Tag: Appleton Wisconsin

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

Lawrence donates boxes of PPE supplies to aid Appleton’s COVID-19 battle

Abby Screnock and Joe Sagar deliver boxes of Lawrence University’s PPE supplies to the City of Appleton.


Lawrence University has donated more than 25 boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the City of Appleton for use by health care workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The supplies, which would normally be used by Lawrence students in science labs, came from the school’s Chemistry and Biology departments and included protective gowns, lab coats, goggles, and gloves, said Christyn Abaray, Lawrence’s athletics director and assistant to the president. Professors and staff inventoried the school’s PPE supplies to pull together the donations to make available to the city.

“During these uncertain times around the world, communities are working together in intentional and deliberate ways,” Abaray said. “As an entrenched, established member of the Fox Valley community, we at Lawrence readily mobilized to donate the on-campus PPE supplies for our Fox Valley community’s front line. The only way we will persevere is in partnership with each other.”

Lawrence’s spring term began on Monday. All classes are being held via distance learning.

From Houdini to Ferber, 6 things you should know about Appleton

Photo of the signage in Houdini Plaza.
Houdini Plaza, named for Harry Houdini, is at the center of Appleton’s downtown.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Like any city, Appleton has its own claims to fame, whether it’s an actor from here who made it big or an innovation in technology that has its roots here in this community. 

For incoming Lawrence students trying to get the lay of the land when it comes to a new home, here are six curious tidbits about Appleton history that may surprise you.

Appleton was the childhood home of Harry Houdini

This amazes a lot of people, but there’s no trick to it. Houdini, or Erik Weisz, was born in Budapest in 1874. His family settled in Appleton in 1878, where they lived for four years until his father lost his job and they moved to Milwaukee. Despite the move, Houdini considered Appleton to be his boyhood home. Houdini Plaza, the community space in the center of downtown, is named for the famed escape artist. The History Museum at the Castle, just down the street, has an extensive Houdini exhibit. There’s a Houdini Elementary School in town. You can eat at the Houdini’s Escape Gastropub, and each fall you can run in the Houdini 10K race. So, yea, Houdini is here.

Willem Dafoe got his start in Appleton

You might recognize Willem Dafoe from Platoon (1986), Spider-Man (2002) and The Florida Project (2017). Did you know the four-time Academy Award nominee was born in Appleton in 1955? He was William then. Early in his teenage years, he began acting in Appleton’s Attic Theatre. He was Billy then. When he was kicked out of Appleton East High School (that’s another story) he fulfilled his graduation requirements by taking a class at Lawrence.

Appleton is the home of the oldest coeducational college in Wisconsin

Here’s some history that involves Lawrence. Did you know Appleton has been making strides in gender equality since the time of its founding? Lawrence University was chartered in 1847 and has admitted women since the first day of classes on Nov. 12, 1849, making it the oldest coed college in Wisconsin.

Sen. Joe McCarthy grew up in the Appleton area

Here’s a refresher from history class: Sen. Joseph McCarthy achieved notoriety in the 1950s when he accused members of the U.S. government (and others) of communist activity, contributing to the collective panic that marked the Cold War era. Before that, the senator was Joe from Appleton. Well, Grand Chute, actually. He was at one time the manager at an Appleton grocery store. He later earned his law degree at Marquette University, was elected to a circuit court judgeship and eventually was elected to the Senate, all before becoming one of the most reviled politicians in U.S. history. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Appleton.

Appleton had the first hydroelectric power station

In 1882, Appleton paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers needed a source to power his paper plant. Inspired by Thomas Edison’s designs for a steam power station in New York, Rogers commissioned the first hydroelectric power station to be built. It came to fruition along the Fox River, generating enough power to run his plant, his home, and a nearby building. The Hearthstone House Museum in Appleton is now open to the public, marking that historic contribution to the modern power grid.

