Appendix C Origins and Development of Washington and Lee
As noted in the introduction, Appendix C is a suggested first step in gathering facts for inclusion in a full narrative of W&L's history.
During its outreach phase, the commission heard from many members of the community that a full narrative of the school is currently missing. The following pages do not purport to be that full narrative. The goal of these pages is to offer information that is sometimes left out of the W&L story and should be considered for inclusion as the university truthfully tells its history. An abbreviated version of the appendix is found in Part II of the commission's report.
The institution that became Washington and Lee began in 1749 as a small, classical grammar school known as Augusta Academy. Its founder was Robert Alexander, a citizen of Ulster who arrived in America in 1737 as part of the "great migration of the Scotch-Irish to America."126 With the goal of preparing boys for college and the Presbyterian ministry, Alexander headed the school until the early 1760s.127 In 1776, the school's trustees, members of the Presbytery of Hanover, appointed 28-year-old William Graham as rector. Graham was born in Pennsylvania of Scots-Irish parents and educated at the College of New Jersey, which would become Princeton University. Graham's classmates at the College of New Jersey included Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee (the father of Robert E. Lee), and his teachers included Dr. John Witherspoon, exponent of the Scottish Enlightenment and signer of the Declaration of Independence.128 Witherspoon influenced the political philosophy of the founding generation, strongly articulating "his anti-tyrannical and anti-English roots in defense of American freedom."129 During his tenure as president of the College of New Jersey, Witherspoon tutored free black men to prepare them for the ministry. At the same time, he was a slaveholder.130 In Witherspoon, then, we see the "contradictions between a revolution dedicated to liberty and an economic system based on forced labor."131 Scholars have highlighted the fact that Witherspoon's descendants in the South "built their lives and wealth on a foundation of slavery."132
Under Graham's leadership, the grammar school in Virginia was renamed Liberty Hall, perhaps due to the intense "revolutionary sympathies" of Graham, the school's trustees, and the Witherspoon legacy.133 In 1785, the school began to offer college-level degrees, and its course of study included Latin, Greek, classical literature, English literature, moral philosophy, mathematics, geography and natural science.134 Graham, an ardent anti-Federalist, spoke out against ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution, seeing the plan as an effort to eclipse powers of the state.135 Like Patrick Henry, he urged Virginia not to ratify, but the pro-ratification forces, led by James Madison, prevailed.
Among the students at Liberty Hall towards the end of Graham's tenure was John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a collegiate education in the United States.136 Chavis was born in 1763 in Granville County, North Carolina, to free black North Carolinians. He was raised near Mecklenburg, Virginia. At age 29, Chavis began studying for the ministry under Witherspoon at the College of New Jersey. On Witherspoon's death in 1795, Chavis moved to Virginia and enrolled at Liberty Hall Academy. He completed his studies in 1799. Finding him to be "of unquestionably good character and a communicant in the Presbyterian Church," the Lexington Presbytery licensed him to minister in the church.137 Neither an abolitionist nor a radical, Chavis enjoyed a successful career as minister and teacher in North Carolina. In Raleigh, he established the John Chavis School, which educated black students as well as whites, although in separate classes taught at different times of the day. Prominent whites saw the value of entrusting the education of their children to Chavis; among his students was a future U.S. senator, Willie P. Mangum. Chavis died in 1838.
Liberty Hall's finances during this period were precarious at best, but the generosity of an unlikely benefactor made a crucial difference. In 1796, George Washington, in his second term as president of the United States, gave the school its first major endowment - $20,000 of James River Canal stock.138 For years, Washington had been interested in developing a river route linking the Atlantic to regions of Ohio and Kentucky.139 The Virginia legislature chartered the James River Co. in 1785 to make surveys and gave Washington 100 shares of the stock "as a means of winning public confidence in the James River project."140 Unwilling on ethical grounds to accept the stock as a personal gift, Washington sought a public purpose for the stock and settled on higher education as a worthy recipient.141
In Washington's view, supporting higher education was of prime importance in the new republic. As Washington put it, "The time is ... come, when a plan of universal education ought to be adopted in the United States. Not only do the exigencies of public and private life demand it, but, if it should ever be apprehended that prejudice would be entertained in one part of the Union against another, an efficacious remedy will be to assemble the youth of every part under such circumstances as will, by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation."142 When he selected Liberty Hall to receive the gift in 1796, the grateful trustees renamed the school Washington Academy. In 1813, they changed the name to Washington College.143
Washington's vision of education as a universal right, a bulwark against sectionalism, and a search for truth was complemented by Graham's own practical approach to education as preparation for life. "The aim of education," Graham wrote, "is to furnish the mind with the knowledge of truth and to open the first principles of science, so that the student may be capable to pursue any business in life he shall afterwards think proper. The knowledge of truth is therefore the principal end of education, and the most proper means of acquiring this knowledge is diligent application."144
While these men were uncommonly forward-looking in defining and supporting the school's mission, it is notable that, in other areas, they did not go against the grain. Washington was a slave owner for 56 years.145 At the time of his death in 1799, he owned 123 of the 317 enslaved persons living at Mount Vernon, and his will provided for emancipation of those 123 slaves on the death of his wife. On her instruction, they were emancipated effective January 1801. The will also directed that slaves who were old or in ill health "shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live," and that young slaves upon freedom should be taught reading and writing and "some useful occupation."146 Washington's views on slavery will continue to be parsed and debated. One commentator credits Washington at least for seeing that African-Americans were capable of, in Washington's words, "a destiny different from that in which they were born."147 But though he acknowledged slavery's evil, he chose to tolerate it throughout his life.
As for Graham, although it is unknown whether he was a slave owner, he did not hide his views on slavery. At Liberty Hall, he taught a course, Human Nature, in which he defended slavery on the ground that free blacks would threaten the white population.148 Both Washington and Graham could have used their position and influence to undermine slavery in their lifetimes; others did in the same historical period. Ironically, the ideas about universal education and citizenship espoused by both men would eventually be used against the institution of slavery and lead to its demise, but it would take another hundred years — and loss of life on a colossal scale — for slavery to end in America.
In 1826, a Washington College trustee, "Jockey" John Robinson, left his estate to the college.149 It consisted of 73 enslaved African-American women, children and men, as well as a large farm on the James River, livestock and a whiskey distillery. Robinson's will stated that the slaves and property could not be sold for 50 years, although it also provided that the college could sell "such others as may render themselves by crimes or mutinous habits, unsafe or injurious in their connection with their fellows." Robinson also wrote, "In any disposition which may be made of these slaves and also in their treatment, it is my earnest desire that the strictest regard be paid to their comfort and happiness as well as to the interests of the estate."150
Robinson's bequests helped the financially suffering college. In 1825, the college had a mere 65 students and a "diminished bank account." Proceeds from the sale of the Robinson's livestock, whiskey, distillery equipment and furniture amounted to $4,500. The college also earned money from hiring out some of the enslaved workers. Robinson's will had consented to such arrangements: "This right is to be exercised upon a sound discretion and in such manner as to give the negroes who are allotted for hire the alternative of being sold to masters of their own choice." In 1836, the college sold most of the enslaved people to Hugh Garland, of Lynchburg, Virginia, for $20,674.91. Garland took them to work in the Mississippi cotton fields. The sale of slaves to Garland allowed the college to build Robinson Hall on the Colonnade. Additional sales of enslaved persons took place over the ensuing two decades, probably to local residents. There is documentation that the college still owned three elderly, incapacitated individuals in 1857. School records include names, appraisals and sparse information about the work of the slaves owned by Washington College. "We wonder," said President Kenneth Ruscio in 2015, "how the men who led this institution at the time not only tolerated slavery but used these enslaved men and women to help maintain and fund a college."151
From 1836 to 1848, the president of the college was an alumnus, Henry Ruffner, a licensed Presbyterian minister, member of the faculty, and two-time acting president of the school. For Ruffner, "the central purpose of education" was the formation of character.152 Religion must be the chief element of higher education, he declared at his inaugural, but Washington College would not favor a particular denomination. The college "was designed for the education of youth of all Christian denominations" and would offer "the same opportunities to all moral, qualified young men." As Ruffner put it, if students "are to be drenched with the bitter waters of sectarian bigotry, they must go somewhere else; we eschew the task."153
Ruffner also espoused the end of slavery in western Virginia. A slaveholder himself,154 Ruffner favored gradual emancipation and removal of blacks from Virginia. He was a member of the Rockbridge Colonization Society, a branch of the American Colonization Society.155 While the society initially "enjoyed a reputation as a practical alternative to perpetual slavery," its reputation fell "when it became clear that some of its followers actually hoped to reinforce the system of slavery by ridding the nation of ‘the great public evil' of blacks not under direct white control, and removing the disturbing influence of freedmen from the vicinity of their slaves."156 In 1847, he expressed his antislavery views at a meeting of Lexington's Franklin Society, a men's debate club, and he later published the speech in pamphlet form. His argument was that slavery was economically harmful - in fact, "pernicious to the welfare of states."157 Religion and union, not slavery, would bring prosperity. Ruffner noted that investment in slavery caused "Virginians [to] neglect manufacturing and transportation," and that the use of slave labor in agriculture led to the white population's geographic dispersal, which negatively affected public education.158 Ruffner's concern was that extremists on both sides of the slavery argument - fervent abolitionists and extreme pro-slavery advocates - would lead to destruction.
Presbyterian George Junkin succeeded Ruffner. Junkin possessed substantial academic credentials: He had founded Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and served as its first president, and later served as president of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.159 He had promoted public education in Pennsylvania and had started a school for teachers in that state. Like Ruffner, Junkin was strongly pro-Union, but unlike Ruffner, he was pro-slavery, and his early advocacy had caught the attention even of John C. Calhoun during Junkin's tenure at Miami University.160 Junkin's argument was that the Bible supported slavery; that a slave system was not inherently evil even if it could be administered inhumanely; that abolition would cause even greater problems than slavery itself. The solution for Junkin was "African colonization."161 Short of that, he could see only danger ahead for the United States: the abolitionists' censure of the South was an affront that would tear apart the Union and lead to war.162 For Junkin, "the Union was more important than the values of antislavery."163 In early 1861, he clashed with student advocates of secession; they repeatedly raised a secessionist flag and flouted his orders against it. After Fort Sumter, he found no campus support for his pro-Union convictions. He resigned in May, and the trustees accepted his resignation without dissent. When told of the wartime deaths of his secessionist students, Junkin commented that "all had suffered more or less in consequence of their resistance to the best government which God had ever given to man."164
Robert E. Lee served as president of Washington College from October 1865 until his death in October 1870. Because President Dudley's charge to the commission specifically referenced elements of Lee's pre-1865 career as "starting points for the full and critical examination of history that it is our role, as an educational institution, to encourage and undertake,"165 the material in this section addresses Lee's earlier career as well as his contributions to the college.
Robert E. Lee was born in 1807, the son of a Revolutionary War hero, Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee III, and Ann Hill Carter Lee, a member of a prominent family in Alexandria, Virginia. After an early career as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, governor of Virginia, and U.S. congressman, Henry Lee III was imprisoned for debt and essentially abandoned his family. Ann Hill Carter Lee was reduced to depending heavily on her extended family. Robert E. Lee grew up in Westmoreland County and Alexandria.166 He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and compiled an exceptional academic record. He graduated second in his class in 1829 and joined the Corps of Engineers.
The corps posted him to numerous assignments in the "rapidly developing West and the industrializing North."167 But the "seminal event" for Lee was the Mexican-American War,168 in which he served on the staff of General Winfield Scott and gained his first battlefield experience.169 From 1846 to 1848, his wartime record as engineer and advisor earned great acclaim. Scott praised "the gallant, indefatigable Captain Lee" for his "felicitous execution" of duty and for his "science and daring."170 Lee's performance "had the maximum impact possible for a staff officer."171 The war itself was controversial in American politics, with President James K. Polk defending territorial expansion as necessary for the resolution of the dispute over Texas's border,172 while political rivals such as John Quincy Adams opposed the war as "a shameless land grab that would extend the reach of slavery."173
In 1852, Lee was named superintendent of West Point, but he did not warm to the routine of academic administration and disciplinary enforcement. The students referred to him as the "Marble Model" because of his "reticence and faultless figure."174 From 1855 to 1857, he served as lieutenant colonel of the new Second Cavalry, in Texas. Of the presidential election of 1856, he wrote, "Mr. Buchanan is to be our next President. I hope he will be able to extinguish fanaticism North & South, & cultivate love for the Country & Union, & restore harmony between the different sections."175
On her death in July 1829, Robert E. Lee's mother left 30 enslaved persons to her three sons.176 The sons "divided this bequest in some way, and Robert hired out some of his slaves and probably sold the others"; by 1835, "he retained only one of the original number."177 That person was Nancy Ruffin, "whom he rented to his father-in-law [George Washington Parke Custis] to work on his plantation White House in New Kent County, Virginia."178 Nancy Ruffin had three children "whom Lee presumably hired out as well."179 In a letter to his wife in 1856, Lee addressed slavery in general: "In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil for any Country. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race." Lee then added that "the blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically," and that the "painful discipline they are undergoing" was "necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare them to better things." He concluded that only "a wise Merciful Providence" knew "how long subjugation may be necessary."180
In 1857, during Lee's time with the Second Cavalry, his father-in-law died. Lee was named executor, and he sought temporary leave from the Army. The will bequeathed at least 150 enslaved persons to the Custis heirs (including Lee's wife) and some 5,000 acres of residences and farms.181 The will directed the executor to sell certain residences, collect debts, and distribute proceeds to the Custis heirs. Once the executor accomplished the "sales, collections, and distributions," the executor was "to emancipate all the Custis slaves." In any case, "emancipation had to occur within five years of the date of Custis's death."182 As executor, Lee was dismayed to learn that Custis had died owing $10,000 to creditors and had left his residences and financial affairs in disarray.183 Restoring the Custis assets took time, and some of the Custis enslaved persons accused Lee of inventing the five-year provision and disobeying the will's intent that they be freed quickly.184 On at least two occasions, Custis enslaved persons attempted to escape, were tracked down, and were forced back to the Custis lands. Evidence also exists that Lee "subjected several to the lash" in 1859. One accusation was that Lee ordered the whipping of three escaped enslaved persons; personally whipped one of them, a woman; and ordered that brine be applied to their bloodied bodies to increase the pain.185 One account of this was published anonymously in a New York newspaper, and a second account was given in 1866 by Wesley Norris, one of the three recaptured persons.186 Lee denied mistreatment of the enslaved persons but "never completely denounced the story."187 Historians continue to discuss this alleged incident.188
Lee had considered retiring from the Army and becoming a full-time planter, but once his father-in-law's debts were paid and residences put in order, he returned to the Army. The two years he spent as a "major slave holder" executing the will "soured Lee on the system."189 His attitudes about slavery and race continue today to be examined and debated. One interpretation - perceptive even if not definitive - holds that "Lee declined either to defend the institution [of slavery] completely or to work to destroy it. Instead he chose to distance himself and to accept an elaborate middle ground that acknowledged its faults, but justified its existence. Lee seems to have thought that laws and social customs might protect both slave and master from any excesses."190 Lee "never made the transformational leap that would recognize the fundamental human nature of the slaves."191
Lee served in the U.S. Army from 1829 until the Civil War began in 1861. Several years before the war, as sectional strife over slavery gripped the country, Lee expressed commitment to the Union: "I know no other country, no other government, than the United States and their Constitution."192 In 1861, his "thinking became increasingly conflicted."193 In March, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to full colonel, and again he swore allegiance to the U.S. But when Virginia seceded from the Union, and he was offered command of U.S. forces, Lee was forced to make up his mind. He rejected the offer, resigned his U.S. commission, and accepted command of the Virginia forces that became part of the Confederate Army. At the time of secession, there were 13 Southern full colonels in the U.S. Army. Ten remained loyal; only Lee and two others became Confederates.194 He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia and eventually served as general-in-chief of all Confederate forces.
Early in the war, late 1861 and early 1862, Lee was criticized in the Southern press for his reluctance to engage Union forces in western Virginia. Many thought him timid and inexperienced.195 But subsequent victories in the Seven Days battles and Second Manassas, and in Chancellorsville in May 1863, won him near-adulation throughout the South.196 Pro-Lee fervor remained high even after the defeat at Gettysburg in July 1863. Scholars are divided in assessing Lee's skills as a military leader, particularly his use of offense-oriented operations, which often produced victories but resulted in many casualties among his own men.197 A chapter in the war that remains disturbing is the Battle of the Crater, "a botched Federal attempt to breach the Confederate lines at Petersburg in July 1864."198 A Union regiment had dug a 511-feet-long mine shaft beneath Confederate lines and filled it with 320 kegs of gunpowder. The Union's plan was to set off a massive explosion beneath the Confederates, thus opening a hole in Confederate defenses and setting in motion the conquest of Petersburg. The explosion occurred, but Union forces were slow to seize the advantage. They entered the crater, where the Confederates counter-attacked and took prisoners, including a division of United States Colored Troops. Even after the latter prisoners surrendered, Confederate soldiers killed them with bayonets and musket fire. Lee "made no comment that has survived regarding this murder of prisoners by his troops."199 One historian notes that the shocking slaughter "had to have been known to the commanding general,"200 and questions how Lee's silence could be reconciled with a concept of honor.201
With the eventual Union conquests of Richmond and Petersburg, and Union forces surrounding the depleted Confederates near Farmville, Lee faced the decision whether to surrender. He knew that Jefferson Davis was committed to prolonging the war through guerrilla actions. Although Lee himself "had thought about a guerrilla alternative to surrender," he believed "from the beginning" that the South's "best chance lay in decisive victories in conventional battle."202 Lee "feared anarchy far more than Yankees, and his concern for the social order" predominated.203 He also rejected General James Longstreet's idea of a possible escape.204 On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. The terms of the surrender granted parole and precluded trials for treason.205 Months later, he signed an amnesty oath, swearing to "protect and defend" the Constitution and to "abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves."206 The oath was a necessary condition of receiving a pardon, and it signaled the importance to Lee of "participating in the rights of citizenship."207 In the period that followed, Lee told young men: "[G]o home, all you boys who fought with me and help build up the shattered fortunes of our old state."208 To others he said that their obligation now was "not to keep open the sores of civil war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate its marks."209
Nevertheless, in the year after Appomattox, a "bitter and protracted contest" began in the country at large over "what exactly was decided that April day."210 Controversy raged over whether Congress should enact federal civil rights legislation, including protection of African-American citizenship. The law was passed, and Congress overrode President Andrew Johnson's veto.
The trustees of Washington College met on Aug. 3, 1865, and voted to appoint Lee as president of the college. When Lee took office, "Washington College had been ransacked by General David Hunter's forces and was reduced to forty students."211 The college "had essentially degenerated into a prep school,"212 and "the faculty had not been paid in years, and the school was perilously in debt."213 Lee's contributions during his short, five-year term began with re-imagining the purpose of higher education in the South and expanding the curriculum accordingly. He brought the new idea "that education could in fact prepare young people for life in the world, beyond service to church or state."214 He also incorporated a local law school into the institution and raised badly needed funds. In signaling that the war was over, he influenced the character of the students who studied at Washington College and Virginia Military Institute during his presidency.
