Category: Students

Magnificent Music: Lawrence students earn national recognition from DownBeat magazine

What’s better than winning a Student Music Award from DownBeat magazine? How about winning two.

The Lawrence University jazz studies and improvisation department has double reason to celebrate after DownBeat’s announcement of the winners of its 38th annual Student Music Awards.

Lawrence claimed a pair of honorees — an individual and an ensemble — in the magazine’s yearly salute to the best in student music-making. Tim Carrigg was one of two winners in the college undergraduate jazz arrangement category. Tambo Toké, Lawrence’s Afro-Cuban percussion group, was cited for outstanding performance in the college undergraduate Latin Jazz Ensemble category.Tim-Carrigg-with-DB-award

The 2015 SMAs, announced in DownBeat’s June edition, are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions (junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college) are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education.

Carrigg, a senior from Westport, Mass., was recognized for his six-minute, big band arrangement “Once Upon a Time,” which was inspired by Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story.”

“When I started arranging the piece, it turned out much, much different than the original tune, so I just renamed it,” said Carrigg, a music theory/composition major with a jazz emphasis.

The SMA was a well-earned reward for Carrigg, who began working on the piece in the fall of 2013 and once spent 40 consecutive hours hunkered down in his room notating the piece.

“Whenever you’re composing anything, you put in a lot of work, literally hundreds and hundreds of hours and at the end of the day, are you going to create something that is really great? Hopefully,” said Carrigg, whose compositions will be showcased in a jazz recital on May. 31.

He recorded “Once Upon a Time” in the spring of 2014, using a 17-piece band he recruited from members of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) and Lawrence Jazz Band. Guitarist Sam Genualdi and drummer Dan Reifsteck are featured soloists on the recording.

Tim incorporates contemporary grooves, fresh harmonic ideas and unique methods of improvisation to create music that is exciting and compelling…He is incredibly talented and still so humble and down to earth.”
— Patty Darling

Carrigg says composition has been a part of his entire musical life, but he says his “serious composing” phase began three years ago when he joined the Lawrence composition studio.

“I’ve written pieces that were more compositionally sound, but this is the first piece I’ve ever written for big band,” said Carrigg, a pianist whose playing career has been sidetracked by a severe case of musician’s dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. “This one has a ton of excitement. It has a lot of adventurous things that I tried.”

Carrigg credited the late Fred Sturm, an award-winning composer and former director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program and Patty Darling, a DownBeat SMA jazz arrangement winner herself as a Lawrence student in 1984, for their mentoring on the project.

“Fred said he wanted me to write a big-band piece, so I started on it and it was really tough, really tough, but he kept pushing me and pushing me,” said Carrigg. “I wanted to make it as best for him as I possibly could. He loved it and even sent me an email saying ‘I’ve been listening to it all day.’ I felt I at least lived up to that goal.”

“Patty was fantastic on it, too,” Carrigg added. “She was extremely helpful with all the deadlines and making sure everything was in place. Through the entire process she was very encouraging.”

As a composer and arranger, Darling says Carrigg possesses “a powerful identity.”

“Tim incorporates contemporary grooves, fresh harmonic ideas and unique methods of improvisation to create music that is exciting and compelling,” said Darling, who co-directs LUJE and the Lawrence Jazz Band. “He also experiments with acoustic and electronic instruments to create new sounds that help create structure and form in his compositions. He is incredibly talented and still so humble and down to earth. Last spring, Fred told me how much he loved working with Tim and what great potential he has. Fred would be so proud right now of Tim’s success and national recognition.”

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Tambo Toké, Lawrence’s 17-member Afro-Cuban percussion ensemble, earned “Outstanding Performance” recognition from DownBeat magazine in its 38th annual Student Music Awards competition.

The SMA for Latin Jazz Ensemble is the second major honor in the past year for Lawrence percussionists. In 2014, the Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble (LUPE), of which Tambo Toké is a subset, won the Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Ensemble Competition and was a featured performer last fall at the PAS International Convention in Indianapolis.

