Spring 2022 Alumni and Family Update

To: W&L Alumni, Parents and Friends
From: President Will Dudley
Date: June 6, 2022

A unique feeling comes over a university campus the day after Commencement. There’s a collective exhalation after weeks of preparation and anticipation, and a profound quiet as the joyful graduates and their proud families depart town to begin the next chapter of their lives. Faculty and staff pause to regroup and recharge during the slower pace of summer.

This academic year felt delightfully normal. It was fantastic to get back to our usual routines: Students in classrooms, participating in the full range of extracurricular activities, and traveling abroad. Parents in attendance at games and performances. Alumni reconnecting at long-awaited reunions. Graduates processing across the stage on the Front Lawn.

It was so important and refreshing to have a relatively normal year that I devoted my Commencement address to the undergraduate Class of 2022 to reflecting on what we regard as normal here at Washington and Lee: The welcoming community embodied by the Speaking Tradition. The mutual trust engendered by the Honor System. The clarity of purpose outlined in our mission statement. The foundation for success laid by the liberal arts education we provide. Our “normal” is extraordinary.

Normal life at W&L is not to be taken for granted, and it depends on the contributions of many people. I am grateful for the exceptional dedication of our faculty, the hard work of our staff, and the boundless enthusiasm of our talented students. I am also grateful to you, our alumni and parents, for your support of Washington and Lee. Hundreds of you volunteer each year as class agents, chapter volunteers, admissions representatives, career mentors, and advisory board members. Many of you share your expertise, on campus and online, in ways that benefit our students and further our mission of lifelong learning. And you make generous gifts to the Annual Fund and other critical priorities that help to ensure W&L remains among the strongest colleges and universities in the nation.

Because it has been challenging for many of you to return to campus this year, we have made a special effort with our communications to provide a window into Washington and Lee today – our place in the higher education landscape, our recent successes, and our aspirations for the future. If you’re in the market for inspirational summer reading, I recommend A View from the Hill, the report we mailed this spring, which offers a lively and comprehensive sense of our people and programs. You might also take a look at my ongoing series of essays, “Distinctively W&L.” And I recommend to you our collection of faculty podcasts, “After Class,” as well as recent news items about a new solar deal that will mitigate all of the emissions associated with campus electricity use; our record number of post-graduate fellowship winners; the launch of the DeLaney Center for teaching and research on Southern race relations, culture, and politics; and a Q&A with Melanie Wilson, who becomes dean of the School of Law on July 1.

I am proud to be part of such a special community, united by a shared love of Washington and Lee and a commitment to its continuous improvement. As I travel the country wearing a trident on my shirt or my tie, the extended family of Generals inevitably responds with warm greetings in airports, hotels, restaurants, and on city streets. Your collective passion brings a smile to my face, and I thank you for everything you do to support W&L.

You and your families have my best wishes for a wonderful summer. All of us on campus hope to see you back in Lexington for a visit soon.