Category: Alumni

Lawrence alumna returns to Appleton to direct feature film set in Wisconsin

Molly Preston ’10 directs action during filming of Freedom, WI outside a home on Meade Street in Appleton, two blocks from the Lawrence University campus. She is the writer and director for the feature film, with scenes being shot across the Fox Cities. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Molly Preston ’10 calls it a love letter to Wisconsin.

The New Jersey native fell hard for Appleton, the Fox Cities, and Wisconsin when she arrived as a first-year student at Lawrence University 15 years ago. She loved the picturesque landscape and the small-city vibe that blended active arts advocacy with Midwest niceties. Now the aspiring film-maker has brought her Portland, Oregon-based film crew to the Fox Cities to film scenes for Freedom, WI, a coming-of-age comedy that she has written and is directing.

“Wisconsin will always be that place that feels like going back home,” Preston said.

The film crew, 15 to 20 strong on any given day, has been shooting scenes in and near downtown Appleton as well as nearby locations in Kaukauna, Menasha, Greenville, and, yes, Freedom, since the middle of August. Preston is hopeful the movie—it’s centered on a young woman living in small-town Wisconsin who has her routine disrupted when she strikes up a friendship with a writer from Chicago—will be ready for the film festival circuit next summer.

It was while a student at Lawrence that Preston first began entertaining the idea of a career in film. It was before Lawrence’s Film Studies program launched, but the history major found herself drawn to a number of history classes that focused on film.

“I took every single film-related class that I possibly could,” she said, pointing to insights from history professors Peter Blitstein and Paul Cohen as being particularly helpful in allowing her to connect her love of history with her passion for film.

Molly Preston ’10 (right) talks with a cast member of Freedom, WI as they shoot scenes in Appleton on Sept. 7.

She learned to look at films through the lens of history.

“You are not only analyzing the film for what the filmmaker did—the cinematography, the acting—you are also analyzing a moment in time,” Preston said. “What the historical context is when the film was written and when it was shot – gender norms of the time and the political climate. It’s just really interesting to think about history through watching a movie and figuring out how the world was in that moment and how that might have influenced the filmmakers to make the movie in that particular way.”

Those are analytical skills, she said, that come into play now as she finds herself writing and directing her own stories.

“I found that while I don’t technically work in the field of history, learning how to analyze text and figure out the narrative based on facts you read from different sources has made me a better filmmaker, a better writer,” she said. “It’s definitely benefited my work in film.”

Preston said she wishes Lawrence’s Film Studies program had been there when she was a student, and she encourages current and future Lawrence students who are interested in film to dive in deep.

A $5 million gift from Tom Hurvis ’60 and the late Julie Esch Hurvis ’61 in 2011, a year after Preston graduated, led to the creation of the Hurvis Center for Film Studies, launching an interdisciplinary studies program that explores film theory, history, analysis, and interpretation and allows students to create their own art in a state-of-the-art film studio.

Preston moved to Portland eight years ago to try to make headway in the film industry. She started as a production assistant, then moved into editing and producing before jumping into her own project with Freedom, WI, a story she began writing while living in Appleton shortly after graduating from Lawrence.

“It’s a fun time with friends, old friends and new friends,” Molly Preston ’10 says of shooting the film in the Fox Cities. She lived in Appleton for several years after graduating from Lawrence. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

The storyline is dark but comedic, she said, focused on a young woman in the tiny Town of Freedom who enters adulthood grappling with grief. A relationship with a struggling writer from Chicago sets her on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.

Her film career is still a work in progress, but Preston is hopeful this film will be a stepping stone to more opportunities.

In the meantime, she’s spending nearly a month in Appleton and the Fox Cities, working alongside her husband, who serves as director of photography, and a film crew that has grown tight. They’ll finish filming in mid-September before heading back to Portland.

“It’s a fun time with friends, old friends and new friends,” Preston said of being back in Appleton. “We work such long hours, but we have our fun while we’re working.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

John Ellerman, one of Lawrence’s “most passionate supporters,” remembered for generosity, leadership

Lawrence University (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is mourning the death of John Ellerman ’58, a Board of Trustees emeritus who has been actively engaged with the university for more than six decades.

He died Aug. 20 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 84.

John Ellerman ’58

Ellerman, an economics major at Lawrence who went on to great success as a leader and innovator in the insurance industry, joined the Lawrence Board of Trustees in 1983 and continued to serve in various leadership capacities for nearly 40 years. He was elected trustee emeritus in 2016.

“Throughout this remarkable time of service to his alma mater, he provided thoughtful counsel to all as one of Lawrence’s most passionate supporters,” President Laurie A. Carter said.

Cory Nettles ’92, chair of the Board of Trustees, called Ellerman’s enthusiasm for all things Lawrence palpable.

“There never was a more committed Lawrentian than John,” Nettles said. “His passion for Lawrence knew no bounds.”

See obituary for John Ellerman here.

Ellerman served on several Board and Reunion committees and was a champion of the Lawrence Fund.

He brought his insights to the Building and Grounds Committee and Subcommittee, the Committee on Trustees, the Committee on Business Affairs, the Recruitment and Retention Committee, and the Finance Committee, of which he served as vice chair in 2011 and 2012. He also was a longtime member of the Lawrence Corporation of Wisconsin, the Investment Committee, and the Development Committee. 

Ellerman played big roles in multiple Lawrence fundraising campaigns. He served on the Campaign Steering Committee for three comprehensive campaigns: the Lawrence Ahead CampaignLawrence 150, and More Light! Those campaigns raised a cumulative $268 million, supporting students, bolstering academic and artistic programs, and helping to fund important building and renovation projects across campus.

His desire to support Lawrence never waned. Most recently, he was part of the leadership team of the Full Speed to Full Need endowed scholarship campaign that was launched as part of the just-concluded Be the Light! Campaign.

