Category: Academics

Baroque Opera “The Fairy Queen” Gets “Hippie” Update in Lawrence University Production

Baroque composer Henry Purcell’s opera “The Fairy Queen” receives a modern adaptation in Lawrence University’s production of the fantastical tale of romance and magic. The opera will be performed March 1-3 at 8 p.m. and March 4 at 3 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center.

Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Originally written as a “masque” — light entertainment featuring lavish costumes and scenery but nearly devoid of narrative — the opera was inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  The story follows four young lovers’ escape to an enchanted forest.

The updated adaptation, written by Professor of Theatre Arts Timothy X. Troy ’85, who also serves as the production’s director, replaces the anonymously written libretto with Shakespeare’s own words.

“I restored the actors’ text to the First Folio version before shaping a narrative that closely followed the story of the young lovers who are tricked in the forest by Puck, the most famous of all fairies,” said Troy.

His adaptation was inspired by the psychedelic cover art of fairies on an LP of English composer Benjamin Britten’s 1973 recording of “The Fairy Queen.” It transports the action to a hippie commune in the woods outside Athens, Ga., immediately after a tornado. The new and modern setting offered creative opportunities for the production team.

Costume designer Karin Kopischke ’80 playfully explores the eclectic fashions of hippie culture of the commune-dwelling fairies against the academic preppy and jockish culture of the quartet of young lovers and their pursuit of true love.

“Karin’s costumes are inspiring, lively and delightful,” said Troy. “She found ways to model the repurposing impulse of the period to create a delightful sense of surprise and individuality to each of the 60 costumes you see on stage.”

Rebecca Salzer, Lawrence Fellow in Dance who served as choreographer for the production, worked closely with a corps of six dancers to blend Purcell’s set dance pieces with popular dance forms from the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

“To support Tim’s melding of times and places in this production — Baroque music, Elizabethan theatre and a 1970’s American setting — the choreography also had to be a mix of styles,” said Salzer. “If you look closely, you’ll see movement inspired by 60’s mods, 70’s funk and even the occasional minuet.”

Because Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” is considered a “semi-opera” — an amalgam of scenes from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and musical interludes — it presented special challenges and opportunities for Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music, who served as the production’s vocal coach.

“The masque portions (musical interludes) reflect the mood and general spirit of the spoken scenes, but are not directly tied to a plot line,” said Koestner. “It’s somewhat like the difference between a musical revue with its diverse collection of numbers and a Broadway show like ‘Carousel,’ in which the music really does play a part in character development. Both Shakespeare and Purcell have given us works of genius and if the audience doesn’t worry about the lack of a single coherent plot, I think that they will find it very entertaining.”

Featuring some of the most famous music of the Baroque period with virtuosic arias and complex ensembles and choruses, “The Fairy Queen” offers its audience a stunning variety of vocal talent alongside innovative choreography and compelling acting.

“It’s a delight to integrate the talents of our strongest actors with those of our accomplished singers,” said Troy.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence Mourns the Passing of Professor Emerita Mari Taniguchi

President Beck shares a message with the Lawrence community.

It is with great sadness that I share with you today the news of the death of Professor Emerita of Music Mari Taniguchi, who passed away Monday, February 13 at her home in Appleton. She was 92 years old. A native of San Diego, Calif., Mari joined the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in 1961 as a voice teacher, mentoring scores of aspiring young singers during a 39-year teaching career, retiring in 2000. She was a graduate of Eastman School of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree in both voice and piano, and a master’s degree in music literature.

Professor Emerita of Music Mari Taniguchi

As a teacher and vocal coach, Mari was both exceptional and exceptionally demanding, establishing a well-earned reputation for excellence of diction and musical phrasing. The high standards she set for her students were rewarded with distinguished careers for many of them, most notably Grammy Award-winning baritone Dale Duesing ’67, American Song Contest winner William Sharp ’73, and Metropolitan Opera Audition winner Mark Uhlemann ’96. Numerous other students under her tutelage won awards and fellowships from the National Federation of Music, the Watson Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation. For many years, she served as conductor of the Downer Chorus for Women.

Mari enjoyed a distinguished performance career before arriving at Lawrence. She made her operatic debut in the title role in “Madame Butterfly” in Turin, Italy, and later performed in Malta, Milan, Rome and Venice. She also sang as part of Robert Shaw’s Chorale for broadcasts on NBC and CBS and performed on some of Toscanini’s legendary recording-broadcasts of operas and orchestral works.

In addition to her considerable musical talents, Mari was an amateur gourmet who took great pride in her culinary skills. She frequently invited her students to her home for dinner, and always the teacher, was generous in providing pointers on how they should handle themselves in the kitchen.

Mari was a dear friend to many at Lawrence. We sincerely sympathize with the loss felt by them and by her former students and share in it. Both Rob and I were the grateful beneficiaries of Mari’s welcoming and cheerful attitude, and the many delicious gifts that she ambitiously created in her kitchen. We always enjoyed and looked forward to her warm and lively company. Mari will be greatly missed and remembered with deep affection.

She is survived by two nephews and a sister-in-law, all of whom live in California.

A memorial service celebrating Mari’s life is tentatively scheduled this spring in the Warch Campus Center. Details to follow.

