Category: Press Releases

We’re “Brighter Together”: In-person Fall Term welcomed; health protocols in place

It’s almost that time. Fall Term classes at Lawrence will begin Sept. 13. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

“Brighter Together” is a message you’ll hear and see repeatedly as Lawrence University prepares to launch a new academic year, one marked by the arrival of a new president, Laurie A. Carter, and the much-anticipated return to campus of students, faculty, and staff after 18 months of mostly remote learning.

Those two words—Brighter Together—will be displayed on banners hanging in front of Main Hall and on T-shirts and face masks being made available to the Lawrence community, and will be repeated in conversations, in convocations, and in campus celebrations. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but we are together again.

“I think of it as an anthem for this moment in Lawrence’s history and a reminder of our strength as a community,” said Carter, the university’s 17th president since its founding 174 years ago.

Fall Term, beginning Sept. 13, does not arrive without challenges. The spread of the Delta variant has kept us from getting to the finish line of the pandemic. But, the Lawrence community has shown its ability and willingness to work together to overcome pandemic challenges. With a campus vaccine mandate for students in place, once again wearing masks in indoor public spaces, and continuing to Honor the Pledge by following health and safety protocols, we are facing the challenges.

Classes will again be mostly in person. Athletic competitions have resumed. Conservatory ensembles are practicing together. Andrew Commons will be open for meals. Like last year, the university will continue to monitor the health situation and adjust accordingly.

Julia Ammons, a senior biology major from Sheboygan who has spent much of the summer on campus, said she can deal with masks. She just wants to be together with her classmates.

“I have been looking forward to campus getting somewhat back to normal ever since we got sent home in 2020,” she said. “I am really excited to be able to eat in the Commons again with my friends.”

New students set to arrive

Admissions reports a strong first-year class, numbering about 400 students. Welcoming them to Lawrence will be a campus-wide effort, with faculty and staff joining together to greet incoming students who are being celebrated for the resiliency they’ve shown just to get to this time and place.

“For the past 18 months, this year’s class of new students—not just Lawrentians, but nearly every college-bound student on the planet—has been exploring their college options at a distance, with a small percentage of them ever having physically been on their college’s campuses,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “Every year, we are eager to meet our students in person for the first time—but this year’s eagerness is unprecedented given the circumstances.”

First-year and transfer students will begin arriving for New Student Orientation Sept. 8 and 9. For the first-years, it follows a chaotic and often frustrating end to their high school journeys.

Sophomores, meanwhile, are coming to campus—some also for the first time—having experienced their first year at Lawrence mostly from a distance.

It all ties in to the palpable excitement building as the campus begins to fill up. Athletes from Lawrence’s fall sports teams began moving in to residence halls in mid-August. International students arrived this week, to be followed by first-years and transfers mid-next week, and then other returning students on the weekend. It’ll mark the first time the entire campus community has been together in 18 months.

“I often say that I was drawn to the light of Lawrence—the light of knowledge, the light of truth, and the light each member of our community brings to campus,” Carter said. “The points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light, and our strength as a community shines when we engage in challenging endeavors, share our talents and strengths, pursue our passions, and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.”

A robust welcome to Lawrence

The New Student Orientation will begin the campus’s slow walk toward a new normal, with pandemic-related adjustments in place, as first-year and transfer students go through four days of orientation. The welcome from the president—Carter’s first—will break from its traditional location in Memorial Chapel and instead become an outdoor gathering in front of Main Hall. A reception for parents of new students will take place on the Hamar House lawn.

“This year’s welcome to campus is an even bigger deal than usual because we are essentially welcoming two classes of new students to Lawrence—the 2021 class and the 2020 class, who arrived on campus last year under very different circumstances,” Anselment said.

Sophomores will get their own assist in acclimating to campus. Some were fully remote last year. Others were on campus but mostly with classes delivered via Zoom.

Once here, the sophomores will get an added assist settling into their residence halls, connecting to the Center for Academic Success and the Career Center, and will be able to participate in sophomore programming focused on belonging, community, and purpose.

“We plan to do even more intentional outreach to the sophomore class knowing that they will in some ways have similar transitional hurdles as our first-year students,” said Rose Wasielewski, associate dean of students and dean of the sophomore class. “Regardless of whether they were on campus last year, I want to provide additional opportunities for these students to connect to the campus physically, as well as to each other socially.”

Finding a balance, together

Classes will begin Sept. 13 with the excitement of being together—the 2020-21 academic year had nearly two-thirds of the student body on campus but with most classes being taught remotely and social distancing protocols in place—balanced with the need to keep one another safe. Fall Term protocols will include masks being worn in indoor shared spaces no matter your vaccination status, the return of surveillance testing on campus (weekly for anyone unvaccinated, randomly for others), and rigid rules regarding campus visitors. Details are being shared on the COVID-19 page here.

The first week of classes will close with the annual Matriculation Convocation, set for 12:30 p.m.  Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel and available via a livestream. It will mark Carter’s first in-person address to all Lawrentians. That day also will feature a community fair organized on the quad by the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) at 5:30 p.m. and a men’s soccer game at the Banta Bowl at 7 p.m.

It’ll all be framed by the “Brighter Together” message.

“We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we navigate the ongoing pandemic,” Carter said. “As I’ve heard many times over the last year, we can’t look to what we knew but, instead, must look to what is new as we live and learn together.”

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

Meet Garrett Singer: New CCE director looks to raise awareness, grow engagement

Garrett Singer is the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change at Lawrence University. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22 / Communications

An important part of the Lawrence experience is the opportunity to volunteer and make connections within the surrounding community. As students return to campus for the start of Fall Term, Garrett Singer is excited to welcome them as the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE).

To hit the ground running, the CCE is holding an outdoor engagement fair on the quad at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17, where incoming and returning students can meet with about two dozen community partners to learn about their missions and be introduced to the work that happens in the Fox Valley. There will be food trucks, carnival games, and live music leading into the fair.

“We’re really hoping to make a splash as students return to campus, and to grow awareness of our work, our mission, and our physical space,” Singer said.

He said he looks forward to engaging with Lawrence students to help them discover opportunities to serve in the community and build lasting relationships with area nonprofits. He wants to raise the profile of the CCE on campus while emphasizing the importance of building community engagement skills.

“What it’ll develop, hopefully, is this cycle of engagement, dialogue, and action where our own ability to serve is informed by our previous service experiences and those interactions with communities and individuals whom we might not have crossed paths with in our pre-Lawrentian lives,” Singer said.

Learn more about Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change here.

From an early age, Singer was exposed to the impacts and benefits that come from a working relationship between higher education and the surrounding community. Both of his parents were involved in education commissions with local community colleges that aimed to increase educational attainment. Their work sparked his desire to enter the nonprofit field, and after earning his bachelor’s degree at Washington and Lee University, Singer went to work as district executive for Boy Scouts of America in North Carolina.

“I was exposed to the incredible work that young people are capable of and I think is often overlooked,” Singer said.

He eventually enrolled in a master’s program of higher education and administration at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. There he worked with nonprofits and designed programs to develop service-learning opportunities for undergraduates to form partnerships with those local organizations.

After earning his masters, Singer set his sights on Lawrence. He knew he wanted to sit at the juncture between higher education and civic work. He also knew that he wanted to re-enter the private liberal arts setting that he enjoyed during his undergrad years. A main draw for Singer, though, was Lawrence’s ongoing commitment to social change despite all the uncertainty during the pandemic.

“A lot of colleges and universities were not making a demonstrated commitment to the type of work that I was interested in,” Singer said. “Lawrence was the exception to that rule.”

Singer said he feels honored to join Lawrence as its new CCE director and is ready to dig in to the work ahead. The first objective, he said, is simply to grow awareness of the CCE on campus and let students know of the varied volunteer opportunities that exist.

The second objective is to make sure the partnerships that are developed with community agencies reflect and represent student interests and identity, Singer said.

A third objective focuses on improved academic integration with civic work. The CCE has service-learning programs—Viking Ambassadors in Service and Engagement (VASE)—that help students make connections through volunteering while also learning about issues within the community. Singer wants to expand those programs and explore ways to better integrate them in the curriculum.

“Those are the things that we want to think about, not only defining those learning outcomes, but also assessing them on the tail end and figuring out how we are really impacting student development,” Singer said.

An important aspect in reaching these goals is to have a good working relationship with Lawrence faculty, he said. Many faculty members have already been supplementing students’ academic experiences through their own community connections. The next step, said Singer, is to encourage those faculty members to be ambassadors for community-based learning, showing other faculty how they’ve built these service-learning experiences into their classrooms.

“The CCE comes into play by facilitating those conversations and those relationships, as well as building out a library of resources that faculty can leverage to support that development,” Singer said.

Volunteering, he said, will help students build lives of meaning and purpose. That happens not only by sending students into the community, but also by creating innovative ways to bring the community to campus.

“So, as the CCE moves forward,” Singer said, “we’ll build relationships that will allow for richer, more robust, and more colorful experiences, and I think that’s really what we’re striving for—to get us on the same page so that we can move forward together.”

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

Lawrence lands on The Princeton Review’s 2022 list of best colleges in nation

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

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is again listed as one of the best colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. It’s also included in several separate lists within the ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

The Best 387 Colleges for 2022 highlights the top colleges based on data and feedback the education services company annually collects on everything from academic offerings to financial aid to student experiences. The book was released Aug. 31.

“At a time when students are searching for institutional strength and quality, we appreciate that The Princeton Review has once again recognized Lawrence University as one of the best colleges in the country,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications.

Only about 14% of the nearly 2,800 eligible four-year colleges make the Best book each year. Published each August and focused on undergraduate education, it has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 387.

See more on Lawrence admissions here.

Information on Lawrence application process here.

The Green College ranking speaks to the work Lawrence has done on sustainability and reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

The Best Value designation, meanwhile, is based on stellar academics, affordable cost with financial aid factored in, and strong career prospects for graduates, according to Princeton Review editors.

Showing up on the Best Value list is particularly heartening, Anselment said. It not only speaks to the academic offerings that make Lawrence such a draw, but it also highlights two huge, ongoing investments—the launch of the Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign to make the school more accessible and the retooling of the Career Center as part of a Life After Lawrence initiative.

While average student loan debt has continued to rise across the country, Lawrence’s numbers have been going down, fueled by the $91 million that has been raised in the FSFN campaign. Those funds have augmented other available financial aid and scholarships. The average student debt for Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,118, its lowest mark in 10 years. It hit a high mark of $34,573 in 2015–16 and has dropped steadily each year since. The percentage of Lawrence’s students graduating with debt has dropped to 56%, well below the 75% a decade ago.

“While being considered one of the best is great, we’re even more excited that The Princeton Review continues to acknowledge the important work we do every day on behalf of our students, which is providing top-notch preparation for a meaningful life after college, and doing so in a way that families can afford,” Anselment said.

The Princeton Review report lauded Lawrence for its “stunning 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means students have access to their professors at all times.” It also praised Lawrence for its robust international student population, its impressive First-Year Studies program, and its “holistic approach to the admissions game.”

The Princeton Review’s school profiles and ranking lists in The Best 387 Colleges are posted at www.princetonreview.com/best387 where they can be searched for free with site registration.

The Best 387 Colleges is the 30th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s best colleges book.

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

Lawrence launches new Health and Society minor, with focus on health disparities

The Health and Society minor will dig deep into issues and complexities that shape individual and public health, from food sourcing to social inequities.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has introduced a new Health and Society minor that will explore the intersection of human health and global social inequities.

The program, drawing on faculty expertise from social, cultural, biological, and environmental fields across campus, will be available to students beginning in Fall Term. It can be paired with any major and will provide important preparation for students eyeing health- or social justice-related careers or graduate school programs, said Beth De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology.

The minor isn’t only about health care; rather, it’s focused on all of the complex issues that shape individual and population health.

“It brings together courses from across the humanities, social and natural sciences to give students a more holistic understanding of the origins of health, illness, and disability, including origins of the disparities in health and health outcomes we see in this country and across the globe,” De Stasio said.

More on the Health and Society minor can be found here

Students pursuing the Health and Society minor will take classes across fields such as anthropology, ethnic studies, and philosophy. They will examine their own experiences working with vulnerable populations and explore career paths that empower them to make a difference in people’s lives.

The minor will include one course that places health in a global or community setting; two courses covering cultural and psychosocial aspects of health and illness or disability; two courses focused on the biological, biochemical, or environmental aspect of human health; one course that facilitates career exploration and self-reflection; and an option for 100 hours of engaged learning.

It will allow students the space to learn about the complexities and complications tied to health and the varied factors at play—from privilege and discrimination to food systems and infrastructure.

The new minor represents a liberal arts approach to a complicated, important area of study, said Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology.

“They often seek out and demand rich, complicated understandings of outcomes using tools from across the curriculum,” he said of Lawrence students. “The Health and Society minor gives them an opportunity to do so specifically in the realm of health. We hope that the broader and deeper understanding of why health disparities exist, both locally and globally, that they gain from the minor will help to make them more empathetic, critical, and ultimately more effective health care providers in their chosen field.”

One newly developed course brings it all together with a focus on career exploration tied to health. Alumni who are working in related fields will be integrated into the teaching of the course to share their wisdom and experiences with students, De Stasio said.

“It will allow students the time and intention to undertake exploration of the wide variety of career paths within the field of health care, as well as provide a facilitated discernment process in which their values and skills can be matched against various types of career paths,” she said.

In addition to the classroom work, faculty will work with students in pursuit of internships, paid employment, or volunteer work related to health care delivery, health care policy, or related work with vulnerable populations.

“I think health-interested students will be drawn to the minor because it is distinctive,” Jenike said. “And that’s the point of coming to Lawrence in the first place, right?”

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

Conservatory students partner with NAMI to use music to aid mental health recovery

Clockwise from top left: senior Holly Beemer, Community Programs Manager Betsy Kowal Jett, senior Mindara Krueger Olson, and senior Jacob Dikelsky helped present Creative Recovery: Music in Motion sessions on Zoom earlier this summer.

Story by Karina Herrera / Communications

It’s easy to recognize the power of music while in concert halls and music classrooms, but Betsy Kowal Jett and four Lawrence Conservatory of Music students looked to take it a step further this summer, tapping into music’s healing powers to help people on their mental health recovery journeys.

Kowal Jett, the Lawrence Conservatory’s community programs manager, recruited four music students to launch the outreach support group Creative Recovery: Music in Motion in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Fox Valley.

The four Conservatory students—seniors Jacob Dikelsky, Mindara Krueger-Olson, Lucian Baxter, and Holly Beemer—set out to use music to strengthen the community participants’ well-being. They partnered with Paula Verrett, the Iris Place program director for NAMI, to organize the sessions.

