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Joseph Ellis, Author and American Historian, to Speak at W&L Founders Day-ODK Convocation

American historian and author Joseph Ellis will be the featured speaker at Washington and Lee’s Founders Day/Omicron Delta Kappa Convocation on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

Ellis will speak on “What’s the Fuss About the Founders?” Afterward, he will sign copies of his latest book, on the museum level of Lee Chapel, from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.

The talk is free and open to the public. The convocation will be broadcast live online.

Ellis’ address will precede the induction of 27 undergraduates, 11 law students and five honorary initiates into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for college students, faculty, staff and administrators, founded in 1914 at Washington and Lee. The University Singers will perform.

Ellis is the author of nine books, including his newest, “The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789” (2015). He also wrote “Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence” (2013) and “American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic” (2007).

He won the Pulitzer Prize for “Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation” (2002) and the National Book Award for “American Sphinx” (1998), a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His book “His Excellency: George Washington” was a New York Times bestseller.

Ellis’ essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune. His commentaries have been featured on CBS, CSPAN and CNN, and he has appeared in several PBS documentaries, including “John and Abigail .”

Ellis has taught in the Leadership Studies Program at Williams College. He previously taught at the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The five ODK Alpha Chapter honorary initiates: Tom Gage, W&L Class of 1970, retired sportswriter for The Detroit News; the Hon. Robert W. Goodlatte, W&L Law Class of 1977, Virginia’s 6th District representative to the U.S. Congress; Lucas M. Morel, Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics at W&L; Kimberley A. Ruscio, first lady of Washington and Lee University; and Robert D. Straughan, Crawford Family Dean of W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics and professor of business administration.

There are 290 active circles, or chapters, of ODK at colleges and universities across the country. Headquartered in Lexington, Virginia, ODK awards annual scholarships and leadership-development initiative grants and holds a national day of service each April. Individual circles conduct additional leadership-development activities.