Lawrence University saw a huge outpouring of support Thursday as alumni, faculty, staff, students and other supporters contributed more than $1.94 million on the school’s annual Giving Day, the most ever in the event’s six-year history.
Giving Day was highlighted with a one-hour live webcast on Thursday evening, hosted by Terry Moran ’82, a national correspondent for ABC News and the parent of a 2018 Lawrence graduate.
The $1,940,586 in contributions that arrived over the course
of the day came from more than 3,100 donors. Records were set in the amount
raised, the number of overall donors and the number of participating faculty
“Wow, what a day for Lawrence,” President Mark Burstein said. “The funds we raised will support our students in countless essential ways. Thank you to the Lawrence community for your investments in the university. Our game changers, the Classes of 2003 to 2023, and faculty and staff blew the roof off.”
Giving Day drew attention to the myriad of ways financial contributions
support Lawrence students, among them campus improvements, enhanced
study-abroad opportunities, burgeoning sustainability efforts, new and diverse
classroom and research innovations, music and other arts activities, and
Faculty, staff, and students pitched in over the course of the day, holding engagement events on campus and reaching out to alumni around the world, capped by the evening webcast that featured videos on campus construction projects, the school’s Full Speed to Full Need initiative, the Conservatory of Music’s Presto! tour, and the athletic department’s camaraderie and enthusiasm. Burstein, faculty and students joined Moran as guests to talk about the many ways in which the funding supports the liberal arts experience for today’s students.
“We are beyond excited and grateful that the whole Lawrence community came together to break records,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual Giving and a key organizer of Giving Day. “It is always impressive seeing so many people rally around Giving Day. From alumni reaching out to their classmates, encouraging them to give, to staff answering phones, to students running events on campus, to countless other ways people showed their support, it really takes so many different people coming together to make this day so special for Lawrence.”
The Giving Day success is the continuation of momentum that
has been building since the $220 million Be
the Light! Campaign first launched, quietly in January 2014 and then
publicly in November 2018. Last month, Lawrence
landed at No. 26 on Forbes magazine’s 2019 edition of the Grateful Graduates
Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private,
not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence was the only Wisconsin school to place in the
top 70, one more sign of the enduring bonds between the school and its alumni.
Most of the monies raised Thursday will go to the Lawrence
Fund, which is used to support the day-to-day operations of the campus and the
student experience. The Lawrence Fund is one of the pillars of the Be the Light! Campaign.
Monies donated Thursday were matched by supporters who agreed to be “game changers” in the Giving Day campaign. For contributions from the Classes of 2003 through 2023, they matched $500 for every contribution, no matter the amount. For all other contributions, they matched dollar for dollar.
Lawrence’s 2018-19 fiscal report showed support topping $24.4 million, the fourth highest year to date. The Be the Light! Campaign has surpassed $185 million to date in gifts and pledges.
The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one
of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative
to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying
students, the Student Journey, which has
welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs
and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting
facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Madhuri Vijay ’09 was taken aback by the critical praise that accompanied the January arrival of her debut novel, The Far Field.
Now, nine months and a multi-continent book tour later, comes the announcement that her novel, published by Grove Press, has been long-listed for the prestigious 2020 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, a literary honor that could push her visibility to new heights.
“The whole thing feels somewhat surreal and a bit like a
dream,” Vijay said by phone from her home in Hawaii, where she and her husband
are preparing for the imminent arrival of their first child. “It’s always hard
to take (the honors) seriously because it always seems like someone is going to
call and say, this has all been a big mistake.”
That is not going to happen.
Ten years removed from her days as a Lawrence University undergrad, Vijay has arrived as a significant young novelist. The Far Field has been short-listed for the JCB Prize for Literature, long-listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and has drawn stellar praise in book reviews from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, and others. On Nov. 4, the 24 books long-listed for the Carnegie medal in the fiction category will be narrowed to six finalists.
Along with accolades from the literary awards circuit comes much admiration from faculty members at Lawrence who nurtured Vijay’s storytelling skills a decade ago, not to mention current students who see her as a rock star in the making.
“When Madhuri visited my creative writing class last winter
— she read at LU on the day her novel was officially released — my students saw
her as a kind of superhero: glamorous and whip-smart and on the verge of
international fame,” said professor of English David McGlynn. “But they only
glimpsed the end result of an awful lot of work and an endless amount of
dedication and determination.”
The publishing of The
Far Field came after a six-year writing and editing process that Vijay called
grueling, exhausting, and exhilarating. The book, set mostly in Bangalore, a
metropolitan area in southern India where Vijay grew up, and the more remote, mountainous
regions of Kashmir, tells the story of Shalini, a restless young woman, newly
graduated from college and reeling from her mother’s death, who sets out from
her privileged life in Bangalore in search of a family acquaintance from her
childhood. She runs smack into the unsettled and volatile politics of Kashmir.
When Vijay launched her book tour early this year, Lawrence was
an important stop. She points to her time as a student here as the impetus to a
life of writing. She will tell you she arrived in the fall of 2005 as a determined
but narrowly focused freshman. She’ll then tell you she left four years later having
explored, sampled, and embraced every nook and cranny of the liberal arts
experience, a creative enlightenment that rerouted her plans, turned her focus
to fiction writing, and led her to the story that became The Far Field.
