Gerry Simpson to Lecture on History of War Crimes Law
Professor Gerry Simpson of the London School of Economics (LSE), one of the world’s top scholars of international law, will deliver a public lecture titled “One Hundred Years of Turpitude: A Counter-History of War Crimes Law.”
The talk is scheduled for Thursday November 8 at 9:30 am in Classroom A, Sydney Lewis Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Simpson was appointed to a Chair in Public International Law at LSE in January 2016. He previously taught at the University of Melbourne (2007-2015), the Australian National University (1995-1998) and LSE (2000-2007) as well as holding visiting positions at Harvard Law School (1999) and the State University of Tbilisi where he was an adviser to the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is the author of “Great Powers and Outlaw States” (Cambridge, 2004) and “Law, War and Crime: War Crimes Trials and the Reinvention of International Law” (Polity 2007), and co-editor (with Kevin Jon Heller) of “Hidden Histories” (Oxford, 2014) and (with Raimond Gaita) of “Who’s Afraid of International Law?” (Monash, 2016).
Simpson’s current research projects include an ARC-funded project on Cold War International Law (with Matt Craven, SOAS) and Sundhya Pahuja, (Melbourne) and a counter-history of International Criminal Justice. He is currently also writing about the literary life of international law; an exploratory essay – “The Sentimental Life of International Law” – was published in The London Review of International Law. A book of the same name will be published in 2019. He is an editor of The London Review of International Law and an occasional essayist and contributor for Arena Magazine.
Quick Hit: Friday Underground Gets Spooky for Halloween The weekly coffeehouse event took a chilling turn to celebrate All Hallows' Eve.
W&L Presents The Antioch Chamber Ensemble The Antioch Chamber is one of the most highly regarded chamber choral groups in the United States.
The Washington and Lee University Concert Guild will present the Antioch Chamber Ensemble on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in Wilson Concert Hall on the W&L campus.
The Antioch Chamber is one of the most highly regarded chamber choral groups in the United States. Now in its 21st season, the group performs all facets of music, from classical to contemporary and spiritual to secular. In recent seasons, Antioch has been called “stellar,” “flawless,” “an exceptional group,” and “a spectacular example of what a classical choir should sound like” by the national press.
The Antioch Chamber Ensemble is based out of the New York Metropolitan Area. Its most notable concert venues include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Festival des Choeurs Laureats in France, Carnegie Hall and The Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Tickets are required and available through the Lenfest Center box office at 540-458-8000 or online at wlu.edu/lenfest-center. Box office hours are Mon. – Fri., 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. and will be open one hour prior to performance time.
Staniar Gallery Presents Jeff Rich’s “Watershed: Tennessee River” The show will be on view Nov. 5 – Dec. 7.
Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery presents “Watershed: Tennessee River,” an exhibition of photographs by environmental photographer Jeff Rich. The show will be on view Nov. 5 – Dec. 7.
Rich will give an artist’s talk on Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall on the W&L campus. A reception for the artist will follow the lecture. The talk and reception event is free and open to the public.
In his ongoing project, “Watershed,” Jeff Rich documents the complex relationship between land, water and man within the Mississippi River Basin and the effects and consequences of this sometimes fraught relationship on the Southern landscape. The exhibition examines widespread development in the Tennessee River Watershed, with a focus on the Tennessee Valley Authority, which has completely reshaped the rivers and ecosystem of the Tennessee Valley, as well as the lives of its residents, over nearly a century of evolution.
The work was published as the monograph “Watershed: The Tennessee River” by Fall Line Press in 2017. Another chapter in this series, “Watershed: A Survey of the French Broad River” received the 2010 Critical Mass Book Award, and was published as a monograph in 2012. Rich is an assistant professor of photography at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.
Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Mon. through Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.
Washington and Lee’s Lenfest Center Presents November Concerts
The Lenfest Center at Washington and Lee University has two musical performances in the first half of November. Both events are free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
W&L Wind Ensemble Presents “Reckoning”
The Washington and Lee University Wind Ensemble presents its fall concert, “Reckoning,” led by Chris Dobbins, assistant professor of music, on Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Wilson Concert Hall on the W&L campus.
The concert is filled with music that attempts to understand different parts of the human condition. Musically, the evening will reckon with religion, death, safety, humor, history and other topics.
Jordan Kinsey is the guest conductor, and the music of David Maslanka, Steve Danyew, Michael Markowski and guest composers, Nicole Piunno and John Costa will be the aural guide.
The concert will be available to watch live here.
The University Orchestra Presents “Serenade”
The University Orchestra will present “Serenade” at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Wilson Concert Hall at Washington and Lee University.
The performance will include a winning composition from the first annual W&L University Chamber Orchestra Composition Contest, as well as “Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48” by Tchaikovsky.
The performance will be streamed live online here.
For more information on both events, call the Lenfest Center box office at 540-458-8000.
Exploring the Twists and Turns of Knot Theory Mathematics professor Elizabeth Denne helped design one of the Fleet Museum's most popular exhibits yet.
“Some writers are natural poets, some are better at novels, non-fiction, etc. It’s the same thing with mathematicians. I found myself reading about knots for pleasure, in my spare time, while I was studying mathematics.”
~Elizabeth Denne, associate professor of mathematics
It is a world where art meets math, where visitors can walk – and crawl – through translucent, branching tunnels illuminated by rainbows of pulsating light. This is the awe-inspiring landscape that Elizabeth Denne, associate professor of mathematics, helped create in the Taping Shape 2.0: Why Knot? exhibit, which was on display at the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, California through Sept 30. According to the website, “surfaces curve, slope and twist. The ‘floor’ eases into the side of the structure, which gradually becomes the ceiling.”
Taping Shape 2.0, created by miles of packing tape wrapped over scaffolding, was a deeper exploration of knot theory, a part of the mathematical theories of geometry and topology; topology, in turn, explores how objects can be stretched and deformed as they move through space. Denne spent hours over Skype with California-based colleagues brainstorming how to use this enormous, colorful and immersive exhibit to explore the mathematics of knots. The result: one of the museum’s most popular exhibits to date, which was extended a month past its original end date.
When mathematicians study knots, they consider anything that is a closed loop to be a knot, Denne explained. “In knot theory, mathematicians spend most of their time developing tools to tell which knots are the same and which knots are different. In addition, the shape of the knot, thickness, curvature, tightness and more are dissected and explored.”
Why the public should care about knot theory is hard to convey – but care they should. “There is a lot of overlap with biology, understanding proteins and DNA molecules and replication,” said Denne. “Some of these molecules are knotted, and the knotting is part of the reason these molecules behave in the way they behave. Another practical application is understanding elementary particles in physics.”
For Denne, the true challenge of Taping Shape was finding ways to make knot theory resonate with people of all ages and educational backgrounds. “I didn’t know this before, but museum text has to be written at the 6th grade reading level,” she explained. “And while the questions that knot theory attempts to answer are simple enough to state, the answers can be incredibly complex.”
In addition to knot theory, topology and geometry, the exhibit also touches on spatial relations, membranes, mathematics and tensile strength. (And in case you’re wondering what happened to the miles of tape at the end of the exhibition’s run – it’s being recycled).
“Math has applications outside of just math, that can potentially change the world as we know it,” reflected Ashanti Davis, exhibits project supervisor at the Fleet Science Center and Denne’s partner in realizing the installation. Through Taping Shape 2.o, she hoped that visitors would realize “that math is a language and if you can learn to speak the language of another ethnic group, you can learn to speak math, too. That every day you tie your shoe, you are doing math and engineering. But most importantly, that math can be fun.”
For Davis, a self-proclaimed reformed “math-hater,” the process of creating Taping Shape 2 helped renew and strengthen her appreciation for math – a change of heart that she hopes exhibit visitors experienced, too. “The artist in me appreciates the beauty that can be found in math’s complexities, and the scientist in me appreciates the role that it plays in science and speaking to and about the universe,” Davis reflected. As an educator, she also marveled as joyful, wide-eyed students made their way through the exhibit; students who, like her, may have previously been wary of math. “I love getting to share with people how interesting these subjects are and how math, like most things, deserves a second, third, fourth, etc. chance at being cool,” she added.
Denne became interested in knot theory while studying mathematics as a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Some writers are natural poets, some are better at novels, non-fiction, etc. It’s the same thing with mathematicians. I found myself reading about knots for pleasure, in my spare time, while I was studying mathematics. So I thought, I should probably just do my Ph.D on this.”
Denne also knits and crochets as a hobby. “My mother taught me when I was a child. I didn’t do it a lot in my teenage years, but in my mid- to late-20s, I became a fierce knitter. I enjoy the craft of it and making something to wear, as do all knitters. There is a neat overlap with my work, but it’s not intentional. I was knitting long before I was thinking about knots. And there is probably a paper in there somewhere, but I have yet to write it.”
Denne’s passion for knitting has managed to thread its way into the classroom in other ways, though. Denne has crocheted hyperbolic surfaces – or physical representations of mathematical objects – for use in her geometry classes.
Asked about her favorite part of teaching at W&L, she responded without hesitation: “It’s the interaction with W&L students. They’re such wonderful human beings, and they definitely keep you on your toes.” She was also pleased that W&L helped fund her trip to San Diego to participate in the exhibit opening in February.
Denne’s hope is that the public realizes that there is some mathematics behind the everyday experience of knots – we all must tie our shoes, after all – “there are some really interesting mathematical questions there, with answers that aren’t totally obvious.”
Simpson House Honoring W&L's first woman to become a tenured professor at the university.
In October, the Board of Trustees, after consultation with students, faculty, staff and alumni, announced that Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson House, occupied by the Office of the Dean of the college.
The Simpson House recognizes Pamela Hemenway Simpson, the first woman to become a tenured professor at the university and the first women to hold an endowed chair, when she became the inaugural Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History in 1993. Simpson, who died in 2011, was also the first woman to serve as associate dean of the college, and she played a critical role in the university’s transition to co-education in the mid-1980s as chair of the Co-Education Steering Committee.
During her 38 years on the faculty at W&L, Simpson made myriad contributions, both in the classroom, where she was described as “the embodiment of W&L’s teacher-scholar,” and in countless other formal and informal positions.
Her scholarly work often centered on local architecture, and in her 2011 Convocation address she drew a parallel between W&L’s architecture and its educational objectives. In narrating the developments that led to the Colonnade and Lee Chapel she said, “What we so value today came together over a period of several hundred years. Each generation built on the past. What resulted was not only a collection of historic, distinguished buildings; we also ended up with a symbol.
“This is who we are. When we think of our most deeply held values – academic excellence, collegiality, civility, and most of all, honor, all of them are embodied here.”
Watch Simpson’s Convocation address at go.wlu.edu/simpsonconvocation2011.
A Historic Love Affair Sally Ball Sharp '96 has personal connections to the Simpson House.
“Though letting go of the past bears pause, for me, this naming also weaves together an honor truly befitting our tradition. I’m proud to celebrate Pam Simpson’s contribution to W&L, and I believe all of the past residents of the Lee-Jackson House would concur.”
~ Sally Ball Sharp ’96
For me, and I imagine many other graduates, the board’s recent email notification on renaming campus buildings stirred many emotions: nostalgia for the past, gratitude of forward vision and maybe a twinge of sadness. Speaking with my father, Haywood Ball ’61, about the changes, I realized I have a unique perspective to offer.
After graduation in 1996, my great-aunt gave me a treasured family possession, a set of Washington and Lee red Wedgewood plates featuring different scenes on campus: Lee Chapel, the Colonnade and Tucker Hall, to name a few. Yet, one plate I received had many duplicates. That was because the Lee-Jackson House was our house, specifically my grandmother’s. Daughter of W&L Law School Dean W. H. Moreland, my grandmother, Margaret Ann Moreland Ball, grew up in the Lee-Jackson House. It was from this house, beloved to so many, that she walked to and from high school, passing my grandfather’s fraternity house (Jack Ball ’32, ’35L) and catching his eye.
By the time they married in 1936, her family resided in what is now the Hotchkiss Alumni House. Following a ceremony at R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church (now renamed Grace Episcopal Church), guests walked across campus to her parent’s home for their reception.
In 2000, my now-husband Michael and I asked W&L if we could recreate my grandparents’ wedding, using the Alumni House for our reception. With a little trepidation on the school’s side and a hard sell from my parents, the university granted our wish, which was the first private event hosted there.
So on a magical night in June 2001, we, too, crossed the Colonnade on our way to a most enchanting reception. It was as gorgeous a setting as it was meaningful to my family. The campus sparkled with darting fireflies. Live bluegrass music prompted spirited dancing and revelry on the porch. Even Southern Living published the event in an issue of their Weddings magazine.
Mine is a deeply historic W&L love affair. As I am the fourth generation of my family rooted at W&L, I was also notably our first female alum. At age 8, my father brought me to campus for the first time. I was so determined to attend that I declared my intention to become an attorney, as the Law School was then the only means for a female to attend W&L. Luckily for me, that barrier was knocked down. My graduating class marked 10 years of Washington and Lee co-education. And it was a remarkable time with much transition, being 75 percent male during my stint. Just 10 years later, W&L would see equal male and female matriculation. Sometimes though, I can admit, I felt like a pioneer.
To the credit of two exceptional women leaders and professors* on campus, my W&L experience was filled with a great purpose. Today, I am specifically honored that one of them, my own mentor and advisor Professor Pam Simpson, has been named to the house that means so much to me. Professor Simpson’s quiet dignity, strength and demand of excellence developed in me core strengths, which prove the cornerstone to my career: fearlessness and total commitment. She was patient and fair, but she expected more from me than the sorority girl she saw my freshman year—and she got it. Pulling me aside at the end of my senior thesis studio art show, she told me in earnest that she was proud of what I had done with my opportunity. Her words still ring as one of my most cherished accolades. My self-discovery in art, as in life at W&L, was not easily won, but earned and honorable. I had come to understand the significance of opportunity she forged for me, and for all women at W&L.
I am humbled by the history and legacy of this moment. Though letting go of the past bears pause, for me, this naming also weaves together an honor truly befitting our tradition. I’m proud to celebrate Pam Simpson’s contribution to W&L, and I believe all of the past residents of the Lee-Jackson House would concur.
* Professor Kathleen Olson-Janjic, the Pamela H. Simpson Professor of Art, is the other W&L woman who broke down walls, opened my potential and poured herself into my education. I am forever grateful for these two leaders and for the high academic standards that W&L brought to the Art Department. Today, I am a licensed illustrator/commercial artist with artwork appearing on gift wrap, seasonal flags and gift products. Thanks to the mentorship of Olson-Janjic, I attended Parson School of Design after Washington and Lee, rounding out my painting education with graphic design and illustration.
Parents and Family Weekend 2018 Creates Shared Experiences
Washington and Lee held Parents and Family Weekend Sept. 28–29, 2018, welcoming more than 800 families (close to 3,000 people) to campus for the event. Parents and Family Weekend offers an opportunity for students to connect on campus with their parents and family members, sharing their full college experience by immersing them in W&L’s unique culture. Families attend sporting events, concerts, art exhibits, and even classes together. This year, the History of W&L course was a popular choice, and professors shared that all parents in attendance were enthusiastic participants.
Students and their families also had the opportunity to participate in a social media contest by following the university’s Annual Fund on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Families who followed any of these accounts and posted a picture of themselves on campus were entered to win a $25 gift card to downtown Lexington café Pronto. Kitanna Hiromasa ’19 and her parents, Shannon and James, were the lucky winners.
Parents and Family Weekend also provides a perfect occasion for leadership parent donors and prospects to come together to build connections, as well as participate in gatherings with the president and other university officials. The Parents Leadership Council and the PLC Steering Committee are groups of parents who generously support the Parents Fund as well as work to build relationships among W&L families, host regional events for student and parents, and welcome new families each summer. Parents Fund Chairs Kamela and Steve Krouskos P’16, ’17, ’21 were on campus for the Parents Leadership Council events to welcome new and returning members. The council has 186 members and welcomed 38 new members who have a student in the Class of 2022. The PLC Steering Committee has 43 members to date, and more than 60 percent were on campus for the weekend festivities.
“Members of The President’s Society, Parents Leadership Council and PLC Steering Committee all contribute significantly to the Parents Fund and have helped us achieve record-setting results for seven years running,” said Ronni Gardner, director of parent giving. In 2017-18, donors contributed $1,812,199 to the Parents Fund. This year’s goal is $1.85 million. The Parents Fund is an important component of W&L’s Annual Fund, which supports the university’s top priorities each year.
W&L will welcome members of the Parents Leadership Council back to campus for the Parents Leadership Council Spring Weekend March 29 – 30, 2019.
All gifts to the Parents Fund make a difference for every W&L student. To make your gift, visit support.wlu.edu/giveonline.
‘Fight for Change and Progress’ Dannick Kenon '19, who plans to attend law school and devote his career to positive social change, has co-founded a new student publication at W&L called The Vigil.
“I grew up in a northern suburban area and I wanted a change of pace for college. Washington and Lee is a perfect fit with its small-town vibe and beautiful Appalachian mountains.”
~Dannick Kenon ’19
Hometown: West Babylon, New York
Majors: Accounting and Political Philosophy
Minor: Poverty Studies
What factors led you to choose W&L?
I chose W&L because of the location and the small classroom sizes. I grew up in a northern suburban area and I wanted a change of pace for college. Washington and Lee is a perfect fit with its small-town vibe and beautiful Appalachian mountains. Besides the Lexington coziness, the small classroom sizes really stuck out to me. I remember on my first visit to the school there were classes with only three people, compared to other universities with up to 200 people per class.
You are pursuing an interesting combination of majors and minor. Why did you choose those areas of study?
I originally came to Washington and Lee as only a politics major. In high school, I loved my AP politics class and have always enjoyed arguing politics both inside and outside the classroom. Having seen the role of finance and business in policy, I decided I need to gain a deeper understanding of money in general. Accounting, the language of business, served as a great fit because it showed me how people analyze and think about the exchange of money. I chose the poverty studies minor because I wanted to learn about how economic insecurities affect political issues, especially criminal justice.
What internships have you held, and did they reaffirm your future career goals or cause you to rethink the path you want to take?
Over the past three summers, I have interned for the Dwayne Gregory for Congress campaign, the Office of the Public defenders in Baltimore, and Washington and Lee’s Office of Sustainability. All three contributed to my decision to attend law school. Witnessing firsthand the role that law and policy play in politics, criminal justice and sustainability taught me that I need to grasp a better understanding of the law to truly fight for change and progress.
You serve as co-founder and chief strategist for The Vigil, a new publication at W&L. What is The Vigil and how did it come to exist?
The Vigil is a student publication dedicated to telling opinions that traditionally have not had representation on the W&L campus. We publish many diverse pieces, from black poetry to the importance of the W&L community. Our goal is to give Washington and Lee something that will be an atypical point of view. It came to exist when co-founder Jake Sirota and I, along with a couple of other student activists, decided it was time to get our voices heard.
What does your job as chief strategist entail?
My job is to set the agenda and gather the resources to maintain The Vigil. This can go from gathering articles from different student activists to helping set up a podcast, so we can shine a light on the diverse W&L student leaders. Another big part of my job is recruiting editors, managers and whoever else we need to the executive team.
Why is The Vigil so important to you, and why do you think it’s important to the W&L community?
The Vigil is important to me because it gives activists and students of color the ability to be heard on a campus that can often seem like it caters to only one type of student. I believe it is important to the W&L community because it stands as a force to move Washington and Lee in a direction of change and progress that this university so rightly deserves.
What other extracurriculars are you involved in at W&L, and why?
I am the treasurer of Amnesty International, the treasurer of SEAL and a member of compost crew because I believe in both the protection of human rights and sustainable practices. I am also a shift leader for Campus Kitchen at W&L and an advisor on the Shepherd executive committee board as a way to further my studies in the field of poverty.
More About Dannick
What’s your personal motto?
Smile every day
What’s your favorite place to eat in Lexington and what do you order?
Blue Phoenix; I order the Radical Rubenesque
What one film/book do you recommend to everyone?
“Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” by James Forman Jr. This book details how we grew to such a high mass incarceration rate, especially among black men. It shaped the way I viewed the justice system as well as the black community in America.
What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
How much I would miss sleep.
Favorite W&L memory?
Taking on the role of a police officer in the Volunteer Venture Poverty simulation. It was a great learning experience for both myself and the first-years in studying poverty.
Favorite W&L event?
The Christmas dessert reception in Evans Hall
My favorite class was POV-296, Freedom and Unfreedom, which took place inside Augusta Correctional Center. It was the first class to truly introduce me to the flawed criminal justice system, and my first chance to actually meet people who have been incarcerated and to learn from them.
W&L Law Hosts Round-table on Justice after Conflict
On Sunday October 21 and Monday October 22, the law school at Washington and Lee hosted an exciting round-table on post-conflict justice.
The event was organized by Mark Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director of the Transnational Law Institute, and funded by a generous grant by the Lewis Law Center with supplemental support from the Transnational Law Institute.
Six papers were presented, together with a lunch-time address delivered by Saira Mohamed, Professor of Law at University of California Berkeley School of Law, on ‘Criminal Punishment as a Human Right?’. The participants in the round-table were Bec Hamilton (American University), Olivera Simić (Griffith University, Australia), Nancy Combs (William & Mary), Rachel Lopez (Drexel), Linda Malone (William and Mary), Barbora Holá (Free University of Amsterdam), Henok Gabisa (Washington and Lee), Andy Spalding (Richmond), and Jo-Marie Burt (George Mason).
A broad variety of papers were presented, ranging from the use of social media and user-generated evidence to convict persons of international crimes; an assessment of the concept of gravity in international crimes; how contracts for major sporting events may protect human rights; the dissenting judgment at the Tokyo trial; empirical assessments of sentencing in Rwanda following the genocide; and the narration of a justice in Guatemala tracing one set of proceedings through multiple venues. In each case, a commentator (not the author) presented the paper and generated supportive and lively conversation.
On October 20, 2018, three of the participants (Mark Drumbl, Barbora Hola, and Olivera Simic) participated in a panel on “Legacies and Memories in International Criminal Law” at the American Branch of the International Law Association’s International Law Weekend in New York.
W&L to Host Second DataCon Event The event will focus on how data is shaping sports, entertainment, and healthcare.
“This year, DataCon features many accomplished alumni working in industries that are being shaped by data science such as entertainment, sports, and healthcare.” ~ Molly Steele
DataCon will take place at W&L on Nov. 9-10 and will highlight the impacts of data analytics, big data, and statistical computing across a variety of industries.
Student attendees will interact with alumni who are developing and applying new uses of data. “This year, DataCon features many accomplished alumni working in industries that are being shaped by data science such as entertainment, sports, and healthcare,” said Molly Steele, director of student advising.
Tom Wadlow ’99, head of North American automotive technology at Amazon, will deliver an openingon Friday afternoon. A case study featuring David Croushore ’07, previously the director of finance analysis at Pandora and currently products analytics manager at GameTime, will follow.
include panels on sports and healthcare, as well as case studies featuring Emily Tunis ’05, senior director of advance programs at Hardwire and Rich Cober ’96, chief human resources officer at MicroStrategy.
“The interdisciplinary case studies and panels will showcase both technical and non-technical roles and appeal to students of all majors and interests,” said Molly.
The event is unique in that it provides a combination of perspectives found only at W&L. “This includes a quantitative approach embedded in the liberal arts applicable in business and organizational environments,” said Denny Garvis, professor of business administration, “It reflects strong ties between faculty, staff, students and alumni in small world networks.”
DataCon will close with ain Evans Hall, which is open to all speakers, Science Advisory Board members, and registered students.
W&L’s Data Science Cohort, the Office of Career and Professional Development, the College, and the Williams School support this event.
Registration is now open for students via Handshake. Contact Professor Denny Garvis at email@example.com or Molly Steele at with any questions.
W&L Presents Five-Star Festival Midterm Election Preview The talk is free and open to the public and the discussion will also be streamed live.
Brian Alexander, Washington and Lee University assistant professor of politics, and Terry Cooper, a political consultant with Cooper Research, will give a preview of the midterm elections on Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. in Stackhouse Theater on the W&L campus.
Their talk is free and open to the public and the discussion will also be streamed live here.
Cooper is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, and a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was research editor of the Virginia Law Review. He practiced law before forming his political consulting firm, Terry Cooper Political Research, in 1982.
A former Republican campaign consultant, Cooper was a part of many local and statewide campaigns in all 50 states. Now a political analyst, Cooper bases his opinions on well-known and lesser-known events and developments with the potential to impact election dynamics.
Alexander teaches courses in U.S. government and international relations, combining nearly 20 years’ of professional experience in government and politics with research and academic study. Alexander’s research focuses on U.S. Congress and areas such as legislative norms, parliamentary procedure and bicameral relations.
Alexander completed his doctorate in political science at George Mason University in 2015, where he was an award-winning instructor of political science, and he holds a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s of philosophy from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University.
A Poetic Conversation on Women’s Health Sarah Helms '15 shares her documentary on the beauty and hardships of rural Nepal at the 14th National Symposium of Theater and Performance Arts in Academe.
“You can live a life dedicated to caring for the world and changing the world. That’s the real beauty to me.”
~ Sarah Helms ’15
Sarah Helms ’15 (pictured dancing above right) returned to W&L recently to participate in the 14th National Symposium of Theater and Performance Arts in Academe organized by Domnica Radulescu, professor of comparative literature. Not only did Helms act in two of Radulescu’s plays, she presented her short documentary, “Odanaku: Poiesis of a Nepali Family,” on the beauty and hardships of life in rural Nepal, co-created with filmmaker Janey Fugate ’15, the film’s director. Helms worked there for nearly a year as a health educator for the Oda Foundation, founded by John Christopher ’09, and so named for the tiny village where it is headquartered.
Like many W&L alumni, Helms is many things – too multi-faceted to sum up in a simple string of accomplishments. At W&L, she was a French major who lettered twice in varsity track. She completed a pre-med curriculum and founded an experimental academic journal, The Stone, to showcase the work of over 100 students. She is also a writer and poet who credits a course she took with Professor Radulescu as “laying a framework for my current passions for creating a more compassionate conversation around women’s health.”
Perhaps that’s why her job in marketing in Washington, D.C. after graduation felt too confining. In August 2017, she made her way on a fellowship to Oda, a tiny village in the 12th-poorest country in the world, where not even a road services it – much less phone, internet, running water, or reliable electricity. Helms’ work there focused on health care and health education: “the foundation’s clinic provides life-saving care for over 1,000 patients a month and has distributed over 4,000 reusable Maxi-Kits for women’s hygiene,” she noted. “Prior to the foundation, access to medicine would have been a five-hour trip, and often unaffordable.” Helms was particularly moved by the hardships faced by the women of Oda. “Respiratory ailments and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] are very common in women because they cook over closed fires. Also, women are confined in menstruation huts for days. The same after they give birth.”
Yet, the people she encountered were “resilient, clever, open-hearted, honorable.” Helms’ and Fugate’s film depict that complexity: the joy, relationships and community shared by the people of Oda set against a harsh landscape where basic services are virtually non-existent.
Helms described their film as an ethnography told through poetry, following the lives of a mother and her six children, Helms’ adoptive Nepalese family with whom she lived for a month. “How do we help someone understand a different life? There are data or graphs or maps. But for the meaning of a life, poetry is something that can actually convey the metaphors of the [subjects’] landscape, their world,” she said. “We wanted to create a documentary powerful enough that someone’s own life interacts with it. Not in a way that creates pity for the people of Oda or made their lives one-dimensional, but that, by showing an often harsh and entirely different part of the world, can impact the viewer by the power of their own curiosity, their own willingness to look deeper.”
Today, Helms is the U.S.-based grant coordinator for the Oda Foundation and an aspiring physician busy studying for the MCAT. She reflected on the influence that W&L had on her unusual journey across disciplines, cultures and continents. “Going to Nepal, it felt right that I would be following in fellow Generals’ footsteps. The professors of W&L encouraged me and several other Gennies to take chances. [Previous Oda Foundation fellow] Becca Dunn ’15, Jenny Fugate ’15, Oda Foundation founder John Christopher ’09, and myself share a passion for being eyes-wide-open global citizens. You can live a life dedicated to caring for the world and changing the world. That’s the real beauty to me.”
More About the Oda Foundation
Founded by John Christopher ’09 in 2013, the Oda Foundation offers medical services and educational opportunities to people in rural Nepal – specifically in the village of Oda.
The foundation “focuses on sustainable, locally driven programs that aim to improve health and education while more broadly reducing regional poverty.”
Through Jan. 1, 2018 the foundation has seen over 40,000 patients, distributed over 4,000 reusable Maxi-Kits, established tutoring programs for over 200 children, developed meaningful relationships with government officials, constructed a stand-alone hospital, established a fully functional lab, created a scholarship program for Oda’s most deserving and underprivileged students, and most importantly, has become a welcomed and trusted member of the community that it serves. All paid staff are Nepalese, and most are from the region.
Learn more at OdaFoundation.org.
Built from Scratch As part of an art class, W&L students built the university’s first earth oven, which will be a permanent fixture in the Campus Garden.
Students in Washington and Lee University’s Eco-Art class weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. As part of Assistant Professor of Art Rotem Tamir’s class last year, they built W&L’s first earth oven from the ground up.
“One of the main objectives was to learn to work together as a group within a community and to learn to use the maximum resources a particular group has to offer for the good of the environment,” Tamir said.
In collaboration with Washington and Lee’s Campus Garden, the students used raw materials such as cob, a composite material made of clay, sand and organic binding fibers. “We also discovered that if you dig a few inches in the ground in the W&L garden you find very good clay,” Tamir said.
Tamir called the project a trial-and-error experiment. The goal was to be able to bake food in the oven. For some students, it wasn’t always easy to believe their labors would pay off, as the task was tedious and complex.
“The culmination of the project was to make bread, and, this was definitely the most celebratory of last semester’s event that everyone really enjoyed, ” said Tamir. “I have to say that I believe a big part of this celebration was due to the long, and not always smooth, process of making everything from scratch.”
The oven is smaller than a conventional kitchen oven (the opening is 13 inches wide), but it is able to cook wood-fired pizza and loaves of bread.
“Basically, if you plan it right, it can serve all your oven needs – from pizza and flatbreads when it is extra-hot, bread loaves as the heat starts to reduce, and granola and cookies as it is cooling down,” Tamir said.
This academic year, students used the oven, which was transported to the campus garden, to make pita bread from scratch. Focusing on sustainability and local goods, the students enjoyed the fruit of their labor.
“The objective for the course was to think about what is needed and how art projects can be of service to their surroundings,” said Tamir. “We decided that heat and food would create a more communal setting and attract people to the garden.”
W&L Presents 66th Journalism Ethics Institute The discussion will take place Nov. 9. at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.
Six journalists with national credentials will offer insight on how to avoid ethical pitfalls while navigating the 21st-century media landscape at a panel discussion on the Washington and Lee University campus. The discussion will take place Nov. 9. at 5:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.
The theme of the discussion, which is free and open to the public, is “Keeping Our House in Order: Being Ethical While Under Attack.” It is part of a two-day Journalism Ethics Institute sponsored by the Washington and Lee University Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and James S. and John L. Knight Foundation. The hour-long program on Friday night will feature both a robust panel discussion from the experts and questions from the audience.
The hour-long program on Friday night will feature both a robust panel discussion from the experts and questions from the audience.
The line-up includes Carol Marin, NBC Chicago political editor and former CBS 60 Minutes correspondent; USA Today Regional Editor Manny Garcia; Kirk Varner, WSPA-TV news director and founding news director of ESPN; NPR Morning Edition Senior Supervising Editor/Producer Alicia Montgomery; Joie Chen, Medill Washington director and former CNN and CBS correspondent; and Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Chris Suarez, who covered the August 2017 events in Charlottesville for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Daily Progress. Marin will moderate the discussion.
The journalists will also spend time with W&L journalism majors who are taking a required course in ethics. Earlier on Friday and on Saturday morning, each journalist will present a real-life case study of an ethical challenge to the students, who will determine how best to handle it.
The institute is led this fall by W&L Assistant Professor Kevin Finch, a veteran TV news director and documentary filmmaker.
The talk will be streamed live online here.
Miller to Give Talk in Honor of Stombock Professorship
Russell Miller, J. B. Stombock Professorship of Law, will deliver a lecture on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in Classroom A in honor of his professorship.
The title of Prof. Miller’s talk is “Comparative Law’s Taxonomy Problem.” According to Miller, a major aim of comparative law has been to reduce the world’s rich diversity of dynamic legal systems to a manageable number of generalized “legal families” or “legal traditions.” Comparative law’s urge to classify seeks to locate comparative law among the natural sciences, with their long history of taxonomy. By doing so comparatists have reinforced their self-image as neutral and objective observers of foreign legal phenomena and bolstered their efforts to make grand, global claims at the expense of variety and diversity.
In his talk, Miller will argue that comparative law’s taxonomy should be abandoned for an approach that engages with legal systems on their own pluralistic terms – as unique centers for evolving discourse among a variety of legal traditions. To advance this claim he considers other disciplines’ declining interest in taxonomy and he looks to the German legal system for a case study of the roiling, dynamic, plural reality of the law that the abandonment of comparative law’s taxonomy will allow us to discover.
Miller is a recognized expert in German law and legal culture. He is the author/editor of a number of books and articles in the fields of comparative law and international law, and he is a frequent commentator in global media sources, including Germany’s “paper of record” The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which publishes his monthly column on law and transatlantic affairs. He is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the German Law Journal, an on-line, English-language journal reporting on developments in German, European and International jurisprudence. Now in its second decade, the German Law Journal is one of the most successful and innovative fora for legal scholarship from a transnational perspective.
Miller has been recognized for his work on German law and transatlantic affairs. In 2018 he was awarded a Schumann Fellowship by the University of Muenster. In 2014 he testified before the German Bundestag. In 2013 he was named a KoRSE Fellow at the University of Freiburg. And in 2009-2010 he was a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow in residence at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and Public International Law in Heidelberg, Germany.
Miller grew up in Priest River and Salmon, Idaho. He graduated with a B.A. in English Literature (cum laude / Phi Beta Kappa) and an Honors Program Certificate from Washington State University in 1991. Miller lettered and earned Academic All-Pac10 honors as a scholarship member of the WSU Cougars football team. Miller graduated from Duke University with a J.D. and M.A. in English Literature in 1994. Miller received an LL.M. (summa cum laude) from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University (Frankfurt am Main, Germany) in 2002.
Miller served as a judicial law clerk at the German Federal Constitutional Court from 2000-2001. It seems likely that he is the first non-German ever to have enjoyed that privilege at that respected Constitutional Court. Early in his career he served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Robert H. Whaley of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. And for four years prior to becoming a professor, Miller served as appellate and post-conviction counsel for indigent, death-sentenced inmates in the state and federal courts of Arizona and Tennessee.
The J. B. Stombock Professorship of Law was established in 2001 by the estate gift of Mary Louise Walker in honor of her first husband, Julius B. “Gus” Stombock ’41, ’47L, who was a lawyer and civic leader in Waynesboro, Virginia.
JCRSJ Symposium to Focus on Taxes and Poverty
On Friday, November 2, the Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (JCRSJ) will host its annual symposium in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of at Washington and Lee University.
The symposium will begin at 8:45 a.m. and conclude at 1:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The symposium is titled “Always with Us? Taxes, Poverty, and Social Policy.” Topics for discussion at the symposium include “Refundable Tax Credits as a Social Safety Net,” “Tax Incentives and Economic Development,” and “Universal Basic Income and Other Proposals for Reducing Inequality.”
The event will feature a keynote address by Susannah Camic Tahk. Tahk is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she researches and teaches tax law and policy and supervises UW Law’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Tahk is currently writing a book tentatively titled “The Tax War on Poverty” that explores the reasons for and consequences of tax policies that address poverty in the U.S.
Panelists for the symposium include Damon Jones (University of Chicago), Benjamin Leff (American University-Washington School of Law), Matthew Rossman (Case Western School of Law), Leslie Book (Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law), Nina Chowdhry (Ernst & Young), Michelle Layser (University of Illinois College of Law) and Jonathan Grossberg (Robert Morris University). W&L professors Michelle Drumbl (Law School) and Art Goldsmith (Williams School) will also serve as panelists.
The symposium is co-sponsored by the Dean’s Office, the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Office of the Provost, the Class of 1960 Endowment, and the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability.
The mission of the Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (JCRSJ) is to explore the intersection of majority and minority culture through discrete legal issues. To that end, the Journal seeks to provide a space for scholars of all persuasions to expand and develop a theoretical, critical, and socially relevant dialogue with the legal community.
‘Catapulted into a New Country’ After spending the summer teaching and exploring in Costa Rica, Taylor Casey '20 can't wait to return.
“This background from my education at W&L prepared me to be catapulted into a new country full of unknowns with confidence and success.”
~ Taylor Casey ’20
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Majors: Biology and Spanish
Minor: Latin American and Caribbean Studies
What was your academic background and interest that led to this experience?
In addition to my biology and Spanish majors, I’m also a Latin American and Caribbean Studies Minor. My eight-week summer experience counted for my minor, and I also earned 4 EXP credits for LACS 454.
Tell us a bit about your summer experience:
This summer I spent two months living in Nicoya, Costa Rica, with a host family in their sweet little home. I spent the first month taking a Spanish language class in the mornings and interning at a local elementary school in the afternoons. The professor-to-student ratio was 2:1, so my Spanish improved dramatically my first month in Nicoya. The second month I continued to work at my internship as well as further immerse myself into all that the incredible country of Costa Rica has to offer. I was invited to MC an English festival, I became a natural member of my host family, and I traveled to almost every corner of Costa Rica making lots of friends along the way.
What was an average day like?
I woke up every morning to our little rooster singing outside my window and the smell of whatever strangely magical breakfast my host mom was cooking up that morning floating into my room. During weekdays, I ate breakfast with my host mom and dad and then walked a few blocks to the school where I would learn all things Spanish and Costa Rica until noon.
After lunch in town, I worked at the local elementary school until late afternoon. I helped in various ways at the school. I sat and watched the kids in the classrooms, helped students prepare for the English spelling bee, talked to the kids in a combination of English and Spanish, told them stories about the United States, and helped them with their schoolwork. I returned at the end of the day for a traditional time for coffee with my host parents, followed by dinner. Weekends were for exploring and adventuring, and I traveled from city to city to experience all of the stunning beaches, rain forests, volcanoes, and everything in between in beautiful Costa Rica.
What was the most challenging aspect of the job?
The most challenging aspect of the job was also one of the most admirable takeaways I brought back with me to the United States. The tranquilo lifestyle in Nicoya is beautiful, but it took getting used to in the workplace, at home, in town and while adventuring. Pura vida is really so much more than a two-word, eight-letter catchy slogan. It means stopping, relaxing and appreciating the life and beauty that always surrounds us. It is always there, but I never truly took full advantage of the here and now until I lived in tranquilo Nicoya. As a person who valued timeliness, efficiency and instant gratification far too highly, it was really hard adjusting to this slower pace of life at the school. It was frustrating at first, but once I accepted this tico lifestyle, my world was forever changed.
What did you like best about the location?
I absolutely adored the small town of Nicoya, Costa Rica. I lived in a simple home on the outskirts of town within walking distance of just about everything I could have ever needed. Nicoya is located on the western Guanacaste peninsula of Costa Rica, and is characterized largely by rural farm and beach towns with little tourism. The temperature in Nicoya was unbelievably balmy. Everywhere I ventured, when friends that I made along the way found out I was living in Nicoya, the response was always about the ‘unbearable heat.’ The hot sun made me happy, though, and I loved the small-town atmosphere because I felt very safe and secure. Nicoya is a hidden gem buried deep within the middle of the green mountains and palm trees of the Guanacaste Peninsula.
What have you learned at W&L that helped you in this endeavor, and what have you brought back to your life on campus?
At W&L, I’ve taken countless classes that educated me tremendously on the various peoples, communities, and cultures of Latin America, and I found myself with a lot of random knowledge in the back of my brain from presentations I had heard, books I had read, and discussions with friends I had about our studies. This background from my education at W&L prepared me to be catapulted into a new country full of unknowns with confidence and success. It was beyond cool getting to actually experience with my entire being all that I had previously only learned in my brain. Back on campus, I’ve returned with a more tranquilo mentality. I continue to try and live my life remembering that less is more, family and friends are important, and every moment is valuable because in Costa Rica, my eyes were opened to true beauty and happiness, something that I could never have fully understood from a textbook or lecture, and I’m so grateful for the experience.
Has this experience impacted your future plans in any way?
While I have a lot of potential future plans, ideas I want to investigate, and paths that I am interested in pursuing, I can confidently say that I will be returning to Nicoya in the (hopefully) near future. I fell in love with life in Costa Rica, and I still talk to my host family and friends quite frequently. I loved teaching English in the elementary schools, and caught a vision of myself doing that for a year or two post-grad. This experience also reaffirmed my passion for the Spanish language and the study of Latin American cultures. I knew upon my arrival in Costa Rica that I was doing something life-changing in that moment, and worthwhile in the long run.
If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
Devoney Looser to Give Annual Shannon-Clark Lecture at W&L The talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Fame and Fortune in the Age of Austen."
Devoney Looser, Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University, will deliver the annual Shannon-Clark Lecture in English at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Fame and Fortune in the Age of Austen.”
Looser, the author or editor of seven books on literature by women, is also a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and National Endowment for the Humanities public scholar. Her most recent book, “The Making of Jane Austen,” was named a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book (nonfiction) and received the Inside Higher Ed Reader’s Choice Award. She has been interviewed about Jane Austen on CNN and has been a quoted authority in the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
“One of the things that makes Looser such an exciting figure is that she works at the intersection of scholarly and popular Austen,” said Taylor Walle, assistant professor of English. “Often these two worlds remain separate — scholars are part of one conversation and fans another — but Looser’s work shows us how Austen’s fan cultures and afterlives enrich our understanding of the novels themselves. We are so lucky to have her speaking at W&L!”
The Shannon-Clark Lectures in English, established by a gift from a Washington and Lee alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous, honors the memories of Edgar Finley Shannon, chairman of Washington and Lee’s Department of English from 1914 until his death in 1938, and Harriet Mabel Fishburn Clark, a grandmother of the donor and a woman vitally interested in liberal education.
Washington and Lee to Host Climate Change Discussion The talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Climate Change: Local Agriculture and Rainforest Solutions – A 7 Point Plan."
Washington and Lee University will host a public talk and Q&A with Randy Hayes, executive director of Foundation Earth, and Brent Blackwelder, environmental organizer, teacher, vice-chair and treasurer of Foundation Earth’s board on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Global Learning Atrium.
Their talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Climate Change: Local Agriculture and Rainforest Solutions – A 7 Point Plan.” Refreshments will be served.
Hayes and Blackwelder will give their perspective to the public as they envision a plan to address the already harmful impacts on Virginia agriculture. Foundation Earth’s mission is to bring an earth-centered economy into reality through a major rethinking of society implemented via outreach campaigns.
Hayes has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.” He is a former filmmaker, and a veteran of many high-visibility corporate accountability campaigns and has advocated for the rights of Indigenous peoples throughout the world. He served for five years as president of the City of San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and for two-and-a-half years as director of sustainability in the office of Jerry Brown, Oakland Mayor (now governor). Hayes founded Rainforest Action Network and is emeritus on the board of directors. He is an advocate of general systems theory and deep ecology.
Hayes has an undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University. He has a doctorate degree and master’s degree in environmental planning from San Francisco State University. His master’s thesis, the award-winning film “The Four Corners,” won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for “Best Student Documentary” in 1983. He contributed to Alternatives to “Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible,” published by San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., in 2004. Not satisfied with short-term thinking, his 500-year plan offers a vision of a sustainable society and how to get there.
