A New Focus on Film
By Rick Peterson
During a career spanning more than 30 years, filmmaker Catherine Tatge ’72 has created works that explore creative genius, spiritual matters and the human condition. She has chronicled the lives of such American luminaries as playwright Tennessee Williams, dancer/choreographer Martha Graham and ground-breaking environmentalist John Muir. She has used her story-telling skills to examine important topics ranging from domestic violence against children to the concept of hate.
But the Emmy Award winner’s latest project may be her most ambitious yet: creating the foundation for an innovative new initiative that will integrate film production into the Lawrence curriculum and across virtually every discipline, impacting the education of generations of future Lawrentians.
The idea for a program that would expand and enhance the scope of Lawrence’s current film curriculum both physically and intellectually was embraced enthusiastically by J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 and his wife, Julie Esch Hurvis ’61, who matched their collective enthusiasm with a generous $5 million gift last October through the Hurvis Charitable Foundation, catapulting the program from concept to reality.
The gift will support the creation of The Hurvis Center for Interdisciplinary Film Studies, which will transform part of the former Downer Commons into the film-production program’s home.
The evolution of technology and tools—from hand-held cameras to YouTube channels—have made the creation and distribution of visual media easy for virtually anyone with a minimum of expertise. The rise of social media has further accelerated the use of video as a widespread means of communication.
“Video permeates our culture today, and students now come to Lawrence having not only been extensively exposed to it, but also having frequently been involved in its creation,” said Jeff Stannard, associate dean of the conservatory and associate professor of music, who has played a lead role in coordinating the project as a special assistant to the president. “In order to ensure the strong liberal education of our students, it seems clear that providing guidance in the effective use of video as a communication tool is vital.”
Tatge, who is spending the current and next academic year at Lawrence as an artist-in-residence to help get the program started, has been brainstorming feverishly with faculty across the campus. To help design the best possible program, she is also investigating the best practices across the country at academically comparable institutions that have video production programs.
“I’ve been very honest at the places I’ve visited, saying ‘I’m going to steal all the good things from your program and bring them to Lawrence,’” said Tatge. “I want to find out what’s not working so we don’t make the same mistakes. As a Lawrence graduate, I know the culture of this institution. Developing this program is really going to be a process, working with the faculty and with students to build something that is uniquely tailored to Lawrence.”
According to Stannard, Lawrence is “very fortunate” to have someone of Tatge’s background and experience shepherding video production into not only the film studies program but also more broadly into the curriculum.
“She keenly recognizes that although production skills are essential for aspiring filmmakers, they are meaningful only if the filmmaker has something important to say,” said Stannard. “Catherine understands that video can be an important tool for all students, regardless of their field of specialization. While the new Hurvis Center will bring substantial film production capabilities, those capabilities are just a means to an end. Our main focus will continue to be on the academic, artistic and civic content of the work done by faculty and students. Lawrence’s liberal learning environment offers the ideal training ground for future leaders who will use video to communicate ideas and effect change.”
While the scale of the new program will be unprecedented, the integration of film production into the curriculum is not novel. Associate Professors of Art Julie Lindemann and John Shimon include video production in their courses on digital processing, and in their Inter-Arts course, which attracts students from disciplines across the university who want to incorporate video into a project they’ve already envisioned.
Course offerings in the theory, history and aesthetics of film as a component of liberal arts study have enjoyed a surprisingly long tradition at Lawrence. Early iterations of Freshman Studies included films as part of their curricula, and since its launch in 2007, the interdisciplinary area in film studies has evolved into one of the curriculum’s fastest-growing areas.
The presence of a vibrant Classic Film Club and Film Production Club on campus, the success of students composing film scores—most notably Garth Neustadter ’10, a 2011 Emmy Award winner for his original score for Tatge’s PBS documentary John Muir and the New World—and a student video competition that kicked off the More Light! campaign bode well for the prospects of growing a filmmaking program that will promote cross-fertilization throughout the campus.
“The discussions about new video initiatives have been highly collaborative, with contributions from faculty in anthropology, art and art history, dance, German, French, Spanish, Russian, education, geology, biology, government, history, music history, religious studies, new media studies and film studies,” said Stannard.
Proponents of the enhanced film program see it complementing the traditional forms of literacy—cogent writing and oral dialogue, which are already staples of a Lawrence education—by engaging students in a third form of literacy essential for the 21st century: the visual literacy of film and video.
“Students already learn to ‘read’ film through our existing film theory and history curriculum,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “The expanded program made possible by Tom and Julie Hurvis will enable students to learn to ‘write’ as well, producing original documentaries and creative films to express ideas, to raise awareness about issues of concern, to share research with scholarly and community audiences.”
“We are fortunate that an imaginative interdisciplinary approach to film studies has evolved and grown at Lawrence over the past many years,” Beck added. “The Hurvis gift recognizes that fact and generously provides us with the opportunity to add film production to our students’ education and integrate production into our existing program.”
The enhanced program will provide one more medium for students and faculty to disseminate disciplinary research and ideas.
Brent Peterson, professor of German and co-chair of Lawrence’s current film studies program, believes video can have a transformative impact, in much the same way word processing altered the process of writing papers.
“Since we live in a world saturated with visual images, it only seems natural that poster sessions in the sciences could be far more effective if the images jumped off of posters and started to move,” said Peterson. “What had been a graph or a table could become an image of the experiment from start to finish. A historian’s presentation of archival data could allow readers to flip through images of the originals, and art students could show works as they progressed.”
“The ability to incorporate visual media into projects across the liberal arts curriculum brings the results of students’ studies into the 21st century,” he added. “Once our staff with expertise in film is in place, students will have the opportunity to learn how to analyze moving images, to understand something of their history, to critique films professionally, and ultimately, to produce their own interdisciplinary projects.”
The Hurvis’ interests in film include serving as producers of the 2009 award-winning documentary film The Providence Effect, which chronicled the transformation of Providence St. Mel, an all-black parochial school on Chicago’s notoriously drug-ridden, gang-ruled West Side, into a first-rank college preparatory school for its African-American student body.
Tom Hurvis sees the film program as a “game-changer for Lawrence.”
“It really puts the college into a different arena. Here’s an innovation that definitely fits with Lawrence. What else could potentially bring so many different members of the faculty together? Lawrence already has very good creative synergy with the conservatory of music, art, the theatre department and other creative areas, so the film program will be a beautiful tie-in to all of those different creative juices.”
Julie Hurvis is eagerly looking forward to watching the program evolve into something truly distinctive.
“This project is open-ended. We’re excited about it becoming a reality as people are hired and begin working on the program.”
Count Tatge among those who are convinced the film production initiative is one whose time has come.
“I think that Lawrence is extremely smart about setting up a program like this. Media and visual arts are clearly the language of the future, and in order for Lawrence to stay on the cutting edge and on top, this is a perfect program to have initiated.”
The film production program is expected to become fully operational in the fall of 2013 following the completed renovation of Downer Commons.
“The things we already do and the projects we’re planning are clearly just the beginning,” said Stannard. “The world is changing at a rapid pace and this is yet another example of how Lawrence continues to thrive by staying at the forefront of such changes.”
Increasing numbers of Lawrence alumni have re-engaged with the university in recent years. One specific program that has benefitted immensely from alumni re-engagement of this sort is the Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) initiative, which is now in its fifth year. Assistant Professor of Economics Adam Galambos is spearheading this initiative with the involvement of numerous faculty drawn from across campus. The program is designed to incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into the university and Department of Economics curriculums, respectively.
Galambos is particularly eager to involve alumni whose various career efforts have given them deep insight into the pursuit of innovation and entrepreneurship. “We believe that the study of innovation and entrepreneurship is in perfect harmony with the goals of a liberal education,” said Galambos. “It is increasingly clear that many Lawrentians have successfully used their liberal educations as foundations for entrepreneurial pursuits, and we are extremely pleased to bring these graduates back to campus to share their broad range of experience with current students. These alumni bring great expertise, and they are pleased to give students the perspective and the advice they wish they had had in their student days. They show by example that the linkages between a liberal education and a life in entrepreneurship are real, and that entrepreneurship can be the route both to a full and satisfying life and to becoming an agent of positive change in society.”
Several highly accomplished alumni returned to campus this year to participate in the I&E initiative as well as various other university offerings. These individuals included Thomas Baer ’74, executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center and recent president of the Optical Society of America; Jeffrey Royer ’77, director of Shaw Communications; Dave Mitchell ’87, founder of Connected Bits, a Boston-area software company; Cynthia Figge ’77, co-founder of CSRHub.com; and Abir Sen ’97, CEO of Bloom Health. Each of these highly successful Lawrence graduates contributed two days of their time to speak to classes, provide well-informed feedback and constructive criticism to student venture groups, and interact with students informally over lunch or dinner. The lectures that these individuals delivered to classes covered what it means to be entrepreneurial, how one develops an entrepreneurial perspective as a businessperson, the importance of being an effective communicator, and the ethics involved in entrepreneurial endeavors—all topics these alumni encounter frequently in the course of their professional work.
The practice of involving successful alumni in the I&E initiative is critical to its success. The alumni who are invited back have addressed significant problems in the world and used their knowledge, expertise and liberal arts education to help solve these problems as entrepreneurs. The successes and experiences that these alumni have accumulated provide inspiration for current Lawrence students.
Pablo Galvan ’14, an economics major, completed the course In Pursuit of Innovation and found the experience extremely inspiring. He is quick to credit the returning alumni as providing a “fresh angle” from which to examine entrepreneurship at Lawrence and how it relates to both economics and other fields of study. “[The alumni] seem really excited to come back and share their experiences and expertise with us, partly because they received comparatively little of this sort of advice when they were here,” Galvan said. ”I learned a great deal from their visits, and I know that they were pleased to contribute to Lawrence after being away for a number of years.”
When asked why alumni like Baer, Royer, Mitchell, Figge and Sen come back, Galambos said, “They often emphasize that their passion for what they do is their primary motivator. When they see how passionately students talk about their own ideas, they realize that they are giving those students the tools they need to pursue their own dreams. Having that kind of impact is truly energizing.”
By Marti Gillespie
Katelin Richter ’11 has always been a go-getter. After internships with the Fox Valley Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony, Germany’s Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the State Department in Munich, the fifth-year senior approached Lawrence President Jill Beck about the possibility of doing an internship with her. What followed became one of Richter’s most ambitious projects of her Lawrence career—and one that resulted in the creation of a first-of-its-kind educational opportunity for conservatory of music students.
Called Conservatory2 (Conservatory Squared) the program is modeled after LU-R1, Lawrence’s highly successful summer program that places students at leading research institutions, often under the watchful eyes of alumni scientists. Like LU-R1, Conservatory Squared is part mentorship, part internship and part alumni engagement—all blended together to provide a way for conservatory students to grow their music careers exponentially.
“Conservatory Squared is all about spurring students to see how their education can make them successful in many diverse careers,” said Richter. “Because I’ve done several internships that I sought out independently over the last four years, I know how difficult and time-consuming it can be to search for and secure internships, but I also know how incredibly rewarding and important they are. The Conservatory Squared internships were specifically engineered to complement the conservatory education students receive at Lawrence, whether it’s in performance, composition, teaching, history or any of the diverse array of interests in the conservatory.”
Conservatory Squared will begin this summer with eight internship opportunities at seven locations, including two abroad. A gift from the Olga Herberg Administrative Trust will fund each internship:
- Composer, performer and educator Javier Arau ’98, director of the New York Jazz Academy, offers a summer-long internship at New York’s fastest growing music school. Arau will integrate the student intern directly into his administration including customer service, recruiting, multi-media marketing, curriculum development, music library management, on-site lesson and course observation and development, and networking with New York City music professionals and performance establishments.
- Connie Trok Olivera ’82, manager and musician at Olivera Music Entertainment in Washington, D.C., will provide a start-to-finish music production experience that includes following a sales call from beginning to end; organizing schedules and confirming performers; special projects such as developing a marketing strategy to target younger demographics; and selecting and arranging repertoire per client requests.
- Elizabeth Snodgrass ’93 will oversee the internship at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, the education and community arm of Carnegie Hall. The position will provide general assistance and administrative support as the staff prepares for the 2012–13 season for three community programs: the Neighborhood Concert Series, the McGraw-Hill Companies CarnegieKids and Musical Connections. The intern will have hands-on experience in finalizing artist contracts; planning concert production; working with marketing on advertising strategies; scheduling creative projects; analyzing data from audience surveys; and preparing tools for documentation and assessment.
- Oberlin Conservatory has partnered with Lawrence to offer internships in two of its summer programs: the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, where the student will gain experience in festival administration with full participation in the annual festival; and Oberlin in Italy, which will offer two performance opportunities in the areas of vocal performance, stage direction or rehearsal accompanying. This opportunity takes place in Arezzo, Italy.
- Beit Yehuda Guest House Amphitheatre near Jerusalem, Israel, offers a student internship managing the hotel’s offerings of plays and concerts.
- The Deep Listening Institute in Kingston, N.Y., under the supervision of composer Pauline Oliveros, offers an internship opportunity for students interested in electronic composition, performance of new music or deep listening philosophy. Oliveros, an accordionist and one of the 20th century’s most important composers, has been a pioneer in the development of electronic art music and the concept of “deep listening,” which she describes as “a practice intended for experiencing heightened and expanded awareness of the sound/silence continuum.”
Lawton Hall ’10 (pictured left) interned with Oliveros during the summer of 2009 and 2010. His experience served as a “test run” for Conservatory Squared. For Hall, what began with general day-to-day office work at the Deep Listening Institute gradually transitioned into a large archiving project and eventually into the task of compiling and editing Oliveros’ book, Sounding the Margins: Collected Writings 1992–2009.
“I handled everything from determining a budget, coming up with the page design, communicating with proofreaders and other contributors, and working with the self-publishing company,” said Hall. “I had to learn a lot of new skills very quickly. Getting this experience while I was still a Lawrence student was invaluable for me and opened my mind to career paths I didn’t even know existed before.”
For the trio of Lawrence alumni who are hosting Conservatory Squared students this summer, the program provides a unique way for them to reconnect with their alma mater.
“I’m very pleased to be assisting a Lawrence student,” said Olivera (pictured left). “As a student, I never would have imagined I would use my music education degree the way I have, but it has led to a very rewarding career in entertainment production. [Conservatory Squared] will allow students to apply what they have learned in a real-life experience, while using their knowledge in a new environment.”
“Despite the magnificent level of instruction I received at Lawrence,” said Arau, ”I still felt like I did not really have much perspective regarding the ‘real world’ and the music profession itself. I know in my own experience as an entrepreneur, I feel like I’ve earned a few extra college degrees in management, business and education. I am certain the student will feel the same way after this experience. It’s a continuous learning process.”
To apply for Conservatory Squared, each student must submit a resume, an essay, one faculty recommendation and, when required, supplemental materials customized for each internship, such as an audition or a production portfolio. After an internal review, select candidates will be invited for an interview before the final selections are made.
“The idea that we would have someone devoted to community programs this summer, someone from Lawrence University who has gone through a highly selective application process, was a welcome one,” said Snodgrass (pictured left). “Lawrence’s commitment to giving its students the best educational experience possible and Carnegie Hall’s commitment to providing the best musical experiences possible, shows a connection in each institution’s dedication to quality. It seemed like a good match in terms of mission and goals for the interns and their experience.”
Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl ’86 said Conservatory Squared is already creating a buzz in the conservatory among students and faculty. “At the conservatory, we are committed to challenging our students to think deeply about the musical life they might lead after their Lawrence education ends,” said Pertl. “I firmly believe that strong conservatory training coupled with a broad liberal arts education is absolutely the best preparation for the 21st-century musician. Conservatory Squared is a wonderful addition to our efforts to expand the scope of a conservatory education well beyond the confines of the practice room, performance hall and classroom.”
While Conservatory Squared is just getting off the ground, Richter is already looking ahead to next year, when she hopes to see the program expand to include even more opportunities in other career areas. “The conservatory has an awesome network of alumni out there; their insights on how they’ve used their conservatory education to be successful are invaluable,” she said.
Give. Take. Thrive.
As a charter school, Appleton’s Valley New School (VNS) provides students in grades 7–12 with a learning environment much like Lawrence’s. It’s a place where they are encouraged to pursue project-based learning, community engagement and independent thinking.
The Lawrence connection to VNS goes even farther than a shared vision. It was the creativity and foresight of alumni Jennifer Kosloski Plamann ’95 and David Debbink ’72 along with colleagues Steve DeMay and Nicole Luedtke that helped get the innovative school off the ground. On any given day at VNS, sprinkled among its students, you’ll find a dedicated group of current Lawrentians assisting as volunteers and tutors.
“Alumni are great ‘in the field’ resources for college students,” said Plamann. “While much can be learned through secondary research, connection with a live resource offers meaningful insight and new perspectives. Educators at Lawrence and in the K-12 system provided me with information and inspiration as a prospective educator. I hope that I, and Valley New School, can offer Lawrence students valuable opportunities and experiences that might encourage, provoke thought and help them find their passions.”
Sasha Ross ’13 started volunteering at VNS during Winter Term of her freshman year. She approached Lawrence’s Volunteer and Community Service Center for help in balancing her desire to get out into the community with her interest in secondary education. VNS was a perfect match. For the past three years, Ross said that she’s spent an average of 12 to 15 hours a week at VNS.
“Before VNS, I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes to be a teacher,” said Ross. “I didn’t know if I could command a classroom or win the trust of students. In my years here I’ve tutored math, science, history, writing, Latin and Greek. I’ve coached students through the last steps of a major project and helped them choose a new one. I’ve also tried to be a mentor to students who need an ear. This experience has helped cement my desire to become a teacher.”
Kristi Hill, director of Lawrence’s volunteer and community services programs, said the partnership with VNS is a win-win for all involved.
“Lawrence has worked very closely with VNS, resulting in meaningful employment and volunteer opportunities for our students, resulting in days of service, and shared events and presentations,” Hill said. “We work collaboratively to hire a Lawrentian to serve as a volunteer coordinator for the school, a resource the school wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Ross served as the VNS volunteer coordinator a year ago. This year, the torch was passed to Raena Mueller-Dahl ’15. It’s a crucial position for the school, as the coordinator is charged with working with Plamann and others to identify tutoring needs. The coordinator then reaches out to the Lawrence community to find work-study and volunteer tutors to meet those needs. Hill said that this year Mueller-Dahl has already recruited 30 Lawrence student volunteers for the school. In addition, Mueller-Dahl helps organize parent volunteers and community helpers, and aids VNS students in finding service-learning positions in the community. VNS students also make frequent trips to campus to listen to speakers, attend concerts or participate in other events.
“In my view, I’ve found the perfect job for a college freshman,” said Mueller-Dahl. “I love working with kids, and I feel like this coordinating experience will help me in the future. It is tough work finding specific needs like a Latin tutor that would get along well with a seventh-grade boy, and then coordinating their schedules, but I’m happy to be a part of such a great school and to continue serving the community by keeping the connections going.”
Other projects Lawrence volunteers have helped VNS with include the establishment of a small music ensemble, organizing current-events discussion groups, facilitating foreign-language tables during the lunch hour, and undertaking aesthetic improvement projects such as painting, cleaning and organizing various sections of the school. No matter which type of activities the Lawrence students are involved in, Plamann said the impact of their presence at VNS is profound, and the enthusiasm, contagious.
“Our students have received valuable individual help with their academic pursuits,” said Plamann. “Also, and perhaps most importantly, connecting our students to college students has influenced many of their post-high school plans. It has planted the idea that college is an option. It has inspired some to pursue a Lawrence education or learn more about small, private liberal arts colleges.”
Beyond the volunteers and paid and volunteer tutors, Lawrence has been able to place education students at VNS to complete their observation/practicum hours, and students undertaking anthropology and sociology projects have studied the VNS community as part of their research. For Plamann, it’s a satisfying way to continue to “pay it forward” for the many ways she’s benefitted from her Lawrence education.
“I hope students who have connected with Valley New School have been inspired to find their passions and take action. I hope they are moved to create and participate in innovation. I hope they value education—their own and education in general. As an alumna, I also enjoy their energy!”
Both Ross and Mueller-Dahl agree that working at a local school provides them with greater insight into the City of Appleton, and has strengthened their ties to the community and to Lawrence. It’s a relationship they look forward to continuing.
“Jennifer has set up such a great school, with unique opportunities for the students to get involved in the larger community at a young age,” said Mueller-Dahl. “I’m happy to be part of it.”
Ross added, “Nothing has ever felt better than helping the students and witnessing that moment of epiphany, whether it’s about adding fractions, the Oxford comma, or some more personal issue they’ve confided in me. My hours spend at VNS are the best I’ve spent in Appleton.”
In her role as program coordinator for the Almost Home program in Appleton, Jessica Patenaude ’05 wears many hats: she helps families apply for the Habitat for Humanity program and assists existing Habitat families in retaining ownership of their homes. She’s passionate about creating happy endings for the people she works with.
Her quest to help families and the community also reaches into the halls of her alma mater, as she often calls upon Lawrence students to assist her in her mission by working as interns and volunteers.
“I believe that it is important for any student at Lawrence to get to know the community in which they live. Because the Almost Home program was formed by a partnership between the Greater Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, students are exposed to and engaged with individuals and families from many different walks of life. We work with human beings, and the nature of the work prepares students for being able to work with people who are very different from themselves.”
It’s a partnership that has blossomed over the years and recently resulted in the creation of the new Health and Home Safety Workshop. The workshop, a collaborative effort between the Lawrence Volunteer and Community Service Center, the Appleton YMCA, Appleton Fire Department and several other organizations, teaches families about disaster preparedness, provides healthful eating tips, coaches them on ways to save and invest money and promotes activities for healthful lifestyles.
“Josh Graber, the current Lawrence intern for Habitat, has been amazing,” said Patenaude. “Without his energy, organizational skills and willingness to try new things we would not have the Health and Home Safety Workshop. Volunteers from Lawrence help teach at the workshop and are crucial to the success of this event.”
Patenaude said she hopes the real-world experience gained by the Lawrence interns and volunteers will help open their minds and the doors to new opportunities.
“Alumni are the windows to the students’ futures,” Patenaude said. “It is a view of possibilities and unrealized paths. I chose to stay engaged because I had influences and mentors in the nonprofit world that inspired me to choose this career path. I find nonprofit work to be extremely rewarding, and hope my work inspires students to consider nonprofit work once they graduate.”
Riding to Beat Hunger
On April 22, Rev. Scott Alexander ’71 will dip the rear tire of his bicycle in the Pacific Ocean at Costa Mesa, Calif. This symbolic act will mark the beginning of The Ride to Beat Hunger, Alexander’s month-long, 3,300-mile bike trip across the country to raise $50,000 for two hunger relief organizations.
“To be free of hunger is, I think, the first and most essential human right,” Alexander explained.
Alexander will cross 10 states, biking on average 115.5 miles daily, before concluding his ride on May 22 in Vero Beach, Fla., where he will dip the front tire of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean. The logistics and support for his ride will be coordinated by the company America By Bicycle.
An endurance athlete who regularly bikes and swims—he was involved in both swimming and tennis as a student at Lawrence—Alexander, 62, has already completed two cross-country charity bike rides. But The Ride to Beat Hunger, Alexander said, is his most ambitious effort to date. “There’s a saying, ‘Who are you benefitting by being and thinking small?’” he said. “I’ve always been someone who takes on big things.”
He hopes the ride will encourage people in Vero Beach, where he serves as a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach, to “respond to the very real problems of hunger, both locally and globally.” Of the $50,000 goal, $25,000 is designated for a local hunger relief organization, Harvest Food & Outreach Center, and $25,000 is designated for an international hunger relief organization, Stop Hunger Now.
Alexander credits his Lawrence education as the inspiration for his trip. “The values of liberal arts call us and compel us to make a positive difference in the world. That’s the point of a Lawrence education,” he said. “This ride of mine flows directly out of my liberal arts experience at Lawrence. And indeed my whole career of ministry flowed out of that experience.”
When Richard Haight ’71 and his wife, Denise Dyer Haight ’70, heard about The Ride to Beat Hunger, they wanted to be among the first to support Alexander by sponsoring the first day of the ride. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that Scott has become a nationally recognized Unitarian Universalist minister who practices what he preaches,” said Richard Haight, who has known Alexander since they were neighbors in Plantz Hall during freshman year. “[At Lawrence] he was full of energy and enthusiasm for any project he undertook. With his love of and empathy for his fellow man, Scott had a real affinity for social justice issues.”
Though he is giving back in a big way through his bike trip, Alexander said he is getting something in return. “It’s absolutely exhilarating to go through the mountains and across the high deserts and through the beautiful rolling hills of Arkansas,” he said. “And there is the satisfaction of coming back and having raised some money.”
Step Right Up!
College Fair Volunteers Get the LU Word Out
In banquet halls, cafeterias and gymnasiums from Burbank, Calif., to Watchung, N.J., alumni are volunteering to represent Lawrence at college fairs, chatting with prospective students and their parents and helping to raise the college’s visibility.
Each year Lawrence receives invitations to hundreds of college fairs across the country, some of which staff members are unable to attend. That’s where alumni volunteers step in to help.
Ben Kessler ’97 has represented Lawrence at five college fairs in Michigan, talking with a dozen or so prospective students and their parents at each fair. “It’s exciting getting to teach more people about what a cool school Lawrence is, and I think it’s great for prospective students to get to discuss the school with an alum,” he said. “As a bonus, every fair I’ve worked at reminds me of some great moment from my time at Lawrence that I had forgotten about.”
Helping to recruit students is among the most important ways alumni can give back to Lawrence. Prospective students get a first-hand account of what it’s like to attend Lawrence, and alumni get to share their experiences and help promote the school to high school students for whom it would be a good fit. During the 2010-11 academic year, 249 alumni volunteered to represent Lawrence at 163 college fairs across the country.
“Alumni who represent Lawrence not only provide helpful information about the university and their own experience, but their presence at college fairs demonstrates their lasting affection and pride,” said Andrea Hendrickson ’04, assistant director of admissions and West Coast regional representative. “That is a statement both students and parents remember.”
In addition to discussing Lawrence’s small class size and the individualized attention students receive from professors, Kessler likes to talk about what a liberal arts education means in the long-run. “I also usually talk about liberal arts education, and how my experiences at Lawrence taught me not only how to succeed in my particular area of study, but also how to think critically and how to approach life with my mind open to new ideas and possibilities,” he said.