We had visited the wonderful small town of Lexington, Virginia, on three previous occasions and always admired the row of white-columned, red-brick buildings that is the facade of Washington & Lee University. But until our most recent trip, we had never bothered to walk beyond the facade. What a wonderful experience. Founded in 1749 as Augusta Academy, then became Liberty Hall Academy, then was changed to Washington Academy in 1796 in gratitude for George Washington's gift of $20,000. Later, it was changed to Washington & Lee in respect to Robert E. Lee, who served as president from 1865 to his death in 1870 and is credited for instilling a sense of personal honor and integrity in the college and its students. Lee also introduced innovative programs and principles that distinguish the university to this day. For example, he added a law school and the nations' first journalism program. Washington & Lee is a liberal arts college with an enrollment of about 2,200 students. They come from 54 countries and more than 80 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. The university has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9-to-1 and more than 70 percent of the classes have 20 or fewer students. It is a beautiful campus with fraternity houses on one side and sorority houses on the other. The football stadium is a gem. Washington & Lee competes in the NCAA's Division III level. Twenty-five percent of the study body participate in 24 varsity sports. Until you walk the campus, until you get past Lee Chapel and Washington Hall and the facade of buildings that are the postcard of the university, you don't realize how large the school really is. Be sure to obtain a campus map at the campus bookstore or at the Lexington visitor's center.
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