At Washington and Lee, the faculty members are teacher-scholars. Teaching comes first, and all of our faculty are deeply committed to working with students and to helping develop their interests into passions. Alumni from every generation invariably cite the relationships that they developed with faculty as central to their experience.
Scholarship is important, too, and many W&L faculty are nationally and internationally known experts in their fields. The faculty regularly engage students directly in their research during the summer and academic year, creating a vibrant student-faculty research community on campus, especially in the STEM disciplines. Meantime, faculty engages with one another and with students about their research activities in formal and informal settings throughout the year.
The success of the teacher-scholar model at Washington and Lee is evidenced by success in winning national grants and by virtue of the number of faculty who have won the Outstanding Teacher Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. W&L has had nine winners in that competition since 2008. Faculty scholarship is supported by eligibility for sabbatical leaves to tenured faculty once every five years. Tenure-track faculty members are also eligible for a one-semester, pre-tenure research leave in their third or fourth year of teaching. Undergraduate professors are eligible for summer research grants and generous support for travel to conferences.
Washington and Lee now has 256 full-time faculty members: 224 in the two undergraduate divisions and 32 in the School of Law. Women compose 37 percent of the faculty, and 11 percent identify themselves as members of racial or ethnic minorities.
In 2007, W&L completed a reduction of the undergraduate teaching load to an average of 5.5 courses a year in the context of its 12-12-4 (weeks) academic calendar. The undergraduate student-faculty ratio for the 2014-15 academic year was 8:1. Support for faculty salaries and professional development has been one of the four overarching goals of the university's strategic plan and was a key target of the recently completed capital campaign.