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Eight Alumni Honored for Career Achievement, Service to the College

A tragic accident didn’t derail David Gray’s career. It redirected it.

The 1966 Lawrence University graduate will be recognized by his alma mater with the college’s Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award Saturday, June 16 as part of the annual Reunion Weekend celebration.

Gray, of St. Louis, Mo., will be one of eight alumni honored for career achievements, contributions to the betterment of society or volunteer service to Lawrence at the annual Reunion Convocation at 10:30 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.  The event is free and open to the public.

Nearly 800 alumni and guests from 41 states and seven countries, including Romania, Singapore and Spain, are expected to participate in the festivities.

This year’s reunion unofficially opens Thursday with a special series of panel presentations and small-group discussions organized by members of the new Lawrence 50-Year Connection, a cohort of alumni who have graduated 50 or more years ago. Scheduled topics include “College Experiences That Mattered Later On,” “Picking Myself Up and Getting Back in the Race” and “Words of Wisdom.”

Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award

David Gray '66

At the age of 32, and shortly after completing his graduate studies, Gray fell from the roof of his home, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Undeterred, Gray put his Ph.D. in psychology and genetics to work as a researcher, advocate and spokesperson for those with disabilities.

After a long career with the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education, Gray joined the Washington University School of Medicine as a professor of occupational therapy and neurology. He has collaborated regularly with the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, helping to pass disability related laws, secure grants and bring about a greater understanding of disability issues to policy makers.

Most recently, Gray has been working with the country’s leading engineering schools and their students to design and produce more advanced equipment for those living with disabilities.

Alice Peacock, Nashville, Tenn., and Marcia Mentkowski, Milwaukee, will join Gray as recipients of the Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award. Named in honor of the second president of Milwaukee-Downer College, the award recognizes alumni of more than 15 years for outstanding contributions to, and achievements in, a career field.

Alice Peacock '92

A singer, songwriter and literacy activist, Peacock is living the dream of a professional independent musician. Since her debut album, “Real Day” in 1999, the 1992 Lawrence graduate has released three more albums: the self-titled “Alice Peacock;” “Who I Am” in 2006; and “Love Remains” in 2009.  She has recorded with such notable artists as Bob Dylan, John Mayer and John Mellencamp while performing around the country.

Inspired by one of her own songs about individuals taking action to make a difference — “I’ll Start With Me” — Peacock partnered in 2003 with Hugh Haller, president of the Camping and Education Foundation and photographer Paul Natkin to create Rock for Reading. The nonprofit organization leverages the power of music to inspire literacy, motivating and empowering people to enrich their lives through reading.

Marcia Mentkowski M-D '61

Mentkowski, a 1961 Milwaukee-Downer College graduate, enjoyed a distinguished career in higher education. After completing a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mentkowski embarked on a career that included appointments at Harvard University and the University of Toledo.

A renowned expert in the field of educational evaluation, Mentkowski joined Alverno College in 1976, where she helped the institution refine its unique educational approach, one that employs alternative assessment techniques rather than standard letter grades. During her more than 30 years at Alverno, Mentkowski published extensively, served in leadership positions in a number of national professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, and served in consulting roles for numerous colleges, universities and governmental bodies.

George B. Walter Service to Society Award

Robert VanDale, New Wilmington, Pa., a 1957 Lawrence graduate, will receive the George B. Walter Service to Society Award. Named in honor of Walter, ’36, beloved former faculty member and dean of men at Lawrence, who believed strongly that every individual can and should make a positive difference in the world, the award recognizes alumni who best exemplify the ideals of a liberal education through socially useful service in their community, the nation or the world.

Robert VanDale '57

Professor emeritus at Pennsylvania’s Westminster College, where he spent 25 years as director of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Center, VanDale devoted his long career, both inside and outside the classroom, to national and international ecumenical and interfaith dialogues. During a sabbatical in the late 1990s, he conducted taped interviews with 100 “peacemakers” throughout the United States.

In addition to teaching and curriculum development, VanDale traveled the world — Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Northern Ireland, among others —  working on a variety of reconciliation and peacemaking efforts. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, VanDale turned his attention to bridging the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities, leading international teams in an interfaith cooperative movement. A member of several national and international boards, VanDale, in retirement, remains involved in peace and justice issues, including projects affiliated with Habitat for Humanity and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program.

Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp Outstanding Service Award

George Chandler, Durham, N.C., Hugh Denison, Milwaukee, and Marian “Kirk” Kirkpatrick Torian, Mequon, will receive the Gertrude Breithaupt Jupp Outstanding Service Award in recognition of their extensive volunteer efforts on behalf of Lawrence.

George Chandler '51

A 1951 graduate, Chandler has contributed time, talent and treasure to his alma mater, most notably through the George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professorship in Music he and his late wife, Marjorie Olsen Chandler ’44, established in 2003. The professorship reflects the Chandler’s deep appreciation for their Lawrence educations, their love of music and their conviction of the importance of music and arts participation in a liberal arts education.

Chandler has served as a class agent since 2008 and as a committee member for his 50thand 60th reunions. He assisted with the plan for the public phase of Lawrence’s More Light! campaign as a member of the Alumni Advisory Committee and provided gifts and loans of artwork in 2011 to celebrate the successful conclusion of the campaign, as part of the “Lawrence Collects” exhibition.

Denison, a 1968 graduate who left a successful investing career with Heartland Funds at the age of 50 for eight years to focus on teaching  Milwaukee inner-city youth, has spent the past six years as co-chair of the Legacy Circle National Council, promoting Lawrence’s planned giving program at events and through personal testimonials.

Hugh Denison '68

He helped lay the groundwork for the successful More Light! campaign by hosting a focus group and educating key volunteers and potential donors about it. As a member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees’ development committee and capital campaign committee, Denison has been instrumental in the college’s fundraising efforts, crossing the country to develop strong relationships with alumni and supporters of the college and encouraging donors to realize their full philanthropic potential.

Denison has served as an admissions volunteer, was a member of the gift committee for his 40th reunion and has shared his investment expertise with students through the Lawrence Scholars in Business program.

Marian Torian M-D '44

Torian, a 1944 Milwaukee-Downer graduate, spent more than 30 years as a class agent, endearing herself to classmates by including an appropriate cartoon from The New Yorker with her letters. A member of the Lawrence University Alumni Association board from 1995-1999, she also served on committees for her 50th and 60th reunions. She is a former co-chair of the Lawrence-Downer Legacy Circle and presently serves on the Legacy Circle National Council.

Presidential Award

Richard Boya, New Berlin, will receive the Presidential Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership and notable actions that have contributed to the betterment of the entire Lawrence community.

Richard Boya '52

A 1952 graduate, Boya was instrumental in the creation of the Lawrence development office in the early 1960s, serving as the college’s first vice president for development and external affairs.  In the role, he launched Lawrence’s planned giving program and established the Founders Club. Over the years, he has shared his expertise about best practices in fundraising with many Lawrence staff members.

A former admissions volunteer and class agent, Boya has served on various committees for his 40th, 5othand 60thclass reunions.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Lawrence University President Jill Beck to Retire in June 2013

Lawrence University President Jill Beck announced Thursday (2/2) that she plans to retire in June 2013 after nine years as Lawrence’s president.

Beck, the first woman president in Lawrence’s history, became the college’s 15th president in July 2004.

Lawrence University President Jill Beck

“I think much has been accomplished over the past eight years,” said Beck. “Certainly I see a campus physically transformed, a faculty that has grown in number and a student body that is more diverse. There have been enhancements to the curriculum including Senior Experience, dance studies and the expansion of the film studies program with a focus on film production. There are greatly increased opportunities for student internships and research experiences to support our students’ transition from Lawrence into their future lives.”

Terry Franke, chair of the Board of Trustees, said finding President Beck’s successor would be a significant challenge.

“President Beck has helped Lawrence achieve a position of great strength,” said Franke. “She was a stellar fund raiser, leading the recently completed More Light! campaign to great success despite a troubled economy—exceeding the $150 million goal by more than $10 million. During her tenure Lawrence made significant investments in the physical plant in Appleton and in Door County, including the construction of the Warch Campus Center, significant renovations of the Memorial Chapel, Memorial Hall, the Wellness Center and residence halls; plus an expansion of the Björklunden lodge and the addition of a wind turbine on the northern campus. She led these initiatives without incurring any debt. In addition, she championed new academic initiatives such as the Lawrence Fellows program and LU-R1, which provides prestigious off-campus research opportunities for undergraduate science majors. Lawrence also has an expanded Career Center, is greener and boasts an enhanced wellness program. There is no doubt that Lawrence is well positioned for the future thanks to President Beck’s leadership.”

Franke credited Beck for timing her retirement in a manner that provides the Board of Trustees with a generous timeframe to plan and execute the search for Lawrence’s 16th president. He added that Trustee Dale Schuh, the chair, CEO, and president of Sentry Insurance and a Lawrence alumnus, would lead the presidential search committee.

“The board has already started the lengthy process to select a new leader and is looking forward to this important work,” said Franke. “Our goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Beck said the next 17 months would be busy ones as she focuses on several priorities aimed at maintaining Lawrence’s strong momentum.

“I will work with the economics faculty and their interdisciplinary colleagues on their initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Beck said. “In addition I will direct energies toward the completion of the renovation of the former Downer Commons as a center for film studies and as the new home of Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni and Constituency Engagement. Certainly other priorities will come to the forefront this year and next, as I work with Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski and other members of the high-achieving Lawrence community.”

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Beck received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Clark University, a master’s degree in history from McGill University and a Ph.D. in theatre from the City University of New York.

In 2009, called Beck a “barrier breaker,” one of 15 female college presidents on Forbes’ list of America’s 50 Best Colleges.

An interactive phonecast with President Beck and Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Terry Franke will be held on Thursday, March 1 at noon. Details for participating will be forthcoming.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

$5 Million Gift Helps Launch Lawrence Film Studies Center

A game-changer for Lawrence University.

President Jill Beck announced a $5 million gift from Lawrence graduates Tom and Julie Hurvis that will support the establishment of The Hurvis Center for Interdisciplinary Film Studies, a facility dedicated to the integration of film production into the Lawrence curriculum.

The $5 million gift from the Hurvis Charitable Foundation was a part of Lawrence’s recently concluded “More Light!” campaign that raised more than $160 million.

Julie '61 and Tom Hurvis '60

The opening of the Hurvis Center will expand the scope of Lawrence’s current film curriculum, physically and intellectually.  The program currently includes interdisciplinary courses on film theory, history and analysis. The gift will create a fully functional film production studio supporting students’ creation of film and video for artistic and scholarly expression.

Beginning with its signature course, Freshman Studies, Lawrence provides a rigorous education in the traditional forms of literacy — cogent writing and oral dialogue. The enhanced film program will complement those traditions by engaging students in a third form of literacy essential for the 21st century: the visual literacy of film and video.

“Students already learn to ‘read’ film through our existing film theory and history curriculum,” said Beck. “The expanded program made possible by Tom and Julie Hurvis will enable students to learn to ‘write’ as well, producing original documentaries and creative films to express ideas, to raise awareness about issues of concern, and to share research with scholarly and community audiences.

“We are fortunate that an imaginative interdisciplinary approach to film studies has evolved and grown at Lawrence over the past many years,” Beck added. “The Hurvis gift recognizes that fact and generously provides us with the opportunity to add film production to our students’ education and integrate production into our existing program.”

Tom Hurvis, a 1960 Lawrence graduate and chairman and CEO of Old World Industries in Chicago, sees the program as a “game-changer for Lawrence.”

“It really puts the college into a different arena,” said Hurvis. “Here’s an innovation that is something new and it definitely fits with Lawrence. What else could potentially bring so many different members of the faculty together?”

Catherine Tatge '72

Award-winning filmmaker Catherine Tatge, a 1972 Lawrence graduate, will serve as a consultant to help get the program launched, offering workshops, assisting students and faculty with specific projects, and consulting with film studies faculty on how the Hurvis gift can best be put to use in curricular development.

“Catherine has expressed enthusiasm for the existing film studies program and is eager to work with faculty on an enhanced program that reflects Lawrence’s distinctiveness,” said Beck.

With more than 25 years of filmmaking experience, Tatge brings a unique vision for the development of a program that will be integrated through diverse areas of the Lawrence curriculum.

“I’m very excited about this new program,” said Tatge, whose latest documentary film, “John Muir in the New World,” premiered on PBS’ “American Masters” series earlier this year. “As a Lawrence graduate, I know the culture of this institution. Developing this program is really going to be a process, working with the faculty and with students to help build something that is uniquely tailored to Lawrence.”

2010 Lawrence graduate Garth Neustadter composed the score for the John Muir film and won an Emmy Award in the original music composition category.

The Hurvises are looking forward to watching the evolution of a distinctive film program rooted in Lawrence’s liberal arts tradition.

“This project is open-ended,” said Julie Hurvis, who graduated from Lawrence in 1961 with a degree in studio art. “We’re excited about it becoming a reality, as people are hired and begin working on the program.”

Filmmaking at Lawrence will promote cross fertilization throughout the campus, drawing upon resources from music performance, composition and arranging, art, dance, theatre, and creative writing. It aspires to engage many academic departments by making film another way for students and faculty to disseminate disciplinary research and ideas.

“Lawrence already has very good creative synergy with the conservatory of music, with art, the theatre department and other creative areas, so the film program will be a beautiful tie-in to all of those different creative juices,” said Tom Hurvis.

“I see bringing different parts of the university together to work on different aspects of the media and cinema process so that students will leave Lawrence being media-savvy and capable of effectively communicating their ideas,” added Tatge.

The Hurvis Center will be located in the renovated lower level of the former Jason Downer Commons. It will provide more than 5,500 square feet of new academic programming space, including a 2,000-square-foot central performance and screening venue for use by film studies and other disciplines, including theatre, dance and music. The large and flexible space will promote collaboration and cross fertilization among multiple disciplines.

The gift also will support the addition of a new faculty position to develop new offerings on filmmaking and a technical position to provide expertise in maintaining equipment and instruction on how to use it.

“Lawrence is truly fortunate to have philanthropists like Tom and Julie Hurvis among its alumni,” said Beck.  “They have a wonderful vision for Lawrence as one of the very best liberal arts institutions in the nation and have made landmark investments in the college to help it achieve that stature.”

Tom and Julie Hurvis’ interests in film include serving as producers of the 2009 award-winning documentary film “The Providence Effect.”  Winner of two film festival “Best Documentary” awards, the film chronicles the efforts of Paul Adams to transform Providence St. Mel, an all-black parochial school on Chicago’s notorious drug-ridden, gang-ruled West Side into a first-rank college preparatory school for its African-American student body.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence University Receives $3.9 Million Gift from Two Former Students

A $3.99 million gift from the charitable trust of two former Lawrence University students who met on campus more than 75 years ago will provide significant investment in campus facilities as well as support for student scholarships and the endowment officials announced today.

One of the largest gifts in Lawrence history, the $3,997,319.72 bequest from the Paul and Katherine Schmidt Trust will be directed toward three main areas: improvements in the campus physical plant, including residence halls; the Paul and Kay Schmidt Endowed Scholarship Fund, which was established in 1989 to support students with interests in economics or business; and Lawrence’s endowment.

“We are deeply grateful to Paul and Kay Schmidt for their loving and generous support of Lawrence University,” said President Jill Beck in announcing the gift.  “They always were faithful donors to the college throughout their lifetimes.  Our alumni as a whole support the college and conservatory in innumerable ways, at different levels of funding but with equal passion for the experiences they had at Lawrence.  We hope the entire community feels affirmed through the recognition and magnanimous support of Paul and Kay Schmidt.”

Both members of Lawrence’s class of 1939, Paul and Kay Schmidt attended the college’s homecoming festivities together in 1935 as a first date.  They eventually married and shared more than 68 years of marriage together.

A native of Park Ridge, Ill., Paul Schmidt participated in an executive program at Harvard University after earning a degree in economics at Lawrence. He spent most of his career with the Harold F. Pitman Company, a printing business, rising to rank of chief executive officer and chairman of the privately-held company based in New Jersey.  He retired in 1982, having helped the company grow into North America’s leading graphic arts supplier. He died in November 2009 at the age of 92.

Kay, a native of Chicago, passed away in February 2009 at the age of 91.

The Schmidts established their charitable trust in 1994 during the five-year, $60 million “Lawrence 150” campaign celebrating the college’s sesquicentennial.

“Just as their initial gift provided momentum for the Lawrence 150 campaign, this latest gift is a great boost to our current More Light campaign,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni, development and communications.  “Deferred gifts like the Schmidts’ are playing an increasingly important role in our campaign and other fund-raising efforts across the country.”

The $150 million “More Light” campaign, publicly launched in October 2008, has raised $137 million to date.  The campaign is expected to conclude in October 2011.