University Assistant Professor of Music Andrew Crooks has helped launch an
online fund-raising campaign that has already brought in more than $237,000 to
assist musicians and other artists across the United States who are struggling because
of the COVID-19 crisis.
Artist Relief Tree (ART) was started earlier this month as music venues began to close and performances and tours were canceled, putting many artists out of work. The web site, www.artistrelieftree.com, received more than 3,500 requests for help in its first four days.
While it started
with a goal to raise $10,000, organizers have now reset the target at $1
not in salaried, stable positions, the shutdown of performances on such a massive
scale is heartbreaking, Crooks said in an email interview from his native New
Zealand, where he is hunkered down to teach remotely during Spring Term.
“It is very
painful to bear witness to these stories, both through Artist Relief Tree and
via social media, as well as via more personal communications with friends,” he
said. “There is extreme anxiety in the arts community, and we wanted to offer a
little help, a little hope, and as much sense of community and solidarity as we
could possibly muster.”
Crooks, who serves as a vocal coach at Lawrence and was the music director for the Conservatory’s Winter Term production of The Marriage of Figaro, teamed with a handful of other artists from around the country to form ART.
4 ways Lawrentians can pitch in, stay connected amid COVID-19 crisis: Details here.
performers and authors have since jumped on board with endorsements, among them
Russell Brand, Brene Brown, Ani DiFranco, Brian Eno, Ben Folds, Rhiannon
Giddens, George R.R. Martin, Mike Posner, and Lawrence’s own John Holiday.
The process works like this: An artist in need can request funds, with a requirement to provide some basic documentation about their work. On a first-come-first-served basis for those who qualify, ART will provide a financial assist. Monies began going out on March 18.
going to sustain anyone long term. But it’s an effort to help a community that
is reeling, to embrace a sense of togetherness among artists, and to raise
awareness along with dollars, Crooks said. Many of these artists who were lined
up to perform in some of the world’s great opera houses and other performance
venues have no fallback. In many cases, no performance, no paycheck.
It was a team of six artists and arts administrators, all tied to the world of opera, who launched the project, Crooks said. He and Morgan Brophy, of Wolf Trap Opera, have served as co-founding-directors. The organizers are all working as volunteers.
poured their hearts and souls and time into this passion project,” Crooks said.
“They all care so, so much … about their artistic friends all over the world.”
Lawrence, the efforts are drawing applause across the Conservatory.
be more proud of our remarkable faculty,” Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl
said. “This is such a great example of turning compassion into action, which is
exactly what we want to model for our students.”
Class dynamics are certainly part of The Marriage of Figaro, the classic opera from the superstar duo of
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte. But Copeland Woodruff, director
of Opera Studies at Lawrence University, said he’s more fascinated by another
element of the story as his Opera Theatre students prepare to open the
production on March 5.
“It’s complex human relationships,” Woodruff said of the
storyline that mixes love and betrayal and suspicion in equal doses, all with
comedic undertones. “And everyone on stage is making poor choices, often times
for selfish reasons to punish someone else.
“I’d really rather tell that story. Certainly, there’s class
distinction in it, and you can’t ignore that, and you shouldn’t ignore that,
but, for me, there are a lot of other interesting things, human elements that
are going on, and they’re complicated.”
The comic opera was written by Mozart, the composer, and da
Ponte, the librettist, in the 1780s, but, Woodruff said, if you want to think
about it in more modern times, think Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl. You know, coveting your best friend’s girlfriend.
In short, Figaro, Count Almaviva’s longtime friend and
personal valet, is set to marry the Countess’ maid, Susanna. But the high and
mighty Count is plotting to seduce the servant Susanna, on her wedding night no
less. The Countess is on to him and teams with Susanna to catch her husband in
all his lecherous ways. Confusion and mischief happen along the way.
Emily Richter ’20, a music performance (voice) major from London, is in the role of the Countess. She said the cast has been eyeing opening night since first receiving the music in June and then prepping that music through fall term.
“We then spent the two weeks of D-Term peeling away the layers of what we’re saying and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with this show,” she said. “Since then we’ve spent 12 hours a week staging and trying to capture the nuance of the show.”
