Archive for the 'Alumni' Category

New Platform for Stacy Morrison ’90

Stacy Morrison '90 and her son, Zack

Readers of Stacy Morrison, former editor of Redbook and author of the 2010 memoir Falling Apart in One Piece, will be pleased to know that this member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1990 has a new platform. This time it’s online rather than print — she is heading, an offshoot of

Stacy will have an impressive audience. According to a news story on “Fishbowl L.A.,”  a feature of,’s “most recent stats peg monthly uniques at upwards of 26 million (!) and investors include GE/NBC’s Peacock Equity Fund.”

Stacy tells Fishbowl, “This is a thrilling conversation to join and shape, in the best women’s community on the web.”

We did our own blog about Stacy’s memoir when it was published; you can read it here.

Entrepreneurial Advice

Alex Castelli '84

The Washington Post had a fascinating interview with Washington and Lee alumnus Alex Castelli not long ago. Alex, a member of the Class of 1986, currently heads the 50-person growth-markets practice in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of the Reznick Group, a top 20 national accounting, tax and business advisory firm. He also is a visiting assistant professor of accounting at W&L, teaching an auditing course in the Williams School during Spring Term. And one more thing: he’s the parent of a current W&L junior, who is also named Alex and who is a defensive lineman for the Generals’ football team, just as his father was.

But back to the Washington Post. Thomas Heath, a business columnist, interviewed Alex about the financial and accounting best practices for entrepreneurial and growing companies. Alex was a logical choice to discuss the topic. After spending three years with Price Waterhouse following his W&L graduation, Alex was controller for a family-owned business, Locker Rooms Inc., which sold sportswear with team logos.

So Alex has a special appreciation for entrepreneurs. As he told Heath, “It’s not a 9-to-5 job. And not everybody hits a home run.”

What does Alex recommend for companies that want to achieve financial success? Here are the nine tips he cited in the Post column:

  1. Be proactive on financial matters.
  2. Don’t forget your accounting department.
  3. Stick to your idea.
  4. Innovate.
  5. Be good to your investors.
  6. Borrow money while times are good.
  7. Know when to delegate on the financial side.
  8. Interview accountants and lawyers as if you’re hiring employees.
  9. Know when to sell.

Hard Times in Vermont

When blues guitarist and singer Scott Ainslie, of the Class of 1974, saw the normally eight-inch-deep Whetstone Brook in his hometown of Brattleboro, Vt., transformed into a raging torrent as Hurricane Irene passed through on Sunday, he got out his video camera and recorded some remarkable images. Then  Scott added his own recording of Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times, Come Again No More” from his CD, “Jealous Moon.”

The result is a moving video that Scott has uploaded to YouTube as an appeal for donations to the local Red Cross to assist in recovery efforts in Vermont. (You can use this link to the American Red Cross of Vermont and The New Hampshire Valley for information on how to help.)

Scott is also working on a benefit concert for affected families and businesses in the area.

Watch the video below:

Rebecca Makkai on NPR

Rebecca Makkai '99

In June we blogged about Rebecca Makkai, of the Class of 1999, whose first novel, The Borrower, has been widely praised. But it was one of Rebecca’s short stories that landed her a spot on a recent edition of NPR’s “This American Life.”

As part of the program’s show on Gossip, Rebecca reads a portion of one of her short stories, “The November Story,” which first appeared in its longer version in “Crazyhorse,” a literary journal. You can read the original story in “Crazyhorse” here. And you can listen to Rebecca read her story on “This American Life” or download the show as a podcast by going here.

“The November Story” is part of Rebecca’s collection in progress, which she has tentatively titled Music for Wartime.

Rebecca’s website features links to many of the reviews of The Borrower from The Daily Mail, the Washington Times, Marie Claire and The Daily Beast, among others.

Booked Up with Bill Buice ’61

Bill Buice, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1961, and his wife, Stuart, were the subject of a nice recent profile in their local paper, the Shelter Island (N.Y.) Reporter, this summer. The focus is their mutual love of books.

Bill '61 and Stuart Buice. Carol Galligan photo for the Shelter Island Reporter.

The Buices, who live in Shelter Island Heights, N.Y., are both natives of North Carolina. They met while she was an undergrad at Duke and he was a law student. On their first date, says the article, they went to a book auction.

As young marrieds in New York City in the mid-1960s, they frequented the bookstores on Fourth Avenue. Both of them became collectors of books. Stuart favored the Bloomsbury Group, Bill the English Romantics. Bill became involved with the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association and the Grolier Club, which promotes the art of the book.

Two years ago, the Buices spoke to the Friends of the W&L Library. The apt title of the talk was “Two Collectors, One Library—Can This Marriage Be Saved?”

Given such a provenance, you might think that that the Buices would shun e-readers. Not so, Bill told the Shelter Island newspaper. “I owned one of the first e-books,” he said. “I thought it was like Gutenberg. I thought there was a new Gutenberg out there. He changed the world and e-publishing might very well do the same thing and in fact it is. It’s revolutionizing the way people obtain knowledge and how they read.”

New Book for Suzanne LaFleur ’05

Suzanne LaFleur, of the Class of 2005, has just published her second novel, Eight Keys, with Wendy Lamb Books, a division of Random House. It tells the story of best friends Elise, who’s lost her parents, and Franklin. As the publisher describes it, “There’s always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor. When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish. Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the barn.”

Suzanne LaFleur '05

Publisher’s Weekly gave Eight Keys a starred review: “LaFleur . . . writes with uncommon sensitivity to the fraught period between childhood and the teenage years, when friendships balance on a razor’s edge and nothing feels certain. The heart of the story lies in the layered relationships and characters that give the novel its powerful sense of realism.”

This is Suzanne’s second novel for Wendy Lamb Books. Her first, Love, Aubrey, is about another orphaned girl and “the healing powers of friendship, love, and memory.” On its 2009 publication, Booklist said, “LaFleur proves she is an author to watch.”

On her website, Suzanne tells how, as a child, she started composing and telling stories even before she knew how to write. She decided then that she wanted to write stories for other children, and at W&L she continued on that path by double-majoring in English and European history. She obtained an M.F.A. in writing for children from the New School. Her brother, Alex, begins his junior year at W&L this fall.

Out of Retirement

Mike Neer

Mike Neer’s retirement lasted 16 months. The former Washington and Lee basketball Hall of Famer, a member of the Class of 1970, is headed back to the hardwood this winter as the new head coach at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y.

In April 2010, Mike stepped down after 34 years as the coach at the University of Rochester, where his teams won a national NCAA Division III title in 1990 and he had compiled the ninth best record among active Division III coaches.

As a story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle noted, Mike admitted when he retired that he wasn’t completely sure of the decision. Then he went through a season away from the game. That only made it worse.

In an interview with Rochester sports writer Jim Mandelaro after the Hobart announcement, Mike described what it was like last winter when he visited practices run by some of his former assistant coaches who are now leading programs at Allegheny College, Rhodes Island and Villanova. “”They’d invite me to practices, and I was like the grandparent holding the baby,” Mike said. “It felt good, and then I got to hand it back.” He also called getting the call from Hobart to return to the bench “Santa in the chimney in August.”

At the 2011 National Association of Basketball Coaches, Mike received the NABC’s Outstanding Service Award.