2012-2013 University Catalog 
    Jul 23, 2024  
2012-2013 University Catalog archived

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



(Approved by the faculty and dean of the Williams School, August 2009)

In the Williams School, we educate students in the liberal arts tradition, preparing them to lead and to serve society and their professions with competence, vision, and integrity. Through our teaching and scholarship, we create and share knowledge about the role of commerce, economics, and politics in a diverse and globally interdependent society.


The School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics was authorized by the Trustees in June 1905, and was organized in 1906. It has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business 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, 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 and additional courses in business administration, 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 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, Business Administration, Economics, and Politics comprise the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.


The Williams School is located in Huntley Hall and in Holekamp Hall. In addition to a large number of faculty offices, the majority of Williams School classrooms and computer labs are housed in Huntley Hall. Holekamp Hall houses additional members of the Williams School faculty and staff, as well as student meeting spaces. Both buildings contain space for individual and group study.

Degrees and Majors Offered

The Williams School offers the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Science with Special Attainments in Commerce 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 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 with Special Attainments in Commerce Degree

The Williams School offers the following majors leading to the Bachelor of Science with Special Attainments in Commerce degree:

Accounting and Business Administration 
Business Administration 
Public Accounting 

Interdisciplinary Programs

In addition to courses contributing to Foundation and Distribution Requirements and to the various majors, there are Williams School courses contributing to most of the interdisciplinary programs on campus. These programs include Environmental Studies, Programs in African-American Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability.

Academic Advice


First-Year Advice

Regardless of the ultimate major chosen, the first year is designed to allow students to study broadly across the curriculum. For many first-year students, this broad study often exposes them to new and exciting topics that may influence their ultimate choice of majors in   unanticipated ways. For others, it may reinforce an earlier interest in a particular field. Regardless, the vast majority of students are encouraged to sample courses across the university, often satisfying Foundation and Distribution Requirements in the process.

This advice holds for students who have a preliminary interest in the majors offered through the Williams School. A number of 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. Many students choose to take an introductory course in information technology in the first year, some as early as their first term.  Additional introductory topics in accounting and applied statistics are available by the second term of the first-year. While students interested in majoring in the Williams School may choose to take one or more of these classes as first-years, the remainder of the schedule should be devoted to a diverse set of courses from across the university.

First-year students are strongly encouraged to continue their study of math, particularly calculus, and of foreign language. It is important for students to maintain continuity in these areas, lest the skills deteriorate.

The Williams School department heads sponsor information sessions for first-years at key points during the year. During these sessions, representatives from the Williams School present information on the various majors, course sequencing, study abroad, and other special opportunities within the Williams School.  Students curious about opportunities in the Williams School are expected to take advantage of these information sessions. 

Students who hope to study abroad, something ideally done during the sophomore year, should begin conversations with their advisers and the staff in the Center for International Education regarding their options. Those with questions specific to study abroad and the Williams School should speak with one of the Williams School department heads or with the associate dean of the Williams School. The Williams School and the Center for International Education will sponsor an information session on studying abroad as a Williams School major during the year.

Sophomore-Year Advice

Students interested in majoring in the Williams School should consult the “Courses of Study” section for the requirements of the various majors. Any student contemplating a Williams School major should complete the two introductory economics courses (if not completed during the first year), a course in applied statistics, and a course in information technology during the first or second year. Prospective politics majors should complete introductory course work in that department during this time as well. Students anticipating a major in accounting and business administration, business administration, or public accounting should complete the two-course introductory accounting sequence, preferable by mid-year in the second year of study. Accounting and public accounting majors can then proceed to the Intermediate Accounting sequence, while business majors may choose initial courses in business ethics or business law, finance, information systems, marketing, and/or organizational behavior. These courses may carry on into the junior and senior year. Business majors with a particular career interest (e.g., advertising, finance, information systems) are encouraged to seek out the introductory course in that field during the second term of the sophomore year.

Students typically declare their major during the winter term of the sophomore year. Students interested in declaring a major in the Williams School should pick up the appropriate form from the University Registrar’s Office or print it from the Web page at registrar.wlu.edu. They need to speak with a faculty member in the department of interest about serving as the major adviser. Once an adviser is identified, those students declaring majors need that individual’s signature and the signature of the appropriate department head.

For many, the sophomore year is the ideal time for an initial term abroad. Students are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity, making it a priority for one of the twelve-week terms. In most cases, students will be able to take some of the courses noted as appropriate for sophomores while abroad. Those courses not available elsewhere can be scheduled around the term abroad. Advance planning is crucial, often beginning during the first year on campus.

Junior- and Senior-Year Advice

Students who declare a major in the Williams School during their sophomore year will take intermediate and advanced courses in their particular major during their final two years at W&L. They will work with their advisers to find those courses that both satisfy the specific major  requirements and also are of greatest interest to the individual student. It is important, however, that juniors and seniors continue to look for interesting courses outside of the Williams School, as well. Such courses may provide a good complement to topics studied in the major, may take an alternate mode of inquiry, or may simply be of interest to the individual student. These courses will help satisfy the university’s graduation requirements, but more importantly they will contribute to the liberal arts and sciences experience that remains at the core of the W&L and Williams School mission.

Special Programs

The University offers numerous special programs for qualified students. These programs include the R.E. Lee Scholars program, honors in the major, and support for students interested in applying for post-graduate grants and fellowships. These programs are generally competitive. Interested students are referred to the appropriate portions of this catalog for more information on each of these.

In addition to the university-level programs, the Williams School sponsors and supports several special programs for students. Information on several of these follows.

Domestic Spring-Term Programs

There are several programs coordinated by Williams School faculty in the spring term. The application process for both of these programs may begin early during the academic year.

The Washington Term Program provides participating students with a combination of the practical experience of a political internship in Washington, D.C., and rigorous academic study. As a result, students gain deep insight into the ways in which national government operates. Interested students should contact Professor William Connelly for information on the program and the application process.

In addition, the Williams School offers the New York City Spring Program in International Commerce. Similar to the Washington Term, the New York program is built around a highly competitive internship. Interested students should contact Assistant Dean John Jensen for information about the requirements and interview process.

Sophomore students are eligible for a highly competitive summer internship based in Houston. This program is designed to give some of the most qualified students exposure to the business world following the sophomore year. Applications and interviews for this program usually take place in January and February. Interested students should speak with Assistant Dean John Jensen. 

Study-Abroad Opportunities

Students are encouraged to consider opportunities to study abroad, making it a priority for one of the twelve-week terms, if possible. The options range from full-year programs abroad to Washington and Lee spring-term programs abroad. Some students are able to incorporate two different study abroad experiences into their academic program.

The benefits of studying abroad are many, including immersion in another culture, experience with other educational philosophies, and opportunities to study certain subject matter at its epicenter. Students returning from study abroad often find the experiences provide a broader context in which to understand subsequent courses taken on campus. Thus, incorporating study abroad earlier in one’s academic experience is encouraged. Many feel that the sophomore year is the ideal time for an initial study abroad experience.

Students are encouraged to consider a full-term or full-year program abroad. Students going abroad for a longer period of study often find course options in economics, politics, and business which they can take for credit. However, students should consider the rich array of courses offered outside of these disciplines, as well. Regardless of discipline, students are strongly encouraged to look for class topics that are uniquely experienced in a given location. Such courses often provide the greatest benefit. Students seeking to study abroad in non-W&L programs should work closely with the Center for International Education office at W&L and with the appropriate department heads to assure that classes taken abroad will be awarded credit at W&L. Such credit approval should be secured prior to committing to study abroad.

Additionally, several Williams School faculty members lead spring-term programs abroad. These include courses in all Williams School departments, including several that are interdisciplinary in nature. Some of these opportunities are available as early as spring of the first-year. As with longer-term study abroad, students should seek information from the Center for International Education and the various Williams School departments.

In a small number of cases, the Williams School has established a formal partnership with a study abroad institution and preapproved courses in the host program for W&L credit. For information on these options, please contact Associate Dean Rob Straughan.

Cocurricular Programs

The Williams School faculty value opportunities to learn beyond the boundaries of a traditional course. Williams School faculty sponsor a variety of cocurricular groups that are open to students from majors across the university and that extend the learning taking place in the classroom. These programs—without academic credit—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 2016. Leadership positions for Mock Con are often filled several years in advance. Interested students should contact Professor Connelly.

  • 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. Admission to WIS is competitive. Interested students should check the website at wis.wlu.edu or contact Professor Schwartz.

  • 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 and involves a competitive application and interview process. Interested students should contact either Professor Oliver or Associate Dean Straughan.

  • Venture Club (VC): VC provides students interested in entrepreneurship an opportunity to work with experienced entrepreneurs and begin to formulate business plans for their own venture. Admission to VC is competitive. Interested students should contact Professor Shay. 

Administration of The Williams School

(as of July 1, 2012)

Kenneth Patrick Ruscio, Ph.D., President of the University

Robert A. Strong, Ph.D., Acting Provost

Larry C. Peppers, Ph.D., Crawford Family Dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

Robert D. Straughan, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

John A. Jensen, III, Assistant Dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics

Stephen D. Snead, Senior Director of Development


Raquel M. Alexander, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accounting

Michael A. Anderson, Ph.D., Robert E. Sadler, Jr. Professor of Economics

Ge Bai, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Accounting

Shikha Basnet, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

Robert M. Ballenger, Ph.D., Professor of Business Administration

Niels-Hugo Blunch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics

Amanda B. Bower, Ph.D., Professor of Business Administration

Scott J. Boylan, Ph.D., Ehrick Kilner Haight, Sr. Term Professor of Accounting

James F. Casey, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics

William F. Connelly Jr., Ph.D., John K. Boardman Professor of Politics

Robert S. Culpepper, J.D., Visiting Professor of Business Administration

Martin H. Davies, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

Roger A. Dean, Ph.D., Professor of Business Administration

J. Tyler Dickovick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Politics

Timothy M. Diette, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

Stephan A. Fafatas, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accounting

Dennis M. Garvis, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Business Administration

Philip A. Gibbs, Ph.D., Visiting Associate Professor of Business Administration

Arthur H. Goldsmith, Ph.D., Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics

Peter Grajzl, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

A. Joseph Guse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics

Rebecca C. Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Politics

Linda M. Hooks, Ph.D., Professor of Economics

Scott A. Hoover, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business Administration

Afshad J. Irani, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accounting

James R. Kahn, Ph.D., John F. Hendon Professor of Economics

Carl Paul Kaiser, Ph.D., Professor of Economics

George W. Kester, D.B.A., Mamie Fox Twyman Martel Professor of Business Administration

J. William King, Ph.D., Professor of Accounting

Robin Le Blanc, Ph.D., Darrold and Kay Cannan Term Professor of Politics

Craig W. McCaughrin, Ph.D., Professor of Politics

Lucas E. Morel, Ph.D., Lewis G. John Term Professor of Politics

Elizabeth Goad Oliver, Ph.D., Lewis Whitaker Adams Professor of Accounting

Larry C. Peppers, Ph.D., Professor of Economics

Renee M.E. Pratt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Sandra L. Reiter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business Administration

Kenneth Patrick Ruscio, Ph.D., Professor of Politics

Mark E. Rush, Ph.D., Robert G. Brown Professor of Politics and Law

Adam L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Lawrence Term Professor of Business Administration

Jeffrey P. Shay, Ph.D., Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Katharine L. Shester, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

Carolyn Simmons, Ph.D., Visiting Associate Professor of Business Administration

Michael J. Smitka, Ph.D., Professor of Economics

Robert D. Straughan, Ph.D., Professor of Business Administration

Robert A. Strong, Ph.D., William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics

David C. Touve, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Eduardo A. Velásquez, Ph.D., Professor of Politics

Lyn F. Wheeler, D.B.A., Professor of Accounting