Congratulations — and Some Personal News

To the University Community:

In the wake of an unusually eventful weekend, I want to write with several congratulations, and with a few personal notes as well.

First, I offer my congratulations to our students, especially those with primary responsibility for organizing the Mock Convention. As I said in my welcoming remarks on Friday, during an era when the national discussion about the purpose of college seems to be narrowly focused on preparing students only for their place in a competitive economic environment, Mock Convention sent a powerful reminder that we also educate students to contribute to a complex democracy. Political and civic engagement is a very good thing. Our Mock Convention brought enjoyment, to be sure, as well as vigorous debate, which is inevitable in and important for a democracy. I congratulate and thank our students.

Second, I congratulate the Board of Trustees for electing Will Dudley as our next president. Those who have met him and spoken with him, as I have, know that the Presidential Search Committee did excellent work and that, as a consequence, the university has chosen well. I look forward to working with the president-elect in the coming months as he begins the gradual transition from Williams to Washington and Lee, and I look forward to working with the entire Washington and Lee community in welcoming him to this distinctive university.

As you know, the schedule for the arrival of a new president has been adjusted from the original target date. Because President-elect Dudley will not start until Jan. 1, 2017, Kim and I will now be here until December 31. We welcome the extended stay, which we will use not only to help with the transition but also to find additional opportunities to express our thanks for all that everyone - faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni - has done to advance Washington and Lee.

Finally, as far as our own plans after December 31, I am grateful to the board for a sabbatical - but it turns out to be a somewhat shorter one than originally planned. You may have seen today's announcement that I have accepted an appointment to be the next president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, effective April 1, 2017. I look forward to representing and advancing higher education in the commonwealth, especially the independent sector. My time at W&L has surely helped me understand the role of private colleges in this country and only deepened my commitment to their success. Though the assignment will take us to Richmond, it fortunately will provide ample opportunity to work with our many friends here in Lexington.

Kenneth P. Ruscio