‘Entranced by Science’ Deepthi Thumuluri '20 won a Virginia Academy of Sciences grant to continue her research into the relationship between diet-induced obesity, exercise and the gut microbiome.
“W&L students are so fortunate to have professors who are genuinely invested in the well-being of their students and in furthering the body of knowledge in their field. I truly believe that this perspective on academia allows all of us to cultivate our own passions.”
~ Deepthi Thumuluri ’20
Deepthi Thumuluri ’20
Minor: Computer Science
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
What sparked your interest in science?
I was really lucky to grow up in a family that really valued science and believed in how important it was that we are always learning more about the world around us. Some of my earliest memories of science are my dad sitting next to me on planes and explaining how a metal box was able to fly in the air. Seven-year-old Deepthi didn’t understand Bernoulli’s principle in the slightest, but he ensured that I would always be entranced by the science of the natural world. The older I got, the more I began to question why humans are the way we are and how we got to be this way. This is why I then transitioned into exploring more about biology and the history of humanity.
How did you end up at W&L?
Full disclosure: I applied to W&L after I saw the Admissions brochure that came to my house in the mail. Something about that flier stuck out to me, and I decided to apply totally on a whim. I then came to visit after I was accepted, and that was when I decided that I wanted to be at W&L. I loved that the student body was so welcoming and friendly, and I loved that the faculty were super involved with every student that they interacted with. Fun fact: I actually met Professor Sarah Blythe when I first came to W&L. When I had to fill out my preferences for an advisor, I asked for her and I’ve stayed with her ever since.
What projects at W&L have you worked on?
I started working for Professor Gregg Whitworth as an HHMI fellow during my freshman year. At that point, his lab was working on studying a species of bacteria that seemed to play a really important role in understanding how the gut microbiomes of animals change in response to diet and estrogen. I learned all about how difficult it is to grow cells and how much of it is sheer luck. More importantly, I learned to get really comfortable with failure and accepting that a huge part of science is being dynamic and constantly willing to learn. I also learned how our lab uses molecular biology to better understand the physiology that other labs explore. This was a summer of learning how to be in a lab and understanding more about what exactly I wanted to study.
I spent my second summer also doing molecular biology, but focusing more on how different diets effected the gut microbiomes of both male and female rats. By working over 50 hours a week for the entirety of the summer, I was able to get a lot of data about the diversity of the gut microbiome. Professor Blythe helped me tie this molecular biology to the physiology and neuroscience. She and I also collaborated on designing my current project which will focus on how the gut microbiome changes in response to a restriction on diet and exercise.
Tell us about the research grant you just won.
In November, I participated in the Virginia Academy of Sciences Undergraduate Research meeting and submitted a grant proposal, which I won. My $750 grant will go toward further research on the relationship between diet-induced obesity, exercise and the gut microbiome in order to expand treatment options in the face of a nationwide obesity epidemic. The beneficial effects of exercise, specifically long-distance running, are well documented in scientific literature but are also well known to the general public. Emerging evidence has shown that there are also effects of diet-induced obesity on the diversity and health of the gut microbiome. However, little is known about the impact of swimming as an exercise regimen on gut diversity in obese animals. Swimming is a unique exercise because it is low impact, and therefore can be utilized by those who are unable to run. This study will also allow us to compare the impacts of a Western-style Diet (WSD) and a control diet on the gut microbiome via a well-established marker of gut health, the Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes ratio, and overall phyla level analysis. This study will add to the existing literature, as swimming and WSD are novel approaches to altering the gut microbiome.
As part of my professional career, I would like to work in a lab which deals with diseases that are very much current problems in society. I also would love to continue to work in a lab that bridges the space between physiology, molecular biology and computational biology. Being able to work in the same lab for two years has taught me a great deal about all of those fields and how closely they all interact. Additionally, this lab experience has taught me how to take ownership of my work and demonstrate diligence and determination to reach an end goal.
A Little More about Deepthi
Residential Advisor, Dance Marathon, Peer Tutoring Coordinator, formal secretary for Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society
Why did you choose your major?
I chose my major because I have always been really captivated by the brain and how it controls everything that we do in such a seemingly effortless way. Also, I think it’s so fascinating that we learn to do so many different things so well that they become almost second nature.
Has anyone on campus inspired you?
I am so inspired by all of the professors in the Biology Department and Neuroscience Program for being passionate educators, as well as being incredible scientists. W&L students are so fortunate to have professors who are genuinely invested in the well-being of their students and in furthering the body of knowledge in their field. I truly believe that this perspective on academia allows all of us to cultivate our own passions.
What’s your personal motto?
Those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter.
Favorite way to unwind?
Working out or quality time with my loved ones.
What one film/book do you recommend to everyone?
“The Circle” by David Eggers
A Ph.D.? I’m not entirely sure in what, but I’d love to teach at some point.
Favorite W&L memory
Midnight breakfast during finals week my first year
Male and Female Roles in Western Religious Traditions with Professor Alex Brown
‘A Big Optimist’ Lewis Perkins '93, the self-described “liberal arts kid” who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award at his 25th reunion in April, nurtured his creative spirit at W&L. Now he brings that spirit to a nonprofit that encourages sustainability.
“I was totally the liberal arts kid, and that was a reflection of the kid I was when I was growing up. I like art, theater and music. I enjoyed being creative, and now I do that with business strategy.”
~ Lewis Perkins ’93
A Mindful Career
“It was like reading the gospel,” says Lewis Perkins of the moment he learned how Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute helps companies rethink design and manufacture to make a positive impact on the environment.
Perkins joined the institute in 2012 as senior vice president and took over as president in 2015. “I thought this was the answer,” he says of that realization. “This was giving back to society. It was a whole system plan for the planet. We have known all along that everything needs to be made with mindfulness. It made sense.”
Perkins had long wanted to help companies “find their soul.” He had that epiphany after seeing how some institutions practiced philanthropy to counteract a problem they were causing. “They were saying, OK, we are creating unintentional negative impacts, but our goodwill will override that,” he says.
Cradle to Cradle boasts about 300 companies and over 6,000 product types. “We believe in investing in people and in local communities where the product is made,” Perkins says. “We are like the LEED certificate program for products. We provide the framework and train consultants to do the work.”
His work involves a great deal of creativity. “I was a high-energy, creative kid that didn’t want to sit still,” he says. Perkins cultivated that spirit at W&L. He’s a proud son of the South, born in Tallahassee, Florida. Along with his brother, John Perkins ’90, he knew about the university because of two Tallahassee alumni, Judge Robert P. Smith Jr. ’54 and his son, Todd Smith ’83. When Perkins visited John on Parents and Family Weekends, the university felt like home.
As a first-year, he took studio art and psychology. “I was always interested in human nature,” he says. “I was totally the liberal arts kid, and that was a reflection of the kid I was when I was growing up. I like art, theater and music. I enjoyed being creative, and now I do that with business strategy.”
After graduating with a B.A. in art, he became interested in philanthropy, and worked for Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and for W&L, on a capital campaign. Perkins, who holds an M.B.A. with a focus on social responsibility from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, also logged several years with Mohawk Industries as director of sustainable strategies.
‘A Big Optimist’
Today he travels the world nonstop. “I spend as much time at our office in Amsterdam as I do at our headquarters in San Francisco,” he says. “For me, it’s about being around a diverse set of people, thinking about solutions at the larger level for the planet. It’s talking about a world where all systems are connected, and there is no isolation. I love being with people who think like I do and are optimistic. I’m a big optimist.”
One of the things he loves about W&L is the broad worldview he experienced in classes and with peers and friends. “It was a like-minded community, and it’s been fun to stay in touch, to see how we have all expanded,” he says. “There was a sense of duty and honor that came from W&L. One of the reasons I got into this job was because I saw injustice. W&L instilled principles, honor and values in all of us.”
If you know a W&L alumnus who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
More about Lewis
FAVORITE PROFESSOR: The late Sidney M.B. Coulling III ’46, the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English Emeritus. “He was amazing. Even though he didn’t always give me a good grade on papers, he taught me how to write. Between him and Pam Hemenway Simpson, my adviser and head of the Art Department, I learned a lot.”
MEMORABLE CLASS: Chaos Theory. “I remember writing my paper on Jackson Pollock because of the random way he chose to create. That left an impression on me.”
FUN ACTIVITY: Southern Comfort, the a cappella group. “Some of my best friends were in Southern Comfort.”
W&L Announces November Community Grants The Community Grants Committee has made 16 grants totaling $30,036 to local area non-profit organizations.
Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 16 grants totaling $30,036 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the first of the university’s two rounds of grants for 2018-19. The committee chose the grants from 24 proposals requesting over $115,000.
W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:
- American Red Cross of the Roanoke and New River Valleys Virginia, to provide immediate disaster relief to families following home fires in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County
- AmeriCorps VISTA Program, to provide funding for programs such as Campus Kitchens, Shepherd Poverty Program and Experiential Learning
- Boxerwood Education Association, for general operational support for Project NEST
- Bridge to Hope Food Pantry, for procurement, storage and distribution of food to clients
- The Community Closet at Christ Episcopal Church, for acquisition of essential clothing, supplies and operational expenses to support the mission
- The Community Table of Buena Vista, Inc. , to purchase food and for essential operational expenses
- Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity, for a new computer and software for financial program classes
- Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center, to purchase tack items for therapy horses
- Mission Next Door, to fund local projects and cash reserves
- Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry, Inc., for food purchase and essential operational expenses
- PMHS Boys’ Varsity Soccer, for uniforms and equipment
- RACS: Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition, to support a student summit intended to reduce underage drinking and other substance abuse
- RCHS Parent Teacher Student Association, to provide hands-on learning tools for high school students
- John’s United Methodist Church, for its Mission Committee Annual Blanket Giveaway
- Valley Program for Aging Services, to assist with the construction of an accessible ramp and garden space for the Maury River Senior Center in Buena Vista
- Rockbridge Area YMCA, for after-school and enrichment programs
Established in 2008, W&L’s Community Grants Committee evaluates requests for financial donations and support from Lexington and Rockbridge County. While the University has long provided financial and other assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations in the community on a case-by-case basis, the Community Grants Program formalizes W&L’s role in supporting regional organizations and activities through accessible grant-making.
During its 2017-18 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually, at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The submission deadline for the second round of evaluations for 2018-19 will be: by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2019. Interested parties may download the proposal guidelines at http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.
Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (Word or PDF) via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please call (540) 458-8417 with questions. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to (540) 458-8745 or mailed to Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee, Attn: James D. Farrar, Jr., Office of the Secretary, 204 W. Washington St., Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116.
Radical Rebirth Beth Staples reinvents W&L's Shenandoah magazine with a commitment to diverse voices and intensive collaboration.
“The purpose of literature is to expand the reader’s sense of the world and their place in it. It should also be one of our goals for being alive: stepping into another person’s shoes and practicing radical empathy.”
~ Beth Staples
Even to a veteran editor like Beth Staples, the literary legacy of Shenandoah magazine, her new charge, must weigh on the mind. In August, Staples took the reins from Shenandoah’s longtime editor R.T. Smith. In early December, she debuts her inaugural issue of the publication, which includes a fresh crop of writers and artists, new features and a completely overhauled website and brand.
At nearly 70 years old, Shenandoah, published by Washington and Lee university, has helped define and shape the American literary canon. Early contributors include Tom Wolfe ’51 (also a founding writer as an undergraduate), EE Cummings, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. More recently, the works of Wendell Berry, Joyce Carol Oates, Jacob M. Appel, Speer Morgan, Lee Smith, Claudia Emerson and Rita Dove have graced its pages. The magazine has been online-only since 2011.
“At first, I thought, how do I carry on the tradition of Shenandoah while making it my own?” said Staples, who is the first woman to edit the magazine. Staples most recently served as editor at Ecotone and Lookout Books and as lecturer and assistant director of The Publishing Laboratory at UNC-Wilmington. Numerous works she has edited have been reprinted or recognized in prize anthologies, including the O’Henry Award Stories, Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, among others.
“But,” she said, “I think the way I carry on the tradition is by making it my own.”
This ownership means an unapologetic commitment to “diversify the content and diversify the voices” featured. “White, heteronormative, cisgendered male characters and stories have long dominated the American canon, and this has kept many readers and writers out of the literary community,” said Staples. “I consider it my job to privilege voices that don’t fit into that category, not just because it’s the right thing to do to counteract many years of established practice, but because reading is one of a very few ways we can jump into the mind of someone else.”
The fundamental purpose of literature in Staples’ view is “to expand the reader’s sense of the world and their place in it. It should also be one of our goals for being alive: stepping into another person’s shoes and practicing radical empathy.”
Other historic firsts for Shenandoah under Staples’ leadership include translations, interviews, personal essays, comics, drawings and novel excerpts. Her first issue contains an interview with fiction writer John Keene, who was recently awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant for his work exploring how historical narratives shape modern lives, especially for people of color and queer people. Cut-paper and comics artist Mita Mahato provided the cover art.
