The 297 graduating seniors that walked across the stage on June 13 were reminded about how much they’d grown while at Lawrence. Class speaker Alicia Bones told them, “We learned to dig deep and pull out unexpected things. Lawrence has given us the tools to discover and the ability to do.“ Nobel Prize Laureate Thomas Steitz ’62 reassured graduates that their Lawrence education positioned them perfectly for whatever path they choose.
The Class of 2010
Looking Back, Moving Forward
By Kaleesha Rajamantri ’10
Lawrence Today asked senior Kaleesha Rajamantri, who spent the past two terms as an intern in the Office of Communications, to interview a few of her classmates. Our aim? A first-person account of what the Lawrence experience means to students who are about to embark on life after Lawrence.
Seven very different individuals — with varying backgrounds, majors, interests and talents — and yet all seven of them characterize the Class of 2010. We have seen Lawrence change in ways that other classes have not — the creation of Hurvis Crossing, the median on College Avenue, a new academic calendar and the opening of the Warch Campus Center. And like the graduating classes that have come before us, we can say we left Lawrence a different place than how we found it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing my classmates about their unique Lawrence experiences, and what I discovered was that if there is something Lawrence succeeded in doing, it is equipping us with skills, honing our talents and preparing us to handle bursting the bubble post graduation.
Being a student at Lawrence is an exciting and unpredictable experience, but Renske Hoedemaker, from Rotterdam, Holland has had an extremely unorthodox Lawrence career. She entered as a one-year exchange student on her gap year and had a glorious freshman year taking “really interesting and cool classes such as Latin and Modern Dance.” She returned to Holland and found out that she missed the liberal arts approach to education and Lawrence itself. So she transferred back for her junior and senior year. During her time at Lawrence, Renske danced with the Mêlée dance troupe, rowed with Lawrence crew, has been involved with Lawrence International, served on Hall Council, won the Phi Beta Kappa junior award and was a co-recipient of the Lewis Prize, awarded to the senior with the highest grade point average. This fall Renske will be moving to North Carolina to pursue a Ph.D. in psycholinguistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Despite Renske’s future plans, she wanted to “stay at Lawrence forever or take the people at Lawrence to UNC.”
Another success story of the Class of 2010 is Ken Weinlander, from Greenville, Wis., who is heading to the Medical College of Wisconsin this fall. This gentleman has had a most extraordinary academic adventure, having published two papers prior to the completion of his senior year. Ken also won both Phi Beta Kappa awards — for freshmen and juniors — during his time at Lawrence. Along with Renske, Ken was named co-recipient of the Lewis Prize, awarded to the senior with the highest grade point average. Ken was an active member of Beta Theta Pi and served as vice president his senior year, chaired the judicial board,
was a member of LU’s fencing team and served as a student representative on faculty committees. While doing all this, he managed to find time to study abroad in London as a sophomore. While in London he took an art history class — 19th Century Art, Design, and Society in Britain, which he said showed him a method of art appreciation to which he had not received prior exposure. Ken epitomized a Lawrence student who made full use of the opportunities provided at Lawrence.
Beth Carpenter has “wanted to be a librarian forever,” and that is what she wrote on her application to work in the Seeley G. Mudd library as a freshman. Now, after four years of being “stuck in the Mudd,” the Minneapolis native is off to Indiana University Bloomington to pursue graduate studies in library science. At first, Beth was unsure of her path at Lawrence.
She remembered quite clearly the cold November day, sipping a hot chocolate her freshman year, when she realized that she
had hit her stride. She’s never looked back. I asked her what her most memorable Lawrence experience was, and without
any hesitation she answered, “Playing sardines in the library during reading period, spring 2010.” Beth has flexed her
liberal arts student muscles, having taken Professor Kern’s Harry Potter tutorial. She said, “That’s what Lawrence is all about — you find something that interests you, and a professor who’s willing to teach you. I learned more about symbolism in Literature, World Perspectives, Religion, Witchcraft and Sexism than I did in any other class.”
Heading off to Northwestern University to earn a doctorate in environmental engineering is Sarist Macksasitorn from Bangkok, Thailand. One of Sarist’s most rewarding classes was Literary Analysis with Professor Bowles. The material that Bowles selected, and the nature of the class itself, gave Sarist tools to view written works from a different perspective and understand themes in literature that were applicable even to his French minor. Like many of us Lawrentians, Sarist gained momentum throughout his Lawrence experience. The only community event he attended freshman year was Playfair. Yet as a senior, he won the Campus Life Award and the John H. Scidmore Memorial Award for his contributions to the Information Desk, Habitat for Humanity, Residence Life and for his presence on campus. Sarist’s smiling face is definitely one of the things the Class of 2010 will associate with walking into the Warch Campus Center!
