Lawrence mourns the loss of Margot Warch, wife of the college’s 14th president

Margot-Warch-Headshot_newsblog
Margot Warch

Margot Warch, who served as Lawrence University’s “first lady” for 25 years as the wife of former President Rik Warch, died peacefully in her sleep Sunday, April 17 at the home of her son, David, in St. Paul, Minn. Margot, who lived in Ellison Bay, celebrated her 77th birthday on April 12.

“Margot always had Lawrence’s needs at the forefront of her mind,” said Lawrence President Mark Burstein. “She worked tirelessly to move the University forward through her thoughtful and persistent approach. She cared deeply about creating a campus community where everyone felt at home. I felt this directly when I arrived at Lawrence three years ago. Her passion for our northern campus, Bjorklunden, in Door County and the need to connect Lawrence to the larger Fox Cities community has created important momentum for us. We have lost a dear friend of this institution.”

The Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center and the Richard and Margot Warch Fund for Scholarly Research, both of which bear her name, reflects her impact on the college. At the 2004 commencement, Margot was recognized with a surprise honorary master’s degree ad eundem.

A soft-spoken woman of exceptional grace and charm, Margot had a deep love for all things Lawrence and proudly wore a necklace with an “L” as a symbol of her affection for the institution. She also had great passion for Bjorklunden. She maintained her love of life-long learning in retirement, taking at least one Bjorklunden seminar, and often more than one, every summer.

Rik-and-Margo-Campus-Center_newsblogAs Lawrence’s “hostess,” Margot supervised the remodeling and redecoration of the president’s residence, where she routinely welcomed students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and friends of the university. She famously tested recipes for every occasion, searched for and found cookbooks in many libraries and often joked that food and drink was her principal research specialty.

A high school English teacher in New York and Connecticut before relocating to Appleton, Margot was deeply engaged with local reading and literacy programs. With a background in adult learning disabilities, she took great pride in her many years of work with Fox Valley Technical College’s GOAL/Reading program, serving as the department chair for several years. She played a key role in revamping the entire reading curriculum and was a central participant in the college’s student advising program. She was honored with FVTC’S Outstanding Academic Advisor Award for the 1999-2000 academic year.

She was active in the annual AAUW book sale and when her children attended Edison School, she helped to start the Right To Read program. She also was a vital force in the development of the Fox Valley Literacy Coalition and served a term as the organization’s president.

In retirement, Margot coordinated a book drive with the assistance of junior Greta Fritz to commemorate Rik’s dedication to Lawrence’s signature program, Freshman Studies. She sought donations from alumni in an effort to collect copies of all of the books that were used in the more than 60 years of the program to establish a Freshman Studies library at Bjorklunden. Hundreds of books have been donated to date.

She also directed her passion for reading and literacy to the Sister Bay Library, where she served as a long-time volunteer and spent several years as a member of the library’s board of directors.

“Personally, it was a privilege to get to know Margot, especially after she retired in Door County,” said Mark Breseman, long-time director of Bjorklunden and associate vice president of alumni and constituency engagement. “One of the things that meant so much to her was continuing Rik’s legacy at Bjorklunden. She certainly left her own imprint with the Freshman Studies library.Margot-and-Rik-sitting_newsblog

“She was such a strong, forward-thinking person,” Breseman added. “She was a treasure for Lawrence, Bjorklunden and Door County and left an indelible imprint. She will be sorely missed.”

Born in Chicago, Margot grew up in Rochester, N.Y., before moving to New Jersey as a teenager, where she met her future husband in 10th grade at Ridgewood High School. As seniors, Margot was female class president and Rik was male class president. They married in 1962.

Margot went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in education from Southern Connecticut State College.

Margot was preceded in death by her husband, Rik, in 2013. She is survived by her two sons and their families, who live in St. Paul, Minn.: Stephen, his wife Alexandra Klass, and their daughters Helen and Zoe; and David, his wife Sarah, and their daughters Sydney and Georgie; and her daughter Karin, London, England. She is further survived by her brother Bob Moses, and sisters Lois Moses, Marilyn Moses, Marysue Moses, and their families, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law Peter and Linda Fenton as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Margot’s life will be held Saturday, June 4 from 2-3 p.m. in Vail Hall at Bjorklunden, 7590 Boyton Lane, Baileys Harbor. A reception in the Great Room follows from 3-5 p.m.

Memorials in Margot’s honor can be directed to the Warch Family Scholarship Fund in care of Lawrence University, 711 E. Boldt Way, Appleton, WI 54911.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

Classics Week presentation features Joe Goodkin’s folk opera “The Odyssey”

Joe Goodkin performs his folk opera "The Odyssey" April 19.
Joe Goodkin performs his folk opera “The Odyssey” April 19.

As part of Lawrence’s annual Classics Week celebration, Joe Goodkin brings his folk opera retelling of “The Odyssey” to Harper Hall Tuesday, April 19 at 8:15 p.m. Part lecture, part musical and part interactive discussion, the performance is free and open to the public.

Combining his background in writing and performing original rock music with a degree in classics, Goodkin deconstructs the story of “The Odyssey” in a 30-minute long composition featuring 24 original songs. The performance, featuring only an acoustic guitar and voice, echoes the spirit of the ancient Greek bards who originally told the epic stories of Odysseus and the heroes of the Trojan War.

Since 2003, Goodkin has performed the folk opera scores of times across the country. He is a three-time American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award recipient for his work.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

Mentoring Maven: Former Lawrence professor named recipient of community volunteer award

Mary-Poulson_newsblog
Mary Poulson

A born mentor, making a difference in people’s lives has been part of Mary Poulson’s modus operandi for most of her 85 years of life.

The long-time Lawrence University faculty member and barrier-breaking coach will be recognized Tuesday, April 19 as the 2016 recipient of the Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award. The award is sponsored by the Mielke Family Foundation.

Poulson will be one of eight community award winners honored for their outstanding efforts at the annual “Celebrating Our Volunteers” dinner at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton. The event, sponsored by The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc. and Post-Crescent Media, has saluted deserving area individuals for their volunteerism since 1998.

The Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award recognizes an individual or group that has served as a mentor in the community over time and has, by example, made meaningful contributions to the quality of life in the Fox Cities.

Poulson was among 21 Milwaukee-Downer College faculty members who joined the Lawrence community in 1964 following the consolidation of the two institutions. During her 29-year career at Lawrence, she mentored thousands of students as a professor of physical education and coach of three sports, helping them discover themselves and find their niche in life.

When she first moved to Appleton, Poulson planned to stay just a year while exploring other options.

“Within weeks of settling in I realized what a special place Appleton was,” said Poulson. “During my 52 years here, friends, teachers and colleagues have provided me with many opportunities to share the fullness of life with others.”

A nationally ranked fencer in her own right, Mary Poulson coached Lawrence's men's and women's fencing team and helped it gain varsity status during her tenure.
A nationally ranked fencer in her own right, Mary Poulson coached Lawrence’s men’s and women’s fencing team for more than 20 years and helped it gain varsity status during her tenure.

At Lawrence, Poulson became the first woman coach of any sport in the Midwest Conference. A consummate multitasker, she coached women’s tennis —  Lawrence’s first varsity sport for women — men’s tennis and was the driving force behind the move from club status to varsity status of the men’s and women’s fencing teams, which she coached until her retirement in 1993.

In retirement, Poulson’s, and her late husband, John’s, own personal curiosities led to the creation of the Noonhour Philosophers, a free community speaker’s program held weekly at Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Appleton. For more than 20 years, Poulson has organized and coordinated the program, arranging presenters spanning the spectrum to share their experiences and explore interesting and topical issues.

Patricia Boldt, a 1948 Lawrence graduate who nominated Poulson for the mentoring award, described the Noonhour Philosophers as “a welcoming institution that has made the Fox Cities a more interesting place to live.”

“She is a genius in finding both obscure and obvious presenters,” wrote Boldt.

