The Columns

Civility and Opinion in a Polarized America Tyler Grant ’12, a graduate of Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia School of Law, is a regular editorial contributor to several national publications.

— by on April 20th, 2017

Tyler Grant ’12

“Unifying rhetoric seems to have escaped the American temperament as we have limped out of a brutal campaign. The country seems on a course for a deeper divide than ever before.”

These words, written by Tyler Grant ’12 in a Nov. 27, 2016, editorial on the U.S. political website The Hill, foreshadowed the deep chasm that has formed between American liberals and conservatives since President Donald Trump took the oath of office in January. Having published in National Review, The Hill, and Daily Caller to name a few,  Grant has found himself with plenty of opportunities to analyze developments in D.C. with the kind of civil, level-headed approach he said he picked up as a student at Washington and Lee.

Grant majored in Chinese and politics at W&L, knowing that he wanted to do something “globally oriented, whether it was in business or foreign policy.” But a constitutional law class with professor Lucas Morel opened his eyes to the possibility of studying law.

“He really sparked my interests,” he said. “Professor Morel is a man that I really respect. He is an absolute intellectual titan, a great Christian man, and a legend at W&L. He inspired me to go to law school.”

After a Fulbright fellowship in Taiwan, where he taught English at an elementary school, Grant attended the University of Virginia School of Law. He interned at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Puerto Rico and now, having earned his law degree, is an associate at the law firm Clifford Chance in New York.

Grant began writing for The Blaze in May 2015 and began publishing in The Hill in August 2016, but not before he submitted several articles without success. That’s when he realized that he needed to be more proactive than reactive in his approach. He now reads the news with an eye for issues that have only just begun to percolate, but might be coming to a full boil around the time he will submit an editorial.

“You have to be a little ahead of the curve, thinking what is the next thing, and commenting on the next thing,” he said.

As a result of his new formula, he soon became a formal contributor to The Hill. As a regular, he submits an article about once every two weeks. So far, his pieces have included “White Americans Need to Be Part of the Race Discussion,” “How Did We End Up With a Commander in Tweet?” and “Trump and Taiwan: Breaking from Convention is Progress.”

More recently, he published two articles with the Daily Caller entitled “Give a Golf Clap for Less Governing” and “The Conservative Case Against the Death Penalty.” He also wrote an article featured in the National Review entitled “International Exchange Programs Bolster Foreign Policy.”

It is not always immediately obvious from reading the titles of Grant’s pieces — or even the pieces themselves — where he falls on the political spectrum. In fact, he was president of the College Republicans at Washington and Lee, but his opinions do not break down along party lines. He said that he tries to stay well-rounded in his understanding of current events, and that he enjoys probing the gray areas of political arguments.

“It is easy in this [current political] environment to be extremely polarized,” he said, “but I don’t think people, in their heart of hearts, are actually like that.”

Grant noted that it is difficult these days to find the truth on any issue, because “everything has a slant on it, as if everything is written as an opinion piece.” His solution is to devour as many news sources as possible, not just those that are likely to confirm his own leaning. His typical reading each day includes The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He reads The New Yorker “to see how urban wealthy people view things” and the Drudge Report to see a far-right-leaning perspective. If he has time, he throws The Economist into that mix.

Grant credits his time at Washington and Lee, more than any other learning experience he has had, with teaching him the importance of civility. He carries that lesson into all of his writing projects and political discussions.

“At W&L, it was unheard of to beat up on someone in class who disagreed with you,” he said. “It just wasn’t a thing at W&L because people respected each other. The way a disagreement went about resolving itself was in a polite, respectful, civilized manner, and not who can shout loudest in their respective echo chamber and see who can hear them.”


W&L Community Invited to Submit Ideas for Quality Enhancement Plan The QEP is an exciting and important part of Washington and Lee University’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

— by on April 4th, 2017

“The QEP affirms the centrality of student learning at the heart of our mission and also acknowledges that, in keeping with our motto of Non Incautus Futuri, W&L refuses to rest on its laurels.”

This spring, Washington and Lee is looking to every corner of its community, including students, faculty and staff, for a grand idea that will help to direct the future of learning at the university.

W&L Community Invited to Submit Ideas for QEP

As part of W&L’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), it must imagine, identify and implement a sweeping initiative known as the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Associate Provost Elizabeth Knapp is leading the QEP committee, and its initial goal is to receive as many proposals as possible by May 1.

“It is a great time for our campus to be reflecting about ways to improve,” Knapp said. “And my hope is that while we will choose a single project, there will be lots of other really good ideas that we will also want to think about how we can put in our curriculum and student life overall.”

The accreditation process rolls around every 10 years, and this will be the second time since SACS began requiring a QEP that Washington and Lee has traveled this path. The last time, in 2007, the effort resulted in the Renewed Spring Term Initiative, an immensely popular part of the W&L curriculum that remains in place today.

To peruse the details of QEPs from 13 different colleges and universities, visit W&L’s QEP website. Other SACS-accredited colleges and universities have implemented programs on a wide range of topics, including writing, research, student-faculty engagement, ethics and information literacy, to name a few.

To date, the W&L QEP committee has received about 20 ideas relating to areas such as international education and civil discourse. Knapp said the group hopes the submissions will continue to roll in, however, and that they will touch on a wide variety of topics. The committee would like to see involvement from all groups on campus, including students — in fact, several students have already submitted ideas.

