Students are transformed during their time at Lawrence. They enter the college at a time when they are actively forging their identities and seeking their places in the world. They leave as informed, independent thinkers, as concerned, responsible citizens. Just as the Lawrence experience is transformative for students, it has been transformative for me as well.
It is my intention to retire as president of Lawrence University in June 2013, after what will be nine years at the college. I came to Lawrence after spending eight years at The Juilliard School and nine years at the University of California, Irvine. I have found that that amount of time in leadership positions has allowed me to move quickly and accomplish a great deal in collaboration with the colleagues I have enjoyed working with at each institution.
I’m thankful for the many wonderful experiences I’ve had at Lawrence. I believe it is the president’s role to create an environment within which students flourish, and I hope I’ve served the students well in doing that. During my tenure I have collaborated with numerous faculty, alumni, trustees and supporters of the college to help conceive, develop and implement advances for Lawrence. The Lawrence of today is different from the Lawrence I first met in July 2004.
From the Warch Campus Center to the lodge expansion and wind turbine at Björklunden, Lawrence’s campus has been improved and made more sustainable without incurring any debt. Programs such as Lawrence University Fellows in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, which draws recent doctoral degree recipients to campus, have enriched the faculty, and as a result, individualized learning experiences for students. And partnerships with organizations such as The Posse Foundation have helped Lawrence’s student body become more ethnically and culturally diverse, enhancing the fabric of our community.
One of the most significant changes to Lawrence’s curriculum is Senior Experience, which serves as a bookend to Freshman Studies, allowing students to showcase their knowledge and skills in their fields of study. The new dance studies and expanded film studies programs also invite fresh interdisciplinary approaches into the curriculum.
During my tenure I have worked with my colleagues to prepare students—and the college—for the future. Programs such as Conservatory Squared, the new summer internship program for conservatory students, and LU-R1, which partners students with alumni who are conducting research at leading institutions across the country, support students’ transitions to life after Lawrence. The Strategic Plan that a group of dedicated faculty, administrators and trustees developed for Lawrence articulates a long-range vision that will guide the college’s work over the next several years. And the More Light! campaign, which raised more than $160 million, will continue to impact Lawrentians positively for generations to come.
Over the next 16 months I will focus on several priorities. I will be working with the economics faculty and their interdisciplinary colleagues on their initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition, I hope to complete the renovation of the former Downer Commons into a center for film studies and the new home of Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni and Constituency Engagement. Other priorities will certainly come to the forefront as I work with Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski and other members of the Lawrence community to maintain the college’s strong momentum. I hope to leave Lawrence well-positioned for the future.
The Lawrence University Board of Trustees, via a committee chaired by Dale Schuh ’70, the CEO and president of Sentry Insurance, has already started the search for the college’s 16th president. I believe the lead time is very beneficial for the institution—it will enable the college to do a thorough national search.
Serving as Lawrence’s president has not only been a great responsibility, it has also been a great honor. Among the people I have met during my time here, I have come to count many as friends. I have also come to consider myself an honorary Lawrentian. While I plan to “graduate” with the class of 2013, Lawrence will always remain in my heart.
My best wishes to Lawrence always,
Jill Beck, Ph.D.