A Visit to Washington and Lee University

A bright and sunny morning (and an early one at that!) brought us to the iconic campus of Washington & Lee University on the second day of our CICV campus tour.  And in addition to a bright, sunny, and informative tour, the prestigious (and selective!) university had a lot in store for our brief time on campus.

Nearly every photo taken of W&L's campus features their gorgeous red brick buildings with white columns.
Nearly every photo taken of W&L’s campus features their gorgeous red brick buildings with white columns.

The history of Washington & Lee (affectionately referred to as “W&L”) is at the heart of the education that they continue to endow their students with today.  Nestled in tiny Lexington, Virginia, the school was founded as Augusta Academy in 1749 and became Washington College in 1813 after George Washington gave an endowment of $20,000 (which would be millions today) that essentially saved the school from going under.

(Fun fact:  The endowment Washington gave was so substantial that $2 of every current W&L students’ tuition still comes from that initial gift!)

The “Lee” of “Washington & Lee” was added in the nineteenth century in tribute to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, who was chosen to helm the university in 1865 (a mere 117 days after his surrender at Appomattox).  Lee’s vision and presidency led the university into its next age and he is largely credited with being at the root of the university’s famed Honor System, as well as for annexing the Lexington Law School and pulling it under the W&L umbrella.  Though his presidency was but a short five years, his legacy has lived on and he was honored soon after his death by having his name added to that of the university.

Confederate general Robert E. Lee lies entombed in the campus chapel.
Confederate general Robert E. Lee lies entombed in the campus chapel.

(Fun fact: Lee’s famed Civil War mount Traveller was allowed to freely roam the campus grounds and was often fed apples by students hoping for good luck on their exams.  Today, the campus safe ride system is called Traveller in his honor.)

With its political history, it’s no surprise then to learn that approximately 40 percent of W&L students are enrolled in majors that form the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics – a hallmark program for the institution.  (It is, however, worth noting that a majority of W&L students take on double majors to enhance their educational careers – our tour guide actually had a triple major! – so that 40 percent includes many students who are also studying in the university’s myriad of other departments.)

The science building is impressive and expansive!
The science building is impressive and expansive!

(Fun fact:  There are over 1,200 different courses available for the 1,800 W&L undergraduates to enroll in!)

And riders, don’t worry – the W&L equestrian team is a well-established varsity sport that competes in the IHSA in hunt seat competition, as well as in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference against other Virginia equestrian teams.

So do you have what it takes to take on the W&L challenge?  Contact me and we’ll find out!

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