Carter calls on Lawrentians to work together to confront coming challenges

Lawrence University President Laurie A. Carter delivers her first Matriculation Convocation Friday in Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has an opportunity to build on past successes, but it’ll need to do so at a time of significant challenges in higher education, President Laurie A. Carter said Friday in her first Matriculation Convocation address.

Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1, said Lawrence isn’t immune to the growing turbulence across higher education—financial pressures heightened by the pandemic, political strife, attacks on the liberal arts, bloated student debt, declining retention and graduation rates, and a coming steep decline in the number of college-age students. But its community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni are ready to rise to the challenge and place Lawrence among the leaders in a new higher education environment.

“Creating a sense of urgency is the first step in the process,” Carter told the Lawrence community in a presidential address that annually serves as a kick-off of a new academic year.

Speaking at Memorial Chapel and via a livestream, Carter reiterated how honored she is to lead Lawrence. She celebrated the university’s 174-year history and its recent successes and invited all Lawrentians to sign up for the hard work to come, even if it means working outside of their comfort zones.

“I am excited for this work, and I feel uniquely positioned for the challenges ahead,” she said. “As an African American woman and leader, discomfort has always been a part of my journey.”

Following Carter’s speech, a video was presented featuring students speaking about why they love Lawrence:

Looking forward

There is much to build on at Lawrence—the success of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign, the commitment of dedicated alumni, the size and strength of the newest class, the recent launch of five key academic programs, the addition of several endowed professorships that have strengthened existing programs, and the unity in purpose that has been so evident over the past year and a half.

“The manner in which the community came together to support one another during the pandemic is why we are brighter together,” Carter said.

Let’s celebrate those successes, she said. Embrace the great traditions of Lawrence. But don’t lose sight of the challenges ahead for higher education; they will be significant.

“Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment,” Carter said. “And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it.”

Watch a replay of President Carter’s speech here

Setting priorities

Carter laid out five priorities that will be key pieces of a to-be-built strategic plan — strategic equitable student success; Lawrence brand enhancement; diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; an enhanced integrated university experience; and strategic financial stewardship.

“While these five priorities touch nearly every aspect of our university, from recruitment and retention to the curricular and co-curricular programs, they all are in the service of our students,” Carter said. “And our ability to collectively engage in dialogue and problem-solving around these areas will determine our course for the future.”

Lawrence’s current strategic plan expires in 2022.

Carter also introduced the formation of five guiding coalitions, each with a mix of faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni, to address particular areas that need expedited attention. These coalitions will be tasked with creating a path to meaningful progress in the assigned areas, with timelines focused on the current academic year. The work of the coalitions will help inform the strategic plan.

The guiding coalitions include: Visioning of Our Five Priorities; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism; Full Speed to Full Need; Amplifying Athletics; and 175th Anniversary. Each will have at least two co-leads, one from faculty and one from staff. Members of the Lawrence community are being invited to join the coalitions.

“Our volunteer army will consist of members of the community who are passionate about these issues and are willing to lock arms with others to create meaningful change around them,” Carter said. “You—faculty, staff, students alike—have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before.”

The Convocation, the first of three to be held during the 2021-22 academic year, featured a performance of Mark A. Miller’s Creation of Peace by the Welcome Week Choir, directed by music professors Phillip A. Swan and Stephen M. Sieck. Other elements of the program, including the size of the audience in Memorial Chapel, were adjusted to accommodate pandemic protocols.

Allison Fleshman, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Public Events Committee, announced that Austin Segrest, assistant professor of English, has been chosen as the Honors Convocation speaker in the spring. Multidisciplinary artist Alexandra Bell will deliver the Winter Term convocation.

As the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, Carter encouraged all Lawrentians to lean into the truth Lawrence has long embraced — “light, more light.”

“When the sun was shining brightly, meaning before the public discourse on higher education turned negative and the pandemic disrupted the world, our light shone brighter than ever,” Carter said. “But now that darkness has threatened us, we must use the light within us to demonstrate to the world who we are.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

President Carter to discuss Lawrence priorities in opening convocation

President Laurie A. Carter (Photo by Danny Damiani)


President Laurie A. Carter will deliver her first Matriculation Convocation to the Lawrence University community at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17.

Centered on the theme of comfort with discomfort, the address will focus on Carter’s priorities to ensure that Lawrence remains a leader in higher education. She will discuss the need to build on Lawrence’s enduring strengths as we look to the future and the challenges facing higher education, and she will call on all members of the Lawrence community to join together to guide Lawrence to a brighter future. 

The event will be held in Memorial Chapel with an audience limited to 300 to account for pandemic protocols. It will be livestreamed at so all Lawrentians can watch from their rooms, offices, or another location. 

While Memorial Chapel is closed to the public, alumni and friends are encouraged to access the stream to watch.

The Matriculation Convocation address, delivered by the university president each September to mark the launch of another academic year, will be one of three convocations held this year. The others are scheduled for Feb. 18 and May 27

Carter began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1.

Get involved! Really. It’s pretty simple. Here’s how from a student who knows

Community Advisors, some seen here on move-in day, are a great resource for getting involved with campus activities.

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

“Getting involved is the best thing you can do in college!” 

Whether it’s coming from parents, teachers, or alumni, we’ve all heard that advice dozens of times. And yeah, it’s good advice—but honestly, when I was an incoming first-year, I didn’t have a clear idea of what it meant or how to do it. Get involved with what? With whom? To what end?  

I mean, seriously, can you get any more vague? 

But with a couple years of schooling under my belt, I’m finally getting the hang of this whole “get involved” thing. And if you’re looking to join the club—literally—here’s where you should start your search: 

1. Your residence hall is the first stop 

Going to residence hall activities is how I met 75% of my friends during my first year, so it kind of had to top this list. Community Advisors (CAs) put in so much effort to create opportunities for you to bond with your neighbors, and a lot of the time, it works. Game nights, trips to the Appleton Farmers Market, tote bag decorating sessions—I did it all, and it’s one of the best decisions I made, so be on the lookout from invites from your CA throughout the year. 

2. Fun student orgs are everywhere

SLUG is among the active student organizations on campus.

When I say there’s a student org for everyone, I’m not exaggerating. With dozens and dozens of student organizations to choose from, each dedicated to a specific interest and activity, you’re sure to find a group of people who just get you. From sea shanties to swing dance, from recess club to social justice organizations, you can explore Lawrence’s student organizations with the directory, or meet potential new friends face-to-face at the annual Involvement Fair, set for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in Warch. 

3. Also, tap into professional student orgs 

In addition to the many student organizations geared toward student engagement, Lawrence is also home to several professional student orgs, which help students prepare for their post-graduation careers and bond with others on a similar path. Aspiring doctors, lawyers, writers, bakers—and the list goes on—can get involved (plus get a pretty major head start) through membership in one of these organizations

4. Share your gifts: Volunteer

VITAL is a volunteer program that has Lawrence students tutoring Fox Cities students in need of some extra help. It’s organized through the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE).

Volunteering offers you the chance to connect with classmates, get to know the local community, and give back all at the same time. With six distinct service areas, each with a variety of programs, you’re sure to find your perfect volunteering niche. Use Lawrence’s GivePulse page to sign up. 

5. Be active with intramurals 

Sports: the OG team-building exercise. Whether it’s as an official Lawrence athlete, representing the Vikings in competition, or as part of a more laid-back, recreational team, playing a sport builds bonds across campus, regardless of academic area or professional interest. Explore intramural sports here. 

6. Make a difference in student government 

If you want to contribute to real change on campus, the Lawrence University Community Council is definitely the way to go. Through the combined work of elected class representatives and appointed committee members, LUCC touches virtually all aspects of the university, from finance to student welfare, as it takes its place as a vital part of Lawrence’s shared governance. 

7. Make money and friends with student jobs 

Students jobs are available across campus. It’s one more way to make connections and get involved.

Everyone who has worked part-time knows that there is no bond quite like the bond between coworkers. Student employment is no exception, which makes it a key outlet for getting involved with the campus community. There’s no shortage of jobs to choose from, but some of the most popular include food service in the Commons, the circulation desk in the Seeley G. Mudd library, or writing for the Office of Communications! (OK, maybe I’m a little biased toward that last one.) You can use HandShake to find a campus job that is right for you. 

8. Trips and togetherness

There’s nothing like a change of scenery to get to know your fellow Lawrentians in a new light. Day trips to High Cliff State Park, weekend excursions to beautiful Bjorklunden, even international travel to gain field experience for an academic course—all these trips (and more!) can help you get involved with your studies and classmates in a more hands-on, distinctive setting. 

9. The Lawrentian/WLFM path

The Great Midwest Trivia Contest has a long, wonderful history.

If you want to get your voice out there, try your hand at cross-campus communications with The Lawrentian or WLFM Radio. As the official student newspaper of Lawrence University, The Lawrentian is a hub for student news, opinions, photography, and more, while also providing a space for you to hone—or learn—journalistic skills. Likewise, WLFM is broadcast-central for all things Lawrence, with student hosts leading talk shows, music broadcasts, and, annually, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest

10. Cultural resources and beyond

Although we all share the “Lawrentian” label, our backgrounds and identities are key to shaping who we are as people and deserve to be nurtured in the university setting. Through resources in the Diversity and Intercultural Center, International House, and the recently established Gender and Sexuality Diversity Center, students can connect with classmates and staff who understand their experiences and can offer additional support. Likewise, the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life  connects interested students with options for exploring faith and spirituality. 

