The Columns

Washington and Lee Names Four Distinguished Alumni

— by on May 5th, 2009

Washington and Lee University bestowed its Distinguished Alumnus Award on three recipients: William A. Jenks, Lexington, Va., a retired W&L history professor; David H. Stovall Jr., Jacksonville, Fla., president and CEO of Stein Mart Inc.; and Russell W. Chambliss, Birmingham, Ala., president and CEO of Mason Corp.

The university also gave the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award to W. Ansel Sanders, Greenville, S.C., assistant principal of Greenville’s Mauldin Middle School. The award ceremony was part of the university’s reunion weekend.

William JenksWilliam A. Jenks, a member of the class of 1939 who celebrated his 70th reunion, is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History Emeritus at Washington and Lee, where he taught European history from 1946 to 1983. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Former students have endowed two awards and one scholarship at W&L in Jenks name. Last year, several alumni, including W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio and broadcaster Roger Mudd, contributed to a Festschrift to the professor, Ending with a Flourish: A Celebration of Essays Celebrating William A. Jenks.

David H. Stovall Jr., a member of the class of 1969 who celebrated his 40th reunion, earned a B.S. from Washington and Lee and an M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Stovall began his retail career at age 14 at the Leggett department store in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va. He later worked as an executive for the department stores Woodward & Lothrop, Bloomingdale’s and Belk, from which he retired last December after 20 years, as chairman of the central division. A few days later, he joined Stein Mart as president and CEO.

For his community service to Charlotte, N.C., Stovall received the Schley Lyons Circle of Excellence Award from Leadership Charlotte. As an alumnus of W&L, Stovall has hosted many chapter events, served on campaign committees and sat on the Advisory Board of W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. A member of the W&L Parents’ Council, he is the father of two alumni, Courtney Stovall and Nathan Stovall.

Russell W. Chambliss, a member of the class of 1974 who celebrated his 35th reunion, has a B.A. in economics from W&L. In 1977, after a stint in the Army, he joined his family’s business, Mason Corp., which manufactures aluminum building products. He became president and CEO in 1989.

Chambliss plays leadership roles in many community organizations, including the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham and the Literacy Council in Birmingham. As an alumnus of W&L, he has led his local alumni chapter, a campaign committee, his 25th reunion committee and the Alumni Board of Directors, among other volunteer organizations.

W. Ansel SandersW. Ansel Sanders is a member of the class of 2004 and celebrated his fifth reunion. As a student-athlete at W&L, he starred in lacrosse and won the Frank J. Gilliam Award for his contribution to student affairs.

After graduation, he joined Teach for America, a national organization that sends recent college graduates to teach for two years in public schools. During his stint, Sanders taught and coached at a Baltimore middle school and co-founded Baltimore’s Athletes and Authors Summer Academy.

He earned an M.A. in teaching from Johns Hopkins University and is enrolled in a teacher-education program at Furman University. The assistant principal of Mauldin Middle School in Greenville, S.C., Sanders also serves as head boys’ lacrosse coach at that city’s Eastside High School. He serves on W&L’s local alumni chapter and on the committee for his class reunion.

Washington and Lee has given the Distinguished Alumni Award since 1974 and added the Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 1994. The awards recognize contributions to W&L, community service and personal and professional achievement.