Washington College Among Top Liberal Arts Colleges in America!

 

Statue of George Washington on Washington College campus in front of Middle Hall.

Washington College continues its upward progress in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, with today’s announcement that the College is 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report. This is showing a continuing positive trend, from 99th last year, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015.

On an overall score out of 100, Washington College bumped up from 54 to 56, reflecting factors including the College’s three-year average for retention, which went from 83 percent to 84 percent, increasing selectivity of applicants with an acceptance rate change of 54 to 49 percent, and a peer assessment score—based on surveys sent to peer institutions—that improved by a tenth of a point. Alumni giving also increased from 17 to 19 percent over a three-year average.

As previously, the College continued to be well represented in the “A+ Schools for B Students” category—“where spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office,” as the listing says.

“I am very proud that we are on this list, and that we continue to improve our U.S. News Best Colleges rankings,” says College President Kurt Landgraf. “It shows how hard we as a College have worked across the board to provide our students with terrific opportunities and a liberal arts education among the best in the nation.”

The CAC – Casey Academic Center on Washington College campus

In the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking in “is based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data,” the report says. “The remaining 22.5 percent is based on academic reputation, determined by a peer assessment from top academics at colleges; in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, ratings from high school counselors are also factored in.”

For more information on Washington College, visit their website.

Starr Center’s Goodheart Earns National Endowment for the Humanities Award

Adam Goodheart works in the Library of Congress on his new book, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, has earned a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write the sequel to his best-selling 1861: The Civil War Awakening.

The NEH grant, in the words of its mission statement, supports “scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact.” It rewards writers who can bridge the gap between academia and popular nonfiction to shed light on a broad range of topics: from diabetes and species extinction to the French Revolution and—in Goodheart’s case—the Civil War. Scholars must have already published a major book to apply, and the acceptance rate is slender, only about 5 percent.

Goodheart, whose 1861: The Civil War Awakening was a New York Times bestseller, is working on its sequel, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation. He is returning to the same deeply researched narrative techniques for which the Times praised 1861, saying, “Goodheart excels at creating emotional empathy with his characters, encouraging us to experience the crisis as they did, in real time, without the benefit of historical hindsight. He lets the players speak for themselves and make the best case for their own motives and beliefs.”

1861 was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history, and the audiobook, published by Audible, won the Audie Award in history. President Barack Obama invited Goodheart to an Oval Office ceremony to recognize his role in having Fort Monroe, where part of 1861 is set, declared a National Monument.

“As with 1861, I’m working to evoke the lived experience of a moment in history, through vivid depictions of individual people and places,” Goodheart says. “Doing it successfully requires immersing myself in the primary sources, which is something I love to do. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at the National Archives, delving into the thousands of letters that families wrote to the federal government seeking information on loved ones who hadn’t come back from the Civil War. Reading some of them was an emotional experience, even 150 years later. Those little known but powerful human stories interest me more than troop movements and battle strategies.”

Goodheart has been able to take a part-time leave from his Starr Center duties to pursue the research and perform the writing. The book is to be published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and as a Vintage paperback.

“I’m honored to be supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Goodheart says, adding that he hopes Congress will continue to fund the NEH and its sister institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which are zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “If he succeeds,” Goodheart says, “it will be a disaster for the intellectual and cultural life of our country.”

 

 

Why is George Smiling?

Don’t Worry.  We’re Happy! Say Washington College students.

The Princeton Review ranks Washington College among the top twenty schools in the nation with the happiest undergraduates.

According to The Princeton Review, Washington College is among the nation’s very best institutions for undergraduate education, but its distinctive approach to mentoring students has propelled the college to the top of the chart that measures the happiness factor. Washington College is ranked 16th in the nation for Student Happiness, as noted in the 2018 edition of The Best 382 Colleges released Aug. 1.

Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and two colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular guides. Published annually since 1992, it has detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores in eight categories. The book also has ranking lists of top 20 schools in 62 categories, including the Happiest Students category. The Princeton Review’s results are valuable since they are based on surveys of actual students attending the colleges.

Happy WC students on the deck of the Literary House during the 2017 Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference.