11. Matching interests with housing 

Have a specific interest or passion? Immerse yourself in it while connecting with other students who feel the same way by living in one of Lawrence’s group houses. Passion for art? Art house is a staple on the quad. Want to get off the meal plan and make your own healthy food? SLUG house emphasizes sustainable living and eating. Looking to share a safe space for students of marginalized identities? Sankofa house might be the perfect fit. Live to game? Gaming House could be the place for you. These are just a few of the current options, and even if none of those are for you, keep an eye out for new affinity housing options as they shift, or propose your own. 

12. Is Greek life for you?

Participation in Greek life isn’t as common at Lawrence as it is at some other schools, but Greek organizations and members still play a very active role on campus. If you’re looking for a more traditional, social group with a philanthropic orientation, Lawrence has you covered with three fraternities and three sororities to choose from. But if that’s not for you, professional fraternities offer performance, volunteer, and social opportunities for Lawrence musicians, and Beta Psi Nu is a social sorority aimed at empowering women of color. Formal recruitment generally takes place at the beginning of Winter Term, with informal admission occurring at various points throughout the year. 

13. Get fit, have fun 

Yoga sessions are available through Wellness Services.

It’s easy to associate wellness services with treadmills and counseling—and the Wellness Center does offer plenty of exercise equipment, mental health services, and health care professionals—but participation in wellness activities can also be a great way to get involved! In addition to periodic programs and initiatives geared toward a particular aspect of health and wellness, Wellness Services hosts weekly activities that can be done with a group, including yoga, meditation, and volleyball. 

14. Student Life is all about involvement 

I know, I know, this one’s a bit obvious, but it’s true! Student Life events are literally designed for the sole purpose of getting students involved, and the Student Life staff knows what they’re doing. I’ve made tie blankets and listened to comedians at the various weekly S.O.U.P. (Student Organization for University Programming) events, and that doesn’t even mention the many beloved Lawrence events that are held annually, like Blue and White WeekendPresident’s Ball, and LUaroo

15. Explore downtown Appleton  

Even though we love our little campus bubble, we can’t forget that Lawrence students are an essential part of the wider Appleton community. With a vibrant art, music, and food scene, Appleton regularly presents a vast array of events that allow students to get involved with the rest of the community. For information on the city and upcoming events, check out Appleton Downtown Inc.’s website or Instagram

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Lawrence places high in value, teaching, first-year experience in U.S. News rankings

Four days of New Student Orientation led into today’s opening of the Fall Term at Lawrence University. U.S. News and World Report lists Lawrence among the best schools in the nation for first-year experiences. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is once again ranked among the best colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to being included in the 2022 Best Colleges report, placing No. 62 among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Lawrence placed high on four other lists that are part of the annual rankings:

No. 36: Best Value

No. 44: Best Undergraduate Teaching

No. 54: Best First-Year Experiences

No. 167: Top Performers on Social Mobility

Released today, the rankings come as Lawrence opens its 2021-22 academic year amid the excitement of having all of its students back on campus.

Class of 2025 welcomed as new academic year begins

“We are, of course, happy to be recognized once again among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “That US News bestowed upon Lawrence a bouquet of additional rankings about the quality of our educational environment makes this year’s ranking season that much sweeter.”

Lawrence moved up one spot in the ranking of liberal arts colleges and maintained its No. 36 ranking for Best Value among liberal arts colleges. The latter speaks to Lawrence’s push to make more need-based aid available in the form of grants and scholarships, bolstered by a Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign that has now raised more than $91 million.

To be considered for U.S. News’ Best Value Schools listing, a school first had to be ranked among the Best Colleges in the nation. Those qualifying schools were then examined on the basis of net cost of attendance and available need-based financial aid.

Placement on the other lists, meanwhile, is particularly gratifying because they each reflect ongoing efforts to make Lawrence more inclusive and to provide a broad, holistic student experience.

Being on the list for Best Undergraduate Teaching is heartening because it speaks to the relationship-building that comes with Lawrence’s 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and the expansion of key academic programs.

“Lawrence’s faculty are not only terrific scientists, artists, and scholars—they are also first-rate teachers,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “It’s extremely gratifying to see them receive this much-deserved national recognition for the extraordinary work they do with their students.”

Lawrence has added or strengthened academic programs in, among other areas, music, data science, computer science, creative writing, neuroscience, psychology, environmental science, and global studies. In some cases, majors or minors were launched. In other instances, endowed professorships were added as part of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign.

