Year: 2009

Warch Campus Center Cited in Annual “Great Spaces Great Places” Contest

Lawrence University’s Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center has been cited by FOX CITIES Magazine in its annual “Great Spaces Great Places” contest. The Warch Campus Center, which graces the cover of the magazine’s December issue, was voted the winner from among eight nominees by a panel of five community judges in the “Best New Construction” category. The $35 million, 107,000-square-foot building, which opened in September, was recently awarded LEED-certified Gold status by the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainability and environmentally friendly features.

Tom Miller, one of the Great Spaces Great Places judges, said the Warch Campus Center, “blows it out of the water. Eighty years from now, the building will look just how it looks now.”

The award was the second for a Lawrence building in the four-year history of the magazine’s contest. In 2007, venerable Alexander Gymnasium was named co-winner in the “Best Historic Landmark Building” category, which recognizes buildings at least 75 years old and considered “icons of the Fox Cities.”

Lawrence University Recognizing Film Producer, Philanthropist Abigail Disney with Honorary Degree

Award-winning film producer, activist, and philanthropist Abigail Disney will be recognized Thursday, January 28, 2010 by Lawrence University with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Abigail-Disney_web.jpg As part of the degree-granting ceremony in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Disney will deliver the convocation “Peace is Loud,” an address based on her award-winning 2008 documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”

“Lawrence University is proud to be welcoming a woman of Abigail Disney’s passion, abilities and stature to campus and presenting her with an honorary degree,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “As we prepare our students for lives of achievement and meaningful citizenship, Ms. Disney epitomizes the ideals to which we hope they will aspire.”

In conjunction with Disney’s address, multiple showings of the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” will be held in the Warch Campus Center cinema in January: 1/7, 12 noon; 1/12, 7 p.m.; 1/20, 8 p.m., 1/28, 1 p.m. A special panel of Lawrence faculty and students will discuss issues raised in the film following the 8 p.m. screening on Jan. 20. All events are free and open to the public.

“I am so thrilled and honored to have been chosen for this honorary degree,” said Disney. “It was a bolt from the blue and a shot in the arm, to mix a couple of metaphors and I am so happy that it came from a wonderful and vibrant institution like Lawrence.”

praythedevilbacktohell_poster.jpgDisney’s film chronicles the inspirational story of the courageous women of Liberia, whose efforts played a critical role in bringing an end to a long and bloody civil war and restored peace to their shattered country.

She served as the producer of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which earned critical praise and collected more than 15 awards, including the Best Documentary Award at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival, the Cowboy Award Winner – Audience Choice Award at the Jackson Hole Film Festival, the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the Golden Butterfly Award at the Movies that Matter Festival.

Disney founded and serves as president of the New York City-based Daphne Foundation, which supports grassroots and emerging organizations that deal with the causes and consequences of poverty, focusing on the creation and implementation of long-term solutions to intractable social problems.

She also has played a leadership role in a number of other social and political organizations, among them the New York Women’s Foundation, from which she recently retired as chair, the Roy Disney Family Foundation, the White House Project, the Global Fund for Women, the Fund for the City of New York and the Ms. Foundation for Women. In 1998, when the foundation’s namesake publication, Ms. Magazine, faced financial hardship, Disney joined with magazine founder Gloria Steinem and a group of other investors to form Liberty Media for Women, which secured the magazine’s future.

The grandniece of Walt Disney, founder of the Disney media and entertainment empire, she is the vice chair of the board of Shamrock Holdings Incorporated, a professional investment company that manages more than $1.5 billion in assets.

Disney earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a master’s degree from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Lawrence University Researcher Finds Support for Supreme Court Decision Arguing Diversity Benefits College Academic Discussions

A visiting professor at Lawrence University will present his research into the benefit of ethnic and racial diversity in college academic discussion groups at the Posse Foundation, 14 Wall St., New York City, December 2, 2009, at 11:30 a.m.

Robert J. Beck, visiting professor of educational psychology at Lawrence, completed analysis of 16 transcripts of academic discussions involving 61 students in the college’s Freshman Studies program. Two classes with 25 percent diverse students were compared to two non-diverse classes. Beck’s research resulted in a paper, The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number: An Experimental Study of the Effects of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Liberal Arts College Discussions.

“We were able to do a carefully controlled quantitative study in undergraduate classrooms where all students were reading and discussing the same works,” Beck said. “All the students took part in interpretive discussions intended to voice meanings about “Great Books” including Plato’s “Republic”, Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry, works by a scientist (Einstein) and a composer (Messiaen).”

