2020-2021 University Catalog 
    Jun 20, 2024  
2020-2021 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 academic programs and degree objectives and 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 leadership and faculty, and other information used primarily by students and their faculty advisers in planning academic programs. This collection 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, including the College, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and the School of Law, 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 academic 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 Washington and Lee students are described in this catalog. For further information, please refer to the Student Handbook. In addition to the Student Handbook, which is applicable to all W&L undergraduate and law students, law students should refer to specific law school policies and procedures.

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 212, (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 – Lauren Kozak, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, Elrod Commons 212, (540) 458-4055, kozakl@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.

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 in many instances 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, go.wlu.edu/ec-plagiarism. In addition, Leyburn Library has a helpful site on avoiding plagiarism: go.wlu.edu/plagiarism.

Commitment to Diversity

(originally approved by the Board of Trustees, May 17, 2002; revised February 10, 2018)

Washington and Lee affirms that diverse perspectives and backgrounds enhance our community. We are committed to the recruitment, enrichment, and retention of students, faculty, and staff who embody many experiences, cultures, points of view, interests, and identities. As engaged citizens in a global and diverse society, we seek to advance a positive learning and working environment for all through open and substantive dialogue.


Washington and Lee University’s unique history is embodied in the 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, Scotch-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. The limestone building, erected in 1793 on the crest of a ridge overlooking Lexington, burned in 1803. The University preserves its ruins today.

In 1796, George Washington gave struggling Liberty Hall an endowment gift of canal stock which was, 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 effort, the revision of a college and a curriculum dedicated to the spiritual and material reconstruction of the South.

Lee was president for five years, during which he proved himself to be a farsighted educator. By greatly expanding the range of instruction at Washington College, he transformed it into a national institution, a place where young, white 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 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 Oct.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.

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, year-long study by voting to extend coeducation to the two undergraduate divisions. The first female undergraduates enrolled in the fall of 1985.

Washington and Lee University celebrated its 250th anniversary 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 ‘50, ‘57L (1968-1983); John Delane Wilson (1983-1995); John William Elrod (1995-2001); Howard Laurent Boetsch Jr. ‘69 (Acting, 2001-2002); Thomas Gerard Burish (2002-2005); Harlan Ray Beckley (Acting, 2005-2006); Kenneth Patrick Ruscio ‘73 (2006-December 2016); William Carlyle Dudley (January 2017 to 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-Blacksburg Regional airport is about 55 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 bachelor’s degrees, the master of laws, and juris doctor degrees. Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools 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 Commonwealth of Virginia - Department of Veteran Services.

Education Studies offers a teacher licensure program that meets rigorous national standards for educator preparation set by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The program is also approved by the Virginia Department of Education to offer coursework that leads to licensure.

Academic Objectives

Academic responsibilities are the top priority at Washington and Lee. Courses of study are arranged so that intelligent students 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, imaginatively, 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 that 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 and sciences 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, and interdisciplinary work.

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 and in some cases the academic year. The College curriculum also offers courses that prepare students for advanced professional training in engineering, journalism, law, and the health professions.

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. 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. The Williams School offers the Bachelor of Science degree with majors in accounting, and business administration, and the Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in economics and politics. The Business Administration department also offers a minor in entrepreneurship. Students majoring or minoring 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. 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

Washington and Lee University Library is a multifaceted teaching organization that provides physical spaces for independent study and collaboration, access to scholarly resources, and expert research support. The library’s role extends beyond its physical buildings, as library faculty and staff deliver embedded instruction across the disciplines and teach for-credit courses in the university’s Digital Culture and Information minor. Taken together, these services and curricular offerings further the library’s mission to empower students to critically engage with today’s information rich world. 

Instruction: Library faculty teach students how to find, evaluate, ethically use, create and preserve information. This instruction comes in a variety of forms: one-on-one tutorials, in-class research sessions, for-credit courses, and long-term Digital Humanities research partnerships. Classes in the university’s Digital Culture and Information minor, taught by library faculty, further allow students to explore how the digital information age impacts the construction of knowledge and society.

Collections: The University Library facilitates access to a full range of physical and electronic resources that support W&L’s curricular and research needs, including books, journals, DVDs, streaming media, select government documents, student and faculty scholarship, and much more. The point of discovery for this material is the library’s website: library.wlu.edu. Primo, the library’s integrated search interface, searches across much of the library’s book and database holdings to provide a streamlined research experience. In addition to Primo, the library offers direct access to a robust assortment of subscription databases. Desired materials not owned or subscribed to by the library can be obtained through interlibrary loan. 

Location: The University Library consists of two physical locations: James G. Leyburn Library, that houses most of the physical collection, and Robert Lee Telford Science Library, that houses the science collection. Both libraries are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during undergraduate academic terms, to current members of the W&L community. A University ID is required for entry between 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Both locations offer circulation assistance, study carrels, reservable rooms, computer access, and are open to the public. Leyburn Library’s Information Desk is staffed with librarians, technologists and other support personnel who are available to consult on technical and research questions. The Information Desk serves as the contact point for help with library services such as course reserves, academic poster printing, room reservations and inter-library loan. Located on Leyburn’s Lower Level 1, Special Collections preserves, and makes accessible rare books, manuscripts, unique primary sources and university records. Special Collections is open Monday-Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A new space is being developed in Leyburn for the Houston H. Harte Center for Teaching and Learning.

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
  • First-year writing seminars and first-year seminars, fulfilling FDR requirements
  • Intensive four-week spring term courses
  • A dozen world languages, ancient and modern, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian (intensive), Japanese, Latin, Portuguese (intensive), Russian, Sanskrit, and Spanish
  • Study abroad 
  • Internships with Experiential course credit in many departments and programs and in Career and Professional Development
  • Faculty-Supervised Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars Program, with opportunity for Experiential Learning credit
  • Student Summer Independent Research Program, with opportunity for Experiential Learning credit
  • Leyburn Fellowships and Grants in Anthropology
  • Johnson Opportunity Grants for summer experiences
  • 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
  • Courses in Law, Justice, and Society (LJS)  and Literature in Translation (LIT)  
  • Community-Based Learning (CBL)  
  • Independent work major
  • Interdisciplinary academic programs (see Requirements for the Degree)
  • Exchange agreements with Virginia Military Institute and The Seven-College Exchange Program (Hampden-Sydney, Hollins, Mary Baldwin, Randolph-Macon, Randolph, and Sweet Briar)

Special Features

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.

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.

The Global Discovery Laboratories (GDL) in the Ruscio Center for Global Learning are key components in internationalizing the University curriculum and constantly provide the technological means necessary for doing so.
The GDL has a Support Center which develops teaching resources and provides guidance in their implementation. The facility is comprised of three distinct teaching and research laboratories - the Global Communications Laboratory (for language and culture promotion), the Global Exploration Laboratory (for marketable skill development through coursework and practice), and the Global Connections Laboratory (designed for discussions and broadcasts at home and abroad). All three laboratories promote the integration of ingenious methodologies using technology in the global classroom.
The GDL web page (www.wlu.edu/global-discovery-laboratories) posts information about services available and special projects underway, such as hosting colloquiums that explore global education, broadcasting live interactive professional development pedagogy workshops via the Internet, creating language immersion institutes for professors and teachers, deciphering voter rights and democracy using GIS technology, and coordinating the Commonwealth’s summer world-language academies.  These and other examples give the W&L community more opportunities for advancement in language and culture immersion, help create career development paths for the student, and enrich professional development for the educator.

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.

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 Summer Research Scholars Program and HHMI student fellowships, which provide funds for summer, as well as 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.” More information about the information technology environment at W&L is available on the ITS website at go.wlu.edu/ITS.


Since 1950, the University has published Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review. The publication’s initial issues were edited by students, with faculty members acting in an advisory capacity.  Among the students who founded the magazine and contributed to its pages were Tom Wolfe, William Hoffman and Cy Twombly, who went on to receive much literary acclaim.  Early contributors to Shenandoah include 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 in the world. In 2011 it migrated from print 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. Approximately twenty-four students each year, from all kinds of majors and disciplines, participate in ENGL 453 - Internship in Literary Editing with Shenandoah  which provides hands-on experience in the practice of literary editing. Tasks include reading submissions, working with the editor on substantive edits, copy editing, fact checking, developing social-media initiatives, event planning, design marketing material, and more. 

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. Beth Staples, Shenandoah’s first woman editor, took over editorship from long-time editor R.T. Smith in 2018.

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 Convocation: The Founders Day assembly is held on or about January 19 each year, as required by the University’s bylaws, and traditionally includes a “tapping” of new ODK members.

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 2024.


Washington and Lee offers students the opportunity to enroll in an Army ROTC program through a “cross-town” 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 majors are welcome to seek a commission in the Army. 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 Basic Camp, 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 Advanced Camp 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. The program offers a wide variety of summer training programs including Federal Agencies Internships, Cultural Understanding programs taking place in a variety of countries, Cadet Troop Leadership Training, Airborne School, and Air Assault School, among others. Academic policy can be found at in Academic Regulations . 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 and Professional Development

Career and Professional 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 and Professional 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. 

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 and Professional 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 between either the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, Elrod University Commons 212, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia 24450, 540.458.4055 (undergraduate students) or the Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs, Sydney Lewis Hall 528, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia 24450, 540.458.8162 (law students).

It is the responsibility of a student (undergraduate or law) 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 relevant contact person (Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources for undergraduate students and Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs for law students) and submit the documents required for consideration of disability accommodations in accordance with the applicable timelines and documentation guidelines set forth in the relevant policy (Undergraduate Disability Accommodation Policy; Law Student Disability Accommodation Policy). The Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources or the Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs will inform the student of further specific procedures and any additional required documentation.

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 (renovated in 2017), 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 home 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 Red House, home of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resource Center (renovated in 2017), 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 complex including the Science Addition, Howe Hall, and Parmly Hall. Between Huntley Hall and Graham-Lees Hall is Holekamp Hall. The Kenneth P. Ruscio 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 snack bar, 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 Information Technology Services. 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 kosher, short-order snack bar.

A little farther down Washington Street is the Francis P. Gaines Residence Hall, another first-year residence (renovated in 2014). Woods Creek Apartments and The Village apartments and townhouses (constructed in 2016) provide additional upper-division housing near the law school. 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 the Richard L. Duchossois Athletic and Recreation Center (completed in 2020), Doremus Gymnasium, and the Fitness Center, and the Duchossois Outdoor Athletic Complex, including Wilson Field, Cap’n Dick Smith Baseball Field, Richard L. Duchossois Tennis Center, three lit 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, the Natatorium (opened in 2017), 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. 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 such as 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 largest and 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.