Lawrence University Awarding Honorary Degree to Lehman Bros. Bankruptcy Examiner at June Commencement

Lawrence University graduate Anton “Tony” Valukas, the court-appointed examiner in the historic bankruptcy case of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., will be recognized by his alma mater with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree Sunday, June 10 at Lawrence’s 163rd commencement.

Valukas, chairman of the Chicago-based national law firm Jenner & Block, also will serve as the principal commencement speaker.

Anton "Tony" Valukas '65

Valukas served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1985 to 1989.  He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2009, Valukas was appointed by a federal judge as the examiner for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy in United States history. As examiner, Valukas investigated the causes of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. After reviewing 34 million documents and interviewing nearly 300 witnesses, Valukas issued a seven-volume, 2,200 page report detailing potential wrongdoing by certain Lehman executives and Ernst & Young, the auditor.

Litigator of the Year

Last month, The American Lawyer named Valukas its 2011 “Litigator of the Year,” an honor that recognizes lawyers who have had “extraordinary results for their clients.” In its cover story, the magazine hailed Valukas as one of the “few heroes to emerge from the financial debacle of 2008.” It cited his 2,200-page, seven-volume Examiner’s Report as “a tour de force of truth-telling” and credited him with “untangling what caused a historic collapse that helped set off the broader financial crisis.” Bankruptcy Court Judge James Peck called Valukas’ report “the most outstanding piece of work ever produced by an examiner.”

Valukas has been named one of the country’s leading litigation lawyers for seven consecutive years by Chambers USA, while Chicago Lawyer honored him as its “Person of the Year” for 2009. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League recognized him with its First Amendment Freedom Award.

“Tony Valukas is a superb role model for our graduating students and should be a very interesting commencement speaker for the entire audience,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “Not only is he a distinguished and nationally respected legal expert, he is a humanitarian, a man with a strong social conscience. He demonstrates a balance in life between high professionalism and concern for society that our liberal arts graduates should see in action, so they might consider how to achieve this balance in their own ways in the coming years.”

Civil and Criminal Litigation

Specializing in civil and white collar criminal litigation, Valukas’ extensive experience includes consumer products litigation, product defect and consumer fraud class actions, food contamination, mass accident and environmental claims as well as defense work with accountants, real estate developers and corporate executives in high-profile matters.

Valukas is a frequent presenter to global business and legal leaders on the financial, ethical and legal challenges facing the country, has been the featured speaker at numerous American Bar Association programs and has been published extensively.

“I was surprised and delighted when I received a call from President Beck advising me that the university was going to award me an honorary degree,” said Valukas. “This award comes from an institution that I cherish and which was instrumental in shaping my life.

“So much of what I have become is attributable to the education and insights I gained while a student at Lawrence,” he added. “I remember the faculty with respect and genuine fondness. They profoundly shaped my view of the world and my commitment to the community. For Lawrence to award me this degree is both humbling and an extraordinary honor.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government at Lawrence in 1965, Valukas earned his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1968. He joined Jenner & Block in 1976 and was named the firm’s chairman in 2007.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence University President Jill Beck to Retire in June 2013

Lawrence University President Jill Beck announced Thursday (2/2) that she plans to retire in June 2013 after nine years as Lawrence’s president.

Beck, the first woman president in Lawrence’s history, became the college’s 15th president in July 2004.

Lawrence University President Jill Beck

“I think much has been accomplished over the past eight years,” said Beck. “Certainly I see a campus physically transformed, a faculty that has grown in number and a student body that is more diverse. There have been enhancements to the curriculum including Senior Experience, dance studies and the expansion of the film studies program with a focus on film production. There are greatly increased opportunities for student internships and research experiences to support our students’ transition from Lawrence into their future lives.”

Terry Franke, chair of the Board of Trustees, said finding President Beck’s successor would be a significant challenge.

“President Beck has helped Lawrence achieve a position of great strength,” said Franke. “She was a stellar fund raiser, leading the recently completed More Light! campaign to great success despite a troubled economy—exceeding the $150 million goal by more than $10 million. During her tenure Lawrence made significant investments in the physical plant in Appleton and in Door County, including the construction of the Warch Campus Center, significant renovations of the Memorial Chapel, Memorial Hall, the Wellness Center and residence halls; plus an expansion of the Björklunden lodge and the addition of a wind turbine on the northern campus. She led these initiatives without incurring any debt. In addition, she championed new academic initiatives such as the Lawrence Fellows program and LU-R1, which provides prestigious off-campus research opportunities for undergraduate science majors. Lawrence also has an expanded Career Center, is greener and boasts an enhanced wellness program. There is no doubt that Lawrence is well positioned for the future thanks to President Beck’s leadership.”

Franke credited Beck for timing her retirement in a manner that provides the Board of Trustees with a generous timeframe to plan and execute the search for Lawrence’s 16th president. He added that Trustee Dale Schuh, the chair, CEO, and president of Sentry Insurance and a Lawrence alumnus, would lead the presidential search committee.

“The board has already started the lengthy process to select a new leader and is looking forward to this important work,” said Franke. “Our goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Beck said the next 17 months would be busy ones as she focuses on several priorities aimed at maintaining Lawrence’s strong momentum.

