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Letter to the Editor, June 8, 2021: W&L board keeps name, other changes not OK

Letter to the Editor, June 8, 2021: W&L board keeps name, other changes not OK

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W&L board keeps name,

other changes not OK

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Thankfully, the board of trustees of Washington and Lee University voted overwhelming this past week to maintain the name. This, I suspect, was done primarily after a benefit/cost analysis indicated very little benefit and a potential big hit to future contributions to the endowment by successful alumni who love the school and have included it in their estate’s revocable trusts.

Unfortunately, the board felt compelled to throw the woke progressive professors and students pushing for a name change a few bones by making further “changes to campus symbols, buildings and practices.” Among these was renaming Lee Chapel to University Chapel and walling off the Lee family crypt and the “Recumbent Lee” statue sculpted by Richmond’s Edward Valentine in 1875.

The simple Victorian architecture of the chapel was conceived by Lee’s eldest son, George Washington Custis Lee (a West Point engineering graduate like his father) who left a professorship at nearby Virginia Military Institute following his father’s death to become the ninth president of the university.

The Lee name is all over that chapel. He asked for it to be built, his son helped design it, his former office is in the basement, his horse, Traveller, is buried just outside the walls, and his immediate family is entombed there. The chapel and the Lee name are inextricably connected and should not be separated. I hope that some influential alumni will speak up against the renaming before it’s a fait accopmli. The board of trustees is well aware that it’s called a revocable trust for a reason.

Harrison Smith

W&L Class of 1970.



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