Staples also on-boarded poet and English professor Lesley Wheeler to serve as poetry editor. Chris Gavaler, an associate professor of English, is Shenandoah’s first-ever comics editor, and Seth Michelson, assistant professor of Spanish, is its first translations editor. Jeff Barry, digital humanities librarian, is driving the website redesign.
The Keene interview was conducted by two students for a course with Ricardo Wilson, assistant professor of English, who also served as a contributing editor. “These kinds of partnerships with others on campus are especially exciting to me,” said Staples.
Staples also leads a class of 12 student interns who are involved with nearly every aspect of the magazine’s rebirth.
“Beth impresses me with her willingness to listen to and genuinely consider the input of students with marginal, if any, experience in literary editing,” said Colin Berger ’20, an English and biology double major who is one of Staples’ interns. “Our group is composed of people from all over the country, studying different things, with vastly different personal experiences and beliefs. Our room is often loud and occasionally arguments arise, but the classroom environment has never become disrespectful or contentious.”
In Staples’ view, supporting writers at every stage of their careers is the most important and rewarding aspect of her job — as editor of Shenandoah and as leader in the classroom. “The editorial voice should be a very specific and encouraging one,” she said. “The interns and I edited an essay collaboratively this semester, and we just had a Skype conversation with the author. It was kind of a love fest. She was so grateful for the student input, and they had such wonderful things to say about her work. Watching that conversation — how articulate and invested they were — was really moving to me.”
Crafting thoughtful acceptance letters is another way to support writers — “to give them something to return to when they feel unsure, unconfident. Writing is hard and publishing may be even harder.”
Staples, a writer of fiction and non-fiction herself, knows how meaningful that feedback can be.
The editing process is a collaborative relationship between writer and editor, teasing out subconscious themes and sculpting conscious language into the strongest possible product for readers. “Spending time in that space enriches my job and my life,” said Staples. “I hope it does the same for the writers I work with, and I hope their work is stronger and more affecting for it.”
Shenandoah Literary Launch Party
When: Nov. 29, 4-5 p.m.
Where: CGL Atrium
Join new editor Beth Staples and the intern team to celebrate the relaunch of Shenandoah. The event will feature readings from the new issue, an unveiling of the new logo and website, and refreshments.
A W&L Experience, Reprised Morgan Luttig '14, who studied vocal performance and education at W&L, has returned as visiting instructor of music while Professor Shane Lynch is on sabbatical.
“In my opinion, there is nothing quite as authentic and meaningful as humans using their own instruments in a choral ensemble.”
~ Morgan Luttig ’14
Major: Music – Vocal Performance
Hometown: Lake Forest, Illinois
What have you been up to since you graduated from W&L in 2014?
After graduating from W&L I moved to Savannah, Georgia, where I taught pre-K through 12th grade music at St. Andrew’s School. In that position I was the choral director for 3rd through 12th grade choral ensembles, and I also taught general music for 3-year olds, kindergarten, and 2nd grade. I also acted as music director for the lower school and upper school musicals, and led a cross-divisional a cappella group at the school. Outside of teaching I sang with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus, iCantori Vocal Ensemble and a church choir. While in Savannah I had the opportunity to be a conducting fellow with the Savannah Children’s Choir, and Assistant Artistic Director for RISE Chorales, a new young women’s chorale in Savannah.
During my third year of teaching, I began my master’s degree work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. I completed my degree in Princeton the following academic year. I went to school for a master of music education – choral emphasis degree and was a music education graduate assistant, teaching 6th grade general music at the local middle school. While doing my master’s work, I made sure to continue my work with children’s choirs, acting as a conducting fellow for the Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir and Associate Conductor for the Westminster Neighborhood Children’s Choir. It has been a busy few years!
What made you decide to embark on a career in vocal music?
I actually decided to pursue choral music as a career when my family moved to Lake Forest, Illinois, right before I started high school. Previously we were located in Virginia, and I was determined to enter the journalism program in my local high school. However, my new school did not have a journalism program, so instead I elected to be in choir. I’ve been in choirs for as long as I can remember, but it was in those high school ensembles that I truly fell in love with ensemble singing. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing conducting opportunities in high school and beyond. I’ve found unbelievable power in choral music, not only for those who are singing, but also for audiences. In my opinion, there is nothing quite as authentic and meaningful as humans using their own instruments in a choral ensemble.
How did W&L prepare you for your choice of careers?
I could not have asked for a more personalized education at Washington and Lee. Professor Shane Lynch helped prepare me for my career in choral music education with individual attention and guidance that has made a world of difference in my teaching. Dr. Lynch brought me in as part of the Choral Conducting Mentorship Program, where he mentored me not only as an educator but as an ensemble conductor. W&L provided me the opportunity to conduct all choral ensembles throughout my time as a student, which is a unique element of the program.
In addition, the teacher education program at W&L, under the guidance of professors Lenna Ojure and Haley Sigler, was instrumental in my future career. Opportunities to student teach and participate in urban education classes, as well as being active in classrooms in Rockbridge County and beyond, were some of the highlights of the W&L education program.
Did anyone at W&L serve as a mentor to you when you were a student? If so, who and how?
My greatest mentor at W&L was Professor Lynch, the director of choral activities. He took a chance on me when I was a high school student visiting campus, and he spoke with me about the opportunities I could have at W&L as part of the Choral Conducting Mentorship Program. I would not be where I am today without him. He mentored me throughout my time here at W&L, and never lost touch while I was teaching Pre-K-12, and we continued to keep in touch throughout my master’s studies. Now, he and the rest of the music faculty and W&L administration have taken a leap of faith in bringing me back to take his position while he is on sabbatical this year. It is such an honor to be here. I could never replace him and the enormous impact that he’s had on this campus, but I love working with the choirs during my time here!
What exciting things are in the works for the groups you are conducting during the remainder of this academic year?
We have such an exciting year ahead! We have performed two full-length concerts already, one for Parents and Family Weekend, and the other being our Annual Fall Choral Concert. Coming up, Cantatrici and the Men’s Glee Club will perform alongside the instrumental ensembles at the Holiday Pops Performances on December 3 and 4. The University Singers will perform next for the Annual Candlelight Lessons and Carols Service on December 6.
One exciting part of the year is that the University Singers will travel to Scotland in April for an international choir tour. Part of the focus of this year’s choral studies is audience engagement and how we can utilize different pieces, performance techniques and movement to engage audiences of all ages and communities. This focus appears in the international tour program’s four sections—togetherness and separation, prayer and reflection, Scottish Traditions, and American Essences of Home. Each element of the tour set challenges the ensemble, expanding across time periods and styles.
All choral ensembles, including Cantatrici, The Men’s Glee Club, and University Singers will perform at SSA in March, as well as within their own individual concerts during Winter Term.
What is it like to stand on the other side of that conductor’s podium?
There are no words that could truly describe how strange, amazing and humbling it is to be on the conductor’s podium in front of the W&L choral ensembles. When I stood on the podium as a student conductor during my time here, I never could have imagined being fully in charge of these ensembles as their director. I’m continually blown away by the caliber of students, singers and musicians we have here at Washington and Lee. The choral students dedicate so much of themselves to this program, and that is something that Professor Lynch has developed throughout his tenure. From first-years through seniors, these students love choir in a way that is so much stronger even since my time here. It is truly an honor to stand in front of these students.
W&L Presents 2018 Holiday Pops Concert Tickets may be obtained by trading a non-perishable food item to benefit Campus Kitchen at W&L.
Washington and Lee University presents its annual Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Both concerts, which will be identical, will be performed in Wilson Concert Hall on the W&L campus. The performance features ensemble groups from the Department of Music performing pieces that celebrate the holiday season. The program will include individual group performances, massed ensemble pieces and a variety of student conductors.
This year, W&L is encouraging the spirit of giving within our community by requiring patrons to exchange one non-perishable good for each Holiday Pops ticket. All goods collected will be donated to Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee, an organization that recovers and reuses food to provide balanced meals for low-income members of the Rockbridge County community.
The concert will also be streamed live online here.
Tickets must be obtained in person at the Lenfest Box Office during regular hours. They will be available Nov. 26 through showtime each night (while supplies last). Box Office hours are Monday- Friday, 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 540-458-8000.
A 345-Year-Old Bestseller “An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperor of China" tells the story of a trade delegation sent from the Dutch East India Company to China in 1655-57.
Today, if you want to learn about China, you have many choices; a Google search yields 135,000,000 hits in less than a second, and if you want a hard copy, Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee has over 9,000 books on the subject. In the 17th century, your choices were far more limited. This book, “An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperor of China,” was one of the few available, and was considered by many to be the best.
It is actually an English translation of Johan Nieuhof’s “Het Gezandtschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen Keizer van China.” First published in the Netherlands in 1665, it is an account of a trade delegation sent from the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company) to Shunzhi, the emperor of China, in 1655-57.
The Dutch East India Company, which was often known by its initials VOC, had been founded in 1602 and had a monopoly on Dutch trade with Asia (which in 17th-century Europe was known as “the Indies”). One of the first joint-stock companies in existence, the VOC helped create the modern global economy, building a trade network that linked Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It also helped popularize and commercialize a wide range of Asian products, such as spices, silk, cotton, porcelain and tea, to European and American consumers.
The company had been acquiring Chinese goods via Chinese traders who brought them to VOC trading settlements in Taiwan and Indonesia, but wanted direct access to China itself. Eschewing violence and intimidation (tactics they used often to force trading concessions in other parts of Asia), they opted for negotiation, and sent a trade delegation, or “embassy,” as they referred to it, to Beijing.
The delegation was led by two merchants, Pieter de Goyer and Jacob Keijser, who were accompanied by four other merchants, six servants, a surgeon, a steward, a drummer and trumpeter, the last two no doubt to assist in making a grand entrance. The trip from the Dutch settlement of Batavia in Indonesia to Beijing and back took almost two years. Diplomatically and economically it was not a success; the Chinese refused to allow Dutch merchants to trade in Chinese ports. It did, however, lead to the production of this book, which was written by the delegation’s steward, Johan Nieuhof (1618-1672).
Nieuhof, who had previously worked for the Dutch West Indian Company in Brazil, was instructed to make a written and pictorial record of the delegation’s trip through China. He saw it as an “opportunity to make a more exact Discovery of the Genius and Manners of the People, and Customs of the Place, and Countrys supposed by all Geographers to be the richest in the World.”
In addition to 431 pages of text that touched on China’s geography, government, religion, economy and history, the book was illustrated with over 150 engravings “taken from life” that provided “accurate Maps and Sketches, not only of the Countreys and Towns, but also of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, and Plants.” Among the illustrations were depictions of Chinese cities like the port of Guangzhou and the capital, Beijing; monuments like the porcelain pagoda at Nanjing and the Great Wall (which he did not actually see); and one of the earliest depictions of a tea plant to be published in Europe.
Though Nieuhof claimed that he had provided “an accurate description of the Chinese cities, villages, government, sciences, crafts, customs, religions, buildings, costumes, ships, mountains, crops, animals etc…,” in reality his observations were combined with accounts by earlier European missionaries. Many of the illustrations were embellished with people, animals and ships to make the scenes more exotic and visually appealing than his original on-site sketches.
Despite these flaws, Nieuhof’s “Embassy” was one of the most comprehensive, accurate and lavishly illustrated books on China published in 17th-century Europe. It was a bestseller, going through 14 editions in five languages (Dutch, French, German, English and Latin) by 1700, and was avidly read by merchants, armchair travelers and manufacturers, who mined its illustrations for designs for paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics.
The original edition was translated, or “English’d,” as the title page attests, from the Dutch by the London-based cartographer and publisher John Ogilby (1600-1676) in 1669. Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), a Prague-born etcher who worked in London, copied the illustrations. The English translation proved so popular that a second edition, of which this book is an example, was published in 1673.
This particular copy is inscribed on the flyleaf “Mary Curtis 1911.” This is probably the Mary Curtis born in 1878 (date of death unknown). She was the sister of Francis Gardner Curtis (1868-1915), a painter, Asian scholar and curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the early 20th century. Mary shared her brother’s interest in Asia. From her, the book passed to her niece, Helen Coolidge, and from her to her son, Francis Coolidge. It was gifted to the Reeves Center in his honor by his wife, Marylouise, and their two daughters, Lucy Coolidge and Georgina Coolidge ’08.
Fourth Mudd Lecturer Talks Bioculture of Ethics and Identity Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, is the fourth speaker in the 2017-18 “Ethics of Identity” series.
Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, is the fourth 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 Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel Multipurpose Room on the W&L campus.
The title of her talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Thinking Bioculturally About Identity and Ethics.”
Jordan-Young’s research focuses on sex, gender and sexuality, as well as the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. She is the Tow Associate Professor for Distinguished Scholars and the chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College.