The 17-member Tambo Toké, which includes non-percussion majors, is led by student director Eli Edelman, who submitted a video tape of a 30-minute medley of traditional Afro-Cuban drumming and songs that he arranged for his senior recital in February 2014.

“He’s done a tremendous job of teaching, creating musical arrangements and inspiring his colleagues to embrace this powerful music. The prestigious DownBeat award is well-earned testament to his great work.”
— Dane Richeson on Eli Edelman

“It was obvious to me the performance was strong enough for DownBeat to consider it in their annual national student competition. I know there are very few schools that are performing this style of Cuban music in this country,” said Dane Richeson, professor of music and director of Lawrence’s percussion studio.

Tambo Toké grew out of a presentation jazz studies instructor José Encarnación did three years ago on Afro-Cuban music, specifically Rumba.

“Some students from the percussion department starting getting together on a weekly basis to listen to the music and learn how to play the individual parts for the Rumba instrumentation,” said Encarnacion, a native of Puerto Rico, who turned the presentation into a tutorial. “Some of the students had been working on this music with Dane and Michael Spiro, so they were contributing as well on teaching other members of the class, including myself, on how to play this great music.”

With Edelman leading the ensemble, Richeson decided to incorporate it into his world music curriculum, expanding the repertoire to include other Cuban traditional music such as Arara and Bata.

“The fact that our students are open minded enough to learn, respect and embrace music and life from another culture is what makes Tambo Toké special and worthy of national recognition,” said Encarnación.

Edelman, a senior from Hoboken, N.J., brings the experience of two recent visits to Cuba to his position of director of Tambo Toké. With the support of some Lawrence research grants, including a Melon Senior Experience grant, he was able to spend two months in 2013 immersed in the Afro-Cuban folkloric music scene of Havana and Matanzas.

“Almost every single day I had a two-hour private lesson in the morning with one teacher, a two-hour private lesson in the afternoon with another teacher, and then I’d go find live music performances to watch in the evening,” said Edelman, a double degree candidate with majors in percussion performance and history.

“This music is part of an oral tradition, so everything I learned was taught by ear in the way that master drummers teach their students. In the four years that I’ve been in charge of the ensemble, I’ve drawn heavily upon material I learned from my teachers in Cuba.”

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As its student director, senior Eli Edelman (front row, right), helped Tambo Toké earn a DownBeat award in the Latin jazz ensemble category of the magazine’s 2015 student music awards competition.

Richeson, who has used several sabbaticals to study music traditions in Ghana, Cuba and Brazil, says it is crucial for 21st-century percussion students to have both exposure to, and experience performing, the music traditions rooted in West Africa.

“Eli is a perfect example from several students I’ve had over the years who have fallen in love with one of these African-based music traditions,” said Richeson. “With his command of the Spanish language and his keen musical intuition, Eli learned an impressive amount of repertoire while in Cuba. It became clear that he was ready to take on the role of student directing our Afro-Cuban ensemble. He’s done a tremendous job of teaching, creating musical arrangements and inspiring his colleagues to embrace this powerful music. The prestigious DownBeat award is well-deserved testament to his great work.”

Since DownBeat launched its student music awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 26 SMAs, including six in the past five years.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Ruby Dickson awarded Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for Chinese language immersion program in Beijing

Ruby Dickson will venture outside the United States for the first time this summer courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

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Ruby Dickson ’16

The Lawrence University junior from Louisville, Colo., has been awarded a $2,700 Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for the 2015 Associated Colleges in China (ACC) Intensive Language Program. In addition to the scholarship, Dickson will receive $800 for travel expenses.

This is the 10th year in a row at least one Lawrence student has been recognized by the Fulbright Program. Dickson is the 14th Lawrence recipient of a Fulbright award in the past five years.

Beginning June 14, Dickson will participate in a Chinese language immersion program at Beijing’s Minzu University. The program runs through Dec. 7.

“I’m really excited for the chance to go to Beijing, especially since this is my first time leaving the United States,” said Dickson, who is pursuing a double major in Chinese language & literature and economics. “The Fulbright-Hays will help me with funding this amazing opportunity and I’m incredibly grateful for the generosity of those responsible for the scholarship.