Beka Vite, a biochemistry and philosophy double major from Racine, Wis., is off to William Mitchell College of Law to study patent law. Beka, like any true Lawrentian, came in undecided, took many different classes and then proceeded to change her major seven times. In five years Beka hopes to be working for a pharmaceutical company, combining her passion for science with her law degree. Furthermore, Beka was president of the Lawrence crew team, an instructor for the Mêlée dance troupe and an ArtsBridge scholar. In fall 2010, Beka took the World Dance tutorial, taught by President Beck, and in her words it was “one of the coolest classes ever!” In this class, Beka had the opportunity to learn ethnic dances from around the world. If there’s anything Beka regrets, it’s taking on too much, but she would do it all over again in an instant.
If there were anyone that epitomized hard work and dedication, it was Mark Sprtel, an economics major from Whitefish Bay, Wis. He’s a three-season athlete, who trained all year for cross country (he captained the team for three years), indoor track and
outdoor track. Mark spent his time off the track at everyone’s beloved Seeley G. Mudd library. Mark was a member of Beta Theta Pi where he served as treasurer for two years. Mark has made the economics department proud by securing a full-time job at Appleton Group Wealth Management LLC. In five years Mark hopes to be graduating from business school and ready to take on the world.
Susanna Valleau, organist and mathematician? Lawrence has shaped the Andover, Mass., native from a freshman who was unsure of what she wanted to study, to a senior who has learned to manage her time and prioritize her commitments. Susanna is
one of the founders of Prevention Against Injuries Now (PAIN), a group that focuses on the importance of educating students on
the causes, prevention methods and treatments of performance-related injuries, as well as promoting healthy attitudes and
behaviors among Conservatory students. She has also been involved with Residence Life and the Wellness Committee. After graduation, Susanna will be moving to Seattle, to attend the University of Washington to pursue a master’s degree in organ performance. Although she is unsure exactly how mathematics will fit into her future, she values the analytical skills she has
acquired through working on problem sets, which will allow her to approach problems with creative solutions.
Rewind to September 11, 2006. Welcome Week activities were in full swing, including the welcome dinner for the international students from the Class of 2010. Graduation in 2010 was so far away that my primary concern was converting Lawrence to the metric system, which I used back home in Sri Lanka. The Class of 2010 has come a long way from getting lost on the Lawrence campus, friending on Facebook everyone in their class before they met in real life, and attending their first Freshman Studies lectures.
Graduation and the weeks leading up to it was a time for simultaneously looking back and forward, but it is safe to say that four years at Lawrence have sculpted our futures in such a way that we will be excited to be back for our first reunion in 2014 to share our adventures. I’m just sad that I never managed to make LU metric friendly.
Editor’s note: Author Kaleesha Rajamantri moved to Seattle after graduation to pursue a social media internship with CharityUSA.com.
129 Years at Lawrence
Four retire after distinguished careers
With the end of every academic year always comes change. This year one form of change is the retirement of four beloved faculty members — Professor of French Judy Sarnecki, Director of Technical Services and Associate Professor Corinne Wocelka, Robert McMillen Professor of Chemistry Jerry Lokensgard and Professor of Biology Brad Rence. To honor the end of their academic careers at Lawrence, Lawrence Today asked colleagues of this scholarly foursome to write about each of them.
Judith Holland Sarnecki
Professor Judith Holland Sarnecki has never been timid about trying something new. One look at her any day of the academic week should confirm that statement. Stylish glasses; shoes verging on eccentric; pleats, pockets, belts, buttons, colors and cut of the latest fashion — she has cultivated what the French approvingly (if not very originally) call a “look.”
Sartorial adventurousness aside, Professor Sarnecki has been up to just about every new pedagogical challenge that the American system could put in her path. Long before landing at Lawrence, she taught junior and senior high students, first in an urban school in Kansas City, Mo., and, several teaching gigs later, at St. Mary’s in Menasha, Wis. She came to Lawrence in 1985 as a lecturer with three degrees in French under her belt (a B.A. from Knox College, an M.A.T. from Portland State and an M.A. from the University of Iowa); but the two-year experience as a lecturer convinced her to get that last degree, the Ph.D., from UW-Madison.
