Archive for October, 2009



Paddling Down the Chattahoochee

David Hanson (Photo by Larry Gierer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)

David Hanson (Photo by Larry Gierer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)

David Hanson, a 2000 graduate and an all-conference shortstop for the Generals’ baseball team, likes to get to the source of things. That, at least, is what David told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about his decision to paddle a canoe down the Chattahoochee River from Helen, Ga., in the northern part of the state to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, which he hopes to reach by December. According to the newspaper report, this journey has always been one of his dreams, and his canoe is named Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. An English major at W&L, David grew up in Atlanta and attended Pace Academy there. The Chattahoochee winds through Atlanta and its suburbs. As David told the Ledger-Enquirer: “This is a personal trip for me. This was the first river I ever knew. It has been the source of my drinking water most my life. I liked to get to the source of things.”

Familiar Face on WSJ’s News Hub

evansIf you haven’t begun watching the new Wall Street Journal video feature, the News Hub, you’re missing the anchoring skills of Washington and Lee alumna Kelly Evans, Class of 2007 and an economics writer for the Journal. Considering this is a newspaper and not a TV network, The Hub is a pretty ambitious undertaking, not that video on newspaper Web sites isn’t commonplace nowadays. But this live show is twice a day, at 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Kelly anchors the morning version.) It’s eight minutes long, shot with hand-held cameras at the Wall Street Journal newsroom. By using Skype, Kelly can bring in Wall Street Journal reporters anywhere. As Kelly tweeted on the first or second day of live Webcasting, “It’s crazy how much work it takes behind the scenes. What happens in front of the camera is the easy part!” Of course, getting up at 5 a.m. every day is probably the hardest part. Kelly has had several W&L alumni on the program, including Greg Morcroft ’88, of Marketwatch, Geoff Rogow ’04 of Dow jones, and Mike Crittenden ’01 of the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Here’s a link to the News Hub. Although it’s live at 8:30, you can catch it on demand during the day. Kelly’s experience only underscores the move that W&L’s department of journalism and mass communications made many years ago to adapt to what Brian Richardson, head of the department, calls the convergence of print, electronic media, and the Internet.

Good Reviews for Terry Vosbein’s New CD

cover-aWashington and Lee music professor Terry Vosbein’s new CD, “Progressive Jazz 2009,” has been getting strong reviews since its recent release. Release by Max Frank Music, the CD, which features the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and was recorded earlier this year during a concert at the University of Tennessee, pay tribute to big band leader Stan Kenton and his self-described “progressive period” from 1947 to 1948. The Raleigh News and Observer calls the album “[a] masterful and emotionally rewarding tribute” in its review. Meanwhile, Jazz Mobile’s review writes: “Composer/arranger/conducter Terry Vosbein has reinvigorated a number of heretofore overlooked themes from the creative world of Stan Kenton, added several of his own, and placed them in the capable hands of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra for a concert performance that shines from start to finish.” You can listen to sample tracks of the album at the CD’s page on Max Frank site. But if you don’t get there, you can listen to one sample — “The Real Princess” — below:

Alum Working for Organ Donations

One of the pieces of jewelry from Michael Kirshbaum's Donate Life for the Circle collection.

One of the pieces of jewelry from Michael Kirshbaum's Donate Life for the Circle collection.

In 2007, Washington and Lee alumnus Michael Kirshbaum was dying. He suffered from an auto-immune disease of the bile ducts called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis that had poisoned his liver for 13 years. Then, on June 19, 2007, he received a liver transplant that saved his life. Now, Michael, a member of the Class of 1971, wants to be sure that others recognize the importance of organ donations. Consequently, he and his wife, Regina, are spending much of their non-work time not only raising awareness of organ donation but also raising funds for the research organization at Columbia and New York Presbyterian Hospital, which is focused on abdominal organ transplantation technologies. (Michael’s transplant was from a donated cadaver organ at New York-Presbyterian.) Michael and Regina have connected the fund raising efforts to their business — a series of five stores and Web site called Agabhumi the Best of Bali, which features a variety of products created by artisans from the island of Bali, Indonesia. (Read how the business got started.) As part of the business, a group of jewelry pieces called “Donate Life for the circle of Life” has been created and 30 percent of proceeds from sale of those items goes to the research center at Columbia-Cornell Medical Center.  You can read a story from the Connecticut Post about Michael’s business here1.

W&L Alumna Named Finalist for National Book Award

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Back in April we blogged about the poetry of Washington and Lee alumna Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon of the Class of 1993. Now we can report that Lyrae has just been named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry for Open Interval, her latest book of poems. On the National Book Foundation Web site, Open Interval is described this way:Open interval is a mathematical term referring to a line that has no endpoints. Drawing upon intersections of astronomy and mathematics, history, literature, and lived experience, the poems in Open Interval locate the self in the interval between body and name. Like the Romare Bearden paintings she writes about in Open Interval, Van Clief-Stefanon’s work is colorful, sometimes playful, grounded in reality, yet other-worldly at the same time.” Lyrae is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. Black Swan, her 2002 collection, won the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She was one of 20 writers featured in the 2005 Poetry Society of America’s Festival of New American Poets and was a semi-finalist in the “Discovery”/The Nation Contest in 1999 and 2001. She is the coauthor, with Elizabeth Alexander, of the chapbook Poems in Conversation and a Conversation. Her poems have appeared in African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Rattapallax, Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, and in several anthologies, including Bum Rush the Page and Role Call. You can listen below to two audio clips from Cornell. The first is from a presentation during which Lyrae read from poems in Open Interval while the second is an interview from March, when Lyrae was one of three members of Cornell’s Creative Writing faculty to discuss their work.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano reads from her work.

An interview featuring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano

Catching Up with Kate Shellnutt ’08

Kate Shellnutt

Kate Shellnutt

Kate Shellnutt, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee, is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and she’s found a particularly interesting way to combine her two undergraduate primary interests — journalism and religion. In fact, you may have read one of Kate’s stories in a major newspaper already. In July, a piece that she wrote a piece about a Zen Buddhist puppet master appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and she even quoted her former W&L religion professor, Jeff Kosky. More recently, she’s had a major story in the Chicago Sun-Times on Muslim’s and punk rock music and also a piece about Jews and the environmental movement that ran on the Religion News Service. But you can also see the variety of stories that Kate pursues on Northwestern’s News21 where she is a staff writer for Shift, a site telling the stories of young, urban adults. And as if all that doesn’t keep Kate busy enough, she’s got a blog on WindyCitizen.com, The Little Things: Bits of the Spiritual Scene from the Second City, which is definitely worth a look.

Food Savers

Yes, Jenny Sproul has bananas.

Yes, Jenny Sproul has bananas.

The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee is nothing if not resourceful. Take, for instance, what CKWL coordinator Jenny Sproul did back in August when she received a donation of chicken feet. Rather than turning up her nose at the unusual gift, Jenny learned how to make chicken stock out of the feet. More recently, CKWL has joined with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to establish a partnership with the Lexington Walmart.  Starting in September and working with Walmart through a national food bank called Feeding America, CKWL has been recovering food that Walmart would have ordinarily thrown out. During the first month alone, CKWL was able to recover 4,187 pounds of food from Walmart that would have gone to waste, including dairy as well as dry grocery products. Students working with CKWL pick up food from Walmart three times a week and, because of this increase in donations, the group is now helping to support several area food pantries. Meantime, during September, the Campus Kitchen served 1,487 meals and also began working with the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic to provide health meals for a diabetes education class.