Throughout, he led by example.

Philanthropic gifts from him and his wife, Judith, frequently supported the Lawrence Fund, as well as campaigns to bolster Bjorklunden and the arts. He also was a member of the Lawrence-Downer Legacy Circle.

“His personal outreach efforts have strengthened relationships with the university’s most generous donors and inspired others to give back,” Carter said. “John was one of the university’s most passionate supporters, and we are grateful for the thoughtful and candid counsel he has shared over the years with Lawrence trustees, presidents, and staff members.”

After graduating from Lawrence, Ellerman forged an impressive career in the insurance industry, first with Northwestern Mutual and later with his own firm, Ellerman Companies Inc., which specialized in estate planning, business insurance, and executive compensation programs. He served for a time as board chair of the Management Compensation Group.

Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1, said she is saddened she won’t get a chance to spend more time with Ellerman. But she can already feel the impact of his loss.

“All speak of his gregarious nature, thoughtful insight, and love of Lawrence,” Carter said. “Many people referred to John as Lawrence’s most enthusiastic cheerleader. … I will miss having the opportunity to learn from John and feel his immense passion for Lawrence.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Work with economics faculty leads 2021 grad to EPA-funded research program

Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 at her June commencement at Lawrence University.

By Karina Herrera ’22

It was in an environmental economics class at Lawrence University that Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 realized her interest in economics and her passion for the environment could co-exist.

The experience in that class, taught by David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor in the American Economic System and an associate professor of economics, led Nguyen to two summers at Lawrence spent on environment-related research tied to her home country of Vietnam. And that work has now led the economics and mathematics double major to her next academic adventure—acceptance into Carnegie Mellon University in the doctorate program in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) as a graduate research assistant. She will join a group of Carnegie Mellon researchers this fall.

Reflecting on her undergraduate experience, Nguyen said her time at Lawrence could not have had a more positive or fruitful impact on her academic interests, pointing to her collaborations with Gerard and other economics faculty as key to getting into the Carnegie Mellon research program.

Find more on Lawrence’s economics program here

Get to know economics professor David Gerard here

The Carnegie Mellon team, led by Nicholas Z. Muller, the Lester and Judith Lave Professor of Economics, Engineering and Public Policy, secured an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund the research, which will explore environmental impacts of certain manufacturing processes. Among other things, the funding provides for financial assistantships for graduate students. For Nguyen, this means that she will be given full tuition and a stipend for the initial academic year.

Although a little nervous, Nguyen said she is ready to begin. She’s excited to work with Muller and his team in part because she’s read academic papers of his and admires his work. She’ll also be working with people from different STEM fields and expects to be challenged.

“I expect it to be very intense but I also like that environment,” Nguyen said.

However, making the decision to apply to the Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. program in EPP was not an easy one, Nguyen said. She had offers from numerous economic Ph.D. programs and was hesitant at first to consider Carnegie Mellon because it was the only program that she applied to that was not solely focused in economics. She explained that what drew her in at the end was that the EPP program is exceptionally strong in areas regarding energy and environment, which are her main interests surrounding economics.

“It was clear that it was such a great place to be and I’ll be working with a lot of people who are really pioneering areas in research,” Nguyen said.

When asked how she found her passion for environmental economics and energy, she explained that it was initially through taking the environmental economics class with Gerard. Nguyen has since worked closely with Gerard and associate professor of economics Jonathan Lhost. They and other faculty have helped facilitate and augment her academic interests, she said.

She spent two summers at Lawrence conducting research—one summer focusing on the cost of decarbonizing Vietnam and the other on the air quality and public health in Vietnam. Both professors recommended that she apply to present her research at professional academic conferences and helped her to prepare and practice for her presentation.

“This is just one example of how professors at Lawrence go above and beyond for their students,” Nguyen said. “My professors really didn’t have to do any of those things, but they did because they care.”

Gerard also encouraged her to consider the EPP program at Carnegie Mellon and wrote her a letter of recommendation. He saw Carnegie Mellon as a great fit for her in part because of his own experiences there; he was on the faculty for eight years prior to coming to Lawrence in 2009, serving as executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation. He continues to serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Although he knows it was a tough decision for Nguyen, he doesn’t doubt she’ll exceed expectations.

“She was certainly an extraordinary student,” Gerard said.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Lawrence alumni, friends push fundraising to 4th highest level in school’s history

Steitz and Youngchild Halls of Science (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Strong financial support from alumni and friends continued to come in for Lawrence University during a 2020-21 fiscal year that was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A financial report at the close of the fiscal year shows the university raising $25.03 million, marking the fourth time in the school’s history that it has topped the $25 million mark in a fiscal year. It previously did so in 2008 ($31.4 million), 2015 ($34.4 million), and 2016 ($27.6 million).

The fundraising included, among other gifts, a special campaign to provide emergency funds for students dealing with pandemic-related expenses, an alumnus donation aimed at strengthening study abroad opportunities in perpetuity, the final stretch run that pushed the historic Be the Light! Campaign well past its $220 million goal, a campaign to thank outgoing President Mark Burstein by establishing an endowed professorship in his name, and a gift to rename and care for the President’s House.

The fundraising boost, combined with strong growth in investments, helped elevate Lawrence’s endowment by 31% from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2021. A preliminary estimate shows the endowment reaching $474 million, up from $361 million the previous year, said Mary Alma Noonan, vice president for finance and administration.

“The increase is due in part to continued success in fundraising, including closing out the Be the Light! Campaign, and partly due to a booming capital market recovery after earlier COVID-related losses in 2020,” she said.

Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development, said the fundraising success is a result of so many people who care deeply about Lawrence coming together to make sure the Lawrence experience is available and accessible for this generation and generations to come.

He referenced a former colleague once calling fundraising a team sport, and said it felt that way more than ever over the past year and a half.