Among the findings:

  • Students in the diverse classes spoke nearly twice as much as students in the non-diverse classes.
  • Students in the diverse classes contributed nearly 70 percent of the total number of words in the discussion, while in the non-diverse classes students spoke a little less than half the time.
  • The diverse classes had a significantly larger average number of students who spoke in the development of themes of the discussions.
  • About three times as many students in the diverse classes interacted with each other than in the non-diverse classes.
  • Students in the non-diverse classes referred more often to the works in providing evidence and used more complex arguments, but only four students contributed one-third of all arguments.
  • Students in the diverse classes expressed more opinions and referred to personal experiences in making their claims.
  • Diverse class students were more responsive to other discussants’ statements: they followed up with proportionally more high-level questions, re-phrasings, and agreements and a greater number of elaborations/clarifications.
  • Approximately 25 percent of the students in the diverse classes also included evidence backing their opinions, whereas less than 10 percent of the students in the non-diverse classes did so.
  • There were no differences in participation between diverse and non-diverse students in the diverse classes.

“As measured by several criteria, we concluded that the diverse classes provided more value –the “greatest good to the greatest number” — to students than the non-diverse classes,” Beck said. It is more effective to facilitate wide participation and let everyone into the discussion and then support increased levels of critical thinking, rather than to let a few students dominate at a high level and pretty much freeze everyone else out. We will need to do research with larger samples to see if these patterns hold up.”

Funded by the Spencer Foundation, Chicago, the research project was organized to test Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion in Grutter vs. Bollinger, 2003, that diversity contributes to the benefit of all students. The associate justice argued that diversity leads to educational benefits for all because of a “robust exchange of ideas” (U. S. 539, 17). These benefits are “important and laudable,” because “classroom discussion is livelier, more spirited, and simply more enlightening and interesting” when the students have “the greatest possible variety of backgrounds” (U.S. 539, 17).

Lawrence University Campus Center Awarded LEED “Gold” Certification

Lawrence University’s newly opened Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center is so “green” it’s gold.

So says the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which has awarded the 107,000-square-foot building LEED®-certified Gold status, the second highest designation on the green building four-level certification system.

“This is the news we were hoping for,” said Lawrence University President Jill Beck. “Lawrence is committed to the goal of sustainability and this building is evidence of that commitment. Responsible citizenship is one of the goals of a liberal education and in reducing our impact on the planet we are setting an example for our campus and our community.”

LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings and offers four levels of certification for new construction: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Each level corresponds to the number of points or credits accrued in five green and construction categories that positively impact the project itself and the broader community as verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.

After an extensive review, USGBC determined the Warch Campus Center earned 43 points or credits on its certification scale. A minimum of 39 points is required to reach Gold certification.

“On behalf of the entire design and construction team, we extend our congratulations to Lawrence University on this remarkable achievement,” said Nat Stein, LEED accredited professional and the Warch Campus Center’s project architect for Uihlein-Wilson Architects, Inc., of Milwaukee. “We especially commend the students of Lawrence University who inspired and challenged us to create a building that is environmentally responsible, respectful and beautiful. We are thrilled to be a part of such a meaningful project.”

The $35 million Warch Campus Center is Uihlein-Wilson’s first Gold-certified project. The building’s environmentally friendly features include:

• a partially vegetated roof system of soil and green plants to absorb rainfall and decrease storm water runoff.

• low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption by more than 30 percent by standards mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

• heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems designed to be 21 percent more energy efficient than industry standards require.

• wood certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council that has been harvested with environmentally and socially responsible forest management practices.

• more than 20 percent of all materials used in the building were extracted regionally (within a 500-mile radius)

• adoption of a Green Cleaning program which involves the use of LEED-certified cleaning products and recyclable paper products

• formaldehyde-free interior building materials to ensure healthful indoor air quality.

In addition, more than 96 percent of construction waste for the building — seven million pounds worth — was recycled and saved from being deposited in a landfill.

KSS Architects of Princeton, N.J. was the design architect of the campus center and Uihlein-Wilson Architects, Inc., the architect of record. The Boldt Company of Appleton served as the project’s general contractor.

Work on the center began in June, 2007. The building was officially opened Sept. 18, 2009.

2009 Nobel Prize Winner Thomas Steitz to Deliver Lawrence University’s 2010 Commencement Address

Nobel Prize-winner Thomas Steitz will return to his alma mater to deliver the commencement address at Lawrence University’s graduation ceremonies June 13, 2010.

Tom-Steitz_web.jpgSteitz, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lawrence in 1962, was named one of three winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry Oct. 7 for his research describing the structure and function of ribosomes. He will receive his Nobel Prize medal Dec. 10 during ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden.

