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W&L Graduate’s Paper Selected for Presidential Fellows’ Anthology


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Wesley O’Dell, a 2009 Washington and Lee University graduate who participated in the annual Presidential Fellows Program, has had his research paper selected for inclusion in the papers of the 2008-2009 Presidential Fellows.

O’Dell’s paper is entitled “Executive Power in Times of Crisis: Presidential Action and Supreme Court Reaction.” In his paper O’Dell examined “how the concept of prerogative crisis power is developed within administrations and how that power has historically fared when placed under the scrutiny of the other branches, public opinion and history itself.”

A triple major in history, politics and classics, O’Dell focused on three case studies: the wartime proclamations of Abraham Lincoln, martial law under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and defense nationalism under Harry S. Truman.

As part of the Presidential Fellows Program, each Fellow is required to research, write, and present an original paper on an issue of the modern Presidency. The best of these papers are published in the Center's original anthology. O’Dell’s was one of 20 papers selected for inclusion this year from the 85 submitted and will be published in the volume titled A Dialogue on Presidential Challenges and Leadership: Papers of the 2008-2009 Fellows.

“It was an honor to participate in the program and a real treat to have my paper recognized this way,” said O’Dell, a native of Millwood, W.Va.

“W&L has had the honor of sending many great students to participate in the Presidential Fellows Program, but it comes as no surprise that Wes is the first to win this honor,” said Mark Rush, the Robert G. Brown Professor of Law and Politics at Washington and Lee and head of the department of politics. “He is an outstanding student and researcher. His work in my classes was always impeccable, well-thought and superbly written.  I am sure that this is just one of many accolades and honors that he will receive.”

The Presidential Fellows Program is under the auspices of  The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that actively counsels the White House, the Executive branch and Members of Congress on policy areas critical to strengthening Presidential leadership. Fellows attend two conferences each academic year during the fall and spring. At these policy workshops, Fellows discuss national issues with scholars and are briefed by senior government officials and nationally recognized public policy experts.

Since its inception, the Center Fellows Program has developed leadership and scholarship skills in more than 1,000 students, providing 3 of the 32 Rhodes Scholars in 2006 as well as numerous Fulbright, Gates, Marshall, and other Scholarship and Fellowship winners. Alumni of the Fellows Program are Capitol Hill and White House staffers, award-winning journalists, CEOs of corporations and non-profit organizations, senior military leaders, and university deans and vice-presidents.

At W&L, O’Dell was a member of Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Here served as head resident adviser, chairman of the Student Recruitment Committee and editor of the W&L Political Review.