“I will work with the economics faculty and their interdisciplinary colleagues on their initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Beck said. “In addition I will direct energies toward the completion of the renovation of the former Downer Commons as a center for film studies and as the new home of Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni and Constituency Engagement. Certainly other priorities will come to the forefront this year and next, as I work with Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski and other members of the high-achieving Lawrence community.”

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Beck received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Clark University, a master’s degree in history from McGill University and a Ph.D. in theatre from the City University of New York.

In 2009, called Beck a “barrier breaker,” one of 15 female college presidents on Forbes’ list of America’s 50 Best Colleges.

An interactive phonecast with President Beck and Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Terry Franke will be held on Thursday, March 1 at noon. Details for participating will be forthcoming.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Noted Primatologist Frans de Waal Examines Primate-Human Connections in Lawrence University Convocation

One of the world’s pre-eminent primatologists discusses his ground-breaking discoveries on the connections between primate and human behavior, from aggression to morality and culture, in a Lawrence University convocation.

Primatologist Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor in the psychology department at Emory University, presents “Morality Before Religion: Empathy, Fairness and Prosocial Primates,” Thursday, Feb. 2 at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.  de Waal also will conduct a question-and-answer session at 1:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema.  Both events are free and open to the public.

Born in the Netherlands, de Waal began observing primate behavior at the Arnhem Zoo while a student at the University of Utrecht. His observations of a colony of 25 chimpanzees over a six-year period provided the basis for his 2005 book “Our Inner Ape.”

de Waal, who directs the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, the oldest and largest primate research institute in the nation, is credited with introducing the term “Machiavellian” to the vocabulary of primatologists. In his first book, “Chimpanzee Politics,” he compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. In 1994, then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich put “Chimpanzee Politics” on the recommended reading list for all freshmen Congressmen.

His research led to the discovery of reconciliation among primates and the founding of the field of animal conflict resolution. In 2007, Time Magazine named him one of the “100 World’s Most Influential People Today.”

de Waal came to the United States in 1981 and spent the first 10 years of his American career with the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in Madison. He is the author of 13 books on primate behavior, among them 2009’s “The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society,” “Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved,” “Peacemaking Among Primates” and 1998’s “Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape,” the first book to combine and compare data from captivity and the field.

His research has earned him election to both the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence Launching New Summer Internship Program for Conservatory of Music Students

Providing a musical complement to Lawrence University’s successful LU-R1 student science research initiative, the president’s office, in conjunction with the conservatory of music, is launching a new summer internship program specifically for conservatory students.

Known as “Conservatory² —  Grow Your Music Career Exponentially,” the program will begin this summer with eight internship opportunities designed to encourage student thinking about how a music degree can lead to success in a variety of career fields after graduation.

Brian Pertl

“This groundbreaking program will provide opportunities that will expand our students’ musical lives, and in some cases, open our students’ minds to completely new career pathways in music,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory.

Conservatory² is designed to jump start “life after Lawrence NOW!” by providing a summer experience that both complements and accelerates each student’s education while offering substantial career experience and networking opportunities.

Conservatory students participating in the program will be selected though a competitive application process, placed in prearranged internships and awarded a university grant to assist with their expenses.

Inspired by a $25,000 gift from the Olga Herberg Administrative Trust to support arts programming and guided by student concerns raised last year regarding the college’s new 10-year strategic plan, Lawrence President Jill Beck used the gift to create Conservatory².

President Beck

“Student feedback on the recent Strategic Plan asked that Lawrence expand LU-R1 opportunities into areas beyond the sciences,” said Beck.  “Katelin Richter has worked with me this year as presidential intern to do just that: to take the LU-R1 model and replicate it in the conservatory for the benefit of music majors. In future years, I hope that this expansion will include the social sciences and humanities, if student and faculty demand is there. In the meantime, the summer internship opportunities that Katelin has created will add greatly to students’ experience, learning, and ability to bridge from college to career or graduate school.”

The eight available internship positions for the summer of 2012 include an array of prominent employers and alumni at organizations both in the United States and abroad:

Saxophonist Javier Arau ’98 of the New York Jazz Academy offers a summer-long internship at New York’s fastest growing music school.  Arau will integrate the student intern directly into his administration and engage them in strategic planning for his expanding organization.  The student will gain exposure to summer jazz workshops and have the possibility of assistant teaching.

The Deep Listening Institute in Kingston, N.Y., under the supervision of composer Pauline Oliveros and other DLI staff, offers an internship opportunity tailored to the student’s specific interests in deep listening philosophy.  The internship could include: assembling a book of Oliveros’ pieces, archiving recordings, managing the website, doing computer programming, writing grants, assisting with the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments Program for people with disabilities, developing a networking system for DLI-certified instructors, as well as gaining exposure to Oliveros’ summer intensive Deep Listening Workshops. DLI’s office has a performance and recording studio, which could provide a venue for the student’s work.

Olivera Music Entertainment is a full-service entertainment and talent booking agency that provides professional music entertainment production in the Washington D.C. area. The student will work with co-owner Connie Trok Olivera ’82, who has used her music education degree to produce and perform entertainment for prominent guests, including President Obama. The internship will provide start-to-finish production experience, as well as special projects, such as developing a marketing strategy to target younger demographics and selecting and arranging repertoire per client requests.

Oberlin Conservatory has partnered with Lawrence to offer internships in two of its summer programs: the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute and Oberlin in Italy. The Baroque Institute internship combines experience in festival administration with full participation in the annual festival. Oberlin in Italy offers two exciting performance opportunities for qualified students in two of three areas: vocal performance, stage direction or rehearsal accompanying in the beautiful city of Arezzo, Italy.

Beth Snodgrass ’93 will oversee the Carnegie Hall Community Programs internship in New York City. The position will provide general assistance and administrative support for the Community Programs team in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, the education and community arm of one of the leading music presenters in the world. The intern will work with a dedicated staff to help prepare for the 2012-2013 season which will include more than 100 events across three different programs – the Neighborhood Concert Series, the McGraw-Hill Companies CarnegieKids and Musical Connections. These programs provide free, quality music programming featuring first-class musicians from all over the world. The intern will contribute to a team focused on providing quality community engagement events through exceptional artistic programming, production, artist professional development, strategic marketing and rigorous program assessment.

Beit Yehuda Guest House Amphitheatre in Israel offers a student internship managing the hotel’s offerings of plays and concerts. Nestled among the foothills of Givat Massuah, the facility is a short drive from Jerusalem’s city center.

“This program is a perfect complement to our course offering in entrepreneurship and our Lawrence Scholars in Arts and Entertainment program, which brings successful alumni back to Lawrence to work with and inspire our students,” said Pertl.  “Now Conservatory² will allow our students to leave campus, and through their hard work, inspire our alumni.  We are starting with eight fantastic internships, and there is a potential to grow the program substantially. I look forward to watching  Conservatory² become a signature program for our conservatory.”

For additional information on eligibility and application requirements, grant allotments and how to apply, visit or follow Conservatory² on Facebook.  Deadline for applications is February 15, 2012.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries. For more information visit or follow us on Facebook.

Wild Space Dance Company Brings “Delicious” Performance to Stansbury Theatre

Inspired by appetite, the culinary arts and the pursuit of satisfaction, Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company serves up a moveable feast of inventive dance and wry humor in “Delicious” Friday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre.

Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, 920-832-6749.

Photo credit: Matt Schwenke

The  menu for “Delicious” includes flying dishes, favorite and feared recipes and onstage directions on good dinner manners. Through interwoven vignettes of theatrical movement and full-bodied dance, performers reveal desires and disappointments in the pursuit of satisfaction.

“Creating a performance inspired by the art and act of cooking reflects my own love of the culinary experience,” said Debra Loewen, artistic director of Wild Space. “Like preparing a meal, dance begins with directions, ingredients like dancers, props and costumes are added, and then there is time to rehearse until a final performance is ready to be served.  To invent movement for ‘Delicious,’ we looked at the similarities of the cooking and choreographic process, and the desires that drive us to find a sense of fulfillment in food and life.”

Wild Space Dance Company has served as a company-in-residence at Lawrence since 2000, bringing professional dance to the Lawrence community and providing students principles of dance art in performance through classes and workshops taught by Loewen and members of her company.

Named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Loewen has led Wild Space Dance Company for 25 years. Known for its site-specific dance events and artistic collaborations, the company merges dance with visual art, architecture and music to create inventive choreography and emotionally-charged performances. It has toured performance work to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, South Korea and Japan.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.


Lawrence Awarded NEH Challenge Grant to Establish Humanities Institute

A new $2.7 million Lawrence University initiative designed to foster the professional development of faculty members in the humanities and attract recent Ph.D. recipients in the humanities for the Lawrence Fellows Program has received a $425,000 boost from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lawrence was awarded a highly competitive NEH Challenge Grant to support the creation of the Lawrence Humanities Institute and two new positions at Lawrence through a permanent endowment for two Fellows exclusively in the humanities.

To receive the NEH Challenge Grant and fully fund the project, Lawrence will need to raise $2.275 million in matching funds toward the $2.7 million project goal by the end of 2016. The college already has received a lead gift of $1 million for the program from Tom and Julie Hurvis of Glenview, Ill., 1960 and 1961 Lawrence graduates, respectively.

The Lawrence Humanities Institute is an innovative twist on the successful Lawrence Fellows program that will leverage the expertise of talented post-doctoral fellows to create opportunities for sustained professional development for Lawrence faculty. By fostering greater curricular diversity, team teaching, interdisciplinary research collaborations, and incorporation of new ideas and techniques into research programs, the Lawrence Humanities Institute will help keep all participants at the forefront of their fields as scholars and teachers.

Conceived by humanities faculty, the Lawrence Humanities Institute will actively engage five faculty members and two NEH Fellows in the Humanities in year-long, graduate-style seminars on an emerging, rapidly evolving or other timely area of humanistic study under a two-year theme selected by the Institute’s director and advisory board. The goal of the seminars is to foster both an individual inquiry into the topic’s relevance to a faculty member’s scholarship as well as create a shared exploration of the larger implications for humanities teaching and learning in a liberal arts context.

“The activities of the endowed NEH Fellows in the Humanities and the Humanities Institute will advance the college’s mission of transformative liberal arts education,” said President Jill Beck. “Those activities also will support several key objectives in the college’s new 10-year strategic plan, including deepening and broadening the curriculum, enhancing faculty professional development programming and promoting cross-fertilization among disciplines.

“The NEH Humanities Institute will invigorate humanist discourse at Lawrence and stimulate greater integration of recent advances in the humanities into the scholarship and teaching of Lawrence’s excellent tenure-line faculty,” Beck added.

Established in 2005, the Lawrence Fellows program brings recent Ph.D. recipients to campus for two-year post-doctoral appointments. Each Fellow is mentored by a tenured faculty member, teaches a reduced course load and devotes significant time to developing their teaching and scholarly work. In any given year, Lawrence hosts 6-12 Fellows at a time across varied departments and interdisciplinary programs.

The Fellows program provides a successful transition from graduate school to life as a teacher-scholar in a liberal arts setting. Although doctoral candidates at major universities receive some teaching experience, relatively few graduate programs offer strong training in course development or pedagogical skills suited for small college environments. Unlike teaching assistantships where course materials and procedures may already be set, new liberal arts faculty bear full responsibility for all aspects of the several courses they teach each year.

“Lawrence is an ideal environment for Fellows to develop as teacher-scholars,” said Beck. “The focus on individualized learning that characterizes Lawrence’s approach to educating students translates naturally to nurturing Fellows’ individual development. Small classes, a highly engaged intellectual climate, and a campus ethos that values collaboration over competition, combine to help Fellows hone pedagogical skills quite different from those typically called for at research universities.”

This is the third time Lawrence has been awarded an NEH Challenge Grant, which are highly coveted and extremely competitive. Just 22 Challenge Grants were awarded in 2011 out of 108 proposals from leading colleges, universities and museums of all sizes.

Lawrence successfully completed a Challenge Grant in the mid-1970s to renovate Main Hall and received a $500,000 NEH Challenge Grant in 2001 to endow Freshman Studies, meeting the $2 million matching obligation more than six months ahead of schedule.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Tim Troy’s “The Life of Me” Gets Reading at Minneapolis Theatre

The latest playwriting project of Tim Troy, professor of theatre arts at Lawrence University, “The Life of Me,” will be performed Monday, Dec. 19 at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, Minn., as part of the company’s Members Stage Reading series.  The reading, at 6:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Professor of Theatre Arts Tim Troy

The reading, which explores many of the cultural and political conflicts that marked the period from 2003-05, features Katie Hawkinson ’09 in the role of Julie and veteran Milwaukee area actor Jacque Troy in the lead role of Kate, along with some of the Twin Cities best actors. An earlier version of the play was presented at Lawrence in the spring of 2006.

A parent’s capricious demand to inflate her son’s grade threatens Kate’s career. Surrounded by eclectic siblings who’ve conspired to reconcile an on-going family crisis, Kate desperately seeks renewed stability in her personal and professional relationships. She turns to art, literature and religion to lead her past doubt, learning that even a middle school teacher is vulnerable to those who will use faith as a weapon.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

One Last Time: President Warch Delivers His Final Reunion Convocation

The following is a transcript of Lawrence President (1979-2004) Richard Warch’s final Reunion Convocation remarks, delivered in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel June 19, 2004.

I trust you will understand that I have anticipated this moment with mixed emotions for some time, and most especially in the last several weeks. In my recent letters to alumni, I’ve quipped that after Commencement, the final farewell event last Thursday, and Reunion Weekend, you could put a fork in me: I’ll be done.

That comment tripped rather easily off the word processor, but what began as an attempt to be lighthearted has taken on a greater and more poignant reality as the days have gone by. And so here we are — or at least here I am — for one last time. I’m pleased that this one last time is with Lawrence alumni and takes place in Memorial Chapel, one of the architectural icons of the campus. I’d like to take a moment to recognize with thanks the exceptional generosity of Dorothy Hoehn, who has provided Lawrence with the wherewithal to renovate the Chapel over the past decade and to thereby both retain its character and enhance its utility. We’re grateful.

President Warch, Reunion Convocation 2004

Though I’ll try to come up with a few clever quips before I’m done, I take seriously the fact that this is my final opportunity to speak with alumni as Lawrence president. Come to think of it, it’s my final opportunity to speak to anybody as Lawrence president, so settle down and buckle up.

Many of you have heard one or another version of my Valedictory remarks, which I have delivered 15 times over the past several months, coast to coast, north to south. For those of you who have not heard the speech, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Lawrence needs and deserves alumni endorsement and advocacy of its purposes and alumni support to further those purposes; liberal learning as professed at Lawrence in both college and conservatory is a powerful and life-changing, if often undervalued and misunderstood, brand of higher education, and it will thrive in the future to the extent that those who have experienced its virtues promote its persistence into that future. That’s the short version.

Here’s the shorter one: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Naturally, I have sought to be slightly more circumspect in conveying that message over the years and in recent months, but with 11 days to go, I say the hell with circumspection: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Or, as I put in a letter of acknowledgment to an alumnus I know pretty well: “Thanks for the gift. We can use the cash.”

Seriously, nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing the alumni donor participation rate return — after a two-year absence — to the 50th percentile. Again borrowing from the Valedictory, I’ve been sharing with alumni a profound proposition, prompted by the fact that about 67 percent of you have made gifts to The Lawrence Fund at least once in the past three years. And here’s the insightful and innovative idea: if alumni made annual gifts annually — that is a difficult concept, so let me repeat it: if alumni made annual gifts annually — our donor participation rate would be truly enviable. We stood at 47 percent as of yesterday, so I assume a number of you in the Chapel this morning have the power to put us over the top or know those who can; I urge you to do your part and to spread the word.

But enough on that topic. I’ve only got 11 days to go, so won’t have many more opportunities to make the predictable presidential pitch and didn’t want to let this one pass by.

Presidential proclivities

One of the consequences of being a college president for 25 years is that one tends to exhaust the repertoire of quips and quotations; tends to repeat oneself; becomes, at best, known for certain turns of phrase and, at worst, for certain rhetorical devices, alliteration being the petard on which I’m most often hung. Over the past several months, various folks have had the proverbial picnic providing parodies of my proclivities (did I mention alliteration?).

First, there was the faux issue of the student newspaper, entitled The LaWarchian, written by a gang of 19 merry pranksters from classes of the early 1980s. They called it “affectionate abuse,” and while I am pleased to acknowledge the adjective, I can assure you that the noun is accurate. Abuse it was.

Then, Greg Volk had a run at me at the Founders Club dinner on May 6, in a speech entitled “Never Can Say Good-bye” or, as he put it, “Never Can Stop Saying Good-bye,” which he likes to consider a terrific testimonial tribute (did I mention alliteration?) but which contained more than a few friendly jabs.

Next, Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester and former dean of the faculty at Lawrence, took his turn at giving me the business at the farewell event in Minneapolis last month, in which he said that it was a “great and good thing to speak of the values and virtues, not to mention the principles and purposes” that I’ve espoused over the years (did I mention alliteration?) and complimented me on being the “first college president to have his word processor retired by the editors of the Metaphors R Us website.”

Presidential prerogatives

And those are just from alumni and colleagues. The faculty — ah, the faculty — have had their own opportunities, which they have seized with reckless relish and devilish delectation, most often at the Senior Class Dinner. No faculty speaker, it seems, can concoct a set of remarks for that occasion that does not use me as a prop; a few years ago I was a physical prop and just a month ago a Photo-Shopped prop on a take-off of The Matrix called The LUtrix.

On the day the Board of Trustees selected me as the 14th president, Ed West [’32] took me aside and told me that I would be responsible for everything. Art Remley overheard the remark and told me that, as president, his grandfather, “Doc Sammy” Plantz, often did the shopping for the dining rooms.

That sense of presidential oversight and involvement with everything has certainly obtained for me over the past quarter century, but at least I haven’t received a letter from a faculty member resembling the one Professor of English W. E. McPheeters sent to Sammy Plantz in 1921 (he’d written on the same topic a year earlier, evidently to no good effect):

Dear Doctor Plantz:
The ivy has grown over my office window to such an extent that when the leaves are out almost all the light is barred from the room. I would be very much obliged if you would have this cut away. It ought to be done now, I presume, before the leaves come out. A great deal of filth from the vines as well as from the birds that nest in them has accumulated just outside the window of my office. Will you please have the man who cuts the vines clear this away also, as it is not only unsightly but insanitary.

But, if the faculty have not harassed me about overgrown ivy and bird droppings, the students have had their moments, often about food service or other matters that strike them as a perverse example of the Lawrence Difference. Their complaints are familiar, as I had the same ones when I was in college. Our culinary question was this: “How can we have leftover lamb when we never had lamb?”

The students have had at me on other fronts as well. Over the years I have found myself interviewed in the Coffeehouse by an undergraduate who seemed to be auditioning to replace David Letterman, have been the subject of ”The Warch Hour” on Trivia Weekend, have gotten roped in to singing “O’er the Fox” for a musical show put on by a student I had taught in Freshman Studies, and have helped students raise money for worthy causes by having whipped cream pies thrown at my face, being placed in a dunk tank, and other moments of a like sort, none of which were intended to honor the dignity of the office, to say nothing of bolstering the self-esteem of the 14th holder of the office. I’ve had my face plastered on t-shirts and on reunion postcards, usually with some clever slogan appended. And I’m not even going to touch the April Fool’s edition of The Lawrentian. My principal claim to fame in that annual effort is that I share center stage with Bert Goldgar in providing grist for the undergraduate humor mill.

Among the indignities I’ve experienced over the years are those that deal with my name. Last spring, a student asked me why I spelled it that way, and I had to confess that my mother had come up with that version by reading Rudyard Kipling’s story about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. At least she didn’t nickname me Tikki.

Nonetheless, I have received salutations addressed to Ric with a c, sometimes with a c and a k. There are those who have, in a failed effort to feign friendly familiarity (did I mention alliteration?), called me Dick; actually, my sons Stephen and David often called me Dick, but that was when they were upset with one of my parental rulings. My last name has been spelled like the month or like a swampy area, and while one obsequious writer saluted me as The Distinguished Richard Warch — though that letter was postmarked from overseas and written by someone who didn’t know any better — my favorites are letters addressed to me — inexplicably — as Shannon Warch and, at the top of the list, and two times, no less, as Richard Worst.

All of which is to say that, after 25 years, I have come to the conclusion that to be the Lawrence president is to be treated like a piñata by the various constituencies of the institution. And I am pleased to pass these particular and peculiar presidential prerogatives (did I mention alliteration?) on to Jill Beck with my best wishes.

The lady with the Manhattan

Of course, not everyone taking a whack at the piñata does so with the intention to be humorous; not all the abuse is affectionate. I’ve certainly had reason to confirm Abraham Lincoln’s claim that you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

In the course of a quarter century, there is a high probability that you will make decisions or take actions that will irritate somebody, and over time, those somebodies can constitute a considerable crowd. But that comes with the territory, and while I have not become wholly inured to the expressions of such aggravation, I have tried to soldier on. The secret, as Casey Stengel put it, “is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”

There are, of course, some minor pleasures even here. As when one faculty member, with whom I had, shall we say, a difference of opinion, told me that he would outlast me at Lawrence and get his way eventually. I had the good grace not to remind him of that comment when he retired.

And then, of course, there are the alumni who, disagreeing with this or that policy or action, play the infamous “Not another dime” card. In these cases, the satisfaction comes from discovering, upon investigation of the donor rolls and records, that it turns out that most of them had not given the first dime, therefore mitigating the threat not to contribute another one.

Then there were the alumni who attended an event several years ago in the early stages of the dispute with the fraternities who passed out literature and treated the question-and-answer portion of the evening as a deposition of yours truly. I’m pleased to report that, a few months ago, following the settlement of that dispute, one of those alumni had the good grace and humor to stand at the question-and-answer portion of a farewell tour event to ask me if I would appreciate it if he didn’t ask a question, to which I replied in the affirmative.

I have many memories of alumni gatherings around the country, and memories especially of Reunion Weekends. The first time I took a tour to visit alumni was when I was serving as vice president for academic affairs and then-director of alumni relations Gil Swift [’59] took me to Chippewa Falls, Minneapolis, and Duluth. I had prepared a set of remarks, though when we got to Duluth for a mid-day luncheon gathering, only four women showed up, one of them from the Class of 1929.

We assembled at 11:30, and the member of the Class of 1929 promptly ordered a Manhattan. Hmmm, I thought, this could get interesting. In any case, with only four people there, I decided not to deliver my remarks but indicated I’d be pleased to respond to questions and have a conversation, at which point one of the women said, “I understand that there are coeducational residence halls at Lawrence, and will you please explain that?”

As I paused to contrive a response, the lady with the Manhattan piped up and said, “When I was at Lawrence, George Smith [I forget the name, but let’s say George Smith] got caught climbing through a window at Ormsby Hall [then housing women], and he and 11 sophomore women were kicked out of college.” She took a sip of her drink, and continued: “He went on to play football in Green Bay, and that’s why they’re called the Green Bay Peckers.”

Well, that defused any questions about coeducational residence halls and prompted me to think that Lawrence alumni were likely to be a lively and engaging group. I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve had wonderful visits with alumni since, but nothing to top that first encounter.

My first memory of Reunion Weekend dates from around the same time, when I was still the chief academic officer, and the alumni office assigned various members of the administration to serve as hosts for individual reunion classes. Margot and I were duly assigned and faithfully showed up and sat at a dinner table in Alexander Gymnasium with members of the class. At which point, the members of the class at the table promptly got up and moved elsewhere. It was not an auspicious beginning, though it has gotten better since, perhaps because we serve adult beverages and provide meals for some of the milestone reunion classes.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve welcomed over 20,000 alumni to this festive occasion and had the privilege and pleasure of conveying outstanding service and achievement awards to 158 of you, including the six this morning. I’ve enjoyed each of these celebratory weekends and appreciate the efforts all of you make to be here and to celebrate, appreciation that is shared, I might add, by the tavern owners along College Avenue, whose annual profits depend almost entirely on

Lawrence reunion weekends

I do want you to know that alumni — along with students, faculty, and friends — have also provided counsel to me over the past quarter century, leading me to realize that being a college president is the easiest job in the world: everyone knows how to do it and will cheerfully inform you of the fact.

Still and all, I look back on my Lawrence years and my interactions with alumni with gratitude and pleasure. I have heard your recollections of favorite professors and the ways in which your liberal education has served you long beyond graduation. I have derived reinforcement from you in appreciating the abiding value of Freshman Studies, and the transforming nature of a Lawrence experience.

Herding cats

I have embraced the traditions of the college; have promoted its special brand of liberal learning, in and beyond Freshman Studies; have acknowledged and sought to sustain and extend the contributions of a distinguished array of presidential predecessors; and have relished the opportunities to work with an assemblage of bright, interesting, engaged — if sometimes contentious — cohort of faculty members, the vast majority of whom I had the privilege of hiring and promoting.

Say what you will about the old adage that dealing with faculty is like herding cats, or that faculty are people who think otherwise, or that they are individuals, not to say independent contractors, who are not always amenable to “direction.” Indeed, faculty members sometimes respond to such direction like Bartleby the Scrivener: they “prefer not to.”