“We are delighted and honored that our distinguished alumnus is making a visit to Lawrence part of his extremely busy schedule,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “We look forward to welcoming Dr. Steitz back to campus in June. The seniors in the Class of 2010 should have a very exciting commencement ceremony.”

In a letter to President Beck, Steitz said he would rearrange plans to be in Europe so he could attend the June exercises.

“I have decided that it is very important for me to accept your invitation for next spring’s commencement,” Steitz wrote. “My years at Lawrence were of such great importance to me and my life and I feel I must pay tribute to Lawrence.”

Steitz credits his Lawrence education for setting him “on the right path.”

“It gave me an appreciation about how to think about answering questions,” said Steitz. “I was taught how to put things together, how to integrate information. I think that has been an important contributor all along.”

The Nobel Prize recognized Steitz’ decades-long research on the structure and function of the ribosome, which transforms encoded DNA information into proteins central to all of life’s functions. To determine its structure, he used the technique known as X-ray crystallography to map the position of each of the more than 100,000 individual atoms that make up the ribosome. His research has helped scientists develop new generations of antibiotics.

A native of Milwaukee and a graduate of Wauwatosa High School, Steitz is the Sterling professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and professor of chemistry at Yale University, where he has taught since 1970. He also is an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

After graduating cum laude from Lawrence, Steitz earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry from Harvard University. Prior to joining the Yale faculty, Steitz worked at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Earlier this month, Lawrence announced it would rename its newest science building “Thomas Steitz Science Hall” in honor of the Nobel Prize-winning alumnus.

Rob Neilson’s Los Angeles Public Art Commission Dedicated Nov. 14

Lawrence University sculptor Rob Neilson, who specializes in site-specific public art, will be among the guests of honor Saturday, Nov. 14 for the official dedication of his latest creation — 54 cast iron portraits adorning the new Pico-Aliso light rail station in Los Angeles, Calif.

Rob-Neilson-Train-Sculpture.jpg The dedication ceremonies for the $115,000 commission Neilson titled “About Place, About Face” culminates a project that was three years in the making. The more than four dozen metal portraits, some as big as four feet tall, feature faces of people who actually live in the rail station’s neighborhood.

“All of my work is site specific,” said Neilson, associate professor of art at Lawrence. “But I wanted to take this a step further and make the project not just about the location, but also about the surrounding neighborhood and the people who live there and use the facility.”

In conjunction with the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority, Neilson used dozens of neighborhood volunteers who were willing to have their faces digitally scanned. The visual information, collected in a process that took just 17 seconds per face, was sent to a computer numerical controlled machine that milled it into dense foam from which molds were made and eventually cast with molten iron — at a toilet factory.


Much of the work on his “About Place, About Face” project was created while Neilson served as an Artist-in-Residence in the Kohler Arts/Industry Program through the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan and the Kohler Company in Kohler. Known world-wide for its toilets, bathtubs and sinks, Kohler’s foundry became Neilson’s art studio.

Kohler employees would take breaks from making toilets and bath tubs to cast his larger-than-life faces, filling his mold with 100 pounds of molten iron.

“Historically public art monuments have been used to commemorate the accomplishments of ‘great’ and ‘powerful’ individuals,” said Neilson, a Detroit native who lived in Long Beach, Calif., for five years before joining the Lawrence art department in 2003. “The ‘About Place, About Face’ project is a monument to the rest of us, particularly the people in the neighborhood who use the Pico-Aliso rail station.

When awarded the commission, Neilson said he was given the charge of creating a piece of public art that involved the community and referenced the area and its people.

“I tried to create a work of art that speaks of the area’s past, present and future inhabitants,” said Neilson. “My goal was to have something that encouraged a sense of ownership and involvement within this community. I think these portraits accomplish that.”

The dedication of Neilson’s sculpture and the opening of the Pico-Aliso light rail station is part of an $898 million extension project of the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line.

Lawrence University’s Annual Alternative Giving Fair Offers Gifts of Hope, Support

Local shoppers have the chance to give more than just a gift this holiday season. By purchasing presents at Lawrence University’s alternative giving fair, they will provide gifts of hope and support to people in need around the world.

Lawrence hosts its third annual alternative giving fair Saturday, Nov. 14 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center Somerset room.

Set up like a traditional market with more than 20 booths (and information tables), the fair features a variety of “alternative gifts” designed to help dozens of national and international humanitarian projects. Focused on saving lives in developing countries and preserving the planet, available alternative gifts range from a greenhouse in North Korea to grow healthy food for hospital patients to safe motherhood kits for pregnant women in Rwanda and Tanzania. Each alternative gift purchased includes a card that is sent to the gift recipient, informing them of the item purchased in their honor.

To date, the first two fairs have raised nearly $19,000 for more than 40 causes and organizations around the world.

The fair also will feature a variety of tangible gifts, including tapestries, mugs, ornaments, scarves and jewelry hand-crafted by artisans in developing countries. These products are provided by Globally Sound, a local Fair Trade store.

Live musical entertainment by Lawrence students will be provided throughout the day and refreshments will be available.

The alternative giving fair is sponsored by the campus organization Students’ War Against Hunger and Poverty (SWAHP).

Saxophonist David Davis Wins Lakeshore Wind Ensemble Young Artist Competition

Lawrence University musician David Davis won the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble Young Artist Solo Scholarship Competition held Saturday, Nov. 8 in Manitowoc.David-Davis_web.jpg

A junior saxophone performance major from Sussex, Davis received a first-place prize of $1,500 and will be the featured soloist during the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble’s March 6, 2010 concert at the Manitowoc Capitol Civic Centre.

Davis performed Bading’s “Concerto for alto saxophone and wind ensemble” for the undergraduate competition, which is open to musicians up to the age of 25. Nearly 20 musicians covering woodwinds, brass, percussion and piano participated in the audition.

Davis is a student in the saxophone studio of Professor of Music Steven Jordheim.

Four Lawrence University Students Earn First-Place Honors at State Singing Competition

Lawrence University students captured first-place honors in four categories at the 2009 Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition held Nov. 6-7 at UW-Eau Claire.

Winning their respective divisions were Erin Bryan, Appleton, sophomore women; Sara Brannon, Houston, Texas, junior women; Patrick MacDevitt, Marquette, Mich., junior men; and Evan Bravos, St. Charles, Ill., senior men.

Bryan is a student of Professor of Music Patrice Michaels. MacDevitt studies in the voice studio of assistant professor of music Steven Spears. Brannon and Bravos are both voice students of Ken Bozeman, Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music.

Eight of Lawrence’s 35 singers entered in the competition advanced to the finals round. The four first-place finishers each were awarded $150 for their winning efforts, while second- and third-place finishers received $125 and $100, respectively.

This year’s auditions drew a total of 345 singers from around the state, who competed in 20 separate divisions by gender and level. Depending upon the category, NATS competitors are required to sing two, three or four classical pieces from different time periods with at least one selection sung in a foreign language.

2009 NATS Auditions/Lawrence Results

November 6-7 at UW-Eau Claire


High School Men

Luke Selker, Appleton, Wis./Third Place/Carol Jegen/Ken Bozeman

Freshman Women

Katrina Zosseder, San Rafael, Calif./Third Place/Karen Leigh-Post

Freshman Men

Luke Randall, Edina, Minn./Second Place/Ken Bozeman

Sophomore Women

Erin Bryan, Appleton, Wis./First Place/Patrice Michaels

Julia Steiner, Milwaukee, Wis./Third Place/Patrice Michaels

Junior Women

Sara Brannon, Houston, Texas/First Place/Ken Bozeman

Junior Men

Patrick MacDevitt, Marquette, Mich./First Place/Steven Spears

Senior Men

Evan Bravos, St. Charles, Ill./First Place/Ken Bozeman

Sculpture Project that Recyles Used, Discarded Materials Focus of Lawrence Visiting Artist Series Address

Michigan-based ceramist Daniel Bare, who draws inspiration for his work from landfills, recycling bins and thrift stores, discusses his latest project, “Re/Claim,” in a Lawrence University Visiting Artist Series address Monday, Nov. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Inspired by ceramic production villages in China, Bare’s “Re/Claim” project uses mostly post-consumer found ceramics to create new sculptures. Daniel-Bare-ceramics_web.jpgStruck by the impact of overproduction, consumption and disposal of resources worldwide, Bare reinvents the role of commonplace, frequently discarded or forgotten items by turning them into new sculptures.

By reorganizing mass-produced items such as mugs, plates and other ceramic figurines into new structures, Bare lengthens the items’ lifecycles. Challenging the limits of ceramics and the boundary between hand-made and machine-made objects, he sees his work as a commentary on a wasteful culture and contemporary environmental concerns.

A recent resident artist at the Pottery Workshop in DeHua, China, Bare is a ceramics technician and ceramics instructor at Grand Valley State University and serves on the Exhibitions Committee of the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids. His artwork has been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally.