Archive for April, 2010

W&L and Purchasing Power

Chad Delp '93

Purchasing Power, an Atlanta-based company that has been ranked on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of the Top 100 fastest growing companies, has added to its Washington and Lee connections with the announcement that Chad Delp of the Class of 1993 is the new chief financial officer.

At Purchasing Power, Chad is joining fellow W&L alumnus Keith Calhoun, of the Class of 1979, who is the company’s CEO.

Prior to joining Purchasing Power, Chad was senior vice president in the consumer group of Stephens Inc., in Little Rock, where he executed client transactions, including mergers and acquisitions and capital raises. Chad is currently a director of Purchasing Power, Morrell Wine Group, 5 Star Sports Calendar and ACCESS schools, a non-profit organization that serves the needs of children with learning disabilities. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in economics at W&L, Chad went on to earn a master’s in business administration in finance with distinction from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named a Palmer Scholar.

Keith, meantime, has been a member of the management team of Purchasing Power since it began in April 2000 and is credited with changing the business model of the company by developing the employee computer purchase program. Now the company helps employees purchase name-brand products with manageable monthly payments through payroll deduction and is licensed in all 50 states as a reseller of personal computers, consumer electronics, and home appliances and maintains relationships with major manufacturers, as well as resellers, distributors and other suppliers.

In 2008, Keith was named one of the Catalyst magazine’s “Top 25 Entrepreneurs & Ones to Watch” and, in a video you can watch here, described the way the company has evolved from the idea he originally had during a fly fishing trip.

W&L Alumna One of 15 Visionaries

Robyn O’Brien, the 1993 Washington and Lee alumna who has been labeled “food’s Erin Brockovich” by the New York Times, earned another significant honor this month when Planet Green, part of the Discovery Channel, named her one of its 15 visionaries — people who are providing “big ideas that will shape our world going forward.” Robyn is founder of, which aims to protect American families from the chemicals now found in our food supply.

Robyn is joined on the list by musician Moby, former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach and oceans advocate Phillipe Cousteau. You can see the entire list on the Planet Green site. Robyn is No. 13 on the slide show.

You can stay in touch with Robyn’s work by following her Twitter feed, @UnhealthyTruth, or going to her website, Shedding Light on the Food Industry. She also writes a blog for the Huffington Post.

Books in the Attic

Vaughan Stanley, Special Collections librarian, left, and Bill Bean Jr. examine the OR.

You know how when you’re spring cleaning, you find all kinds of interesting stuff you didn’t even know you had? Well, that happened the other day in the attic of Washington Hall. Mike Carmagnola, executive director of facilities and capital planning, was rummaging around up there in preparation for the building’s eventual renovation, part of the ongoing project that will spiff up the entire Colonnade. He bumped up against four long, narrow wooden boxes—filled with a complete set of The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR for short). The multivolume reference work was published from 1880 to 1901.

A tag on the dusty boxes read, “Property of Dr. Bean.” That would be the late W.G. Bean, professor of history at W&L who arrived in 1922 and was one of the school’s signal personages until his death in 1974.

Carmagnola’s colleague Lucy Raney and her crew moved the boxes from the attic of Washington Hall to “the attic of the University”—that’s how Vaughan Stanley, Special Collections librarian, refers to his domain in Leyburn Library. He called up Prof. Bean’s son, William Bean Jr., who lives in Lexington and has been updating his father’s 1964 book, The Liberty Hall Volunteers: Stonewall’s College Boys. As best as Stanley (at left in the photo) and Bean (at right) can figure, the senior Bean must have stashed the books in Washington Hall’s attic when he retired in the 1950s, and they have been there ever since.

Since Leyburn Library already has several sets of the OR, Stanley is trying to find a good home for this one. He expects Special Collections will be the beneficiary of other discoveries, however, as attics and basements along the Colonnade get tidied up over the next few years. “Good things turn up that way,” says Stanley.

One of 40 Under 40 in Charlotte

Brian Clarke

Congratulations to Brian Clarke, a 1999 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, who was named one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 last month. The annual feature in the special publication of the Charlotte Business Journal identifies 40 people under the age of 40 who are “making major strides in their careers and impacting their communities.”

Brian is a senior associate with Littler Mendelson in the firm’s Charlotte office, where he specializes in employment law and employment and employee benefits litigation. He has litigated cases throughout North Carolina as well as in George, West Virginia, Mississippi and elsewhere. Brian is also an experienced appellate advocate and has successfully represented clients in front of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the current academic year, Brian has been serving as an adjunct professor at W&L as part of the new third-year curriculum. He’s been teaching a labor and employment law practicum.

Flying Turtles

Deborah Miranda

“When Turtles Fly” is the name of the fascinating blog written by Deborah Miranda, associate professor of English at Washington and Lee. Deborah teaches composition, creative writing (poetry and memoir) as well as Native American, American ethnic and women’s literature. She began the blog back in 2008 as a record of her sabbatical.

The blog’s name, she says, is a sort of an Indian version of the old saying, “when pigs fly” — “only in this case,” Deborah adds, “it is entirely possible for a turtle to fly, if it first transforms into an eagle. It’s about how transformation or adaptation is the key to survival.”

In addition, the turtle is the symbol of the Santa Ynez Chumash tribe. Deborah’s grandmother, Marquesa Robles Miranda, belonged to that tribe. Deborah is a member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay area, in California.

“When Turtles Fly” features a wide range of  material — poems, essays, historic photographs and excerpts from her current book project, “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir,” portions of which have been published in several journals. Among the entries you’ll find on the blog is a poem of Deborah’s called “Jacinta’s Medicine.” It’s about the historical figure Jacinta Gonzalez, who is credited with saving the life of author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1879. Once she posted the poem, Deborah was contacted through the blog by Jacinta’s great-great-great-granddaughter. That led Deborah to a listing for Jacinta on the 1860 Monterey census — where she also found a listing for her own relative. Deborah weaves the stories together in a real and compelling way.

Read “When Turtles Fly” here.

W&L Catering Chef Brings Home a Bronze

In late March, Adam Bradberry, catering chef in W&L’s Dining Services, won a bronze medal in the Regional Taste/Customized Competition at the National Association of College & University Food Service (NACUFS) Mid-Atlantic Culinary Challenge. The event is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation.

Adam, competing for the first time since 2001, was up against nine other chefs. They had an hour to prepare four portions of an original hot entrée, featuring the mandatory ingredient of a portobello mushroom, with a protein of choice, side dishes and sauces to create a balanced plate.

Adam conjured up Pan-Seared Filet of Emu with Broccoli and Local Apple Slaw, Portobello Mushroom and Potato “Oyster,” with Salsify and Wild Mushroom Broth.

“It was quite an intense process,” said Bradberry, “from sourcing out the different products and recipe testing, to nutritional analysis and countless test runs. It can be quite unnerving cooking in front of 200 people and three master chefs. I really enjoyed it, though, and am looking forward to next year to compete again, and perhaps bring home the silver or gold.”

Will W&L’s catering menu be adding Pan-Seared Filet of Emu anytime soon? “Probably not,” grinned Adam. “But you never know.”

W&L Basketball Great Mike Neer Retires

Mike Neer

As a basketball player at Washington and Lee in the late 1960s, Mike Neer was part of some of the most successful teams in Generals’ history. As a coach at the University of Rochester for 34 years, Mike led one of the most successful programs, on any level, in the country.

Last week Mike announced his retirement, and accolades soon followed. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle wrote: “Neer treated his players like family and his sometimes tough-love approach earned players’ respect.” Another writer for that newspaper added that “Now the University of Rochester can do what it could have done years ago — make it Mike Neer Court at the Palestra.”

Some numbers from Mike’s coaching career:

  • 563 wins vs. 316 losses, the most wins in University of Rochester history
  • 9th best record among active Division III coaches.
  • 5 NCAA Division III Final Four appearances
  • 1 NCAA Division III national championship (1990)
In a piece in the Democrat and Chronicle, Mike, 61, said “I’m not sure I’m completely sure. I don’t think there is a right time to do this. I just know that there are other things I want to do.” In that same article, he talked about what it’s been like during the years since he started coaching in 1976. Read the article here.

Mike was inducted into W&L’s Hall of Fame in 1991. During his playing career, the Generals’ three-year record was 54-19. (He transferred into the University as a sophomore.) With Mike in the lineup, W&L won College Athletic Conference titles in 1968 and 1970, and he was one of only two players in school history to have more than 1,000 points (1,289) and 1,000 rebounds (1,003) in his career. His 29 rebounds in a game against Old Dominion in 1970 is still a record, as are the 403 rebounds he had during the 1969-70 season.

While Neer was known most for basketball, he did win numerous awards as a high jumper, too. He was an All-American in 1969 and 1970 and still holds W&L’s high jump record at 6′ 8″, which he set in 1969.

After he graduated from W&L as a sociology major, Mike was invited to camp with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. He didn’t make the team but later played in Europe before being commissioned in the U.S. Navy. From 1972 to 1976, he was coach of the U.S. Naval Academy’s freshman (plebe) team, which compiled a 41-18 record under his leadership.