“I’m delighted to see Washington College featured in The Princeton Review as one of the best 382 colleges for 2018,” said college President Kurt Landgraf. “Washington College is all about the students, and I am proud to know that our high ‘Student Happiness’ ranking reflects that student-centric focus. This cornerstone of who we are and what we do results in memorable experiences that have a positive impact on students’ personal and professional lives.”

In its profile on Washington College, The Princeton Review praises the college for its “truly personalized education,” and quotes extensively from Washington College students. Among their comments: “Living at Washington College is as good as a college experience can get.”

What a smile! Intern Hebs Guerra-Recinos expresses his approval!

“We chose Washington College for this book because it offers outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and author of The Best 382 Colleges. “Our selections are primarily based on our surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. We also visit dozens of colleges each year and give considerable weight to opinions of our staff and our 24-member National College Counselor Advisory Board. Most importantly, we look at the valuable feedback we get from each school’s customers—our surveys of students attending them. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity, and character.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges from 1 to 382 in any category. Instead, it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 137,000 students (358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s career services. The Princeton Review explains the basis for each ranking list here.

Other “Happy Schools” include Rice University, College of William and Mary, Colby College, and Vanderbilt.  The University of California at Santa Barbara is also in top twenty happy schools but they’re practically on the beach so, of course, they’re happy.  St. John’s in Annapolis also made the list.

###

WC Receives $1 Million Gift to Support Study of Classical World

Andrea Trisciuzzi, vice president for college advancement, accepts two checks totaling over $1 million from William Creager, executor of the estate of a couple who made the gift anonymously to Washington College.

A couple who visited Chestertown regularly for over 30 years has bequeathed more than $1 million to Washington College as an endowment for the study of the Classical world. The couple, who chose to remain anonymous for their gift, were not College alumni, although they were members of The 1782 Society, the College’s leadership giving society, and often attended events on campus.

“They enjoyed Chestertown and the influence the College had on the quality of life here,” says a local resident, also choosing anonymity, who was friends with the pair for some 50 years. “They particularly enjoyed the Washington College Concert Series every year.”

The donors intend for the bequest to encourage development of new academic opportunities and to sustain the work of faculty members already involved in areas of study related to the Classical world. The funds could support the hiring of instructors; library materials; new and existing courses in the literature, history, art, philosophy, or religion (including the study of mythology) of the Classical world; faculty research; and honoraria and expenses for visiting lecturers.

“The study of the Classical world has always been a key component of a liberal arts education,” says Patrice DiQuinzio, Provost and Dean of the College, “and we are thrilled to have this fund to support the work of Washington College faculty who teach courses related to that era.”

“This is truly a remarkable and generous gift,” says College President Kurt M. Landgraf. “It’s clear that Washington College connects with people in sometimes unexpected ways that remind us why we do what we do. The relationship between the College and the town of Chestertown is strong, with powerful potential. This couple saw a local opportunity to affect generations to come, in a meaningful way, and we are deeply grateful.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

The Collaborative Turtle Research of WC Student and Professor Earns the Cover of “Animal Conservation”

After Hannah O’Malley proposed that her senior thesis be based on research with Washington College Biology Associate Professor Aaron Krochmal, the results of her original hypothesis and the pair’s collaboration to test it are helping conservation managers reassess the role of learning when it comes to moving endangered animals from one habitat to another.

The results of their study are featured in a manuscript entitled “An Empirical Test of the Role of Learning in Translocation” published this summer in the online edition of Animal Conservation. Coauthored by Krochmal’s research associate Timothy C. Roth of Franklin & Marshall College, the paper will be the print edition’s cover story in February 2018.

Hannah O’Malley ’12 in the field radio-tracking Eastern painted turtles.

For O’Malley ’12, a biology major who minored in secondary education and has gone on to become a key member of Walt Disney’s Animals Sciences and Environment education team, co-authorship of her first peer-reviewed paper “feels great, and I’m very excited to officially see it in writing, (and) that my thesis has a purpose beyond just being my Senior Capstone Experience. I love that it has implications for conserving species.”

