Caring for the Community

Date: March 20, 2020

Dear W&L alumni,

I wrote to you on Sunday, describing what has unfolded on campus over the last two weeks. Many of you responded with messages of encouragement and support, which mean a great deal to me. The strength of the Washington and Lee community has never been more evident or more appreciated than now.

My thoughts are with each of you as you adapt to the disruptions caused by this public health crisis. Some members of the extended W&L family are grappling personally with COVID-19 or dealing with the exposure of their loved ones. Others of you are hard at work on the front lines, providing health care in your local communities. Many of your hometowns are struggling as the economic impacts multiply. I am proud that W&L alumni will be leaders, all over the country, in responding to this challenge and helping those in need. Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other.

Here in Rockbridge County, there has not yet been a confirmed case of COVID-19, but the community has mobilized to help stem the spread of the virus. Local schools have closed. Businesses are facilitating social distancing by moving to takeout service and home delivery. At W&L, we bid farewell on Wednesday to the last of the undergraduate students moving out of campus housing. Law students no longer have access to the familiar confines of Lewis Hall. It has been an abrupt and painful separation for us all, but necessary to do our part.

Many of you have asked about the immediate needs of our students, faculty, staff, and their families. I am grateful for your concern, especially at this moment when there are so many other claims on your care and attention. I want to share what Washington and Lee is doing to take care of our people:

We are supporting our most vulnerable students -- some of whom remain on campus due to circumstances that make returning home impossible -- with housing, meals, health services, and funding for emergency expenses.

We are helping our faculty and staff weather this period of uncertainty -- and minimizing the economic impact on Rockbridge County, where W&L is the largest employer -- by guaranteeing employment through at least June 1. Work is being done remotely whenever possible.

We are treating W&L families fairly by refunding a pro-rated share of room and board.

We are helping our faculty convert their courses to virtual instruction and sustain the personal attention to students that is vital to the W&L experience. Our information technology department and our teaching and learning center, CARPE, are providing tools, training, and expert guidance.

If you would like to help, every gift or pledge payment to the Annual Fund through June 30 will directly support these efforts. Your collective compassion and generosity are extraordinary, and I am especially grateful to you in these most difficult times.

I look forward to the time when we can welcome you back to campus and visit your alumni chapters. Meanwhile, please keep us apprised of how you are doing and find ways to connect with us, as we will with you. Washington and Lee will persevere and thrive because of the strength and character of our community.

With continuing best wishes for you and your loved ones,