The Honor System at Washington College preceded Lee's term as president. According to detailed research on the history of the Honor System by Professor John M. Gunn in 2003-04, the university "has had an Honor System continuously from the mid-1840s or possibly earlier."215 A letter from a member of the Class of 1844 describes an honor system "whose standards were much like the Honor System" of the present day.216 The minutes of the faculty first refer to an honor system in 1850. Professor Gunn concludes it likely that the faculty administered the system originally, and that primary responsibility for administering it shifted to the student body after the 1857-58 academic year.217 Lee became president in 1865 and stated, "We have but one rule - that every student must be a gentleman."218 As Blaine Brownell states, "Lee did not impose a full-fledged, formal honor code on the campus" but "voiced the expectation that all students and faculty should think and behave as ‘gentlemen,' which by his definition encompassed the qualities of personal honor, fairness, and civility."219 After 1867, it appears that exclusive responsibility for administering the system passed to the student body. In 1905, "its administration was placed in the newly formed Executive Committee of the Student Body of Washington and Lee University."220
Professor Gunn suggested four specific contributions to the system that he thought could be fairly attributed to Lee:
- "The force of his own exemplary personal integrity and character;
- "Personal commitment to the system and its noble purposes;
- "Placement of authority for its administration primarily in the student body;
- "Promotion of a policy increasing students' responsibility for their own behavior."221
Lee elaborated on honorable conduct in a document that biographer Emory Thomas states was found in his papers after his death. The document states: "The power which the strong have over the weak, the magistrate over the citizen, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly - the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total absence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly or unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He can not only forgive; he can forget. And he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be past."222
The university's "commitment to the highest standards of honor and integrity"223 has had an immense practical effect on the institution. As Barry Sullivan, former dean of the School of Law, described it: "Because of [the Honor System], we are able to live in a pervasive atmosphere of trust. That is good. We live, after all, in a larger world in which it is fashionable to trust no one. And the larger world is poorer for that. This community's commitment to honor is our most obvious and central tradition."224 President John Wilson thought that the Honor System's strength was its unspoken presence in daily life: "I believe this impact is measured not by the investigations or by the hearings or still less by the convictions, but by the quiet, united observance of the personal integrity doctrine that we don't even see because it's happening every night in study rooms or in the library or wherever the temptation to take a shortcut might be found and is resisted."225
As stated on the university website, "Each new generation defines the Honor System by its actions and the behavior it deems dishonorable. At Washington and Lee, dishonorable conduct is not codified; rather, the Honor System is based upon the principle that any action deemed a breach of the community's trust will be considered an Honor Violation."226 The Honor System remains under the authority and enforcement of the student Executive Committee, which explains it during orientation to incoming students, both law and undergraduate, at the beginning of each academic year. The setting for this orientation is usually Lee Chapel (although law student orientation in recent years has shifted to Lewis Hall). The use of the chapel for this purpose is discussed in Part II of this report.
From its earliest days, the school that became Washington College was dedicated to classical education. Lee was aware that veterans of his army would need other tools than Latin, Greek and English literature. As president, Lee "wanted to blend the practical nature of an engineering course at West Point with the enlightened aesthetic of Ovid.227" A "Report of the Faculty" signed by Lee and the professors and submitted to the trustees in 1867 set in motion a "practical reconstruction" of the academic program.228 With an insistence on academic excellence,229 the plan provided that the new curriculum would include modern languages, chemistry, advanced mathematics, natural history, and mining engineering.230 In addition, Lee proposed the annexation of the Lexington Law School and raised the possibility of courses for printer-journalists.231 "The great object of the whole plan," Lee wrote, "is to provide the facilities required by the large class of our young men, who looking forward to an early entrance into the practical pursuits of life, need a more direct training to this end than the usual literary courses."232 Wrote one commentator, "The boldness of the step was astonishing. It was a leap in the dark, with a prayer and a hope."233 The trustees approved the reforms and new faculty positions in applied mathematics, modern languages, natural and experimental philosophy, and moral philosophy. In a continuation of planning the following year (1868), the faculty proposed offering "the broadest and most thorough development to the practical and industrial sciences of the age."234 In 1869, the trustees approved adding political economy and international law to the chair in history, thus adding "social sciences" to the curriculum.235
Although the college had been in financial free fall when Lee arrived, it rebounded during his tenure; by 1870, it was "in relatively good financial condition for a southern institution."236 During his tenure, "the number of students quadrupled,"237 "hailing from twenty-two states."238 One of President Lee's projects was to "strengthen the financial base" of the institution.239 He participated in a successful fund-raising approach to inventor Cyrus McCormick, who eventually donated $20,000.240 Out of respect for Lee, philanthropist George Peabody donated $60,000 for a professorship and bequeathed a legal claim to the college that eventually netted $250,000.241 Mr. and Mrs. Warren Newcomb also contributed generously, and after Lee's death, Mrs. Newcomb contributed funds for the building of Newcomb Hall.242
In February 1866, the 39th Congress's Joint Committee on Reconstruction called Lee to Capitol Hill to testify as a witness.243 The point of summoning Lee was to "gauge the disposition of former Confederates toward the federal government,"244 which was then debating Reconstruction issues, including full citizenship for black Americans. Lee testified, "I do not know of a single person who either feels or contemplates any resistance to the government of the United States, or indeed any opposition to it."245 When asked whether the South wanted "peace or to regain their lost power," Lee said that he was "not inclined to separate the two points."246 When asked about race relations, he repeated his stance that he had favored "gradual emancipation"; that he supported black education; that blacks were "not as capable of acquiring knowledge" as whites, although "some [are] more apt than others"; that he was against black enfranchisement at the present time because "they cannot vote intelligently"; that blacks working for their former masters were "well-treated"; that Virginia would be a better place if blacks were removed from the state.247 Similar views about race were contained in a statement signed by Lee and other Democrats before the elections of 1868 - that, "at present, the negroes have neither the intelligence nor the other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power."248
A Freedman's Bureau opened in Lexington in 1866.249 The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was a federal agency within the U.S. Department of War and provided various forms of assistance to blacks in the aftermath of the Civil War.250 When the bureau sent teachers to Lexington, they encountered resistance. Some in the town, including Washington College students, apparently engaged in threatening behavior towards teachers and students at the bureau's school.251 Two documented racial confrontations led to violence. While Lee "apparently dismissed the worst offenders,"253 disciplinary measures against others were weak, and "the provocations did not end."254
Lee died of a stroke in Lexington on October 12, 1870, and his funeral took place three days later. The event drew many dignitaries who eulogized the valor and honor of Lee as a hero of the Confederacy. The same day, "a large number of ex-Confederate soldiers assembled in the courthouse at Lexington" and created the Lee Memorial Association, which would organize planning and funding of a monument to Lee.255 Before the end of that month, the Washington College trustees announced that the new president of the college would be Robert E. Lee's son, General G.W. Custis Lee, then a professor at Virginia Military Institute. The trustees simultaneously announced the renaming of Washington College as Washington and Lee University.256
