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Gift Establishes New W&L Professorship to Honor Pamela H. Simpson

Washington and Lee University is honoring longtime art history professor Pamela H. Simpson with a professorship in her name. An anonymous gift from a current parent established the professorship, providing the University with the opportunity to recognize a distinguished individual important to the life and history of the institution.

The Pamela H. Simpson Professorship will be held by a member of the undergraduate faculty who, like Simpson, exemplifies the highest standards of teaching, scholarship, and service.

The anonymous gift of $1.25 million was matched by the Lenfest Challenge for Faculty Support to create the $2.5 million endowment.

“It’s an understatement to say that this is a fitting tribute,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Throughout her 38-year tenure at W&L, Pam has been the embodiment of W&L’s teacher-scholar model.

“Pam is among the most important and prominent figures in its recent history and perhaps through the life of the institution.”

Simpson, the Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History, joined the W&L faculty in 1973. She was the University’s first female tenure-track professor and the first female professor to receive an endowed chair. She has paved the way for women faculty at W&L, mentoring them and serving as a role model. She has received recognition for her effectiveness in the classroom with several major awards, including an Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia State Council on Higher Education in 1995, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Southeast College Art Conference (SECAC) in 2010.

In a recommendation for the SECAC award, Simpson’s colleague, George Bent, professor of art history, observed that Simpson’s dedication had caused all members of the department “to show same brand of commitment to the personal growth and intellectual development of each and every student who wanders into our corridors.”

During her tenure, she has served as head of the Department of Art and Art History on two occasions, and as assistant and then associate dean of the College from 1981 through 1986. From 1984 to 1986, she chaired the Coeducation Steering Committee, which implemented the University’s decision to admit women.

A graduate of Gettysburg College, she received her M.A. in art history from the University of Missouri and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware. She is the author of the 1999 book Cheap, Quick and Easy: Imitative Architectural Materials, 1870-1930, and is co-author with the late Royster Lyle Jr. of The Architecture of Historic Lexington. In addition, she has authored numerous exhibition catalogues, articles in both the academic and popular press, and book reviews.

She has been a popular speaker at academic conferences, for lay audiences and to W&L alumni chapters. She has given many talks on the architecture of Lexington to groups in Lexington and Rockbridge County.

The Simpson Professorship is the 15th professorship established through the Lenfest Challenge, a key component of Washington and Lee’s current $500 million campaign, “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future,” which aims to raise $122 million to recruit, retain and develop exceptionally qualified faculty and staff. In 2007, W&L alumnus Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L, issued a $33-million challenge grant to improve compensation for the University’s faculty. The University has completed that challenge by raising more than $33.6 from alumni, parents, and friends.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459