Jordan-Young completed her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College before going on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. She has served as principal investigator and deputy director of the Social Theory Core at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research of the National Development and Research Institutes, and as a health disparities scholar sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In 2008, she was a visiting scholar in cognitive neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies.
Her book, “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences,” is a critical analysis of scientific research supporting the theory that psychological sex differences in humans are “hard-wired” into the brain. She argues that studies of “human brain organization theory” fail to meet scientific standards.
“Jordan-Young’s work asks fascinating and important questions about the brain and the unfolding of a person’s identity,” said Brian Murchison, director of the Mudd Center. “Her book challenges accepted understandings of the influence of early hormone exposures, and she asks whether a range of studies are actually consistent with the scientific method. Her talk will add another dimension to this year’s Mudd Center theme, which explores human identity in its various facets.”
In 2016, Jordan-Young was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on a book on testosterone, “T: The Unauthorized Biography,” with co-author Katrina Karkazis.
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 the Mudd Center webpage.
Results of Fall Moot Court Competitions Announced
A busy fall season of intra-school moot court events concluded this week with the finals of the Mock Trial competition. In addition to two more school-based competitions, W&L Law teams will now gear up for external competitions at the regional and national level.
Results for the W&L competitions are as follows:
Robert J. Grey Negotiations Competition
The team of Brandon Howell ’20L and Kaya Vyas ’20L won the competition. Lee Sands ’20L and Austin Scieszinski ’20L were the runners-up. Also competing in the finals were the teams of Mahalia Hall ’20L and Jessiah Hulle ’20L and Elizabeth McLellan ’20L and Grant Cokeley ’20L.
The competition was judged by Robert J. Grey, Jr. ’76L, Andrea Wahlquist ’95L, and Alvin Brown.
John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Competition
Junior Ndlovu ’20L took first place in the oral advocacy competition and Bonnie Gill ’20L won for brief writing. Robert Wilson ’19L finished second in both the oral and brief writing competition.
Others competing in the finals were Jessiah Hulle ’20L and Joe DuChane ’19L (oral advocacy) and Shelby Brooks ’20L (brief writing).
Judges for the competition were the Hon. Rossie Alston, Jr. of the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Hon. Mark Davis ’88L of the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Hon. Amit Mehta of the District Court for the District of Columbia.
Mock Trial Competition
Natey Kinzounza ’20L was the competition winner, with Robert Wilson ’19L finishing as runner-up. Austin Cano ’20L and Kathy McLaughlin ’19L also competed in the finals.
The judges for the competition were the Hon. Elizabeth Dillon (United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia), the Hon. Charles Dorsey ‘79L (23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia), and the Hon. Anita Filson ‘82L (25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia).
Women Watching Wall Street Alumnae business reporters recently visited W&L to offer advice and invite students to lean in and learn.
“We wish we had more people our own age to give us advice about the real world.”
That’s what Alecia Swasy, Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism, heard from recent graduates. With that in mind, she invited seven alumnae who cover the financial markets to offer advice — both professional and personal — and provide networking opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in business journalism.
“Covering Corporate America and Wall Street is an exciting beat and W&L’s graduates are working at the very best international news outlets,” Swasy said. “Who better than seven of our alums to show students about such exciting careers?”
Making the journey to Lexington were Mary Childs ’08 and Alexandra Scaggs ’09, who have close to a decade each under their belts, and recent grads Leslie Yevak ’17, Anna Akins ’17, Rachel Adams-Heard ’16, Polina Noskova ’17 and Rachel Stone ’17.
Representing Barron’s, Bloomberg, CNBC and S&P Global, the alumnae spent Oct. 19 in Swasy’s Covering Business class, at a panel discussion open to all students and at a networking session hosted by the Office of Career and Professional Development.
In Swasy’s class, which included business journalism, strategic communications and business majors, the group offered insights on how to land that first job and advance through the ranks. Many of the suggestions were tried-and-true chestnuts: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” “Always volunteer to take on something outside your comfort zone,” “If you want that assignment, keep asking for it” and “Find a mentor.”
The group emphasized the importance of being open to new opportunities and not being defined or limited by a job title or description. As Stone noted: “Your first job is probably not going to be your career. If a better opportunity comes your way, take it. View your current job as a stepping stone.” Childs added, don’t let an employer slot you into a box. “When your job isn’t serving you any longer, get out. If you’re genuinely curious and have proven yourself to be competent, you’ll be able to move up, either at your current job or somewhere else.”
They also stressed that their experiences on the Ring-tum Phi and Rockbridge Report, as well as their summer internships, served them well in promoting themselves. Yevak, a journalism major, parlayed her ability to cut packages for the Rockbridge Report into a position with CNBC. “Having some producing experience was definitely an advantage in landing this position at CNBC,” she said. “I’m learning every day because I don’t have an economics or business background.
“It’s hard not to tell you not to be scared,” Yevak added. “But think of your first job as being surrounded by experienced people. Take advantage of having all those intelligent people around you.” Akins recommended being honest. “Let people know you’re right out of college and that you have questions.”
Several advised taking Beat Reporting — “There’s no substitute,” said Scaggs. Classes in ethics, economics (specifically Professor Linda Hooks’ course on Money and Banking) and accounting ranked high on the list. And there was the shout-out to taking as many liberal arts classes outside the major as possible. “I wished I had taken more,” said Scaggs. “They can be really useful in helping you look at the financial world from a different perspective.”
As the veteran journalists of the group, Scaggs and Childs wished they had pushed back a bit earlier in their careers, particularly when an editor was insisting on a story that either didn’t have legs or didn’t match the reporting. Adams-Heard provided an example: “You have to challenge editors when you feel like the story’s moving in a direction that isn’t fair to your sources or the people you interviewed. When I was writing a story on map camps in the oilfields in West Texas, I tried to be very careful about not relying on stereotypes and using only details and anecdotes that added value.” She emphasized that if you’re going to earn the community’s trust, then “you have to be accountable to the people you interview.” Childs agreed: “Be conscious that you are writing about humans. You can be fair and kind.”
With these women working in a male-dominated field, the classroom and panel discussions turned to sexual harassment and pay equity. The general consensus was that a thick skin is useful. “You’re going to be called sweetheart,” said one. “There will be lots of mansplaining,” added another. Salaries for some still lag behind those of their male counterparts, and they advised students to advocate for themselves early and often.
But there are signs of progress. Scaggs noted, “Five years ago, I didn’t see a lot of women in middle management. That was discouraging, but the change I’m seeing has been astonishing.” She mentioned that at least one of the places she’s worked has significantly expanded its maternity leave. Noskova cited an example of Bloomberg reporters including more women and minority sources in coverage.
Overall, the group is cautiously optimistic that the work environment is improving for women. They hope that by sharing their stories, the next generation of business reporters will be even better prepared than they were.
Reporters at Large
Anna Akins ’17 is a reporter for S&P Global in Charlottesville. She covers big tech firms, including Facebook, Google and Apple. At W&L, she interned for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Savannah Morning News.
Rachel Adams-Heard ’16 is an energy reporter at Bloomberg in its Houston office. She won first place for general news reporting-newspaper (small school division) in Region 2 of the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists college journalism competition.
Mary Childs ’08 is a senior reporter at Barron’s, where she writes about debt and alternative investing, among other things. She’s also working on a book about Pimco, Bill Gross and the bond market. She has worked for the Financial Times and Bloomberg.
Polina Noskova ’17 is a breaking news editor at Bloomberg, where she also interned as a student. She’s covered Tesla, Harvey Weinstein, cryptocurrencies and more.
Rachel Stone ’17 is a finance technology reporter for S&P Global in Charlottesville. As an intern for the Charlotte Observer, she interviewed the mother of Lorne Ahrens, one of five police officers shot and killed in Dallas on July 7. She also interned at The Roanoke Times. At W&L, she was the cops reporter for the Rockbridge Report.
Alexandra Scaggs ’09 is a senior reporter at Barron’s covering U.S. markets and investing, with a focus on fixed income. Previously, she worked at the Financial Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. At W&L, she wrote about a former POW who lived down the road and a distant ancestor who adopted and raised a bear in rural Virginia.
Leslie Yevak ’17 is a planning producer at CNBC, where she has produced hits on such topics as the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Beijing Auto Show and CNBC’s “Trade War Tour” series. At W&L she was news editor of the Ring-tum Phi, a news producer for the Rockbridge Report and a summer intern at Fox News in New York.
No Stone Unscrubbed Members of the W&L Outing Club spent a recent Saturday cleaning graffiti from rocks at Devil’s Marbleyard.
Washington and Lee’s Outing Club might keep a schedule packed with fun events, but it isn’t all about sunset hikes, kayaking trips and dog walks. On Nov. 3, eight members of the club hit the road for a popular local hiking spot to address a problem that contrasts sharply with OC values: graffiti.
Over the past several years, Devil’s Marbleyard, a stunning geological feature located about 20 miles from W&L, has been beset by vandals. They spray-paint their inane messages on the massive white boulders that make up the rock field where Marbleyard fans love to jump, climb, bask in the sun, and enjoy panoramic views of the valley below.
“I went out there for the first time during peak fall foliage two years ago and it is just absolutely gorgeous,” said Tommy Willingham ’19, who has been an OC trip leader for two years. “It is a really cool spot and you get a great view of the valley looking out from the Marbleyard. It’s so accessible but also so unique.”
He said the fact that people feel the need to mar that pristine beauty with spray paint is sad. “We had a lot of conversation about that and people found it pretty difficult to understand, but people spray paint graffiti in a lot of natural areas. I see it a lot. It’s amazing that someone goes out and does it, but they do.”
What makes it worse at Devil’s Marbleyard, he said, is that it’s a challenging spot to clean. “When people graffiti rocks off Route 60 up by the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is easier to clean than in a wilderness area where you can’t use any motorized equipment.” In this case, volunteers had to use battery-powered pressure washers and haul their own water in backpacks typically used by firemen to battle wilderness blazes.
The OC’s graffiti clean-up was organized through Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), an Asheville, North Carolina-based conservation nonprofit that looks after protected public lands in the Southern Appalachian territory of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. The nonprofit frequently works with college groups on service projects such as this; in fact, Virginia Tech’s Outdoor Club recently sent members to remove graffiti at the Marbleyard, as well.
The W&L Outing Club’s relationship with the group dates to 2017, when W&L Director of Outdoor Education and Recreation James Dick invited a representative of SAWS to Lexington to speak to Appalachian Adventure trip leaders. After that connection, the OC did a few trips with SAWS; the graffiti clean-up was another of these co-sponsored outings.
On Nov. 3, volunteers left W&L for the Marbleyard about 9 a.m., then spent about six hours cleaning rocks. They used a chemical called Elephant Snot, which is applied to the painted areas, worked in with a wire brush, and allowed to sit in the sun for a half-hour before it is sprayed off. Additional elbow grease is used to scrub away remnants of Elephant Snot and paint.
Willingham said he and other volunteers felt good about being able to remove two large spots of graffiti that were located in high-traffic areas at Devil’s Marbleyard. It is his hope that the OC will be able to partner with SAWS for graffiti-removal trips on a monthly basis. That kind of outdoor community service also fulfills the requirement of some grants awarded to the Outing Club, such as a recent Outdoor Nation grant for $1,500.
Beth Ann Townsend ’21, who went on the recent trip, said it was an exhausting day but “such a reward watching the graffiti disappear from the rocks. We couldn’t understand how someone could look out from the Marbleyard over the autumn mountains and choose to deface that beauty. We helped return the ‘wild’ to the wilderness — and got a great hike in at the same time.”
Bringing Everyone to the Table Ben Capouya '20 interviews Victoria Kumpuris Brown '98 about her career in food policy and health at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“Health equity should be at the center of all exploration and new efforts here, making sure that new ideas and solutions are accessible for all and not just a smaller sub-component of the population.”
~ Victoria Kumpuris Brown ’98
Editor’s note: In this series, “Living the Shepherd Dream,” 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.
Ben Capouya ’20, a business administration major and a poverty and human capabilities studies minor, does not know exactly how his postgraduate path will unfold. Last summer, Ben worked at the Atlanta Community Food Bank in Atlanta, Georgia. There, he helped the community garden department lead volunteer groups at the food bank’s donation gardens, as well as expand the impact of the Plant a Row For the Hungry Campaign. Additionally, he assisted the nutrition department with running classes that help senior citizens learn about and implement healthy ingredients and cooking methods into their cooking practices at home. He recently interviewed Victoria Kumpuris Brown ’98 to learn more about the postgraduate opportunities that deal with issues associated with food insecurity and health.
Q: Where do you work and what position do you hold there?
A: I am a senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation is the largest philanthropy in the United States dedicated solely towards health. We have a roughly $11 billion endowment and give out around $550 million each year. The vast majority of our programming is done here in the United States. Our mission is to build a Culture of Health for all Americans, everywhere, no matter what. To achieve a Culture of Health you need to address traditional aspects of health and health care but also attend to the social and contextual aspects that shape our ability to be healthy. This means we literally think about ways we can positively impact where Americans live, work, learn, play and pray all with health equity at the center.