To contribute, one need only click the green “submit now” button on the QEP website and follow the instructions on the form, which will require a plan title and a short description (up to 250 words). In addition, ideas can be left in drop boxes placed in the Elrod Commons Living Room and the Brief Stop at the Law School.

The committee plans to narrow down the list of proposals to about a dozen by fall 2017. During that first round of culling, no names will be associated with the ideas. By December 2017, the top three proposals will be selected and presented to President Will Dudley and Provost Marc Conner, who will lead the charge on selecting the best one. The next steps will involve fully developing and implementing the proposal.

W&L Community Invited to Submit Ideas for QEP

“It is something you are supposed to implement over a five-year period, and it needs to be very measurable,” Knapp said. “We need to be able to make sure that we are assessing that the goals we set out for the program are something that we can realize over time.”

In a recent email to the entire university, Provost Marc Conner described the QEP as an opportunity to imagine the future of Washington and Lee with a plan that will improve upon the university’s already excellent undergraduate experience.

“The QEP affirms the centrality of student learning at the heart of our mission,” he said, “and also acknowledges that, in keeping with our motto of Non Incautus Futuri, W&L refuses to rest on its laurels.”

— Lindsey Nair |

From Volunteering to Mountaineering Whether they were doing service work in Birmingham, touring firms in NYC, or climbing an ice-encrusted mountain in New Hampshire, Washington and Lee students made the most of Washington Break.

— by on March 29th, 2017

“I will cherish the memories we made and the virtue of the work we did for the rest of my life.”

— Walker Brand ’18, on an Engineering Community Development trip to Belize

Bethany Reitsma ’20 scales an icy cliff at Mount Washington in New Hampshire during an adventurous Washington Break.

Some W&L students spent Washington Break in helmets and hiking boots while others donned power suits and well-shined shoes. No matter what they wore, they made the most of their vacations from classes and homework. This year, students took off for service trips, learning tours and outdoor adventures, forming new bonds with fellow Generals and new relationships with the world outside of Lexington.

Here’s a round-up of seven different Washington Break trips, along with some photos snapped by students and university photographer Kevin Remington.

Nabors Service League

A volunteer group from W&L’s Nabors Service League poses at the home of an alumna who served up a traditional Southern BBQ dinner.

The Nabors Service League, a student-run community service organization, took 15 students to Birmingham, Alabama. There, they worked with Impact Alabama, a non-profit dedicated to connecting volunteers with community organizations that need help to bring about change, and A+ College Ready, which helps to prepare promising high school students for college. Throughout the trip, the Lexington group stayed with Washington and Lee alumni or parents of current students.

For Impact Alabama, the W&L students performed free eye screenings for children, ultimately visiting 16 day cares and screening 900 children. If a screen turned up a potential vision problem, that family was connected with an organization that provides access to medical care. For A+ College Ready, 13 students from W&L did about 78 hours of administrative work. They also went into 24 local classrooms and taught about 480 4th– and 5th-grade students how to read and write in binary as part of the non-profit’s new computer science initiative.

“When we weren’t working, we spent a lot of time with our host families,” said Lorena Hernandez Barcena ’19. “We had a different dinner every night with a different alumni host. Some of them took us out to dinner at a restaurant, and some of them invited us over to their home and cooked for us. The Nabors (of Nabors Service League) also took us out to an escape room, which was incredibly fun! We split into two groups and only one group (mine) made it out in time. The other group was very close to finishing, though. We also had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Institute, which is incredibly thorough and impactful. Finally, we met with Stephen Black, the founder of Impact Alabama, and we had a very interesting conversation with him.”

Bonner Program

Bonner Program students pose for a group shot in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they spent Washington Break volunteering. Not pictured: Peyton Powers

The Bonner Program, a leadership development program, sent nine first-year students to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they worked with agencies that address homelessness. The group worked with several community organizations during the stay in Charlotte, including Lifespan Enrichment Center, a facility for developmentally disabled adults that offers programs such as arts and crafts, horticulture and music. They also spent an afternoon playing board games and making cookies and lemonade with residents of McReesh Place, an affordable housing center.

Working with disabled adults “was a really important experience for everyone because it is a population that not everyone gets a chance to work with and is not comfortable with,” said Peyton Powers ’18. “It helped develop a deeper sense of what it is like to work with that community.” In fact, the group did not work with children at all during this year’s trip, which is different from years past. “It is kind of rare, but it was also cool because if anything, it showed all the opportunities that are available to work with the adult population. It is important to continue to follow up with people throughout their life and work with adult people.”


A group of 14 students interested in the fields of advertising, marketing and communications traveled to New York to experience the fast-paced world of the industries. During the AdMarComm trip, they visited 16 different advertising, marketing, communications and public relations agencies, including the Facebook headquarters in NY. Most of the locations included visits with alumni working in the field. The group stayed on-the-go each day from early in the morning until late evening.

“Visiting Jeff Hamill at Hearst provided our group with a great opportunity to learn about how media companies like Hearst have adapted to our changing media landscape,” said Adit Ahmed ’19. “Mr. Hamill established Hearst as a company that is on the frontier of adapting to the modern age, with its combination of native advertising and integrated media content that stretches across platforms. Not only was the visit informative, but being able to hear from Hamill from the top of Hearst Tower was one of the coolest experiences I could’ve gotten on the trip … In addition, meeting with alums at firms like Distillery, McCann and Grey provided me with a strong understanding of the fiscal, written and artistic interests that drive W&L alums to the advertising space. It was great to see the ways that W&L students excel in this realm of media, whether it is on the programmatic or creative side of things.”

Investment Trip

Twenty-six students traveled to New York for a whirlwind four-day tour of investment-related firms. Between Tuesday and Friday, the Washington and Lee group visited 18 different firms and met with 76 alumni. The firms represented the following industries: investment banking, real estate, accounting, hedge funds, sales and trading, corporate finance and consulting. Students were impressed by the number of different career paths presented to them during the trip, as well as by how many W&L alumni can be found in these industries.

“This was an extremely engaging and interesting experience that crammed a lot of knowledge about a complex industry into just a couple of days,” said Miller Townes ’19. “If you are considering investment banking at all, I would recommend attending this trip as it gives you a very hands-on and thorough explanation of what exactly iBanking is and all that it entails. It also offers exposure to consulting and accounting firms. My favorite part of the trip was hearing all of the alumni speak about their path from Washington and Lee to their respective companies. They speak so highly of how their experience at Washington and Lee prepared them for their current jobs and allows them to create opportunities for current W&L students.”

Florida Everglades

The Outing Club sponsors this annual adventure to the Florida Everglades. Sixteen students spent a week exploring the marshes and mangroves of these huge natural wetlands. Participants set up base camp on a main island, then took daily guided sea kayaking trips to other areas of the national park. Although the trip is intended mostly for relaxation and adventure, participants always get to learn a bit about interesting plant and animal life.

“I wanted to do something cool outside and I didn’t really feel like going home,” said Haley Stern ’20. “I just felt like I needed a break from school. We just chilled out and experienced the incredible biodiversity there. I learned a lot about the wildlife and the plant life. We saw dolphins, sea turtles, alligators, and a variety of fish. It wasn’t like any formal lesson but I felt like I did learn a lot about a new natural area and interacting with people.”

Engineering in Belize

Eight students with W&L’s Engineering Community Development club traveled to Belmopan, Belize to build a bio-sand water filter for a local high school. The students spent a week working with a local organization called Belize BaseCamp, which matches missionaries and volunteers with jobs. The W&L group worked on the site of a former church that is being turned into a high school. They built a bio-sand filter, which uses natural materials and beneficial bacteria to mimic how the earth itself filters water when it rains. This is the second such filter that W&L students have built in Belize; W&L groups have also built bio-sand filters in Guatemala.

“The trip to Belize was incredible for two major reasons,” said Walker Brand ’18. “One, our work down there has the potential to positively affect the lives of an entire village for years to come, and two, the group of students that went on the trip were a blast to hang out and collaborate with. I will cherish the memories we made and the virtue of the work we did for the rest of my life.”

Climbing Mount Washington

Seven students left the unseasonably warm temperatures of Lexington and headed north to climb Mount Washington in New Hampshire. They spent their break stretching their legs and testing their mettle on the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. The adventure included lots of hiking in the snow and ice, as well as scaling a 140-foot ice-covered cliff. For this trip, the students hired a guide and rented equipment. Although Mount Washington is notorious for having extreme weather conditions that shift dramatically and quickly, the W&L group lucked out on this trip. They had record-high temperatures on the day they summited, and the worst setback they encountered was a blister.

“As an outdoorsman in general, it’s really cool to share my love of the outdoors with other people,” said Matthew Rickert ’18. “There were some struggles to get people to the top, but once we got to the top everyone was thrilled to be there, the energy was back and everybody had a sense of accomplishment.”

SABU Looks Back at Eventful Black History Month In February and early March, performances, panel discussions, film screenings and lectures put the focus on black history and the black experience at Washington and Lee.

— by on March 15th, 2017

“I think nationally we’ve seen a lot of movements for people to want to be involved and want to engage. That has pushed people to want to hear different perspectives, and has also created more visibility of groups on our campus that have been trying to gain visibility.”

— Elizabeth Mugo ’19

The cast of “Hidden Black Girl Magic: A Tribute to African-American Women.”

On a Sunday afternoon in late February, W&L’s Stackhouse Theater played host to seven “guests” with extraordinary stories to tell. From America’s first black Army nurse, Susie Taylor, to political activist Angela Davis, the characters who crossed the stage were all African-American women who made a major mark on history, even if their names do not appear in most textbooks.

The spoken-word performance, “Hidden Black Girl Magic: A Tribute to African-American Women,” was the brainchild of Sasha Edwards, a first-year student from Mississippi. During a meeting of the Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) in January, Edwards tossed out the idea as one way to celebrate Black History Month on campus.

Edwards wrote the short play and asked seven friends to dress up and portray the characters. She served as the narrator, introducing each woman as she appeared on stage for a five-minute monologue about her life and work. The “time machine” produced the following characters: Susie Taylor (portrayed by Cloy Onyango ’20), Josephine Baker (Baridapdoo Wiwuga ‘20), Daisy Bates (Alexus McGriff ‘18), Billie Holiday (Ramonah Gibson ’20), Fannie Lou Hamer (Joelle Simeu ’20), Shirley Chisolm (Elizabeth Mugo ’19) and Angela Davis (Demoriya Phillips ’19).

“I wanted the actors to take on the characters’ personality and have the audience really feel like they were making a new acquaintance or a new friend,” Edwards said, “and I wanted people who don’t normally come to mind when you think about black history.”

Edwards, who acted in plays and worked behind the scenes in theater during high school, was both excited and nervous to pull off her first event as a W&L student. “I feel like I’d be determined enough to do this at any school, but it wouldn’t be as easy as it is here,” she said.

Student Affairs staff members and work study students pitched in to help, so the play was ultimately enhanced by photos projected on a screen behind the characters – not to mention a time-warp graphic and sound effect in between characters. Billie Holiday was even able to “sing” one of her tunes on stage.

“Hidden Black Girl Magic” was just one of several events on campus in February and early March that celebrated Black History Month. SABU co-leaders Truth Iyiewuare ’18 and Elizabeth Mugo ’19 said many of those ideas sprang from the same SABU brainstorming meeting, and this year saw more involvement than in years past. They suspect that better planning and marketing, as well as the current political climate, contributed to greater participation.

“I think nationally we’ve seen a lot of movements for people to want to be involved and want to engage,” Mugo said. “That has pushed people to want to hear different perspectives, and has also created more visibility of groups on our campus that have been trying to gain visibility.”

On Feb. 12, in response to an idea from Ramonah Gibson ’20, SABU and the African Society hosted a discussion about black hair at Hillel House. The purpose of the event was to address people’s curiosity about black hair with demonstrations, presentations and conversations. It included a 13-person panel made up of men and women with different hairstyles.

Gibson said she attended an all-white high school, where questions about her hair got old. “At least here, other people are having these questions asked of them, too. I thought, wouldn’t this be a cool event? Why don’t we actually pull it off?”

As a result, the multipurpose room at Hillel was packed with students of all ages, races and backgrounds. Several stations were set up around the room, and guests rotated through the stations to talk about different black hairstyles. At each station, a W&L student modeled the featured style. The hosts also invited a guest black hairstylist from Roanoke.

“Even the black students on campus learned things they didn’t know,” Gibson said.

Other Black History Month events at W&L included a Black Poetry Night, when everyone was invited to the Commons Living Room to read a favorite selection by a black poet. The films “Moonlight” and “Loving” were both screened, and the university hosted two lectures. In early March, a Black Lives Matter panel discussion drew a large crowd and lively discussion.

After the annual John Chavis Lecture in African-American Studies, Greek and Residential Life Coordinator Chris Moore hosted a Chavis House program focused on chicken and waffles, an iconic (and delicious) food combination that traces its roots back to the Harlem Renaissance.

Associate Dean of Students and Dean of Juniors Tammi Simpson, who is also the advisor for SABU, said student involvement this year made for one of the most eventful and successful Black History Month celebrations she has seen at W&L.

“There’s just an energy that seems to be taking place,” she said, “and W&L can create an environment of support and provide the resources that allow students to be so creative. It’s wonderful to see it come together.”

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University Singers to Perform at Carnegie Hall April 1 The group was chosen to perform, along with only three other choirs from around the nation, after a highly competitive selection process.

— by on March 9th, 2017

“There are so many opportunities that we have in the University Singers that other people in a choir at a small liberal arts school would never even dream of, and I attribute those opportunities to the hard work of Dr. Lynch.”

— Jake Burnett ’17

W&L University Singers

Washington and Lee University has had a strong choral tradition since its first group, the Men’s Glee Club, was established in the 19th century. But W&L choirs have not always competed on a national level. Now, thanks to hard work and solid leadership, that is beginning to change.

On April 1, the Washington and Lee University Singers will take the stage for the Collegiate Choral Showcase at Carnegie Hall in New York. Earning the invitation was a highly competitive process, and the W&L group is one of only four collegiate choirs from around the country that were chosen.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for our University Singers,” said W&L Provost Marc Conner. “It’s a testament to the incredible hard work and dedication of Director Shane Lynch and all of the students involved. I’m delighted to see this recognition of the tremendous performing arts programs at Washington and Lee.”

The Carnegie Hall news came about the same time Lynch, W&L’s director of choral activities, received word that the University Singers had been selected to perform at the American Choral Director Association’s National Conference. Because they could not do both, Lynch said, they selected the invitation that came first. But having to make the choice was “a great problem to have,” he said.

To vie for a spot in the Collegiate Choral Showcase, Lynch submitted several years’ worth of recordings of the University Singers, including a couple of songs per year. He also had to submit a sample program for the concert, which will include about eight songs per group.

Judges want to know that a group has the ability to sing a number of different songs well and that the quality of the choir has been sustained over the course of several years despite the annual turnover that is inevitable in any college choir. University Singers has 52 members, and about 40 to 50 percent graduate each year.

Lynch has been the director of choral activities at W&L since 2009. In 2013, the University Singers were invited to sing at the Virginia Music Educators Association’s state conference. “That was the first time a W&L ensemble had ever been accepted to perform at VMEA,” he said. “That was a huge step forward with blind peer review of the ensemble. It put us onto a little bit of equal footing with other Virginia schools that are more known for their music programs.”

The following year, the group sang a featured performance at the National Cathedral, which Lynch said was “another step up.”

“What has been fun about it from my end is that each class, and each iteration of the choir, has tried to rise to meet the challenge,” he said. “And then the next class is [asking] what do we have to do to meet the next one? It’s nice to see how we have been able to keep moving up the ladder to more exciting performances and options.”

Jake Burnett, a senior music major and member of University Singers, said being part of a group that is constantly striving to improve has been inspiring.

“When I first arrived at Washington and Lee and I joined the Men’s Glee Club, I had no idea what I was in for with the choral program. I just thought I was going to do a little bit of singing and it would be a good time,” Burnett said. “Little did I know that the University Singers would grow over my four years to become a professional-quality choral group. In addition to being filled with people whom I am blessed to call my choir family, we get to make beautiful music together for four hours every week, travel for a week together on tour sharing that music, and receive such honors as a standing invitation to sing at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., being accepted (and turning down the offer) to sing at a national choral conference, and sing a full solo set in Carnegie Hall.

“There are so many opportunities that we have in the University Singers that other people in a choir at a small liberal arts school would never even dream of, and I attribute those opportunities to the hard work of Dr. Lynch. He has built up the choral program over the last eight years and turned it into something worth broadcasting to the world. We can’t thank him enough for that.”

The University Singers will be in fine company on the Perelman Stage in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. The other three choirs that will perform that evening are the University of Louisville Cardinal Singers, the University of Washington Chamber Singers and the University of Washington Chorale.

To purchase tickets, click here.

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W&L Helps Girl Scouts See the World — in Lexington For World Thinking Day, W&L’s foreign language teaching assistants led local Girl Scouts in a variety of internationally themed activities.

— by on March 7th, 2017

Ekaterina Tsvetkova ’20, Lucia Cespedes ’17, Mengsu Kong, Michiko Nakada, Nao Okada ’17, Imad Baazizi ’17, Camille Bouillon ’17 and Anna Jerusalem ’17.

Every February, Girl Scouts all over the globe celebrate World Thinking Day, an occasion that is meant to promote global awareness and connect girls to the cultures of the world with special activities. This year, as in years past, Washington and Lee University’s Center for International Education got in on the fun, sending a group of foreign language teaching assistants and students to spend time with about 45 local Girl Scouts ages 5-12.

Lexington’s World Thinking Day event took place on Feb. 11 at R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church. There, the W&L students and FLTAs set up seven separate stations for internationally themed activities, and the girls, parents and scout leaders rotated through the stations for hours of fun and learning.

Michiko Nakada and Nao Okada ’17 showed girls the art of origami, teaching them how to make origami hearts out of colorful paper. Camille Bouillon ’17 showed guests how to make crepes, and everybody enjoyed sampling the fruit of their labor (with tasty fillings, of course). Imad Baazizi ’17 showed girls how to write their names in Arabic, while Lucía Cespedes ’17 got them on their feet for a traditional Argentinian dance. With Mengsu Kong, scouts cut colored paper into the shape of the Chinese letter for spring. Ekaterina Tsvetkova ’20 showed them how to make bracelets for Baba Marta, a Bulgarian holiday that celebrates the coming of spring, and Anna Jerusalem ’17 supplied the materials and instruction for painting eggs.

“It was a great pleasure for me to work with these motivated and open-minded young women and to see how eager and interested they are in learning new skills,” Jerusalem said.

While W&L classes are never taught by foreign language teaching assistants, they do assist during classes. They also conduct language tables over lunch or dinner, where students can practice speaking the languages they are studying, and they spend time developing cultural events on campus and in the community.

Girl Scout leader Amy Swisher said Washington and Lee international students and staff have participated in the World Thinking Day event a number of times in the past, and it is always a big hit with the girls. This year, she said, the scouts “were really excited and had a lot of fun.”

“At the very end [of meetings] we always do a friendship circle,” she said. “We get in a big circle and cross arms right over left, then do a friendship squeeze, passing the squeeze all the way around the circle. We included the W&L guests in the circle this year and they thought it was really fun.”

Amy Richwine, international student advisor and associate director of the Center for International Education, provided photos of the event (see slideshow below).

“It is a good thing that we do for our community,” Richwine said, “and I just like to support the Girl Scouts because I was a Girl Scout.”

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Discovery Takes Historic Document from Ordinary to Extraordinary This seemingly ordinary subscription list from 1776, which has long been a part of W&L Special Collections, has a fascinating connection with American independence.

— by on February 24th, 2017

In preparing for a social media post regarding the document several weeks ago, I noticed a special significance to five of the signatures on the subscription list.

— Tom Camden, Special Collections

By Tom Camden, director of Special Collections at Washington and Lee

Tucked among the hundreds of official early Washington and Lee University (formerly called Liberty Hall Academy) records housed in the Special Collections vault is one seemingly ordinary subscription list that, upon close inspection, proves to have an extraordinary association with American independence.

In May 1776, the Board of Trustees of the Timber Ridge Academy formally voted to rename the school Liberty Hall Academy in response to the patriotic fervor then sweeping the Colonies. During the school’s first months of operation as Liberty Hall Academy, the board embarked on a fundraising campaign that enjoyed considerable success, particularly in the Shenandoah Valley. The most successful effort, however, was a subscription list (in more modern terms, a pledge sheet) that was circulated in Williamsburg by Thomas Lewis and Samuel McDowell. Lewis and McDowell, trustees of the academy, were representatives from Augusta County to the Virginia General Assembly.

During the same legislative session when they circulated the subscription for Liberty Hall Academy, a related advertisement appeared in the Virginia Gazette (November 8, 1776). The advertisement announced to the public that “all the most important branches of literature necessary to prepare young gentlemen for the study of law, physick [sic] and theology, may be taught to good advantage, upon the most approved plan.” Potential patrons were advised that the school owned a “considerable library of books and the most essential parts of a mathematical apparatus.” Tuition was set at four pounds; board was to cost six pounds, 10 shillings. Firewood was available, but students were expected to provide their own candles, beds and washing. The healthful climate of the location was mentioned. In order to reassure Anglicans who might have had qualms about supporting a Presbyterian school, the advertisement declared: “the education and morals of youth being the great objects in view, those peculiarities which form the complexion of any party shall have no place in the scheme.”

Pledges were secured from 107 persons, all of whom signed the original subscription list. The list includes the distinctive signature of Thomas Jefferson, who pledged (and paid) three pounds. In all, the successful campaign raised 215 pounds, nine shillings.

The original subscription list has been well-known to university historians and scholars for some years, and I have used it often in special presentations. However, it was only recently that I made a startling discovery that takes one of Washington and Lee’s earliest documents to an extraordinary new level.

In preparing for a social media post regarding the document several weeks ago, I noticed a special significance to five of the signatures on the subscription list. In addition to Thomas Jefferson, other noted signatories included Benjamin Harrison, George Wythe, Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson Jr. (Nelson pledged the largest amount of the more than 100 subscribers at nine pounds, 12 shillings).

What sets these individuals apart from the other 102 signatories? All five individuals who strongly supported an early investment in Liberty Hall Academy were also signers of the Declaration of Independence, arguably one of the most important documents created in the course of America’s history.

The same patriotic fervor that spawned such an extraordinary document clearly is reflected in the somewhat ordinary, routine subscription list generated for the new school on Virginia’s frontier. The early days of the institutions that evolved into Washington Academy and Washington and Lee University were often precarious ones, but simple, ordinary records like the Liberty Hall subscription list show how strong-minded trustees overcame the economic problems that continued to overshadow the institution until George Washington’s gift of 1796.

To read more about the objects in Special Collections and University Collections of Art and History, click here.

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Jack Warner ’40, W&L Trustee Emeritus, Dies at 99 Jack Warner generously supported several areas of W&L.

— by on February 23rd, 2017

Jonathan Westervelt “Jack” Warner, a trustee emeritus of Washington and Lee University and a member of the W&L Class of 1940, died Feb. 18, 2017. He was a few months shy of his 100th birthday.

Jack Warner

Jack Warner generously supported several areas of W&L, including the early 1970s addition to Doremus Gym that became known as the Warner Center; the 1990s renovation of Lee Chapel and Museum; the Elizabeth and Jonathan W. Warner Scholarship; outdoor tennis facilities; and the Annual Fund. Warner was an accomplished swimmer who once held the school record in the breaststroke; he belonged to the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame. The university recognized his philanthropy by including his name among the first alumni featured on the Honored Benefactors Wall, in Washington Hall.

Jack Warner was born in Illinois on July 28, 1917, to Mildred Westervelt Warner and Herbert Warner. He was raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where his maternal grandfather’s company, Gulf States Paper, was based. He graduated from Culver Military Academy in Indiana in 1936, then earned a degree in business administration from Washington and Lee.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army (cavalry) as a commissioned officer with the MARS Task Force in the China-Burma-India Theaters of Operations.

After the service, Warner joined Gulf States Paper Corp. and was head of sales and production before being named executive vice president in 1950, president in 1957 and chairman of the board in 1959. In the latter two positions, he succeeded his mother, whose father, Herbert E. Westervelt, had invented a machine to produce folding, square-bottomed grocery bags. Warner stepped down as chairman of the board in 1994 to make way for his son, Jonathan Westervelt Warner Jr., a member of the W&L Class of 1967. The elder Warner remained a consultant with the company, which is now known as Westervelt Co.

During the more than 50 years he presided over Gulf States Paper, Jack Warner expanded it from a single factory and product to a diversified company with operations across five states. During his tenure, the company received multiple honors for water-pollution control efforts, including the National Wildlife Federation’s Whooping Crane Award. In 1970, he was Alabama’s Conservationist of the Year.

Warner was heavily involved in the Alabama community, serving as an officer or director of multiple commercial, banking, civic and philanthropic organizations. His numerous involvements and awards included positions as president and board chairman of the Alabama Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Alabama Great Southern Railway Co., and chairman of the board of the Alabama Council on Economic Education. He was a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor and was named Man of the Year by the Alabama Council of the National Management Association, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Culver Military Academy.

Warner contributed generously to a number of his favorite causes, including Washington and Lee University, Culver Military Academy, the University of Alabama (which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1976), Auburn University, the United Way and the city of Tuscaloosa.

Warner served on the W&L Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1980 and in 1983. He left the board in 1983 to protest the growing momentum to admit women. Less than 20 years later, however, at Homecoming in 2002, he announced that he’d had a change of heart and presented the university with $1 million to fund scholarships primarily for women.

Alongside his business and civic involvements, Warner enjoyed many other passions. He was an avid swimmer, tennis player and horseback rider. In the 1960s and ’70s, he ran a stable of competitive Thoroughbreds. His horse Do Right was part of the U.S. show-jumping team that won a gold medal in the 1975 Pan American Games, and his favorite horse, Tuscaloosa, was part of the U.S. show-jumping team that won the bronze medal at the 1978 world championships.

In addition, he enjoyed the acres of gardens that surrounded his home. One of his gardens even included a two-tiered brick replica of a Buddhist temple he had seen while stationed in Burma during World War II, according to a 1988 article in Alabama Magazine by his late son, David Warner.

None of Warner’s interests were as intense and enduring, however, as his love of art. His collection began just after the war with the purchase of several Audubon prints for a few hundred dollars. Over the years, he amassed a large and impressive private collection of American art that included not only paintings, but also furniture and decorative objects. His painting collection eventually included works by such artists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Henri, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Frederic Church, Andrew Wyeth, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent.

He received the Frederic Edwin Church Award in 2010 for assembling his private art collection, part of which was displayed at his Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art from 2002 until 2011. The Tuscaloosa Museum of Art now houses the Westervelt Collection. In 2012, the Jack and Susan Warner Gallery, featuring works of the Hudson River School, opened in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Warner had a soft spot for paintings of George Washington, and he gave his alma mater the William Winstanley portrait of Washington that now hangs in W&L’s Leyburn Library. He also served as the honorary chair of the university’s 250th anniversary celebration.

Jack Warner was preceded in death by his first wife, Elizabeth Butler Warner; his son, David T. Warner; his parents; and two siblings, H. David Warner Jr. and Joan Warner VanZele. He is survived by his wife, Susan G.A. Warner; his sister, Helene Hibbard; his son, Jon Warner Jr.; three grandchildren and two stepsons.


Courtney Hauck: Creating Opportunities for Pre-Law Students Courtney Hauck helped organize the Public Interest Law Careers panel (Feb. 28), which she hopes will allow people to take a closer look at public interest law as it relates to a variety of nontraditional legal fields.

— by on February 15th, 2017

“As a pre-law student interested in global environmental health, I wanted to create an opportunity for public service-minded students to learn more about what a law degree could help them achieve.”

Courtney Hauck

Courtney Hauck ’18 is a pre-law student and founder of the Roosevelt Institute at W&L. She has helped to organize a panel for other students with an interest in law. The Public Interest Law Career panel will take place from 7:15-8:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 in Stackhouse Theater. Panelists include Prof. David Bruck, Death Row Defense, Virginia Capital Case Clearing House, W&L Law; Gail Deady ’11L, Women’s Rights, Reproductive Rights & Gender Equality, ACLU of Virginia; Prof. Margaret Hu, Civil Rights, Immigration & Cybersecurity, W&L Law; Prof. J.D. King, Public Defense, W&L Law Criminal Justice Clinic; Elaine Poon, Civil Rights & Poverty Law, Legal Aid Justice Center; and Prof. Julie Youngman, Environmental Law, Southern Environmental Law Center, W&L.

Please visit LexLink Event ID 459 to learn more and RSVP for the event. And to learn more about Courtney, keep reading.

What is the Roosevelt Institute? When and how did it get started at W&L?

Roosevelt Institute is a non-partisan think tank founded in the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. W&L’s chapter is one among a national network housed under this think tank. Across the country, more than 100 campuses have established Roosevelt Institute chapters to “reimagine the rules,” a phrase that captures Roosevelt’s mission to inspire young people to rethink the systemic policies and practices that influence socioeconomic and political realities in the United States. I founded W&L’s chapter during fall of my sophomore year, after meeting current and former chapter heads from different universities at a “Young People For” fellowship training in Cleveland, Ohio.

What are some of the institute’s best accomplishments so far?

I have been very proud to see Roosevelt Institute grow at a fast pace over the past year and a half. We have increased from about 20 members last fall to over 70 this semester, and more importantly, our members have brought many diverse perspectives and ideas to the table. Our chapter submitted policy proposals to the 10 Ideas national policy competition last semester, including one that I wrote to establish a national pool of funds dedicated to corroded pipeline replacement in cities like Flint, Michigan. In addition, we have partnered with the Public Interest Law Students Association to create a “Know Your Rights” series on immigration, police interactions, and protests and demonstrations, which will take place over three consecutive Thursdays starting March 16. Public Interest Law Careers, which takes place in Stackhouse on Tuesday, February 28th (after Washington Break), is our first public event. I am very excited to see our chapter grow throughout the semester.

What gave you the idea to put together the Public Interest Law Careers panel?

As a pre-law student interested in global environmental health, I wanted to create an opportunity for public service-minded students to learn more about what a law degree could help them achieve. Of course, being a lawyer isn’t the only way to serve one’s community, but as we have seen through recent actions by the ACLU and other organizations, lawyers play an integral role in protecting civil liberties in the United States. I hope that this panel will allow people to take a closer look at public interest law as it relates to a variety of nontraditional legal fields.

How did you decide who to invite to speak on the panel?

It was very difficult to decide — we have many accomplished public interest lawyers in our community. To begin, I reached out to a few lawyers in our community with whose work I was more familiar. From there, I took suggestions regarding faculty and alumni from the law school who might be interested. Overall, my goal was to gather a group of accomplished, service-minded individuals in a variety of major legal disciplines — in that, I have succeeded. Among the incredible, generous people in and around our community, and I am excited to hear from just a few of these individuals on the 28th.

What were the greatest challenges to getting this event planned and scheduled?

Honestly, the greatest challenge was narrowing down choices for the panel! Our panelists have been very gracious to volunteer time out of their busy schedules, and the W&L staff and faculty have been extremely helpful in organizing the logistics for this event. In particular, Lorri Olán in Career Development has been a fantastic help with arranging communications, marketing, and catering for the panel and reception.

What can students expect to get out of this panel?

I expect that students will gain a lot from this event, including insight into the why and how of pursuing public interest law; advice from successful lawyers in fields such as public defense, environmental law, immigration, and gender equality/LGBT rights; and opportunities to build relationships with like-minded members of the W&L community, including students, staff, and faculty from the College and Law School.


Ingredients for Social Change A multi-disciplinary Community-Based Research project gave Washington and Lee University students a chance to help local organizations take a closer look at access to affordable healthy food.

— by on February 8th, 2017

“You think of [food] as something to eat and enjoy, but it is definitely bigger than that.”

— Tyra Barrett ’18

As Kyle Singerman ’17 drove the rural roads of Rockbridge County during Fall Term 2016, he began to understand a fact that had never occurred to him when he was growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland.

“Out in the country, there are really limited amounts of healthy food options,” he said. “If you live far away, are you really going to want to spend that time in the car going to the grocery store when you could just go up the street and buy a bag of Funyuns?”

While conducting research for a Washington and Lee University biology class, Singerman had experienced the concept of a “food desert,” or a geographic area that is devoid of healthy food options, such as fresh produce and unprocessed meats. It is the kind of lesson that can be taught in a classroom but is more vividly understood when students venture out for hands-on projects.

Kyle Singerman ’17

Singerman is one of many W&L students who have, since Spring Term 2016, been participating in a Community-Based Research project through the university’s Shepherd Program — specifically, through the Community-Academic Research Alliance, which pairs W&L students with non-profit organizations that need help addressing community needs.

Students in politics, biology and economics classes have participated in three phases of the project, working with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Live Healthy Rockbridge Kids to assess food sources in the community, map them, and crunch the data for use in future initiatives. Live Healthy Rockbridge Kids, which is housed at Rockbridge Area Community Services, is a coalition funded by Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth with the goal of preventing and reducing childhood obesity in Virginia by improving access to healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity.

“It’s been invaluable to have the students going out and doing that field work,” said Annie LePere, coordinator of Live Healthy Rockbridge Kids. “We could have done it, but it would have been difficult, and it would have taken longer. This was supposed to be a small project, but it has been able to grow because of their involvement, and I think they’ve enjoyed it and learned a lot about it.”

The idea for the project came up when LePere and Rebecca Wilder, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent and a partner in the coalition, were working on a grant application for continued funding from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. “We felt that we did not know enough about the food landscape to design any project to change it,” LePere said. So, they wrote a food source-mapping project into the application. Then, they connected with Alessandra Del Conte Dickovick in W&L’s Shepherd Program.

“Alessandra has been great in getting folks to help us with this project,” Wilder said.

In the first project phase, students in Rebecca Harris’ Spring Term class, Food Politics, created a list of all the businesses in the Rockbridge County area that sell food, including grocery stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, restaurants, farmers markets and food pantries. The class then mapped the locations, which allowed Wilder and LePere to confirm that most of those resources are clustered in Lexington and Buena Vista, leaving rural areas of Rockbridge County with few sources for nutritious food.

The second phase of the project focused on collecting more in-depth, qualitative data at grocery stores, convenience stores and dollar stores to get a more detailed look at food access. Singerman and Tyra Barrett ’18, both students in Sarah Blythe’s Fall Term class, Food for Thought, divided the list and visited each location in person. Between the two of them, they visited close to 60 stores.

Tyra Barrett ’18

With business owners’ consent, the students filled out a one-page survey at each location that evaluated inventory and prices. The form, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate nutrition guide, was developed by researchers at Virginia Tech in collaboration with LePere and Wilder. It allowed them to record the availability of products like fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and whole-grain foods. They also documented prices whenever possible. “The second question we want to try to answer is if it is available, can you actually afford it?” LePere said.

To that end, Jonah Mackay ’17, an economics major and poverty studies minor, will do additional analysis using that pricing information. He will determine how much it would cost to purchase a predetermined selection of products, or a “market basket,” in different parts of Rockbridge County. That will help researchers drill down to locations in the county that score lowest in terms of affordable access to healthy food. Mackay plans to wrap up his work by the end of Spring Term.

Virginia Tech will work with Wilder and LePere to establish a rating system for the stores that were surveyed. The purpose of this system and the other resulting data is not to publicly broadcast where stores fell on the spectrum, but to use the information to inform the need for additional programs and actions.

For example, Wilder would like to help some store owners determine whether they can stock more nutritious items — low-salt canned beans instead of the standard version, for example — without losing sales. She recognizes that store owners cannot stock a product that does not interest buyers. Other resources include shelf signage to educates shoppers about the benefits of healthy foods, or exterior signage that promotes fresh produce instead of alcohol and cigarettes.

“What we are doing right now is a needs assessment,” Wilder said. “What does our community look like and what are the needs before we can figure out what to do moving forward?”

LePere will focus more on community awareness and education, which is why she had Barrett and Singerman work on social media for her organization and develop a pamphlet for consumers.

As is the case with all Community-Based Research projects set up through the Shepherd Program, the food desert collaboration has been beneficial for all parties involved. In this case, community partners saved considerable time and resources, and the students came away with a different outlook on food.

“It definitely gives me a different perspective,” Barrett said. “You think of it as something to eat and enjoy, but it is definitely bigger than that. Now, I’m seeing food as multidimensional.”