Although many researchers have studied translocation—the practice of moving an animal from one location to another to protect it from habitat loss or other extinction risks—this research is the first that examines the practice experientially through the lens of cognition and learning. Wildlife managers have long used “soft release”—giving an animal time to learn a new habitat by penning or otherwise protecting it for a period of time before turning it loose—but this research shows that for some species, even soft-release translocation can only succeed if the animals are able to learn the new habitat.

For Eastern painted turtles, whose migratory patterns and navigational methods Krochmal and his students have been studying for eight years, that critical window of learning only happens within their first three years of life. O’Malley was one of Krochmal’s Summer Research students who had worked with him on turtle research at DuPont’s Chesapeake Farms, a 3,300-acre agriculture and wildlife management property near the College.

An Eastern painted turtle with radio tag attached sets off in search of a new water source.

“This project was Hannah’s idea. She was looking into the conservation education side of things but with a strong science background,” Krochmal says. “She suggested the idea of translocating animals with both a short time window and a long time window to compare their behavior against animals that live in that habitat, asking ‘Can you, as newly introduced animal, catch up to their culture?’ And the answer is no, unless you do it when you’re young.”

These data, Krochmal says, encourage more research into this question for other species that are likely to need translocation. And, it can help conservation managers better allocate limited resources—for instance, they may want to spend their money and efforts only on juvenile and newly hatched turtles, rather than adults, since the former are clearly able to learn a new environment while the latter will likely die in the attempt.

“I remember Dr. K saying, ‘What do you think is going to happen?’ and I said, ‘We’re going to translocate turtles and they’re not going to know what the heck is going on,’ ” says O’Malley. “I had already watched how the resident turtles know so clearly what they’re doing. It’s like us waking up in the morning and saying, ‘It’s wintertime and I guess I need to put my coat on.’ They just know what to do.”

Asking newly introduced adult turtles to learn the new habitat “was like moving someone from Florida up north—‘Whoa! I don’t know how to handle this!’ It would have been cool if they miraculously have this sense of direction without having to learn that, but we definitely saw that was not the case.”

In her career with Disney, O’Malley works with other teams to connect children and families to the global environment, creating outdoor education experiences at Walt Disney World in Florida, as well as curricula and resources for educators. For instance, while working with content from the film “Moana,” O’Malley helped develop an activity packet and teacher resource guide that included lessons on sea turtle conservation, while with the new film “Born in China,” she worked on materials related to education and conservation of pandas, snow leopards, and golden snub nosed monkeys—key species featured in the film.

Her work with Krochmal, she says, taught her that the purpose of research is less to find answers than to learn what are the next questions to ask. As an educator now, she also has realized fully the value of his method of mentorship.

“Dr. Krochmal was one of the first educators who treated me as an equal,” she says. “It was, ‘OK, we have this question, let’s work on it together and see where it goes and where it takes us.’ He would say, ‘This is as much your project as it is my project.’ Over time I became more and more invested and empowered and more confident, and I definitely felt like I was contributing, which as a student you don’t always get.”

See the Animal Conservation abstract here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1469-1795/earlyview

Read the entire paper: here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317719204_An_empirical_test_of_the_role_of_learning_in_translocation

Learn more about the turtle research here: https://www.facebook.com/taskforceturtle1/

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Mid-Shore Education: A Chat with Washington College’s New President Kurt Landgraf

New Washington College President Kurt Landgraf had been in office not quite two weeks when the Spy staff dropped into his Bunting Hall office for an interview on July 13. In a wide-ranging conversation, Landgraf was frank and ready to ask questions of his own, a good sign that he will be open to give-and-take with other stakeholders in the college community.

As the interview begins, he is answering a question about what attracted him to Washington College. Later, he responds to a question about a recent poll result showing that some 60 percent of Republicans believe that a college education is not good for society. Landgraf disagreed strongly and went on to to express his belief that the liberal arts curriculum helps provide a good foundation for citizenship in a democracy. Click on the picture above to see the video, which runs just over seven minutes.

