Commencement Speakers also reachable through go.wlu.edu/commencement-speakers
Kenneth P. Ruscio took office as the 26th president of Washington and Lee University on July 1, 2006. In May 2015 he announced his intention to step down for the presidency and will leave that post at the end of this calendar year. He has been named president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, with his responsibilities beginning on April 1, 2017.
Ruscio earned his B.A. with a major in politics from Washington and Lee in 1976, and a master of public administration (1978) and a Ph.D. in public affairs and public administration (1983), both from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Ruscio served as the dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond from 2002 to 2006. Prior to Richmond, Ruscio had spent 15 years at his alma mater, where he held both faculty and staff positions from 1987 to 2002. Those positions included professor of politics, associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and dean of freshmen. A postdoctoral research scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1983 to 1985, he also taught at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1985 to 1987 and at Kansas University from 1982 to 1983.
The year after Ruscio became president of W&L, the University launched an ambitious strategic plan emphasizing its commitment to a liberal arts education in the 21st century. The recently completed capital campaign in support of the plan raised $542.5 million, including substantial gifts for student financial aid such as the $100 million gift establishing the Johnson Scholars Program, and for faculty support and academic programs, including $66 million from the Lenfest Challenge to improve faculty compensation and $4 million from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd to create the Roger Mudd Center for the Study of Professional Ethics. A $50 million renovation and restoration of the historic Colonnade is nearing completion, and a new athletic and recreation center, as well as new and renovated campus residences for students, are in the works. The University has also embarked upon initiatives in work-life balance and energy conservation, the latter as part of its commitment to sustainability.
President Ruscio guided the University through a revitalization of the Spring Term, a four-week academic term that offers intensive study for students and creative approaches to teaching for faculty. Also during his tenure, the W&L School of Law has implemented an innovative curriculum that prepares students for a rapidly changing profession.
Ruscio has authored articles, book reviews, essays, and the book, The Leadership Dilemma in Modern Democracy (2004). He has served as national president of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership society begun at W&L in 1914 that now has chapters at more than 300 campuses. He has led and served on dozens of academic, professional and civic committees. Ruscio serves on the boards of the George C. Marshall Foundation and of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). In recognition of his scholarly and professional accomplishments, Washington and Lee's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa inducted Ruscio as an alumni member in 2008.
Ruscio is married to Kimberley O'Donnell Ruscio. They have a son, Matthew, who is a 2012 graduate of St. Lawrence University.
Reggie Aggarwal, a 1994 Juris Doctor graduate of Washington and Lee's School of Law, is chief executive officer and founder of the event management software company Cvent. Aggarwal founded Cvent in 1999, leading it from a two-person startup to a 1,700-person company with over $1 billion market capitalization. The company is now one of the leading cloud-based enterprise event management systems, with over 14,000 customers world-wide.
In October 2013, Aggarwal was named CEO of the Year by the Washington Business Journal. He has also been named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Washington, DC, area by Ernst & Young, a rising star by Forbes Magazine, one of the 100 Top Tech Titans by Washingtonian Magazine for three years, and one of the 25 most influential people in the meetings industry by MeetingNews and Business Travel News.
Aggarwal is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Indian CEO High Tech Council (now the DC Chapter of the global entrepreneurship organization TiE), which The Washington Post said was "maybe the singularly most successful association in the past decade." He was also appointed by the governor of Virginia as Chairman of the Chief Information Officers Advisory Commission. He has served on the global board of trustees of TiE and Sales and Marketing Executive International, and on the board of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Inova Healthcare System, and the DC Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his W&L degree, Aggarwal holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Laws degree from Georgetown University Law School. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate from Southeastern University for his contribution to the community. In 2014, he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from W&L Law.
Elizabeth Pryor Knapp is Washington and Lee's associate provost, the director of the Johnson Program in leadership and Integrity, and professor of geology. A member of the W&L Class of 1990, she also chairs the Special Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L, the University Sustainability Committee, and the Community Engagement and Service Learning Committee, and is co-chair of the University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate. Dr. Knapp previously served as the senior assistant to the president and as the associate dean of the College. She has been on the faculty since 1997, teaching geochemistry and hydrogeology, with particular interest in the geology of Hawaii and rock weathering processes.
Knapp received her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in geology from W&L and a Ph.D in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia. She has served on the boards of the Rockbridge SPCA, the Rockbridge County Public Service Authority, the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath and Alleghany, the VMI Research Labs, and the Nature Camp Foundation, and was a member of the vestry of R.E. Lee Episcopal Church. Knapp was inducted this spring as an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa. She and her husband, Chuck Smith, have two children, Jenner and Charlie.
Lauren Howard, from South Glastonbury, Connecticut, is graduating with a major in economics and minors in mathematics and poverty and human capability studies. Lauren has served three years on both the Executive Committee of the Student Body and the Residential Advisor Staff, spending the 2014-15 year as both the Vice President of the EC and the Head First-Year RA. She has also been a leader in the Nabors Service League and is a member of Chi Omega. In her free time, Lauren loves reading, playing the flute, and hiking with friends. This summer, Lauren is excited to take her next step by joining the Teach For America corps in New York City as a middle school math teacher in the Bronx.