Three Dimensions—and More—of W&L W&L Alumni Magazine: Fall 2013

PERHAPS IT WAS the 3-D glasses that brought the impact of Washington and Lee's strategic plan into greater focus for me this fall.

In early September, just as classes were getting underway, I joined members of the President's Council for a tour of the new Integrative and Quantitative (IQ) Center that now occupies the first floor of Telford Science Library.

As part of the presentation led by biology professor Helen I'Anson, who has developed the center, we all donned the 3-D glasses and watched, transfixed, as the image of a protein molecule leapt off the screen at us.

With a few clicks of the keyboard, David Pfaff, the center's director, rotated the molecule in front of our eyes and then sent it to the 3-D printer in an adjoining room, where we watched it take shape and then held it in our hands.

The 3-D lab and printer are but one aspect of the IQ Center, which is supported by both a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and gifts from alumni and friends.

Among other features, the center is home to a scanning electron microscope, a confocal microscope and a computer visualization lab that can project, in real time, images collected on those microscopes. To the best of our knowledge, it is the only facility of its kind at a liberal arts college.

Other occasions this fall also point to the success of the course we charted for the University in 2007. For instance, more than 40 alumni joined 200 students in the second annual Entrepreneurship Summit, sponsored by the J. Lawrence Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship. According to Jeff Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship, the composition of the group was especially gratifying. The alumni represented 23 different majors, while the students represented 29 majors.

We inaugurated the Mudd Center for Ethics, funded by a gift of $4 million from our distinguished alumnus, Roger Mudd '50. Angela Smith, director of the center and the first Mudd Professor of Ethics, arranged for the event to feature a lecture by Michael Ignatieff, a renowned author and former Canadian politician who holds academic appointments at both Harvard and the University of Toronto.

Finally, I had lunch with 14 juniors and seniors who had received competitive Johnson Opportunity Grants for research during the past summer. I listened as they traded stories about their experiences, which ranged from a health-care internship in Peru to independent research in Dubai to an economic internship in Greenland. Others had used their grants to study or work in Nicaragua and Taiwan, Korea and Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa, Durham, N.C., and, yes, even Buena Vista. Indeed, they had traveled to every continent except Antarctica.

Like all campaigns, Honor Our Past, Build Our Future: The Campaign for Washington and Lee has a clearly stated monetary goal-$500 million by June 30, 2015. But it's only when you listen to a student's excitement about her time in a Nicaraguan veterinary clinic, or eavesdrop on an alumna and a student discussing a new business, or watch a protein molecule dance in 3-D, that you realize just what the campaign is really all about.