Part II: Reflecting on the Legacy of the Past
Part II: Reflecting on the Legacy of the Past
President Dudley charged the commission to explore how Washington and Lee University's history shapes its community. The first question necessarily is, what is our history? It is an institution founded in the early 18th century with a long record of associations with public persons and events, so one would expect the university to have a well-documented, easily accessible, and widely known history. In fact, it does not. Much of its 19th-century experience, including its links to slavery, the Civil War and Robert E. Lee, is known only in bits and pieces. In addition, its 20th- and 21st-century history, including its gradual development as a top liberal arts institution with a dynamic curriculum and an ethos of personalized education, is often taken for granted.
From its contacts with the various constituencies during the outreach phase, the Commission on Institutional History and Community learned that faculty, students, staff and alumni recognize the value of truthfully telling and learning from all aspects of the school's history. The demand for more awareness was most often heard from current students. Many said that they were not prepared to account for the university's ownership of slaves; to explain why the university is named for a Confederate general; or to trace the eventual emergence of a more racially and economically diverse student body of men and women. They noted too that the lack of historical instruction allows for groups outside of the W&L community to impose their own narratives on the university and its key spaces, such as Lee Chapel and Museum. Students felt strongly that they should not graduate from one of the oldest institutions in the country without ever having seriously engaged its history and the lessons that can be drawn from it. Furthermore, the lack of formal historical instruction makes it difficult for students to distinguish fact from fiction in the telling of the W&L story.
Incorporate the university's history into its orientation program and its curriculum as a tool for examining society's challenges and better preparing graduates to face those challenges. There must be a focus on the university's 18th- and 19th-century history, including the facts about George Washington's and Robert E. Lee's involvements with the university. The university's 20th- and 21st-century history must also be part of the canon, especially its evolution as a premier liberal arts institution and its mission to prepare students for "engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society."1
Possible mechanisms for delivering the university's history to the student population:
- Compile a packet that contains a historical overview. The Office of Admissions will send it to students when they decide to attend W&L or will provide it to students once they arrive on campus. The packet will contain key elements of the university's historical narrative and copies of important primary-source documents. Small-group discussions about the contents of the packet could take place throughout the first-year experience. During Orientation Week, include programming that introduces W&L's history and makes use of information from Special Collections.
- Require each undergraduate student to take a seminar that explores W&L history, including the involvement of the namesakes, the contribution of enslaved persons, the role of W&L in the creation and dissemination of the Lost Cause narrative, the training of soldiers on campus, and the impact of our graduates on the institution and the world. The goal would be neither to mask nor to bash the university's history, but rather to tell the full story, confident that the university's positive contributions to society far outweigh its shortcomings. Alternatively, encourage faculty to offer more courses about W&L history, such as race and slavery in Rockbridge County, perhaps modeled on Professor Theodore DeLaney's current course. In the School of Law, offer a one-credit course focused on W&L and its connection to the history of civil rights and racial justice; the course would not be required, but would be open to second- and third-year law students as well as undergraduate students in the Legal Studies Program.
- During Spring Term, foster campus unity by selecting a topic or issue that the entire community explores and discusses, whether in multiple class offerings that address the topic from different angles; a speaker series that highlights different aspects of the issue; a reading club that examines the issue; or a staged public debate related to the topic.
- Digital Humanities Project: Build an active, developing database for articles, bibliographies and archival sources related to the history of the university and the people who played a role in its development.
- Create an additional, required, extended orientation meeting for first-year law students to introduce the entering class to the history of the university and its impact on the campus community. Following the format of the Virginia State Bar Law School Professionalism Program, provide a lecture for the whole class and then break out into discussion groups.
- Celebrate the first month of the new Supreme Court term (October) at the School of Law by offering a four-week series of events and speakers in Lewis Hall on aspects of university history.
Create opportunities for alumni to learn the full history of W&L through programs at chapter events, and produce video of selected footage. Knowledgeable speakers would cover a range of topics, and items from Special Collections would help tell the story. Educating W&L graduates is important. About 70 percent of incoming students have contact with graduates before or during the applications process; these alumni are well positioned to pass along accurate information about the school's background and trajectory. Educational opportunities, devised by the Alumni Office and Special Collections, could be evening programs with several speakers, each covering a time period or facet of W&L history.
Appendix C provides the beginnings of an effort to gather facts about various topics in the university's history. As noted in the introduction, the text is only a start; it does not claim to be definitive. It delves into parts of the W&L story that are not often told, yet need to be included in a full story of the university. Among topics that could be part of the orientation packet mentioned above are several from the 18th and 19th centuries (the early years of Augusta Academy/Liberty Hall; trustee John Robinson's bequest of enslaved persons to the university; and Robert E. Lee's contributions to the university as president), and several from the 20th century (the evolution of the university's efforts to diversify the faculty and student body, the decision to adopt co-education, and the development of a dynamic liberal-arts curriculum). The following pages summarize facts to be considered as the university assembles a more complete rendering of its story.
The iconic Liberty Hall ruins, overlooking the playing fields of the back campus, speak to the 18th-century history of the school, a history that is not widely known. This part of the university's story sheds light on the ambitions of the true founders and the complex social context in which the school was born.
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."2 With the goal of preparing boys for college and the Presbyterian ministry, Alexander headed the school until the early 1760s.3 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.4 Witherspoon influenced the political philosophy of the country's founding generation, strongly articulating "his anti-tyrannical and anti-English roots in defense of American freedom."5 During his tenure as president of the College of New Jersey, Witherspoon tutored free black men to prepare them for the ministry. He was also a slaveholder.6 In Witherspoon, then, we see the "contradictions between a revolution dedicated to liberty and an economic system based on forced labor."7 In the South, Witherspoon's family and descendants did much to advance education by building great institutions of higher learning. But scholars have highlighted the fact that they "built their lives and wealth on a foundation of slavery."8
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.9 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.10 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.11 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.12 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.13 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.14 For years, Washington had been interested in developing a river route linking the Atlantic to regions of Ohio and Kentucky.15 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."16 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.17
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."18 When he selected Liberty Hall to receive the gift in 1796, the trustees renamed the school Washington Academy. In 1813, they changed the name to Washington College.19
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."20
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 54 years.21 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 people 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."22 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."23 But though he acknowledged slavery's evil, he chose to tolerate it throughout his life.
As for Graham, it is unknown whether he was a slave owner. 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.24 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.
Establish the fall Convocation as University Day. This will celebrate the opening of the academic year; explore the past, present and future of the university; and reflect on the university's core values and ideals. University Day would replace Founders Day in January, which is currently tied to the university's namesakes rather than the full history of the university. The Omicron Delta Kappa Convocation would remain in January.
Use existing and future research generated from course work, exhibitions and lectures to update university web pages and further reflect university history. Pages that would benefit from updates include History & Traditions FAQ for the First-Year Experience; History and Traditions web pages under About W&L; and History of Washington and Lee's Presidents.
In 2015, President Kenneth Ruscio oversaw the placement, between Robinson and Tucker halls, of a historical marker entitled "A Difficult, Yet Undeniable History." The marker recognizes the enslaved men and women owned by Washington College in the 19th century. A full rendition of W&L's history should acknowledge that in 1826, "Jockey" John Robinson left his estate to the college, consisting of 73 enslaved women, children and men, as well as a large farm on the James River.25 The 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."26
Robinson's bequests helped the financially suffering college. In 1825, the college had a mere 65 students and a "diminished bank account."27 Proceeds from the sale of the Robinson 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."28 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, and there is documentation that the college still owned three elderly, incapacitated individuals in 1857. "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."29
Rename Robinson Hall, as further explained in Part II, Section V of the report.
Improve and expand recognition of the contributions to the university of enslaved persons, including those in the Robinson bequest. Improve the space that commemorates those in the Robinson bequest and erect a more prominent monument than the existing marker.
Invest in continued research to explore contributions of enslaved persons to the university. Hire a genealogist to complete the research on descendants of the Robinson enslaved persons. In addition, hire a two-year post-doctoral fellow to complete additional research, including the history of enslaved persons who were not part of the Robinson bequest and the 20th-century black experience at W&L.
