2023-2024 University Catalog 
    Jul 22, 2024  
2023-2024 University Catalog archived

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



(Approved by the faculty and dean of the Williams School, April 2019)

We are a tight-knit community of students, faculty, alumni, staff, and administrators. We bring together diverse experience and unique sets of skills in everything we do, from teaching, to research, to establishing programs and events.

Advance knowledge
We offer a broad array of activities and experiences rooted in the liberal arts tradition that provide the intellectual and ethical means for understanding, evaluating, and creatively addressing issues in commerce, economics, and politics. Both inside and outside the classroom, within and across disciplines, domestically and internationally, we build upon existing areas of knowledge, discover innovative ideas and solutions, and educate bold, independent, and well-rounded thinkers.

Develop principled, inclusive leaders
We work within a trusting academic environment that values forward-looking, adaptive, and cutting-edge approaches to molding responsible and engaged global citizens. We understand leaders to be members of society who can develop thoughtfully reasoned and informed positions, respect alternative viewpoints, act with fairness, and carry a sense of humility about the limits of their own capacities. Our graduates will help others make a meaningful impact on the world.


The Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics was authorized by the trustees in June 1905, and was organized in 1906. It has been accredited by AACSB International since 1927. In 1995, by action of the Board of Trustees, the School was dedicated in honor of Ernest Williams II, a member of the class of 1938 and a loyal supporter of the University.

Depending on the major field sought, the first year may combine introductory work in accounting, business, economics, and/or politics with classes chosen from a range of other disciplines, some of which will satisfy Foundation and Distribution Requirements (FDRs). Subsequent terms may introduce intermediate courses in these fields, while still emphasizing broad study that is a hallmark of a liberal arts education.  By the junior and senior years, students are typically engaged in advanced study of their major, often in collaboration with one or more supervising faculty within the Williams School. By the conclusion of their course of study, students should understand the complexity of the workings of business, economy, and/or government in a global setting as well as viewed from multiple perspectives.

Whether majoring in the Williams School or simply picking up a few courses to supplement a major in another area of W&L, the course of study assures a well-rounded graduate and provides a sound foundation for engaged citizenship and careers in business, government and law.


The Departments of Accounting and Finance, Business Administration, Economics, and Politics comprise the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

Degrees and Majors Offered

The Williams School offers majors leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Science degree. Detailed information on each of these degrees and majors can be found in the “Courses of Study” section of this catalog. Students may complete only one of the Williams School majors leading to the Bachelor of Science degree.

Bachelor of Arts Degree

The Williams School offers the following majors leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree:


Bachelor of Science Degree

The Williams School offers the following majors leading to the Bachelor of Science degree:

Business Administration  


The Williams School offers the following minor:



First-Year Advice

The first year is designed for students to study broadly across the curriculum. All students are encouraged to sample courses across the University to develop new interests and satisfy the Foundation and Distribution Requirements.

This advice holds for students who have a preliminary interest in the majors offered through the Williams School. Introductory economics and politics classes are offered that satisfy FDRs and may ultimately satisfy major requirements for students opting to major in one of the Williams School areas. Other introductory courses in accounting or business may be taken as well. Students interested in majoring in the Williams School are advised to devote the remainder of their schedule to a diverse set of courses from across the University.

Students who hope to study abroad, should begin conversations with their advisers and the staff in the Center for International Education regarding their options. Given the global focus of much of what is taught in the Williams School, students are combining multiple international experiences across their four years. These might include a combination of a spring term class involving international travel, a semester or year-long study abroad, an international internship, or independent research conducted abroad.

Co-curricular Programs

The Williams School faculty value opportunities to learn beyond the boundaries of a traditional course. Williams School faculty assist a variety of student-led, cocurricular programs that are open to students from majors across the university and that extend the learning taking place in the classroom. These programs include:

Mock Convention: Washington and Lee’s famous “Mock Con” attracts national attention when it is held in the winter term of each presidential election year. The entire student body participates in this political exercise aimed at predicting 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. Leadership positions for Mock Con are often filled several years in advance.

The Real Estate Society is a student-run group that seeks to use co-curricular activities to develop an enhanced understanding of real estate development and investment. The group hosts guest speakers, conducts and publishes market research, and acts as pro bono consultants to external constituents. The group also manages a portion of the W&L endowment invested in real-estate investments in public equity markets. Group members are selected each fall through a competitive application process.

Washington and Lee Student Consulting (WLSC): WLSC provides pro bono consulting to local, national, and international businesses and not-for-profits. The student managed group works on a variety of projects including marketing/business plans, website development, market entry strategies, and economic impact studies, in an effort to both help client organizations and provide students a chance to gain experience dealing with things studied in the classroom. Membership is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Group members are selected as sophomores each fall through a competitive application process.

Williams Investment Society (WIS): The Williams Investment Society is a student organization that manages a portion of Washington and Lee University’s endowment in equity securities. The society’s purpose is to provide students with a forum to develop their interest in investments and financial analysis by giving them the opportunity to actively manage real capital. The society also seeks to broaden awareness of investments within the W&L community by sponsoring speakers and making the society’s presentations and operations open to the public. Group members are selected each fall through a competitive application process.

Connolly Entrepreneurship Society: The Connolly Entrepreneurship Society provides students interested in entrepreneurship an opportunity to work with experienced entrepreneurs and begin to formulate business plans for their own venture. Admission is competitive.

Diversified Capital Group (DCG): Diversified Capital Group is the first URM-owned, student-run investment fund operating at Washington and Lee University. DCG seeks to close the access gap for talented, minority students interested in learning to invest. After an eight-week education program focused on top-down fundamental analysis, students aim to apply these learned skill sets through active investment management.

Administration of The Williams School

(as of July 1, 2022)

William Carlyle Dudley, Ph.D., President of the University

Lena M. Hill, Ph.D., Provost

Robert D. Straughan, Ph.D., Crawford Family Dean, Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

Elizabeth Goad Oliver, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

Kimberly Robinson, University Registrar

Williams School Faculty are listed under their respective disciplines.

Accounting and Finance  

Business Administration