She double-majored in psychology and English at Lawrence, but it wasn’t until she was midway through a 12-month Watson Fellowship following graduation that she called off her plans to go to graduate school for psychology, applying instead to the Iowa Writers Workshop, a highly focused two-year writing residency at the University of Iowa.
“Lawrence itself was one of the best things that ever
happened to me,” Vijay said. “I grew up in India, and our system of learning is
in some ways very good because it’s very thorough and it’s science-based and
it’s very rigorous, but it doesn’t allow for a lot of experimentation and play.
“So, when I got to Lawrence, I was overjoyed to discover
that I could just dabble in all of these different things. I would take biology
and Latin and I would sing in the choir and I would do all of these different
things, which is the foundation of a liberal arts education. But it’s also, as
I see it now, the foundation for being a good fiction writer, in that you have
to be interested in everything all of the time and that nothing is divorced
from the other thing. … Everything is worthy of study and everything is worthy
of interest. That’s the thing I discovered at Lawrence.”
McGlynn was in his first year on the Lawrence faculty in
2006 when he first encountered Vijay, then a sophomore in his English 360 class.
He recalled her being smart, poised and articulate, but her writing was far
“Her writing showed promise, but it also needed to be
refined and to mature,” he said.
What made her stand out, though, was a willingness to work. That
was evident from the get-go.
“She recognized her intellectual capacity, but she also knew
capacity was only the beginning,” McGlynn said. “She knew she needed to work.
She knew she needed to walk the path. That, more than anything, was her great
gift. She remains one of the most dedicated and passionate students I have ever
taught in my 13 years at Lawrence.”
With additional guidance from Tim Spurgin, the Bonnie Glidden Buchanan Professor of English Literature and associate professor of English, Vijay applied to and was selected for a Watson Fellowship, funding a year of travel and study. Her Watson study was focused on people from India living in foreign lands. Her travels took her to South Africa, Malaysia, and Tanzania, among other places, and her desire to write and create grew along the away.
“Being on the Watson means you are alone for a year,” Vijay
said. “You’re absolutely independent in that nobody is looking over your
shoulder. You either do the work or you don’t, which, in a nutshell, is what it
means to be a writer. No one is waiting for you to produce anything. You either
do the work or you don’t. All the urgency has to come from you, and it’s a
Interestingly, it was during her Watson year that she first
encountered Shalini and some of the other fictional characters that would
eventually become key players in The Far
Field. And it was her continued correspondence with McGlynn that in part
set the wheels in motion.
“I wrote a short story during the Watson that had some of
these same characters in it,” Vijay said. “It was very bad. But David McGlynn
read it. He is one of the few people I trust to read even my worst writing. He
was the one who literally suggested, ‘Why don’t you make this a novel?’ So, I
wrote about 30 pages, and that’s how I got to Iowa, on the strength of those 30
pages. But it was a very different version. It had nothing to do with the book
that eventually got published.
“After I got into Iowa, I didn’t touch those 30 pages, and I
didn’t think about those characters for two years. It was only after Iowa when
I was thinking about what to do next that I began thinking about those
characters again. … If David hadn’t said that to me, I probably wouldn’t have
written this book. I may have written something different, but not this book.”
Vijay is now a year into a follow-up book project that she
says has yet to fully take shape. She knows the positive reaction to The Far Field assures nothing. It’s about
continuing to put in the work.
“There is no point where you arrive at some sort of certainty where you say, ‘OK, this is a guarantee,’” she said of her life as a novelist. “Every single day feels like a gamble, feels like a risk, feels like you could fall at any given moment. That point (of certainty) hasn’t arrived, and I don’t think it ever will. And I don’t think it ever should. … You should always feel like you might fall flat on your face. That is the only way to do it honestly.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
The sixth annual Lawrence Giving Day kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 10, and it promises to be the biggest one yet, highlighted by a one-hour live evening webcast on lawrence.edu, hosted by ABC News journalist Terry Moran ’82.
The schedule for this one-day fundraising event is packed with exciting events designed to highlight all that’s good about Lawrence University.
celebrating Lawrence in general,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual
Giving. “I’m so happy with how it’s grown. Last year was a record-breaking year
for us with dollars and donors due to the great outreach we were able to do.”
The goal is
to make each year more successful than the last; Lawrence is always adapting to
meet the needs of students, therefore always in need of funding. This means
ramping up engagement with potential givers, and, of course, with the students who
are doing great things on campus, showcasing just how important those gifts
rundown of Giving Day highlights so you won’t miss a moment. Use the hashtag
#LUGives on social media to spread the word.
from a beloved alum
As the host
of Giving Day, Moran will take the lead on the 7 p.m. live show and will meet
with students throughout the day to talk about experiences they’ve had at
Lawrence that are made possible by Giving Day contributions.
Moran, who has remained engaged with Lawrence through
the years and frequently teaches summer seminars at Bjorklunden, has covered the world as a
journalist with ABC News for the past 22 years. He is
a senior national correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He was previously
based in London and served as the network’s chief foreign correspondent.