The Marriage of Figaro will be presented over four days in Stansbury Theater — 7:30 p.m. performances on March 5, 6, and 7 and a 3 p.m. matinee on March 8. The show is for mature audiences. Admission is $15 ($10 for seniors, $8 for non-Lawrence students); free for Lawrence students, faculty, and staff.
It features a cast of 11, plus stage and technical crews,
two rehearsal pianists, a student pit orchestra, and a 14-member chorus. It’s a
big show, running three hours in length, and it is double cast, making for an
“It’s one of the most generous casts I’ve worked with in a
long time,” Woodruff said. “They’re just generous with each other as far as
sharing the stage space and working with one another.”
For Richter and other seniors in the cast, this is a final bow at Lawrence. She called her castmates “uplifting” and said the bonds being built will last long after the final curtain.
“To get to be in an opera this massive with people I’ve been singing with now for almost four years is such a special experience,” she said. “Never again will we get to be in a show with people we’ve essentially grown up with for four years. It’s a very special thing, and I think that closeness, vulnerability, and trust shows up on stage.”
For more on Lawrence’s Opera Theatre program, visit here.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence University will switch to distance learning for the Spring Term due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Lawrence has launched a web site that houses Lawrence-related information on COVID-19. It will continue to be updated as needed. The site includes a coronavirus FAQ.
“While there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on the Lawrence campus, we recognize that we can no longer continue as usual and still protect all members of our community, especially those most at risk,” President Mark Burstein said Thursday in a letter to the Lawrence community. “As a result, and in consultation with faculty, students, and staff, we have determined that the best course of action for Lawrence is to move to distance learning starting Spring Term.This was an extraordinarily difficult decision to make.”
Students will be required to stay off campus at their permanent residence or otherwise away from campus during Spring Term and access instruction remotely. Students can petition to stay on campus (but still study remotely) if they are international students with travel restrictions such that they may not be able to return to their home country and have no domestic residence option; if they lack needed technology to access distance learning; or if there are other extenuating circumstances.
Spring break, which begins March 19, will be extended an extra week. Spring term will now begin April 6. There will be no in-person instruction.
Björklunden, Lawrence University’s pristine northern campus in Door County, is once again beckoning visitors for summer seminars that feed a desire for lifelong learning.
Registration is open for 37 Bjorklunden summer seminars, presented by Lawrence faculty, alumni, and other experts. It’s a chance to learn while enjoying the peace and beauty of the 425-foot campus along the Lake Michigan shoreline, just south of Baileys Harbor.
Topics range from wildlife photography and the study of the stars to exploration of America’s racist past and the anatomy of a murder trial. The seminars begin in mid-June and carry through much of October.
“The seminar program embodies one of the most unique
aspects of a liberal arts education — a commitment to lifelong learning,” said
Alex Baldschun, an assistant director at Bjorklunden.
Visitors to the seminars, he said, come from all
walks of life.
Some commute to the seminars. Others are Björklunden residents for the week, housed in the estate’s 37,000-square-foot lodge. Participants are able to explore the grounds and engage with the beautiful scenery in Door County.
Most seminars, which include meals prepared by Björklunden’s
resident chef, begin Sunday evening and end Friday afternoon. Classes meet
weekday mornings and some evenings, with remaining time available to enjoy
Björklunden’s mile-long shoreline and wooded walking trails or to explore area cultural
and recreational opportunities.
Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics, is
among the Lawrence faculty leading seminars this year. She’s presenting an astronomy-focused
seminar, The Stars: Mansions Built by
Nature’s Hand, July 26-31. It’s something she’s wanted to do for years,
calling the surroundings “singularly contemplative, especially for astronomy.”
To be able to do it in a relaxed atmosphere with a
cross-section of deeply curious people, all the better.
“There’s something very freeing about being in a
learning environment where there are no grades, just the love of learning,”
Complete seminar information, including registration, dates, course descriptions, and information on instructors, can be found at www.lawrence.edu/dept/bjork/ or by calling 920-839-2216. Questions can also be directed via email to email@example.com.
Paul Saltzman, the director of Prom Night in Mississippi, a 2008 documentary about racism and race relations in a small town in Mississippi, will visit Lawrence University next week for a showing and discussion of the film.
The documentary, created in partnership with Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Warch Campus Center Cinema, followed by a discussion with Saltzman.
Prom Night in Mississippi was made more than 40 years after Saltzman had participated in voter registration work with the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) during the summer of 1965, witnessing the segregation of the south up close and personal. He said he returned to Mississippi in 2007 to see how — or if — race relations had progressed.
That led to a meeting with Freeman, who had returned to live near his childhood home in Charleston, Mississippi, population 2,000. Morgan would tell Saltzman a seemingly improbable story. The high school in Charleston, in 2007, still held two proms — one for white students, one for black students.
A decade earlier, Freeman had offered to pay all costs if the school would unite the two proms, open to all students. The school turned him down.
When they met, Saltzman asked Freeman if he’d be interested
in revisiting that offer for the 2008 prom. Saltzman would come along with his
camera to document the process from start to finish.
Freeman said yes, leading to the making of Prom Night in Mississippi.
The documentary weaves together student-made videos,
interviews, and intimate moments with students, school officials, parents, and
“I live here,” Freeman tells a group of seniors at the
school. “I think it is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of, that in this
time … you children are being brought up this way. It hurts me deeply.”
Most students at the school seem to approve of the integrated
prom, but a group of white parents move ahead to plan their own whites-only
prom. They refuse to be interviewed for Saltzman’s film.
The integrated prom is held that spring, and it is well received, marking what Saltzman called a turning point for the town.
“Many of the senior students, black and white, impressed me
with their openness and awareness,” Saltzman said at the time. “Their courage
to attend their first mixed prom and to share their feelings about race gives
me hope that we are indeed heading in the right direction.”
Using this film as a catalyst, Saltzman and fellow producer Patricia Aquino later created Moving Beyond Prejudice, a nonprofit that works with young people and their communities to shine a light on prejudice and promote inclusion.
The Feb. 25 showing in the Warch Cinema is free of charge. A discussion will follow. The program is in conjunction with Black History Month and is co-sponsored by Lawrence’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Diversity and Intercultural Center.
Bonus: While on campus next week, Saltzman also will speak about another passion — the Beatles. He’s published two books on the band, The Beatles in Rishikesh and The Beatles in India. His talk at 11:10 a.m. Feb. 24 in Harper Hall is titled, The Beatles in India and How I Met the Beatles.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a Lawrence theater and English double major who is doing her Senior Experience in conjunction with the Department of Theatre Arts’ production of Richard III, Haley Stevens ’20 hopes audience members remember that famous adage as they watch the action unfold this week on the Cloak Theatre stage.
Written almost 400 years ago, it might
not initially be obvious how the themes and content of Richard III could be relevant to a modern audience. But when
looking at today’s political climate, some of Richard III’s key plot points—betrayal,
power struggles and rumor campaigns, to name a few—may not seem so foreign, she
“I want the audience to feel like this is weirdly familiar, like unexpectedly familiar,” Director Timothy X. Troy said, echoing Stevens’ assessment. “It’s not necessarily a happy thought. It happens every day in rehearsal as we’re working our way through scenes. We’re like, man, that just happened last week. … But that’s true of all great literature. Each era finds its way into it. These were people who lived through a tumultuous time. And guess who we are?”
For the cast and crew of Shakespeare’s Richard III, the past five weeks of
rehearsal are finally coming to fruition. Set to
open on Thursday night, Richard III
will be performed in Cloak Theatre at 8 p.m. Feb. 20–22, with an additional 3
p.m. matinee Feb. 22.
With an abridged script that has condensed the original four-hour play into 90 minutes of action, the production, subtitled “I am Myself, Alone,” tackles the challenge of analyzing the choices individuals make, both in a historical context and today.
The production tells the story of Richard III, an English nobleman who will do virtually anything to ensure his rise to the throne following a 30-year civil war—no matter the cost. In order to condense the play to 90 minutes, an effort spearheaded by Olivia Gregorich ’17 and Troy, the team had to choose one primary thematic point of view to depict in depth. Settling on the concept of human agency and the factors that restrict it, this production explores the challenging idea of how individuals can make the best decisions for themselves when their options are inherently limited.
Although this concept can
easily be understood by a modern audience, placing it in its proper historical
context adds an additional level of depth to the production. This historical
understanding was enhanced in 2012, when the body of the real Richard III was discovered
As part of the first generation of productions of Richard III since then, the production team has been able to rediscover the play and utilize information about Richard III that previously could not have been confirmed. Having this new knowledge allows the team to explore the production in a new light.
First, it is now confirmed that Richard III truly had a disability, which had previously only been rumored. Christopher Follina ’20, the actor who plays Richard and a theater and religious studies double major doing this production for his Senior Experience, also has a disability, which allows for a more influential and nuanced interpretation of Richard’s character, according to Troy.
Written only a few
generations following the real events that occur in the play, original Elizabethan
audiences would have been able to recognize the character of Richmond as their
queen’s grandfather and would likely have had grandparents who fought in the
“It’s kind of the equivalent of watching a play around Vietnam or World War II,” Stevens said. “It’s something that happens even now when we’re generations removed from great conflict and then a play portrays it in order to bring back the understanding of what other people, your ancestors, could have gone through.”
Although this weekend’s audience will not have the same close
connection to the characters and events of the play as the Elizabethan
audience, Troy and Stevens both believe the universal themes and patterns
depicted in Richard III can be
transferred across time and found in every period of history—including this
one. The specific players and timelines may change, but the fundamental story
remains the same.
“When you do the show, you keep the story alive,” said Alec Welhouse ’23, the actor playing the Duke of Buckingham. “You don’t let the story die. If we weren’t doing this show, I don’t think anyone at Lawrence would be talking about King Richard or anyone like that. But since we’re doing it, it sparks that interest again. It gets people interested in Shakespearean times and makes you want to learn more about it.”
Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.
In addition to working with her voice students on the second floor of the Music-Drama Center, the Lawrence Conservatory’s newest music professor is in the midst of a whirlwind schedule that has her, among other things, sharing a New York stage this week with the iconic Renée Fleming and then visiting New Zealand and Australia with an opera featuring her Grammy-winning chamber music ensemble Roomful of Teeth.
Preceding all that was a concert last week with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and newVoices choir at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center — her first public performance as a resident of Appleton — a brief stopover in New York to perform at the Lincoln Center on the American Songbook series, and an overnight to St. Louis for a recital with the Kingsbury Ensemble.
In between flights and performances, her teaching continues — from hotel rooms and rehearsal spaces she connects with her students remotely via Zoom for voice lessons, all the while showing them in real time what life as a working musician can look like.
“I’m living it,” Gomez said of the Conservatory’s mission to prepare students to live their best musical lives.
It’s a blistering schedule, but Gomez, an in-demand soprano, makes
no excuses. This is what she signed up for when she accepted an offer last year
to join the Conservatory faculty, her first full-time teaching gig after a
decade living on the road.
“What I desired was that both sorts of existences — the academic and the performer — would feed one another,” she said.
A native of Watsonville, California, with a bachelor of arts from Yale and a master of music from McGill, Gomez spent 10 years in constant motion, touring with Roomful of Teeth and performing and recording with the likes of the Seattle Symphony and Silkroad Ensemble, among others. She won a Grammy Award with Roomful of Teeth in 2014 — the ensemble’s 2013 debut album also earned composer Caroline Shaw a Pulitzer Prize — and is featured on the Silkroad Ensemble album that scored a Grammy win in 2016.
See more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music here.
Chasing a dream
Gomez and her seven Roomful colleagues have served a number of teaching residencies and master classes at universities across the country, including two at Lawrence. The Lawrence experiences were so satisfying for Gomez that she listened intently when Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl in late 2018 first mentioned a coming opening on the Conservatory faculty.
“That was the beginning of this dream,” Gomez said. “What would it look like if I actually lived somewhere? I’d been living out of my suitcase for about a decade. I had a storage unit in Montréal, my parents live in California, my partner lives in Austin, Texas, and I have a crash pad in New York City.”
She was drawn to the idea of teaching in a Conservatory setting,
especially one she held in such high regard.
“I had already been bitten by the bug of spending more time in an
academic environment, for the resources, for the people who were interested in
diving deep in creative ways,” Gomez said.
But she also wanted to continue to perform on stages around the
world. At Lawrence, that’s a path that has already been paved many times over.
Her performing would be embraced as an opportunity, not a problem. Pertl called
her “a perfect fit for Lawrence, an exquisite musician with the heart of a
liberal arts scholar.”
The Conservatory’s mantra to provide holistic music education for
the 21st century, recognizing many paths to living a musical life,
was all Gomez needed to hear.
“It was the fact that my interests lined up so well with this
place,” she said. “That’s what sealed the deal for me.”
Gomez knew she had huge shoes to fill as she was joining the voice faculty following the retirements of the talented and much-respected Kenneth Bozeman and Joanne Bozeman, whose influences on Lawrence University had been long and impactful. She’s tried to pick up where they left off.
“I’m so lucky they were my predecessors,” Gomez said. “They have
such wonderful systems set up.”
She said she’s soaking in the talent, expertise, and teaching wisdom of her Conservatory colleagues. At the Fox Cities PAC performance last week, she was joined on stage by two of those colleagues, Steven Paul Spears, a tenor and voice professor, and Phillip Swan, the co-director of choral studies who serves as artistic director and conductor of newVoices, a semi-professional community choir.
A new sense of place
The reality of her new gig —and the lifestyle change it signified — began to sink in for Gomez shortly after she arrived in Appleton last summer. She had a kitchen all to herself. And a consistent place to sleep. It had been a long time since she could say that.
It took some time to adjust, she said. Fall term was challenging, learning new systems and meeting new people. It wasn’t until winter term that she began to settle into the rhythms of life on campus.
“There was a point where I slept better on airplanes than I did in my new place,” Gomez said. “I had to remind myself, this is what is normal. But, slowly, the normal is shifting. I’m still getting to tour, but now I have more of an essence of grounding here, which has been a blessing.”
Most satisfying, she said, is that it’s giving her a chance to spread her wings as an educator.
“Now I have this long arc of getting to work with students on a weekly basis and really connect with them as people,” she said. “It feels so much deeper. I so appreciate the chance to get to know them in a longer-form way than being a visiting master class artist.”
Several of Gomez’s students showed up at the Fox Cities PAC last week to show support for her performance with the Fox Valley Symphony and newVoices. That’s part of the relationship-building between faculty and students that is so pronounced at Lawrence, where class sizes are small and one-on-one sessions with faculty are the norm.
“They’re the building blocks for their singing life here,” Gomez said of those faculty-to-student relationships.
They also are where her performance life and her academic life can intersect to provide teachable moments for her students, who are exploring what their own musical paths might be. Her performances, Gomez said, help inform her teaching. And her teaching helps inform her performances, whether here in Appleton or on the other side of the world.
“I think it’s good for them to have somebody who is in it,” Gomez said of her students. “And it’s also good for my performing that I’m engaged with how to articulate what I believe is really good singing, really healthy singing, really efficient singing. I have to articulate that every day to my students over and over again and in a million different sorts of languages.”
Sharing the stage with Renée Fleming
That brings us to this busy stretch. It’s the three performances with the New York Philharmonic Feb. 20-22 in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall that’s garnering the most attention.
Gomez is one of three soloists in the world premiere of a piece written by 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid. It was commissioned by the Philharmonic as part of Project 19, which is marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment by commissioning works by 19 women composers.
“It should be a really eclectic, innovative program,” Gomez said.
Fleming is featured in the second half of the concert, singing music of Björk.
Gomez has sung with the New York Philharmonic before, but this will be her first time performing on the same stage as Fleming, one of the country’s most renowned sopranos. They have plenty of connections, though. Gomez’s frequent duet partner has sung duet recitals with Fleming. And Gomez has sung with Susan Graham, Fleming’s frequent duet partner.
“And apparently she’s a Roomful fan, so I’m excited to meet her,”
From there, Gomez will be back in Appleton for three days to teach, and then reconnect with her Roomful of Teeth collaborators for the trip to New Zealand and Australia for the Peter Sellars-directed opera Kopernikus.
Interestingly, Gomez was performing in Kopernikus in Europe when she had her first interview — via Skype —
for the Lawrence position.
“I think it was something like 11 p.m. for me; it was maybe 4 p.m. here,” she said. “We had just finished opening night in Toulouse, France. I joined for the champagne toast, ordered dinner at the cafe upstairs, then went down to the basement of the theater and said, ‘OK, let’s answer some interview questions.’ So, all this now feels really interconnected.”
When it comes to colleges and universities preparing
students for an impactful life, few do it better than Lawrence University.
Lawrence is the No. 3 impact school in the country in a new ranking released by The Princeton Review. The 2020 Best Impact School ranking, one spot up from where Lawrence landed a year ago, focuses on both the student experience on campus and how alumni perceive their careers. It suggests Lawrence’s liberal arts vision is alive and well, that students are being prepared for a life well lived.
The ranking comes as part of The Princeton Review’s annual Best Value Colleges project, a listing of 200 schools that are considered to have exceptional return on investment. Lawrence again made the list. The 200 schools are not ranked in order; the editors highlight those that made the cut amid 656 colleges and universities that were evaluated on more than 40 data points covering academics, affordability, and career preparation.
Within those 200, The Princeton Review breaks down rankings in seven categories, one of them being the 25 Best Impact Schools in the country.
Climbing to No. 3 — only Wesleyan and Southwestern
universities finished ahead of Lawrence — is particularly satisfying because of
what it says about a Lawrence education and how that then transfers to the job
market and career exploration. It measures on-campus experiences such as
student engagement, service, government, and sustainability and then surveys
alumni to rate how meaningful they believe their work life is.
“I see it and hear it when I meet with our alumni around the world,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communication. “They point back to their time at Lawrence as unlocking something for them, discovering an interest or talent they didn’t know they had until they started working with professors here who helped guide them in that discovery. That’s one of the benefits of attending a college like Lawrence where our faculty are so deeply invested in helping our students become even better versions of themselves, and it’s a transformation that lasts a lifetime.”
Lawrence has doubled down on efforts to mentor students outside of the classroom throughout the college journey, taking a holistic approach in everything from wellness and spirituality to leadership and career preparation. With an 8-to-1 faculty to student ratio and a liberal arts mantra that prepares students for lifelong learning, Lawrence puts its students in positions to launch into careers and service work that are filled with meaning, said Christopher Card, Lawrence’s vice president for student life.
“There are enough colleges on the market where one can just
go to it and do the basic academic requirements and move in and move out and go
on to their next chapter,” Card said. “I don’t think that’s why students come
to Lawrence. I think they come here because they expect a particular
relationship to emerge — certainly with solid academics and rigor. They want to
be challenged. They want to know they are getting a first-rate education but
also a first-rate experience outside of the classroom in terms of their own
personal growth and development.”
The Princeton Review data includes survey answers from alumni who speak to whether their jobs have “high meaning.” Lawrence’s high ranking reflects that alumni overwhelmingly say yes and that their career accomplishments have been fueled by their Lawrence education.
Lawrence has ramped up its efforts to better connect those alumni with today’s students. The 2019 launch of the endowed Riaz Waraich Dean of the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC) position has accelerated efforts to re-energize career exploration and preparation. The newly debuted Viking Connect program is at the front end of those efforts, tapping alumni to serve as mentors for students interested in the same field.
“Our alums are coming back full force to offer their
services,” Card said. “I think that speaks to their own experiences and wanting
to give back to support our students here.”
This is the 13th year The Princeton Review has put together its list of the 200 Best Value Colleges. It factors in academics, cost, financial aid, graduation rates, student debt, alumni salaries, and alumni job satisfaction.
Lawrence continues to score well in the areas of cost and
financial aid as its Full Speed to Full Need initiative continues to produce
results. More than $82 million has been raised for scholarships that help cover
the gap between a student’s ability to pay — based on family income — and other
available financial aid.
While student debt nationally has risen significantly in recent years, the Full Speed to Full Need initiative, part of the $220 million Be the Light! campaign, has helped reverse that trend for Lawrence students. The average student debt for new Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,504, its lowest mark in 10 years and below the national average of $32,731.
“This is one
of those rankings that I’m really happy to share with prospective students and
families, because it gets at one of those essential questions so many are
trying to answer — even if they haven’t articulated it yet — which is, ‘How
might our investment in this college set up our student to live a great life?’”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
The senior violin recital for Rehanna Rexroat ’20, set for Saturday in Harper Hall, will be more than just the summit of her academic career at Lawrence — one that boasts majors in violin performance, instrumental music education, and choral/general music education. It also will bring attendees into a space of remembrance and celebration of culture.
from a grant to assist Lawrence students in their Senior Experience, Rexroat was
able to commission Aakash Mittal, a renowned Indian American saxophonist and
composer, to compose a piece for her recital in honor of her Pakistani
aptly titled Origins, is a duet for
violin and harp for Rexroat and Leila Ramagopal Pertl, an instructor in music education
in the Conservatory of Music.
For months, the two had been searching for a piece that properly payed homage to Rexroat’s culture by blending Indian and Western classical music. With no luck, they called on the assistance of Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. He reached out to Mittal, who he counts as a friend, to see if he had a piece he’d recommend. He did not. So, Mittal wrote one.
“It’s really about honoring ancestors in a
general, global sense,” Rexroat said of Origins.
The rest of
the pieces in Rexroat’s recital deal similarly with these themes of culture and
memory. Their composers, some of whom are ethnomusicologists, celebrate their
own cultures or the cultures of other groups in the music. She dedicated one in
honor of her grandmother on her mother’s side; another to her childhood best
friend who recently died.
liked that theme,” Rexroat said of the music selections. “But I took it a step
further because I wanted my culture to be part of that.”
Rexroat was in contact with Mittal throughout the process of composing Origins. He was inspired by stories she sent him that her grandmother had told her. He adopted themes from those stories into the piece.
Learn about Lawrence’s Chandler Senior Experience here.
was a devout Muslim, so the piece is set to scales used in devotional Sufi
music, but one of the movements takes its name from a psalm to commemorate
Rexroat’s own Christian beliefs.
recital is very personal to her, Rexroat hopes the music — Origins in particular — also will encourage listeners to get in
touch with their own cultural stories.
Leila and I will be presenting it, we’re going to invite others to think about
their ancestors,” she said.
native of Mount Vernon, Iowa, who started playing the violin at age 4, noted
that Saturday’s recital is almost exactly 18 years since she first picked up
the instrument. But this educational apex, she said, is only the starting point
of a longer musical journey.
violin is always going to be a passion of mine,” she said. “It’s been in my
life for as long as I can remember. Wherever I go I will try to find someone I
can continue to study with.”
Rexroat’s recital will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Harper Hall. It is open to the public.
Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.
Lawrence University has passed the $200 million mark in its Be the Light! campaign, a major milestone in the largest campaign in the university’s history, President Mark Burstein announced to the Board of Trustees today.
More than 15,500 alumni and friends of Lawrence have supported the campaign since it launched six years ago with an ambitious goal to raise $220 million.
“The impact of Be the
Light! is already profound,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni
and development, pointing to declining student debt at Lawrence as the school draws
closer to being a full-need institution, new curricular initiatives in
cognitive neuroscience and computer science, among others, and revamps in
residence halls and classrooms.
Some contributions to the campaign, which has now reached $203.8 million, have been massive, including the $30 million matching gift to Full Speed to Full Need that launched the campaign in 2014 and others that have been in excess of $2 million. But many others have been smaller gifts that add up to major contributions. More than 14,000 gifts have come in at $50 or less, adding up to nearly $400,000.
“This demonstrates that every gift makes a difference,”
Keeping that momentum rolling through the campaign’s end will be critical.
Tom Paulson ’93 spoke at a recent Be the Light! campaign event held in the Warch Campus Center, telling alumni gathered how enthused he is to see the number moving closer to the $220 million goal. He and his family — two of his children are Lawrence alumni as well — pledged $2.5 million to the campaign, helping to support students via scholarships.
“It just seemed like a great opportunity, and almost a
responsibility to pay it forward,” Paulson said.
An anonymous donor matched his family’s $2.5 million gift,
boosting it to $5 million.
“Everything came together as a real magical moment,” Paulson said. “That $2.5 million match came in, the Be the Light! campaign was here, and everything just flowed together. I am overwhelmed at the response to the campaign, and I love the fact that we’re involved.”
Husmann called the $200 million milestone a significant marker that will provide momentum during these final 10 months of the campaign.
“The success of Be the Light! is a product of the strength of our community,” he said.
Charlot Singleton ’67, one of the tri-chairs of the campaign, said today’s milestone announcement is worth celebrating for what it means for current and future Lawrentians.
great news for our students and faculty,” she said.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org