Community Update: Sept. 29, 2017

Dear Members of the W&L Community,

On Thursday, Sept. 14, the Commission on Institutional History and Community met for the first time. President Dudley was present at the start, reiterating his charge that the commission examine both "how our history — and the ways that we teach, discuss, and represent it — shapes our community," and how W&L can "best present our physical campus to take full advantage of its educational potential in a manner that is consistent with our core values."

The commission's 12 members, drawn from faculty, staff, alumni and the student body, take this charge as an opportunity to probe the challenging and exceptionally important issues that touch and affect every part of our community. In our first meeting, we discussed strategies for carrying out our work. To this end, we began to enumerate and prioritize a number of issues related to how we teach, discuss and represent our history. Chief among our concerns is creating venues for community outreach. We are still working out the details, but discussion will be central to this process.

For our next meeting, Oct. 8-9, our duties are many, and our reading list very long. We are reading about W&L history, the life and career of Robert E. Lee, the legacy of slavery at our institution and in the nation, Lee Chapel's history and design, how other schools are going about similar projects, and a host of related topics. Members are also reading the many comments, messages and letters that have been sent to our email account ( and our website (

If you have thoughts and experiences to share with us, we encourage you to do so through these channels so that all the members can review them.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, I want to assure you that we take our obligations to the community seriously, and we value your input as we embark on this important work.

Brian C. Murchison
Chair, Commission on Institutional History and Community