For the graduates, it was a day of sadness and celebration as they prepared to say goodbye to Lawrence and to begin confidently the next chapters in their lives.
“Because of Lawrence I can believe in my ability to motivate myself,” said Micah Paisner. “The professors really do a great job of extending themselves to their students and encouraging them to do whatever they feel they can accomplish.” Paisner, from Chicago, plans to attend graduate school in fall 2012 to pursue screenwriting.
As a freshman, Ilsa Tone wrote in her journal the long-term career goals of “teaching, blowing minds and rocking.” She has stayed the course and will be student teaching next fall at Kimberly (Wis.) High school under the supervision of English teacher Sarah Lashock ’06. “I will work my hardest to bring the liberal arts ideals into the public school classroom and instill in my students a similar sense of wonder and conscientiousness which Lawrence has encouraged in me,” Tone said.
Five-year double-degree graduate Ian Wallace is looking to put all of his Lawrence-honed
talents to good use. “I am applying for graphic-design jobs and hoping that somebody will notice my multifaceted skills and professional experience as not only a designer, but also as an artist and musician,” Wallace said. “Having experience across artistic boundaries should help me get a leg up on the competition.”
Senior Class President Collin McCanna said commencement was his “greatest experience at Lawrence University,” and added that he was also proud of how members of the Class of 2011 bonded during their four years together.
Sarah Ehlinger, chosen by her peers as the senior speaker, praised the “Lawrence bubble” during her remarks to her classmates, as she urged
them to relish their Lawrence experiences and to leave with no regrets. “There is always a class you wish you had taken, people you wish you had met, a grade you should have gotten or a club you wish you had joined, but everything is what it is,” Ehlinger said. “There’s no point in not being joyous in what we have gotten out of our Lawrence experience. We have learned more than we realize out of this unique atmosphere, and we should now be confident from what we have accomplished.”
Commencement speaker and former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold encouraged Lawrence University graduates to become “citizen diplomats” as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Feingold told graduates, families and university dignitaries that they are the key to creating a positive image of Americans when they are traveling the world as students, for business or pleasure.
“Through our personal outreach we have an opportunity to re-establish our nation’s role as a champion of freedom and democracy, and to enhance respect for the values we represent. In so doing, not only can we learn and gain pleasure from these life-affirming experiences, we have an opportunity to forge human bonds among ordinary people, disarm narrow-minded ideological opponents and strengthen both the values and security of this country,” he said.
During the commencement ceremony, Feingold was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his 28 years of public service to the state of Wisconsin and the nation. In expressing his gratitude, Feingold said, “Not only is it a privilege to join such a distinguished group of previous honorees, it is a great pleasure for me to have this formal bond with one of our state’s greatest institutions — Lawrence University.”
Two Retire after Distinguished Careers
Ernestine Whitman, a professor of music and flutist, and James Evans, professor of computer science and chemistry, were recognized as retiring faculty at commencement, and were awarded honorary Master of Arts degrees.
Whitman, who led the conservatory of music’s flute studio for 33 years, joined the Lawrence faculty in 1978. She began her flute career at age 20, performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.
Her performing career was put on hold in 1986 when she developed the neurological condition focal dystonia, which affected the muscles in her left hand. She returned to performing in 1992, but developed focal dystonia in her lip in 2006, ending her performing career.
Of the challenges and rewards of teaching, Whitman, who was recognized in 1984 with Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award, said, “One of the things I will miss most is the thrilling moment when, after months of working on tonal exercises, a student produces a sound of great depth and beauty. That ‘aha’ moment never failed to make my skin tingle.”
Her plans include volunteer work, further martial arts training (she earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 62), teaching Freshman Studies and several writing projects.
Evans has worn numerous hats during his 45-year Lawrence teaching career, among the longest in the college’s history. A native of Maine, Evans joined the Lawrence chemistry department in 1966 as a 25-year-old with a doctorate degree in chemistry from Princeton University.
In 1979, Evans also became part-time director of Lawrence’s small computer services group and helped usher in the first computer-related teaching to the Lawrence curriculum by collaborating with members of the physics department. He co-directed a National Science Foundation– funded project that helped establish today’s interdisciplinary mathematics– computer science major.
Beyond teaching chemistry and computer science, Evans served as an institutional “sidewalk superintendent,” assisting with various Lawrence building projects.
He cited “the assortment of students who pass by” as the thing he will miss the most.
“They don’t know what’s impossible yet,” Evans said of the students, “so if you ask them to try hard, they may accomplish more than they or you intended. It’s always nice to see ‘the light’ turn on.”
Evans plans to split time between Appleton and Maine, where he wants to rescue a generations-old family homestead from deterioration.
Teaching excellence, scholarship and creative activity earned four members of the Lawrence University recognition at the college’s 162nd commencement
Eilene Hoft-March, professor of French and Milwaukee- Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor, was recognized with Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in
Teaching. The award honors 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.
A member of the faculty since 1988, Hoft-March previously was recognized with the college’s Young Teacher Award in 1991 and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1997. She is one of only three faculty members to earn those three teaching awards.
Hoft-March is a scholar of 20th-century French literature and autobiographies. Her scholarship also includes literature about children and the Holocaust. In addition to French language and French literature, she teaches courses in gender studies and has been a leader in the Freshman Studies program.
Peter Glick, professor of psychology and Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of the Social Sciences, 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 social psychologist, Glick studies both the subtle and the overt ways in which prejudices and stereotypes foster social inequality. Along with Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University, Glick introduced the concept of “ambivalent sexism,” which asserts that not just hostile, but subjectively benevolent — though patronizing and traditional — views of women as pure, but fragile, reinforce gender inequality.
Most recently, Glick served as co-editor of both the book “Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination” and a special issue on ambivalent sexism published in the journal Sex Roles. His research was recognized by the Harvard Business Review on its list of “Breakthrough Ideas for 2009.” That same year he was elected president of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
Phillip Swan, associate professor of music and co-director of choral studies, received the Award for Excellence in Creative Activity. Established in 2006, the award recognizes outstanding creative work for advancing Lawrence’s mission.
Swan joined Lawrence’s conservatory of music faculty in 2002 as director of Cantala, the college’s women’s choir. Under his direction, Cantala has established a reputation for outstanding vocal production and mastery in creating an artistic choral sound. In addition to his work with Cantala, Swan is the musical director for Lawrence musical productions and serves as co-conductor of the White Heron Chorale, a semi-professional community ensemble.
Earlier this year, Cantala, which is comprised of freshmen and sophomores, received the highest honor in the field of choral ensembles — an invitation to perform at the prestigious American Choral Directors Association national conference in Chicago. Cantala was selected from more than 400 entries worldwide and was the only women’s collegiate choir so honored.
Scott Corry, assistant professor of mathematics, received the Young Teacher Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued
Since joining the faculty in 2007, Corry has taught courses in calculus, linear algebra and number theory, among others, as well as Freshman Studies. Corry earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Reed College and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Rick Peterson also contributed to this story.