Category: Press Releases

Humorist David Sedaris Shares his Witty Observations in Lawrence University Convocation

Award-winning humorist and National Public Radio commentator David Sedaris brings his collection of witty observances on life to Lawrence University Tuesday, Oct. 14 in the second installment of the college’s 2003 2004 convocation series. The program, “An Evening with David Sedaris” at 7:10 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, is free and open to the public.

Sedaris, who claims his idea of fun is “sociological problems and medical mishaps,” launched his career as one of America’s funniest social commentators in 1992 on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” He shared stories from his book “SantaLand Diaries” about his strange-but-true experiences as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s in New York.

He has since written four more books: “Naked,” “Barrel Fever,” “Holidays on Ice” and his most recent, “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” The largely autobiographical collections of essays chronicle his life growing up in North Carolina with “voluble” parents and five siblings, his collection of part-time jobs, including an office worker, moving company employee and an apartment cleaner in New York, and taking French classes as an expatriate in Paris, where he currently resides.

Collaborating with his sister, Amy Sedaris, under the name The Talent Family, Sedaris also has written several plays that have been produced in New York, including “One Woman Shoe,” which was honored with an Obie award.

A one-time writing instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he had earned a degree in 1987, and frequent contributor to Esquire magazine, Sedaris was saluted as Time magazine’s “humorist of the year” in 2001. That same year he was named just the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Following his address, Sedaris will conduct a book signing in Lawrence’s Shattuck Hall, Room 163.

European Historian, English Literature Scholar Named to Endowed Chairs at Lawrence University

Lawrence University President Richard Warch announced the appointment of Paul Cohen and Timothy Spurgin to endowed professorships Thursday (9/25) at his annual matriculation convocation.

Cohen, professor of history, was named to the Patricia Hamar Boldt Professorship of Liberal Studies, and Spurgin, an associate professor of English, was named to the Bonnie Glidden Buchanan Professorship in English Literature.

Appointments to endowed professorships are made in recognition of academic distinction through teaching excellence and/or scholarly achievement. Lawrence currently has 47 endowed chairs.

A specialist in modern Europe, modern France and intellectual history, Cohen joined the Lawrence faculty in 1985 and was promoted to full professor in 1999.

He is the author of two books, “Freedom’s Moment: An Essay on the French Idea of Liberty from Rousseau to Foucault” and “Piety and Politics: Catholic Revival and the Generation of 1905-1914 in France” and a member of the editorial board of the journal Contemporary French Civilization. In 1999, Cohen was recognized with Lawrence’s Freshman Studies Teaching Award. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Clark University and earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.

The Boldt Professorship was established in 1989 in honor of Patricia Hamar Boldt, a 1948 Lawrence graduate. She was awarded an honorary degree by Lawrence at the college’s 2003 commencement in recognition of her long-time community service and volunteerism efforts with the Infant Welfare Circle, the United Way, the Salvation Army, the Fox Valley Symphony, LEAVEN, Mosquito Hill Nature Center and the Girl Scouts, among others.

Holders of the Boldt Professorship exemplify her commitment to the ideals of liberal education in their teaching, scholarship and service to the community.

A member of the faculty since 1990, Spurgin’s scholarly interests focus on 19th century English literature, especially the novel and works of Charles Dickens, as well as literary criticism and theory. His scholarship has been published in the academic journals Dickens Quarterly, Dickens Studies Annual and the Minnesota Review.

He was cited with Lawrence’s Outstanding Young Teaching Award in 1993, the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1994 and has been the recipient of the college’s Babcock Award for “giving generously of his time and energy to assist students” on three occasions, the most recent in 2003. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Carleton College, Spurgin earned his doctorate in English at the University of Virginia.

The Buchanan Professorship was established in 1994 by Bonnie Glidden Buchanan and her husband, Robert Buchanan, in recognition of her love of and interest in English literature and in appreciation for the special brand of liberal arts education Lawrence provides. Both Bonnie and Robert Buchanan are 1962 graduates of Lawrence and have been active volunteers for the college, serving the alumni association and Board of Trustees, respectively.

Lawrence University Physicist Awarded $178,000 National Science Foundation Grant

A curious visitor peering through the glass of Room 044 in the basement of Lawrence University’s Science Hall and seeing the large, elevated, aluminum “drum,” its wide sides wrapped with thick, black bundles of wire amid an array of other attached tubes and hoses, might conclude they had just stumbled upon an industrial-strength, high-tech washing machine. Or perhaps a remnant of eccentric “Doc” Brown’s “Back to the Future” workshop.

Far from being a fancy Maytag or a mad scientist movie prop, the contraption is the cornerstone of Lawrence University associate professor of physics Matthew Stoneking’s scientific research. The drum, a “toroidal vacuum chamber” to be exact, which Stoneking brought with him to Lawrence from his research associate days at the University of Wisconsin, is at the heart of his work on pure electron plasmas.

Now, thanks to a three-year, $178,000 grant Stoneking has received from the National Science Foundation, he soon will begin constructing a new and greatly improved apparatus, permitting more sophisticated experimentation. Stoneking’s NSF grant will enable him, in conjuction with Lawrence physics students, to build a less imposing, but much more precisely designed and constructed vacuum chamber out of stainless steel and copper in his new laboratory in the recently renovated Youngchild Hall.

Pure electron plasmas are collections or “clouds” of electrons confined in a vacuum chamber using magnetic and electric fields. Stoneking’s research focuses on the criteria needed for confining a stable electron plasma in a toroidal — donut-shaped — magnetic field and the factors that limit the duration of the confinement in such systems.

A toroidal magnetic field can be visualized as a bundle of lines wrapped into a circular loop, allowing charged particles, such as electrons, to stream or “flow” along those lines like beads on a wire.

Plasma physics is the scientific foundation for the potential future production of electric power by nuclear fusion.

“Although they do not occur in nature, electron plasmas have proved to be excellent systems for testing our understanding of the behavior of ‘complex’ fluids,” said Stoneking. “They can serve as a kind of ‘wind tunnel’ for testing mathematical theories of fluid dynamics.”

In previous experiments, Stoneking successfully confined electron plasmas in a toroidal magnetic field for as long as 2 one-hundredths of a second (or 20 milliseconds). Stoneking estimates the new chamber he will build will improve the purity of the vacuum by approximately 100 times and strengthen the magnetic field by a factor of five, resulting in confinement times approaching one second. Durations of that length would provide a more refined comparison of experimental results with existing theoretical predictions.

The NFS grant will also provide both summer research and travel stipends for Stoneking and his students to attend national physics conferences. In addition, it provides Stoneking with funds to establish a collaboration with physics colleagues at the University of California-San Diego.

This is the third grant Stoneking has received in support of his research since joining the Lawrence physics department in 1997.

“This grant will enable us to extend our understanding of electron plasmas and offer excellent research opportunities for our students,” said Stoneking, who earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Wisconsin.

Lawrence University President Richard Warch Opens Academic year with Examination of Community Diversity in Annual Matriculation Convocation

Richard Warch begins his 25th, and final, year as Lawrence University president by officially opening the college’s 154th academic year Thursday, Sept. 25 with his annual matriculation convocation.

Warch, who will retire in June, 2004 as the second-longest serving president in Lawrence history, presents, “The Lawrence Difference: Difference at Lawrence” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

In his address, Warch will discuss the notion of community and the challenges posed by the diversity of that community, including an examination of the recent University of Michigan court cases and racial diversity.

Named Lawrence’s 14th president in 1979, Warch earned his bachelor of arts degree from Williams College and his doctorate in American Studies from Yale University.

An ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church, Warch spent 10 years at Yale in a variety of positions, including associate dean of the college and director of the National Humanities Institute program. He came to Lawrence in 1977 as vice president of academic affairs before being named president two years later.

In the 1987 study, “The Effective College President,” a two-year project funded by the Exxon Education Foundation, Warch was named one of the nation’s top 100 college presidents. In June, 1999, Warch was appointed to the executive committee of the Annapolis Group, an association of more than 100 of America’s leading liberal arts colleges.

He is the author of the book “School of the Prophets: Yale College 1710-1740” and co-edited “John Brown” in the Great Lives Observed Series published by Prentice-Hall.

A Small World: Lawrence Grad in Pakistan Helps Steer Afghan Refugee to Appleton

Compared to fleeing the Taliban, Zubair Hakim figures Freshman Studies will be a piece of cake.

When Hakim speaks of his soon-to-be-official status as a member of Lawrence University’s 2003 freshmen class, the voice of the 21-year-old refugee from Afghanistan suggests appreciation more than excitement. Understandably so.

His journey to the Appleton campus, thanks in part to some gentle guidance by a Lawrence alumna, has meant overcoming obstacles far more difficult than posting a high ACT score or writing a compelling application essay.

A member of Afghanistan’s Farsi-speaking Tajik tribe, Hakim once called Kabul his hometown. But seven years ago this month, the life of the second-oldest son in a family of five, whose father served as dean of education at a medical institute and a mother who taught biology and chemistry at Kabul University, was suddenly and violently turned upside down when the fundamentalist Taliban came to power.

Within a day of the Taliban taking control of the government in Sept. 1996, his mother, Fatima Hakim Kamyar, lost her job, the victim of a decree which banned women from working or even leaving their homes without being accompanied by a male.

Soon after, the Taliban stripped Hakim’s father, Abdul Hakimzada, of his position at the university, forbidding Farsi-speaking people from holding any positions of power or authority in the country. As Tajiks, Hakim and his family had even more reason to be afraid of Afghanistan’s new Sunni Muslim leaders.

” There was always fear,” Hakim recalled of those early days of the Taliban regime. “We were told my father was being watched.”

Just two months after the Taliban assumed control, Hakim and his family, with little more than the clothes on their backs, left their home and boarded a bus headed to Pakistan. They eventually settled in the capital city of Islamabad, where his aunt had already moved.

His mother eventually landed a job teaching Farsi at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and Hakim learned of an opening for a translator. His fluency in four languages — English, Farsi, Urdo, the official language of Pakistan, and Pashtu, a language commonly used in both Pakistan and Afghanistan — eventually earned him a position in the visa/immigration department of the embassy.

During his eight months at the embassy, Hakim met Susan Raddant, a native of Shawano and a 1999 Lawrence graduate who turned her bachelor’s degree in government and international relations into a position with the U.S. State Department. Islamabad was one of Raddant’s first foreign assignments. Although she wasn’t on retainer for the Lawrence admissions office, Raddant began selling Hakim on the idea of attending college at her alma mater.

” My brother had attended Amherst and I really wanted to go to a college on the East Coast,” Hakim said. “But the more I talked to Susan, the more interested I became in Lawrence. I started checking out the website and saw they provided a high standard of education and they also had a high percentage of international students, both of which were appealing to me.”

Getting into Lawrence would prove easier for Hakim than getting into the United States. In Islamabad, he and his family began the complex process of applying for official refugee status to come to America. After living nearly five years in Pakistan, their application was officially approved on Sept. 9, 2001. But their joy was short-lived. They soon learned what a difference 48 hours can make.

” We were all set to come to the United States in October, but then the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred and everything got delayed,” said Hakim. “The whole process was stopped. Every man that had applied to come to the United States, whether as a refugee or an immigrant or a non-immigrant who was above the age of 16 and under the age of 45 had to go through an extensive FBI background check.”

It would take another 13 months before Hakim and his family would know true freedom.

” He is incredibly fortunate to come to the United States from that region of the world at this time,” said Claudena Skran, associate professor of government at Lawrence and a specialist on refugee issues. “Refugees are already the most carefully screened class of immigrants, but one of the first things the U.S. government did after 9/11 was stop processing refugee applications.”

Refugees are admitted to the United States on a quota system. For many years, that quota stood at 70,000. But in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the number of refugees that entered the United States fell to 26,000 last year — the lowest total since 1979 — barely a third of the actual quota.

” The revised policy is based on the mistaken belief that refugees are likely to be terrorists, when it fact refugees are more likely to be the victims of terrorists, tyrants and torture,” said Skran, author of the book “Refugees in Interwar Europe: The Emergence of a Regime.”

“In the wake of 9/11, the government instituted new security procedures, but they haven’t allocated enough resources and personnel to implement those procedures.”

While the wheels of government slowly turned, Hakim had little choice but to ponder a future rife with doubt.

” Life in Pakistan was really a life of constant uncertainty,” said Hakim. “We felt we were looked down upon. We never really knew when the Pakistani authorities would drive all the Afghans out of the country.”

After more than a year of patience-testing, the Hakims finally were allowed to leave Pakistan for the United States, arriving first in New York on Nov. 14, 2002 before making their way to Southern California to live near relatives.

” When we landed in New York, it was a great feeling. At last, I knew I wouldn’t have to run anymore. I wouldn’t have to go back to our burned-out house in Kabul,” said Hakim, who calls La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego, home today.

” Ever since I was old enough to think about college, I knew the best place to pursue higher education would be in the United States,” says Hakim, who is leaning toward majoring in government at Lawrence. “Now that the time is here, I am looking forward to being a student again.”

Arriving on campus this week, Hakim is one of 405 new students — drawn from the second-largest applicant pool in school history — who will begin a week of orientation activities Thursday, Sept. 18 before Lawrence opens its 154th academic year Sept. 24 with the first day of classes.

This year’s new students, which include 359 freshmen, 30 transfer students and 16 non-degree-seeking visiting international students, matches last year’s mark as Lawrence’s highest number of new students since 1973, when 423 matriculated.

” We were able to enroll one of the largest classes of new students since the 1970s this fall, while at the same time improving upon our traditionally strong academic profile from the previous year,” said Steve Syverson, dean of admissions and financial aid.

Collectively, this year’s incoming freshmen achieved an average ACT score of 27.6, up from 26.9 a year ago and the number of students who ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating class jumped from 34% a year ago to 42% this fall. The average high school grade point average among the incoming freshmen improved to 3.67.

” It’s gratifying that the college continues its commitment to meeting the full financial need of every student who qualifies for admission,” Syverson said. “That commitment enables us to recruit a diverse and interesting student body from a wide range of socio-economic, cultural and geographic backgrounds.”

For the 2003-2004 academic year, 87% of all Lawrence students will receive need or merit-based financial aid. The average need-based financial aid package for the 2003-2004 academic year totals more than $21,600.

In addition to Zubair Hakim, believed to be the first student from Afghanistan to attend Lawrence, a total of 54 first-year students hail from abroad, representing 29 countries, including Argentina, Latvia, Malawi, Nepal and the Republic of Korea.

Mikhail Gorbachev Opens Conference Examining Role of Community Based International Partnerships in Helping Secure Cold War Era Weapons Stockpiles

They have been described as “a real shopping mall for terrorists” and “more dangerous than even nuclear weapons.”

They are arguably the scariest legacy of the Cold War: massive stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons stored throughout the former Soviet Union.

Many of these weapons stockpiles, some of which are housed in glorified pole sheds “secured” with little more than a single padlock, are well within reach of al-Qaida and other terrorists groups as well as black marketers, creating serious threats not only to nearby communities, but also the world at large.

Earlier this year, an ABC News 20/20 expose focused on 65 such weapons storage facilities 1,000 miles east of Moscow near the Kazakhstan border in the frontier town of Shchuchye. The facilities in Shchuchye alone are home to nearly two million weapon-packed artillery shells, any one of which can hold enough poison to kill a stadium full of people.

Former Senator Sam Nunn, who co-chairs the non-partisan Nuclear Threat Initiative and previously served as chair of the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee, calls such facilities “a terrorist’s dream.”

“If a guard in Shchuchye substituted four or five artillery tubes and put fakes in and took them out and sold them, those artillery tubes full of nerve gas could be on American streets or on an American subway system within a week or 10 days,” Nunn observed in the 20/20 broadcast. “Homeland security doesn’t begin in America, it begins wherever there are chemical weapons, or biological or nuclear weapons, that could be seized by a terrorist group.”

On October 1-3, Appleton, Wis., and Lawrence University will serve as the venue for a three-day “International Community Partnerships Conference.” Emphasizing “security through stability,” the conference will examine the crucial role grassroots, community-to-community, international partnerships can play in reducing the threat posed by the Cold War era weapons stockpiles.

Former Soviet President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mikhail Gorbachev will open the conference with the keynote address Wednesday, Oct. 1 in Appleton’s Performing Arts Center.

At the conclusion of the conference, participating community partners will unveil the Communities for International Development initiative, a new non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cooperative programs and activities between sister cities in the United States and Russia.

Experts agree that improving the economic and social stability of the Russian communities where weapons of mass destruction are housed is a prerequisite for security.

Over the past decade, civic leaders and community organizations in five American communities — Appleton (Fox Cities) and La Crosse in Wisconsin, Oak Ridge (Blount County) in Tennessee, Livermore, Calif., and Los Alamos, New Mexico — have worked closely with their counterparts in Kurgan/Shchuchye, Dubna, Zhelezneogorsk, Snezhinsk and Sarov to create more jobs, improve health care, build sound educational systems and strengthen social infrastructure in these cities that house weapons stockpiles or were once major weapons development locations for the Soviet Union in efforts to reduce the threat posed by the weapons.

Representatives from each of the five community partnerships will come together for the first time at Lawrence University to discuss best practices and approaches from their own partnering experiences. They hope to develop practical models for strengthening collaborative programs in economic development, education, health care and the environment and civic development and federalism.

“We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility as individuals and as communities to make a difference in this world,” said Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities President Dr. Montgomery Elmer, a family physician with the ThedaCare regional health system and conference organizer.

The conference is organized by the Board of the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program, Inc., with the involvement of several community groups and corporations throughout Appleton and the Fox Cities. Funding from the U.S. government’s Open World Program will enable 30 delegates from the five Russian partnering communities to participate in the conference.

In addition to Mikhail Gorbachev, conference speakers will include Paul Walker, director of the Cold War weapons of mass destruction Legacy Program at Global Green USA and former senior staff member of the House Armed Services Committee; Sergei Baranovsky, President of Green Cross Russia; Laura Holgate, Vice President for Russia/New Independent States Programs of the non-partisan Nuclear Threat Initiative; and Paul McNelly, Chief of the Russian Chemical Weapons Elimination Division in the Cooperative Threat Reduction Directorate of the U.S. Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Further media information on the conference may be obtained from Megan Wilcox, ThedaCare Public Relations, at megan.wilcox@thedacare.org or at (920) 832-5847.

Lawrence University, UW-Fox Valley Co-host National Assembly on Science Facilities

State-of-the-art science facilities at Lawrence University and the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley will be showcased Sept. 12-14 for more than 120 national academic leaders representing 30 colleges and universities during the “Building Spaces for Science That Make a Difference” assembly.

Lawrence and UWFox are co-hosting the assembly, which is sponsored by Project Kaleidoscope, a Washington, D.C.- based national alliance of faculty, administrators and other stakeholders committed to building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The two institutions were selected as co-hosts of the assembly because of their proven commitment to education in the STEM fields. During the three-day conference, facilities at both campuses, including Lawrence’s three-year old $18.1 million, 78,000-square foot Science Hall dedicated to the molecular sciences and the 74,000-square-foot Youngchild Hall, which underwent a $10 million renovation in 2001, as well as UWFox’s 1998 science wing replacement, the recently opened Weis Earth Science Museum, Wisconsin’s official mineralogical museum, and the Barlow Planetarium, the state’s finest such facility, will be highlighted as case studies of science facilities that are successfully supporting student learning.

Assembly participants will focus on the seven “Cs” needed to successfully plan for 21st century spaces of learning: curriculum, commitment, community, comprehensive, conflict, cadence and cost.

The “Building Spaces for Science” assembly in the Fox Cities is one of 10 Project Kaleidoscope gatherings scheduled around the country during the next three months. The assemblies are designed to provide opportunities for STEM faculty leaders administrative colleagues and other stakeholders o share ideas and insights about what works in building strong undergraduate STEM programs and to set an agenda for action at the local and national level.

Lawrence University Cited in Three Categories in U.S. News & World Report Annual Best College’s Guide

An increasingly global student body, an exceptional program for first-year students and an overall outstanding academic experience has again earned Lawrence University recognition in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s popular annual college rankings.

In U.S. News’s 17th annual “America’s Best Colleges” report released Friday (8/22), Lawrence was ranked 52nd in the “Best Liberal Arts Colleges – Bachelor’s” category, which comprises 217 of the nation’s leading national liberal arts colleges.

This is the fifth consecutive year Lawrence has been included among the top quarter of institutions in the magazine’s national liberal arts category.

In addition to its best colleges national ranking, Lawrence also was cited by U.S. News in two other categories.

Lawrence’s signature curricular program — Freshman Studies –earned the college inclusion in U.S. News’ listing of “first year experiences,” which was one of eight special categories the magazine calls “outstanding examples of academic programs that lead to student success.”

The categories are not distinguished by institutional size or type. Lawrence’s Freshman Studies program was cited along with other first year programs at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford universities, among others. Colleges and their programs in these specialized categories were ranked based on nominations supplied by college presidents, chief academic officers and deans of students.

Lawrence’s global reach landed it fifth, up from 15th a year ago, among all liberal arts colleges in percentage of international students enrolled, with 12% of last year’s student body comprising students from abroad. For the upcoming 2003-2004 academic year, Lawrence’s 1,300-member student body is expected to include 160 international students from about 45 countries.

“The annual publication of the U.S. News rankings has become something of a national event,” said Lawrence President Richard Warch, “though if they are to be, then I’m pleased that Lawrence has again fared well. Of special note is the recognition of our distinctive Freshman Studies program, which was also recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities as an exemplary curricular offering and of our serious and sustained commitment to serving an international student population. The students from about 45 countries who will attend Lawrence this year contribute meaningfully to the teaching and learning community and we take great pride in having them here.”

Williams College ended Amherst College’s run of three straight number one rankings by earning the magazine’s top spot in this year’s national liberal arts colleges list. Amherst was ranked second and Swarthmore College slipped from number two year ago to number three this year.

U.S. News and World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” guide uses data from 15 separate indicators of academic excellence such as selectivity, graduation rates, student retention, faculty resources and alumni satisfaction. It assigns a “weight” to each criteria that reflects how much that measure matters. Each school’s composite weighted score is then compared to peer institutions to determine final rankings.

In its rankings, U.S. News evaluates nearly 1,400 of the nation’s public and private four-year schools, dividing them into several distinct categories. In addition to the “best liberal arts college” other categories include universities that grant master and doctorate degrees and colleges that are considered “regional” rather than national” institutions, such as St. Norbert College or UW-Oshkosh.

Lawrence University Art Director Wins Design Award for Academy of Music Logo

Lawrence University art director Marsha Tuchscherer has been cited with an Award of Excellence by the University and College Designers Association (UCDA) for her redesign of the Lawrence Academy of Music identity program logo.

The logo, which includes two one-sixteenth notes tied together, will be included in a display during the UCDA’s 2003 Design Show in October in Boston as part of the association’s 33rd annual conference. Tuchscherer’s design was one of 201 award-winners selected from more than 1,500 entries in the UCDA’s annual design competition.

The logo citation was the fourth time Tuchscherer’s work has been recognized with an award by the UCDA. She has served as the art director at Lawrence since 1996.

Lawrence University Convocation Series Explores the Mind, the Environment, Personal Inspiration and Our Funny Bone

Humorist David Sedaris, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, best-selling author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK) and environmental historian William Cronon will visit the Lawrence University campus in the coming year as part of the college’s 2003-2004 convocation series.

Richard Warch, who begins his 25th and final year as Lawrence University president, opens the convocation series Thursday Sept. 25 with his annual matriculation address. All convocations are held in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel and are free and open to the public.

Sedaris, an author, playwright and National Public Radio commentator, will break with Lawrence convocation tradition with a rare evening appearance when he speaks Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7:10 p.m. Convocations are typically held at 11:10 a.m.

A regular contributor to Esquire magazine, Sedaris was named humorist of the year in 2001 by Time magazine and is a past recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He is the author of several best-selling books, including “Barrel Fever,” and “Holidays on Ice.” His most recent book, “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” is a series of humorous autobiographical essays.

Pinker, professor of psychology at the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presents “The Blank Slate” on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Named one of the “100 Americans for the Next Century” by Newsweek magazine, Pinker is considered one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists. His book, “How the Mind Works,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998 and his most recent work, 2002’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” has thrust Pinker to the forefront of public debate about human nature and the development of the human mind.

SARK, a frequent guest on National Public Radio, presents “Make Your Creative Dreams Real” on Thursday, March 4. She has written 11 personal growth, inspiration and creativity books, including the 1997 self-help best-seller “Succulent Wild Women.” She wrote her first book at the age of 10, and currently has more than two million books in print. She was featured in the PBS series, “Women of Wisdom and Power” and the documentary film, “The World According to SARK.”

On Tuesday, May 25, Cronon headlines Lawrence’s annual Honors Convocation with the address “The Portage: History and Memory in the Making.”

The Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1992, Cronon studies American environmental history and the history of human interactions with the natural world. He has written four books including “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West,” which earned Cronon the 1992 Bancroft Prize as the best work of American history published during the previous year and was one of three nominees for the Pulitzer Prize in History, and 1995’s “Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature.”

Cronon was named a Rhodes Scholar as an undergraduate at UW-Madison, and has since been honored as a Danforth Fellow and as a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1985, he was awarded one of the MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious “genius grants.”