Category: Faculty

$2.5M gift endows new professorship to teach psychology of collaboration

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A $2.5 million gift will allow Lawrence University to create an endowed professorship to teach the psychology of collaboration, adding to the school’s efforts to better prepare Lawrentians for life after Lawrence.  

The donation from J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 to create the J. Thomas Hurvis Professorship of Social and Organizational Psychology was announced at the May meeting of the Board of Trustees.

It is the latest in a long line of generous gifts to Lawrence from Hurvis, founder and chairman of Old World Industries and longtime philanthropist.

The new position, which will be based in the Psychology Department but will contribute regularly to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, will provide teaching that is focused on cross-cultural collaboration, group life, ethical thought and moral judgment. It’s the type of study usually found in business schools or as part of doctoral programs. At Lawrence, it will build on existing Lawrence strengths to allow students across disciplines to access teachings that will better prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow, no matter their career direction.

The position is expected to be filled in time for the 2020-21 academic year.

“I am deeply grateful to Tom Hurvis for his vision and generosity in endowing the J. Thomas Hurvis Professorship in Social and Organizational Psychology,” President Mark Burstein said. “Tom’s passion for collaboration is the hallmark of his success both as a businessman and a philanthropist.  This new appointment will allow us to offer courses that will provide students access to research on group life, leadership, and social psychology, areas of increasing student interest, while also enriching and expanding interdisciplinary points of contact with our Innovation and Entrepreneurship program.”

The new professorship is an extension of efforts already under way to enhance offerings and programming to better prepare students for life after Lawrence. A year ago, Hurvis made a $2.5 million gift to create an endowed deanship, which was part of the public launch of Lawrence’s $220 million Be the Light! Campaign. Named for Hurvis’s founding partner in Old World Industries, the Riaz Waraich Dean for Career, Life, and Community Engagement position is now filled by Mike O’Connor, who is overseeing efforts in the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC) to bolster connections and skills to make Lawrentians both job market-ready when they graduate and prepared to lead fruitful and fulfilling lives going forward.

This new professorship in Psychology and Innovation and Entrepreneurship will build on that investment to enhance skills needed in the modern world across all disciplines. 

“Through this new appointment, Lawrence will join the select handful of liberal arts colleges that provide the interdisciplinary skills fostered by a liberal arts education through programming that gives students the opportunity to develop creative, integrative approaches to real world issues,” Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Kodat said. “The curricular possibilities inherent in the Hurvis Professorship — in exploring the dynamics of effective leadership and collaboration, in partnering with co-curricular programming and off-campus internships to put classroom concepts into action — are exciting to contemplate.”

J. Thomas Hurvis '60 speaks during November's public launch of the Be the Light campaign.
J. Thomas Hurvis ’60, speaking here during the public launch of the Be the Light! campaign, says having the skills to work collaboratively is a huge key to future success.

For Hurvis, working collaboratively hits close to home, and he believes strongly that the skills tied to collaboration are critical for success in almost any field.

“Partnership has been at the core of all of my life’s success,” he said. “Collaboration requires skills and a personal inclination. I am thrilled we can now ensure every Lawrence student has the opportunity to develop these skills and better understand the importance of this work. Collaboration is easy to describe but very, very hard to do.”

The latest Hurvis grant builds on the Be the Light! campaign, which has the student journey as one of its cornerstones, a focus on educating the whole student, from classroom learning in programs of distinction to personal development through wellness, career advising and the fostering of cross-cultural skills.

To date, the Be the Light! campaign has raised $182.8 million — 83% of the goal — since the quiet phase launch in 2014. Endowed positions, in addition to the Hurvis-funded deanship and new professorship, have included the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson Professorship in Innovation, the Dennis and Charlot Nelson Singleton Professorship in Cognitive Neuroscience, the Wendy and KK Tse Professorship in East Asian Studies, and the Jean Lampert Woy and J. Richard Woy Professorship in History.

“The generosity of the Lawrence community is extraordinary,” said Charlot Singleton ’67, one of the tri-chairs of the Be the Light! campaign. “Members of our community have invested in initiatives that will enhance the education the college offers for generations. We have made excellent progress toward our goals.”

The campaign progress thus far during 2019 has been strong, with $25.3 million in new campaign commitments outpacing the $22.5 million at this time last year.

Fundraising efforts continue for a number of special projects within the Be the Light! campaign — Full Speed to Full Need has reached $81.6 million (toward a goal of $85 million); the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement is at $1.7 million (toward a goal of $2.5 million that was in response to Hurvis’ challenge when he established the endowed Riaz Waraich Deanship last year); and the Center for Academic Success has reached $735,550 (toward a goal of $1 million).

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


LU’s Bee Campus designation OK’d; pollination-themed picnic set for Sunday

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The bee advocacy work is paying dividends.

Lawrence University has been certified as an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, making it the 71st campus in the nation to earn the bee-friendly designation — and only the second one in Wisconsin.

To celebrate, a pollination-themed picnic will be held on the Main Hall green from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, June 16. It will follow a 10 a.m. public unveiling of the honey bee observation hive that is now visible from the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center. The picnic will feature coffee from Tempest Coffee Collective, fruit pies, berry shakes, smoothies, and honey pizza from Harmony Cafe. All are invited.

Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA are initiatives of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a Portland-based nonprofit that encourages communities to develop practices that help sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat rich in native plants and free of pesticides.

Israel Del Toro, an assistant professor of biology, has led efforts at Lawrence to not only make the campus bee-friendly but to turn the campus into a living lab of sorts to study ways to keep bee populations healthy in an urban environment. The new Bee Campus USA designation comes after a formal application was submitted in the spring.

It’s one step in a larger journey, Del Toro said.

“With the designation of Lawrence as a Bee Campus, we are one of only two universities in Wisconsin to publicly commit to improving our campus for native biodiversity and pollinators,” he said. “This is a small but significant victory that keeps us moving toward a campus ethos of sustainability and stewardship of our natural resources.

“Over the next five years our campus will experiment with various approaches and bee-friendly management activities like altered mowing habits, reduced use of pesticides and removal of invasive species.”

Read more: Lawrence University on the front lines of bee advocacy

For more on Lawrence’s sustainability efforts, click here

The only other Wisconsin school with the bee-friendly designation is Northland College in Ashland.

Del Toro also is working with the city of Appleton to help it qualify for a Bee City USA designation.

“The program aspires to make people more PC — pollinator conscious, that is,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces’ executive director. “If lots of individuals and communities begin planting native, pesticide-free flowering trees, shrubs and perennials, it will help to sustain many, many species of pollinators.”

Pollinators such as bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and hummingbirds are responsible for the reproduction of almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering plant species and a third of the food we consume, Hoffman Black said.

Lawrence will need to continue to work to maintain its status as a Bee Campus. Certification needs to be renewed each year. Details can be found at beecityusa.org.         

Among the bee-inspired efforts, Del Toro and his team launched the Appleton Pollinator Project to turn area homeowners and gardeners into citizen scientists, helped install and study pollination sites across the Fox Cities, and pushed students in the biology lab and campus environmental clubs to work to improve the on-campus habitat for bees.

The observation hive installed last month at Warch is the latest step in the on-campus efforts. There also are hexagon-shaped pollination boxes just southeast of Main Hall and in the S.L.U.G. (Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens) gardens on campus.

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

Lawrence celebrates Class of 2019: “Don’t let fear of failure kill your joy”

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Well done, Lawrence University Class of 2019.

More than 330 graduates received their diplomas Sunday morning in a Commencement ceremony on the Main Hall green.

Faculty Marshal Kathy Privatt led the march across College Avenue for an outdoor ceremony replete with pomp, circumstance and tradition, along with a colorful assortment of umbrellas and rain gear. A light but steady rain did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of what David Blowers ’82, chair of the Board of Trustees, called the “high point of the academic year.”

President Mark Burstein praised the senior class for a myriad of contributions to Lawrence, for setting a tone of compassion and empathy on campus and always exhibiting a desire to learn and grow.

“In a time when community is such a scarce commodity and people of different backgrounds and views are likely to argue, compete, or ignore each other, you came together to learn, to celebrate, and to struggle, as one community, with the issues that face Lawrence, this country, and the world,” he said.

See a livestream replay of the Lawrence Commencement ceremony and other 2019 Commencement Weekend events here.

Jordyn Pleiseis delivers her senior class speech during Commencement.
Jordyn Pleiseis delivers her senior class speech during Commencement.

Burstein said the heart and drive of the Class of 2019 is wonderfully represented in Jordyn Pleiseis, who the graduates chose to be their senior class speaker.

“Jordyn has left her mark on Lawrence in ways both physical, like the mural that adorns the Wellness Center that she helped install as an ally of native students, and ineffable, like the connections and supportive environment she fosters,” Burstein said. “Jordyn also speaks of the wonderful dynamic among Lawrence students both inside and outside of the classroom. You are friends, sharing fun and support, and you are also colleagues, learning from one another’s insight and experiences.”

Commencement speaker Lee Shallat Chemel ’65, a longtime theater and television director who worked behind the scenes on some of the most beloved TV shows of the past 35 years, implored the graduates to embrace their liberal arts education, to be OK with uncertainty and to never let the fear of failure zap their creative energies. Her Lawrence education, she told them, has been a guiding light for more than four decades of beautiful chaos.

“You chose a liberal arts education; you chose to keep your horizon wide, to explore a broad range of cultural and intellectual content,” she said. “You can adapt, improvise, synthesize. You can handle a world that is a bit chaotic.”

Pleiseis, an anthropology major, told her classmates they are deserving of today’s accolades, a four-year journey full of hard work and perseverance finally coming to fruition.

“We made our mark on this place, just as much as this place made its mark on us,” she said.

Watch a replay of Jordyn Pleiseis’ Commencement speech here.

Chemel’s story

Lee Shallat Chemel, on stage, addresses the Lawrence graduates during her Commencement speech.
Lee Shallat Chemel addresses the Lawrence graduates during her Commencement speech.

Chemel, whose directing credits include stints with Murphy Brown, Northern Exposure, Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls, Hannah Montana, and The Middle, among many others, told the graduates she made bold leaps of faith along her journey, jumping from teaching to acting to theater directing to TV sitcoms and dramas. There was never a promise of success at any step in the process, only the prospect of a worthy challenge and the knowledge that she had a strong liberal arts education to lean on.

She never stopped learning.

Chemel said some of her most profound life lessons came from her darkest days. She said firings and failures at one point had her so focused on not screwing up that she could no longer find joy in her work. Her creativity quickly waned.

She told the story of working on an episode of Gilmore Girls that was going so badly that production came to a halt — so badly that she and star Lauren Graham laughed until they cried.

“Then I suddenly stopped myself,” Chemel said. “I shouldn’t be laughing. The scene isn’t working. … Lauren said, ‘What’s up?’ I looked at her and said, ‘Oh, I just got caught off-guard being happy.’ … And from there we laughed our way back into rehearsing; the scene started to unlock itself. It got funny.

“I’d been painting myself into a corner of seriousness in order to keep failure at bay. Don’t do that. Let joy and spontaneity exist side by side. … Don’t let fear of failure kill your joy.”

Burstein encouraged the graduates to take Chemel’s message of perseverance and career nimbleness to heart as they take that next step, embracing life after Lawrence with a mixture of promise and uncertainty.

“Perhaps her example will help as you, the Class of 2019, set out on the path that begins today,” he said. “You have already raised our expectations for what is possible. We count on your talent, your work, your leadership to move us forward.”

Watch a replay of Lee Chemel’s Commencement speech here.

Lawrence University Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat announces the faculty award for Marcia Bjornerud (left) during Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Main Hall green.

Awards and farewells

Two long-serving tenured faculty members — psychology professor Bruce Hetlzer and voice professor Kenneth Bozeman — were honored during the ceremony as they retire, each having taught at Lawrence for more than four decades. See details here.

Three faculty awards were announced during the ceremony. Music professor Erin Lesser received the Excellence in Teaching Award, Director of Jazz Studies Jose Encarnacion received the Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member Award, and geology professor Marcia Bjornerud received the Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity Award. See details here.

For more photos from Sunday’s 2019 Commencement, click here.

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

Three Lawrence faculty honored with teaching, scholarship awards at 2019 Commencement

Jose Encarnacion smiles from the stage as he accepts applause for his faculty award at Commencement.
Jose Encarnacion is greeted by applause as he accepts his faculty award at Commencement.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Three members of the Lawrence University faculty — two key music talents in the Conservatory of Music and one highly acclaimed geologist — were honored Sunday, June 9 for their academic and scholarly achievements.

