The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

A behind-the-scenes look at administration

The president and his cabinet keep “the small city that is W&L” running smoothly

At Washington and Lee, change is visible. But the administrators behind it often are not.

“I feel like ideally, if a school is well run and administrators are good at what they do, it should largely be invisible to students,” University President William Dudley said in an interview with the Phi.

Change is present on every corner of campus. The new Williams School is currently under construction. The Marketplace is expanding. And, the university announced that construction will begin on a new counseling and health center in early April. The 14,500-square-foot building will be between the lower tennis courts and the stairs leading to Woods Creek Apartments.

But change extends past construction, Dudley said. He and other members of university leadership agree that one of the biggest changes they’ve seen is the diversity of faculty and students in the last decade.

Since 2012, the number of non-white students has almost doubled, according to the Washington and Lee fact book.

“We are trying to bring the very best students here regardless of their financial circumstances, and we’ve made a lot of progress on that,” Dudley said. “Raising scholarship money enables us to bring incredibly talented people from all backgrounds to W&L.”

University Treasurer Steve McAllister said that’s all possible due to the increase in financial resources since 1993.

“When I came here, W&L was viewed as being a wealthy institution of higher education,” McAllister said. “In truth, it was doing well, but it was not in a class that I would consider as being all that strong financially.”

In 1993, the university was No. 20 in terms of endowment per student among the top 25 liberal arts colleges, McAllister said. Now, Washington and Lee is No. 8.

Administrators such as Dudley and Thomas Jennings, the vice president for university advancement, spend much of their time traveling to raise money.

“My favorite thing is I get to travel around the country, meeting interesting, successful people that love Washington and Lee,” Jennings said.

Running “the small city that is W&L”

No two days at work are the same, Dudley said. He spends about 30% of his time traveling, while the rest of the time he remains here, connecting with students, collaborating with the president’s cabinet and ensuring that the “small city that is W&L” runs smoothly.

“I’m half CEO, half politician,” Dudley said.

The president’s cabinet is comprised of eight people who oversee university offices and faculty members, while also working together to keep the university moving forward.

McAllister monitors financial planning, while also overseeing six departments from facilities management to sustainability.

“I often say we’re the kitchen sink of the university. We’ve got a lot of different parts,” McAllister said. “This is the division that allows students, faculty and staff to come in and not worry about air conditioning, electricity or where their meal is going to come from.”

Running this “city” takes hard work, but comes with a big paycheck. Dudley’s total salary for 2022 was $967,603, according to Washington and Lee’s Form 990. University Secretary Jessica Willett, Provost Lena Hill, Jennings and McAllister make between $200,000 and $400,000.

Dudley plans on remaining at the university as long as he continues to love it, and as long as the Board of Trustees thinks he’s doing a good job, he said.

Administrators have joys beyond being part of the university community. McAllister loves yard work, he said, specifically mowing the lawn. Dudley said he enjoys hiking, playing golf and fishing. Since Dudley moved to Lexington, he’s picked up fly fishing as a new favorite.

“Students introduced me to it and I’ve just fallen in love,” he said.

Dudley loves the time he gets to spend with students, he said. He teaches a philosophy of education class and attends student events, such as sports games and music and theater performances.

“I joke with students, but it’s kind of true that if students invite me to do something, I’ll almost always say yes,” Dudley said. “So, spread the word!”

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