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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Vitally Important Skills

Ross Singletary ’89

from The Bridge: Fall/Winter 2011 issue

Ross Singletary ’89 (Photo by Ian McFarlane)Many people list speaking in public at the top of their list of things they fear. For Ross Singletary '89, however, public-speaking classes at W&L were a high point in his academic career. An economics major, Singletary says former speech professor Halford Ross Ryan helped him understand that good oral-communication skills are key to personal and professional success in any field.

"I took all of Professor Ryan's public-speaking classes and enjoyed these classes more than any other subject," says Singletary, who is managing partner at Arcus Capital Partners, in Atlanta. "Professor Ryan challenged me and my classmates to improve our oratorical skills. He wasn't shy about taking you to task when you didn't perform well in front of the class. He was an equal-opportunity critic."

As a tribute to Ryan, Singletary gave $50,000 to establish a Communications Endowment for the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

"This gift is specifically to support Washington and Lee's efforts to promote verbal competency and speaking skills-whether in one-on-one interview situations or delivering a speech to hundreds of people," says Singletary. "These skills are of vital importance for all students."