Archive for the 'Alumni' Category

JAG Corps Honors W&L Alum Mike Holifield

Navy Cmdr. Michael C. Holifield, a 1989 graduate of Washington and Lee, was nominated for the 2011 Outstanding Career Armed Services Attorney Award for outstanding achievement. He received the recognition for the superior performance of his duties as a Navy judge advocate while assigned as staff judge advocate, Navy Region Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.  In 19 years of Navy service, Mike has performed 15 assignments, which have garnered him many awards and honors. He has also helped train more than 100 judge advocates.

After graduating from W&L with a degree in philosophy, Mike went on to the Indiana University School of Law, where he earned his J.D. Mike’s particular expertise is in the law of the sea, and he is head of the Law of the Sea Department for the Office of the Judge Advocate General. In November 2009, Mike spoke on that topic at an event hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts and Belmont University.

You can watch Mike’s presentation on the short YouTube video below:

Examining 1960

The Amazon description of G. Scott Thomas’s new book, A New World to Be Won, reads this way: “In 1960, Pat Robertson created the Christian Broadcasting Network, an issue of Time magazine describes the drug LSD as a useful ‘facilitating agent’ for therapy, and smokers in the United States bought nearly one million cigarettes every minute in that year—truly ‘a different time.’ Yet many aspects of what we take for granted in modern American culture were birthed in that critical year over half a century ago.”

Scott, a member of the Class of 1977, examines the many ways in which that year, 1960, represented a turning point in American life. The book, Scott’s eighth, will be released on Sept. 30 and is published by Praeger. (You can pre-order it on Amazon now.)

Organized chronologically, with each chapter a different month, one of the key themes running throughout the book is the political battles leading up to John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon for the presidency. (The subtitle is “John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and the Tumultuous Year of 1960.”) Scott makes the point that, when you factor Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson, into the mix, these three men — Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon — would rule the U.S. from 1961 to 1974, “elevating America to rhetorical peaks and plunging it to the depths of despair.”

Scott, who majored in journalism and communications, is projects editor for a national chain of business publications, American City Business Journals. He writes ACBJ’s daily demographics blog, On Numbers, which uses data to provide a daily glimpse of American society with recent stories highlighting the communities with the richest populations and citing the minor league baseball teams with the highest attendance.

His previous titles includes Advice From the Presidents (2008), Leveling the Field: An Encyclopedia of Baseball’s All-Time Great Performances as Revealed Through Scientifically Adjusted Statistics (2002), The United States of Suburbia (1998), The Rating Guide to Life in America’s Fifty States (1994), Where to Make Money (1993), The Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities (1990), and The Pursuit of the White House (1987).

Life of an Oyster

The liner notes on David Klabo’s CD, Life of an Oyster, describe the music as “a kaleidoscope of a journey through different moments when we are falling in and then falling out of love.”

David, a 1989 alumnus of Washington and Lee, goes on to list some of his favorite musicians, writers and songwriters, who make “subtle and not so subtle appearances” in the music. They include everyone from The Police to Miles Davis, Buddy Holly to Oscar Wilde.

In the liner notes, David refers to a Homecoming weekend in either 1987 or 1988, when he and Scott Hamilton, of the Class of 1990, didn’t have dates and spent the weekend in the basement of the Sigma Nu house recording an instrumental that they called “Homecoming Weekend.” Scott plays drums, does some engineering and co-produces several of the tracks.

You can learn more about the CD, listen to some of the songs, and buy it on David’s website, which includes a blog where he discusses the music’s creation: There’s also a Facebook page to connect with him and his music.


Students, faculty and staff gathered on the Front Lawn facing Lee Chapel at 9 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, to observe a silent vigil.

On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, members of the Washington and Lee community will once again gather in front of Lee Chapel on Sunday morning for a prayer vigil. On this coming Tuesday, Sept. 13, a panel of faculty will examine the attacks 10 years later.

Members of this year’s entering class were about eight years old on Sept. 11, 2001. They, like all their fellow students, will have their own memories and, perhaps, personal connections.

At Washington and Lee, we remember two alumni who were killed — Cmdr. Robert Allen Schlegel, of the Class of 1985, died at the Pentagon, and James A. Gadiel, of the Class of 2000, died at the World Trade Center. Profiles of both men can be found on the Remember: September 11, 2011 website. Robert’s profile is here; Jamie’s is here. Both profiles include guest books.

A sign erected on Sept. 11, 2001, in front of the Chi Psi house recognizes the fraternity's fallen brother.

Additionally, we know of these other losses that were reported in the W&L Alumni Magazine — Chris Edwards, of the Class of 1999, lost an aunt, and Jonah Glick, of the Class of 1990, lost a brother. We are now aware that there were others, too. As this blog reported yesterday, Paul Arpaia, of the Class of 1985, lost a cousin. The magazine reported that a current student lost a parent, but the family requested anonymity.

On the day of the attacks, Acting President Larry Boetsch, of the Class of 1969, sent a message to the campus that concluded: “The world in which we live now is different from the one to which we awoke this morning.”

And we continue to remember.

Personal Reflections on 9/11 by Paul Arpaia ’85

Paul Arpaia '85

Paul Arpaia, a 1985 Washington and Lee graduate, represented the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows earlier this month as part of an Italian-American delegation that traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet Afghan families of the victims of terrorism and war and the representatives of Afghan civil and international organizations working in the country.

Paul is an award-winning associate professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches modern Italian and German history.

On Sept. 11, 2011, Paul’s cousin, Kathy Mazza was a captain for the New York Port Authority police force. She died at the World Trade Center carrying a person on a stretcher down a flight of stairs in the North Tower.  Paul is one of 200 members of Peaceful Tomorrow from 31 states and seven foreign countries.  The organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace.

On the Peaceful Tomorrows’ website, Paul writes a moving essay about his cousin and the profound influence that she had on his life. Asked by DemocracyNow about the trip that he made to Afghanistan, Paul said: “I’m coming for two reasons, mainly. The first is to bring a declaration of solidarity and support for Afghanistan and for the people who, like ourselves, have lost members, family members, in this war on terrorism. The second reason I am coming is, on this 10th anniversary, to have people look at Afghanistan, not just New York, to think about how we can help. And so, I’ve been asking people here in Kabul, ‘How can we help?'”

Paul won the Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome for 2007–2008. Since 1999, he has been the editor of H-Italy, one of the many networks that make up H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine

Ike Smith ’57, ’60L Honored by W.Va. Chamber

Isaac N. Smith Jr. '57, '60L from his days on the W&L Board of Trustees (1980-1991)

Congratulations to Isaac N. “Ike” Smith Jr., of the Classes of 1957 undergraduate and 1960 law, who was one of six West Virginia business leaders inducted into the inaugural class of  the new West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame.

Announcement of the induction, part of the West Virginia Chamber’s 75th anniversary, was made during the organizaiton’s annual meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier earlier this month.

Ike is the former president and CEO of Charleston-based Kanawha Banking & Trust Co. and Intermountain Bancshares. He has served as chairman of the West Virginia Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce and as a district governor for Rotary International.

Ike, a trustee emeritus of Washington and Lee University, also managed four family land companies: Kanawha City Company, West Virginia Coal land Company, Kanawha Company, and Roxalana Land Company, the operation of which caused him to be named in The State Journal’s 1997 Who’s Who in West Virginia Business. These four companies merged to form a new company, Kanawha-Roxalana Company, and Ike is president and CEO.