But, a feisty faculty is, frankly and for the most part, a first-rate faculty; that’s not, I’ll grant you, a causal relationship, but the traits are often paired. “Docile” is not a word I would apply to them, although on occasion “rebarbative” is (look it up!). But that too comes with the territory.

I know I’ll miss the company of such people and the stimulation they provide. They and those whom many of you remember from your Lawrence years carry the teaching and learning mission of college and conservatory forward with excellence, share the commitment to Lawrence and its purposes that you hold, and are a group I am proud to leave for Jill Beck.

The same may be said of students. To be sure, there are moments when their youthful behaviors whiten the hair, though at least those behaviors have not caused me to lose it (the hair, that is). At times one feels like the basketball coach who lamented “How would you like it if your job depended on a bunch of youngsters in shorts running up and down the court?”

But Lawrentians are a great group, and they achieve many moments of insight and accomplishment in their academic and creative pursuits. Observing the ways in which they grow and flourish in the college years is one of the great rewards of the job. I’ll miss them too.

Two years ago, when I was discussing my intention to retire with Harold Jordan [’72] and Jeff Riester [’70], then respectively chair and vice chair of the Board of Trustees, they told me not to feel dispirited if all that I might wish to see accomplished at and for Lawrence did not come to pass on my watch. That was good advice, though I am obviously pleased that the settlement with the fraternities has been accomplished and that the slate on that score is essentially clean for Jill Beck.

Leaving Lawrence

One often reads about departing college presidents who say that they’ve been in the job long enough, or that they have accomplished all they set out to do, or who leave for presumptively greener pastures. Clearly, whatever numerical figure one places on the notion of “long enough,” I’ve blown by it. And any college president who claims a completed set of accomplishments may have set his or her sights too low or may have served an institution without ambitions. However long one serves, there is always more to be done, challenges to be met, improvements to be made, initiatives to be imagined and undertaken. So while the tenure of a college president occurs in a fixed period, the job of a college president is ongoing. It is Jill Beck’s good fortune to have the chance to assume that ongoing job at Lawrence. And while other pastures may appear greener, the Lawrence pasture has been green enough for me.

Margot and Rik Warch, Reunion Convocation 2004

Leaving Lawrence is, of course, difficult and bittersweet. I will miss the place and its people and especially the good friends I have been privileged to make here. I have been deeply touched by the notes and letters of well wishes extended to me by many of you; by the expressions of affection and support I have received from our alumni and friends on the farewell tour — including the “affectionate abuse” provided by the 19 alumni who produced “The LaWarchian”; by the thoughtfulness of the emeriti faculty in honoring Margot and me at a lunch in April and establishing a book fund at Lawrence in our names; by the spirited farewell and gifts from members of the alumni board, who feted and serenaded me at their spring meeting; by the recognition and the gifts from India, Ghana, and Jamaica from the students in Lawrence International at their International Cabaret; by the magnificent result of the Thanks Rik! Campaign, to which many contributed so generously, that will establish an endowed fund to support Björklunden; by the parting recognition conveyed by Mortar Board with its Honorary Award conveyed at the Honors Banquet last month; by the LUCC recognition, the Hyde Park bench and the Lawrence letter jacket from the all-campus farewell on June 5; by the print of my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh quotation from the residence life staff, commemorating my proclivity for reading bedtime stories to students; by having the Lawrence rowing club’s new shell named for me and Margot and christening it a week and a half ago; by the plot of moon acreage given me by the women in Sampson House; and by the bench and a Winifred Boynton cartoon given to me by members of my administrative staff three days ago.

I am also pleased that David Heller [’80], a member of the first class I taught at Lawrence when he was a freshman, has returned to play the organ this morning. If you want to hear the Brombaugh Opus 33 in full voice and some smash-mouth music, I urge you to stay for the postlude.

I assure you that leaving Lawrence is a physical act, not an intellectual or emotional one. Lawrence will be much on my mind in the months and years ahead, and it will be the focus of and the inspiration for the writing I plan to do in that time. And as an added bonus, I know that Björklunden is only 20 miles away from our retirement home in Ellison Bay.

The years ahead

Finally, then, to John Reeve [’34], who chaired the Board of Trustees in 1979, and to Jeff Riester, Class of 1970, who chairs it today, and to others who served with them on the presidential search committee in 1979, I extend thanks for the opportunity.

And to all of you, let me leave you with this last word: There is a Celtic saying that goes “we are warmed by fires we did not build, we drink from wells we did not dig.” And so might it be said that we are educated at colleges we did not create. But we can stoke the fires, we can maintain the wells, and we can support the colleges, in the present instance this college. None of us created Lawrence, but all of us have benefited from it, and thus I hope will work to sustain and enhance the college for the benefit of those yet to come. For you are not only Lawrence’s alumni, but also its stewards.

To all of you who claim Lawrence as alma mater and who share my great regard for its values and for the important work that it does, thanks for your devotion to this special place and the support you’ve extended to the college and to me for the past quarter century.

I urge you to do the same for Lawrence and for Jill Beck in the years ahead.