2023: A Year in Review An update from President Dudley
Washington and Lee is a remarkable place, and 2023 gave us many reasons to celebrate. We continue to attract exceptionally talented students, our faculty provide them with an outstanding education, and they enjoy excellent post-graduate opportunities. Here are just a few highlights:
Student Recruitment and Retention: Strong Numbers for Incoming Classes
Undergraduate applications to W&L have been at a record level the last two years, while the first-year law Class of 2026 has the strongest academic profile in more than a decade.
Our graduation and retention rates continue to be among the highest in the country. On average, 97% of our first-year undergraduates return for their sophomore year — the highest percentage of all liberal arts colleges — and 91% of our students graduate in four years — the highest percentage of all colleges and universities.
Access and Affordability: $2M Gift Supports Law Scholarships
The School of Law received a major challenge gift to support financial aid. When the challenge match is met, it will add $4 million to the Law School’s endowment and toward the $20 million goal for law student financial aid, to which $15 million has already been committed.
The gift underscores the university’s commitment to providing outstanding students unparalleled opportunities, regardless of their financial circumstances. Washington and Lee meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need of every undergraduate student we admit, without loans. The W&L Promise guarantees that undergraduate students whose families earn less than $150,000 pay no tuition.
Distinctive Academic Programs: The Connolly Center Welcomes a New Director
The Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship welcomed its new director, Jayson Margalus, and hosted the 11th annual Entrepreneurship Summit, bringing students and alumni together for pitch sessions, networking and panel discussions on topics including intrapreneurship, venture capital and angel investment, artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution.
Like the Connolly Center, The DeLaney Center for the study of Southern race relations, culture and politics and The Roger Mudd Center for Ethics host programs and speakers that teach students to confront today’s challenges from a multitude of perspectives.
Outstanding Faculty and Staff: Brindle, Pfaff and Baluarte Receive Prestigious Awards
The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges recognized Ryan Brindle, assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral science, and Dave Pfaff, senior academic technologist and director of the IQ Center, with awards for excellence in teaching and facilitating innovative technology integration in academic settings, respectively. Law professor David Baluarte, who directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic, was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to teach in the Refugee Law Clinic and assist in the development of clinical legal education more broadly at Iberoamericana University (IBERO) in Mexico City.
Brindle, Pfaff, and Baluarte are just three of the distinguished W&L faculty and staff who excel as teachers, scholars, and mentors, engaging in their disciplines and collaborating with students in and outside the classroom.
Fellowship Success: Yurechko Named W&L’s First Marshall Scholar
Computer science and philosophy major Katie Yurechko ’24 was named W&L’s first-ever Marshall Scholar. The two-year award was granted to just 51 scholars nationwide to study at the graduate level at universities across the United Kingdom. The scholarship fully funds one to three years of study, which Yurechko will spend at the University of Oxford and University College London, pursuing a master’s degree in social science of the internet and a master’s degree in computer science, respectively.
This prestigious award is just the latest in an impressive list of post-graduate awards won by Washington and Lee students, including three Rhodes Scholarships in the past seven years. W&L is the only liberal arts institution to have more than one Rhodes winner in the last decade. The university was also named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars for the fifth consecutive year, and was the only liberal arts college to be named a top producer of Boren Scholarship recipients, which support intensive language study in 43 countries around the world.
The Full W&L Experience: Leading Edge Becomes Universal
For the first time, all incoming undergraduate students participated in the university’s Leading Edge orientation programs. The programs provide first-year students an introduction to the campus community through a shared, meaningful experience that helps them forge new friendships, acclimate to college life and begin developing the necessary skills to flourish at W&L.
These programs set the tone for students to enhance their academic experience with opportunities outside of the classroom throughout their time on campus, including internships, research, legal clinics and practicums, community-based learning and study abroad.
Athletic Success: Individual and Team Accolades
The Generals claimed 10 conference championships and made 11 team and 11 individual NCAA tournament appearances in 2023. Seven coaches were named ODAC Coach of the Year.
The men’s soccer team earned its second trip to the NCAA Final Four in the past three years. Field hockey standout Tess Muneses ’23 received the Marjorie Berkley Award, the ODAC’s highest honor. And law student and distance runner Charles Scharf ’25L set school records in the 5K and 10K.
Campus Enhancements: A New Williams School Facility
The university broke ground on construction for a new facility for the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, which will stand on the site of the former Baker and Davis residence halls and is expected to be completed by summer 2025.
Other important projects include the expansion of dining venues in the John W. Elrod Commons (currently underway), construction of the Lindley Center for Student Wellness (to open in the fall of 2025), and the recent replacement of the surface on the W&L Turf Field, which will host the NCAA Division III Field Hockey championships in 2024.
Sustainability: New Solar Array Comes Online
Washington and Lee officially dedicated its 17-megawatt solar farm in Hertford County, North Carolina. The site is already generating power projected to total over 22,000 megawatt hours each year for W&L — enough to match or exceed annual campus electricity use.
The project represents a major stride toward our goal of carbon neutrality, effectively bringing campus emissions attributable to electricity to zero. The new solar project is also cost-effective — it is anticipated to generate a net present value gain of $1.8 million over the next 20 years, locking in the costs for W&L’s electricity purchase for that period at a level currently below the market rate. That savings is on top of the $1 million-per-year reduction in utility spending already achieved through sustainability work at W&L since 2007 — despite the expansion of the physical campus by over 200,000 square feet.
Financial Strength: A Banner Year in Fundraising
Washington and Lee received $73.9 million in total gifts in 2022-23— the second-highest annual fundraising total in the university’s history. The Annual Fund, which provides 7% of our operating budget, topped $10M in fiscal year 2023 — a milestone it has met in eight of the last nine years.
These gifts, a reflection of the generosity of our alumni, parents and friends, reinforce the financial strength that makes educational excellence possible. Our endowment, currently valued at $1.97 billion, now provides over 40% of our operating budget each year — more than annual tuition revenue. Our endowment per student is the eighth highest of all liberal arts colleges, supporting quality and opportunity at W&L.
As we look forward to 2024, we do so with thanks for the talent and energy of our students, the expertise and dedication of our faculty and staff, and the generous support of our alumni and parents.