Lawrence University Celebrates Inauguration of Jill Beck as its 15th President

For the first time in more than 25 years, Lawrence University will officially install a new president.

Formal inauguration ceremonies of Jill Beck as the 15th president in Lawrence’s 158-year history will be held Saturday, May 7 beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Delegates representing more than 50 colleges, universities and learned societies from around the nation will participate in the inaugural procession of Lawrence faculty and trustees into the chapel.

William O. Hochkammer Jr., chair of the Lawrence Board of Trustees, will deliver the inauguration’s welcome. Community greetings will be presented by Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton, a 1987 Lawrence graduate.

Additional greetings will be delivered by John Bassett, president of Clark University, Beck’s alma mater, as well as individuals representing Milwaukee-Downer College alumnae and Lawrence alumni, faculty and current students.

Beck will deliver the inaugural address “Taking Flight: Exploring New Collaborations Between the Arts and Science.”

Inaugurations of college and university presidents trace their roots to 17th-century America. The custom was established by the country’s nine colonial colleges as a way of formally acknowledging a change in leadership at a school’s highest level within a context of tradition and continuity.

“A presidential inauguration is a significant event in the life of a college,” said Hochkammer, a 1966 Lawrence graduate. “It provides a wonderful opportunity to share and reflect on our role in the community and to showcase some of the people who make this institution such a special place.”

Prior to Saturday’s inauguration, Lawrence will hold a community open house on Friday, May 6. The day-long event (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) will celebrate the academic life of the college, the connections between the arts and liberal learning and the many partnering activities engaged in by Lawrence and the Fox Cities communities.

Among the open house’s activities will be departmental displays, panel presentations or tours of all academic buildings, several art exhibitions, including a display of the recently completed Picturing Peace Project featuring photographs and poems by Appleton students and performances in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel by area kindergarten through 12th-grade students who were involved in ArtsBridge projects.

Concluding the day’s festivities will be an inaugural celebratory concert by Lawrence conservatory of music faculty. Detailed schedules of all open house activities will be available at the inauguration information desk in Main Hall on Friday (5/6) beginning at 9 a.m.

Beck was elected president on January 23, 2004 by the Lawrence Board of Trustees and began her duties on July 1 of last year, succeeding Richard Warch, who had served as president from 1979.

Prior to being named president of Lawrence, Beck held the position of director of the da Vinci Research Center for Learning Through the Arts at the University of California, Irvine. Beck founded the da Vinci Center in 2001 during her tenure (1995 2003) as UCI’s dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

A nationally recognized arts innovator, Beck also founded the ArtsBridge America program, a national model for the advancement of educational arts partnerships between universities and K-12 communities. Under her direction, the outreach program has grown from just seven students in 1996 to nearly 800 “Arts Bridge Scholars” at 21 institutions in 13 states, providing hands-on, experientially-based arts instruction to more than 30,000 school children.

Lawrence became the national headquarters of the ArtsBridge America program last year and is the only private institution among its 21 participating colleges and universities.

A native of Worcester, Mass., Beck earned a bachelor of arts degree cum laude in philosophy and art history at Clark University in 1970 and a master of arts degree in history and music from McGill University in 1976. She earned her doctorate in theatre history and criticism in 1984 from City University of New York.

Beck has written broadly on issues of arts education, as well as directed ballet and modern dance repertory extensively. During her career, Beck has been the assistant director of the dance division at The Julliard School and was the chair of the dance department at City University of New York, Connecticut College and Southern Methodist University before being appointed dean at UCI.

Beck is married to Robert Beck, a visiting professor of education at Lawrence.