Spring 2019 Alumni & Parent Update

To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: March 25, 2019

Greetings from Lexington. We are headed into that wonderful time of year when the days grow longer, the trees begin to flower, and the campus looks forward expectantly to the start of Spring Term.

I write to you today with the second of what I anticipate will be quarterly updates on the life of W&L. My first update took the form of a video on the State of the University, filmed in December, in which I was interviewed by Beau Dudley '74, 79L, executive director of Alumni Engagement. I hope you will watch the video, if you have not yet done so.

March is always a busy month on campus, and the days since February break have been full. Highlights for me have included attending the bi-annual Science, Society and the Arts showcase of student work; Black Alumni Reunion, which brought over 65 Generals back to campus; the dedication of Chavis Hall; and the annual Institute for Honor, which this year tackled the topic of Civility and Public Discourse, with a keynote address by columnist George Will. This week, we will welcome Marty Baron, the executive editor of the Washington Post, for a public Q&A. Like many of our campus programs, the event will be streamed live online.

March 14 marked our 2019 Give Day. I want to express my profound thanks to the over 2,600 donors who made a contribution, and to the Annual Fund Council, the Law Council, the Board of Trustees, current and past parents and senior staff, who committed challenge funds to inspire the community to participate. Together we raised over $900,000 -- funds that will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of the student experience.

Thanks to your generosity, our students have plentiful opportunities to excel, both in and out of the classroom. Early news indicates that we will have another outstanding array of fellowship winners this year, including (so far) two Fulbright Scholarships (Katherine Day '19 and Kalady Osowski '19), a Schwarzman Scholarship (Zainab Abiza '19), two NCAA Postgraduate Fellowships (Samantha Yates '19 and Hank Patrick '19), and a Davis Projects for Peace Award (Xinxian Wang '21). W&L was recently named a top-producing institution for the Fulbright Program, with four winners for the 2018-19 academic year. The S. Cullum Owings Jr. Fellowship makes it possible for our students to visit secondary schools to discuss our Honor System, academic integrity, and the high value of a community of trust. In January, they received very positive reviews from their conversations at four high schools in Houston.

Our students participated in a variety of Washington Break trips, ranging from Outing Club excursions in Big Bend National Park and the Florida Everglades to Career Exploration trips to New York focused on the fashion, entertainment, sports, and investment industries. Mock Convention 2020 leaders visited five alumni chapters; the Bonner Scholars completed a service trip to Charlotte; the Nabors Service League took a group to Birmingham; and 23 first-year and sophomore students traveled to Japan as part of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program. We are grateful to all of you who opened your homes and workplaces to host these students and introduce them to the warmth and hospitality of our alumni community.

Our athletic teams completed a strong winter season, capturing conference championships in men's and women's swimming and men's indoor track and field. Women's and men's basketball both excelled, competing in their temporary home in the Duchossois Tennis Center while the new Richard L. Duchossois Center for Athletics and Recreation is under construction, and advancing to the finals and semi-finals of the ODAC tournament, respectively. Wrestling finished 12-4, just one win shy of the program record. The spring teams are well into their seasons now, and I've enjoyed the opportunities to watch their contests, as well as the chance to see our swimmers compete in the NCAA championship meet, where the women finished tenth in the nation and seven of our athletes earned All-American honors.

Our students' success is thanks to their own hard work, the outstanding support they receive from faculty and staff, and the breadth of opportunities made possible by our alumni. We thank you for showing up time and again with energy, expertise, and resources that demonstrate your dedication to W&L. All of us here on campus deeply appreciate your support.

Non Incautus Futuri

Our Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in its May 2018 meeting, charts our course over the coming decade. Already we are beginning to see progress on several key initiatives. The Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE), a state-of-the-art teaching and learning center, will support the professional development of our faculty and the success of our students through tutoring, writing and communications expertise, and new technology. Located in Leyburn Library, the center will also provide needed classroom space, which will facilitate the coming renovation and expansion of Huntley Hall to accommodate the needs of the Williams School. Our new Legal Studies program, Law, Justice, and Society, will offer a new minor, taught jointly by faculty in the Law School, the Williams School, and the College. The first students will enroll this fall.

Other capital improvements to campus arising from the Strategic Plan will include an expanded and renovated science center, a new facility for admissions and financial aid, and a museum of institutional history.

We aspire for the new museum to set a national example for how an educational institution examines, teaches, and presents its history. Our first Director of Institutional History, Lynn Rainville, will lead us in the process of developing the museum and creating dynamic educational programming for the campus community, alumni, and the public. She begins work at W&L in July and looks forward to collaborating with students, faculty, and alumni.

Our Strategic Plan also calls for us to expand access to a W&L education. Currently, our no-loan financial aid program meets 100 percent of each student's demonstrated need, for families at all income levels, through grants and work-study. The W&L Promise guarantees grants equaling at least the full cost of tuition for students with a family income under $100,000, while the competitive Johnson Scholarship provides 10 percent of each entering class with scholarships equaling the full cost of attendance, in addition to funding summer experiences for which all students are eligible to apply.

We aim to increase our endowed financial aid resources so that we can admit students on the basis of talent and character every time. This practice of ensuring that family finances do not disadvantage any applicant, known as "need-blind" admission, is a hallmark of the strongest schools in the country. We are also working to eliminate financial barriers to participation in the full range of curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular opportunities at W&L.

On Friday, our Admissions Office released the final round of admission decisions for the Class of 2023. W&L admitted 1,115 out of 6,178 applicants. They represent 48 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 35 countries. Twenty-eight percent are domestic students of color, 10 percent are first-generation college students, and eight percent are children of alumni. The median SAT is 1450 and the median ACT is 33. We will know the final composition of the class in early May, after offers of admission have been accepted.

At a time when college access, affordability, and value are being closely scrutinized in the national media, we are proud of our principled and holistic approach to admissions and our commitment to meeting the demonstrated financial need of every admitted student. The collective intelligence, character, curiosity, and leadership potential of the Class of 2023 will enhance our educational community in the years ahead.

As we reflect on the accomplishments of our current students, the dedication of our alumni and the potential of our admitted students, I am struck by the remarkable history of this place, the positive spirit on campus, and how much we can achieve together. Washington and Lee is truly a special community, of which I am proud to be a member. I thank you for the many ways that you support the university, and look forward to seeing you at a chapter event or here on campus, perhaps at Alumni Weekend on May 2-5.