Getting a Ph.D. as a non-traditional student had to be more than the usual challenge, even for Judy Sarnecki. She had, at the time, four children all still living at home and a husband with a thriving orthopedic practice in Neenah, Wis. Serious improvisation began. Traveling every week between Madison and Neenah, she finished her coursework in short order, then took on a new challenge: teaching full-time in Lawrence’s French department while completing a dissertation.
In the 20 years since that time, professor Sarnecki has anticipated new directions and embraced innovation both in the undergraduate curriculum and in her own field in 20th century literature and film. She has taught courses in Gender Studies, a program she has helped nurture since its inception in the early ’90s. She initiated a successful off-campus program in Dakar, Senegal that expanded Lawrentians’ worldview and broadened the French department into Francophone studies. She has taught French literature classes that include music, history, art and film. And she helped launch the new Film Studies interdisciplinary program to which she has been a frequent contributor. Always alert to developments in French research, Professor Sarnecki has made important contributions to the study of Marguerite Yourcenar, to trauma studies (specifically through tattoos) and most recently to the study of French cinema under the German occupation, a burgeoning area of scholarly interest.
Professor Sarnecki plans to continue her research on Occupation cinema — that, and travel to exotic places with her retired husband, Jan, will fill her new schedule. But how will we keep up with the times without her?
– Eilene Hoft-March, professor of French and Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor
Well, we thought it would never happen,but after 33 years at Lawrence, Professor Corinne Wocelka is retiring. When I first met Corinne (at my job interview), I was struck by two things: one, here’s someone who loves her coffee, and two, here’s someone who really knows her stuff.
And there’s a lot of stuff for her to know. The director of technical services — the job that Corinne has held since 1985 — is responsible for acquisitions, cataloging, periodicals and government documents. In these last 25 years, each of those areas has undergone a massive shift in how the work is done as the world of information storage and retrieval has moved from paper to electronic. In fact, Corinne’s entire career at Lawrence — as circulation assistant, acquisitions librarian, and director of technical services — has been all about that core library value: helping people get the stuff they need for teaching and learning, no matter what the format.
One of the main signs of that shift was the transition from the card catalog to LUCIA, Lawrence’s online catalog. Corinne was, of course, a lead player in that transition — and the later transition from one vendor’s system to another. The number of details that are involved in shifts like that is just boggling, but Corinne managed to keep it all in her head (or on her desk). She also managed to keep library users in the forefront. Her priority was always to help make things easier for the reader. If you can find anything in the library, it’s because of Corinne’s efforts.
Another of the many reasons everyone loves Corinne is that it’s been her job to buy things for the library — and she was tireless in locating and acquiring materials for teaching, learning and research. Many, many faculty have praised her willingness to “go the extra mile” to help them get the books, music and videos they needed.
In addition to her excellent library work, Corinne has been an active participant in faculty committees. The Honors Committee, especially, has benefited from her high standards and attention to detail. Hundreds of students brought their honors papers to her and she responded withsupport and enthusiasm for even the most esoteric topics.
That support and enthusiasm extended throughout Corinne’s work at Lawrence. Whether it was creating records for the online catalog, searching for an obscure video or reading an honors paper about C. elegans, Corinne has focused her attention on the people.
When Corinne was promoted to associate professor, Dennis Ribbens, the library director, said about her, “Were she to leave today, there is no way I could replace her with only one person … Probably no one person knows more about the entire spectrum of this place than she … Because of her, Lawrence is a better place.”
Suffice it to say, both the library and the campus are better places because of her work and we’ll miss her. I’m sure, however, that her retirement travels will bring her occasionally back to the Mudd — and we’re glad of that.
— Pete Gilbert, director of the Seeley G. Mudd Library and associate professor
Professor Jerrold Lokensgard makes a great straight man — whether as recipient of a “Gorillagram” during organic chemistry lecture, as tenor singing Tom Lehrer’s “Element Song” to general chemistry classes or as participant in Agatha Christie-esque mystery skits during student recruitment weekends, Professor Lokensgard’s timing and delivery are flawless. With degrees from Luther College in Iowa and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Lokensgard joined the Lawrence faculty in 1967, and has shepherded several generations of students through the rapidly changing and highly technological field of chemistry during an era that started with computer punchcards and strip chart recorders and ends with online databases and twitter.
During his 43 years at Lawrence, Professor Lokensgard (or “JLo” as he is currently widely known to his students) has taught organic chemistry as well as all of the department’s general chemistry courses at one time or another, ranging from one-term accelerated introductory courses, to our standard two-term introductory chemistry course, to one-term “general education” courses for non-science majors. In 1986 he introduced an Instrumental Analysis course that he taught for more than a decade, and even took a turn at an advanced physical chemistry laboratory course. He has taught Lawrence’s Freshman Studies course at least 10 times. Those courses represent more than 1,500 students that he has met in his classes — whom, he reports, have stimulated him, challenged him, and kept him very busy at times, and professes that “I’ve enjoyed nearly every one of those encounters.” His best memories have been students dropping by his office with questions or just to talk, and those moments in teaching when a student suddenly “gets the light” about a subject they’ve been struggling to understand.
With characteristic accuracy, Professor Lokensgard reports that over the last 43 years, his research labs, in both Youngchild Hall and more recently in Steitz Hall, have “not very often been empty of somebody doing something.” Nearly 80 students have carried out research projects in Professor Lokensgard’s laboratory for at least one academic term. Many of those worked for a full academic year, a full summer or more. Ten of them completed honors papers and earned honors at graduation based on their research. Professor Lokensgard has, indeed, taught very few things that don’t have laboratories, believing that the latter form of encounter with science is the best way for students to find out “how we know the things we say we know.”
After retiring, Professor Lokensgard plans to spend time with his grandchildren, Siri, Andy and Meghan, to do volunteer work with wife Liz, and to teach chemistry courses now and then. He wants to be remembered as he has been most of his time at Lawrence: in his office with the door open answering questions from students and colleagues, or sitting next to an instrument with a student, helping them figure out how to get interesting information and what to do with it.
— Mary Blackwell, associate professor of chemistry
On any given day on the third floor of Youngchild Hall of Science one might hear the sounds of red-winged blackbirds calling, crickets chirping or wolves howling. Further investigation would show that Professor of Biology Brad Rence was again working with students on one of the fascinating array of classes, tutorials and independent studies projects that he has offered over the past 30 years as the physiologist at Lawrence. Brad’s encyclopedic knowledge of living systems is amazing, but so too is his dedication to Lawrence’s students and the institution in general. Brad has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence and service.
As a new faculty member, my consideration of Brad’s breadth of knowledge and tireless interactions with students were both inspiring and daunting. How could one hope to rival his efforts? Following a brief time as a Grinnell undergraduate, he discovered his lifelong passion of studying insects while at the University of Iowa. Neurophysiology research at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Ore., allowed him to transition into his Ph.D. studies at UC-Berkeley, where he was awarded prestigious pre- and post-doctoral fellowships from the National Institutes of Health. His work on neurophysiology of mating behaviors in crickets was published in the top American scientific journal, Science. Soon after his arrival at Lawrence in 1979, he took on a wide range of new endeavors such as co-directing the marine biology term, helping to establish the neuroscience interdisciplinary area program and teaching at the ACM Wilderness Field Station (for 12 summers!). True to form, Brad has continued to expand his horizons and help students and colleagues grow in diverse ways.
Brad recently told me that he “has always loved this job,” and this is obvious to those that know him or have been in his classes. He consistently has taken us along on an exciting ride studying the wonders of life, whether it is examining the secretive mating behaviors of reef fish in the Caribbean, his regular directed studies on Human Physiology or in his Wolf Biology tutorials. When you see that twinkle in his eye, you realize what passion and commitment to learning and excellence are all about. This explains his selection for the Young Teacher of the Year Award, the Lawrence Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as the Mortar Board Community Service Award. His commitment to serving the institution and putting the sciences at Lawrence on a solid footing certainly were evident when he completed his six years as program director of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant and as faculty science building construction coordinator, overseeing the construction of Steitz Science Hall and the renovation of Youngchild Hall of Science. However, his most lasting legacy will be the daily examples he provided on how to create a vibrant learning environment for students and faculty. Although he and his wife, Eileen, are heading back to Portland to be near one of their daughters and start a new set of adventures, the effects of his time here will continue to be felt for many years even without the recordings of birds and crickets singing in our halls.
– Bart DeStasio ’82, professor of biology
Lawrence recognized four faculty members for teaching excellence, scholarship and creative activity during the college’s 161st Commencement.
Dominca Chang, assistant professor of French and Francophone studies, received Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth.
A member of the Lawrence faculty since 2007, Chang’s research interests include 19th century French studies, literary history and historiography, print culture, film studies and language pedagogy.
Jerald Podair, professor of history and Robert S. French Professor of American Studies, received the Award for Excellence in Scholarship, which honors a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained scholarly excellence for a number of years and whose work exemplifies the ideals of the teacher-scholar.
A specialist on 20th-century American history and American race relations, Podair joined the Lawrence faculty in 1998. He is the author of two books, “The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis,” and “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer.” His current scholarship includes a baseball-themed book on the cultural implications of the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles, a book that looks at the United States from 1877 to the present entitled “American Conversations” and a collection of essays on the ways Americans have sought to define the concept of equality.
Podair serves as a member of the Wisconsin Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was named a fellow of the New York Academy of History in 2009.
David Becker, professor of music and director of orchestral studies, received Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes outstanding performance in the teaching process, including the quest to ensure students reach their full development as individuals, human beings and future leaders of society.
Becker returned to the Lawrence conservatory in 2005 as director of orchestral studies after serving in the same capacity for four years early in his career in the mid-1970s. In between he held teaching positions at Oberlin College, the University of Miami and UW-Madison, where he spent 21 years as director of orchestras and professor of the graduate orchestral conducting program.
Patrice Michaels, professor of music, received the Award for Excellence in Creative Activity. Established in 2006, the award recognizes outstanding creative work for advancing Lawrence’s mission.
An award-winning soprano, Michaels has taught vocal performance and music theatre in the Lawrence conservatory since 1994. A specialist in the works of Mozart, Michaels has performed at prestigious concert venues throughout the world, including Salzburg, Austria in 2006 for the 250th anniversary celebration of Mozart’s birth.
She is well known for her performance of “The Divas of Mozart’s Day,” a tour de force theatrical production that celebrates the divas of late 18th-century Vienna. She has released 20 commercial recordings, among them the disc “American Songs,” which included eight world premiere recordings. In a career that has taken her to opera stages around the world, Michaels also has performed for the U.S. Supreme Court and Cuban President Fidel Castro.
From Left: Professors Chang, Podair, Becker and Michaels
“Do What Excites You”
Thomas Steitz’s commencement address
encourages graduates to follow their passion
It is truly a great pleasure to be able to visit the Lawrence campus once again and to congratulate the graduating class on your important accomplishment, which will benefit you for the rest of your life. I also commend the faculty and family members for their contributions and support during these past four years. Today, I wish to pay tribute to the enormous value of a small college education in general, as well as the importance of the Lawrence education to me in particular. I also want to talk to you about your career pathways, your being open to the sometimes unexpected opportunities that may present themselves to you in your lifetime. I wish to convey to you the significant roles that mentors will continue to play in your finding pathways and your career development, as they have in mine, starting with Professor Robert Rosenberg at Lawrence and continuing with many others subsequently.
To convey to you the important impact of a liberal arts education, I wish to relate to you some of the insights that professor Tom Cech, 1989 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and former HHMI president, wrote a few years ago, in the Journal Daedulus, a publication from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. While Cech focused on the sciences, I suspect that his conclusions apply equally well to the rest of the university. He points out that while only eight percent of students who attend four-year colleges or universities are enrolled in baccalaureate colleges, 17 percent of Ph.Ds in science (double) are students who received their undergraduate degree from a baccalaureate college, like Lawrence. Leadership of U.S. science also benefits from a disproportionate representation of liberal arts college undergraduates. Cech found that 19 percent of those educated in the United States who were elected to membership in U.S. National Academy of Sciences received their degree from a small college. As another more personal example of the success of small college graduates, a few years ago five of the 24 faculty in my department at Yale had graduated from baccalaureate colleges and four of them are in the National Academy of Sciences.
Both Cech and I believe that liberal arts college science students are so successful because small colleges provide a more
mentoring environment with smaller classes that allow the opportunity for students to participate in the learning process and the teachers have a very different orientation toward education, being focused on teaching, not advancing their own research career. Also, a very important difference is the cross-training in the Arts and Humanities, which promotes the development of critical thinking skills and facility with written and oral communications.