The awards, announced during the 2019 Commencement ceremony and considered to be among Lawrence’s highest faculty honors, went to gifted instrumentalist and music instructor Erin Lesser, jazz musician and instructor Jose Encarnacion and highly lauded geology scholar and author Marcia Bjornerud.

For more coverage of Lawrence’s 2019 Commencement, click here.

Erin Lesser

Portrait of Erin Lesser at Commencement.
Erin Lesser

Lesser took home the 2019 University Award for Excellence in Teaching. A member of the acclaimed ensembles Wet Ink, Decoda, and Alarm Will Sound, she is both a highly regarded performer and an accomplished instructor. She has been teaching at Lawrence since 2011.

In her award citation, Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat praised Lesser for her ability to balance the demands of being a touring artist with those of the classroom.

“Your brilliance in the concert hall finds its bright reflection in the Lawrence Conservatory studio, where your grateful students grow as musicians and thinkers in their own right, thanks to your thoughtful, attentive efforts to meet them where they are and then give them the tools and support that helps them realize their artistic goals.”

Jose Encarnacion

Portrait of Jose Encarnacion at Commencement.
Jose Encarnacion

Encarnacion was given the 2019 Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member.

While Encarnacion has been an assistant professor at Lawrence for just five years, his ties to the Conservatory date back to 2002, when he came here shortly after receiving his master’s of jazz and contemporary media from the Eastman School of Music. He would leave for a six-year stint as director of jazz and band ensembles at Eastman before returning to Lawrence in 2011 as a lecturer. He became a tenure-track faculty member in 2014 and now leads a jazz program that is regularly lauded in national music education circles.

“Your return has had a measurable effect — since 2015, the excellence of Lawrence’s jazz program has been recognized by no less an authority than DownBeat magazine, which has presented the university with four awards in four years,” Kodat said.

Marcia Bjornerud

Portrait of Marcia Bjornerud at Commencement.
Marcia Bjornerud

Bjornerud, who came to Lawrence in 1995, is the recipient of the 2019 Award for Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity. She has been among the college’s most honored faculty members. The Walter Schober Professor in Environmental Studies and founder of the Environmental Studies major has earned two Fulbright Senior Scholar awards, was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association of Women Geoscientists and was named a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.

The faculty scholarship honor comes after her 2018 book, Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, was widely praised for making complex geological concepts — and their importance in the ongoing debate over how we care for the Earth — both accessible and substantial. It was long-listed for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing, was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and received the PROSE Award in Popular Science and Popular Mathematics from the American Association of Publishers.

“In Timefulness, you draw on your research into the physics of earthquakes and mountain formation to show how an understanding of the multiple, overlapping temporalities of the Earth’s deep past can help us gain the perspective we need if we are to confront and address the environmental challenges that face us,” Kodat said.

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

Hetzler, Bozemans bring long, impressive Lawrence journeys to a close

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Two tenure-track faculty and one long-time adjunct faculty will bid farewell to Lawrence University at the close of spring term.

Bruce Hetzler, a fixture in the psychology department for more than four decades, and Kenneth and Joanne Bozeman, key players in the growth and success of the Conservatory of Music, are retiring. The three have a combined 110 years of teaching at Lawrence.

Lawrentians with long memories may recall that the Bozemans, then a young married couple, also served as head residents of Trever Hall for two years in the early 1980s.

Hetzler and Ken Bozeman came to Lawrence at the same time, joining the robust incoming faculty class of 1977. Joanne Bozeman joined as an adjunct faculty member in 1993.

They talked to us about Lawrence pride, new journeys and the emotions of saying goodbye.

Bruce Hetzler: “We were one of the few undergraduate institutions to have a neuroscience program.”

Bruce Hetzler

Bruce Hetzler has been a leading voice in the psychology department at Lawrence since 1977. You might even say his 42-year run has been magical.

Hetzler has often mixed his love of magic with his passion for teaching about the brain.

Much of his work at Lawrence focused on neuropharmacology, effects of alcohol on the brain, computer analysis of brain waves and neuroscience.

He and his students through the years published dozens of papers on a wide range of brain-focused topics, the latest being a study on why some people co-abuse methylphenidate (most common trade name is Ritalin) and alcohol. That paper, with co-authors Lauren W.Y. McLester-Davis ’18 and Sadie E. Tenpas ’17, was published in the June edition of the journal Alcohol.

“I have mixed emotions,” Hetlzer said of his retirement. “I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve loved it. I’ve enjoyed teaching, I’ve enjoyed doing research, and I’ve enjoyed working with students in the laboratory. But it has been 42 years, so I think it’s time for this chapter in my life to close.”

Hetzler spent much of his career doing research on the effects of drugs on the brain, most specifically alcohol. He is a charter member of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.

He was part of a faculty group that launched the initial neuroscience program at Lawrence in the early 1980s.

“At the time we were not able to put together a neuroscience major, but we did start the neuroscience program,” Hetzler said. “In 1980, we were one of the few undergraduate institutions to have a neuroscience program.”

It eventually became a major at Lawrence, and the number of faculty positions tied to the program has grown considerably.

“That wasn’t just me, it was a lot of people who put that together,” Hetzler said. “But it’s been very pleasing to see it grow like that.”

Outside of his teaching duties at Lawrence, Hetzler for years could be found doing table-side magic at local restaurants such as B.J. Clancy’s and Ground Round.

He persevered with both his teaching and his magic after suffering a major stroke in the summer of 2011. Relearning magic tricks, he said, helped with his long and slow recovery.

Now he hopes to dedicate more time in retirement to the physical therapy that’s needed to regain many of his magician skills.

“I’d love to be able to do table-side magic at a restaurant again in the future, but that depends on my determination to do exercises to increase my dexterity and my ability to walk without a cane,” Hetzler said. “The year before I had a stroke I was doing 100 magic shows a year. Now I do maybe five. I’m not sure my wife would like me to do 100 again, but somewhere in between would be nice.”

Kenneth Bozeman: “When you are working on someone’s voice, in a sense you are messing with their soul.”

Kenneth Bozeman

Music professor Kenneth Bozeman, retiring after 42 years on the Conservatory of Music faculty, has left an impressive imprint that’s difficult to measure.

He led the voice department for much of his tenure, in the process providing important leadership not just in the Conservatory but across campus. In addition to his work as a respected voice teacher, he has led or been a part of talent searches for Conservatory faculty and new deans and has played a big role in campus projects such as the expansion of the Music-Drama Center and the building of the Warch Campus Center.

In recent years, his focus has been in the growing field of acoustic voice pedagogy. He’s become an in-demand scholar on that topic across the country.

But it’s in the voice studio, working one-on-one with students, where Bozeman says his heart remains.

“Voice teaching is totally one-on-one, so it’s pretty personal,” he said. “When you are working on someone’s voice, in a sense you are messing with their soul. Their sense of personal identity is wrapped up in their voice.”

He’s done it well. In 2018, Bozeman was chosen by his peers for the Lawrence Faculty Convocation Award, which honors a faculty member for distinguished professional work. He was the ninth faculty member so honored.

Bozeman is the author of two books, Practical Vocal Acoustics: Pedagogic Applications for Teachers and Singers and Kinesthetic Voice Pedagogy: Motivating Acoustic Efficiency. He was awarded the Van Lawrence Fellowship by the Voice Foundation in 1994 for his work in voice science and pedagogy.

He has been recognized with two Lawrence teaching honors, the Young Teacher Award in 1980 and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1996.

Under his guidance, the voice department within the Conservatory has grown from about 40 students and four instructors to nearly 100 students being taught by five full-time studio faculty, one adjunct faculty, two choral directors, opera and theater directors, a vocal coach and other contributors.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth,” Bozeman said. “There’s been good quality all along. There was always some good talent in the student pool. … But now it certainly feels like there is a lot more talent here. It’s definitely harder to get in here. The talent floor has risen because of the competitiveness of it.

“And what we’re able to provide in terms of training is much deeper and richer as well.”

As the years have gone by, an increasing number of voice students have gone on to sing professionally or pursue voice in graduate school programs.

“Now it’s pretty routine that that happens,” Bozeman said.

He said he’ll continue to do voice work in retirement. He’s already committed to a weeklong workshop on acoustic voice pedagogy this summer at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He’ll also be presenting at multiple conferences and will be doing private voice teaching, focused on young professional singers.

Joanne Bozeman: “The change between an 18-year-old singer and a 21- or 22-year-old singer is a huge transition.”

Joanne Bozeman

Joanne Bozeman has been an adjunct member of the voice department at Lawrence since 1993, teaching studio voice and related course work.

She also was a sought-after soloist in recital, concert and oratorio for nearly four decades. She’s appeared with, among others, the Fox Valley Symphony, the Green Lake Music Festival, the Bach Chamber Choir in Rockford, Illinois, and the Lawrence University Concert Choir and Orchestra.

While she’ll stay active in private teaching and related projects in retirement, it’s the voice studio instruction — working one-on-one with students as their voices and their music knowledge transform over four years — that will be difficult to leave behind.

“I’ll miss working with students in the long term, four or five years, developing their skill set and seeing them master certain things,” she said. “The change between an 18-year-old singer and a 21- or 22-year-old singer is a huge transition. It’s really exciting to be involved with that.”

Many instrumentalists arrive at the Conservatory having been in training for a dozen or more years. Not so much for voice students.

“Singers don’t know they have an instrument until they’re maybe 14, 15 or 16 years old,” Bozeman said. “They maybe haven’t had theory or lessons and they come in a little more raw. To see their incredible strides and development over that period of time is really cool.”

Bozeman called working with the voice faculty in the Conservatory a joy.

“We don’t always agree with each other, but we really do get along,” she said. “I admire my colleagues’ skills in the studio, and we are friends. I’ll miss that kind of intimate relationship. I’ll miss the people in the office, and I’ll miss my wonderful colleagues all over the Conservatory.”

In addition to giving private voice lessons, Bozeman is working on a book about women’s singing voices as they go through perimenopause and menopause. The book, which she is co-writing with two other women, has included interviews to date with nearly 60 women, ranging from elite professional singers to those who participate in community choirs.

It’s an emotional and very personal issue for women who want to continue singing as they age, Bozeman said.

“Some breeze through it,” she said. “Some struggle. I really struggled. That’s kind of what fueled my interest in the issue.”

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

Bill Perreault, retired Lawrence biology professor, dies at age 81

William “Bill” Perreault

William “Bill” Perreault, a biology professor who spent 35 years on the Lawrence University faculty before retiring in 2006, passed away on Saturday. He was 81.

Perreault began his career at Lawrence in 1971. At the time of his retirement, he said he still relished the challenge of trying to coordinate molecular techniques with microscopy techniques and the interplay between them in search of a better understanding of how cells work.

When Lawrence was planning its new Science Hall in the late 1990s, Perreault personally designed the plans for the building’s microscopy suite. Over the years, he individually tutored more than 100 students — and a few faculty colleagues along the way — on the finer points of using either Lawrence’s transmission electron microscope or the scanning electron microscope.

“I’m extremely proud of that,” Perreault had said of his work with the TEM and SEM.

Before arriving at Lawrence, Perreault spent seven years in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of captain. Two of his years in the service were spent as a microbiologist at the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

Originally from Cohoes, N.Y., an upstate mill town near Albany, Perreault often served as the biology department’s “welcoming face.” He taught the introductory course Principles of Biology for 33 of his 35 years. He said he took particular joy in teaching it because the course attracted many students from disciplines outside of the sciences.

“I like to think part of my legacy will be the sheer number of students who received an understanding of the beautiful science of biology because they took my intro class,” Perreault said.

From the archives: William “Bill” Perreault is seen here in his biology lab in 1982.

Perreault and his wife, Marvia, were married for 56 years and have four children, Bill, Michele, Melanie, and John. Michele ’90 and Melanie ’90 are Lawrence alumni.

Known for both his academic work with cells and his infectious enthusiasm — not to mention a legendary sense of humor — Perreault was not one to cheat life.

“He lived a life full of love, travel and bad pranks,” his family wrote in his obituary.

No public memorial services are planned.

“A private memorial gathering with family will be scheduled at a later date,” the obituary reads. “In the meantime, in his memory, take that trip you have been putting off.”

Project 562 mural returns to exterior wall of Wellness Center

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The mural is back.

Members of Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 team returned to Lawrence University in recent days to work with Native American students to restore a mural on the side of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center that was first created as part of a mid-April convocation.

Due to harsh weather in April, the Project 562 Indigenous Land Project mural was unable to properly cure during its installation. Members of LUNA (Lawrence University Native Americans) and UWGB’s Intertribal Student Organization continued to work closely with the Project 562 artistic team to repair the mural once weather conditions improved.

That work has now paid off. The large mural, featuring the faces of three generations of Native Americans, is back in place. It includes the words Indigenize Education.

The mural was not created to be a permanent installation. The wheat paste project is expected to last two to five years, depending in part on weather conditions.

Wilbur, creator and director of Project 562, has used photography and art installations to tell the story of Native American communities.

“I’m so proud of you,” Wilbur said at the time of the April convocation, addressing the more than a dozen Native American students from Lawrence and UWGB who helped create the mural. “And I’m proud of Lawrence for taking this huge step. This is a huge step to have indigenous representation on a college campus.”

Wilbur, a visual storyteller from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes of coastal Washington, has been traveling the country — and beyond — as part of Project 562, visiting close to 900 tribal communities in all. The 562 is a reference to the number of federally recognized tribes in the United States at the time the project launched in 2012.

After her travels are done, Project 562 is expected to live on in books, exhibitions, lecture series, web sites, new curriculum and podcasts, Wilbur said.

“Matika has a magical way of giving our Native students and their allies permission to acknowledge and be proud of their own cultural traditions, families and indigenous ways, even in spaces that may have not been historically designed for us,” Brigetta Miller, an associate professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee (Mohican) Nation, said at the convocation.

“This work is more than making art for the sake of social justice,” she said. “It’s a way to truthfully show who we are. It’s a way for us to tell our own story.”

Wilbur’s April convocation address speaks to the heart of Project 562

Project 562’s creator looks to reshape narrative on Native communities

For more on LUNA student organization, click here.

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

Discovery by LU anthropology prof, students a game-changer for historic site

This graphic, showing an aerial view of the Grignon Mansion property in Kaukauna, depicts where Lawrence University Professor of Anthropology Peter Peregrine believes a Native American longhouse community once resided.
This graphic, showing an aerial view of the Grignon Mansion property in Kaukauna, depicts where Lawrence University Professor of Anthropology Peter Peregrine believes an indigenous community once resided.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

While digging for clues into the location of a long-lost summer kitchen on a historical site in Kaukauna, Lawrence University’s Peter N. Peregrine and his students may have unearthed something much more significant — evidence of an indigenous community on that site dating back to the mid-16th century.

The anthropology professor and the students in his field methods class, using soil resistivity and other soil mapping tools as part of an archaeological survey, uncovered new details about the Grignon Mansion site that could alter the way the pioneer-era home is studied, managed and marketed in the future. The new information suggests that North Kakalin Village, a significant Native American community, was once situated on the Grignon property just northwest of where the mansion now stands. 

The testing, which began in September and continued through the fall term, gave Peregrine a new view of what lies beneath the soil, suggesting a series of Native American structures, possibly longhouses, were once located there, pre-dating by several hundred years the 1837 Grignon home that now sits on the property and is used as a tourism and educational beacon in Kaukauna.

“That raises that site into something of really national importance,” Peregrine said.

In early April, Peregrine presented a report to the Kaukauna Common Council, saying the new information adds considerable weight to the historical importance of the Grignon property. He implored the city to hire a professional director to properly explore and manage the site going forward.

Kaukauna, which owns the property, is all in. City officials have submitted a grant proposal to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to potentially cover a portion of the costs.

“We took Peter’s findings and said, ‘OK, we need to hire someone,’” said Allyson Watson, principal planner for the city. “We hear what he’s saying and we need to figure out a way financially to get a full-time director in place. If we don’t ever try, we’ll never know what the true potential is there.

“Really, coming off the headwinds of Peter’s message, it really reinforced to our elected officials that this site, while we’ve always known it’s important, maybe we didn’t know how critical it is, or we didn’t know how long-range that history is and the story it tells. We’re looking internally now to say, what can we do as an organization to empower that storytelling?”

Photo shows the front of the Grignon Mansion in Kaukauna.
The Grignon Mansion in Kaukauna is a historic site used to teach American history from the mid-1800s.

A history of discovery

This isn’t the first time that Peregrine and his anthropology students have dug into the dirt at Fox Valley historic or community sites and come away with important discoveries. Peregrine was named the 2016 historian of the year by the Outagamie County Historical Society after he and his students used newly purchased magnetometer tools to study the grounds of the former Outagamie County Asylum for the Chronic Insane, identifying 133 unmarked graves.

Since then, Peregrine and his students have been called upon to survey other forgotten or poorly recorded cemeteries — or suspected cemeteries — in the region.

“The asylum cemetery was our first big project,” he said. “But our biggest project was the Pioneer Cemetery up on Richmond Street and Evergreen Drive (in Grand Chute). We did the whole cemetery. That took a full term to do. We found 74 unmarked graves up there, including an entire Outagamie County pauper cemetery that didn’t seem like anyone knew was there. That was two years ago.”

That was during construction of the nearby Meijer store, which was expected to spur new development in the area. Now officials know precisely where the cemetery starts and stops.

“They wanted to make sure there weren’t bodies out in that property,” Peregrine said.

Similar requests are becoming more frequent.

“It turns out there is a huge demand for finding pioneer graves in this state,” Peregrine said. “There are a lot of them out in cornfields and stuff.”

A class all its own

The field methods class is limited to five students. Any more than that and it gets difficult to manage during archaeological excursions.

That the students get to use soil resistivity, geomagnetic and ground-penetrating radar equipment and related technology is a testament to the support the class has gotten from the university in recent years, Peregrine said. The field study portion of the program was launched about seven years ago, allowing him to dedicate more time to the archeologic work he was trained to do.

Head shot of Peter Peregrine
Peter N. Peregrine

“The university over the years has been very good to me,” Peregrine said. “They’ve gotten me equipment that very few liberal arts colleges have. These students, if they want to do archaeology, that’s something you can come out of here and get a job right away.”

Key purchases have included a magnetometer to measure soil magnetism, a soil resistivity system that allows archaeologists to measure changes in soil composition, and a ground-penetrating radar system. The purchases put the field work being done by Lawrence students on the cutting edge.

For Peregrine, the growth — and success — of the program in recent years has been particularly gratifying. The archaeologist is finally doing the digging he was hired to do more than 20 years ago. For years, other teaching demands kept him from working in the field.

“I wrote the textbook on doing this kind of field archeology,” he said. “I never got to teach it, ‘Archeological Research: A Brief Introduction.’ It’s used all over the country, but I could never use it here because I wasn’t teaching it. Now I am.”

For information on the anthropology program at Lawrence, click here.

A clearer picture at Grignon

Grignon has been the focus of late for Peregrine and his current field methods students, Emma Lipkin ’19, Joe Kortenhof ’20, Ethan Courey ’19 and William Nichols ’21, as well as Winston Klapper ’19, who is doing his Senior Experience on digital archaeology, creating non-invasive 3D modeling of the Grignon home that will be kept as a reference point for any future work on the site.

A more complete picture of the heritage museum, located along Kaukauna’s Augustine Street on the north side of the Fox River, is emerging thanks to the soil resistivity tools that have allowed Peregrine’s team to map the site based on what can be seen under the surface.

It’s allowed for the collection of soil data over a wide area, showing where human disturbances — such as digging post holes — have taken place over time. The survey stretched across much of the north and west sides of the Grignon property, even extending into an adjacent soccer field.

“Because that property hasn’t been touched, it hasn’t been plowed, nothing has happened to it since the early 1800s, there’s this beautifully preserved village underneath it,” Peregrine said.

While the city and the Grignon volunteers have long recognized and celebrated the property’s ties to the Menominee people, the new discoveries provide a greater opportunity to use the site to teach about Native American history and culture, well beyond the mid-1800s era, Peregrine said.

In his report to the city, he recommended building a Native American-inspired structure on the property.

“Native Americans are a central part of the Kaukauna/Fox Valley story as well as the Grignon family story and should be represented,” Peregrine wrote to the city.

He also suggested the city draft a land acknowledgement to be displayed on site, and develop more programming focused on Native American history.

The city initially asked Peregrine to do an archaeological investigation because there was interest by the Friends of the Grignon Mansion volunteer group in rebuilding a summer kitchen that had once been part of an out building or attachment on the Grignon home. But it was the discovery of the signs of earlier structures from the North Kakalin Village that came as a surprise, putting any plans for the kitchen rebuild on hold.

“It really opened up our eyes and the community’s eyes to this pre-American history that existed on this site — that we’ve known about but maybe not so specifically to say there was possibly a longhouse village here,” Kaukauana’s Watson said.

“So, we went from investigating 1800s history in Wisconsin — before statehood but still a European settlement — to discovering that there was rich history hundreds of years older than that that we were not aware of on this exact site. It was really exciting to see, oh my goodness, we need to pause this (project), we need to put the brakes on this because we have a whole new chapter of history that has occurred on this site that we weren’t fully aware of.”

When Peregrine went before the Kaukauna council in April, his message was all about the long-term benefits of such a history-rich site.

“I see huge potential there,” he said.

Watson is fully on board, saying she sees opportunities for a new level of education in Kaukauna and the greater Fox Cities as it relates to the Grignon property.

“I think the story of indigenous people’s displacement is every bit as important as state history and post-Colonial American history, but I think it’s one that as a country we maybe don’t do the best job telling,” she said. “I think that’s starting to change. I think there’s beginning to be more of an understanding that we need to be accountable to our history, and sometimes that means taking a hard look at things that are a less pleasant part of our history.”

Link to video of Peter N. Peregrine and Winston Klapper on the Grignon Mansion property.
Peter N. Peregrine (left) and Winston Klapper on the Grignon Mansion property in Kaukauna.

A growing collection of artifacts

The partnership between Lawrence, Kaukauna, and the Grignon volunteers who run the day-to-day operation is ongoing. Peregrine now has possession of a deep trove of archaeological materials that have been excavated from the Grignon property over a period of decades. Materials are in boxes or spread across tables in Briggs Hall, a teaching lab where archaeology and history meet in a very real way.

“Our maps show where all of the previous excavations have been done,” Peregrine said. “We’ve got all of those collections now.”

Watson acknowledged that the city and Outagamie County — ownership of the Grignon property has gone back and forth multiple times over the past decades — have not done a stellar job of archiving materials. It’s not a job most municipal governments or volunteer organizations are equipped to handle. Leaning into Lawrence’s expertise is proving to be a game-changer.

“We realized that we didn’t have the most professional archive developed for our collection,” Watson said. “For us, it’s just one of those things that would have been on a never-ending to-do list.”

Lipkin, under Peregrine’s tutelage, is now taking the lead in creating a more complete archive. She is doing the work as part of her Senior Experience, and will hand it off to another student when she graduates in June. With the collections and the archival material both massive in volume and disjointed, the project is expected to take several years to complete.

“Allowing us to work in these real-life situations that are often a mess gives us an opportunity to learn,” said Lipkin, who did similar work with the Outagamie County Historical Society in the earlier stages of her Senior Experience project. “If all of us continue to follow this path, and I certainly am planning to, we’ll be more prepared for the unpreparedness of institutions we might run into later on.”

Klapper, meanwhile, has spent much of the past year working on his 3D modeling project that will serve as a digital resource for the Grignon going forward. Using drone technology and specialty software, he is putting together a detailed picture of what the mansion looks like right now. Should anything happen to the home — perhaps damage from a storm, a tree falling on it or the natural aging process — his digital mapping of the exterior will allow for a precise rebuild.

“What my project is aiming to do is to preserve the house as it is currently, so if there are any further adjustments, then this record of the house will be kept,” Klapper said.

Tapping into the expertise of Peregrine and his students and maintaining a partnership with Lawrence has been invaluable, Kaukauna’s Watson said. It’s pro bono work, so it benefits the city without taxpayer burden, and it’s an educational opportunity for the Lawrence students.

“We are able to get guidance that we know is coming from a strong, well-respected organization like Lawrence that is really invested in lifting the credibility and offerings of our whole region,” Watson said.

“We’re a city government. We own this asset. It’s been juggled back and forth between the county and city for decades because it’s expensive to maintain a 19th-century home. But to have someone come in and help guide us professionally with real details and the nitty gritty of how you have to maintain this, that’s been very helpful.”

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

Sunshine, please: 19 things to know as you prep for Lawrence’s 2019 Commencement

The march across College Avenue to the Main Hall green, led by Faculty Marshal Kathy Privatt and President Mark Burstein (right), will again be part of Lawrence University’s Commencement. The ceremony, the 170th in the school’s history, is set for 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 9.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

We’re just a couple of short weeks away from Lawrence University’s 2019 Commencement, the 170th in the school’s storied history.

Here are 19 things to know as you prepare for the big day.

1. Sunday morning celebration: The ceremony on the Main Hall green will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 9. All comers are welcome. The big tent that usually covers the seating area is not available this year, so it’ll be an open-air event. An alternate indoor site on campus — with limited seating — will be prepped for use should the weather be such that an outdoor ceremony is not possible. Watch for details on the Commencement page of the Lawrence website.

2. A class of brilliance: More than 330 students are expected to take that magical walk across the stage. Of those, 288 are bachelor of arts grads, 28 are bachelor of music grads and 15 are combo B.A./B.Mus. grads. Another 11 are participating in the ceremony but not receiving degrees until December.

Lee Shallat Chemel ’65

3. A speaker from stage and screen: Commencement speaker Lee Shallat Chemel ’65 will return to campus with stories to tell and wisdom to mine from an impressive career directing theater and television productions. Her deep love of theater was first sparked during her time at Milwaukee-Downer College and then Lawrence. After more than 15 years directing theater, most notably during a 10-year stint as conservatory director at South Coast Repertory in Orange County, California, she transitioned to the small screen, directing for such notable TV shows as “Family Ties,” “Murphy Brown,” “Arrested Development,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Gilmore Girls” and, most recently, “The Middle.”

Jordyn Pleiseis

4. From the senior class: Commencement also features words of insight and wisdom from a member of the senior class. This year’s speaker, selected by her peers, will be Jordyn Pleiseis ’19, an anthropology major from Milwaukee.

5. Saying goodbye: Honoring retiring faculty is always a significant — and often emotional — part of Commencement. The Lawrence community will be celebrating two long-serving tenured faculty as they bid adieu to the classroom, Bruce Hetzler, professor of psychology, and Kenneth Bozeman, the Shattuck Professor of Music in the Conservatory of Music’s voice department. Both have taught hundreds (maybe thousands) of Lawrentians during their celebrated four decades-plus at Lawrence.

6. Livestream available: A livestream of the ceremony will be available for viewing in real time. It’s an opportunity to watch the ceremony online if you can’t be in attendance. The livestream can be accessed at the time of the event from the Commencement page.

There will again be plenty of opportunities for photos following Commencement.

7. Smile, you’re on camera: Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities for family and friends to take photos of their graduates. There are lots of picturesque locations across campus.

8. Talent on display: Commencement weekend is a chance for seniors to show some skills, with a Senior Art Exhibition in the Wriston Art Center Galleries set for Friday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 4 p.m.) and a Commencement Concert featuring members of the Class of 2019 planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Memorial Chapel. Look for a reception following the concert in Shattuck Hall, Room 163.

9. Spiritual journey: On Saturday, the 11 a.m. Baccalaureate Service, a multi-faith celebration of the spiritual journey of the Class of 2019, will be held in Memorial Chapel. Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Constance Kassor will deliver the address. It’s presented for seniors and their families.

10. Picnic moves indoors: The annual Commencement weekend picnic at noon on Saturday, held on the Main Hall green in past years, has been moved inside the Warch Campus Center. Seniors and their families, as well as faculty and staff, are invited. Following the picnic, President Mark Burstein will host a reception for seniors and their families at the president’s home from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

11. In search of parking: Parking is available in the city parking ramp just west of campus. Some street parking is available around campus but availability can’t be guaranteed. Here is some helpful parking info from the City of Appleton.

12. There will be awards: As per tradition, several of Lawrence’s most cherished awards will be handed out to faculty during the Commencement ceremony — the University Award for Excellence in Teaching, Award for Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity, and Excellence in Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member. The winners are not announced until Commencement.

Graduation hats are part of the Commencement day attire. Decorations are optional.

13. Dressed for success: The regalia of Commencement is among the great traditions of higher education — the gowns, the caps, the hoods, the cords all signaling a particular accomplishment along the journey of academia.

14. Music to come and go: Speaking of grand traditions, the music of the processional and the recessional will embrace this group of graduates, courtesy of the Lawrence University Graduation Band. Andrew Mast will again conduct as the band performs Crown Imperial by William Walton for the processional and Procession of the Nobles by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for the recessional.

15. Familiar and new faces: Led by President Mark Burstein, there will be familiarity in the ceremony. Kathy Privatt, the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama, will again serve as faculty marshal. David C. Blowers, chair of the Board of Trustees, will offer the convocation for the second year in a row. Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat will present the faculty awards. One notable change will come in the opening and closing words, a duty handled for many years by Howard E. Niblock. He retired last year, and that honor now falls to Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life.

The Class of 2019 displays its green flag during Welcome Week four years ago. Per tradition, each class is assigned one of four colors.

16. Class colors: Look for plenty of green to be on display during Commencement. The tradition of assigning a color — red, green, yellow, or purple — to each class at Lawrence has its roots in Milwaukee-Downer history. It was reinstated at Lawrence in 1988 and has continued since. The color of the Class of 2019 is green.

17. Conferring of degrees: That magical moment when the graduates’ names are called and they make the walk across the stage and the degrees are conferred is the heart and soul of any Commencement ceremony. Handling those duties for bachelor of music recipients will be Burstein and Dean of Conservatory Brian Pertl ’86. Handling for bachelor of arts recipients will be Burstein and Kodat.

18. A parade of another sort: A parade of graduates isn’t the only parade during the June 8-9 weekend that might get your attention. The 68th annual Flag Day Parade will march through downtown Appleton beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. It will affect traffic in the downtown area as thousands of onlookers line the streets to watch the state’s oldest Flag Day parade. It’ll start on Oneida Street at Wisconsin Avenue, make its way to College Avenue, then proceed through the downtown, turning north at Drew Street and ending at City Park. See details here.

19. A Juneteenth celebration: Speaking of city events near campus, you may also want to note this one on your calendar. Appleton’s ninth annual Juneteenth Celebration will take place from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in City Park, providing a possible post-Commencement destination. It also will affect parking near the campus in the afternoon hours.

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

New studies, research put Lawrence on front lines of bee advocacy

Israel Del Toro, dressed in a protective suit, preps honeybees for the observational hive on the roof of the Warch Campus Center.
Israel Del Toro prepares to release honeybees to an observational hive on the roof of Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center. The hive is visible from inside the Warch on the fourth floor.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Israel Del Toro’s advocacy for bees — fun fact: there are upwards of 100 different species of bees in Appleton alone — is no secret.

The Lawrence University assistant professor of biology has been championing bees and the untold benefits they bring to our ecosystem since he arrived on campus three years ago. He launched the Appleton Pollinator Project to turn homeowners and gardeners into citizen scientists, helped install and study pollination sites across the Fox Cities, and pushed students in his biology lab and campus environmental clubs to work to improve the on-campus habitat for bees.

Now Del Toro is stepping up that advocacy to another level, working to get Lawrence designated as a bee-friendly campus via Bee City USA, an initiative of Xerces Society. There are currently 70 campuses across the country that hold the bee-friendly designation.

All expectations are that Lawrence will be No. 71, and only the second in Wisconsin.

Del Toro submitted Lawrence’s proposal in early May, spotlighting the school’s sustainability push, the efforts to eliminate invasive species that work to the detriment of bees, the planting of bee-friendly wildflowers, the ongoing research activities and the educational outreach on and off campus.

“The goal is to use the campus as this big lab to try to figure out what the best practices are for managing bee diversity in urban landscapes,” Del Toro said.

To help connect Lawrence faculty, students and staff with the wonders of honeybees, Del Toro donned a protective suit last week and released bees into an observational hive set up on the roof of the Warch Campus Center, visible from behind the safety of glass on the building’s fourth floor.

“It’ll be an active colony that we hope will last for three years,” Del Toro said.

“People can’t actually touch the bees but the hives themselves have a plexiglass window so you can look inside and see the bees doing their bee thing and building honeycomb and foraging and dancing.”

A formal unveiling of the observational hive will be held in June, complete with a bee-inspired picnic featuring foods that require bee pollination — think apple pie, blueberry treats and avocado smoothies. Stay tuned for time, date and details.

Bee science

The observational hive at Warch offers an up-close look at the honeybee, the best known of the bee species that are here, but that’s just the start of the bee-focused educational opportunities on campus.

There are 10 different bee species known to be on Main Hall green, mostly housed in the hexagon-shaped pollination box just southeast of Main Hall. But another 32 species are known to inhabit S.L.U.G. (Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens), where students actively maintain a bee-friendly space with blooming flowers, native wildflowers and the ongoing removal of invasive plants.

The hexagon-shaped pollination box is on the Main Hall green, near Youngchild Hall.
A pollination box is on the Main Hall green near Youngchild Hall, home to multiple species of bees.

Del Toro is also working with City of Appleton officials to get the city designated a Bee City. It’s all part of the efforts to educate people on the ecosystem importance of bees and the dangers that exist when we’re not being good stewards of the land.

“It reflects some of the important values of Lawrence,” Del Toro said of the bee-friendly campus and city efforts. “Lawrence has always been very progressive thinking. Sustainability is a big issue now. We want to make sure that in the time of climate change and biodiversity loss, we are a leader in setting the proper example. If all we can impact is our little 88 acres on campus, well, that’s a great starting point. We can lead by example. I think that’s a really great example of the ethos of Lawrence.”

As long as we can get past the misconceptions about bees — no, they are not looking to sting you — it’s also good for student recruitment, Del Toro said.

“I would hope something like this is drawing students who are more sustainably focused and are thinking about issues like conservation and ecology and conservation biology,” he said.

For more on Lawrence’s biology and related offerings, click here.

For more on Lawrence’s geosciences and related offerings, click here.

Hands-on learning

That sort of thinking drew in Maggie Anderson ’19 , a farm girl from northern Minnesota who came to Lawrence with an interest in biology and found the field work that was part of the Del Toro-led bee studies to her liking. She’ll graduate in June, then head to the University of Minnesota to pursue a doctorate while researching bees in prairie ecosystems.

“I didn’t necessarily come in with an intent to study bees, but it kind of became apparent soon after I got here that that was something I was really interested in,” Anderson said.





“It’s given me a lot of
really great research experience.”

Maggie Anderson ’19

What she got at Lawrence in terms of hands-on research opportunities was “really more than I expected,” she said.

That kind of scientific research doesn’t start and stop with bees, though. Ecological-focused work is happening across departments at Lawrence, from biology to natural sciences to environmental sciences, where faculty and students are working on studies in such wide-ranging but critical areas as aquatic ecosystems, endangered plants, bat conservation, soil ecology, and hydrology, to name a few.

“This is one tiny thing we do,” Del Toro said of the bees. “We’re doing a lot of cool science. What that means for our students is they get to go on this ride with us as we’re doing really cutting-edge science.”

Del Toro and his wife, Relena Ribbons, a visiting assistant professor of biology who will become a tenure-track faculty member in the fall, have been leaders in the citizen science project, an effort launched last year to build nearly 60 garden beds in back yards across the Fox Cities. The garden beds, designed to grow vegetables, are split in two, one half pollinated by insects, the other half cordoned off by mesh to keep bees and other insects out.

The homeowners keep the veggies in exchange for providing data from their gardens. Del Toro, Ribbons and their students then analyze the results as they come in.

Israel Del Toro head shot
Del Toro

“What we found from last year’s research is that bees are probably contributing to a market here in the Fox Cities that’s worth roughly $80,000 to $100,000 a year in pollination ecosystem services,” Del Toro said. “That’s based on the amount of produce that gets pollinated by bees in our back yards.”

For Anderson, the interaction with the community has been as enlightening as the work with the bees.

“It’s given me a lot of really great research experience, but also communication experience,” the senior biology and music double major said. “Working with people is a really undervalued part of science, especially in the conservation field that I want to go into. You have to work with people a lot, and you have to know how to communicate.”

Her fellow students, Anderson said, have embraced her bee research and the idea of this being a bee-friendly campus.

“In this campus environment, people really do get that,” she said. “People really do understand that we are up against a lot of environmental issues when we talk about bees in terms of habitat loss and bees just not having enough resources in an urban setting. We need to make a nice, available on-campus habitat for bees, and students and staff to my knowledge have been really, really supportive of that.”

Today (May 20) is World Bee Day. And National Pollinator Week arrives on June 17, just in time for Del Toro’s pollination-themed picnic. No better time to salute these researchers as they create the biggest buzz on campus.

Did we mention there will be pie?

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