these volunteer opportunities ensure that parents have a stake in their children’s education, even if they do not pay for tuition. Rather than entrusting this education to WJA faculty and staff alone, parents work alongside teachers and counselors at community events and at home in a concerted effort to foster students’ continual development.
Notably, WJA continues to look out for its students beyond their middle school years. The Director of Graduate Support, Howard Blue, is a consistent presence on WJA’s campus; this past summer, he hosted an internship program through which alumni learned leadership skills and helped with the summer program as chaperones and mentors. Beyond this, alumni frequent WJA regularly to play basketball, use its gym, or simply to talk with their former teachers. I actually had the chance to meet many of WJA’s past graduates, who have all encountered academic and extracurricular success in high school and who deeply appreciate the education they received at WJA. Their testimony, perhaps more than any statistical data, speaks volumes about the efficacy of WJA’s rigorous academic program.
As a future educator, I wanted to intern at WJA not only to learn more about the education system in the United States, but also to have an opportunity to actually teach at the front of a classroom. Fortunately, the teacher in whose classroom I helped, Mr. Brace, encouraged me to teach a number of classes on my own. I even had the chance to craft a few lesson plans myself with the help of material provided by Mr. Brace. In our seventh grade “Reading” class, students and I read Joseph Lekuton’s autobiography Facing the Lion, his coming-of-age story as a Maasai warrior in Kenya. The conversations I facilitated at the end of each chapter I taught, through which students compared their lived experiences to that of Lekuton in Kenya, helped engender curiosity in multiculturalism, social justice, and globalization. As a classics and philosophy major, I found these discussions with my seventh grade students truly enriching and not unlike those shared in seminar classrooms at Washington and Lee. Clearly, the teachers at WJA foster this kind of intellectual growth on a regular basis, evident by my students’ genuine enthusiasm to learn. On a practical level, teachers also promote civic engagement in the classroom. After the July shootings, for example, one teacher encouraged her eighth grade students to write letters to their respective city council members with questions or suggestions about police brutality. I respect the faculty I worked with immensely; the commitment, energy, and patience they demonstrated day in and day out substantively impact the lives of their students.
I had never taught middle school before, and I was so impressed with my seventh grade students’ level of engagement with the material we worked through together. As a teacher, facilitating conversations was fun, mostly because my students were always eager to add their acute insight to our discussions about race, culture, and their own lived experiences. WJA demonstrates that with the proper resources, dedicated teachers, and consistent structural support, students from low-income families can excel in school and often attend college. Ninety-eight percent of WJA students, for example, have graduated from high school. Most importantly, the achievements of its students upend stereotypical assumptions about the academic potential of low-income students of color in urban areas. While WJA may not address the systemic issues that afflict the Washington, D.C. education system, it can nevertheless serve as a model for elected officials seeking to craft education policy at the state and federal level. Just as WJA’s private donors invest heavily in its students throughout their time in middle school, we as citizens should collectively invest more in public education across the United States. The consequences may very well reflect those positive outcomes facilitated by WJA and its remarkable faculty and staff.
WJA can provide its holistic liberal arts curriculum in tandem with enriching extracurricular activities and specialized one-on-one student counseling in large part due to its small size and extended school day model. Not every public middle school in the United States can serve only one hundred students for eleven hours a day over the course of nearly ten months and offer a mandatory summer program. In addition, private sponsors individually fund each student’s tuition cost of $18,000 per year for three or four years, whereas per pupil spending in the United States was $10,700 on average in 2013.* Still, public schools across the country can emulate WJA’s dedication to the Jesuit philosophy of cura personalis with what limited resources they have by introducing social justice concerns and issues pertaining to civic engagement in their classrooms. While this may require additional training for teachers, I am confident that with the right resources states can integrate this approach into their official curricula.
The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas police officers were tragic. The hateful rhetoric propagated by those unwilling to listen to the lived experiences of people of color in the wake of those murders was disheartening and frustrating. While it is so easy to lose heart, to disinterestedly consume news of violence day after day, I caught a glimmer of hope at Washington Jesuit Academy in the midst of a violent summer across the world, as my students demonstrated time and again their commitment to productive social justice dialogue. My internship made me realize that, as a teacher, I can fulfill a critical role in those kinds of conversations, especially at a school like WJA that fosters a safe space for students to express themselves without scorn or ridicule.
*“Per Pupil Spending Varies Heavily Across the United States,” United States Census Bureau, accessed August 30, 2016, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-98.html. I should note, as the title of this article indicates, that per pupil spending varies widely in different states. Whereas New York spends $19,818 on each of its students, Utah spends $6,555 on each of its students.
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
Majors: Classics and Philosophy
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
- Hearing Advisor Program
- Chief Editor of the Mudd Journal for Ethics
- Community Assistant
- Latin Tutor
- Philosophy Club
- Writing Center Tutor
- Study abroad in Rome, Italy, September to December 2015
- Excavation Staff at the Agora in Athens, Greece, June to August 2015
- Spring Term in Athens, Greece, April to May 2014
Why did you apply for this particular internship? All Americans do not have access to high quality public education that will propel them toward well-paying and meaningful careers. Washington Jesuit Academy, an all-boys, tuition-free middle school, seeks to remedy this education deficit in Washington, D.C. Out of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, D.C.’s public academic performance ranks dead last. WJA therefore addresses students’ academic concerns before they attend high school, beginning, ideally, in the fifth grade.
I wanted to know more about how a small school like WJA makes a difference. I was skeptical. I learned quickly, however, that while WJA may not address the systemic issues that afflict the Washington, D.C. education system, its commitment to the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, can nevertheless serve as a model for curricula in public schools across the United States. I was also drawn to WJA because I will pursue a career as a professor at the college level and I wanted some experience teaching. As a teaching assistant at WJA, I was permitted to teach classes on my own. It was thrilling.
How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? We talked a lot about education opportunities for Americans at the lower end of the socioeconomic stratum in my first poverty studies class. Segregated school districts have reinforced the education deficit in many American cities. In Washington, D.C., a highly segregated city, the negative consequences of segregation are so visible. African American and Hispanic students constitute the entirety of the WJA student population, and many of them commute to school from segregated neighborhoods with struggling schools.
My internship also drew upon what I had learned about race and justice in other poverty classes. The consequences of mass incarceration, which we discussed in a Martin Luther King, Jr. class that I took as a junior, are evident at WJA. One in four students have a relative who has been or is currently incarcerated. The academic success of WJA graduates demonstrates, however, that these statistics do not have to dictate its students’ futures. WJA helps cut the “school-to-prison pipeline” by addressing almost all of its students’ academic needs and their emotional well-being.
What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Internship experience?
I had no idea teaching is so difficult. I was fortunate to be able to work off of lesson plans prepared by previous teachers, yet I still struggled to keep my students engaged and focused on relevant course material. I was most uncomfortable disciplining students. At first, I strove to be a merciful, compassionate teacher, but I quickly discovered that students were keen to take advantage of my leniency. Over time, my teaching voice grew stronger, I became more confident in my ability to command the attention of students, and I earned a greater degree of respect. Still, teaching was unexpectedly challenging. I now give my middle school teachers far more credit than I ever had before.
Post-Graduation Plans: In one or two years, I will attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in religious ethics.
What professor has inspired you? At the risk of sycophancy, Dr. Howard Pickett has inspired me to think hard about many of the most difficult questions we face as a society. He has also inspired my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in religious ethics and a career as a college professor.
Advice for prospective or first-year students? Cherish the liberal arts. At a liberal arts institution such as Washington and Lee, students have the opportunity to pursue the intellectual threads that interest or trouble them most through seminar classes and meaningful relationships with their professors. Through a variety of classes in different disciplines, I have also been able to explore my own questions in philosophy, classical studies, religion, poverty studies, history, and even literature. I have loved all of it.
Passionate About Public Health Johnson Opportunity Grant Winner Cameron Lee interns at the Cluj School of Public Health in Romania.
It’s a hot summer morning in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and I look out of my dorm room to the rolling hills that pervade the Transylvanian countryside. After getting dressed and grabbing a quick bite to eat, I walk only a few minutes to the building that houses the Cluj School of Public Health, where I work as a Global Health Research Intern. In my office I meet Madalina, my research supervisor, before heading to the downtown diabetes clinic, which is about a 20-minute walk from our office. Upon arriving at the clinic, we encounter a waiting room full of diabetes patients who are anxiously awaiting their checkup appointments. These individuals are among the 12 percent of Romania’s population that is diagnosed with diabetes. During their appointments, the patients are given the opportunity to participate in our study by allowing their glycated hemoglobin and blood glucose levels to be collected and by completing a survey that gauges their level of health literacy and the frequency of their diabetes self-care behaviors. After touring the clinic where our data is gathered, Madalina and I walk back to the Cluj School of Public Health to continue data analysis for our study.
In an Eastern European setting where public health is a relatively new field, Romanians frequently encounter healthcare issues such as health illiteracy and the lack of access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. These problems are amplified for Romanian diabetes patients, whose treatment relies heavily on self-administered care. Additionally, despite Romania providing universal healthcare, Roma populations are often barred from receiving adequate care because many of them lack proper documentation and experience systemic discrimination. While Romania may be situated almost half a world away from the United States, I realized that both countries unfortunately create healthcare environments that foster exclusivity. In the future, hopefully as a healthcare provider, I aim to utilize my experiences working in healthcare settings on both a domestic and international scale in order to provide holistic and inclusive care to all patients.
Conducting public health research in Romania has been one of the most incredible experiences of my W&L career thus far. Living in a country eight time zones away from home for an extended period of time has allowed me to become more independent and grow as a person. Additionally, being able to interact with individuals from different backgrounds than mine is something that I know that I will cherish forever. I would like to thank W&L for making this experience possible through the Johnson Opportunity Grant program.
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
- Mock Convention State Chair
- Little Generals
- Volunteer Venture Leader
- Student Health Center Work Study
- Beta Theta Pi
Off-Campus Experiences (internships, study abroad):
- 2015 Shepherd Poverty Intern at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry in Richmond, VA, working as a Medical Administrator
- 2016 Spring Term Abroad in Cádiz, Spain
- 2016 Global Health Research Intern at the Cluj School of Public Health in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Why did you apply for the Johnson Opportunity Grant? I wanted to conduct research that enabled me to further investigate some of the healthcare shortcomings that I had observed while working in healthcare settings in the United States.
Post-Graduation Plans: I plan on taking a gap year, ideally working in a healthcare or research setting, and applying to Medical School.
Favorite W&L Memory: Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the USA” at the end of Mock Convention in 2016.
Favorite Class: A tie between Biochemistry I with Dr. Kyle Friend and Incarceration & Inequality with Dr. Kelly Brotzman.
Favorite W&L Activity: Floating the Maury during Spring Term
Favorite Lexington Landmark: My backyard at the Pole Houses that looks out onto the Maury.
Why did you choose W&L? The Speaking Tradition and the close-knit environment created by W&L’s campus.
What professor has inspired you? Dr. Kelly Brotzman. She has taught me to stand up for what I believe in and fight against injustices that must be eliminated.
Advice for prospective or first-year students? Every aspect of college is a learning experience, so don’t be afraid to take risks.
What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Napping is the key to success.
John White Loves Fixing Things What do the Peace Corps, Blade Runner and bagpipes have in common?
What is your official job title?
Help Desk and Shared Services Manager
How long have you worked at W&L?
What do you like best about working at W&L?
I love the collegial atmosphere here. I have been here for fifteen years and I have always been treated with respect and kindness by everyone. That has made me very loyal to this institution and the people here.
What advice do you have for students (or parents)?
Study abroad, do internships, take as many opportunities to have experiences outside the classroom as possible.
Where did you grow up?
Walled Lake Michigan
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been married for 20 years and we have two teenaged kids and a dog. Mostly, I just like to do dad stuff like gardening, tinkering and bagpiping. My ideal weekend doesn’t involve me leaving my yard.
I am also trying to learn the concertina because there are some things a bagpipe just can’t do.
I have been here for fifteen years and I have always been treated with respect and kindness by everyone.
If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
The coast of Oregon for my summer home and the mountains of Costa Rica for my winter home. My Dream home would be about 1200 square feet and solar powered.
What book are you reading now?
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville and a Collection of Walt Whitman’s letters from his time volunteering in hospitals during the war.
What music are you listening to these days?
My current favorites are Treacherous Orchestra and Broom Bezzums.
Your favorite film (movie) of all time?
Either Blade Runner or Wings of Desire, I am a big fan of internal dialog I guess.
A website and/or blog you visit often?
Bob Dunsire’s Bagpipe Forums
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
If you could have coffee with one person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
My Dad. He was a good friend and fun person to be with. He was also a very wise man and most of the advice he gave me when he was alive I ended up taking. I’d really like to hear his perspective now that he is dead.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you?
That I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and a social worker in Rockbridge County before I started my first IT job at Rockbridge Global Village. People were pretty surprised when I got my first IT certification, but they shouldn’t have been, I have always loved fixing things.
If you would like to nominate a co-worker for a Colleague Connections profile, please email Kevin Remington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My W&L: Sejal Mistry
My W&L experience has been defined by my love of biology and my passion for being active in my community. Through W&L’s biology department, I have gotten to research with my advisor over two summers and attend two microbiology conferences. The lab classes that have been offered sparked my desire to make public health and epidemiology my future. I have had the opportunity to travel to Yellowstone, experiment with potentially deadly chemicals, and even did an entire research project in one spring term on snail behavior. It was a little slimy. This is definitely a part of my W&L experience that brings out the science nerd in me.
I have also been extremely fortunate in the two communities I am a part of—the W&L community and the greater Rockbridge area community. The W&L community includes my professors, peers and clubs, and they are a large part of my experience; however, it also includes the little daily interactions with anyone on campus. It is the facilities worker who walks by my library carrel every morning with a smile and a morning greeting, the amazing alumni I have gotten to meet through small coincidences that have become my mentors, and the administration that take the time to get to know you and check up on how you are doing.
Lastly, there is the greater Rockbridge area community. This community has really impacted my W&L experience. Through the Bonner program, I have gotten to work with a number of agencies, like Project Horizon, the Manor, Habitat for Humanity and the Lexington Office on Youth. The relationships I have built with both the staff and the individuals using resources from these agencies are priceless, and I have grown to appreciate the community that surrounds Washington and Lee. Academics can only teach you a fraction of what you’ll learn in life, and because of this I have learned more from this community then W&L could ever give me. This community even led me to declare my poverty and human capabilities minor.
These three aspects of my life all intersect at Washington and Lee University, and they’re all a part of my W&L.
Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Major(s): Biology Major, Poverty and Human Capabilities Minor
- Volunteer Venture Pre-Orientation Leader
- Bonner Scholar
- Red Cross Club
- Project Horizon Volunteer
- Campus Kitchen Leader
- Plant Functional Ecology with Dr. Hamilton – Yellowstone National Park
- Shepherd Internship – Louisville, Kentucky
Post-Graduation Plans: I would like to take a gap year to gain more experience in public health, and then I will be applying for graduate school programs in Fall 2017.
Favorite Class: I’ve taken a lot of amazing courses at W&L, but my favorite has been Medical Sociology with Professor Chin. I took it my first year, Spring Term, and it has driven my desire to go into public health.
Favorite Campus Landmark: Definitely the Colonnade at night. If I need to take a break from studying or to call a friend, it provides the most relaxing setting.
Why did you choose your major? I’ve been drawn to biology since my high school sophomore year. Ranging from animal behavior to microbiology, my major has continuously engaged my interest of how living organisms on Earth function and behave. I strive for a health profession job as well, and biology is able to satisfy both my interests and my future.
Advice for prospective or first-year students? I would say take a class that makes you uncomfortable, whether that is at W&L or not. Pushing your boundaries, in a healthy way, is a great way to grow. I have taken a number of classes that have been far from anything I would ever take, and I’ve only grown from it. You also realize that it probably isn’t as scary as you had thought it would be.
Washington and Lee Commemorates Veterans Day
Washington and Lee University conducted its annual Veterans Day gathering in front of Lee Chapel on Friday, Nov. 11.
Co-organizers Mark Fontenot and Mike Young presided over the ceremony with a prayer, remarks and the introduction of everyone present. Interim Provost Marc Conner offered a short speech of gratitude on behalf of President Ken Ruscio ’76, who was out of town.
The veterans in attendance included current and retired members of the W&L staff and faculty, as well as several students at the W&L School of Law:
Buddy Atkins, Retiree
William Carpenter ’19L
Al Carr, Law School
Jerry Clark, Facilities Management
John DeVogt, Retiree
Mark Fontenot, Facilities Management
David Garcia, USMC
Ted Hickman, Facilities Management
Timothy Keefer, Law School
Laurie Lipscomb, Retiree
Dale Lyle, Facilities Management
Gabrielle Ongies ’18L
Nicolas Ramos ’18L
Len Reiss, Retiree
Daniel R. Rexrode, Public Safety
Bob Shaeffer, Information Technology Services
Andrew Smeltzer ’17L
Michael Stinnett-Kassoff ’19L
David Thompson ’19L
Tom Tinsley, Information Technology Services
Annie Cox Tripp ’17L
Grimes Waybright ’18L
Devin White ’18L
Mike Young, Retiree
Paul Youngman ’87, German
“Markets & Morals” Speaker to Discuss Responsibilities of Business in Society
Nien-hê Hsieh, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, will lecture on “The Role and Responsibilities of Business in Society: Back to Basics” at Washington and Lee University, on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. The talk is free and open to the public.
His lecture is part of the year-long series on Markets and Morals and is sponsored by W&L’s Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. For more information about this series, see: https://www.wlu.edu/mudd-center/programs-and-events/2016-2017-markets-and-morals.
Hsieh’s research concerns ethical issues in business and the responsibilities of global business leaders. His work centers on the question of whether and how managers ought to be guided not only by considerations of economic efficiency, but also by values such as fairness and freedom and respect for basic rights. He has pursued this question in a variety of contexts, including the employment relationship and the operation of multinational enterprises in developing economies.
He also studies foundational aspects of this question, examining principles for rational decision-making when choices involve multiple values that appear incomparable. In his current work, Hsieh focuses on institutional dimensions of this question where he investigates standards managers should follow even if not required by legal and public institutions and how managers should respond when existing institutions make it difficult to meet these standards.
Hsieh is the author of “The Social Contract Model of Corporate Purpose and Responsibility” in Business Ethics Quarterly (October, 2015); “Should Business Have Human Rights Obligations?” Special Issue on Business and Human Rights in the Journal of Human Rights (April-June 2015); and “Multinational Corporations, Global Justice and Corporate Responsibility: A Question of Purpose,” in Notizie di Politeia (2013).
His work has been published in journals including Business Ethics Quarterly, Economics and Philosophy, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Social Theory and Practice, and Utilitas. He serves on the editorial board of Business Ethics Quarterly and the executive board of the Society for Business Ethics.
Panel: Discrimination against Muslims Hurts Everyone Members of the W&L community packed a room at Elrod Commons on Nov. 3 to hear four faculty members discuss discrimination against Muslims in America.
“Active Islamophobics constitute a minority, but what the majority does about it is important because the majority can be complicit in so many ways.”
— Mohamed Kamara
Washington and Lee University’s chapter of Amnesty International hosted a panel discussion about Islamophobia in America that drew a standing-room-only crowd.
A group of more than 40 people packed into one of the community rooms in Elrod Commons to hear four faculty members discuss discrimination against Muslims. The panel included physics professor Hiba Assi, French professor Mohamed Kamara, Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant Imad Baazizi and politics professor Tyler Dickovick.
In a discussion that touched on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, American attitudes toward Muslims, and misinterpretations of the faith, one message was clear: fighting Islamophobia should be everyone’s concern.
“Active Islamophobics constitute a minority,” Kamara said, “but what the majority does about it is important because the majority can be complicit in so many ways.”
Mohini Tangri ’19, president of the school’s Amnesty chapter, said she was thrilled by the turnout and the quality of the conversation.
“Because I just started the organization last year in January, I thought that it would be a relatively small turnout — maybe 20 people,” she said. “It was more than twice that! The professors were engaging and had powerful stories to tell, the students had thoughtful questions to ask and were clearly glad that this issue was being talked about.”
Professors Assi and Kamara are practicing Muslims, as is Baazizi. Assi grew up in Lebanon as a Palestinian refugee. She first came to Washington and Lee as a student in 2006. Kamara was born and raised in Sierra Leone; he recalled that he was preparing for his first day as a professor at W&L on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I still remember vividly that day,” Kamara said. “Since then, I have become more aware of my identity as a Muslim.”
Baazizi grew up in a household in Morocco where one parent is a practicing Muslim and one is not, but both share the same values. “They debate about Islam every day, but they are both good people who do not cheat, who love each other and have good relationships with others.”
Dickovick is not Muslim, but he has traveled extensively in countries where many or most of the population practices Islam. “I am pleased to have the opportunity to converse with all of you,” he said.
During the discussion, the Muslim panelists all acknowledged that since 9/11, they have lived with the awareness every day that they may be treated differently because of their faith. For example, Kamara said he can no longer travel in and out of the U.S. without worrying that he will be pulled from security lines “so-called randomly.”
“I always have to prepare myself psychologically for that when I travel,” he said. “It once almost caused an entire group to miss our flight to Denmark because I was pulled from the line.”
Baazizi and Assi spent some time talking about Islam and the rampant misconceptions about their faith. They worry that people who don’t understand what Islam stands for may believe that Muslim extremists are acting on the word of the Quran.
Extremism and violence “has nothing to do with the holy books,” Baazizi said. “They brought this brutality to the texts. I have read the Quran many times, and I have never come across something that encouraged me to hurt an innocent person.”
Painting all Muslims with the same brush plays straight into the hands of terrorists, the panelists said, because it gives them the power to recruit more people for their cause. The professors also cautioned against believing everything the media reports about Muslims and Islamophobia alike.
“Don’t assume if you are watching Fox News or Al Jazeera that you are being told the whole story,” Assi said. “You are blinding yourself to whatever truth there might be.”
Tangri thought one of the most powerful moments of the discussion came when Assi was asked about the hijab she wears on a daily basis. She told the audience that she made her own decision to wear a hijab as part of her faith. It is a symbol of her values, and she believes it has kept her safe in many situations because it has reminded her of those values.
“I loved the explanation that Professor Assi gave regarding her decision to wear the hijab,” Tangri said. “I am so glad that she brought up the fact that in most Muslim countries, women have the decision to wear it and to make it a part of their identity. I like her spunk — her desire to show people that they cannot control her heritage or her identity by acting differently towards her just because she wears the hijab. Her decision to take control of her identity in that way made me think a lot about my own thoughts on religion and faith.”
Part of the impetus for organizing the discussion, Tangri said, was to ask what college students can do in their everyday lives to fight Islamophobia. Assi said we must think of each other as humans before all else. Kamara stressed the importance of teaching children the right way to treat others. Baazizi said minorities must stop thinking of themselves as victims and participate in the discussion.
Dickovick pointed out that reactions to Islam fall across a wide spectrum, and just because only a tiny percentage of people express outright hatred toward Muslims does not mean that everyone else on that spectrum is off the hook. “It’s not enough to talk about the two or three percent,” he said, “we have to talk about the larger proportion of Americans who are desensitized to how ‘othering’ Muslims goes on on a daily basis.”
Dickovick said he believes that changing misconceptions about Islam in America is going to be a bottom-up process.
“It is going to come from the younger generation thinking globally and acting locally.”
Watch Beth Macy discuss “Reporting From the Margins”
Beth Macy, award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town,” spoke at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 9.
Macy, whose new novel, “Truevine,” is already earning positive reviews, discussed her time as a reporter for The Roanoke Times and how those experiences segued into work on her books. Macy spent much of her time as a newspaper reporter seeking and telling stories about minorities, refugees and other marginalized members of American society.
Macy’s talk was made possible by the Fishback Visiting Writer program, which is funded by Sara and William H. Fishback Jr. ’56
Washington and Lee University’s Office of Communications live-streamed Macy’s talk, and it is still available for viewing. To watch the talk, click here.
Modern Art Goes Pop: Selections from W&L’s Art Collection at Staniar Gallery
“I imagined the exhibition would be a head-to-head of two contrasting art styles – one engaged with abstract shape and color, the other with popular culture – but when the works came to the gallery, it was striking how much they reflect and enlighten one another.”
The Staniar Gallery at Washington and Lee University presents “Modern Art Goes Pop: Selections from W&L’s Art Collection.” The show will be on view Nov. 7 – Dec. 9.
Pop Art developed in the late 1950s when European ‘New Realism,’ which emphasized elements of mass culture, spread to the U.S. There, artists like Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol found inspiration in the mundane and ordinary – as Warhol said, “all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried not to notice at all.” This exhibition, drawn from the University’s Collection of Art and History, explores the points at which these two major 20th-century art movements intersected and diverged, as well as their continuing legacies.
“’Modern Art Goes Pop’ juxtaposes artworks from two styles that dominated American art in the 1960s and 1970s – Pop Art and hard-edged abstraction,” said Elliott King, assistant professor of art history at W&L. “In addition to world-class paintings, sculptures and prints by Frank Stella, Robert Indiana, and others, we’re debuting four Andy Warhol screen prints gifted to the University by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.”
