In January, scores of Lawrence students participated in a day of community service, turning the holiday set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., into a “day on,” rather than a day off from scheduled classes. Some students worked with the Rebuilding Together organization to paint and clean at Holy Spirit School in Kimberly, while others helped prepare meals at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley. Students assisted the Appleton Housing Authority in the renovation of a duplex, and at least 30 Lawrence students led diversity activities for first- through sixth-grade students at Appleton’s Richmond Elementary School.
Our students’ desire to serve a global community was evident as well. In the days following the tragic earthquake in Haiti, our conservatory of music conceived, planned, rehearsed and performed a series of benefit concerts to provide relief and reassurance to Haitian citizens with whom we have a special relationship (see page 18). Lawrence’s active community service is tangible evidence of the learning that happens beyond our classrooms and is an indication that we are fulfilling Lawrence’s mission “to prepare students for lives of achievement, responsible and meaningful citizenship, lifelong learning and personal fulfillment.”
As Dr. King’s legacy of social justice was demonstrated through community service activities such as these, it was gratifying to witness an increasingly diverse Lawrence community joining together for the common good. As the story on page 2 reports, Lawrence’s commitment to greater diversity is constructive in part because it is just. But equally importantly, ideas from an array of cultural and social belief systems improve the classroom experience. In this era of increasing globalization and growing interactions with people of all cultures from around the world, diversity at Lawrence University is no longer an option. It is a requirement. As we strive to enroll a student body that is as ethnically and culturally diverse as possible, we create a richer environment for the exchange of ideas and learning.
In this issue of Lawrence Today we are pleased to share the stories of students who have transformed their passion for film and video into academic and, in some instances, professional achievement. Their film-centric work is remarkable for its creativity and because it epitomizes the unique and individualized ways students are able to shape their own educational experience. We have learned through the years that there are as many meaningful paths to a Lawrence education as there are creative Lawrentians eager to blaze a new trail.
Finally, as we approach Earth Day 2010, I want to recognize a significant story of transformation. We are nearing the conclusion of Green Roots™, a two-year environmental initiative that helped establish institutional policies and procedures to green the Lawrence campus and cultivate the habits of mind and disposition that lead to care of the Earth. Although we will turn our attention to a new theme in the upcoming academic year, much has been accomplished and the momentum of Green Roots will continue. Solar panels will soon be mounted on the roof of Youngchild Hall and we aspire to install a windmill at Björklunden within the year. With the spring thaw comes the completion of Lawrence’s new Riverwalk, a scenic interpretive walkway that will invite visitors to learn about the history and the unique environmental attributes of the Fox River.
The LEED Gold certified Warch Campus Center, with its vegetated roof system of soil and green plants, low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, is a lasting symbol of Lawrence’s environmental stewardship.
Special thanks go to Professor Jeffrey Clark and to each of the faculty, staff and students who brought Green Roots to life and in the process transformed our campus culture.
Happy Earth Day,