The First-Year Experiences ranking is new for Lawrence this year. It follows efforts across campus to enhance the student life experience in a holistic way, including more coordinated health and wellness outreach, the launch and growth of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, the expansion of the Center for Academic Success, and the more intentional focus of the Career Center in connecting with students in their first year on campus. That has all played into first-year students having positive experiences as they transition to college life.

“You join a community of scholars who are ready to engage you, befriend you, teach you, and learn from you,” Christopher Card, vice president for student life, said last week as Lawrence welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus. “We are a community that’s interested in the whole person, not just the academics. … Fundamentally, all of us are here to learn—with each other and from each other.”

The Top Performers on Social Mobility list speaks to the success of a college advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating economically disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell Grants. The majority of those federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are below $50,000.

The U.S. News announcement marks the second significant national college ranking that Lawrence has landed on in the past two weeks. On Aug. 31, The Princeton Review listed Lawrence as one of the best colleges in the nation, including the university in its annual Best 387 Colleges for 2022 guide. Lawrence was included on several separate lists within the Princeton Review ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

“Impressive” class welcomed to campus on busy opening day of student orientation

The front of Main Hall was the setting Thursday for the annual President’s Welcome. Faculty and staff gathered to greet the 410 first-year, 15 transfer, and four visiting students who now call Lawrence home. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Brighter Together banners and the flags of 31 countries and five indigenous tribal nations displayed on the front of Main Hall provided a dazzling backdrop Thursday as Lawrence University welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus.

“I want you to remember that you are surrounded by light at Lawrence,” President Laurie A. Carter said in a President’s Welcome ceremony that was moved from its traditional space in Memorial Chapel to the outdoor setting in front of Main Hall. “Look around you at your classmates, your faculty, your staff and administration, and the upper-class students. Our lights will always be here to light your path when you need us. That is what it means to be a Lawrentian.”

The President’s Welcome was the centerpiece of a busy move-in day across campus, kicking off four days of New Student Orientation. The sun shone bright and temperatures topped out at 70 degrees; the banners—along with Brighter Together T-shirts worn by students, faculty, and staff—and the flags representing members of the incoming class added to a gorgeous setting as Lawrence continued to bring back to campus all of its students for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year and a half ago.

Large gatherings such as the President’s Welcome and the parents’ reception were moved outdoors to accommodate pandemic protocols.

Returning students will move in this weekend in advance of Fall Term classes beginning on Monday. But New Student Orientation is all about the first-year students, more than 410 strong, and the 15 transfer students now calling Lawrence home. Events ranging from open houses and tours to a resource fair and the signing of the Honor Code highlighted opening day.

Lawrence plans in-person classes with safety protocols in place.

The President’s Welcome ceremony also marked Carter’s first in-person address to the Lawrence community since beginning her tenure as the university’s 17th president on July 1.

President Laurie A. Carter speaks to new students and their families at the President’s Welcome, held Thursday afternoon in front of Main Hall.

“I came to Lawrence because I was drawn to its light,” Carter told the incoming students and their families, gathered amid the trees and flowers in front of Main Hall. “Lawrence’s mission of creating lifelong learners who are committed to making meaningful contributions to society inspires me. But I was also attracted to its faculty, staff, and students, who are committed to working together to make the world a brighter place.”

John Holiday, associate professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, sang of light and unity at the outset of the ceremony. Christopher Card, vice president for student life, and Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty, welcomed the students, imploring them to be actively engaged with their fellow Lawrentians in and out of the classroom.

Senior Kelsi Bryant, president of the Lawrence University Community Council, encouraged the new students to embrace the traditions of Lawrence, many of them built on gratitude and outreach. She joined other members of the Class of 2022 in presenting the class color—purple—to the Class of 2025.

“With our dynamic faculty and supportive staff, you are in very good hands,” she told the first-year students.

Students sign the Honor Code Thursday evening during the President’s Handshake in Memorial Chapel.

Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications, called the incoming class “one of the largest and most impressive” in the history of Lawrence.

“This class has some of the strongest academic credentials we have seen in a long time,” he said. “Considering that they have performed at such a high level while learning in the midst of a pandemic speaks volumes about the resilience and readiness of our newest Lawrentians. They are going to do great things.”

Anselment said members of the class come from 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Another 30 countries are represented, as are five sovereign native nations (Menominee Nation, North Dakota Mountain Chippewa, Hopi Nation, Nenana Native Association in Alaska, and Native Hawai’i).

The state with the largest number of incoming students is Wisconsin (23%), followed by Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, California, New York, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.

Anselment said 27% of the Class of 2025 identify as BIPOC or domestic students of color. Another 10% are international students, led by China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Canada.