Like earlier Abstract Expressionists, Hard-edge artists, such as Frank Stella, removed recognizable subject matter from their work, but also rejected dynamic brushstrokes in favor of mechanical precision, pattern, and bold blocks of color.
“I imagined the exhibition would be a head-to-head of two contrasting art styles – one engaged with abstract shape and color, the other with popular culture – but when the works came to the gallery, it was striking how much they reflect and enlighten one another,” said King. “I looked at Warhol differently when I put him next to Stella, and vice versa.”
King will deliver a lecture about the work on Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall. The lecture will both provide historical context for the art and explore how these works play off of each other in unexpected ways.
“I expect many visitors will be surprised by the extent and caliber of works in University Collections of Art and History,” said King. “The collection is an outstanding teaching resource, with pieces by Francisco Goya, Rafael Tamayo, Charles Willson Peale, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. This exhibition gave us the opportunity to share a few highlights with students and the wider community.”
The exhibition and the reception that follows are free and open to the public. Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee’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.
W&L’s Rush on Sea Change in American Politics
The following opinion piece by Mark Rush, Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of international education at Washington and Lee, appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on November 6, 2016, and is reprinted here by permission.
Mark Rush column: Lincoln. FDR. Reagan. Trump?
The Clinton/Trump election really should have come as no surprise. Historians of American politics and elections have used a common shorthand to measure American political development: roughly every 30-40 years, the country undergoes a sea change. Based on that timetable, the Clinton/Trump election really is not the debacle it seems to be. Instead, it is symptomatic of the normal ebb and flow of American elections.
The first “era” of U.S. elections ran from the election of George Washington to the election of Andrew Jackson. This was an era of paleo-party politics. Jackson ended that as he organized the first, great mass presidential campaign and built the foundations of the Democratic Party organization.
The second era ran from Jackson to the period just before the Civil War. Political parties had risen and fallen and there were essentially two big ones: Jackson’s Democrats and the Whigs. The latter were ripped apart over the slavery question. Their demise gave rise to the Republican Party. This era was not unlike our current one. Back then, the Civil War manifested the tremendous pressures on the political system emanating from national growth, nascent industrialization and, of course, slavery. The result was the third political era that ran roughly to 1896.
McKinley’s defeat of William Jennings Bryan established the fourth era. With the end of Reconstruction, the Democrats had begun to re-establish themselves as a competitive political force across the country. But, economic fears and the peculiar, extreme populism of Bryan drove voters across the political and economic spectrum toward the party of Lincoln.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election in 1932 marked the start of the fifth era. The GOP bungling of the Depression left so many Americans in such dire straits that they flocked in droves to the Democrats and the New Deal. 1932 was the prototypical “realignment” that embodies a great shift of voters from one party to another. It became the talismanic example of the critical election that punctuated U.S. political history.
Scholars waited in vain for the next realignment. There was no electoral earthquake apropos 1932. Instead, in the early 1970s the country experienced “dealignment” as we introduced the direct primary and forced political party organizations to cede control of the nomination process, and we lowered the voting age to 18. The result was an increase in the number of independent voters who professed no consistent allegiance to either party. Political issues had become too complex to fit neatly into a simple, liberal-conservative dichotomy. Issues, not party affiliation, ruled the day.
So, the sixth era did not begin with the sort of electoral earthquake that occurred in 1932. The New Deal party system came to a slower end marked by the Reagan Revolution in 1980 and the re-establishment of the Republican Party as a competitor in congressional elections. The high point of the Reagan era might have been the fall of the Berlin Wall. But it was also the death knell of the GOP ascendancy. Without a strong Cold War position to anchor its politics, the party began to splinter into the factions that manifest themselves in recent presidential primaries as the party has been unable to control who challenges for its leadership.
The Reagan era began in 1980. Thirty-six years later, we are due — and on time — for the start of the next era in U.S. politics. The times have symptoms that we’ve seen in prior electoral revolutions: widespread economic fears, deep divisions within the political parties, proliferations of candidates and single-issue movements… The list goes on.
While the stakes may not be as dire as those that led to the Civil War, there is still no question that the stakes in this election portend that the scope of change may dwarf that of prior electoral revolutions. The Republican Party is in disarray. It is possible that Donald Trump’s candidacy will divide the GOP in the same way that slavery led to the demise of the Whigs. His nomination victory exposed a potentially lethal leadership vacuum in the party. The Democrats are hardly united. Bernie Sanders’ crusade and the power of Elizabeth Warren’s voice demonstrate that the party is failing its more liberal wing and could be as divided as the GOP.
Around the world, we’ve seen similar patterns. Our Occupy Wall Street and campus protests are echoes of the Arab Spring. In the U.K., concerns about immigration and economic self-determination led to a disastrous (and clearly unforeseen) victory for Brexit. Similar concerns about immigration have swept across Europe. Spain is now approaching a full year without a stable government. It faces a third election in 12 months.
Opinion polls continue to indicate that the Clinton/Trump election of 2016 may be grounds for despair as Americans face a choice between candidates with incredibly low approval ratings. But their candidacies are symptomatic of the times. History suggests that this election is and will be about much more than either candidate: 2016 will be an election that re-orients the course of American and global politics as the nation and the world wrestle with issues that have proven to be intractable for our current political parties and electoral processes.
Ellen Mayock Talks ‘Gender Shrapnel’ A discussion of "Gender Shrapnel in the Workplace," mentoring students and supporting W&L athletics.
“I see advising as a key part of what we do at W&L, and part of why I love the liberal arts is that you do get to know your students in so many different environments.”
The Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish; professor of women’s and gender studies; professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies; 2010 SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award
Courses: Intermediate and Advanced Spanish, Conversational Skills, Survey of Spanish Literature, Spanish Culture and Civilization, the 19th- and 20th-Century Spanish Novel, Representations of the Spanish Civil War, Medicine and Healing in Guatemala, Hispanic Feminisms, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies and Feminist Theory.
Q: Sexual harassment is, unfortunately, in the news all to often these days. Your book, “Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace” (Palgrave Macmillan), focuses on sexual harassment in the academic workplace. What is gender shrapnel?
A: Gender shrapnel is a series of small workplace explosions that occur when no one person or organization is purposefully discriminating against women (or men, less frequently) based on sex, but when the gender norms of our homes and of our public interactions that consistently follow a patriarchal flow are replicated in the workplace, entrenched in the workplace, and then become the fabric of a pattern of sexual discrimination. This pattern is normally not consonant with the organization’s professed values and is often in direct opposition to Title VII and Title IX law. Gender shrapnel also encompasses the scattered bits of metal at the intersections of gender with race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, parental status, national origin and religion.
If sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation are an issue for educational institutions, then it’s more than likely that these institutions are not managing well the more acute problems of sexual assault and violence. We know that this goes against [federal antidiscrimination laws] and creates significant obstacles for girls and women in educational settings.
The U.S. government over the past several years has required educational institutions to inspect and revise their policies and practices. This increased vigilance sends the right message that illegal behaviors won’t be tolerated, although enforcement methods and goodwill about transparency still vary widely from institution to institution.
Q: As well as sharing the stories of those who have encountered sexual discrimination, your book delves into the legal theory and history, sociology, organizational management and media analysis of the problem. The final section of your book offers some solutions — you’ve referred to it as a toolkit. How do we overcome and break the cycle of sexual discrimination?
A: I believe in a multi-pronged approach, which includes providing education about gender and intersectional dynamics and pitfalls to every member of the organization, following up on that education in small and large groups, sending consistent institutional messages, considering and rectifying inequities in levels of visibility and invisibility, advertising new opportunities to all, and figuring out individual students’ and employees’ strengths that can contribute to organizational change.
Q: You’ve been the faculty advisor to the English as a Second Language (ESOL) and the interpretation services programs here at W&L. Talk about those.
A: ESOL began when two Spanish majors approached me way back in 2000-2001. They said, “Gosh, we’re hearing more Spanish in our community. Do you think there might be some language needs? Should we figure out if we should address those?”
Over the years, really great teams of student leaders have come forward to teach English in the community and through the county and city school systems. The in-school outreach has 25 active volunteers. We also have a family-outreach program, where we send students to teach the entire family. We’ve also taught English to students of many other languages, primarily Chinese, but Spanish represents the largest sector.
ESOL does do a lot of translation — paper translations, usually English-Spanish and English-Chinese — for many local organizations, schools and agencies. For example, students have translated the entire manual of the Rockbridge Area Hospice into Spanish, as well as the Rockbridge County Public Schools’ Program of studies for the high school and the inmate manual for the Rockbridge Regional Jail.
For the interpretation services, we try to make as many of the language matches as are requested. Most often we are helping people with Spanish/English, and volunteers provide live assistance at W&L’s legal clinics, doctors’ appointments, parent-teacher conferences, etc.
Q: You mentor a lot of students. What is your approach?
A: I see advising as a key part of what we do at W&L, and part of why I love the liberal arts is that you do get to know your students in so many different environments. For me, the classroom is so core, so important, and such a strong base for the rest of the relationship. But also we have the privilege of getting to know our students outside the classroom, either by taking them abroad or working on extracurricular activities. As we get to know them and recognize what their passions and talents are, we can push them to expand their boundaries.
Q: I know you’re a big supporter of W&L athletics and are often seen cheering on the Blue & White. You are the faculty mentor to the women’s lacrosse team, but how else are you involved with athletics on campus?
A: I’ve been W&L’s faculty athletics representative for the ODAC and the NCAA since 2007. I’ve also chaired the University Athletic Committee and been involved with the hiring of coaches. I advise a lot of students on NCAA post-graduate scholarships, and it is such a luxury to get to know those superstar scholar-athletes.
One of my favorite projects I worked on was creating the faculty-athlete mentor program, where we paired up a professor with a varsity team. I never thought we’d find 24 faculty to mentor 24 teams, but it worked out. I think this partnership fosters better integration from academics to athletics and back again. I also think it’s good for our students to know that we care about seeing them in different settings.
Q: What other projects are you working on?
A: I continue to work on scholarly topics, but I also endeavor to be creative writer. I’ve published poems, have worked on one-act plays and have written some memoir pieces.
I’m co-authoring a textbook on an advanced Spanish textbook with a cultural studies approach, and I’ve also just launched a Gender Shrapnel blog, where I discuss some of the real-world issues we see swirling around us.
And finally, I’m interested in the connection between silence and violence, which is related to my gender and studies background, and how it maps itself in the whole body — the heart, the head, the stomach.
Nominate Your Fellow Generals
The selection committee of the alumni board, Michael McGarry, chair, is seeking confidential nominations from alumni.
First, every other year this committee develops a confidential slate of potential nominees for the University board of trustees. While we maintain lists and believe we are generally aware of loyal and accomplished alumni, please feel free to identify anyone you believe to be worthy of this highest honor by sending an email to Beau Dudley, executive director of alumni affairs at email@example.com.
Second, each year the committee considers and selects winners of the distinguished alumni award at the annual meeting during alumni weekend. The general criteria include: Service to the university, notable success in a career or profession, a reputation which reflects very well on the University, community and civic involvement, and true public service without regard to remuneration or title.
Some preference is given for members of a class celebrating a five year reunion at that time. This year that includes the classes of 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002.
Please send any names you wish the committee to consider in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To maintain the completely confidential nature of the committees deliberations, please do not mention your nomination to that person.
If you missed this year’s Young Alumni Weekend, be sure to check out our recap here: https://www.wlu.edu/alumni-affairs/campus-events/young-alumni-weekend
Reading Music John Donaldson ’92, who returns to campus next week as executive-in-residence at the Williams School, is helping to map the future of the music industry at Pandora Internet Radio.
“Having done so much analysis … in different subjects at W&L has given me the framework and confidence to be able to tackle new subject matter.”
John Donaldson, a 1992 graduate of Washington and Lee, has parlayed a liberal arts education into a fascinating journey through the media and technology industries.
“My tech colleagues usually want me to write the email that synthesizes all of their complicated spreadsheets and PowerPoints into a compelling argument about why we should invest in a particular product or initiative,” he said. “I guess it’s the ability to use both the right and left brain to pull things together. Just as long as they don’t ask me to write code.”
Donaldson, vice president of corporate development and strategy at Pandora Internet Radio, will spend several days on the W&L campus next week as executive-in-residence at the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics. He will deliver a keynote lecture, “Streaming Wars and the Future of Music,” at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Hillel multipurpose room.
“I think one of the great things about liberal arts at Washington and Lee is the ability to think critically,” Donaldson said. “That sort of critical thinking has paid off in a field as diverse as media and technology. Solving big problems is something I’ve really sought out, and I have built the confidence to analyze new scenarios and situations. Having done so much analysis like that in different subjects at W&L has given me the framework and confidence to be able to tackle new subject matter.”
Donaldson graduated with honors in history, then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Virginia. He practiced at an Atlanta firm for three years, but he wasn’t inspired to spend his entire career in law. Business interested him more, so he went to work as corporate counsel for CNN, then was hired at Time Warner, where he handled strategy, investments, and mergers and acquisitions. He rode out the merger of Time Warner and AOL, then went to work on a software start-up in Atlanta; it was sold in 2005.
After assisting Microsoft with previous projects, Donaldson was recruited to lead business development and strategy for the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business, including Xbox. He also served as chief of staff for the Microsoft Health Solutions Group.
Donaldson said networking has played a major role in some of his career moves along the way.
“I remind my own kids, and certainly other folks that are coming up, that those connections, regardless of the industry — whether they are W&L connections or folks you meet along the way — are paramount in starting to build your career,” he said. “The W&L network is phenomenal, and it is one that I encourage younger folks to take advantage of. It is very rare for alums to not go out of their way to meet with you and give you advice.”
He left Microsoft for Pandora about 2 ½ years ago. In his current position, no two days are the same. His job includes meeting with potential acquisition targets, working with product teams on new initiatives, and brainstorming Pandora’s expansion into new international markets. He may meet with a big-name rap star in the morning, then find himself around the table with major technology CEOs in the afternoon.
Donaldson’s stint as executive-in-residence at W&L from Nov. 13-16 will have him visiting with several different classes and meeting for one-on-one interviews with pre-selected students. These interactions are a big part of the reason he was “thrilled and humbled and really excited” when he was invited back to campus.
“I have had a chance to meet some Washington and Lee students who have been in the Bay area for official and unofficial W&L-related things,” he said. “I have been so impressed by the students and their interest in technology and media, and I would love to be able to share some lessons learned through the years with students back on campus.”
Donaldson and his wife, Caroline Wight Donaldson ‘92, have four children who range in age from 7 to 17. Donaldson said his teenagers introduce him to a lot of new music, and the tunes that fill their home are “a really eclectic mix.” His most recent discoveries include Moon Taxi, Houndmouth and Twenty One Pilots, but he is just as likely to be listening to Jason Isbell.
Donaldson’s keynote lecture will address the tricky but exciting future of the music industry.
“The music industry has been through such a dramatic period over the past 15 years,” he said. “You’ve seen an industry contract by 50 percent, but at the same time you have people listening to more music than ever before and getting it in a number of ways.
“My view is that the industry is on the ascent again, and that the pie is growing rather than contracting. There are new distribution models, new business models for music. The industry has changed dramatically, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a much larger market for the middle class of musicians who have really struggled in the past to build a career in music. You’ll see more people be able to pursue a life in music and feed their kids.”
Slow Down Pierce Owings '06 Urges Public to Comment on Speed-Limiting Devices
This Thanksgiving marks the 14th anniversary of the tragic death of Cullum Owings ’03 in an automobile accident on I-81 as he and his younger brother, Pierce Owings ’06, were returning to campus from their suburban Atlanta home after the break. The Owings’ car was hit by a tractor-trailer a few miles from Lexington. While Cullum died, Pierce sustained minor injuries
A year after that Dec. 2, 2002, accident, Cullum and Pierce’s parents, Steve and Susan Owings of Buckhead, Ga., co-founded their non-profit organization, Road Safe America, through which they have lobbied for national laws to limit the speeds of heavy trucks on highways.
A story on the Northside Neighbor website reported that in 2006 the Owingses “petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt a new rule to require all trucks over 26,000 pounds to use a speed limiter.”
Ten years later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now considering a proposed rule addressing speed limiters for big-rigs: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations: Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Speed Limiting Devices.
Road Safe America has launched an effort through its website to ask the public to comment on the proposal before the Dec. 7 deadline. The organization supports the speed-limiter to be set at 60 mph, which is what the DOT’s own data concludes will save the most lives.
“The DOT has proposed a speed-limiter rule, but the enforcement would only apply to new heavy trucks,” said Pierce, a member of the board of Road Safe America. “Incredibly, this is despite the fact that the majority of existing tractor-trailers on the highway already have the speed-limiting technology built into their systems. It only has to be turned on.”
W&L Professor Emeritus H. Eugene King dies at 94
“Our research is something like lighting a candle in darkness.”
— Henry Eugene King
Henry Eugene King, professor emeritus of psychology at Washington and Lee University, died on Oct. 31, at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 94. He taught at W&L from 1977 until his retirement in 1990.
“Washington and Lee was fortunate to have had someone of Gene King’s expertise and dedication on our faculty,” said President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “By combining teaching with an impressive devotion to his research, he served as a fine role model to our students.”
At W&L, King taught courses on abnormal psychology, human neuropsychology, and medical ethics. At the same time, he served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he and two of that institution’s researchers studied the behavioral consequences of hypertension. In the summer, he managed the workload by living in Pittsburgh; during the academic year, he drove to Pittsburgh on Thursdays after his W&L classes ended, worked there on Friday and Saturday, and returned to Lexington on Sunday.
“Our research is something like lighting a candle in darkness,” he told the W&L alumni magazine in 1981. “The more you know and understand about any disease, the more likely you are to find its cause. And once you know the cause, the more likely you are to find useful treatment and prevention.”
King was born on Sept. 24, 1922, in Wilmington, Virginia. He held three degrees in psychology: a B.A. from the University of Richmond (1942), and an M.A. (1943) and Ph.D. (1948) from Columbia University.
During World War II, he served in the Navy as an officer: on convoy duty in the North Atlantic, commanding a tank landing ship during D-Day, and in the Pacific Theater during the occupation of Japan and the repatriation of Japanese soldiers. He received several decorations for his service.
Before coming to W&L, King served on the faculty of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (1946–1949); the Tulane University Medical School (1949–1960); and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (1960–1977), where he also served as chief of the psychology service at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (1960–1973), head of the psychobiology laboratory (1973–1977), and director of the program in research consultation (1973–1977).
Among his many publications were the books “Psychomotor Aspects of Mental Disease” (author, 1954), “Studies in Schizophrenia” (contributor, 1954) and “Studies in Topectomy” (contributor, 1956). He published more than 100 chapters and articles on such topics as the relation of brain to behavior and human memory disorders. King continued his research long after retirement, and recently finished a book that will be published posthumously.
King belonged to 10 scientific societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Neuroscience. Among his professional responsibilities, he served as translator/abstractor for the American Psychological Association for the Annales Médico-Psychologiques (France), and as a consultant to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and to the National Institute of Mental Health.
At W&L, his students and colleagues enjoyed his appreciation of French wine, Cajun music, Creole cooking and his mo-ped.
His wife of 60 years, Kathleen M. King, preceded him in death. He is survived by his daughter, Anne H. King, of St. Paul, Minnesota; his son, Peter O. King, and his wife, Anna Greco, of Toronto, Canada; his granddaughter Angela King and her husband, Doug Kremm, of Boston; his granddaughter Julia King of Montréal, Canada; his nieces, Lucy McGee and Martha Mason, and his nephew, John B. King III, and their families; and many cousins and other relatives.
A memorial gathering will be held at a future date.
Temple Professor Emerita to Speak on Albion Tourgée
Tourgée, attorney in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, argued that race is an arbitrary distinction.
Carolyn L. Karcher, professor emerita of English, American Studies and Women’s Studies at Temple University, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Hillel House.
Karcher’s lecture, “Fighting Racism: Albion Tourgée and His African American Alliance During the 1890s” is sponsored by the University Lectures Fund and presented by the Department of History. Tourgée, who was an attorney for the Plessy v. Ferguson case, argued that race is an arbitrary distinction.
Karcher taught at Temple for 21 years and received the Great Teacher Award and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2002. She is the author of “Shadow Over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race, and Violence in Melville’s America” (1980); “The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child” (1994); and “A Refugee From His Race: Albion W. Tourgée and His Fight against White Supremacy” (2016). She has also edited scholarly reprints of works by several 19th-century writers, including Tourgée’s novel about Black Reconstruction in North Carolina, “Bricks Without Straw.”
Karcher’s talk is free and open to the public.
W&L Dancers Create…
“With a broad range of dance styles represented, the eclectic nature of the performance offers a spectrum of ideas, designs and shapes.”
On Nov. 10-12, the award-winning Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company will perform “W&L Dancers Create….” Presented by the Department of Theater, Dance and Film Studies, the evening concert, under the artistic direction of Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance and theater, will be comprised of work choreographed, designed and performed by students, showcasing the diversity and talent within the dance and theater programs.
“With a broad range of dance styles represented, the eclectic nature of the performance offers a spectrum of ideas, designs and shapes,” said Davies. “A contemporary ballet piece that looks to Native American poetry for a connection between nature and spirituality is juxtaposed against two abstract works that question identity and relationships. Innovative post modern pieces offer conceptual movement that contrasts sharply with more light-hearted pieces that deal with varying stories of love, loss and finding oneself. A heart wrenching love letter to a grandmother recently departed is performed alongside an anthropomorphic look at self-doubt. And a marine science major incorporates her research and love of the ocean in a piece about marine conservation.”
The concert’s student choreographers collaborated with fellow students who were responsible for lighting the works. Overseen by Shawn Paul Evans, associate professor of theatre and chair of the department of theatre, dance and film studies, the lighting designers used the performance as a practical culmination to a semester-long class containing lecture and smaller projects. The student choreographers and designers worked in tandem, learning how to express their ideas and art with one another in order to create the work presented to an audience.
“Through actual hands-on experience, the designers used what they are learning about the science and craft of lighting to help provide visual context to the dance,” explained Evans.
In conjunction with the performance, the W&L dance company is reaching out to young audiences through a second collaboration with W&L social media group, wlulex. During pre-determined breaks in the concert, hashtag #WLUDance will be projected onto a 40-foot on-stage screen, inviting audience members to open their phones and share their thoughts and questions about the work they are witnessing. At the same time, dancers backstage will Instagram what’s going on behind the scenes and respond to Twitter and Facebook questions. Moderators, will choose tweets to display in between dances on the massive stage screen.
“This experiment in reaching out to new audiences was so successful last year, that we are anxious to repeat the process,” said Davies. “It is our hope that, once again, young and old alike will be inspired by the concert and engage in dialogue about the work. Whether it’s over social media or in the lobby following the performance, the more people that understand our artistic goals and processes, the more involved they will be in the performance. Our goal is to create active and engaged audiences.”
Collaborating with Professors Davies and Evans, the W&L Repertory Dance Company and these student choreographers, dancers and designers, have dedicated countless hours in the creation of an expressive concert of new dance works. It is their hope that the audience will feel inspired to participate actively by attending the performance, engaging in the social media fun and supporting the dance conversation.
7:30pm Nov. 10-12
Lenfest Center for the Arts
All tickets are $5
Purchase: 540-458-8000 or https://www.wlu.edu/lenfest-center/current-season/wandl-dancers-create
W&L’s Cantey Discusses Iraq’s New Museum in BBC Travel Story
“Iraq is historically significant for many reasons, but at the top of the list must be that it encompasses areas where some of the earliest civilizations emerged.”
Seth Cantey, assistant professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, is quoted about Iraq’s historical significance in a BBC Travel story titled, “A New Use for Saddam Hussein’s Palace.”
You can read the full BBC Travel story online.
Cy Twombly ’53: Mixing Images and Words
When Cy Twombly was a student at Washington and Lee University, one of his instructors wrote a letter of recommendation for the young man for a grant from the Virginia Museum of Art. He said, “I feel that he will develop into a poet in paint… and that it will be a strong poetry as he is not easily changed from his purposes.”
How right that instructor was.
A new book by Mary Jacobus, “Reading Cy Twombly: Poetry in Paint” (Princeton University Press) is the first book to examine the artist’s use of poetry in his work.
Cy often incorporated passages and themes from Sappho, Homer, Virgil, Keats, Cavafy and others. As a book review on the Hyperallergic website noted, “The verses often unwind spool-like in the painter’s dancerly script, and raise a variety of questions regarding the verbal component of Twombly’s work — work that declares nothing beyond itself and its viscerally felt, fidgety elegance, but that nevertheless talks, recites, and references.”
The Princeton University Press website states: “Jacobus shows that poetry was an indispensable source of reference throughout Twombly’s career; as he said, he ‘never really separated painting and literature.’ Among much else, she explores the influence of Ezra Pound and Charles Olson; Twombly’s fondness for Greek pastoral poetry and Virgil’s Eclogues; the inspiration of the Iliad and Ovid’s Metamorphoses; and Twombly’s love of Keats and his collaboration with Octavio Paz.”
So far, reviews of the book are positive, noting that the author’s unprecedented access to the artist’s notebooks and annotated sources allowed her to interpret Cy’s work in new ways.
However, the only reader review on Amazon gives the book two stars. “Too high brow,” he wrote. “Mr. Twombly was a humble Virginian who also loved the Mediterranean and its rich history. To read too much into his references is to ignore the romance and nuance of his work. He’d be perplexed by such overthought analysis.”
That’s art for you.
W&L Connections at Work Forging a Future Through the W&L Network
“W&L was a grounding mechanism that has helped me in my search for what is important in life.”
When Andrew Elliott graduated from W&L in 2007, he was at a crossroads. He knew he was interested in real estate, but he didn’t have the experience or connections to find his way into the field.
Networking with W&L alumni paved the way for him to pursue a career that has evolved to his current position as manager for Deloitte Consulting.
“I used Colonnade Connections (alumni directory) to research alumni in real estate and made a short list of people on the East Coast,” he recently told an audience at W&L’s Embracing Diversity symposium. Elliott’s next step was to set up meetings with them during a two-week travel blitz from his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Not only did he meet with alumni up and down the East Coast, but some also invited him to stay with them to save on the expense of the trip. One alumnus with a real estate investment trust (REIT) in Atlanta, told Elliott about an open position with his company in Chicago. He paved the way for Elliott to interview for the job, which he got.
For the next two years, Elliott worked in Chicago as a property administrator, managing a portfolio of seven grocery-anchored shopping centers valued at more than $150 million. When the recession hit, many of the businesses in his portfolio went out of business or filed for bankruptcy, leading Elliott to seek his next opportunity.
Again, networking through his W&L connections led to a job. He contacted Harlan Beckley, executive director of the Shepherd Poverty program, in which Elliott had participated as a student. Beckley put him in touch with an alumnus who had just become president of Greater Camden Partnership (since merged and renamed Cooper’s Ferry Partnership) in Camden, New Jersey.
Since the two men had backgrounds in real estate and the partnership was looking for someone with his skills, “I was offered the job on the spot,” Elliott said.
He worked with the partnership to help develop a business district that provided extra services not available through the city in order to maintain a clean and safe environment for customers. “Camden was a living example of a post-industrial city suffering from increased amounts of blight, poverty, and drug-related activities,” Elliott said. “We wanted to provide a presence on the street for people to feel safer and to promote investment.”
Elliott managed an annual budget of more than $1.3 million and met with corporate partners and local businesses to develop strategy and annual plans for the business district. “We asked, ‘What can we do to make this a better area to attract businesses?'”
After a couple of years, Elliott realized that he was interested in developing strategy on a larger scale and began to plan his transition. He knew he needed more education and an expanded skill set, so he applied to the MBA program at the Johnson Graduate School of Management program at Cornell University. He was accepted and received a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellowship. The full-tuition scholarship, with additional requirements for leadership beyond the classroom, allowed him to earn the degree and move into a senior consultant position with Deloitte Consulting.
Promoted to manager, he now focuses his work on business transformation in the firm’s strategy and operations practice. Ironically, his very first project was to work with a REIT, whose new CFO wanted to position the company to double its revenue in a short period of time. Elliott’s job was to conduct an assessment of the company, including what skills were available and what skills were lacking among his client’s employees. He and his team provided the company’s executives “with a solid view of their position.”
He has since consulted for an international power and utility company, a multi-billion-dollar global healthcare company and a multi-billion-dollar global professional services company.
In addition to Professor Beckley, Elliott attributes his success to at least three other professors: Marc Conner, interim provost, who taught him freshman English and African American studies; Ted DeLaney, associate professor of history and program chair of Africana Studies; and Art Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics. “He modeled real life situations, incorporating a social aspect with economics,” Elliott said.
Elliott learned leadership skills as president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a historically black fraternity whose chapter operated jointly with James Madison University. He was also involved with the Nabors Service League and Campus Kitchen, among other activities. Two study-abroad experiences exposed him to the world. At Queen Mary, University of London, he studied economics and architecture, and during Spring Institute in Senegal, he learned about the country’s culture and language.
Elliott believes that “giving back to W&L is highly, highly important.” Until now, “it has been hard to get back to campus,” he said. With a more flexible schedule, he is happy to return to the campus where he remembers a more simple and carefree time in comparison to the complexity he faces on a daily basis now. “W&L allowed me to be more idealistic, with free-flowing thoughts and perspectives,” he remembered.
As for his future, Elliott says he is motivated by the unknown. “I’m excited about the future challenges, and what’s next for me.” As he moves along with life and career, he now thinks more about “how it aligns with helping others.” He thinks his interests and future will become more aligned with entrepreneurship and small businesses, and he wants to refine and gain the skills to be in the position to help others.
He is able to understand his interests and hone the necessary skills because W&L helped build a foundation that “created a very high level of self-awareness,” he said. “W&L was a grounding mechanism that has helped me in my search for what is important in life.”
There is More to Cybersecurity than Emails
By Axel Box ’17
Imagine a world in which access to the Internet required registration with a federal agency and the use of biometric data to log on. Next, think of a world in which every electronic communication is collected by the government and analyzed to identify and arrest citizens who have a high probability of committing a crime. These are terrifying propositions to the average American, even with the nation’s relaxed sense of privacy and yet, each of these scenarios is a possible evolution of current strategies to combat the ever growing threat of cybercrime. In fact, indiscriminate bulk collection of metadata is already conducted by entities in the private and public sectors, even with cut backs in the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.
The digital age, now in full swing, has brought about a new topic for discussion in the political arena—cybersecurity. One of the most prevalent threats to both states and individual actors, the issue of cyber-attacks has taken a prominent place in the discourse of this election cycle. However, both candidates have largely reduced the subject to discuss a singular threat. Over the past few months, the debate has circled around protecting the United States from cyber-attacks perpetrated by state actors such as Russia or China when in reality, the threat of cyber-crime can come from anyone with modest computer skills, an internet connection, and a desire to cause harm. Every time a computer accesses the Internet it assumes a risk, one that is growing larger every day. Just two years ago the number of records exposed by data breaches reached 85 million. These breaches come in large part from individual actors but the rhetoric heard from the candidates would lead the public to believe otherwise.
In a subdued speech from the Republic nominee, Donald Trump declared cybersecurity an “immediate and top priority.” Unfortunately for those interested in the future of cybersecurity, Mr. Trump offered more commentary on Secretary Clinton’s email scandal and China than he did on the real issues. Previous statements from Mr. Trump have indicated a desire for increased surveillance and bulk data collection. One can easily recall his advocacy of an Apple boycott as a result of the company’s encryption codes and policies on releasing information to law enforcement. These types of generalized statements and brash action against a company pushing back against government intrusion represent a misunderstanding of the fundamental issues at play in the cybersecurity debate. Identifying flaws in his opponent may be a necessary strategy for his campaign but Mr. Trump is failing to capitalize on this issue. If he were to take a firm stance on surveillance and cybersecurity programs he could make himself stand out in the race on at least one issue. Instead he has chosen to stick to the discussion of emails and the hack of the Democratic National Committee. Oddly enough, despite her more reasoned campaign, Secretary Clinton has yet to tackle the issues surrounding cybercrime head on as one might expect.
Clinton, while implying that a continuation of the Obama Administration’s policies would be the hallmark of her presidency, has struggled to present a clear direction as to the protection of privacy and civil liberties. In 2015 she endorsed the USA Freedom Act, pushing for greater transparency at the National Security Agency and a slight rollback in the bulk data collection programs. This view was contradicted in March of this year though when she called for increased surveillance following the terrorist attack in Brussels. Pinning down Secretary Clinton’s stance on cybersecurity and surveillance is made harder by the campaign’s lack of an official policy proposal. A continuation of current policies and programs with no clear plan for improvement is a shaky platform to stand on. Perhaps the hesitation to outline a concrete plan stems from fear of the potential response from the Trump camp.
Secretary Clinton’s email scandal has forced her into a corner when it comes to discussions of cybersecurity. Such a position while most likely beneficial to Mr. Trump has come at the expense of the issues at hand. Unable to question her opponent about his support for mass surveillance out of fear he will hit back with her mishandling of information, Secretary Clinton has shifted the discussion to China and Russia. Both nations are major threats to national security but they are only two possible attackers and in the world of cybercrime, the most dangerous players might be lone wolves in this very country. In fact, the most dangerous threat in the realm of Internet related issues might be the attack on individual rights.
The narrow discussion of cybersecurity in this election cycle has not only left the American public uninformed about the very nature of cybercrime but has left out the essential discussions of rights and privacy concerns. Is the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure even realistically applicable to today’s highly advanced crime? Questions such as this have been missing in the public discourse in 2016. In the coming weeks, it would be beneficial to the American People to hear the candidates move past China and Russia and put forth plans addressing the very real problems facing America in the digital age. Voters deserve to hear the candidates’ views on Constitutional rights. Such discussion is arguably more informative about a person’s fitness for office than worrying about whom Mr. Trump has called ugly or how scripted Secretary Clinton appears.
Trump’s “Great Wall:” Just another “Great” Failure in the History Books
By Brittany Smith ’19
In his 2016 campaign, Trump proposes building a wall on the United States-Mexico border to block out illegal immigrants, but his plans remain ambiguous and destined to fail. The border between the United States and Mexico is 1,900 miles long. Due to an initiative from the George W. Bush administration, 650 miles of the border has fencing to block entry. Trump’s proposal is to build a 1,000 mile wall and let natural landscapes block the rest. Trump sees a fence as inefficient, and he wants to put up an “impenetrable wall,” but that leads to another issue: Is any wall impenetrable?
When asked how he plans to build this wall, Trump replied: “Very easy. I’m a builder. That’s easy. I build buildings that are — can I tell you what’s more complicated? What’s more complicated is building a building that’s 95 stories tall. Okay.” Ali Rhuzkan, an engineer, explains the infeasibility of Trump’s wall: “The challenge of Trump’s border wall is not technical, but logistical. The leap in complexity between ‘building a wall’ and ‘building a 2,000-mile-long continuous border wall in the desert’ is about equal to the gap between ‘killing a guy’ and ‘waging a protracted land war.’” Trump’s wall plan is only for a 1,000 mile wall, but the plan is still exceedingly complex. Trump, himself, will never build such a wall. The burden will be on the workers, and Trump makes his plan appear simpler than it really is. Trump’s wall will extend over mountainous regions and private property, making the construction nearly impossible and the cost exceedingly high.
The current 650-mile fencing cost the United States 7 billion dollars. Trump is claiming to build a wall almost triple the size, for between 10 billion and 12 billion dollars. The Washington Post estimates the cost of Trump’s wall to actually be around 25 billion dollars, the majority of which stems from the cost of raw materials. Trump’s wall will most likely be made out of concrete. Rhuzkan estimates that a 1,900-mile wall would require 339 million cubic feet of concrete (three times the amount of concrete used in constructing the Hoover Dam)!
Trump only plans to build a 1,000-mile wall, so that decreases the cost and the amount of concrete needed by SO much, making his plan feasible… Not. But hey, no worries! Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. One small problem: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto adamantly denies that Mexico will supply the funds. The cost is no big deal though; it is only a so-called 10-billion-dollar project, small change like the “small loan of a million dollars” that Trump received from his father.
Historical evidence also proves that Trump’s wall will never succeed in blocking unwanted, illegal Mexican immigrants from entering the United States. Just look at previous great dividing walls, like the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the Apartheid Wall in Israel. All were failures and drains of economic resources.
Trump often compares his wall to the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China was built by the Ming Dynasty to keep out the Manchurians, but they repeatedly broke through the wall; apparently, a “Great Wall of Trump” would be just like it (so, another failure).
The Berlin Wall, which separated East Berlin from West Berlin, had a similar fate. Approximately 71 tunnels were dug under the wall, 21 percent of which were successful in allowing people to cross from one side to the other. The most famous tunnel, dug in a graveyard, allowed at least 50 people to cross the border before its discovery.
The Apartheid Wall in Israel also failed. It was meant to block Palestinians from crossing into Israel. According to the Israeli Government Special Committee, approximately 15,000 Palestinians without legal permits smuggle themselves past the Apartheid Wall every day in search of employment. Someone may want to inform Trump of these historical, ill-fated walls so he stops comparing his wall (that is supposedly going to be great) to such failures.
In addition, the issue of Mexican immigration to America is dissipating rapidly! Based on a U.S. Census Bureau’s statistic, in 2001, the number of new Mexican immigrants residing in the United States started to drop: “In 2005, it began to plunge, bottoming out at 140,000 in 2010 and has flat lined since then.” Analysts attribute the steep drop of Mexican immigration to the 2006 housing market crash and the economic recession of 2008. Many immigrants are leaving the United States and returning to Mexico: “According to the Pew Center’s analysis of Mexican census data, between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans who had previously resided in the U.S. returned to Mexico.” Mexican immigration is projected to keep decreasing over the next 20 to 40 years unless Mexico can overcome the nation’s issue of decreasing fertility rates.
So, why is Trump trying to build a wall? Trump may just be utterly ignorant of history and Mexican immigration. Donald Trump claims: “My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.” I can speak for most Americans (excluding those that Trump has convinced with his unrealistic ideas), that if Trump is elected, the wall will be a loss. Walls never keep people out, and they lead to unrest throughout the world, illustrated by the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the Apartheid Wall. Trump and his fellow wall advocates need to look at the history of dividing walls and statistics on Mexican immigration. Maybe then they will see Trump’s wall plan for what it really is, an infeasible and unwarranted disaster.
The Greatest (Presidential) Hat Trick of All Time
By Carley Sambrook ’17
“Here’s the general rule: You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president. That’s politics 101. You never look good wearing something on your head.”
– President Barack Obama
Funny Hats: A Presidential History
Measuring six feet and four inches, Abraham Lincoln is the tallest president in the history of the United States. To think of Lincoln is to picture one of his many extended top hats. Lincoln’s hat was a fashion statement, storage for important papers, and a means of further accentuating his towering frame. The 16th President’s use of the top hat was so iconic that the silk hat he wore on the fateful night at Ford’s Theater is one of the most valued items of the Lincoln Collection at the Smithsonian Museum of National History.
Throughout history, American presidents and presidential candidates have worn all sorts of hats. Some have worked, and some have definitely not worked. What framework exists to guide presidential hopefuls in the art of the hat? A poll of the past shows inconsistent results… Take the downfall of Mike Dukakis after the tank episode of 1988. Even though the helmet Dukakis wore was standard procedure for tank driving, the resulting appearance made him the butt of jokes and the beneficiary of many a chuckle. Dukakis should have (literally) taken a page from the 1968 Nixon campaign. An excerpt from the Nixon Campaign Plan Book explicitly states,
“The 37th President of the United States of America NEVER WEARS HATS…no honorary hats…no protocol hats…no “great photo” hats…no “the law requires” hats…no “it’s the custom” hats…no cute hats…no beanies…no stovepipes…no firehats…no captain’s hats…no caps…no Indian headdress…no feather hats…no hard hats…no soft hats…no ladies hats…no mens hats…no fur hats…no paper hats…no grass hats…no thorn hats…no “Nixon’s The One” hats…no nothing. HATS ARE TOXIC–AND CAN KILL YOU.”
And the helmet killed the Dukakis campaign. They never recovered from the incident.
Fast forward to 2016 and even Ted Cruz knows not to wear a funny had. Cruz was visiting the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin in advance of the Wisconsin primary when his 7-year-old daughter attempted to put the state’s iconic “cheesehead” hat on her father’s head. He steadfastly refused, telling reporters “There is an ironclad rule of politics, which is no funny hats […] I will cheer on the hats of others, but I think the people of Wisconsin wear their cheeseheads so powerfully that I would not presume to intrude in the elegancy in which the people of Wisconsin wear those hats.” Probably a good choice.
The Trump in the Hat
It has been a tough year for the morale of the American people. With many still recovering from the main shock factor of Donald J. Trump’s crusade for the 45th presidency of the United States (the fact that he is indeed running for president), we’ve been hit with a flurry of sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and racist comments at every turn. What’s terrible is that somehow the Donald is getting away with it. And what’s worse, he’s getting away with it while wearing a hat.
Trump first wore the now iconic “Make American Great Again” cap, with its blue block letters and rope detail, on a tour of the Mexican border in July 2015. There was no situational, cultural, nor weather incentive to wear a hat; as with most of Trump’s decisions and actions, he just did it. Jerry McLaughlin of Brander’s.com reflected, “I don’t think Trump has put nearly that much thought into his hat. But that’s the beauty of Trump. The hat is random and startling, and so is the Donald, and therein lies the key to much of the media coverage both get.” The hat (which now comes in camo, for those interested) is now synonymous with Trump’s campaign.
We remember few campaign slogans of presidential candidates, especially those of the candidates whom we do not support. Trump has monopolized the campaign catchphrase focus of this election, and created a level of brand awareness unlike any other in the history of presidential elections. But let me be clear. Donald J. Trump is not a politician. He is an accomplished business man who realized the potential to drill his campaign slogan into the minds of followers and haters. The hat, which constantly appeared in photos of Trump and of his supporters, cemented his political brand.
Sour Puss & Cereal
Besides the clear pirating of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again,” multiple issues arise with Donald Trump’s now iconic “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. Most importantly, as with much of his behaviour throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, how does he pull it off?
Perhaps the first key here is that no action, statement, or photo of Trump surprises us anymore. Seth Stevenson wrote for Slate.com, “Juxtapose almost anything with Trump’s sour puss, and you’ve got yourself an indelible image.” This removes all Dukakis risk from the equation. Trump brings confidence and an entertainment factor to the 2016 presidential race. He doesn’t have to act as the traditional politician would; instead, he can concentrate on putting on a show.
The focus of the Trump campaign has been to establish a strong personal identity and presence instead of following the traditional path to voter’s hearts through specific policy stances and concrete plans. He makes sweeping statements (“I’m going to be the greatest jobs-president that God ever created.”) without outlining how he plans on accomplishing these formidable tasks. And yet he still succeeds. Tom Basset, CEO of Basset & Partners, provides the following comparison, “Think about it this way: When trying to sell consumers a product that has many similar competitors—for example, a cereal—the advantage is won by establishing an identity with strong cultural associations, not by arguing about the cereal’s fiber content or even flavor.”
At the end of the day, people are tired of political correctness. They have no interest in following the typical straight-laced candidate of yore (they may still vote for said candidate, but that’s a different story). Trump adds shock-value and pizazz. He pronounces that Mexicans are rapists? Fine! States that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and wouldn’t lose votes? Great! Wears an ill-made, funny hat in every possible photo-op? Superb! Trump can do no wrong. He’s going against the grain, and the people love it.
By Guilherme Baldresca ’19
What could Donald Trump possibly have in common with a Brazilian dictator from the previous century? As it turns out, ideologically, a lot. And the fact that American politics have half abandoned the expert-driven, enshrined in liberal values policies of other election cycles in favor of Trump’s populism, demagoguery, nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism makes this campaign look a lot like the political climate in Brazil in the 1930s and 40s.
In 1930, after losing the election, presidential candidate Getúlio Vargas initiated a revolution that broke with the political establishment in Brazil and installed a dictatorship that would last 15 years. His claim to the presidency? A grassroots movement that rejected the alternation of power between two elite political parties, and allegations of election fraud. Trump’s ascension to leader of the Republican Party has been quite similar to Vargas’, as he rejected the traditional party elites and tapped into popular frustration with the status quo. Like Vargas, he disrupted the political process and unsettled the establishment in quite an unexpected fashion. Trump has also signaled he might not concede defeat in case of a loss, indicating the possibility of a move that would be unprecedented in American presidential elections. Given this, both Trump and Vargas seem to believe that they are entitled to the presidency, which became quite evident when Trump declared this August that “The only way we can lose, in my opinion…is if cheating goes on.”
Not only in the way they ascended to and treat power are Trump and Vargas similar: populism is the thread with which both of these men weaved their political personas. Just as Trump seems to have assumed the mantle of defender of the working-class, Vargas was known as “father of the poor”, and fully exploited this moniker. He increased welfare programs significantly and enacted labor legislation that strongly favored workers, while at the same time maintaining policies that subsidized agricultural production for the elites.
Trump, even though he is running as the candidate for the party traditionally associated with laissez-faire economics, has promised not to cut entitlements like social security or Medicaid, while at the same time promising to cut taxes for all income brackets. This sort of pandering to multiple interest groups is characteristic of populism, and can generate abysmal long-term economic consequences when contradictory policies, like lowering taxes and increasing spending, are concomitantly enacted.
Also part of the populist rhetoric of both Trump and Vargas is a protectionist trade policy deeply rooted in nationalism. Upon rising to power, Vargas imposed severe tariffs and currency controls to foster the national industry through protectionism, a policy also known as Import-Substitution Industrialization. In what is one of the most prominent issues of Trump’s platform, he has criticized trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP, arguing that American workers are suffering because of trade with other countries, particularly China and Mexico, and promised to revoke or renegotiate those deals if elected. Trump has relentlessly exploited the general population’s ignorance of macroeconomic axioms by propping up their nationalistic sentiment and manipulating their primal emotions: in declaring that the loss of industrial jobs “is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism …”, he is pitting the interests of America and those of the rest of the world against one another, demonizing globalization in a nationalistic, protectionist and isolationist rhetorical effort.
The most controversial aspect of Vargas’ presidency is most likely the strong racial overtones of his immigration policy, which blatantly excluded people who were not of European descent. A presidential degree from 1945 reads, in an unofficial translation, “It shall be observed, in the admission of immigrants, the need to preserve and develop, in the ethnic composition of the population, the characteristics of its European heritage, as well as the defense of the national worker”. This was done in particular to stem the flood of immigrants from Japan who were fleeing their war-torn country post-WWII: Vargas turned people who were simply seeking a better life into objects of fear and distrust.
Fast-forward to the next century and Donald Trump’s stances on immigration similarly carry racial insinuations, albeit with a (slightly) more veiled approach. On his announcement speech, which would lay out the ideological foundation of his campaign, he famously stated:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
The implications are clear: It is not “you” that Mexico is sending. It’s Mexicans, and they’re rapists and drug dealers. This junction of nationalism with xenophobia is characteristic of the flavor of populism practiced by Vargas, and history seems to once again be repeating itself.
Trump supporter and professional controversy stirrer Ann Coulter recently released a new anti-immigration book called “Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole”. Never mind the charming title, it is ironic that American politics are becoming more Latin American not because of “the left”, but because of Trump himself. Due to his rhetoric, this election cycle has approximated Latin American politics, particularly from the 20th Century, more than any other.
Yes, America is still America: if Trump loses, he is not going to march down Pennsylvania Av. to depose Hillary Clinton; the institutions that maintain stability in the United States are still strong and functioning. However, the way American politics are conducted is undergoing significant changes, and this new direction, if further pursued by the American people come this November, might ultimately compromise some of those very ideals America was founded upon; a Trump presidency could mean the beginning of a transition to a new America, populism-inclined and unconcerned with classical liberal values.
The Champion of the Common Man vs. The Corrupt Political Aristocrat – A Tale of Two Elections
By Lilly Wimberly ’18
The year 2016 has already earned itself the top spot in the minds of many Americans as the worst presidential election in history – but the mudslinging battle between a so-called “champion of the common man” and a “corrupt political aristocrat” is old news. Almost 200 years ago voters faced a choice: the inexperienced, potentially tyrannical and wildly temperamental outsider, or the one with the famous last name?
It sounds eerily familiar.
Let’s go back to 1828.
In a way, it’s all about taxes. In May of 1828, President Adams (the second one) signed into law what would become known as the “Tariff of Abomination” to southern states. It was intended to protect the business of the industrial north. Imported goods are taxed highly upon entry into the United States, so Americans are incentivized to buy local and avoid the upcharge. This is bad news for the agriculture-driven south – no cheap goods from Britain flowing in means less revenue for the Brits, and therefore less cotton flowing out. The tariff rate stood at 60%. Adams also exercised what was seen as “generous” policy towards Native Americans, whose tribal lands impeded frontiersmen from pushing west. A monotone presidency, high taxes and too many Indians in their backyard? Cue dissatisfaction in the population.
The situation today in the United States has familiar echoes of discontent. The economy is broken – it seems it does not work for everyone. Our presidential selection process has been thrown into question: does it work? Is it truly representative of the people? The GOP is splintering into disarray – the establishment has lost touch with the grassroots, and the meaning of true conservatism is in many ways lost to us. Public satisfaction with our current leadership is down, and come November, voters still would rather choose ‘None of the above!’ History shows us that unhappy populaces are recipes for change, and in both 1828 and 2016, the people has called for a “champion of the common man” to step in. Those who answer the call, each in their respective elections, may be unsettlingly similar.
It is post-1824, and into the scene enters a new party mainly composed of southern and western states, the Jacksonian Democracy, a fledging version of the Democratic Party. Andrew Jackson, favorite son of Tennessee, was in no way the traditional “ideal” presidential candidate. But he answered the call. Lacking in any distinguishable governmental experience, Jackson’s supporters claimed his success in service to the military, beginning at the age of 14 and culminating in the War of 1812 and Battle of New Orleans, sufficient preparation to be president.
While no veteran, Donald Trump has spent his entire life as a businessman. The success (and integrity) of his ventures are debatable, but his record of zero governmental service is seen as appealing to today’s voters. In the minds of some Americans, it takes an outsider to muck the political stables.
Both men have a problem with the “establishment.” Jackson very nearly won the election of 1824, in fact he did win a plurality, but because no candidate won the Electoral College, the vote went to the House of Representatives. They choose John Quincy Adams instead. Jackson perceived this defeat as a corrupt, inside job in which party elites machinated against an un-favored candidate — exactly what Donald Trump accused the Democrats of doing when Sanders took a backseat to Clinton at the DNC. “It’s a rigged, disgusting, dirty system,” says Trump (and Jackson).
There is a cult of personality that surrounded Jackson then and Trump today – and the charismatic and unapologetic men at the center practically promise their supporters the moon. Their similar M.O.’s and character traits called to disenfranchised outsiders and have mobilized voters in numbers rarely seen.
Part of his appeal to his supporters, Jackson was an ardent white supremacist. He both owned slaves who worked his plantation, as well as bought, sold and relocated them. An expert from an advertisement published in the Nashville-based Tennessee Gazette, 1804, reads:
The above reward (50 dollars) will be given any person that will take him, and deliver him to me, or secure him in jail, so that I can get him. If taken out of the state, the above reward, and all reasonable expenses paid – and ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.
It’s signed Andrew Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee.
Donald Trump promises to rid the country of Muslims, deport all Mexicans (“rapists”), build a wall on the boarder and make Mexico pay for its construction. He suggested a Gold-Star mother standing next to her husband at the DNC was “not allowed to have anything to say” due to her faith. He also suggested the violence against both a homeless Latino man by his supporters and a Black Lives Matter protester at his rally was justified. Even Trump’s adopted party’s Speaker, Paul Ryan, called his remarks “textbook racist.” The list goes on.
Something about the racist remarks struck a nasty cord with Americans, then and now. Perhaps it is the content, but more likely it is the willingness to be “politically-incorrect.” These men say whatever they want, and to hell with their critics – it is the abrasive willingness to offend people (minorities) that is seen as “strength.” Like Jackson before him, many consider Trump temperamentally unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. Jackson was called a murderer for executing several soldiers under his command for minor infractions; Trump is accused of being a bully who gets legitimate pleasure from telling people “You’re fired!” Both are hot-tempered and quick to react, and both have a propensity to duel, wisely or not (Jackson with guns, Trump with 140 characters).
The campaigns of Jackson and Trump were and have been plagued by similar problems – in 1828; it was called “mudslinging.” In 2016, it is called “mainstream media coverage.” Jackson’s wife Rachel came under fire for not being legally divorced from her first husband when she and Jackson were married. Melania Trump faced an onslaught of criticism after she lifted sections of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, verbatim. Jackson was not considered to have an especially strong hold on the written English language, a March study from Carnegie Mellon showed Trump’s speeches to be at the grammatical level of a 5th grader. Jackson was touted by his supporters as a “super-patriot!,” Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again!” And throughout both men’s time campaigning, actual policy plans beyond a vague promise for “reform” have been unclear.
Make no mistake — history is cyclical. We think the election of 2016 is our political rock bottom, but in 1828 voters were faced with a shockingly similar dilemma. Jackson’s strength was strength of personality. Not strength of institution. He incited the nation’s passions. Jackson was the leader of a movement, but what is the phenomenon that is Donald Trump? Can he fairly be called the figurehead of a movement, or is he merely an opportunist, capitalizing on a perceived vacuum of leadership?
Working as an intern this summer on Capitol Hill, I often found myself staring at an original portrait of Andrew Jackson. It hangs in the office Congressman Jim Cooper, 5th district of Tennessee. I am now finding myself wondering – why are we so enthralled with this man? In him, I see disturbing parallels to the demagogue we face on today’s ticket. Tennessee is still blinded by the “lion” of Andrew Jackson in much the same way Trump’s followers are by his “hugeness.” But this is not 1828. We cannot afford a frontiersman in the White House, because the only frontier Mr. Trump could effectively conquer is straight into the ground.
The Last Time West Virginia Mattered in an Election
By Ashley Faulkner ’18
West Virginia accounts for only five of the possible 538 electoral votes; two percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the United States Presidency. With these numbers, it is not a surprise that it seems that the state holds no weight in a national election. It begs the question why this tiny rural state should be a candidate’s main concern if his/her effort won’t bring back great return. West Virginia faces major economic issues and some of the highest poverty rates in the country. West Virginians are a people who feel ignored and left by the federal government. This hasn’t always been the case.
If you were to look for a presidential election where West Virginia made a significant impact on the outcome, you need not look further than the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. The West Virginia primary became a heated competition between Democratic candidates, Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. While its size was irrelevant, the state held much symbolic power hea9ing into the Democratic National Convention.
Kennedy was young, wealthy and Catholic; voters in West Virginia were Protestants. Democratic leaders and citizens were concerned that Kennedy’s faith would affect how he would serve. His previous win in the Wisconsin primary had been credited to a Catholic voting block and he needed to prove that he could succeed regardless of his religion. According to one journalist, “If a Catholic was to make his stand on the religious question anywhere, West Virginia was the best possible proving ground.”
Humphrey had been expected to win the state 60-40, and Kennedy’s faith made him less popular as it got more attention. Kennedy had to go to the people if he were to make a comeback. He went to the coal miners and those most impoverished. Not only did he see their plights, but when he won the state’s primary and eventually the election, he did not forget them.
Kennedy’s first acts as President included an executive order for a food stamp program, in which the first recipient was an out-of-work coal miner and his 13 children. West Virginia received millions of dollars for public works programs, state parks, industry job growth and the creation of Interstate-79. Unemployment dropped by approximately 65,000 and $146 million was added to the economy through manufacturing. “West Virginia,” one commentator observer, “was never so remembered by Washington as it was during the next three years.”
The Catholic president continued his support of the state until his death, speaking at the state’s centennial he said, “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do”. While, Kennedy’s successor promoted social programs, the state didn’t receive the same attention.
This brings us back to our current election and a state facing the same problems 56 years later. According to TalkPoverty.org, West Virginia’s median incomes are below the national average and the poverty rate sits at 1 7 .9%. 10,000 coal mining jobs have been lost just since 2009, and the unemployment rate is the highest in the country. West Virginians, especially in the southern part of the state, feel at-odds with a government that doesn’t support coal—their livelihood.
One writer reflecting on the current situation observed that “Kennedy helped expose Americans to the scandal of Appalachian poverty, and he planted the seeds for his successor’s War on Poverty. Now, however, few outsiders seem to care … Politicians, who once trooped here like pilgrims, come less often.”
West Virginia doesn’t align with the typical party issues. As the party of unions and middle America, generations of West Virginians are registered as Democrats. Yet, they have voted for Republican presidential candidates since George W. Bush. This centers around Environmental Protection Agency regulations and factors that eliminate mining and other jobs in the state. If you look at the state Gubernatorial election, Jim Justice is a self-funded businessman running on the Democratic ticket, who promises to bring jobs and revitalize the coal industry. This sounds familiar to the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
Trump’s greatest primary win came in at 91.5% in McDowell County, once the nation’s top coal producer. He is making promises to those who feel unheard. Trump says he will revitalize the coal industry and this gives them hope. West Virginia is the ideal representation for the angry voter who looks to Trump as an outsider and a business man.
The contrast with Hillary Clinton pushes even more support towards Trump. The Democratic candidates in West Virginia don’t want to align with her because of comments she has made against the coal industry. While she has apologized, she has referenced putting coal miners and coal companies out of business. In West Virginia, coal isn’t a source of energy but a source of survival. “She wants to shut down the coal industry—that’s gonna put me out of a job,” Ryan Barnette said in a CNN special.
Trump will win in West Virginia for his support of coal. The true question is, if elected, will he thank the state as generously as Kennedy did in 1960 or will the state be left in the same place it is now: forgotten-with no coal and few new industries in sight.
It’s 1828 All Over Again — Maybe
By Nathan Richendollar ’19
This election season has been replete with pundits, blustery as the Straits of Mackinac, who insist this election is unprecedented. In some ways, such as the utter political inexperience of Donald Trump and having a female candidate, it certainly is. Other prescient themes of the campaign, such as protectionism vs. free trade, populist referendums on career politicians and corruption, urban-rural divides, and cults of militaristic personality, however, are nearly as old as the republic. These central campaign issues harken back to 1828, when Andrew Jackson faced incumbent president John Quincy Adams. Quite obviously, Hillary Clinton is analogous to Adams and Trump to the conservative populist Jackson.
In Donald Trump’s press conferences, he never fails to mention one of his main gripes against his opponent: that she’s corrupt, or in the Donald’s words, “Crooked Hillary.” Although odd by the standards of 20th and 21st century niceties, this allegation against a presidential nominee is far from unprecedented. One of Andrew Jackson’s chief quibbles with John Quincy Adams was the former’s loss in the “Corrupt Bargain of 1824.” In that year Jackson won a plurality of the popular vote and 99 electoral votes, more than any other candidate, but lost when the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, largely owing to collusion between Henry Clay and Adams. In fact, had Jackson given his opponent a catchy nickname, it may well have been, “Crooked Quincy.”
On tariffs and economic nationalism, Donald Trump is also very reminiscent of America’s seventh president. Trump has brought protectionism back into vogue within the two-party apparatus for the first time since the days of Hoover and Smoot-Hawley, promising to “make sure American companies aren’t closing down factories here and moving jobs overseas. “It’s not gonna happen, folks.” Trump has proposed a tariff as high as 45% on goods from China and a re-negotiation of NAFTA to protect American manufacturing and farming from unfair foreign competition. For this stance, Trump has taken fire from the adamantly pro-trade intellectual elite of the Republican Party. Similarly, Jackson advocated for protective tariffs during his presidential term despite being a member of Jefferson’s Democratic Party (Jefferson’s famous philosophy was “free trade and liberal intercourse with all nations”). In fact, Jackson faced such resistance from the elite, land-owning wing of his party that Vice President John C. Calhoun led a nullification challenge in South Carolina, to which Jackson is fabled to have responded, “I will hang the first man I can lay my hands on engaged in such a treasonous act, upon the first tree I can reach.”
This brings us to another Trump-Jackson similarity: their blunt speech and warlike personalities. Donald Trump said he could, “Go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone,” and not lose support. Andrew Jackson actually shot many people and didn’t shed support. Among Jackson’s doomed dueling detractors was Charles Dickinson, who incidentally published an anti-Jackson op-ed in National Review (not the modern National Review that has been highly critical of Trump).
Similarly, both Jackson and Trump attempted to appeal to notions of American toughness and military strength while asserting their ability to unilaterally control the armed forces. In the wake of Worcester v. Georgia, in which the Supreme Court ruled the Indian Removal Act to be unconstitutional, Andrew Jackson infamously quipped, “Chief Justice Marshall made his decision. Now let’s see him enforce it.” Jackson then sent the US army into north Georgia to compel the Cherokee’s expulsion to Indian Territory. Similarly, Donald Trump has said that top US generals would carry out interrogation tactics contrary to the 8th Amendment and widely considered war crimes, “Because I tell them to.”
Both candidates also felt a need to defend their unusual conjugal arrangements on the campaign trail. Donald Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz when a pro-Cruz super PAC uncovered photos of Melania Trump posing for GQ, intending to nettle Indiana social conservatives’ sensibilities. Similarly, Rachel Jackson’s virtue was called into question when it was revealed that her divorce was incomplete when she married Jackson.
More broadly, the 1828 election was a populist uprising, driven chiefly by support for Jackson in rural areas and the expanding Scots-Irish heavy western backcountry, against a career politician who had a presidential family legacy. John Adams occupied the presidency 24 years before his son’s victory. Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill was elected president in 1992, 24 years ago. Donald Trump, much like Jackson, is drawing his strongest support from the backcountry of Appalachia and the mid-south while his rival draws stronger support from urban areas and political elites.
Andrew Jackson rode a populist wave to the White House in 1828 against a lifelong northeastern politician, but this year’s Democrats might take solace in the candid fact that Trump is not a war hero like “Old Hickory” Jackson. But they would be remiss to forget that populist uprisings from the right, while rare, sometimes land someone in the White House, especially when the other candidate has already lived there.
Students Studying the Presidential Election Weigh In On the Issues
“The views of these W&L students are well worth considering. The authors are experiencing their very first presidential election as adults and voters.”
What do college students think about the very unusual 2016 presidential election?
At Washington and Lee University there is a long tradition of paying close attention to presidential politics. For over a century the campus has sponsored one of the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded student mock conventions. W&L students stop their regular studies for a weekend in January or February of each presidential election year and—in a hall decked out like a real political convention (with balloons harnessed to the ceiling)—they listen to prominent political speakers and make a prediction about which candidate will win the nomination for the party out of power. This year, they correctly predicted a Trump triumph in the hotly contested Republican nomination process.
Now, in the fall of 2016, a group of students at W&L are taking a course on the ongoing presidential race, taught by Bob Strong, William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics. They come from a variety of majors and a variety of classes. Some are newly arrived on campus, some are getting ready to graduate. They are all reading election history, candidate biographies and expert commentary on the current system of primaries and caucuses that screen potential presidents.
And they are writing about the election in op-ed essays.
Below are links to some of those essays. Written by students for a public audience, the essays consider historical precedents for the 2016 election, issues under debate in this contest and the ways in which the competition between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be unique and unprecedented.
“Obviously, a few student essays can’t speak for a whole generation, or for college students across the country,” said Strong. “But the views of these W&L students are well worth considering. The authors are experiencing their very first presidential election as adults and voters. They are struggling to put events in the torrent of political news into some sort of context.”
According to Strong, their essays have interesting takes on which details, which historical precedents and which issues help us understand the whirlwind of words that rush by in a presidential contest.
“They are,” said Strong, “absolutely worth reading.”
Alumnus and Pandora Executive to Speak on the Future of Music
“Streaming Wars and the Future of Music” will be the topic of John Donaldson’s address when he speaks at Washington and Lee Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel Multipurpose Room. The event is free and open to the public.
Donaldson, a 1992 graduate of W&L, is vice president of corporate development and strategy at Pandora Internet Radio. He serves on the senior leadership team of Pandora, where he leads corporate development, business development and strategy.
Previously, he spent eight years at Microsoft leading business development and strategy for its Interactive Entertainment Business, including Xbox, Xbox Live and MS media and entertainment issues, and serving as chief of staff for the Microsoft Health Solutions Group in Redmond, Washington.
“John’s background in music, technology and entrepreneurship epitomizes the liberal arts and gives students a great idea of what is possible with a degree from W&L,” said Andrew Hess, associate professor of business administration at Washington and Lee.
Donaldson graduated with honors in history from W&L and also holds a law degree from the University of Virginia.
While on campus, Donaldson will lecture in several classes including Strategic Management, Foundations of Business Law, Management Information Systems, Neural Networks and Graphical Models, and Entrepreneurship in his role as The Williams School Executive-in-Residence. He will also participate in mock interviews with students, arranged through the Career Development office.
NHTSA Director Shares Experience as a Scientist in Public Service
Mark Rosekind, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m. in Science Addition, Room 114.
In the talk, titled “What’s Next? A Scientist’s Journey to Public Service” Rosekind will explore how his scientific training and skills have been critical to his public service efforts in transportation safety. He will elaborate on the importance of applying lessons learned to determining what’s next.
“The last five years have seen tremendous growth in the government’s use of Behavioral Science to serve the American people – from creating clearer ballots to improving driving behavior to making government web sites more understandable,” said Tyler Lorig, Ruth Parmly Professor of Psychology at Washington and Lee. “Dr. Rosekind has been an integral part of that process. His successes are paving the way to better highway safety and changing the perception of Behavioral Science.”
Rosekind is a safety professional dedicated to enhancing transportation safety for the traveling public. In his role as administrator, he is pursuing NHTSA’s core safety mission of saving lives, preventing injuries and reducing crashes through all of the tools available to the agency, including public awareness campaigns, technical innovation, research into human behavior and enforcement authority.
He is the 15th administrator of the NHTSA, nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2014.
Before becoming NHTSA Administrator, Rosekind was the 40th member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from 2010 to 2014. He was the on-scene board member for seven major transportation accidents and participated in nearly 50 accident board meetings, along with numerous NTSB public events on diverse safety topics. He advanced the agency’s advocacy goals on substance-impaired driving, fatigue, fire safety and rail mass transit.
Rosekind is an internationally recognized expert on human fatigue, credited with leading the field in innovative research and implementing programs in all modes of transportation. His work has been widely published, and his awards include NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal and six other NASA team awards; the Mark O. Hatfield Award for Public Policy from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine; two Flight Safety Foundation honors: the President’s Citation for Outstanding Safety Leadership and the Business Aviation Meritorious Service Award; and Fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Prior to his appointment to the NTSB, Rosekind founded Alertness Solutions, a scientific consulting firm that specialized in fatigue management and served as the company’s first president and chief scientist.
He previously directed the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA’s Ames Research Center and was chief of the Aviation Operations Branch in the Flight Management and Human Factors Division. He launched his professional career as the director of the Center for Human Sleep Research at the Stanford University Sleep Disorders and Research Center.
The talk is sponsored by the Washington and Lee Psychology Department and is free and open to the public.
Historian to Speak on the Ways in Which Travel Has Caused Cultures to Clash
Wendy Bracewell, professor of southeast European history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.
The title of the talk is “The Eye of the Other: Travel Writing and Travel Polemics in Eastern Europe from the 18th Century to the Present.” It is free and open to the public.
Bracewell will discuss how people who travel respond to cultures they encounter on their way (local customs, beliefs, values) and how in turn they are perceived and received by the locals and often clash; all this in the context of Eastern Europe.
She is an historian whose scholarly interests focus on cultures in contact. She has published on topics ranging from the early modern Adriatic borderlands to travel writing and European identities, including “East Looks West: East European Travel Writing on Europe, 1550-2000” (ed., vols. 1-3, 2008-2009).
She also is the author of books, chapters and articles, including “Ritual Brotherhood Across Frontiers in the Eastern Adriatic Hinterland, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries” (2016), in History and Anthropology; “Orientations: An Anthology of East European Travel Writing, ca. 1550-2000” (2009); and “Under Eastern Eyes: A Comparative Introduction to East European Travel Writing” (2008).
Bracewell and Krzysztof Jasiewicz, the William P. Ames Jr. Professor in Sociology and Anthropology at W&L, are co-editors of the journal East European Politics & Societies and Cultures.
The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of History and the University Lecture Series.
Field Hockey defeats Roanoke in the quarterfinals of the ODAC Tournament
The third-seeded Generals defeated sixth-seeded Roanoke, 3-0, on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the ODAC Tournament at the W&L Turf Field.
The semifinal game against Bridgewater College will be played Friday, November 4, at 7:30 p.m., at Lynchburg College. GO GENERALS!
Medical Hero Henry Hawthorne '62 Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Henry Hawthorne, who has spent the last 40 years improving the quality of life for children across the Wilmington, North Carolina, region, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Healthcare Heroes on Nov. 12.
“The gift of teaching other physicians is a gift that is held at higher level by his peers,” wrote physician James McCabe in his nomination letter for Henry, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1962. “He shared his knowledge and bedside skills with many physicians. He was a mentor, coach, advocate, friend and teacher for many physicians. This had a rippling impact for the greater good of our medical community.”
Henry Temple, president of the New Hanover-Pender County Medical Society wrote: “I can recall many a night during the wee hours of the morning when we co-waited for the birth of a baby in a problematic pregnancy. He was always the picture of calm, caring, competent and confident kindness. He was truly a hero as a physician. Not only has he been a hero by his practice of medicine. He also is a hero as one of the guiding leaders of the medical community.”
Henry initially thought he would be an orthopedic surgeon, but discovered his gift for pediatrics at the University of Virginia Medical School. He said in a profile with the WilmingtonBiz. “[I] love children and love dealing with anxious mothers and daddies. I think love of children is the most important thing. I can tell you lots of people wonder how you can do it, but I loved every minute that I practiced. I mean it was so much fun. I feel sorry for someone who doesn’t like what they are doing. I loved what I did.”
Henry retired from Wilmington health in 2011, but failed at the concept and began consulting a few days a week. That soon morphed into the role of associate medical director at Community Care of North Carolina.
As well as working part time, Henry is restoring a couple of British sports cars, fishing as often as he can and volunteering at a medical clinic in Leogane, Haiti.
Read more about Henry’s career and excerpts from his nomination letters here.
Melina Knabe Wins a Research Grant from the Virginia Academy of Sciences Exploring the bilingual advantage
“Growing up in Berlin, Germany, to a German father and an American mother, I have always been curious about the effect language has on the brain beyond the mere cultural enrichment.”
Melina Knabe, a neuroscience major and philosophy minor at Washington and Lee University, attended the Virginia Academy of Sciences Undergraduate Research Meeting on Oct. 29 at Virginia Union University, in Richmond, and won a $500 research grant to fund her senior honors thesis.
Her project, “Language Translates to Executive Functions: Investigating the Bilingual Advantage in Inhibitory Control,” required submitting a grant proposal, designing a poster and answering questions from judges.
“For bilinguals, every item in the world has two words associated with it, and both languages are active at all times,” explained Knabe. “Based on external cues — the conversant or the environment — one language will be suppressed over the other to ensure that only one language is spoken. The ability to suppress one thing over another is known as inhibitory control and is like suppressing a response when someone doesn’t say ‘Simon Says.’ At the same time, bilinguals can rapidly switch between languages while keeping both languages active. The former requires cognitive flexibility, while the latter requires working memory. These linguistic processes translate to non-linguistic processes that also rely on cognitive control or the ability to flexibly adapt, suppress and select behaviors. Specifically, I am interested in how a person’s language background impacts executive functions — top-down control processes such as thinking, planning, decision making which rely on inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and working memory — across a lifetime.”
Knabe spent her first two summers at W&L doing research as an HHMI fellow with Dr. Sarah Blythe, assistant professor of biology. Her work focused on the effects of obesity on cognition and reproductive function, but she noted, “I found myself eager to engage in research with human subjects. While I relished collegiate lab work, have learned so much from an extraordinary mentor and have gained sound scientific research techniques working with an animal model, my psychology courses, as well as a philosophy class on human perception and cognition, further nurtured my interest in cognitive psychology. I recognized that at the core of many scientific endeavors lies the question of what it means to live the human experience.”
Her project began to take shape her junior year, when she developed a small project for a psychology class that examined the relationship between inhibitory controls in bilingual speakers. “Her preparation,” said Blythe, “included an extensive review of the scientific literature.”
“When considering research interests for my honors thesis, I drew on my own experience,” said Knabe, who is bilingual. “Growing up in Berlin, Germany, to a German father and an American mother, I have always been curious about the effect language has on the brain beyond the mere cultural enrichment. When working with refugees in Berlin this past summer as an Endeavor Scholar, I further recognized that language extensively influences one’s sense of identity and belonging. Because we use language every single day, we would expect that it also makes a lasting impact on brain structure and function. After all, the notion that certain experiences fundamentally reshape the brain is not novel. I would find myself listening to lectures by Ellen Bialystok, a leading researcher on the impact of bilingualism on cognition, while mounting rat brain slices on slides. I hope to translate my bilingual upbringing living abroad into a rigorous scientific study and contribute to a field that may reformulate the way we view second language learning.”
Although Knabe was working in Germany over the summer, she also spent those months working on her senior thesis. “Melina created an online testing program, writing the code and creating the tests herself,” said Blythe, who is Knabe’s academic advisor. “When she returned for Fall term, she finalized her proposal for this competition, and it is a beautifully written, well-though-out, well-reasoned project. Other studies have focused on just one language combination, but what’s different in Melina’s approach is that her online test will allow her to target a large variety of bilingual speakers of all ages.”
Knabe has already conducted beta testing of her online survey and expects to go live by early November. She hopes her project will answer several questions: What type of bilingual experience contributes advantageously to executive function? At what age, if at all, is the bilingual advantage robust? Could a directed forgetting paradigm be implemented in bilingualism research? How do inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and working memory interact across the lifespan of a mono- and bilingual?
She will use her grant money for several different purposes. “The test kits I am using to assess vocabulary and intelligence scores have an associated purchasing cost,” she said. “In addition, I would like to contribute monetarily to the open-source online survey platform I am using. Finally, recruiting participants can be difficult and providing a monetary incentive will help encourage participation.”
Knabe plans to earn a Ph.D. in cognitive and educational psychology and pursue a career teaching in higher education. “I believe that graduate school will allow me to investigate the effect of language on brain structure and function, as well as its rich associations with society and culture,” said Knabe. “Throughout my career as an educator, I hope to extend my research beyond the perimeter of a university. I am passionately interested in working to implement educational policy changes in second-language learning, and I believe graduate studies will help me conduct applied research on complex questions of broader significance.”