Novak, Berrached Win Global Impact Award W&L students Graham Novak '19 and Mourad Berrached '20 won a $15,000 prize at the 2018 Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Washington and Lee University students Graham Novak ’19 and Mourad Berrached ’20 won the Global Impact Award at the 2018 Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge for their work on Novak’s start-up company, NomadX. The award comes with a $15,000 prize.
More than 145 student business plans were submitted to the conference, but only 25 teams were invited to attend. The conference took place in April at The University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The conference included collaborative sessions, with students paired together across universities. Professors were able to work together to help each other improve programs and explore alternative models for promoting entrepreneurship at their respective schools.
NomadX is a tech startup co-founded by Graham Novak and Steven Allen ’18. It seeks to empower remote-capable workers to travel the world easily, seamlessly and inexpensively while providing career-changing professional development. Berrached worked with the company as a strategic marketing analyst to market their services to corporate clients, improve their social media brand and help NomadX develop their programs based on customer feedback.
“We have plans to continue encouraging W&L students to submit their ideas as well as branching out to other competitions,” said Gavin Fox, associate professor of business administration at W&L and the team’s adviser.
In November, NomadX was accepted as an Alpha company at the Lisbon Web Summit, the largest digital conference in the world with over 60,000 attendees. The company was also recently accepted by government-funded and supported Startup Lisboa, the number one startup incubator and accelerator in Portugal.
At Washington and Lee, Novak majors in business administration and economics, while Berrached is a business administration major.
Strong Op-Ed Discusses the Term ‘Tabloid Presidency’ In the Roanoke Times piece, Strong investigates the meaning behind the term "tabloid presidency."
Read the full article here.
Informed by Child’s Play This summer, Davis Straske '19 is researching children's play in psychology professor Megan Fulcher's Gender Development Lab.
Davis Straske ’19
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Q: You are assisting psychology professor Megan Fulcher this summer with research for her ongoing project titled “Can you build a dad?” Please tell us more about this project.
A: The “Can you build a dad?” project investigates the styles of scripts children use when they play with building block toys like LEGOs. These toys foster children’s development of spatial skills, but when paired with more domestic accessories, perhaps their scripts change.
Children, ages 3 to 10, are given a LEGO mini-figure of their same gender to play with, as well as an accessory, like a baby and a stroller, a lawnmower, or a hot dog cart. We are interested to see if the pairing of the accessory impacts how children play with that building toy.
Q: What made you want to be part of this work?
I’ve been interested in developmental psychology since high school; serving as a babysitter, camp counselor and dance instructor for preschool and early school-age children has fostered a love of working with children. Psychology was a field that instantly clicked with me, because I was learning the facts and theories behind the behaviors of children. Researching developmental psychology is the science behind what makes children so great and so interesting.
Q: What does an average day for you look like on this project?
Typically, my days involve a couple of different tasks. As the participant coordinator of Dr. Fulcher’s lab, I contact and schedule families to come in for a research session. I prepare materials for these meetings, setting up LEGO sets, recording devices and prizes for participants. I spend about an hour a day with families who come in for a research session, which involves greeting families, walking them through paperwork, and ultimately giving the child the broad instructions for the study.
A normal day usually involves some data entry and interpretation, as well, using statistics and coding programs like SPSS and ELAN to analyze data. Some days involve community events at places like the Rockbridge Regional Library or the Lexington Office on Youth, to teach psychology lessons and meet families that may be interested in our work.
Q: What is the most interesting knowledge you’ve picked up while doing this work?
Through working with Dr. Fulcher, I have been able to fine tune my personal academic and research interests. The lab’s studies on toy play have truly been the kick start to my own honors thesis project, which looks at how toys may impact the development of preschool children’s empathy. Not only have I found a research interest of my own, but my work experiences in the lab have prepared me to develop, recruit for and run this student-run research project.
Q: How has this experience changed your working relationship with Professor Fulcher, and how does that relate to your wider experiences at W&L in terms of student-faculty relationships?
I am fortunate enough to have worked in Dr. Fulcher’s Gender Development Lab since the winter of my freshman year. Since that time, my responsibility within the lab has increased, moving from a research assistant, to a community liaison, to now the participant coordinator for the lab. This student-faculty relationship has been a key part of my W&L experience, and I really am grateful to attend a university where these relationships are fostered and encouraged.
Q: How did W&L prepare you for this experience?
Since the beginning of my freshman year I have been encouraged and challenged academically by the entire psychology faculty through introductory classes and research methods classes, developing skills that I now use on a daily basis as a summer research assistant. Being matched with Dr. Fulcher as my first-year advisor allowed me to study and get involved with developmental psychology almost immediately, maximizing my time and experiences in the field. I have assisted with eight research projects in the lab, doing anything from data entry and analysis to running the studies myself. This research experience, paired with each semester’s seminar classes, have given me a well-rounded understanding of the academic field of psychology.
Q: Why is this kind of experience important to W&L students?
I have developed an incredible relationship with my advisor, I have made connections with individuals of the Lexington community, and I have been able to work with psychology students of all class years in our research lab. Working in this lab has allowed me to develop relationships with students, faculty and members of the community I may not have met otherwise. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked for Dr. Fulcher for so long, but I imagine that any research experience like this is important and beneficial for W&L students.
If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
More about Davis
What extracurricular activities do you do?
I dance, choreograph with, and serve as the co-president for the W&L Repertory Dance Company. I’m the vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Council, and I teach creative movement classes for kindergarten and first graders at Halestone Dance Studio.
Why did you choose your major?
I’ve been interested in psychology since high school, and each of the introductory psych courses at W&L confirmed that it is what I love to study and what I hope to continue to learn about.
Continue my passion for developmental psychology research on socio-emotional development, either in graduate school or through a research center.
What is your favorite W&L memory?
When my younger sister (class of 2021) decided to come to W&L!
Dance 202, Dance Europe (Spring Term 2018): studying the history of modern dance in Britain. The abroad course involved seeing shows, taking master classes in modern and aerial dance, and engaging in the critical response process every day for three weeks in London.
Favorite W&L event?
The dance company’s Fall Term performance, W&L Dancers Create
From the Heart Mary Celeste Beall ’99 combines traditions of Southern hospitality with locally sourced foods.
“Hospitality is about showing genuine care for people, and it’s a privilege for me to continue sharing it.”
~ Mary Celeste Beall ’99
As a student at Washington and Lee University, Mary Celeste Beall ’99 had no idea that her life — and livelihood — would someday be so steeped in the principles of Southern hospitality.
Sure, she grew up in Mobile, Alabama, with a grandmother and mom who knew how to spin quality ingredients into delicious home-cooked meals, such as seafood gumbo with freshly baked bread. But it wasn’t until she met her husband, Sam Beall, and joined him in operating Blackberry Farm, an award-winning resort hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, that she found herself so concerned with food sourcing, preparation and service.
When Sam Beall passed, suddenly and tragically, in a skiing accident in February 2016, his wife was left to carry on as sole parent to their five children, but also as proprietor of the much-celebrated business he had loved so much. Almost three years later, we chatted with Mary Celeste about her time at W&L, Blackberry Farm’s connection to the local food movement, and her careful and loving perpetuation of Sam’s legacy in hospitality.
Q: What made you decide to attend Washington and Lee?
My father graduated from Washington and Lee in 1961. I am the youngest of four, so Washington and Lee was top on my parents’ list of schools to tour as soon as they had a high schooler. My father, who has one son and three daughters, was excited that his girls could go to the school he loved.
I will never forget being about 10 years old riding around Lexington and stopping in front of the SAE house. My father was full of stories. My eldest sister was a junior at the time and was hesitant about being [in] one of the first classes to accept women. I am not sure what changed her mind, but a few years later I was the middle school little sister visiting charming Lexington and having a great time.
As I started looking at schools, no other school had the same feeling. Strong academics was, of course, important to me, and a great reputation, as well. I also knew that I wanted to stay in the South, would enjoy a small town, and looked forward to meeting people from all over. Then, there was the look and feel of the campus. I have always appreciated architecture, so being on a beautiful campus surrounded by historical buildings was a natural fit for me.
I remember my dad walking me down the Colonnade and into Lee Chapel for the first time, and then watching my sister graduate on the lawn. Washington and Lee and Lexington just felt like home to me despite being 12 hours from my hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories from your time in Lexington?
What I love about Lexington is that it is quaint and full of history and tradition, yet such a source of learning and growth for all those involved in both W&L and VMI. I love the school spirit, despite being a small, Division III school. I played on the women’s tennis team, and seeing the athletes, spectators and parents walking over the footbridge to cheer on the football team, lacrosse team, or watch our tennis matches was always a highlight.
I’ve always been drawn to the different seasons. Especially coming from Alabama, I have really great memories of snowy days which turned into those glorious, sunny spring days on the lawn or out on the river.
For me, though, it truly is all about connections — and still is. When I think about my time in Lexington, I so fondly remember the friendships I forged, not only with my class and other underclassmen, but with my professors and coaches. Washington and Lee is a unique community that has been very influential in my life. It’s where I learned invaluable lessons and created lifetime friendships.
Q: What was your relationship to food back then? Did you have any inkling that you would someday work in the food and beverage industry?
I had no idea, but I have always loved good food. My mother was a great cook, as was my grandmother, so we grew up with delicious, homemade meals – great breads, seafood gumbo, and once I was a little older, vegetables from our small garden. But our family did not dine out a lot; Mobile did not have much of a food scene. I have great memories of our family dinners at home, though. Growing up, we didn’t have junk food and my mom was always on some health kick. I’ll never forget when she got really into blueberries in the early ‘90s. I think she put them in everything for weeks.
Q: Were you and your late husband, Sam, committed to sourcing high-quality, local ingredients before the local food movement really took hold in America?
Sam always had a passion for great food and quality ingredients, and that enthusiasm was contagious. Early in our marriage we spent some time in California, and when we moved back Sam was struck by the disconnect between fine dining and local farms in the South. Blackberry had a small garden then, but upon our return we made the commitment to focus more on our sourcing and expand our garden on the Farm. His eye for quality and love of regional, fresh food helped encourage the Blackberry Farm team to always cherish and respect the local ingredients we work with. We know where our food is from, and we get to share the story of bringing it from the seed to the plate for our guests. We have always loved creating and experiencing that special connection to the food. It’s wonderful to see sourcing local continue to grow as a trend within the food community.
Q: Why do you feel it is important that the ingredients used at Blackberry Farm are as local as possible?