I spend most of my time thinking about ways we can help children and their families reach their fullest potential. I do a lot of work around food policy and ensuring affordable and broad access to healthy food and beverages. I also do a lot of work in creating healthy school environments by investing in the social and emotional well being of students.
The private sector is a big area of focus. To achieve a Culture of Health we must work with a wide variety of partners, the private sector being a critical stakeholder. We want to work with the private sector to harness their innovation and their ability to shape appetites and create our culture. I think about ways we can encourage them to create healthier products and produce healthier policies and programs that benefit their employees and the communities where they do business.
Finally, I am spending my time on two emerging areas of interest. First, the foundation has historically invested in helping communities rebuild after natural disasters. I have been working with a small team across the foundations to build resilience in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, with a specific emphasis on behavioral health. I also lead several investments for our global portfolio. The foundation has a small set of global investments with the purpose being to support innovative programs from across the globe and bring those learnings back to the U.S. I have a series of investments around understanding how other countries have built a shared value of kids moving the populace from thinking about “my kids” to “our kids.”
Q: What postgraduate path brought you to where you are today? How did you decide what you wanted to do after completing your undergraduate education?
A: Mission-driven work has always been what I wanted to do. A lot of it is about how I was raised. I was brought up with an expectation that giving back was expected and valued. Caring about others and our democracy at large was a core value established in my childhood.
I studied public policy, a multi-disciplinary major, while at Washington and Lee, and was fortunate to meet Dr. Harlan Beckley, the founder of the Shepherd Program, during my freshman year. I was part of the Shepherd Program in its first year on campus. After college, I moved to New York and had several jobs across the private and nonprofit sectors. A lot of this work was around communications where I was sharing and shaping stories about public affairs-related efforts. It became very clear to me that I wanted to be part of making the change and shaping the program versus the one telling the story itself. This motivated me to get a masters in public affairs.
A lot of what happened next is a combination of hard work and mostly a lot of luck and happenstance. I fell into public health and spent time at an academic medical center doing research and evaluation, then worked in a state department of health. Those two experiences were infinitely valuable but I missed the pace of the private sector. I joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint venture of the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, at a time when the Clinton Foundation was really pioneering the notion of working with business to shift their policies and practices for good. These “partnerships of great purpose” that were underscored by rigorous evaluation and monitoring are a hallmark of their approach. As part of this, I negotiated a series of agreements with leading beverage manufacturers, McDonalds, and many insurance companies to change their policies and practices for good.
After eight years, I was recruited by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This opportunity was especially exciting as it gave me the chance to continue working to address the obesity epidemic and food policy while getting to learn about new areas of focus. This has included sustainability investing as well as the social and emotional development of young children.
Q: What advice would you give to undergraduate students like me who are interested in making an impact in food justice?
I think this is an arena that is ripe for innovation and change. I think you need to be very open to working across a broad array of partners including advocates, policymakers, organizers and the food manufacturers. Understanding our agricultural system and food policy is critical to making long-term impact in terms of how we can shift and incentivize our food supply to produce healthier and more affordable food at scale. Health equity should be at the center of all exploration and new efforts here, making sure that new ideas and solutions are accessible for all and not just a smaller sub-component of the population.
At the heart of it, access to affordable and healthy food is really an issue about social justice – explaining the issue in this fashion is a way to inspire others to get excited and engaged with this critical issue.
Stephen Cushman to Deliver 2018 Hendricks Law and History Lecture
On Thursday, November 30, Stephen Cushman, Robert C. Taylor Professor at the University of Virginia, will deliver the 2018 Hendricks Lecture in Law and History. The title of Cushman’s talk is “George B. McClellan, Robert E. Lee, and the Laws of War before the Lieber Code.”
The lecture will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.
Cushman is the Robert C. Taylor Professor of English in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at UVA, specializing in American poetry and historical research combining literature and the Civil War. He has published six books of poetry and several non-fiction books, most recently “Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War,” from the University of North Carolina Press.
The historian Gary Gallagher says of “Belligerent Muse” that Cushman “combines in unusual fashion – perhaps unique, I would say – poetic and literary credentials of the first order and serious engagement with historical literature of the Civil War. ‘Belligerent Muse’ ties the insights and contributions of military historians to literary sensibilities in ways no one other than Cushman, at least as far as I know, has attempted.”
Cushman is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the Outstanding Faculty Award in 2015 from the Council of Higher Education in Virginia. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale.
The Law and History lecture series at W&L was endowed by alumnus Pete Hendricks (’66A, ’69L), who has a private practice in Atlanta specializing in land use zoning and government permitting. A history major himself, Hendricks also endowed the Hendricks History Major Stipend Fund and the Ollinger Crenshaw Prize in History at the University several years ago in honor of his favorite professor.
The event is sponsored by the W&L Center for Law and History.
Mario Pellicciaro, Associate Professor of Classics Emeritus, Dies at 89 Pellicciaro taught at W&L from 1966 to 1999.
Mario Nicholas Pellicciaro, associate professor of classics emeritus, died on Nov. 8, 2018. He was 89.
Born in New York City, he was the son of Italian immigrants: Annunzio Pasquale Pellicciaro and Ovidia Paone Pellicciaro. His mother’s name is the female version of Ovid and an influence on Mario’s later interest in Italian literature and classics. The singer Tony Bennett was a high school friend and is the one that suggested that Mario was too smart not to go to college.
Pellicciaro attended the Industrial School of Art and Design and later the City College of New York. Following City College, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served in Korea. After returning from service he pursued master’s and doctoral studies in classics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His speciality was Greek art and linguistics. After graduate work and before coming to Lexington, he taught classics at Georgetown University. Pellicciaro joined the W&L faculty in 1966 and retired in 1999.
“As a teacher, he was one who left a deep impression on a select few of the studentry,” said Lash LaRue ’59, W&L professor of law emeritus, on the occasion of Pellicciaro’s retirement. “There are not many students who wander into Greek, and the intense intellectualism and rigorous theorizing that he brought to the subject was not what many of those expected, or wanted, in an introductory language course, since he never drilled them on the forms but instead gave them the deep theory that generated the forms. He taught them to think seriously about thinking. And he taught them how to tell when it was important to know whether a Greek verb was in the middle voice of the optative mood, instead of the passive voice of the subjunctive mood; he taught them to know how major issues of Plataonic scholarship could turn on such a nuance.”
“Mario hailed from New York City, and it showed,” said Kevin Crotty, professor of classics at W&L. “He was like a breath of New York intellectualism here on campus. He conveyed to me not only a place (New York), but a time — the 60s.”
“During the years when our careers at the University overlapped, 1966-1972, Mario was the most intellectually distinguished member of the faculty, in my estimation and that of many other faculty members,” said Henry Sloss, former assistant professor of English at W&L. “He was a great resource for his colleagues and students during the critical years of transition for the University, when it was transforming itself into a coeducational institution amid the greater transformations that were occurring in the society of the time. For the fifty years that I knew him, Mario represented an ideal combination of intellectual integrity and personal humanity.”
At W&L, Pellicciaro taught ancient Greek, Greek and Latin literature in translation, structural linguistics, Greek art, philosophy and Italian. For many years he organized and conducted the university’s travel study program in Greece. He served as a member of W&L’s Glasgow Endowment Committee and on the editorial board of the university’s literary magazine, Shenandoah.
Pellicciaro is remembered for his passion for life that included support for the arts. He and his wife, Barbara, were founding members of the Lime Kiln Arts board of directors. He was responsible for the calligraphy design and spelling of the names of ancient Greek artists for his friend Cy Twombly ’53’s ceiling design in the Salle des Bronzes, Louvre, Paris. His love for classics included continually translating text in one of the eight different languages he could read. He was always improving translations of text: biblical, classical, old English, French. His love for all things Italian included cooking Italian as his mother taught him, and this was almost always for a large group of his friends and students. He was always willing to teach friends and students a cooking secret or skill.
Italian by birth, Pellicciaro and his wife spent most of their summers in Italy and for the last 15 years were residents of Spello (PG), Umbria. A community memorial celebration was held there last week, and he will be laid to rest in the Spello cemetery.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Lyons Crawford, professor of art and art history at Southern Virginia University; his children, Andrew Pellicciaro ’79, David Pellicciaro and Julia Pellicciaro Schaff and two grandchildren, Dylan Schaff and Kyra Schaff.
Beyond One Summer Zainab Abiza ’19 studied at Princeton and spent time in Rabat, Morocco, with a Davis Projects for Peace grant. This semester, she's working to expand her Davis project.
Any student would be thrilled to secure a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellowship or a Davis Projects for Peace grant, both of which are highly selective programs that provide students with opportunities to study, research and devote time to their passions. This past summer, Washington and Lee University student Zainab Abiza ’19 experienced both of these opportunities, which allowed her to study at Princeton and implement the Dar Taliba project, which is aimed at increasing educational attainment among girls in rural and remote areas of Morocco.
The Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at Princeton is a seven-week program designed to prepare students from diverse backgrounds for graduate study and careers in public policy and international affairs. Abiza took four classes, including an international policy workshop that was taught by James Irvin Gadsden, former ambassador of Iceland. She also attended professional workshops and went to Washington, D.C., for a weekend to meet officials from the State Department and experts at think tanks.
For the Davis opportunity, Abiza designed and implemented a project in her home country with a goal to increase educational attainment for girls in rural areas of Morocco. For this project, she organized an English summer camp at a dormitory about an hour from Rabat that houses 40 girls — mostly junior and senior high school students preparing for their English baccalaureate exam.
“The majority of the girls living at the Dar Taliba dormitory come from rural and remote areas of Morocco. If it wasn’t for this dormitory, a lot of these girls would not be able to attend high school,” Abiza said. “The quality of the Moroccan public educational system is very bad. A few rising seniors mentioned that they never had an English class, although they were supposed to start learning the language in ninth grade.” Due to the lack of teachers, many students struggle with their end-of-year English exam, so Abiza designed this program to help them catch up on their English courses.
She also used her Davis funding to renovate the dormitory, which only had one solar panel to heat water for all of the girls to take showers — and winter is cold in Rabat. Abiza bought an additional solar panel and fixed the broken washing machines so the dormitory residents would no longer need to hand wash their clothes. This saved valuable time for them to study at the school. The grant money was also used to renovate other parts of the dormitory to create a better learning environment for the 40 girls staying there. In addition, Abiza provided all girls with school supplies, including backpacks and textbooks, for the coming school year.
“Now their families don’t have to worry about that,” she said, “especially since that creates a very big financial burden for a lot of these families.”
Abiza was very impressed by the drive and ambition of the students she worked with during the summer. She said the parents and siblings of these girls are uneducated, so it is unusual for these students to attend high school.
The hard work of the students motivated Abiza to continue her project. Even after the summer camp ended, she heard from students who reached out to express a desire to remain a part of the program because they had learned so much from it.
“Now, I’m currently working on creating a mentorship program that pairs up every girl at the dormitory with a bilingual Arabic and English speaker who will serve as a mentor for them,” she said. These mentors will help the girls practice their English-speaking skills for at least an hour every week and guide them in mapping their future.
“My hope is that by the end of this school year, we will be able to match up all of our 40 girls with mentors,” she said.
Abiza is also working to grow her program countrywide. She is now creating a website so people will learn about the program and spread the word. She also hopes to use the website to solicit donations that will continue to support the residents of the Dar Taliba dormitory.
“My hope is to be able to expand this program to all Dar Taliba dormitories across the country,” she said. “The Dar Taliba project is a first step in increasing educational attainment among girls in rural parts of Morocco. However, the real power of the project lies beyond the walls of the classroom. It lies in reshaping the cultural and social norms that often prevent girls from reaching their full potential and dreaming of a better future for themselves.”
After attending the Princeton program, working with girls from rural parts of Morocco and getting greater exposure to poverty issues in her home country, Abiza has confirmed her goal to attend graduate school and pursue a career in international affairs. She also wants to encourage fellow W&L students to apply for opportunities such as the PPIA fellowship and the Davis Projects for Peace grant.
“I did not think I was going to get into the highly selective Princeton summer fellowship, but I just applied,” said Abiza. “If you don’t apply, you don’t get anything.”
W&L, Mount Vernon Announce Mutual Loan of Washington Portraits The historic institutions will temporarily exchange iconic portraits of George Washington, which will go on public view in mid-December.
Washington and Lee University will lend its notable portrait of “George Washington as Colonel in the Virginia Regiment” by Charles Willson Peale to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, where it will hang in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center for the next two years.
The painting is the first of seven portraits of Washington made from life by Peale, and the only portrait of Washington that predates the American Revolution. It was commissioned by Martha Washington and painted in May 1772 at Mount Vernon, where it hung in the Front Parlor along with portraits by John Wollaston of Martha and her children.
