Archive for May, 2010

This is a Job?

Max Adler is on a road trip. He’s playing 60 golf courses in 60 days and writing about his travels for Golf Digest. And — they’re paying him.

This isn’t the first time that Max, a 2004 graduate and former member of the Generals’ varsity golf team, has combined his writing and playing skills to parlay a pretty nifty assignment. You may remember our blog entry from March 2009 that described his efforts to qualify for the U.S. Open (he fell short).

But this 60 Stories in 60 Days adventure is quite an assignment.  He started out on April 2 playing at Pebble Beach Golf Links and has taken a southerly path across the U.S. with stops at some of the most intriguing courses in the country. You need to look at the map on the Golf Digest website to appreciate just what kind of road trip it has been.

One of the more recent stops was in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., where Max actually spent two days. On one of those days, he played at the Greenbrier one morning and then had lunch with with 87-year-old Bill Campbell, winner of 33 straight U.S. Amateur titles. That came the day after Max was joined by fellow W&L alums Burr Datz ’75 and Will Huntington ’06 to play one of the more unusual courses anywhere, Oakhurst Links, billed as America’s first golf course., where players must use hickory clubs and “guttie balls” (look it up). Watch the video below from that visit and follow Max’s travels (he has about 10 stops left) at the Golf Digest site.

Parents and the Job Search

Beverly Lorig

Beverly Lorig, director of career services at Washington and Lee, offered sage (and timely) advice for parents of students graduating this month. In a column that she wrote for the Wall Street Journal’s blog, “Hire Education,” she addressed comments directly to parents, telling them not to believe that, come commencement, their son or daughter will be the only member of the class without a job offer.

And, as Beverly wrote, this economy makes that search all the more difficult and requires what she termed “polite persistence.”

Read her column, Attention, Nervous Parents in the Audience.

Commencement Connections

Tom Wolfe '51, left, and Ralph H. Smith II '74

It’s that Pomp and Circumstance time of year, and several Washington and Lee connections are cropping up in commencement exercises here and there.

• W&L alumnus Tom Wolfe, of the Class of 1951, was the principal speaker at the University of Alabama-Huntsville last Friday. He told the graduates that America is “in astonishingly good shape.” Tom was joined in the festivities by fellow alumnus Ralph H. Smith II, of the Class of 1974, who is general counsel for the University of Alabama System and distinguished lecturer of law at the University of Alabama School of Law. You can read about Tom’s speech in the Huntsville Times.

• In Parkersburg, W.Va., meantime, West Virginia University-Parkersburg held its commencement on Saturday, May 15, and the principal speaker for that event was Richard M. “Rick” Adams Jr., president of United Bank Inc., executive vice president of United Bankshares Inc. and a 1993 graduate of the School of Law. Rick’s speech was covered in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

• On Sunday, May 23, Elon College’s School of Law held its commencement, and Jeb Brooks, of the Class of 2005, was selected by his fellow graduates to speak on their behalf. Elon’s website has a story about the event, and you can also read Jeb’s notes on his personal website. We’ve blogged about Jeb’s site before because he’s got some cool photography plus his fortune cookie wisdom. While he’s been completing his law degree, Jeb has also been working as Executive Vice President at The Brooks Group (“TBG”), his family’s sales training company based in Greensboro, N.C.

Generals Win 7th Straight All-Sports Title

For the seventh year in a row, Washington and Lee’s varsity sports teams have captured the Dan Woolridge Cup as the overall sports champion in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. W&L has won the cup 14 times in its 16-year history.

Sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance, the cup goes to the ODAC member institution with the best all-around athletic program based on points awarded for regular season standings in team sports and championship team finishes in individual sports. Each institution has a total number of possible points they can collect based on their individual sport sponsorship. The total number of earned points is then divided by the total number of possible points in order to come up with a ranking for each institution.

W&L had 132.0 points out of a possible 187.0 for a 0.706 rating in claiming the trophy for the 14th time in the 16 years that it has been awarded. Lynchburg College came in second.

In addition, the Washington and Lee women’s teams claimed the women’s sport trophy for the seventh year in a row, with a 0.85 rating, getting 83.0 of a possible 98.0 points. Roanoke College finished second. In the men’s standings, W&L finished sixth overall, with a 0.55 rating. Lynchburg College was first.

The Generals’ record in all conference contests was 181-118-7 (.603). W&L won ODAC Championships in women’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s swimming, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and women’s tennis.

The all-time cup standings can be seen on the ODAC website.

Since the ODAC’s founding in 1976-77, W&L has won 158 championships — 80 by the men and 78 by the women.

Where in the World is the Class of 2010?

A new interactive map is tracking the plans of the Class of 2010, as its members prepare to receive their degrees next Thursday and scatter to begin their post-W&L lives: class of 2010: post-graduation plans.

Constructed by Eric Owsley and Jessica Carter of the University’s Web team, the map allows members of the class to complete a simple form. It provides information about where they’re going, what they’re intending to do and what they will miss most about W&L and Lexington. Users can click on spots on the map or on the graduates’ names, and can also view students by major.

Seniors, please provide us your information. Everyone else, enjoy.

