Spring Campus Update

To: W&L Faculty and Staff
From: President Will Dudley
Date: April 13, 2022

With the academic term winding down, campus has felt delightfully lively the last few weeks. I've enjoyed participating in the flurry of spring activity generated by all of you — honor society inductions, student performances, campus speakers, faculty colloquia, spring athletic events, admitted student days, and long-awaited alumni reunions.

It is also a season of good news. Since the beginning of March, we have announced the appointment of Melanie Wilson as the next Dean of the Law School and Michael Hill as the inaugural director of the DeLaney Center. And we opened the Center for Inclusion and Engagement and other newly renovated spaces in Elrod Commons.

We had a record number of applications for the incoming undergraduate class and continue to see gains in the strength of our law school applicant pool. Outcomes for our graduates look similarly promising. Our students are winning national fellowships at an unprecedented rate — this is the fourth year in a row that W&L has been named one of the nation's top-producing schools for Fulbright recipients. 97% of undergraduates and 96% of law students in the Class of 2021 are employed or pursuing a graduate degree. And we have positive momentum in our fundraising, with record-breaking reunion giving totals from the recent 20th and 25th reunion classes.

In short, we have much to be proud of and celebrate this spring. The last two years have demonstrated the incredible resilience and dedication of our students, faculty, and staff. We have discovered within ourselves the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of great uncertainty, hardship, and loss. We kept our campus open and our entire workforce employed. And we discovered a renewed appreciation for many things that we had come to take for granted.

It is in that spirit of appreciation that I write to you today. While our recent steps toward normalcy are gratifying, I know the past two years have taken a toll on each of us. I am thankful for your contributions and mindful of the challenges you have endured. Like many of you, the pandemic caused me to reflect upon what I do and why. I concluded that I am more grateful than ever to be at Washington and Lee, working with all of you in the service of a mission that positively impacts so many lives. 

This week you will receive a copy of my 2021-22 President's Report, which provides an overview of the state of the university and highlights many of the exceptional features of a W&L education. I have also resumed writing Distinctively W&L, a series of essays in which I reflect on Washington and Lee's place in the higher education landscape. At a time when media headlines are rife with stories about everything that is wrong with higher education, it is important to understand how W&L stands apart from other colleges and universities.

I hope you will take the time to read these publications and that you share the sense of pride and purpose that I feel whenever I walk across campus. Together, we are preparing our students not only for professional success but for lives of meaning and consequence. What we do here matters, and your collective skill and effort make it possible.

Thank you. And I look forward to seeing and celebrating with you as we bring this very successful academic year to a close in the coming weeks.