In exchange for the Peale portrait, Mount Vernon will loan Washington and Lee its original portrait by Gilbert Stuart, which will hang in the auditorium of the university’s Lee Chapel. The portrait, which was painted during the second term of Washington’s presidency, is a replica by Stuart of his iconic original portrait known as the “Athenaeum” version, now owned jointly by the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is arguably the most publicly recognized image of Washington because it appears on the U.S. $1 bill.
Martha Washington commissioned portraits of herself and her husband from Stuart in 1796 but never received them despite frequent requests. Stuart kept them unfinished as sources for his roughly 75 replicas.
The same year Washington sat for Stuart’s “Athenaeum” portrait, he saved the struggling Liberty Hall Academy — W&L’s predecessor — when he gave the school $20,000 worth of James River Canal stock. The trustees promptly renamed the school Washington Academy, as an expression of their gratitude.
Mount Vernon’s portrait by Stuart was painted in about 1798 and is one of the finest of Stuart’s replicas. Landscape artist George Beck of Philadelphia purchased it directly from Stuart. After it passed through several families in Kentucky, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association received it as a gift in 1904.
“We are delighted about the opportunities that this exchange presents,” said Washington and Lee President William C. Dudley. “Bringing the Stuart portrait to our campus allows us to better tell the story of George Washington’s pivotal gift to the university while simultaneously expanding the audience for the Peale portrait, which is truly one of a kind. We are grateful to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association for its partnership and look forward to continued collaboration as we seek to tell the many stories of Washington and Lee’s history.”
“We are honored to welcome home such an important portrait, which was painted here, and displayed at Mount Vernon throughout the life of George and Martha Washington,” said Doug Bradburn, president and CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “Visitors from around the world will get a chance to see George Washington in the vigor of youth, before the years of toil and sacrifice had aged him, and I believe it will inspire millions to connect with and learn from the lessons of the past. We thank Washington and Lee for its continued partnership in education, and sharing in our mission to tell the story of the father of our country.”
The loan is temporary and will initially last two years, with the option to renew. In the meantime, the university is currently in the process of hiring a director of institutional history who will oversee the planning, development and construction of a new university museum, where the Peale portrait will return to take a place of honor.
W&L Jazz Ensemble and Vosbein Magee Big Band Present ‘Hot Jazz’ The concert is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required.
The Washington and Lee University Jazz Ensemble will join forces with the Vosbein Magee Big Band for an evening of “Hot Jazz” on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. at the Lenfest Center on the W&L campus. The concert is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required.
The student band from Washington and Lee, under the direction of Professor Terry Vosbein, will highlight soloists with a variety of styles, from Benny Goodman’s swinger, “Let’s Dance,” to the Tower of Power hit, “What is Hip?” Other selections include Duke Ellington’s “Concerto for Cootie” and “Harlem Nocturne,” and a brand new jazz version of Saint-Saëns’s “The Swan.”
After intermission, the Vosbein Magee Big Band will take the stage. This ensemble features professional musicians from around the region playing music that can’t be heard anywhere else. Co-leader Chis Magee is the trumpet soloist, along with Tom Artwick on alto sax and Tom McKenzie on trombone. Co-leader Terry Vosbein is responsible for several of the compositions to be heard.
A highlight of each fall concert features the W&L seniors from the Jazz Ensemble sharing the stage with the professional band. Guitarists Joe Wen and Bennett Newman, bassist Clark Mabey and pianist Tommy Willingham will join the Vosbein Magee Big Band for a blues blow-out.
The concert will be streamed live online here.
W&L Honors Veterans at Annual Gathering "It's good to see people from all walks of campus who have served in many different ways," said President Will Dudley.
Veterans in the Washington and Lee University community were honored Monday morning at an annual Veterans Day observance in front of Lee Chapel. Nearly 20 veterans gathered in brisk morning temperatures for a prayer and brief comments before heading to the warmth of the Reeves Center for fellowship, coffee and refreshments.
The event, which takes place this time each year, was organized by W&L employees and veterans Paul Burns and Mark Fontenot. Mike Young, retired director of Public Safety and a Vietnam veteran, said he is thankful for the chance to get together with fellow vets each year.
“I’m grateful that Paul and Mark are able to pull this thing together,” he said. “This is our day. Never forget that.”
President Will Dudley thanked the group for their service. “It’s good to see people from all walks of campus who have served in many different ways,” he said.
Some of the W&L veterans recognized on Monday reached out to share additional details about their time in the service:
Buddy Atkins, retired director of donor relations, voluntarily joined the Navy in August 1968 and started active duty at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in June 1969. After commissioning as an ensign, he was assigned to Communications School. After completion, the Bureau of Naval Personnel assigned him to a destroyer, the USS Lowry DD-770. The Lowry had just returned from an extended tour of duty to Vietnam and was reassigned from Norfolk to a new homeport at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of a destroyer squadron whose purpose was to keep Navy Reserve units qualified for recall if needed. Over three years, he progressed through the Operations Department from combat information officer to department head. When his active duty obligation expired, he left active duty as a lieutenant (select) and then served 23 more years in the Navy Reserve and retired as a commander. “My father served during WWII in a Marine Corps amphibious assault battalion,” Atkins said. “He participated in four opposed landings in the Pacific. When I was facing the Vietnam War draft, he recommended that I volunteer for the Navy. His reasoning was that the shipboard food was good and when it came time to fight you did not have to leave it behind.”
Bob Shaeffer, senior technology integration specialist in ITS, retired from the Air Force in 1997 after 20 years of service. He entered the Air Force in 1977 by way of an ROTC scholarship at Iowa State University. “It paid for my college, and since my draft number was 14, keep me out of being sent to a foxhole in Vietnam,” he said. After flight training, he was assigned to Germany flying the RF4C jet fighter. Shaeffer was stationed overseas for the next 17 years in Germany, England, Japan and Korea. His primary duty was flying reconnaissance along the boarders of what was then East Germany and North Korea. He spent his final year as a liaison to the Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Kelly Markham, a fraternity custodian, served in the Navy from 1988-1992. He was stationed on the USS Missouri and left the service as an E-4.
Steven D. Lyle, a fraternity custodian, was in the Army from 1978-81, serving in Bamburg, Germany, and finishing up as an E-4.
Mark Fontenot, a fire safety systems inspector/electrician in Facilities Management, served in the Virginia Air National Guard for 21 years, from 1987 until retiring in 2008 as an E-7. He was based in Richmond for 18 years and finished his enlistment at Langley Air Force Base. His job title was an aircraft maintenance technician crew chief. In his 21 years of service, he worked on aircraft such as A-7, F-16 and F-22.
Chrissy van Assendelft, a technology integration specialist in ITS, joined the Army delayed-entry the spring of her senior year at Virginia Tech, and left for basic training on her preassigned date of September 12, 2001 — the day after 9/11. She served as a Korean linguist, spending a year and a half at the language school in Monterey, California, before heading to a tech school at Good Fellow Air Force Base in Texas. She then went to Korea, where she was stationed out of Uijongbu. Because she got frostbite several times, she was sent to indoor duty as a tax preparer for other Army members at Camp Casey, a base closer to the demilitarized zone. In the spring, she returned to Uijongbu. She had a permanent change of station to Fort Campbell, KY, in November 2004 before deploying to Iraq from September 2005-October 2006 with 2nd Division, 101st Airborne. She was discharged on Christmas Eve 2006.
Ted Hickman, assistant director of Facility Services, served in the Army during Vietnam.
Don Gaylord, research archaeologist and instructor, was a nuclear reactor operator in the Navy on the fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SNN-722) out of Norfolk, Virginia. He served for six years of active duty, and was an Electronics Technician Second Class: ET2(SS).
Daniel Rexrode, who is retired from Public Safety, served in the Air Force from 1977-1981, where he worked on intercontinental ballistic missiles. He separated as a sergeant.
Mike Young, retired director of Public Safety, was a Sergeant DS in the 716th MP Battalion in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. He served from 1967-68.
Paul Burns, director of environmental health and safety, was a member of the National Guard and Army Reserves from 1968-2009. He served in Iraq in 2005-06 and retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Mark Keeley, director of ITS projects and support, was a captain in the Army. He served most of his five years with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3/63rd Armor Battalion.
Laurie Lipscomb, who is retired from the Communications Office, served in the Navy and left for Vietnam on the evening of his 21st birthday. He served in the I Corps Tactical Zone (Northern Vietnam). He came home in late 1969.
Jerry Clark, a plumber in Facilities Management, was in the Army’s 23rd Battalion, serving in Hanau, Germany, between 1970-72. He was a Specialist E-4.
Lloyd Goad, who is retired from ITS, served in the Air Force from 1969-1973. He was stationed at Osan AFB in Korea, where he served as a drug education and counseling sergeant for Air Forces Korea.
Dick Kuettner, director of the Global Discovery Laboratories, was in the Army from 1970-75. He served in intelligence collections in Germany and Vietnam, and separated four days shy of becoming a captain.
Paul Youngman, associate provost and Redenbaugh Professor of German, served in the Army from 1987-93. He was stationed in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He separated as captain of the 82nd Airborne. He is a holder of the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor in a combat zone.
Tom Tinsley ’75, who retired from ITS in 2016, served in the Air Force from 1968-1972. He underwent electronics and data communications training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, before heading to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he worked in secure voice switching. He was discharged as a Staff Sergeant E-5 in August 1972.
Julie Youngman, assistant professor of business administration, served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1991. She was in the Medical Service Corps, and held several positions in Wiesbaden, Germany, first in a field hospital and ultimately on the staff of the general who commanded the Third Corps Support Command. Two highlights of her time in the military were graduating from the Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and also serving in Germany as the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany united. She left the service with the rank of captain in 1991 to return to grad school.
J. David Thompson ’19L served in the U.S. Army as a Military Police Officer and Special Operations Civil Affairs with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and one to Jordan—receiving a Bronze Star, among other decorations. As an MP in Afghanistan, he partnered alongside security and government officials to expand government outreach. As a Civil Affairs Officer in Afghanistan, he trained Afghan military and government officials, advised Naval Special Warfare, coordinated humanitarian assistance and collaborated in refugee response. In Jordan, Thompson focused on countering violent extremism and assisting communities impacted by the refugee crisis. He currently serves as a major in the Army Reserves.
Santa’s Helper Ron Ginder '75 isn't one of Santa's elves; he's a thoughtful alumnus who makes 800 wooden toys each year for Rockbridge-area children.
“I love the look on children’s faces when they receive a homemade gift.”
~ Ron Ginder ’75
Ron Ginder’s friends and family often call him “Santa” or “the toy man.” The nicknames seem appropriate, since he long ago converted his three-car garage into a workshop where he spends several months each year making wooden Christmas toys for children.
“I love the look on children’s faces when they receive a homemade gift,” said Ginder. He has continued the tradition of making toys for more than 20 years because he likes woodworking and hopes that by his example some child might develop an interest in woodworking, too.
Ron and his wife, MJ, rediscovered the good life in Lexington when their two children, Mike ’07 and Melissa ’09, were students. They wanted to become involved in the Lexington community, so when a neighbor mentioned the Rockbridge Christmas Baskets, Ginder contacted the organization. They were thrilled with his contribution, and he now works closely with the two W&L employees who chair the annual toy drive.
Ginder makes toys for a range of ages. Simple wooden cars might appeal to a younger child, while more complex games challenge the older kids. He works alone in his shop — no elves helping construct upwards of 800 wooden toys per year — but MJ does help package and label them.
Ginder painstakingly handcrafts the toys using vintage woodworking tools and then donates them to the Rockbridge Christmas Basket for distribution to children in need in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County. Last year, more than 3,000 individuals, including 1,080 children, received food boxes and toys through the 70-year-old charity.
This will be the second year that Ginder has donated toys to the Rockbridge Christmas Baskets. Prior to 2017, his handiwork went to churches, hospitals and shelters in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lives most of the year.
Ginder never took woodworking classes. “I’m self-taught,” he said. “Wood is a forgiving medium, and I have been able to learn from my mistakes.” He got started out of necessity. When he was a student at W&L living off campus, he needed furniture, so he made some himself and also refinished finds from local thrift stores. Through the years, he has continued to restore antique furniture, as well as make a variety of items, from cutting boards to custom furniture. He uses vintage tools, many as old as 75 years, and has even started a small business buying and selling parts for old tools.
Ginder has more “Santa” time now that he has retired from a career in human resources, first at Anheuser-Busch for 20 years before setting up the HR department for the Diocese of Saint Augustine in Jacksonville. A sociology major at Washington and Lee, he went from graduation to a job with the Department of Navy in Norfolk, Virginia, where he joined a personnel management training program. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree from George Washington University.