Appleton gave us author Edna Ferber

The Pulitzer Prize winner was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1885, moving with her family to Appleton when she was 12. She started her writing career here in Appleton, working as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent at age 17. She nurtured her love of writing and reporting, leading her to eventually write iconic novels such as So Big (1924) and Showboat (1926). She’s often mentioned among the greatest novelists of her generation.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Cheesehead or cheese curd? A guide to talking the talk in Wisconsin

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21 and Awa Badiane ’21

With three-quarters of Lawrence University students coming from out of state — or, in some cases, out of the country — there can be a learning curve on all things Wisconsin. Getting to know Wisconsin is an important part of adjusting to life at Lawrence.

With that in mind, we’ve created this quick and handy Wisconsin vocabulary guide for our out-of-state newcomers who are getting ready to make this their home away from home for the next nine months.

Isabella is a born-and-raised Wisconsinite. Awa hails from New York City and has been busy learning this Wisconsin lingo for the past two years. We’re here to be your tour guide through Wisconsin vocabulary. There are other phrases to explore, but we cut it off at our favorite 15. There will not be a test.

1. Cheesehead (cheez-hed): Refers to a person from Wisconsin, especially a Packers fan. Also refers to the foam cheese wedge-shaped hat worn by fans at Packers games. It’s a fashion thing. You’ll get used to it.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “All the cheeseheads were cheering when the Packers scored the touchdown.”

2. Brat Fest (braht-fest): This is an annual three-day festival held in Madison that celebrates Wisconsin heritage by dishing out hundreds of thousands of brats to hungry festival-goers. We highlight the festival because it so nobly honors the state’s love affair with its favorite sausage meat. Billed as the world’s largest bratwurst festival, it comes around again in late May, should you be thinking about a road trip.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I ate five brats at Brat Fest last year and I can’t wait to go again this year!”

3. Sconnie (skah-nee): Referring to a person who hails from Wisconsin. It’s a term embraced by some, derided by others. People can be seen proudly sporting “Sconnie” T-shirts; the term signifies pride in being from Wisconsin.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I’ve lived in Madison my whole life. I’m proud to be a Sconnie!”

4. “Squeaky” cheese curds (skwee-kee cheez kurds): The “squeak” is the sound you’ll hear when you bite into fresh cheese curds. This is exactly what you want to hear; squeakiness indicates freshness. It’s an acquired taste.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “The cheese curds I got from the farmer’s market are really squeaky. It’s going to be a good day.”

5. Deep-fried cheese curds (deep frahyd cheez kurds): A Wisconsin staple food. Cheese curds, ideally squeaky and fresh, are breaded and deep-fried and served as an appetizer. Best when they’re not too greasy. No fried cheese curds are exactly alike; they’re served at a variety of eating establishments that have their own particular claim to cheese curd goodness.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “The deep-fried cheese curds at this bar are the best in town.”

6. Supper club (suh-per klub): A traditional family-owned eating establishment. Only open for supper. But it’s more than a meal. It’s a social engagement. You’ll spend some time in the bar (not optional) before you’re shown to your table. Typical fare includes fish fry, prime rib, a salad bar, cheese and crackers, a relish tray and cocktails. Supper clubs can be found throughout the Midwest, but the tradition lives on most strongly in Wisconsin. They differ from location to location, but all come with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “This is the supper club my grandma went to all the time in the ’60s. We still go every Sunday for prime rib.”

7. Stop-and-go lights: A reference you’ll sometimes hear from Wisconsin motorists as they approach traffic lights because, well, you stop and then you go. Used interchangeably with stop lights.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Take a right up here at the stop-and-go light.”

8. Bubbler (buh-blur): A Wisconsin term for a water fountain. This one’s a classic. Wisconsinites take pride in it. Residents of neighboring states tend to mock it. You’ll get used to it.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I filled my water bottle at the bubbler in the hallway.”

9. Friday night fish fry (frahy-dey nahyt fish frahy): This is more of a way of life than a vocabulary quirk. It’s a traditional Wisconsin dinner — usually cod, perch, haddock or walleye, fried and served with lemon wedges and tartar sauce. Accompanied by a slew of sides: coleslaw, potatoes in numerous forms, and bread and butter. Sometimes it’s all you can eat. Can be enjoyed at a variety of eating establishments, especially supper clubs. You also might find a fish fry in the basement of a church. And always, of course, on Friday.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I’m still so full from that Friday night fish fry last night.”

10. The Pack (th uh pak): Referring to the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin’s NFL football team. This, too, is a lifestyle thing among Wisconsinites. The cheesehead headwear is optional, but full-throated fandom is encouraged.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “We’re rooting for The Pack tonight. Go Pack, go!”

11. TYME machine (ty-m muh-sheen): A reference to an ATM machine that to a newcomer makes absolutely no sense. But there’s history here. TYME was a specific brand of ATM machines local to Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The name at some point expanded in usage in Wisconsin to include all ATM machines. The acronym stands for “Take Your Money Everywhere.” The TYME brand went away a decade ago, but its usage in the Wisconsin vocab continues.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I have to go to the TYME machine to get some cash.”

12. Sausage race (saw-sij rey-s): Referring to the race of sausage mascots that takes place at Milwaukee Brewers’ home games at Miller Park. The five participants — Brat, Italian, Chorizo, Hot Dog and Polish — sprint along the track around the baseball field. Again, this is more Wisconsin tradition than a vocabulary quirk. But, still, it’s a sausage race.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I rooted for the Chorizo in the sausage race at last night’s game.”

13. “Aw jeez!” (aw jeez): Exclamatory remark expressing regret, sympathy or excitement. Usually punctuated by a very strong Wisconsin accent. Its multiple uses make it a go-to in almost any situation.

  • Use in a sentence, please: Person 1: “Aw jeez, who ate the last cheese curd? Person 2: “Aw jeez! I ate it, I’m sorry.”

14. “Uff-da!” (oof-duh): Exclamatory remark expressing amazement, exasperation or relief.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Did you see that Packers game yesterday? Uff-da!”

15. “Or no?” (er-no): An utterance placed at the end of a question or an invitation to present the option to decline. The sound tends to blend into the rest of the sentence, functioning more as a habitual articulation than a question.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Did you enjoy this Wisconsin vocabulary guide, or no?”

Isabella Mariani ’21 and Awa Badiane ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.

Want to learn more about Lawrence’s Wisconsin roots? Check out our Rooted in Wisconsin page.

8 Summer events in Appleton we’re excited about

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a car fanatic, there are always events going on in the Appleton area for you to enjoy. Here are 8 events you don’t want to miss this summer.

Downtown Appleton Farmers Market

This Appleton tradition is a great way to get your groceries. The impressive assemblage of local vendors sells fresh fruits and veggies, meats and cheeses, baked goods, pottery and crafts. Some stands will serve you up a cool lemonade or a hot portable meal that you can savor as you walk the market.

Where and when: College Avenue, Saturdays through October, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Appleton 4th of July Celebration

Bring family or friends to Memorial Park to celebrate the 4th of July. Enjoy live music, concessions and activities for the kids. And, of course, stay for the amazing fireworks display when the sun goes down.

Where and when: Appleton Memorial Park, Wednesday, July 3. 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.


Paperfest is a community-driven festival commemorating the paper mill industry that thrived in the Fox Valley. This year is the 31st annual Paperfest, held just 10 minutes from downtown Appleton in Kimberly. The free festival boasts live music, food, games, carnival rides and a car show. And what would Paperfest be without a papermaking event and a toilet paper toss?

Where and when: Sunset Park, Kimberly, July 19 – 21

Appleton Old Car Show and Swap Meet

Did you know we have one of the largest car shows in the Midwest right here in Appleton? The whole family will be all revved up about this collection of special and vintage cars, featuring a swap meet, awards and concessions. Admission is free.

Where and when: Pierce Park, July 21. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Heid Music Summer Concert Series

The Heid Music Summer Concert Series is back this year with two different concert experiences in Houdini Plaza. Bring your own lunch or purchase from vendors at Lunchtime Live, where you can enjoy acoustic music by local musicians from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The shows continue later that day with locally popular bands from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., after which you can visit Appleton’s nightlife locations.

Where and when: Houdini Plaza, every Thursday through Aug. 29.

Wriston Summer Exhibition Series

The Wriston Summer Exhibition Series offers you the opportunity to tour the Wriston Galleries on the Lawrence campus. During the 25-minute tour, July Art at Noon and August Art at Noon invite you to think more about art and artists in the Midwest.

Where and when: Wriston Art Gallery, Thursday, July 18 and Aug. 15. Noon – 12:30 p.m.

Art at the Park

Each year, approximately 200 artists from around the country gather in Appleton’s City Park to showcase and sell their art. With food and music included, this free family event will be the relaxing day at the park your summer needs.

Where and when: City Park, Sunday, July 28. Noon – 11:59 p.m.

Mile of Music

The Mile of Music has been bringing grassroots musical talent to Appleton since 2013. This is one of the most unique events the city has to offer. With over 900 live performances at over 70 venues, the “Mile” stretches from Spat’s Tav on the Ave to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. This free event encourages a love for music and support of downtown Appleton businesses. What’s not to love?

Where and when: Downtown Appleton, Aug. 1 – 4.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Cultural Expressions brings talent to the stage; check out photos from the big night

Kyree Allen sings during Cultural Expressions.
Kyree Allen was among the performers at Saturday’s Cultural Expressions.

Cultural Expressions, a showcase of talent ranging from music to dance to spoken word, highlighted a festive Saturday night at Lawrence University.

The annual performance event brought People of Color Empowerment Week to a rousing close.

The Saturday festivities started with a dinner in the Intercultural and Diversity Center. That led into a gallery exhibit that put student works in the areas of art and film on display in the Mead Witter Room in the Warch Center, followed by the talent showcase on stage next door in Esch-Hurvis.

Here are some photos from the big night. You can find more photos here.

Abby Guthmann Wins Grand Prize in ACM Photo Contest

Abby Guthmann’s study-abroad experience in Tanzania generated a lifetime of memories—and an award-winning photograph.

The senior biology major from St. Paul, Minn., was selected as the Grand Prize winner in the Abby Guthmann's "Girls in the Shambaas"Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s 2013-14 Off-Campus Study Photo Contest. Guthmann’s photo, “Girls in the Shambass” was taken while Guthmann was hiking through the Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania.

“Children would often run after us and ask for their pictures to be taken,” said Guthmann. “These two followed me through the shambass, hoping to get a few more pictures. After asking if I could take one more, they grinned and clenched their fists with excitement as I took the photo and showed it to them.”

Guthmann traveled to Africa in fall 2012 to participate in the ACM Tanzania program Ecology and Human Origins at the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Her photo was selected among 109 entries submitted for the contest by ACM colleges’ off-campus study offices. Guthmann’s winning photograph will be part of a traveling digital photo exhibit at ACM campuses during winter and spring 2014.

This is the second year in a row that a Lawrence University student has taken home the Grand Prize in the ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest. Xavier Al-Mateen ’13 took top honors last year with a photo he took during a study-abroad trip to Senegal.

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 2014 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.



Lawrence University Named one of Nation’s “Greenest” Colleges

For the second straight year, Lawrence University’s commitment to sustainability has earned it inclusion in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges.”

The guidebook, released Wednesday, April 20, recognizes 308 U.S. and three Canadian colleges and universities that have demonstrated exemplary efforts toward environmental responsibility.

Developed with the U.S. Green Building Council, the second edition of the 220-page guidebook highlights colleges that have demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.

The guide profiles the nation’s most environmentally-responsible campuses, spotlighting each institution’s ecological commitment based on several criteria, including building certification using the USGBC’s LEED certification program, use of renewable energy resources, formal sustainability committees and recycling and conservation programs.

Lawrence was cited for its Green Roots environmental initiative, which promotes environmental awareness on the campus and the Committee on Environmental Responsibility, which facilitates dialogue among students, faculty, administrators and community members about the direction Lawrence should take on its path to sustainability.

Other factors include the Warch Campus Center’s LEED Gold certification by the USGBC, the student-run sustainable garden that provides fresh produce to the dining hall, the composting of all food prep waste and the college’s vibrant environmental studies program which draws faculty from 11 different departments and focuses on research projects that lead to solutions for real world environmental problems.

The guide also cited Lawrence students for developing position papers for the Sierra Club, conducting amphibian, bird and water quality surveys for Menasha’s Heckrodt Wetland Preserve and working at New London’s Wind River Bird Rehabilitation Center.

Most recently, Lawrence finished 10th nationally among 363 colleges — and first among 15 Wisconsin colleges — in the 2011 Recyclemania competition’s per capita recycling category (39.15 lbs/person).

“We continue to make great strides on the sustainability front,” said Jeff Clark, associate professor of geology and faculty associate to the president for the Green Roots initiative. “We’ve conducted a waste audit for campus, have acquired state and utility funding for a windmill at Bjorklunden and have moved to using 100 percent recycled paper across campus. That our efforts are being noticed off campus motivates us to continue to move forward.”

According to a 2011 The Princeton Review study, 69 percent of 8,200 surveyed college applicants said information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school.

“College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president for publishing. “To that end, we highly recommend the terrific schools in this book.”

The schools selected for the 2011 guidebook were based on a 50-question survey conducted in 2010 of more than 700 colleges across the U.S. and in Canada used to tally “Green Rating” scores scaled from 60 to 99. The 311 schools profiled received scores of 80 or above in that assessment.

Nothing Trivial About This Birthday: Lawrence University’s Marathon of Minutia Turns 40!

Back when a first-class stamp set you back a nickel and the Beatles’ “We Can Work it Out” was tearing up the pop charts, Lawrence University student J.B. deRosset decided he would try to build a better mouse trap.

While no mice were ever caught with deRosset’s creation, he did manage to ensnare a generation of college students who, for the past 40 years, have turned matters of minutia into an annual 50-hour artform of outrageous questions and answers.

Welcome to the 40th edition of Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest, the nation’s longest-running salute to the obscure and inconsequential, where first-place prizes like toilet seats and bags of Ramen noodles are revered as badges of honor.

Broadcast on the Lawrence campus radio station, WLFM, 91.1 FM, the madness marathon begins Friday, Jan. 28 at the all-too-appropriately insignificant time of 10:00:37 and runs through midnight Sunday, Jan. 30. Fifty continuous hours of off-the-wall questions culled from the minds of a team of student “trivia masters,” all designed to challenge — and occasionally stump — even the best “Googlers.”

In honor of the contest’s 40th birthday, deRosset, who holds near cult-like status among Lawrence trivia diehards, is returning to the scene of the crime, flying to Appleton from his home in Miami, Fla., to spend the weekend as the contest’s guest of honor.

“J.B. is our Great Grand Master, our hero,” said Jonathon Roberts, a senior from Sturgeon Bay who is serving as this year’s trivia grand master. “If it weren’t for him we would just be sitting around staring blankly for 50 hours in a row this weekend. But because of him, we have an actual activity. For many of us, up until now he has just been an untouchable being of history. It will be an honor to finally meet the mythical legend.”

It was the dead of winter of 1966 when deRosset, then a senior at Lawrence, began plotting how to improve an idea he stumbled upon while visiting a woman-of interest who was attending Beloit College at the time.

“Some group at Beloit was putting on a trivia contest at their student union. My only recollection was that it was a lame, pathetic, pitiable attempt,” deRosset recalled of his original inspiration. “I knew it could be done a whole lot better. I came back to campus all enthused about how Lawrence could do a better job at a trivia contest.”

With the help of two friends who worked at the campus radio station at the time, deRosset started tinkering.

“The three of us created the synergy needed to create a weekend radio contest,” said deRosset, 61, who has since built a successful career doing legal and financial planning work for McDonald’s Corporation. “We spent a month or two drafting questions, each of us utilizing our particular specialty. Mine at the time was rock and roll. Somebody else watched too much TV, and another had comic books.”

The first contest — only 26 hours long — hit the airwaves in May of ’66, coinciding with Lawrence’s annual “Encampment Weekend,” an academic retreat in which select students and faculty members headed off to discuss issues of great importance. deRosset engaged those students who were left behind in an intellectual battle of a different sort, asking them to call in answers to esoteric questions asked during the course of a radio broadcast. The team that answered the most questions correctly received a fitting prize for a contest of this ilk: an old refrigerator filled with 45 rpm records.

Forty years later, the Internet has altered the trivia contest landscape — computers and laptops with high-speed network connections have gradually replaced mountains of almanacs, encyclopedias and reference books as the “weapons of choice” — but the spirit of the contest retains much of its original verve.

“Trivia is the perfect relief from the winter blues,” said Roberts. “Everyone is exhausted from the cold this time of year so the idea is, with 50 hours of sleeplessness, we push you over the edge into a world of complete ridiculous exhaustion. That’s the land where real creativity and fun lies.”

“And people love the prizes,” Roberts added. “I mean, where else can you win seven pounds of human hair and a broken TV in exchange for 50 hours of your life?”

At the time, deRosset had no idea his idea would have such staying power. But with the perspective of 40 years, he’s not entirely surprised, either.

“We had such great camaraderie that it was simply a blast that winter of 1965-66 putting together the concept and working on the details,” said deRosset. “I have to believe the same is still true today, even if the academics sometimes get in the way. It is sort of like playing football for USC or the University of Miami, but without the large payoff or the disabling injuries.

“From the listeners’ viewpoint, I don’t believe college humor will ever get old,” deRosset added. “As cable TV pushes the major networks to lower their taste thresholds to newly discovered subterranean depths, maybe the Lawrence trivia contest will not be that different. But I love the team names. I love the irreverence. I love all the strange pieces played during the contest, especially the Monty Python stuff. Most of all I love the brief relief it gives in an increasingly troubled world.”

From “Frying Nemo” and “Apocalypse Cow” to “Smarter Than the Average Bush,” creative, often outrageous and sometimes borderline offensive team names add a playful dash of fun to the weekend.

Playing this year as The West Bank of Kaukauna Concealing Weapons of Mass Deduction, a team of several dozen smarty pants twentysomethings who gather annually from eight states, including California and New York, has dominated the competition in recent years. The Bank, which has won four consecutive trivia titles and six of the last eight, will be among the 60 some teams expected to vie for this year’s off campus title. Joining the 8-10 on-campus teams this year will be a special team made up primarily of recent Lawrence alumni.

Bigger. Stronger. Faster. That is how Roberts promises to make this year’s 40th trivia contest.

“The 40th edition of the contest is a milestone,” said Roberts, “and we’re going to mark the occasion with harder questions, more extreme action questions, more ridiculous skits and more celebrity guest spots. We have been building this up
for 40 years now and let me tell you, trivia, like life, begins at 40.”

To help celebrate trivia’s 40th birthday appropriately, Roberts has organized a special “pre-contest” party Friday, Jan. 28 from 7:30-9 p.m. in Riverview Lounge of the Lawrence Memorial Union for all the trivia teams to gather and meet each other prior to waging their battle of wits.

New Lawrence President Jill Beck will make her trivia debut by asking the contest’s opening question, which by tradition, is always the final “Super Garruda” question from the previous year. All those paying attention should be able to start this year’s contest with an easy 100 points because they will know by now what casts a shadow on Jesus in the DeBakey Room in the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Last year, no team was able to correctly identify the cupped hands on a sculpture of Dr. Michael DeBakey as the source of the shadow.

For additional information on the contest or how to register, visit http://www.triviaxl.com.

In addition to being broadcast on WLFM, the entire contest also will also be webcast at www.lawrence.edu/sorg/wlfm.