“The last 18 months definitely had the feeling of an athletic contest, with the Lawrence community rallying several times, especially to support our students during the pandemic,” Husmann said. “They truly were beacons of light during challenging and uncertain times. Their response to the SOS fundraising was moving, especially seeing how that helped Lawrence students directly.”

The Supporting Our Students (SOS) campaign was launched early in the pandemic, an effort to raise funds that would go directly to students to offset unexpected travel, housing, or food expenses brought on by classes going remote for Spring Term 2020. More than 600 donors contributed $229,116.

The Lawrence Fund, meanwhile, saw contributions of $3.9 million. The Lawrence Fund is the key funding mechanism that supports students, the work of faculty, and the upkeep of campus infrastructure on a daily basis. The amount raised was just shy of the record $4 million in 2019-20, with more than 7,000 donors contributing.

The Lawrence Fund helps cover costs of many infrastructure upgrades, including work this summer on the hardscape in front of Hiett Hall. (Photo by Liz Boutelle)

There have been numerous great fundraising moments to celebrate over the course of the past year, Husmann said. He pointed to one alumnus who found motivation in the pandemic to contribute funds to help students wanting to study abroad.

Dr. James Boyd ’56 and his wife, Dr. Sue Ellen Markey, of Fort Collins, Colorado, established the James W. Boyd Sr. and Sue Ellen Markey Endowment for Study Abroad at Lawrence. After their own travel plans were curtailed because of COVID restrictions, they decided to establish the endowment to help Lawrence students be able to travel once it was safe to do so. Funds were also donated to Markey’s alma mater, Lewis and Clark.

In all, donors gifted Lawrence with more than $10 million in endowed gifts in 2020-21.

Channeling that kind of passion into support for current and future students is what drives Lawrence’s fundraising, Husmann said. It was evident at every turn, including in the final weeks of the Be the Light! Campaign, which officially closed on Dec. 31 after seven years. The final tally came in at $232.6 million, more than $12 million above goal.

Be the Light! concluded with great success with so many donors stretching philanthropically to help us exceed goal,” Husmann said.

He also said alumni and friends rallied to support a “Thanks, Mark!” campaign, set up to honor outgoing President Mark Burstein. Nearly $3 million was raised to endow a professorship in global and public health in Burstein’s name and to eventually replace the walking bridge that crosses Drew Street. It’ll be named for Burstein and his husband, David Calle.

“Again, the community rallied around this opportunity to honor the legacy of our 16th president,” Husmann said.

Meanwhile, a gift of $2 million to provide future care for the President’s House and other nearby Lawrence property came from Patricia (Pat) Boldt ’48 in honor of her late aunt, Olive Hamar, who died of meningitis in 1925 while a Lawrence student. The house, occupied by new President Laurie A. Carter and her family, is now known as the Olive Hamar House.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Legacy of Olive Hamar to live on with renaming of President’s House

The president’s residence at Lawrence will now be known as Hamar House. (Photo by Liz Boutelle)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s President’s House is being renamed the Olive Hamar House in honor of a student who a century ago sought to create a new social space on campus and advocated for women’s rights.

The house that serves as the residence for Lawrence’s president and is often the site of campus gatherings takes on its new name courtesy of a $2 million endowed gift from Patricia (Pat) Boldt ’48, niece of the late Olive Hamar.

Part of the City Park Historic District, the house along North Park Avenue has served as the president’s house since 1956, when Sampson House was converted from a presidential residence to administrative offices. Outgoing President Mark Burstein is the sixth Lawrence president to call it home; Laurie Carter, joining Lawrence as its 17th president on July 1, will be the home’s newest resident, the first under the name Hamar House.

Hamar was a student at Lawrence when she died of meningitis in March 1925. She had been active with student organizations and with the local YWCA and was leading a push to open a hospitality center on campus.

An article in The Lawrentian described her as “one of the most beloved girls on the Lawrence campus. … She dreamed of a place where Lawrence students could meet on a common ground, unhampered by distinctions of any kind, in a house that would offer them that homelike atmosphere missed at college.” 

The endowed gift in her honor will now fund the upkeep of Hamar House as well as the maintenance of several other Lawrence-owned homes along North Park Avenue.

Legacy of Olive Hamar

This portrait of Olive Hamar, part of Lawrence’s art collection, was on display in the President’s House for the past eight years.

Because the president’s house is often a gathering place for campus celebrations and meals with Lawrence guests, it’s appropriate that it will now carry the name of a student who put such emphasis on hospitality and friendship.

Boldt, who followed her aunt’s path to Lawrence, said family stories and cherished letters detail the kindness and generosity of Hamar, including her love of Lawrence.

“Olive was a beloved girl,” Boldt said. “And not just by her family. If you read all the stuff that I’ve got, you can tell people were really fond of her. And when you read some of these letters, you see that she was a darling and a wonderful woman, so generous and humble.”

The story of Hamar and her quest to create a social center on campus—it eventually happened after her death, with a building at the northeast corner of Union Street and College Avenue serving as a gathering place for Lawrence students and members of the Appleton community—became a frequent topic of conversation over the past eight years. Before settling in at Lawrence, Burstein and his husband, David, selected the painting of Olive Hamar from the university’s art collection to hang over the mantel in the living room. They were unaware at the time of her history or her connection to the Boldt family, longtime supporters of Lawrence.

“The spring before we arrived, David and I had the wonderful opportunity to look through the art in Wriston Gallery storage to pick out pieces for the President’s House,” Burstein said. “Our goal was to display the quality of Lawrence throughout the house. We fell in love with a portrait of a young woman. We were drawn to the idea of giving the work a prominent place over the mantel in the living room. We also liked the idea of having a woman in this location given Lawrence’s history as one of the first co-educational institutions in the country.”