“NAMI, for a really long time, has been wanting to create music-based programming for their clients,” Kowal Jett said. “So, I saw that there was this need and desire for music in NAMI, and they recognized the power that music could have for their community.”

The goal was to explore various kinds of research on the healing impact that music can have, and then use appropriate methods and techniques to help participants bring out their own creative voices.

“Everyone who we’ve worked with in this creative recovery support group is in their mental illness recovery journey every single day,” Kowal Jett said. “I wanted to explore how music could become a part of their tool kit to help maximize their well-being.”

See more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music here

The group met for one-hour Saturday sessions during three consecutive weeks in July. All of the participants were provided with a music-making kit and connected on Zoom, where the number of NAMI Fox Valley participants fluctuated between four and seven people.

Kowal Jett and her team would meet the Wednesday prior to go over what they had planned for Saturday, but Kowal Jett noted that she had already been training with her students for several weeks. They would plan and co-create the best way to introduce each week’s curriculum.

Each Saturday they shared different musical practices with the NAMI participants. The first Saturday they focused on body percussion, where they explored body movements through a call-and-response technique. The teaching artists and participants would create a rhythm and then the ensemble would echo that rhythm back. Then they explored the sounds that their bodies can make, and then finished their first session by co-creating a body percussion dance together.

The second Saturday focused on creating visual art in response to music. Each participant created graphic scores in response to music selections provided by the students. Baxter played an improvised piano piece; Beemer sang a Shakey Graves song accompanied with guitar; Krueger-Olson shared Through the Fence, a piece she co-created with her jazz combo.

On the final Saturday, the group created musical affirmations to embody the wisdom that guides each participant through their life challenges. The participants worked one-on-one with a teaching artist to transform their words into a song, and each songwriting pair shared their song for the group at the end of the session. 

“The third session was so powerful because at the end of the session almost every person said that what they experienced filled them with hope,” Kowal Jett said.

The debut of the Creative Recovery program could not have gone smoother, Kowal Jett said. She attributes that to the hard work and dedication of the students and emphasizes that she could not have done this without support from her colleagues in the Conservatory, especially Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory, and Leila Ramagopal Pertl, professor of music education and the harp.

Verrett worked closely with Kowal Jett every step of the way. She said she was thrilled at how the program was delivered and received.

“This program made such a difference for me and the other participants,” Verrett said. “It was an opportunity to use music in a new way that supported the recovery of everyone in the group. It was an opportunity to be creative in ways that did not require formal music training. The group provided an opportunity to share with each other without fear of judgment and connect in a unique and different way.”

Not only did the Creative Recovery program leave a positive and hopefully lasting impression on the NAMI participants, but the four students who worked as teaching artists say they also benefited from the learning experience.

“These experiences have repeatedly shown me that we can—and should—broaden our musical focus to include many more styles of music to bring people from all walks of life together,” Dikelsky said.

Kowal Jett wants Creative Recovery: Music in Motion to become an annual summer program, where she can continue to help connect students with the community and provide safe and creative healing environments.

“Every single person is musical, every single person is creative, and to design a program where each person’s intrinsic, musical voice can flourish is so incredibly powerful to me,” Kowal Jett said. “It’s what I absolutely love about my job.”

Karina Herrera, a Lawrence senior, is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

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

Lawrence University (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

John Ellerman ’58

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

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

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

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

See obituary for John Ellerman here.

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

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

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

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

Throughout, he led by example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New internship program puts focus on hard work of social, environmental justice

Adya Kadambari ’23, seen here during Spring Term, is among the 12 Lawrence students taking part this summer in the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program. She’s working an internship with Bay Bridge in Whitefish Bay. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Adya Kadambari ’23 processes the slow movement on social justice issues she’s championing this summer and chooses to channel her frustration into more work. Always more work.

The Lawrence University government major from Bangalore, India, has found her summer internship with Bay Bridge, a Whitefish Bay-based nonprofit working to address systematic racism in the community, to be eye-opening in the sheer weight of the challenge.

“I have learned that being part of Bay Bridge means continuing to try—even if it goes unnoticed—because that is the point of being a racial justice organization,” she said.

Kadambari is one of 12 Lawrence students who are setting the foundation for the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program, a new summer internship initiative at Lawrence, one that is unlike any the school has launched in the past. It’s focused on social and environmental justice issues and has been developed as a shared experience across multiple nonprofit organizations doing work in a particular geographic area.

In this case, the area is the City of Milwaukee and its suburbs. The students, working across nine organizations, meet weekly as a cohort, their discussions facilitated by Jason Brozek, the Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and associate professor of government, to share and reflect on their experiences—successes, failures, frustrations, and everything in between.

Jason Brozek meets with Naomi Torres ’22 and Fernando Ismael Delgado ’22, both of whom are working internships this summer with the Center for Urban Teaching in Milwaukee. Brozek meets weekly with the full Social and Environmental Justice Cohort via Zoom.

“The idea is to really be explicit and deliberate about the reflection piece of this,” Brozek said of the cohort structure built into the internship program. “One of the things I’ve learned is how important it is to not just hope students will reflect on their experience but to specifically and deliberately guide them through that process and give them space to do it, prompt them to do it.”

This is work that is often emotional and potentially life-changing. Being able to talk about it, process it, hear others’ experiences, can be educational and therapeutic at the same time.

“That process of reflection, I think that’s where the real impact and transformation of these experiences comes from,” Brozek said.

To date, more than $350,000 has been raised to support the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program, with a goal of $1 million to grow it into an ongoing staple of the Lawrence summer.

The program came together quickly after an anonymous donor, moved by the activism that followed the murder of George Floyd, sought to fund internships that would aid community organizations, give students an avenue into social and environmental justice work, and allow those students to share their experiences with one another in a collaborative learning environment.

The program provides a stipend for the students, who are working for nonprofits that in many cases couldn’t otherwise afford interns.

“For me, that’s a really critical part of the program because it means these experiences are more accessible and equitable, and available to a wider range of students,” Brozek said.

Kenneth Penaherrera ’24 is working an internship this summer at a youth crisis center through Pathfinders in Milwaukee.

Mandy Netzel, assistant director of career services in Lawrence’s Career Center, went to work connecting with nonprofits in the Milwaukee region to set the scope of the internship program. Meanwhile, Cassie Curry, director of major and planned giving for Lawrence, set out to raise the monies needed to financially support the program as an annual endeavor.

Brozek came on board as the faculty advisor. He’s meeting weekly with the students via Zoom, a nod to the barriers still being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that those meetings will be in person by next summer, as will all of the internships.

It all came together in a matter of a few months. The early momentum suggests this is a program that will continue to thrive, perhaps growing in the number of participating students and organizations, possibly expanding at some point to other regions.

“We really have a chance to not just make it a great experience for the 12 students who are doing it this summer but to really build something that is distinctive for Lawrence and to keep it going,” Brozek said.

Some of the students are doing social media and communications work for their organizations. Others are working with young people or families in schools or shelters. All of the organizations are located in the Milwaukee metro area with the exception of Pillars, of Appleton. The list includes Pathfinders, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, a Milwaukee aldermanic office, Bay Bridge, Legal Action Wisconsin, Center for Urban Teaching, Blue Lotus, and Walker’s Point.

“Spending time doing this justice work can be really draining,” Brozek said. “How do you make this kind of work sustainable? Not just sustainable for the organization, but personally as well? We’re talking about that and they’re learning from each other, and really supporting each other and being impressed with each other. I’ve really loved that part of it.”

For Ben DePasquale ’22, joining the team at Milwaukee Riverkeeper gave him a chance to gain valuable experience in environmental advocacy and politics. He’s working on website content, social media, surveys, and focus group questions alongside the organization’s communications manager. He’s learning about reader engagement, targeting particular audiences, and the power of clarity.

“Politics is local, yet the greatest environmental threat of our lifetime, climate change, is global,” DePasquale said. “I wanted to be part of this organization because I saw an opportunity to craft narratives around environmental issues that might appeal to people who may not always see the bigger picture.”

Ben DePasquale ’22 is working on environmentally focused social media campaigns as part of an internship with Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

Netzel said the response from partner organizations—some with alumni connections—and students has been “overwhelmingly positive” in the pilot year.

“The pace at which we were able to pull it all together indicates a need and desire in the community for social and environmental justice work, and Lawrentians are interested and ready to rise in serving that need,” she said.

Sarah Gettel ’14, one of the leaders of Bay Bridge, said the fit has been ideal, with two Lawrence students, Kadambari and Sierra Johnson ’22, doing important advocacy work.

“Right from the start, Adya and Sierra jumped into the storm of moving projects and pieces,” Gettel said. “They asked excellent questions, raised ideas, and brought their creativity and intentionality to every project. Their support has been an incredible help to us at Bay Bridge and has helped us to build our supportive infrastructure to invite more people in our community into this work, from designing a volunteer orientation, to creating eye-catching event posters, to extending our social media reach, to facilitating a book discussion, to helping us work on a communications strategy to help connect systemic justice and equity to people’s values and lived experiences.”

Curry said a gift from a second donor that followed the initial gift has put Lawrence in position to fund the program for at least the next five years, providing time to secure financial support that will hopefully feed an endowment that’ll make the program ongoing.

“The donors want to ensure that Lawrence students can share what they are learning for the betterment of society, while at the same time growing and learning themselves through the process,” Curry said. “That was part of their motivation for a cohort model and faculty involvement.”

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

Mile of Music festival comes roaring back; Lawrence music team is all in

Mile of Music returns for four days beginning Aug. 5. Lawrence University will once again be an important partner. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Mile of Music is back, and with it comes a return of the Music Education Team, led by Lawrence Conservatory of Music faculty, students, and alumni.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the annual all-original music festival on hold last year, but it’s returning to downtown Appleton Aug. 5-8 for Mile 8. Launched in 2013, the Mile of Music festival has become one of the signature summer events in the Fox Cities, drawing upwards of 90,000 people to outdoor venues, bars, and coffee shops over four days. Pandemic-related adjustments are being made this week, including a larger percentage of the more than 600 live music sets taking place outdoors.

Some of the performances will again land on the Lawrence campus, with both Memorial Chapel (masks required) and the lawn in front of Ormsby Hall (listed as the Lawrence Listening Lawn on the Mile 8 schedule) in play. The festival, presented by Willems Marketing & Events, stretches for a mile along and near College Avenue, from the Lawrence campus on the east end of downtown to Richmond Street on the west end.

The festival schedule—admission to all performances is free—was released over the weekend and can be found here.

Lawrence has played a key role in the festival’s success from the beginning, with instructor of music education Leila Ramagopal Pertl ’87 serving as music education curator, leading a robust Music Education Team that connects with festival-goers for an array of interactive music experiences that augment the live shows. She will again get a leadership assist from Jaclyn Kottman Kittner ’12, a teacher at the Lawrence Community Music School who serves as the director of operations, and Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl ’86.

A bevy of other faculty, students, and alumni will be part of the team. Among the 25 featured interactions: Balinese gamelan and angklung (pitched bamboo rattles) taught by I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, a gamelan master, and Sonja Downing, professor of ethnomusicology at Lawrence, and angklung teacher and author Indah Erdmann; Nestor Dominguez ’15 is back to teach mariachi, joined by Jando Valdez ‘24, who recently led the formation of a Mariachi Ensemble at Lawrence; and Brazilian samba drumming and Ghanaian Ewe drumming and dancing courtesy of Alex Quade ’22, Kenni Ther ’16, and Mindara Krueger-Olson ’22.

The music education events will take place in various settings throughout the downtown, including the green space outside of Memorial Chapel and the lawn north of Brokaw Hall known as The Grove.

Get to know the Music Education Team here

Leila Ramagopal Pertl ’87 will again lead the Music Education Team for Mile of Music.

“This year, because of COVID safety concerns, we are not including any activities that include group singing or playing brass or woodwind instruments,” Ramagopal Pertl said. “There will, however, still be plenty of powerful music-making to explore. We want our sessions to help participants find ways to heal from the stress and isolation of the pandemic. So, a main focus this year will be to empower personal and collaborative expression through songwriting, drawing, drumming, and movement.”

“Everyone is equally valued and heard”

Bernard Lilly Jr. ’18, who performs as B. Lilly and will again be a performer during Mile of Music, will lead songwriting workshops, as will Wade Fernandez, also a Mile 8 performer.

The majority of the music workshops are for all ages and are being supported by community partners Heid Music and the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

“I’m elated to once again lead a songwriting/song-making workshop,” said Lilly, a talented Chicago-based recording artist who will juggle his music education duties with five performances (two on Thursday, three on Friday) during Mile of Music.

He called the workshops an opportunity to connect with the community on a more intimate level.

“In our sessions, everyone is equally valued and heard regardless of age, gender, race, and musical experience,” he said. “It’s truly a safe space. Our multi-generational rooms create an atmosphere that is welcoming, vulnerable, open, and available to the moment. In my opinion, that is the formula for creativity to commence.”

In addition to his songwriting workshops, Bernard Lilly Jr. ’18 will perform five live shows as B. Lilly. Thursday: 6:15 p.m. at The Bar on the Avenue and 8:20 p.m. at McFleshman’s Brewing Co.; Friday: 11 a.m. with Decoda at OuterEdge, 6:50 p.m. at Deja Vu Martini Lounge, and 9 p.m. at Gibson Community Music Hall.

The songwriting workshops, and, really, the entire roster of interactive experiences, are built on collaboration and conversation. That is something that is special for those leading the workshops as well as those on the receiving end, Lilly said.

“It’s therapeutic and, for me, powerful to witness,” he said. 

The Decoda Chamber Music Festival, running from July 28 to Aug. 6 at Lawrence, will include multiple Mile 8 performances, and its instructors and students will partner with the Music Education Team to present interactive sessions. This is the first time the Decoda festival has been held in Appleton, and Michael Mizrahi, a professor of music and a founding member of the Decoda collective, said the opportunity to connect with Mile of Music was a driving force in bringing it here. Read more about the Decoda festival here.

In a partnership between the Decoda festival and the Music Education Team, some of the Decoda students are working with Lilly, creating arrangements of his song, Dear America.  They have been collaborating for the past week and will perform with Lilly at 11 a.m. Friday at OuterEdge.

Brian Pertl called the collaboration “particularly powerful” and a joy to watch unfold in real time.

“The classical musicians from the festival are learning so much from Bernard,” he said. “It’s really beautiful.”

That communal relationship feels that much more important this year as we inch toward something resembling normalcy, even as the pandemic continues to keep us from being fully immersed in our surroundings.

“At a time when we are just emerging from being isolated from community, collaboration and self-expression in music-making become deeply important,” Ramagopal Pertl said.

The student connection

Moreau Halliburton ’22 is part of the Music Education Team.

Moreau Halliburton ’22 will be among the Lawrence students joining the Music Education Team. She will partner with Ramagopal Pertl to present Art-istry of Music and Body Percussion! workshops.

The Art-istry of Music will give participants the opportunity to interpret live music through drawing and then have musicians “play their drawings,” Ramagopal Pertl said. The Body Percussion! sessions will explore our ability to make music in the simplest of ways.

“We are excited to show the greater Appleton community the power of connecting through song and rhythm using our beautifully diverse bodies,” said Halliburton, who has a self-designed major in music identity studies. “I fell in love with body percussion because you can play music anywhere with anyone.”

This is Halliburton’s first chance to take part in Mile of Music. It’s an experience she didn’t want to miss before she graduates in June.

“I think this kind of music and arts outreach is important because I believe in the magic of community-building through music,” she said. “I also appreciate the connections built between LU students and faculty and the Appleton community through Mile and the playful work done there. This past year has been really difficult for me to connect to the Appleton community because of COVID-19, and now, more than ever, I appreciate and want to find as many of these opportunities as I can before I graduate.”

More music

Sarah Phelps ’07, meanwhile, will focus her energies on the Mile’s youngest participants, presenting Beyond Singing Storybooks with Melissa Fields, an Appleton Area School District teacher. Keira Jett ’18 and Betsy Kowal Jett, the Conservatory’s community programs manager, will present workshops on songwriting for teens and storybook sound exploration for younger children.

“These workshops, along with many others, presented with COVID safety in mind, will bring back a joyful, engaging, and much-needed sense of community through something we all share—our musical birthright,” Ramagopal Pertl said.

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

Summer research grows more robust across an array of academic departments

Tyler Scott ’23 adjusts a drone as part of a summer research project at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Scott and several other students are working this summer with geosciences professor Jeff Clark. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

From mapping bluff erosion along the shores of Lake Michigan to translating theatrical works from French to English, Lawrence University students are diving deep into a wide range of research this summer.

The Lawrence University Summer Research Fellows Program has come roaring back following a year in which summer research was either limited or strictly remote because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 students—most of them on campus but some still remote—are taking part in summer research, funded through Lawrence and its supporting partners and encompassing 17 academic departments across the college and the conservatory, all in collaboration with Lawrence faculty.

Elliott Marsh ’22, an environmental sciences and geosciences double major who is working with a team of students alongside geosciences professor Jeff Clark on the Lake Michigan bluff erosion project, said he loves the hands-on approach to summer research.

“In my case, I am learning a lot about drones, remote sensing, and GIS, which are very good skills to have in the job market these days,” he said. “Also, research is all about problem-solving, and being immersed in trying to answer a handful of questions in 10 weeks is a very different experience.”

Student participation in the summer research program has grown by 50% over the last six years, jumping from 70 students in 2015 to 105 this year. The number of academic departments taking part has grown from 11 to 17.

Through numerous grants, donations, and other funding, more than $350,000 was available for this year’s summer research. Faculty members applied for funding to support their research; students then applied to join faculty projects that interested them.

“Despite the pandemic, summer research at Lawrence continues to grow and flourish—we have more students participating in summer research with more faculty across more programs than ever before,” said Peter Blitstein, associate dean of the faculty.

The natural sciences continue to lead the way, but there is now more consistent participation year in and year out from the arts, humanities, and social sciences. That, combined with greater flexibility in how available stipends are used, has helped increase participation each of the past six years, with the exception of last summer.  

Relena Ribbons, an assistant professor of geosciences who is leading students in climate-based research in SLUG (Sustainable Lawrence University Garden), called the skill-development that comes with hands-on research a valuable piece of life-after-Lawrence preparations. Seeing it return this summer with such enthusiasm has been a welcome sight.

From left: Katie Mahorney ’22, Gillian Buckardt ’22, Relena Ribbons, assistant professor of geosciences, and Ella Lemley-Fry ‘23 work in SLUG as part of a summer research project.

“Summer research fellowships here at Lawrence provide students with the opportunity to fully engage with the entire research process, which is both a valuable stepping stone for connecting more deeply with academic research and a meaningful and enjoyable way to spend the summer months,” Ribbons said.

The work provides students with important insights into graduate school and allows them to explore career possibilities on a deeper level. In the process, it adds skills and experiences to their resumes.

“These experiences are especially valuable in helping students figure out if they might want a career in research, and if so, the work they do over the summer is an important part of their application for graduate school,” said Lori Hilt, associate professor of psychology. “The skills they gain—in data collection and analysis, communication, etc.—will help them in their lives after Lawrence, whether or not they decide to go to graduate school.”

BY THE NUMBERS: A CLOSER LOOK

To give you a look at the breadth of the research being done this summer by Lawrence students in collaboration with faculty across the college and conservatory, we’ve pulled together a “by the numbers” guide.

105: Number of students participating in summer research

Blitstein said the growth in the program stems from the diversity and creativity of the research projects and the influx of available funds over the past several years to support the students during the summer.

“I am delighted to see the range of projects our faculty and students are collaborating on this summer,” he said. “From the ceramics studio, to the biology laboratory, to the university archives, Lawrentians are engaged in hands-on learning, developing their skills, and supporting faculty in achieving their scholarly and creative goals.”

53: Total number of research projects under way

The program was renamed the Lawrence University Research Fellows Program in 2017, and with it came a greater emphasis in participation beyond the natural sciences, Blitstein said. That is playing out in a big way this summer.

“Overall, it has become more visible as a university-wide program in recent years,” he said.

46: Number of Lawrence faculty overseeing summer research projects

Hilt has been part of the research program every summer since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2011. She’s working with students this year on multiple projects that touch on mindfulness, rumination, and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents.

“I find it to be a rewarding opportunity to mentor students and have them contribute to my scholarship in a meaningful way,” Hilt said. “Many of my summer research students have been co-authors on published papers and have gone on to graduate school and careers in psychology.”

Jeff Clark, professor of geosciences, works with Itai Bojdak-Yates ’23 on research at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area in east-central Wisconsin. Clark is one of 46 Lawrence faculty members working with students on summer research.

17: Number of academic departments working with students on summer research

The departments involved touch almost every corner of Lawrence. In addition to the natural sciences, participation comes from Anthropology, the Archives, Art & Art History, the Conservatory, Economics, English, Film Studies, French & Francophone Studies, Government, History, Mathematics, Psychology, and Russian, plus outside partnerships with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.

Midushi Ghimire ’24 is a biochemistry major spending her summer working with Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology, on research into the human biology of diabetes. The research is expected to contribute to a new course to be offered in 2022-23.

“The best part is that in order to understand the concepts, I have to sometimes revisit and refresh what I learned during my academic year,” Ghimire said of the work. “I feel that I have a stronger grasp on the topics I learned and am applying them to new areas. I am expanding my knowledge horizon and relating biology through a larger scope.”

50: Number of students taking part in science research (biology, chemistry, geosciences, and physics)

The Lake Michigan shoreline research that Clark is leading is part of an innovative NASA project that gives students the opportunity to conduct earth-observing experiments using remote sensing techniques. It ties in nicely with Lawrence’s newly launched environmental science major.

“We are using drones to map bluff erosion on the bluffs along Lake Michigan near Two Creeks,” Marsh said. “To do this, we are using not only a visual sensor but also a thermal sensor. That area is known for its distinct layers, and the sand layer is the weakest layer where the bluff is most likely to fail. So, with the thermal sensor, we are able to identify how saturated the sand layer is because the different moisture levels in the sand will yield different temperatures than 100 percent dry sand would.”

The students will analyze the collected data and by the end of summer prepare a paper on their findings.

13: Number of students taking part in Conservatory of Music summer research

Projects range from research into Brazilian drumming (with percussion professor Dane Richeson) to preparing arrangements for horn and mixed ensemble for publication (with horn professor Ann Ellsworth).

Claire Chamberlin ’23, a global studies major, is working with Eilene Hoft-March, the Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French, in the translating of short theatrical works from French to English. Kathy Privatt, the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts, and her theater students will then take some of those short plays to performance during Winter Term.

“I’m translating short contemporary retellings of four plays by Molière—who was essentially the French Shakespeare—from French into English,” Chamberlin said. “It’s valuable because it’s making art accessible to a new audience. All four plays are funny and incisive, and adapting them into English allows more people to enjoy them. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity because I get to build my literary translation skills while learning more about Francophone cultures and the French language, especially its idiomatic use.”

7: Number of students involved with research that explores foreign languages and/or cultures

Parker Elkins ’22, a Russian Studies major, is one of three students working with Peter Thomas, associate professor of Russian Studies, to build assignments for Lawrence’s first-year Russian curriculum, including both written and video exercises.

“While I’m still unsure whether I intend to pursue higher education after Lawrence and teach Russian, this work is certainly helping me get a better understanding of some of what that job would entail,” Elkins said.

Researching the Russian text and breaking it down for possible use in future courses has not only proved beneficial in providing insight into possible career paths, it’s also helped give direction to a separate project, his senior capstone.

“I can say that for mine—a scholarly retranslation of Venedikt Erofeev’s novel, Moscow to the End of the Line—working on these (texts) has been immensely helpful,” Elkins said. “Erofeev’s prose shares very, very few similarities to these texts, but at the same time there’s been large parts of the process that I’ve been able to take from working on these first-year Russian assignments and apply to retranslating this novel.” 

23: Number of students taking part in psychology research, much of it focused on youth and adolescent mindfulness

John Berg ’22, an English and psychology double major, is working with Hilt in a study of mental health screening and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. They’re partnering with community groups as they examine local screening data from the prior school year and look to develop new or improved screening instruments that can better identify students in need of help.

“I personally love doing this work,” Berg said. “I think that it is relevant and has the ability to help students who are at risk of self-harm and/or suicide.”

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