The Lee Memorial Association then asked Lee's widow, Mary Custis Lee, "to indicate her preference in regard to the monument to be erected by the Association."257 Mrs. Lee suggested a sculptor, Richmond-born Edward V. Valentine, who had "modeled a bust of General Lee from life" the previous summer.258 "After examining a number of drawings and photographs of celebrated works of art," Mrs. Lee suggested "a suitable design": a "recumbent figure of General Lee lying asleep upon the field of battle."259 In June 1871, Valentine presented — and the association approved — a model of the proposed statue of Lee in military garb, recumbent on a Civil War battlefield. Valentine completed his work in April 1875. The statue was transported to Lexington and put in storage, pending the construction of a new space for display. It was decided that the space be a rectangular apse and stone crypt built at the rear of the chapel. The new space and statue were unveiled to the public in 1883, 13 years after Lee's death. The Memorial Association's contemporaneous account described the space and statue as "a solemn and tender memorial of the warrior who rests in peace beneath."260 The focus of the occasion was Lee the warrior rather than Lee the educator, although his accomplishments as president were described and praised. By the Memorial Association's estimate, between 8,000 and 10,000 persons attended the unveiling ceremony, including Confederate Army and Navy veterans, governors of the Southern states, executive and judicial officials of Virginia, and Virginia members of the U.S. Congress.261
In the wake of crushing defeat, some Southern leaders after the Civil War looked for solace in selective memory of the war, its causes, and its meaning. They spoke of a noble "cause" that had been lost.262 Some began "to remember the past in the best possible light by exorcizing parts of it."263 As Brownell explained, the campaign amounted to a "southern effort to reclaim regional pride and overturn the political and social consequences of Reconstruction."264 Lost Cause proponents depicted the South in mythic terms; they "denied the importance of slavery in triggering secession, blamed sectional tensions on abolitionists, celebrated antebellum southern slaveholding society, portrayed Confederates as united in waging the war for independence, extolled the gallantry of Confederate soldiers, and attributed northern victory to the sheer weight of numbers and resources."265 By the time of the unveiling of the statue of Lee as general in 1883, 13 years after Lee's death, the Lost Cause narrative of Southern history used religious terminology. During the ceremony, Lee was extolled as a "priest of his people," a Christ figure, the equivalent of King Arthur, the "flower of knighthood," the leader of a "cause now perished."266 The South itself was seen as sacred, and "history assumed the function of myth."267
The chapel remained a symbol of the Lost Cause. In the 1920s, a controversy arose over whether to enlarge the chapel. The university president (Henry Louis Smith) and the national leadership of the United Daughters of the Confederacy proposed "a complete reconstruction of the old chapel" due to concerns about its size and functionality, but a local UDC chapter opposed the change. The opponents argued that the chapel was "a most holy possession" and should not be altered.268 A Lee family member supported the opposition and asked the trustees to "spare, keep, and guard the chapel, for in spite of Dr. Smith the chapel is the shrine and not the tomb and mausoleum alone."269 After a lengthy debate, the opposition prevailed, and the proposed changes were abandoned. As W&L art historian Pamela Simpson wrote, the chapel was seen as "sacred, the Shrine of the South, from its association with Robert E. Lee."270
Later in the 20th century, the chapel was the site for Founders Day and other university-wide events at which attendance was expected. Some objected that the chapel was racially alienating - specifically, that the central placement in a church-like setting of the recumbent statue, the nearby portrait of Lee in military garb, and the accompanying display of Confederate flags communicated that the university supported — or at least was indifferent to — the quasi-religious veneration of a Confederate general and the pro-slavery values of the South at the time of the Civil War. Community members who knew that the university intended no such message were still concerned that the chapel was prone to such obvious criticism. In 2014, after African-American law students protested that the display of replica Confederate flags was inappropriate for the site, "the University removed them, thereby returning the statue chamber to its originally intended design."271 As the university continued to seek a more racially integrated student body and faculty, and invited prospective students and faculty to visit campus, the chapel faced continuing criticism that it lacked sufficient contextualization and conveyed an unfortunate message, intended or not, that could deter potential students and faculty from joining the community.
The complexities of the university's 19th-century story have tended to crowd out the modern story of Washington and Lee. Although the contributions of Graham, Chavis, Ruffner, Lee and others are significant, and although it is necessary to examine and explore what they said and did, they do not compose the university's entire story. Far from it. The school's 20th-century experience — of challenge, struggle and gradual but steady progress as an academic institution and community — is also rich and essential information. Even more directly than the 19th-century story, the modern history of W&L relates to the institution we are today and points to where we may want to go next.
As Blaine Brownell's recent book acknowledges, W&L in its early-20th-century history "was hardly a bastion of social reform or racial progress." Three different moments reflected racial attitudes of the school. First, in the fall of 1923, the football team was to play Washington and Jefferson University, and the W&L team traveled to Pennsylvania for the game. One of Washington and Jefferson's halfbacks was an African-American, Charles West. As Brownell explains, "Following the standard practice for southern institutions at the time, W&L reached - or thought it had reached — a ‘gentleman's agreement" (not stated in the contract between the two schools but nonetheless a condition for W&L's participation) that West would be held out of the game."272 But Washington and Jefferson, guided by a new coach, John Heisman, kept West in the starting line-up. A W&L administrator decided that the game would not be played, and W&L "left the field."273 A furor ensued, and W&L fans were pelted with rotten fruit and insults.274 Later, the decision not to play was applauded by the W&L Executive Committee of the Student Body and garnered wide faculty support.275 By 1950, the policy of not playing teams with black players was still in force, and Brownell's book does not say when the practice stopped.
A second moment occurred in the fall of 1961, when the student executive committee of the University Christian Association wanted to invite the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to speak to the Seminars in Religion Program. The student group sought advice from the Faculty Committee on Christian Work, and that group voted to extend the invitation. The trustees decided, however, to decline the request to invite King "as not being in the best interests of the University."276 The faculty then adopted a resolution expressing regret at the trustees' decision.277 Later the trustees declined to reconsider their decision, and the faculty gave itself new authority for decision-making about speakers, leading to "loosening of restrictions on invited speakers."278 In 1966, the trustees "decided to take no further action to control outside speakers on campus and to leave such matters to the discretion of the faculty and its committees."279
The remaining issue was the largest: integration. When would the university open its doors to African-Americans and other persons of color? The university had taken the road of silence, watching while peer institutions either decided to open admissions to African-American students or moved in that direction. Finally, in 1964, the trustees acted. Without directly stating that the board had determined to admit students without regard to race or color, it "approved an official statement reaffirming that admissions decisions were left to the faculty."280 The statement "noted that no board resolution or provision existed that ‘established a policy of discrimination among qualified applicants for admission' and that faculty had traditionally decided on qualifications for applicants."281 A stronger statement was not forthcoming then or in 1966, and the task of articulating a policy and carrying it out was left to the faculty. The first African-American students (other than John Chavis two centuries earlier) at W&L — Dennis Haston in the College, and Leslie Smith in the School of Law — arrived in the fall of 1966. But few plans or provisions had been made for bringing black students into the heterogeneous white student community, thus ensuring a difficult experience for the first to matriculate. Nevertheless, Leslie Smith achieved high academic distinction: He was named to the Washington and Lee Law Review, a student-edited scholarly journal whose staff qualify for positions on the basis of high grades. (Some 40 years later, Brandon Hasbrouck achieved the distinction of being elected editor in chief of the Law Review, becoming the first African-American to head the scholarly journal. Hasbrouck will return to W&L Law in the fall of 2018 as a visiting assistant professor of law.)
For the more than 50 years that have passed since Dennis Haston and Leslie Smith arrived on campus, administrators, faculty and some in the student body have expressed concerns about W&L's limited success at recruiting faculty and students of color. In 1968, President Robert Huntley called for new efforts to build "a diverse student body and faculty where members may share in common only the ability and conviction to learn from another."282 At times, these concerns have generated initiatives that garnered support from important segments of the W&L community. One example from the late 1990s stemmed from an initiative of the late former trustee and alumnus, Tom Shepherd. The Shepherd Commission included trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students. Professor Ted DeLaney became a member of the Shepherd Commission, and Associate Dean Courtney Penn chaired one of its main committees. The objective was to find a means of recruiting a more diverse student and faculty population.
Much time and energy went into this endeavor, which received two major boosts by two unfortunate racial incidents that occurred during the academic year 1999-2000. The first incident occurred before classes began, when two first-year students visited the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, the former home of Zeta Beta Tau, a Jewish national fraternity. One student was Jewish, and the other was Italian-American. A senior in the house offended the students by stating that persons of certain races, religions and sexual orientation were not allowed in the house. Parents of the Jewish student quickly withdrew him from W&L. The second incident occurred when the Idaho delegation for Mock Convention appeared in T-shirts that offended both black and women students.
These actions prompted the trustees in 2000 to form an ad hoc committee to examine issues of diversity and inclusion.283 The committee made five recommendations to the board: "Enhance the staff size in admissions to help in recruiting a more diverse student body; develop more aggressive searches for law and undergraduate faculty searches; add ‘sexual orientation' to the University's non-discrimination statement; develop a public statement of commitment to diversity, assuring an open and welcoming community for all; and create a physical memorial to John Chavis."284 In the fall of 2000, the board voted to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination statement. By that addition, W&L ceased being "the only top-20 national small liberal arts institutions that did not include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination statement."285
Also in 2000, the faculty formed a task force on diversity. The task force introduced resolutions in faculty meetings in early 2001 that requested funding for affirmative recruitment of faculty and students. These resolutions established goals and urged the board "to consider all additional means for raising financial aid revenues for the explicit purpose of fulfilling these shared commitments."286 For several years, affirmative recruitment of students seemed to work. Conversely, affirmative recruitment of faculty members, requiring deep commitment by individual departments, saw little progress. For whatever reasons, increasing the numbers of African-American students and faculty has not been successful. A third resolution adopted by the faculty focused on campus climate, with the goal of creating a more welcoming and comfortable academic and social atmosphere for all students. In 2017, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee's Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion reviewed this history, called for new energy and vision, and produced a number of specific recommendations, including enhanced support for diverse students on campus, substantial investment in recruitment of faculty and staff, and increased support for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.287 Two key initiatives are a multicultural residential house on campus, projected for next academic year, and a Center for Multicultural Enrichment, to be located in Elrod Commons, which is envisioned as a "much-needed hub of activity for diverse students."288
But much remains to be done to address the facts cited by President Dudley in his 2017 letter to the President's Society: "We remain the least racially diverse of the best liberal arts institutions. And the percentage of our first-year students eligible for Pell grants — the most commonly reported measure of economic diversity — was the lowest among the top 150 schools in the country in 2015." As John David Maguire, former president of the Claremont University Consortium and Claremont Graduate University, and a W&L alumnus, wrote almost two decades ago about attracting more students of color: "Washington and Lee students deserve the diversity of experience, of multiple perspectives, of learning how to live together amicably and to delight in each other's company that a genuine interracial, multicultural student body provides. Human diversity is indispensable for improving and sustaining the quality and texture of a top-flight educational experience."289 Maguire called diversity "the mark of a world-class education," and he stated that "Washington and Lee has yet to reach the enrollment of diverse students of color that other top-flight colleges have achieved and that, to remain tops, the future will require."290
The history of failed efforts to diversify the university raises a number of questions: Is it possible to recruit and admit a critical mass of African-American students at W&L? Will a critical mass of black students result in a better climate for African-American students? Does Robert E. Lee's name and Confederate commemoration at W&L deter the recruitment of African-American students? Does it deter faculty recruitment? Does the absence of additional black faculty members affect recruitment? The answers to these questions must be pursued, hopefully in the spirit of George Washington - specifically, his belief in education as a "universal" right, and his vision of education as assembling "the youth of every part under such circumstances as will, by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation."291
It should be added that other groups have experienced their own challenges at W&L. For example, Brownell chronicles the mixed history of Jewish students. The early part of the 20th century saw promising enrollment rates for Jewish students. In 1929 there were 54 Jewish students, approximately 8 percent of the student body,292 and that relative representation continued through the 1950s293 and likely through the 1960s. Two historically Jewish fraternities existed on campus, while the remaining fraternities were restricted by national charters to exclusively white Christian male membership. In the early 1970s, those restrictions were removed, and the college's fraternities were free to admit non-Christian and non-white members. This change imperiled the viability of the existing traditionally Jewish houses of Zeta Beta Tau and Pi Epsilon Phi. They first merged with one another but eventually quit functioning due to a lack of members. As a result, the number of students identifying as Jewish experienced a strong decline throughout the remainder of the 20th century, and coeducation had no effect on that development.
In 2003, the trustees called upon the deans of Admissions and Student Affairs to develop a plan to reverse the trend. In the deans' report, the absence of a local synagogue and community center to celebrate Jewish faith and culture was identified as a strong disincentive to prospective students as well as faculty and staff. The trustees decided to create an on-campus Hillel House to meet these needs, not only for W&L students and faculty but also for Jewish people within the greater Lexington community. This project was to be completely funded by donations. Approximately half came from the board members, with most of the remainder given by Jewish alumni. W&L built a $4 million building beside the Episcopal Church on Washington Street, near the heart of the campus, and the building was dedicated in early 2009. The campus community embraced the new facility, and it is widely credited with helping improve Jewish recruitment at W&L. Efforts to encourage the growth of this element of diversity continue, although it should be noted the Jewish student population has yet to reach the level noted nearly 100 years earlier.
In 1983, at the start of President John Wilson's tenure at Washington and Lee, the university began in earnest to explore admitting women as undergraduates.294 The university spent nine months studying the issue and consulting with W&L constituencies. The debate was, to say the least, thorough and impassioned. Wilson saw coeducation as critical to "maintaining the quality of this place, which is its distinctive feature."295 He also saw coeducation as a key to improving academic standards, remaining competitive, developing a healthier social environment on campus, and preparing graduates for a changing world.296 Others opposed the admission of women on the grounds that it would change the school unalterably. When the trustees voted on July 14, 1984, to adopt coeducation, they took one of the most consequential steps in the modern history of the university. In a statement that day, Rector James Ballengee said that the board, having heard a steady stream of views on both sides of the issue, "attempted to place those judgments in the larger context of continuing change in American society and in the widening responsibilities assumed by talented women of our time."[footnote id="297" /. Professor Pamela Simpson recounted the nature of the process leading up to the vote: "As you try to retell the story, it's so easy to try to tell it black and white. It's so easy to try and tell it right and wrong. And the reality is history is always a lot messier than that. There are always multiple discourses going on and conflicting ideas that all have their own valid stance. That was very clear at the time we were debating co-education."298 Hearing the news about the trustees' vote, Simpson recalled: "It was wonderful. There wasn't any going back; we were doing it. The study was done, the vote was taken. Now what we had to do was go forward."299 Wilson appointed Simpson to chair the Co-education Steering Committee, and the first classes were admitted.
By 1994, the Coeducation Review Committee assessed 10 years of experience and concluded that coeducation was "proceeding well."300 Enrollment was up, applications had more than doubled, average SAT scores for the entering class were almost 100 points higher, and retention to graduation had increased.301 "The number of full-time faculty women had risen from six to eighteen."302
At the same time, the implementation of coeducation provoked questions, most dealing with equality: Do women have a "sense of ownership in the W&L community that equaled that of men,"303 are women participating in "campus social and political life," in equal ways;304 and has the university truly addressed issues of sexism and sexual assault?305 With the dominance of Greek life, are there sufficient alternative spaces for students, women and men alike, who seek them? With dining patterns, class schedules, sports and extracurricular activities, has the university been able to create conditions for women and men students to have an "interconnected social life"?306 These and other questions call for continuing scrutiny of how women and men interact at W&L. In addition, although "gender diversity in the faculty and administration was a critical component of the university's coeducation strategy,"307 and although hiring of women senior management has picked up in recent years (for example, Suzanne Keen's tenure as dean of the College, and Nora Demleitner's tenure as dean of the School of Law), gender diversity in faculty and administration still appears to be a work in progress. The link between coeducation and gender diversity in the faculty and administration is ripe for analysis and discussion.
The university's mission statement captures its priorities: "Washington and Lee provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society."308 The liberal arts education described in the mission statement is rooted in small classes, close relationships between teachers and students, and a curriculum that allows students to choose "from a remarkable variety of majors and minors, courses, in-depth study opportunities - a spectrum of options usually found only at large universities."309 Thirty-seven undergraduate majors and 29 minors allow students to immerse themselves in traditional disciplines taught by extraordinary scholar-teachers. Students choose as well from a range of pre-professional offerings, in departments such as Journalism and Business Administration. In addition, interdisciplinary courses allow students to see commonalities and conflicts across subject-matter divides and to prepare for professions in which such blending is the norm. The focus on curricular breadth and depth extends to the Law School, which explicitly claims a liberal arts approach to the study of law, balancing courses on fundamental topics with electives and clinics that focus on a range of contemporary issues. Students also benefit from an increasing number of courses that are open to both law students and undergraduates and provide additional opportunities for critical interdisciplinary reflection at a high level. Enrichment is provided at every step, such as the programs of the Mudd Center for Ethics and the outside speakers invited by the Questioning Series.
These features enable the university to offer an education that is personalized, rigorous and intellectually ambitious, with the goal of fostering in each student what Dean James G. Leyburn called an "ideal of excellence"310 in mind and character. Dean Leyburn envisioned the liberal arts as promoting intellectual and moral courage. He continually challenged W&L students "to be skeptical and questioning, no matter how disturbing this might be to their peace of mind."311 Judge Pamela J. White '77L, the first alumna to serve on the W&L Board of Trustees (1995-2004), spoke similarly about the value of liberal arts education in modern society, crediting it for giving her a "lifetime thirst for knowledge, for problem-solving, for critical analysis, for honest and effective communication, for client-focused advocacy as well as an appreciation for big picture and community consequences."312
The special flavor of the liberal arts at W&L can be found in the school's motto: "Non incautus futuri," or "Not unmindful of the future."313 Over the years, interpretations of the motto have all related to a profound sense of responsibility. President Kenneth Ruscio understood the motto in terms of duty - an ethical duty owed by citizens of one generation to citizens of the next. In a 2010 address, he suggested that an "intergenerational contract" obligates current members of the W&L community to advance the integrity and excellence of the institution for the sake of those who will come later. Law Dean Barry Sullivan in 1995 saw the motto as describing a special kind of discernment. The person who is "not unmindful of the future" has "the wisdom to distinguish what needs to be conserved and what needs to be changed, having the confidence to listen to the views of others, and having the courage to act."314 A liberal arts education thus fosters "the imagination to conceive of a world that would be organized along new lines."315 While the motto "takes for granted that the past is on our minds already," it "reminds us that there is more than the past — that there is the future as well. However much we should honor the past, the motto of our University reminds us that it is the future in which we will have to live. That is a powerful exhortation."316 Professor Alexandra Brown, in a 2007 Baccalaureate address, spoke of the "truth-seeking attentiveness" that is "at the heart of the great liberal tradition we claim here. It is at once a commitment to know things and to know larger truths toward which things point; it is also to ask of every certainty we hold, ‘How do I know that?' It is to submit to the possibility of change."317
Ruscio, Sullivan and Brown may have echoed the words of a long-time member of the English Department, Professor Sidney Coulling, who in 1979 pointed to the social dimension of the liberal arts: "The goal of the humanities has always been the enrichment of society itself" by training each generation to understand and undertake their "political duties in a democratic society."318
The commission was not charged with taking a comprehensive look at the social environment of the student body. But the history of the institution includes the university's efforts, large and small, to address and improve the quality of student life outside of the classroom. A list of such efforts cannot be provided here, but they include the building of a broad athletic program for men's and women's sports; continuing investment of time and financial resources to issues relating to Greek life, beginning with the Fraternity Renaissance initiative under the presidency of John Wilson; efforts to provide spaces for student life outside the ambit of the Greek system, such as Elrod Commons, Hillel House and Friday Underground; and the recent project to increase campus residential life dramatically through construction of the new third-year housing complex (the Village). In addition, the university has dedicated substantial resources to its Office of Student Affairs, whose staff members address student issues through a range of supportive programs and initiatives. Against this backdrop, questions remain about the quality of student life at Washington and Lee. Most of the questions relate to the fact that the Greek system of fraternities and sororities dominates social life. Thirteen national fraternities are present on campus, and at least 74 percent of W&L men are members. Eight sororities are present, and at least 76 percent of W&L women are members. The high participation rates mean that large numbers of students enjoy the benefits of a supportive network and a home away from home. But many non-participating students experience isolation and alienation both in the classroom and on the campus generally. Addressing this specific issue, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee's Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion wisely recommends creation of a Multicultural Center in Elrod Commons.
In 2013, Candler Communications interviewed undergraduate student focus groups on the subject of campus climate. Findings of the 2013 study were summarized in 2017 by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee's Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion. A chief finding was that "all students — multicultural, international, and mainstream — saw W&L as a very segmented/segregated campus." As the commission began its work in the fall of 2017, Candler Communications conducted a second study of campus climate through undergraduate focus groups. Although the study was not intended to be comprehensive, it provided an informative snapshot of W&L at this moment. Among other findings, Candler concluded that while Washington and Lee has success in recruiting students of color, due to its active Admissions Office and the availability of generous financial support, those students find their numbers surprisingly small and the environment difficult once they matriculate.319 The cost of joining a Greek organization can present a stumbling block for participation, as well as perceptions that some fraternities do not welcome students of color or international students.320 Other perceptions were that Greek organizations are "rarely held accountable for their actions" and "suffer[ed] consequences only for the most egregious of offenses."321 At the same time, both Greek and independent students who participated in the study expressed the need for "a more vibrant and active non-Greek social scene."322 Some of the Candler Study participants suggested that the university's teaching of its own history could be improved. Specifically, they advocated that a more prominent telling of the story of John Chavis.323 The larger related point is that a truthful rendering of W&L's entire story - including the contributions of persons from varied backgrounds, experiences, races and ethnicities - could be a sizeable factor in fostering a sense of unity and ownership among all sectors of the campus. Campus climate boils down to whether a genuine sense of belonging exists, and a concerted effort to educate all students about the beginnings and development of the university — and the diversity of individuals who made those things happen — can contribute strongly to that end.
The modern W&L does not perceive the remoteness of Lexington or the smallness of the campus as a fatal impediment to touching, learning about, or experiencing the outside world. A large part of the institution's modern history has been its commitment to introducing students to issues of social justice and civic responsibility on the local, national and even international scales.
The Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability is one way in which students connect to that world. Founded in 1997 through the efforts of Professor Harlan Beckley, the program continues to integrate "thought and action in direct service to disadvantaged communities."324 The program offers courses and service opportunities to "prepare students from a variety of majors and political perspectives to work with those communities to address the problems associated with poverty."325 One student who found the Shepherd Program a seminal experience is Kara Karcher '11. Through Shepherd, she spent a summer at the House of Ruth Legal Clinic, in Baltimore, where she worked firsthand with survivors of domestic abuse. Returning to campus, she joined the Bonner Program and worked as an advocate at Project Horizon, a local shelter. After W&L, she spent two years with Teach for America as a bilingual teacher in the Rio Grande Valley on the Texas-Mexico border. She completed a master's in bilingual education at University of Texas, and, now in law school with plans to practice public interest law, she has commented, "I am forever grateful to the Shepherd Poverty Program at Washington and Lee for sparking my journey through this life-changing path."326
The School of Law also has a history of making it possible for students to work for social justice in legal clinics. These clinics, closely supervised by faculty, allow students to represent actual clients on legal problems across a spectrum of subject matter. For instance, students working in the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse assist Virginia attorneys whose clients face the death penalty; students in the Black Lung Clinic represent disabled coal miners whose respiratory illness stems from underground mining and who now seek disability benefits; and students working in the Immigrant Rights Clinic assist non-citizens in immigration matters, with "a particular focus on vulnerable populations such as refugees, unaccompanied minors, and victims of domestic violence."327 In addition, the Tax Clinic allows students to work with low-income tax payers who need representation on matters before the IRS or the Virginia Department of Taxation, while the Community Legal Practice Clinic and the Criminal Justice Clinic program serve low-income or indigent members of the local community in a variety of civil and criminal cases. Through these clinics, students gain critical perspective on the challenges and privilege of serving clients, they encounter the difficulties of effective advocacy, and they navigate courts and other venues in today's practice of law.
Through the generosity of Rupert H. Johnson Jr. '62, undergraduates have additional opportunities for growth outside of the traditional classroom. In 2008, Johnson made a historic gift of $100 million to Washington and Lee, at the time the largest single gift ever made to a liberal arts college. The gift enables the university to award tuition, room and board to 10 percent of each year's entering class. The Johnson Scholars are selected "on the basis of academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, and their potential to contribute to the intellectual and civic life of the W&L campus and of the world at large in years to come."328 The gift has been transformative; each year, it allows W&L to enroll 44 of the most promising students in the world. But the Johnson scholarships are only one part of a larger program - the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, which provides grant funding for independent summer study "across the country and around the world." Any rising junior or senior can apply for Opportunity Grants, which in the past have allowed students to engage in a broad array of projects, from shadowing surgeons in Thailand to studying sharks at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.329 These projects enable students to develop interests that may lead to choices of further academic study or lifelong careers. And when students return to Lexington from these projects, they bring a new zest to their studies and enhance campus life by sharing their experiences.
A further important component of Washington and Lee's educational mission is its emphasis on international education. A highly visible Center for International Education, recently inaugurated, "promotes global learning within, across, and beyond our campus."330 Its ambitious goals include developing students' understanding of cultural differences and global issues; introducing different frames of reference and alternate perspectives on public issues of transnational importance; assisting students seeking overseas learning opportunities; supporting faculty in overseas research and teaching; and adding to the intellectual life of the campus with a range of speakers and events. With the attitude that "the world is our classroom," the center invites students to consider the interconnectedness of the world, the nearness of other cultures, and the importance of international perspective.
These programs and academic offerings are important parts of the W&L mosaic, and they contribute strongly to the liberal arts experience of openness to new ideas and engagement in critical reflection. They have hardly replaced the traditional liberal arts disciplines, nor should they. But they complement the traditional disciplines, and offer rich opportunities to put theory into practice.
The university's history is, in important respects, the story of a community - one with a strong sense of the past but a continuing (although not always consistent) desire not to be left behind, not to stop evolving, not to stop opening its doors to new ideas and new members. It has been said that the history of Washington and Lee University parallels the history of the country itself. And so it does. Both were products of Enlightenment beliefs in free inquiry and self-governance. Both esteemed charismatic leaders, yet both valued even more the intellectually and morally striving individual. Both survived a cataclysmic Civil War that left nothing untouched: social structure, politics, economics, the legal system and human relations, those between men and women, and those between persons of different races. In the 20th and 21st centuries, in times of war and peace, as the country sought cultural unity amidst profound political differences, the university sought a balance between tradition and progress. Both have been tested in their deepest commitments, both have made mistakes, and both have found strength in dialogue and reform. None of it has been easy, but some of it has borne fruit.
After Appomattox, there was what contemporaries considered a "golden moment" — an opportunity to own up to the moral failure of slavery and to the importance of political union and personal freedom. The moment unfortunately was squandered. Perhaps in the wake of Charlottesville in 2017, and in the nation's awakening to new resolve about race and community, W&L is experiencing a similar moment of opportunity, one that should not be wasted. The commission's sense is that the university should acknowledge its past truthfully and at the same time recognize its capacity to face problems and seek solutions. The commission proposes changes in the spirit of the ongoing evolution of W&L as it seeks to fulfill its promise of "truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation."