Archive for November, 2008

W&L’s Connection with the First Macy’s Parade Telecast

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade


When you’re comfortably seated in front of your televisions on Thanksgiving Day watching those huge balloons float down 34th Street in New York, you might want to thank a Washington and Lee alumnus, Don Hillman, for his pioneering work that put the parade on television for the first time back in 1949. Hillman, Class of 1946, had been hired as a stage manager at NBC and was quickly elevated to a director. It was as producer and director that he ran the show on the first live telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for NBC. Hillman went on to become the first executive producer of National Educational Television (NET), which became the Public Broadcasting System (PBS, Inc.) in 1970. There’s a terrific account of Hillman’s TV career in the Horace Mann School Alumni Magazine. It includes his several encounters with such luminaries as Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

But back to that first Macy’s live telecast. In an email exchange this week, Don explained how it worked in those earliest days when a coaxial cable had just been built from the West Coast to the East Coast. Prior to that, according to Don, black and white kinescopes were exchanged within four regions of the country to create a kind of network. But he remembers vividly when he first saw a live picture come up on the screen from Chicago. “It felt like Columbus discovering America.”
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W&L and VMI Football Featured on Sports Blog

2008_football_medLexington had a big football weekend earlier this month when Washington and Lee concluded its season with a heartbreaking loss to Emory & Henry while VMI entertained Liberty with Vice President Dick Cheney in attendance. It turns out that Jack Bonden, a writer, from a blog called The Love of Sports was also in town that day and wrote about his experience in a story titled “Small Town College Football Rules!” Bonden made it to at least parts of both of the games, observing that VMI’s Alumni Memorial Field is only a 10-minute walk from the remodeled Wilson Field. Of the W&L portion of his visit, Bonden wrote in part:

As with the VMI game, everybody at Wilson Field seemed to know each other. Fans cheered for players by first name, and the disappointment following the Generals’ overtime loss was empathetically directed toward the players who fought so hard, rather than at any loss in computer ranking or perceived diminished recruiting edge, like that which occurred in a place like State College, Pennsylvania last weekend.

Here’s the link to Bonden’s piece. Have a look.

W&L Alumnus, Honored Journalist Dies at 93

Robert White II

Robert White II

The death last Thursday of Robert M. White II, Class of 1938, former editor and publisher of the Mexico (Mo.) Ledger was a loss for both Washington and Lee and the world of journalism. White majored history, played football, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Born to a newspaper family, White got his start as a carrier for the Ledger, which was owned by his grandfather and then is father. Celebrated as one of the strongest proponents of the First Amendment, was active in virtually every major newspaper organization, serving as a president of many, including the Society of Professional Journalists. W&L awarded him an honorary degree in 1972. In reading the obituaries last week, two of the most fascinating facts were:

White left Mexico in 1959 to become editor of the New York Herald Tribune. At the Herald Tribune from 1959 to 1961, White wrote a front-page editorial titled “A Letter to Mr. Krushchev” that was published in English and Russian and won the Silurian award for best New York City editorial in 1960.

In 1986 when he was 71 White was one of the two oldest journalists among the 40 finalists selected to be NASA’s Journalist in Space. He shared that honor with Walter Cronkite with whom White had once worked in the Kansas City UPI bureau. r Kansas City UPI colleague, Walter Cronkite, The flight was canceled in the aftermath of the shuttle Columbia disaster.

    Read the complete Mexico Ledger obituary and the AP version on Editor & Publisher.

    W&L Ranks 17th For Study Abroad

    globeThe annual Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange released by the Institute of International Education shows that Washington and Lee ranks 17th among baccalaureate institutions for the percentage of its students who study abroad. The data show that W&L had 323 students who studied abroad during the 2006-07 academic year, which translates into an estimated 75.6 percent of W&L undergraduates who have study abroad experiences of some sort. Austin College of Texas is No. 1 in the category. In a ranking of the total number of students who studied abroad in 2006-07, W&L ranked 24th in the baccalaureate category which was led by Calvin College of Michigan. W&L was also listed No. 17 for the number of students participating in short-term duration programs, which are defined as programs that take place during the summer, January term, or are for eight weeks or less during the academic year. Information on study abroad programs at Washington and Lee is found on the Center of International Education’s Web site.

    Good Luck to W&L’s Rhodes Scholar Finalists

    logo1Two Washington and Lee seniors are finalists this weekend in the prestigious Rhodes Scholar competition. Rebecca Taylor of Hamilton, Ohio, and Rich Cleary of Louisville will both be in Pittsburgh where they will have their final interviews in the competition in the Ohio/Virginia district. Twelve finalists will be interviewed, and two will be selected. Announcement of all 32 Rhodes Scholars will be made Saturday night. Winners receive a two to three year full scholarship to the University of Oxford in England. The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowships and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to Oxford.

    Over the years W&L has had 14 Rhodes Scholars. The most recent W&L winner was Patricia Lopes in 1991. Taylor, an economics major, is tri-captain of both the track and cross country teams. Cleary is majoring in politics and classics. He’s president of the executive committee of the student body.

    Panel on the Law and Media Worth a Look

    If you missed the panel discussion that was part of last weekend’s law and media conference, you can watch it on Washington and Lee’s YouTube channel — and it’s a must-view video. The other presentations are on YouTube, too. Saturday morning’s panelists were Jeanne Cummings of Politico; Bob Strong, professor of politics at W&L; and Rod Smolla, Dean of the Law School. They made some fascinating observations and told some wonderful stories. Cummings, who broke the story about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe during the presidential campaign, described the way she discovered the story; Strong argued forcefully that today’s media culture, including the Internet, has led to a climate in which political candidates say nothing for fear of being caught in a “gotcha” moment; and Smolla told the intriguing story about a case against the National Inquirer some years ago in which he successfully represented a plaintiff in a libel suit. Brian Richardson, chair of the journalism and communications department had an excellent introduction, and the stories that the panelists told and the conversations they had were riveting. Be sure to have a look.