Category: Faculty

Marcia Bjornerud’s Book “Timefulness” Nominated for Prestigious Literary Award

Timefulness book coverTimefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, the latest book from Walter Shober Professor of Environmental Sciences and Professor of Geology Marcia Bjornerud, has been long-listed for the PEN America Awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious literary awards. Bjornerud is nominated for the PEN/E.O Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing, which honors “a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.”

Bjornerud does just that in Timefulness, which reveals how knowing the rhythms of Earth’s deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future. As Bjornerud observes, “our everyday lives are shaped by processes that vastly predate us, and our habits will in turn have consequences that will outlast us by generations.” Timefulness presents a new way of thinking about our place in time, enabling us to make decisions on multigenerational timescales.

In her elegant and engaging prose, Bjornerud peppers Timefulness with insights and anecdotes, sharing the deep knowledge and passion for geology she brings to her classrooms with her readers. Timefulness is also an example of the bonds students and faculty forge at Lawrence: Haley Hagerman ’14 provided the illustrations that appear throughout the book.

Timefulness is a delightful and interesting read.”

In addition to the recognition from PEN, Timefulness has also garnered rave reviews. Leading science journal Nature described it as “a trenchant study” and Science writes that “Timefulness is a delightful and interesting read. The author’s cadence and the illustrator’s … figures made me feel as though I was having a glass of wine with a friend who was explaining geologic history while sketching on a napkin.”

Stay tuned! The finalists for the PEN Awards will be announced in January 2019.

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

Read a Q&A with Marcia Bjornerud about Timefulness.

An A+ for D Term: Students Offered a Rich Array of Experiences During Winter Break

From Appleton to London to Hong Kong, Lawrence faculty and students used D-Term 2018 to explore ideas, art, research skills and the wider world. D-Term, or December Term, is a two-week mini-term that offers brief, intensive enrichment courses. This year, students had the opportunity to engage with questions of sustainability and historical resilience to disasters, bring a liberal arts perspective to wellness and sharpen practical skills in design and data analysis.

Read more about this year’s D-Term classrooms, whether it’s a room in Main Hall, an urban garden in Hong Kong or the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, through insights from faculty members.

Hong Kong: Sustainability, Livability, and Urban Design

Group of Lawrence students with Hong Kong skyline in background
Students taking part in the D-Term trip to Hong Kong stand on Victoria Peak, overlooking the Hong Kong skyline.

This combined discussion-and-travel course examined sustainable, livable urban design through the lens of contemporary Hong Kong. The class, taught by Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek and Associate Professor of Government Ameya Balsekar, spent one week on campus reading and preparing, followed by several days in Hong Kong for on-the-ground study, including meetings with local NGOs, government officials and business leaders. Below are excerpts from Jason Brozek’s daily reports on the opportunities for students during the on-the-ground study portion of the class:

Day 1: The first day of the on-the-ground portion of our class on livability, sustainability and urban design in Hong Kong focused on the city’s history, British & Chinese influences and its emergence as a global trading and financial hub. We visited Chunking Mansions to engage with “low-end globalization” (a concept and case study from one of the books we discussed during our week of prep on campus), did a mapping activity with a scan of a vintage 1930 map of Kowloon, visited the Hong Kong Museum of History and hiked at Victoria Peak. We ended the day by having dinner at the Happy Valley Jockey Club with KK Tse (’81) and Wendy Lai.

Day 2: We focused on the preservation of things like urban green space and historic buildings—the  kind of things some cities have lost as they tried to build and grow quickly. We did a slow-looking activity in Kowloon Park (inspired by Freshman Studies), then compared it to wilder green space by hiking across the Wan Chai Gap trail to the reservoir on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Connected to a different class discussion, we also visited some preserved historic sites. They included a former army barracks in Kowloon Park, the 1912 Wan Chai Post Office (now the Environmental Resource Centre) and the international award-winning Blue House.

Day 3: We kicked off with Rooftop Republic, a nonprofit that helps corporations and schools build rooftop farms. At this site, they grow on top of a shopping mall and donate the produce to local food banks.

Then we met with Rick Kroos ’66, who was the engineer for the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong’s financial district (as well as many other projects). Rick connected us with a wide range of other speakers, including Billy Wong, deputy head of research at the HK Trade Development Council; Anneliese Smilie from Redress, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing waste in Hong Kong’s garment industry; and Bernard Chang, an architect with the firm KPF.

Day 4: We spent the morning with the staff of Department of City Planning to learn about the HK2030+ strategic vision. Overall, Hong Kong is focused on livability, sustainability and integration with the broader Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau and other nearby cities in China). The students asked terrific (hard!) questions about how this plan intersects with climate change, affordable housing, green space, waste management, historic preservation and land reclamation. In the afternoon, we visited the new Kowloon terminal for the high-speed rail connection with mainland China, which is controversial in Hong Kong. Many people here see it as encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy, which is guaranteed under the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems principle.