My four years at Lawrence College changed my life, my view of the world and my professional direction. Like you, I was required to take many humanities courses to supplement what turned out to be my major in chemistry. These courses
began with the broad-based reading, discussion and writing Freshman Studies course. We learned to ask as well as answer questions. Importantly, I was also required to take a philosophy course, a scholarly based (e.g. Niebuhr, etc.) religion course, and an anthropology course, as well as English, history and language courses, as I expect you all have done. The Lawrence music school was very important to me and enabled me to continue my love of music by my participating in the band, orchestra and choir. Many of you, like myself, have taken advantage of the opportunity to expand your understanding and appreciation of music, which will add a richness to your life, whatever your career direction.
While I had many wonderful, inspiring teachers at Lawrence, the person who had by far the greatest influence in inspiring me to pursue a career in science, and in particular chemistry, was Professor Robert Rosenberg, or Bob as I can now call him. I still recall the early lectures in his introductory chemistry course where he introduced to us the concepts of atomic orbitals and bonding and how studying chemistry at the physical chemical atomic level allowed us to understand the properties of chemicals, such as their color. It was a wonderful revelation to me about how the world around me could be understood. Bob’s teaching approach was fabulous. He would answer every question we asked with another question, thereby teaching us how to think through and solve a problem — the Socratic method. I am delighted to be able to share the stage with Bob today.
You will now have to make a succession of pathway decisions, and for the rest of your careers you will need to continue learning and seek advice of mentors and colleagues. Which way should you go? How should you best get there? What do you need to learn?
Let me give you a few examples of my pathway from being a student at Lawrence to having my picture on the front page of the two Stockholm newspapers on December 11, seated next to the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden at the Nobel Prize Banquet. (I originally suggested that my co-winner Ramakrishnan and I got her on the front page, but others pointed out that the lovely young princess got us on the front page.) After being inspired by Bob Rosenberg, I went to Harvard as a graduate student to work on biophysical studies of nucleic acids, but fortunately, chose a different pathway. In the spring of my first year in 1963, I attended three Dunham lectures given by Max Perutz, who had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry a few months earlier. He presented to a very large audience the first atomic resolution protein crystal structure, that of myoglobin, and showed the first stereo slides of a protein that any of us had ever seen. We were all stunned to see the atomic structure of myoglobin pop out in three dimensions over Max’s head, and a large “oh” came from the audience. This was my “aha” moment, when I realized that this was the way to understand how large biological molecules carry out their functions.
I then learned from a graduate student with whom I was playing tennis that, unknown to me, his advisor Professor Lipscomb had begun structural work on a protein, and I joined his lab. After working successfully with a group in his lab and determining the third protein structure, I was advised by an English postdoc in his lab to do my postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, which I did. This was where Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA and Max Perutz was director of the fabulous lab that had eight group leaders at that time who received Nobel prizes. My many interactions with members of the whole laboratory at all levels over coffee, at lunch and tea created my passion for understanding the molecular basis of gene expression at the atomic level.
I wish to commend Lawrence on the enormous changes that have occurred in the infrastructure of the whole campus since I was a student — changes that have benefitted all of you. The new science center is simply a wonderful example of a change that I am sure is enhancing the teaching and learning of science. While we can all learn by sitting on a log talking to a Socrates, in the complex world of the 21st century, having the right facilities is vitally important, and the new science center is the right facility at the right time. I feel deeply honored to have this building named after me. Indeed, I was more astonished when President Beck called to inform me of that decision than when I received the call from Sweden.
People, especially students, sometimes ask me “How can I win a Nobel Prize?” That is the wrong question and the wrong goal. You should all strive to follow your passion in deciding your pathway. Do that which excites you the most because
you will then do the best job you can do and importantly, it will be fun. I have had a lot of fun following my interests in science, solving problems and mentoring students as well as young colleagues.
In conclusion, I have three recommendations for you. First, always pursue a pathway that excites you. Second, do not be afraid to change the direction of your pathway if a new and more exciting opportunity arises. Finally, learn from and be guided by many mentors and return the favor to others.
Your years at Lawrence have provided you with an extraordinary tool set that will enable you to accomplish your goals in the future. You have learned to ask and answer questions in a broad landscape. Your need for learning will continue, but you now have the motivation and skills to find the right path for you. Enjoy the journey!
I give you my very best wishes for your future.
Thomas Steitz ’62 delivers the Commencement address to Lawrence graduates on June 13, 2010
Steitz in front of the Thomas A. Steitz Hall of Science