Rick Peterson

Author: Rick Peterson

Three Lawrence students honored by Wisconsin Visual Artists organization

Three former Lawrence University students have been recognized by the Northeast Chapter of Wisconsin Visual Artists with a merit prize.

Sculpture by student Eryn Blagg
“a^2 + b^2 = c^2” by Eryn Blagg ’18

Eryn Blagg, Omaha, Neb., Kori Looker, Weyauwega, and Rachael Wuensch, Reedsburg, all of whom graduated on June 10, were named recipients of the WVA’s merit prize, which is presented annually for outstanding student artwork at the college level.

Blagg is a sculptor whose work focuses on the intersection of art and math. “In a quest to prove theorems, mathematicians are guided by aesthetics as much as intellectual curiosity,” Blagg wrote in her artist statement. “As an artist I am similarly driven by creativity expression and aesthetics, focusing on creating new objects from nothing, the same way a mathematician creates a logical framework for a proof or problem. My art is an avenue to show that the art world and the math world are the same: complex and beautiful.”

A scupture by student Kori Looker
“Amore Mio” by Kori Looker ’18

Looker, also a sculptor, specializes in figurative work rendered abstractly out of carved wood. She said her  abstract figurative sculptures “convey the connections possible and expression of emotions within relationships. This work draws inspiration from a variety of sources, from bell hook’s emphasis on caring in ‘Teaching to Transgress’ to Michelangelo’s expression of maternal love and anguish in the ‘Pietà.'”

A print by student Rachael Wuensch
“Scarlet Sphere” by Rachael Wuensch ’18

Wuensch’s work combines printmaking with elements of collage. According to artist statement, “personal growth has shifted my interests from representational and symbolic works to more abstract pieces. Using texture, pattern and an intuitive approach. My current work depicts emotion through volume, depth and movement while expanding beyond the picture plane. By combining recycled objects including plastic, fabrics, and wax paper with the printmaking, painting, and embroidery processes, each piece has an independent voice.”

Blagg, Looker and Wuensch all have works in the current Senior Art Exhibition in Lawrence’s Wriston Art Center Galleries.

Each received a $100 prize and a one-year membership in the Wisconsin Visual Artists organization. The merit award honors the caliber of their art itself and is designed to encourage graduates to continue their work in the visual arts.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence University receives $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to pursue inclusive excellence in the sciences

Stefan Debbert calls it a “transformational” approach to science education at Lawrence University.

The chemistry professor will direct a new initiative designed to significantly change the way Lawrence teaches many of its introductory natural science courses.

Stefan Debbert
Stefan Debbert

Lawrence was one of 33 schools in the country selected for a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to implement its Inclusive Excellence Initiative. The program’s aim is to catalyze schools’ efforts to engage science students of all backgrounds and identities. Lawrence and the other 32 schools selected for the program this year join 24 schools that were chosen in 2017.

“This initiative is about encouraging colleges and universities to change the way they do business — to become institutions with a significantly greater capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those from nontraditional backgrounds,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea in announcing the grants.

“The commitment to inclusion is a signal feature of a Lawrence education,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “Last year, our efforts to more fully incorporate inclusive pedagogies in the humanities received a great boost through funding from the Mellon Foundation. This new grant makes it possible for us to deepen and expand this commitment into our instruction in the sciences, as well. HHMI is one of the nation’s most prestigious science philanthropies. Their support of our program is a tremendous vote of confidence in the skill, dedication, and passion of our faculty.”

As its name implies, the program is targeting “the New Majority” — underrepresented minority, first generation and low-income students. Recent efforts on Lawrence’s part have significantly increased its number of New Majority students, leading to a re-examination of how its policies and resources support those students.

“It’s called the Inclusive Excellence Initiative because data suggest some groups are being excluded,” said Debbert, associate professor of chemistry and Lawrence’s HHMI project director. “We want to make sure students stay in our science ‘pipeline.’ To do that, we’re looking at a fundamental shift in how we teach.

“Our goal is to create a natural science community that unreservedly welcomes, fully embraces, thoughtfully engages and effectively teaches all students of all identities—from their very first class through graduation,” Debbert added. “Lawrence’s natural science division intends to lead the university as we place inclusive excellence at the root of our curricula, our mindsets and our shared mission.”

Lawrence will use the grant, which will be allocated over five years, to “fundamentally change” the way each of its large introductory courses in biology, chemistry and physics are taught.

“We’re going to take them out of the big lecture hall model and go to a more active learning approach where students are working in small groups around a table, talking with each other and working with each other instead of just passively absorbing a long lecture,” said Debbert. “We’re also going to enhance our student’s hands-on learning opportunities by better integrating our labs with our classroom work.”

Lawrence biologist Elizabeth De Stasio, whose own position at Lawrence was created originally in 1992 by a $500,000 grant from HHMI, says that as a result of this work, “Our students are going to be learning in a new way. They are going to carry that to their other classes and, we hope, their social spaces, resulting in a more inclusive culture at Lawrence, not just in the introductory science classes.”

“The commitment to inclusion is a signal feature of a Lawrence education. HHMI is one of the nation’s most prestigious science philanthropies. Their support of our program is a tremendous vote of confidence in the skill, dedication, and passion of our faculty.”
— Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty

Lawrence’s first step in the initiative will be transforming a large, tiered lecture hall in Youngchild Hall into a “science commons” with small group tables and built-in technology so students can share work with each other more easily.

“Our hope is to make our introductory science courses a more welcoming and engaging place, so students won’t feel left out or excluded because of where they’re coming from, what they look like or how they identify,” said Debbert. “We’ll be able to say to all students, ‘We can help you succeed.’”

Over the next five years, Lawrence will add visiting faculty members who specialize in modern science pedagogy for two-year appointments. These positions will be created in the biology, chemistry and physics departments.

“These ‘STEM Pedagogy Fellows,’ as we plan to call them, won’t just be scientists, they will have extensive experience in modern pedagogy and classroom revision,” said Debbert. “They will be people whose Ph.D.s essentially are in science teaching, so they will help us in many ways.”

Biology professor Beth De Stasio in classroom with students
Professor of Biology Beth De Stasio (right) has tested some of the inclusive education practices in her genetics class that Lawrence will incorporate more broadly through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant.

To further support students in these introductory science courses, Lawrence will build on a successful program in their introductory biology curriculum by developing and implementing peer-led learning groups for introductory courses in chemistry and physics. These groups will help students develop skills and strategies for success in coursework, and will lead to more connections and cohort-building among students and a more inclusive learning environment for all students, particular those from underrepresented groups.

“Diverse groups are shown by research to make better decisions; there is less group-think if you are in a group with diversity on any level,” said De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology. “We’re trying to have students realize working in diverse groups of any kind is a huge plus.”

In addition to these programs, Lawrence will bring outside speakers to campus to conduct seminars for the faculty and staff with a focus on how to teach more inclusively. Additional personnel will be added to the office of research administration to gather more data to assess project progress during the grant period.

During the two rounds of selection in 2017 and 2018, HHMI received applications from 594 schools of which 140 were invited to submit proposals for plans to develop more inclusive environments for their students.

“For years, the higher education system has focused on treating symptoms instead of addressing root causes,” said HHMI Program Officer Susan Musante. “With the Inclusive Excellence initiative, HHMI is asking institutions to identify how they are standing in the way of success for certain groups of students and then find ways to change.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Blue and White Proud: Show your LU pride, get free admission to Summerfest

All Lawrentians — alumni, students (current, incoming, prospective), faculty, staff, friends of the college — will be able to flash their institutional pride and enjoy free admission to Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, Friday, June 29.

Anyone wearing a Lawrence-branded shirt or hat will be admitted free between the hours of 12 noon and 3 p.m. as part of “Show Your College Pride Day.” Participants should stop at the Mid Gate Promotions Booth to receive their free ticket.Summerfest Pride Day logo

Once on the grounds, be sure to stop by the Lawrence booth at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Forecourt to say hello and show your support.

If you need to freshen up your Lawrence University wardrobe, you’re in luck. Order any LU gear online before June 20 and we’ll send your swag in time for the big day. Use the promo code LUFEST at checkout and we’ll ship it to you for free.

Among the headliners performing on June 29 include Halsey, Billy Currington, Logic, NF, Social Distortion, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Third World, Plain White T’s, Xavier Omär and others.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence welcoming record-setting turnout for Reunion 2018

Alumni and guests returning to campus this weekend for Lawrence University’s annual Reunion celebration will be record-setters as part of the largest Reunion turnout in school history.

The welcome mats will be out out in abundance as an all-time high of some 1,100 alumni and guests from 41 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as six countries, Japan and Sri Lanka among them participate in four days of activities. Betty Dombrose Brown, a 1947 graduate of Milwaukee-Downer, holds the distinction of being a member of the oldest class represented this year.A group shot of alumni at Reunion celebration

Eight alumni will be honored for achievement and service Saturday, June 16 as part of Reunion festivities. Each will be recognized at the Reunion Convocation at 10:30 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to the awards convocation, Reunion will feature an address Thursday evening by Appleton native Dr. Ann McKee, a member of Lawrence’s class of 1975.

The director of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at Boston University and chief neuropathologist for the brain banks at VA Boston, McKee’s research has established herself as one of the country’s leading experts on brain trauma, concussions and their consequences.

A complete schedule of all Reunion activities can be found here.

As a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold and Porter, Bill Baer established himself as one of the country’s leading antitrust attorneys.

Among his notable victories was successfully defending GE against criminal charges of price fixing with DeBeers in the industrial diamonds business. Two separate stints in the Federal Trade Commission, where he led successful challenges to mergers involving Staples and Office Depot and four drug wholesalers, helped Baer earn an appointment to the U.S. Department of Justice by President Obama.

Bill Baer
bill Baer ’72

A 1972 Lawrence graduate, Baer will be presented the Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award at Saturday’s Reunion convocation. The award recognizes Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer graduates of more than 15 years for outstanding career achievement. The award honors the second president of Milwaukee-Downer College.

A resident of Bethesda, Md., Baer, who served as Lawrence’s visiting distinguished Scarff professor this spring, was the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division from 2013-2016 and acting associate attorney general — the number three position in the department — from 2016-17.

At Arnold & Porter, Baer oversaw 60 lawyers in the United States and Europe as the leader of the firm’s antitrust practice. His outstanding legal work earned him numerous awards, including being named one of “the decade’s most influential lawyers” by the National Law Journal. The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers twice (2006, 2007) named him the “leading competition lawyer in the world.”

Bear served on the Lawrence Board of Trustees from 2001-2012 and then rejoined the board in 2017.

This year’s other award winners include:

Peter Kolkay
Peter Kolkay ’98

Nathan M. Pusey Young Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award — Peter Kolkay, Class of 1998, Nashville, Tenn. The award recognizes Lawrence alumni of 15 years or less for significant contributions to, and achievements in, a career field.  The award honors Lawrence’s 10th and youngest president and an exemplary figure in higher education in the 20th century.

Hailed as “stunningly virtuosic” by The New York Times and “superb” by the Washington Post, Kolkay is the only bassoonist ever awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant and first prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition. He is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a member of the IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tenn.

An associate professor of bassoon at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, Kolkay has performed numerous world premieres of both solo and chamber works. His 2011 debut solo CD “Bassoon Music” spotlights works by 21st-century American composers.

He was the recipient of the Carlos Surinach Prize by the BMI Foundation for outstanding service to American music by an emerging artist.

Francis Siekman de Romero
Frances Siekman de Romero ’74

George B. Walter Service to Society Award — Frances Siekman de Romero, Class of 1974, Guanajuato, Mexico. The award recognizes Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer College alumni who exemplify the ideals of a liberal education through socially useful service. The award honors Walter, a 1936 Lawrence graduate, faculty member and dean of men, whose work at the college and beyond promoted his conviction that every individual can and should make a positive difference in the world.

An Appleton native, de Romero has been deeply engaged with humanitarian work much of the past four decades, focusing on Mexico’s less fortunate. The former first lady of Guanajuato, she served six years (2000-06) as president of Guanajuato’s Department of Infants and Family (DIF). The state organization works to support people earning less than $1,000 per year.

She also has worked to provide adequate eye care for the poor through the organization Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity and implemented the program “Mi Casa Diferente” for Guanajuato families whose homes were built with inadequate materials. The program provides building materials to families who own the land and build the homes themselves.

A passionate advocate for animal welfare, de Romero created a 600-acre sanctuary for abused donkeys, horses and dogs.

de Romero has a long family association with Lawrence. Her father, William Siekman and mother Martha Boyd Siekman were 1941 and 1943 Lawrence graduates, respectively. Her brother, Charlie, graduated in 1972, while two of her children earned degrees from Lawrence, Francesca in 2011 and David in 2015.

Terry Franke
Terry Franke ’68
Tom Kayser
Tom Kayser ’68

The Presidential Award, Thomas Kayser, class of 1958, St. Paul, Minn., and J. Terrence Franke, class of 1968, Winnetka, Ill. The award honors an alumnus or alumna of Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College whose exemplary leadership and notable actions have contributed to the betterment of the entire Lawrence University community.

Kayser served as a member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees from 2000-2012, when he was elected emeritus trustee. During his tenure, he has served as vice-chair of the Student Affairs Committee, Recruitment and Retention Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee. He is a past president of the Founders Club, served as a campaign working group member, regional club program committee member and college inauguration representative.

He and his wife, Marlene, are founding donors of Admission Possible, now known as College Possible, a nationally-growing nonprofit organization that works to make college admission and success possible for low-income students. Their support has helped Lawrence facilitate a high level of access to students in the program, coordinate a special college fair for Lawrence and other small colleges and funded an AmeriCorps staff person to serve as the direct liaison between the Lawrence admissions office and the program.

Franke has served as a member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees for 19 years covering two different terms (1995-98; 2002-), including as four as chair of the board (2011–15).

He also has served on the leadership team for the Full Speed to Full Need scholarship campaign, been an admissions volunteer, a regional chair of the Founders Club committee, Legacy Circle National Council member, and an active participant in the Lawrence Scholars in Business program. Franke is currently a member of his 50th Reunion committee and serves on the leadership team for the class of 1968.

Christine Benedict
Christine Benedict ’99

Marshall Hulbert Young Alumni Outstanding Service Award, Christine Benedict, class of 1999, Stoughton. This award recognizes a Lawrence graduate celebrating his or her 15th cluster reunion or younger who has provided significant service to the college. It honors Marshall Brandt Hulbert, known as “Mr. Lawrence,” who made contributions to thousands of Lawrentian lives and served the college in various capacities for 54 years.

The vice president for enrollment management at Edgewood College, Benedict served on the Lawrence University Alumni Association (LUAA) board, including a term as board president.

Her service to her alma mater began as a student, when she served as a Star-Key Ambassador and volunteer for the admissions office. As a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, she served as the Panhellenic president and was elected vice president of her senior class.

After graduation, she brought valuable insights to the LUAA Board of Directors and led countless volunteer efforts to foster an impactful educational experience for future Lawrentians.

Linda Laarman
Linda Laarman ’73
etty Domrose Brown
Betty Domrose Brown M-D ’47

Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp Outstanding Service Award, Betty Domrose Brown, Milwaukee-Downer class of 1947, Green Bay, and Linda Laarman, class of 1973, Milwaukee. The award recognizes a Lawrence University or Milwaukee-Downer College graduate after his or her 20th cluster Reunion who has provided outstanding service to Lawrence University. It honors Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp, voted Milwaukee-Downer alumna of the year in 1964 for her long-standing service to the college as president of the alumnae association board, class secretary and public relations officer.

A loyal and long-time supporter of the university, Brown has served her classmates as a class secretary since 2004. She was a member of the LUAA Board of Directors from 1975–78, returning to the board for four more years in 1998 and has served as a reunion committee member.

Laarman, who served two years as president of the LUAA Board of Directors, has long had a special affinity for Björklunden. A frequent summer seminar attendee, she served as a docent for the Björklunden chapel, co-chaired the Björklunden Advisory Committee and helped create “This is Björklunden,” an all-day annual event that showcases all that Lawrence’s northern campus has to offer.

She also was instrumental in establishing the “Winifred Boynton Creative Spirit” award as a tribute to Mrs. Boynton and individuals who contribute significantly to life in Door County.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Professors Hoffmann, Podair, Proctor honored at 2018 commencement

Three members of the Lawrence University faculty were recognized for teaching and scholarship excellence Sunday, June 10 at the college’s 169th commencement.

Karen Hoffmann, associate professor of English and diversity enhancement faculty director, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes outstanding performance in the teaching process, including the quest to ensure students reach their full development as individuals, human beings and future leaders of society.

Karen Hoffman
Karen Hoffmann ’87

A 1987 Lawrence graduate, Hoffmann returned to her alma mater in 1998. Her research interests focus on early 20th-century British and American literature, gender and literature and African-American literature, including experimental literary forms from the Harlem Renaissance that question racial boundaries or consider race as a social construct.

In presenting her award, Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty, cited Hoffmann for distinguishing herself “as one of our finest teachers, dedicated to bringing out the best in your students as thinkers, writers and readers with an appreciation for the great beauty and variety of literary expression.”

“Students praise your clarity, fairness and consistency in establishing criteria for graded work, your skills as a leader of rich, nuanced discussion and, above all, your empathy and dedication to meeting students where they are and bringing them forward to a new level of skill and understanding,” Kodat added.

Hoffmann previously was recognized in 2010 with Lawrence’s Freshman Studies Teaching Award.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in English at Lawrence, Hoffmann earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English and American literature from Indiana University.

Jerald Podair, Robert S. French Professor of American Studies and professor of history, received the Award for Excellence in Scholarship. Established in 2006, the award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained scholarly excellence for a number of years and whose work exemplifies the ideals of the teacher-scholar.

Jerald Podair
Jerald Podair

He also received the award in 2010 and is the only two-time winner in the award’s history.

A member of the faculty since 1998, Podair earned national recognition for his 2017 book “City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles” (Princeton University Press). In addition to a host of positive reviews, the book was named the winner of the 2018 Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour Medal of the Society for American Baseball Research as the best book on baseball history or biography published in the preceding year. Podair was honored in March at the SABR annual banquet in Tempe, Ariz.
The book also was selected as one of five finalists for a 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. The PEN America awards honor writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published the previous year.

“In your 20 years at Lawrence University, you have distinguished yourself as one of our most prolific and accomplished scholars, producing highly regarded, award-winning studies on U.S. political and historical topics involving modern civil rights struggles and contemporary urban history,” said Kodat in honoring Podair. “The 2017 publication of ‘City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles,’ is the latest, and arguably the most august, chapter in this already impressive narrative.”

A specialist on 20th-century American history and race relations, Podair also is the author of the books “The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis” and “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer,” a biography of the civil rights leader who planned the 1963 March on Washington.
He was the recipient of the 1998 Allan Nevins Prize, an award conferred by the Society of American Historians for the best Ph. D. dissertation in history written in the country that year. He was named a fellow of the New York Academy of History in 2009 and was appointed by the governor to Wisconsin’s Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, on which he served from 2008 to 2009.

A native of New York City, Podair earned a bachelor’s degree at New York University, a law degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Lavanya Proctor, assistant professor of anthropology, was presented the Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member, which recognizes demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth.

Lavanya Proctor
Lavanya Proctor

A specialist in linguistic anthropology, English and globalization, gender and sexuality, including recent research on LGBTQ+ Americans of South Asian descent, Proctor originally joined the faculty in 2010 as a visiting assistant professor of anthropology. She spent two years teaching at SUNY-Buffalo State before returning in the fall of 2014 with a tenure-track appointment to the anthropology department.

Proctor has taught Freshman Studies as well as core anthropology courses and research methods classes, but she also has helped debut some new courses recently, including “Economic Anthropology,” “Anthropology of South Asia” and “Anthropology and New Media.”

“Since coming to Lawrence, you have distinguished yourself as an energetic, enthusiastic teacher, known for creating a dynamic learning environment in which students feel both pushed to perform and deeply supported,” said Kodat in presenting Proctor her award. “While contributing to core courses, you have also freshened the curriculum, introducing students to fresh vistas in anthropology and whetting their appetite for further study.

“Students consistently praise not only your high standards, but also your remarkable ability to remain open and deeply interested in their own contributions to course materials,” Kodat added.

Proctor was the recipient of an American Anthropological Association Leadership Fellow position in 2013. She earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees in sociology at the University of Delhi in India as well as a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Iowa.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Six retiring faculty, 191 years of combined teaching experience celebrated at 2018 commencement

The breadth of knowledge and teaching experience immeasurable. The number of classes taught, studio lessons given, recitals and concerts performed virtually incalculable.

Six retiring faculty members — including four from the conservatory — with an incredible 191 years of combined service will be recognized Sunday, June 10 by Lawrence University at its 169th commencement. Each will receive an honorary master of arts degree, ad eundem.

This is the most faculty retirements in one year since 1993, when eight left the academy.

“Retirements are always bittersweet events and that is even more the case this year,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “These faculty leave sterling legacies in excellent teaching, superior scholarly and artistic accomplishment, and selfless institutional service. It is impossible to imagine Lawrence without their contributions—contributions that will continue to inspire and motivate us for many years to come. They have made Lawrence a better place than it would have been otherwise, and we—their colleagues and students alike—will be eternally grateful.”

Janet Anthony, George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music and cello teacher

Janet Anthony
Janet Anthony

Anthony joined the Lawrence conservatory in 1984 as a 27-year old cellist from Vienna, Austria, via graduate school in New York. During her 34-year career, Anthony has mentored some 300 aspiring cellists, performed on the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage countless times, played live on Wisconsin Public Radio and entertained audiences in well-known music venues around the world, including throughout Europe, South America as well as in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

“Music is a wonderful way to remove borders and remove blocks,” said Anthony, a native of Tucson, Ariz. “For me, personally, it has mainly been through music that I’ve traveled and gotten to know other cultures and see other things.

“The chance to perform with remarkable colleagues has been one of the greatest gifts of my time at Lawrence,” she added. “Performing with the Lawrence Chamber Players for some 30 years was a rich part of my life.”

When it comes to career highlights her thoughts turn immediately to students.

“It’s really always about the students and the amazing individuals who have come through the studio over the past 34 years,” said Anthony, who earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Arizona after three years of study at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. She earned a master’s degree in music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“There have been so many people of such varied interests and varied gifts. Keeping in touch with a number of them through the years has been very gratifying and rewarding.”

Much of the last third of Anthony’s career focused on what she calls her “obsession.” The country of Haiti, where she’s compassionately cultivated a variety of youth music programs both before and after the devastating earthquake in 2010, has occupied copious amounts of Anthony’s free time. While on sabbatical this spring, she spent three months there assembling an orchestra for the 2nd Annual Haitian National Orchestra Institute.

“We had members of the Utah Symphony and their music director, a bass player from the Cleveland Orchestra and 100 participants from 23 different music schools in Haiti,” said Anthony. “They played so well.”

Before her involvement, Haiti had one primary music school in the country.

“Since then, there have probably been 20 music programs that have blossomed and are doing very well,” she said while deflecting credit.

“I think the work that I’ve done with a lot of other people has had something to do with it, but really these are organically grown programs. They arrive out of the desire of specific communities to do something in music. We don’t implant things. It all comes from within the community. But there is a burgeoning interest in music there.”

““What I will miss about teaching at Lawrence is the incredible students we have, the camaraderie that develops in the studio, the fun we have and the hard work we do.”
— Janet Anthony

When the subject of legacy comes up, Anthony turns philosophical.

“I hope that it has something to do with striving for beauty, striving to create beauty in the world around us. Bringing that home and further afield, and making what music brings to our lives more accessible to people,” said Anthony, co-recipient of the 2017 Faculty Convocation Award.

She will return to the southwest in retirement — just outside Albuquerque, N.M — and plans to continue teaching locally there and in Haiti, and performing with her piano partner of 36 years.

“What I will miss about teaching at Lawrence is the incredible students we have, the camaraderie that develops in the studio, the fun we have and the hard work we do. Everybody throws themselves wholeheartedly into what happens here. I don’t know if it is that rare, but it’s something that I treasure about Lawrence.”

James DeCorsey, associate professor of music and horn teacher

James DeCorsey
James DeCorsey

Growing up in Palm Springs, Calif., DeCorsey often crossed paths with celebrity A-listers. As a teen, he delivered flowers and groceries to Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Natalie Wood. He frequently sat on the roof of his house to watch the likes of President Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon land at the airport a few blocks away. His next-door neighbors included Liberace’s brother and old-time Hollywood director Eddie Sutherland.

After graduating from Stanford University, DeCorsey enjoyed a 15-year career as a professional musician. It was a life that saw him share a stage with Sinatra for a two-week gig, play with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Ballet during a five-year stay in England and perform in the orchestra pit for the Broadway smashes “Cats,” “Evita,” and his personal favorite, “Sugar Babies” with Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney, who handed him a note each night from the stage.

While living in New York City, where he played horn with the American Symphony, Musica Sacra (under the direction of 1954 Lawrence graduate Richard Westenburg) and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, DeCorsey developed an itch…to teach.

“My wife and I had grown up in much smaller places than any of these large metropolitan areas we’d been living in the past 15 years,” said DeCorsey. “The idea occurred that I might like to teach, particularly at the college level.”

A colleague encouraged an audition, which led to DeCorsey’s acceptance as a non-traditional student to Yale University, where he eventually earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate of musical arts degree.

“I hadn’t been in school for over 15 years and certainly wondered how I would do,” he said, “but I found that I instantly felt at home in the academic setting.”

While most students start looking for performing opportunities upon earning their master’s degree, DeCorsey already had a substantial performance resume.

“I made it very clear I wanted to teach,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Great, go find yourself a job.’ There were three openings that year for college teaching jobs for horn specialists. Amazingly I got interviewed for all of them and of the three, Lawrence was obviously the right fit.”

He still considers his undergraduate degree in English — instead of music — something that worked to his advantage when he interviewed here.

“I grasped the concept of Freshman Studies and was lucky enough to teach it a few times over the years until the horn studio grew,” said DeCorsey, whose daughter works at 30 Rockefeller Center and whose son makes violins in northern Wisconsin.

DeCorsey’s time living in London before embarking on his teaching career left an indelible imprint on his life. He called the opportunity to return — twice — to England’s capital via Lawrence’s London Centre “the two undoubted highlights of my time at Lawrence.”

“Living overseas hugely effected my eventual path in life and so I wanted to help create similar life-changing, world-expanding experiences for the Lawrentians I worked with in London,” said DeCorsey, who served as the centre’s director in 2001-02 and co-taught there with Professor of English Tim Spurgin in 2009-10. “One of the things I assuredly will do in retirement is to return to London whenever possible to take advantage of my reader’s card at the British Library, which I should be able to renew in perpetuity due to emeritus faculty status.”

While he may have arrived a bit later to the teaching game than some of his colleagues, the impact of the students he’s worked with is much the same.

“The thing I’ll miss the most is the students. They are wonderful, keen, hard-working,” said DeCorsey, who spent 2015-17 honing his administrative skills as associate dean of the conservatory. “They often come in very bright, very talented, but rather unsophisticated. But to watch them grow over the next four or five years is the most gratifying experience.”

Coming to Lawrence to scratch his teaching itch did not extinguish his desire to still perform and his association with various ensembles remains a bright spot on his 28-year tenure.

“Playing chamber music with my colleagues certainly is one of the highlights for me over the years. I’m surrounded by this terrific faculty and the Lawrence Brass has been a very important part of my time here.”

“The thing I’ll miss the most is the students. They are wonderful, keen, hard-working.”
— James DeCorsey

DeCorsey plans to relocate to Vancouver, Wash., to rejoin his wife, Patricia, who is an international Montessori teacher there.

Nick Keelan, associate professor of music, trombone teacher

Nick Keelan
Nick Keelan

Anyone who has enjoyed the Tuesday night jazz at Frank’s Pizza Palace in downtown Appleton played by the Big Band Reunion, can thank Keelan. It was his idea to start the group, which he co-led for a decade and still performs with occasionally.

His arrival at Lawrence in 1985 came after 10 years of teaching music in high school in Texas and Colorado and with a word-of-mouth assist from Bob Levy, the former long-time director of bands at Lawrence, who was once one of Keelan’s undergraduate professors at Henderson State University.

Keelan’s initial teaching load included trombone, euphonium, tuba and running the instrumental music education program, including formulating a new system of education based on a new state law.

“I got real busy. At one point, I had 29 trombone students and there weren’t enough hours in the day,” said Keelan, who estimates he’s worked with some 500 trombonists in his 33 years at Lawrence.

At various times along the way, Keelan served as conductor of Lawrence’s Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Band and Jazz Workshop. He is a founding member of the Lawrence Brass, the faculty brass quintet, and the Faculty Jazz Group.

“The Lawrence Brass has been very active here as a resident performing brass quintet,” said Keelan. “As a group we’ve rehearsed twice a week for the last 25 years or so.”

Speaking of rehearsals, Keelan makes sure to find time to blow his own trombone every day, anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours.

“Some days, when I play with students, it could be an eight-hour day with a horn on the face. That’s just what it takes,” Keenlan said with a hint of a drawl from his time growing up in Arkansas and Texas. He attended and graduated from Little Rock Central High School, 10 years after the group of African-American students known as the “Little Rock Nine” enrolled in the then-all-white school. “I’m a night owl so my practice would often start at 10 at night and often go to two or three o’clock in the morning. Then I’d have to get up and go teach.”

“I’ve enjoyed a lot of cool things — concerts, clinics, performances off campus. It’s that regular schedule of getting together with people you like to work with that I’ll miss a lot.”
— Nick Keelan

When on that rare occasion he’s not in his office, the studio or rehearsal room, Keelan is likely at a clinic, mentoring an aspiring elementary or high school trombonist. Despite his busy schedule, he typically manages to shoehorn in about 25 clinics a year, some in Wisconsin, others out of state.

“I do a lot of clinics at the schools,” said Keelan, who was recognized with Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in 1988, “But I have to be cautious with how much I leave campus. That’s why Jazz Celebration Weekend is nice. The students come to us.”

Music may be central to Keelan’s life, but he has other interests that provide an adrenaline rush that’s different than a standing ovation. He drives Formula Ford race cars. He flew his own airplanes for a decade, although he’s since given those up for a motorcycle and a dirt bike. He enjoys four-wheeling and remodeling projects.

Retirement will find him in Colorado at a home he’s owned for 16 years “in the boonies up on a cliff” overlooking Twin Lakes. He plans to continue playing and conducting with the local Summit County Band and the Colorado Brass Band.

“I’ve enjoyed a lot of cool things — concerts, clinics, performances off campus,” Keelan said of his three-plus decades at Lawrence. “It’s that regular schedule of getting together with people you like to work with that I’ll miss a lot. And the students, you see their progress, their successes and you stay in touch with them. I’ll miss those interactions I get once they leave. I’ll miss a lot of that stuff.”

Carol Lawton, Ottilia Buerger Professor of Classical Studies and professor of art history

Carol Lawton
Carol Lawton

The longest-serving of the six retirees, Lawton has called the Agora —the civic and commercial center of ancient Athens — her home every summer of her 38 years at Lawrence. It’s there she’s conducted much of her life’s work, studying sculpture from the 4th and 5th centuries B.C.

“I specialize not in the big names in Greek art, but in so-called anonymous sculpture, unsigned works like votive reliefs that give us important insight into the concerns of their dedicators,” said Lawton, who grew up in tiny Oakland, Md.

Much of Lawton’s more recent work concerns the sculpture from the excavations begun in 1931 by the American School of Classical Studies, which have uncovered more than 3,500 pieces, only a fraction of which has been published. In her 2006 book “Marbleworkers in the Athenian Agora,” Lawton presented the archaeological evidence for sculptors’ workshops in the area of the Agora.

Her most recent book, 2017’s “Agora XXXVIII: Votive Reliefs,detail how most of the reliefs weren’t dedicated to Olympian deities but rather to gods and heroes who were closer to the people and who were concerned with the daily aspects of the people’s lives such as healing, fertility and prosperity. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim, Kress and Loeb Foundations and the Archaeological Institute of America.

Her interest in art history was cultivated as an undergraduate at Vassar College, where she enrolled with political science major intentions.

“Vassar had a requirement that you had to take two languages – the one you took in high school and another foreign language,” said Lawton. “I thought why not take Greek?  Simultaneously, I took the intro to art history course, just as people do. The two kind of went together. So, I became an art history major and classics minor. It all just worked out that way.”

Beyond her yearly field research in Greece, Lawton also has been the caretaker of Lawrence’s stunning collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins, donated by alumna Ottilia Buerger ’38. Over the years Lawton has supervised 25 students who have contributed to the online publication of the coins, which has been viewed by more than four million readers.

“I’m very proud of the work that the students have done for this collection,” said Lawton, who earned a master’s degree in art history at the University of Pittsburgh and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in art history at Princeton University. “Ottilia was very clear that the collection be used for teaching. This is not easy material to study. Most publications on ancient coins are simply lists with very abbreviated information that nobody could ever read. Our goal is to explain what the images are and who issued them so that an interested high school student who is taking Latin could look up our collection and understand what that coin is all about.

“I’d like to think I did a pretty good job of teaching them how to do research and how to write it up in a way that by publishing the catalog the collection was made accessible to the public,” she added.

“I’m very proud of the work that the students have done for this collection.”
— Carol Lawton on the Ottilia Buerger Collection of Ancient and Byzantine Coins

If recognition is any indication, Lawton did considerably better than “pretty good.” She is one of only four faculty members in the university’s history to receive Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award (1982), the Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004) and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award (1998).

Shortly after commencement, Lawton will leave for a full year in Athens, with her husband Jere Wickens, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, where she hopes to finish two more books about her research that are in progress.

“It’s going to be odd not being in the classroom,” said Lawton, who was the entire art history department when she started in 1980. “I do some teaching in Greece when people come through to see the Agora, but it’s not the same as introducing students who have never seen these things before to something new. I will miss that.”

Howard Niblock, professor of music and oboe teacher

Howard Niblock
Howard Niblock

It took eight years of teaching — five at Luther College and three at Ohio University —  before Niblock arrived at Lawrence in 1981, a place he described as “perfect.”

“It was a more professionally oriented music program, but it gave me the ability to exercise my interdisciplinary liberal arts roots,” said Niblock, whose undergraduate degree was in English and philosophy, although he did earn a master’s degree in oboe performance at Michigan State University and took additional music classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In a performance career spanning 50 years, Niblock has served as principal oboe with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra and Band for 17 years and has played with nearly two dozen symphonies and orchestras, including the Milwaukee Symphony, the Pamiro Opera and the Fox Valley Symphony.

He counts the simple, daily interactions with students among the things that he will miss the most in retirement.

“It’s not just the interaction of teaching them, but all of the other kinds of interactions, too,” said Niblock. “We’re fortunate at Lawrence in that we get a really special brand of young person. I’ve just been lucky enough to get to know so many of them so well.”

Weekend road trips to Björklunden — Lawrence’s northern campus in Door County —  with his oboe studio students red-line the needle on Niblock’s memory meter.

“The very first year that the new lodge opened, I took a bunch of woodwind quintets up there,” recalled Niblock, citing guest visits by some of his first oboe students, Katherine Hopkins ’85 and John Perkins ’83 among them, on some of his Björklunden trips as special highlights. “Every time I’ve gone up there, it’s been a wonderful memory.”

An avid Freshman Studies teacher — he’s taught Lawrence’s signature course some 30 times in his 37 years on the faculty and was recognized in 2003 with the university’s Freshman Studies Teaching Award — Niblock established a tradition in the late 1990s, reuniting graduating seniors each spring who were in his Freshman Studies section for group toast in the Viking Room. “That’s always been a blast to do,” he says.

“We’re fortunate at Lawrence in that we get a really special brand of young person. I’ve just been lucky enough to get to know so many of them so well.”
— Howard Niblock

One of the things Niblock is best known for is offering the opening words — usually an appropriate excerpt from a poem — at the start of commencement and the annual matriculation convocation. It came to him in the form of a request from then-President Richard Warch in the early 1990s.

“After I did it the first time, Rik came up to me and said, ‘I want you to do this again.’ And then he asked me every year,” said Niblock, a self-described poetry lover. “When Jill Beck came, she said, ‘We want to keep a number of things the same, have some continuity here. Would you do it?’ And when Mark Burstein came, he kept the same continuity. It’s turned into quite a long time.”

As a fitting ending to his career as a music teacher and “opening words” speaker, Niblock is considering reading a poem written by his son, a poet, at the 2018 commencement.

As he looks back, one thing that generates a proud smile is the fact his incoming successor for next year, Nora Lewis, is a former student of his.

“That really puts a nice glow on the whole thing,” said Niblock, who grew up in East Lansing, Mich. “It kind of closes the loop, but also continues it. It’s hard to top that.”

While he’s played the oboe since the age of 11, his crystal ball hints at more writing — music and otherwise — in his immediate future.

“I’m going to spend some times composing,” said Niblock, who plans to still call Appleton home for the near future. “I have some music in my head that I haven’t had time to write.”

Dirck Vorenkamp, associate professor of religious studies

Dirck Vorenkamp
Dirck Vorenkamp

Maybe his imposing stature has something to do with it. A former Tulsa, Okla., police officer, Vorenkamp casts a large shadow. He is known among the student body as being one of the toughest graders on the faculty.

“That’s my reputation,” laughs Vorenkamp at the suggestion. “The truth of the matter is, if you look at the grade distribution, I give pretty much as many As and Bs as my colleagues in the humanities. This ‘tough thing,’ a lot of it just has to do with personality.”

A specialist in East Asian Buddhism, Vorenkamp lived in Taiwan for a year while completing his Ph.D. He spent a combined five years teaching at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee before joining the Lawrence faculty in 1997, when he learned quickly he was no longer at a public institution.

“I was teaching the Intro to East Asian Religions course and in the very first week, one of the upperclassmen came up to me and asked ‘Why aren’t we reading original sources in this class?,’” recalled Vorenkamp, who was born in Baton Rouge, La., but grew up in Tulsa. “If somebody had taken my picture right then, I’m pretty sure my jaw would have been on the floor. I taught at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee and never had a student ask me something like that. In my first week here, students clued me in about some of the important differences between Lawrence and those schools.”

He credits bright and motivated students for keeping the classroom energized and counts them among the highlights of his Lawrence tenure.

“It’s really a joy to work with students like that, as well as so many colleagues who are doing interesting things in their classes. Just in our everyday interactions, getting to know and work with smart, talented folks, learn about some of the things they’ve succeeded in has been a real pleasure. And the freedom to pursue lines of intellectual inquiry that are personally interesting to me has all helped make this a wonderful way to spend the last 21 years.”

A major grant Lawrence received allowed for numerous trips to East Asia in the early 2000s. Vorenkamp was able to participate in eight of the trips.

“I was a part of the Freeman group that helped put things together and I got to guide a number of those trips,” he said. “That was just an amazing opportunity for all of us.”

“It’s really a joy to work with [bright, movitated] students, as well as so many colleagues who are doing interesting things in their classes.”
— Dirck Vorenkamp

Vorenkamp also guided Lawrence’s signature Freshman Studies program as its director from 2005-07 and was recognized with the university’s “Freshman Studies Teaching Award” for the 1999-2000 academic year.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in education, Vorenkamp spent four years as an officer with the Tulsa Police Department, earning two “Chief’s Commendations” for outstanding performance in the line of duty, before turning his career interests toward higher education. He earned a master’s degree in East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Kansas and completed his doctorate in Buddhist studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

The siren call of two young grandchildren and the chance to be a full-time “Opa” is luring Vorenkamp to suburban Detroit this summer.

“As much as I enjoy working, I’ve never been one of those folks who felt that work was the primary thing in my life,” said Vorenkamp, who’s looking forward to more time for riding his motorcycle. “My wife and I are ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives, as much as we’ve enjoyed the years thus far.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.



NYC environmental justice advocate Peggy Shepard to be honored at Lawrence’s 169th commencement

As a strong supporter of community-based efforts, Peggy Shepard believes if you want to find a solution to a problem, go directly to the people most affected.

Shepard, the executive director of the New York City-based organization WE ACT For Environmental Justice, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Sunday, June 10 by Lawrence University and serve as the principal speaker during its 169th commencement ceremonies at begin at 10 a.m. on the Main Hall green.

Peggy Shepard
Peggy Shepard, executive director of New York City-based WE ACT For Environmental Justice, will receive an honorary degree June 10 at Lawrence’s 169th commencement.

This will be Shepard’s second honorary degree, having previously been recognized by Smith College in 2010.

A total of 335 bachelor degrees are expected to be awarded to the class of 2018. Seventeen graduates are earning both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of music degree.

A live webcast of the commencement ceremony will be available at go.lawrence.edu/livestream.

A baccalaureate service will be conducted Saturday, June 9 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. David McGlynn, associate professor of English, will deliver the main address, “Two Words.”  The baccalaureate service and commencement exercise are both free and open to the public.

Six retiring faculty members — Janet Anthony, James DeCorsey, Nick Keelan, Carol Lawton, Howard Niblock and Dirck Vorenkamp — representing 191 years of teaching experience will be recognized with honorary master of arts degrees, ad eundem.

In addition to Shepard, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, Board of Trustees Chair Susan Stillman Kane and senior Hitkarsh Kumar from Chandigarh, India, also will address the graduates.

Shepard’s initiation into environmental justice started in the mid-1980s over a sewage treatment plant in West Harlem, from which the odors and emissions were making people sick. A research report released at the time talked about environmental racism and how the primary predictor of where toxic sites are typically located were communities of color and low-income.

“That’s when I began to understand the environmental impact and that we were being disproportionately impacted by those issues,” said Shepard.

“That really gave us some of the thinking and research behind what was going on, behind what we saw happening in our community around air quality and housing.”

Shepard co-founded WE ACT in 1998 and three years later, was among 1,000 delegates who met in Washington, D.C., where they developed 17 principles of environmental justice.

“Our mandate was to go back home and develop a grass-roots space of support,” said Shepard. “We didn’t want to have a centralized movement where you had one person or celebrity speaking for everyone. We all spoke for ourselves individually and it was about a movement.”

A graduating student in cap and gown with a flower on her mortar boardFor young people interested in pursuing an environmental-related career, Shepard encourages them to test drive opportunities with different organizations to see what area would best suit their interests and talents.

“I’m on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund and we talk about environmental groups that have different approaches,” said Shepard. “Some have a justice approach, some have a policy approach, some have a business approach or a legal approach. If they’re really interested in these issues, they should try volunteering or interning, or getting a fellowship at these organizations so they really understand the differences.”

A former journalist, Shepard’s efforts to affect environmental protection and health policy have been recognized with numerous honors.

She was the recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment in recognition of her “courageous advocacy and determined leadership in combating environmental injustice in urban America.” In 2008, she received the Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rockefeller Foundation for her activism to build healthier communities by engaging residents in environmental and land-use decision. The National Audubon Society presented Shepard its Rachel Carson Award, which recognizes female environmental leaders and promotes women’s roles in the environmental movement.

Her passion for environmental health and justice extends beyond WE ACT. Shepard is a former chair of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She has worked with the National Institutes of Health, serving on its National Children’s Study Advisory Committee and its National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council.

A graduate of Howard University, Shepard has contributed her expertise to numerous non-profit boards, including the Environmental Defense Fund, New York League of Conservation Voters and the News Corporation Diversity Council, among others. She’s also served as a member of the New York City Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board and the New York City Waterfront Management Advisory Board.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Seniors William Gill, Elena Hudacek awarded Fulbright teaching grants to Germany, Colombia

Previous trips abroad on off-campus study programs served as motivation for two Lawrence University seniors to apply for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program.

William Gill, a German and government major from Bloomington, Ill., and Elena Hudacek, a linguistics and Spanish major from Lexington, Mass., were both rewarded with Fulbright Fellowships and will spend the majority of their first post-graduation year abroad as English language teaching assistants and cultural ambassadors, courtesy of the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Beginning in September, Gill will make his third trip to Germany while Hudacek travels to Colombia for the fist time. While neither yet knows their official assignment, they will spend 10 months working in a school as a teacher’s aide. As part of the program, each also is expected to devote 10-15 hours per week on a social/volunteer project related to their personal, career, and/or educational interests.

Will Gill
Will Gill ’18

Gill’s first exposure to Germany came as a sophomore at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam when he participated in a three-week exchange program established by Wayland Academy and a school in Germany. After graduating, Gill took a “gap year” before attending Lawrence.

“I’d been thinking about taking a gap year for a long time before going to college, but I didn’t really want to pay for a program,” said Gill. “So, I asked the school in Germany that partnered with Wayland if they’d hire me for the year just to work. They accepted me.”

He wound up serving as a supervisor at a boarding school section of a large day school in the town of Elze, routinely working 80-hour weeks.

“I was a little out of place,” Gill recalled. “I didn’t really speak much German at that time. I worked really hard, dealt with a lot of difficult stuff, did a lot of informal teaching and assisting. My German improved though, living in a small town where no one really spoke English. That really helped me with the language and the cultural side of things.”

After enrolling at Lawrence, he returned to Germany in the fall of 2017 on a study-abroad program, but extended his stay by applying for a fellowship with the German Academic Exchange Institute. He received the scholarship, allowing him to spend an additional five months in Berlin, conducting independent research that he turned into the thesis “National Myth-building and Reunification for the Nachwende Generation,” which he presented at this year’s Harrison Symposium.

Brent Peterson, professor of German and Gill’s academic advisor, called the Fulbright “a justly deserved award.”

“Will has been one of the strongest German students we have ever had at Lawrence,” said Peterson. “He spent six months in Berlin interviewing members of the young people’s branch of a party that was founded by members of the old Socialist Unity Party after the fall of the Berlin Wall. His research was financed by a grant that is usually reserved for graduate students working on a Ph.D. That grant and resultant research was instrumental in the completion of his Senior Capstone Project.”

Gill is looking forward to his return trip to Germany, this time to a yet-to-be determined destination somewhere in the western state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, a part of the country he has yet to visit. He sees his role as a Fulbright Fellow as one more unique learning experience.

“There’s still so much for me to learn, said Gill, a fourth-generation Lawrentian and the 10th member of his family to attend Lawrence. “But I have an advantage because I don’t have to make it over the first hurdle. As a Fulbright recipient, I feel like I’m in a position to focus less on myself and more on other people. I can relate comfortably to people in Germany, culturally, linguistically and personally because I’ve spent so much time there.”

“Will has been one of the strongest German students we have ever had at Lawrence. [The Fulbright is] a justly deserved award.”
— Brent Peterson, professor of German

As for post-Fulbright life, Gill says graduate school is a possibility, but he is open to different opportunities.

“I love film, but I also love writing and a lot of other things,” he said. “Until there’s a program that really fits with my interests, I’m not going back to school yet. I think opportunities present themselves in weird ways sometimes. You’ve got to be open and have that flexibility to follow that thing if it presents itself. That’s how some of the coolest things I’ve ever done happen to me.”

Elena Hudacek
Elena Hudacek ’18

The National University of Colombia in Bogota will be Hudacek’s Fulbright assignment, where she will co-teach undergraduate English classes and lead conversation circles.

“I was lucky enough to study abroad in Spain last year and knew that I wanted to teach in a Spanish-speaking country after graduation,” said Hudacek, whose lone previous encounter with South America was a trip to Peru. “Having studied in Europe during my term abroad, I decided I wanted to live in Latin America and experience a different side of Hispanic culture. I chose Colombia because it’s known for having clear Spanish and friendly people. I also liked that I was guaranteed placement in a university, since that’s the teaching context I was most interested in. Plus, I’m just obsessed with Colombian music.”

With her academic background in linguistics and Spanish, Hudacek says her Fulbright experience can serve as a good test run of sorts for future career considerations.

“Elena brings insight, enthusiasm and skills honed through years of exceptional work with Spanish and Waseda students at Lawrence to English language learners in Bogota. I have no doubt that Elena and her students will be transformed by this incredible experience.”
—  Madera Allan, associate professor of Spanish

“I’ve worked a lot at Lawrence with international students as a mentor and a tutor, and I’ve really enjoyed that role,” said Hudacek, who first began studying Spanish in third grade. “It allows me to use my linguistics knowledge in a very practical way. I’m hoping that through this experience I can see whether or not I have a future teaching English Language Learners at the university level. Even if I decide it’s not the best fit for me, I will still gain leadership experience, become more independent, and further develop my Spanish skills.”

Beyond teaching, Fulbright fellows are unofficial goodwill ambassadors for the United States, a role Hudacek embraces. Her time in Europe exposed the many misconceptions people have of the United States.

“At Lawrence, I’ve spent a lot of time with international students, especially those that are part of the Waseda program. Part of my role as a Waseda mentor is being a U.S.-Wisconsin-Lawrence ambassador to those students. I’ve had some experience navigating U.S. culture with people from a different background than mine, discussing culturally-sensitive and sometimes controversial topics. I feel pretty comfortable in that role. I want to paint a picture of the United States that is diverse and complex, one that moves beyond stereotypes and generalizations.”

“Elena brings insight, enthusiasm and skills honed through years of exceptional work with Spanish and Waseda students at Lawrence to English language learners in Bogota,” said Madera Allan, associate professor of Spanish and Hudacek’s academic advisor. “I have no doubt that Elena and her students will be transformed by this incredible experience.”

Graduate school is in Hudacek’s future, but her immediate plans after her Fulbright ends are to teach English in Japan “for some experience in a different setting.”

“I recognize that a level of English proficiency is necessary for a lot of people,” she said. “It allows them educational and professional opportunities they might not have otherwise.”

The Fulbright Program is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. Celebrating the 72nd anniversary of its establishment in 1946, the program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Fulbright recipients are among more than 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan summer destinations for three students awarded U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarships

Strengthening their foreign language skills will be on the top of three Lawrence University students’ to-do lists this summer thanks to the U.S. Department of State.

Senior Mikaela, Stillwater, Minn., and juniors Jonathan Rubin, Marblehead, Mass., and Heidi Arnold, Oswego, Ill., each have been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program.

Marget and Rubin both will travel to Malang, Indonesia on the island of Java for eight weeks of language instruction in Bahasa Indonesian and structured cultural enrichment experiences. Arnold will spend most of her summer living with a host family in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a Russian language program.

Launched in 2006 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the CLS program is designed to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

Marget, Rubin and Arnold were among 580 CLS recipients for 2018 selected from 6,000 applicants nationally. Since 2010, seven Lawrence students have received Critical Language Scholarships.

Mikeala Marget
Mikeala Marget ’18

For Marget, a cello performance major, the CLS will provide a return trip to Indonesia. A member of Lawrence’s gamelan ensemble — Gamelan Cahaya Asri — she spent two weeks in Bali learning the Balinese rebab, a string instrument somewhat similar to the cello.

“I did a whole project on that instrument, the social context within Bali and how the instrument functions within the musical ensemble. That really inspired me to learn the Indonesian language and come back,” said Marget, who described her CLS selection as “utter surprise.”

While she picked up pieces of Balinese during her first visit, Bahasa Indonesian is the country’s national language, which is what she will be studying this summer.

“It will be helpful to have been there before and knowing at least Balinese culture a bit,” said Marget. “I haven’t had much time to really get dig into Bahasa Indonesian yet, so I’m really excited to get there and learn.”

Marget, who will graduate June 10, hopes to eventually pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology.

“Having a basis in a language I’ve been studying would be really helpful, not only for grad school applications, but also for personal development so that I can communicate better with the people I will be working with musically. I’ve done a lot with the Indonesian music and   having the language skills to be able to further study Indonesian music would be amazing. I’m really excited to be able to make more connections with people across the world.”

Sonja Downing, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Lawrence, who has worked closely with her, said she was “thrilled” Marget will be able to continue studying the Indonesian language,

“Mikeala’s important study on the under-researched Balinese rebab this past year for her Senior Experience and honors project, including ethnographic research and taking lessons during a to Bali, along with her experiences playing in the Balinese gamelan ensemble has sparked her interest in Balinese music and musical instruments, as well as in the field of ethnomusicology,” said Downing. “I expect this CLS opportunity to deepen her scholarly and musical questions and engagement with Indonesian performing arts and culture.”

Jonathan Rubin
Jonathan Rubin ’19

Rubin, a religious studies major, will join Marget in Malang on the same program. His focus on learning Bahasa Indonesian is to enhance his interests in studying how religion and globalization have shaped the country.

“I’m interested in how theological belief systems and moral paradigms are derived from religious texts, and how they’ve changed and developed over time,” said Rubin, who spent last fall studying abroad in Pune, India. “Indonesia is a perfect place to study this. It’s the world’s largest Muslim majority country, but the first Muslim there was Chinese. Beyond Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Animism and Hinduism all have established some roots there. That’s a lot of ideas coming into one place.”

While Marget had some prior exposure to the language, Rubin has been preparing for his summer in Java by self-teaching himself Bahasa Indonesian with the help of online programs.

“It’s just a beginner program because so few people outside the country speak Indonesian,” said Rubin, who began his language study just a few months ago. “When I took I took my OPI (oral proficiency interview) over the phone, I did well enough that the woman said she was surprised I had only taught myself.”

Rubin’s long-range goals are to earn a doctorate in theology and globalization and he sees being able to read Indonesian as huge advantage.

“Indonesia is one of these areas where I’m studying this specific sociological function of theology. I’m interested in the way the whole idea of religion and the way we apply theology, which is one of the largest existing literarily canon of all time, and how we apply that today, has changed because of globalization and how interconnected the world has become. I hope I can write about the language and globalization as really a history of applied theology someday.”

Martyn Smith, associate professor of religious studies, praised Rubin as “one of the most ambitious students” he has seen in his 12 years on the Lawrence faculty.

“He has taken advantage of many opportunities to travel and learn by seeing the world,” said Smith, citing trips to Dearborn, Mich., to see immigrant communities, visit mosques and speak with religious leaders, Morocco and Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and his study-abroad term in India. “The courses he has taken in religious studies and other disciplines have all tended toward expanding his view of the world and global challenges. The CLS grant will allow him to continue what he has been doing: to get a global perspective on the challenges that now face us.”

Heidi Arnold
Heidi Arnold ’19

Arnold, a German and Russian major, also will be heading to Asia, but considerably farther north. She will spend eight weeks in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, a city of nearly one million near the border of Kazakhstan.

Her choice of majors may have been influenced by her upbringing: she grew up with a German father and a Russian mother, who graduated from Lawrence herself.

“They were always speaking other languages when they didn’t want me to know what was going on,” said Arnold of her life at home. “It sparked my interest. Now I love the language (Russian) and the culture. I want to get better at it so I can read books, understand the movies fully and speak fluently.”

Arnold’s scholarship is evidence of persistence. She applied for a CLS as a sophomore but went unrewarded. She applied again and this time was among the 2018 recipients.

“It’s so important when you study a foreign language to get practical experience with native speakers,” Arnold said of her retry.

While she still has one more year at Lawrence ahead of her, Arnold is contemplating career paths.

“I’ve considered becoming an immigration lawyer in some capacity or maybe working with international law in some way,” said Arnold. “I would like to have a few years of practical experience, maybe working for the State Department or another government agency. Or an NGO, that would also work.”

Peter John Thomas, one of Arnold’s Russian professors, says she has “an ear for new lexicon and usage.”

“For as long as I have known her, Heidi has planned to use her skills in Russian, Ukrainian, and German to research the cultural milieu of ‘Russia Abroad,’ especially the diaspora community in Germany following the Russian Revolution,” said Thomas, associate professor of Russian studies. “This program offers her an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge she needs to pursue her research.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Six new members elected to Lawrence University’s Board of Trustees

Six new members were elected to Lawrence University’s Board of Trustees at its recent May meeting.

Sidney Ayabe, Honolulu, Hawaii; Dean DuMonthier, Riverwoods, Ill.; Dennis Klaeser, Glenview, Ill.; Barbara Lawton, Madison; and Ambassador Christopher Murray, Brussells, Belgium, have all been elected as term trustees for three-year renewable terms.

Bao Ha, Silver Spring, Md., was elected a Recent Graduate Trustee, a position established in 2014 exclusively for Lawrence alumni within 2-10 years of graduation. He will serve one non-renewable, three-year term. Each joins the board effective July 1.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to welcome these six new members to our board,” said Susan Stillman Kane, current board chair, whose term as chair ends July 1. “This new trustee class brings an impressive range of professional experience from the legal, financial, corporate, and investment worlds as well as long-standing service in state government and foreign service. Their collective diverse perspectives will help to strengthen all aspects of our work.”

David Blowers, president of national services at the Northern Trust Company in Chicago and a 1982 Lawrence graduate, will replace Kane as chair of the board July 1. Cory Nettles, founder and managing director of Generation Growth Capital, Inc., in Milwaukee, and a 1992 Lawrence graduate, will become vice chair of the board.

Sidney Ayabe

Sidney Ayabe
Sidney Ayabe ’67

A 1967 Lawrence graduate, Ayabe is a retired attorney having spent 25 years as the managing partner of the law firm Ayabe, Chong, Nishimoto, Sia & Nakamura. Previously, he served as Hawaii’s deputy attorney general from 1970-72. He was elected president of the Hawaii State Bar Association in 1995. He has served on four Federal Merit Selection Panels, served on the Hawaii State Judicial Selection Commission for six years, including two as its chairperson and serves on the boards of the Mediation Center of the Pacific and Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii.

Ayabe is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates and has been recognized in “Best Lawyers in America,” “Chambers & Partners” and “Super Lawyers.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence, Ayabe earned his law degree at the University of Iowa in 1970.

Dean DuMonthier, CFA

Dean DuMonthier
Dean DuMonthier ’88

Originally from Sheboygan, DuMonthier has extensive experience in the investment field, currently serving as managing director and portfolio manager for international equities with Minneapolis-based Winslow Capital Management. Prior experience includes a senior vice president position in global quantitative equities at Neuberger Berman, LLC, a New York-based, employee-owned investment firm with more than $270 billion in client assets.

He also spent six years as a partner and portfolio manager with Copia Capital, a Chicago-based market-neutral hedge fund.  Earlier in his career he served as an equity research analyst and portfolio manager with Strong Capital Management and started his career out of Lawrence with Hewitt Associates as an institutional investment consultant.

A 1988 Lawrence graduate with a degree in economics, DuMonthier also earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Dennis Klaeser

Dennis Klaeser
Dennis Klaeser ’80

Klaeser brings decades of executive banking expertise to the board, especially in strategic planning, investor relations, acquisition transactions, restructuring and divestures. He currently is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Chemical Financial Corporation and Chemical Bank. Chemical Financial is the largest banking company headquartered in Michigan with assets of more than $19 billion and more than 200 banking offices in Michigan, northeast Ohio and northern Indiana.

Prior to Chemical Financial, Klaeser served as chief financial officer and an executive managing director of Talmer Bancorp, Inc. for six years. He also has held positions as a senior bank analyst with Raymond James Financial; chief financial officer of PrivateBancorp, Inc.; managing director and head of the Financial Institutions Group for Andersen Corporate Finance, a division of Arthur Andersen; and investment banker at EVEREN Securities.

Klaeser, who graduated from Lawrence in 1980 with a degree in sociology, participated in the 3-2 program with the University of Chicago, earning a master’s in social service from the University of Chicago in addition to his bachelor’s degree from Lawrence. He also earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Barbara Lawton

Barbara Lawton
Barbara Lawton ’87

A long-time public servant, Lawton was the first woman elected lieutenant governor in Wisconsin, serving from 2003-2011. As lieutenant governor, she promoted economic development, the creation of a “Green Economy Agenda” and the “Wisconsin Women = Prosperity,” a plan to increase leadership, economic, and educational opportunities for Wisconsin women.

She chaired the Wisconsin Arts Board (2003-13), chaired the National Lieutenant Governors Association, and served on the National Leadership Council of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the Advisory Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Public Diplomacy Collaborative. Since leaving public office, Lawton focused on campaign finance reform, serving as president and CEO of Americans for Campaign Reform and co-founding Issue One, launching their bipartisan ReFormers Caucus.

Lawton serves on the Advisory Board for the national Millennial Action Project and for the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service. A native of Green Bay, Lawton was a founder of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the Green Bay Area Multicultural Center.

Lawton was a non-traditional student when she attended Lawrence, graduating in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She then earned a master’s degree in Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lawrence recognized her in 2009 with an honorary doctorate of laws degree. She also earned an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the Milwaukee Institute of Arts and Design.

Ambassador Christopher Murray

Ambassador Christopher Murray
Ambassador Christopher Murray ’75

Ambassador (ret.) Murray enjoyed a distinguished 40-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service. His most recent assignment was as the Political Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO Forces in Europe, from which he retired in 2016.  He spent the preceding three years, from 2010 to 2013, as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo.

During his career Murray held a variety of leadership appointments, among them deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels; deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon and the U.S. embassy in Algiers, Algeria; and chief of the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria.

In addition to his work abroad, Murray held several positions with the Department of State in Washington, D.C., among them director of the Office of Nonproliferation Policy, deputy director of European Regional Affairs and political officer in the European Bureau’s Office of NATO Affairs.

Fluent in Arabic, Dutch and French, Murray earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence in 1975 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a J.D. degree from Cornell Law School in 1980. He was recognized in 2015 with Lawrence’s Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award and spent the spring of 2017 on campus as the university’s Distinguished Scarff Visiting Professor.

Bao Ha

Bao Ha
Bao Ha ’07

Ha is finishing up his last year in Northrop Grumman’s Future Technical Leaders (FTL) Program, a three-year professional development program which selects top M.S./Ph.D. candidates in targeted science and engineering disciplines. He has worked across the United States solving challenging technical problems on both large and small programs. His diverse roles — data scientist, systems engineer, agile product owner — across year-long rotations provided experience and training in software, systems and algorithms.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Ha graduated magna cum laude from Lawrence in 2007 with degrees in mathematics and physics. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in applied physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he reproduced solar eruptions in the laboratory to extract insights into the driving forces behind space weather.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.