Blackwelder teaches part-time at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., and has served as president of Friends of the Earth from 1994 until his retirement to president emeritus in 2009. He was the founding chairman of American Rivers in 1973 and worked for 40 years on environmental issues, testifying over 100 times to Congress. In his 40-plus years of environmental advocacy, he has been active in campaigns to reform foreign aid, save forests, protect rivers and advance human rights. He was an architect of significant legislation to protect natural resources and clean up pollution.
He is also a leader in the effort to save rivers — he helped expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from eight rivers in 1973 to more than 250 today and helped eliminate more than 200 dams and stream dredging projects, which would have destroyed rivers, wetlands, wildlife and areas of significant scientific value. He founded American Rivers, the Environmental Policy Center and Environmental Policy Institute, and was the chairman of the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters.
He holds a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Duke University, and a master’s from Yale University in mathematics and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Maryland. He currently serves as ex-officio and president emeritus of Friends of the Earth. He was listed by Vanity Fair magazine as one of the 22 Best Stewards of the Planet in 2005.
The talk is sponsored by the Student Environmental Action League and 50 Ways-Rockbridge.
A World of Knowledge Peter Strasser '79L brings a wealth of government and international experience to his new position as U.S. Attorney.
As an attorney, Peter Strasser has seen the world.
As the new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, based in New Orleans, he brings his extensive knowledge of military and international law to the job, which he describes as “half managing the office and half doing public relations with federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as the community.”
He said it is important to relate positively to the local community, “so citizens will know we are listening and will come to us.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes violent crime, financial crimes and political corruption. Strasser served 17 years in the same office as an assistant U.S. attorney, and now oversees 60 attorneys who handle criminal and civil litigation.
Strasser’s varied legal career includes active and reserve duty with the U.S. Navy. Now retired as a Navy Reserve captain, he served worldwide with the Navy. More recently, he served for 12 years as a DOJ resident legal advisor with embassies in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa through a program that matches Department of Justice lawyers with State Department needs throughout the world.
Strasser served as an election monitor in the “flawed/rigged elections” that led to the 2003 Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia. At the time, he was advising local prosecutors, judges and law enforcement in the development of new procedures to replace Soviet-era systems. He later served as an OECD anti-corruption monitor for Georgia.
He also advised law enforcement in Malawi, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Balkan countries under the U.S. European Command’s mission in Germany. “They all wanted a criminal justice system modeled on the United States,” said Strasser.
While serving in the JAG Corps in the Philippines, Strasser met his wife, who was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force. Their daughter, Hillary, is a 2010 graduate of Washington and Lee and currently works in Burma as a project manager for an investment company setting up the wind energy grid for the country.
Upon leaving Navy active duty in 1984, Strasser applied for jobs with the U.S. attorney’s offices in Roanoke, Virginia, and New Orleans. The U.S. attorney in Roanoke wanted to hire him, he said, but there were no openings at that time. He went to work in New Orleans. Later, a job became available in Roanoke, and he moved there. After a short time, his boss left, and Strasser decided to return to New Orleans.
In his position as an assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) for Louisiana’s Eastern District, he headed the organized crime and economic crime divisions. Among his trial accomplishments were the convictions of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and associates on racketeering charges.
During a six-month reserve assignment for the Navy in 2001 Puerto Rico, Strasser prosecuted the trials and argued the appeals of a group of 180 protestors, who had objected to the Navy using the island of Vieques, just off the coast of Puerto Rico, for bombing target practice. The protests had gained international attention, and people from all over the world, including political and Hollywood celebrities, were heavily involved in the protests. They all received jail periods.
For the past five years, before his current appointment, Strasser was a partner with Chaffe McCall, LLP, New Orleans’ oldest law firm, where he was a criminal defense attorney, gaining “a perspective I didn’t have before.”
After the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, Strasser’s friends suggested that he allow himself to be considered for the U.S. attorney position. The year-long process involved numerous meetings with people in the government, business and legal communities. The Senate proposed his name in October 2017, he was nominated by President Trump in June 2018, and confirmed by the Senate in August 2018.
Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Strasser did his undergraduate work at the University of Virginia. When he decided to pursue law school, only U.Va. and Washington and Lee interested him. Wait-listed at both schools, he enrolled at William and Mary, then quickly switched to W&L when a last-minute opening arose.
He said W&L stood out to him because of its emphasis on tradition and its academic excellence. “Tradition is something you don’t see at a lot of law schools,” he said. “The school’s tradition is honored and respected and has meaning.” He also likes that the school values civility.
Washington and Lee – both undergraduate and the law school – are held in high regard in New Orleans, Strasser said. “It’s every student’s dream to attend U.Va. or W&L.”
Working in law is something he has loved “from day one.” He says each day is “fascinating and rewarding. You are making a difference and working on behalf of victims.” Even in his management position, he feels exactly the same, and he strives to make sure the assistant attorneys under him are happy. “I was always happy as an AUSA because management recognized that happiness equals productive employees.”
Eye on the Ball Washington Term, study abroad opportunities and internships—including one with the Philadelphia Eagles—have helped to shape Jason Renner's plans for the future.
“With the numerous career services that are offered at W&L, and the personal connections you have with professors and faculty, I have been prepared to succeed in the professional world.”
~ Jason Renner ’19
Hometown: Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Major: Politics, American Government
Minor: Film Studies
What factors led you to choose W&L and your major?
I chose W&L mostly because I was looking to play collegiate tennis at an academically rigorous school. I stumbled upon W&L, and after learning more about it and taking a visit to Lexington, I knew I wanted to spend my next four years at this campus. I chose politics because at the time I had a great interest in government and public policy. I was impressed with the faculty and the program and felt the major really fit me.
You spent two summers interning at consulting groups. Did they reaffirm your future career goals or cause you to rethink the path you want to take?
Spending the two summers with lobbying firms was incredibly enriching. I learned a lot about advocacy efforts in health care, finance, telecommunications and technology. I was able to sit in on multiple Fortune 500 company lobbying team meetings, and learned how to politically strategize at a federal level. While this was all interesting and valuable, it did make me realize that I wanted to pursue a different career path, in sports.
How was your Washington Term experience? Did it help you shape your career or academic goals?
My Washington Term experience was spent interning with W&L alumni John McManus ’91 at his lobbying firm. Taught by Professor Bill Connelly, the course was rigorous and gave us all a deep look at Washington politics. It gave me an introduction to working in the nation’s capitol, which helped set me up for future opportunities.
How was your study abroad experience? How and why did you choose your program and destination?
I really enjoyed my study abroad experience in Shanghai, China. I chose to go there because I wanted to go to a country with a rich political history and in a continent I might not visit again. Living in China really put me out of my comfort zone, but I grew a lot personally in my time there.
How did W&L help you for your internship and study abroad experience?
W&L has really helped me professionally. With the numerous career services that are offered at W&L, and the personal connections you have with professors and faculty, I have been prepared to succeed in the professional world.
You are currently interning with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tell us more about it. Is this opportunity related to your W&L academic experience?
Because I was ahead on my major at school, I decided to intern for the Fall Term of my senior year. Over the past year I have made the decision to transition my career and have decided to pursue a career in sports rather than politics. I believed that interning within the industry would be valuable for me to both evaluate my fit in the industry as well as acquire experience before I apply to graduate school for a sports-related degree. My time with the Eagles has been spent in the Ticket and Fan Services Department. It’s helped teach me about the role ticket operations and guest services play within a major professional organization.
More About Jason
What extracurriculars are you involved in at W&L?
At school, I am currently involved in University Phonathon, Traveller and the work study program.
What is on your personal required reading list each day?
Every day I tend to read from the same sites. Those include NBA.com, Sports Business Journal, JohnWallStreet, and TheRinger.com.
Has anyone on campus especially inspired you?
Professor Jemma Levy has been a big inspiration for me since I arrived as a freshman. I’m glad to have had a professor like her in my time at school.
What’s your personal motto?
What’s your favorite place to eat in Lexington and what do you order?
Favorite place to eat in Lexington is actually Matsumoto. It is a pretty good Japanese restaurant for being in such a small town. Whenever I go, I always get an eel roll.
What one film or book do you recommend to everyone?
I am a really big NBA junkie, and I just began a recent basketball documentary series on ESPN called “Basketball: A Love Story.” For any NBA fan, this series is a must-watch.
What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That there are limited dining options on campus
Favorite W&L memory?
Washington Term and spending time in D.C. as a class
Physics 151, Stellar Evolution and Cosmology, with Professor David Sukow. He is an awesome professor and the class was incredibly interesting.
Favorite W&L event?
Young Alumni Weekend, because I get to see all of my friends who have recently graduated and left W&L.
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I am ethnically Filipino and my mother is a first-generation immigrant.
John Tombarge to Give 2018 Endowed Chair Lecture Tombarge’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Championing the Lead Casket: Library Leadership in the 21st Century.”
Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University presents the 2018 Endowed Chair Lecture with John Tombarge, Hal F. and Barbra Buckner Higginbotham University Librarian, on Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in Northern Auditorium.
Tombarge’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Championing the Lead Casket: Library Leadership in the 21st Century.” There will be a reception following the talk.
Tombarge’s research interests and the topic of his lecture involve library leadership, decision making, strategic planning and the future of libraries, particularly in the liberal arts college library. The talk will present preliminary findings of his current project, conducted with Luke Vilelle, the university librarian at Hollins University. The findings of this study are the results of interviews with 20 directors of liberal arts college libraries ranging in size from five to over 50 employees. The interviews focused on leadership and decision-making practices that directors employ to lead their library and prepare for the future.
Tombarge started at W&L in 1996 as the head of circulation and business and economics librarian. Since he became University Librarian in 2013, much of his work has focused on positioning the library to assist students in an increasingly digital environment. Prior to his role, the W&L Library had virtually no activities in the digital humanities or digital research methods; it is now a national leader in the digital humanities among liberal arts colleges.
The culmination of the library’s work in the digital humanities was the approval in spring of 2018 of a new minor, Digital Culture and Information (DCI), which is based in Leyburn Library. The DCI minor is an interdisciplinary program intended to help students develop digital research and technical skills by exploring how the digital age impacts knowledge and society.
In addition to Tombarge’s campus activities, he serves as chair of the Virginia Independent College and University Library Association and as a member of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) Steering Committee, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Library Advisory Committee and the Lever Press Oversight Committee.
Black Lung Clinic Wins Case in Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
As reported earlier this year, 2018 graduate Luisa Hernandez argued a case in March before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In late May, the Court ruled in favor of her client.
Ms. Hernandez appeared before the Court as a student attorney in W&L’s Black Lung Clinic. The clinic represents coal miners diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease, in their pursuit of benefits from the coal companies they worked for. In this specific case, Ms. Hernandez appealed the denial of a survivor’s claim—the claimant was a widow whose husband spent forty years working in our nation’s coal mines.
The case will now return to the Benefits Review Board for a reconsideration of the survivor’s claim. You can read more about the case and Ms. Hernandez in our earlier story available online.
Recent Gift Illustrates Poet’s ‘Twin Obsessions’ Friends and classmates of Jeanne de Saussure Smith ’08 have dedicated an E. E. Cummings painting to W&L in her memory.
In summer 2018, Washington and Lee University received a generous gift of a painting by Edward Estlin (E. E.) Cummings that was made possible by members of the W&L Class of 2008 in memory of Jeanne de Saussure Smith ’08, a vivacious young woman from Charleston, South Carolina. Jeanne was an English major at W&L, and the painting now hangs in Payne Hall, home of the English Department. Tragically, she died at the age of 22 during her first semester at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Entitled “Fall Landscape: Chocorua” and composed in 1937, the work is a small oil painting on canvas board that lyrically and exuberantly expresses the landscape Cummings saw near Joy Farm, his family’s summer home in the Silver Lake part of Madison, New Hampshire. In the painting, Mount Chocorua, a summit in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, is centrally depicted in front of Chocoura Lake, which is edged by colorful autumn trees. The entire composition is framed with a fringe of leaves and vegetation. In addition to Cummings, this mountain and lake have inspired many artists over the last two centuries, including Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School; watercolorist John Marin; Frank Stella, proponent of 20th century hard edge abstraction; and contemporary New England artist Eric Aho.
E. E. Cummings is best known as a 20th century avant garde poet who created a distinctive personal style of writing by boldly experimenting with form, syntax, punctuation and spelling. Praised as one of the most innovative poets of his time, Cummings was also a self-taught visual artist who considered writing and painting his “twin obsessions.” His contemporaries reported that he actually painted more than he wrote.
As a mature writer, Cummings divided his time between Greenwich Village in New York and Joy Farm, in addition to traveling abroad when possible. He was introduced to Paris in 1917, when he volunteered for service in the Ambulance Corps after receiving his B.A. and M.A. from Harvard University. Cummings was sent to France, where he ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp on suspicion of espionage because of his anti-war grumblings and writings. His three-and-a-half-month stint became fodder for his 1922 publication, “The Enormous Room.”
After WWI, Cummings returned to his beloved Paris to live for several years. There, he was friends with writers Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, and attended parties with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, in whose house hung works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne and other leading artists of the early 20th century. At the time, Paris fomented with avant garde art movements, including Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism and Fauvism, and young artists of all types were caught in the throes of intellectual stimulation.
Cummings both wrote and painted daily, responding to his surrounding environment. He painted street scenes as well as abstract works that reflected the influence of Post-Impressionists like Cezanne and Fauves like Henri Matisse, both of whose paintings vibrated with color and atmosphere. Cubism influenced Cummings’ writing, and he broke down forms and reassembled poetic elements much as Picasso and Braque had done with objects and figures a decade earlier in painting. Charles Riley, author of “The Jazz Age in France,” describes Cummings’ paintings of the 1920s as “…dashed on the canvas with a jaunty busy brush that never labors, never hesitates. They are so fast and vivacious that they blur in just the Modernist way his poetry does.” At the time, Cummings’ abstract works were widely acclaimed and his drawings were published in the Modernist journal, “The Dial.”
After 1928 and for the rest of his life, E. E. Cummings painted representationally, focusing on portraits, still lifes, figures and landscapes like “Fall Landscape: Chocorua.” His paintings became increasingly personal, bursting with exuberant color. Cummings also wrote extensively about visual art, color theory and aesthetics, but mostly in unpublished notes.
However, in 1945, just after his 50th birthday, Cummings wrote a foreword to a catalog for a one-man exhibition of his work at the Memorial Gallery in Rochester, New York, that included a prose poem written in the form of a question-and-answer interview with a painter. The same piece was later published in 1965 in a small book titled “E.E. Cummings: A Miscellany Revised,” now out of print, in which Cummings wrote his ideas on what it means to be an artist. Essentially, he saw absolutely no difference between being a poet and a painter.
Cummings is not unique in being both a visual artist and a writer. John Dos Passos, Cummings’ Harvard classmate and friend in France, was a novelist and a painter, as well as a playwright. Other notable writers who painted or drew included William Blake, George Sand, William Carlos Williams, Henry Miller, Mark Strand, Sylvia Plath, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut, among many others. Poets and writers also have influenced visual artists. Soon, a print by 20th century artist Grace Hartigan will hang in Payne Hall along with Cummings’ work. Hartigan’s 1960 lithograph, entitled “The Hero Leaves His Ship,” was inspired by a poem of the same name by New York School poet Barbara Guest.
E.E. Cummings died in 1962, at which time his wife, Marion, inherited all of his artwork of approximately 1,600 drawings and paintings. After her death, their daughter, Nancy Cummings Andrews, inherited the works and donated them as a means of fundraising to the Luethi-Peterson Camps, a nonprofit organization that operated summer camps for children for the promotion of international understanding, one of them close to the Cummings summer home in New Hampshire. Over time, the collection has been sold to museums and private collectors.
A decade after Jeanne Smith’s death, her W&L classmates, led by Dargan Rain ’08 and her husband, Rob Rain ’07, wished to honor her memory at their 10th Class Reunion. Jeanne’s parents, Margaret Rinehart Smith and Park B. Smith Jr., suggested the friends raise money for a gift of art to hang, if possible, in Payne Hall for the English Department. Dargan Rain first contacted the Development Office and then approached me, as curator of the university’s art collection, for guidance in finding and choosing an appropriate work of art.
Early in the process, Margaret Smith told me of a landscape of the Cotswolds in the English Department that was dedicated to Carlton Davies “Bubba” Walker ’80, an old friend of her husband’s. “We drop by to see it when we visit the campus. It reminds us that Bubba Walker dearly loved his time there, and his time at the school.”
After much research, thought and discussion with Dean Suzanne Keen before her departure, I suggested purchasing a painting by Cummings, whose estate is handled by Ken Lopez Bookseller in Hadley, Massachusetts. Jeanne’s mother, who had just read a section of her daughter’s journal that quoted Cummings’ poem, “i carry your heart with me,” was thrilled by the idea. It seemed like serendipity.
At Margaret Smith’s request, Jeanne’s friends chose three Cummings paintings that they believed reflected the feeling of the poem, and that Jeanne would also have liked. I made the final selection and submitted an acquisition proposal to the Collections Committee, which supported the purchase of the painting, made possible by a gift of funds from 17 of Jeanne’s classmates.
The painting has since been newly framed and installed in Payne Hall, where it immediately generated interest among faculty and students. A dedication ceremony planned for Young Alumni Weekend in September was cancelled because of Hurricane Florence, but I sent photographs of the painting to the Smiths and to Dargan Rain. Rain responded, “We have been so touched by the university and your thoughtfulness to this dedication. It has turned out better than we could have dreamed or imagined.”
“It is our hope,” wrote Margaret Smith, “that returning students will visit the painting and be encouraged to hold their memories of their time in Lexington (and perhaps Jeanne) in their hearts.”
Poems by E. E. Cummings
Jeanne de Saussure Smith’s mother found the following Cumming’s poem in her daughter’s journal after she passed away.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
The following untitled Cummings poem, written in the form of a Q&A with a painter, was published in 1965 in a small book titled “E. E. Cummings: A Miscellany Revised,” now out of print.
Why do you paint?
For exactly the same reason I breathe.
That’s not an answer.
There isn’t any answer.
How long hasn’t there been any answer?
As long as I can remember.
And how long have you written?
As long as I can remember.
I mean poetry.
So do I.
Tell me, doesn’t your painting interfere with your writing?
Quite the contrary: they love each other dearly.
They’re very different.
Very: one is painting and one is writing.
But your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.
Of course — you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.
I never met him.
Did you ever hear of nonrepresentational painting?
I am a painter, and painting is nonrepresentational.
Not all painting.
No: housepainting is representational.
And what does a housepainter represent?
Ten dollars an hour.
In other words, you don’t want to be serious —
It takes two to be serious.
Well, let me see… oh, yes, one more question: where will you live after this war is over?
In China; as usual.
Whereabouts in China?
Where a painter is a poet.
Salena Zito, Co-Author of “The Great Revolt,” to Speak at W&L She will speak on the electoral shift that supported Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and reflect upon the 2018 elections.
“This is an exciting opportunity to hear on-the-ground accounts of why voters changed their minds in 2016 and to ponder what changes will occur in upcoming presidential elections.” ~Mark Rush
Salena Zito, a national political reporter, will deliver a public lecture at Washington and Lee University on Mon., Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium. She will speak on the electoral shift that supported Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and reflect upon the midterm elections. Her talk is part of the University’s “Conversations in the Age of Trump” series.
Zito is the co-author of “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.”
“While much has been written at the macro-level about the 2016 election and the rise of populism around the world, Zito and her co-author Brad Todd draw upon a rich trove of survey data that demonstrates the many diverse aspects of the 2016 vote,” said Mark Rush, Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law.
Zito is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and worked for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for eleven years. In 2016, she joined the New York Post. She presently acts as an analyst for CNN and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner.
“This is an exciting opportunity to hear on-the-ground accounts of why voters changed their minds in 2016 and to ponder what changes will occur in upcoming presidential elections. Insofar as Zito will visit just after the 2018 election, her talk will offer a timely reflection on whether this midterm follows or departs from the typical pattern of rejecting the party of the president in power,” said Rush.
While on campus, Zito will also participate in a lunch colloquium with a small group of students and faculty.
Her talk will be streamed live online here.
This talk, sponsored by the Center for International Education and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, is free and open to the public.
The Reeves Center Previews Mythical Creatures This free family program is geared for ages 7-11; children must be accompanied by an adult.
The Reeves Center at Washington and Lee University invites the Lexington community to experience creatures from myth through ceramics on Oct. 27 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. This free family program is geared for ages 7-11; children must be accompanied by an adult.
The wizarding world of Harry Potter is not the only one to have a collection of mythical creatures kept hidden. For too long the Reeves Center’s creatures have laid dormant in Washington and Lee’s galleries and storage just waiting to break free!
The Reeves collection of ceramics contains pieces made in Asia, Europe and the Americas between 1500 and the present; each one telling its own story.
There is limited space for the event RSVP to Cassie Ivey at firstname.lastname@example.org 540-458-8476 by Oct. 24.
Call for Proposals W&L’s Community Grants Committee will evaluate proposals in early November
Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee would like to remind the community of its Fall 2018 proposal evaluation schedule. Community Grants Proposals may be submitted at any time but are reviewed semiannually: at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the Fall 2018 evaluation is 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.
Established in the spring of 2008, the purpose of the program is to support non-profit organizations in the Lexington/Rockbridge community. The program began its first full year on July 1, 2008, coinciding with the start of the University’s fiscal year. The University will award a total of $60,000 during the program’s 2018-19 cycle.
During the second round of the 2017-18 evaluations held in March 2018, 16 organizations submitted proposals for a total of almost $97,000 in requests. The University made $19,093 grants to 9 of those organizations. Those organizations were:
- City of Buena Vista Parks and Recreation Department
- Gospel Way Church of God in Christ
- Rockbridge Area Hospice
- Lime Kiln Arts, Inc.
- Rockbridge Area Transportation System, Inc.
- Rockbridge Regional Drug Task Force
- Samuel’s Supper
- Shenandoah Preschool
Interested parties may access the Community Grants Committee website and download a copy of the proposal guidelines at the following address:
The second round of proposals for 2018-19 will be due on Friday, March 1, 2019.
Please call 540-458-8417 with questions. Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (word or pdf) via email to email@example.com. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to 540-458-8745 or mailed to:
Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee
Attn: James D. Farrar Jr.
Office of the Secretary
204 W. Washington Street
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA 24450
W&L Law’s Shapiro Honored for Clinical Work
Jonathan Shapiro, visiting professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, was honored by his alma mater American University Washington College of Law (WCL) with the inaugural Elliott Milstein Award for Professional Excellence.
The award goes to graduate of WCL’s clinical program “whose career reflects core principles of the Clinical Program, including client-centeredness, reflective lawyering, seeking justice, and a commitment to training law students and junior lawyer.”
Milstein, for whom the award is named, has been a leader in the development of the concepts and methods that are the basis for in-house clinical education programs across the U.S. He was president of the Association of American Law Schools in 2000, the first clinical teacher elected to that position. He was dean of the Washington College of Law from 1988 to 1995 and also served one year as interim president of American University.
At W&L, Shapiro teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure as well as the Criminal Practice Practicum. He has practiced criminal law in the federal and state courts for more than 40 years, and has been listed for years in the Washington Magazine’s survey of best criminal lawyers. Among his more notable cases, he represented accused spies Harold Nicholson, a CIA station chief, and NSA employee Brian Regan. Along with his partner Peter Greenspun, he represented “Beltway Sniper” John Allen Muhammad.
Shapiro was previously a clinical instructor at WCL, where he was also the director of the Institutionalized Persons Clinic. Shapiro was honored by WCL in 2001 with the Peter Cicchino Alumni Award for Outstanding Advocacy In The Public Interest Within The United States. More recently, he was honored by the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition for pro bono work in the immigration field.
Sustainability House Peddles Green Transportation The house's new Bike Shop offers free and low-cost rentals, lessons on bike maintenance, and opportunities for exploring the outdoors on two wheels.
“It’s rather dumb to be driving a car to a class or activity that is only a few blocks away. Use a bike instead and contribute to the battle against global warming.”
~ Rolf Piranian ’74
Situated between the Sigma Chi and Kappa Sigma fraternity houses on Nelson Street, and just a stone’s throw from W&L’s ARC house, the grand, columned Sustainability House is home to up to 16 students, not to mention a host of environmental initiatives. Sustainability House’s newest community effort peddles carbon-friendly transportation: It’s a bike shop where students can borrow, rent and purchase bikes; learn about bike maintenance; and even join others for cycling adventures.
Sustainability House has two goals: “to live communally and explore ways to minimize human negative impacts on the natural environment, and to offer education and information to the campus community.” Kim Hodge, director of sustainability initiatives and education and adjunct professor of environmental studies, stressed that, in screening would-be residents, she wants those students who walk the talk. She’s looking for “somebody who is actually involved, who takes this personally and has something they are willing to contribute.” Hodge, along with Thomas Agostini ’19, Sustainability House Community Advisor (CA), helps select residents from the dozens of applications received each February.
Current residents of Sustainability House are members of W&L’s “compost crew” – “and that’s a dirty, dirty job,” Hodge explained, clearly in admiration. Others are active on the Student Environmental Action League (SEAL), and still others help the university grow its own food in the university’s raised-bed garden. Agostini, who is also head of the CA program campus-wide, encourages sustainability efforts by placing a jar in a common area. Every time a resident takes meaningful environmental action, he drops a rock in the jar – when it’s full, he treats house residents to lunch or dinner. “I want people who have cool ideas and who really want to live here,” he said.
The latest cool idea to emerge from Sustainability House is its basement bike shop, open Monday-Saturday (click here for hours). The shop offers 20 bikes for the W&L community’s use, including Blue Bikes for cruising around campus and town and a number of road and mountain bikes. Rolf Piranian ’74 has been with W&L for over four decades: as a college student, as its men’s soccer coach, and most recently, as an associate physical education professor. His newest passion is overseeing the shop, where he runs the rental program, takes students on guided trips, and teaches students how to fix their own bikes (Piranian previously volunteered with the Blue Bike program, which is now run out of the bike shop. The Blue Bike program was launched in 2012 thanks to the generosity of Jamie Small ’81 and his wife, Alison, who are parents of Eileen Small ’15).
“We’d been trying to build a bike program here for many years,” said James Dick, director of outdoor education. “So this summer, Andy Hunter, the owner of the Lexington Bike Shop, called me up and said, ‘I lost my lease and I’m going out of business, I have to get rid of my inventory.’ His bike shop was a Lexington staple; it had been there for 42 years.” Dick called Steve McAllister, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration, and Sidney Evans, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Time was tight — Hunter wanted an answer immediately.
Funds were quickly approved. “Steve said, ‘This sounds like a great idea. If you think it’s a good idea to buy the inventory, buy the inventory,'” Dick recalled. “And Sidney said, ‘If Steve can find the money, let’s make it happen.’ Sidney is a make-it-happen type of person.
“We had one week to move 40-plus years’ worth of inventory, in the middle of summer. The hard work of moving was done by Lucy Raney, utility crew supervisor, and her crew.”
The bike shop offers the best deals in town on rentals: For just $10 including tax, students can rent a mountain bike for three days. Blue Bikes can be used for free (register here).
“Mountain biking is my thing,” said Piranian, who is thrilled about his new role and the ever-growing bike-related offerings available to students. Piranian is currently working on a Top-10 list of area mountain biking trails for various activity and expertise levels. “Brushy Hills [off Union Road] is a beast,” he said, and “not for everyone. Carvin’s Cove [near Roanoke] is so smooth and easy, though. It’s my No. 1.”
Piranian hopes to see more students visit the bike shop as word spreads. “There previously hasn’t been much of a bike culture at W&L, and we’re trying to build that. It’s rather dumb to be driving a car to a class or activity that is only a few blocks away. Use a bike instead and contribute to the battle against global warming.”
On Power Trip, members of the university community can track the energy use of various university buildings and residences, even comparing stats for a little friendly competition. The site also features heat maps that show energy intensity: red and yellow indicate when more energy is being used than usual, which can help spotlight troublesome patterns and, hopefully, encourage smarter usage. The site also includes energy-saving tips, like closing windows and doors when the AC or heat is on; limiting showers to eight minutes or less; and turning off lights when exiting a room. Since 2009, W&L has reduced campus energy consumption by 24 percent, and CO2 emissions by 35 percent. The aim is to be a zero-emissions campus by 2050.
W&L Hosts Third Annual Social Impact Summit This year’s event focuses on Exploring Careers and Issues in Social Innovation and Responsible Leadership.
The third annual Social Impact Summit at Washington and Lee University is Oct. 26–27. This year’s event focuses on Exploring Careers and Issues in Social Innovation and Responsible Leadership, targeting direct service positions in human rights, criminal justice and child advocacy, and policy positions in food justice, benefits and international trade and design thinking. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required.
For a full schedule of the summit and to register, members of the W&L community can visit the summit website.
Lewis Perkins ’93 and Victoria Kumpuris Brown ’98 will deliver keynote addresses at this year’s event. Their talks are free and open to the public.
Perkins will speak on Oct. 26 at 6:10 p.m. in Northen Auditorium. A passionate advocate for “doing the right thing,” Perkins is president of the Apparel Impact Institute. He was previously president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, where he led the institute’s Fashion Positive initiative, which engages fashion designers, manufacturers, brands and influencers in creating Cradle to Cradle Certified materials and products with the circular economy in mind.
Prior to joining the Institute, Perkins consulted with corporations and organizations on their social and environmental program development. He also served as director of sustainable strategies for The Mohawk Group, a carpet manufacturer and the commercial division of Mohawk Industries.
Brown will speak on Oct. 27 at noon in Evans Dining Hall. Brown, a senior program officer, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation staff in 2015, bringing her experience in connecting business and health care to the battle against childhood obesity. She believes that the foundation will raise the bar on engaging businesses and activating the private sector in building a culture of health. Brown is a Shepherd program graduate and current Shepherd Advisory Board member.
There will be three panel discussions during the two-day event, and they will include alumni and entrepreneurs.
The first alumni panel will feature Lacy McAlister ’14, strategic partnerships coordinator at International Justice Mission; Maisie Osteen ’14L, a public defender in Richland County, South Carolina; and Erin Coltrera ’09, program manager at the Support Center for Child Advocates.
The second panel will include alumni Malcolm Burke ’96, ’01L, Indo-Pacific regional manager at the Advocacy Center for International Trade Administration; Melissa Medeiros ’09, a program examiner for Medicare Branch at the Office of Management and Budget; and Madeline Morcelle ’15L, an attorney at the Mississippi Center for Justice.
The Designing Thinking Panel will include Elgin Cleckley, U.Va. professor of architecture; Emmanuel Abebrese ’15, founder and executive director of the Citadel Foundation for Kids Inc.; and Kevin Green ’07, senior director at the Center for Behavior and Environment at Rare.
The summit is a collaborative program sponsored by the Shepherd Program, Career and Professional Development, the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics.
Playwright Paula Vogel is the Third Speaker in W&L’s Ethics of Identity Series Vogel's talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “The Art of Tolerance.”
Playwright Paula Vogel is the third speaker in the 2017-18 Ethics of Identity series, sponsored by the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at Washington and Lee University. Her public lecture is Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater on the W&L campus.
Vogel’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “The Art of Tolerance.”
“Paula Vogel is without a doubt one of today’s leading American playwrights. Her works explore the search for truth and human rights,” said Brian Murchinson, Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law and director of the Mudd Center for Ethics. “She will add an important dimension to the Mudd Center’s series on identity. On top of that, she is known as an extraordinary teacher, and I am particularly excited that she will spend quality time in the classroom with students during her visit to W&L.”
Her most recent project is “Indecent,” a play commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s American Revolutions and Yale Repertory Theatre. “Indecent” was developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab in 2013 and has been produced at Yale Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse in 2015. It previewed at the Vineyard Theatre in May 2016 and ran on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in 2017.
Vogel’s other plays include the “Long Christmas Ride Home,” “The Mineola Twins,” “The Baltimore Waltz,” “Hot’n’throbbing,” “Desdemona,” “And Baby Makes Seven,” “The Oldest Profession” and “A Civil War Christmas.” In 2004-2005 she was a playwright in residence at The Signature Theatre. Theatre Communications Group has also published four books of her work, and Vogel continues her “boot camps,” playwriting intensives, with community organizations, theatre companies, subscribers and writers across the globe.
Vogel has received multiple awards, including the American Theatre Hall of Fame, New York Drama Critics Lifetime Achievement, Obies Lifetime Achievement, the Lily’s and the 2015 Thornton Wilder. She also has three awards dedicated to emerging playwrights in her name: The American College Theatre Festival, the Paula Vogel Award given annually by the Vineyard Theatre and the recent Paula Vogel mentor’s award by Young Playwrights of Philadelphia.
From 1984 to 2008, Vogel founded and ran the playwriting program at Brown University; during that time, she started a theatre workshop for women in maximum security at the Adults Correction Institute in Cranston, Rhode Island. It continues to this day, sponsored by the Pembroke Center for Women at Brown University.
The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his contribution, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”
For full details on this series, visit wlu.edu/mudd-center.
“Uncovering Fraud in Trump’s Empire”: A Conversation at W&L with David Barstow of the New York Times In his talk, which is free and open to the public, Barstow will discuss his coverage of the Trump administration and other projects.
Washington and Lee University will host David Barstow, a senior writer at The New York Times and winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, on Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.
Barstow joined The New York Times in 1999 and has been a member of the paper’s investigative unit since 2002. In his talk, which is free and open to the public, Barstow will discuss his coverage of the Trump administration and other projects.
Barstow has been in the news for his special investigation article about President Trump in the New York Times titled “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father.”
“I’ve admired David Barstow’s work for more than 20 years, starting when we both worked at the St. Petersburg Times,” said Alecia Swasy, Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism.“David’s latest investigative work at the New York Times reveals decades of tax dodges and fraud inside the Trump business empire. The research is meticulous and has prompted an investigation by New York state and city regulators to see how much Trump has underpaid in taxes. We are honored that David is coming to W&L to talk to students about his work.”
In 2013, he and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab, an investigative journalist, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for “Walmart Abroad,’’ a series that exposed Walmart’s aggressive use of bribery to fuel its rapid expansion in Mexico. In 2009 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for “Message Machine,’’ his series about the Pentagon’s hidden campaign to influence news coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004 he and Lowell Bergman, Reva and David Logan Distinguished Chair in Investigative Reporting at the graduate school of journalism at UC Berkeley and director of the Investigative Reporting Program, received the Pulitzer Prize for public service for articles about employers who committed egregious workplace safety violations that killed or injured hundreds of American workers.
He is the recipient of numerous awards including three Polk Awards, the Goldsmith Prize, the Alfred I. duPont Silver Baton, the Barlett and Steele Gold Medal, a Loeb Award, the Sidney Hillman Award, the Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting, two Sigma Delta Chi awards for distinguished service and the Peabody Award.
Prior to joining The New York Times, Barstow was a reporter for The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, where he was a finalist for three Pulitzer Prizes. Before that, he was a reporter at the Rochester Times-Union in New York and the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin. Barstow, a native of Concord, Mass., is a graduate of Northwestern University. He was inducted into the Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2015.
The talk will be livestreamed and available to watch here.
His talk is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.
W&L Law Names Alex Zhang to Lead Law Library
Dean Brant Hellwig has announced the appointment of Alex Zhang as Assistant Dean for Legal Information Services and Director of the Wilbur C. Hall Law Library at Washington and Lee School of Law.
Zhang joins W&L from Stanford Law Library, where she has served as Head of Public Services since December 2016. Before joining Stanford, she was a Senior Associate Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, where she taught Advanced Legal Research, managed Michigan Law Library’s reference and information desk services, and developed the Library’s print and electronic legal materials specializing in non-U.S. jurisdictions.
“Our school will benefit not only from Alex’s experience and expertise, but also from her enthusiasm and generous spirit,” said Dean Hellwig. “We look forward to her joining our community in January.”
Zhang is an active member of the American Association of Law Libraries. She chaired the Asian American Law Librarian Caucus in 2015-2016 and is the Immediate Past Chair of AALL’s Foreign, Comparative, & International Law Special Interest Section. She is also a Board member of the Chinese-American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries.
“I am both honored and thrilled to be joining the Washington and Lee Law School,” said Zhang “It is an exciting time to be a law librarian, a law school administrator, and a legal research instructor. I look forward to working closely with a talented group of forward-thinking librarians, faculty, and staff to proactively fulfill the rapidly changing legal research and information needs of our faculty and students.”
Zhang’s research interests include public access to legal information, legal research methods and methodology, and Chinese law and research. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as Legal Information Management, Law Library Journal, International Journal of Legal Information, and Chinese Journal of Comparative Law.
Zhang received her J.D. from University of Kansas Law School, MSI from University of Michigan School of Information, and MA in Philosophy from Tulane University. She is a member of the State Bar of New York.
Studying Neuroscience Down Under Megan Engeland '19 spent her summer in a research laboratory in the psychology department at the University of Sydney in Australia.
“The relationships I have formed with both faculty and students at W&L gave me the skills necessary to build relationships with my fellow researchers in Australia.”
Hometown: Yardley, Pennsylvania
Tell us about your summer project.
From March until July, I worked in a research laboratory in the psychology department at the University of Sydney in Australia. In this laboratory, I assisted a post-doctoral fellow on her experiment investigating conditioned nausea in humans through the use of virtual reality and galvanic vestibular stimulation. The goal was to see whether participants would come to associate feelings of nausea with one of two virtual reality environments after being conditioned during two consecutive experimental periods.
What made you want to be part of this work?
For the past year and a half, I’ve worked in Dr. Bob Stewart’s lab at Washington and Lee, which has allowed me to gain extensive experience working with animals and learning new lab techniques. However, as I am preparing for graduate school next year, I wanted to broaden my research experience. Working in this lab in Australia gave me a chance to gain lab experience in a new setting. I was able to work with human participants rather than animals, I was able to learn new techniques that will be helpful in the future, and I was able to work alongside researchers from various places such as Australia, London and Germany.
What did an average day for you look like on this project?
Because this internship was taken in the place of a course, I usually worked only two to three days a week. Depending on how many participants we had signed up, and what time slots they signed up for, the day started anytime between 7 and 9 a.m. On an average day, we ran four or five participants for an hour and a half each. Participants came in, were informed of what they’d be doing that day, signed consent forms, and then we ran them through the experiment. The experiment consisted of a few stability tasks along with some basic movements that participants completed while wearing a virtual reality headset and galvanic vestibular stimulation electrodes.
What is the most interesting knowledge you’ve picked up while doing this work?
This experiment gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about the vestibular system, as well as galvanic vestibular stimulation, which were both interesting and will be valuable skills moving forward! However, I think the most important knowledge and experience I gained was that which relates to working with human participants. I hadn’t previously worked in a lab that dealt with human participants, so gaining experience interacting with people in a research setting was both exciting and valuable for me as I pursue a career in research.
Was it challenging in any way? If so, how?
Starting work in a new lab setting was intimidating at first. All of the researchers in the lab were either working on their Ph.D. or have completed it already, so I was the youngest member of the lab. They also all have been working together for some time. Being the newest and youngest member, as well as the least educated on the topic of study, was slightly daunting at first. However, after a little adjustment period, I found that working with researchers who already had experience in the field was helpful for me, as I was able to learn a lot from them about what working in research will be like.
How did the project relate to your broader experiences at W&L regarding student-faculty relationships?
This experience gave me the opportunity to build relationships with fellow researchers from a variety of different backgrounds. The student-faculty relationships I have made at W&L over the past three years gave me the skills necessary to build these relationships. For example, my work in Dr. Stewart’s lab at W&L has taught me how to work alongside fellow researchers, and has given me the confidence to both ask questions and to share my thoughts in a lab setting; these were all valuable skills that I used to build a close relationship with my supervisor during our time in the lab.
Did your summer work impact your future plans in any way?
The work I was able to do in the lab in Australia gave me valuable experience that I will use as I move forward with my career in research. My plans for the future haven’t changed at all; if anything, this experience further supported my desire to pursue a career in research. I was also able to learn about graduate school from the other researchers in the lab and to gain knowledge that will give me confidence as I go to graduate school.
How did W&L prepare you for this experience?
The relationships I have formed with both faculty and students at W&L gave me the skills necessary to build relationships with my fellow researchers in Australia. Additionally, the background knowledge I have gained in my neuroscience classes over the past three years was invaluable as I conducted background research and learned about our specific topic of interest.
Why is this kind of experience important to W&L students?
Working in labs with faculty at W&L is an invaluable experience for students, but it provides just one type of lab experience. Being able to work in a lab abroad gives students a chance to broaden their experience and is extremely helpful for any student pursuing a career in research. This type of experience allows students to gain a different perspective and to learn from other researchers about what life looks like post-undergrad.
More about Megan
What extracurricular activities do you do?
I play soccer for the women’s team at Washington and Lee, and I am a member of Relay for Life and Women in Technology and Science. I also volunteer for the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity.
Favorite place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Bistro. I love their grilled salmon!
I’m hoping to go to graduate school next fall to get my Ph.D. in neuroscience. I’m not sure where I will be going yet!
Favorite W&L memory:
Winning ODACs sophomore year! A goal our team is hoping to accomplish again this fall.
Psychoactive Drugs and Behavior with Professor Stewart
Favorite W&L event:
Why did you choose W&L?
I chose W&L for a variety of reasons. Being able to play soccer at a competitive yet not entirely consuming level, the rigorous academic environment, all of the amazing people I met during my visits on campus, and the great alumni network were just a few of the things that led me to decide to spend my four years of college here!
The Interaction Between Health and Poverty James Ricks '21 interviews Dr. Jonathan Wortham '04 about his work with the Centers for Disease Control.
“Medicine is trying to use math and science to help free individuals from illness to empower them to write their own story.”
~Dr. Jonathan Wortham
Editor’s note: Welcome to a new series on The Columns, “Living the Shepherd Dream,” in which current students in the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability at Washington and Lee interview alumni of the program who are working in a field that interests both. Look for installments in this series once a month on The Columns.
James Ricks ’21, a biochemistry/English major and poverty and human capability studies minor, plans to attend medical school, but he believes that consciously practicing medicine requires an understanding of the systems that contribute to public health at large. To that end, James worked last summer at a cardiac surgery clinic in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, shadowing practitioners and doing research towards the improvement of pulmonary embolism treatment. He recently interviewed Dr. Jonathan Wortham ’04 to learn more about his work at the Centers for Disease Control.
Ricks: What was your most influential experience in the Shepherd Program?
Wortham: Conversations with the men I met during my internship at the Atlanta Mission transformed my understanding of human capability and the effects that mental healthcare and substance abuse have on our society. Furthermore, these conversations helped me better understand the potential for medicine to be a vehicle to free people from mental and physical illness and unlock untapped potential for society.
Did you always want to be a doctor?
My father is a physician and one of my heroes. While I was exposed to the profession early and thought of following in his footsteps, I didn’t always think of being a physician. I considered other math and science careers. At W&L I developed an interest in the humanities, particularly in history and learning people’s stories. Medicine is trying to use math and science to help free individuals from illness to empower them to write their own story. It’s challenging and unique because it’s not just math and science; there’s an art that requires tailoring the therapy to the patient. It sometimes makes medicine challenging, but almost always very gratifying.
What prompted your transition from primary care to more public health-focused work?
After medical school, I started a clinical residency in pediatrics. While residency does a fantastic job of teaching how to take care of individuals, I also wanted to learn how to advocate for populations. After residency, I completed a public health fellowship at CDC called the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS); during EIS, I learned how to investigate outbreaks and conduct applied public health research. After that fellowship, I decided to accept a position in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination and continue to enjoy working at CDC alongside really dedicated public health servants.
What is it like working in the CDC’s tuberculosis elimination division?
I think my job leading the Outbreak Investigations Team within the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination at CDC is one of the best in the world. We provide assistance to state and local tuberculosis (TB) programs for investigating and responding to outbreaks. No two days are the same in this job; on one day, I can be working to design a cutting-edge analysis that has the potential to change public health practice. The next day, I could be traveling to assist a public health partner with an investigation.
What’s the biggest challenge you encounter in your work?
Challenges in public health can be daunting; tuberculosis outbreaks can often persist in communities for years and take concerted, resource-intensive, long-term efforts to stop. Public health is a team sport; while limited resources and personnel continue to challenge public health efforts, I am grateful to overcome those challenges by working with people who are dedicated to saving lives and preventing morbidity every day.
How did your time at W&L prepare you for your work?
Several things at W&L prepared me for my work today. First, even though I majored in chemistry, several W&L faculty, including Professor Harlan Beckley, challenged me to become a better writer. I use this skill every day as I communicate complex scientific concepts to different audiences. Second, our civility tradition prepares us to interact with people who see the world very differently than we might.
What advice would you give students wanting to get involved in public health?
Understanding the interaction between health and poverty is really important to understanding public health. In my current job, I think about the interaction between homelessness, mental and physical illness, and tuberculosis (TB) almost every day. I would urge every student considering public health to pursue some kind of internship that provokes thought about the interaction between some aspect of health and poverty. It will challenge you emotionally and intellectually. You might also discover a public health problem that you’ll be addressing 16 years later.
W&L Law’s Demleitner on Voting Rights for Felons
Washington and Lee law professor Nora Demleitner commented extensively in a Public Radio International story on the right to vote for convicted felons.
The story aired on October 9 on the PRI show “The World.” The story focuses on voter disenfranchisement as a result of incarceration, examining specific cases in Florida and trends around the country and abroad.
Most states have laws that take away voting rights for prisoners, but they vary when it comes to when and if the right to vote is restored. Demleitner discussed the origins of prisoner disenfranchisement, noting that it became a big issues in the U.S. after the Civil War.
“Many more states started putting them in effect, especially the Southern states that have the most restrictive disenfranchisement provisions to disenfranchise African Americans who otherwise would have been permitted to vote,” she told PRI.
Demleitner also discussed crimes, such as voter fraud, that justifiably lead to a permanent loss of the right to vote. In addition, she discussed the European approach, where voting rights are taken away as an additional penalty to a crime.
“But what you see in Europe is much more of a surgical approach, whereas in the US it comes automatically.”
You can listen to full report online.
Demleitner teaches and has written widely in the areas of criminal, comparative, and immigration law. Her special expertise is in sentencing and collateral sentencing consequences.
Marlbrook Chamber Players to Perform at W&L The group consists of current W&L faculty members Jaime McArdle, violinist, Julia Goudimova, cellist and Timothy Gaylard, pianist.
The Marlbrook Chamber Players will present “A Twentieth-Century Potpourri,” a concert of works by Arvo Pärt, Terry Vosbein, Joaquin Nin and Dmitri Shostakovich, at 3 p.m. on Oct. 28 in the Wilson Concert Hall at Washington and Lee University. The group consists of current W&L faculty members Jaime McArdle, violinist, Julia Goudimova, cellist and Timothy Gaylard, pianist. The concert is free and no tickets are required.
The program begins with the haunting “Adagio for Violin, Cello and Piano” by Pärt, based on a work of Mozart. McArdle and Gaylard will follow with “Six Poems for violin and piano” by Terry Vosbein. The first half of the concert will end with Joaquin Nin’s “Spanish Suite for cello and piano,” performed by Goudimova and Gaylard.
The second half of the program will be devoted entirely to the monumental and emotional “Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67” by Dmitri Shostakovich.
For more information, call the Lenfest Center Box Office at 540-458-8000.
Washington and Lee Choral Program Presents the Fall Choral Concert The event is free and open to the public and tickets are free, but required.
Washington and Lee University presents the Fall Choral Concert on Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. in the Wilson Concert Hall on the W&L campus. The performance will feature The University Singers, Men’s Glee Club and Cantatrici, under the direction of visiting conductor Morgan Luttig ’14. The event is free and open to the public and tickets are free, but required.
During the performance, audience members will engage in a variety of choral styles as choir members explore methods of increasing audience engagement within the choral performance. Singers will not only sing from the stage but will also utilize the entire concert hall, breaking the barrier between performers and audience.
The first half of the performance will culminate in the joint forces of Cantatrici and Glee Club singing “Tha Thin Tha,” a piece composed originally for a small jazz band and vocalist.
The second half of the program sung by the University Singers features repertoire from their upcoming tour to Scotland. They will also round out the performance with a W&L choral tradition, James Erb’s arrangement of “Shenandoah.”
Tickets are available online here, or by calling the Lenfest Center box office at 540-458-8000.
Quick Hit: “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” Staff and students in the costume shop at Lenfest Center have been hard at work creating fabulous costumes for this upcoming W&L production.
Washington and Lee Presents “Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Musical” The show runs Oct. 25-27 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. in Keller Theatre on the W&L campus.
Washington and Lee University presents Robert O. and Elizabeth M. Bentley’s production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical,” directed and choreographed by Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance/theater at W&L. The show runs Oct. 25-27 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Keller Theatre on the W&L campus. The show is recommended for mature audiences.
This musical is a heartwarming, uplifting adventure of a trio of performers— drag queens Tick, Adam and their transgender cohort Bernadette—as they take their show to the middle of the desert.
“Priscilla excites and challenges us with its huge array of music and dance, seamless choreographed set changes, and a fast-paced but nuanced story of love and acceptance,” said Davies.
The cast includes a W&L students Lauren Hoaglund ’22, Grace Pelosky ’22, Keren Katz ’22, Mike Bracey ’20, Dan Wetterhahn ’21, Simon Marland ’20, Issac Rosenthal ’19, Matthew Gibson ’20L, and Harris Billings ’20. As well as community actors Nancy Johnston, Bill Stone, McKelvey and Liam Courtney-Collins, Lia Kennedy and Robb Zahm ’13L.
This production is put on by the Department of Theater, Dance and Film Studies and the Department of Music.
Tickets are required; order your tickets online at wlu.edu/lenfest-center or call the Lenfest box office at 540-458-8000. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. The box office opens one hour before performance time. Tickets are forfeited five minutes before opening.
Following the Sunday matinee in the Keller Theatre, there will be a roundtable discussion lead by LGBTQ peer counselors Mike Bracey ’20, Roy Abernathy ’20L, Chase Isbell ’21, and members of the cast. All audience members are invited to stay for the conversation.
Public Reading by Rebecca Makkai ‘99, Author of ‘The Great Believers’ The reading will be Oct. 18 at 8:15 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.
The English Department at Washington and Lee University will host writer Rebecca Makkai ‘99, whose novel “The Great Believers” is now listed as a finalist for the National Book Award. The reading will be Oct. 18 at 8:15 p.m. in Northen Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available to purchase.
Described by her publisher as a novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy, “The Great Believers,” which came out June 19, has garnered rave reviews, including a listing on Oprah’s Book Club Pick and a front-page review on the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Selection by Michael Cunningham.
Read more about Makkai in a recent story recently featured on The Columns.
The reading is sponsored by the Virginia Military Institute and the Glasgow Endowment.
Phonathon Builds Connections at W&L
Washington and Lee’s Phonathon began calling alumni, parents and friends of the university this week. The Phonathon team consists of W&L students who are passionate about encouraging annual support for their university as well as making connections with the broader community.
Plan to pick up the phone to speak with one of our student callers. They are eager to talk to you! Watch the short video about our Phonathon team to find out who’s on the other end of the line here at W&L.
Filling the Gaps In response to student demand, Washington and Lee University has added three new interdisciplinary minors to enrich its curriculum.
Over the past two academic years, Washington and Lee University has introduced three new minors to its liberal arts experience: archaeology, Middle East and South Asia studies (MESA), and digital culture and information (DCI).
Minors in archaeology and MESA were added to the curriculum for the 2017-18 academic year, while this fall is the first time students have been able to declare a minor in digital culture and information (DCI), the newest minor at W&L. The addition of these three minors brings the total number of available minors at W&L to 34.
Digital Culture and Information
This 18-credit interdisciplinary program was created to help students develop valuable technical skills through exploring how the digital age impacts knowledge and society. According to the minor proposal, “the course of study nurtures critical reflection on the underlying structure of information and not merely technical proficiency. A minor in Digital Culture and Information provides the foundation for a career in any field and for life as an informed citizen in a digital society.”
The new minor is designed to enhance students’ academic achievement within any major.
“A successful minor would mean that we pull students from a lot of different majors,” said DCI Program Chair Jeff Barry, who is also an associate university librarian. “We want to give them understanding of different career paths that they might not be aware of.”
Many of the courses offered under the DCI program were formerly listed as digital humanities (DH) classes as an initiative from the DH committee, headed by Associate Provost Paul Youngman. The committee supported all digital efforts in the humanities through funding opportunities and offering classes that piqued student interest, such as data in the humanities and web programming for non-programmers.
“The faculty in the program offer a certain amount of expertise and experience that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the curriculum,” Barry said. “We fill in a gap.”
He said that as students saw an increase in humanities assignments that involved a data or technology component, they began to request the minor. The DCI program aims to support those students as well as the ones who have never delved into the computer sciences before.
“We get a lot of interest from students who are too intimidated to take a computer science course,” Barry said. “But we hope that through taking DCI courses and the minor these students will develop the confidence and expertise to later find a career in technology-based organizations.”
This comprehensive, career-focused minor is intended to teach students not only how to use digital tools but also to understand how the internet works.
“Liberal arts students, particularly, have good skills of communicating, seeing the bigger picture and making connections,” Barry said. “This minor is an opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate those skills in the world of digital information.”
Middle East and South Asia Studies
Anthony (Antoine) Edwards, visiting assistant professor of Arabic, and Tim Lubin, professor of religion, proposed the MESA program in September 2017 after Edwards accepted his tenure-track position in July. The university approved the program in October 2017.
According to the program proposal, “the Middle East has long been politically and economically silent in American experience, and South Asia is steadily emerging in the geopolitical, economic, and cultural spheres.”
“The idea behind the MESA program is an interdisciplinary approach to the region of the Middle East and South Asia that explores the historical, economic, political, linguistic and intellectual linkages for this massive region,” said Edwards.
The minor has seven courses including art history, religion, politics, humanity, literature and language. It also has a branch for students specifically interested in the Arabic or Sanskrit languages, which require additional credits.
Edwards said a “grassroots effort” from the student body made the MESA program possible. Since he started teaching Arabic in fall 2015, students have expressed an interest in better understanding the Middle East and South Asia regions.
“By creating the minor, we are responding to students’ desire,” said Edwards. “We are also very much creating global citizens. That’s the mission of this university.”
The MESA minor encourages students to study abroad to learn the subject matter in an environment that differs from the classroom setting. “The minor is like a motivation to push students to go abroad to observe it, to see it, to live it and come back with their own opinions,” said Edwards.
Faculty in the program are working to create more independent courses that help improve the structure of the minor. They are also hoping to expand the minor into a major, when the university has more tenure-tracked positions to staff the program.
Six students in the class of 2018 signed up for the MESA minor. They were the first class to graduate with the minor.
“I hope students who take the minor can be less afraid of the world outside their backyards,” Edwards said.
In the 1970s, Anthropology Professor John McDaniel, who has since retired, established archeology as a field program with research projects on the Liberty Hall campus. The program was popular at that time but students had to propose independent majors to gain a degree in anthropology and archeology.
Then, in 1989, W&L began to offer a major in anthropology and archaeology, but that major only lasted until the early 2000s, when the university did away with the archaeology major and merged the anthropology and sociology departments into one major. Still, student demand for an archaeology program remained.
“There was the consistent, small group of students who were interested in archaeology,” said Donald Gaylord, W&L’s research archaeologist and the coordinator of the archaeology program. “So I started to think about it more as a broadly interdisciplinary program.”
Gaylord shared his idea of forming the archaeology program with other professors, including Classics Professor Michael Laughy and Sascha Goluboff, head of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. They also talked with faculty in museum studies, chemistry, the Reeves Center and geology, because those are related disciplines in terms of methods and the use of archaeology to reconstruct the past.
“For the last 15 years, there was no credential for our graduates to tell their future employers that the student did in fact get some credential in archaeology,” said Gaylord. “And every year consistently there are students expressing interests in archaeology.”
As an interdisciplinary program with liberal arts tradition, the archaeology minor helps students gain experience in both American and classical archaeology. Students now can take American archaeology courses housed in the Sociology and Anthropology Department, including the field projects at Liberty Hall and other sites on campus and around Virginia. Students also can take “old world” archaeology courses in the Classics Department.
Faculty in the archaeology program would also like to create an archaeology club, which will be a less formal opportunity for students interested in archaeology. Members of the club would participate in laboratory events and regular meeting of the Archeological Society of Virginia, where they can network with people who have been in the field for a longer time.
The university is generous with resources for the archaeology program, including the archaeology lab and the John M. McDaniel Fund. According to the minor proposal, “Students can participate and conduct research in these faculty-led projects during Spring Term and every summer, as well as join other ongoing projects in various locations.”
As the world continues to be transformed by technology, globalization, diversity of culture and political plurality, interdisciplinary studies help students see the world from a more mature perspective. These three new minors continue the W&L tradition of providing students with interdisciplinary opportunities.
Polish Ambassador, Senator to Talk at W&L In their discussion, the duo will address "Transatlantic relations between Poland and the United States."
Piotr Wilczek, ambassador of Poland to the United States, and Anna Maria Anders, Polish senator and secretary of state plenipotentiary for international dialogue, will participate in a panel discussion at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.
In their discussion, moderated by Mark Rush, W&L’s Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of the Center for International Education, the duo will address “Transatlantic relations between Poland and the United States.” The event is free and open to the public.
“For decades, Poland was considered a model case of a successful transition from communism to democracy and market economy,” said Krzysztof Jasiewicz, William P. Ames Jr. Professor of Sociology. “In the recent years, however, actions of the current government all but eradicated this favorable assessment, and many (at home and abroad) do not consider Poland a liberal democracy anymore. Within the European Union, from a leader, Poland has become an outcast, with the state of her democracy under scrutiny of the European Court of Justice. The visit of Wilczek to W&L creates for our students and faculty an opportunity to learn more about these troubling developments.”
Wilczek is a literary scholar, historian, writer and translator. He graduated in 1986 from the University of Silesia in Katowice, where he also received his Ph.D. (1992). Recruited by his alma mater, he remained there until 2008 as a professor and faculty dean. His interests include comparative literature, philology and intellectual history. In 2006, he received the title of professor of the humanities from the president of the Republic of Poland.
Anders graduated from Bristol University in the U.K. with an honors degree in modern languages. She also earned a master’s degree from Boston University in the United States. After graduation, she worked in the UNESCO Press Office in Paris (1978–1979), as well as in the oil and real estate industries. Anders has been secretary of state at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister as the prime minister’s plenipotentiary for international dialogue since 2016.
“The visit by Wilczek and Anders comes at an important time in Poland’s history as well as world politics,” said Mark Rush. “In 2018, Poland celebrates 100 years of its ‘rebirth’ at the end of the First World War in 1918. Situated in the middle of Europe and the eastern part of the European Union, Poland has always played an important role in geopolitics as well as in contemporary E.U. affairs.”
This visit is presented by the Washington and Lee Center for International Education.
W&L Hosts 14th National Symposium of Theater and Performance Arts in Academe Highlights include live performances of works written and directed by professors Domnica Radulescu and Stephanie Sandberg.
Washington and Lee University will welcome scholars and artists from around the world to its 14th National Symposium of Theater and Performance Arts in Academe on Oct. 25-26. All events will take place in Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons, and they are free and open to the public.
This year’s symposium, “Race and Gender in Theater, Poetry and Rock ’n’ Roll,” was organized by Domnica Radulescu, founding director of the symposium and the Edwin A. Morris Professor of Comparative Literature at W&L.
“I always try to connect the theme of the symposium to the moment of history we’re living in,” said Radulescu. “This year’s focus also fits in perfectly with the various and wonderful new diversity initiatives of the university on issues of identity, gender and race. Theater is such a fantastic medium for exploring all the subtleties of these topics and the various forms of struggle and resistance to prejudice and oppression.”
The symposium includes an opening address by Lena Hill, dean of the college, as well as lectures by Ricardo Wilson, assistant professor of English and Africana Studies; Seth Michelson, assistant professor of Spanish; and Florinda Ruiz, director of the Writing Program at W&L. Sarah Helms ’15 will share her documentary, which is set to her own poetry and explores her social activism on women’s health issues in Nepal. Rounding out the two days are artists and lecturers from Romania and universities across the U.S. Among them are Marjorie Agosín, world-renowned, award-winning poet and human rights activist; Barbara Mujica, bestselling author; Nisha Sajnani, award-winning director of the Drama Therapy Program at NYU; and Joan Lipkin, award-winning theater maker and activist.
“The symposium displays a diversity of voices and faces and is spread across different forms of performance and literary art,” said Radulescu. “While the symposium is not political, it explores political issues aesthetically.”
The evening sessions will feature live performances, including “House in a Boat with Food and No God” and “Crack in the Wall,” written and directed by Radulescu. “Both of these are works in progress,” said Radulescu, who has written, edited or co-authored 15 books, as well as written and directed numerous plays. “The first is an environmental dystopia and deals with our destruction of the environment, but with a dark sense of humor. The second work was inspired by the immigrant situation and the literal and metaphorical walls that are now sadly part of a national conversation. These political aspects haunt and touch me, and I connect with or react to them in a visceral way.”
In addition, Stephanie Sandberg, assistant professor of theater at W&L, will direct “Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry,” by Arlene Hutton. “Arlene based this play on what high school students really wanted to say about sexual assault,” said Sandberg. “It’s about teen sex, lies and gossip, power, secrets, manipulation, mascara and the need to scream. It’s a very bold piece, but also funny, with a swift and witty sense of language.”
W&L students will perform Sandberg’s “Stories in Blue: The Stories of Sex-Trafficking Survivors.” First mounted at W&L in 2016, Sandberg’s work is a response to the high rate of human trafficking in Michigan that she observed while living there. “I’m really thrilled to have Stephanie’s work as part of the symposium,” said Radulescu. “She does fantastic experimental work that is embedded in and emerging from hard political realities.”
The symposium is supported by funds from the Office of the Dean of the College; the Center of International Education; the Office of the Provost; the Class of 1963; the Glasgow Endowment for the Arts; the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; the Africana Studies Program; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Student Engagement.
Schedule of Events
Welcoming Address: “The Gift of Colored Glasses,” Lena Hill, dean of the college
Opening Remarks: Domnica Radulescu, Edwin A. Morris Professor of Comparative Literature at W&L.
“Odanaku,” a poetry and documentary film presentation depicting women’s life in a remote Nepali village. Sara Helms ’15.
“Can Theatre Heal?: The Role of Performance in Working Through Internalized and Interlocking Oppression.” Nisha Sajnani, director of the Drama Therapy Program and the Theatre and Health Lab at the Steinhardt School of Education, Culture and Human Development at New York University.
“From Hollywood to Broadway and Beyond: The Hyper-sexualization of the Non-white Female Performer.” Barbara Mujica, novelist, short story writer, essayist and theater director.
“Deaf Men, Violence, and Silence.” Ricardo Wilson, assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at W&L.
“Choreographies of the Soul: Theater Poetry and Resistance.” A talk and reading by Marjorie Agosin, Wellesley College.
“Jacques ou la soumission,” by Eugène Ionesco. Brief interlude of absurdist performances, students of French 332.
“The Circumcised Dog and the Subtle Whore: Race and Gender in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and Its Musical Adaptation.” Alina Bottez, University of Bucharest, Romania.
“Picnic on the Battlefield,” by Fernando Arrabal. Brief interlude of absurdist performances, students in WRIT 100.
“Love and Hate: The Many Faces of Race and Gender in Romanian Theater.” Performance by Cosmin Pana, School of Theater at University of Cinematography and Dramatic Arts, Bucharest.
“Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry,” by Arlene Hutton. Staged reading directed by Stephanie Sandberg. Performed by students from Sandberg’s script analysis class at W&L. Followed by a Q&A with the author.
“I Felt like I was One of Them or All of Them Put Together: Reflections on Race, Gender and Bob Dylan’s Multitudes.” David Gaines, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas.
“Radical Hospitality: Poetry and the Practice of Democracy.” Seth Michelson, assistant professor of Spanish, W&L.
“The Word and the Shot: Confronting and Fusing One’s Own Images with Reflections of Gender and Identity.” Florinda Ruiz, visiting associate professor of writing, W&L.
“Have We All the Same Story?” A comedic and musical adaptation of women’s monologues by Franca Rame. Performed by Diana Rosca, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
“Dance the Vote and Birthday Party for the Resistance.” An interactive talk/performance/workshop. Joan Lipkin, That Uppity Theater Company, Saint Louis, Missouri.
“Stories in Blue: The Stories of Sex-Trafficking Survivors,” written and directed by Stephanie Sandberg, performed by W&L students.
“House in a Boat with Food and No God” and “Crack in the Wall.” A staged reading of selections from plays written and directed by Domnica Radulescu, W&L.
The Board of Trustees’ Decision Regarding Building Names on Campus The Board has decided to rename two buildings and endorse two changes in Lee Chapel.
To: The W&L Community
From: J. Donald Childress ’70, Rector of the Board of Trustees, and William C. Dudley, President
Date: October 9, 2018
President Dudley’s response in August to the report of the Commission on Institutional History and Community conveyed both the Board’s decision to retain the names of Lee Chapel and Lee House and our intention to discuss the naming of other campus buildings at our October meeting.
This weekend, members of the Board met with students and faculty to gather input from the campus community, which we considered along with feedback we received from many alumni who have communicated with us about these issues over the past several months.
As a result of our deliberations, the Board of Trustees decided to make the following changes to building names:
- Robinson Hall will be renamed Chavis Hall in recognition of the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. John Chavis graduated from Washington and Lee’s predecessor, Washington Academy, in 1799.
- Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson House in recognition of the first woman to become a tenured professor at the university. Pamela Hemenway Simpson, who died in 2011, served as associate dean of the college and played a critical role in the university’s transition to co-education in the mid-1980s, chairing the Co-Education Steering Committee from 1984 to 1986.
The Board of Trustees also endorsed two changes to Lee Chapel, which will be enacted immediately:
- Portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in civilian clothing will replace the portraits of Lee and Washington in military uniforms that currently hang in Lee Chapel.
- The doors to the statue chamber in the 1883 addition to Lee Chapel will be closed during university events.
The Director of Institutional History, once hired, will lead us in exploring how we can best reclaim the original vision of the chapel that President Dudley outlined in August.
We appreciate the seriousness and thoughtfulness with which our fellow trustees have approached these matters. On behalf of the Board, we want to express our gratitude to all of those members of the community who contributed to our deliberations, through countless letters and conversations over the summer and on campus this weekend. We are fortunate to be part of a community that cares deeply about this institution and is so dedicated to its continued success.
WLSO Symposium Explores Women and Incarceration
The Women Law Students Organization at Washington and Lee University School of Law will host the 5th Annual Lara D. Gass Symposium on Women in the Law on Friday, October 12 from 2:30-5:00 PM in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall.
The topic of this year’s symposium is “Women Incarcerated: The Female Experience in the United States Prison System.” The symposium is comprised of three panels designed to address three components of the female experience during and after incarceration. The schedule is as follows:
- 2:30-3:15 – Impacts of Incarceration: Implication of Detention on Women’s Rights
- 3:20-4:05 – On the Inside: Efforts to Improve Women’s Prison Conditions
- 3:20-4:05 – Parole, Reentry, Reform: Moving Beyond Incarceration
The annual WLSO symposium is named for Lara Gass ’14L, who spearheaded the first Women Law Students Organization panel on women in the law before passing away in a tragic car accident during her third year at Washington and Lee Law School.
Anita Foeman to Discuss DNA and Identity in Second Mudd Lecture The title of Foeman's lecture is "DNA and Identity: Changing the Conversation About Who We Are."
Anita Foeman, professor of communications studies at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania, is the second speaker in the 2017-18 “Ethics of Identity” series, sponsored by the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at W&L. Her public lecture is Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater.
Foeman is the founder and primary investigator of the DNA Discussion Project. She will speak on “DNA and Identity: Changing the Conversation About Who We Are.” The talk is free and open to the public.
“Professor Foeman has been a pioneer in thinking and speaking about race through the lens of DNA ancestral data,” said Brian Murchison, Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law and director of the Mudd Center for Ethics. “She’s adding a fascinating new dimension to the conversation about identity, and we are excited about her participation in the Mudd Center’s series on what identity means.”
Foeman is a scholar of intercultural and organizational communication. Her work examines diversity in organizations, in public speaking and in interpersonal communication as well as identity issues for multiracial people and families. Her co-authored work on the stages of development in interracial relationships (1999) continues to be used as a template for research in the field. Her most recent work considers the relationship between DNA ancestral data and the social construction of racial identity.
She holds a B.A. from Defiance College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Temple University; she joined the faculty of West Chester University in 1982.
The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his contribution, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”
For full details on this series, visit https://www.wlu.edu/mudd-center.
Two Distinguished Alumni to Receive Awards at Five-Star Festival Washington and Lee University is proud to announce this year’s Distinguished Five-Star Alumni Award winners. The recipients will receive their awards during this weekend's Five-Star Festival.
Washington and Lee University is proud to announce this year’s Distinguished Five-Star Alumni Award winners, Howard E. Jacobs ’58 and the Rev. E. James Lewis ’58. Howard and Jim will receive their awards during the Five-Star Festival, November 1-3, 2018.
Howard E. Jacobs ’58
A history major, Howard was a member of Phi Epsilon Pi, the swimming and diving team and the Interfraternity Council. He is currently chairman at R&R Marketing, a wholesale distributor of wines, spirits and beverages. After receiving his MBA from Cornell University in 1961, Howard attended and graduated from the Provost Marshal General School for officers at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and was assigned to the Armed Forces Police in New York as a second lieutenant. He was working for Butte Knitting Mills when he was recalled to active duty; upon his release in September, 1962, he resumed his position there.
In 1963, Howard joined Reitman Industries and has served as executive vice president and has been president since 1976 (as of 2004; also COO and CEO). Reitman Industries, Inc. changed its name in 2003 to R & R Marketing, LLC.
In addition to establishing The Hortense Jacobs Scholarship at W&L in honor of his mother, Howard has served on his reunion class committee three times. He has also served as a board member at East Orange Hospital, United Community Fund, United Jewish Appeal and Essex County Heart Association. Currently, Howard is vice president and on the board of directors for the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association Inc and is a trustee of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He and his wife, Margaret, have two children and live in West Orange, New Jersey.
The Rev. E. James Lewis ’58
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Jim was a philosophy major and All-American lacrosse player at W&L, where he was later inducted into the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame. Following graduation he served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, with duty in Southeast Asia. Jim graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and was ordained in 1964. While at VTS, he was a chaplain to students at Episcopal High School, and began the lacrosse program there. Ordained in 1964, he has served parishes in Maryland, West Virginia and Michigan, and did diocesan social justice work in the Diocese of North Carolina and the Diocese of Delaware.
Including years of pastoral care work, Jim did extensive prophetic social justice work. He was the co-founder of North Carolina People of Faith Against the Death Penalty in North Carolina and in Delaware with “The Way Home” program, a rehabilitation program for ex-offenders. Jim also co-founded West Virginia Patriots for Peace, resisting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He was a delegation member in peace and justice trips to Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Jordan and Israel/Palestine. His work with immigrant poultry workers and poultry growers in the Delmarva Peninsula was featured on “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace.
Jim has an honorary doctorate from VTS and was the recipient of the West Virginia Governor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Award. West Virginia Free has honored Jim for his work on behalf of reproductive rights, along with West Virginia Fairness for leadership in LGBTQ issues. He was awarded the Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation Leadership Award for work in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, and again in the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware.
Jim married Judith Graham, a Sweet Briar graduate, in 1958. An oncology nurse, she suffered an illness in her own specialty and died in 2013, after 28 years with breast cancer. Married 55 years, they had a son, Stephen (who died Aug. 23, 2018), and three daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine and Deborah. Jim has nine grandchildren. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.
Alexander Provides Commentary in Recent London School of Economics Blog Post Alexander explains why we should expect to see more rule-breaking in Congress from now on.
Brian Alexander, assistant professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, wrote a blog post featured on the London School of Economics U.S. Centre’s daily blog on American Politics and Policy.
In the post, Alexander suggests that rule-breaking in U.S. Congress may become a more common feature of an already conflicted era in American politics. He writes, “Frustrated minority party members in an era of dogged partisan and ideological conflict may see acts of procedural disobedience as an increasingly effective political tactic.”
Read the full piece here.