You can view the full gallery of photos from Hong Kong here.

Bebop Language and Innovations

Director of Jazz Studies Jose Encarnacion writing musical notations on whiteboard.
Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación and students make musical notations.

All instruments were welcome in this course exploring how to improvise using bebop language. Among the activities, students studied solo transcriptions of musicians like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, and applied improvisational concepts. 

 

 

With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres.

Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación shares that, “the music, it is always about the music and the musicians of that time period. Their wisdom, understanding, imagination, creativity, commitment and contributions to the music inspires me to introduce it to students. With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres,” continues Encarnación. “I like for my students to listen and understand the tradition of this important American art form called ‘jazz’ and the many transformations it took on along its history. In my teachings, I encourage my students to listen, learn and develop respect for the past so they may add their contribution, knowledge and new light embodying the richness of the past and freshness of the new.”

Introduction to R and Excel for Data Analysis

Careful data analysis has become central to decision-making in areas from politics to sports to medicine. This D-Term course introduced students to collecting, cleaning and manipulating messy, real-world data with powerful programs R and Excel.

Professor Arnold Shober stands in front of a graph in a classroom.
Arnold Shober explains how to manage and analyze data to students in his D-Term class.

For any of the natural and social sciences, quantitative data analysis is a core skill,” explains Associate Professor of Government Arnold Shober.  “It is like reading a book–but for most of us it is more like reading a book in a language we’re just learning.  And just like learning a new language, we make lots of mistakes.  The D-Term course lets my students make those mistakes in a low-stakes, focused environment.  Then, when it really counts, on their own projects, they can focus on their analyses and not the mechanics.  They can write paragraphs–not spell words.”

Happiness: Meditation and Science

Constance Kassor and students meditating at a table.
Professor Constance Kassor and students participate in a guided meditation exercise.

This course took a liberal arts approach to meditation, tackling the question “What is happiness and how is it achieved?” by engaging with ideas of Buddhist philosophy of mind and investigating the ways in which they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. This D-Term offering is also an extension of Lawrence’s commitment to student wellness and the whole student.

My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.

“This course stemmed from my research and teaching interests in Buddhist thought and meditation,” explains Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Constance Kassor. “Not only did we read about suffering and happiness from both Buddhist and scientific perspectives, but we also spent time engaging in the different meditative practices that we studied. Students were also required to commit to 10-30 minutes of meditation outside of class every day and report on their experiences. My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.”

Plague, War, and Fire: Disasters and the Making of London

Three students pose on top of St. Paul's Cathedra with the London skyline in the background.
Students participating in the D-Term London study course stand atop St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Between 1642 and 1666 London experienced war, plague and fire. This December, Lawrentians traveled to London to examine these catastrophes and explore how the city’s responses shaped the future of not merely London, but other cities across the globe. Students visited museums and historical sites and considered how London responded to crisis, commemorated it and confronted it again when German bombs fell during the twentieth century.

“London is such an incredibly rich landscape on which to study history,” notes Frederick, whose D-Term class grew out of an earlier course he taught at Lawrence’s London Centre in 2016. “During these two weeks we were in constant contact with the deep history of this fascinating city, from walking past walls erected by the Romans, to having a lecture from an archeologist about the 14th-century plague skeleton he had laid before us, to exploring the rooms from which Churchill defended the defense of England during the Blitz. I can teach students a great deal about history in the classroom, but there is something to being in the place where it happened that just can’t be replaced.”

(Frederick also adds a dispatch about the updated London Centre: “We got a tour of the new London Center. It’s awesome!”)

Adobe Creative Suite

Associate Professor of Art Benjamin Rinehart developed a workshop setting to introduce students to the Adobe Creative Suite programs, which include Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. “Students, staff and faculty are eager to become proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite programs,” observes Rinehart. “This course is valuable for any field of study and has many applications beyond being an artist or designer.”

Student at computer editing image in Photoshop.
A student explores Photoshop during D-Term.

From creating art to presenting data, knowledge of design principles and programs gives Lawrentians another tool to enhance their own work and offer a broad array of talents to prospective employers. The class is project-centered, allowing each student to explore the multifaceted and contemporary nature of each program. In just a couple of short weeks, students are exposed to methods in image construction, graphic design, typography and more. Students also visited the Lawrence University Office of Communications to speak with designers and see how these programs are used to advance an organization’s materials and mission.

Lawrence psychologist research project focuses on local adolescent rumination intervention

Lawrence University psychologist Lori Hilt has been awarded an $18,000 grant by the American Psychological Foundation Award to support her research on rumination intervention for adolescents.

