In my first months on campus — and in my first visits to chapter events — I have been listening and learning and collecting impressions. W&L is in terrific shape. Few
schools in the country can match our history, the quality of
our people, and the resources available to provide the very
best education. I am reminded daily of how distinctive this
place is in important and appealing ways.
First and foremost, of course, is the Honor System. We
entrust our students with great responsibility from their first
day on campus and, with very few exceptions, they live up to
it. The Honor System cultivates the character of our students
and, together with the Speaking Tradition, fosters a culture of
civility at W&L. People engage with each other respectfully,
even when they disagree. Learning these virtues when they
are young prepares our graduates to make a difference in a
world that sorely needs more civil discourse and honorable
Washington and Lee is also distinctive in the way we
connect liberal education with preparation for public and
professional service. Precisely because it is not narrow job
training, liberal education is the best possible professional
preparation. For young people who are going to have many
different jobs and even many different careers during their
lifetimes, the most important thing we can do is prepare them
to be intellectually flexible. That is precisely what we do. In
addition, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and
Politics is unique among small colleges of our caliber. And we
have a first-rate journalism program. And, of course, we have
the School of Law, which has been providing excellent legal
education for 150 years.
Then we have our alumni. The passion W&L alumni
have for their alma mater is unmatched in my experience.
Your love for Washington and Lee is magical, and your
support for the university and its students is extraordinary.
Our values, culture, academics and alumni set us apart
from other schools in critical ways. We have a powerful story
that needs to be told as well and as widely as possible so that
young people in every community and of every background
are aware of our special strengths.
At the same time, our motto, “Non incautus futuri,”
makes it clear that we can’t be satisfied, that we can’t be
unmindful of the future. We should always ask ourselves, “As
much as we love who we are, can we get even better?” W&L
has become excellent over the past 268 years by refusing to be
complacent. I am committed to continuing this tradition, to
sustaining and enhancing our defining distinctions while also
identifying and seizing opportunities to improve.
I am honored to have joined the Washington and Lee
family. The Generals have welcomed me like one of their
own. I love my job and feel fortunate to be your university’s
I’m looking forward to meeting all of you — whether
here on campus or at chapter events — soon. And I’m excited
about the future for W&L that we’ll create together.
President Will Dudley joined some students
for a meal in the Marketplace.
Creating Our Future — Together
BY PRESIDENT WILL DUDLEY