An Open Letter to Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County residents:

A few years ago, it became obvious that there were efforts to change the name of Washington and Lee University, dropping Robert E. Lee’s name and, as some suggested, also to eliminate honoring George Washington as part of the name.

As a result, The Generals Redoubt (TGR), comprised of a group of concerned alumni, students, parents, and other friends of the university, was formed. A redoubt, in military terms, is a temporary defensive position for soldiers under assault to regroup. As a group, TGR believes in preserving and honoring the history, traditions and values of the University while acknowledging and studying, in the context of the times they lived, the flaws the founders may have had.

The reality is that, without the stock grant of George Washington, the fledging Liberty Hall Academy that became Washington College would not have survived. Likewise, without Robert E. Lee’s stewardship after the Civil War, Washington College would almost certainly have failed to exist.

The Generals Redoubt is no longer on the defensive. We believe the efforts of some faculty members and a minority of current students and graduates to eliminate the name of Robert E. Lee from the University, and possibly that of George Washington, are simply wrong and potentially a death knell to one of the finest small liberal arts colleges in America.

The W&L Board of Trustees decided this issue previously, but now has reopened the possibility of a name change. A decision from the board could come in the next few weeks.

Changing the name of Washington and Lee University would have a profound adverse impact on the school and, as a result, on Lexington and Rockbridge County. Such action would destroy the reputation of the college and result in a devastating loss of top-flight students, annual fund contributions and future endowments. All of this would have a negative effect on the local economy.

We believe there are many residents of Lexington and Rockbridge County who share our beliefs but, for various reasons, are reluctant to speak up publicly.

The Generals Redoubt encourages you to go to our website ( and review the many reasons and articles as to why we oppose efforts to change the name of the University. On the website, you may also hit the “Contact Us” button to share your opinion with us. If you would like to obtain a “Retain the Name” yard sign, just let us know when you contact us. We do not intend to give up the fight to retain the name of Washington and Lee University, and we hope you will join us in that effort.

Tom Rideout, President, The Generals Redoubt

On behalf of the Board of Directors of The Generals Redoubt

The News-Gazette

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P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

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