“While I’m in China, I’ll have the opportunity not only to learn the Chinese language, but also to understand Chinese culture, conduct research and make valuable friends and connections,” Dickson added. “The Fulbright-Hays represents an amazing opportunity to build on my experiences at Lawrence. I can’t wait to begin my trip.”

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Minzu University, Beijing, China

Kuo-ming Sung, associate professor of Chinese and linguistics and one of Dickson’s academic advisors, said she is one of the brightest and hardest working students he has had in his classes.

“What is truly remarkable about Ruby is her creativity and imagination,” said Sung. “She transforms otherwise ordinary sentence patterns and vocabulary into fun-filled dialogues and compositions. Her oral presentations are always enthusiastic and infused with a wonderful sense of humor.”

Following her language program, Dickson will remain in China for several more weeks to complete an internship in the finance department of Deprag Industries, a Germany-based industrial manufacturing company with an office in Beijing.

David Gerard, associate professor of economics, said Dickson came to her economics major late, but has quickly distinguished herself.

“Ruby’s academic excellence is no accident. I call on people randomly and she has consistently demonstrated she had prepared for class and typically has a handle on even the more difficult material. She has very good foresight, is an exceptional planner and certainly does not shy away from academic challenges. Many students will take courses to protect their GPA, but Ruby shows no indication of taking that route. The internship abroad presents a great opportunity for her to operationalize her economics training and her liberal arts education more generally.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Fulbright-Hays Group Program Abroad seeks to strengthen foreign language expertise through advanced overseas study and research opportunities and by providing experiences and resources that enabling educators to strengthen their international teaching.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Stepping Up: Professor Skran delivers student-raised funds to Sierra Leone Ebola victims

After delivering an invited talk at Oxford University on the causes and consequences of the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic on April 20, Lawrence University political scientist Claudena Skran took a trip to ground zero of the disease — Sierra Leone.

Skran’s visit to the West African nation that has suffered nearly 3,900 deaths since the outbreak began last spring, was as much as goodwill ambassador as it was as scholar on refugees and humanitarian aid.KidsGive-Poster_newsblog

At the top of Skran’s itinerary was presenting a donation for more than $5,000 to the Calaba Town Community Aid Organization to assist children orphaned as a result of Ebola. The money was raised earlier this year through the collective efforts of numerous Lawrence student organizations on behalf of KidsGive, an organization founded by Skran to educate U.S. students about African life and cultures. It promotes informed giving effort while providing Sierra Leone children with opportunities to learn and become the country’s next generation of leaders.

In total, students raised more than $6,000, some of which was donated to other schools and programs in Sierra Leone.

“I’m so proud of the way Lawrence students responded to the Eblola outbreak,” said Skran, professor of government and Edwin & Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science. “While others just stepped away, our students stepped up and reached out to those in need.

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Professor of Government Claudena Skran

“What really makes this effort special in my view is the way in which it was accomplished,” Skran added. “We have a campus that is known for individual achievement and for distinction by smaller groups, especially in music and athletics, but we had more than 30 different student organizations working together, showing true collaboration on this effort. This is a such a wonderful example of what can be accomplished when groups of students unite in action for a common cause.”

In February, student members of the KidsGive on-campus board — Liz Barthels, Anna Bolgrien, Kobe Lewin, Kara Vance and Wesley Varughese — organized a “Help Ebola Orphans” campaign. Reaching out to campus organization with which they were connected, the board members asked each group to set a goal of raising $100, a sum that would enable a student in Sierra Leone to attend school, have food and water and be able to participate in any scholarship opportunities while in school. Organizers also reached out to faculty members and the athletic department in the hope of getting some of Lawrence’s varsity teams involved.

The response, according to Varughese, KidsGive president, far exceeded expectations.

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KidsGive President Wesley Varughese

“Most board members thought we would only get one or two thousand dollars and we would have to push just to get that amount,” said Varughese, a junior from La Villa, Ill., who was elected president of LUCC in January. “In the first week alone, we collected more than $3,000.”

The student organizations groups raised funds through a variety of methods. Members of the Wriston Art Collective created art pieces and sold them through an art bazaar. Some of the bartenders in the Viking Room donated all of their tips to the cause. A sorority held a bake sale in the library. One board member reached out back home, resulting in a $400 donation from the Greendale Community Church. Several of the coaches in the athletic department promised to match whatever their teams raised, helping the swim team, fencing team and track team finish as the top three groups, respectively, that raised the most money.

“I’m so proud of the way Lawrence students responded to the Eblola outbreak. While others just stepped away, our students stepped up and reached out to those in need.”
— Professor Claudena Skran

“We’ve been talking at LUCC about what can we do to provide for collaborative efforts and I think it just took one student organization to take the initiative and show that cooperation is really possible with just a few people,” said Varughese.

As other students saw how passionate the KidsGive members were in reaching out to all facets of the Lawrence community, Varughese said that inspired them to come together.

“I got the feeling the student organizations were like, ‘If they took their time to reach out and do all this, why don’t we do it together,’” said Varughese. “In the end it became a really good collaborative effort.”

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Government Professor Claudena Skran delivered the address “Setting the Stage for Ebola: War, Peace and Refugee Policy” at Oxford University’s Rhodes House on April 20.

Skran’s latest trip to Sierra Leone — she has visited the country nearly 20 times since joining the faculty in 1990 — came just two days after delivering the address “Setting the Stage for Ebola: War, Peace and Refugee Policy” at Oxford University’s Rhodes House.

In her address, Skran, a 1983 Rhodes Scholar herself, discussed why Ebola in West Africa spread so far, so fast and why more attention needs to be given to health care before epidemics break out, especially in post-conflict countries such as Sierra Leone. Both the country’s 10-year civil war (1991-2001) and the post-conflict peace-building contributed to the creation of a weak and vulnerable health system in the country.

Skran first visit to Sierra Leone after the civil war was in 2005 as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. She has taken dozens of students with her over the years to Sierra Leone to assist with her on-going refugee research and provide students with their own hands-on research projects.

She serves as a consultant for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post last December about the impact of Ebola on the medical profession in Sierra Leone and is in the process of writing a book about the Ebola epidemic.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Students Earn Top Honors in State Music Competitions

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Cameron Pieper ’15

Lawrence University student musicians captured top honors in a pair of recent state music competitions.

Pianists Cameron Pieper and Elizabeth Vaughan earned first- and second-place honors, respectively, in the Wisconsin National Federation of Music Club competition, which is conducted via submitted audio recording.

Pieper, a senior from Fond du Lac, received a first-place prize of $1,000. His winning recording included Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in G major Book 1,” Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata op. 110 in A-flat Major I, Moderato cantabile molto espressivo” Chopin’s “Scherzo no. 1 in B minor op. 20,” Rzewski’s “Piano Piece no. 4,” and Franz Liszt’s “Transcendental Etude no. 10 in F minor.”

As the state champion, he will represent Wisconsin in the National Federation of Music Club national competition later this spring. It was the second-winning performance this year for Pieper, who was awarded first place honors last month in the Schubert Club’s Carlson Student Scholarship Competition in St. Paul, Minn.

Vaughan, a senior from Highland Park, Ill., received $750 for her runner-up recording.

The competition is part of the Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs’ mission to promote music and dance through arts advocacy, student festivals, competitions and scholarships.

Pieper and Vaughan both study in the piano studio of Professor Catherine Kautsky.

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Erec VonSeggern ’17

Erec VonSeggern, a sophomore from Idyllwild, Calif., won the Wisconsin State Flute Festival held in Madison. He was awarded a first-place prize of $350. It was the third straight year a Lawrence student has won the state flute festival competition.

For his 15-minute finals performance, VonSeggern played Georges Hüe’s “Fantaisie Pour Flûte et Piano, ” “Night Music for Solo Flute, 1. Night Music I”  by Vanraj Bhatia and Otar Gordeli’s “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 8.”

Senior Heather Jost, a senior from Pewaukee, also qualified for the finals and earned third-place honors.

The Wisconsin Flute Festival is a one-day educational event for flute players and flute enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.

VonSeggern and Jost are students in the flute studio of Assistant Professor Erin Lesser.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Student-written plays featured in Fred Gaines Playwrights Series

Four performances of three original one-act plays will be presented March 5-7 in Lawrence University’s Cloak Theatre of the Music-Drama Center in conjunction with the college’s second biennial Fred Gaines Student Playwrights Series.

GainesSeriesArtwork_weblogCurtain times are 8 p.m. each day, with an additional 3 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 7. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, are available at the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

This iteration of the series explores the impact of genre, covering the gamut from melodrama to farce. It features the work of senior Nathan Lawrence and Claire Conard and Luke MacMillan, both 2014 Lawrence graduates. Timothy X. Troy, professor of theatre arts and the J. Thomas and Julie Esch-Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, directs each of the three plays.

Lawrence’s play, “Happy Birthday, Stephen Jones,” critiques sexism in the work environment through physical comedy. Conard’s “Ren Rising” follows a young woman as she struggles to decide if she should accept her boyfriend’s hand in marriage. MacMillan explores the dangerous consequences of an abusive household environment in “Somewhere North.”

“Most people don’t realize that plays can’t be written in a vacuum,” said Lawrence, an English and film studies major. “It’s difficult to predict how an audience will respond until you see your work performed. Having this experience as an undergraduate is a unique opportunity. It’s rare you get to learn and entertain at the same time.”

The series honors the work of former theatre professor and department chair Fred Gaines, who taught at Lawrence from 1977-2000 and passed away in 2010. Troy, a 1985 Lawrence graduate, was inspired to launch the series as a way of passing on the wisdom Gaines shared with him as a student.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Student Cost Increase Smallest in 20 Years

The cost to attend Lawrence University for the 2015-16 academic year will reflect the smallest rate increase in 20 years based on the recently approved budget by the college’s Board of Trustees.

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At 9:1, Lawrence has one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios of any college in the country.

The comprehensive fee for the next school year will be $52,950, an increase of 2.89 percent over the current year. The increase is the smallest since a 2.84 percent change for the 1996-97 academic year and is the second smallest in more than 30 years.

This moderate increase is due in part to the Lawrence community’s efforts to decrease operating expenses by 7 percent or $3.75 million over the next three years while preserving the quality of the education.

The comprehensive fee covers tuition, room, board, student activity and sustainability fees.

“I realize the financial burden that many of our students and families face, and I take seriously any increase to the comprehensive fee,” said Burstein, who has made affordability a cornerstone of his presidency since assuming the office in July 2013. “The cost of providing a rigorous and challenging academic experience, with a student-to-faculty ratio (9:1) that is among the lowest in the country, is indeed great. As we continue to improve this institution and its offerings to students, it is imperative that we work to find ways to moderate the increasing cost of the transformative education we provide.”

A focused campaign to raise student scholarship funds was launched last September with a gift of $25 million, the largest in school history. Lawrence alumni and friends have contributed more than $18 million to match this extraordinarily generous gift. These funds will be used solely to create endowed scholarships that help meet students’ demonstrated financial need.

“Efforts to raise funds and decrease operating costs are essential to the continued health of Lawrence and to the affordability of the education we offer for future Lawrentians and their families,” Burstein said.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Two New Champions Crowned in 50th Annual Lawrence Trivia Contest

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First-year trivia masters get ready to award this year’s prizes to the top three finishing on- and off-campus teams during Lawrence’s 50th edition of its Great Midwest Trivia contest.

After placing second in 2013 and third in 2014, Hobgoblin of Little Minds claimed first-place honors with 1,236 points among 65 off-campus teams in Lawrence University’s 50th annual Great Midwest Trivia contest held over the weekend. 50 Shades of Trivia (1,225 points) finished second while Je suis Iowans, last year’s runner-up, placed third (1,217).

Bucky’s Brood of Burgeoning Butt Brigadiers’ Bizarre Belligerants Bird-Bondage-Base Burlesque Bonanza moved up from last year’s second-place finish to win the on-campus title (1,374 points), while Shrek/10 3: We Bought a Sherk, last year’s champion, settled for second place this year (1,347). Taking the Hobbits to #Octopunks is not Death placed third among 29 on-campus teams (1,141.5).

Hobgoblin of Little Minds was awarded a bowl spray painted gold for its first-place prize, while 50 Shades of Trivia received a gold-painted ghost wall décor and Je Suis Iowans earned a gold-painted mini wooden chair.

Bucky’s was presented a gold-painted old phone for winning the off-campus title while Shrek received a large, gold-painted car part and Taking the Hobbits to #Octopunks is not Death earned a gold-painted angel candle holder.

Once again, the contest’s final question, the Super Garruda, proved to be a stumper. No team was able to answer this ultimate brain tester:  Near property previously owned by Rockwell Lime Company is a manhole built in 1921 with an 8 inch diameter pipe leading downstream 226 feet. What is the Manhole Label and what is written on the cover of the manhole?

Make a note for next year since this will be the first question of the 2016 contest. The answer is “15-47” “Richards Iron Wks” (works).

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Happy 50th! Lawrence celebrates a not-so-trivial birthday

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Channeling their 1960s “Mad Men” era roots, 2015 Grand Trivia Master Weronika Gajowniczek (center) and her fellow trivia masters will oversee the 50th edition of the nation’s longest-running salute to all things trivial Jan. 23-25. Photo by Nathan Lawrence ’15

Can anything that survives for half a century really still be considered “trivial?”

A year older than the Super Bowl and tougher than the Seattle Seahawk’s defense, the Lawrence University Great Midwest Trivia Contest — the country’s oldest ongoing salute to all-things insignificant — celebrates its 50th birthday Jan. 23-25.

After 2,450 hours of competition and more than 18,000 questions since then-Lawrence senior J.B. deRosset first asked “Who was Superman’s father?” back in 1966, Lawrence’s 50-hour intellectual scavenger hunt has established itself as the game’s granddaddy, asking students and others to ponder the offbeat and obscure long before minutia ever became en vogue.

“Going into that first contest, I don’t think any of us contemplated this happening a second time,” said deRosset, who will travel from the warmth of Miami to chilly Cheeseland this weekend to help commemorate the contest’s milestone moment. “My mind was on being draft eligible for Vietnam, raging hormones and where to go to graduate school.”

Following tradition, the 50th edition of the contest kicks off at precisely 37 seconds after 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23 and runs continuously through midnight Sunday, Jan. 25. As it has since 2006, the contest will be webcast worldwide on the Internet at wlfmradio.com.

“Trivia is like a 50-hour super bug…you don’t want to eat, you can’t sleep and the whole weekend is pretty much a weird fever dream.”
— Weronika Gajowniczek, 2015 Grand Trivia Master

Senior Weronika Gajowniczek, who presides over the weekend’s craziness as this year’s Grand Trivia Master, says trivia can “infect” players a little like the flu.

“Trivia is like a 50-hour super bug,” said Gajowniczek, who served as one of the contest’s 12 trivia masters the past two years before being chosen as the grand master this year. “You don’t want to eat, you can’t sleep and the whole weekend is pretty much a weird fever dream.

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A small army of trivia masters and other student volunteers will man the phones in the WLFM studios, collecting answers and tallying team point totals during Lawrence’s 50-hour Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

“Most people don’t just play trivia, they live trivia,” added Gajowniczek, who spent 16 straight hours answering phones at trivia headquarters as a freshman. “For that one weekend in January, you forget about everything else — homework, sleeping, eating, hygiene, your sanity. Nothing becomes more important than answering those arbitrary questions.”

Aah yes, the questions. Written by the trivia masters, the goal is to make them as “unGoggleable” as possible. The result is such brain teasers as On how many episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” has the game Party Quirks been played? (129) or Who is immortalized on a blanket as Altoona Area High School’s top football player of 1965? (Dick Bard).

“You just dedicate your weekend to frantically searching in the weirdest corners of the internet,” said Gajowniczek, one of only a handful of women to oversee the contest in its long history.

In addition to the usual array of wacky questions and theme hours — Death and Destruction, Meowour (a segment devoted to felines) and, in tribute to Gajowniczek’s heritage, an all Polish-related set of questions — this year’s 50th edition will feature a tip of the hat to its 49 predecessors. Once each hour, Gajowniczek said they will ask a throwback question taken from the archives of the previous contests.

“Since there is 50 hours and 50 years, it works perfectly, so we’ll base a question off every year.”

Last year’s contest had 19 on-campus teams and 57 off-campus teams battling wits and busy signals for the loosest definition of the word “prizes.” Gajowniczek promises a return to more traditional prizes this year.

“The last few years, the trivia masters would just find something in the studio and give it out as a prize and mostly it was just things no one would keep,” said Gajowniczek. “We definitely want to bring back the tradition of the prizes, make them more memorable keepsakes, commemorative. I’m not promising anything special, but nothing like a jar full of cream cheese, like last year.”

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J.B. deRosset ’66

For all of its silliness, the contest actually grew out of a serious academic endeavor, one for which deRosset was bypassed. After not being asked to join a select group of students and faculty for an off-campus academic trip then known as “Encampment” to the general student populace and “Entrapment” to its detractors, deRosset came up with an alternative to the academic retreat: a contest on the campus’ radio station for “the trivial minds left behind.”

“My junior year set it up,” recalled deRosset, an attorney. “I had accumulated some extra credits from an off-campus program at Argonne National Labs and arrived my senior year with little stress and plenty of time and brain space for some creativity. It has kept going because it went so well the first year and my partner in crime, Dave Pfleger ,was ready, willing and able to do it again. With two contests under the Lawrence belt, it had the momentum to keep on truckin’. I know it takes a lot time for the students to put this together. More power to them for keeping the tradition alive.”

Again per tradition, Lawrence President Mark Burstein will have the privilege of blowing out the first birthday candle’ as it were by asking the  50th contest’s first question, which, also by tradition, is always the final question — the Super Garruda — from the previous year’s contest.

No team was able to add 100 points to its total last year by answering the 2014 Super Garruda: In the final resting place of Copernicus there are pillars with graffiti scratched into them. One of these pillars has graffiti that reads “EM is cool” and “DW is ok.” What does the only music-genre related graffiti on that pillar say?”

Come 10:00.37 Friday night, every self-respecting trivia team will know the answer is “Punks is not Death.”

Attention Lawrence alumni: If you’re making a pilgrimage to Appleton this weekend for your annual trivia fix, we’d like to chat with you. We’re hoping to connect with several LU grads about the contest for a story in the alumni magazine. Send a note to Communications@lawrence.edu and tell us where you’ll be on Saturday and how we can reach you. Thanks.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Community Service Lands Lawrence University on President’s National Honor Roll

For the eighth consecutive year, Lawrence University has been named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

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Helping build hoop houses at Riverview Gardens was among the student volunteer service hours that helped Lawrence earn its eighth straight spot on the President’s Higher Education National Community Service Honor Roll.

Lawrence is one of only two Wisconsin institutions to be cited every year by the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) since it launched the honor roll program in 2006 in response to the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Nine hundred Lawrence students contributed 17,777 hours to community volunteer and service-learning programs in collaboration with a wide variety of valued partnerships throughout the Fox Cities during this year’s reporting period, including 138 students who devoted 20 hours or more per term.

The President’s Honor Roll program recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities on a broad range of issues. Honorees are chosen on the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

“Community service provides ways to better understand ourselves,” said President Mark Burstein, “and involvement in the wider community enhances our learning environment. I am proud of the work and dedication our students display and pleased they have once again been nationally recognized for their efforts. At Lawrence, service continues to be not only altruism, but also part of the transformative educational experience that we strive to provide for our students.”

Among the initiatives for which Lawrence was cited:

• Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Training. The training program benefited not only the campus, but the greater community. Lawrence collectively trained one master trainer, 51 instructors and 510 gatekeepers. Instructors and gatekeepers reported intervening within days of learning QPR skills to connect distressed community members to immediate crisis intervention services.

Self-Agency in Youth (SAY) Program. Using a two-pronged approach of support groups and a tutoring/mentoring initiative, the SAY Program helps teens gain ownership over their post-high school futures. Beautiful You African American Girls’ Group and Hmong Youth Pride and Empowerment (HYPE) are two branches of SAY and one of several collaborations between Lawrence and the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley. With backgrounds and challenges similar to those faced by the teenagers, the Lawrence student volunteers turned their own experiences as a refugee or a first generation college student into a source of knowledge to help high school students in need of mentoring, reassurance and support.

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Student volunteers helped sort clothes at Appleton’s Bethesda Thrift Shop at Lawrence’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

• Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Nearly 500 students participated in activities under the theme of  “learn, serve and celebrate.” Activities included a “Read and Reflect: A Lunch Discussion” event on the book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria,” six student-led on-campus volunteer opportunities and the presentation of a specially developed curriculum on tolerance to more than 650 area youth at seven after-school sites of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley. Members of the Lawrence community ended the day by joining Fox Cities leaders to listen to Rev. Wanda Washington speak on “How to Build a Just World” at the annual MLK celebration hosted by Lawrence.

“It is a source of pride for everyone at Lawrence who values the college’s contributions to the vitality of the greater Appleton and global communities, that we have been recognized, once again, by the Corporation for National and Community Service for our achievements in community service,” said Mark Jenike, Pieper Family Professor of Servant Leadership and director of the college’s Office for Engaged Learning. “At Lawrence, community engagement, enabled by strong partnerships, is one of the most important ways in which we pursue our mission of preparing students for lives of achievement, responsible and meaningful citizenship, lifelong learning and personal fulfillment.”

The CNCS compiles the President’s Community Service Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Hail to the Class of 2018: Lawrence Welcomes More than 400 New Students

Lawrence University is laying out fresh “welcome” mats for the arrival Tuesday (9/9) of 432 new students — 385 freshmen, 29 transfers and 18 one-year visiting and exchange students — for the 2014-15 academic year.

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Move-in day is an annual fall rite of passage on campus as students begin the transition from high school graduate to Lawrentian.

Drawn from a school-record 2,748 applications, the freshman class of 2018 will participate in a week of new student orientation activities before the start of Lawrence’s 166th academic year, which begins Monday, Sept. 15.

According to Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid, this year’s freshman class is as ethnically and geographically diverse as it is academically impressive.

“Diversity continues to be on the rise at Lawrence,” said Anselment. “Nationally, the college-bound population is becoming increasingly diverse and Lawrence is certainly mirroring that trend.”

Here is a snapshot view of this year’s freshmen class includes:

Students from 35 states, Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands. Despite declining numbers of college-bound students in the upper Midwest, Lawrence managed a strong share, with Wisconsin (105), Illinois (87) and Minnesota (36) accounting for the top three student-producing states.

 Outside the upper Midwest, Lawrence reached both coasts for its next highest number of students, with New York and California sending the fourth and fifth most students to Appleton with 19 and 15, respectively.

• Eleven percent (43 students) of the freshman class will arrive from 19 countries, including Japan, Jamaica and Jordan.

China, with 13 students, produced more members of the freshman class than all but five U.S. states.

• Domestic students of color comprise a full 25 percent (98) of the freshman class, making this one of the most ethnically diverse classes in decades.

• With an average grade point average of 3.6 and an average ACT score of 28, the freshman class arrives well prepared for the challenges of Lawrence’s rigorous curriculum.

 Among Lawrence’s 18 one-year exchange and visiting students, 16 arrive via Tokyo’s Waseda University as part of the college’s Thematic Studies Abroad program.

As in recent years, the male-to-female ratio tilts slightly toward the women, who account for 54 percent of this year’s freshman class.

“For our team in the admissions and financial aid offices, new student arrival carries for us the same kind of eager anticipation that little kids feel the night before their birthdays,” said Anselment.

He and his staff will collectively welcome the 432 new students Tuesday night (Sept. 9) in the Memorial Chapel, where they will all gather for the first time as Lawrentians.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.