He has no plans to stop making toys for children. Since he and his wife recently purchased a 1930s-era home in historic downtown Lexington, the only change might have to be moving Santa’s workshop from sunny Florida to the more wintry Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
The Rockbridge Christmas Baskets is a 70-year-old nonprofit organization that provides food and toys to families in need at Christmas. Volunteers are needed Dec. 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to pack boxes and bags for distribution by fire departments, first aid crews, civic clubs, churches, scout troops, etc. Visit the website for more information.
Bridge Dedicated to W&L Veteran A bridge in Maryland has been named for Cpl. Chris Coffland ’88, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.
“Chris was a leader, not a follower.”
~ Jim Rallo ’88
On Nov. 13, friends and family of Cpl. Christopher Coffland ’88, who was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb on Nov. 13, 2009, will gather to dedicate a bridge across Loch Raven Reservoir on Dulaney Valley Road in his hometown of Timonium, Maryland.
His childhood friend, John Nozemack ’88, noted, “There’s a beautiful irony for me of Chris getting a bridge in Loch Raven Reservoir dedicated to him. Chris and I used to fish there quite a bit when we were little kids. It’s such a peaceful and tranquil spot, but also a place where we had some really good times. I’m glad it’s a spot where so many people who knew and loved Chris will get to see his name daily. This way, there is a constant reminder of our friend who lived by the courage of his convictions and bravely went off to fight injustice in the world so that those of us at home would be more safe and secure while being able to exercise our rights of freedom.”
“Chris was a leader, not a follower,” added Jim Rallo ’88. “His entire life he took the path that he wanted, as he was never influenced by his friends or society. He was a person that led by example. After Sept. 11, he often talked about joining the military and serving his country and did so at age 41. He became the squad leader in basic training and was more physically fit than most of the younger guys. ‘Catch a lift’ was his favorite phrase while at W&L, as he was always headed to the gym to stay in shape for football or lacrosse. Chris was a friend, a leader and truly a Renaissance man.”
The signs at either end of the bridge went up in October. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Coffland’s sister, Lynn, said, “It was a really humbling moment to see my brother’s name be put on a sign that I know will be there for as long as that bridge exists.”
The bridge dedication was spearheaded by the Catch A Lift Fund, a nonprofit founded by Lynn Coffland a year after her brother’s death. The Timonium-based organization provides fitness grants and mentorship to veterans to help them acclimate to civilian life.
Veterans who have benefited from the nonprofit were instrumental in helping to prepare the application and petition for the Maryland State Highway Administration’s approval.
Rob Fessock, a 16-year retired Army veteran who credits Catch a Lift’s programming with his recovery, said, “Every civilian and military member that crosses that bridge knows that he served his nation and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
You can read more about Coffland’s accomplishments here.
Washington and Lee will honor veterans with a brief ceremony on Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. in front of Lee Chapel.
In addition, on Sunday, Nov. 11, W&L will toll the Lee Chapel bells at 11 a.m. as part of the United States World War One Centennial Commission’s “Bells of Peace: A World War I Remembrance” event. This national bell-tolling event honors the centennial of the armistice and the 4.5 million Americans who served and sacrificed in World War One.
The Art of a Second Shot Max Adler ’04, editorial director at Golf Digest magazine, used golf and art to facilitate the release of a wrongfully convicted man.
“All I needed to do was be curious and thorough. That was something that every professor at W&L helped ingrain in me.”
~ Max Adler ’04
Max Adler ’04 never would have guessed that his love of golf and a studio art degree from Washington and Lee would one day play a role in leading to the release of an innocent man from prison.
Adler, the editorial director at Golf Digest, launched a lengthy and in-depth investigation that recently led to the release of Valentino Dixon, a man who had spent 27 years at a maximum-security prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Dixon was suspected of fatally shooting Torriano Jackson in 1991 during a party that turned violent. Even though someone else confessed to the killing, Dixon was already on law enforcement’s radar for drug dealing.
Fast forwarding to 2011, Adler was a staff writer at Golf Digest when he received a letter postmarked from Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Along with a letter from Dixon was a small drawing of a golf course rendered in colored pencil. Although Dixon had never played a game of golf in his life, he began drawing pictures of golf courses while in prison that were based on copies of Golf Digest. Inside the magazine, Dixon found a series of columns written by Adler under the title, “Golf Saved My Life.”
The columns described how golf had helped people overcome some of the most difficult challenges in their lives. “Valentino came across my column and saw my name and thought that the theme applied to his situation,” Adler said.
Adler, who played on the golf team at W&L, was especially drawn to the beauty of Dixon’s drawing, noting, “Here was golf and art colliding in this amazing way. It definitely caught my attention.”
From there, Adler visited Dixon and began uncovering several holes in Dixon’s case — including conflicting testimony from witnesses and no trace of physical evidence linking Dixon to the murder. Then, in 2012, Adler published a story in Golf Digest making the case for Dixon’s innocence, which generated some interest from the Golf Channel, NBC News and other media outlets, but was not enough to completely tip the scale in Dixon’s favor.
For the next six years, Adler and Dixon stayed in touch, while Adler shared Dixon’s story with social justice advocacy groups to keep the case alive. In 2017, Dixon’s lawyers filed a petition for clemency and pardon, but heard nothing from the New York governor.
“I was probably naive in thinking our work would quickly catch the attention of someone in power who would be able to penetrate the system and make change, but that was not the case,” Adler said.
However, the work of a few students at Georgetown University and fresh blood in the New York legal system provided new hope.
Earlier this year, Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative heard of Dixon’s story and filmed a documentary that uncovered vital new evidence in the case. In September, a new district attorney in Erie County, New York, agreed to vacate Dixon’s murder conviction, making him a free man.
Adler is amazed by Dixon’s mental fortitude that enabled him to survive nearly 30 grueling years in one of the nation’s most dangerous prisons. But his release still tasted bittersweet for many. “It’s still wrong that he was in prison for so long and had the prime of his life taken from him.”
Adler credits his robust liberal arts experience for giving him the necessary tools to research Dixon’s case. He signed up for classes in almost every department during his undergraduate career, which instilled in him the belief that intellectual curiosity can take you anywhere.
He encourages W&L students with a passion for social justice to get involved early and often and to trust that their undergraduate experience will prepare them to meet any challenge head-on.
“I wasn’t afraid or overwhelmed about solving this case,” Adler said. “I knew that all I needed to do was be curious and thorough. That was something that every professor at W&L helped ingrain in me.”
Valentino Dixon is pursuing a career in art. Please visit www.valentinodixon.com to view his portfolio.
On Numbers and Notes Whether he's working with the Williams Investment Society or playing jazz guitar, Joe Wen '19 makes the most of his W&L experience.
“So far, we have had success providing our members with a great learning experience, and we will continue to improve the Williams Investment Society experience going forward.”
~ Joe Wen ’19
Hometown: Xiamen, China
Major: Business Administration
Minor: Computer Science
What factors led you to choose W&L?
In high school, I knew that I wanted to go a liberal arts college because I was not sure what I wanted to study, and W&L provides an ideal learning environment for exploring a variety of subjects. Besides, I really enjoy being in a small but close community here, which is exactly what W&L provides; the W&L community allows you to learn from people from very different backgrounds, and it is truly a special place. Also, having spent three years in New Hampshire for high school, I was ready to move somewhere warmer.
Why did you decide to study business administration and computer science?
I find business administration to be a major that emphasizes intellectual flexibility, which is what I hope to gain from my college years. The professors really challenge your critical thinking skills besides the technical skills, which is great exercise for any job out of college. Most of the problems in business administration do not have right answers, and I enjoy the process of analyzing the problems, finding the best solutions and supporting my decisions with evidence.
In computer science, most problems have right answers – but the key is to find the best/most efficient way to arrive at such answers, which I really enjoy. Building a program from scratch also requires a very comprehensive mindset, since every single step that we usually take for granted must be built in lines of code. Personally, I do find the computer science courses to be outside of my comfort zone sometimes, but the learning process is very rewarding, especially when a program finally runs after hours of debugging.
You’re involved in several extracurricular activities, including as a director of the Williams Investment Society (WIS). What is the WIS and why are you proud of your involvement in it?
The WIS is a student organization that currently manages $12.3 million in equities from the Washington and Lee University endowment. I’m proud of what we have achieved as a group so far – not only is the WIS portfolio outperforming the S&P 500 by 5% year-to-date, but the WIS members also continue to impress with their efforts to further improve of the society. Besides managing part of W&L’s endowment, WIS also aims to educate its members on investments and prepare them for their future careers. So far, we have had success providing our members with a great learning experience, and we will continue to improve the WIS experience going forward.
How did you end up interning last summer with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s Healthcare Group, and what impact did that experience have on you?
I landed the internship through on-campus interviews with a W&L alumnus. Besides learning a ton of Excel shortcuts, I was able to train my attention to detail in a professional setting, which had profound impact on me. I still remember developing almost paranoid habits about my work to reduce potential errors: proofreading more than five times, printing out copies to examine line by line, recalculating every output in a model, etc. While the job could be stressful at times, it really provided a great learning experience and helped me develop a better sense of attention to details. Besides, health care is really a fascinating space. I have never had any exposure to health care before, and it was eye-opening to learn about a variety of sub-sectors within the industry, such as specialty pharma, workers’ compensation, contract research organizations, etc.
What opportunities have you had to practice your musical talents in Lexington?
The main music groups that I’m involved with are the University Jazz Ensemble and Zack Ely and the Nelson St. band; I play guitar in both. The Jazz Ensemble is both challenging and fun – our diverse repertoire (from Duke Ellington to Snarky Puppy) really challenges your sight-reading and improvisation abilities. Guitar players sometimes find it difficult to find their place musically in a bigger ensemble setting after practicing by themselves for too long, and the jazz ensemble provides a great opportunity for people to learn how to play with others.
Zack Ely and the Nelson St. band is a relatively new band, but I enjoy playing in it very much. It consists of Zack Ely ’19 (lead singer/acoustic guitar), Bennett Newman ’19 (guitar/bass) and Colin Berger ’20 (drums), and we play a mixture of Zack’s originals and covers that we like. This band happened when Zack hired the Nelson St. band for a performance last Spring Term – the band came together very naturally with everyone’s abilities and the collective chemistry. Zack is a very talented singer/songwriter and being part of the creative process of performing his songs has been a lot of fun (check him out on Spotify!). The covers include some classics and guilty-pleasure songs, and I couldn’t tell you how exciting it is to play “Why Georgia” by John Mayer when the crowd can sing every single line.
What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
I’ll be starting my full-time position with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta after graduation. It is an exciting start, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in my career.
If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
More about Joe
What’s your personal motto?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott
What’s your favorite place to eat in Lexington and what do you order?
Beef fried rice at Napa Thai, but don’t go over level 4 spiciness.
What one film/book do you recommend to everyone?
“Principles” by Ray Dalio is a fantastic read.
Favorite W&L memory?
Competing in the National Student Advertising Competition in Raleigh with my AdClass classmates.
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I almost went to Berklee College of Music.
W&L Hosts Annual Holiday Candlelight Service The event is free and open to the public.
Washington and Lee University’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service featuring the University Singers will be held Thursday, December 6, at 8 p.m. in Lee Chapel. Seating will begin at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” broadcast each year from King’s College Chapel, University of Cambridge, and widely used in England, the United States and around the world, is an ancient form for corporate worship at the Christmas season. The prayers, lessons and music tell the story of sacred history from the Creation to the Incarnation.
In 1880, E.W. Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, drew up a service of lessons and carols for use on Christmas Eve in the wooden shed which served as his cathedral. In 1918 this service was adapted for use in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. In the early 1930s, the BBC began broadcasting the service on overseas programming, and it is estimated that there are millions of listeners worldwide.
The service has been held for many years in Lexington and was held at Grace Episcopal Church during the earlier years. The W&L Men’s Glee Club participated in the service held at the church, but when the Candlelight Service moved to Lee Chapel in the early 1990s, the newly founded University Chamber Singers became the featured choir.
Music for the traditional service again will be provided by the University Singers, the evolution of the Chamber Singers, and conducted by Morgan Luttig, ’14, visiting director of choral activities at W&L. The Singers’ anthems will feature a wide variety of music, from traditional favorites to modern masterpieces.
Timothy Gaylard, professor of music, will be the organist for the service, leading the familiar hymns and carols and rounding out the evening’s experience with a festive organ prelude and postlude.
Nine members of the Washington and Lee University community will read the lessons. William C. Datz ’75 will preside over the service.
The event will be streamed live online here.
The Campus Kitchen at W&L Presents Annual Turkeypalooza The Bring Your Turkey to Work Day and the University Store’s food drive help provide Thanksgiving meals to the community.
The Campus Kitchen Leadership Team at Washington and Lee University presents its annual Turkeypalooza: A Family Table Gathering Event from Nov. 9-15.
The Campus Kitchen Leadership Team (CKLT) runs a variety of holiday-themed events during the month of November. The annual Bring Your Turkey to Work Day and the University Store’s food drive provides CKLT with enough food to deliver Thanksgiving meals across the county.
“Turkeypalooza is one of my favorite events because we all get to work together to bring so many individuals and families in our community a nice, Thanksgiving meal,” said Maddie Simko ’19.
If you’re interested in joining the CKLT during Turkeypalooza, see the full schedule below:
- Nov. 9 | Bring Your Turkey to Work Day (in the Quad) | 8-9:30 a.m.
- Nov .10 | Kroger Food Drive| 8-10 a.m.
- Nov. 11 | Cooking Shift | 3-5 p.m.
- Nov. 11 | BV Delivery Shift | 5-6 p.m.
- Nov. 12 | Cooking Shift | 9-10:30 a.m.
- Nov. 13 | Glasgow Delivery | 3-4:30 p.m.
- Nov. 13 | Cooking Shift | 9-10:30 a.m., 5-7 p.m., and 7-9 p.m.
- Nov. 14 | LCOOY Delivery | 3-5 p.m.
- Nov. 15 | Magnolia Delivery | 11:30-1:30 p.m.
- Nov. 15 | Manor Delivery | 4:30-6:30 p.m.
“With each year, more and more of the W&L community gets involved with our week of giving back,” said Simko. “I am really excited to see the turnout this year and to see just how much we can serve our amazing community.”
There is also a food-donation drive in the University Store from Nov. 5-16, and the library is donating any cans that are brought in to replace fines to the Campus Kitchen.
The mission of The Campus Kitchens Project is to use service as a way to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities. The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee combats hunger and promotes nutrition by recovering and reusing food that would otherwise go to waste into balanced meals for low-income members of the community in Rockbridge County. Volunteers also develop valuable relationships with clients.
For more information, visit the Campus Kitchen website.
Bell Talks “Front Porches of the Dead” W&L Anthropology Professor Alison Bell discusses grave sites on "With Good Reason Radio."
Alison Bell, associate professor of anthropology at Washington and Lee University, gave an interview with Sarah McConnell the host of “With Good Reason Radio.” The title of the show is “Front Porches of the Dead.”
Bell studies burial practices and says that in the 1980s there was a shift in the way people expressed themselves in cemeteries. In her discussion, she says “One thing that’s happening is that the living are treating grave sites as if they are the front porches of the dead, as if the dead are still ‘at home’ somehow, behind a door, not visible, but cognizant, and vital in a way.”
Listen to the full segment here.
W&L Presents “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” This production is open to the public, but tickets are required.
The Washington and Lee University Department of Theater, Dance and Film Studies presents “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” on Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. in Johnson Theatre on the W&L campus.
Vanya (Jim Grant ’19) and Sonia (Charlotte Cook ’19) have lived their entire lives in their family home, caring for their aging parents. Masha (Hannah Dewing ’19), an international pop movie star whose real wish is to act on the classical stage, returns home to visit her two siblings with her boy-toy actor boyfriend, Spike (Nick Mauer ’20), setting the audience up for a two-hour comedic romp.
Dewing, Grant and Cook lived on the same hall during their freshman year at W&L, and Dewing says the sibling roles they play come naturally to them. “Our relationship just makes sense, so it’s going to be so funny,” she said. “It’s been an easy relationship to settle into because we’re already so close.”
“We have that comedic language established, and we know how to play off of each other already,” said Grant. “It’s super exciting to put that on stage and see it translate.”
Stephanie Sandberg, assistant professor of theater and film studies, directs the contemporary comedy, which is written by Christopher Durang. It parodies Anton Chekhov’s work, so Sandberg said she hopes the audience leaves the theater with the spirit of laughter and an appreciation for theater.
“We need laughter right now,” said Sandberg. “Laughter is incredibly healing, and I think it will be good for audiences to experience that.”
This production is open to the public, but tickets are required. They may be ordered online or by calling the Lenfest box office at 540-458-8000. The box office is openMon.–Fri., 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m., as well as one hour before performance time. Tickets are forfeited five minutes to opening and are going quickly, so get yours now! University Swipe is available.
Poet Oliver de la Paz to Give Public Reading at W&L The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for sale following the reading.
Poet Oliver de la Paz will give a public reading at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium on the W&L campus. The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for sale following the reading.
“I’ve long admired the intelligence of Oliver’s poems and the innovative ways he tackles big subjects—identity, place, power,” said Lesley Wheeler, Henry S. Fox Professor of English. “I’m also really excited by his brand new work, some of which, like ‘Autism Screening Questionnaire — Speech and Language Delay,’ is inspired by raising children on the autism spectrum.”
Paz is the author of five collections of poetry, “Names Above Houses,” “Furious Lullaby,” “Requiem for the Orchard,” “Post Subject: A Fable” and his forthcoming book, “The Boy in the Labyrinth.”
He is also co-editor of “A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry.” He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian-American poetry, and is a former member of the board of trustees for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
A recipient of an NYFA Fellowship Award and a GAP Grant from Artist Trust, his work has appeared in journals like Virginia Quarterly Review, North American Review, Tin House and Poetry, and in anthologies such as “Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation.” He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.
Ready for Trial Kathy McLaughlin '19L spent her summer in the Colorado State Public Defender office.
Kathy McLaughlin is a current 3L at W&L Law. She is originally from Seattle, WA and received her bachelor’s degree from Washington State University. For her 3L year, Kathy is a student in the criminal justice clinic, a senior articles editor for the German Law Journal, and Vice President of Media for the Women Law Students Organization. After graduation, Kathy hopes to become a public defender.
What did you do for work this summer?
This summer I worked as a certified legal intern for the Colorado State Public Defender in one of their regional offices.
How did you find/get this position?
One of my classmates worked at the Colorado State Public Defender for her 1L summer and had an amazing experience. She shared a contact with a W&L Alumni who is an attorney with the Colorado PD and I got in touch with her. The alumni talked to me on the phone and answered all my questions over application process, helped me get the interview, and then that led to a intern position in the Brighton Office. My alumni connection helped get me a contact in Colorado because I didn’t know anyone there.
Describe your work experience.
As a certified intern for the Colorado State Public Defender, you received your own caseload for the summer. I was supervised by other attorneys in the office and worked closely with them on the cases, but those cases were my responsibility. Over the course of the summer I either handled, or helped, with around 80 cases. This included being in front of a judge for your client entering in a plea of guilty, to motions hearings, and jury trials. I was in the courtroom at the minimum one day per week. My favorite part was the opportunity to sit second chair on trials with different attorneys in the office and in different courtrooms in front of different judges. During the trials, I was able to do anything from conducting cross examinations to presenting an opening statement to a jury.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
I developed so many different skills this summer, I wouldn’t be able to list them all. Some of the things I learned include how to manage a case load, how to advise clients properly, courtroom presence, how to conduct a motions hearing, and how a jury trial runs.
What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?
One of the most important classes that I took was Trial Advocacy during the spring of my 2L year. This class really taught me about how to conduct a trial and to get comfortable in a courtroom. I learned so many key skills that laid the foundation for my summer internship. I also think all of the criminal law classes were equally important, both criminal procedure cases, death penalty, and criminal law during 1L year.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
What surprised me the most this summer is how I was able to handle myself in the courtroom and how much I grew in my courtroom presence over the summer. At the beginning of the summer, I was more nervous making arguments in court and being at the podium alone. Towards the end of the summer, I felt very comfortable standing up for my client and trying to fight for them.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
My favorite part of this summer’s internship was having my own cases and managing them myself. I loved working really hard on a case and then having the case dismissed or when a client got a not guilty verdict at trial. Working with clients and meeting their goals for what they wanted to happen with the case was the best part. Nothing feels more rewarding.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
This experience has solidified my post graduate plans. I am committed to being a public defender and hope to return to Colorado.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
I am going to be a student attorney in the criminal justice clinic for my 3L year here at W&L, and I will have the opportunity to apply all the skills I learned from my internship to my clinic clients. I am excited to take this internship experience and improve and shape my legal ability as a public defender.
Rediscovery and Restoration of a 279-Year-Old Treasure The Benjamin Borden Grant, the original grant for the land on which W&L now sits, turns 279 this month. It has been conserved and is stored in W&L's Special Collections.
For 90 years, the original grant for the land that Washington and Lee now sits on has resided in Washington and Lee’s Special Collections vault. The grant, a vellum document issued by George II on November 6, 1739, deeded more than 92,000 acres of land by the British Crown to Benjamin Borden. Issued by William Gooch of the colony of Virginia, it was formalized seven years before the birth of George Washington and 10 years before the founding of what is now known as Washington and Lee University. The grant of land included all of Lexington and a sizable section of Rockbridge County.
On November 6, 1928, John Bowyer of Abilene, Texas, a descendent of one of the early Lexington settlers who built Thorn Hill and a direct descendent of Benjamin Borden, deeded the original skin document to Washington and Lee. In a legal document transferring ownership of the original grant to W&L, Bowyer wrote:
The original grant from George the Second, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, dated sixth day of November 1739 covers all the land on which the City of Lexington Virginia and all of its public buildings and institutions of learning are located. This original instrument has followed the vicissitudes, the ups and downs, the rise and fall of the fate and fortunes of my family for nearly two hundred years. Its future preservation will be more secure in the keeping of some permanent institution than in private hands, and believing it should abide henceforth amid the innumerable titles it has mothered; I, John Bowyer of the City of Abilene in Taylor County, Texas do hereby give and grant and commit to the keep and custody of the Washington and Lee University of the City of Lexington in Rockbridge County, Virginia, said original grant which is hereto attached.
Through the generosity of the late Edward Franklin Romig II, another Benjamin Borden descendent, the very fragile vellum document was restored and rehoused in spring 2015. Etherington Conservation Services, an internationally recognized book and paper conservation lab in Greensboro, North Carolina, undertook the process. Earlier conservation work was undertaken in 1940 by the National Archives, where the document was lined with paper rather than skin due to the pre-war scarcity of such material.
Although clearly compromised physically, and distinctly less legible than when it was penned more than 275 years ago, the document has not diminished in importance. In early 2015, conservators surface-cleaned and stabilized the piece by “floating” it in a storage mat, which allows the skin to expand and contract as needed. Additionally, conservators designed and constructed an elegant, grey/blue linen box to house the item in its storage mat. A custom-fit cover, also in grey/blue linen, ensures that light and dust will not reach the priceless document.
Romig and his wife, Celeste, of Lexington, Virginia, made a special trip to Washington and Lee to see the document in fall 2014. Romig was clearly moved to see such a precious family piece in person, and suggested that he be allowed to pay for the restoration of the work. Unfortunately, he passed away in mid-January 2015 and did not see the beautiful work done by the conservators at Etherington Conservation Services. His widow, Dr. Celeste Romig, graciously agreed to underwrite the cost of the restoration in memory of her late husband. An inscription on the inside of the linen box reads simply:
Conservation Completed in 2015 In Memory of Edward Frankin Romig II 1947-2015, a Benjamin Borden Descendent
Thanks to the thoughtfulness of John Bowyer, descended from a long line of Washington and Lee supporters and alumni, and the generosity of Frank Romig, a Benjamin Borden descendent, the original grant, nearly 300 years old, is safe and secure in the Special Collections vault and will remain so for generations to come.
Davis Straske ’19 Wins Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology Straske is a psychology major and dance minor and has been a member of Professor Megan Fulcher’s developmental psychology research lab since the winter of her freshman year.
Davis Straske, a Washington and Lee University senior from Tampa, Florida, has been awarded the 2018 David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology.
The Elmes Pathfinder Prize recognizes a student who has shown extraordinary promise in psychological science or in the application of psychological science in the professions through outstanding scholarship in basic or applied psychology.
Straske is a psychology major and dance minor and has been a member of Professor Megan Fulcher’s developmental psychology research lab since the winter of her freshman year. The lab studies the impact of toy play on gendered stereotypes and children’s visions of their future selves through toys such as Legos, Duplos and baby dolls. Straske has spent the past two summers working as a Summer Research Scholar in the lab, and she currently serves as its participant coordinator. In this capacity, she recruits families for ongoing research projects and works with other undergraduate students, managing and assigning their tasks within the lab and developing coding schemes for data analysis of existing datasets. Members of the lab plan community-outreach events and teach psychology topics to local elementary schools and after-school groups.
“I was impressed with Davis the first time a met her, and she continues to impress every day,” said Fulcher. “She is an incredible organizer and has created many new protocols and standards to lab procedures that have greatly improved efficiency and productivity in the lab. More importantly, she has an intellectual curiosity paired with a deep understanding of literature that makes her a great collaborator during project design and in interpreting findings. It is no surprise that she is studying empathy as she is always kind and thoughtful. The lab has a culture of friendliness and cooperation under her leadership. I know graduate school is a great place for her, but I will miss her here tremendously.”
As a longtime camp counselor and babysitter, Straske has found developmental psychology to be a stimulating and gratifying intersection of her academic interests and experiences working with children. Working in a research lab has allowed her to apply theories and data analyses techniques to research projects she has seen through from start to finish.
Straske’s honors thesis examines empathy development in pre-school age boys, focusing on how parents’ roles within a family may impact their child’s development of certain caregiving or nurturing skills. After creating two interventions, using toy play and picture book reading to elicit empathy, she hopes to assess the interventions’ effectiveness. If the data support these approaches, they may be useful for parents to promote their young sons’ empathy in the home.
Outside of the psychology department, Straske dances with and serves as the president for the W&L Repertory Dance Company, and also teaches creative movement dance classes for early school-age children at Halestone Dance Studio in Lexington. She sits on the planning committee for W&L’s 2019 Science, Society and the Arts Conference and serves as the vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Council. She belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Psi Chi Psychology National Honor Society and the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.
The Elmes Pathfinder Prize was established in 2007. It derives from the Elmes Fund, a permanently endowed fund that honors David G. Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology at W&L. The many alumni, colleagues and friends who benefited from Elmes’ commitment to learning during his 40-year career as a scientist, teacher and mentor at W&L created the endowment.
W&L Presents Author Talk Featuring Harvey Markowitz The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.
Harvey Markowitz, assistant professor of anthropology at Washington and Lee University, will give a public talk on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in Leyburn Library in the Book Nook. He will discuss his recent book, “Converting the Rosebud: Catholic Mission and the Lakotas, 1886-1916.” The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.
Learn more about Markowitz and his book here.
This talk is part of the Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series, and is presented by the University Library.
Class of ’94 Inspired to Name Office of Inclusion and Engagement The 25th reunion committee chose to name the office, with a fundraising goal of $1 million, to help all W&L students thrive.
“We want all students to get the full W&L experience and to leave as global citizens. If our gift can help to accelerate the great strides W&L is making in this area, it will be a wonderful legacy for our class.”
~Todd Ezrine ’94
“I am enjoying reliving that moment,” said 25th reunion committee co-chair Betsy Pakenas ’94. “It was one of less than a handful of times when I have felt that there was some shift, some shared experience that could be the catalyst for something really powerful — for something that will make a difference.” Pakenas was describing the events that led her and the rest of the 25th reunion committee to select naming the Office of Inclusion and Engagement with a fundraising goal of $1 million as its reunion class project.
In September, the 25th reunion committee met on campus to plan the upcoming celebration. Among the university’s priorities presented as options for the class project were the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE), scholarship support or naming the dean of career and professional development position. After hearing a presentation from President Will Dudley on the progress Washington and Lee has made in attracting students from a wide range of backgrounds, a completely organic conversation arose when committee member Maurice “Moe” Cole ’94 posed the question: “What is W&L doing to enhance and enrich the experience of all students in an inclusive and deliberate way?”
Cole shared that as a student of color, he felt marginalized and discriminated against on campus and in the Lexington community during his time at W&L. He described his relationship with the university as complicated and wanted to give a voice to others who may have felt the same way but had not had a chance to speak up about their experiences. The committee members were inspired to select a project that would directly address issues such as those Cole faced, allowing all students to thrive at W&L.
“I never imagined that any definitive action would arise from my musings,” Cole said. “It was one of the most human things I have experienced — not only did my classmates hear that although we all shared an experience, it manifested differently for some than others — they came together and said ‘How can we help? What can we do to enhance this shared space and enrich the W&L experience for all students?’” After the committee had articulated its interest, Tamara Futrell, dean for diversity, inclusion and engagement, spoke to the group about services offered through her office, as well as the next steps as a strategic-planning priority.
Futrell explained that the Office of Inclusion and Engagement serves as a resource for the entire campus community, encouraging everyone to connect with one another across varied backgrounds. The university plans to renovate the second floor of Elrod Commons so that the Office of Inclusion and Engagement can offer a centralized location at the heart of campus for all its services. Many student resources, such as the lending library and food pantry, lack dedicated space. The Class of 1994 gift will support current and future programming, such as the successful diversity and community-building education series for first-year students. It will also accommodate future staffing needs to best serve students.
The university’s mission encompasses preparing students for a global and diverse society, and limited diversity on campus is a challenge to achieving this objective. Through persistent dedication to building the highest quality educational community, W&L is working hard to ensure the most talented students from all backgrounds feel welcome and at home on campus. Futrell has worked for W&L for 16 years and noted that the demographics have changed considerably during that time and even more so since the Class of 1994 graduated. “This gift will allow us to do even more. We want all students at W&L to have equal opportunity to thrive here,” she said.
Todd Ezrine ’94, a 25th reunion committee member, acknowledged the bravery it took for Cole to speak up, and he helped facilitate a productive discussion about the class project during the committee meeting. “We want all students to get the full W&L experience and to leave as global citizens. If our gift can help to accelerate the great strides W&L is making in this area, it will be a wonderful legacy for our class,” he said.
Cole, like many of his classmates, is still overwhelmed by the turn of events. “If I played any part in this magnificent display of humanity and commitment to equity that is steeped in our love for our alma mater, I am humbled and ready to work,” he said.
The Art of ‘Survivance’ Joel Bernstein ’57 brings his passion for Native American art to W&L with a groundbreaking new exhibition.
“Correcting our historical narrative and methods of storytelling to be more inclusive — and therefore more accurate — can have a massive influence on the aspirations and lives of young people and the culture around us.”
~Julie Ruth Malone ’18
“Those of you who are students here probably don’t know yet what you are getting out of this school,” said Joel Bernstein ’57 at the Oct. 17 opening of “Ancient Inspirations: The Pueblo Pottery of Lorraine Gala Lewis and LaDonna Victoriano.” Clad in a wide-brimmed hat, cowboy boots and dark blue jeans, Bernstein made the groundbreaking exhibit possible — and it was a gift of gratitude. “My whole life I owe to Marshall Fishwick [W&L professor and founder of its American Studies Program] and my career at W&L,” he said, explaining that it was Fishwick who inspired the Queens-born, Baltimore-raised Bernstein to pick up and move out West, where he would forge a career as an educator, author, rancher — even a rodeo performer for a spell.
During the 50 years Bernstein spent in Wyoming, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico, he developed a passion for Native American cultures and art; in fact, Bernstein taught a course on Native American art for over a decade at the University of Montana. An avid collector, he forged friendships in New Mexico with Lorraine Gala Lewis and LaDonna Victoriano, renowned Native American potters. When he learned that W&L’s Reeves Center had never before held an exhibition on Native American ceramics, he realized it was time for these two worlds to meet.
“If we were going to mount an exhibition at W&L, I figured I wanted the best,” said Bernstein of the artists who showcased in “Ancient Inspirations.” “Their work is very, very different, but represents such a wonderful contrast and a continuity of their cultures.”
Indeed, though the artists are contemporaries and their work shares a resemblance in many of its forms and exquisite black adornment, the two represent distinct traditions. Lewis, who is of Laguna, Taos and Hopi descent, painstakingly recreates the works of her pre-Columbian ancestors, a labor of love, reverence and cultural preservation. “I try to capture the aesthetic beauty and individuality of each piece and remain as close as I can to the original works of art,” she said.
Victoriano is from Acoma pueblo, west of Albuquerque, accepted by many scholars as the oldest continuously lived-in place in America. Her work is a modern reinterpretation of the symbols, themes and techniques adapted from several regional tribes.
“Ancient Inspirations,” which will remain on display through late February, has touched many areas of the university, as well as people’s lives. For Bernstein, it’s a way to bring his passions for Native American art and history to his alma mater and the wider Rockbridge community. For New Mexico-based artist Victoriano, the opening prompted her first journey east of Omaha.
Julie Ruth Malone ’18 helped Ron Fuchs, Reeves Center curator and manager, design the exhibit for an independent study. The experience inspired her to reconsider a legal career in favor of a new one — curating. “It helped me realize that I can combine my passion for museums with advocacy work, utilizing institutions of public education as promoters of culture change,” she said. Today, Malone is a programming guide at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Pieces from the exhibit were also used as teaching tools in the classrooms of Andrea Lepage, associate professor of art history, and Deborah Miranda, professor of English. Miranda brought her Literary Approaches to Poverty students to view the exhibit — well-timed, as they had recently finished the Native American novel “Tracks” by Louise Erdrich. “This was a visual, tactile, three-dimensional example of exactly what we’ve been talking about,” said Miranda, herself a descendant of the Esselen and Chumash tribes of California. “‘Survivance’ is a word coined by Anishinaabe tribe scholar Gerald Vizenor, which means a combination of the concepts ‘survival’ and ‘creative continuance’. The gorgeous pottery in the exhibit manifested the idea of what it means for indigenous people to not just survive, but to thrive against all odds.”
Lepage reflected on the invaluable experience for her students: handling the art objects and learning firsthand from the artist about techniques and inspirations. “Lorraine Gala Lewis’s presentation reinforced many of the themes we had discussed in our classroom — the importance of origin stories, the ways artists respond to and adapt traditional artistic motifs, and the use of art to preserve and pass down ideas, histories and knowledge within communities,” Lepage said.
“Museums and other educational institutions have a responsibility to tell the stories of traditionally oppressed and marginalized populations, such as women, people of color and LGBTQ individuals,” reflected Malone. “Correcting our historical narrative and methods of storytelling to be more inclusive — and therefore more accurate — can have a massive influence on the aspirations and lives of young people and the culture around us.”
Bernstein hopes that “Ancient Inspirations” will be a first of many celebrations of Native American art at W&L. “I’ve already started talking to W&L about a different show for next year — maybe it will be Navajo jewelry, maybe it will be a Native American film festival. I’d like to do something every year.”
Joel Bernstein and his wife, Gail, recently established a generous scholarship endowment at Washington and Lee, with a preference to support underrepresented populations on campus. More details on the Gail S. and Joel H. Bernstein ’57 Scholarship will be announced soon.
An Impactful Gift When appreciated stock is gifted outright, you can claim a federal income tax charitable deduction for the full, appreciated value.
“Many financial professionals over the years advised us to donate appreciated stock when making significant charitable gifts. It’s easy, and it just makes sense. We get to take a charitable deduction at the stock’s full fair-market value, but we don’t have to pay capital gains taxes on the increase to the stock’s value over time. It’s a great way to give back to a school that means so much to me.”
~ Gary Seldomridge ’76
“My husband and I give through appreciated stock because it’s such an easy way to give back to W&L, while also minimizing our tax liability. When we donate appreciated stock to W&L, we take a tax deduction for the full fair-market value, and avoid having to pay long-term capital gains tax. In effect, we are able to donate 20 percent more than if we had sold the stock, paid tax and contributed cash. In addition, gifting certain appreciated securities also helps us diversify our portfolio with concentrated positions. It’s a win-win.”
~ Julie Bradbury ’97
Did you know that giving appreciated stock to W&L can benefit you more than giving cash? It’s a great way to make a larger gift than might otherwise be possible and to fulfill outstanding pledge commitments.
When appreciated stock is gifted outright, you can claim a federal income tax charitable deduction for the full, appreciated value and avoid capital gains taxes. You pass your tax savings to W&L for an even more impactful gift!
Please consider a year-end gift of appreciated securities to W&L. Simply complete the online Stock Transfer Information Form and give your broker W&L’s stock delivery instructions:
Gift Account A/C# 1046108
DTC# (Participant#) 0990
Agent ID# 26209
Contact: Elizabeth “Liz” Hudgens
For more information on making a stock gift to W&L, please contact Sandy Beverly in Gift Accounting at email@example.com. For information on funding a life income gift with appreciated stock, please contact Margie Lippard in the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your generous support of W&L!
W&L Law Alumnae Honored for Pro Bono Work
Two graduates of Washington and Lee School of Law have been honored recently for their pro bono work.
Amy Conant Hoang ‘13L, an associate at K&L Gates in Washington, DC, was one of four attorneys nationwide to be honored by the non-profit Tahirih Justice Center. The Center was founded in 1997 to provide legal services to immigrant women and children who are escaping violent situations. Hoang worked to get her client a grant of asylum in the U.S.
At K&L Gates, Hoang is member of the firm’s government contracts and procurement policy group. She advises clients in the aerospace, defense, and government services industries on a variety of procurement issues, and concentrates her practice on bid protests at the Government Accountability Office and Court of Federal Claims, corporate ethics and compliance, and internal investigations.
Also honored was Krystal Swendsboe ‘15L, who was recognized by her firm Wiley Rein at the firm’s sixth annual pro bono celebration. Swendsboe contributed to a host of appellate pro bono matters including amicus briefs and two merits matters before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Ninth Circuits.
At Wiley Rein, Swendsboe represents corporate clients and individuals in a variety of litigation and appellate matters in state and federal courts. She has served in legal capacities in both public and private entities, including the U.S. Department of Justice and federal trial and appellate courts.