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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University


August 2013

"There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher." ... Henry van Dyke, poet (1852-1933)

May 2013
"A liberal education is an experience which generously fills the mind, frees us from prejudices, stimulates our curiosity, disciplines our thought, and encourages us to live magnanimously." ... James G. Leyburn, educational innovator and dean of Washington and Lee University, 1947-1972

"It is essential that our students understand how time abroad fully complements their work and their lives on campus and we encourage them to build from one experience to the next with the goal of acquiring inter-cultural competence. ... In short, we are using the breadth of our resources to integrate, not separate, a valuable global learning tool With what we hope to accomplish through our global learning initiative, we are confident that W&L students will be uniquely distinguished and will leave here among the most well-educated men and the world." ... Laurent Boetsch, director of international education, professor of Romance languages, and former provost and interim president, Washington and Lee University, May 2, 2013

April 2013
"Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It's good to be silly at the right moment." ...Horace

March 2013
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." ... John Wooden

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." ... Charles Dickens

"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way." ... Edgar Guest

"Whoever I am, or whatever I am doing, some kind of excellence is within my reach." ... John W. Gardner

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these." ... George Washington Carver

"If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer." ... Dag Hammarskjold

February 2013
"The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind." ...Maya Angelou

"Before you'll change, something important must be at risk." ... Richard Bach

"There is no sin punished more implacably by nature than the sin of resistance to change." ... Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself." ... Abraham Maslow

"It's the most unhappy people who most fear change." ... Mignon McLaughlin

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death." ... Anais Nin

January 2013
"Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it." ... Marianne Williamson

"Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence." ... Henry David Thoreau

"True morality consists, not in following the beaten track, but in finding out the true path for ourselves and in fearlessly following it." ... Mohandas K. Gandhi

"I am going to share the two most important questions you will ever answer. If you answer 'no' to either of them I will know some things about you. I will know you are more stressed than you need to be. I will know you are unhappier than you need to be. Are you proud of the choices you are making at home? Are you proud of the choices you are making at work?" ... Connie Podesta

December 2012
"The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get understanding (insight)." ... Psalm 4.7

"We do know that no one gets wise enough to really understand the heart of another, though it is the task of our life to try." ... Louise Erdrich

"How can you expect a man who's warm to understand one who's cold?" ... Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman ... since they are heirs with you of the grace of life..." ... 1 Peter 3.7

November 2012
"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." ... Brother David Steindl-Rast

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" ... 1 Chronicles 16.34

"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual... O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment." ... Henry David Thoreau

"Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself." ... Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian Chief

September/October 2012
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." ... Aesop

"When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them." ... Willa Cather

"It is a little embarrassing that after forty-five years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other." ... Aldous Huxley

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind...Love your neighbor as you love yourself." ...Matthew 22.37-39

 August 2012
Making the most of your W&L experience

"Take a philosophy class early in your college career, challenge authority when you believe authority is wrong (even if you are unsure of what is right), become best friends with someone completely different than you, also become best friends with someone exactly like you, and nd try to remember that what is difficult, stressful, or depressing at 2 am will likely feel a lot more manageable after an episode of Modern Family and a night's sleep." ...Nate Reisinger '13

"In my job, election season is always around the corner and covering local politicians is important for a local newsroom. When I took "Fairytales and Popular Culture" one spring term, I just thought the class sounded fun. But since then, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've caught political candidates spinning fairy tale references into their speeches to show voters why they're the best man for the job....An acting class could come in handy when you have to lead your future company into the spotlight when you decide to be a publicly traded entity ...That field-emphasis geology class you sign up for will introduce you to the beautiful Virginia countryside and might spark a passion for an outdoor hobby that will be your stress reliever in twenty years. ...And if you want to be a Congressman someday, take a class that studies a religion you know little or nothing about. It will give you insight on how other people think and reason." ...Stephanie Wiechmann '07, NPR journalist (see

"Being a successful business professional comes from mixing up a witch's brew of learning - learning you get at W&L. In my case, it's what I learned in my marketing courses from L.K. Johnson, combined with my editorial writing courses from Pax Davis in the journalism school, served with a strong dose of history courses from Charlie Turner, adding the spice of film courses from John Jennings, with a dollop of sociology from Ken White, with English classes from [Bob] Huntley, art classes from Dr.Ju, with economics from John Gunn, with accounting from Jay Cook. You put it all together, and that makes sense of the world you live in." ...John Zamoiski '74, CEO, Bottlerocket Marketing Group (see

July 2012
"When driving, you glance at the speedometer to determine the speed of the vehicle-if it is what you want, you try to maintain it; if not, you make appropriate adjustments. That is analogous to how students are supposed to use, and benefit from, whatever it is that their grades are telling them.

It's perfectly normal to desire good grades since they serve as evidence that a student has demonstrated competence in a particular area. But problems arise when students assume that their primary goal in college is to earn good grades so they can achieve or maintain a certain GPA. That is like believing that the primary goal of driving a car is not to reach a particular destination but to achieve or maintain a certain speed.

Since grades have only instrumental value-rather than any intrinsic value-they must be treated as only means to some end, and never as ends in themselves. I tell my students: If your primary goal in college is to receive good grades, you will probably view the required work as an onerous obstacle and you're not likely to feel very motivated to do the work. But you are most likely to receive good grades when you are so focused on learning that grades have ceased to matter. ...

Learning is never directly caused by anything that a professor does. It happens as a result of the student's own activities (reading, thinking, writing, etc.), while the professor can only facilitate that process. Since the responsibility for learning lies with the student, so does the burden of demonstrating that he or she has actually achieved that learning.

...Ahmed Afzaal, "Grading and Its Discontents", Chronicle of Higher Education, July 11, 2012,

June 2012
"Concerning your future, I'll say this: For our society to have raised up giants like King and Lincoln, there have had to be thousands, tens of thousands, of people like them whom none of us has heard of. They were the glory of their times. Let that be you. Let that be you through the three-score years or so to which you may now look forward, years for pursuing and, I pray, finding ... the sacramental life. God bless you, looking forward. ...

