Archive for January, 2011

Gavin Dean Honored by The State

Gavin Dean '00

Gavin Dean, a 2000 graduate of Washington and Lee, has been named one of the “20 under 40” honorees by The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. The 20 young professionals are, according to the newspaper, “making an impact on the community and also show great promise for tomorrow.”

Gavin is senior project manager for Aetna and an active member of the community. He was a 2010 member of Leadership Columbia and is a Pawmetto Lifeline Associate Board member and foster parent for shelter pets. A politics major at W&L, Gavin received an international master of business administration degree (IMBA) from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

The State asked him about a life-changing experience. Gavin referred to his wife, fellow W&L alum Emma Thomas Dean, a 2003 graduate: “Emma’s passion, commitment and enthusiasm make me want to be a better person every day. Meeting Emma at Washington and Lee showed me the powerful impact that committed leaders can have on a community.”

More Honors for Darracott Vaughan ’61

Darracott Vaughan '61

Washington and Lee alumnus Dr. E. Darracott Vaughan Jr., a member of the Class of 1961 and one of the world’s foremost urological clinicians, researchers and educators, has received another major award for his outstanding contributions to the science of urology.

Darracott, professor emeritus of urology at Weil Cornell Medical School, will receive the Ramon Guiteras Award in May at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, in Washington. The association presents the Guiteras Award annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the art and science of urology. In Darracott’s case, it’s his outstanding contributions to science, most notably in the pathophysiology of renal obstruction, adrenal disease and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), that bring the honor his way.

Darracott is president emeritus of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease; past president of the American Board of Urology; and past president of the American Urological Association, which bestowed on him its distinguished Gold Cystoscope Award in 1981. He won the prestigious Hugh Hampton Young Award for his contributions to the understanding of urologic causes of hypertension and renal physiology. He also received the 39th Ferdinand C. Valentine Award from the New York Academy of Medicine, for significantly advancing the science and art of urology, and the esteemed Barringer Medal from the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons. He also received the Maurice R. Greenberg Distinguished Service Award in 2002, in recognition of his long-time service to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Darracott also is the subject of a fascinating audio interview. Appearing on “Face-to-Face,” on the website of the Journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, Darracott cites W&L’s educational emphasis: “I’m a great believer in the importance of the liberal arts for someone who becomes a physician, because it broadens you greatly.”

Here is the interview in its entirety:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

W&L’s Bruck on “Virginia Insight” Today

David Bruck

David Bruck, clinical professor of law at Washington and Lee’s School of Law and director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, appeared on NPR affiliate WMRA’s “Virginia Insight” show today (Thursday, Jan. 27) for a discussion of the death penalty.

The Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse is a trial-level, legal-aid clinic providing free services to defense attorneys who represent capital murder defendants in cases throughout Virginia.

Bruck has been quoted extensively in recent weeks, writing a piece for the New York Times and appearing on CNN, among other media outlets, to discuss issues surrounding the Tucson shootings, including the possibility of an insanity defense for the alleged gunman, Jared Loughner.

Here is the audio from today’s program:

Not Even a Snowball’s Chance

W&L alumnus Mike Allen '86, left, interviews Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

W&L’s Mock Convention got a polite but firm “No, thank you,” on Tuesday from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who gave a good reason for turning down the University’s signature political event.

Here’s the story: The senator was the featured interviewee on the “Playbook Breakfast,” during which W&L alumnus Mike Allen, a member of the Class of 1986 and author of “Mike Allen’s Playbook” for Politico, conducts a one-on-one session with a newsmaker. In fact, this was the very first edition of the new “Playbook Breakfast,” and it was held at the W Hotel in D.C. Allen conducts the interview before a live audience, and it is filmed for the Politico website. As it happened, a group of Washington and Lee students was in the audience. So Mike offered them the chance to ask McConnell a question.

And they did: Would McConnell consider an invitation to speak at the 2012 Mock Convention? Harmless enough, right?

Ah, but McConnell clearly knows his history. He replied: “You know, one of my predecessors did that. Alben Barkley. And right in the middle of his speech at your Mock Convention in 1956, he had a heart attack and died. And so the answer, my friend, is no.” And in case that wasn’t clear enough, McConnell added emphatically: “There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell.”

Barkley was, like McConnell, a senator from Kentucky, and the story of his death is a staple of Mock Convention lore. Here’s the official version from the Mock Convention website:

The guest of honor that year (1956) was Senator and former Vice President Alben Barkley of Kentucky. Barkley delivered a rousing keynote speech exhibiting his genuine love for politics and political conventions. In 90 degree heat, he told students he had not intended to go to the real Democratic convention that summer. However, after participating in the W&L event, he had changed his mind, felling “like an old firehorse when he hears the bell.” In his excitement, he accidentally knocked over a microphone. Thinking quickly, he enthusiastically told the audience, “That’s nothing to what’ll happen to the Republicans in November!” Explaining why he had settled for becoming Kentucky’s junior Senator after occupying the second highest job in the land, he said: “I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty.” As the crowd roared its approval, Barkley stepped back from the podium and collapsed. Within minutes he was pronounced dead of a heart attack. Only Barkley’s widow could make the student delegates resume their task; “You have unfinished business,” she told convention officials. A week later the convention reconvened, correctly predicting that Adlai Stevenson would once again be the Democratic nominee.

Here is the video from the “Playbook Breakfast” with McConnell. To see his response to the Mock Convention invitation, go to the 38:23 mark.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

New Lee Letters for Library

Vaughan Stanley, at right, examines the new Lee letters.

Leyburn Library’s Special Collections has added to its archive five original Robert E. Lee letters and two copies of letters from the great-niece of Lee’s cousin and correspondent, Louisa Washington.

According to Vaughan Stanley, special collections librarian at W&L, these documents represent the largest number of Lee letters donated to the University in 20 years. The Winter 2011 edition of the library’s newsletter, “Library Letters,” describes the new donation this way:

“Lee wrote to Louisa Washington six times between 1861 and 1868, mostly concerning Lee’s grief and condolences at the death of Louisa’s father, Colonel John A. Washington. Colonel Washington was the last Washington family owner of Mount Vernon. He sold the iconic plantation to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1859. (This group continues to own Mount Vernon to this day.) Col. Washington was killed by Union fire while riding patrol with Lee’s son, Rooney, in the mountains of what is today West Virginia. Rooney himself was nearly killed in this ambush as three shots went through his horse.

“Lee always had a special place in his heart for Louisa and other members of the Washington family. George Washington was Lee’s hero and Lee refers to him in one letter as ‘him who . . . by his virtues rendered our republic immortal.’ “

Reynolds Price ’91H Dies at 77

Reynolds Price H’91

Reynolds Price, who died in Durham, N.C., last week, was a frequent visitor to Washington and Lee, which gave him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1991. The New York Times obituary  said that Price’s “novels and stories about ordinary people in rural North Carolina struggling to find their place in the world established him as one of the most important voices in modern Southern fiction.”

Many longtime W&L faculty will remember Price’s relationships with W&L, which included not only his contributions to Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review over the years but close friendships with many Lexingtonians as well. W&L English professor emeritus Severn Duvall recalled last week how Price had, through his personal friendship, arranged for the renowned African-American writer Ralph Ellison to give a speech to the W&L community in Lee Chapel back in 1963.

In 1966, Shenandoah featured an interview with Price by Wallace Kaufman. It’s a fascinating conversation still. Discussing the setting of his stories and novels, Price said: “I had no sense of being a conscious chronicler — either of Southern life or of human life as I’ve known it in my lifetime, which has after all been an enormous time in human history (I was born in 1933). What I’ve chronicled is my own world, that world which has seemed to me (since I began to see at all) to exist beneath the world perceived by other people, the world which seems to me to impinge upon, to color, to shape, the daily world we inhabit.”

Go Steelers! Go Bulls!

George Kester

With the National Football League down to four teams this weekend, the big question is not which teams will make to the Super Bowl but how those teams will impact the Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor. A year ago Washington and Lee’s George Kester, the Martel Professor of Finance in W&L’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, authored an academic study that reexamined data on the Super Bowl predictor. So what does this year hold? According to George’s figuring, there is reason for market watchers to root for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in their American Conference Championship Game against the New York Jets. George’s work is cited again today on the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s his explanation for why a Steeler win means a bull market:

“It will be great for the stock market if the Steelers to win this weekend.  Why?  The Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor.   According to this often-cited market predictor, whenever an original NFL team wins the Super Bowl, the stock market is up that year.  Whenever an original AFL wins, the market is down.  As of 2010, the overall prediction accuracy of the Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor was 77.3 percent.

“Here is where a Steelers victory this weekend becomes especially interesting and good for Wall Street.  If the Steelers defeat the Jets, we will again have two original NFL teams playing in Super Bowl XLV.   Regardless of which team ends up winning the Super Bowl, an up market will be predicted by the Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor.

“Thanks to the successes of the Steelers and Colts, both ‘original’ NFL teams that are now in the AFC, this has happened nine times in the 44 year history of the Super Bowl:  1971, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1996, 2007, 2009 and 2010.  It gets even more interesting.  In those nine years when two original NFL teams met each other on Super Sunday, the market (as measured by the S&P 500 Index) was up that year 100 percent of the time. Moreover, the average increase in the market was 17.71 percent, as compared to only 10.43 percent in the other 21 years when original NFL teams won. The market lost an average of 3.61 percent in the 12 years when original AFL teams won and gained an average of 6.67 percent in the two years expansion teams won.

“So, with apologies to New York Jets fans, go Steelers!”