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Lindley’s Legacy Lives On  Washington and Lee's new student wellness center has inspired generous support.  

Lindley-Center-1-1140x679 Lindley's Legacy Lives On Lindley Center for Student Wellness (Courtesy rendering)

“The ability to tell Lindley’s story through this building has meant a great deal to me and our family.”   

~ Drew Dodson ’00

Those who knew Lindley Spaht Dodson, a pediatrician and member of the Washington and Lee University Class of 1999, describe her as a source of joy, comfort and inspiration. Now, thanks to an outpouring of support from the W&L community, her memory and legacy will continue to impact generations of students through the Lindley Center for Student Wellness. 

The center will serve as the new home for student health – both physical and mental — and is projected to open in the fall of 2025. The facility will be staffed with both counseling resources and health professionals to foster overall student well being. The Lindley Center will be constructed on East Denny Circle, in a location convenient for both undergraduate and law students.    

Initially, the center was to be located within the new Williams School, which is currently under construction on West Washington Street. However, after further review of students’ needs, the university decided the project warranted a standalone building. The Spaht family expanded its leading gift to $4 million to support the new design. Since that time, extended members of both sides of the Spaht and Dodson families have contributed significant gifts to the project. 

For their 25th reunion in 2024, the Class of 1999, led by co-chairs Cory Birdsall and T. Blair, chose the Lindley Center as their class project, subsequently raising $1,458,062 (as of May 6, 2024) to support the initiative. In 2021, the Class of 1996 contributed more than $500,000 to the center as part of their class’s commitment to student health and wellness during their 25th reunion year. Additionally, the Richmond-based Mary Morton Parsons Foundation contributed a $300,000 challenge grant to support the facility.  

Lindley was tragically killed Jan. 26, 2021, while she was working at Children’s Medical Group in Austin, Texas, leaving behind her husband, Drew Dodson ’00, and three young children. For Drew, the Lindley Center project has been an important way to preserve Lindley’s memory for his children as well as family and friends. 

“This is a really special project that addresses a clear need in this place that she loved,” Dodson says. “The ability to tell Lindley’s story through this building has meant a great deal to me and our family.”   

IMG_0889-1140x760 Lindley's Legacy Lives On Drew Dodson ’00, Lindley Spaht Dodson ’99 and their three children.

In addition to running her own practice, Lindley served as an attending physician at Dell Children’s Hospital and as a faculty member at the Dell Medical School pediatrics department, where she was recognized with faculty of the year awards in 2012 and 2017. A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native, she earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans in 2003. Following her pediatric residency at Vanderbilt University, Lindley spent time as a Harvard Medical School instructor and as an urgent care physician at Boston Children’s Hospital before moving to Austin in 2007. 

Birdsall, one of Lindley’s close friends, says there was almost unanimous support among her classmates for the center as a reunion class project, not only due to the connection with their friend and classmate but because of their roles as parents.  

“Most of us are at an age where we have children approaching the college search process,” Birdsall says, “and I think we’re all acutely aware of the need for this type of space on a college campus and the resources that it will house.”  

Hudson Smith ’99 was a classmate and friend of Lindley and is now a partner at Thoma Bravo alongside Lindley’s brother, Holden. Smith is also one of the project’s lead donors and said once he learned of the demand on campus for mental health services and the opportunities to support a clear need among students, he was excited to contribute to such an impactful addition to campus.  

 “Contributing to something that is a net new addition to the school is a special thing to be a part of,” Smith said. “There is a real need for this.”  

Jenny Stone Wolkind, a close friend of Lindley’s and a leading donor to the Class of 1999’s class project, describes Lindley as a “bright light, one that exuded positivity and connection,” and envisions the facility as being an extension of that spirit.  

“When I think about the role she played in her life as a counselor to parents of sick children,” Wolkind says, “I imagine the Lindley Center as being a place where people come to get support and counsel that hopefully is not a sterile place, but a place that has a positive energy around it. That is totally aligned with her legacy.”  

Vice President for Student Affairs Sidney Evans says the center is an investment in W&L’s holistic approach to student wellness.  

“Mental and physical health are related in many cases,” Evans says, “and this space will facilitate better collaboration.” Evans added that the building’s design incorporates valuable lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic including infirmary rooms, bathroom facilities and air exchanges built to accommodate any future needs for isolation and quarantine. 

Holden Spaht, Lindley’s brother and current W&L parent, says the building’s ability to meet students’ needs for mental health resources was an area of particular focus as the family considered what impact the Lindley Center could have on campus.   

“Almost a quarter of students at Washington and Lee seek mental health services yearly — upwards of 3,000 counseling sessions,” Spaht said in a social media post recognizing the Lindley Center on World Mental Health Day. “I hope students feel comfortable ‘going to Lindley’ to take care of their mental health needs. Because that –– going to Lindley –– is exactly what so many of us did, and we’re so proud to continue to honor her legacy and memory.”