washington and lee is a small, private, liberal arts university nestled between the blue ridge and allegheny mountains in lexington, va. it is the ninth oldest inst-tution of higher learning in the nation.
in 1749, scotch-irish pioneers who had migrated deep into the valley of virginia founded a small cl-ssical 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, though its ruins are preserved today as a symbol of the inst-tution’s honored past.
in 1796, george washington saved the struggling liberty hall academy when he gave the school its first major endowment–$20,000 worth of james river c-n-l stock. the trustees promptly changed the name of the school to washington academy as an expression of their grat-tude. in a letter to the trustees, washington responded, “to promote the literature in this rising empire, and to encourage the arts, have ever been amongst the warmest wishes of my heart.” the donation–one of the largest to any educational inst-tution at that time–continues to contribute to the university’s operating budget today.
general robert e. lee reluctantly accepted the position of president of the college in 1865. because of his leadership of the confederate army, lee worried he “might draw upon the college a feeling of hostility,” but also added that “i think it the duty of every citizen in the present condition of the country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony.” during his brief presidency, lee invited judge john white brockenbrough to bring to the college his lexington law school, which he had established in 1849, encouraged development of the sciences and inst-tuted programs in business instruction that led to the founding of the school of commerce in 1906. he also inaugurated courses in journalism, which developed by 1925 into the school of journalism–now the department of journalism and m-ss communications. these courses in business and journalism were the first offered in colleges in the united states. after lee’s death in 1870, the trustees voted to change the name from washington college to washington and lee university.
once an all-male inst-tution, washington and lee first admitted women to its law school in 1972. the first undergraduate women matriculated in 1985. since then, washington and lee has flourished. the university now boasts a new science building, a performing arts center and an indoor tennis facility, and it continues to climb the ranking charts of u.s. news and world report and other rating agencies. washington and lee is ranked 12th among the top national liberal arts colleges by u.s. news.
washington and lee university observed its 250th anniversary with a year-long, national celebration during the 1998-99 academic year.
only princeton and harvard have graduated more fortune 500 ceos. not too shabby for a tiny liberal arts college hidden in the shenandoah valley.
it’s hard always being the best
a selective university located in lexington, va. at one time a shining beacon of southern values, w&l is now turning into a liberal hotbed for cultural diversity. rapidly losing prestige in the fraternity community for excessively overemphasizing their newfound commitment to said diversity. that being said, there is still a great greek system there. however, the influx of gdis is surely going to implode the greek system in a very short time.
old w&l alum: hey jimmy smith, you seem like the perfect guy for washington and lee university! smart, southern, and well mannered.
jimmy: nah grandpa w&l, maybe 30, 20, even 10 years ago. unfortunately, my white skin and 30 act can’t really compete with abu napatapatalon and jose juan carlos englasias who have 29’s , but are for more diverse than me.
old w&l alum: wow, that must mean within 20 years or sooner their whole fraternity system is going to go down the sh-tter, replaced with an uber cool ultimate frisby intramural league.
jimmy: great success!
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