About 84% of the students are pursuing a degree in the college, with the other 16% seeking a degree in the Conservatory. Twenty-six of those students are doing both.

Elizabeth Rienstra was among the first-year students moving into residence halls on Thursday.

More than 20% are first-generation college students.

About 100 members of the class will be competing as varsity athletes.

“Brighter Together” was adopted as a mantra to begin this academic year, a nod to both the power of collective light that Lawrence has long leaned into and the return of in-person classes after four terms of mostly distance learning. It is reflected in signage placed all across campus, on the T-shirts donned by faculty and staff to show support for students, and in the words shared by Carter in her welcoming message.

“The last 18 months have been dark days for many of us,” Carter told the incoming students. “The pandemic changed how we live and learn, but it did not change your desire to grow and develop. Your resilience and strength have led you to pursue your higher education at a place that is committed to helping you find your best self, while drawing on your light from within. And that light, when joined with others within our Lawrence community, is why we say we are brighter together.”

Scenes from move-in day

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Lawrence alumna returns to Appleton to direct feature film set in Wisconsin

Molly Preston ’10 directs action during filming of Freedom, WI outside a home on Meade Street in Appleton, two blocks from the Lawrence University campus. She is the writer and director for the feature film, with scenes being shot across the Fox Cities. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Molly Preston ’10 calls it a love letter to Wisconsin.

The New Jersey native fell hard for Appleton, the Fox Cities, and Wisconsin when she arrived as a first-year student at Lawrence University 15 years ago. She loved the picturesque landscape and the small-city vibe that blended active arts advocacy with Midwest niceties. Now the aspiring film-maker has brought her Portland, Oregon-based film crew to the Fox Cities to film scenes for Freedom, WI, a coming-of-age comedy that she has written and is directing.

“Wisconsin will always be that place that feels like going back home,” Preston said.

The film crew, 15 to 20 strong on any given day, has been shooting scenes in and near downtown Appleton as well as nearby locations in Kaukauna, Menasha, Greenville, and, yes, Freedom, since the middle of August. Preston is hopeful the movie—it’s centered on a young woman living in small-town Wisconsin who has her routine disrupted when she strikes up a friendship with a writer from Chicago—will be ready for the film festival circuit next summer.

It was while a student at Lawrence that Preston first began entertaining the idea of a career in film. It was before Lawrence’s Film Studies program launched, but the history major found herself drawn to a number of history classes that focused on film.

“I took every single film-related class that I possibly could,” she said, pointing to insights from history professors Peter Blitstein and Paul Cohen as being particularly helpful in allowing her to connect her love of history with her passion for film.

Molly Preston ’10 (right) talks with a cast member of Freedom, WI as they shoot scenes in Appleton on Sept. 7.

She learned to look at films through the lens of history.

“You are not only analyzing the film for what the filmmaker did—the cinematography, the acting—you are also analyzing a moment in time,” Preston said. “What the historical context is when the film was written and when it was shot – gender norms of the time and the political climate. It’s just really interesting to think about history through watching a movie and figuring out how the world was in that moment and how that might have influenced the filmmakers to make the movie in that particular way.”

Those are analytical skills, she said, that come into play now as she finds herself writing and directing her own stories.

“I found that while I don’t technically work in the field of history, learning how to analyze text and figure out the narrative based on facts you read from different sources has made me a better filmmaker, a better writer,” she said. “It’s definitely benefited my work in film.”

Preston said she wishes Lawrence’s Film Studies program had been there when she was a student, and she encourages current and future Lawrence students who are interested in film to dive in deep.

A $5 million gift from Tom Hurvis ’60 and the late Julie Esch Hurvis ’61 in 2011, a year after Preston graduated, led to the creation of the Hurvis Center for Film Studies, launching an interdisciplinary studies program that explores film theory, history, analysis, and interpretation and allows students to create their own art in a state-of-the-art film studio.

Preston moved to Portland eight years ago to try to make headway in the film industry. She started as a production assistant, then moved into editing and producing before jumping into her own project with Freedom, WI, a story she began writing while living in Appleton shortly after graduating from Lawrence.

“It’s a fun time with friends, old friends and new friends,” Molly Preston ’10 says of shooting the film in the Fox Cities. She lived in Appleton for several years after graduating from Lawrence. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

The storyline is dark but comedic, she said, focused on a young woman in the tiny Town of Freedom who enters adulthood grappling with grief. A relationship with a struggling writer from Chicago sets her on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.

Her film career is still a work in progress, but Preston is hopeful this film will be a stepping stone to more opportunities.

In the meantime, she’s spending nearly a month in Appleton and the Fox Cities, working alongside her husband, who serves as director of photography, and a film crew that has grown tight. They’ll finish filming in mid-September before heading back to Portland.

