Tag: Lawrence University

Podcasting evolves into increasingly popular teaching tool at Lawrence

Fallon Sellers and Georgia Greenberg sit at a table with a microphone as they record a podcast for their War and Pop Culture class.
Fallon Sellers ’20 (left) and Georgia Greenberg ’20 record a podcast for their War and Pop Culture class. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Eyes got a little wide when Jason Brozek told his Government 425: War & Pop Culture students they’d be researching, scripting, and recording a series of podcasts during fall term.

Fallon Sellers ’20 just smiled and nodded.

The Lawrence University senior, one of about 20 students in the class, knew the drill, having done a podcast in the spring in Brozek’s Environmental Justice class and already being deep into a podcast in Linnet Ramos’ fall term Psychopharmacology & Behavior class.

“I was able to be a little reassuring to everybody else,” Sellers said.

Welcome to the world of classroom podcasting.

As the popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past few years and the technology for recording and sharing podcasts has been streamlined, professors have increasingly turned to the format as an alternate means of research and study in their classes. Instead of an end-of-term paper being due, students are showcasing what they’ve learned by creating episodes of podcasts that will in many cases be accessible to anyone who wants to listen.

At Lawrence, the creation of podcasts as part of coursework is becoming more frequent. Brozek and Ramos are the latest, but they are far from alone. Marcia Bjornerud in geosciences, Brigid Vance in history, and Israel Del Toro in biology, among others, have all experimented with podcasting in their classes.

“First, the barrier to entry is low,” Jedidiah Rex, a designer on Lawrence’s Instructional Technology staff, said of the increase in podcast usage as a teaching strategy. “The tools necessary to create podcasts are easy to use. Second, podcasting makes use of writing skills but offers an opportunity for students to express creativity. There is a pedagogical value in students doing this work.”

Podcast numbers keep growing

According to a survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital, released earlier this year, the percentage of U.S. residents 12 and older who have listened to a podcast at least once surpassed 50% for the first time. That milestone marks a “watershed moment” for podcasting, Edison Senior Vice President Tom Webster wrote in a blog entry about the report.

“With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream,” he wrote.

Brozek said he was intrigued to incorporate podcasts into his teaching in part because it gives his students a chance to create something that can be shared much wider. Topics his students are exploring in the areas of environmental justice and war and pop culture have potential audiences across the globe.

“They’re out there,” Brozek said of the eight episodes on environmental justice his students did in spring term. “When I go through my podcast app, they are just in my list of podcasts along with the other things I listen to. I like the idea that they’re available for a much wider community.”

In the process, the students are learning technical skills, writing strategies, script creation, interviewing techniques, and copyright laws, all valuable things no matter what career path they might be eyeing.

“I thought this was a way we could keep expanding the quiver of professional skills that we’re trying to help students learn,” Brozek said.

They’re also learning and discussing privacy topics — putting yourself in the public conversation, and what that means. That’s an issue professors using podcast technology need to navigate.

“One of the challenges of doing public-facing scholarship in classes is that students have reasonable privacy concerns, but we can always find a way to work within those boundaries,” Brozek said. (To that end, the release of some or all of the podcasts created in the War and Pop Culture class will be held until early in winter term to make sure all participants are comfortable with the process).

While most of the students in the Brozek and Ramos classes were new to creating their own podcasts, most had long been consumers of the format.

“Podcasts are ubiquitous, consumed by this generation, and it’s a genre that they largely already understand,” said Andrew McSorely, a reference and digital librarian in Lawrence’s Seeley G. Mudd Library. “It’s not a huge leap to apply it to the classroom, and, generally speaking, it’s as easy to set up and get students to engage with as a blog. Because of that, it’s hard to say how many classrooms are utilizing podcast assignments, but there’s no question that more instructors have asked about this technology in the library the past few years.”

From left: Fallon Sellers ’20, Georgia Greenberg ’20, and Basil Eastman-Kiesow ’20 record a podcast for their War and Pop Culture class taught by government professor Jason Brozek.

Finding an audience

The appeal comes as podcasts have transitioned from the domain of sports and pop culture to something that can find niche audiences in almost any sector.

“Where once it was distinctly for entertainment purposes, it now can hold scholarship and be taken seriously,” McSorely said. “For content creators in the academy, this serves as a way to engage with new audiences, and for undergraduates, it’s a means of expression that can seem more natural than a traditional essay.”

In Ramos’ psychopharmacology course, the students, working in groups of three to five, are recording video podcasts where they explain, critique, and discuss research articles on a specific drug. The episodes are being made available on the class’s new YouTube channel.

“Often times in classes, students read an article, create a PowerPoint presentation that describes it and mention a couple of ideas on how it can be improved,” Ramos said. “But rarely do I get to hear how students felt after reading the article or get to hear their opinions on why it matters, what they learned from it, how it can impact other sciences or society.”

In Brozek’s War & Pop Culture class, the students have dug into topics ranging from post-nuclear apocalypse to how terrorism is depicted in the media to the use of propaganda to influence audiences during wartime. Doing that in a podcast allows not only for substantial research but also thorough discussion.

“Part of what they’re required to do in the podcast is bring in academic scholarship,” Brozek said as the fall term course got rolling. “This new course is designed around thinking about the way political science scholars write about and think about issues related to war, like terrorism, extraordinary, exceptional circumstances, torture, things like that. Think about the way political science crafts narratives and asks and answers questions and the way pop culture crafts those narratives — where they may have some overlap, where there are differences, what those differences mean, how concerned we ought to be about the differences.

“If (pop culture) is where most people are getting their perspective on terrorism, what does it look like and how consistent is it with the political science literature? So, those are the kind of questions we’re asking in this course.”

For the students, that kind of scholarship isn’t out of the ordinary. Academic work is almost always question-driven. But channeling that work through a podcast takes it in a different direction. That is where excitement meets anxiety, Sellers said.

“Most of the anxiety comes with just learning the technical stuff,” she said. “A podcast is essentially just a conversation. You’re talking through something with your peers. That’s pretty natural to do. I don’t think that’s the hard part. The daunting part was I didn’t have any experience with the computer-related things, the audio techniques, and learning how to use Audacity and how to navigate that.”

Learning those technical skills and related communication skills will pay off later as students enter the job market with a wider breadth of knowledge and know-how. For Sellers, a government major, that’s no small thing.

“Media is so pertinent in our society, and I think it’s so important that higher education is also moving along with that, and we’re learning how to adapt,” she said. “Being able to go into a job and say, ‘Hey, I’m able to produce a podcast, I know how to use these techniques,’ I think people are generally pretty excited about that.

“By the end of my Lawrence career, I will have done podcasts on the dairy industry, on pedagogy and propaganda in pop culture and on opioids and how they impact social behavior,” Sellers said. “So, it’s very Lawrence, and very well-rounded.”

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

Fire-damaged home on Union Street to be demolished in coming days

Photo of exterior of home at 229 N. Union St., Appleton.
The home at 229 N. Union St. was severely damaged in a fire in October 2018.

The Lawrence-owned house on Union Street that was to be restored and used as a home for the provost and dean of faculty will instead be torn down due to damage from a fire a year ago.

The house, owned by Lawrence since 1928, has great historic significance. But efforts to restore it following the fire have proven not to be viable. Construction Project Manager Joseph King said the announcement comes with much “sadness.”

The following letter from King is being sent to City Park Historic District neighbors and local community leaders regarding plans to demolish the property at 229 N. Union Street:

We write today with the announcement that we’ve made a very difficult decision regarding the Lawrence-owned property at 229 N. Union St. The home, which suffered extensive damage in an October 2018 fire, will be torn down in the coming days, and the property will be returned to green space.

The decision to demolish the home follows a year of study by architects, engineers, and City of Appleton inspectors. We explored an assortment of options for renovating or restoring the home. In the end, the fire damage was too extensive to make the house viable. It is with great sadness that we have made the necessary arrangements to have the home demolished.

We are notifying the Lawrence community and neighbors because we understand and appreciate the historical significance of this home. It was built in 1901 and has been owned by Lawrence since 1928, serving a variety of purposes through the years. Perhaps most noteworthy, Attic Theatre was founded in this home. We celebrated that history a little more than two years ago when we had the 2,700-square-foot home moved a block down Union Street.

Unfortunately, the damage from the fire last fall was too much to overcome. The fire occurred while a contractor was working on renovations. The contractor’s insurance is covering the loss and the demolition. At the time of the fire, Lawrence was preparing the home to become the residence for the provost and dean of faculty. Alternative housing arrangements have been made.

A small slice of Appleton and Lawrence history will be lost with the demolition. For that, we are heartbroken and know that those who appreciate that history are feeling the same.

Path to Trump? Podair co-authors book that finds answers in legacy of Spiro Agnew

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Nearly three years ago, in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, as the results of one of the most stunning election nights in U.S. history began to come into focus, Jerald Podair sent an urgent email to two fellow history scholars.

They were his co-authors on a book project, in its early stages, about Spiro Agnew, the oft-dismissed former vice president who they believe served as a harbinger for the modern Republican party.

“Our book just became very, very relevant,” Podair wrote in that email as the clock ticked past 3 a.m. and it became clear that Donald Trump would become the nation’s 45th president.

Three tumultuous years later, that book, Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America, has arrived, set to be published Oct. 18 by University of Virginia Press.

Portrait of Jerald Podair in Main Hall.
Lawrence University history professor Jerald Podair partnered with two other history scholars on a new book on Spiro Agnew, detailing how Richard Nixon’s one-time vice president set a path to the era of Donald Trump. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

In the book, Podair, the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies and professor of history at Lawrence University, and co-authors Zach Messitte, president of Ripon College, and Charles J. Holden, professor of history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, detail how the ascent of Trump and his populist base can be traced back to Agnew, whose political star burned bright briefly in the late 1960s and early 1970s before crashing hard.

Agnew was much maligned in his day and is often referenced among the worst vice presidents in history. But Podair, Messitte, and Holden argue that historians and political observers need to take a closer look. Agnew’s populist “everyman” appeal, his very public disdain for political correctness and the academic class, his depictions of the media as the enemy, and his ability to rally supporters by railing against uncomfortable cultural change woke up a political base that would eventually lead the Republican party into the era of Trump.

Agnew was considered a joke by many political pundits of the day when Richard Nixon surprisingly tabbed him as his running mate in 1968. Time magazine called him “a narrow and dangerous man with a genuine capacity for bigotry.”

“That’s how he was viewed,” Podair said. “Just like Donald Trump is viewed in many ways today. But, like Trump, Agnew had much more substance to him and really had a powerful populist message that resonated very deeply with middle Americans at the time — the Trump voters we’d call them today — and may very well have swung the 1968 election to Nixon.”

Interest in the book is already ramping up. An op-ed about Agnew written by the three co-authors appeared in the Baltimore Sun in late September and has since been picked up by numerous other media outlets across the country. A book event featuring Podair, Messitte, and Holden is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Warch Campus Center Cinema at Lawrence.

The timing of the book’s release, just weeks after Democrats in the House launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump, should give it prime exposure. It wasn’t necessarily planned that way.

Podair, Messitte, and Holden began conversing about the Agnew book before Trump even declared his bid for the presidency. Its focus was more about Agnew’s role in the transition of the Republican party from one focused on economics and the business elite to one focused on cultural unease and an angry populist reaction.

Messitte and Holden have long studied the political waters of Maryland, from whence Agnew emerged. And Podair is well-versed in the politics and cultural dynamics of the 1960s and the various arcs and swings of politics through the 20th century.

Thus, they agreed to team up on a book project that they believed was important, whether Trump was in play or not.

“We divided the book into sections,” Podair said. “My portion was to explain how the Republican party changed from the 1930s, when it was viewed as the party of the economic elite, to the 1960s, the late ’60s, when it began to be viewed as the party of the average man, the working man. Not necessarily economically populist, but certainly culturally populist.”

The Democratic party, meanwhile, had seen its own role reversal, becoming the party of “cultural elitism” in the 1960s as the country navigated race riots, student rebellions and an anti-war movement that divided much of the country, Podair said.

“Spiro Agnew was uniquely positioned to take advantage of that,” he said.

Agnew would become Nixon’s “point of the spear,” Podair said, ridiculing protesters in often crude and seemingly mean-spirited ways, all the while working up what was a growing base of resentment against the cultural transformations that were taking place in the U.S.

“That flies in the face of the traditional view of Agnew as some bumbling, inarticulate clown,” Podair said. “He did say some things that were gaffes. But there was much more to him than these gaffes, which is what the media focused on. He was able to bring a culturally populist message to the American people and get people who had normally voted for Democrats their whole lives — the New Deal Democrats — and get them to vote for Republicans. And that’s the way I think he shifted the political ground.”

If that sounds very much like 2016, Podair said you are not wrong, and that’s why historians and others who are studying the unfolding drama that is the Trump presidency would do well to zero in on Agnew, from the time he first garnered attention as a national political figure in the late 1960s to his resignation from the vice presidency in late 1973 amid revelations that he committed income tax fraud while governor of Maryland.

“When Trump took the escalator ride and started speaking the way he did, he was really tapping into a welter of cultural resentments,” Podair said. “Whatever you want to call his typical voter — blue collar white voter or alienated working class voter — well, he was tapping into a welter of cultural resentment that Agnew had definitely tapped into. And I would argue that if you took the name off of Agnew’s speeches and updated it a little — obviously there was no Twitter in those days and the media that Agnew was railing against was the three networks, that’s it — these are words that Donald Trump could have spoken.”

All the more reason for historians to take a deeper dive into the makings of Agnew, Podair said. With an impeachment inquiry under way, a 2020 election campaign heating up, and emotions running high, Trump is a daily fixation, for better or worse. Republican Populist may provide a little context as to how we got here.

“Our general thesis is, if you want to understand where Donald Trump came from, he didn’t come out of nowhere,” Podair said. “He has, in fact, deep roots in the changes in the Republican party that go back more than 50 years. If you want to understand Donald Trump, you’ve got to understand Spiro Agnew. He is actually a pivotal figure, and, I think, a very understudied and underrated political figure.”

Book event: A book discussion featuring Podair, Messitte, and Holden will be held at Lawrence University on Oct. 28. The Main Hall Forum begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center Cinema. It is free and open to the public.

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

Sixth annual Giving Day brings record support for Lawrence and its students

Terry Moran '82 interviews Dominica Chang (far right) and the four Lawrence University students who studied abroad in Senegal during the spring term.
As the cameras roll during Thursday’s live one-hour Giving Day webcast, host Terry Moran ’82 interviews Dominica Chang (far right) and the four Lawrence University students (from left) who studied abroad in Senegal during the spring term, Bronwyn Earthman, Tamima Tabishat, Greta Wilkening, and Miriam Thew Forrester.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University saw a huge outpouring of support Thursday as alumni, faculty, staff, students and other supporters contributed more than $1.94 million on the school’s annual Giving Day, the most ever in the event’s six-year history.

Giving Day was highlighted with a one-hour live webcast on Thursday evening, hosted by Terry Moran ’82, a national correspondent for ABC News and the parent of a 2018 Lawrence graduate.

The $1,940,586 in contributions that arrived over the course of the day came from more than 3,100 donors. Records were set in the amount raised, the number of overall donors and the number of participating faculty and staff.

“Wow, what a day for Lawrence,” President Mark Burstein said. “The funds we raised will support our students in countless essential ways. Thank you to the Lawrence community for your investments in the university. Our game changers, the Classes of 2003 to 2023, and faculty and staff blew the roof off.”

Giving Day drew attention to the myriad of ways financial contributions support Lawrence students, among them campus improvements, enhanced study-abroad opportunities, burgeoning sustainability efforts, new and diverse classroom and research innovations, music and other arts activities, and athletics.

Faculty, staff, and students pitched in over the course of the day, holding engagement events on campus and reaching out to alumni around the world, capped by the evening webcast that featured videos on campus construction projects, the school’s Full Speed to Full Need initiative, the Conservatory of Music’s Presto! tour, and the athletic department’s camaraderie and enthusiasm. Burstein, faculty and students joined Moran as guests to talk about the many ways in which the funding supports the liberal arts experience for today’s students.

“We are beyond excited and grateful that the whole Lawrence community came together to break records,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual Giving and a key organizer of Giving Day. “It is always impressive seeing so many people rally around Giving Day. From alumni reaching out to their classmates, encouraging them to give, to staff answering phones, to students running events on campus, to countless other ways people showed their support, it really takes so many different people coming together to make this day so special for Lawrence.”

President Mark Burstein (right) talks on the Giving Day set with host Terry Moran ’82.

The Giving Day success is the continuation of momentum that has been building since the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign first launched, quietly in January 2014 and then publicly in November 2018. Last month, Lawrence landed at No. 26 on Forbes magazine’s 2019 edition of the Grateful Graduates Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private, not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence was the only Wisconsin school to place in the top 70, one more sign of the enduring bonds between the school and its alumni.

Most of the monies raised Thursday will go to the Lawrence Fund, which is used to support the day-to-day operations of the campus and the student experience. The Lawrence Fund is one of the pillars of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Monies donated Thursday were matched by supporters who agreed to be “game changers” in the Giving Day campaign. For contributions from the Classes of 2003 through 2023, they matched $500 for every contribution, no matter the amount. For all other contributions, they matched dollar for dollar.

Lawrence’s 2018-19 fiscal report showed support topping $24.4 million, the fourth highest year to date. The Be the Light! Campaign has surpassed $185 million to date in gifts and pledges.

The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.

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

Deep friendships, new studies follow a life-changing term in Senegal

From left, Greta Wilkening '21, Dominica Chang, Bronwyn Earthman '21, Miriam Thew Forrester '20, and Tamima Tabishat '20 pose for a selfie in Chang's office.
Senegal selfie: Dominica Chang, second from left, is teaching an independent study course on Wolof this term with, from left, Greta Wilkening ’21, Bronwyn Earthman ’21, Miriam Thew Forrester ’20, and Tamima Tabishat ’20.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

When they began gathering in preparation for their Spring Term abroad in Dakar, Senegal, they were acquaintances at best — fellow Lawrence students, yes, but close friends, no.

Ten weeks in Senegal changed that in ways that Bronwyn Earthman ’21, Tamima Tabishat ’20, Miriam Thew Forrester ’20, and Greta Wilkening ’21 never saw coming. The study abroad experience, a full immersion in Senegalese life and culture and French and Wolof languages, created deep bonds that continue now that they’re back on campus in Appleton, dramatically altering post-Lawrence plans for at least one of them, maybe more.

“We bonded,” Tabishat said. “We moved as a unit; we checked in on each other. … When one of us wasn’t there, it was like incomplete. It’s crazy because even at Lawrence now, we all do our own thing but when we see each other there’s just this connection.”

Learn more about Lawrence’s biennial study abroad program in Senegal here

That connection has led to something that Dominica Chang, the Margaret Banta Humleker Professor of French Cultural Studies and an associate professor of French, has never seen in her time leading the Lawrence immersion program in the West African country. Friendships blossom all the time during study abroad experiences. But this was different. Consider that all four of these students are now taking an independent study course with Chang during Fall Term to continue their studies in the Wolof language. That has never happened before.

“I reached out to Dominica about doing a Wolof tutorial just to continue learning Wolof,” Earthman said. “I mentioned it in a group chat, and then within a day everyone was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”

Wolof is one of a dozen indigenous languages in Senegal, a francophone country with deep ties to France. While French is the dominant language, Wolof is spoken by many of the locals in Dakar, where the students were living and learning during their time abroad.

For the four students, the draw to continue with Wolof lessons this term comes from a place of shared passion, deeper than any of them would have anticipated when they set out on their study abroad excursion in late March. The time in Senegal created intellectual and emotional connections with the place and the people of Dakar, and all four said they wanted to embrace and build on that. And to do it together in Appleton, as a group, or unit.

“When Bronwyn proposed the Wolof thing, I was like, well, I already have 18 credits,” Tabishat said. “And they’re all saying, ‘I’m doing it,’ ‘I’m doing it,’ ‘I’m doing it.’ So, I adjusted my schedule because we don’t do anything with just three of us. I can’t just not. I had to justify that to my advisors. I said, ‘The other girls are doing it, and I don’t want to miss out because it’s just as important to me.’”

Earlier story: Students checked in midway through term in Senegal

They now meet with Chang weekly for Wolof lessons in an independent study program designed to pick up where they left off when they departed Dakar in early June. Chang had accompanied the foursome to Senegal, teaching in the Baobab Center while there.

Celebrating the Wolof language was one of the students’ big takeaways from their time in Dakar. For 10 weeks, they met every day with instructors at the Baobab Center, learning terms and phrases and proper usage. They did their best to speak Wolof when greeting people at the market or in their neighborhoods, where they were living with host families.

“It’s something we all value a lot and something we want to continue,” Wilkening said of the new studies with Chang. “For us, we learned it there and lived it there. It’s not just a language but more about how we communicated with our friends who we became so close to while we were there.”

The students gained the respect of Dakar residents because they made the effort to learn and use Wolof. Friendships grew from there.

“There’s that point of preserving something you started,” Tabishat said of her motivation to sign up for the independent study this term. “I think it’s partially academic but also emotional because we communicated with people who couldn’t speak French, which is the colonial language, so you had to use Wolof, and that’s such a deeper connection. In the market and other places, the reaction people have when you are able to speak Wolof is crazy. They are shocked, which is insane to me because French people have been there forever and yet they’re still shocked when you speak Wolof. It’s something we value because we value those people so much.”

The four students — they dub themselves the SeneGals on Instagram — come from different disciplines. Earthman is studying biology, Tabishat is in global studies, Thew Forrester has a double major in government and English, and Wilkening is in environmental studies. Each dived deep into an academic service project that related to their majors while in Senegal.

For Thew Forrester, that service project involved studying artistic identity and how government, politics, and language in Senegal interact with the pursuit of art and personal expression. That will now become a key focus of her graduate school studies, and she plans to return to Senegal to pick up on what she started.

The idea of going back wasn’t on Thew Forrester’s radar when she first arrived in Dakar. Not even close. She was more than a little anxious about the 10-week commitment, she said, having signed up only because she thought the immersion in the French language would help her in pursuit of a French minor.

“I almost didn’t go,” she said. “I think now about what I would be doing, where I’d be if I hadn’t gone there and had that experience.”

Her SeneGals nod in agreement.

“I think all of us have a dream of going back at some point,” Tabishat said. “If possible, maybe together.”

Want to hear more from Earthman, Tabishat, Thew Forrester, and Wilkening? Tune in to the live Lawrence University Giving Day webcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10. The four students will be talking with host Terry Moran ’82 about their Senegal experience.

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

From tailgate party to Silent Disco, Blue and White Weekend is a time to celebrate

Lawrence football players prepare to come onto the field in a game at the Banta Bowl earlier this season.
Lawrence football will be a big part of Blue & White Weekend. A tailgate party at the Banta Bowl will precede the 1 p.m. game.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Get your gear ready, Lawrentians, because Blue & White Weekend is fast approaching.

What was formerly known as Fall Festival has been transformed into a weekend that celebrates all things Lawrence, with tons of fun things to do on campus — from a Friday night comedy show to a campus-wide tailgate party before Saturday’s football game to a Silent Disco Party.

The three-day celebration starts on Friday (Oct. 4).

When there is a lot going on it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so I have compiled a list highlighting five key things to look forward to this Blue & White Weekend. 

1) Intercollegiate Athletics Viking Hall of Fame Dinner, reception at 6 p.m., ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday at Warch Campus Center: 

A tradition that was once part of the Fall Festival is continuing into Blue & White Weekend. The dinner is a way to celebrate those being inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.  

“Induction into the Lawrence University Hall of Fame is the highest athletics honor that Lawrence can bestow upon an individual,” Athletic Director Christyn Abaray said. “It is a marker signifying that the inductee was and will always be the cream of the crop in how they represented Lawrence on the field of play with distinct recognition at the conference and national levels.

“We forever look at those in the Hall of Fame as the beacons for Lawrence University athletics and inspirations for our current and future Lawrentian Vikings.” 

Meet this year’s inductees here.

For information on ticket availability, call the Office of Alumni and Constituency Engagement at 920-832-7019. 

2) Comedian Mandal, 8 p.m. Friday in Warch Campus Center: 

S.O.U.P. is known for bringing great acts to campus throughout the year. They are continuing that mission this Blue & White Weekend by bringing in Atlanta-based stand-up comedian Mandal, known for energetic performances and wacky humor.   

3) All-Campus Tailgate Party, 11 a.m. Saturday at Banta Bowl: 

Let’s go, Vikes! This is the second annual Blue & White Weekend tailgate party! It leads into the 1 p.m. football game. Food and camaraderie will be available. Grab something to eat, jump around in the bouncy house and enjoy the music provided by DJ King SZN.    

DJ King SZN is De Andre King ’20.

4) Football game, 1 p.m. Saturday at Banta Bowl: 

Touchdown! The Lawrence University Vikings will be competing against Illinois College. This will be their second home game of the season. Lawrence has not played against Illinois College since 2016, so be sure to go out and support our Vikings.  

5) Silent Disco Party, 8 p.m. Saturday in Warch Campus Center: 

This party is new to Blue & White Weekend, hosted by S.O.U.P., and promises to be loads of fun. Silent Discos are headphone parties, giving party-goers the opportunity to choose from three music options to rock out to. The music is controlled by DJs who will be in the room, and one of the DJs will be our very own DJ King SZN!

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

VR at 50: 1969 brought much change, including debut of a beloved campus bar

Mark Catron '69, a student bartender when the Viking Room opened as a bar in 1969, stands behind the bar with Jake Yingling '20 during Reunion Weekend.
Past meets present: Mark Catron ’69, a student bartender when the Viking Room opened as a bar in 1969, joins current student bartender Jake Yingling ’20 behind the bar during Reunion Weekend in mid-June. “Fridays and Saturdays were very, very popular,” Catron said of that first year.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The Viking Room, a cherished on-campus hangout for generations of students, is carved deeply into the history of Lawrence University.

The names of students past and present cover the tables and booths, carved with affection, a metaphor of sorts for the deep bonds that alumni have with the place best known as the VR. Tucked in the lower level of Memorial Hall, it has served as a gathering place for students of drinking age — and faculty and staff — for five decades.

The VR is celebrating its 50th year as a bar. It had long existed as an on-campus lounge, but it didn’t serve alcohol until the first beer was tapped on March 7, 1969.

Mark Catron ’69 remembers it well. He was one of the original student bartenders, pouring beers during his senior year while “Bad Moon Rising” and “Sugar, Sugar” blasted from the speakers.

“The response was overwhelming. It was terrific,” said Catron, who visited the VR in early June while back on campus for his 50th class reunion. “People would come in after their afternoon classes and sit around and talk and have a beer or study.

“Fridays and Saturdays were very, very popular. There would be dances and a lot of music.”

The times they are a-changin’

When Lawrence successfully sought a city liquor license and remade the VR into a bar, it was new territory. Not many college campuses featured their own bar. The drinking age was 18 at the time, which meant most every student was a potential customer.

It arrived at a time when college campuses were hotbeds for social change and political demonstrations. There was no shortage of talking points in the spring of ’69 as students gathered in the VR.

“The four years I was here, there were terrific changes in powers, dormitory living and arrangements,” Catron said. “And clearly, this was part of the liberalization of the campus. Between the time we came and the time we left, there was a lot of turmoil, a lot of change going on, a lot of people questioning the way things had always been.”

Introducing a bar on campus amid all that, well, that was either going to prove to be genius or crazy, Catron said.

“From the administration point, maybe it was a sort of experiment to see if the students were capable of handling it in a responsible way,” he said. “I never had the impression there was ever any doubt about that. But I’m sure there had to be some questions among the adults in the room.

“This was the same time we were occupying the dean’s office. Lots of challenges were going on from a social standpoint. … The campus was different when we left from when we arrived, and the bar was just part of that change.”

Susan Jasin ’69 was another of the original student bartenders. When she went to Appleton City Hall to get her bartender’s license, she said the workers there told her she was the first woman in the city to be licensed as a bartender.

“I kind of got a giggle out of that at the time,” she said.

“It was fun to do because it was different and nobody else was doing it. I was just me. I was just Susan. I was doing it because it was fun.”

A new dynamic

While the VR remains a big part of campus life 50 years later, much has changed from its heyday in those early years. When Wisconsin’s drinking age increased to 19 in 1984 and then 21 in 1986, the dynamic in the VR changed, with much of the student body no longer old enough to legally drink.

The VR managers began to more actively market the bar to faculty and staff. A 1988 memo from the then-managers of the VR implored faculty and staff to increase their use of the bar, either as their own hangout or as an alternative classroom space.

“Keep in mind that the room is large, we play tapes upon request, and that our stereo does have a volume control if the music proves to be too loud,” the memo read. “Simply put, we would enjoy seeing more faculty and administrators using the VR on a regular basis, whether you choose to drink or not.”

Thirty years on, some faculty and staff continue to heed those words. And some jump in as guest bartenders, a long VR tradition.

The VR has gone through numerous changes in its management structure over the years. Presently, the bar is again managed by students, with oversight from Greg Griffin, director of the Warch Campus Center.

Jake Yingling ’20 frequents the VR with friends, and works bartending shifts as a student worker. While he understands the crowds in the VR may be smaller now than in the ’70s and ’80s, there are still nights when the place is hopping. And he appreciates it being on campus.

“The busier nights are the better nights,” he said.

“Now being 21, I can come here to do work, I can hang out with friends. It’s a good place to kind of hang out and relax.”

Five decades worth of alumni would raise a glass to that.

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

Two Lawrence hockey players launch Little Vikes, a wellness outreach for kids

Jordan Boehlke and Danny Toycen stand in front of the net on a hockey rink at Appleton Family Ice Center.
Jordan Boehlke ’20 and Danny Toycen ’21 stand for a portrait during a recent hockey practice at the Appleton Family Ice Center. Boehlke and Toycen started the Little Vikes student club last year and are looking to grow it this year.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

How do you get Lawrence students out in the community while also promoting the health of children in the Appleton area? Little Vikes has it figured out.

The club, founded by two Lawrence University men’s hockey players, provides opportunities for athletics and general wellness education to children in the Fox Cities through mentoring and support from Lawrence students. The Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) approved Little Vikes as an official club last spring, making it a new addition to the school’s repertoire of more than 100 student organizations.

Danny Toycen ’21 and Jordan Boehlke ’20 founded Little Vikes in the summer of 2018. The club isn’t Toycen’s first experience with volunteer work. When he was a junior hockey player in La Crosse, he connected with his community as a peer mentor for younger players.

“We’d bring little kids and youth hockey players into the locker room,” Toycen recalls, “and they’d give us a pep talk or we’d give them fist bumps and stuff like that. They loved it.”

Toycen also assisted Coulee Region Sled Hockey in La Crosse, where individuals with disabilities that prevent them from skating can navigate the ice on sleds. He was moved by seeing people overcome obstacles to be active and have fun playing the sport they love.

He took these experiences with him to Appleton, where he saw a need for mentors for children needing wellness education.

“Getting to do stuff like that is what I really loved,” Toycen says. “I just wanted to do something like that here at Lawrence.”

Thus, Little Vikes was born. It’s still in its infancy, but Toycen and Boehlke say they hope it’ll grow well beyond its dozen members and will establish itself as an active student program that will live on at Lawrence long after they’ve graduated.

The mission is simple, yet has the potential for high impact in the lives it touches.

“We’re trying to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, while still putting an emphasis on education and things like that,” Toycen says. “We want the kids being active, learning sportsmanship and being on a team. Things that come from being an athlete I’ll definitely take into any job or career I choose to follow.”

Since becoming an official club, Little Vikes has been able to plot a clearer course for community outreach. The most recent development is a budding partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley. The club plans to host weekly activities and events at the nonprofit youth organization’s local facilities.

Toycen also is setting his sights on working with SOAR Fox Cities, a local nonprofit and Special Olympics agency that provides a range of programs for disabled individuals.

In the meantime, the club’s activities are geared toward connecting with kids in the Fox Cities and spreading the word about its mission. In November, Little Vikes will hold its second annual Toy Drive for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. The group also will visit classrooms at Horizon Elementary School in Appleton in February to make valentines.

These activities have something to offer the kids involved. And Toycen says Lawrentians need the community exposure that Little Vikes provides.

“It’s always good to help and serve your community in whatever way you can,” he says. “Especially people coming from out of state and out of the country, for them to get a real feel for the Midwest and the Wisconsin lifestyle.”

Despite the focus on athletics, the Little Vikes club is open to anyone on campus dedicated to supporting wellness in Fox Cities youth. The organizers are setting their sights on growth.

“I want to see the club grow,” Toycen says simply. “Part of the reason we went through LUCC is to make sure it stays here. I feel like there’s a need for it. I want to see that need be served each year well after both of us move on.”

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

Burstein calls for thoughtful, impactful leadership on global climate crisis

President Mark Burstein speaks at the podium from the stage of Memorial Chapel during Thursday's Matriculation Convocation.
Lawrence University President Mark Burstein speaks during Thursday’s Matriculation Convocation in Memorial Chapel.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein, speaking Thursday at the Matriculation Convocation to launch the school’s 2019-20 academic year, encouraged members of the Lawrence community to provide constructive leadership on the growing global climate crisis, and to bridge political differences along the way.

Burstein called the climate crisis “the central challenge facing society today,” and said it is the university’s responsibility to teach climate science to its students, to raise awareness of the issues and challenges and to converse respectfully with people who dismiss the science.

“It is crucial that we engage with those who dismiss the findings of 97% of climate scientists who now confirm that a climate crisis has begun, and that human activity is a root cause,” Burstein said as he addressed faculty, students and staff in Memorial Chapel on the fourth day of the fall term. “We need to continue to broaden the learning opportunities we offer and to avoid partisan framing of the climate crisis if we aim to reach all of our students, faculty, and staff. Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of the Environmental Studies program, we offer a wide array of learning opportunities for students to consider how human activity impacts the natural world.”

The convocation, the first of three to be held during the academic year, included the traditional march of faculty, adorned in their academic dress, and music from students of the entering class. But it was Burstein’s call for climate crisis leadership that took center stage.

Faculty members, adorned in their academic dress, proceed from the Music-Drama Center to Memorial Chapel on Thursday.
Lawrence University faculty move their procession toward Memorial Chapel for Thursday morning’s annual Matriculation Convocation.

He encouraged those in attendance to draw on their own experiences with nature, to consider deeply how human activity is affecting resources we interact with close to home and on our travels.

“Experiences can sensitize us to the deep and far-reaching effect that the climate crisis will have,” Burstein said. “My year as a farmer during a break between high school and college changed my views and established conservation as central to my personal values. Living directly in the cycle of a dairy farm significantly influenced the way I thought about the natural world.

“I’m sure you have your own connections to nature. Could we find ways to encourage all of us to explore the rich natural resources of northeastern Wisconsin and Door County? Could this be a way to reach students who might otherwise avoid enrolling in an Environmental Studies course or joining an environmental organization? Are there ways we can more closely tie the prodigious natural world that surrounds us into our curriculum?”

Burstein highlighted the fires that are threatening the Amazon, the extreme conditions affecting areas from Alaska and the Arctic to the Canary Islands and California, and the increasingly extreme weather patterns being experienced here in the Midwest.

He noted statistics from the World Bank that show an average of 24 million people per year since 2008 being displaced by weather events, and projections that those numbers will rise dramatically.

Lawrence has initiatives in place and established programs available to teach about environmental issues, be it from economic, policy, cultural, biological, chemical, or geoscience perspectives. Impressive gains in recent years have been guided by faculty members such as Jeff Clark, Marcia Bjornerud, and David Gerard, and sustainability coordinator Kelsey McCormick. But, Burstein said, there’s more work to be done all across campus to better inform and engage on the challenges we face now and those we’ll be handing off to future generations.

He pointed to the polarizing effect politics is having on the climate crisis debate, and implored those in the Lawrence community to stay attentive no matter how frustrating it might get.

“Even those who agree that a climate crisis is real approach the issue now with an incapacitating fatigue,” Burstein said.

“No amount of improved communication seems to weaken the feeling that this crisis is inevitable, that nothing we do can change the course of this unfolding natural disaster,” he added. “This attitude prevents important interventions.”

President Mark Burstein speaks during Thursday's convocation in Memorial Chapel.
Memorial Chapel drew faculty, students and staff on Thursday for the Matriculation Convocation. It was the first of three convocations that will be held this academic year.

Protecting the environment and prepping the Earth for future generations hasn’t always been embedded in a political chasm. When the leaders of 12 national environmental organizations were asked to rank the “greenest” U.S. presidents, they chose Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama, in that order, Burstein said.

“Two Republicans and two Democrats,” he said. “Conservation was central to Teddy Roosevelt’s vision for America’s future. He preserved land and natural beauty at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and hundreds of other locations across the country. Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency, banned DDT, and created the regulatory infrastructure that continues to this day. But this public consensus is disappearing.”

It’s time to reclaim the conversation, Burstein said, challenging college campuses to lead the way, to infuse climate science across the curriculum and to foster intelligent and productive conversation, all the while prepping tomorrow’s leaders to be environmentally astute and informed no matter their political affiliations.

“For us, now, to engage our entire community, we must provide a learning environment in which we can all participate without criticism or rejection,” Burstein said.

“I hope you will commit yourselves, with me, to making sure that this generation of Lawrentians will graduate with the knowledge, the tools, and the energy to provide leadership on the most important challenge that faces all of us in this century.”

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

Volunteer, service opportunities offer students a path into community

Students talk about the VITAL program during the Community Engagement Bazaar held in the Wellness Center during Welcome Week.
Welcome Week included the Community Engagement Bazaar on Thursday, introducing Lawrence students to all sorts of volunteer and service opportunities. It was held in the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center gym.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Getting involved in the Appleton community can sometimes be imposing for students new to Lawrence. Volunteering just might be the path you’re looking for.

The school’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) notes in its recently released annual report that 782 students contributed 6,659 hours of volunteer service during the 2018-19 academic year, and 75 percent of the graduating seniors said they had volunteered during their time at Lawrence.

The CCE, now working within the Center for Career Life and Community Engagement (CLC), is looking to keep that momentum going in the new academic year, making it as easy as possible for students to get involved and to follow their passions.

The center, located in the Seeley G. Mudd Library, was previously known as Volunteer and Community Service Center. It rebranded itself to better reflect the wide array of service opportunities available on and off campus.

“We wanted to be more true to our mission, which is not just volunteering,” said Kristi Hill, director of the CCE. “We’re really trying to educate Lawrentians on their civic responsibility as citizens of this world. And to not just serve, but to inform them on social justice issues that could be of importance to them. So, the name better reflects what we do.”

Being part of the retooled and reenergized CLC also provides new paths, as well as better efficiency in connecting service work with resume building.

“The benefits have been, we’re now with a department that is really focused on the experiential education or journey of Lawrence students,” said Hill. “Focused on volunteerism and internships and networking and creating your own community, those are kind of like-minded things our office shares with the CLC.”

Even with the rebranding, the CCE still serves as a resource on campus for students who would like to volunteer. CCE staffers help students with everything from getting connected with nonprofits they can volunteer with to hosting volunteer opportunities on campus. 

Last year, the CCE implemented a new program called Viking Ambassadors in Service and Engagement (VASE), a program focused on first-year students to help them make connections and learn about issues in the community. It drew 33 first-year students, spread across five VASE programs — greater access to the arts, supporting fair housing and hunger, advocating and care for elders, protecting and sustaining the environment and allied health care.

“Certificate programs are tailored to each service area,” said Papo Morales ’21 , equal access to education coordinator at the CCE. “Students, preferably first-years, are really involved and engage in this one specific service area. Last year, they did service trips, they did events, it was an amazing thing.”  

The CCE will continue the VASE program this year, with increased funding that will allow more opportunities. 

Alongside the VASE program, the CCE provides Lawrence students with lots of opportunities to serve.  

Lawrence students pick vegetables in the SLUG Garden during Welcome Week.
Lawrence students volunteer in the Sustainable LU Gardens during Welcome Week.

One program is Service Corps, run by students on the CCE staff.  Each Service Corps enclave is geared toward addressing social justice issues in the Fox Cities. The student in charge of the group partners with community agencies. There are seven Service Corps groups: Access to Education, Child Advocacy, Elder Advocacy, Environment and Sustainability, Arts Advocacy, Fair Housing and Hunger, and, starting this year, Animal Welfare.  

Tutoring in area schools has been a big draw for Lawrence students through the CCE’s Volunteers in Tutoring at Lawrence (VITAL) program. During the 2018-19 school year, the CCE was able to connect 41 Lawrence students with 83 Appleton school district students who requested tutoring. 

Nine programs were offered by the CCE to support environment and sustainability needs. Overall, 62 volunteers served 1,134 hours toward those causes.

There were 19 programs geared toward the support of elders at Brewster Village, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and the Thompson Community Center on Lourdes. This allowed 57 Lawrence volunteers to serve 333 hours to support elder rights and care. 

In addition to individual service opportunities available to students, the CCE offers assistance to Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) student organizations that do volunteer work. Many of these organizations had CCE staff as advisors, and all of them had access to the resources the CCE provides, including the GivePulse software used by the CCE, financial support, and service 101 training.

“The CCE really, really, really tries to connect with our service organizations,” said Morales. “We support them in any way that we can. If students are interested in starting a service organization, we are more than happy to help them. Last year, some athletes had come in and said, ‘Hey, we want to start a service organization.’ They came in with just an idea and by the end of last year, they were fund-raising for stuff. So, if you’re passionate about starting a service organization, all you have to do is come in and we will help.”  

Morales even started a service organization of his own through his connection with the CCE. It’s called Brother to Brother, a men-of-color empowerment organization aimed at cultivating leadership and brotherhood and providing service and advocacy in the community.

“I really wanted to have service be a part of our messaging,” said Morales. “So, our pillars are brotherhood, leadership, and service.”  

Last year, Brother to Brother was able to serve a multitude of organizations, including Edison Elementary School. This gave the students in the organization the chance to explore parts of the Appleton community they were not familiar with. 

“Things they wouldn’t do before, like they wouldn’t know they loved working with kids,” said Morales. “And when we took them to this recess, they fell in love.”

When students volunteer, it not only positively impacts the students they’re serving, but it also greatly benefits the organizations.

“The teachers there have shared, there’s too much for them to do in the time they have provided,” said Hill. “So, when Lawrence students can spend time with individual students who need extra support, the teachers are relieved and able to focus on instruction and looking for funding and other things to grow the school. They openly talk about it, that Lawrence students allow them to do more. So that’s been a really cool thing to see at Edison Elementary School.”  

The CCE will continue to provide Lawrence students with resources as the school year ramps up.

“We really do encourage people to just walk in and say, ‘Hey, I want to volunteer,’” said Morales. “We have a revamped space, so we really encourage students to come in … someone is always on staff here to answer questions and to help you volunteer. But if you don’t have the time and your schedule is really busy, we encourage all student just to go to GivePulse. You can go on the Lawrence web site and type in GivePulse on the search bar. That is where we house all of our volunteer opportunities.”  

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.