A focus on fundamentals - not training, but education to serve society - led to the creation of "press scholarships" at Washington and Lee some 150 years ago.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War, while Robert E. Lee was president of struggling Washington College, the modern concept of journalism education was conceived under his leadership. To help rebuild a shattered South, the college developed several new programs; among them were agricultural chemistry, business and journalism. It is not clear how many young men, if any, actually received the scholarships that Washington College widely advertised, but it is certain that the program lasted only a few years.

Journalism education came permanently to Washington and Lee in the 1920s, when support from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association helped to establish the program. Fifteen years later, the W&L journalism department became one of the founders of the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, and it has remained an accredited program ever since. Its most recent reaccreditation was in 2013.

In fact, it is the only accredited journalism program at a highly competitive, nationally ranked liberal arts college.