Take action when the genealogist identifies descendants of enslaved persons owned by Washington College. It is premature to be prescriptive or comprehensive on what follows this research, but options for future consideration include: Establishing an education fund to support a descendant's secondary or collegiate education, payable to a school to be attended by the descendant; creating an annual community project in the region settled by the descendants, similar to the Lexington programs now assisted by the university's Community Grants Program; hosting a gathering on campus that provides an opportunity for descendants to meet and learn more about the results of the genealogist's and post-doctoral fellow's research; and sponsoring a series of lectures and activities on reconciliation and memorialization, with topics including the trans-Atlantic slave trade, enslavement, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the civil rights era, and the connection to a contemporary and intersectional analysis of race, gender, sexuality, economic inequality and equity.
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.30 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."31
Ruffner also espoused the end of slavery in western Virginia. A slaveholder himself,32 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.33 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."34 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."35 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.36 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.37 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.38 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."39 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.40 For Junkin, "the Union was more important than the values of antislavery."41 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."42
Ironically, some of the greatest gaps in knowledge among the W&L constituencies involve the life and historical setting of the man whose image mostly pervades the university, Robert E. Lee. What are the undisputed facts of his career as warrior and educator? How is this namesake of the university to be regarded? The university's account of Lee's life and era is surprisingly thin, left largely to one part of one course in the College and lectures by outside speakers.
Lee is best known as a career military man who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in the U.S. Army for three decades,43 eventually renounced his loyalty to the Union, and led the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War. His military career, though it precedes his time at Washington College, has importance for a full understanding of the experience, mind and values of one of the university's namesakes.
An important, lesser-known aspect of Lee's life is that he owned slaves. He and his two brothers inherited 30 enslaved persons from their mother in 1829.44 They divided the bequest, and Robert "hired out some of his slaves and probably sold others," so that by 1835 "he retained only one of the original number," a woman whom Lee sent to his father-in-law (G.W. Parke Custis) to work on the Custis plantation in Virginia.45 When Custis died, Lee was named executor; the will bequeathed at least 150 enslaved persons to Custis's heirs (including Lee's wife).46 Lee's task was to pay Custis's debts and close out the estate. Lee maintained that the terms of the will were to emancipate the slaves within five years; some of the slaves thought Lee was to have emancipated them sooner.47 There were allegations, denied by Lee, of his forcibly rounding up escaped slaves and punishing them severely.48 When his job as executor concluded, Lee left the world of the plantation and returned to the Army.49 Students exposed to this story will have much to ponder and discuss about humanity, morality, economics, responsibility and the meaning of duty.
After Fort Sumter, having turned down command of the U.S. forces, Lee accepted command of the Virginia forces and eventually served as general-in-chief of all Confederate forces.50 After initial criticism for timidity,51 he won near adulation from his troops for his leadership at the Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas, and Chancellorsville.52 A horrific battle -- the Battle of the Crater -- ended in execution of a division of United States Colored Troops who had already surrendered to Confederate forces.53 One historian notes that the shocking slaughter "had to have been known to the commanding general,"54 and questions how Lee's silence afterwards could be reconciled with a concept of honor. In 1865, after the crushing defeat at Gettysburg and Union conquests of Richmond and Petersburg, Lee's choices were to surrender or to keep fighting through guerrilla actions. His decision to surrender to Grant at Appomattox brought the war to an end.55 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."56
The circumstances of Lee's presidency of Washington College decision are central to understanding why the trustees later added Lee to the name of the school. Lee accepted the leadership of Washington College in 1865. The war had reduced the number of students to 40.57 The college was "perilously in debt" and had not paid faculty salaries in years.58 It had degenerated into little more than a struggling prep school.59 Lee encouraged a new sense of the purpose of higher education in the South. He believed that "education could in fact prepare young people for life in the world, beyond service to church or state."60 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.61 With an insistence on academic excellence, the plan provided that the new curriculum would include traditional, social-science, and pre-professional courses.62 He incorporated a local law school into the institution. In 1868, the trustees added four chairs, and in 1869 two more.63 The college received impressive financial gifts, and the student body quadrupled by 1870,64 with students hailing from 22 states.65
Lee is often associated with the college's Honor System, and some claim that he founded it. However, the Honor System preceded Lee's term as president. The university states that "the earliest evidence of an academic Honor System dates back to the 1840s."66 Faculty meeting minutes refer to an honor system in 1850, and research by Professor John Gunn indicates that, while the faculty likely administered the system at its outset, primary responsibility for administering it shifted to the student body after the 1857-58 academic year.67 On Lee's arrival seven years later, he "did not impose a full-fledged, formal honor code on the campus" but endorsed a standard of conduct.68 He "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."69 After 1867, it appears that exclusive responsibility for administering the system passed to the student body.70 Thirty-five years after Lee's death, in 1905, "its administration was placed in the newly formed Executive Committee of the Student Body."71 A century later, the system remains strong. President John Wilson attributed its durability to 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 it because it's happening every night in study rooms or in the library or wherever the temptation to take a shortcut might found and is resisted."72
The conduct of some Washington College students was in question after the opening in 1866 of a Freedmen's Bureau in Lexington.73 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, including education. 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.74 Two documented racial confrontations led to violence.75 While Lee "apparently dismissed the worst offenders," disciplinary measures against others were weak, and "the provocations did not end."76
Some of Lee's time was spent outside of Lexington in the public arena. In February 1866, the 39th Congress's Joint Committee on Reconstruction summoned Lee to Capitol Hill to testify as a witness.77 Congress wanted to "gauge the disposition of former Confederates toward the federal government," which was then debating Reconstruction issues, including full citizenship for black Americans.78 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."79 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."80 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.81
Lee died of a stroke in October 1870. Within weeks, the trustees announced that the new president would be 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.82 Thirteen years later, an addition to the rear of the chapel was opened to the public, and at its center was a statue of the recumbent general, asleep on a battlefield.83 This was the start of the chapel's fame as "the shrine of the South."84 Many saw the chapel and statue as icons of the Lost Cause, their term for an idealized Southern civilization that they said had been lost in the Civil War.85 The Lost Cause narrative absolved slavery of a causal role in the war, and equated Lee to a "priest of his people."86 The causes and effects of this portrayal of history are vividly illuminated by the chapel itself, a unique space with great potential (though largely unrealized) to benefit students seeking to learn about the Civil War, its aftermath, and its present-day effects.
If we return to the earlier question, "How should Lee be regarded?" we can see that Lee's priority as president was to create a serious educational program undertaken in a spirit of regard for personal integrity and honesty. It was designed to give young men the skills to contribute to a war-torn society that needed rebuilding in every sense. Although Lee had this practical vision for the education of young whites, he "never made the transformational leap that would recognize the fundamental human nature of the slaves."87 On slavery, he accepted "an elaborate middle ground that acknowledged its faults but justified its existence."88 Washington and Lee University has an opportunity to encourage students to make the "transformational leap" that Lee did not make. Among its many goals, a liberal arts education can prompt reflection on how individuals can expand the set of their deepest loyalties and concerns.
To ensure the credibility of the Honor System and to follow the concerns of students, faculty and staff presented in outreach sessions, relocate the honor orientation and the signing of the Honor Book from the chapel, and give references to Lee in the White Book a more proportionate place in the text.
Refer to Robert E. Lee as "President Lee" rather than "General Lee," including in formal documents, on the website, and the like.
The layers of W&L's 19th-century experience have tended to crowd out its modern story. The contributions of the university's founders and presidents do not compose the university's entire story. The school's modern experience -- of struggle and of gradual but steady progress as an academic institution and community -- is also rich and essential information.
At the start of the 20th century, the university "was hardly a bastion of social reform or racial progress,"89 and it came late to integration in the 1960s. The university had taken the road of silence, watching while peer schools either decided to open admissions to black students or moved in that direction.90 The first two African-American students at W&L (other than John Chavis two centuries earlier) arrived in 1966.91 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 one another."92 Additional initiatives in the late 1990s and the early 2000s sought increased funding for recruitment of African-American faculty and students. Despite sporadic gains, President Dudley in 2017 wrote to alumni: "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."93 Today, the Strategic Planning Committee's Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion has made a number of strong proposals for 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.94 Expected in 2018-19 is a Center for Multicultural Enrichment, envisioned as a "much-needed hub of activity," to be located in Elrod Commons.
A second story of 20th-century struggle and change in opening up the W&L community took place in the early 1980s, at the start of John Wilson's presidency, when the university debated whether to admit women as undergraduates.95 For nine months, all constituencies focused on the question. In a debate both thorough and impassioned, proponents of coeducation argued that the admission of women was critical to maintaining the school's quality, while opponents said it would change the school unalterably.96 In mid-July 1984, the trustees voted to adopt coeducation, and the first classes of women were soon admitted. A review committee 10 years later concluded that coeducation was "proceeding well": enrollment was up, applications had more than doubled, average SAT scores were almost 100 points higher, and retention to graduation had increased.97 The number of full-time faculty women rose from six to 18.98 Today, most related questions deal with issues of equality. For example, do women and men have similar senses of ownership of the school? Are they participating in social and political life in equal ways? Invariably, the dominant Greek culture enters the dialogue. Are there alternative spaces for students, women and men alike, who seek them? Additional questions ripe for review concern gender diversity in faculty and administration.99
A third story of the modern age is the richness of the W&L academic experience, particularly the wealth and creativity of curricular choices, the vitality of offerings in the four-week Spring Term, and the outstanding quality of teaching across the university. The opportunities for service learning, interdisciplinary seminars, and international education are plentiful, and the clinical programs in the School of Law are nationally recognized. It appears that Washington and Lee University has reached a level of recognition directly attributable to the faculty's wise pedagogy, both in and out of the classroom. The history of the effective teaching at W&L embraces many styles and strategies, some reliant on technology, others reliant on the old-fashioned blackboard, still others based on travel, role-playing, or intensive primary research. The greatness of the educational experience at W&L is itself a story of diversity, trial and error, frustration, success and innovation. Telling the story of the classroom is an important means of explaining how this institution works at ground zero -- and ultimately how the students learn to teach themselves.
Implement proposals from strategic planning, including the Multicultural Center; a cluster-hiring initiative for faculty; a Diversity Cabinet; additional financial resources dedicated to recruiting and enrolling diverse undergraduate and law students; and need-blind admissions.
Explore opportunities to encourage students from traditionally underrepresented groups to pursue a career in the legal profession beginning with a legal education at W&L, and fund a position for a law student diversity and inclusion (LDI) counselor.
Explore the establishment of an exchange program with Minority Serving Institutions and consider giving incentives to the partner institutions to encourage their participation.
Approve the School of Law's proposal for creation of a Center on Civil Rights and Racial Justice. This will be an interdisciplinary center, involving students and faculty from the College, the Williams School, and the School of Law. On a campus that tends to look to the past for its ideals and values, this center will be forward-looking in the sense of seeking new ways of thinking about justice and equality in the 21st century. Participants will take part in cutting-edge research, policy advocacy, other forms of writing, and civil rights litigation in Virginia and around the country. The center's work will engage the expertise of various disciplines, taking a strong liberal arts approach to thinking collaboratively and responding imaginatively to contemporary issues. Its function in the educational program of the university will be to teach and to allow reflection on the modern justice system, the role of the courts, human rights, and the intersection of political, social, and legal thought.
Expand the university's knowledge of the 20th-century experience of black students and faculty at Washington and Lee. There are no individual histories of the young men who integrated the university. The first black students - Leslie Smith '69L, Linwood Smothers '72 and Walter Blake '72 - have already died, as have Smith's brother, Bobby Smith '74, John White '74, John Evans '76, Ernest L. Freeman III '75, Donald A. Willis '75L, Rodney Hubbard '74, Gary Avery '74 and Phillip Hutcheson '74. It is vital to collect oral histories of black alumni who are still alive and willing to be interviewed.
Create a Summer Liberal Arts Institute to provide an interdisciplinary summer experience for middle school or high school students (whether from Lexington, elsewhere in the country, or abroad) to visit, engage and learn about the best that the university has to offer.