“It’s a fun time with friends, old friends and new friends,” Preston said of being back in Appleton. “We work such long hours, but we have our fun while we’re working.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

We’re “Brighter Together”: In-person Fall Term welcomed; health protocols in place

It’s almost that time. Fall Term classes at Lawrence will begin Sept. 13. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

“Brighter Together” is a message you’ll hear and see repeatedly as Lawrence University prepares to launch a new academic year, one marked by the arrival of a new president, Laurie A. Carter, and the much-anticipated return to campus of students, faculty, and staff after 18 months of mostly remote learning.

Those two words—Brighter Together—will be displayed on banners hanging in front of Main Hall and on T-shirts and face masks being made available to the Lawrence community, and will be repeated in conversations, in convocations, and in campus celebrations. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but we are together again.

“I think of it as an anthem for this moment in Lawrence’s history and a reminder of our strength as a community,” said Carter, the university’s 17th president since its founding 174 years ago.

Fall Term, beginning Sept. 13, does not arrive without challenges. The spread of the Delta variant has kept us from getting to the finish line of the pandemic. But, the Lawrence community has shown its ability and willingness to work together to overcome pandemic challenges. With a campus vaccine mandate for students in place, once again wearing masks in indoor public spaces, and continuing to Honor the Pledge by following health and safety protocols, we are facing the challenges.

Classes will again be mostly in person. Athletic competitions have resumed. Conservatory ensembles are practicing together. Andrew Commons will be open for meals. Like last year, the university will continue to monitor the health situation and adjust accordingly.

Julia Ammons, a senior biology major from Sheboygan who has spent much of the summer on campus, said she can deal with masks. She just wants to be together with her classmates.

“I have been looking forward to campus getting somewhat back to normal ever since we got sent home in 2020,” she said. “I am really excited to be able to eat in the Commons again with my friends.”

New students set to arrive

Admissions reports a strong first-year class, numbering about 400 students. Welcoming them to Lawrence will be a campus-wide effort, with faculty and staff joining together to greet incoming students who are being celebrated for the resiliency they’ve shown just to get to this time and place.

“For the past 18 months, this year’s class of new students—not just Lawrentians, but nearly every college-bound student on the planet—has been exploring their college options at a distance, with a small percentage of them ever having physically been on their college’s campuses,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “Every year, we are eager to meet our students in person for the first time—but this year’s eagerness is unprecedented given the circumstances.”

First-year and transfer students will begin arriving for New Student Orientation Sept. 8 and 9. For the first-years, it follows a chaotic and often frustrating end to their high school journeys.

Sophomores, meanwhile, are coming to campus—some also for the first time—having experienced their first year at Lawrence mostly from a distance.

It all ties in to the palpable excitement building as the campus begins to fill up. Athletes from Lawrence’s fall sports teams began moving in to residence halls in mid-August. International students arrived this week, to be followed by first-years and transfers mid-next week, and then other returning students on the weekend. It’ll mark the first time the entire campus community has been together in 18 months.

“I often say that I was drawn to the light of Lawrence—the light of knowledge, the light of truth, and the light each member of our community brings to campus,” Carter said. “The points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light, and our strength as a community shines when we engage in challenging endeavors, share our talents and strengths, pursue our passions, and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.”

A robust welcome to Lawrence

The New Student Orientation will begin the campus’s slow walk toward a new normal, with pandemic-related adjustments in place, as first-year and transfer students go through four days of orientation. The welcome from the president—Carter’s first—will break from its traditional location in Memorial Chapel and instead become an outdoor gathering in front of Main Hall. A reception for parents of new students will take place on the Hamar House lawn.

“This year’s welcome to campus is an even bigger deal than usual because we are essentially welcoming two classes of new students to Lawrence—the 2021 class and the 2020 class, who arrived on campus last year under very different circumstances,” Anselment said.

Sophomores will get their own assist in acclimating to campus. Some were fully remote last year. Others were on campus but mostly with classes delivered via Zoom.

Once here, the sophomores will get an added assist settling into their residence halls, connecting to the Center for Academic Success and the Career Center, and will be able to participate in sophomore programming focused on belonging, community, and purpose.

“We plan to do even more intentional outreach to the sophomore class knowing that they will in some ways have similar transitional hurdles as our first-year students,” said Rose Wasielewski, associate dean of students and dean of the sophomore class. “Regardless of whether they were on campus last year, I want to provide additional opportunities for these students to connect to the campus physically, as well as to each other socially.”

Finding a balance, together

Classes will begin Sept. 13 with the excitement of being together—the 2020-21 academic year had nearly two-thirds of the student body on campus but with most classes being taught remotely and social distancing protocols in place—balanced with the need to keep one another safe. Fall Term protocols will include masks being worn in indoor shared spaces no matter your vaccination status, the return of surveillance testing on campus (weekly for anyone unvaccinated, randomly for others), and rigid rules regarding campus visitors. Details are being shared on the COVID-19 page here.

