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Three W&L Grads to Study at ‘Oxbridge’

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and Cambridge is the second-oldest. The two institutions are collectively known as Oxbridge and they are at the forefront of world learning, teaching and research.

Three Washington and Lee University students have been accepted to study at Oxbridge for the academic year 2009-2010. All three received their bachelor’s degrees from the University on June 4.

“I am not aware of any previous year when this many W&L graduates went off to these prestigious British universities,” said Associate Provost Bob Strong.

Wesley O’Dell majored in a politics, history and classics and will be pursuing a one-year M. Phil. in modern European history at Clare College, Cambridge, the second-oldest college at the university. O’Dell said he is looking forward to exploring the beautiful gardens for which Clare is famous.

He is also anxious to study under some of the leading scholars in his field. “My program is both taught and research-based, so I hope to be able to learn a great deal generally in my subject area” he said.

O’Dell is undecided on his long term career but is considering either further graduate education toward a Ph.D. in history, or possibly law school.

O’Dell said he owes a great deal to W&L, and that studying three majors gave him the opportunity to get to know some great mentors in the faculty.

In particular, he mentioned Theodore DeLaney, associate professor of history; Mark Rush, the Robert G. Brown Professor of Law and Politics; Holt Merchant, professor of history; Richard Bidlack, associate professor of history; Miriam Carlisle, associate professor of classics; and Kevin Crotty, professor of classics.

“They’ve all been great with letters of recommendation and advice for years now,” said O’Dell. “Without a doubt the best reason to come to W&L is getting to work closely with people like them.”

Erik Ball majored in classics and will be reading towards a Classics M. St. in Greek and Latin languages and literature at Magdalen College, Oxford.

“My long term goal is to enroll in an American Ph.D program in classics and be a professor,” Ball said. “I would like to specialize in Greek culture and literature during the time of the Roman Empire. I am really looking forward to studying at Oxford, since it has the largest classics faculty in the world.”

Ball said he would never have been a classics major and would never have had the chance to go to Oxford without the without the guidance of his classics professors. “I’m really thankful that I came to a school like W&L where I had the chance to interact personally with my professors,” he said. “I am particularly grateful to Kevin Crotty and Scott Johnson in the classics department.”

Richard Cleary majored in politics and French with a concentration in the University Scholars program.

Cleary, who was president of the student body executive committee as a senior, will study at Trinity College, Cambridge, working towards an M. Phil in International Relations, and said he is looking forward to the academic challenge. He would like to play a role in Euro-American relations in his future career. “I am especially interested in international cooperation on energy issues,” he said.

His interest in energy issues was clear in his honors thesis on the role of civilian nuclear energy in French diplomacy. Information for the thesis came partly from a trip in April 2009 to visit French nuclear facilities, when he met with government and business leaders. The trip was organized by Frank Settle, Visiting Professor of Chemistry.

Cleary said he owes a debt of a gratitude to many professors, including, but not limited to Settle; William Connelly, the John K. Boardman Professor of Politics; Domnica Radulescu, professor of Romance languages; and Robert Strong, associate provost.

Even after graduation, Cleary will continue his work with Settle for a short while. They have been invited to a luncheon with the French ambassador in Washington in July to discuss their visit to France.

Three W&L students will spend their junior years studying at Oxford.

Granvil George, a double major in philosophy and neuroscience and a University Scholar from Charleston, W.Va., has been chosen as the University College, Oxford, exchange student for 2009-2010.

The exchange program between Washington and Lee University and University College, Oxford, was established in 1986. Students spend a full year at Oxford, doing a course of studies in a subject or subjects for which there are tutors in the college. They live in college rooms, and eat in the college dining hall with the other students. They enjoy the same borrowing privileges, etc., as any other Oxford undergraduate, and can participate in the college sporting teams and extracurricular activities.

University College, Oxford, which is one of the thirty-eight colleges and six permanent private halls that make up the University of Oxford, was founded in 1249. It is one of the oldest colleges of Oxford, as well as one of the largest. Past students include Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edmund Cartwright, Clement Atlee, V. S. Naipaul, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Clinton. Its alumni also include the philosophers F. H. Bradley, Peter Strawson, and Peter Singer.

In addition, Lucy Simko, a double major in classics and computer science from New York City, will be studying for the year at Lady Margaret Hall, while Carson Haddow will be at St. Peter’s College, studying Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Haddow is majoring in English and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at W&L.