W&L’s Cruciverbalist

Washington and Lee alumnus Bob Doll of the Class of 1974 had always been a fan of crossword puzzles. About five years ago he decided to try his hand at constructing the crossword puzzles that he’s always enjoyed solving. And he’s been more than a little successful at it.

If you’re a New York Times crossword puzzle junkie, you might already know that Bob was the author of Wednesday’s puzzle, For the Record, which featured clues from the Guinness World Records 2010. If you haven’t gotten around to the puzzle yet, this is a spoiler alert. But here are the Guinness-themed answers:

  • 17a heaviest pumpkin {2010 Guinness world record at 1,689 lbs.}
  • 29a longest mustache {2010 Guinness world record at 11 ft. 6 in.}
  • 39a largest meatball {2010 Guinness world record at 72 lbs. 9 oz.}
  • 57a highest high dive {2010 Guinness world record at 115 ft.}

Bob was cited in the Times’ blog, Wordplay, which deconstructs the day’s puzzle. The blog writer, Patrick Merrell, began: “Robert A. Doll can now claim he has a record-breaking crossword in The New York Times.” He went on to note that this was Bob’s fourth Times’ puzzle in just over a year.

“Most cruciverbalists consider the NYT puzzle to be the gold standard, so any puzzle sold to the NYT is a special sale,” Bob e-mailed on Wednesday. He’s had success with other outlets, too, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Washington Post, among others.

“There was a learning curve in terms of crossword-construction rules and protocol, but I gradually have had some success,” wrote Bob, who majored in interdepartmental science at W&L. He managed his family’s grocery business in Louisville, Ky., for three decades before moving to Hattiesburg, Miss., in 2005, and devoting his time to crossword construction and marketing.

“The time to construct a good daily size (15X15) puzzle, including creating a theme, would on average require eight to 12 hours. Sunday-size puzzles (21X21) usually take several days,” Bob wrote. “I have sold both themed and themeless puzzles, but I personally prefer themed puzzles because constructing a theme allows me to be more creative. Since I sell to many different outlets and editors, my biggest challenge was learning what is acceptable to each outlet and editor. For instance, some editors will accept certain words that another editor would not accept.”

So next time you start in on a puzzle, be sure to check the author. Maybe you’ll even find a familiar clue now and then.

Thinking Big for Spring Term

Philosophy 370 at the Supreme Court, from left, Lauren Borden ’12; Stephanie Schaefer ’10; Zac Burke ’12; Jonathan Guest ’12; Will Smith ’12; Alex Koos ’11; Scott Thomas ’11; Anthony Cardona ’11; Doug Szabo ’12; Lucian Grove ’13; Kyle Bond ’12; Jonathan Gaffney ’12; David Wilson ’13; Andrew Detrick ’12; Michael Freeman ’12; Olivia Burr ‘12

Students interact with U. of Colorado professor David Boonin via Skype.

When the Washington and Lee faculty was reimagining the University’s Spring Term, one of the planning principles was to think big. And James Mahon, associate professor of philosophy and head of the department, took that admonition to heart.

The course that Mahon has been teaching, Philosophy 370, is titled “Roe v. Wade and the Abortion Question.” Mahon and 16 students have been examining the ethical arguments for and against abortion and the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court that concern abortion. In most respects, that would seem to be a fairly straightforward course.

But this spring, Mahon has implemented at least a couple of innovations.

One of the primary texts for the course, “A Defense of Abortion,” was written by David Boonin, associate professor and chair of the department of philosophy at the University of Colorado. After they went through the book in great detail, the students quizzed Boonin during a Skype teleconference. “Professor Boonin answered their questions at length, and I simply moderated,” said Mahon.

In the next part of the course, the class examined Supreme Court rulings that are relevant to the debates and listened to audio recordings of oral arguments. But Mahon wanted to bring home the importance of the Supreme Court’s role in the national debate over abortion.

“The best way to do this was to take the class to D.C. to sit in on a meeting of the Supreme Court, which we did,” Mahon said. The class bused to Washington on Monday, where they stood in line for tickets and got to see seven of the Justices, including several who ruled on cases that they had been examining. The session was not a meeting of the Court for oral arguments, but they did hear Justices Breyer and Kennedy deliver rulings on the detaining of sex offenders past their sentences (U.S. v. Comstock), the sentencing of juveniles not guilty of homicide to life without parole (Graham v. Florida), and the “right of custody” in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Abbott v. Abbott).

“Sitting in the hushed marble and wood courtroom, and listening to the Justices speak from the bench, was an unforgettable experience,” said Mahon. “I believe the students have a much better sense of the seriousness of the Court and the enormous importance of its rulings for the nation. I was also impressed at the fact that any member of the public may sit in on a meeting of the Court, for free. All they have to do is get there early to queue to get a ticket, and be prepared to go through various security checks. I think it speaks well of the Court that anyone may observe it in action.”

Added Mahon: “Quite honestly, I would not have been able to pull off this trip to the Supreme Court outside of a Spring Term class. I would not have been thinking big, which is exactly what the Spring Term encourages us to do.”



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