The John and Polly Sparks Early Career Grant supports early career psychologists conducting research in the area of intervention and treatment for serious emotional disturbance in children.

Lori Hilt
Lori Hilt

Hilt is looking to engage approximately 80 local adolescents in her study that will begin this fall.

“We’re targeting kids who are high on rumination, which is the cognitive process that our intervention is focused on,” said Hilt, a child clinical psychologist who specializes in the development of emotion regulation. “Kids who tend to dwell on negative information and rehash it in their minds are more at-risk for developing depression and anxiety. We’re trying to get kids who are already engaging in that process to see if this intervention can change the way they think.”

Rumination, a clinical term, refers to brooding about negative thoughts and emotions, “chewing” over things in one’s mind.

“Some kids develop these maladaptive strategies like rumination,” Hilt explained. “What I want to do is see if we can intervene and teach them more adaptive strategies like mindfulness — being in the present moment — to try to prevent them from developing things like depression and anxiety.”

Hilt’s research will involve the use of a mobile application she developed with the assistance of several Lawrence students that sends notifications to the user several times throughout the course of the day. It asks the user a series of questions — Are you feeling sad? Are you feeling anxious? — and then assigns a mood rating. Depending upon how high the rating is, the user may get assigned a mindfulness exercise, either a written instruction on the app or a prerecorded audio one that will guide the person through a specific exercise, helping them focus on the present moment.

“Afterward, the app will ask questions again so we can see the short-term effects,” said Hilt, a 1997 Lawrence graduate who joined the faculty in 2011. “We’ll also have participants log-in to a website to answer questionnaires before they start using the app, three weeks after they use it, and then again six weeks and 12 weeks later to see if there are any long-term effects.”

Hilt says her study is “a first step” in what she hopes will result in a wider program.

“We have some evidence from a pilot study that it is effective, but we really need to look at a larger group of kids and have power to statistically test whether the intervention is helping kids, said Hilt. “If results are favorable from this trial, I want to do a larger, randomized control trial where we compare the mindfulness mobile app to another type of mobile app to see how well it works under more controlled conditions. Then, if we get favorable results, we would disseminate this app, use it as a proof of concept.

“There are a lot off apps on the marketplace that say they’re helpful but haven’t been tested,” she added. “If we can show, in a laboratory situation, how well it works, then we can go and recommend this to kids as a prevention strategy locally and then spread it around the country.”

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

 

 

Award-winning attorneys Bill Baer, Nancy Hendry share 2017-18 Distinguished Scarff Professorship

For the first time in its 29-year history, two people will jointly hold Lawrence University’s Distinguished Visiting Scarff Professorship.

Award-winning attorneys Bill Baer, a 1972 Lawrence graduate, and his wife, Nancy Hendry, will share the Scarff Professor appointment April 16-26. Each will give a public lecture as well as guest teach several classes in the government and economics departments.

Hendry presents “When the Bribe Isn’t Money: Gender, Corruption and Sextortion” Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. Baer delivers the address “Net Neutrality, Burger King and Regulating the Internet” Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Both talks in the Wriston Art Center auditorium are free and open to the public.

Bill Baer
Bill Baer ’72

A member of Lawrence’s Board of Trustees (2001-12; 2017-), Baer spent four years in the U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama. He served as assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division from 2013-2016 and one year as acting associate attorney general, the number three position in the department.

During Baer’s tenure as assistant attorney general, the antitrust division brought and won more civil and criminal enforcement cases than at any point in its history. Among the actions were challenges and threatened challenges to proposed mergers in health insurance, airlines, beer and wireless carriers; criminal price-fixing prosecutions against financial institutions, online retailers and auto parts manufacturers; a successful lawsuit against Apple and book publishers for thwarting competition for online book sales.

While at the Justice Department, Baer also was involved in policy work related to merger enforcement guidelines, net neutrality, the relationship between intellectual property rights and antitrust and between U.S. trade policy and antitrust enforcement. He worked closely with colleagues in Europe, China, Japan and elsewhere on antitrust enforcement.

Prior to his time in the Justice Department, Baer worked at the Federal Trade Commission on two separate occasions: in the late 1970’s under President Carter and again from 1995-1999 as director of the Bureau of Competition. He is the only person to lead antitrust enforcement at both the FTC and the Justice Department.

Baer is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he has spent 34 years in three different stints, leading the antitrust division. He has twice been named the best competition lawyer in the world by Global Competition Review and was honored in 2010 by The National Law Journal as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence, Baer earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Nancy Hendry
Nancy Hendry

As the senior advisor for the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), Hendry works to address gender inequality, improve access to justice and promote global leadership of women within the judiciary. She has specific interest in abuse of power for purposes of sexual exploitation and the relationship between gender inequality and corruption.

The IAWJ coined the term “sextortion” to describe a pervasive form of sexual exploitation and corruption that occurs when people in positions of authority – government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel or employers – seek to extort sexual favors in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold. Sextortion, in essence, is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe.

Hendry has extensive international experience, managing programs on sextortion in the Philippines, Tanzania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Morocco. On behalf of IAWJ, she has developed a sextortion toolkit; led sextortion training workshops for judges and anti-corruption stakeholders; and spoken about sextortion in forums around the world, including International Anti-corruption Conferences in Malaysia and Panama, the World Bank Law, Justice and Development Week and UN Commission on the Status of Women annual meeting.

A Peace Corp volunteer in the early 1970s in Senegal, Hendry returned to the Peace Corps in 1996, serving as the organization’s general counsel until 2001. She traveled the world meeting with foreign officials to negotiate formal agreements for volunteers to work in those countries.

Hendry spent 14 years (1981-95) as vice president and deputy general counsel of the Public Broadcasting Service, providing legal counsel on matters ranging from business planning for new ventures to first amendment issues and acquisition of the public television satellite replacement system to regulatory proceedings.

During her career Hendry also has done legal work with the U.S. Department of Education, the law firm of Wald, Harkrader and Ross and the Children’s Law Center, for which she was recognized by the Washington, D.C. Bar Association as its Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her law degree at Stanford, where she met Baer.

The Scarff Visiting Professorship was established in 1989 by Edward and Nancy Scarff in memory of their son, Stephen, a 1975 Lawrence graduate who died in an automobile accident in 1984.  It brings public servants, professional leaders and scholars to campus to provide broad perspectives on the central issues of the day through classroom courses and public lectures.

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

Lawrence faculty members promoted, granted tenure

Three members of the Lawrence University faculty have been granted tenure appointments and a fourth has been promoted to the rank of full professor by the college’s Board of Trustees.

Kurt Krebsbach has been promoted from associate professor to full professor of computer science. Celia Barnes in the English department, Alison Guenther-Pal in the German department and Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies and associate professor of music, have been granted tenure. Barnes and Guenther-Pal also were promoted from assistant to associate professor.

“I’m delighted to welcome a new faculty member to the elevated rank of professor and to congratulate our three newest tenured colleagues,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “Lawrence sets a high bar for faculty achievement, requiring demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship, creative activity and service. These faculty have enhanced our community immeasurably, introducing our students to new ideas and fresh perspectives on long established truths and enriching the intellectual and artistic life of the university. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Kurt Kresbach
Kurt Krebsbach ’84

Krebsbach, whose research interests include artificial intelligence, multi-agent systems and functional programming, returned to Lawrence in 2002 as a faculty member, having earned his bachelor’s degree from Lawrence as the university’s first mathematics-computer science major.

He has made research presentations and technical reports at more than three dozen professional conferences in his career. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence since 1987, Krebsbach spent time in 2009 at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as a Masters of Informatics Scholar.

Prior to joining the faculty, Krebsbach spent seven years as an artificial intelligence researcher at Honeywell Laboratories in Minneapolis. He also taught two years in the math and computer science department at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

After graduating from Lawrence, Krebsbach earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Minnesota.

Celia Barnes
Celia Barnes

Barnes joined the Lawrence English department faculty in 2010 as a visiting assistant professor before receiving a tenure-track appointment the following year. Her scholarship focuses on how18th-century writers conceived of their own place in literary history. She is particularly interested in re-examining the familiar image of the professional author who writes alone and always with an eye to publication into one where writers and readers are actively and sociably engaged in an interactive process of creating text.

In addition to teaching courses such as “British Writers,” Revolutionary 18th Century” and “Gender and Enlightenment,” Barnes has collaborated with colleagues to team-teach the interdisciplinary English/physics course “Newtonian Lit: Chronicles of a Clockwork Universe” and the English/philosophy course “Enlightenment Selves.”

Barnes directed an elementary composition program at Indiana University and spent a year on the faculty at California Lutheran University before coming to Lawrence. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from The College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in English and earned a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in 18th-century British Literature from Indiana University.

Alison Gunther-Pal
Alison Gunther-Pal

Guenther-Pal began her career at Lawrence in 2007, first with a three-year appointment in German and film studies through the university’s Postdoctoral Fellows program, then as visiting assistant professor and finally as a tenure track assistant professor. In addition to teaching in the German and film studies programs, she also teaches courses in gender studies.

Her scholarship interests span German cinema, 20th-century German culture, feminist film theory, queer theory and popular culture, especially stardom and fandom. Her primary research focuses on the representation of homosexuality and queerness in cinematic, scientific, lay and literary texts during the Konrad Adenauer era of post-World War II Germany.

Guenther-Pal was honored with Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in recognition of “demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth” in 2017 and was the 2015-16 recipient of the university’s Mortar Board Award for Faculty Excellence.

She studied in Germany at the University of Göttingen and the Free University of Berlin before earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Germanic studies from the University of Minnesota.

Copeland Woodruff
Copeland Woodruff

Woodruff was named Lawrence’s first director of opera studies in 2014 after spending six years as co-director of opera activities at the University of Memphis. In addition to directing Lawrence’s annual main stage opera production, Woodruff has launched a series of “micro-operas” that examine socially relevant issues and are performed at non-traditional locales. His first, “Expressions of Acceptance,” featured 13 short operas simultaneously staged throughout the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, including stairwells, bathrooms, the bar areas and even elevators. The production tied for third place in the 2015-16 National Opera Association’s Division 1 Best Opera Production competition.

In 2016, his “Straight from the Hip,” was performed at The Draw, a local art gallery. The production examined the issue of gun presence and gun awareness in the community through a series of nine mini-vignettes. His 2017 production, “Is That a Fact,” explored facts, and possibly, their alternative-fact counterparts.

Woodruff’s 2016 mainstage production, “The Beggar’s Opera,” was awarded first-place honors in by the National Opera Association. Under his direction, Lawrence also was recognized in 2015 with first-place honors in the undergraduate division of the Collegiate Opera Scenes competition and earned second-place honors in the NOA’s Best Opera Production competition for “The Tender Land.”

He earned a both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in stage directing for opera from Indiana University.

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

 

 

Professor Rob Neilson adds artistic flair to new Fox Cities Exhibition Center

When the city of Appleton threw a grand-opening party Jan. 11 for its new $31.9 million downtown exhibition center, Lawrence University art professor Rob Neilson’s talents were one of the building’s star attractions.

Rob Neilson with "You Are Here" sculpture
Rob Neilson stands under his sculpture “You Are Here,” which hangs from the ceiling.

Three projects of Neilson’s — “You Are Here,” “We Are Here” and “Community Caryatids,” a series of 10 I-beams representing each of the local municipalities contributing financially to the center — provide an artistic connection between the 30,000-square-foot facility, the people and communities who built it and the visitors it will serve.

Neilson proved he’s not only highly creative, he also can work fast. From the time he was first selected for the art commission from among three finalists to the completion of all three projects: 10 months.

“I’ve done projects that are three, four years, but this was very quick and a lot of work,” said Neilson, the Frederick R. Layton Professor of Art at Lawrence. “I was teaching at the same time.”

Two of the projects are designed to complement each other.  “You Are Here” is a 12-foot–by-13-foot sculpture project suspended from the ceiling of the ground-level floor. It features a cutout of the state of Wisconsin with a giant red pushpin inserted where the Fox Cities would be on the map. “We Are Here” is a series of 10 oversized portraits each comprised of 1,000 individual headshots shot last summer and fall of citizens from throughout the Fox Cities.

“The sculpture project was where I started. I was thinking about what is this exhibition center, what is our community trying to do?,” Neilson explained. “They’re trying to get people to the Fox Cities, get people to come and stay. It’s about travel, destination, the history of this place and how geography and landscape has shaped this community.

“So, I was really thinking about how to do a three-dimensional representation of all those ideas; the river, history, paper, travel, destination. That all just came together in a way that I’m used to working, thinking, developing ideas.”

Rob Neilson with portrait project "We Are Here"
Rob Neilson chats with guests in front of his “We Are Here” portrait project at the grand opening of the Fox Cities Exhibition Center.

Neilson was presented with a second opportunity to propose something for a space on the lower level and the photography portrait piece “was a natural.”

“Of course, if you’re doing ‘You Are Here,’ you have to do ‘We Are Here,’” said Neilson. “I had done the sculpture about the history, the paper industry, the river, travel and destination. The other thing that the Fox Cities does so well is community. It was natural going to one project from the other.”

As a sculptor, the portrait project was a giant step outside of Neilson’s experience with a rather steep learning curve.

“My photography skills up until this point were limited to what I needed to know to take a photo of the sculptures I make,” said Neilson with a laugh. “I had to figure out how I wanted to do this, the lighting, what was the right aperture. I needed these all to be consistent so it could become one big piece.”

“The project really was me in the community, talking with people, meeting with people, people collaborating with us, telling us how happy they were. That was meaningful in a way I wasn’t prepared for and it was a great surprise.
— Rob Neilson

Despite his self-admitted photographic limitations, the bigger challenge, he discovered, was a game plan for actually taking 10,000 individual head shots in a very compressed time frame.

“How do I get images, how do I get people engaged, the logistics of it all was the thing that was keeping me up nights,” said Neilson, who found himself taking pictures seven days a week, including many days that stretched to 12-plus hours.

Saturday morning downtown Appleton farmer’s market crowds provided Neilson with plenty of potential, if not sometimes leery, subjects.

“The first time we went out on Oct. 21, people didn’t quite understand what we were doing. Given the setting, people assumed we were there to sell something. I can’t tell you how many times we had to say, before they even got to ask, ‘100% free!’ That was the line.

“Once we started rolling, once people understood what we were doing, we didn’t have to sell the idea every single time. It bloomed rapidly,” added Neilson, who said every person who had their picture taken wound up in one of the final portraits.

While he doesn’t like to name favorites among his many public art works, Neilson said the photography project is one that will stay with him forever.

Rob Neilson next to pillars project
Rob Neilson on his “Community Caryatids” project: “This sounds ridiculous, but they look exactly like I designed them.”

“The project really was me in the community, talking with people, meeting with people, people collaborating with us, telling us how happy they were,” he said. “That was meaningful in a way I wasn’t prepared for and it was a great surprise.

“It’s profound when it’s something in the place I’ve been living for 15 years. It’s the only home my kids know. This is our hometown. This is where we live. I go through those photos and I know these are my neighbors, my friends, people I work with, people I’ve met, people I interacted with. I don’t know how many opportunities we get to experience that kind of thing in our lives. But I’m fortunate to have had that opportunity and I will never forget that.”

The center’s third project was the result of a bit of happenstance. While attending a meeting about ways Miron Construction, the building’s general contractor, could recognize the communities involved with its construction, Neilson was asked if he had any ideas.

“I just stood up and said what it was on top of my head. You need columns, you need pillars, something that is holding this place up, figuratively and literally.”

Crowd at Expo Center grand opening
Rob Neilson’s “We Are Here” photography project dominates the south wall of the main floor of the expo center.

The finished product is a series of 10, 10-foot tall I-beams, each with the name of one of the communities cut into the flange of the I-beam,

“It’s supposed to be figuratively holding this place up, the 10 communities,” Neilson explained. “This sounds ridiculous, but they look exactly like I designed them.”

Appleton is home to several other public art projects by Neilson, including engraved manhole covers depicting some aspect of compassion. He also has done projects in Los Angeles, Charlotte., N.C., and for the Long Beach Transit Authority. The Expo Center projects were capstone of very happily busy year for Neilson.

“It was a big year for me. I had more shows last year than I’d ever had. More exhibitions than I’d ever had in a single year my whole professional life. I did more talks on public art, had been in more newspapers, magazines and on television than I’d ever been by far in a single year. It was some of the hardest work I’ve done and it was great.”

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

Pianist Catherine Kautsky chronicles Paris in the time of composer Claude Debussy in new book

While she is more accustomed to “hearing” thoughts take shape than she is to seeing them emerge on the printed page, Lawrence University Professor of Music Catherine Kautsky has turned a fascination with the intimate interactions between music and social history into her first book.

Catherine Kautsky
Catherine Kautsky

In “Debussy’s Paris: Portraits of the Belle Époque” (2017, Rowman & Littlefield), Kautsky paints a vivid picture of Paris during the period between the end of the Franco-Prussian war (1871) and World War I (1914), the period commonly referred to as the “Belle Époque,” and ventures into the war years as well.

Kautsky treats readers to a tour of Paris through her detailed descriptions of the city’s passions, vices and obsessions, and then reflects on how French composer Claude Debussy’s piano music (1862-1918) mirrors the city. She explores how some of his key works reveal not only the most appealing facets of Paris but also the more disquieting aspects of the period, including minstrel shows with racist overtones, colonization which entailed brutal domination, and nationalism rife with hostility.

In its review, Booklist called “Debussy’s Paris” a “fascinating fusion of music, literature and social history. [Kautsky’s] graceful and erudite prose is embellished with period illustrations and bolstered by a carefully selected bibliography. A treat for music lovers, Francophiles and anyone who appreciates the arts.”

The seeds of the book were first sown more than 20 years ago during an academic sabbatical year Kautsky spent in Paris during the mid-1990s. Two years later, while serving as director of Lawrence’s London Center, Kautsky met two renowned Debussy scholars whose interests resonated with her own and inspired further research.

“When I returned to the United States, I started writing a number of articles on the connections between Debussy’s piano music and literature,” said Kautsky, who is in her 25th year teaching piano in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. “At that point I was hooked on Debussy, though I certainly wasn’t yet envisioning a book.

“[Kautsky’s] graceful and erudite prose is embellished with period illustrations and bolstered by a carefully selected bibliography. A treat for music lovers, Francophiles and anyone who appreciates the arts.”
— Booklist

“I was totally fascinated by the intersections of Debussy’s music with many other aspects of French life at the turn of the century,” she added. “I noticed that while people had written a lot about commonalities between the music and impressionist and symbolist art, there was less about all the ways Debussy draws on literature — from poetry, to journalism, to fairy tales—and even less on how his titles give constant clues to the social history of fin-de-siècle Paris.”

Cover of the book Debussy's ParisThe book deals with historical and political issues in Debussy’s Paris, many of which remain all-too-relevant in America today. For instance, a seemingly benign and entertaining genre like the cakewalk emanates from blatantly racist minstrel shows, and the book includes a number of disturbing “cakewalk’ cartoons from Debussy’s day which echo the genesis of our own racism in assumptions about “dark” Africa. Similarly, the French nationalism which drew Debussy in before WWI —encouraging France and Germany to engage in years of bloodshed—parallels “America First” slogans proliferating in our own times. And the colonialism which featured the exoticism of Arab nations and neighbors while simultaneously demeaning their primitive ways, is highly topical as we examine the role of Moslem culture in Western nations.

“My book is not about placing personal blame on Debussy for any of these ‘isms,’” Kautsky explains. “Rather it’s about the ways in which a composer, often unwittingly, illustrates his times and beliefs through his music. Debussy makes the task of drawing inferences infinitely easier, for he furnishes us with titles every step of the way. By looking at those titles, we learn about the literature, the art and the politics that gripped France in 1900.

“I’ve loved putting together the strands of politics, art, and literature as diverse as Proust and Peter Pan,” she added. “Hearing music in the abstract is more than enough, but hearing it as the composer must have heard it—through the prism of his own life experiences—adds another dimension that I’ve found irresistible.”

The recipient of Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016, Kautsky earned a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory, a master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a doctorate degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

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

 

Historian Jerald Podair named national semifinalist for PEN America literary award

The story behind the building of Dodger Stadium written by Lawrence University historian Jerald Podair has been named one of 10 semifinalists for a 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing.

Historian Jerald Podair
Jerald Podair

In “City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles” (2017, Princeton University Press), Podair explores one of the earliest owner-city new ballpark negotiations and the subsequent economic and cultural impact. He wrote the book to provide a window into the complex choices cities face as they seek to balance the values of entertainment and culture against those of fiscal responsibility, of private gain against public good.

The PEN America awards honors writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2017. Categories include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essays, science writing, sports writing and translation. The winner in the sports-writing category receives a $5,000 prize.

Finalists in each category will be announced in January with winners celebrated at the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony Feb. 20 at New York University’s Skirball Center.

“I’m not planning on any victory speeches, but as they say at the Oscars, it’s nice to be nominated,” said Podair, Robert S. French Professor of American Studies and professor of history.

Other semifinalists include “The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse” by Tom Verducci, “Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966–1971” by Leigh Montville and “Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D’Amato” by Mike Tyson & Larry “Ratso” Sloman.

For more than 90 years, PEN America has united writers to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible to create literature, convey information and ideas and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas and literatures of others.

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

University convocation celebrates the international contributions of Lawrence cellist Janet Anthony

The third installment of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 convocation series will celebrate the musical and educational career of Professor of Music Janet Anthony in a rare evening presentation.

A Head shot of Lawrence University cello professor Janet Anthony.
Janet Anthony

Anthony presents “Adventures in Music Making: 20 Years of Cross-Cultural Exchange in Haiti” Friday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event, free and open to the public, also will be available via a live webcast.

The program will feature performances of Haitian music, including two works composed by non-degree seeking students at Lawrence, by the Lawrence University Cello Ensemble and the Lawrence Symphony Chamber Orchestra as well as remarks by 2011 Lawrence graduate Carolyn Armstrong Desrosiers, Lawrence jazz studies program director Jose Encarnacion and Haitian journalist Fritz Valescot,

Anthony, the George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music, was chosen as the co-recipient of Lawrence’s annual Faculty Convocation Award, which honors a faculty member for distinguished professional work. She is the eighth faculty member so honored.

A cellist who joined the Lawrence conservatory of music faculty in 1984, Anthony has been making annual trips to Haiti since 1996 to conduct, perform and teach at music schools there.

Since making her first trip, more than 50 Lawrence students and faculty colleagues have accompanied her to teach in some of the many music programs with which she has been involved. Anthony also has assisted in bringing key Haitian music teachers and students to the United States for short-term professional development.

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake that devastated parts of the country, Anthony helped organized a benefit concert in Appleton for Haiti and collected needed supplies for the survivors, including gently used instruments. She has since performed numerous memorial concerts in Haiti, including one in 2011 on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake.

Anthony is the co-founder and current president of Building Leaders Using Music Education (BLUME)-Haiti, a Fox Cities-based nonprofit organization that works with Haitian and International partners to develop and support music education for youth and young adults in Haiti.

A photo of Lawrence University cello professor Janet Anthony playing her cello.Desrosiers, an Appleton native who has made multiple trips to Haiti with Anthony, co-produced and co-directed a documentary film — “Kenbe La” — which explores the transformational power of music programs in Haiti.

An active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, Anthony has toured with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Austrian Radio Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of the Vienna Symphony. She also has performed or taught in Argentina, China, Curacao, Japan, Venezuela and Vietnam and, as a member of the Duo Kléber, she has performed in England, France, Italy and Bosnia Herzegovina.

A frequent performer on Wisconsin Public Radio, Anthony earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She also studied at Vienna’s famed Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst.

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

 

 

 

Professors Kautsky, De Stasio, Tilghman honored at Lawrence’s 2016 commencement

Three members of the Lawrence University faculty were recognized for teaching and scholarship excellence Sunday, June 12 at the college’s 167th commencement.

Cathy-Kautsky_newsblog_616
Catherine Kautsky

Professor of Music Catherine Kautsky received the Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes outstanding performance in the teaching process, including the quest to ensure students reach their full development as individuals, human beings and future leaders of society.

Since first joining the faculty in 1987 — she spent six years at UW-Madison (2002-08) — Kautsky has used music to connect with other disciplines, particularly literature. She has presented lecture-recitals on topics ranging from the music of the Holocaust to French music and World War I. She also has organized performances for her students at numerous non-traditional venues, among them the Boys and Girls Club, a local soup kitchen, senior citizen centers and most recently the Oshkosh Correctional Institution.

In presenting the award, Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows cited Kautsky for a “combination of insistence on excellence and your energetic, supportive nature [that] has led your students to high levels of success.”

“You let your students know they have the power to create beauty but must work vigorously to achieve that beauty,” said Burrows. “Your insistence on excellence as the gateway to beauty and enjoyment is highly distinctive.”

Kautsky’s repertoire includes Bach, Rzewski and Crumb, with a special emphasis on French music and the music of the first Viennese school. As a recitalist, soloist with orchestra or chamber musician, she has performed in venues around the world, including Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, as well as extensively in England and France. She also has presented classes in Brazil, China, Korea and South Africa.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory, a master’s degree from the Julliard School and a doctoral degree in performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Bart-De-Stasio_newsblog_616
Bart De Stasio ’82

Bart De Stasio, Dennis and Charlot Nelson Singleton Professor of Biological Sciences and professor of biology, received the award for Excellence in Scholarship.

Established in 2006, the award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained scholarly excellence for a number of years and whose work exemplifies the ideals of the teacher-scholar.

A specialist in predator-prey interactions, De Stasio has earned international recognition for his research on topics ranging from dormancy in aquatic organisms and its impact on ecology of lake communities to phytoplankton communities in Green Bay and Lake Michigan after the arrival of invasive species, including zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies. He has had more than 35 scientific papers and book chapters published, 19 of which were co-authored with Lawrence students.

Burrows praised De Stasio for his research on the effects of invasive species on food webs and on coral reefs in presenting him his award.

“It represents the very best qualities of the teacher-scholar model that we cherish at Lawrence,” said Burrows. “Much of your research is done in collaboration with students. These students are generating important research results while also learning to understand the world from the perspective of scientific inquiry.”

A member of the faculty since 1992, De Stasio has led Lawrence’s every-other-year marine biology trip to the Cayman Islands to study coral reefs for many years. Last summer, he spent a month in Russia collaborating with scientists on a study of Lake Baikal, examining how the lake is responding to climate change and other anthropogenic stresses.

A 1982 summa cum laude graduate of Lawrence, De Stastio earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University.

Ben-Tilghman_newsblog_616
Ben Tilghman ’99

Ben Tilghman, assistant professor of art history, received the Young Teacher Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth.

A specialist in illuminated manuscripts of the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Tilghman has developed several courses designed to connect themes of the past with concerns of the present such as “Art of the Islamic World.”

Burrows hailed Tilghman for “a combination of great passion, concern for student success and an ability to encourage discussion and argument while making students feel calm and comfortable.”

“Your devotion to the ideals of liberal learning, which you like to point out were first articulated in the Middle Ages, has led you to stress the importance of opening one’s mind to multiple perspectives on the world and to model for students the process of trying to make sense of complex materials,” said Burrows. “The ability to connect knowledge and creativity is the hallmark of a Lawrence education and is a distinctive characteristic of your success as a teacher.”

Before joining the Lawrence faculty in 2012, Tilghman taught in the art history department at George Washington University for two years. He also spent three years in the department of manuscripts and rare books at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence in 1999, a master’s degree from Williams College and his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.