2016-2017 University Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2016-2017 University Catalog archived

General Information

An Introduction to Washington and Lee

About this Catalog

This Washington and Lee University catalog presents essential information about the University—its character, heritage, and objectives; its academic programs and degree requirements; its student life and extracurricular activities; its admissions requirements and procedures; its costs and financial aid programs; some of its rules and regulations; its campus and community setting; its facilities for helping students plan their academic program wisely, reach maturity gracefully, and choose careers properly.

It also contains, in detail, descriptions of the University’s existing courses of instruction, registration procedures, a listing of its personnel and students, and other information used primarily by students and their faculty advisers in planning academic programs. This book should enable prospective students to decide whether or not Washington and Lee is the college for them, whether they might qualify for admission, benefit from its programs, and fulfill its high aspirations for their success in life.

Caution: The course offerings, requirements and policies of Washington and Lee University are under continual examination and revision. This catalog is not a contract; it merely presents the offerings, requirements and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements and policies will not change. For the most up-to-date version of this catalog, go to catalog.wlu.edu/.

The regulations set forth in the catalog form the basis for all academic performance; however, the regulations are subject to change at the discretion of the faculty. Faculty members are available for conference and advice, but the individual student assumes full responsibility for compliance with all academic requirements. (Please see Changes in Catalog Information).

Additional Policies and Procedures: Not all University policies and procedures affecting students are described in this catalog. For further information, please refer to the Student Handbook.

Non-Discrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity Statement: In compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and all other applicable non-discrimination laws, Washington and Lee University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran’s status, or genetic information in its educational programs and activities, admissions, and with regard to employment. Inquiries may be directed to Lauren Kozak, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, Elrod Commons 307, (540) 458-4055, kozakl@wlu.edu, who is designated by the university to coordinate compliance efforts and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX, as well as those under Section 504 and other applicable non-discrimination laws.

The Coordinator has designated the following Title IX Assistant Coordinators:

  • Employment – Mary E. Main, Executive Director of Human Resources, Two South Main 109, (540) 458-8920, mmain@wlu.edu; and
  • Gender Equity in Athletics – Elizabeth Knapp, Associate Provost and Director of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, Washington Hall 217, (540) 458-8705, knappe@wlu.edu.

Inquiries may also be directed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.

An Introduction to Washington and Lee

Mission Statement

(Approved May 2008)

Washington and Lee University 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 lifelong learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.

Statement of Philosophy

(Approved May 1988)

Washington and Lee University has two preeminent objectives: to dedicate all its resources to developing in its students the capacity and desire to learn, to understand, and to share the fruits of their intellectual growth, and to pursue its educational mission in a climate of learning that stresses the importance of the individual, personal honor and integrity, harmonious relationships with others, and the responsibility to serve society through the productive use of talent and training. Independent, non-sectarian, and privately endowed, it comprises three divisions, one graduate—the School of Law—and two undergraduate—The College and the School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. With a rich heritage from the past and a history spanning more than two centuries, the University has a profound sense of tradition, but it likewise has a firm commitment to the ideal embodied in its motto, non incautus futuri, and therefore remains responsive to changes and innovations that contribute to the realization of its aims.

Convinced that it helps to meet a vital need in American higher education by offering undergraduate preparation in the arts and sciences of the highest possible quality, Washington and Lee provides a program that demands both broad exposure to the principal areas of human knowledge and intensive exploration of a single field or discipline. It requires competence in the use of English and familiarity with a second language; appreciation of the values of the human experience as derived from a study of the liberal arts and the social sciences; mastery of the rudiments of mathematical reasoning and understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry; and, in keeping with the ancient idea of mens sana in corpore sano, development of physical fitness and dexterity. It further requires completion of a major, in one of more than 30 subjects, designed to enable the student to explore in depth a significant body of knowledge and to grow in mental discipline and the capacity to deal with complex ideas and issues. The curriculum as a whole is both broad and exceptionally open to applied work, as in business, journalism, and engineering science. Through the regimen of general and concentrated studies the University seeks to encourage originality and creativity and to nurture all the qualities of a liberally educated mind, among them intellectual curiosity and unbiased judgment, critical and analytical power, clarity of thought and precision of language, patience and open-mindedness, and love of excellence and desire to understand the world in which we live.

The University recognizes teaching as its central function. It believes that the personal association of its students with a highly qualified and motivated faculty holds the greatest promise of inspiring in them a respect and thirst for knowledge that will continue throughout their lives. It seeks, therefore, to organize its instructional program in small classes and to encourage personal attention and a close relationship between teacher and student. It recognizes, too, that a faculty of eminent teacher-scholars is essential to the achievement of its educational purposes and to the success of its academic programs. Accordingly, it seeks to maintain a faculty of men and women who gladly accept the challenge to teach effectively and whose scholarship and professional development are vigorous and growing, and it endeavors to compensate its teacher-scholars in ways appropriate to their training, skill, experience, and effectiveness in aiding the development of their students. Moreover, because it recognizes research, scholarly investigation, and creative achievement as proper companions to the most effective teaching processes, Washington and Lee attempts to provide ways and means by which its faculty members may pursue their scholarly and creative interests and by which its students may be properly introduced to the tools, techniques, and methodology used to increase knowledge and understanding and stimulated to become involved themselves in the process of generating knowledge.

Washington and Lee is selective in its enrollment of students. It chooses young men and women with the highest qualities of intellect, character, and the promise of future achievement, and it seeks to create a student body that is geographically, socially, and economically diverse but unified as “an aristocracy of talent.” It imposes no other barriers to admission. For all those qualified to undertake its exacting degree programs the University seeks to render whatever financial assistance may be needed for their enrollment.

Through an effective program of self-government Washington and Lee attempts to involve its students in responsible participation in the affairs of the University. It grants considerable autonomy to them in the governance of their own affairs and the management of clubs and social organizations, and, through such means as Omicron Delta Kappa, founded on the campus and annually recognized at a University convocation, it seeks to encourage the development of the capacity for leadership that traditionally has been a distinguishing trait of Washington and Lee graduates. More important still, it gives to the student body final responsibility for the Honor System, which has been a powerful and central force throughout the University from its very beginning during the Lee presidency, which rests on the fundamental principle that a spirit of trust pervades all aspects of student life. Finally, aware of the great men whose names it bears, the University seeks to develop in its students the qualities of mind and spirit they exemplified and demonstrated in their regard for personal honor and integrity, for duty, for tolerance and humility, and for self-sacrifice in behalf of their fellow citizens.

Because it believes that student activity outside the classroom may contribute as much to self-fulfillment as that inside, the University devotes a substantial part of its resources to enhancing the intellectual and artistic life of the campus at large and providing extensive athletic and recreational programs. From both special and general endowments, it funds a wide variety of lectures by distinguished visiting speakers, and it supports a rich array of programs and exhibits in music, drama, film, painting, and sculpture. Insofar as its location and resources allow, it seeks to establish itself as a center of intellect and culture extending beyond the boundaries of its campus, bringing both direct and indirect benefits to the surrounding community and providing a series of summer programs that attract executives, business families, elderly citizens, and alumni from all parts of the country. In athletics it emphasizes the development of the student-athlete and maintains a balanced program in a broad range of both intercollegiate and intramural sports and encourages the use of its recreational facilities for individual and group exercise.

To determine how well it achieves its aims the University engages in almost continuous self-examination. The Board of Trustees regularly reviews through its standing committees the policies governing the life of the University, modifying them when there is good reason to do so. At the departmental level, course offerings and major requirements are regularly reexamined for the purpose of improving academic programs. Each year virtually every aspect of the University comes under some form of review by standing and ad hoc committees addressing various questions and making recommendations, or by members of the faculty and administration drafting grant proposals for financial assistance. From alumni, both individually and corporately in a board of directors and regional chapters, come comments and suggestions for further strengthening of the University. It is in these alumni, in fact, and in their achievements, their loyalty, and their generosity that the University finds the primary evidence of its success in reaching its goals.

The Honor System

Honor is the moral cornerstone of Washington and Lee University. Commitment to honor is recognized by every student, faculty member, administrator, and staff member of the University. Honor provides the common thread woven through the many aspects of this institution and creates a community of trust and respect that fundamentally affects the relationships of all its members.

The centrality of honor at Washington and Lee is contained in its Honor System. The Board of Trustees has granted to students the privilege of overseeing the administration of the Honor System. This privilege includes the responsibilities of (1) defining dishonorable acts that the current student generation views as breaches of the community’s trust; (2) investigating possible violations of the Honor System; (3) administering closed hearings where possible Honor Violations are suspected; (4) writing and revising the White Book, the Honor System policy and procedures manual; and (5) reporting directly to the Board of Trustees on the administration of the Honor System. The sole penalty for an Honor System violation is dismissal from the University. These responsibilities are administered by the Executive Committee of the Student Body, a group of students elected annually by their peers.

Academic life is shaped by the University’s commitment to honor. Assuming that students will behave honorably, the faculty grants flexibility in the scheduling of most final examinations, and all are taken without supervision. Take-home, closed book examinations are a common occurrence. The pledge, “On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unacknowledged aid on this (exam, test, paper, etc.),” expresses the student’s promise that the work submitted is his or hers alone. Students’ dedication to honorable behavior creates a strong bond of trust among them and between them and the faculty. This student dedication and the bond that it engenders also provide the basis for the faculty’s commitment to accepting a student’s word without question.

Dedication to behave honorably is not confined to academic life. It is expected that students will respect each other’s word and intellectual and personal property in the residence halls and the Greek houses, on the playing field, in the city of Lexington, and wherever Washington and Lee students take themselves. This principled expectation provides the foundation for the community of trust at Washington and Lee, not only in the academic sphere but in life outside it as well.

The Honor System has been the central feature of life at Washington and Lee University for well over a century. Thousands of students have lived under it while in residence, have been morally shaped by it and, as alumni and alumnae, continue to be guided by it in their professional lives. Current students are as committed to it as were those who lived and studied here before them, and they maintain with firm conviction this distinctive ideal of the University.


“Plagiarism” describes the use of another’s words, figures, or ideas without proper acknowledgment. The students of Washington and Lee University have considered plagiarism a violation of the Honor System; therefore, all forms of plagiarism including Internet plagiarism are taken very seriously. Students at Washington and Lee must be aware of the nature of plagiarism. Plagiarism takes many forms, including the wholesale copying of phrases, diagrams, or texts, or the use of ideas without indicating the source. Certain facts must also be properly acknowledged. Examples of possible plagiarism can be found in the Executive Committee’s Plagiarism Pamphlet. This is available to the entire W&L community on the Executive Committee’s website, http://www2.wlu.edu/x48224.xml. In addition, Leyburn Library has a helpful site on avoiding plagiarism: go.wlu.edu/plagiarism.

Commitment to Diversity

(Approved by the Board of Trustees, May 17, 2002)

With a rich heritage from the past and a history spanning more than two centuries, Washington and Lee University has a profound sense of tradition, but it likewise has a firm commitment to the ideal embodied in its motto, non incautus futuri, and therefore remains responsive to changes and innovations that contribute to the realizations of its aim. As we enter the 21st century, the members of our community need to live with and understand different cultural backgrounds in preparation for a changing world.

To that end, Washington and Lee University commits itself to the recruitment and retention of a broad, inclusive student body, faculty, and administration who represent a wide range of interests, abilities, and cultures—a diverse array of talent. The University will strengthen a curriculum that increases knowledge, awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusiveness, and will create a climate that builds on our core values to welcome and nurture all members of the Washington and Lee community. Just as a vibrant liberal arts education in the classroom challenges attitudes, beliefs and accepted ways of thinking, the interaction outside the classroom of individuals with different perspectives strengthens our educational enterprise.

Philosophy and Characteristics

Washington and Lee’s curriculum and cocurricular activities are broad and flexible enough to enable students to realize their personal goals and to lay the foundation for a useful and rewarding life.

In the pursuit of these objectives, Washington and Lee, for more than 250 years of American history, has settled on what it knows to be conditions of excellence. These conditions, listed below, are those that have made Washington and Lee respected as a place of learning, a place unique and apart in the national educational scene.

Washington and Lee is small. While there is no virtue in smallness itself, experience has shown that it does encourage close personal relationships between students and professors and among the students themselves. An atmosphere of friendliness and respect prevails throughout the University. No student is lost in the crowd or becomes a victim of assembly-line education.

Washington and Lee emphasizes personal honor and integrity. No one attends the University without becoming aware of new dimensions of those qualities. Accordingly, students are given a large measure of freedom in governing their own affairs. Students are responsible for student disciplinary matters; establish their own rules for the conduct of dormitory life; and are active members with faculty on University committees. The Honor System, which is an enduring and distinctive feature of student life, is administered entirely by elected student officials. Students take examinations without supervision; their word is respected. The same code of honor that governs academic life guides personal life. Washington and Lee, in the words of Robert E.R. Huntley, W&L’s president from 1968 to 1983, “confidently entrusts the largest possible measure of choice and freedom to its students and its faculty, requiring conformity of no one, prizing an environment in which tolerance, integrity, and respect for others tend to prevent misidentifying independence of thought with lack of self-discipline or humorless contempt.”

Washington and Lee strives for intellectual distinction. Its steady purpose is to be one of the nation’s great teaching colleges. Research is encouraged as part of the learning and teaching process, not as a substitute for it. Ideally, the University believes, teaching and research cannot, and should not, be separated. Washington and Lee fosters an academic community in which both teachers and students constantly learn—in classrooms and laboratories, in private research, in the informal give-and-take of extemporaneous discussions. With access to extensive collections of books, modern and sophisticated equipment, and expert guidance, students have unusual opportunities for research. Nonetheless, teaching undergraduates is the primary function of the Washington and Lee faculty. All students are taught by professors, not by teaching assistants or graduate students.

Washington and Lee maintains a strong faculty. Virtually all of the University’s professors hold the Ph.D. degree or an equivalent earned doctoral degree, and all faculty members are active in continuing self-development as scholars and teachers. The University gives priority to the retention of a faculty of the highest merit.

Washington and Lee emphasizes the liberal arts and sciences. Whatever the particular goal of individual students may be, the University constantly strives to extend their range of knowledge and human understanding beyond the limits of their specialty. Washington and Lee’s curriculum stresses the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences and their relationship to professional studies. The University is also committed to the importance of international learning and the ideal of global stewardship. The aim of the curriculum is to free the mind, lead to understanding, create humility and tolerance, and afford a basis for continuing study and learning. Under the guidance of faculty advisers, students receive extensive freedom in choosing courses of study. Breadth is the aim of the first two years of work; mastery of a particular study is the aim of the work of the junior and senior years. Students may also take part in one of the University’s special programs that span several academic disciplines.

Washington and Lee enjoys freedom from outside control. The University is a privately endowed institution, governed by the Board of Trustees, which has no more than 40 members. Free of any control of church or state, the University is dedicated to the democratic form of social organization, to the dignity of the individual, and to the ancient freedoms, particularly to liberty of the mind with its attendant right of inquiry. Hence, the University can chart its own course, consistent with the highest educational standards, its traditions, and its aims of service to humankind.

Washington and Lee recruits a diverse student body, representing broad geographic, social, and economic cross sections of the nation and the world. The balance between students from various regions of the United States remains fairly equal. Striving to achieve economic and social diversity among its students, the University seeks and admits students of all racial, ethnic, educational, and religious backgrounds and welcomes students from around the world. The University has found that the size or type of secondary schools from which students come has little bearing on their success at Washington and Lee, provided they are well prepared and motivated. Economic backgrounds of students vary widely, and the University is able to meet the full demonstrated need of all admitted students.


Washington and Lee University’s rich historical heritage is embodied in the very name it bears today. It is an institution that has been touched and shaped by important men, women, and moments in American history.

In 1749, Scots-Irish pioneers who had migrated deep into the Valley of Virginia founded a small classical school called Augusta Academy, some 20 miles north of what is now Lexington. In 1776, the trustees, fired by patriotism, changed the name of the school to Liberty Hall. Four years later the school was moved to the vicinity of Lexington, where in 1782 it was chartered as Liberty Hall Academy by the Virginia legislature and empowered to grant degrees. A limestone building, erected in 1793 on the crest of a ridge overlooking Lexington, burned in 1803. The University preserves its ruins today as a symbol of the institution’s honored past.

In 1796, George Washington gave struggling Liberty Hall an endowment gift valued at $20,000—at that time the largest gift ever made to a private educational institution in America. The gift saved the school from possible oblivion and remains a part of the University’s endowment today. Thus all Washington and Lee students can say that Washington’s gift helps pay a part of the cost of their education every year.

In 1798, the trustees expressed their gratitude to Washington by changing the name of the school, first to Washington Academy and later to Washington College. By then, the college was established on its current grounds. The Virginia Society of the Cincinnati and the estate of John Robinson provided additional endowment. These gifts, added to Washington’s, formed the principal financial foundation of the college until the presidency of Robert E. Lee.

In 1865, the trustees offered the Washington College presidency to Lee, an offer he initially hesitated to accept, fearing his name, inevitably linked in the world’s mind with his leadership of the Confederate army, “might draw upon the College a feeling of hostility” in a time of bitter factionalism. On the repeated urging of the trustees, and after turning down many offers of high positions, both at home and abroad, Lee accepted the invitation. In the end, his motivation had been as simple as it was characteristic. From this vantage point he would undertake his final and most successful campaign, the revision of a college and a curriculum dedicated to the spiritual and material reconstruction of the South and, of equal importance to him, the reunification of a divided and embittered people.

Lee was president for only five years, but he proved himself one of the most farsighted educators of the 19th century. By greatly expanding the range of instruction at Washington College, he transformed it into a national institution, a place where young men of both the North and the South studied together in harmony and unity.

Lee instituted a limited electives program while broadening the science offerings. In 1866, he was instrumental in affiliating the Lexington Law School with the college and, in 1870, the School of Law became one of the regular divisions of the college. He instituted programs in business instruction that led directly in 1906 to the establishment of the third major branch of the University, the School of Commerce and Administration (renamed the School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics in 1969 and, in 1995, the Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics). He inaugurated courses in journalism, which developed by 1925 into the School of Journalism, which is now the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. These courses in business and journalism were the first offered in colleges in the United States.

Because of his influence and the esteem in which he was held throughout the nation, Lee was able to enlarge the financial resources of the college. Cyrus H. McCormick, the inventor of the reaper and a native of the Lexington area, was among the first to contribute. Other contributors included Warren Newcomb, a New Orleans businessman; Thomas P. Scott, a former assistant secretary of war under Lincoln; George Peabody, a Massachusetts philanthropist; Henry Ward Beecher; and Samuel J. Tilden.

Lee died on October 12, 1870, and early the next year the trustees changed the name of the institution to that which it bears today: Washington and Lee University. Also in 1871, Lee’s son, G.W. Custis Lee, succeeded his father in the presidency and served for 26 years.

The development of the University quickened under succeeding administrations and continues today. New buildings were erected and old ones modernized. Standards of scholarship were raised, the curriculum expanded and modernized, the faculty strengthened, and the endowment increased. Indeed, with the exception of the World War II years, which dislocated life on every American campus, Washington and Lee has maintained its momentum.

Like so many institutions of higher education, Washington and Lee was historically all-male. The School of Law became coeducational in 1972 and, in July 1984, the University’s Board of Trustees completed a comprehensive, yearlong study by voting to extend coeducation to the two undergraduate divisions. The first women undergraduates enrolled in the fall of 1985.

Washington and Lee University observed its 250th anniversary with a yearlong, national celebration during the 1998-99 academic year.

Since the incorporation of the institution in 1782, its presidents have been: William Graham (1782-1796); Samuel Legrand Campbell (1797-1799); George Addison Baxter (1799-1829); Louis Marshall (1830-1834); Henry Vethake (1834-1836); Henry Ruffner (1836-1848); George Junkin (1848-1861); Robert Edward Lee (1865-1870); George Washington Custis Lee (1871-1897); William Lyne Wilson (1897-1900); Henry St. George Tucker (Acting, 1900-1901); George Hutcheson Denny (1901-1911); Henry Donald Campbell and John Lyle Campbell (Acting, 1911-1912); Henry Louis Smith (1912-1929); Robert Henry Tucker (Acting, 1930); Francis Pendleton Gaines (1930-1959); Fred Carrington Cole (1959-1967); William Webb Pusey III (Acting, 1967-1968); Robert Edward Royall Huntley (1968-1983); John Delane Wilson (1983-1995); John William Elrod (1995-2001); Howard Laurent Boetsch Jr. (Acting, 2001-2002); Thomas Gerard Burish (2002-2005); Harlan Ray Beckley (Acting, 2005-2006); Kenneth Patrick Ruscio (2006-present).


Washington and Lee is located in Lexington, Virginia, a historic city of about 7,000 people in the central part of the Great Valley of Virginia. The city is 50 miles northeast of Roanoke, 50 miles northwest of Lynchburg, and 36 miles southwest of Staunton.

Lexington is just off Interstates 81 and 64 and at the intersection of U.S. Highways 11 and 60. The Roanoke, Virginia, airport is about 45 minutes, via Interstate 81, from Lexington. Washington, D.C., is approximately three hours away.

Accreditations and Approvals

Washington and Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Juris Doctor, and Master of Laws. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404.679.4500 for questions about the accreditation of Washington and Lee University.

The Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics is accredited by AACSB International: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The School of Law is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is approved by the American Bar Association.

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communications is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The Department of Chemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training.

Washington and Lee University is approved for veterans’ education by the Virginia Department of Education.

The Rockbridge Teacher Education Consortium, which represent a collaboration between Washington and Lee University and Southern Virginia University, is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and approved by the Virginia Department of Education to offer course work that leads to certification in Teacher Education.

Academic Objectives

Academic responsibilities come first at Washington and Lee. Courses of study are arranged so that intelligent young men and women who are willing to work—and to work hard—can prepare to attain their goals, whatever those goals may be.

In their undergraduate years at Washington and Lee, students should master much basic knowledge; they should learn to think deliberately, critically, and analytically; they should develop new powers of reasoning; and they should learn where and how to find answers to questions and to solve problems. As a result, students should be prepared to go on to graduate or professional school or to begin their life’s work immediately. In either case, they should acquire the passion for learning which will serve them and sustain them throughout life. Generations of successful Washington and Lee graduates attest to this fact, for they may be found in positions of leadership in all phases of human endeavor.

The College

The College departments and programs represent the liberal arts core of the University, ranging from the fine arts, the humanities, certain social sciences, journalism and mass communications to the natural and physical sciences, computer science, and mathematics.

The College provides the essentials of a liberal education to all undergraduates before they select their major field of study, and offers courses and majors leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. The faculty of The College encourage and mentor independent scholarly work and offer opportunities for collaborative and independent research over the summer. The College curriculum also offers courses that prepare students for advanced professional training in engineering, journalism, law, and health.

All W&L students begin their careers in The College, and are advised by faculty members as they select their courses for their first year and sophomore year. Students typically enroll in courses that fulfill the University Foundation and Distribution Requirements, designed to introduce students to the full range of the liberal arts and sciences and to prepare them to make informed decisions about their advanced coursework and major.

A student may elect to complete one or two minors in addition to a major, or may complete two majors, or even complete two different degrees. Interdepartmental majors are available to provide emphasis in a field, such as Environmental Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Neuroscience, or Russian Area Studies, rather than in a single department. Students may also design their own major in Independent Work, leading to either a B.A. or B.S., with the guidance of faculty advisers and the approval of the Committee on Courses and Degrees.

The Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

The Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics consists of the Departments of Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, and Politics and is housed in Huntley Hall and Holekamp Hall. The Williams School offers the Bachelor of Science degree with Special Attainments in Commerce and the Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in economics and politics. Students majoring in the Williams School are encouraged to also enroll in courses offered by The College throughout their four years at W&L. Students in The College often elect courses in the Williams School to fulfill certain requirements or to take courses they particularly desire.

The School of Law

The School of Law, with its own dean and faculty, offers the Juris Doctor degree, awarded upon completion of a three-year, post-baccalaureate course of study. In addition, it offers the Master of Laws degree in United States Law for international law graduates, who are awarded the degree on completion of two semesters of study. The innovative instructional program is designed to equip students with a legal education that provides deep insight into legal doctrine and builds a bridge to the profession. It provides not only the technical tools needed for the practice of law, but also a deep understanding of how law operates in our society and a sensitivity to the ethical imperatives of the profession. The law program offers small classes, close faculty involvement, and a culture of trust and collaboration in the tradition of a liberal arts education.

The University Library

The University Library exists to support the curricular and research needs of W&L students, faculty, and staff, and it is also open to the local community and area colleges. The library creates both physical and virtual environments conducive to intellectual vitality, exploration, discovery, and critical thinking.

The main library, James G. Leyburn Library, is named in memory of a former Dean of the College (1947-1956) and much beloved professor 1947-1972. The Science Library is named in honor of Robert Lee Telford of Naples, Florida, Class of 1922. Together these two libraries make the University Library system; the Wilbur C. Hall Law Library serves the specialized needs of law students and faculty.

The University Library offers a full range of traditional and online services and collections.  Librarians collaborate with faculty and students to ensure access to information resources that support the curricular and research needs of the entire campus community, integration of information and digital literacy concepts into the curriculum, and the creation and preservation of the intellectual and scholarly output of the campus. Librarians teach classes and create Web-based guides to help students find the best resources for research assignments. Librarians teach specialized Digital Humanities (DH) studio courses, co-teach DH-inflected courses, and collaborate with faculty to integrate DH concepts and skills into the curriculum. Students may also schedule consultations with subject specialist librarians for in-depth research assistance. Students identify suitable resources for their assignments by using the online catalog, integrated discovery system, and through hundreds of specialized electronic databases provided by the library. The library subscribes to over 6,000 periodicals in print and digital formats, with nearly 100,000 more available through various online resources. The library is also a selective federal government depository. Most library resources are available both on and off campus to the Washington and Lee community. The libraries participate in state and regional consortia as well as national networks to provide access to databases and to allow borrowing of items not held in the University’s collections. The Special Collections department houses a rich and diverse collection of primary and secondary materials. Included in these holdings are the University Archives, which documents the history of the University; the Manuscripts collection, which primarily documents local, regional and Virginia history; and an extensive collection of rare books and other materials that support the diverse teaching and research needs of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the larger community.

Open 24 hours, seven days a week, during undergraduate academic terms, the University Library offers several types of study areas to meet student needs and inclinations: traditional study carrels can be checked out for the academic year and large study tables as well as group and private study rooms are available. Many of the group study rooms can be reserved and have large monitors and other equipment to facilitate group projects and video conference meetings. A secure wireless network is available throughout library facilities for members of the W&L community, and an open wireless network is available for visitors. Video cameras, iPads and other technology items are available for checkout at the library’s Information Desk.

The Leyburn Information Desk is staffed with librarians, technologists and other support personnel for consultation about technical and research needs. Writing Center consultants are also available to assist students during selected evening hours. 

Special Academic Opportunities

The University offers a variety of programs of exceptional academic merit, intellectual stimulation, and practical value. The details of these programs will be found in Academic Regulations and Academic Opportunities and include:

  • Honors in majors
  • Intensive four-week spring term courses
  • Study abroad 
  • Faculty-Supervised Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars Program
  • Student Summer Independent Research Program
  • Johnson Opportunity Grants for summer experiences
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) student fellowships for summer and academic-year research
  • Roger Mudd Center for Ethics
  • Knight Program in the Ethics of Journalism
  • The Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability
  • Chesapeake Bay Program
  • Teacher Certification through Rockbridge Teacher Education Consortium, in cooperation with Southern Virginia University
  • Independent work and interdepartmental majors, including Environmental Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Neuroscience, and Russian Area Studies
  • Interdisciplinary academic programs in Africana Studies, East Asian Studies, Education Policy, Film and Visual Culture, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Environmental Studies, Poverty and Human Capability Studies, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • The Seven-College Exchange Program with area colleges and exchange agreements with Bates, Morehouse, and Spelman Colleges, and the Virginia Military Institute

Special Features

The Arts: The Department of Art and Art History offers majors in studio art and art history, and minors in art history, studio art, and museum studies. Housed in Wilson Hall, and located next to the Lenfest Center for the Arts, the department offers a wide range of courses for both majors and non-majors. Attractive classrooms and studios overlook Woods Creek. Regular exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs are held in the Staniar Gallery.

Department of Music facilities include a concert hall, a small ensemble rehearsal hall, a composition/recording studio, a music theory lab, a listening lab, numerous practice rooms, and classrooms equipped with the latest technology. The department offers a comprehensive major and a minor. Courses in theory, composition, music technology, and music history are available, as well as instruction in piano, voice, orchestral strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, classical guitar, acoustic guitar, jazz improvisation, and choral and instrumental ensembles. Through the Concert Guild, a classical music series, and Sonoklect, a modern music series, the department makes numerous professional concerts available to the University community each year.

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Film Studies offers a major in theater and minors in theater, dance, and film and visual culture. In Lenfest Hall the department produces a season of theatrical events drawn from a wide range of periods and styles that engage students in all areas of the performing arts. The performance season includes elaborately presented main-stage plays and musicals, dance concerts, a series of student-directed, short plays, and a variety of faculty or student-generated workshop productions. Each year the department invites a number of distinguished guest actors, directors, playwrights, choreographers, dancers, designers, or theater scholars to share their expertise with students.

University Collections of Art and History (UCAH) is an interdisciplinary teaching resource composed of three areas. The Lee Chapel & Museum exhibits the history of education in America illustrated with the contributions of W&L and its namesakes. The collection includes significant early American portraits, as well as historical objects related to George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The Reeves Center displays W&L’s ceramics collection, which spans over 4,000 years of human history. The collection includes ceramics from Asia, Europe, and America, and is especially rich in Chinese export porcelain made for the American and European markets between 1600 and 1900. The Art Collection, housed throughout campus, originated in 1874 and has grown to include a significant collection of Western European and American paintings, prints and sculpture, with particular strengths in 19th-century American landscapes and 20th-century works on paper.

Chesapeake Bay Program: Established in 2008 through funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since its creation, the program has focused on place-based teaching which integrates students into local watershed issues of land use and how they can impact the local watershed and the Bay’s health. This interdisciplinary program is tailored to immerse students into the social, economic and cultural realities of the watershed. The program also adds a domestic component to the program’s already strong international program in the Brazilian Amazon, providing students with an opportunity to engage in comparative analysis of two critically important watersheds.

Community-Based Research and Service-Learning Courses. Community-Academic Research Alliance (CARA) supports research partnerships between Washington and Lee and community agencies to address pressing community challenges. These partnerships are designed with the joint mission of mobilizing the community to make responsible social change in pursuit of a healthy community and of benefiting the education of students at Washington and Lee. Service-learning courses enrich students’ education through participant-observation in the Rockbridge communities, requiring approximately two hours of volunteer work each week. Each faculty member assigns course requirements that may include a journal, project or paper which demonstrates students’ understanding of the relation of service work to their academic studies. Other activities, including research for agencies in the community, provide students with curricular and co-curricular education that complements the academic goals of a course or major.

Global Learning: Washington and Lee is committed to the idea that education for the 21st century must be global in its scope, perspective, and commitment. Global learning is an important part of our mission as a university. By global, we mean of or related to substantial interactions across national borders or substantial comparisons between different nations. Global learning is the acquisition of the skills and knowledge needed to understand those interactions or comparisons.

To support this belief, the University has, in recent years:

  • emphasized study- and internship-abroad opportunities for all students (see Study Abroad),
  • welcomed a more representative body of international students in the community,
  • expanded globally-oriented studies throughout the curriculum, and
  • invited more visiting scholars and faculty from abroad.

Many academic departments offer special opportunities for students to develop and explore their interests in this area. In addition, the faculty have developed a set of outcomes to distinguish courses in every discipline that meet global learning objectives. In global learning courses, students will do one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how global issues, processes, trends, and systems have shaped the subject under study
  • Demonstrate the ability to use globally diverse cultural frames of reference and alternate perspectives to think critically, solve problems, or interpret issues and situations as they related to the course topic
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how the field of study is viewed and practiced in different cultural contexts

The Center for International Education coordinates the University’s global learning initiative and provides resources, support, and assistance to both students and faculty.

Journalism and Mass Communications: The Lee Memorial Journalism Foundation was established at Washington and Lee in 1925 through an endowment inaugurated by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. The foundation honored General Lee because of his interest in promoting college-level instruction in journalism. Its successor, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The department operates Cable 18 as a laboratory for television news and production courses, and The Rockbridge Report, rockbridgereport.wlu.edu, a fully converged multimedia website for local news produced by journalism classes. The department offers a two majors: Strategic Communication for students interested in public relations or other persuasive communication careers, and Journalism, for students interested in careers with news organizations. Journalism majors may also choose to specialize in business journalism. The department’s courses are highly interconnected, reflecting media convergence in the professional world and using the latest digital systems for print, video and Web production. The faculty includes holders of two endowed chairs, the Knight Chair in media ethics and the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in business journalism.

The Roger Mudd Center for Ethics was established in 2011 through the generosity of Mr. Mudd, Class of 1950, a journalist and winner of a Peabody Award and five Emmys. The Center is committed to fostering serious inquiry into, and thoughtful conversation about, important ethical issues in public and professional life. It seeks to advance dialogue, teaching, and research about these issues among students, faculty, and staff across all three schools - The College, the Williams School, and the School of Law. By facilitating collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries, the Center aims to encourage a multidisciplinary perspective on ethics informed by both theory and practice. Its ultimate goal is to provide the tools and resources necessary for thinking freely, critically, and humanely about the complex ethical questions we face in an increasingly diverse yet interdependent world. The first director of the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics is Professor Angela Smith.

Sciences: Washington and Lee’s facilities for teaching and research in the sciences include well equipped classrooms and laboratories for general instruction, special laboratories for faculty and student research activities, departmental libraries, and museums. Additional features include a greenhouse in biology, light and fluorescence microscopy with digital imaging, an instrumental analysis laboratory with a 400 MHz FT-NMR in chemistry, a seismograph, total station, differential GPS, magnetometers and imaging resistivity unit, a full rock/thin section preparation lab, optical microscope lab, ICPS, Ion Chromatograph, XRD, and scanning electron microscope (SEM with EBSD/EDS) in geology, and light microscopy with digital imaging and electrophysiological recording facilities in psychology.

The University’s science center provides expanded teaching and research spaces for the science departments, as well as the Telford Science Library, shared instrumentation rooms, an animal-care facility, computer laboratories and University classrooms.

Many members of the science faculty participate in on-campus research programs sponsored by a host of federal and private granting organizations. Undergraduates often assist professors in this research, and students in the sciences are frequent participants in the University’s Robert E. Lee Research Program and HHMI student fellowships, which provide funds for summer and academic-year research. In addition, Washington and Lee biosciences is a recent recipient of a $1.3 million grant from HHMI. Our two principal aims for these funds are to increase student competency in sophisticated quantitative and computational analysis, and in collaborative interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving.

Information Technology Services

Information Technology Services is committed to assisting students, faculty and staff in the efficient and effective use of information technology to meet their professional and academic needs. The mission of ITS is “to provide innovative leadership and excellent support to empower the University community in the successful use of information technology.”

ITS continues to expand and adjust services to meet the wide array of technology needs across campus:

  • A virtual service called MyVI provides on-the-go access to course-specific software, network printers and other resources. MyVI is available from Macintosh and Windows computers, tablets, smart phones and other devices in any location with a high-speed Internet connection.
  • The “IQ Center” features 3-D printers and scanners, a visualization lab, high-speed cameras, and other advanced technology designed to foster cross-disciplinary and quantitative approaches to teaching and research.
  • A secure wireless network extends to virtually all campus buildings and some outdoor areas.
  • Most classrooms are equipped with digital projectors, document cameras, and other tools to enhance instruction. An increasing number of classrooms offer flexible seating, multiple displays, Apple TV, and other technology and design features to support groups and collaborative work.
  • Course capture technology is available, allowing video-recording of class sessions for review by students online. Videoconferencing units are available in several locations on campus.
  • ITS provides students with access to a course management system (Sakai), online file storage, e-mail, and other tools to facilitate communication and collaboration.
  • The University licenses office productivity software for all student-owned computers.
  • Support for students’ information technology and research needs is provided through the Information Desk, located on the main floor of Leyburn Library. ITS and Leyburn Library provide support for digital video editing, creating and printing posters, analyzing data and a variety of other information technology needs.
  • ITS provides several options for self-paced and face-to-face training in the use of information technology.

    Student organizations with special IT-related needs are encouraged to contact ITS by e-mailing help@wlu.edu. ITS can offer guidance and support for online collaboration, organizational websites, special events and more.

    W&L student workers are partners with the University’s IT professionals in supporting the use of IT at W&L, and students are encouraged to seek part-time job opportunities with ITS. More information about the information technology environment at W&L is available on the ITS website at its.wlu.edu.


Since 1950, the University has published Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review.  Starting as a folio, the publication’s initial issues were edited by students, with faculty members acting in an advisory capacity.  Among the young men who founded the magazine and contributed to its pages were Tom Wolfe, William Hoffman and Cy Twombly, who have taken their places among the best writers and artists in the nation.  Early contributors to Shenandoah also included E. E. Cummings, Arnold Toynbee, Flannery O’Connor, J. R. R. Tolkien and W. H. Auden.

Since its illustrious beginning, Shenandoah increased in size in circulation to become an international literary triquarterly.  Its reputation for high quality poetry, fiction and essays from new and established writers continues to attract some of the best talent on the world, but now it has migrated to the web and is located at shenandoahliterary.org.  With the coming of the Creative Writing minor to the University, undergraduate internships at Shenandoah became a significant facet of its identity, and it provides on-campus internships for over twenty students a year as ENGL 453 - Internship in Literary Editing with Shenandoah  with Shenandoah.  The journal has continued to attract the works of such authors as James Dickey, W. S. Merwin, best-seller James Lee Burke, Billy Collins, Brendan Galvin and recent Pulitzer recipients Claudia Emerson and Natasha Trethewey.

Shenandoah offers five annual awards: The Bevil Summers Prize in Short Fiction, The Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets, The Shenandoah Prize for Fiction, The Boatwright Prize for Poetry and the Carter Prize for the Essay.  The University’s Writer-in-Residence R. T. Smith has served as editor since 1995.

Lectures and Conferences

Throughout the year many important lectures, readings, and panel discussions are presented on both scholarly topics and issues current in public life. Visiting speakers often remain on campus for a day or two, sometimes longer, meeting with students in classes, in small groups, and at meals for face-to-face exchanges of ideas. Many of these talks and programs are endowed, including the following:

The Phi Beta Kappa-Society of the Cincinnati Convocation: Phi Beta Kappa sponsors a lecture to honor those newly inducted into the Society. The University-wide assembly is held in the spring and brings to the campus outstanding scholars from a variety of fields.

The Society of the Cincinnati Lecture: Each year the Society of the Cincinnati in the state of Virginia generously funds a public lecture on American history, 1715-1815. The history department serves as co-sponsor and assumes responsibility for securing a speaker and making local arrangements.

The Omicron Delta Kappa-Founders Day Lecture: Held on or about January 19, the Founders Day assembly is traditionally addressed by the president of the University. In recent years, the lecture has also served as the opening event in the University’s Institute for Honor.

The Tucker Lecture: This lecture was named for the late John Randolph Tucker, dean of the School of Law, president of the American Bar Association, and member of Congress.

The Glasgow Endowment: Established in 1960 by the late Arthur G. Glasgow, the program has brought to Washington and Lee many distinguished novelists, poets, dramatists, and critics.

The Philip Fullerton Howerton Fund for Special Programs in the Department of Religion: The Howerton Fund sponsors a broad array of events and activities treating the relevance of Christian faith to contemporary culture and life, most often through visiting lecturers, conferences, and course supplements.

The Shannon-Clark Lecture in English: Established in 1982, the program was named in honor of both a longtime head of the University’s English Department and a relative of the donor.

The University Lectures Fund: This fund supports visits of several scholars to campus in a wide variety of disciplines. Each scholar is expected to interact with students in a class or seminar and also gives a public lecture open to the University community.

The Class of ‘63 Endowment: This fund supports visits of distinguished scholars to campus in a wide variety of disciplines. Scholars spend two to five days on campus, give some type of a University lecture, and interact in a meaningful way with students and faculty from a specific department.

The Institutes in the Ethics of Journalism: Two-day seminars and lectures during both the fall and winter terms that involve both students and professional journalists. The journalists come from newsrooms around the country, both print and broadcast. They bring with them for examination cases of ethical conflict from their own experience.

The Institute for Honor: Established in 2000 by a generous endowment from the Class of 1960, the Institute for Honor includes an array of initiatives and specific programs designed to promote the understanding and practice of honor as an indispensable element of society. The Institute for Honor Symposium is dedicated to the advocacy of honor as the core value in personal, professional, business, and community relations.

The Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar: Sponsored by the W&L Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate Tom Wolfe, the program annually features a writer of contemporary note.

The Johnson Lecture Series: This fund, part of the larger gift to support Johnson Scholarships, was established in 2008 to bring to campus nationally and internationally prominent thinkers, scholars and writers to address issues related to leadership and integrity.

Contact: This program is financed and administered by the student body through a committee representing a wide variety of student interests and perspectives. Contact strives to sponsor prominent speakers who address important contemporary issues in the United States and worldwide.

Mock Convention

Washington and Lee’s famous Mock Convention attracts national attention when it is held in the winter term of every presidential election year. The entire student body participates in this political exercise aimed at choosing the presidential candidate of the party out of power in the White House. The Mock Convention has achieved a remarkable record of accuracy and is considered to be the most realistic event of its kind in the nation. Every student has an opportunity to participate in at least one Mock Convention during a four-year career at Washington and Lee. The next Mock Convention is planned for 2020.


Washington and Lee offers students the opportunity to enroll in an Army ROTC program through an agreement with the established ROTC unit at neighboring Virginia Military Institute. The program is voluntary and open to all students who meet the character, citizenship, age, medical and physical fitness requirements for military service. All instruction takes place at VMI, in accordance with the VMI class schedule, and is provided at no expense to Washington and Lee students. The program also offers competitive campus-based four-, three-, and two- year scholarships. Army ROTC is divided into a two-year Basic Course, designed for first-year students and sophomores, and a two-year Advanced Course, designed for juniors and seniors. Enrollment in the Advanced Course requires the completion of the Basic Course during the student’s first-year and sophomore year or successful completion of the Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), usually between the sophomore and junior years. The Advanced Course student must agree to complete the Military Science curriculum, which includes attendance at the five-week Cadet Leadership Course (CLC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Advanced Course graduate must accept a commission as a second lieutenant in the active Army, Army Reserves or National Guard.

Washington and Lee grants up to 12 transfer credit hours toward graduation for successful completion of the courses offered at VMI. These military science credits are transferred upon receipt of the VMI transcript at the end of each term and do not count toward each term’s full-time course load or toward W&L grade-point averages. Washington and Lee students may receive one physical education skills course toward the FDR requirements for their ROTC physical training. See the University Registrar’s website at registrar.wlu.edu/forms for the policy and declaration form.

Contact information for VMI Army ROTC is Thomas E. Atkinson, Recruiting Operations Officer, (540).464.7680, atkinson@vmi.edu.

Military Programs

Other military opportunities exist for Washington and Lee students. Army ROTC at VMI offers the Cadet Battery and Ranger Challenge as extracurricular activities. Additionally, the Army ROTC program offers opportunities to attend Airborne, Air Assault and other select Army schools. The U.S. Navy sponsors the Nuclear Power Officers’ Candidate, Seaman/Airman and Ready Mariners Programs; the U.S. Marine Corps sponsors the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class. Further information on these programs may be obtained by contacting the respective ROTC offices in Kilbourne Hall located on VMI’s campus.

Career Development

Career Development contributes directly to the University’s mission by supporting and empowering undergraduate students to achieve their career and professional goals.

Through collaborative partnerships we provide innovative, customized, high-quality career-related services, programming and advising in a way that reflects the rich traditions and values of the University.

Career Development provides a variety of options by which employers connect with students, faculty and administrators to establish productive recruitment strategies for both post-graduate positions and internships. Career Development participates in several nationally recognized consortia of select liberal arts colleges. As a member of the Liberal Arts Career NetWORK (LACN) our students have access to an extensive database of internships and post-graduate positions submitted by thirty top national liberal arts colleges. Through the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium, Washington and Lee seniors may be chosen for employment interviews conducted in Washington, D.C.

Individual career counseling, interest assessment, extensive career resources, alumni-in-residence presentations and the active alumni career network are available to all students. The majority of the Career Development resources, including the Report on the Graduating Class and Recruitment Activities, can be accessed through the website at careers.wlu.edu.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

It is the policy of the Washington and Lee University and its School of Law to provide equal access to educational opportunities to qualified students with physical or mental disabilities, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students requesting accommodation will need to provide appropriate documentation of: (1) a disability, which is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and (2) a need for accommodation, by virtue of the specific functional limitations of the disability, to have equal access to educational opportunities. The University and the School of Law intend to provide an interactive process of dialogue and timely exchange of information.

It is the responsibility of a student with a physical or mental disability who may require any type of accommodation to make the accommodation request in a timely manner. In order to allow sufficient time for the eligibility and accommodation decision process and to make arrangements for appropriate accommodations, the student should contact the designated disability coordinator below and submit the documents required for consideration of disability accommodations during the first month of the fall or winter academic terms. The designated disability coordinator will inform the student of further specific procedures and required documentation.

Undergraduate students in the Class of 2020 and all law students should contact Lauren Kozak, Director of Title IX and Disability Resources, Elrod Commons, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia 24450, 540.458.4055. All other students should contact Wendy Price, Associate Dean of The College in Lee-Jackson House, 540.458.8746.

Undergraduate student accommodation policies, procedures, informational documents, and forms: go.wlu.edu/OGC/ugDisabilityPolicy.

Law student accommodations policies, procedures, informational documents, and forms: go.wlu.edu/OGC/LawDisabilityPolicy.

The Campus

The Washington and Lee campus is renowned for its beauty, charm, and historical significance. In 1972, the front campus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior, only the third college campus in the country to be so designated. The main campus consists of approximately 50 acres. In addition, W&L has about 40 acres of playing fields, 215 acres of unimproved land, and 17 acres in various sections of Lexington. Recently acquired property adjacent to the main campus includes Belfield (2.5 acres) and Peniel Farm (90 acres). Belfield, former home of Dean Frank Gilliam, has been renovated and now serves as a guest house.

The Washington College group comprises the three oldest buildings on the campus: Washington Hall (renovated in 2012), Robinson Hall (renovated in 2014), and Payne Hall (renovated in 2011). These three buildings, together with the general academic buildings Newcomb Hall (renovated in 2010) and Tucker Hall, form the Colonnade, one of the University’s most picturesque features and a National Historic Landmark.

Lee Chapel, constructed under President Lee’s supervision, faces the Colonnade. University events take place regularly in the 500-seat auditorium. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1961, the building includes the Lee family crypt and a state-of-the-art museum with exhibitions that trace the history of W&L.

Other principal buildings on the front campus are the Lee House, also built to Lee’s specifications, and five antebellum houses. The latter group includes the Lee-Jackson House, home to the Office of the Dean of The College; the Morris House, a guest house and seminar/reception center; the Reeves Center, which exhibits the University’s important collection of ceramics; the Gilliam Admissions House; and the Hotchkiss Alumni House, a former faculty house renovated through the contributions of alumni.

Also located on the front campus is the Watson Pavilion, which houses an authentic Japanese tea room that is used as a classroom by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Buildings on University Place (below Letcher Avenue) include the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Financial Aid Office, and the offices of the Lee Chapel Museum.

Buildings on the Stemmons Plaza include Huntley Hall, the James G. Leyburn Library, Reid Hall, and the Science Addition, along with Howe Hall and Parmly Hall science buildings. Between Huntley Hall and Graham-Lees Hall is Holekamp Hall, renovated in 2007. The Center for Global Learning opened in 2016.

The John W. Elrod University Commons is also located near Graham-Lees Hall, a first-year residence renovated in 2015. The Commons contains the University Store, Career Development Center, Student Affairs, the Marketplace dining hall, Café-77 and a convenience store, Stackhouse Theater, student organization offices, meeting rooms and lounge spaces. Across Washington Street from Graham-Lees are Newton D. Baker Hall, which houses faculty offices, and John W. Davis Hall, which houses the Student Health Center and ITS offices. Letitia Pate Evans Hall, the university’s formal dining room, is next to Baker Hall and is connected to Early-Fielding, which includes offices for Counseling, Institutional Effectiveness, Special Programs, and the University Registrar, and the Student Executive Committee suite.

Mattingly House, at the corner of Washington Street and Lee Avenue, is home to the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability and the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. Also on Washington Street is Hillel House, the center for Jewish life on campus and the location of the E-Café.

A little farther down Washington Street and adjacent to the first-year residence halls is the Francis P. Gaines Residence Hall, which was renovated in 2014. Woods Creek Apartments, located on the back campus, provide additional housing. Across Nelson Street from Gaines Hall is the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts, comprising Lenfest Hall and John and Anne Wilson Hall.

Sydney Lewis Hall, on the northern edge of the campus, houses the School of Law, which contains the archived papers of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. and the Wilbur F. Hall Law Library.

The Business Office is housed in the historic courthouse at Two South Main. Communications and Public Affairs and the Office of General Counsel are located next door at Seven Courthouse Square.

Physical education and athletic facilities include Doremus Gymnasium and the Fitness Center, the Jonathan Westervelt Warner Athletic Center, and the Duchossois Outdoor Athletic Complex, including Wilson Field, Cap’n Dick Smith Baseball Field, Richard L. Duchossois Tennis Center, two artificial turf fields, Alston Parker Watt Field, William C. Washburn Tennis Courts, a championship field for men’s and women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, and other athletic and recreational facilities, including 14 outdoor tennis courts.

University Facilities’ administrative offices are located next to the maintenance complex on the back campus.

Natural Environment

Washington and Lee is fortunate in its natural surroundings. The environment is primarily rural, and Lexington remains remarkably free from the problems associated with highly industrialized and urbanized areas. Its vibrant and historic downtown offers several notable museums as well as a wide array of locally owned shops, galleries, and restaurants that provide plenty of cultural and culinary options for students and visitors. Washington and Lee students quickly feel at home in their surroundings—the mountains, the rivers, and the forests. Within a two-hour drive are more than four million acres of national and state forests and treasures like Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail. It doesn’t take long for new students to begin planning trips to places like House Mountain, which dominates the Lexington skyline, or Goshen Pass, where they can swim or sun on a rock in the middle of the Maury River. When winter comes, students often drive to one of the nearby ski resorts. With such a rich environment, it is no wonder that the Outing Club is one of the most active organizations on campus.

In 1805, a Washington Academy professor, surveying the countryside from atop the college building, exclaimed: “If this scene were set down in the middle of Europe, the whole continent would flock to see it!” The English poet John Drinkwater said Washington and Lee’s setting was the most beautiful of any college in America.

Located near the Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of 1,100 feet, Lexington enjoys a varied and delightful climate. In the spring, wildflowers abound; in the fall, leaves change to brilliant reds and yellows; and in the winter, snow sometimes blankets the campus and surrounding mountains. The richness of the animal and plant life of the southern Appalachians is legendary. Students regard this remarkable environment as one of the most memorable aspects of their years at Washington and Lee.