Boldt, meanwhile, was plenty familiar with the painting of her aunt. She has letters that document the commissioning of that portrait for Lawrence following Hamar’s death. An almost identical painting, created by the same artist using the same photograph, was on display at her grandparents’ house for as long as she can remember, she said.

Shortly after Burstein assumed the Lawrence presidency in 2013, he and David hosted Pat Boldt and her husband, Oscar C. Boldt, for a social event at the house. It was then that Pat noticed the painting of her aunt on display. The stories flowed from there.

The Olive Hamar stories have now been told and retold—the joy she found on campus, her work with the YWCA, her advocating for women’s rights, her generosity of spirit, the mourning of her death—and they will live on as the house transitions to Hamar House.

“Both David and I have had the honor of retelling Olive’s story and describing the impact she had on the Lawrence community,” Burstein said. “Her care for individual community members and her passion for women’s rights resonated with us and with the many visitors we’ve hosted at the house. It is a pleasure to know this connection to Olive will live on with the naming of Hamar House. That this naming also links the house to Pat Boldt, someone renowned for hospitality and also someone so generous to us and other past presidents in so many ways, was such an added bonus.”

About the house

The Queen Anne-style house was built in 1904—the same year Olive Hamar was born—and acquired by Lawrence in 1947. Designed by architect George W. Jones, its initial occupant, the house is described as an English-inspired mansion with touches of the Victorian era thrown in for good measure.

After Lawrence purchased the house, it briefly converted it into a residence hall, known as the Park House Dormitory. That lasted until 1956, when then-President Douglas Knight and his family moved into the home. It has been renovated multiple times over the years, including a complete renovation in 2000, and has housed, in addition to Knight, presidents Curtis Tarr, Thomas Smith, Richard Warch, Jill Beck, and Burstein.

Carter will be joined in Hamar House by her husband, Gary Robinson, and their family dog, Pepper.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Board of Trustees welcomes two new members; Nettles begins term as chair

Cory Nettles ’92, here speaking at the June 13 Commencement, will begin his tenure as chair of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees on July 1.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Two new members will join the Lawrence University Board of Trustees beginning July 1.

Francesca Romero Siekman ’11 will serve as a Recent Graduate Trustee and Sachin Shivaram as a Term Trustee.

The board also is welcoming a new chair. Cory Nettles ’92, the current vice chair, will succeed David Blowers ’82, who will remain a member of the board.

The Recent Graduate Trustee is a three-year position filled by an alumnus within two to 10 years of graduation. A Term Trustee position is for a three-year term, with eligibility to be re-elected for up to four consecutive terms.

“On behalf of our entire board, I would like to welcome Francesca and Sachin to our Board of Trustees,” Nettles said. “They both will bring their considerable talents and invaluable perspective to our board and help to make Lawrence University even better.”

President Mark Burstein, who is ending his eight-year tenure at Lawrence at the end of the month, praised Blowers for his work as chair and welcomed Nettles to the leadership post.

“One signal of institutional strength is the level of experience and creativity provided by trustee leadership,” Burstein said. “Lawrence has been blessed with very talented board chairs including Dave Blowers, who has offered council, leadership, and careful direction at a critical juncture in the University’s history. Both Dave and I believe that Cory Nettles will continue this tradition of strong, experienced, and creative trustee leadership into the future.”

Nettles said he’s thrilled to take on the new leadership responsibilities at a time when Lawrence is transitioning to Laurie Carter as its 17th president.

“Our sincerest thanks to Dave Blowers, who steps down as board chair while continuing his distinguished service to Lawrence on the board,” Nettles said. “Lawrence is at an important and exciting inflection point. I am excited to accelerate our positive momentum under President Carter’s new leadership.”

Sarah Schott ’97 will be the new vice chair and Bill Baer ’72 the new board secretary.

Meet the new trustees:

Francesca Romero Siekman ’11

Francesca Romero Siekman ’11, of Guanajuato, Gto, Mexico, is a film producer and entrepreneur. She has worked on films such as Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón; The Untamed, directed by Amat Escalante; Gasoline Thieves, directed by Edgar Nito; and Prayers for the Stolen, directed by Tatiana Huezo.

She also is the co-founder of Cornelia B Natural Cosmetics.

Romero Siekman graduated from Lawrence in 2011 and got her masters in 2021 in film producing from Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. She serves on the board of the Film Commission of the State of Guanajuato, Mexico.

Lawrence has been a big part of her family’s history. She and her brother, David Romero Siekman ’15, are fifth-generation Lawrentians. Their mother, Faffie Siekman Romero ’74, their grandmother, Martha Boyd Siekman ’43, their great-grandfather Charles Boyd 1893, and their great-great-grandfather, Samuel Boyd 1859, all graduated from Lawrence, as did other members of her extended family. Martha Boyd Siekman is a past member of the Board of Trustees.

Sachin Shivaram

Sachin Shivaram is CEO of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, a 115-year-old family-owned manufacturing company in Manitowoc.

He is a first-generation American, his parents having immigrated to the U.S. from India in the 1970s. He grew up in Milwaukee and attended Harvard University, majoring in history and literature, focusing on Afro-American history. Shivaram went on to earn a master’s degree in political science from the University of Cambridge and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He has worked in the metals industry for many years in North and South America.

A desire to return to Wisconsin led Shivaram in 2016 to join the Marinette-based Samuel Pressure Vessel Group as president. In 2019, he joined Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry as the company’s first non-family CEO.

Shivaram and his family live in northeast Wisconsin. He teaches a course on Business Ethics and Values-Based Leadership at St. Norbert College. He serves on multiple boards, including IndUS, an organization dedicated to promoting Indo-American friendship and goodwill in the Fox Valley, and New North. He also has been active on boards through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and was recently elected as a supervisor in the Town of Ledgeview.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Alumni Award winners to be honored as annual Reunion weekend goes virtual

Trees frame the Main Hall cupola on the Lawrence University campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence University alumni will come together June 17-20 for a Virtual Reunion that will include honoring eight 2021 Alumni Award winners.