The first week of classes will close with the annual Matriculation Convocation, set for 12:30 p.m.  Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel and available via a livestream. It will mark Carter’s first in-person address to all Lawrentians. That day also will feature a community fair organized on the quad by the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) at 5:30 p.m. and a men’s soccer game at the Banta Bowl at 7 p.m.

It’ll all be framed by the “Brighter Together” message.

“We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we navigate the ongoing pandemic,” Carter said. “As I’ve heard many times over the last year, we can’t look to what we knew but, instead, must look to what is new as we live and learn together.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Meet Garrett Singer: New CCE director looks to raise awareness, grow engagement

Garrett Singer is the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change at Lawrence University. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22 / Communications

An important part of the Lawrence experience is the opportunity to volunteer and make connections within the surrounding community. As students return to campus for the start of Fall Term, Garrett Singer is excited to welcome them as the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE).

To hit the ground running, the CCE is holding an outdoor engagement fair on the quad at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17, where incoming and returning students can meet with about two dozen community partners to learn about their missions and be introduced to the work that happens in the Fox Valley. There will be food trucks, carnival games, and live music leading into the fair.

“We’re really hoping to make a splash as students return to campus, and to grow awareness of our work, our mission, and our physical space,” Singer said.

He said he looks forward to engaging with Lawrence students to help them discover opportunities to serve in the community and build lasting relationships with area nonprofits. He wants to raise the profile of the CCE on campus while emphasizing the importance of building community engagement skills.

“What it’ll develop, hopefully, is this cycle of engagement, dialogue, and action where our own ability to serve is informed by our previous service experiences and those interactions with communities and individuals whom we might not have crossed paths with in our pre-Lawrentian lives,” Singer said.

Learn more about Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change here.

From an early age, Singer was exposed to the impacts and benefits that come from a working relationship between higher education and the surrounding community. Both of his parents were involved in education commissions with local community colleges that aimed to increase educational attainment. Their work sparked his desire to enter the nonprofit field, and after earning his bachelor’s degree at Washington and Lee University, Singer went to work as district executive for Boy Scouts of America in North Carolina.

“I was exposed to the incredible work that young people are capable of and I think is often overlooked,” Singer said.

He eventually enrolled in a master’s program of higher education and administration at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. There he worked with nonprofits and designed programs to develop service-learning opportunities for undergraduates to form partnerships with those local organizations.

After earning his masters, Singer set his sights on Lawrence. He knew he wanted to sit at the juncture between higher education and civic work. He also knew that he wanted to re-enter the private liberal arts setting that he enjoyed during his undergrad years. A main draw for Singer, though, was Lawrence’s ongoing commitment to social change despite all the uncertainty during the pandemic.

“A lot of colleges and universities were not making a demonstrated commitment to the type of work that I was interested in,” Singer said. “Lawrence was the exception to that rule.”

Singer said he feels honored to join Lawrence as its new CCE director and is ready to dig in to the work ahead. The first objective, he said, is simply to grow awareness of the CCE on campus and let students know of the varied volunteer opportunities that exist.

The second objective is to make sure the partnerships that are developed with community agencies reflect and represent student interests and identity, Singer said.

A third objective focuses on improved academic integration with civic work. The CCE has service-learning programs—Viking Ambassadors in Service and Engagement (VASE)—that help students make connections through volunteering while also learning about issues within the community. Singer wants to expand those programs and explore ways to better integrate them in the curriculum.

“Those are the things that we want to think about, not only defining those learning outcomes, but also assessing them on the tail end and figuring out how we are really impacting student development,” Singer said.

An important aspect in reaching these goals is to have a good working relationship with Lawrence faculty, he said. Many faculty members have already been supplementing students’ academic experiences through their own community connections. The next step, said Singer, is to encourage those faculty members to be ambassadors for community-based learning, showing other faculty how they’ve built these service-learning experiences into their classrooms.

“The CCE comes into play by facilitating those conversations and those relationships, as well as building out a library of resources that faculty can leverage to support that development,” Singer said.

Volunteering, he said, will help students build lives of meaning and purpose. That happens not only by sending students into the community, but also by creating innovative ways to bring the community to campus.

“So, as the CCE moves forward,” Singer said, “we’ll build relationships that will allow for richer, more robust, and more colorful experiences, and I think that’s really what we’re striving for—to get us on the same page so that we can move forward together.”