In addition to running the Noonhour Philosophers program, Poulson has been active in the area’s annual Crop Walk for Hunger and with Leaven, a community based non-profit organization that works with volunteers to assist people in crisis who have basic needs that cannot be met elsewhere.

“All of these opportunities have helped me realize how blessed I’ve been and how generously Appleton residents share their blessings in all areas of life,” said Poulson. “I’m a behind-the-scenes sort of person, so it’s quite humbling to be recognized with the Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award. I am extremely grateful to the Mielke Family Foundation and all those who make these awards possible.”

Poulson is the third Lawrentian to be honored with one of the community volunteer awards. Lynn Hagee, director of special projects at Lawrence, and Rick Bjella, former choral director at Lawrence and artistic director of the White Heron Chorale (now newVoices), received the Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2014 and 2006, respectively.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

Young alumni-driven crowdfunding initiative looks to enhance Lawrence Diversity Center

A $10,000 crowdfunding effort to support Lawrence University’s Diversity Center and enhance campus life for students is in the home stretch.

Diversity-Ccenter_newsblog-3Organized by the Viking Gift Committee and led by Lawrence alumni Erin Campbell Watson ’09 and Gayatri Malhotra ’14, the effort is targeting young alumni in an effort to help current and future Lawrentians. The campaign, which runs through Monday, April 18, has generated nearly $2,600 to date.

“We thought it would be meaningful to explore fundraising opportunities related to campus inclusivity and the student organizations involved,” said Watson. “This is a powerful way for young alumni to show current students that we support them while making an impact on the campus climate that really demonstrates the meaning of our donations, no matter how small.”

Gail Watson '09
Erin Campbell Watson ’09

The Diversity Center, which will be relocating this summer from the lower level of Memorial Hall to the main floor, provides a safe, welcoming place for students to be aware, educated, and engaged with cultural competency and building a more inclusive community.  It provides resources that are often taken for granted, such as cultural support, campus wide programming, connections to student organizations, community collaborations, as well as a comfortable space that is “home” for many students.

The Diversity Center currently has one full-time staff member, a part-time program coordinator and 18 student workers. An additional full-time staff person is expected to be added this spring.

Funds raised through the crowdfunding effort will be earmarked to support professional development opportunities for student workers, provide additional educational programming to campus and establish a monetary reserve to assist students in times of emergency need. In addition, they will enhance the environment of the new location with artwork and visuals to represent a transparent diverse community.

Pa Lee Moua
Pa Lee Moua

“As our Lawrence community continues to grow and become more diverse, we also need to enhance the necessary resources and services that foster student success,” said Pa Lee Moua, associate dean of students for multicultural affairs. “The Diversity Center is much more than a department or location. For many, it’s home. It’s a supportive community. It’s personal growth. It’s leadership development. It’s education, awareness and knowledge, which are all essential components in retention and overall academic success.”

All donations go directly to the Diversity Center’s annual budget. They will not count as a gift to the Lawrence Fund. For more information, contact Kari Swason, assistant director of annual giving, 920-842-7307 or kari.e.swanson@lawrence.edu.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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 grad Bill Baer named associate attorney general at U.S. Justice Department’s

A Lawrence University alumnus has been named acting U.S. associate attorney general in the Justice Department by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Bill Baer '72
Bill Baer ’72

Bill Baer, a 1972 Lawrence graduate, will leave his current position as head of the department’s Antitrust Division to assume the department’s no. 3 post. He will replace Stuart Delery, the acting associate attorney general.

“From his work at the Federal Trade Commission to his leadership of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, he has demonstrated keen intelligence, strong judgment and consummate skill,” Lynch said in a statement announcing Baer’s appointment.

Baer has served as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division since December 2012. Within a month of his appointment, Baer moved to block Anheuser-Busch InBev’s takeover of Grupo Modelo. In April 2013, he ramped up litigation previously filed against Apple over the pricing of e-books. Also in 2013, his office challenged the merger between American and US Airways, which led the airlines to agree to significant divestitures to address competition concerns.

His antitrust work has been recognized with numerous awards. In 2010, the National Law Journal named him one of “the decade’s most influential lawyers.”  The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers named Baer the “leading competition lawyer in the world” in 2006 and 2007.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence and a law degree from Stanford University, Baer began his career with the Federal Trade Commission in 1975, serving first as an attorney advisor and then as assistant general counsel and director of congressional relations. In 1980, he joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he led the firm’s antitrust practice.

Baer served on the Lawrence University Board of Trustees from 2000 until 2012, including the last two years as vice chair, before joining the Justice Department.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

“World of Warcraft,” “South Park” soundtrack contributors visit campus for special events

Accomplished multimedia composer Jeff Kurtenacker makes a return visit to his alma mater and he’s bringing Grammy Award-nominated trumpet player Wayne Bergeron along. The two Los Angeles-based musicians will lend their respective talents to the Lawrence University community for a series of special events April 12-13, culminating with a big band concert.

A 1999 Lawrence graduate and Green Bay native, Kurtenacker has made his mark in the video game industry. After graduating from Lawrence with a self-designed major in composition, Kurtenacker landed a job with Hans Zimmer at his company, Media Ventures/Remote Control, where he honed his craft of composing for media.Jeff-Kurtenacker_newsblog

After serving as choral arranger on “Warcraft 3” for Blizzard Entertainment, Kurtenacker worked on numerous other video game titles, among them “World of Warcraft,” “Pirates of the Burning Sea,” Dreamworks’ “Igor,”  and “American Idol.”

Kurtenacker joined Carbine Studios in 2008 as a sound designer and three years later moved into the role of lead composer. In addition to that role, he also serves as Carbine’s audio department manager. He composed, orchestrated and conducted a 75-piece orchestra in recording more than nine hours of music for Carbine’s “Wild Star.”

Bergeron has established himself as one of the most sought-after musicians in the world for studio sessions, film soundtracks, international touring, jazz concerts and clinics. He is especially in demand for film and television scores, having contributed to more than 350 TV and motion picture soundtracks. His many credits include “Frozen,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Monsters University,” “Despicable Me” “Marley & Me,” “The Simpson’s Movie,” “Dreamgirls,” “Mission Impossible 3” and “South Park.”

Wayne-Bergeron_newsblog_2After working behind the scenes for many years, Bergeron released his first solo effort, “You Call This a Living?,” which earned rave reviews as well as a Grammy Award nomination in 2004. His second disc, “Plays Well With Others” released in 2007, drew similar praise. His latest project is scheduled to be released later this year.

During their residency at Lawrence, Kurtenacker and Bergeron will participate in the following events, all of which are free and open to the public.

• Tuesday, April 12, 11:10 a.m. Bergeron and Kurtenacker will lead masterclasses in trumpet and composing, respectively, in Shattuck Hall 163 and Shattuck Hall 4.

• Tuesday, April 12, 7 p.m., Shattuck Hall 163. The pair will conduct a live recording session with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra sight reading one of Kurtenacker’s orchestral soundtracks. The session will be recorded just as his music is at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles. Bergeron will play with the LSO for the recording.

• Tuesday, April 12, 8 p.m., Shattuck Hall 163. Bergeron and Kurenacker lead a discussion on “the business of music,” providing an insider’s look at the world of composing and performing for film, television and multimedia.

• Wednesday, April 13, 8 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Bergeron headlines a concert with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and the new 19-member Lawrence Jazz Faculty Big Band. The program will feature jazz standards such as Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train” as well as several selections Bergeron has personally selected from his library.

“We are so fortunate to get this opportunity to perform with Wayne Bergeron, who is really  one of the world’s most in-demand musicians,” said Patricia Darling, lecturer in music and director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. “We’ll be playing some great big band charts. This is going to be a very exciting and rewarding concert for everyone.”

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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 Artist Series welcomes opera star Lawrence Brownlee

If you enjoy opera, you’ll love Lawrence Brownlee. If you don’t, he may turn you into a convert.

With effortless sound and sparkling diction, Brownlee brings his powerful and agile tenor voice to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. in the latest Lawrence University’s Artist Series concert.

Lawrence-Brownlee_newsblog_2
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee

Tickets, at $25/$30 for adults, $20/$25 for seniors and $18/$20 for students are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

While performing opposite the leading ladies of contemporary opera, Brownlee has established himself as a star on the international scene. He has dazzled audiences in nearly every major theater in the world and enjoys a relationship with many prominent conductors and symphony orchestras.

Since being named Grand Prize winner of the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, the Associated Press has named him one of “the world’s leading bel canto tenors.” National Public Radio hailed his voice as “an instrument of great beauty and expression.”

“Lawrence Brownlee is, without exaggeration, a phenomenon in today’s operatic world,” said Joanne Bozeman, a voice instructor in Lawrence’s conservatory of music. “With all due respect to other fine tenors, I don’t believe anyone currently matches him in the high-flying bel canto repertoire. NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert of Mr. Brownlee singing spirituals is a great way to sample what he will bring to the chapel stage as an equally phenomenal recitalist.”

Brownlee’s operatic highlights include: “La Cenerentola” in Milan, Houston, Philadelphia and the Metropolitan Opera; “L’italiana in Algeri” in Milan, Dresden, Boston and Seattle; and the title role in the 2015 world premiere of Daniel Schnyder’s “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” a work written specifically for him, at the Opera Philadelphia.

Brownlee’s discography boasts the Grammy Award-nominated “Virtuoso Rossini Arias,” a  testament to his broad impact in the classical music genre. He also has contributed several opera and concert recordings, among them “Armida” at the Metropolitan Opera and “Carmina Burana” with the Berlin Philharmonic.

In 2013, Brownlee released a collection of African-American spirituals entitled “Spiritual Sketches” with pianist Damien Sneed, which the pair performed at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. In a review of the album, NPR it as “soulful singing” that “sounds like it’s coming straight from his heart to yours.”

An avid salsa dancer and photographer, often taking portraits of his on-stage colleagues, Brownlee is a die-hard football fan and has treated many NFL audiences to his rendition of the national anthem.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Brownlee earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana’s Anderson University and a graduate degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

Moral psychology focus of final Lawrence brain series presentation

Duke University philosophy scholar Walter Sinnott-Armstrong explores moral psychology in the final installment of Lawrence University’s five-part Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain series.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the department of philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke, presents “Are Psychopaths Responsible” Tuesday, April 12 at 11 a.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center. A question-and-answer session follows the presentation.

In conjunction with his talk, on Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema, Sinnott-Armstrong will show a filmed interview with an imprisoned psychopath and discuss the nature of psychopathy and its moral implications. Both events are free and open to the public.

Psychopaths make up less than one percent of the population, but they commit more than 40 percent of violent crimes. Some research suggests they do not understand the immorality of their acts. In his presentation, Sinnott-Armstrong will discuss whether such individuals should be held legally or morally responsible if they don’t comprehend their acts, and if not, how should society dealt with them.

Sinnott-Armstrong, whose scholarship interests include neuroethics, is the author of several books, including 2009’s “Morality Without God?” and “Moral Skepticisms.” His current research focuses on moral psychology and brain science, as well as uses of neuroscience in the legal system.

Launched last fall, the Liberal Arts in the Century of the Brain series incorporated the interdisciplinary areas of neuroscience and cognitive science to create connections with other disciplines at Lawrence.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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 conservatory faculty featured in Riverview Gardens concert celebrating Latin American music

Lawrence University Conservatory of Music faculty members take their talents into the community Monday, April 11 to highlight several genres of Latin American music.

Riverview Gardens Community Center will host “A Celebration of Hispanic and Latino-American Music” at 7 p.m.  The concert, at 1101 S. Oneida St., Appleton, is free and open to the public.Latino-Anerican-logo_newsblog

The concert, organized by pianist Anthony Padilla, associate professor of music, and saxophonist José Encarnación, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies, is one of a series of ongoing community programs highlighting 500 years of diversity and achievement by Latino Americans.

Padilla will lead the concert’s first half, which will feature classical pieces by Roberto Sierra, Astor Piazzolla, and Juan Orrego-Salas. He will be joined by Janet Anthony, cello, Wen-Lei Gu, violin and Matthew Michelic, viola.

The second half of the concert program highlights musical several styles, including Brazilian bossa nova, bolero from Mexico, rumba-son from Cuba and Argentine tango. All of the pieces were arranged by Encarnación, who will be joined by percussionist Dane Richeson and bassist Mark Urness.

The community program “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History” was organized through a partnership between Lawrence, the Appleton Public Library, Casa Hispana and the History Museum at the Castle. It is supported by a pair of grants Lawrence received from the American Library Association and the Wisconsin Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.

Appleton native, Iowa Writers’ Workshop Director named Lawrence’s 2016 commencement speaker, honorary degree recipient

It will be a homecoming of sorts for award-winning writer and Appleton native Lan Samantha Chang when she returns to the Lawrence University campus to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Sunday, June 12 at the college’s 167th commencement ceremony.

Chang, the director of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, also will serve as the principal commencement speaker. This will be Chang’s first honorary degree.

“An understanding of the creative process is core to the education Lawrence offers,” said President Mark Burstein. “We are very pleased that Lan Samantha Chang will join us for commencement this spring so we can honor an Appleton native who has perfected her craft and now teaches it to others as director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. From her first book, which the New York Times described as ‘a taut, incisive study of Chinese immigrants in America and their almost wordless struggle to adapt to a new life,’ to more recent work, Samantha has provided us a window into the human experience.”

Lan Samantha Chang will receive an honorary degree from Lawrence and serve as the principal speaker at the college's 167th commencement June 12. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.
Lan Samantha Chang will receive an honorary degree from Lawrence and serve as the principal speaker at the college’s 167th commencement June 12. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Chang, whose parents emigrated to the United States from China, graduated from Appleton West High School in 1983. Her honorary degree will further connect her to Lawrence. Her mother earned a bachelor of music degree in piano pedagogy from Lawrence, while her father was an associate professor of engineering at the former Institute of Paper Chemistry, which had a long affiliation with Lawrence.

“Receiving an honorary degree from Lawrence means a great deal to me,” said Chang, “in part because when I was growing up, Lawrence was the center of intellectual life in Appleton. It is a greatly respected university. I have vivid memories of being at the conservatory during my mother’s recitals and meeting her professors.”

Her path to award-winning writer followed a circuitous route. Chang attended Yale University intending to satisfy her parent’s wishes of pursuing a medical degree, but she soon decided becoming a doctor was not in her future. After earning a degree in East Asian Studies, she told her parents she would become a lawyer, another career option more designed to please her parents than her own interests. She eventually earned a master’s of public administration degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

“I realized that I didn’t want to pursue that direction either,” Chang explained of her second change of heart. “It was really just a question of coming to face the fact that I had never wanted to do anything else except write fiction and that it would be pointless to try to keep trying to do other things.”

Chang eventually enrolled at the University of Iowa and earned a master of fine arts in creative writing.

While she says her life has been much easier since then, “I don’t think I’ve ever circled as much as I did after college when I understood that I would have to disappoint my parents and pursue an uncertain life,” said Chang.

Before returning to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Chang taught creative writing at Stanford University as Jones Lecturer in Fiction, in Warren Wilson College’s MFA program for writers and at Harvard University as Briggs-Copland Lecturer in Creative Writing.

Since 2006, she has served as the program director of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she also teaches English as the May Brodbeck Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Chang’s experiences as an Asian American inspired her to write two novels and a collection of short stories about the merging of Chinese and American culture and the dynamics of family and wealth in times of hardship or after war. Her works include 1998’s “Hunger: A Novella and Stories,” 2004’s “Inheritance: A Novel” and “All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost: A Novel” in 2010.

Chang’s work has been recognized with the 2005 PEN Open Book Award for “Inheritance,” while “Hunger” was the winner of the Southern Review Fiction Prize and named a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Award. Chang’s writing has been selected twice (1994, 1996) for inclusion in the yearly anthology “The Best American Short Stories.”

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. 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.