Tag: Lawrence University

Lawrence unveils new B.M.A. degree, widening path for student musicians

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble performs at Memorial Chapel during the 2018-19 academic year.
The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble has been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music’s long history of jazz education excellence. The new B.M.A. degree, beginning this fall, will build on that with its Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Electric guitars and synthesizers could soon become as familiar as violins and bassoons in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

A new degree program is being introduced at Lawrence University that is expected to open the school’s Conservatory of Music to a wider group of student musicians. Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.), with a Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track, has been added to Lawrence’s degree options, joining Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

It’s a new avenue for a conservatory whose history dates back to the 19th century. Built on the strength of a nationally recognized jazz program that has been earning major honors since the 1970s, the new degree expands on the classical music component in the Conservatory, allowing students for the first time to audition with non-classical repertoire. The foundation is in jazz and contemporary improvisation, but the degree is built to accommodate a wide range of music making.

The B.M.A. degree, in place beginning this academic year, has a 50-50 split between music studies and a student’s choice of another field in the liberal arts landscape, with expectations to connect the two.

The high standards haven’t changed. The audition process for acceptance into the Conservatory remains intact, and the skill-development expectations continue to be top level. But for prospective students eyeing the B.M.A. degree, the audition no longer needs to be limited to pieces from the Western classical repertoire, potentially opening the door for students who see their strengths and interests in jazz or pop or hip-hop or another music genre. And the new degree presents an alternate path of study for classical musicians, as well.

It unwraps all sorts of additional choices, said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory.

“The new degree will open the Conservatory to a broader range of musical interests,” he said. “No longer does a student have to audition on a Western classical instrument and perform classical repertoire. Drummers, electric guitarists, fiddlers, keyboard players, jazz vocalists, songwriters and contemporary composers are all welcome to audition into the new program.”

For more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, see here.

For details on the new B.M.A. degree, including an FAQ, see here.

This isn’t completely new territory for the Conservatory. It has long had a thriving jazz program. Lawrence won the first of its 28 Downbeat jazz education awards as far back as 1985, its latest as recently as April, picking up the award for the best undergraduate large ensemble for the second consecutive year. But current students have had to come into the jazz track via the classical music auditions and training, then seek a jazz emphasis while also studying classical repertoire.

The current B.Mus. degree, Pertl said, works well for many aspiring musicians who seek both classical and jazz training, but it leaves out those whose aspirations do not include the classical side of performance training. The new degree will rectify that. It also will expand the opportunities to tap into music-related fields that don’t necessarily involve performance.

Students perform as part of a Jazz Ensemble concert in Memorial Chapel.
Jazz and improvisation have long been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. The new B.M.A. degree will add flexibility for music students.

Read more: Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble wins DownBeat Award for second consecutive year

Read more: Roomful of Teeth’s Estelí Gomez to join Lawrence Conservatory

The late Fred Sturm, who oversaw the jazz studies program at Lawrence for 26 years, began laying the groundwork for the new degree prior to his death in 2014.

What started as a specific focus on jazz eventually grew into the more wide-ranging B.M.A. degree, Pertl said. The degree allows the Conservatory to welcome in musicians who don’t necessarily fit a certain musical footprint.

“Last year, for example, we graduated an exceptional student from Chicago named Bernard Lilly,” Pertl said. “Bernard is an amazing soul singer. He’d been singing long before he came to Lawrence and sang all the way through Lawrence, but he never took any courses in the Conservatory because he didn’t feel like there was anything there for him, until his last term in his senior year when he took my entrepreneurship class and studied with (voice professor) John Holiday, and worked with professors in our jazz department. He would have been a perfect candidate for a B.M.A. degree.

“To be able to give students like Bernard high-level musical training will certainly broaden what they can do. But it also expands the musical culture of the Conservatory, mixing different genres and different musical sensibilities. This will be a huge advantage to everyone at the Conservatory.”

Students pursuing a B.Mus. degree in the Conservatory take about two-thirds of their classes in their major area of study and about one-third in general education or electives. Music students who pursue a double degree — a music degree and a B.A. in the college — do so on a five-year plan.

The new B.M.A., meanwhile, combines high-level music study with another field of interest in a four-year plan. As part of the degree requirements, students pursue a cognate focus that makes up 15% of their coursework. The cognate allows them to deeply explore another area of interest that ties into their music studies.

“It could be musically oriented but in the area of anthropology,” Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat said. “Or musically oriented but in political science.”

Core classes, one-on-one work with faculty and a wide range of electives give B.M.A. students opportunities to carve their own musical paths, some performance based, some not.

That, said Patty Darling, director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, speaks to how music can inform so many disciplines in a variety of ways. Today, preparing young musicians to pursue their musical lives can’t be limited to focusing solely on technical mastery. Each year, opportunities will arise that don’t exist today, so musicians need to pair their high-level musicianship with high-level thinking, creative problem-solving, and the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities that others don’t even see.

Flexibility, an ability to adapt quickly, and a willingness to collaborate are all key attributes for anyone entering the world of music in the 21st century. Blending those core musicianship skills with an education in a student’s other field of interest is the next step in keeping the Conservatory forward-thinking.

“A lot of these students who come in wanting to create their own musical voice are pretty self-directed already,” Darling said. “While they’ll be gaining a lot of these core musicianship skills, they also want to be able to access entrepreneurial practices, music business models and opportunities for internships.

“It’s really interesting how the recording scene has developed, how music publishing has changed,” she said. “Even large ensembles and orchestras — all these musical opportunities have transformed dramatically in the last 10 years and students need the ability to self-promote. That’s a very important skill to have … to be able to put your best self out there.”

Pertl called the B.M.A. a natural progression for the Conservatory as it embraces and nurtures the modern musician.

“At Lawrence, we’ve already been incorporating so many of the elements of improvisation and world music into the trajectory of a classically trained musician for the same reason,” he said. “It’s going to be the flexibility of art, and of mind, that will help you to successfully create your musical life.”

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

Packing for college: 14 items not to be forgotten on move-in day

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

If you are anything like me, the weeks leading up to your first college move-in day are hectic and filled with excitement, nerves, a full Amazon cart, and hours on Pinterest. However, there is no need to stress over move-in day. Your room will come together! And to ensure that it does, I have created this list of 14 dorm-room essentials every new Lawrentian will need to pack. 

1) Power strip / extension cords  

Power cords are a MUST. You’ll have lots of things that will need to be plugged in throughout your room. There will come a time when you need to blow-dry your hair and charge your phone at the same time. To avoid having to choose between wet hair or a dead phone, get some power strips. Your room will not come with 20 outlets, but some days you’ll need that many. It will make dorm life so much easier if you have multiple outlets for all your electronics.  

Tip: Having one or two power strips is a lot more useful than a bunch of extensions cords.   

2) Shower caddy  

You have probably heard of the joys of a shower caddy from the dozens of college starter packs you have been seeing. But just in case you have not given it proper consideration, trust me, owning a shower caddy is very important. This will be the home to all your shower items. College bathrooms are communal, meaning we have to share them. This also means you can’t leave all of your shower stuff in the bathroom. People typically bring what they need to shower with them using a convenient shower caddy.  

Tip: I find the mesh shower caddies to be a lot more convenient than the plastic ones. With the mesh shower caddy, you can hang it up on a hook while you shower. With the plastic ones, you have to leave them on the floor.  

3) Shower shoes  

Again, with communal bathrooms you have to share showers. Sometimes you’ll find that someone just finished using your go-to shower and it’s still wet. You’re not going to want to step in someone else’s shower water; get shower shoes.   

Tip: No need to waste money on “specially designed” shower shoes. Flip flops work just fine.   

4) Laundry bag with straps 

If you don’t get anything else on this list, please do yourself a favor and get a laundry bag with straps! No matter how disciplined you are, you will not do laundry once a week. Your laundry will pile up and that’s OK. And when your laundry does accumulate, you will be very happy to have a laundry bag with back straps. How else will you be able to carry the three loads of laundry you told yourself to do last week when it was only two loads?  

Tip: Tide Pods make laundry a breeze. 

5) Reusable water bottle  

We love sustainability at Lawrence. Because Lawrence is a campus that supports sustainability and reducing waste, bottled water is not available for purchase in campus stores. Instead, we have lots of water stations all around campus. With a reusable water bottle, you can fill up throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated.   

Tip:  A water bottle with a wide opening is easier to clean.   

6) Storage bins  

You will need storage bins! Not only do they make it easier to organize your room, but they also make life so much easier when you have to pack up your room at the end of the year.  

Tip: Having storage bins that can fit under your bed is ideal.  

7) Medication  

You are going to be here for nine months, and that’s a pretty long time. We hope you don’t get sick during this time, but if you do catch a sniffle, you’ll want to be prepared. I recommend having some Dayquil, ibuprofen, and Emergen-C’s on standby just in case.  

Tip: The Wellness Center does provide free ibuprofen and aspirin. You can get some from there if needed.  

8) Bedding 

Your room does not come with bedding, so you will have to bring your own. Make sure you find Twin XL sheets for the extra-long beds. Our rooms don’t get too cold, so you won’t need too many blankets. A few sheets, a comforter, and a couple blankets will be just fine.  

Tip: Invest in a good mattress topper! It will last you all four years, and your back will thank you for it.  

9) Décor  

Do not stress over décor. This is the fun part. Make your room a space you enjoy being in, but don’t lose sleep over what to put on the walls. Do not let Pinterest make you spend hundreds of dollars because you think your room is not good enough; your room is good enough.   

Tip: Command Strips are gold. And remember: the more décor you have, the more stuff you have to worry about packing at the end of the year. 

10) Cleaning supplies 

You will be living in this space for about nine months … yes, you’ll need to clean it eventually. I suggest having a broom, dustpan, and lots of Clorox wipes.   

Tip: You can clean your whole room with just Clorox wipes. Believe me.  

11) Plug-ins 

Scented plug-ins are not necessarily a must, but I do highly suggest one. Spray air-fresheners are not banned, but they are frowned upon. Having a plug-in means you don’t have to worry when you have guests over because your room will always smell like your favorite scent. 

Tip: If the scented plug-ins are not your style, diffusers work great, too!  

12) School supplies  

For some reason, when people go back-to-school shopping for college, they forget they need school supplies. (Honestly, the only reason I remembered to get school supplies my first year was because I saw my little sister picking out pencils and markers.) Three 3-subject college-ruled notebooks, two packs of pens, index cards and some Post-It notes is all you’ll really need.  

Tip: You can wait until after the first day of classes to get all your school supplies. See what your professors say you’ll need on the first day, and then go to the store and get exactly that. Still bring a pen and some paper though! 

13) Winter coat 

Winter is coming. When winter is here, you’ll need a coat. You won’t really need your heavy-duty winter coat (if you don’t have one, get one) until winter term though. If you can, wait until winter to bring your coat because it takes up space. Beware, there is a period near the end of fall term where it’s too cold for a sweater, but not cold enough for your real winter coat. I would suggest getting a jacket for when that time comes.   

Tip: Invest in layers that you can wear in winter.  

14) Mini Fan  

Contrary to popular belief, it does get warm in Wisconsin. At the start of fall term and the end of spring term, you will be very glad to have a fan in your room.  

Tip:  Get a box fan and put it against an open window. It will feel just like air conditioning.  

OK, that’s my list. I hope it’s helpful. Good luck. Move-in day is almost here.

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

Princeton Review cites Lawrence as one of ‘Best’ colleges in the country

Students pose for a selfie before the 2019 commencement ceremony at Lawrence.
Lawrence University students hailed the school as supportive, inclusive, and empowering in a survey from The Princeton Review. Lawrence ranked as one of the 385 best four-year colleges in the U.S.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University continues to feel the love from The Princeton Review.

After being named the No. 4 Impact School in the country on a Princeton Review ranking earlier this year, Lawrence has made the education service company’s list of the best 385 colleges in the country — only about 13% of eligible four-year colleges make the “Best” book.

“The Best 385 Colleges,” published each August, has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 385, but it does include a series of Top 20 lists in a variety of sub categories. The lists come after data is gathered from school administrators and interviews are done with students from each of the schools.

See “The Best 385 Colleges” report here.

Earlier this year, Lawrence was hailed by The Princeton Review as one of 200 “Best Value Schools” in the United States. That book placed Lawrence at No. 4 in the category of best schools for Making an Impact, which focused on life on campus but also post-college work.

“The college ranking field is full of many flowers,” notes Ken Anselment, dean of admissions at Lawrence. “But one of our favorites is being shortlisted as one of the Princeton Review’s Impact Schools because it underscores the quality of life our graduates enjoy after Lawrence. It affirms that our mission of providing a transformative education is, indeed, having an impact.”

Here’s a quick guide to Lawrence’s evaluation in the most recent book:

What students are saying about academics: “Tutoring is readily available, and the school ‘places an incredible focus on mental health issues and counseling.’ Lawrence is especially good at ‘providing a creative and explorative atmosphere within the college,’ and structuring itself in a manner that allows for student flexibility, so students ‘are able to explore and study whatever we are interested in, and we are encouraged to do so.’”

What students are saying about life at Lawrence: “Many people take advantage of the school’s offered activities like dances, comedians, musicians, speakers who are brought to campus, and movies shown in the cinema, and every term has a big event, such as the Fall Festival, Trivia, Winter Carnival, Cabaret and LUaroo. … As the university houses a popular music conservatory, ‘there is ALWAYS a type of concert going on.’”

What students are saying about their classmates: “Students here ‘are not afraid to show who they really are’ and ‘truly just love expressing how every person is their own and that we all accept it.’”

What the Princeton Review editors are saying: “Lawrence University takes a holistic approach to the admissions game. The school does its best to look beyond numbers and get a full sense of each applicant.”

In addition to the Princeton Review rankings, Lawrence also was honored earlier this year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for being among the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. With five recent graduates teaching abroad on Fulbright awards, Lawrence landed on the prestigious list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright students during the past academic year.

The 2018-19 list that features Lawrence  was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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

Signage a nod to strange, complicated history of Lawrence’s favorite rock

New signage has gone up next to the Rock on Lawrence’s Main Hall lawn, noting the big boulder’s ties to campus dating back to 1895.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The Rock, a 2-ton boulder resting peacefully on a stretch of lawn near the northwest corner of Main Hall, has finally had its long, strange history commemorated by Lawrence University.

Newly installed signage provides a nod to the 4,700-pound piece of granite that has been tolerated but rarely celebrated by the university that has been its home — mostly — since members of the Class of 1895 first hauled it to campus 124 years ago.

As campus traditions go, this is one that has had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the school. The Rock — not to be confused with a certain Hollywood celebrity of the same nickname — has been the subject of pranks, fraternity feuds and deep mysteries through the decades. It was returned to campus in the spring of 2018 after having gone missing for 20 years.

Now it’s home, and there’s nothing but love. Thus, the new signage recently placed next to the Rock:

“Members of the Class of 1895 found this boulder on a geology field trip in New London, WI, and brought it to campus to serve as the senior class gift. In the years since, the Rock has been painted, buried, moved around, and even removed from campus. After a 20-year stay on the Nickel family farm (Michael Nickel ’02, Adam Nickel ’03), it was returned to its original placement in front of Main Hall in spring 2018.”

The Rock, now painted green with the white lettering of the Class of 2019, has a history that started out combative, if all in good fun. Consider this dispatch in The Lawrentian in July 1895:

“Tuesday afternoon was Class Day and the big boulder of the Class of ’95 made its debut in college history. Somehow the seniors had an idea that the giddy juniors would not allow it to become a landmark on the campus and they watched all night till the day of its dedication, lest some festive ’96er should come along and carry the pebble off and throw it in the river.”

That would set a tone that would become part of the Rock’s tradition, one of mostly harmless rivalry and midnight escapades stretching across more than 100 years, frequently chronicled by The Lawrentian and sometimes The Post-Crescent.

Among the highlights:

With concerns the pranks had gotten out of hand, the Rock was moved to a mostly out-of-the-way spot near the Fox River in 1939; it would be returned to the Main Hall green by ambitious students three years later.

It would go missing in 1964, finally retrieved in 1983 (it had been buried behind Plantz Hall by members of the Class of 1967, so, technically, it was still on campus).

And it would once again disappear in 1998, discovered 20 years later by students Sarah Axtell ’17 and Jon Hanrahan ’16, who had launched an entertaining, Serial-style podcast in hopes of solving the mystery of the Rock’s whereabouts.

In between all of that, the Rock was at the center of some much-chronicled campus rivalries and shenanigans that included students hiring towing companies to move the rock around campus in the dark of night, tossing it into the Fox River on multiple occasions, placing it in cement, and building a papier-mache replica that would appear one morning in 1957 on the roof of the former Stephenson Hall.

As the location of the Rock became a competition among fraternities, there was an unwritten rule that said wherever the rock was located on the morning of homecoming, that is where it would stay for the rest of the school year.

The 1998 disappearance came not long after the Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta fraternities had a bit of a public showdown, one that involved a front-end loader and required the dean of students to negotiate a compromise as local media looked on.

The engraving of Class of '95 can clearly be seen on the Rock, which sits on the Main Hall lawn. The rock is painted green with Class of 2019 in white.
A paint job by the Class of 2019 does not obscure the engraving from the Class of ’95 (that’s 1895) on the Rock, which sits on the Main Hall lawn with newly installed signage commemorating its history.

A search and a podcast

The Rock was then mostly forgotten for nearly two decades until Axtell and Hanrahan launched their No Stone Unturned podcast in 2016.

“Sarah and I were real dorks about Lawrence history,” Hanrahan said.

Their sleuthing eventually took them to a farm in Calumet County where the rock was found behind an old barn, the carved Class of ’95 in plain sight. It turns out there were a lot of complicated emotions tied to the Rock and how it ended up on that farm.

Lawrence and the Nickel family would eventually reach agreement that the Rock should return to the Main Hall green. It came home in 2018.

The ongoing fascination with the big boulder speaks to college students’ need to feel connected to their school’s history, said Hanrahan, who now works as an associate producer for New York Public Radio. He points to other schools with similar objects that have served as traditions that tie together generations of students — Rutgers’ cannon, Carnegie Mellon’s fence painting, and Northwestern’s own version of an oft-painted rock.

“There’s definitely that element of college students wanting and needing that quirky sense of identity,” Hanrahan said.

The podcast not only gave Hanrahan and Axtell the chance to fixate on Lawrence history — “This project was one of the first real moments when I fell in love with archives,” Hanrahan said — it also provided an opportunity to connect with alumni in a meaningful way.

“We got a sense of what life was like at Lawrence, especially in the ’90s, which was when the disappearance occurred,” Hanrahan said. “… We got a taste of life in the ’60s when the Rock disappeared then. That was very, very different from what life was like in the ’90s, which was also very different from what life is like in the 2010s.”   

An uneasy history

Erin Dix ’08, the university’s archivist over the past nine years, said the many Rock-related pranks left some past university administrators uneasy. That’s why the new signage is notable.

“The administration at Lawrence has not always embraced the disruptive elements of the Rock’s tradition,” she said. “In 1939, college officials moved the Rock to the tennis courts at the bottom of the Drew Street hill to try to discourage the constant pranks. But students managed to hoist it back up the hill three years later. During the Rock’s most recent absence, I often heard the theory that the administration had purposefully removed it from campus.” (It had not.)

“My favorite anecdote about the Rock comes from a Post-Crescent article published when it was being exhumed from the parking lot behind Plantz Hall in 1983,” Dix said. “‘Richard Warch, president of the university, was there, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from his sack lunch during the noon-hour event. “What a great day for Lawrence University,” he said with mock enthusiasm as a big P.G. Miron crane lifted the rock from the ground.’”

Hanrahan believes that kind of history should be celebrated. Students today should be aware of the school’s deep history and the student experiences that preceded them, even if it’s just a goofy old rock. That it has Class of ’95 carved into it is reason enough to acknowledge that connection, he said.

“That’s not 1995, that’s 1895, this unimaginably distant group of people,” Hanrahan said. “And it has these classes from the 1930s carved on the side as well. So, it’s a rock and it’s obviously this old geological artifact, but it broadcasts its oldness and it’s Lawrenceness right there on the side. It’s hard to look at it and not think of a Lawrence from 100 years ago.”

New signage now accompanies the Rock on the Main Hall lawn.

Axtell, now working in New York City for Accomplice the Show, an immersive theater company, applauds the university for formally recognizing the history of the Rock, calling it an important connection between generations of students.

“I don’t think the university can always take an official stance on some of the goofy things that have happened in the past, but I think the university should be proud of the ingenuity and creativity of its students,” she said.

“It gives people a reason to connect back to the history of the place. People need to pay more attention to the history of the areas around them, for better or worse.”

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

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.

Summer renovation projects keep campus infrastructure in prime shape

Photo of Memorial Chapel with the lawn to the east torn up for work on the steam line.
Work on the steam line near Memorial Chapel continues this summer. The chapel also is getting new exterior lighting. The steam line work continues what was started in spring on the south side of College Avenue.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Maintaining the campus infrastructure at Lawrence is an investment in the well-being of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community, which is why campus renewal is a key priority of the Be The Light! capital campaign.

That has been in full view this summer as multiple renovation projects are taking place across campus thanks to a series of gifts and support.

This summer’s more ambitious projects include new concrete at the plaza by Memorial Hall and an upgrade of its entryways, new hardscape on the Conservatory walkway, and the repaving of the Alexander Gym horseshoe, part of a facelift that includes lighting and new sidewalks. And while the installation of a generator may not seem like much, it kicks off the multi-million dollar renovation transforming Kohler Hall into a 21st-century living space.

“Campus infrastructure enables the university to deliver on its mission,” says Jacob Woodford, assistant to President Mark Burstein. “Careful stewardship of the investments of Lawrentians, family, friends, and supporters of the institution in our campus ensures our ability to deliver on that mission for generations to come.”

Work continues on the hardscape and landscape between Memorial Hall and the Wriston Art Center.

When the $220 million Be the Light! campaign made its public launch in November 2018, campus renewal joined Full Speed to Full Need, Student Journey, and the Lawrence Fund as the four cornerstones that would anchor the campaign.

A $2.5 million gift from the Kohler Co. to renovate Kohler Hall into a modern residential space was a key piece of the campaign launch. This summer’s work on the generator is a piece of that renovation project.

Among the other key projects in play this summer:

Music and Drama: Installing new doors and windows on the Music and Drama side of Shattuck Hall.

Steam line: Replacing the portion of the steam line north of College Avenue, a continuation of the work that was done during spring term.

Memorial Chapel: Lights are being added in front of the chapel to increase visibility, a nod to pedestrian safety along the walkways.

Brokaw Hall: Carpet installation in the 1911 building that includes office space and a residence hall.

Quad 5: Reworking the plumbing, electrical, and sprinkler system, plus painting.

Small Exec: Sprucing up and repainting the kitchenettes.

The campus updates ensure a welcoming environment for current and incoming students and encourage alumni and others to visit. The work speaks to the university’s commitment to maintaining its facilities at a high level, the supportive relationship between the university and its alumni and other supporters and its embrace of future generations of students.

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

Work study program connects Lawrentians with local nonprofits

Johanna Kopecky '21 sits at the front desk of the History Museum at the Castle in downtown Appleton.
Johanna Kopecky ’21 works at the History Museum at the Castle through a federal work study program.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Being connected to the Fox Cities community while also earning the all-important paycheck is a win-win for Johanna Kopecky ’21.

The junior from Appleton and a part-time employee of the History Museum at the Castle is one of 13 Lawrence University students working for area nonprofits through a Federal Work Study program directed by the school’s Financial Aid office.

The program aims to increase student involvement with the community by allowing students who qualify for Federal Work Study in their financial aid packages to apply for a job with participating local nonprofit organizations. Students who hold positions at nonprofits through the program are provided with essential work experience in an intimate community setting while the nonprofits receive financial assistance in paying the students’ wages.

Kopecky began her job at the History Museum through the program at the start of her freshman year. Working at the front desk, she handles admissions, gift shop sales and various other projects as needed. She believes this job opportunity has strengthened her already firm ties with her community.

“Working in the museum has really connected me with the local businesses on College Avenue because sometimes we all interact,” she says. “I’ve gotten to know the people who run these things. It definitely has a strong sense of community and I feel very involved in the downtown Appleton enterprise.”

For more on financial aid at Lawrence, see here.

Since applying through the program two years ago, Kopecky recognizes its positive influence on the community. She also appreciates what is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the program — the ability for students to make a difference outside of the Lawrence campus.

“The benefit I see comes in the small businesses downtown — that they get more work, but we get the opportunity to have some income and become involved with the community,” she says. “It just seems ideal that everything we do isn’t always on the Lawrence campus, that we can work with the community rather than just with ourselves.”

The program stems from a mandate in the 1992 Higher Education Act, which states that 5 percent of a university’s work study funds must be allocated to community service. Lawrence’s subsequent work study program went into effect in the 1993-94 academic year. Today, there are 13 students aiding 12 different participating nonprofits.

“The purpose is to get students working but also help the community at large,” says Lawrence financial aid counselor Dan Erickson, pointing out how the program fosters mutually beneficial relationships. “On our end, it helps us build better relationships with different organizations around the area.”

From a community perspective, participating Fox Cities nonprofits gain hardworking employees who contribute to their efforts and aid the local economy.

“Through the program, we have a committed employee who can walk across the street to work,” says Sheila Ploekelman, business manager at the History Museum at the Castle. “As a nonprofit, we also benefit from the partnership, allowing us to offer a more competitive wage by receiving reimbursement for part of the student’s wages.”

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

College Horizons Scholars Program offers Native students a bridge to college success

Scholars Program students take part in a classroom discussion in Briggs Hall.
College-bound students in the Scholars Program, part of College Horizons, take part in a classroom session Thursday in Briggs Hall at Lawrence University. The three-week program ends this week.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Twenty-one new high school graduates representing six Native American groups have been visiting Lawrence University this month as part of the College Horizons Scholars Program, a three-week summer academy that encourages the students’ healthy transition into college.

The Scholars Program is one of three administered by College Horizons, a New Mexico-based college-access nonprofit that advocates for the success of Native American students in higher education by teaching college readiness. Its staple program is College Horizons, a summer program of pre-college workshops for sophomores and juniors.

The Scholars Program, meanwhile, is for those College Horizons graduates who are preparing for college this fall. It’s been hosted by Lawrence each of the past three summers.

In addition to the students from the Scholars Program, Lawrence also hosted Graduate Horizons, a four-day program offering graduate school admissions workshops for Native college students.

Lawrence is one of about 50 colleges that partner with College Horizons. The partnership, established shortly after the organization’s 1998 founding, was a step toward increased campus diversity and in support of academic excellence in higher learning institutions.

In 2015, the Mellon Foundation awarded Lawrence a three-year grant of $650,000 to support the partnership with College Horizons. The foundation promotes the arts, humanities and culture in higher education.

Lawrence has hosted the Scholars Program every summer since the program’s 2017 debut. While most of the participating students won’t be attending Lawrence, having the program on campus helps strengthen the partnership with College Horizons.

“It was an easy fit because of our history and the attractions to Lawrence,” says Mikaela Crank, director of the Scholars Program. “Small liberal arts campus, easy to navigate … it basically has the sense of community that we do here.”

The link between Lawrence and the Scholars Program is more in-depth than just the partnership; the three-week itinerary of the Scholars Program is modeled after Lawrence’s Freshman Studies. For five days a week, students attend writing seminars and lectures led by Lawrence faculty members Brigetta Miller, Julie Haurykiewicz and Kate Zoromski. The Scholars Program has “indigenized” the model by adding a cultural transitions course, taught by Crank, which gives students the “cultural capital tools” to navigate a campus and utilize its resources.

College Horizons’ emphasized attention to the students’ well-being on campus is a key to the program’s success. The Scholars Program sets itself apart from other summer bridge programs because, Crank says, they take a holistic approach to the students’ adjustment to the institution, in order to empower their indigenous identities in an academic setting.

“We don’t want to graduate broken students,” she says. “We want to graduate students who are whole and healthy and who are not broken down by the university. So, we are really taking well-being into account.”

For the Scholars Program, Crank brings in speakers to address mental health stigmas and physical wellness, organizes meditation workshops at the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, and holds financial aid workshops with the Admissions office, all with the goal of empowering students to be successful and resilient when they head to their respective colleges in the fall.

The results are moving. Hawaii native Sienna De Sa, who is on campus with the Scholars Program, said she remembers when Carmen Lopez, executive director of College Horizons, spoke at her high school. The program’s values struck a chord with her, and she felt she needed help applying for colleges. Her experience in the high school program motivated her to apply for the Scholars Program as a senior. She has since committed to the University of Hawaii Hilo and has found more than just academic prosperity.

“I’ve learned that I am strong and resilient,” says De Sa. “That I have the power to be indigenous, educated, and I do not have to be afraid to do so. College Horizons has also given me this amazing support system that I know I can rely on in the future.”

De Sa is far from the only student to blaze her trail with help from College Horizons. The organization’s data shows that 99 percent of College Horizons students have been accepted into college and 85 percent have graduated college in four or five years.

The Scholars Program students are set to leave campus this weekend after their three-week stay, but the College Horizons partnership with Lawrence will continue. Lawrence’s grant has just been approved for another three years.

In its 21st year, College Horizons continues to aim high — more innovative programming, brilliant scholars and host universities building bridges to the future.

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

Collaboration keys research into invasive weevils along Lake Michigan shoreline

Weevils crawl on a Pitcher's Thistle plant in Door County.
Weevils are seen on a Pitcher’s thistle plant in Door County.
(Photo: Jakub Nowak ’20)

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

If you’ve ever taken a summer walk in picturesque Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County, perhaps you’ve admired the incredible Pitcher’s thistle, an endangered flowering plant found on the sand dunes of the Great Lakes shores.

If you’ve taken a closer look, maybe you’ve spotted the invasive weevils that threaten the rare plant’s survival.

Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Biology Alyssa Hakes has been studying this plant-insect relationship since she heard about it in 2013. For a few weeks each summer, Hakes and a group of students conduct field work at Whitefish Dunes State Park, located 10 miles south of Björklunden, Lawrence’s Door County satellite campus. Their goal for each trip is to measure weevil distribution and behavior and assess its damage on the plants.

This year, Hakes wanted to create decoy Pitcher’s thistles to use as weevil traps to test their attraction to the visual cues of the plant. To put her plan in motion, she received the help of biology major Harsimran (Hari) Kalsi ’21, who created impressive 3D-printed decoys of the Pitcher’s thistle as an independent study project.

Harsimran (Hari) Kalsi ’21

Hakes had received a recommendation to work with Kalsi from David Hall, assistant professor of chemistry, and Angela Vanden Elzen, the reference and learning technologies librarian and assistant professor who oversees the Makerspace wing of the Seeley G. Mudd Library.

In his freshman year, Kalsi received 3D printing training from Vanden Elzen. He has since done 3D printing projects for Hall, designing and printing virus structures.

“Hari had the experience I needed in a collaborator,” says Hakes. “I had never worked with a 3D printer before, so I needed Hari and Angela’s help and expertise for everything.”

Kalsi was enthusiastic about taking his 3D printing experience to a new level.

“I was excited because I could use my skills to make a difference and potentially save a living organism on the verge of extinction,” he says. “I’m a huge proponent of translational science research and this is a great example of recognizing a problem in the world and designing an intervention to study and fix it.”

Field work in Door County

The weevils (Larinus carlinae) were introduced to the U.S. in the 1970s to control area populations of weedy thistles. However, it turns out that no thistle, even an endangered one, can avoid the weevils’ destruction.

The Pitcher’s thistle dies after flowering, so it only has one chance to reproduce. But the weevil comes along during egg-laying season and pierces the flower with its snout and lays her eggs within. The eggs hatch and the larvae eat the seeds, destroying the plant’s only chance to reproduce. That’s trouble for the Pitcher’s thistle species and for the ecosystem.

“It is one of the only flowering plants on the sand dunes, making it an important nectar resource to bees and butterflies,” Hakes notes.

A photo of pitcher's thistle on the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan.
Pitcher’s thistle is an important part of the ecosystem in dunes along the Great Lakes. (Photo: Jakub Nowak)

The weevils must be tracked and studied in their interactions with the Pitcher’s thistle in order to solve this problem. How do they choose a plant to lay their eggs in? How do they move about the dune landscape?

To find out, Hakes and her team use the mark-recapture method. This involves catching weevils and marking their backs with multicolored dots (Hakes calls these “weevil makeovers”) in order to track and identify them when they reappear in the wild. Here’s where Kalsi’s decoy plants come into play.

The faux Pitcher’s thistles are designed to trap weevils for study. They are coated in a sticky spray to snag the insect as they land to lay their eggs in the bud. The ability to manipulate the placement of the decoys makes them helpful in understanding how the weevils choose their host plant.

“This summer we tested whether weevils were attracted to our 3D-printed traps,” Hakes says. “Some traps were near real plants, and others were not. Our preliminary data on the mark-recapture study suggest that the traps are potentially more effective near real plants.”

Alyssa Hakes

She’s already setting goals for future field work based on this summer’s success with the decoys.

“We caught a few this summer. Ultimately, it would be great to use them to trap evil weevils en masse. The prototype will need to be improved if it is to be an effective tool in the future.”

Since the appearance of the decoys can be manipulated, she also hopes to use them to assess the weevil’s preferences for bud size, bud number, color and scent in the future. The possibilities are endless. Luckily, Kalsi says, “the decoys are easy to print, economically feasible and easy to transport and deploy in the field.”

In the end, the collaboration between professor and student, and ecology and tech, indicates a bright future in research.

“I love how projects like this help students and faculty collaborate across the campus and think creatively about solving problems,” says Hakes. “It’s been such a fun way to combine art and science.”

And the benefits go both ways. Kalsi’s 3D printing work has rewarded him as a student.

“I think the research I conducted with Alyssa supplements my educational path at some level,” he says. “Being a biology major who tends to focus on the molecular side of things, it was nice to work on an ecology-oriented project.”

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

Generous donors put Lawrence’s annual fundraising at near-record levels

Nabor Vazquez '19 gives a presentation as students and faculty look on during Lawrence University's Biofest 2019.
Nabor Vazquez ’19 gives a presentation during Lawrence University’s Biofest 2019. A wide variety of academic endeavors are supported by the Lawrence Fund, which had its second best giving year to date.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The generosity of Lawrence University supporters shone bright in the 2018-19 fiscal year that concluded at the end of June.

Monies raised for the Lawrence Fund, a key funding mechanism to support students, the work of faculty and the upkeep of the campus infrastructure, surpassed $3.9 million, the second highest one-year total in the school’s history.

But that is just one slice of the good news the school is reporting. The overall giving across all funds topped $24.4 million, the fourth highest ever.

The ongoing generosity of donors speaks to the deep relationship Lawrence alumni and other supporters have with the school, the desire to enhance the Lawrence experience for today’s students and the pledge to pay it forward for future Lawrentians, said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development.

“The impact of philanthropic investment in the college is profound and enhances all aspects of the student experience,” he said.

The Lawrence Fund plays a significant role in the campus’s operation, supporting everything from scholarships, study abroad opportunities and research to infrastructure maintenance, Conservatory performances and athletics. It affects every student and every member of the faculty and staff in some measure.

Students and faculty pose for a selfie on a D Term trip to Hong Kong in 2018.
Study abroad opportunities are supported by the Lawrence Fund. Here an LU group poses for a selfie in Hong Kong in December 2018 while studying sustainability, livability and urban design.

The alumni donor participation rates in the Lawrence Fund have an impact on national rankings and future funding opportunities. It’s estimated that without the Lawrence Fund, each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 per year.

“Gifts to the Lawrence Fund keep the entire academic and co-curricular offerings robust,” Husmann said. “Donors have invested in the curriculum, allowing us to add new professorships, enhance classrooms, and fund student-faculty collaborations.”

The $3.9 million raised in the Lawrence Fund is second only to the $3.91 million raised in the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

Meanwhile, the overarching $220 million Be the Light! campaign, which launched quietly in January 2014 and had its public launch in November 2018, has reached $182.3 million in gifts and pledges. The ongoing campaign, the largest in Lawrence’s history, includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones. It also includes 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.

The recent $2.5 million gift from J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 to create an endowed professorship to teach the psychology of collaboration is the latest in a string of endowed positions, supported by Lawrence alumni, that have boosted and diversified the school’s academic offerings.

Mike O’Connor recently began his work as Lawrence’s new Riaz Waraich Dean of the Center for Career, Life and Community Engagement (CLC), a newly endowed position that aims to better prepare students for life after Lawrence by, in part, enhancing connections with alumni in the students’ fields of interest.

The Full Speed to Full Need fund has made progress toward its goal of reaching $85 million, Husmann said. When that number is finally reached, it will mark a major milestone for the university in its ongoing commitment to make sure the doors are open to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

The fund has already delivered direct financial aid assistance to 250 students, and another 100 incoming students are expected to benefit in the 2019-20 academic year.

“The Lawrence community has rallied around the Full Speed to Full Need fundraising initiative in an increasingly strong fashion,” Husmann said. “With more than $82 million raised, we can provide more financial resources for our students than ever before, which is driving LU student debt down — against a national trend of increasing student debt.”

That sort of engagement is seen from Lawrence alumni all year round, Husmann said, and not just in the form of financial gifts or pledges. Lawrence alumni give back to Lawrence in other ways, too, he said.

“Hundreds of alumni serve as resources for the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement, volunteer with Innovation and Entrepreneurship, volunteer with admissions, and serve on boards and advisory groups. This reflects the enthusiasm Lawrence alumni have for their alma mater.

“We in the Lawrence community are so grateful for this impressive support.”

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