Pandemic protocols are keeping Reunion from being in person again this year, but virtual programming will allow alumni to join together for various events and to celebrate this year’s award winners. Details can be found on the Reunion page at Lawrence.edu.

The 2020 Alumni Award recipients also will be honored during the Virtual Reunion. For a look back at last year’s winners, see here.

The 2021 award winners are:

Presidential Award (2 recipients)

(Presented to an alumnus or alumna whose exemplary leadership and notable actions have contributed to the betterment of the entire Lawrence community.)

Patricia (Pat) Hamar Boldt ’48: She is being honored for “unwavering dedication” to not only Lawrence but to the Fox Valley and the state of Wisconsin as well. She has long been a beacon of goodness and generosity in civic life and volunteer service, partnering with her late husband, Oscar C. Boldt, in strengthening Lawrence and its position in the community.

She has served as president of the Founders Club, the campaign working group for the More Light! Campaign, and with O.C. as an honorary steering committee member of the recently completed Be the Light! Campaign. She was recognized in 1994 with the Jupp Outstanding Service Award, and both Pat and O.C. received honorary doctor of law degrees from Lawrence in 2003 and the Richard Warch Outstanding Service to Bjӧrklunden Award in 2015.

Pat has provided important counsel to every Lawrence president over the past four decades. She has long embraced the value of breaking bread together as more than sharing a meal; it’s a means of coming together. She has frequently cited the lessons learned as a Lawrence student in the ’40s with informing her journey of philanthropy, outreach, and kindness.

Susan (Susie) Stillman Kane ’72: The former Board of Trustees chair has been a passionate advocate for education, focusing volunteer efforts on helping students with financial need obtain access to higher education.

For example, she has worked closely with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in Massachusetts, a network of free, open-enrollment public charter schools helping students in underserved communities. Several KIPP students have enrolled at Lawrence. KIPP also has provided internship opportunities for Lawrence students.

A tireless advocate for Lawrence, she began serving on the Board of Trustees in 2003. She has served on most every committee and served as vice chair before beginning a three-year term as chair in 2016. She served on the Presidential Search Committees that selected both Lawrence’s 16th and 17th presidents, as well as the Task Force on Life After Lawrence, President’s Advisory Committee, and campaign planning and steering committees.

Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award

(This award is presented to a member of the alumni community after their 20th Cluster Reunion for outstanding contributions and achievements in their career field.)

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. ’77 P’10’13: The business career of the former economics and mathematics double major has been impressive, first at Northwest Industries, then at Baxter International Inc., and now as a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and as an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners.

Kraemer has published articles on leadership and business in Fortune Magazine and authored three books on values and leadership, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership (2011), Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership (2015), and Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life (2020).”

Often praised for his ability to open doors and forge lasting connections, Kraemer has remained an effective voice among Lawrence alumni. He has served on the Board of Trustees and the Lawrence University Alumni Association Board of Directors and has been active on multiple Reunion committees, through leadership roles during the More Light! and Be the Light! capital campaigns, and in providing student support.

Nathan M. Pusey Young Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

(This award is presented to a member of the alumni community celebrating their 20th Cluster Reunion or younger for significant contributions and achievements in a career field.)

James J. Moran ’00: A chemist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, he serves as lead for the Isotope and Chemical Analysis team within the Environmental Transformations and Interactions group. He works with scientists around the world, providing insight into isotopic analyses and how they can address challenging questions in fields such as stable isotope geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and microbial ecology, among others.

In 2016, he received the United States Department of Energy Office of Science’s Early Career Award in Biological and Environmental Research. In addition to his accomplishments as a scientist, he has been a mentor for aspiring scientists. Through multiple programs at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the United States Department of Energy, Moran has worked with high school students, undergrads, and graduate students, many of whom have continued their educations and careers in the sciences.

Moran studied geology and chemistry at Lawrence. He has remained connected to Lawrence, serving as a class officer, class agent, and Class Leadership Team member. He has helped others give back to his alma mater, stewarding them through his 10th Reunion Gift Committee, the Viking Gift Committee, and Giving Day.

George B. Walter ’36 Service to Society Award

(This award is presented to a member of the alumni community who best exemplifies the ideals of a liberal education through its application to socially useful ends in the community, the nation, or the world.)

Andrew H. Motiwalla ’96: He is the founder of several organizations focused on sustainable and immersive service programs for teens and adults. In 2006, he founded Terra Education, an experiential education company that offers travel programs throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Its flagship program is Global Leadership Adventures, a service-learning program that allows high school students to learn first-hand about social issues in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America. In 2011, he created Discover Corps, a travel program for families to engage in community service as part of their international vacations. And in 2016, he founded Summer Springboard, a hands-on exploratory program whose mission is to help pre-college students make informed decisions about college selection, academic majors, and careers that stay true to each student’s personal vision.

Motiwalla remains closely connected to each of these organizations and continues to serve as the executive chairman of Terra Education.

Motiwalla also co-founded monitorQA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an inspection and auditing software platform to improve health and safety operations in the workplace. The company seeks to help organizations around the world achieve operational excellence. As chief revenue officer, Motiwalla leads sales, marketing, and customer success efforts for the company.

Motiwalla studied Spanish and anthropology at Lawrence.

Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp M-D’18 Outstanding Service Award (2 recipients)

(This award is presented to a member of the alumni community after their 20th Cluster Reunion who has provided outstanding service to Lawrence within or apart from the Lawrence University Alumni Association.)

Dorothy E. Fischer ’77: She graduated from Lawrence with a focus in economics. After earning her MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and beginning her career as a manager of financial analysis for a division of The Standard Oil Company, Fischer turned a keen sense for the business world into her own consulting firm. As the owner of InnerAwareness Inc. Fischer has helped thousands of clients create positive change through consultations, workshops, seminars, and training classes.