We are creating a full experience for our guests. We want to share the history and culture of East Tennessee, as well as the beautiful scenery. We are fortunate to live in an area that produces a beautiful variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, and sharing that with our guests is a fun and delicious part of being on the Farm. I also believe that the benefits of local ingredients go beyond supporting the local farmers, to tasting the region — the minerals from our soil and the eating from your local ecosystem is good for us all. Whenever we were traveling, Sam always tried to eat the local honey to get an extra dose of that environment.
Q: What percentage of those ingredients come from the property or the surrounding area?
We create as much of our food as possible using our own garden produce and foraged ingredients. Beyond that, we work with a great community of local farmers, gardeners and foragers to supplement any other ingredients we might need.
Q: What are the most enduring lessons Sam taught you about hospitality?
Sam taught me that every moment, from the largest ideas to the smallest details, matters in sharing impactful Southern hospitality. He was a great example of dreaming big — like envisioning an underground wine tunnel — and turning those dreams into reality. He also knew how big of an impact a very small gesture can make, whether it’s remembering a certain wine a guest enjoyed last time and having a glass brought to them at dinner, or placing a few heirloom tomato seeds on the nightstand because a guest enjoyed an experience in the garden. Hospitality is about showing genuine care for people, and it’s a privilege for me to continue sharing it.
Q: What details do you feel are important when hosting guests, whether at Blackberry Farm or in a private home, besides the food itself?
Southern hospitality is about making your guest feel welcome. It’s important to greet with a smile and always be genuine. I want guests at Blackberry Farm and guests in my home to feel comfortable and relaxed. I like paying attention to details and finding those small moments to make an extra effort for the guest.
Q: Do you enjoy cooking yourself? What is your favorite thing to prepare for your family?
Yes! I love being in the kitchen with my kids. Although my approach to cooking is different than Sam’s – he was such a natural and could whip up something amazing out of nothing. I have to be more thoughtful and focused than he was. Being in the kitchen has always been a big part of their lives, and time spent around the stove together has created some of my most precious memories with my children. We even stage our own little family cooking competitions! I love making breakfast – with our family of five children, making a big batch of waffles or pancakes is fun and works well for a big crew. We always have seasonal fruit which adds a nice touch. While we have lots of blackberries, we also have blueberries in our yard which remind me of my childhood and are the perfect addition! Fresh farm eggs simply scrambled are really hard to beat, as well.
Q: What advice would you give a W&L graduate who wants to open a food- or beverage-related establishment and make a real living at it?
Follow your dreams! The food and beverage world is exciting and full of incredible people. There is a wealth of knowledge to soak up from peers in this industry. Take advantage of every opportunity to further your knowledge and skills. It’s a commitment, but if you are passionate about the industry, you will love it, because there is something truly magical about creating memorable experiences for others through service.
Q: Why did you create the Blackberry Farm foundation, and what has it accomplished?
Supporting our community has always been a priority for the Beall family and the Blackberry Farm team. The Blackberry Farm Foundation is dedicated to supporting children and foodways charitable causes, and I am so proud to be part of team that takes these causes to heart and works to make a positive impact. Some highlights of our donations include the Girls and Boys Club of Blount County building a garden; Café le Reve, an initiative of Maryville City Schools to teach kitchen and life skills to high schoolers, including helping fund a new facility with state-of-the-art kitchen equipment; and soon, the inaugural class of our Sam Beall Fellows Program (see below).
Q: What do you look forward to in the future at Blackberry Farm?
One of the greatest things about Blackberry Farm is that something is always happening! We are a 40-year-old family business that continues to evolve. Right now, my heart is so full thinking about the start of the Sam Beall Fellows Program. Sam was fortunate to spend time at some of the world’s best restaurants, hotels and wineries as he shaped his career. In his honor, we have created the Sam Beall Fellows Program to offer similar once-in-a-lifetime hospitality experiences to professionals early in their career. We will announce our first fellows in August, and I can’t wait to follow their journeys!
I am also extremely excited to launch our new property, Blackberry Mountain. This is a huge undertaking, and it has been incredible to watch the team work together and create this incredible place where we will have an opportunity to share not only our love of hospitality, but our love of adventure and connecting with the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s a dream come true, and I cannot wait to share the Mountain with our guests.
‘Many Different Perspectives’ Students in the Cape Town Summer Internship Program gain professional experience and a better understanding of South Africa’s culture.
Thirteen W&L students traveled to Cape Town this summer to get experience in professional fields and learn more about South Africa’s culture, climate and history.
The Cape Town Summer Internship Program is an eight-week program offered by the Business Administration and Politics departments that combines in-class learning with field work. Students from different major disciplines engage their readings and navigate their field work through class meetings, a paper, journaling, blogging and a final poster.
Participating students work 30 hours a week in various fields that match their professional interests, such as advertising, education, finance, human rights and web development. They get practical experience, but also enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community.
“This experience has helped me refine the career I am interested in pursuing in the future,” said Sam Pumphrey ’20, who worked at the Centre for Rural Legal Studies. “It gave me a deeper understanding of the organization’s activities and the political climate within South Africa.”
From visiting the Cape of Good Hope to doing service on Mandela Day, the students immersed themselves in the local community. Their internships, along with other site-based and classroom learning opportunities, foster a deeper understanding of South Africa’s post‐apartheid political system and societal landscape.
While interning at Workers World Media Production, Tate Mikkelsen ’20 attended the protest on Refugee Day in the city of Cape Town and interviewed the people present there.
“I felt very lucky to have witnessed something like that and to be able to gain so many different perspectives of it,” Mikkelsen said. “I also realized that I want to get more involved in improving the global community, and I want to work more with NGOs to help people in need gain access.”
Through this internship, students have gained invaluable insight into their future careers— as well as their role in the global work force.
“I was given an opportunity to pursue a line of work that was not only fulfilling and aligned to my skills,” said Jonathan Pezzi ’19, one of the two SHECP interns in South Africa, “but also had the potential to make a positive contribution to people’s lives.”
Find out more about students’ #wlusummer18 experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — @wlunews.
All photos in the following slideshow are courtesy of Connect-123.
‘Let’s Imagine’ As the incoming EC president, Elizabeth Mugo ’19 wants to make all students feel that they, too, have a place at W&L.
In spring 2018, W&L’s student body elected Elizabeth Mugo ’19 as Executive Committee president. It has been 28 years since an African-American has served in the role, and it is the first time an African-American female has been elected to preside in one of the university’s most prominent positions.
“Let’s imagine a place,” Mugo said in her March 18 campaign speech, “where diversity and inclusion are not words that we throw around but rather values of our community.”
Mugo, a junior from Irmo, South Carolina, noted there is a dichotomy between her dreams of today and her initial impressions of W&L. She recalled taking in the composition of the student body on her first visit to campus through the Questbridge Program, a full-ride scholarship program for high-achieving, low-income students.
She stood out. “I waited for the cameras to come out and for people to say, ‘I gotcha,’” she said.
Today, Mugo has clearly found her place at W&L, and she wants to ensure that others have the same positive experience.
Mugo sees diversity as a job of the Admissions Office, which can recruit diverse students to campus. Inclusion, however, is the student body’s job — to help retain those who are already here.
She shared one of her favorite quotes from a Ted Talk: “Diversity is inviting someone to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance.”
Mugo considered transferring after her first year, when she felt unhappy and out of place. Only her scholarship kept her here.
As the incoming president, she aims to implement initiatives from the EC to make all students feel that they, too, have a place at W&L.
One idea Mugo hopes to implement is an Orientation Week event, where current students encourage incoming students to “wrestle” with race relations and other related, sometimes uncomfortable topics, as soon as they step on campus.
She also looks to have EC representatives attend ODI campus events to spur interest from more than one section of the student body.
But she said that changing things on a larger scale will take the student body becoming “unclique-ish.”
Mugo commended the work of her opponent in the EC presidential race, Heeth Varnedoe ’19, on his efforts to reach out to students. In his campaign, he also focused on improving the campus experience for under-represented students and independents.
Mugo is excited about these positive strides across campus.
“It feels like, for the first time in a really long time, things are starting to change.”
Elizabeth's Campaign Speech
I want you to imagine a place. A place where every individual feels ownership of the space. A place where people treat each other with not just civility but also dignity. A place where diversity and inclusion are not words that we throw around but rather values of our community. Let’s imagine that place here at Washington and Lee.
My name is Elizabeth Mugo, and I’d like to be your next EC President. I know for a fact that our university has the potential to be this place because I see it almost every day. I see it in the way that students say hello to one another as they pass by, not only as a greeting, but as a way of acknowledging each others’ existence. I see it in the way that we come together to speak out on issues that matter to our campus community and our nation. I see it in the fact that a place that used to feel so unfamiliar and uncomfortable now feels like home. We continue to make progress, but we have a long way to go.
In my first semester at W&L, I struggled to adjust and find community in a place that clearly felt like it was not meant for me. I am not unique in this.
As I walked around every day, I was forced to reconcile the ways in which my body did not fit in here both physically, in the lack of diversity on our campus, and historically, in our entangled history with slavery and race relations. Although recognizing the vast amount of work that needs to be done, I have come to believe in the potential of this university to get there.
I’ve made it my goal over the past few years to unlock this potential as a leader in the Student Association for Black Unity, as a member of the University Committee for Inclusiveness and Campus Climate, and over the past year as your vice president. Over the past year alone, I worked to enhance our sense of community through reform in the budget policy consultations with student leaders and the amplification of student voices in various committees to make sure that our university is a home for everyone.
I promise you, my peers and friends, that I will bring that same passion to the position of president. I will work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Interfraternity Council, and Panhellenic to bring together Greek and non-Greek students. I will have business meetings in other spaces, such as the Moot Courtroom, Third-Year Housing and the Gaines Rotunda, to ensure that the EC is able to hear from a variety of students on what issues matter to them on campus. I will continue to reform within the budget process to ensure that student organizations are receiving full support from the EC.
I am committed to the Honor System and representing all students in our process and deliberations. Having presided in the absence of the president, I feel confident to serve all of you and will make all students feel like they have complete ownership of a system that exists for them.
As your president, I plan to commit myself to continuing this work and ensuring that ALL students are part of our community of trust. I ask for your vote on Tuesday to strengthen our Honor System, student self-governance, and our community.
Rahl Receives NSF Grant for Geological Research Jeffrey Rahl, professor of geology at Washington and Lee University, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Jeffrey Rahl, professor of geology at Washington and Lee University, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that supports fieldwork in the Western United States, mainly in Colorado, Utah, Texas and New Mexico.
Rahl and several students from the university’s Advanced Research Cohort program will study sediment deposited in basins in the mid-continent to understand how the North American continental-scale river network evolved over the past 350 million years. The grant will also enable the team to travel to a laboratory at the University of Houston to conduct chemical analyses.
“Our goal is to understand how continental-scale river systems respond to the formation of mountains or basins along their path,” said Rahl. “I became interested in this type of work as a graduate student, when some of my work unexpectedly suggested that much of the sediment out west originated far to the east, here in the Appalachians.”
Rahl says he has always been fascinated with very large-scale geologic problems, “I am grateful for the opportunity to research these questions with my students and colleagues.”
Where Math Meets Art Xinxian Wang '21 was able to marry two interests in an internship with The Visual Arts Center in Richmond.
Xinxian Wang ’21
Hometown: Shenyang, China
Minor: Studio Art
Xinxian is spending eight weeks at The Visual Arts Center in Richmond through a Career and Professional Development summer internship offered in conjunction with W&L’s Office of Community-Based Learning. It included a stipend made possible by the generous support of the Suhor-Graham Foundation. Xinxian’s advisor throughout her internship is Dr. Kevin Beanland, professor of mathematics. We asked Xinxian to tell us more about her experience:
What is the Visual Arts Center in Richmond, and what does it offer the community?
Founded in 1963 as the Hand Workshop, The Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VisArts) is a nonprofit community arts center that offers more than 800 visual and creative arts classes each year. Each year, the organization serves more than 40,000 people through its classes, exhibitions, community outreach programs, camps, workshops and special events.
What W&L courses and prior experience made you a good fit for this internship?
VisArts was looking for students with experience in mathematics and an interest in art because they wanted someone who could analyze the organization’s data and make recommendations to improve their scheduling. At W&L, I have taken several math major requirements as well as INTR courses. These courses offered me necessary analytical skills and approaches to data optimization. What’s more, as a studio art minor, I’ve always had a passion for art and had previous experience working in the studio setting at the Lenfest Center. Therefore, I am also able to help with art exhibition setups at VisArts.
What projects have you been working on for VisArts this summer?
For the first half of the summer, W&L mathematics professor Kevin Beanland taught me how to solve scheduling problems using a software called GLPK. Then, with his assistance and the cooperation of VisArts’ education team, I worked on two projects: analyzing VisArts’ wait lists and canceled courses, paying special attention to all age groups during the past year, and comparing adult and youth course feedback in order to make recommendations to optimize the center’s course schedule and studio arrangements.
What will be the final product of your work?
The final product will be a report and presentation to the staff as well as the fulfillment of the requirements of a CPD 451 internship for credit.
What are the greatest lessons you have learned at VisArts?
Be ready to make mistakes and never be afraid of asking questions. It was a little bit scary at first. I was facing 1000+ data points and had zero background knowledge on how VisArts’ course system worked. It became extremely important to always prepare questions to ask and gather as much information as possible. When I got results that seemed somehow surprising, I would always turn to my adviser, Professor Beanland, for help. Sometimes, he would point out a miscalculation that had skewed the data. I learned something new from almost every mistake I made.
Have you met anyone who inspires you? If so, who and why?
Almost everyone working here inspires me in a certain way. Rachel Beanland, the deputy director, is always energetic about her work and cheers on the whole team with her passion. Jordan Brown, the director of education and programs, also has a background in painting and printmaking. She never gave up on her love of art. People here are brought together by passion and love, and they inspire me with their devotion to art as well as the whole community.
Did you get to take any art classes yourself?
Yes! I took a frame weaving class. This is my first time taking a fiber class and it was so much fun.
How do you think this experience will improve your overall education at W&L?
This experience encourages me to explore a more diverse range of courses and take full advantage of the liberal arts education at W&L. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have known how much fun it can be to do math at an arts center. Without taking the frame weaving class at VisArts, I would not have discovered something I like as much as photography. I’m learning to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the well-rounded education W&L offers to its students.
S L Kopald ’43, Former W&L Trustee, Dies at 96 The Memphis native served on the board from 1976-1988.
S L Kopald Jr., a member of the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees from 1976 – 1988, died July 9, 2018. He was 96. He graduated from W&L in 1943 with a B.S in business.
A lifelong Memphian, “Kopie” attended Central High School. After graduating from W&L, he attended Harvard Business School until World War II interrupted his schooling. He served in the Army Quartermaster Corps and in three major campaigns in the European Theater.
“W&L has lost a true friend of the university, and we are very grateful for Mr. Kopald’s service,” said President Will Dudley. “Our thoughts are with his family at this time of loss.”
Farris Hotchkiss ’58, former secretary of the university and vice president for Advancement, added, “Kopie was a loyal and generous volunteer for Washington and Lee, widely admired for his humility and his ability to bring out the best in others.”
After the war, Kopald worked at the HumKo Sheffield Chemical Co., founded by his father, S L Kopald Sr., and Herb Humphries. He stayed with the company and its successor companies, Kraft and Witco, for his entire career before retiring at the age of 65 as group vice president.
Besides his financial generosity to numerous charities, Kopald served on boards and in offices for many organizations. He was chair of SUN and United Way campaigns, a board member of the Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve and the Tennessee Department of Education, a member of the Memphis-Shelby County planning commission, chair of the Tennessee Republican Party (1971 to 1975) and chair of the board of Hebrew Union College.
“S L Kopald Jr. was always a gentleman and was always an advocate for a better Memphis,” noted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) in a press release. “Mr. Kopald was a leader for years in business and banking but also in our community. Mr. Kopald was a generous supporter of many Memphis cultural organizations and was a very involved member of Temple Israel, where he served as president. Mr. Kopald will be remembered for his support of Rabbi James Wax when he stood for civil rights during the 1986 Sanitation Workers strike. My condolences to his family and to his many friends. His was a life well lived.”
As well as serving as a trustee for W&L, Kopald was chair of the Alumni Board, chair of the Development Council, and served on the Memphis-area capital campaigns and on his 50th reunion class committee. Kopald generously supported the Annual Fund and W&L’s Hillel House. He became an honorary inductee of ODK in 1964 and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1975.
Kopald is survived by his wife, Amelia “Mimi”; daughter, Nancy, and sons, Stephen, Jack ’78L, and David; grandchildren Hunter, Seth, Laura, Hallie, Reece, Troy and Dana; and great-grandchild Jack.
Meaning, Culture and Survival A new book by Harvey Markowitz, associate professor of anthropology, examines Native Americans and Catholic missionaries.
“It’s an interesting human story of change and adaptation and survival under sometimes the worst of circumstances.”
Q: The cover of “Converting the Rosebud” is an eye-catching photograph of residents of the Saint Francis Mission, taken in 1931: Six Lakota adults and one child, clad in traditional dress of fringed buckskin and feathered headdresses, and seven Catholic nuns wearing their own traditional garb of habits, coifs and wimples. Which came first, the photo or the dissertation?
A: It’s a fantastic image. When I started seriously contemplating about transforming my dissertation into a book — 25, 30 years ago — I immediately thought of this photograph for its cover. I guess you could say that this was putting the cart way before the horse. The photo was taken by one of the mission’s priests — Father Eugene Buechel — and is housed at the Marquette University archives in Milwaukee.
Q: Did you choose the topic, or did it choose you?
A: A little of both. When I finished my qualifying exams in anthropology at Indiana University, my advisor at the time, Raymond DeMallie, asked me if I would be open to doing my fieldwork with, and dissertation on, a Lakota community, just as he had. The Saint Francis Mission on the Rosebud Lakota Reservation, he told me, was interested in finding a student who could translate some diaries that had been kept by the German Jesuit missionaries who had been stationed at the mission in the late 19th century. The mission was offering six months of room, board and a tiny stipend as payment for this service. I immediately volunteered, thinking that I could do my own fieldwork — which, as I remember, was on contemporary Lakota ethics — when not translating the diaries.
As it turned out, however, the more work I did on the diaries, the more I got interested in how these Jesuits from Germany ended up at a mission in Lakota country U.S.A. The root of this unusual staffing, I soon discovered, could be traced in part to German chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s anti-Catholic policy known as the Kulturkampf,which resulted in the emigration of hundreds of Catholic religious. As it turned out, just at the time that many of these Jesuits were fleeing their homeland for the United States, Catholic Indian missions and boarding schools needing clergy and teachers were cropping up on reservations in the United States, including Dakota Territory. One of these, established in 1886, was the Saint Francis Mission among the Sicangu Lakotas of the Rosebud Reservation; the other, Holy Rosary Mission, among the Oglala Lakotas, opened a year later, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I ultimately decided that constructing my dissertation around the diaries was a more interesting and potentially useful project than the one I had planned to do before arriving at the mission.
Q: What did you find in these diaries?
A: The most fascinating findings concerned the thoughts and interactions of these missionaries with the Lakotas they encountered, as agents of both religious and social conversion. The Lakotas hadn’t been on Rosebud for that long and were still living in their traditional communities and as closely as they could to customary lifeways. The primary goal of the Catholic priests was to save the Lakotas’ souls by converting them to Catholicism. However, they were also working hand-in-hand with the federal government to wipe out the Lakotas’ culture so that they could be integrated into the country’s social mainstream.
The missionaries also wrote about much of the anti-Catholicism, nativism, they encountered while working with the Protestant-dominated U.S. Indian Office. These battles waged on high at a national level eventually filtered down to the local level and often influenced what materials the missionaries at Saint Francis could use in their school. It also eventually made the issue of government-supported sectarian schools on Indian reservations a hot-button topic.
Even though they were supposed to be working together, the conflicts that sometimes erupted between Rosebud’s government agents and the Catholic missionaries were so raw that it’s hard to believe that they actually viewed themselves as partners. By contrast, there was never even a sham of cooperation between Rosebud’s Catholic and Protestant missionaries, who were always at each other’s throats. The scandal of this fierce competition was not often lost on the Lakotas.
Q: Why were the Catholics so invested in assimilating the Lakotas?
A: What was at stake for the Catholic missionaries was the founding of communities in which the church and its sacraments could serve as spiritual hubs. Assimilating or “civilizing” Lakotas, it was thought, would transform them from “savage” buffalo-hunting nomads to settled, “civilized” agriculturalists, thereby establishing the framework for Catholic villages. Natural and supernatural salvation went hand-in-hand, so to speak, in line with the Thomist maxim that “faith builds upon nature.”
Even with all its problems, this close relationship between the federal government and Catholic and Protestant churches in Indian affairs sometimes strikes modern readers as breaching the separation of church and state. This partnership reached its height under President Ulysses S. Grant and his so-called Peace Policy, in which the U.S. Indian Office divided up the 73 Indian reservations among the mainline Christian denominations. Each church was given exclusive rights over the secular and religious affairs of the reservations to which it was assigned. Though Grant and his advisers had designed the policy as a way to regenerate the scandal-riddled Indian Office, the Peace Policy was soon plagued by interdenominational squabbles of its own, which eventually led to its self-destruction. Despite this failure, assimilation policy itself survived into the first decades of the 20th century.
Q: You tell two intertwined stories, of the Catholic missionaries and the Lakotas. How did those stories unfold as you did the research?
A: For many years, the story of federal Indian relations was told as if American Indians were merely passive recipients of the policies being flung out from Washington, D.C. They were therefore reduced to satellites orbiting around what was considered the really important story of government administration. It is now recognized that this perspective radically shortchanged and devalued what was actually going on in Indian communities. Following this line of thought, it struck me that a comprehensive presentation of the early history of Saint Francis Mission would not only describe the relationship between the U.S. government and the St. Francis religious, but also attempt to understand Lakota perspectives on mission and the missionizing process: how they understood the tenets and practices of Catholicism; how they filtered what the missionaries said and taught through the traditional categories of Lakota thought; how they attempted to use the spiritual and material resources of the Catholic Church to their own advantage; and most importantly, how they looked for and worked fissures in the dominating federal and religious structures to try to achieve their own ends.
Q: You had these incredible primary sources, the Jesuits’ diaries, that told you what the missionaries were thinking and doing. How did you learn about the Lakotas’ thoughts and actions?
A: One of the best sources for Native understandings of Catholicism was, ironically, a Jesuit source. Father Florentine Digmann kept a journal, a history of the mission for the nearly 40 years he was its superior. Of course, Father Digmann recorded events from the perspective of a Jesuit of his times. And because of this, much of what he writes — especially his observations about Lakota religion and culture — could simply be dismissed as outdated and ethnocentric. In fact, however, by using an anthropological concept of culture, one can get at the often-unstated assumptions about the nature and goals of mission as well as what Lakotas valued about their own world and the various ways they responded to the changes that were being demanded of them.
Other sources included missionary journals of all kinds, both in English and in German. Many of these were fundraising organs and, as such, had to be read in view of the audience to whom they were appealing: how did they portray Lakotas, missionaries, the mission’s schoolchildren, to win donations.
Q: How did the Lakota perspective emerge from the puzzle?
A: This was one of the most enjoyable parts of writing the book. American Indians, including Lakotas, were and are very reverential toward sacred power, that found in their own and other religions. They were therefore dumbfounded when they encountered representatives of Christian traditions, all of whom demanded that they must give up their own sacred practices in order to join their churches. Lakotas strategized about how to deal with this new kind of message. Some followed missionaries’ demands and abandoned their traditional ceremonies; others refused to have anything to do with these new “prayers.” The majority, however, commenced consciously and unconsciously blending the two religions in ways that approximated as closely as possible conventional Lakota ways of thinking, believing and acting.
One of the more amusing aspects of the process of Lakota missionization was how some of the missionaries’ own practices actually encouraged the survival of beliefs and ceremonies they sought to eradicate. For example, in their preaching, priests regularly used the Lakota terms by which Sicangus referred to their sacred beings and processes. By so doing, their sermons actually served as a bridge through which the Lakotas’ sacred worldview was given new life.
Q: It seems that this incorporation enabled the Lakotas to retain control over their spiritual beliefs and practices. How were they able to do that?
Lakotas interpreted the holy water and blessed oils used in the Catholic sacraments as sacred in and of themselves, instead of being vehicles containing God’s holy spirit. Given this, it is not surprising that they should equate them and other Catholic paraphernalia with the wonder-working items that were used in their own ceremonies. The primary goal of Lakota rituals was to achieve health and a good life here on earth, not to secure a place in an otherworldly paradise. It thus made perfect sense to them to call a priest to pray over and administer “sacred” water and oils to a person suffering very common ailments.
Q: You write in detail of the relationship between these two groups of people, European Catholic missionaries and Native Americans. What other stories did you find?
A: Those “other stories” fill most of the 300 pages of the book. For Lakotas, they generally relate to the explicit and implicit modes of resistance they mounted to upend or slow down the changes that the missionaries and government agents were forcing upon them. They loved their traditional ways because they filled their lives with meaning and purpose, something that “white” customs could not do.
It is amazing that in this clash of cultures, Sicangus and other Lakotas were able to rescue so much of their pre-reservation culture. In a way, the book relates a very contemporary message that there are ways of living and relating to others that are worth struggling to understand.
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“Converting the Rosebud: Catholic Mission and the Lakotas, 1886-1916” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018) is the new book by Harvey Markowitz, associate professor of anthropology at Washington and Lee University. He shaped it from his doctoral dissertation, which he wrote for his 2002 Ph.D. in American church history from the University of Chicago.
Markowitz examines the Saint Francis Indian Mission on the Sicangu Lakota Rosebud Reservation, in South Dakota, from 1886 and its founding to 1916 and its destruction by fire. The complex story blends Lakota culture, Catholic mission work, and federal Indian policy. The missionaries were Jesuit priests from Germany and Franciscan nuns from the Netherlands. The Sicangu Lakotas were wards of the federal government and had a recent new name: the Rosebud Sioux.
Markowitz earned an M.A. in anthropology from Indiana University Bloomington in 1975. After beginning his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 1985, he made a couple of fruitful detours. First came nine years as associate and acting director at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library, in Chicago. Then he logged three years at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, from 1999 to 2002. He arrived at W&L in 2003.
His other books are “American Indian Biographies” (as a co-editor) and “Seeing Red— Hollywood’s Pixeled Skin: American and Film” (Michigan State University Press, 2013) (co-edited with LeAnne Howe).
Silwal Op-Ed Discusses Resilience of Children In a Roanoke Times piece, Silwal discusses current events and the impact they bear on children.
In a piece published July 19 in The Roanoke Times, Shikha Silwal, assistant professor of economics at Washington and Lee, discusses recent events where children showed great resilience–and the impact it may have on their future. In the op-ed, Silwal writes: “The dead perish, but our deeds linger. It shows up in the scars the children bear. Their resilience, time and again, is shown to transcend time, space, and culture, yet those are the same factors that are constantly against them.”
Read the full piece here.
Thank You! The 2017-18 Annual Fund Sets Another Record.
“This year we hit $10,858,812, surpassing the goal of $10,775,000 by $83,812.”
~ Tres Mullis, executive director of University Development
The 2017-18 Annual Fund raised a record amount from alumni, parents and friends of the University.
“It is with great excitement that I can tell you that another record-setting result was achieved with the FY18 Annual Fund,” said Tres Mullis, executive director of University Development. “This year we hit $10,858,812, surpassing the goal of $10,775,000 by $83,812.
This represents a 2.82 percent increase over the $10,560,113 raised in FY17 and 2.92 percent over the FY17 goal of $10,550,000.
Mullis noted that this was also the eighth consecutive year, undergraduate participation in giving (to all areas of the university) reached 50 percent.
Mullis praised the hard work of the Annual Fund leadership. “I want to recognize and express great appreciation to Annual Fund Chair Andrew Tate ’98. Having the right leader at the right time makes all the difference, and this has certainly been the case this year. Andrew never stopped working and was always willing, enthusiastically so, to ask his fellow alums to join him and Carson ’98 in providing leadership support for the Annual Fund. As vice-chair of the Annual Fund Council, Tasha Blair ’00 provided leadership and motivation to young alumni class agents and, with husband T. ’99, set the example for leadership giving among their peers.”
He also called out Tim Hodge ’90L for his third year of leadership and generous support of the Law Annual Fund. “Tim has worked diligently with the Law School staff to craft messages and strategies, leading to successive record results for the Law School.”
Mullis offered praise to Mary and Ted Dardani P’18, “whose great leadership and personal example of generosity set another new Parents Fund record this year. The Dardanis were ‘all-in’ for W&L from the time their son, Sam, transferred at the start of his sophomore year and we could not be more grateful for their enthusiastic support.”
Please enjoy this Thank You video featuring W&L students.
A complete summary of the 2017-18 fundraising results will be included in the August 2018 edition of Generally Speaking.
Hall Receives NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Mary-Frances Hall '18 is the 23rd W&L student-athlete selected to receive a scholarship over the last 15 years.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released its spring 2018 postgraduate scholarship winners and recent Washington and Lee graduate Mary-Frances Hall (State Road, N.C. / Elkin) was among the 58 Division I, II and III student-athletes that were recognized.
Hall is the 23rd Washington and Lee student-athlete selected to receive a scholarship over the last 15 years and the second General tabbed during the 2017-18 school year, joining former men’s soccer player Gillen Beck ’18. All told, 42 W&L students have received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship since 1970.
“One of the highest challenges of being a collegiate athlete is the balance between our academics and athletics, so I am incredibly honored and grateful to have not only been nominated but to have received this generous scholarship award from the NCAA,” said Hall. “What I was able to accomplish would not have been possible without the incredible support I received at Washington and Lee from my coaches, professors, teammates, and the members of the athletic department. I could not imagine a better way to finish my four years as a student-athlete, and the award will be invaluable in helping me achieve my goals and pursue the passions that I found at Washington and Lee.”
Hall received four letters as a member of the women’s golf team at W&L, earning a degree while majoring in neuroscience. She was a four-time All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference honoree, earning the ODAC Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year Awards as a first-year in 2015 when she also garnered Second Team All-America laurels.
A two-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America Scholar and WGCA All-East Region selection as a first-year and senior, she played 71 career rounds and registered a 78.59 career scoring average. Hall posted three career tournament victories, including the 2016 ODAC Championship.
During the 2017-18 season, Hall ranked 25th in Division III and she recorded a team-leading 78.21 scoring average. She helped lead the Generals to their second ODAC title and second trip to the NCAA Championship across her four seasons.
Off the course, Hall is a member of numerous honor societies, including the Beta, Beta, Beta – Phi Xi Chapter, Phi Eta Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa. She worked in the Cognition in Context lab at W&L under Professor Wythe Whiting and Professor Karla Murdock, and she volunteered with the YMCA Happy Hearts Afterschool program. Additionally, she served as a W&L tour guide and she sat on the Leadership Advisory Committee for W&L Student Ambassadors.
Hall will spend the coming year working as an AmeriCorps service member with Impact America in Greenville, S.C. Following the completion of her service, she plans on attending medical school with the ultimate goal of serving pediatric patients in a rural or underserved area.
The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually, 87 for men and 87 for women. Scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel both academically and athletically in intercollegiate athletics competition.
The one-time grants of $7,500 each are awarded for fall sports, winter sports and spring sports. Each sports season (fall, winter, spring), there are 29 scholarships available for men and 29 scholarships for women. The scholarships are one-time, non-renewable grants.
W&L’s New Efforts Take Load Off Landfills Trash-sorting stations, one of the university's newest sustainability projects, send more material to recycling and compost bins instead of to the dump.
Serving sandwiches, salads and sweets to 1,500 guests on Cannan Green seems like it would generate piles of garbage, but this year’s Alumni Weekend luncheon produced just one bag of trash.
Dining Services, with help from the Office of Sustainability and University Facilities, accomplished this feat during both Alumni Weekend and Commencement this spring by setting up trash-sorting tents near the food-service area. These tents allow the university to send more materials to recycling and the compost pile, lightening the load on landfills and strengthening W&L’s commitment to sustainability.
At the trash-sorting tent, which replaces multiple trash cans placed around the venue, waste is collected and separated post-consumption. Guests separate their food waste, with tent workers ensuring that the sorting is done correctly. Trash tents fit seamlessly into an already imagined event space, making it more convenient to locate for guests and efficient for the volunteers.
“It has to work like a well-oiled machine,” said Director of Sustainability Initiatives and Education Kim Hodge, “because one wrong aluminum can or one wrong colored trash bag causes the contamination of a whole compost bay, and separating it through this dirt is not an easy task.”
In previous years, similar events with 1,200-1,500 guests produced at least four to five bags of trash, and sorting mishaps were unavoidable. Now, trash tents make front-end sorting faster and ease the back-end processing of waste. The workers stationed at these trash tents have been Dining Services staff, sustainability interns, paid Compost Crew members or other student volunteers.
After each event, tent workers take bags of recycling to the recycling bins and dispose the compost waste in the bays next to the Campus Garden. Use of the two compost bays has increased considerably since Dining Services purchased a $50,000 Somat pulper for the Marketplace kitchen this year. The pulper processes pre- and post-consumption food waste to make it compostable at the bays. It ultimately reduces the amount of trash the dining hall produces during food preparation and after meal service.
The pulper “allows us to better track how much waste we actually produce,” said Director of Dining Services Jennifer Hickey. “The waste is also more usable for compost because it breaks down faster once it has been shredded and pulped.”
After seeing the success of their efforts, Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability plans to expand their endeavors to reduce W&L’s carbon footprint.
They will set up trash-sorting tents at as many annual events as possible during the upcoming academic year. In addition, the Compost Crew will pick up compostable waste from all the campus dining locations, including the third-year housing restaurants, sorority dining facilities and the law school café. Additionally, Dining Services will switch to compostable containers and cutlery at all of their eateries, continuing efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
These new initiatives will increase the amount of compostable material W&L produces, demanding the expansion of the compost bays.
“Where once it used to take a whole semester to fill up one bay, it now takes not even a month,” said Ginny Johnson ’20, leader of the Compost Crew and a sustainability intern, “so we definitely need room to house all the compost we will produce.”
The expansion of the bays will support the growth of the W&L Campus Garden, with the compost enriching the existing soil in the garden, reducing fertilizer usage, improving produce quality and ultimately saving money.
Increase in compost helped yield over 1,800 pounds of fresh produce and approximately $4,700 in revenue in 2017 alone. All sustainability efforts at the university have saved $4.5 million in utility costs and reduced CO2 production by 20,000 metric tons.
“It is so satisfying to know what you are doing is having a positive impact on the world,” Johnson said.
Rush Commentaries Featured in Multiple Media Outlets Mark Rush, Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at W&L, has recently discussed constitutional amendments, 3D-printed guns and electoral maps.
In the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rush discusses the political implications of a constitutional convention. In the article, he encourages Americans to pressure their legislatures to rescind the aging calls for modern-day constitutional amendments. Read the full article here.
In a second piece, which was broadcast on WRVA NewsRadio, Rush argues against 3D-printed guns and suggests that the guns could become a major public safety issue. Listen to the full interview here.
On NPR’s Community Idea Station, Rush makes the case that the Virginia electoral map weakens minority choice. Listen to the entire piece here.
Sustainability in Stockholm During a four-week internship with Enact Sustainable Strategies in Stockholm, Julia Carullo '20 has been inspired by Sweden's dedication to sustainability in business practices.
“Maybe American business will trend toward sustainability when our consumers use their purchasing power to also demand a respect for the environment and workers in the products and services bought.”
~ Julia Carullo ’20
I became involved with Enact Sustainable Strategies through a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) course in practicum that took place abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, this spring. My team had the honor of working on a project for Enact and created a comprehensive report on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which we analyze various company case studies.
When this was complete, I took the opportunity to travel to Stockholm and work hands-on with Enact for four weeks. It’s difficult to fully explain how much these past weeks have meant to me, both professionally and personally. The people I have worked with at Enact are incredible – truly motivated in their work, engaging, humorous and so welcoming. I have felt comfortable asking questions and have loved our daily lunch together.
Involvement in my university consulting organization has given me a sense of client-facing work (proposals, phasing research, final deliverables), but being in the office under the mentorship of consulting professionals has allowed me to experience the true challenges and excitement that occur in this field. It’s been especially important for me to be involved in advisory projects related to sustainable business practice. I have analyzed elements of sustainability reports, completed horizon-scanning research, created graphs out of stakeholder dialogue surveys, and attended seminars on the SDGs and human rights.
From my perspective, and in my opinion, not many American students have the opportunity to immediately work with sustainability topics. It’s clear that the Nordic region is much further along in its sustainable journey than the United States. The general awareness of the impact business can have in furthering world progress on the UN SDGs, for example, is not discussed in my academic community, outside of the CSR courses. I think that hits the nail on the head – CSR, sustainability, human rights are all buzzwords that lie outside of mainstream strategic planning in American business. Our businesses incorporate sustainable initiatives, but they often lack meaningful value because the focus is on advertisement, favor with consumers, and ultimate financial success.
Enact’s clients, on the other hand, seem to truly want to make a difference throughout their value chains and the communities in which they operate. Maybe sustainable business is more authentic in Sweden, for example, because Swedish consumers and citizens demand it through purchasing patterns and in their government initiatives. And maybe American business will trend toward sustainability when our consumers use their purchasing power to also demand a respect for the environment and workers in the products and services bought.
Going forward, I hope to make changes in my own purchasing patterns and to bring about discussion on sustainability in my social circles and academic classes. I hope to incorporate sustainability reporting into my accounting studies and future career and continue to be involved with CSR, human rights and responsible business in this way. I look forward to staying in touch with my co-workers at Enact as they succeed in driving sustainability initiatives throughout the world, and I can’t wait to visit Stockholm again, where I know I’ll leave a piece of my heart.
Cambridge University Press Partners with German Law Journal at W&L Law
Cambridge University Press and the editorial board of the German Law Journal are pleased to announce that they will partner in the publication of the journal from 2019.
Founded 19 years ago by Washington and Lee law professor Russell A. Miller and Peer C. Zumbansen, the German Law Journal is a dynamic and engaging forum for legal research from a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, including coverage and commentary on developments in German, European, and International jurisprudence.
Articles published in the Journal typically receive 1,500 downloads in the first month of publication. Publishing eight issues per year, the Journal is the top-ranked European law journal globally according to Washington and Lee School of Law’s prestigious journal ranking, as well as the fourth-ranked European law journal on Google Scholar.
Fundamental to the Journal’s success has been its commitment, from the very beginning, to opening up access to scholarship and research. The German Law Journal pioneered this approach; the Journal’s content has always been freely available online and will continue to be freely available on Cambridge Core.
“The exciting new partnership with Cambridge University Press is as unique as the Journal itself,” said Miller. “The German Law Journal remains an independent open-access platform for innovative legal research. But it will now benefit from Cambridge’s unrivaled competence in production, publication, and the promotion of our authors’ work. There is much to be gained on both sides, especially as the publishing industry continues to evolve. This partnership positions the German Law Journal for success and relevance for another generation.”
Ella Colvin, Director of Publishing, Academic at Cambridge University Press, said, “We are excited to embark on our first fully Open Access venture in law with the highly-respected and ground-breaking German Law Journal and look forward to a genuine collaboration with its energetic editorial team.”
As they have for the last decade, W&L law students will continue to provide editorial support and also assist in the production and administration of the Journal.
Archer and Lepage Awarded Virginia Humanities Grant The $7,000 Virginia Humanities grant will support an upcoming exhibit in Staniar Gallery.
Clover Archer, director of Staniar Gallery at Washington and Lee University, and Andrea Lepage, associate professor of art history, have been awarded a $7,000 Virginia Humanities grant for an upcoming exhibit in Staniar Gallery.
The funding from Virginia Humanities will support the production of a full-color, 100-page bilingual Spanish-English catalog to accompany Texas-based artist Adriana Corral’s exhibition, which will be on view in the gallery in April 2019.
The catalog will include essays written by the artist, a historian, an art historian, a curator and a collaborator, as well as a lived-experience testimonial and an introduction by the gallery director. To ensure the highest possible accessibility, all text will be professionally translated into Spanish to create a bilingual publication that will be distributed to the public at no cost.
“We are thrilled to have the support of Virginia Humanities to realize this project around the work of Adriana Corral,” Archer said. “Corral’s recent work explores timely issues—borders, immigration and citizenship—that can be challenging to discuss. We hope that examining these issues through the lens of Corral’s artworks opens up the possibility for in-depth conversations based on empathy and reflection and education rather than division.”
The exhibition is Corral’s most recent trans-media project (installation, performance and sculpture) that investigates universal themes of loss, human rights violations, concealment and memory. Her new body of work looks at the historical treatment of Mexican manual laborers and farm workers who passed through official U.S. processing centers in the early- and mid-20th century.
For more information about Staniar Gallery and upcoming exhibits, please click here.
Woods Creek Apartments Get Major Updates By the start of the 2018-19 academic year, the 1970s-era apartments will sport a fresh exterior look and extensively remodeled interiors.
Washington and Lee University students who haven’t spent time on campus this summer will return in the fall to find that Woods Creek Apartments have undergone an extreme makeover. The renovation, which began in May, includes exterior improvements and continues the interior remodel that began in summer 2016.
Woods Creek Apartments, which are made up of three separate buildings, were constructed in the 1970s to house students of the new W&L School of Law. They were designed by architect Fred Cox of Marcellus Wright Cox Architects in Richmond using the Brutalist style, which was popular from the 1950s through the 1970s and was descended from the modernist movement. But the apartments, which will house 178 students during the 2018-19 school year, have not seen much in the way of updates since they were built.
In 2016, the interior of Woods Creek Central was remodeled. This summer, the East building is getting an interior remodel and all three buildings are being renovated on the exterior. The project will finish up next summer with an interior remodel of the West building and the addition of outdoor gathering places behind the apartments, which overlook Woods Creek.
Those moving into Central and East this fall will enjoy new granite countertops, cabinets and appliances in the kitchens. They also will find fresh interior paint and flooring, as well as new bathroom fixtures, ceiling fans and furniture, including full-size beds (Woods Creek West also will get the new, larger beds this summer). Most exciting is the addition of a stackable washer-and-dryer unit in every apartment in Central and East, replacing the basement laundry rooms of yore. Those old laundry rooms are being remodeled for use as common areas for gathering or studying.
The exterior overhaul has involved removing the old wood panels from the sides of the concrete buildings and replacing them with new cement board panels. Fresh paint in hues of cream and mocha will complete the face-lift.
Finally, each building will be outfitted with a fresh air unit that will bring in air from outside, then condition it and distribute it throughout the apartments.
In early July, the apartments were caged in scaffolding and crawling with some 80 construction workers each day, but by the time Fall Term begins, the buildings will be ready to welcome students for a new academic year. One of those residents will be Reggie Zhao ’21, who has been interning with the University Facilities office this summer. In that role, Zhao has kept a close eye on the progress in what will soon be her new home.
“I think it’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It’s nice to see everything coming together. I’m looking forward to moving in.”
Honor Thy Parents The Clapp brothers fund a scholarship in memory of their parents.
“Our father always inspired us to go to W&L. It was the only university we ever heard of growing up.”
~ Jim Clapp ’73
Richard “Dick” T. Clapp ’68 and his brother, James “Jim” H. Clapp ’73, have established the Honorable Robert E. Clapp Jr. ’30 and Josephine R. Clapp Scholarship Endowment to honor their parents. Three of Judge and Mrs. Clapp’s four sons graduated from Washington and Lee: Dick, Jim and John Clapp ’75 (the oldest son, Bob, attended The College of William & Mary).
“Our father always inspired us to go to W&L. It was the only university we ever heard of growing up,” joked Jim. Judge Clapp began his career as an assistant attorney general in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. In 1939, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates. During World War II, Judge Clapp joined the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Office, attaining the rank of captain. After the war, he maintained a private law practice until appointed a circuit court judge in 1964. Judge Clapp served as the chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit until his retirement in 1980.
Jim and Dick Clapp were on campus in May for Jim’s 45th reunion and Dick’s 50th reunion, and both used the occasions to record planned gifts that will fund the Clapp Scholarship endowment. Deferred gifts count in overall reunion giving during the 50th reunion, with the counting period starting after the 45th reunion. “Dick really started the whole thing,” admitted Jim. “He was the instigator, and I was the follower.”
Dick, who served on both his 45th and 50th reunion committees, made a blended gift, a combination of a planned and outright gift, using a revocable life insurance beneficiary designation and the IRA charitable rollover provision. “The IRA charitable rollover is an easy way to make a charitable contribution and have a tax benefit from it,” he noted.
The IRA charitable rollover provision allows individuals 70½ or older to distribute up to $100,000 annually from traditional and Roth IRA accounts to public charities. The distribution is excluded from the donor’s taxable income and counts towards the annual IRA required minimum distribution. The IRA charitable rollover must be made directly from an IRA administrator to W&L and be received by Dec. 31 of the given tax year.
The Clapp scholarship will give priority to students from Maryland who plan to study law. “My father was and two of my brothers are lawyers,” Dick explained. “We wanted to have a direct impact on students and their educational opportunities,” he continued. “We hope that friends and colleagues of Judge and Mrs. Clapp, and other Marylanders who are interested in supporting a potential local student with a law orientation, will join us in supporting the scholarship.”
For more information on bequests and beneficiary designations, or IRA charitable rollovers, please contact Margie Lippard in the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Makes A Great Leader? As a Presidential Leadership Scholar, Dana Bolden '89 discussed effective leadership styles with Presidents Bush and Clinton.
Dana Bolden, a member of W&L’s Board of Trustees, is creating a web portal to identify and develop high-potential minorities for service on Fortune 500 Boards of Directors. The portal will aggregate available resources with input from active minority board members on how to stand out and be better prepared for corporate board service.
He is global chief communications officer at Corteva Agriscience™, The Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. Bolden majored in journalism at W&L.
Q: You recently completed a six-month stint in the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program. Tell us about it, and why was it important for you to participate?
Life-changing would be an understatement. Initially, you are astounded by the caliber of the folks in your cohort. They are some of the most accomplished people in the world — from people changing the way healthcare is delivered in inner-cities to people bringing solar power to under-served communities around the world. We had Ph.D.s, M.B.A.s, M.D.s and J.D.s, alongside military veterans, elected officials and business leaders, all committed to doing their part to improve the world. Finding yourself among these individuals would be overwhelming in and of itself, but when you add in Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who were more than generous with their time, as well as their respective staffs and those of presidential libraries (Bushes 41 & 43, Clinton and LBJ), it suddenly became overwhelming.
After a few sessions, it became abundantly clear that people left agendas and egos aside. Everyone was there to help US! I mean, here I am, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, cracking jokes and getting advice from President Bush (43) about how I can effectively implement my project.
It was important to me to see the many types of leadership that led our country. Each offered tangible lessons on how I could lead in my professional life and, more importantly, my Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) project.
Q: How did this program change your perspective of effective leadership?
Prior to the program, I had a distinctive style of leadership and was fairly rigid in my style. That resulted in people who didn’t fit or emulate my style not lasting very long on my teams. PLS taught me how to flex my leadership style and adapt to the talent in my organization, as well as the demands of the times. I’d always thought your style was your style. Leaders hold principles and values but they also evolve to changing times and workforces.
Q: How will what you learned help you recruit minorities to Fortune 500 boards?
One very tangible way is through my cohort and the faculty of PLS. I’ve had personal introductions to roughly half of the people of color serving on Fortune 500 Boards. With the PLS experience next to my name, not one person I’ve called or written has ignored or rejected my requests. Yes, there is a very real and legitimate need for the work we’re doing, but I’d be a bit naïve if I thought that I could call any of the individuals to whom I’ve been introduced through PLS and expect the same level of response if I did not have the benefit of those introductions. Less tangibly, I’ve been able to develop a strategy for what’s next after we get our effort up and running. Our effort, The Director Project (http://thedirectorproject.com), is still in the early stages while we collect and catalog interviews with current board members and build our database of talented minority, C-suite candidates.
Q: What changes, if any, will you make to your approach to managing others?
Those who know or work with me know that I’ve rarely embraced the softer side of management in terms of taking time to understand what motivates people and brings out their passions. My professional life has always been guided by simply coming in each day and attacking the objectives. Many would have said my decisions, in the past, were fairly autocratic. Given that my teams now span different age groups and backgrounds, I’ve invested more time in getting to know what drives people and why they work. Initially, it was very uncomfortable for me, but each day gets a little more comfortable, and the team I currently lead is one of the highest performing I’ve led in my career.
Q: What did you talk about with the former U.S. presidents, and what was the most valuable advice they offered you?
President Bush (43) and I had a very jovial relationship. We were surprised to have a few mutual friends, including Jamie Small ’81. President Bush (41) was there during the early stages, as were both Barbara and Laura Bush. Both Presidents Bush and Clinton were very active during the program and shared a lot of advice. I wouldn’t want to violate the nature of the program by sharing too much of what was discussed. I can say, however, that President Bush (43) probably had the highest conversion rate of any leader during the program. People had very strong opinions of him prior to the sessions. In our small settings, his compassion, wit and smarts converted even the most ardent skeptics. Preconceived notions are very powerful, and social media further enables those notions. The most valuable thing I learned in speaking with both presidents is that personal relationships will always matter, so step out of your comfort zone and make a conscious effort to get to know people with different opinions and views.
Q: Is there any advice you’d offer W&L in its recruitment of under-represented groups to serve either as chapter presidents, or on the Alumni Board or the Board of Trustees?
My advice may be a bit too late! We’ll likely look back and remember 2018 as a year of great change with regard to minority student leadership, engagement and admittance for W&L. Elizabeth Mugo ’19 was elected as EC president, and I expect us to continue to move toward a truly inclusive campus environment. My advice would be to keep pressing forward. We can build from this positive momentum or we can claim victory and sit back. The latter would truly be a mistake.
Q: Any advice/words of encouragement to students on getting involved in student governance?
There are many opportunities on campus to serve and help build our institution into one that remains attractive to bright, diverse groups anywhere in the world. My advice to students is very simple: Get out of your comfort zone and engage with a wide variety of groups. The university has invested in a number of platforms that allow everyone to find a place they can feel like they belong. I’d like W&L to be recognized as a place where people of all backgrounds come to find shared value, not to disappear into echo chambers where their points of view are only reinforced. Very few schools are like ours, so take advantage of these opportunities because there are very few places in the world that allow you to try just about anything you want to accomplish without fear of failure.
Alumni Chapters 2017-2018 Review What a busy year!
As the saying (somewhat) goes, “Plan it and they will come.” Through the fantastic efforts of our 78 alumni chapters and more than 500 chapter volunteers, there were 293 alumni chapter activities held this past year ranging from simple happy hours to athletic tailgates to career panels to faculty presentations to alumni Fancy Dress Balls to presidential welcomes for President Dudley. In fact, the 2017 -18 Chapter year was so full that it averaged out to one chapter event every 29.9 hours! Take a look at this slideshow to see just some of the fun!
Be sure to keep an eye on your email and our website for an alumni event near you. If you are not currently receiving email updates from your local alumni chapter, please logon to Colonnade Connections to update your contact information. Many chapters also have Facebook pages; check this webpage for links.
Turning Data into Knowledge Moataz Khalifa discusses his new job as Leyburn Library's director of data education.
“The quote ‘We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge’ by John Naisbitt is a big motivator for me to learn—and help others learn—more about how to turn data into knowledge.”
Q: What will be your responsibilities as the library’s new director of data education?
The responsibilities for this new position are truly exciting and diverse. They include:
• Designing and teaching courses about data science and data analytics
• Teaching modules within already existing courses that depend on data science
• Assisting faculty members and students with research projects that require data analysis
• Helping in developing a peer tutoring program for students who are involved in data intensive research
Q: What drew you to this position?
The quote “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge” by John Naisbitt is a big motivator for me to learn—and help others learn—more about how to turn data into knowledge. We
live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by large amounts of data, information, statistics, facts and opinions disguised as facts, all of which help shape the public awareness in many ways. The ability to deal with large datasets, the knowledge of how such data is processed, and the understanding of weaknesses and strengths in every data processing technique demystifies results that are normally used to shape opinions on a public and private level.
Q: How will your disciplinary expertise in physics inform your new work?
First of all, I am a strong believer in the benefits of true interdisciplinarity in research. Second of all, every physicist by training has to take a healthy dose of advanced statistics and learn data analysis. One of my most successful collaborations so far is the one in which I was the physicist responsible for building a computational statistical model to help transmission electron microscopists improve the reliability and preciseness of the data extracted from the electron energy dissipation spectrographs.
Third of all, coming from the natural sciences side of the fence, I am keenly aware of the complexity of attempting to apply physical and mathematical models to experiments done in the social sciences.
Q: Why is data literacy important to today’s undergraduate students?
We live in a society in which political, economic and technological advancement depends on analyzing large amounts of data…which keeps getting larger. For students who don’t intend to major in fields that depend on data analysis, learning the fundamentals of data science and analytics will help in shaping the well-rounded education they are receiving here at Washington and Lee. For students who are majoring, or intending to major, in fields that rely heavily on data, such as economics, business or any of the natural sciences, to name a few, data literacy is extremely important for obvious reasons.
This article originally ran in FOLIOS, the library newsletter.
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More about Dr. Khalifa
• B.S. in Physics, American University in Cairo
• Diploma of Science, American University in Cairo
• M.S. in Physics, Virginia Tech
• Ph.D. in Physics, Virginia Tech
• Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics, W&L, 2015-2018
• Nanolithography using atomic force microscopes
• Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) quantitative models for transmission electron
• Density functional theory
Chapter Updates New events are being planned for the upcoming year. We hope you'll join us!
The Alumni Affairs Office and the Alumni Board are continuing efforts to increase engagement of alumni of color in the five-largest alumni chapters by designing events at popular venues. Significant progress has been made in Washington, D.C, including a sold-out event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Event planning for the New York and Richmond chapters is underway.
In April, the Atlanta Chapter hosted a very successful event at ZuCot Gallery, which features works by African American artists. As the pictures below reflect, the event drew a diverse and sizable crowd to this unique space in the developing neighborhood near the new Mercedes Stadium. The gallery owner and Quincy Springs IV ’02, a civic leader and Chick-fil-A franchisee who previously led the launch of a Walmart in a diverse community, welcomed the group. Howard Pickett, assistant professor of ethics and poverty studies and director of the Shepherd Program, presented a slideshow on the Shepherd’s 20th anniversary.
A Powerful Connection Gerry Barousse '80 helped found the Bayou District Foundation, which is developing a community that replaced a flooded housing development in New Orleans.
A phone call from a fellow W&L alum launched Gerry Barousse ’80 into a venture that has transformed a once-blighted area of New Orleans into a model purpose-built community.
After Hurricane Katrina ravaged his home city in 2005, Barousse received a call from Charles Yates ’70, who had coached and taught him in middle school, and with whom he had stayed in touch through his real estate development business. Yates had since moved back to Atlanta, where he invited Barousse to tour East Lake, a mixed-income community that replaced a crime-ridden housing development bordering the East Lake golf course.
Inspired, Barousse returned home and helped found the Bayou District Foundation (BDF), which he serves as chairman. Since its inception in 2006, the foundation has been developing Columbia Parc, a community that replaced the flooded St. Bernard Housing Project in the Gentilly neighborhood.
“That visit got us off and running,” Barousse said. “Here we are 12 years later, still working to finish. Our partners included the city, state, school district, and the City Park.” (He’s on the right in the photo, showing off the project to Warren Buffett.)
The scope of the 18-block project is enormous. The foundation’s philosophy is to build luxury apartments for citizens of all incomes. The first residents arrived in March 2010. Of the 685 households in Columbia Parc, 493 receive public housing or reduced rent. The positive impact is already evident, with crime reduced by nearly 100 percent from the pre-Katrina years.
BDF has also initiated what it calls a cradle-to-college-education pipeline, with an early-childhood education center already open and a K-8 charter school scheduled to open next year. A permanent on-site health clinic opened in September 2017, and a grocery store and a pharmacy will begin this year.
BDF and City Park New Orleans have partnered to build a world-class, Rees Jones-designed, 18-hole golf course that replaces two damaged former golf courses. Through this partnership with the park, BDF will share net income from golf operations (approximating $500,000 annually for BDF), which will support BDF’s community programs.
For Barousse, the golf component is a natural fit; he was an All-American golfer at W&L. He also coached little league football and basketball during his time in Lexington and enjoyed his interactions with the kids. He coached blind golfer Pat Browne for 21 years, with the pair winning the U.S. Blind Golf Association Championship 20 years in a row. He says his sense of civic responsibility was instilled by his family and reinforced at W&L.
He admitted he was not a fan when his alma mater went co-ed. Fate, however, presented him with three daughters, two of whom have already graduated from W&L — Lauren ’10 and Jeanne Rene ’12. He enjoyed coming back to Lexington for Parents and Family Weekends and was pleased to find his daughters’ experience not that different from his own. He continues to serve the university as a class agent for the Annual Fund, a task he especially enjoys now that he can stay in touch with classmates through email.
Barousse jokes that his wife, Jeanne, is ready for him to divert some of his formidable energy back into non-volunteer activities. Don’t count on it. He is eager to share the success of Columbia Park with other communities, just as Charlie Yates shared East Lake with him in that fateful call.
Alumnus Receives First ODK Endowed Scholarship in honor of Kenneth P. Ruscio The scholarship will be the first awarded in the 2018-19 academic year.
Washington and Lee University alumnus Zach Taylor ’17 has received the Washington and Lee University Circle Endowed Scholarship in honor of Kenneth P. Ruscio from Omicron Delta Kappa. The scholarship will be the first awarded in the 2018-19 academic year.
Ruscio is the immediate past president of W&L and ODK’s national president from 2002-06. The fund provides a post-baccalaureate scholarship for a member of the Alpha Circle as well as a grant to support circle operations.
“Zach’s career as a student at W&L was extraordinary, and he is richly deserving of the Kenneth P. Ruscio Foundation Scholarship from ODK,” said Angela Smith, Roger Mudd Professor of Ethics and professor of philosophy. “During his senior year alone, Zach wore many different leadership hats on campus, including as a residential advisor, an honor system hearing advisor, president of the W&L philosophy club, editor-in-chief of the Mudd Journal of Ethics and co-organizer of the Mudd Undergraduate Conference in Ethics. It was a joy working with Zach at the Mudd Center, and I am thrilled that he is planning to continue his study of ethics in graduate school.”
During his time at W&L, Taylor majored in classics and philosophy and minored in poverty and human capability studies. His long-term goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in religious ethics.
“I recognize that my success is largely dependent on support from excellent mentors, and I am greatly appreciative of their help,” said Taylor.
Founded in 1914 at Washington and Lee University, ODK honors and develops leaders through scholarships, workshops, career opportunities, leadership resources and a lifelong connection to other members.
Signed, Sealed and Delivered W&L clinches fund-raising goal of $50 million for athletic facilities.
“Alumni and parents made commitments at key times to advance the project campaign and inspired many others in the W&L community to join them.”
~ Dennis Cross, vice president of university advancement
On June 30, Washington and Lee University hit a critical milestone in a major fund-raising goal — to raise $50 million for indoor athletic and recreation facilities. This includes the natatorium (completed in 2017) and what will be the Richard L. Duchossois Center for Athletics and Recreation, commonly known as the Duchossois Athletic Center.
When W&L ended its $542.5 million Honor Our Past, Build Our Future campaign in June 2015, it had already reached the halfway point in funding for the proposed athletic facilities. Completing the project became the highest post-campaign priority, as the Board of Trustees require gifts and pledges to match the fund-raising goal of a project before it can begin.
“We ended the last campaign by raising $25 million,” said Dennis Cross, vice president for University Advancement. “Dick Duchossois ’44 gave the vast majority of this initial funding. That set the stage for our ultimate success and allowed the university to recognize his leadership support by attaching his name to the project.”
The university needed to raise the final $25 million for the June 30, 2018 deadline, the planned start of the final phase of the project — the renovation of Doremus Gymnasium and the building of the new addition on the Warner Center site.
Alumni and friends of the university steadily rallied around the project. By the end of December 2017, $9 million was needed to bridge the gap. With two months remaining to the June 30 deadline, $1.5 million was left to hit the $50-million goal.
On July 1, Cross announced, “We have completed the fund-raising for the indoor athletic and recreation facilities project only due to our alumni and parents’ thoughtful generosity, willingness to help the university address a priority, and the belief in the important mission of Washington and Lee. Alumni and parents made commitments at key times to advance the project campaign and inspired many others in the W&L community to join them — Thank you!”
Preparatory work on the new athletic center began in April, when the athletic offices moved into temporary housing in Baker Hall. After commencement in May, the fitness center and Doremus Gymnasium closed. (For more about the transition plan, click here).
As the walls of the former Warner Center start to come down, excitement for the new facility is growing. Said Cross, “We cannot wait until the Duchossois Athletic Center opens in mid-2020!”
About the Project
The Duchossois Athletic Center includes a restoration of the existing Doremus Gymnasium and a rebuild of what has been known as the Warner Center. The center will encompass 165,489 square feet and will capture over 10,700 square feet of assignable space for new athletic and recreation programs. The project will also increase the square footage for the fitness center by 32 percent and will relocate and expand the wrestling room by over 84 percent. It will also allow the racquetball and squash courts to become regulation size, while doubling the scope of the athletic training facilities.
Other key features will include greater handicap accessibility, a showcase for the Athletic Hall of Fame, an increase in locker room amenities and features, expanded golf practice facilities, expanded multi-purpose facilities for group exercise, and improved offices for coaches and athletics staff.
Green Solutions for a Modern World Attending the Princeton Environmental Ideathon was a natural progression for Juliana Keeling '19, who started a sustainable packaging company when she was still in high school.
“Without the support of Professor Robert Humston and the rest of the [Environmental Studies] Department, I would have never taken advantage of this unique and impactful event.”
— Juliana Keeling ’19
The Princeton Environmental Ideathon (PEID) is an annual competition at Princeton University that brings together academics and industry leaders to address challenges and propose solutions to developing greener, more sustainable modern cities. I was excited to attend this event this spring to connect with other like-minded people from a variety of backgrounds and discuss the most multi-faceted, pressing issue of our time: climate change.
Alongside my three other teammates from Harvard University and Rutgers University, we chose to address and prototype solutions for the catastrophic, unpredictable flooding that occurs in coastal cities like New Orleans. The objective of this design is to create a canal to alleviate flooding from storm surge in coastal regions. As greater numbers of the growing population move towards the coast, sea level is also rising. Sea level has been rising for the past 50 years, and the rate has increased over the past few decades. The global convergence of urbanization and climate change is becoming increasingly apparent. Climate change is occurring where most of humanity lives. Major cities such as New Orleans are subsiding by approximately one football field per day.
We selected this problem because there is a genuine need to alleviate flooding from storm surge. There is a genuine need for “smart” urban design to provide safety and stability for the millions of people around the world in the wake of worsening storms. We need implementable technology and planning that adapts to the inevitable crises associated with climate change. Preservation of ecosystem goods and services is critical to maintaining stability and growth of urban centers and the population at large.
The solution-idea is to build a mini canal that connects to the existing canal system of New Orleans. The purpose of enhancing the existing canal system is to alleviate pressure that builds up during flood events to reduce flooding. Water that breaches the existing levee will be diverted into a mini canal that snakes through parts of New Orleans. The canal will replace the streetcars that currently exist on the St. Charles Line to prevent the displacement of residents living in the area. The proposed canal will be able to absorb flood waters at greater rates than the existing streetcar system. The canal will have normal water levels lower than its walls, and during storm events it would be able to take on flood waters from the adjacent Mississippi River. One block length of this canal will be able to hold 240,000 gallons of storm water.
Another feature of the canal is a turbine that will collect energy when floodwaters flow in the canal. The power provided will power a warning system along the canal that will alert residents of the flood condition that the part of the city is now in. This turbine will help collect the energy that will be used to pump the water out.
The canal will feature rain gardens on both sides. The rain gardens will contain native and resilient plants that will thrive near the canal. The gardens serve dual purposes of beautifying the area surrounding the canal and absorbing excess and nutrients and storm water runoff. The green infrastructure of the rain garden is a sustainable method of storm water management. Rain gardens have been shown to reduce the amount of subsidence in the soil.
After a full day of pitching, our solution was voted third by the judges (composed of Princeton professors and industry leaders) out of everyone in the competition.
I am so grateful for the Environmental Studies Department at W&L and their generosity in letting me attend the PEID event free of charge. Not only did the department encourage me to participate in this unique competition, they also supported my attendance and paid for my transportation and food expenses. Without the support of Professor Robert Humston and the rest of the department, I would have never taken advantage of this unique and impactful event.
My time at PEID is not my first experience with developing sustainable business solutions. During high school, I started a company, Terravive, that is an ethically minded packaging company with a green soul. One hundred percent of our products reduce garbage that ends up in landfills and pollutes our oceans. We work closely with our customers across a swath of industries to produce high-quality, cost-effective, and plant-based packaging that reduces packaging waste.
Over the past five years I’ve spent researching and working in the biopolymer space, I have acquired a deep love of and appreciation for the creation of novel, sustainable materials. After studying various cradle-to-cradle analyses, I believe that the best way to make a positive impact is to solve the problem “upstream” by producing materials sustainably with the end in mind. This enthusiasm incentivized me to create Terravive, a vertically integrated company that assists organizations in their transition to sustainable solutions. One of Terravive’s core tenets is solely supplying products that degrade back to their original organic materials, carbon dioxide and water, in industrial facilities and the ocean. Albeit more expensive than traditional plastic containers, Terravive products yield appreciable increases in sales for the companies choosing to adopt sustainable packaging and repeat purchases for them. This can be attributed to the increase in brand loyalty generated by the pharmaceutical company’s physical demonstration of commitment to sustainability values via the transition to compostable packaging.
After my first year at W&L, I moved to San Francisco for the summer to better understand Terravive’s product market fit in a city that embodies the values of sustainability. We were garnering traction and growing. I was doing all I could to sell and deliver, and I didn’t want my efforts to diminish when I returned to W&L and faced challenging chemistry classes. I was and still am passionate about Terravive’s impact in broader society – the reduction of plastic packaging in our landfills and oceans – and wanted to stay in SF to catalyze even greater growth. I spoke with my advisors at W&L, and after explaining my situation, they granted me a leave of absence. My Johnson Scholarship was unaffected, and they permitted me to take the year off without having to incur any additional expenses from the school.
I’m very grateful that W&L enabled me the opportunity to focus on my passion and chase my dreams through this extremely impactful gap year.
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More about Juliana
Has anyone on campus inspired you?
Professor Robert Humston is one of the best professors at W&L. He is incredibly intelligent, yet approachable and passionate about his work in the biological and environmental sciences. I would highly recommend taking a class or two with him!
What’s your personal motto?
I have two:
“The finest steel goes through the hottest fire.” – Anonymous
“My willingness to fail is what gives me the ability to succeed.” – Vinod Khosla
Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Canton Chinese! I am a dim sum fanatic.
What film or book do you recommend to everyone?
I read “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese in 2009 and it changed my life. The book taught me about the importance of showing empathy, family, and the frailty of life and spiritual strength. The title refers to the Greek Hippocratic Oath warning physicians of physically cutting out stone (e.g. gall stone, kidney stone, etc.) due to danger to the patient.
Analytical Chemistry with Professor Matthew Tuchler
Favorite W&L event?
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I am a second-degree black belt in karate.
Black Alumni Reunion Save the Date
Save the Date!
W&L Black Alumni Reunion
March 8-9, 2019
• W&L president, Will Dudley
• Student interaction
• Strategic Plan & Diversity Initiatives
• Saturday night gala
More details to come!
We have a block of hotel rooms on hold.
No action required now except to mark your calendar.
We will open registration late this year.
A ‘Dream Act’ Tolu Olubunmi ’02 speaks up for immigrants and refugees.
“We need those stories to be told, to have faces attached … We miss a lot when we don’t speak up and shift public perceptions.”
~ Tolu Olubunmi ’02
As a chemistry-engineering major with an entrepreneurial spirit, Tolu Olubunmi ’02 dreamed of owning her own engineering firm.
Instead, circumstances led her to become one of the country’s leading activists on behalf of immigrants and refugees. Today she runs a consulting firm, Ada Consulting, that builds global social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives focused on immigrant integration, employment, access to technology and education. Over the years, she has used social impact campaigns to share her story and those of other “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, lived in the country for most of their lives and want to become legal citizens.
Olubunmi’s story begins when she arrived in the U.S. from Nigeria at 14 without her parents. At 8, she already knew she wanted to to study engineering and thought she wanted to attend Princeton.
At the urging of her guidance counselor and after meeting with a W&L representative at a college fair, she visited W&L and knew “it was meant to be. The weekend changed my perspective.” Olubunmi thrived at W&L, enjoying both her science classes and humanities courses in philosophy and Greek mythology. She has passed the love of W&L on to a niece, who is a rising sophomore at the university.
“I did my best to be a good citizen and commit myself to my new home.” But, after graduating, Olubunmi discovered she had lost access to her legal immigration status and was now in legal peril.
She visited countless immigration attorneys hoping to regain her legal immigration status. One attorney advised her that she had only two options: a change in U.S. immigration law or marriage to a U.S. citizen.
“I chose the easier route,” she recalled laughing. “I decided to help change U.S. law.”
Another lawyer told her about the Dream Act that was then moving through Congress and would help people like her. She contacted the drafter of the bill at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C., and volunteered her services.
As an unpaid, full-time volunteer, she learned about policy, law and communications. “I spent every waking moment educating myself on the pertinent issues and creating opportunities to prove my competency. I worked diligently for the cause, and I quickly built a reputation for being a strategic thinker and an effective communicator.”
The Dream Act, first introduced in the Senate in 2001, still has not passed Congress. In 2018, both Republicans and Democrats are trying to find solutions that will keep nearly 700,000 young adults from being deported to countries they haven’t lived in for most of their lives.
Olubunmi has run into much misinformation about Dreamers as she progressed from volunteer to paid strategist to an internationally recognized advocate. One congressman, for instance, told her that the country needs more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) immigrants, not “Mexicans who can’t speak English.”
“I am a STEM graduate, and I’m African” she told him.
Those types of encounters solidified Olubunmi’s resolve to tell the Dreamers’ stories. “We need a diversity of stories of those affected,” she said. “I take every opportunity to tell my story, although it is difficult and risky to share.”
Today, Olubunmi continues to fight to protect Dreamers and President Barack Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) proclamation, which allowed Dreamers to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
She says all Dreamers who speak up are incredibly brave. “We need those stories to be told, to have faces attached. It is a very personal decision. We miss a lot when we don’t speak up and shift public perceptions.” She advocates for solutions grounded in reality that will “make a difference that can be felt by generations to come.”
In 2010, Olubunmi founded Ada Consulting, which managed the communications strategy for a broad coalition of national immigrants’ rights, education, labor and civil rights organizations to advance the Dream Act. Another venture, Lions Write, focused on building social impact campaigns, where “we share our own stories in our own words — giving voice and value to the voiceless.” The initiative derives its name from an African proverb, “Until the lions learn to write, all the stories will glorify the hunter.”
Olubunmi’s advocacy work has led to many new opportunities. Soon after founding Ada Consulting, she became one of 31 Dreamers featured on the cover of Time magazine. Of the 31, she was one of three who did not qualify for the DACA program because of age — she was one year older than the cutoff. A follow-up article by the magazine noted that her status “hasn’t stopped her from advocating for immigrant rights, both domestically and abroad.”
Olubunmi serves on numerous boards, including the board of directors of USA for IOM, the U.S.-based nonprofit partner of the U.N. Migration Agency. She is an advisor to the social impact investment platform BRAVA Investments. She also is a founding board member of the United We Dream Network and co-founder of Immigrant Heritage Month.
The World Economic Forum asked her to serve on its Global Future Council on Migration, and through the council, she co-chairs Mobile Minds, an initiative that advances cross-border remote working as an alternative to physically moving to another country. In 2015, the World Economic Forum recognized her as one of 15 Women Changing the World.
She has been a featured speaker at the White House and introduced President Obama as he pushed for passage of immigration legislation Olubunmi had worked on. She also has spoken to Congress, and at many universities around the country. She taught a seminar on social entrepreneurship at Barnard College.
She was named an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress. The center announced the program with a statement that the Fellows “will bring the concerns and talents drawn from their life experiences to bear on the policy challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse America.”
In addition to the Time article, other media have featured her story, including NBC, BBC, BET, and MSNBC. Most recently, the Anti-Defamation League named her a 2017 ADL In Concert Against Hate honoree.
Despite of the challenges she has faced, Olubunmi has decided “to put my pain aside to help others.” She looks at the opportunity to share her story as “an uncommon privilege” to help advance understanding and provide a unique perspective to shine light on migration and refugees.
“I love thinking through new, creative ways to solve old problems,” she said. With so much gray in the world, “I like to drop in a little color wherever I go.”