News in Brief: Jan. 23

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January 23, 2009

1:00 AM

*Reveley to Obama: More science funding*

College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley joined the list of university presidents endorsing a letter sent to President Barack Obama urging an increase in funding for scientific research and innovation as part of his economic stimulus package.

“While some might argue that the current economic crisis should push such plans into the future,” the letter reads, “we believe, to the contrary, that the stimulus package provides a vital opportunity to begin rebuilding American science” for both short-term needs, such as infrastructure spending, as well as long-term initiatives in basic science research.

The letter was sent by a group of 49 Nobel Prize laureates and other scientific leaders. Nineteen university leaders have endorsed the letter.

*College produces many Peace Corps volunteers*

The College of William and Mary ranked fifth in producing Peace Corps volunteers amongst medium-sized universities in 2008, according to a press release.

Formed in 1961, the Peace Corps has received volunteers from over 3,000 institutions across the United States. Medium-sized schools have 5,001 to 15,000 students.

George Washington University ranked first among medium-sized schools. The University of Washington ranked first among large schools, and the University of Chicago performed best among small schools.

*Glenn Close ’74 joins Hollywood Walk of Fame*

Glenn Close ’74 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Jan. 12. The Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony award-winning actress currently stars as Patty Hewes in the FX television series “Damages.”

During Close’s education at the College of William and Mary, she appeared in several university productions including “The Common Glory,” “The Seagull” and “Anything Goes.”

She double-majored in drama and anthropology, and served as the honorary co-chair of the Alumni Association’s New York Auction in 2004.

*Local re-enactor charged with shooting*

Civil War re-enactor Josh O. Silva has been indicted for the accidental September shooting of a would-be Yankee cavalryman from the Bronx, according to The New York Times.

Thomas Lord, a 73-year-old former New York City police officer from Suffolk, Va., was wounded when Silva, a 29-year-old from Norfolk, Va., accidentally fired a .44-caliber lead ball from an 1860 Army Colt pistol that was supposed to be empty.

Mr. Silva has been charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“If I had any idea that Mr. Silva had fired intentionally at another person, it would be a much more serious charge,” Wayne Farmer, an attorney for Isle of Wight County, said.

*Alumna, law pioneer, dies at 82*

Katherine Virginia Settle Wright ’47, one of the first women to practice law in Orange County, died Dec. 29 in Salem, Va., at the age of 82, according to the News & Observer.

Wright earned her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1949 and proceeded to practice law in Chicago and New Orleans. In 1969, she and partner Karen Henderson were the first women to open a law firm in Orange County. Their Franklin Street practice was recognized in a review of female firsts in Orange Country compiled in 1993.

*Pell grant founder passes away at 90*

Claiborne Pell, the former senator from Rhode Island who created the college grant program that bears his name, died Jan. 1 at the age of 90, according to The New York Times. Pell, who wrote the legislation that established the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, was widely considered the most formidable politician in Rhode Island history; he received an average of 64 percent of the vote in six statewide victories over Republican opponents.

Pell was best known for his legislation which dispensed grants to tens of millions of poor and middle-class college students.

*Judge alumnus dead at 70*

Retired York-Poquoson Circuit Court Judge Prentis Smiley Jr. J.D. ’64 died Dec. 25 at the age of 70, according to the Daily Press. Smiley’s legal career stretched more than four decades. He sat on the bench in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, serving primarily York County and Poquoson, for 13 years before retiring last month. His most notable case was the 1998 capital murder trial of Daryl Atkins, which led to a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring executions of the mentally retarded.

*Kaine seeks no-excuse absentee voting*

Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine proposed legislation on Jan. 7 that would allow for no-excuse, in-person absentee voting in Virginia, according to a press release. The proposal would allow any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in person at their register’s office during a 45 day absentee voting period without having to provide an excuse or reason.

The proposal seeks to reduce crowding on Election Day without compromising the security or integrity of the election process.

“Virginia has a long history of running outstanding elections, but this year showed that high volume can cause problems in a process that should be as smooth as possible,” Kaine said.

*AP Italian gets the axe*

The College Board plans to cut its underfunded Advanced Placement Italian program in the 2009-10 academic year, according to the Washington Post.

The decision was made in March to cut three of its 37 AP courses due to poor funding and low enrollment. Unless external donors step in, Italian will be the fourth.

According to the Italian Language Foundation, the College Board had requested $1.5 million to keep the program afloat. The foundation raised more than $650,000 in commitments, but could not secure additional funds from the Italian government.

*CW horses to receive new stables*

Some of the horses that pull tourists on carriage rides could be getting a new home off Bypass Road, according to the Daily Press. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has pitched a project to the city’s Planning Commission to build four pastures opposite the Visitors Center on Bypass Road.

The 21 acres proposed in the project are part of a larger 80-acre tract owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

*Endowed professorship formed in honor of bird conservationist*

The College of William and Mary has established an endowed professorship in honor of Mitchell A. Byrd, a bird conservationist who remains active in retirement. The Mitchell A. Byrd Research Professorship of Conservation Biology is based in the College’s Center for Conservation Biology.

Bryan D. Watts, one of Byrd’s former students, is the first holder of the Mitchell Byrd Professorship.

“William and Mary is known for bird work and that really comes from Mitchell Byrd,” Watts said. “William and Mary didn’t have any relationship to birds before Mitchell’s time. He really built a national reputation for William and Mary in bird work that continues today.”

*Music department chair teaches in Netherlands*

College of William and Mary music professor Katherine K. Preston has been named the Walt Whitman Distinguished Chair of American Culture by the Fulbright Center of the Netherlands.

Preston will spend the current semester at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. She will teach an undergraduate course on American popular music and a graduate course on music in American film.

Preston has chaired the department of music for six years.

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