Summer 2019 Alumni & Parent Update

To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: May 31, 2019

The W&L campus is remarkably quiet following a whirlwind of spring activity that culminated in our 232nd Commencement on May 23. Commencement festivities began with a Baccalaureate address by bestselling author and former hospice chaplain Kerry Egan '95 on Wednesday. It was my privilege to award degrees to the Class of 2019, as well as an honorary degree to Professor Ted DeLaney '85, under brilliant blue skies in front of Lee Chapel the following day. Ted is retiring after a remarkable career spanning 56 years at Washington and Lee. Earlier in May, the School of Law conferred an honorary degree on its commencement speaker, bestselling author and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson.

Next week marks the retirement of another longtime employee, Executive Director of University Facilities Randolph Hare. Randolph began as a custodian at W&L and has worked in virtually every capacity in University Facilities over his 48-year career. He was recently inducted into the Alpha Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa for his contributions to the campus, the community and his professional organization, and he received a citation from the Board of Trustees during their May meeting for his longtime service to the university. Randolph and Ted are just two of the retiring faculty and staff who were honored at Commencement this year; together, that group contributed a combined 870 years of service to W&L. They will all be sorely missed.

While May is always busy, there has hardly been a dull moment on campus since late March, when the Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar featured bestselling author Delia Owens. She was joined by Lena Hill, dean of the College and professor of English; Mikki Brock, associate professor of history; and more than 120 registered participants for a series of talks and discussions centering on Owens's novel "Where the Crawdads Sing."

April began with a gathering of nearly 200 alumni at George Washington's Mount Vernon. It was a thrill to see our Charles Willson Peale portrait of Washington in the uniform of a colonel in the Virginia militia in its original home at Mount Vernon, where it will hang for the next two years and be viewed by several million visitors. The Peale portrait will return to W&L to join the Pine portrait of Lee in his Confederate uniform in our new museum once that facility is complete. Meanwhile, the Pine portrait is on display in the Lee Chapel Museum, along with a replica of the Peale portrait, as part of an exhibit on the history of the two paintings.

Now hanging in Lee Chapel are portraits depicting George Washington and Robert E. Lee in their direct connection to the school. Our 1866 J. Reid portrait of Lee is one of a very few painted during Lee's presidency of Washington College. The Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington, on loan from Mount Vernon, was painted in 1796-the same year in which he made his gift to Liberty Hall Academy. It is arguably the most publicly recognized image of Washington because it appears on the U.S. $1 bill.

The Mount Vernon event also served to introduce Lynn Rainville, our new director of institutional history, to our largest alumni chapter. Lynn is eager to begin her work in July, advancing our educational mission and teaching our history as well as possible for the benefit of the W&L community and the wider public. Her early projects will include new signage for the John Robinson obelisk and the Cyrus McCormick statue on the Front Lawn, and an interactive campus history tour.

It was my honor in April to attend a moving celebration of life for Anne Wilson, widow of former president John D. Wilson. The event featured performances by students, faculty and the Rockbridge Ballet in Wilson Hall. Anne died in Lexington in March at the age of 84. The University Singers were among the groups participating in the service, fresh from their successful Spring Break concert tour of Scotland. Visiting Instructor of Music Morgan Luttig '14 did an excellent job with the University Singers this year while their regular director, Shane Lynch, enjoyed a well-deserved sabbatical.

Our signature Spring Term was as lively as ever, with faculty leading students on courses to 11 international destinations, including Iceland, Morocco and Nepal. The opportunities in Lexington were also abundant, with students immersing themselves in courses such as Genetic Engineering and Society, Field Methods in Archaeology, and Total Theater.

Our students enjoyed another remarkably successful year in the classroom and on the playing fields. Their academic accomplishments were rewarded with more than 30 national fellowships, including eight Fulbrights, two NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, a Beinecke, a Goldwater, and a Davis Projects for Peace Prize. Our athletic teams won all three ODAC Commissioners Cups and conference championships in 13 sports. A.J. Witherell and Haley Tucker took home the Pres Brown Senior Athlete of the Year awards.

Speaking of athletics, everyone on campus will benefit from the new Richard L. Duchossois Athletic and Recreation Center, which is rapidly rising from the foundation of the former Warner Center. It was exciting to see the progress on the facility during a hardhat tour in May with the Board of Trustees. I encourage you to take a look at the latest construction photos online.

Spring would not be complete at W&L without our annual reunion weekend, and this year's event shattered records for both attendance and fundraising, led by gifts from the Classes of 1994 and 1969 of $4,665,900 and $13,267,450, respectively. Combined, reunion classes set records of more than $1.7 million for this year's Annual Fund, more than $5,721,000 in five-year reunion pledges, and a grand total of reunion giving exceeding $21.8 million.

In addition to providing extraordinary financial support for the university, a record 697 alumni returned to campus to celebrate reunions with their classmates. Highlights included the Opening Assembly, where my friend and advisor Jim Farrar '74 reflected on his lifetime association with Washington and Lee; a fascinating 50th reunion panel, "Reflecting Forward," exploring the changes that have taken place on campus since the Class of 1969 received their diplomas; the dedication of Simpson House; and our annual Kentucky Derby party. You can read more about the weekend on our website.

I am delighted to report on another successful year in Admissions. Applications increased by 6%, with 6,178 talented young people competing for 461 spots. While statistics will not be final until the students matriculate, those committed to attend represent 38 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and include 26 foreign citizens from 22 countries. In addition, 18% identify as students of color and 8% are first-generation-to-college students; 10% are children of alumni; and 52% are receiving financial aid. The median SAT is 1420. The median ACT is 33. We look forward to welcoming these newest Generals to W&L in August.

Looking back on the 2018-19 academic year, I am proud of what we have accomplished together. As I told the reunionists gathered for breakfast in Evans Hall, our recipe for success at W&L is simple, but hard to replicate. We are blessed with great students, great teachers, great facilities, great culture and great alumni. I am honored to be a part of this extraordinary community, and I hope to see you on campus soon.

In the meantime, best wishes for a wonderful summer.