Earlier in his career he was an anchor on Nightline,
World News, and other ABC News broadcasts.
An editor at The Lawrentian during his time at
Lawrence, Moran also has written for a number of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and The
New campus engagement
participation in Giving Day is of high importance for the overall success of
the fundraiser. After all, it’s students who see the impact of gifts each day
at Lawrence. This year, students will have multiple opportunities to get
involved with engagement events, with a chance to win sweet prizes.
For one, the Student Ambassador Program will host a game of the Price is Right, where students can guess the prices of various items on campus and win some Lawrence gear. It’s happening from 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Warch Campus Center.
Other events on Thursday include Spin the Wheel Trivia (11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Warch); Make Some Noise for Giving Day, a chance to play musical instruments and offer a personalized thank you to donors (2 to 3 p.m. outside of the Conservatory of Music); and What’s on the Menu for Giving Day, a food spread catered by The Jerk Joint (5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Diversity and Intercultural Center).
Challenges are the key to connecting with the community on Giving Day. Keep an
eye out for five challenges you can participate in on Facebook, where you can help
reach a goal by sharing posts and tagging friends to spread the word about
Supporting the Lawrence Fund
You can give
to numerous areas on Giving Day, but the Lawrence Fund is the primary
repository for gifts. The fund distributes gifts to four key areas of need — affordability,
academic excellence, student experience and caring for campus.
everything going on campus” Nelson said of the Lawrence Fund.
matched by Game Changers
The name Game Changers is no joke. This Giving Day, these generous supporters boost every gift. Every gift. Gifts from the Classes of 2003 through 2023 will be matched with $500, while all others are matched dollar for dollar. These alumni, family and friends are a huge inspiration.
wonderful to see the community coming together and supporting this,” Nelson
said. “Alumni understand they’re paying it forward. It’s cool to see their
willingness to give back and that they’re proud to be a Lawrentian. It’s a
really uplifting day altogether.”
Don’t miss any of the live shows on Facebook that will be happening throughout the day. Student hosts will take our virtual audiences along for the ride to campus events and behind the scenes of the live evening webcast.
impact of (the gifts) and what they can do is one of the great things,” Nelson said
of the significance of Giving Day. “Being able to hear students share about a
research project they’re able to do because of the money raised or the
scholarship they got. … Seeing how the support for Giving Day factors into
that really plays a role.”
It’ll all be topped off by the live show on the Lawrence website from 7 to 8 p.m., hosted by Moran.
Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.
The Viking Room, a cherished on-campus hangout for generations of students, is carved deeply into the history of Lawrence University.
The names of students past and present cover the tables and booths, carved with affection, a metaphor of sorts for the deep bonds that alumni have with the place best known as the VR. Tucked in the lower level of Memorial Hall, it has served as a gathering place for students of drinking age — and faculty and staff — for five decades.
The VR is celebrating its 50th year as a bar. It
had long existed as an on-campus lounge, but it didn’t serve alcohol until the
first beer was tapped on March 7, 1969.
Mark Catron ’69 remembers it well. He was one of the original student bartenders, pouring beers during his senior year while “Bad Moon Rising” and “Sugar, Sugar” blasted from the speakers.
“The response was overwhelming. It was terrific,” said
Catron, who visited the VR in early June while back on campus for his 50th
class reunion. “People would come in after their afternoon classes and sit
around and talk and have a beer or study.
“Fridays and Saturdays were very, very popular. There would be dances and a lot of music.”
The times they are a-changin’
When Lawrence successfully sought a city liquor license and
remade the VR into a bar, it was new territory. Not many college campuses
featured their own bar. The drinking age was 18 at the time, which meant most
every student was a potential customer.
It arrived at a time when college campuses were hotbeds for
social change and political demonstrations. There was no shortage of talking
points in the spring of ’69 as students gathered in the VR.
“The four years I was here, there were terrific changes in
powers, dormitory living and arrangements,” Catron said. “And clearly, this was
part of the liberalization of the campus. Between the time we came and the time
we left, there was a lot of turmoil, a lot of change going on, a lot of people
questioning the way things had always been.”
Introducing a bar on campus amid all that, well, that was
either going to prove to be genius or crazy, Catron said.
“From the administration point, maybe it was a sort of
experiment to see if the students were capable of handling it in a responsible
way,” he said. “I never had the impression there was ever any doubt about that.
But I’m sure there had to be some questions among the adults in the room.
“This was the same time we were occupying the dean’s office.
Lots of challenges were going on from a social standpoint. … The campus was
different when we left from when we arrived, and the bar was just part of that
Susan Jasin ’69 was another of the original student
bartenders. When she went to Appleton City Hall to get her bartender’s license,
she said the workers there told her she was the first woman in the city to be
licensed as a bartender.
“I kind of got a giggle out of that at the time,” she said.
“It was fun to do because it was different and nobody else
was doing it. I was just me. I was just Susan. I was doing it because it was
A new dynamic
While the VR remains a big part of campus life 50 years
later, much has changed from its heyday in those early years. When Wisconsin’s
drinking age increased to 19 in 1984 and then 21 in 1986, the dynamic in the VR
changed, with much of the student body no longer old enough to legally drink.
The VR managers began to more actively market the bar to
faculty and staff. A 1988 memo from the then-managers of the VR implored
faculty and staff to increase their use of the bar, either as their own hangout
or as an alternative classroom space.
“Keep in mind that the room is large, we play tapes upon
request, and that our stereo does have a volume control if the music proves to
be too loud,” the memo read. “Simply put, we would enjoy seeing more faculty
and administrators using the VR on a regular basis, whether you choose to drink
Thirty years on, some faculty and staff continue to heed
those words. And some jump in as guest bartenders, a long VR tradition.
The VR has gone through numerous changes in its management
structure over the years. Presently, the bar is again managed by students, with
oversight from Greg Griffin, director of the Warch Campus Center.
Jake Yingling ’20 frequents the VR with friends, and works
bartending shifts as a student worker. While he understands the crowds in the
VR may be smaller now than in the ’70s and ’80s, there are still nights when
the place is hopping. And he appreciates it being on campus.
“The busier nights are the better nights,” he said.
“Now being 21, I can come here to do work, I can hang out
with friends. It’s a good place to kind of hang out and relax.”
Five decades worth of alumni would raise a glass to that.
Glen Johnson ’85 (right) traveled the world from 2013 to 2017 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. A new book details his deep dive into international diplomacy.
Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications
When Glen Johnson ’85 first set foot on the Lawrence
University campus in the fall of 1981, he was singularly focused on forging a
career as a journalist.
He had opted not to attend a school with an established journalism program, preferring instead a liberal arts education that would give him the broad-ranging intellectual tools needed to pursue journalism while also prepping him for life’s unknown adventures.
Nearly three decades later, still fully engaged in a journalism career that had taken him to the Boston Globe and included coverage of five presidential campaigns, Johnson would find himself staring down one of those unknown adventures. John Kerry, freshly tabbed by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, reached out to Johnson in early 2013 with an unexpected offer — join his team as the senior communications advisor.
Johnson accepted, and he would be by Kerry’s side for the next four years, traveling to 91 countries and all seven continents, getting an up-close look at diplomacy at the highest levels and gaining perspective on world affairs that he said was both encouraging and daunting.
His experiences are now shared in his new book, Window Seat on the World, published this summer by Disruption Books. It’s garnering significant attention, in large part because of the vast differences in diplomatic style between that of Kerry and the Obama administration and that of President Donald Trump and his administration. Johnson hopes the book will shed new light on diplomacy, its opportunities and its challenges, and provide a guide for those interested in a career in diplomatic service.
As Johnson makes the rounds of media interviews and book fairs, he hasn’t been shy about singing the praises of the liberal arts education he got at Lawrence and how that gave him a base on which to build a journalism career and then deftly shift into his role with Kerry.
“I came to Lawrence with the full expectation of being a
reporter,” Johnson said. “I was fascinated by it.”
He majored in government at Lawrence, drew inspiration and
insight from talented English professors and studied abroad in London for two
“When I came out, I climbed the proverbial ladder rung by rung to develop myself as a reporter, from small newspapers to the world’s largest news organization in the AP, and then to the largest newspaper in the part of the country where I lived, the Boston Globe,” Johnson said.
“When I got this call from John Kerry offering the position
at the State Department, it was a huge life decision, to change careers from
the only one I’d ever done or ever really wanted to do. I thought about where I
was personally, sort of mid-life with my younger kid about to graduate from
college, and feeling like if I wanted to pursue a second act, now is probably
“And then the specifics of the opportunity, the chance to have a high-level position with a top Cabinet officer and to see the world at his side. … If there was anything worth leaving the only career I ever had known, it was for something I considered to be the opportunity of a lifetime.”
In the four years that would follow, Johnson would spend the equivalent of four months on an airplane, logging enough mileage to take him and Kerry around the world 57 times. In addition to being Kerry’s lead communications officer, Johnson became the traveling contingent’s primary photographer, shooting more than 100,000 photos, many of which are featured in the book and are part of his public presentations about the book.
He had a front row seat for Middle East peace talks, Iran nuclear negotiations, and government transitions in Afghanistan and Nigeria. He witnessed the difficult diplomacy that comes with interactions with China and Russia. And he got a bird’s-eye look — and unsettling lessons — in the perils of climate change and their global ramifications. All of that is explored in the book.
“I wanted to deal with topics that really struck me and I
thought had resonance and would continue to have resonance,” Johnson said.
It was climate change, and the stark reality of what’s at
stake, that may have struck the rawest nerve, he said. And it came as perhaps
his biggest surprise.
“At first I thought that was a strange thing for us to focus
on,” Johnson said. “I knew John Kerry to be an environmentalist, but I thought
it was almost a strange thing for a secretary of state to focus on when we
first started. But not too long into this job, I realized it made sense because
it was a problem that by definition transcended borders and was global in
“And then the blessing of the job was to have the ability to travel the way we could. We ended up going almost to the North Pole, going almost to the South Pole. We saw above the Arctic Circle. We saw Antarctica. We saw all these places around the middle of the Earth. The effects of climate change were so readily apparent that you could see the effects of them on diplomacy. We have the potential now for issues with migration sparked by climate change, we have the potential for water wars between the haves and the have-nots.”
Johnson minces no words about the abrupt change in attitude
and message regarding climate change that came with the transition to the Trump
presidency. He expresses other frustrations on topics of shifting diplomacy and
approach, but the climate change conversation cuts particularly deep because of
what he saw with his own eyes.
“It’s tremendously alarming and it’s frustrating and
exasperating,” Johnson said. “I have zero patience for climate deniers because
there is no factual basis for that belief. There are reams of empirical data and
there is so much you can see first-hand to rebut that. The debate can’t be
about whether climate change is occurring. The debate has to be focused on what
to do to address it.
“If you have someone in office who talks about it as being a hoax and that kind of thing, you just can’t take someone like that seriously. And especially someone who has the opportunities that we had at the State Department, and that is to travel the world to see it first-hand. You don’t have to take someone else’s word for it. You don’t have to take 97 percent of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the topic. You can get on a plane and you can go to Svalbard yourself or you can go down to McMurdo Station like we did. The current secretary of state or the current president can do all that, and yet they choose not to.”
While the widely different approaches to diplomacy between
the Obama and Trump presidencies has drawn much of the media attention
surrounding the book, Johnson said he purposely didn’t weave that into the bulk
of the book. He saved that for a chapter near the end.
If this were just an Obama vs. Trump comparison, the book would have a short shelf life, Johnson reasoned. He’d rather the book take a deeper run at diplomacy and the call to diplomatic service.
“I wanted the book to stand up beyond these four, or even
eight, years of a Trump era,” Johnson said. “I wanted it to be more about
institutional lessons of diplomacy as illustrated by a more classical diplomat
like John Kerry than an us-versus-them thing.”
The art of State Department diplomacy is a mystery to most Americans, Johnson said, even though it incorporates thousands of employees in offices, posts, embassies and consulates around the world. It’s often the most forward-deployed part of the federal government, more so than the U.S. military in many cases, but most people know little about it.
“I saw this book as a chance to teach about diplomacy, have
some case studies about issues that continue on today,” Johnson said. “And then
also potentially to serve as a guide to inspire diplomats.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The bonds between Lawrence University and its graduates are among the strongest and most enduring of any across the higher education landscape, according to a newly released report from Forbes magazine.
Lawrence landed at No. 26 on Forbes’ 2019 edition of the Grateful
Graduates Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private,
not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence is the only Wisconsin school to place in the
“When I meet with alumni and ask them why they give, two strong themes emerge,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development. “The alumni reference the impact faculty members have had on their educations and lives — specifically, the strong relationships they’ve formed with faculty. Another theme is gratitude for the financial assistance they received as students and wanting to pay it forward.”
Lawrence ranks high on U.S. News’ Best Value Schools list. Details here.
The Grateful Graduates Index takes a couple of factors into account — the seven-year median gifts per full-time enrolled student and the average percentage of alumni who give back, regardless of the amount.
“We boil down the analysis to a single factor,” Forbes says in its report. “Does your alma mater ‘spark joy’ in your heart, enough to cause you to reach into your wallet and show your gratitude in the form of a donation?”
This marks the seventh consecutive year Lawrence has made the Grateful Grads ranking. It has placed in the top 70 in each of those years, with this year’s No. 26 slot being the highest ranking yet.
From support of current and future students to partnerships
with faculty and staff to enhancements of the university’s infrastructure, the
generosity of alumni is critical to the ongoing financial health of any private
The $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, which launched quietly in January 2014 and had its public launch in November 2018, has surpassed $184 million in gifts and pledges.
The Lawrence Fund, which plays a significant role in supporting the campus’s operation, from scholarships and study abroad opportunities to athletics and campus upkeep, is coming off a particularly strong year. Support reached $3.9 million in the last fiscal year, second only to the 2015-16 year. Without the fund, it’s estimated each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 per year.
The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.
The Forbes’ report comes one month before Lawrence’s sixth annual Giving Day, set for Oct. 10.
“Lawrence’s relationship with its alumni continues to be special,” Husmann said. “It’s a point of pride that those bonds don’t end when a student graduates. The ongoing support of current and future Lawrentians is critical, and our alumni rise to the occasion time after time.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com.
Lawrence University continues to feel the love from The Princeton Review.
After being named the No. 4 Impact School in the country on a Princeton Review ranking earlier this year, Lawrence has made the education service company’s list of the best 385 colleges in the country — only about 13% of eligible four-year colleges make the “Best” book.
“The Best 385 Colleges,” published each August, has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 385, but it does include a series of Top 20 lists in a variety of sub categories. The lists come after data is gathered from school administrators and interviews are done with students from each of the schools.
Earlier this year, Lawrence was hailed by The Princeton Review as one of 200 “Best Value Schools” in the United States. That book placed Lawrence at No. 4 in the category of best schools for Making an Impact, which focused on life on campus but also post-college work.
“The college ranking field is full of many flowers,” notes
Ken Anselment, dean of admissions at Lawrence. “But one of our favorites is
being shortlisted as one of the Princeton Review’s Impact Schools because it
underscores the quality of life our graduates enjoy after Lawrence. It affirms
that our mission of providing a transformative education is, indeed, having an
Here’s a quick guide to Lawrence’s evaluation in the most
What students are
saying about academics: “Tutoring is readily available, and the school
‘places an incredible focus on mental health issues and counseling.’ Lawrence
is especially good at ‘providing a creative and explorative atmosphere within
the college,’ and structuring itself in a manner that allows for student
flexibility, so students ‘are able to explore and study whatever we are
interested in, and we are encouraged to do so.’”
What students are
saying about life at Lawrence: “Many people take advantage of the school’s
offered activities like dances, comedians, musicians, speakers who are brought
to campus, and movies shown in the cinema, and every term has a big event, such
as the Fall Festival, Trivia, Winter Carnival, Cabaret and LUaroo. … As the
university houses a popular music conservatory, ‘there is ALWAYS a type of concert
What students are
saying about their classmates: “Students here ‘are not afraid to show who
they really are’ and ‘truly just love expressing how every person is their own
and that we all accept it.’”
What the Princeton Review editors are saying: “Lawrence University takes a holistic approach to the admissions game. The school does its best to look beyond numbers and get a full sense of each applicant.”
In addition to the Princeton Review rankings, Lawrence also was honored earlier this year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for being among the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. With five recent graduates teaching abroad on Fulbright awards, Lawrence landed on the prestigious list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright students during the past academic year.
The Rock, a 2-ton boulder resting peacefully on a stretch of lawn near the northwest corner of Main Hall, has finally had its long, strange history commemorated by Lawrence University.
Newly installed signage provides a nod to the 4,700-pound piece of granite that has been tolerated but rarely celebrated by the university that has been its home — mostly — since members of the Class of 1895 first hauled it to campus 124 years ago.
As campus traditions go, this is one that has had a bit of a
love-hate relationship with the school. The Rock — not to be confused with a
certain Hollywood celebrity of the same nickname — has been the subject of
pranks, fraternity feuds and deep mysteries through the decades. It was
returned to campus in the spring of 2018 after having gone missing for 20
Now it’s home, and there’s nothing but love. Thus, the new
signage recently placed next to the Rock:
“Members of the Class
of 1895 found this boulder on a geology field trip in New London, WI, and
brought it to campus to serve as the senior class gift. In the years since, the
Rock has been painted, buried, moved around, and even removed from campus.
After a 20-year stay on the Nickel family farm (Michael Nickel ’02, Adam Nickel
’03), it was returned to its original placement in front of Main Hall in spring
The Rock, now painted green with the white lettering of the Class
of 2019, has a history that started out combative, if all in good fun. Consider
this dispatch in The Lawrentian in
“Tuesday afternoon was
Class Day and the big boulder of the Class of ’95 made its debut in college
history. Somehow the seniors had an idea that the giddy juniors would not allow
it to become a landmark on the campus and they watched all night till the day
of its dedication, lest some festive ’96er should come along and carry the
pebble off and throw it in the river.”
That would set a tone that would become part of the Rock’s
tradition, one of mostly harmless rivalry and midnight escapades stretching
across more than 100 years, frequently chronicled by The Lawrentian and sometimes The
Among the highlights:
With concerns the pranks had gotten out of hand, the Rock was moved to a mostly out-of-the-way spot near the Fox River in 1939; it would be returned to the Main Hall green by ambitious students three years later.
It would go missing in 1964, finally retrieved in 1983 (it
had been buried behind Plantz Hall by members of the Class of 1967, so,
technically, it was still on campus).
And it would once again disappear in 1998, discovered 20
years later by students Sarah Axtell ’17 and Jon Hanrahan ’16, who had launched
an entertaining, Serial-style podcast
in hopes of solving the mystery of the Rock’s whereabouts.
In between all of that, the Rock was at the center of some
much-chronicled campus rivalries and shenanigans that included students hiring
towing companies to move the rock around campus in the dark of night, tossing
it into the Fox River on multiple occasions, placing it in cement, and building
a papier-mache replica that would appear one morning in 1957 on the roof of the
former Stephenson Hall.
As the location of the Rock became a competition among
fraternities, there was an unwritten rule that said wherever the rock was
located on the morning of homecoming, that is where it would stay for the rest
of the school year.
The 1998 disappearance came not long after the Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta fraternities had a bit of a public showdown, one that involved a front-end loader and required the dean of students to negotiate a compromise as local media looked on.
A search and a podcast
The Rock was then mostly forgotten for nearly two decades until Axtell and Hanrahan launched their No Stone Unturned podcast in 2016.
“Sarah and I were real dorks about Lawrence history,”
Their sleuthing eventually took them to a farm in Calumet
County where the rock was found behind an old barn, the carved Class of ’95 in
plain sight. It turns out there were a lot of complicated emotions tied to the
Rock and how it ended up on that farm.
Lawrence and the Nickel family would eventually reach
agreement that the Rock should return to the Main Hall green. It came home in
The ongoing fascination with the big boulder speaks to
college students’ need to feel connected to their school’s history, said
Hanrahan, who now works as an associate producer for New York Public Radio. He
points to other schools with similar objects that have served as traditions that
tie together generations of students — Rutgers’ cannon, Carnegie Mellon’s fence
painting, and Northwestern’s own version of an oft-painted rock.
“There’s definitely that element of college students wanting
and needing that quirky sense of identity,” Hanrahan said.
The podcast not only gave Hanrahan and Axtell the chance to fixate on Lawrence history — “This project was one of the first real moments when I fell in love with archives,” Hanrahan said — it also provided an opportunity to connect with alumni in a meaningful way.
“We got a sense of what life was like at Lawrence,
especially in the ’90s, which was when the disappearance occurred,” Hanrahan
said. “… We got a taste of life in the ’60s when the Rock disappeared then.
That was very, very different from what life was like in the ’90s, which was
also very different from what life is like in the 2010s.”
An uneasy history
Erin Dix ’08, the university’s archivist over the past nine
years, said the many Rock-related pranks left some past university
administrators uneasy. That’s why the new signage is notable.
administration at Lawrence has not always embraced the disruptive elements of
the Rock’s tradition,” she said. “In 1939, college officials moved the Rock to
the tennis courts at the bottom of the Drew Street hill to try to discourage
the constant pranks. But students managed to hoist it back up the hill three
years later. During the Rock’s most recent absence, I often heard the theory
that the administration had purposefully removed it from campus.” (It had not.)
favorite anecdote about the Rock comes from a Post-Crescent article published when it was being exhumed from the
parking lot behind Plantz Hall in 1983,” Dix said. “‘Richard Warch, president
of the university, was there, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from
his sack lunch during the noon-hour event. “What a great day for Lawrence
University,” he said with mock enthusiasm as a big P.G. Miron crane lifted the
rock from the ground.’”
Hanrahan believes that kind of history should be celebrated. Students today should be aware of the school’s deep history and the student experiences that preceded them, even if it’s just a goofy old rock. That it has Class of ’95 carved into it is reason enough to acknowledge that connection, he said.
not 1995, that’s 1895, this unimaginably distant group of people,” Hanrahan
said. “And it has these classes from the 1930s carved on the side as well. So,
it’s a rock and it’s obviously this old geological artifact, but it broadcasts
its oldness and it’s Lawrenceness right there on the side. It’s hard to look at
it and not think of a Lawrence from 100 years ago.”
Axtell, now working in New York City for Accomplice the Show, an immersive theater company, applauds the university for formally recognizing the history of the Rock, calling it an important connection between generations of students.
don’t think the university can always take an official stance on some of the
goofy things that have happened in the past, but I think the university should
be proud of the ingenuity and creativity of its students,” she said.
gives people a reason to connect back to the history of the place. People need
to pay more attention to the history of the areas around them, for better or
Maintaining the campus infrastructure at Lawrence is an investment in the well-being of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community, which is why campus renewal is a key priority of the Be The Light! Campaign.
That has been in full view this summer as multiple renovation projects are taking place across campus thanks to a series of gifts and support.
This summer’s more ambitious projects include new concrete at the plaza by Memorial Hall and an upgrade of its entryways, new hardscape on the Conservatory walkway, and the repaving of the Alexander Gym horseshoe, part of a facelift that includes lighting and new sidewalks. And while the installation of a generator may not seem like much, it kicks off the multi-million dollar renovation transforming Kohler Hall into a 21st-century living space.
“Campus infrastructure enables the university to deliver on its mission,” says Jacob Woodford, assistant to President Mark Burstein. “Careful stewardship of the investments of Lawrentians, family, friends, and supporters of the institution in our campus ensures our ability to deliver on that mission for generations to come.”
When the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign made its public launch in November 2018, campus renewal joined Full Speed to Full Need, Student Journey, and the Lawrence Fund as the four cornerstones that would anchor the campaign.
A $2.5 million gift from the Kohler Co. to renovate Kohler Hall into a modern residential space was a key piece of the campaign launch. This summer’s work on the generator is a piece of that renovation project.
Among the other key projects in play this summer:
Drama: Installing new doors and windows on the Music and Drama side of Shattuck
Replacing the portion of the steam line north of College Avenue, a continuation
of the work that was done during spring term.
Memorial Chapel: Lights are being added in front of the chapel to increase visibility, a nod to pedestrian safety along the walkways.
Carpet installation in the 1911 building that includes office space and a
Reworking the plumbing, electrical, and sprinkler system, plus painting.
Sprucing up and repainting the kitchenettes.
The campus updates ensure a welcoming environment for current and incoming students and encourage alumni and others to visit. The work speaks to the university’s commitment to maintaining its facilities at a high level, the supportive relationship between the university and its alumni and other supporters and its embrace of future generations of students.
Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.
Kenni Ther ’16 had his young charges hanging on his every word, eyes focused, sticks in hand, a mix of drums and upside-down buckets in play on a gorgeous afternoon in downtown Appleton’s Houdini Plaza.
“I get tired of talking sometimes,” Ther told the gathering
of several dozen kids and the adults they brought along for this high-energy
teaching session on Brazilian samba drumming. “That’s why I have the drum. I’ll
let the drum do the talking for me.”
And, so he did. And the young drummers followed suit as a
couple hundred spectators nodded their approval.
A few hundred feet to the east, a crowd overflowed from the
patio at Bazil’s Pub as singer-songwriter Christopher Gold played a heartfelt
set and shared stories of joy and despair and the wisdom gained from both.
It was the middle of the afternoon. On a Thursday. Welcome
to Mile of Music.
The annual four-day all-original music festival kicked off
its seventh edition on Thursday, mixing nearly 900 live music sets in 70-plus
venues with more than 40 interactive music education workshops, a blend that
differentiates this festival from most any other music event on the planet. It
continues through Sunday — and, yes, admission is free.
The Music Education Team, supported by a grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, is a full-on Lawrence University juggernaut, led by music education instructor Leila Ramagopal Pertl. It features more than 25 instructors, many of them, like Ther, alumni who developed their musical skills and nurtured their passion for music while students at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.
Full lineup of Mile 7 music education workshops here.
Like the festival itself, the music education workshops have grown in size and scope since first launching in 2013. More than 7,000 people are expected to take part in the hands-on sessions before the finale, a ukulele workshop, brings it to a close on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s great to get out in the community and have people
learn music in not a classroom setting,” Ther said after the samba drumming
workshop ended. “Sometimes people think you only get to learn music in your
private lessons or in a school band or orchestra or choir. No, music is for
everybody. Everyone listens to music, so everyone has the right to be their own
musician and figure out music on their own.”
A few blocks down College Avenue, on the green space next to
Brokaw Hall known as The Grove, Nestor Dominguez ’14 was leading a mariachi
band — Mariachi Jabali, featuring students from Appleton North High School — as
they introduced the music to a couple hundred onlookers. They ran through a
variety of music within the mariachi genre, from jarabe to bolero to ranchera to
“Just get up and wiggle around and come up with a dance,” Dominguez encouraged the crowd as the band showcased the popular jarabe style. “If you’re going to be here with us, you need to get up and dance.”
Then there was bolero, the mariachi music of romance. Dominguez, who plays and teaches mariachi music in Chicago, encouraged the crowd to make and maintain eye contact with the person next to them as the music played.
“Eye contact is so important,” he told them. “Let’s connect as human beings. … I’m not saying you’re going to fall in love with the person next to you, but that would be all right.”
A world of music in our back yard
As the music education offerings at Mile of Music have evolved over the past seven installments, they’ve taken on a more global feel, Brazilian samba drumming and mariachi being part of a festival mix that also includes, among others, Ghanaian drumming and dance, Afro-Cuban singing, and Balinese gamelan. New this year are sessions on Native American music and dances of India.
That’s not by accident. Ramagopal Pertl said the team has purposefully set out to showcase as many cultures and styles as possible, a theme embraced by team members and the audience alike.
“That is really important, especially for the little ones,” said Francisca Hiscocks of Appleton, a native of Spain who attended Thursday’s Brazilian samba drumming session. “Just for their education, to be exposed to something different, that’s important. For me being from a different country, I think this is so great.”
More on the connections between Lawrence, Mile of Music here.
Porky’s Groove Machine returns to Lawrence, Mile of Music. Read more here.
Thel, who teaches music at a middle school in Oshkosh, said cultural variety in the festival’s music education outreach is all about being inclusive and enlightening.
“Maybe hip hop is your thing, that’s great,” he said. “Maybe
acoustic guitar playing is your thing, or the ukulele workshop, that’s your
thing. Everyone has a specific rhythm in their heart that they can relate and
respond to. We’re just trying to help people figure out what that is.”
Mile of Music was drawing rave reviews as it got rolling
Thursday. Music could be heard coming from everywhere along and near College
Avenue — in bars and coffee shops, in Memorial Chapel, on patios, in alleyways
and on green spaces on the Lawrence campus. Even from a camper parked on the
Ormsby Hall lawn, home to the Tiny House Listening Lounge, a new venue for this
“I think this is just all really cool,” said Sarah Fischer of Appleton, taking in the festival’s opening day.
More photos of the 2019 Music Education Team workshops here.
Cool, indeed. And the opportunity to bang a drum, get a
lesson in songwriting, or learn about Native American flute playing while you’re
here, well, that’s a bonus that is music to the ears of anyone who cherishes
the connections between the festival, the community and Lawrence.
“We all agreed from the beginning that this wasn’t the type
of festival that was ogling celebrity, it was craft focused,” said Cory Chisel,
the Appleton-raised singer-songwriter who co-founded the festival with
marketing executive Dave Willems. “It was like, here are innovative, exciting
songwriters from around the world, and I wanted to bring all those people to
Appleton specifically because of the specialness of this place and the music
that was inside of us and the talent level we have inside of us here.”
It isn’t just about listening to and discovering new music, although that is a huge focus of the festival. It’s also about participating in the music-making, connecting the community with the music, Chisel said. Hence, the launch and growth of the Music Education Team. The partnership with Lawrence for that piece was as important as anything else in establishing the festival as one of the bright lights of the Midwest music scene.
“Mile of Music was about that connection,” Chisel said. “And
Lawrence has been deepening and strengthening that community relationship.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org