Archive for March, 2009

What’s Your Backstory?

Dan Birdwhistell (from his page)

Dan Birdwhistell (from his page)

Dan Birdwhistell is a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2001, and he wants to know your backstory. Actually Dan wants all your friends to know your backstory by posting it to your Facebook page. (Admit we’re all on Facebook now, right? The number of Facebook users over 35 years old doubled in the last two months.) Anyway, Dan has created a couple of different Facebook applications that you might want to try out.One is called My Backstory, and it “allows you to show the people, moments, ideas, places, etc. that collectively make up your backstory.” Its creators, Dan and Ben Sinclair call it third most interesting application on Facebook, but you’ll need to ask them what the first two most interesting apps are. The other application, Timeliner, allows you to build “an interactive timeline showing key moments in your life and the lives of your friends.” And if that’s not enough, you may want to check out the Web site that Dan has created called If you go to and search for Washington and Lee, there’s no telling who all you might find on those pages, but it’s easy to try it out. We’re not sure why that page says Washington and Lee is in “Massilon, Va.” And the fast facts say the University has “401 graduates” when it means graduate students, but that’s OK. Someone is bound to tell Dan. But if you’re a big Facebook user, give Dan’s two applications a shot.

Must See Slide Show

harris_web1If you’ve been watching the Washington and Lee home page recently, you’ve seen the addition of some new students for the Why W&L feature. All are worth a look, and we’ll single some of them for the blog in future days. But one you need to see for sure is Morgan Harris’s. Morgan is a member of the Class of 2009, and the slide show that accompanies his feature is really cool. For starters, the show includes the photograph that Morgan took during a study abroad trip with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in 2007. His photo was selected by National Geographic for inclusion in its Glimpse calendar. But there’s more. Morgan is a member of the campus band called Rikki Tiki Tavi (and you’ve got to love the name no matter what the music is like. The slide show not only has some images of the band in action, but one of Rikki Tiki Tavi’s songs is the background music. If you like the music you hear there, then have a listen to this live show that Rikki Tiki Tavi did last May as part of WLUR’s House Mountain Radio program.

Remembering John Hope Franklin, H’96

John Hope Franklin, right, and W&L's Ted DeLaney in 1996

John Hope Franklin, right, and W&L's Ted DeLaney in 1996

John Hope Franklin, one of the nation’s preeminent historians and a 1996 honorary degree recipient from Washington and Lee, died this week at age 94. His is an enormous loss. In its obituary the New York Times wrote that Franklin combined “idealism with rigorous research.” In the citation delivered when Franklin was awarded the doctor of humane letters degree at W&L, Franklin was praised for “having changed the way American scholars write about the history of race in the United States.” The citation went on to quote Franklin himself in the following passage: “I look history straight in the eye and call it like it is.” You can read the complete citation by downloading this pdf file. In a remembrance that you can hear in the audio below, W&L historian Ted DeLaney said that while Franklin trained as a Southern historian, he was pushed further into African-American history. “But,” DeLaney adds, “his life transcended that,” DeLaney said.

Listen to W&L’s Ted DeLaney on John Hope Franklin:

Posthumous Award for Alumnus Bob Shepherd

Bob Shephard

The late Robert E. Shepherd Jr.

The University of Richmond School of Law has honored Washington and Lee alumnus Robert E. Shepherd Jr. posthumously with the William Green Award for Professional Excellence, the Law school’s highest honor. Shepherd, a professor emeritus at Richmond, is the first full-time faculty member to receive the award. A 1959 W&L graduate who went on to received his law degree from the University in 1961, Shepherd died in December. He was instrumental in drafting Virginia’s first statute on child abuse, and that statute was based on a paper that Shepherd wrote for W&L’s law review. In 1999, he was the first person inducted into the Virginia Juvenile Court Hall of Fame. He chaired the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Committee, and the Virginia Bar Association’s Committee on the Needs of Children. He received the ABA’s Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award in 2005, and the state bar’s Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award from the Criminal Law Section in 2003. The award was presented on March 23 at a lunch attended by Shepherd’s widow, Nancy, and three children. In addition to the Green Award, the Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section presented a portrait of Shepherd to the Law School.

Follow Max to the U.S. Open

Max Adler

Max Adler

Max Adler, Class of 2004 and a former member of the Generals varsity golf team, has a plan. He’s hoping to play his way into this summer’s U.S. Open, schedule for mid-June at Bethpage Black in New York. But Max is going to make his run at the tournament in a very, very public way. A writer for Golf Digest and Golf World, Max is dividing his time between reporting for those magazines and chronicling his own attempt at qualifying for the Open in a series of online diary entries. As Max explains in his first entry, the Open is just what it says it is — open to any golfer who can qualify. Of course that’s easier said than done, but Max also pointed out that 36 golfers made it through qualifying and into the field ast year, so who’s to say that Max can’t get there this time. So far you can read three of Max’s diary entries, including his round with borrowed clubs in New Zealand, and you can watch a short video of Max’s swing (in the snow of his home town of Stamford, Conn.) So stay tuned and let’s see if a former General will be able to join Tiger, Phil, and the rest on Bethpage Black this summer.

W&L Alum Wins Times-Picayune’s Loving Cup


The Times-Picayune, the daily newspaper in New Orleans, first awarded its Loving Cup in 1901. Its purpose has been to recognize citizens in New Orleans who have worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public recognition or material reward. The 2008 winner is R. King Milling, Washington and Lee Class of 1962. The honor recognizes Milling’s work in saving the wetlands and restoring the coastline. He is chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration. Milling, who retired at the end of 2008 as president of Whitney Bank, has been involved in conservation efforts for the past decade, according to the lengthy profile that ran in the Times-Picayune over the weekend. He’s quoted in the story this way about his growing environmental interest: “It took on a life of its own. You end up grabbing the alligator by the tail, and you can’t let him go because he’ll bite the devil out of you.” The Loving Cup that Milling won is not the first for the family. Milling’s wife, Anne, who founded Women in the Storm, won the Loving Cup 13 years earlier.