Fischer has given back to Lawrence in a number of volunteer capacities. She has held the role of class secretary, served on her 30th and 40th Reunion committees, connected with peers through her Class Leadership Team, and held a seat on the Founders Club National Council, and has given her time to help prospective students through college fairs, interviews, and admitted student receptions.

Donna M. Weltcheff Schroeder M-D’54 P’79: She has been a loyal supporter of the university and a stalwart champion of upholding Milwaukee-Downer College’s legacy at Lawrence. Immediately after graduating from Milwaukee-Downer College, Schroeder began a long and successful career in the U.S. Social Security Department.

Since her graduation, Schroeder has consistently supported current and future generations of Lawrentians, as well as shared her belief in a liberal arts education with her son and granddaughter, both Lawrentians themselves.

Through her volunteer efforts, Schroeder has served as class secretary, a member of the 2014 Lawrence University and Milwaukee-Downer Anniversary Consolidation Celebration committee and 50-Year Connection committee, as a Class Agent from 1998 to 2001, and as the chair of her Reunion Gift committee in 2005. Her leadership in these capacities, and in more personal conversations with other Downer alumnae, has encouraged many to connect to Lawrence for the first time.

Marshall B. Hulbert ’26 Young Alumni Outstanding Service Award

(This award is presented to a member of the alumni community celebrating their 20th Cluster Reunion or younger who has provided significant service to the college within or apart from the Lawrence University Alumni Association.)

Chuck Erickson ’02: A double major in Spanish and music education with a focus in choral music while a student at Lawrence, Erickson has devoted significant time to guiding prospective students in making their college decisions.

His passion for education and for his alma mater ultimately led him back to Lawrence, where he provided leadership in the admissions department for more than 13 years, working with hundreds of prospective students, keeping track of diversity and college-access programs in partnership with the university, and providing support to domestic transfer students.

In 2015, Erickson began working as an independent educational consultant. In this role he helps clients and their families through each step of the college search and application process, supporting them with honesty and compassion.

He has been an active volunteer at Lawrence and in the Appleton community. He’s served, among other organizations, the Friends of Appleton Public Library, the A Better Chance house, and Appleton Noon Optimist Club. At Lawrence, Erickson has been a leading voice for his 10th and 15th Reunion committees, connected with classmates as a member of his Class Leadership Team, planned events with the Fox Cities Regional Club, and facilitated important fundraising and stewardship efforts through the Viking Gift Committee, Reunion, and Giving Day.

Looking to take a fun photo on campus? We’ve got some ideas (10 of them)

Main Hall and the green that surrounds it provide a plethora of photo opportunities for those living on or visiting campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

A picture is worth a thousand words—at least that’s what Instagram has taught me.

This article was made for me: I’m the friend who insists on the group photo every time we go out. I scroll through my camera roll when I’m trying to remember that one student life event from freshman year. I always have my phone camera ready (and my hair and outfit lookin’ cute), because you never know when that perfect photo op will present itself.

We did an earlier version of great campus photo ops. Check it out here. (These nine plus our new 10 give you 19 great ideas)

Every photo is a memory saved for later, and I want to make sure I remember it in all its glory. So basically, I’ve been scouting out Lawrence’s best photo spots since I first visited campus. Whether you’re looking for the “undeniably Lawrence” backdrop or one of campus’s many hidden gems, get ready to smile, because these 10 destinations (we tried not to duplicate the above version; and please remember of follow all safety protocols) will guarantee your pic is worthy of the rinsta.

1. Ready the Ship window in Warch

As the newest addition to my collection of campus backdrops, it’s only fair that the new logo decal in the front window of Warch Campus Center tops the list. The Viking Athletics ship logo incorporates so many aspects of Lawrence history—the antelope of the Amos Lawrence Family Coat of Arms as the figurehead, the university crest holding up the mast, the immediately recognizable LU decorating the sail—and honestly, it just looks pretty freaking cool.

Insider Fun-Fact: Starting this piece with the viking ship lets me make a cheesy joke about setting sail with the rest of this list!

2. Colman/Brokaw bridge

The Colman/Brokaw bridge is the type of photo spot that you walk by every day but probably don’t appreciate how photogenic it is. This one is all about the angles. Whether you’re taking a selfie against the railing, sitting in the middle of the path with a friend, or looking over the edge at the photographer standing down below, there’s no shortage of opportunities to capture a top-notch and uniquely-you photo.

3. Mural on Drew Street

Who doesn’t love a little surprise in their life? Just below the aforementioned bridge is a mural, regularly repainted to showcase varying on-campus events and phenomena. A mural celebrating Earth Week was up when I had my photo shoot, but this location is unique in that the shot will always provide the context of a special moment in time—you never know what you’re going to get, but it will always be distinctly Lawrence.

4. Basically, anywhere on Main Hall Green

As soon as the sun comes out and the temperature hits 60 degrees, I’m busting out the picnic blanket, some sunscreen, and a good book and heading over to Main Hall Green. From there, I can look straight in any direction to find a top-notch photo spot. Quaint benches are scattered around the yard for traditional family photos, or of course, you can always just lie in the grass if you can’t resist the temptation. Trust me, you’ve never seen another scene that’s quite this green.

5. Steitz atrium

Natural light enhances any photo, but the weather doesn’t always agree with me. When I found an indoor location with brilliant natural light from the skylight (which, well, takes up the whole ceiling), I knew it was a keeper. Soaring three floors up in Steitz Hall’s atrium, this photo spot promises a compelling backdrop of geometric patterns, accent plants, and the comfiest chairs on campus.