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Lawrence lands on The Princeton Review’s 2022 list of best colleges in nation

Main Hall on the Lawrence University campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is again listed as one of the best colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. It’s also included in several separate lists within the ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

The Best 387 Colleges for 2022 highlights the top colleges based on data and feedback the education services company annually collects on everything from academic offerings to financial aid to student experiences. The book was released Aug. 31.

“At a time when students are searching for institutional strength and quality, we appreciate that The Princeton Review has once again recognized Lawrence University as one of the best colleges in the country,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications.

Only about 14% of the nearly 2,800 eligible four-year colleges make the Best book each year. Published each August and focused on undergraduate education, it has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 387.

See more on Lawrence admissions here.

Information on Lawrence application process here.

The Green College ranking speaks to the work Lawrence has done on sustainability and reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

The Best Value designation, meanwhile, is based on stellar academics, affordable cost with financial aid factored in, and strong career prospects for graduates, according to Princeton Review editors.

Showing up on the Best Value list is particularly heartening, Anselment said. It not only speaks to the academic offerings that make Lawrence such a draw, but it also highlights two huge, ongoing investments—the launch of the Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign to make the school more accessible and the retooling of the Career Center as part of a Life After Lawrence initiative.

While average student loan debt has continued to rise across the country, Lawrence’s numbers have been going down, fueled by the $91 million that has been raised in the FSFN campaign. Those funds have augmented other available financial aid and scholarships. The average student debt for Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,118, its lowest mark in 10 years. It hit a high mark of $34,573 in 2015–16 and has dropped steadily each year since. The percentage of Lawrence’s students graduating with debt has dropped to 56%, well below the 75% a decade ago.

“While being considered one of the best is great, we’re even more excited that The Princeton Review continues to acknowledge the important work we do every day on behalf of our students, which is providing top-notch preparation for a meaningful life after college, and doing so in a way that families can afford,” Anselment said.

The Princeton Review report lauded Lawrence for its “stunning 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means students have access to their professors at all times.” It also praised Lawrence for its robust international student population, its impressive First-Year Studies program, and its “holistic approach to the admissions game.”

The Princeton Review’s school profiles and ranking lists in The Best 387 Colleges are posted at where they can be searched for free with site registration.

The Best 387 Colleges is the 30th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s best colleges book.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Lawrence launches new Health and Society minor, with focus on health disparities

The Health and Society minor will dig deep into issues and complexities that shape individual and public health, from food sourcing to social inequities.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has introduced a new Health and Society minor that will explore the intersection of human health and global social inequities.

The program, drawing on faculty expertise from social, cultural, biological, and environmental fields across campus, will be available to students beginning in Fall Term. It can be paired with any major and will provide important preparation for students eyeing health- or social justice-related careers or graduate school programs, said Beth De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology.

The minor isn’t only about health care; rather, it’s focused on all of the complex issues that shape individual and population health.

“It brings together courses from across the humanities, social and natural sciences to give students a more holistic understanding of the origins of health, illness, and disability, including origins of the disparities in health and health outcomes we see in this country and across the globe,” De Stasio said.

More on the Health and Society minor can be found here

Students pursuing the Health and Society minor will take classes across fields such as anthropology, ethnic studies, and philosophy. They will examine their own experiences working with vulnerable populations and explore career paths that empower them to make a difference in people’s lives.

The minor will include one course that places health in a global or community setting; two courses covering cultural and psychosocial aspects of health and illness or disability; two courses focused on the biological, biochemical, or environmental aspect of human health; one course that facilitates career exploration and self-reflection; and an option for 100 hours of engaged learning.

It will allow students the space to learn about the complexities and complications tied to health and the varied factors at play—from privilege and discrimination to food systems and infrastructure.

The new minor represents a liberal arts approach to a complicated, important area of study, said Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology.

“They often seek out and demand rich, complicated understandings of outcomes using tools from across the curriculum,” he said of Lawrence students. “The Health and Society minor gives them an opportunity to do so specifically in the realm of health. We hope that the broader and deeper understanding of why health disparities exist, both locally and globally, that they gain from the minor will help to make them more empathetic, critical, and ultimately more effective health care providers in their chosen field.”

One newly developed course brings it all together with a focus on career exploration tied to health. Alumni who are working in related fields will be integrated into the teaching of the course to share their wisdom and experiences with students, De Stasio said.

“It will allow students the time and intention to undertake exploration of the wide variety of career paths within the field of health care, as well as provide a facilitated discernment process in which their values and skills can be matched against various types of career paths,” she said.

In addition to the classroom work, faculty will work with students in pursuit of internships, paid employment, or volunteer work related to health care delivery, health care policy, or related work with vulnerable populations.

“I think health-interested students will be drawn to the minor because it is distinctive,” Jenike said. “And that’s the point of coming to Lawrence in the first place, right?”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: