When news of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, began to circulate on campus, we turned our thoughts immediately to the three members of the Washington and Lee faculty who are in that country. Thankfully, all of them are fine, and no current students are studying or traveling there.
Lad Sessions, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee 250th Anniversary Professor of Philosophy, was in Wanaka, which is on the same island as Christchurch but much farther south and west. He did not even feel the quake. His daughter was in Christchurch but is unharmed. She was apparently able to make it to Lyttleton, the quake’s epicenter, to join her fiancé and his parents, who also are all right. With so many communications disrupted, Lad was keeping up with his daughter via text messages.
Lesley Wheeler, professor of English, and her husband, Chris Gavaler, a visiting assistant professor of English, are living in Wellington, on the northern island. Lesley has a Fulbright Scholar senior research grant and is working at Victoria University. The quake did not hit Wellington, and the Gavaler-Wheeler family is fine.