6. Trever woods

The Trever woods are easily the most secluded, unknown photo location on campus. I, a self-proclaimed photo-aficionado, only found this spot a couple weeks ago, so I know it’s past time that the Trever woods are exposed for their full glory. Right behind Trever Hall, on the very edge of campus, a short trail leads down to the Fox River, and the surrounding trees offer the perfect backdrop of foliage, with glimpses of blue water and sky peeking through the branches.

Location-scouting tip: Exploring is a great way to find new photo ops! Because campus is constantly evolving, there’s always something new to find, no matter how long you’ve lived here.

7. Chapman Hall welcome wall

There’s a reason why the first thing prospective students see when they start their campus tour is Chapman Hall, and I think it’s just to show off the “Bring Your Light” wall. And after seeing it myself, I can understand why. The word I keep coming back to is just “stunning.” Showcasing a stunning aerial photo of the Lawrence campus, lit up by a stunning sunset, the wall flows neatly into a stunning series of photographs of Lawrence’s stunning accomplishments. Do you see what I’m going for here? It’s pretty stunning.

8. Briggs Hall overlook

My first photo shoot on campus was at the Briggs Overlook, and freshman-me knew what she was doing. Jutting out over the hill Briggs Hall is built into, the overlook offers the best view on campus: towering bridges, treetops extending for miles, blue sky as far as the eye can see, and of course, the beautiful Fox River.

9. Ledge between Memorial Hall and Wellness Center

The Briggs Overlook is a classic for any photo, but just a short walk to the east leads you to one of Lawrence’s most criminally under-utilized photo backdrops. With a view of Appleton that rivals that of Briggs, the stone ledge between Memorial Hall and the Wellness Center provides an impressive frame for a deserving view, curved in a way that makes the background look even more expansive.

Posing tip: Any location that gives you the opportunity to sit down makes it easier to answer the age-old question: What do I do with my hands???

10. Sage patio

I know, I know, more views of Appleton and the Fox River—but hear me out! This one is special. The metallic, industrial staircase and railings provide an eye-catching contrast to the serene view of trees and water below. Just behind Sage Hall, this patio area is the most underused of all the prime river photo locales, so you know you’ll have plenty of time to snap as many photos as you want without getting side-eye from passersby. And when you’re done, you can just head straight down the steps for a stroll along Lawrence’s very own river path!

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications. Thanks to Alex and her friends for supplying all these great photos.

Lawrence’s beloved Rock is heading east, a gift to university’s departing president

The Rock first came to the Lawrence University campus in 1895. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

The Rock, a 2-ton boulder that has been part of Lawrence University lore for 126 years, is being gifted to departing President Mark Burstein.

In searching for the perfect gift for a leader whose rock-solid leadership has helped guide Lawrence to new heights, the university community opted to follow the lead of Burstein’s previous employer. When he left Princeton University to join the Lawrence family eight years ago, Burstein was given small honed pieces of material that were used in the many building and landscape projects constructed and renovated during his nine-year tenure there. These pieces form a small square that resides on his desk in Sampson House. 

It’s hoped he’ll proudly display The Rock in similar fashion as he leaves Lawrence and moves back east to begin a new adventure.

“I’ll need a bigger desk,” a gracious Burstein said. “Or David will have to design a garden with The Rock as a center point.”

The Rock came to Lawrence as a gift from the Class of 1895, plucked from a field during a geology trip near New London. It made the 30-mile trip east to Appleton and has since been painted, buried, hidden, and moved. But mostly revered.

Now it’ll go further east with a president who also is revered. The gift didn’t include a means of moving The Rock because of ongoing budget constraints. So, come June, volunteers, fully masked and following The Pledge, will be needed to hoist The Rock atop Burstein’s car for the 900-mile drive. A sign-up sheet can be found on the fifth floor of the Mudd Library in the Center for the Advancement and Study of Humor, Hijinx, and Fools.

“Raft of Stars,” Lawrence alumnus’ debut novel, arrives amid growing buzz

Andrew J. Graff ’09

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Andrew J. Graff ’09 speaks of gratitude as he watches the buzz grow for his debut novel, Raft of Stars, released today by Ecco-HarperCollins.

Gratitude for his experience as an English major at Lawrence University, gratitude for the instruction and guidance that led to his acceptance into the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and gratitude for lessons in and out of the classroom that helped him keep his dream alive when the waters got rough.

“I’m thankful for it and just really enjoying everything that is happening,” Graff said.

What is happening is that Raft of Stars has arrived as a much talked-about novel, standing tall among the spate of spring releases. It has been highlighted as a must-read by Parade Magazine and USA TODAY, was chosen by HarperCollins as its lead spring title, was named a “Indie Next” pick by the American Booksellers Association and a “Read This Next” pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and has drawn rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times, Kirkus, and PopSugar.

Set in northern Wisconsin in the mid-1990s, Raft of Stars tells the story of two 10-year-old boys who flee the scene of a shooting and embark on a wild adventure through forests and along rivers while being pursued by law enforcement and family, all with varying motivations and conflicted histories.

The Boston Globe says Graff’s detailed landscape and harrowing tale of boys on the lam has echoes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while neatly finding its own path: “The art and craft of this narrative, apparent from the first page with its sublime constellations of images, offers brutal beauty, the glinting edge of truth, and the possibility of redemption for the fifth-grade boys, and also for the adults chasing them.”

The excitement surrounding the book’s release comes six years after Graff found himself at a daunting crossroads.

Before embarking on Raft of Stars, Graff had spent seven years writing a novel that was set in post-9/11 Afghanistan, where he had been deployed as an aircraft mechanic with the U.S. Air Force. He began it while a student at Lawrence and continued with it as he earned his master’s degree at Iowa.

He was back living in northern Wisconsin when his agent sent it to publishers. Graff eagerly awaited the offers.

“I thought, boy, here I come world,” he said. “And no one wanted it. No one. It was pretty unanimous.”