The new president began with a brief autobiography, not included in the video. He was born in Newark and raised in Rahway, both in New Jersey. He attended Wagner College on an athletic scholarship and played baseball with the Reading Phillies for a while before joining the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war. After the service, he had a number of jobs, including a short stint at ETS, the Educational Testing Service, before ending up at DuPont, where he spent a major part of his career, overseeing divisions both in the US and abroad.

He worked in the pharmaceutical division and noted that the opioid antagonist drug Narcan was developed during his time there. He spent ten years as head of the European division of DuPont, and was under consideration to become CEO of the entire company. When that position went to someone else, Landgraf was recruited by Educational Testing Services, which at the time was on the verge of liquidation. He turned the company around, stayed there 13 years, and became very interested in education. During that time, he became chairman of the New Jersey Higher Education Commission, which oversees all colleges in the state. Then in 2015, he was contacted about the Washington College presidency.

After the initial phases of the search process, Landgraf was one of the finalists for the WC job — which eventually went to Sheila Bair. When he was on campus for interviews, he said, he asked one young student what was the most important thing he had learned at the school. “Moral courage,” said the student. Landgraf was so impressed that a young person could cite that quality that he decided on the spot that, if he was offered the job, he would take it. That opportunity came this June, when Bair tendered her resignation.

Asked the difference between his former position as a CEO at DuPont and his new one, Landgraf said that a CEO has nearly absolute power in decision-making, whereas a college president is in a position of co-governance with the board. On the other hand, he said, all institutions “are made up of the same kind of mammal;” with human nature the constant.

Washington College has substantial assets that offer high value to prospective students, he said. He cited the waterfront campus, which is currently under development, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, with its strong program of readings and publications; and the Douglass Cater Society, which supports undergraduate students in self-directed research projects all over the world. He plans to continue and, where possible, expand these programs and their impact. Landgraf said the college needs to market these assets to reach its full potential.  These are wonderful programs, offering outstanding opportunities for students and most people

Landgraf is also aware of the college’s relationship with the town of Chestertown. He has already met with Mayor Chris Cerino, he said, and he is planning to attend the town council meeting July 17 to introduce himself. He said he isn’t concerned with past relations between the two entities; “We need to go forward,” he said. He said he plans to work with the Save the Hospital group, to get involved with United Way of Kent County.  It is very important, he said, for the town and the college to support one another.

In explaining the value of a college education in today’s society, Landgraf said that the U.S. depends on three pillars: capitalism, the rule of law and democracy. An educated populace is needed for each of these to carry its weight. A liberal arts education, while it may not appear to prepare students for specific roles in the workforce, is the best preparation for citizenship in general, he said.

It will be interesting to see how Landgraf’s presidency develops. As one college staff member observed, there have been four presidents in five years, with significant turnover in senior staff. The college can obviously benefit from a period of stability, and given Landgraf’s comments on the need to work with the board and his interest in making the college and the town closer than they have been, friends of the college may be encouraged to hope that this is the beginning of a time of stability and regeneration.

Washington College Names Kurt M. Landgraf as Next President

CHESTERTOWN—The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the appointment of Kurt M. Landgraf as the next President of the college. President-elect Landgraf, who was determined to be an exceptional and highly qualified candidate during the Board’s most recent national search in 2015, will begin his tenure July 1.

Kurt M. Landgraf – New President of Washington College

“Throughout his remarkable career, Kurt Landgraf has set himself apart from his peers as an exceptional leader and an exemplar of the values we seek to instill in our students, faculty, and community here at Washington College,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “We believe his collaborative leadership style, his ability to craft ambitious and integrated strategies, and his operational experience will be an asset to Washington College.

“We are thrilled that such an exceptional candidate was available to lead our College in support of the groundbreaking work of our students and faculty,” Culp continued.

“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to join the Washington College community, and to continue the work of my predecessors in providing students with the best possible education,” said Landgraf. “To join the ranks of this storied and historic institution is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m certain that by working with the faculty, staff, student body, and board, as well as others in the community, we will be able to accomplish extraordinary things. And while new leadership always brings change, rest assured that President Sheila Bair’s exceptional work to address the national student debt crisis and to launch a comprehensive campaign will not only continue, but I hope will be energized and invigorated.”

Landgraf is well known to both the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors and the most recent presidential search committee. In 2015, that search committee— proportionally comprised of faculty, senior staff, and board members—began its national search for a new president, considering nearly 400 candidates and seriously vetting nearly 60 contenders. During that process, Landgraf proved himself to be an outstanding candidate.

Landgraf comes to Washington College with a decades-long résumé as a senior executive with DuPont (including serving as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chairman of DuPont Europe Middle East and Africa, Chairman and CEO of DuPont Pharmaceutical Company and CEO of DuPont Merck Company), and a 13-year tenure as President and CEO of ETS, one of the world’s leading providers of measurement programs and evaluations for schools, including both the K-12 and higher education communities.

Currently, Landgraf serves as a member of the boards of directors for Corning Incorporated and the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. He has also served as President of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, and was nominated, confirmed, and served as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Commission for the State of New Jersey, the state’s governing body for higher education institutions.

“Kurt Landgraf’s vision of cooperative co-governance will be a strong foundation from which to work together as a campus, and he has already shown a willingness to embrace the Washington College strategic plan. I’m certain his leadership will lend our campus and community essential guidance, and assist us in every facet of operations, from helping fight the national student debt crisis, to accomplishing our unprecedented fundraising goals as part of our Forge a Legacy campaign,” said Jonathan McCollum, Chair of the Washington College Faculty Council and Chair of the Department of Music. “It is a pleasure to welcome President-elect Landgraf to campus, and I look forward to working with him to continue instilling in our students the core values of Washington College: critical thinking, effective communication and deep, abiding moral courage.”

“Kurt is an exceptional leader who has an impressive record of success in higher education and the corporate world. At ETS, he did a remarkable job advancing its social mission, reimagining the future of the organization, and building a strong organization and culture,” said Robert Murley, who served as Chair of the ETS Board of Directors for four years during President Landgraf’s tenure as CEO, and who has been an ETS board member for nearly 18 years. “As a result of his leadership and his commitment to diversity and to ensuring fairness and equity in assessment, promising students have been able to realize their dreams to attend college and graduate school regardless of their financial circumstances. Washington College is fortunate to have him as its next president.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

 

Washington College Transition: Bair Resigns

The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the resignation of President Sheila Bair.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with President Bair for these past two years, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “Her work on behalf of both this institution, and the nation’s undergraduate population as a whole, to diminish our national student debt crisis has been remarkable, and we both thank and commend President Bair for her dedication to improving access to high-quality education for all students.”

“It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as President of this historic college, and my time here is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my career and life,” said President Bair. “Being a part of an institution co-founded by our nation’s own Founding Father, George Washington, will be impossible to match, and I thank the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Visitors and Governors for their support these past two years, particularly for our access and affordability initiatives. Unfortunately, this job has required that I be away from my family quite a bit, and I underestimated the hardship that would create when I took up leadership of the college. I regret that I am not able to serve my full five-year term, but in many ways, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our hardworking campus community, we accomplished in two years what would have required five at other institutions.”

President Bair came to Washington College after serving as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011, where she played a key role in stabilizing the banking system during the financial crisis. She was officially appointed in May 2015, and served as the institution’s first female president in its 234-year history.

A native of Independence, Kansas, Bair earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Kansas in 1974 and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978. She began her career in public service as an aide to Kansas senator Bob Dole and later served as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange, and Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For four years, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Appointed to lead the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006, Bair was recognized for sound fiscal management and for raising employee morale. She was one of the first officials to warn about the damage the growing subprime mortgage crisis would pose to millions of homeowners and the economy at large. Consumer advocates praised her relentless efforts to represent the interests of homeowners, bank customers and taxpayers. She helped shape and implement the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the FDIC expanded power to “wind down” rather than bail out a failing bank, and created the Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion in an effort to bring banking services to underserved populations.

Bair chronicled her five years at the FDIC in Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself, a New York Times bestseller published in September 2012. A prolific writer, she has been a regular contributor to Fortune and has written three books for children that offer lessons in financial literacy.

During her presidency at the college, she pioneered several student debt reduction programs, including a program to match scholarship dollars to every dollar spent out of a family’s 529 or Education Savings Account, and George’s Brigade, offering full scholarships to highly qualified, low-income students. In addition, she ushered in Fixedfor4, a tuition plan that guarantees entering students that their tuition will not go up during their four years at the College, bringing certainty to one of the largest expenditures a family makes.

Launched in the fall of 2016, the Brigade saw 14 first-generation students complete their freshmen year. Twenty new George’s Brigade scholars are expected to matriculate in the fall. Another affordability initiative, Dam the Debt, is a “back-end” scholarship that helps pay off the federal loans of graduating seniors. Since its inception, Washington College has dispersed a total of $659,000 to graduating seniors, reducing their overall debt by over 10 percent.

The College expects to continue the efforts that began under Bair’s leadership. Her contributions to the improvements in diversity, retention, advancement, and alumni participation are greatly appreciated, as is the contribution she made to help raise the public profile of the College

President Bair’s resignation will be effective June 30.

Two Innovative Scholarship Programs at WC Get $715,000 Boost

Washington College President Sheila Bair today announced an additional $715,000 that will support two of the school’s most innovative scholarship programs, Dam the Debt and George’s Brigade. The additional funding brings the programs, which President Bair inaugurated two years ago, to $1.25 million and $5.7 million, respectively.

“From the moment I became president of Washington College, affordability and accessibility have stood at the top of my to-do list,” President Bair says. “We could not have achieved all we have already through Dam the Debt and George’s Brigade without the generous and far-sighted support of our donors to these programs, who clearly see that making college more affordable for everyone must be a priority, both for Washington College as a small liberal arts institution, and for higher education as a whole.”

George’s Brigade pays full tuition, room, board, and fees all four years to high-need, high-potential students. Begun with the Class of 2020, the Brigade saw 14 students complete their first year in May, and 20 new students are expected to matriculate with the Class of 2021 this fall. The inaugural year of the program saw an 88 percent retention rate. Under President Bair’s leadership, the College’s overall retention rate for first-to-second-year students increased by four points from the previous year to 86 percent.

Of the $5.7 million accumulated to date for George’s Brigade, $3.7 million is endowed. New donors to George’s Brigade arethe J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation, which committed $160,000; the Hearst Foundation, which contributed $100,000; Morgan Stanley, which donated $80,000; T. Rowe Price, which committed $50,000, and the Charlotte and George Riggs Charitable Fund, which contributed $20,000. In addition, President Bair designated $160,000 of presidential discretionary funds to the Brigade to fund two four-year scholarships.

Since its inception in late 2015, George’s Brigade has received support from a variety of sources including H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. ’85, president of the Board of Visitors and Governors, The Hodson Trust, M&T Bank, DLA Piper, Avant, Bank of the West, PNC, Heron Point of Chestertown, Host Hotels Resorts, Ann D. Horner ’80, Nina Houghton P’85, GP ’11, the Grayce B. Kerr Fund, Dr. Robert Kirkwood, M&A Enterprises, Mr. and Mrs. James Miller, Morgan Stanley & Company, T. Rowe Price, Thomson Reuters, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Travieso ’66 ’66,Mr. and Mrs. James Aris P ’17, itBit, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, P. C. Massey III ’58, James Riepe, and Mr. and Mrs. Brian Rogers.

Taking a different tack on cutting college costs, Dam the Debt acts as a back-end scholarship that awards eligible graduating seniors a grant that pays for federally subsidized loans they have taken out for their last semester of college. Since its inception in May 2016, the program has awarded a total of $659,000 to 252 eligible graduating seniors, reducing the students’ overall debt by over 10 percent with an average grant amount of $2,615.

President Bair has designated $145,000 of presidential discretionary funds to Dam the Debt. Previous donors include BB&T, bloooom, inc., TD Bank, Santander Bank, Avant, John and Peggy Bacon, and Philip and Joan Riggin.

In addition to these two programs, the College has launched FixedFor4, which will fix tuition for four years for incoming freshmen, beginning with this fall’s incoming Class of 2021. Last year, the College also announced the Saver’s Scholarship, which matches the amount that families contribute from a 529 college savings plan or an Educational Savings Account, up to $2,500 per year, to pay for their student’s tuition. Learn more at http://www.washcoll.edu/value/.

In addition to these new programs, Washington College annually provides more than $23 million in grants and scholarships, with 90 percent of students receiving merit-based scholarships or need-based financial aid.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Washington College Graduates 292

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, encouraged graduating Washington College students to keep an open mind to the constant question of “what comes next,” while knowing that their education has given them the strongest footing from which to answer it throughout their lives.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, addresses the Class of 2017 at Washington College, May 20

“Saying ‘I don’t know’ is one of the hardest things to do in life,” Lagarde told graduates, families, faculty, and alumni during the college’s 234th Commencement on the Campus Green, May 20. “We have all been trained from a young age to have an answer at the ready. But the reality is that the answer is not what matters most—it is knowing how to find the answer that is key. Your education—this wonderful, complex, classical, liberal arts training—has given you the foundation you need to begin to solve the puzzle of ‘What comes next?’ ’’

Although the future these graduates face is one where technology, automation, and artificial intelligence may take over the tasks now managed by humans, Lagarde said that the problem-solving skills, empathy, and perspective inherent in the liberal arts will become even more critical as time goes on.

“Many of the founders of this country, who were lawyers, businessmen, and farmers by training, could also recite orations from Pericles by heart. Those polymath skills not only gave their revolution historical context, it informed the society they hoped to build,” she said. “Your school embodies their vision and has instilled in you a love of knowledge. Success for your generation requires a commitment to life-long learning and an understanding that today is a milestone in your education, but it is not the end. The truth is that college has taught you how to learn, not what to learn.”

“By choosing Washington College, each of you has stood up and said that public service is important in your life. The values of this institution come directly from Washington himself; his example serves as the inspiration for your honor code. You have made a promise to help others and now you must follow through,” she said. “Think about what matters most to you—is it climate change? Homelessness? Improving education? Whatever it is, fight for it.”

Read the complete text of LaGarde’s speech here.

Before the address, President Sheila Bair awarded Lagarde an honorary doctor of laws.

Along with conferring degrees upon 292 graduates, the ceremonies on the campus green included multiple awards and citations:

  • James Allen Hall, associate professor of English and the director of the Rose O’ Neill Literary House, earned the Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.
  • Alex Aiello Roberts, a math and computer science major, philosophy minor, from Bel Air, Md., won the George Washington Medal and Award, given to the senior who shows the greatest promise of understanding and realizing in life and work the ideals of a liberal education.
  • Anna Elizabeth Inserra, a chemistry major from Dix Hills, N.Y., won the Clark-Porter Medal, given to the student whose character and personal integrity, in the opinion of the faculty, have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life.
  • Alexandra D. Kurtz, of Lancaster, Pa., a political science major with minors in economics and Spanish, won the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award, for a graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated unusual interest, enthusiasm, and potential in the field of public affairs.
  • Erika Louise Koontz, of Woodbine, Md., an environmental studies major with minors in Spanish and biology and a concentration in Chesapeake regional studies, earned the Eugene B. Casey Medal, given to a senior woman voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Patrick S. Ginther, of Harleysville, Pa., a double major in chemistry and biology with concentrations in biochemistry and organic and medicinal chemistry, won the Henry W.C. Catlin 1894 Medal, given to a senior man voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership, and campus citizenship.
  • Two students won this year’s Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize, which goes to the graduating senior majoring in science who has an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities and has shown scholastic excellence. They are Laura Elizabeth King, of Rising Sun, Md., a double major in biology and Hispanic studies, and Ryan Manning, of Chestertown, an English and chemistry double major and creative writing minor.
  • The Gold Pentagon Awards go to one senior and one alumnus, faculty, or friend of the College, selected by the Omicron Delta Kappa Society, in recognition of meritorious service to Washington College. This year they are Madeleine Morrissette, of Arlington, Mass., a biology major with a minor French studies, and Edward P. Nordberg ’82, former chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors.
  • Catalina Righter, an English major and creative writing minor from Manchester, Md., won the Sophie Kerr Prize, given to the senior who shows the most promise for future literary endeavor.