If ever there was a college that meant to weave this deep-seated mutual courtesy into the educational fabric, it was Washington and Lee. ... These past four years watching from afar, it has seemed to me that this place has given you the same quality and kind of education, in warm contact with the same quality and kind of teacher, as I received at Amherst-but with a different underlayer. ...

Gentle men and women of the class of '12, your education has had a different flavor than would have been the case had you chosen Amherst, Brown or Smith. A gentleman is courteous, neighborly, mannerly, and will not lie, steal or cheat on chemistry examinations. With a gentle lady, it's the same. You did learn that here. If you trespassed that rule, you felt guilt. If another trespassed, you felt dismay. From now on, this belongs to who you are."

... Rev. Dr. Christoph Keller III, W&L Baccalaureate, May 23, 2012

May 2012
"You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world." ...Tom Brokaw

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." ...B.F. Skinner

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ...Beverly Sills

March/April 2012
"If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." ... Margaret Thatcher

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ... Eleanor Roosevelt

"When I discover who I am, I'll be free."
"Education is all a matter of building bridges."
... Ralph Ellison

March 2, 2012:
in memory of colleague and friend Severn "Dog" Duvall, Professor Emeritus of English

"We will encourage the student to reconsider the old familiar patterns. ... Indeed, we will encourage them to scrutinize unexamined presuppositions of their selves and their world. ... Education is, after all, a radical act in the rudimentary sense of the word. As student and teacher alike, we go back and try to re-examine." ... Severn Duvall

February 2012
"According to the measure of hardship are heights achieved,
And he who seeks loftiness must keep vigil by night;
As for he who wants heights without toil,
He wastes his life seeking the impossible-
So seek nobility now, then sleep once more (finally),
He who seeks pearls must dive into the sea."
... Imam Al-Shafi'i

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony." ... William Henry Channing

January 2012
"After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood." ... Fred Thompson

"To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms." ... John Leonard, critic

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." ... Martin Luther King Jr.

December 2011
"Never exaggerate. Exaggeration is a species of lying."

"Never risk your reputation on a single shot, for if you miss the loss is irreparable."

"Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it."

"First be master over yourself if you would be master over others."

"Knowing how to keep a friend is more important than gaining a new one."

"Those who insist on the dignity of their office show they have not deserved it."

... Baltasar Gracian, 17th-century Jesuit priest, author, and moralist

November 2011
"One can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a window pane." ... George Orwell, writer

"Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." ... David Lloyd George, British prime minister

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ... Maya Angelou, author and poet

October 2011
"[The superior man] stands erect by bending above the fallen. He rises by lifting others." ... Robert G. Ingersoll

"There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind." ... Hannah Senesh, poet, playwright, and paratrooper (1921-1944)

"We might take our lesson from the University motto that while not unmindful of the future, we also are also not unmindful of our past. You stand on the shoulders of giants as well as ordinary people and as you begin this academic year, you should think about your role in continuing and contributing to that legacy. What will you do in these sacred spaces? How will you continue to shape its meaning?" ... Pamela H. Simpson, Professor of Art History, at the Opening Convocation of Washington and Lee University, September 7, 2011 (1946-2011)

August and September 2011
"The university brings out all abilities, including incapability." ... Anton Chekhov

"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare." ... Mark Twain

"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." ... George Washington

June and July 2011
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." ... Abraham Lincoln, US President and statesman

"The measure of real character is what people would do if they knew they would never be found out." (paraphrase)... Thomas Babington Macaulay, author and statesman

"Young people ought to seek that experience that is going to knock them off center." ... James Michener, author

April and May 2011
"The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance." ... Samuel Butler

"It is always the secure who are humble." ... G. K. Chesterton
"Honor wears different coats to different eyes." ... Barbara W. Tuchman

April 1, 2011
Public Service Announcement

"As many of you know, each year the Internet must be shut down for 24 hours in order to allow us to clean it. The cleaning process, which eliminates dead email, inactive FTP and WWW sites, and empty Usenet groups, allows for a better working and faster Internet. This year the cleaning process will take place from 12:01 a.m. GMT on April 1 until 12:01 a.m. GMT on April 2 (the time least likely to interfere with ongoing work). During that 24-hour period, five powerful Internet search engines situated around the world will search the Internet and delete any data that they find. Refrain from connecting any computer to the Internet in any way."
Read more

March 2011
"Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength." ... Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author

"Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax." ... Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use." ... Emily Post, author of Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home

February 2011
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." ... Frederick Douglass

"The triumph can't be had without the struggle." ... Wilma Rudolph

"I would never wish anyone a life of prosperity and security. These are bound to betray. I would wish instead for adventure, struggle, and challenge." ... Dr. Marion Hilliard

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory." ... Mohandas K. Gandhi

January 2011
"Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back."
... Chinese proverb

"At liberal arts colleges we seek to place experienced, original, and creative minds in close contact with inexperienced, original, and creative minds."
... Kenneth P. Ruscio, President, Washington and Lee University

December 2010
"Gold in its native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and only lowborn metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter. However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica." ... Mark Twain, author and humorist

"He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has." ... Henry Ward Beecher

November 2010
"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all other virtues." ... Cicero

October 2010
"If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work."  ... Kahlil Gibran

"My experience has been that work is almost the best way to pull oneself out of the depths."  ... Eleanor Roosevelt

"Work lovingly done is the secret of all order and all happiness."  ... Auguste Rodin

"To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth." ... Pearl S. Buck

September 2010, as new students begin...
"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." ... Diane Ackerman

"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." ... Danny Kaye

"Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use." ... Charles Schulz

Fall convocation: Pat Lopes Harris '91 keynote -- Scott Dittman opening reflection

August 2010
"Be careful what you set your heart upon for it will surely be yours." ... James Baldwin, author

"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it." ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

July 2010
"There is nothing easier than lopping off heads and nothing harder than developing ideas." ... Fyodor Dostoevsky

"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today." ... H. Jackson Brown Jr.

"You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give." ... Eleanor Roosevelt

June 2010
"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade." ... Gertrude Jekyll, British garden designer, writer and artist

"Imagine what you will know tomorrow." ... "K", from Men in Black

"Everything that is done in the world is done by hope." ... Martin Luther King Jr.

May 2010
"If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough." ... Edward Everett Hale

"If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven't done anything today." ... Lou Holtz

April 2010: In celebration of the new W&L spring term

"We have to do the best we are capable of. This is our sacred human responsibility." ... Albert Einstein

"Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger." ... William James 

April 2010
"If a man wants to be of the greatest possible value to his fellow creatures, let him begin the long, solitary process of perfecting himself." ... Robertson Davies

"Do not worry about what others are doing! Each of us should turn the searchlight inward and purify his or her own heart as much as possible." ... Mohandas Gandhi

April 1, 2010
"˙sɹǝuıɥʍ 'ʞɔnן pooƃ ˙sǝʌןǝsɹnoʎ ɹoɟ puǝɟ noʎ ʇǝן ʇsnɾ puɐ suoıʇɐɹʇsıƃǝɹ ןןɐ ןǝɔuɐɔ ןןıʍ ǝʍ ʞuıɥʇ ı"

"I have great faith in fools - self-confidence, my friends call it." ... Edgar Allan Poe

March 2010
"Character is not cut in marble; it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do." ... George Eliot

"Young people ought to seek that experience that is going to knock them off center." ... James Michener

February 2010
"It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace." ... Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate

"The fundamental principle of peace is a belief that each person is important." ... Jean Vanier, philosopher and humanitarian

January 2010
"Individuality is freedom lived." ... John Dos Passos

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." ... Herman Melville

December 2009
"All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause -- there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once." ... Joss Whedon, writer and film director

"Do all the good you can by all the means you can by all the ways you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as long as you can." ... John Wesley

Thanksgiving 2009
"Give thanks in all circumstances..." ... First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, 5.18

November 2009
"Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody; the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I, who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and turn away." ... Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Meditations

October 2009
"Character is much easier kept than recovered." ... Thomas Paine

"Character is not cut in marble; it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do." ... George Eliot

September 2009
"College should be about stretching the limits of who you are and expanding the opportunities for what you can be." ... Lisa Luu, W&L '09, Monterey Park CA

"In typical liberal-arts fashion, I wanted to create a course that covers all the bases." ... Anne van Devender, W&L '09, Jackson MS

August 4, 2009: in memory of friend and colleague Bob McAhren
"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." ... Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970

"No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." ... Paul Gallico

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again." ... Terence Mann, Field of Dreams

August 2009
"We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created."

... Audre Lorde, American poet "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ... Anais Nin, Cuban-French writer and diarist

July 4, 2009: Happy 4th
"He shall mark our goings, question whence we came, / Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name. He shall peep and mutter, and night shall bring / Watchers 'neath our window, lest we mock the King." ... Rudyard Kipling, author

July 2009
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's own ignorance." ... Confucius, philosopher

"They know enough who know how to learn."  ... Henry Brooks Adams, American novelist, journalist, and historian

June 2009: At graduation
"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." ... Gladys Browyn Stern, writer

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." ... Johannes A. Gaertner, philosopher, art historian, poet, theologian

May 24, 2009: In memory of our colleague and friend, Joan O'Mara: She had tea in her.
"Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others." ... Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

"To teach is to learn." ... Japanese proverb

May 2009: graduation aphorisms
"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." ... Frank A. Clark

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you,' that would suffice." ... Johannes (Meister) Eckhart

April 2009
"There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them." ... Zora Neale Hurston

"Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?" ... Lillian Hellman

April 1, 2009
"I have great faith in fools - self-confidence, my friends call it." ... Edgar Allan Poe, author

March 25, 2009:a giant has passed
"We also learn that this country and the Western world have no monopoly of goodness and truth and scholarship, we begin to appreciate the ingredients that are indispensable to making a better world. In a life of learning that is, perhaps, the greatest lesson of all."

"We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey."
... John Hope Franklin

March 2009
"Education is implication. It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn." ... G. K. Chesterton

"The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one." ... Malcolm Forbes

February 2009
"Such an anniversary is both a reminder of how far we have come but also how far we must go, of the advantages of a richly diverse student body, men and women from all backgrounds with a variety of perspectives, each learning about their own individual talents, even as they learn what they have in common with each other, which is perhaps a defining quality of a liberal arts education." ... Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University, at fall convocation, 2006

January 20, 2009: for a historic inauguration
"From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise."  ... Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

January 2009
"What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul." ... Joseph Addison

"It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failures. Precept, study, advice, and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done." ... Samuel Smiles

December 2008
"Everything you've learned in school as 'obvious' becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There's not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines." ... R. Buckminster Fuller

"If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away." ... Linus Pauling

November 5, 2008: after a historic election
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!" ... Martin Luther King Jr.

November 2008
"We Americans tend to ignore our past. Perhaps we fear having one, and burn it behind us like so much rocket fuel, always looking forward. And that's a bad thing. The consequences are not just ignorance, or stupidity or even repeating. It represents the deepest kind of inattention and becomes a tear or a gap in who we are." ... Ken Burns, in a commencement speech at University of Delaware, May 1993

"It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes." ... Joseph Stalin (unconfirmed attribution)

October 2008
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." ... Aristotle

"Life's like a play: it's not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters." ... Seneca

September 2008
"Study is hard work. It is so much easier to find something else to do in its place than to stay at the grind of it. We have excuses aplenty for avoiding the dull, hard, daily attempt to learn. There is always something so much more important to do than reading. There is always some excuse for not stretching our souls with new ideas and insights now or yet or ever." ... Joan D. Chittister, OSB

"Once you wake up thought in a man, you can never put it to sleep again." ... Zora Neale Hurston

August 2008
"Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid." ... Albert Schweitzer

"A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed." ... Henrik Ibsen

July 2008
"Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart." ... Mahatma Gandhi

"The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind." ... Frank Lloyd Wright

June 2008: During the graduation season
"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it's expressed in the choices one makes." ... Eleanor Roosevelt

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." ... Victor Frankl

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." ... J. K. Rowling

"Choose this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." ... Joshua 24.15

May 2008
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." ... Mohandas K. Gandhi

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ... Jimi Hendrix, musician, singer, and songwriter

Remembering April 4, 1968

"Returning violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ... Martin Luther King Jr.

April 2008
"Lee was once asked by the mother of a small infant what bit of wisdom she could pass on to him. Lee replied, after some thought, 'Tell him to deny himself.' ...I should like to think he meant: 'Tell him to deny self-pity, to control self-concern, to subdue self-love and self-centeredness. Tell him to direct those instincts for pity and concern and love outward, where they nourish others...'"
... Robert E.R. Huntley, former president of Washington and Lee University, speaking of Robert E. Lee at the Fall 2006 Convocation

April 1, 2008
"April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."
... Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)

March 2008
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
... Galileo Galilei, physicist and astronomer

"Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught."
... George Savile, statesman and author

February 2008
"Busy is often superficial. You must listen. You must pause, you must have intentionality, and busy for too long has been a substitute for substance... develop a culture of intentionality, and parallel that with a culture of discipline. The intentionality is to make sure that the activities you engage in are what you want to do, and [discipline] is to make sure that when you're working in those areas that you engage them more thoroughly."

... William G. Durden, president, Dickinson College, Fall 2006 convocation

January 2008
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."
... George Washington

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
... Martin Luther King

"He who would be a leader must be a bridge."
... Welsh proverb

December 2007
"The real measure of our wealth is how much we'd be worth if we lost all our money."
... John Henry Jowett

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
... Jim Elliot, The Journals of Jim Elliot

November 2007
"It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others."
... Michel de Montaigne

"The length of your education is less important than its breadth, and the length of your life is less important than its depth."
... Marilyn vos Savant

October 2007
"The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just."
... Abraham Lincoln

"Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."
... Benjamin Franklin

September 2007
"Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none."
... Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor

"All I believe and all I try to do comes from the values that I grew up with: duty, honesty, hard work, family, and respect for others."
... Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Britain

August 2007
"Academe is full of wrongheaded ideas, and has always been - not because academe itself is wrongheaded, but because to discuss such ideas is its very function. Even bad ideas can contain kernels of truth, and it is academe's role to find them. That can be done only in the sunlight and fresh air of normal academic discourse. Expelling an idea [from the discourse] is the surest way to allow falsehood to survive."
... J. Scott Turner, associate professor of biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

July 2007
"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."
... Will Durant

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones."
... Emily Bronte

June 2007
"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you."
... Robert Louis Stevenson

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage."
... Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 2007
"I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me."
... Henri Matisse

"It's surprising how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit."
... Abraham Lincoln

April 2007
"I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest
... George Washington

"Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness."
... Faith Baldwin, author

April 1, 2007
'ome is where you 'ang your @.
A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.
The geek shall inherit the earth.
What boots up must come down.
A user and his leisure time are soon parted.
Oh, what a tangled website we weave when first we practice.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to use the 'Net and he won't bother you for weeks.
... Steve and Cindy

March 2007
"Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back."
... unknown

"We learn better by doing, and we do better by learning."
... Mardy Grothe

February 2007
"My experience through my life, has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health."

"I always respect persons and care little for precedent."
... Robert E. Lee, President, Washington College

January 2007
"[B]ut man, proud man / Drest in a little brief authority / Most ignorant of what he's most assured / His glassy essence, like an angry ape / Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven / As make the angels weep."
...William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

"Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all."
... Thomas Szasz, author, professor of psychiatry

December 25, 2006
"And she will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."
... Matthew 1.21

"Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries."
... George W. Truett

December 2006
"This is a true glory and a true honor - the glory of duty done, the honor of integrity of principle."
... Robert E. Lee, quoted by Douglas Southall Freeman in Lee of Virginia

"I pray I may be spared to accomplish something for the benefit of mankind and the honour of God."
... Robert E. Lee, in a letter to his wife, Mary, October 9, 1865

November 2006
"The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within."
... Mohandas K. Gandhi

"Democracy is necessitated by the fact that all men are sinners; it is made possible by the fact that we know it."
... Elton Trueblood

"Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors."
... Lewis H. Lapham, editor

October 2006
in the 200th year after Lee's birth

" ...[T]he more you learn the more you are conscious of your ignorance...You will find all the days of your life that there is much to learn & much to do."
... Robert E. Lee to daughter Mildred, quoted in The Lee Girls by Mary B. Coulling

"As a general principle you should not force young men to do their duty, but let them do it voluntarily and thereby develop their characters."
... Robert E. Lee speaking to Professor M.W. Humphreys, quoted in Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman

September 2006
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
... Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel laureate

"We shall succeed only so far as we continue that most distasteful of all activity, the intolerable labor of thought."
... Learned Hand, jurist

August 2006
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
... Mark Twain

July 2006
"Our commitment to the values of liberal education is the thread woven through [the] curriculum ... : to develop every student's capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely ... to cultivate judgment, love of learning, commitment to justice, and honorable character vital for individual achievement and constructive participation in society. ... We strive to strengthen our campus and global community by promoting research, scholarship and the creative arts, by embracing diversity, and by engaging in service to others."
... Washington and Lee University Strategic Planning Vision Statement

June 2006
"There is a true glory and a true honor: the glory of duty done -- the honor of the integrity of principle."
"The education of a man is never completed until he dies."
... Robert E. Lee

May 2006
"Today our communities need us, desperately need our loyalty, our understanding, our support. I count it as one of the marks of maturity that men and women nurture the institutions that nurtured them, not uncritically, but lovingly, not to preserve them unchanged but to renew them as the times require."
... John Gardner, Centennial Commencement Address at Stanford University

"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment."
... Mohandas K. Gandhi

April 2006
"Life is short. Family comes first"
... Patricia Lopes Harris, W&L '91, journalist and mother, at Phi Beta Kappa Convocation, March 8, 2006

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."
... Pearl S. Buck

April 1, 2006
"April 1st: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four."
... Mark Twain

"You couldn't fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life even if you had an electrified fooling machine."
... Homer Simpson

March 24, 2006
"As president, I will understand your individual needs and interests, if you in turn will always keep in mind the University and its students. ... What unites us far exceeds what divides us. I will try always to remind us of our common purpose with a personal commitment to forge our future, deal with our differences, and achieve our common purpose in an environment of civility, trust, and respect. And we're going to have some fun doing it. "
... Kenneth P. Ruscio, W&L President-elect

March 2006
In the year of Celebration of Women at W&L

"The day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race."
... Susan B. Anthony

"The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn."
... Gloria Steinem

February 2006
"An old Latin proverb says:
'What soberness conceals, drunkenness reveals.'
In many ways, the reverse is also true:
'What drunkenness conceals, soberness reveals.'"
... Mardy Grothe

"Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact."
... George Eliot

January 2006
"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
... Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist

"The liberal arts are the only antidote to public lying that seems so rampant today."
... Warren Goldstein, Associate Professor of History, University of Hartford
(Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/14/04)

December 2005
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
... Margaret Mead, anthropologist

November 2005
"Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."
... Flannery O'Connor, writer

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
... George Orwell, writer

October 2005
"Fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
... Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."
... Naguib Mahfouz, writer

September 2005
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own."
... Adam Lindsay Gordon, poet

August 2005
"One thing that every single alumnus, teacher, employee, student and trustee at Washington and Lee University shares is that we were all chosen by someone who thought we would honor its past, enhance its present, and offer character and commitment to an undiscovered future. As we enter this period, we look forward to the counsel and contributions that the entire Washington and Lee community will make toward our common and highly promising future."
... Philip Norwood, Rector, Washington and Lee University

July 2005
"A teacher who is attempting to teach, without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron."
... Horace Mann, educational reformer

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
... Henry Adams, historian and teacher

June 2005
"Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart."
... Seneca

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
... William Arthur Ward, college administrator, writer

May 2005
"Some persons are likeable in spite of their unswerving integrity."
... Don Marquis, journalist, writer, editor, and cartoonist

"Nothing so completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself, than straightforward and simple integrity in another."
... Charles Caleb Colton, author and clergyman

April 2005
"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."
... Joshua J. Marine

"My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast."
... Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher

March 2005
"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"
... Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat and writer

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."
... George Washington, US president

February 2005
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
... John F. Kennedy, US president

"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."
... Finley Peter Dunne, columnist, as "Mr. Dooley"

January 2005
"There are two kinds of fool. One says, 'This is old, and therefore good.' And one says, 'This is new, and therefore better.'
... John Brunner, science fiction writer

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away."
... unknown

December 2004
"I love my country too much to be a nationalist."
... Albert Camus, author

"The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children."
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian

November 3, 2004
In honor of our colleague and friend Bob Akins

"All offices were done
By him, so ample, full, and round
In weight, measure, number, sound ...
His life was of humanity the sphere"
... Ben Jonson, "To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of That Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morrison"

November 2004
"Our elections are free, it's in the results where eventually we pay."
... Bill Stern, sports announcer

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday."
... Alexander Pope, poet

October 2004
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury ... These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage."
... Alexander Tyler, Cycle of Democracy (1770)

September 2004
"The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct."
... Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer

"General education enable[s] every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom."
... Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko (1810)

August 2004
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

... John Adams

July 2004
"We have now sunk to a depth at which the re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."

... Eric Arthur Blair (a.k.a. George Orwell), as quoted in History, Guilt, and Habit (Owen Barfield, 1981)

"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

... Isaac Newton

June 2004
"A college education never hurt anybody who was willing to learn after he got it."
... unknown

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
... Albert Schweitzer

May 2004
"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped."
"The difference between intelligence and stupidity is that intelligence has its limits."
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
... variously attributed to Elbert Hubbard, American author; Samuel (Mark Twain ) Clemens, American author and humorist; and Albert Einstein

April 2004
"If you expect the best, a funny thing happens -- you very often get it."
... Somerset Maugham

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy ... neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."
... John W. Gardner

March 2004
"He that voluntarily continues ignorance is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a light-house might justly be imputed the calamities of shipwrecks."

... Samuel Johnson, in a letter to William Drummond of Edinburgh, 1766

"There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowing; that is curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love."
... St. Bernard of Clairvaux

February 2004
"If one learns from others but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril."
... Confucius, The Analects

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
... Martin Luther King Jr.

January 29-30, 2004
"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
... Plato

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important."
... Senator Eugene McCarthy

January 2004
"Moral principles can never be compromised; they can only be abandoned."
... variously attributed to Henry David Thoreau and Jacob G. Hornberger

"The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been."
... Alan Ashley-Pitt

December 25, 2003
Given, not lent, / And not withdrawn, once sent,
This Infant of mankind, this One, / Is still the little welcome Son.

New every year, / New-born and newly dear,
He comes with tidings and a song, / The ages long, the ages long.

Even as the cold / Keen winter grows not old,
As childhood is so fresh, foreseen, / And spring in the familiar green.

Sudden as sweet / Come the expected feet.
All joy is young, and new all art, / And He, too, whom we have by heart.
... Alice Meynell

December 2003
"Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives."
... Willa A. Foster

November 2003
"People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
... Penny Pennington, Today's Thought, June 29, 2001

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
... Ralph Waldo Emerson

October 2003
"All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why"

... James Thurber

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. "
... unknown

September 2003
"Of all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is the more perfect, the more sublime, the more useful, and the more agreeable."
... Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles

"We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough...and so we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without education. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually."
... Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

August 2003
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic."
... Unknown

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
... Isaac Newton

July 2003
"In your service to others keep to the humble works because they are works nobody else will do. It is never too small for God. For there are many people who can do the big things. But there are few people who will do the small things."
... Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa)

June 20, 2003
In honor of our colleague and friend William "Buck" Buchanan

"Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price."
... Samuel Johnson, lexicographer

June 2003
"...You have pulled endless all-nighters, done hundreds of problem sets, consumed thousands of pizzas, and it's still not enough. ... You are undoubtedly well-equipped for your careers, but life is more than that, and our careers will not save us. Redemption will depend less on how many hours you put into your thesis, and more on how you treat those around you when you're under pressure. Your happiness will come not from the recommendations the faculty writes for you but from how your friends and family love you, criticize you, and forgive you. Your success will be measured not by your publications but by how you treat the typist. These are matters that are generally not part of the curriculum."
... Rabbi Daniel Shevitz, MIT commencement address, June 1993

May 2003
"College students are plagued by an especially virulent strain of boredom. These extraordinary students, who can dream of absolutely anything and attain almost everything, are truly passionate about almost nothing. [This ennui emanates from] a decline of politics and religion in students' lives [while they] have become devoted to the belief in progress -- a devotion that causes both the past and the present to shrink before the daunting prospect of an awesome and unimagined future. The direction they should find on campus proves to be as elusive and evanescent as so much else in their lives. Colleges have by and large forgotten the Socratic exhortation to 'Know Thyself' that must guide an education [leaving students] ill-equipped to know very much at all. What these young people long for unawares is an education deserving of the name."
... Robert C. Bartlett, Emory University in The Public Interest, Winter 2003 issue

April 2003
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
... Viktor Frankl, author, neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor

April 1, 2003
"Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings...they did it by killing everyone who opposed them.
Doing a job right the first time gets the job done. Doing the job wrong fourteen times gives you job security.
Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.
Plagiarism saves time.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.
Teamwork means never having to take all the blame yourself.
Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.
Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like an incompetent slacker.
Indecision is the key to flexibility."
... unknown

March 2003
"I believe that pure thinking will do more to educate a man than any other activity he can engage in. To afford sympathetic entertainment to abstract ideas, to let one idea beget another, and that another, till the mind teems with them; to compare one idea with others, to weigh, to consider, evaluate, approve, respect, correct, refine; to join thought with thought like an architect till a whole edifice has been created within the mind; to travel back in imagination to the beginning of the creation and then to leap swiftly forward to the end of time; to bound upward through illimitable space and downward into the nucleus of an atom; and all this without so much as moving from our chair or opening the eyes -- this is to soar above all the lower creation and come near to the angels of God."
... A. W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God

February 2003
"Character cannot be developed in ease & quiet. Only through experience of trial & suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired & success achieved."
... Helen Keller

"The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves."
... Leon Trotsky, Diary in Exile, diary entry for April 5, 1935

January 2003
"I've learned...that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person,
that just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day,
that being kind is more important than being right,
that I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way,
that we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for,
that money doesn't buy class,
that to ignore the facts does not change the facts,
that love, not time, heals all wounds,
that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am,
that everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile,
that opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss,
that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks,
that I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it."
... Andy Rooney, excerpted

December 2002
"Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is."
... Winston Churchill

"The truth is a snare: you cannot have the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you."
... Sören Kierkegaard

November 2002
"As to values, I was taught -- and still believe -- that a sense of honor is necessary to personal self-respect; that duty, recognizing an individual's subordination to community welfare, is as important as rights; that loyalty, which is based on the trustworthiness of honorable men, is still a virtue; and that work and self-discipline are as essential to individual happiness as they are to a viable society. Indeed, I still believe in patriotism -- not if it is limited to parades and flag-waving, but because worthy national goals and aspirations can be realized only through love of country and a desire to be a responsible citizen."
... Lewis F. Powell, W&L '29 '31L, Supreme Court Justice

October 2002
"I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all."
... Alexis de Tocqueville

"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."
... W. Edwards Deming

September 2002
"... the business of the college is ... to put you in touch with what the best human minds have thought. If you have no time for Shakespeare, for a basic look at philosophy, for the community of the fine arts, for that lesson of man's development we call history -- then you have no business being in college."
... John A. Ciardi, poet and Professor of English, Rutgers University

August 2002
"Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both."
... John Andrew Holmes

"Truth is not determined by the volume of the voice."
... Chinese Proverb

July 2002
"For there are two main obstacles to the knowledge of things, Modesty that casts a mist before the understanding and Fear that, having fanci'd a danger, disswades us from the attempt. But from these Folly sufficiently frees us, and few there are that rightly understand of what great advantage it is to blush at nothing and attempt every thing."
... Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly (1509)

"Omnia autem probate."
(from the W&L crest, a reference to 1 Thessalonians 5.21-22 to
"test everything, hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil.")

June 2002
"As soon as this is over, hug your parents and thank them. Then let them take all the photographs they want. When we come to do a story on you for winning the Nobel prize or an election or for cleaning up your town dump, you'll be glad to have those pictures."
... Lynn Sherr

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
... Albert Schweitzer

"The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence."
... Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 2002

"Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness. ... There are three principles of conduct which the man of high rank should consider specially important: that in his deportment and manner he keep from violence and heedlessness; that in regulating his countenance he keep near to sincerity; and that in his words and tones he keep far from lowness and impropriety."
... Confucius, The Analects

April 2002
"The priorities of a university are not the province of one office, or one group, or one person, including the president. They should result from careful, open, deliberate, continuing communication among all groups that have an interest in the university, that are committed to the university, that view the university as their home and their institution. That is why I look forward to meeting with you, to learning from you, and working with you, as together we set out priorities for the future; as together we set our strategic plan for how to achieve those priorities; as together we do all we can do to make Washington and Lee the best university possible. ... Some would call [W&L] blessed."
... Thomas G. Burish, W&L President-elect, March 27, 2002

April 1, 2002
"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."
"Aim low, reach your goals, avoid disappointment."

March 2002
"You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-loss record of the referee."
... John H. Holcomb, The Militant Moderate

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life."
... Theodore Roosevelt, Letter to S. Stanwood Menken, 1917

February 2002
"I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
"There are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers."
"It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow."
... Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man

January 2002
"You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do for them or to them."
... Malcolm Forbes

December 2001
"A man's character is his fate."
... Heraclitus

"Honesty isn't a policy at all; it's a state of mind or it isn't honesty."
... Eugene L'Hote

November 2001
"The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself, as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet. If he has ever seen a fine sunset, the crimson colour of it should creep into his vote...The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes."
... G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (1909)

October 2001
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
... Martin Luther King Jr.

September 11, 2001
"God bless America ... through the night with a light from above."
... Irving Berlin

"O beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again Thy whiter jubilee!"
... Katherine Lee Bates

September 2001
"...[W]e will prepare the minds of our students for the world to come and prepare their character with the virtues of honor, courage, and civility. We will help them understand the place of principle in human life."
... John W. Elrod, A Future Worthy of Our Past

August 2001
"Integrity: We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
Truth: Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Courage: Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Honor: It is better to fail with honor than to win by deceit."
... Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Robert F. Kennedy, and Sophocles

July 27, 2001
In honor of our colleague and friend John W. Elrod
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"
... Erma Bombeck

July 2001
"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."
... Diogenes

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
... Albert Einstein

June 2001
"No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you."
... Althea Gibson

"It's not good to say 'thank you' and not mean it, but it's even worse to mean it and not say it."
... Bits & Pieces: Home Delivery, 4/3/2000

May 2001
"I've learned that...
Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
The Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?
We should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
Money doesn't buy class.
Everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
Just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day.
Being kind is more important than being right.
The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person."
... Andy Rooney

April 2001
"If you don't understand what Beethoven 'says,' the reason is that the sounds he uses are not a meaningful language for you; and the thing to do is to learn this language as you would any other ... Which is to say that you will have to listen to Beethoven's music, and keep listening ... just as the way to understand a poem is to read it, and the way to understand a painting is to look at it, so the way -- the only way -- to understand a piece of music is to listen to it, and to keep listening."
... B. H. Haggin, The Listener's Musical Companion

"They know enough who know how to learn."
... Henry Adams

April 1, 2001
"Any idiot could understand that." ... Einstein
"It does SO look like her!" ... Picasso
"You want WHAT on the ceiling?" ... Michelangelo
"I don't suppose it's gonna rain." ... Joan of Arc
"Scattered showers...yeh, right!" ... Noah
"Aw, c'mon, who's going to find out?" ... Clinton

March 2001
"The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom, not a trade; character, not technicalities."
... Sir Winston Churchill

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board."
... Henry David Thoreau, Walden

February 2001
"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.
... Sally Kock, quoted in Wisconsin

"...the secret value of a conscience, that approves its own action, is lessened somewhat each time that it receives the reward of fame by displaying its deeds."
... Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

January 2001
"Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special...Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying...Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together...Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved...Life is not a race but a journey to be savored each step of the way."
... Brian G. Dyson, President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, 1991

December 2000
"Society is divided into two groups when it comes to the morality of our actions. One group says, 'What's the harm?' while the other says, 'What's the good?' Sanity and the continuation of civilization rest with the latter group."
... unknown, cited in The Best of BITS & PIECES

"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."
... Baron Thomas Babington Macauley, early 19th-century English historian

November 2000
"It is not the critic who counts nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
... Theodore Roosevelt, Address at the Sorbonne, April 23, 1910

October 2000
In light of our campus tragedy, October 22, 2000:

"[People] occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."
... Winston Churchill

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."
... Galatians 6.4-5 (The Message)

October 2000
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."
... C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

September 2000
"The more you experiment, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you create."
... David Kelley, CEO, Ideo

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
... Alvin Toffler, Rethinking the Future

August 2000
"I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts."
... Psalm 119.99, 100

".. a university has no real existence and no real purpose except as it succeeds in putting you in touch, both as specialist and as humans, with those minds your human mind needs to include. The faculty, by its very existence, says implicitly: 'We have been aided by many people, and by many books, and by the arts, in our attempt to make ourselves some sort of storehouse of human experience. We are here to make available to you, as best we can, that experience."
... John A. Ciardi, poet and Professor of English, Rutgers University

July 2000
"Learning of many things does not teach intelligence."
... Heraclitus, Fragments

"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views."
... Dr. Who

June 2000
"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work, family, health, friends, and spirit, and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls -- family, health, friends, and spirit -- are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same... Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, and Today is a gift: that's why we call it -The Present."
... Brian G. Dyson, President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, at a commencement ceremony

May 2000
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
... Albert Einstein

"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty ... where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
... Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Joshua Speed, August 24, 1855

April 2000
"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is ... about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve to be defended, even if it comes at a high cost."
... William Bennett, Does Honor Have a Future?

"It's character -- not just job performance -- that matters."
... Chuck Colson, Breakpoint, March 10, 1999

March 2000
"Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself."
... Confucius, The Analects

"People should think less about what they ought to do and more about what they ought to be. If only their being were good, their works would shine forth brightly."
... Meister Eckhart

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."
... Martin Luther King Jr.

February 2000
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
... Abraham Lincoln, address at Cooper Institute, NY, February 27, 1860

"The time is always right to do what is right."
... Martin Luther King Jr.

January 30-31, 2000
"I read in Shakespeare of the majesty of the moral law, in Victor Hugo of the sacredness of childhood, in Tennyson the ugliness of hypocrisy, in George Eliot the supremacy of duty, in Dickens the divinity of kindness, and in Ruskin the dignity of service. Irving teaches me the lesson of cheerfulness, Hawthorne shows me the hatefulness of sin, Longfellow gives me the soft, tranquil music of hope. Lowell makes us feel that we must give ourselves to our fellow men. Whittier sings to me of divine Fatherhood and human brotherhood. These are Christian lessons: who inspired them? Who put it into the heart of Martin Luther to nail those theses on the church door of Wittenberg? Who stirred and fired the soul of Savonarola? Who thrilled and electrified the soul of John Wesley? Jesus Christ is back of these all."
... Lyman Pierson Powell

"What changed these very ordinary men (who were such cowards that they did not dare stand too near the cross in case they got involved) into heroes who would stop at nothing? A swindle? Hallucination? Spooky nonsense in a darkened room? Or Somebody quietly doing what He said He'd do -- walk right through death? What do YOU think?"
... J. B. Phillips, Is God at Home? (1957)

January 2000
"[A] man cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city; he cannot govern a city if he cannot govern a family; he cannot govern a family unless he can govern himself; and he cannot govern himself unless his passions are subject to reason."
... Hugo Grotius, Dutch jurist and statesman, 1656

"No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character."
... Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography

December 1999
"Character is defined by what we are willing to do when the spotlight has been turned off, when the applause has died down, and no one is around to give us credit."
... source unknown

"Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice."
... Thomas Paine

November 1999
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.
... Helen Keller

October 1999
"I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."
... Winston Churchill

"If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it. How shortsighted to refuse correction!"
... Proverbs 12.1

August-September 1999
"[T]o think of Washington and Lee is to believe in an ideal ... to think of this ideal is to believe that still it has power. Its power is to survive the unforeseen vicissitude, to enlist great teachers, great friends. But more than this, its power is still to achieve a distinctive purpose; to reach beyond the monotony of instruction, beyond the formulas of fact, forever widening and forever intensifying, forever important and forever trivial, to reach beyond these and deposit in ... life ... something a little finer than culture, a little rarer than competence, a little nobler than success; to quicken a dream within the young brain prepared for dreams by the agony of the aeons, to formulate within the tenderness of the heart some coherence for its own compulsions, to furnish young personality with potency and poise."
... Dr. Francis P. Gaines, 16th president of W&L at his inaugural in 1930

Service Quotations
from Paul Aucoin, Dean of Academic Services and Registrar, Samford University

July-August 1999
"We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought."
... Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence."
... Charles A. Beard

June 1999
For the graduates:
"If you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
Don't worry about bitin' off more than you can chew. Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Never drop your gun to hug a grizzly.
If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier 'n puttin' it back.
Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
Never miss a good chance to shut up."

... excerpts from Cowboy Wisdom (source unknown)

May 1999
In the light of the Columbine tragedy:
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days..."
... Deuteronomy 30.19-20

April 1999
"No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead."
... John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

March 1999
"The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality."
... George Washington, First Inaugural Address

"I ... never believed there was one code of morality for a public, and another for a private man."
... Thomas Jefferson to Valentine de Foronda, 1809, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial Edition) 12:320

"[A]ll history is a witness of the truth of the principle, that good morals are essential to the faithful and upright discharge of public functions."
... Noah Webster, 1801 letter on the presidency

February 1999
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
... Martin Luther King Jr.

January 1999
For the days of rush and pledging:
"Commitment, n.: illustrated by a breakfast of ham and eggs. The chicken was involved, the pig was committed."
... no attribution, quoted from TFTD-L, June 19, 1998

December 1998
"Furious activity is no substitute for understanding."
... H. H. Williams

November 1998
"[S]ome students actually want challenging courses and high expectations. Let me quote from one such student: 'She expected more from us than any teacher I have had up to this point. She did not waste a lot of time going over things we should already have learned. This was somewhat of a challenge to those of us who have been coddled by high-school English classes. I realize that I didn't really learn anything in high school. She warned us that she was a tough teacher. ... You need to be pushed and challenged, especially early on.'"
... Paul A. Trout, associate professor of English at Montana State University at Bozeman, in Incivility in the Classroom Breeds 'Education Lite', Chronicle of Higher Education, July 24, 1998

October 1998
"Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will."
... John D. MacDonald, The Turquoise Lament

August-September 1998
"On the letterheads and on the banners, this is Washington and Lee University. It is a great university and our pride in it is part of its truest existence. Yet, once inside the letterhead and the banner, what we really are, is the W&L Reading and Discussion Society."
... adapted from John A. Ciardi, poet and Professor of English, Rutgers University Opening Convocation, 1954

June-July 1998
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
... variously attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or William Morrow

May 1998
"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
... Ralph Waldo Emerson

April 1998
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
... William Butler Yeats

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited."
... Plutarch

March 1998
"Integrity is the first step to true greatness. Men love to praise but are slow to practice it. To maintain it in high places costs self-denial; in all places it is liable to opposition, but its end is glorious, and the universe will yet do it homage."
... Charles Simmons

February 1998
"A student may easily exhaust his life in comparing divines and moralists without any practical regard to morals and religion; he may be learning not to live but to reason ... while the chief use of his volumes is unthought of, his mind is unaffected, and his life is unreformed."
... Samuel Johnson

January 1998
"I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
... Jack London

December 1997
"By the time the average person finishes college he or she will have taken over 2,600 tests, quizzes and exams. The 'right answer' approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking. This may be fine for some mathematical problems, where there is in fact only one right answer. The difficulty is that most of life isn't that way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers - all depending on what you are looking for. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you'll stop looking as soon as you find one."
... Roger von Oech, A Whack On the Side Of The Head

November 1997
"Our own heart, and not other men's opinions form our true honor."
... Samuel Taylor Coleridge

October 1997
"An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life."
... author unknown

September 1997
"There was a genuine menu of life-opportunities ahead: (a) injustice to denounce; (b) literature to take inwardly for the first time; ... and above all (c) a marvelous variety of people that this frosh never imagined existed ... [W]hat a palette of personalities for this freshman to survey ..."
... An anonymous W&L alumnus quoted by Ruel Tyson, W&L '53
at the Fall Convocation, September 10, 1997

June-September 1997
"It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot, irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it."
... Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

"Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."
... 1 Thessalonians 5.21 (referred to on the W&L crest)

A starting place
"The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation."
... Benjamin Disraeli

"We are surrounded by immortals."
... source unknown


Send questions and comments to Scott Dittman