It was the rejection that his professors warned him would come. He remembers Lawrence English professor David McGlynn, himself an accomplished author, telling him that if you’re talented, passionate, and diligent, you can find literary success but it will most likely take 10 years or more. Embrace patience and hard work, McGlynn told him.

And yet there was no bracing for the rejection of seven years’ worth of work, Graff said. 

He stopped writing for a year and a half.

But then it was the voice of McGlynn in his head that brought him back and ignited the spark that would become Raft of Stars.

It was late 2014 or early 2015, in the dead of winter, and Graff and his wife, Heidi Quist Graff ’10, were living in an old house on the banks of the Peshtigo River. Graff had started a teaching job at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

As he rummaged through boxes in the basement, he came upon an old college assignment from McGlynn.

“I wasn’t writing,” Graff recalled. “I had failed at being a novelist, you know. I was lighting fires in the wood stove in my basement, and I was using old notes from college to light the fire. I had saved every single note and every handout from my time in college. I was hoping I would do something great with them but I ended up lighting fires in wintertime. I was about to put this one essay into the fire; it was called The Nature and Aim of Fiction by Flannery O’Connor. I remembered how much David loved that essay. So, I didn’t burn it and I set it aside instead.

“In the essay, Flannery O’Connor says it takes three sensory strokes to bring something fully to life on the page, like smell, taste, and touch. That night is when I wrote the first lines of what later would become Raft of Stars. I just wrote about two boys pushing their bikes down a gravel road and there was a blackbird hanging onto a cattail stalk and there were some bees in the ditch clover. I didn’t know who those boys were and I didn’t know where they were headed, but they are Bread and Fish, the two boys from Raft of Stars.”

Thus began a five-year journey that would land Graff a book contract with Ecco-HarperCollins in mid-2019.

“I felt like I had mourned the first book long enough and I knew I still wanted to write, and these boys seemed interesting to me,” Graff said. “So, once I got to know them and watch them kind of ride their bikes around town a little bit and light off firecrackers in silos, I thought, yea, there’s something here. And eventually the story formed, the drama came in, it became apparent that one boy had an abusive father and the other, his friend, would do something very big and drastic to rescue him. At that point, I felt like the story had enough pressure to get them deep into the wilderness, especially once the adult cast of characters came onto the scene.”

A journey of his own

Raft of Stars is set in a space Graff knows well. He grew up in Niagara, a rural city of 1,600 located near the Menominee River in Marinette County. He hunted, fished, and explored amid the beauty of the Northwoods, landscape that would become central to his story of the two runaway boys as they navigate terrain that is both dangerous and soothing.

Graff enlisted in the Air Force shortly after graduating from high school. When the attacks of 9/11 happened, life took an abrupt turn. He was deployed to Afghanistan.

“I just remember how surreal it was, to be sort of dropped off at this desert combat airfield,” Graff said. “We worked at nighttime, catching C-130s, these inbound cargo jets, to see if they needed any maintenance.”

After four years of service, he moved to Appleton and enrolled at Fox Valley Technical College to train to be a paramedic.

He was being practical, he said. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He yearned to be a writer. He’d drive past Lawrence and wonder what might be.

“After a year at Fox Valley Tech, which was a great start and I’m thankful for that place, it just became really clear that I have to do this,” Graff said.

He applied to Lawrence as a 22-year-old non-traditional student, got in, and immediately impressed. McGlynn, who joined the Lawrence faculty in Graff’s sophomore year, said the talent was noticeable, even if his writing at that point was a bit “young.” When he turned in an essay about a moment during his time in the Air Force, McGlynn said he could see Graff’s confidence growing.

“He began to believe he could become a writer and set his sights on graduate school,” McGlynn said.

Graff joins Madhuri Vijay ’09 (The Far Field) and Callie Bates ’09 (The Waking Land series) as former Lawrence classmates who have landed debut novels with major publishers, a point of pride for an English department that recently added a creative writing major. The three have built on the writing success of Lawrence alumni who came before and provide a relatable window to what’s possible for current and future Lawrence students who want to pursue creative writing, McGlynn said.

“He called me the day Raft of Stars sold, in July of 2019, and it was a big moment for us both,” McGlynn said of Graff. “His work is a testimony to the fact that inspired, artful writing happens over time and is not the product of a flash of genius or a single good idea. A Lawrence student might not publish a novel while a student, but our record shows that something foundational is happening here. They begin the long journey toward the larger goal.”

Graff, now on the English faculty at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, said he’s thinking frequently of his Lawrence experience as he savors the excitement surrounding the book’s release.

“Without Lawrence, I wouldn’t be writing, hands down,” Graff said. “It was an interest of mine. I loved books; I always loved reading; I loved daydreaming. But it was at Lawrence where I thought, yes, I really want to try this. I got so much guidance from professors like David McGlynn and (former Lawrence professor) Faith Barrett and others that I couldn’t have done it without those years. It was absolutely informative.”

Graff said he will join one of McGlynn’s virtual classes as a guest during Spring Term. And, if pandemic protocols allow, he’ll pay a visit to campus in October when he’s back in Appleton to participate in the Fox Cities Book Festival.

Meanwhile, he’ll celebrate the release of Raft of Stars on March 23 by taking part in a 7 p.m. online launch event hosted by the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Graff said he’ll happily share with viewers what he took from his time at Lawrence, the joy of getting into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the hard work from then to now. And he’ll speak to the emotions that overwhelmed him on that summer day in 2019 when his agent told him the book had sold.

“It was raining that day and I was parked on the side of the road, and after the phone call I just sat in my pickup truck and cried,” Graff said. “It felt really sweet. I spent seven years working on the first book and five years working on this one. I thought, oh boy, if this one doesn’t sell, I will start again, but it’ll be hard. I’m thankful for every bit of attention the book is getting. It’s been pure fun.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu