APPLETON, WIS. — The role and importance of individualized learning will be the focus of Lawrence University President’s annual matriculation address Thursday, Sept. 21 as she officially opens the college’s 157th academic year and kicks off the 2006-07 convocation series.

In a multi-media presentation, Beck will offer a historical context for individualized instruction, examine it in action at Lawrence and map out its dynamic role in the coming academic year. Beck’s address, “Liberal Philosophy, Free Discussion and Individualized Learning at Lawrence” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, is free and open to the public.

Beck assumed the presidency of Lawrence in July 2004, becoming the college’s 15th — and first woman — president. Among the themes she has chosen for her presidency are to increase collaborative and complementary activities between the fine and performing arts and the traditional liberal arts and sciences and to encourage more active community engagement by Lawrence and its students.

Under her leadership, the college has created an innovative postdoctoral teaching fellowship program, the Lawrence University Fellows in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. During its first year (2005-06), the Lawrence Fellows program brought eight recent Ph.D.s to campus in fields as diverse as music composition, physics, gender studies, geology and philosophy. The program was expanded for the 2006-07 academic year with the addition of five more fellows with two-year appointments in the fields of economics, psychology, religious studies, anthropology and fine art.

Beck is the founder of ArtsBridge America, an outreach program that offers hands-on experiences in the arts to school-age children, placing university students in K-12 classrooms as instructors and mentors. In 2005, Lawrence became the headquarters of ArtsBridge America and the first private institution to join the program, which now includes 22 participating institution in 13 states and Northern Ireland.

A native of Worcester, Mass., Beck earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and art history from Clark University, a master’s degree in history and music from McGill University, and a Ph.D. in theatre history and criticism from the City University of New York. She served on the faculties of City College of the City of New York and The Juilliard School and has written extensively in the fields of dance history, theory, repertory, and technique, as well as choreographing and directing ballet and modern dance repertory.

From 1995 to 2003, Beck served as the dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine, where in addition to the ArtsBridge program, she established the daVinci Research Center for Learning Through the Arts, an interdisciplinary center for research focused on learning across disciplines.