A $1 million bequest from an anonymous donor will provide valuable research support for Lawrence University faculty while honoring the college’s 14th president, and his wife, Lawrence officials have announced.
The bequest establishes the Richard and Margot Warch Fund for Scholarly Research. The fund will be administered by Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows for faculty scholarship, travel expenses, student research support and the purchase of research materials, including instrumentation and books.
“One of the great strengths of a Lawrence education is the opportunity for students to work closely with faculty who are engaged in scholarly or creative projects,” said Burrows. “Our faculty are outstanding scholars and creative artists as well as excellent teachers. These funds will enhance the support available to faculty. All faculty will be eligible to apply for small grants that will help them complete such projects.”
The endowed fund honors Richard “Rik” Warch, former dean of the faculty and the second-longest serving president in Lawrence history, who led the college from 1979-2004, and his wife, Margot. President Warch passed away in September, 2013 at the age of 74.
“Rik felt interactions between faculty and students were the essence of the Lawrence experience,” said Margot Warch. “He celebrated the work and achievements of each faculty member as dean of the faculty and as president was always looking for dollars to encourage scholarship and development projects. He would be thrilled to know that a fund bearing our names now exists to support faculty research.”
Funds to support faculty research will become available beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.
Richard Warch, who served as president of Lawrence University for 25 years, passed away peacefully after a battle with cancer Saturday morning, Sept. 14, 2013 at his home in Ellison Bay, Wis. He was 74 years old.
Warch came to Lawrence in 1977 as vice president for academic affairs and professor of history. In 1979 he succeeded Thomas Smith, who had been president since 1969. He became the college’s 14th president on July 1, 1979, and retired from that office on June 30, 2004. Warch was the second-longest serving president in Lawrence’s history. Only Samuel Plantz, who served 30 years as Lawrence’s president from 1894 to 1924, had a longer tenure. Nearly one-third of Lawrence’s 20,000 alumni now living graduated during Warch’s presidency.
Many people of all ages knew Warch affectionately as “Rik,” and his own story and Lawrence’s are so intertwined in “the Warch years” that it is impossible to separate them. Warch loved Lawrence and he practiced his presidency with zest, style, intellect, wit and warmth. He was a tireless and effective champion of the liberal arts college and of the unparalleled benefits and joys of a liberal education, especially as Lawrence practiced it. He extolled the residential liberal arts college model as a powerful and life-changing kind of education. He used many of his 25 annual Matriculation Convocation addresses at Lawrence, and numerous other occasions, to articulate the virtues of liberal learning. He compiled these addresses in a book, titled “A Matter of Style: Reflections on Liberal Education,” that the Lawrence University Press published in 2011, and which Lawrence made available to the public in 2012.
“So many people had the pleasure of knowing Rik as a colleague, friend and teacher,” said Lawrence President Mark Burstein. “During his 25 years as president he strengthened the university’s academic offerings, constructed much of what we call our campus today and fostered an engaging learning environment through personal charm and intellectual discourse. Rik also revitalized Bjorklunden and more closely connected our northern campus to the university’s mission.
“All of us at Lawrence will have many opportunities to celebrate his life in the coming weeks and months,” he added, “but at this moment our hearts and prayers go out to his wife, Margot, and the Warch family.”
Former Lawrence president Jill Beck, who succeeded Warch in 2004, hailed him as “the most eloquent spokesperson I have ever heard” on the value of liberal arts education.
“Rik was a partisan advocate for the kind of education Lawrence offers, and his persuasive oratory was a model for involved, educated citizens,” said Beck. “I will remember his open-hearted manner, his warm laugh, his wit, his scholarly understanding. He was a beloved figure who put the community first while paying attention and care to each of its members. He will be greatly missed and our sympathy goes out to Margot and his family.”
When asked at the time of his retirement what he would consider the main elements of his legacy, Warch started with a quotation from Jacques Barzun, a rather dismal view of the president’s job, concluding that “If, after his term of office, he has secured for the college a new gymnasium or library, he is held in as high esteem as if he had contributed an idea or an atmosphere.”
Warch hoped that “an idea or an atmosphere” would be his own legacy at Lawrence. To that end, he said, he had “tried to use Lawrence’s own history and past as a way of framing its present and future,” drawing on “the larger institutional history and trajectory, sometimes substantively, sometimes humorously” that went beyond the buildings and articulation of the importance of a liberal arts education. He brought familiarity through continuity to the college and its inhabitants, as he believed “familiarity can induce a sense of stability.”
While Warch maintained an intimate view of Lawrence, he was also constantly aware of Lawrence’s “circumstances in the larger context of American higher education, especially liberal education,” paying attention to “issues that are connected to Lawrence but transcend Lawrence.” He felt it was important that the purposes of a liberal education get continually articulated, because if they’re not, the “’transcending sense’ of what the larger purposes are can too easily be neglected or forgotten.”
Warch earned the faculty’s approbation for the variety of progressive steps he took. Early in his presidency he instigated a curriculum review, which resulted in a new set of general education requirements to replace the less precise divisional requirements then in place. He also reinstated Lawrence’s signature Freshman Studies program, which was started by his predecessor, Nathan Pusey, in 1945. The program was dropped for a brief period in the mid-1970s and reinstated as a one-term course in 1978. Warch persuaded the faculty to restore the program to its two-term format in 1986 by arguing that Freshman Studies provides continuity within each freshman class, with everyone reading, discussing, and writing about the same works their first year. Since 1945, the common book that Lawrence alumni share is Plato’s Republic, as it is the work that every veteran of Freshman Studies has read and parsed.
Warch also transformed the Conservatory of Music, expanding its curricular scope and establishing its place firmly in Lawrence’s broad liberal arts curriculum. In earlier years, the college and the conservatory functioned as separate entities with different students, academic requirements and expectations. Under Warch’s leadership, students in both the college and the conservatory were invited and encouraged to sample each other’s worlds. Today, Lawrence continues to offer a bachelor of music degree, but it also offers a bachelor of arts in music, allowing students to double major in subjects as disparate as physics and voice performance.
Warch cared about Lawrence and he cared for Lawrence. He greatly esteemed his predecessor, Henry Wriston, who declared: “Learning, it cannot be too often repeated, is a way of life. That being so, we must pay attention to how students live. The college home is educational, or it is not…Students should be surrounded with works of artistic merit; the landscaping of the campus should not be neglected; music, poetry, drama, religious services, leisure activities of many kinds should invite appreciation.”
Transforming the Campus
Warch embraced Wriston’s words by landscaping the Lawrence grounds, unifying signage across the campus and taking personal responsibility for trash-free lawns. Anyone engaged in conversation with him outdoors on the campus could expect to be interrupted at some point while he dashed away to retrieve a piece of trash and put it in a receptacle. At a dinner the trustees gave to celebrate his 20th year in office, one trustee turned “The Twelve Days of Christmas” into a recital of Warch’s virtues. After a couple of rounds the trustees spontaneously and heartily chimed in with “picks up campus trash” in place of “three French hens…”
He paid direct homage to Wriston’s philosophy with the construction of a new art center in 1989, which met the longtime goal of integrating studio art and art history. Aptly named the Wriston Art Center, it was to be the first of six new and eight remodeled buildings, either built or transformed during the Warch years. He also oversaw the construction of the Buchanan Kiewit Center (1986); Shattuck Hall of Music (1991); Briggs Hall (1997); Science Hall (2000) and Hiett Hall (2003); as well major renovations to Alexander Gym (1986); Main Hall (2000); Youngchild Hall (2001) and the Seeley G. Mudd Library (2001), among others.
Given the great need, capital campaigns thus became familiar and frequent fixtures during his presidency. And they were successful, always exceeding their goals. Warch covered the country soliciting funds from potential donors, usually lugging the very cumbersome equipment required in those days for showing even a brief film about Lawrence’s virtues. In addition to financing the buildings, the funds from these campaigns helped finance faculty chairs and scholarships for needy and/or worthy students. Under his leadership, Lawrence’s endowment grew from $23 million at the start of his presidency, to more than $182 million at the time of his retirement.
His crowning glory was the rebuilding and expansion of Lawrence’s presence at its beautiful northern campus, Björklunden, on Lake Michigan, south of Baileys Harbor in Door County. The transformation of Björklunden was the result of Rik’s early ability to identify the location’s potential as an integral part of the Lawrence educational experience.
In 1963, the 425-acre property was given to Lawrence by Donald and Winifred Boynton. The lodge that had been the Boynton’s summer home burned irreparably in August, 1993 and the future of the property became uncertain at best. Most Lawrentians had never been there and many trustees knew it simply as a deficit item in Lawrence’s financial statements. Its only connection to the college was the series of summer seminars – some taught by Lawrence faculty members – that small groups of alumni and friends attended beginning in 1980.
The Björklunden Experience
The trustees challenged Warch to present a vision of what Björklunden could be and “how it could fit in the overall mission of Lawrence as an undergraduate college of the liberal arts and sciences and music,” as he described his charge. What he came forth with was a masterpiece entitled “Autodidacts, Cyberspace, Students, and Björklunden.”
“As a physical setting,” Warch advocated, “Björklunden provides a place that enables and encourages people to confront themselves and others on a personal scale, one that is and will be at sharp contrast to the isolation of the autodidact of the anonymity of mass culture.” He cautioned “we should not dismiss the capacity of Björklunden to effect in us sentiments that help make us whole. I do not want to ignore the very real sense of peace and serenity that Björklunden affords, as these human needs are met with decreasing regularity in the modern, digitized, high-tech world. As what Winifred Boynton called ‘a sanctuary for all,’ ‘far removed from confusion and aggression,’ Björklunden can serve an aspect of our mission in a distinctive and important way.”
Warch acknowledged that in 1995 faculty members were already proposing “some very promising uses of the place for the teaching and learning mission of the college” and were “certain to devise many other creative proposals….” “But,” he continued, “my vision for Björklunden takes a different and more ambitious tack. I propose that Lawrence commit itself to a program that would guarantee every student an opportunity for a Björklunden experience at some point in his or her undergraduate career. Rather than leave it to the initiative of individuals or groups to go to Björklunden or to the happenstance of which faculty have integrated activities at Björklunden into their own courses in which term, I urge us to explore and create ways to make Björklunden a part of what it means to be a Lawrence student and to participate in our brand of liberal education.”
He called for “broad participation of students and faculty in determining the content and contours of what [he] called a Björklunden experience and in devising the program to deliver it.” He posited “the universality of a Björklunden experience would be a common bond shared by all Lawrentians, a memorable, even a pivotal moment in their undergraduate years.” He felt this experience at Björklunden would be unique to the Lawrence brand of liberal education; no other liberal arts college would be offering anything quite like it.
Warch worked tirelessly on steering Björklunden’s growth and promise, and on securing the resources to make that possible. For many years he chaired the Björklunden Advisory Committee, and at the annual gathering of the Boynton Society at Björklunden he was often the speaker, extolling the value Björklunden had added to a Lawrence undergraduate liberal arts education and to the lives of countless graduates and friends in the broader community.
The trustees unanimously embraced his vision. Near the site of the burned lodge, the college built a new lodge equipped to house large groups of students and faculty during the school year, and almost immediately following its construction, had to start planning for an addition. Warch’s vision quickly caught on, and the summer seminars for adult education that had started in 1985 on a small scale, limited by the lack of housing and classroom space, expanded to meet the new and increasing interest and demand.
“The revival and extension of Björklunden is … one thing I really care about,” Warch told Lawrence Today on the eve of his retirement. His vision of resurrecting the “Björklunden experience” and “opening it up to students and faculty for experiences and engagements beyond the classrooms, studios and laboratories of the Appleton campus” is now a reality.
English professor Timothy Spurgin, who has taught many summer seminars and led students to Björklunden during the academic year as well, admonished his pupils last summer that, “every time you experience this wonderful place and savor its offerings, you should bow down and thank Rik Warch!” Since its relaunch, Björklunden has expanded steadily. It provided 112 seminars for nearly 1,600 students during the 2012-13 academic year.
Warch unfailingly included the importance of personal interaction outside of the classroom in his view of liberal education. He enjoyed casual campus conversations with faculty and students, and looked forward to their concerts and athletic events. His regular attendance at conservatory concerts and recitals demonstrated his eclectic taste in music; he was as enthralled by a Lawrence Symphony concert as with the jazz improvisations. His favorite group of all time was the Sambistas.
Warch was also an avid fan of Lawrence athletics and attended as many games, meets and races as he could, cheering on the Lawrence teams with gusto. He took pleasure in recognizing student athletes when he ran into them on campus and would take these opportunities to comment on a play that interested him or a skill he admired. Perhaps his greatest pleasure was reading bedtime stories to students in their residence halls, which he happily undertook as an integral part of his unofficial job description – “other duties as assigned,” as he put it.
Campus Center Honors his Legacy
Several years after he retired, Lawrence secured the funds to build a version of the dream Warch had had decades earlier, a campus center where the college’s constituents could gather and engage in various activities, a crossroads of the campus. The major donor, who remains anonymous, asked that the building be named the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center, in honor not only of Rik, but of his wife Margot, who also played a vital role in the life of the Lawrence community.
He was born August 4, 1939, in Hackensack, N.J., the son of George and Helen Warch. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College in 1961 and then enrolled at Yale University, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1964 and a Ph.D. in American studies in 1968. In 1962 he and Margot were married. They traveled to Scotland where he spent his second year of divinity school at The University of Edinburgh. He was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1964.
Rik’s distinguished career in higher education began at Yale, where he taught history and American studies for nine years. While at Yale, he also directed its National Humanities Institute for two years and spent a year as associate dean of Yale College and director of the Visiting Faculty Program.
In addition to A Matter of Style, he published School of the Prophets: Yale College, 1701-1740 and co-edited the book John Brown, from the Great Lives Observed Series. He also published numerous articles in scholarly publications on American religious history, U.S. history, and liberal education.
He served as chair or director on numerous boards during his career, among them Competitive Wisconsin Inc., Wausau Insurance Company, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, the Wisconsin Ethics Board, the Appleton Development Council, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, and the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. By virtue of his office, Warch also was a trustee of Lawrence University.
In 1987, Warch was cited as one of the country’s top 100 college presidents in the two-year study, “The Effective College President,” which was funded by the Exxon Education Foundation.
Following Rik’s retirement, Lawrence recognized him with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the college’s 2005 commencement. Ripon College presented him with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1980.
During his retirement in Door County, Warch appreciated opportunities to travel with Margot and enjoyed extended visits with his children, grandchildren and friends. He was a member of the Peninsula Players Board of Directors, active at the UUFellowship and was a student as well as a teacher in seminars at Bjorklunden, where he was head of the advisory committee.
He is survived by his wife Margot; his two sons and their families, who live in St. Paul, Minn.: Stephen, his wife Alexandra Klass, and their daughters Helen and Zoe; and David, his wife Sarah, and their daughters Sydney and Georgie; and his daughter Karin, a Ph.D. candidate who studies and teaches in London, England. He is also survived by his sister Linda Fenton, his aunt Betty Hansen, his brothers-in-law Peter Fenton and Bob Moses, his sisters-in-law Lois Moses, Marilyn Moses, Marysue Moses, and their families.
A memorial service will be held at Lawrence on a day and time still to be determined.
Richard Warch will find himself in a familiar spot this Sunday (6/12) for Lawrence University’s annual graduation ceremonies — near the front of the processional and upon the commencement stage. But instead of overseeing the conferring of honorary degrees as he did for 25 years, he will be the recipient of one this time.
Warch, who retired in 2004 as president of Lawrence, along with well-known composer and jazz musician John Harmon and Wisconsin business leader and philanthropist Herbert Kohler will be recognized for their achievements and contributions by Lawrence with honorary degrees during the college’s 156th commencement, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall green. Two hundred and seventy-nine seniors are expected to receive bachelor of arts and/or music degrees.
During the ceremony, Lawrence will award an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts to Harmon, an honorary Doctor of Laws to Kohler, the chairman, chief operating officer and president of the Kohler Company, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Warch. In addition, the annual Lawrence University Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award will be presented to Marilyn Catlin, a family consumer education teacher at Appleton East High School and Joseph Vitrano, who teaches Latin and English at Wauwatosa East High School.
A baccalaureate service featuring Julie McQuinn, assistant professor of music, will be held Saturday, June 11 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
The three honorary doctorate degree recipients, along with President Jill Beck, Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair William Hochkammer and student representative Andria Helm, a senior from Rocky Mount, N.C., will address the graduates during commencement. Both the baccalaureate service and commencement ceremony are free and open to the public.
Harmon, a native of Oshkosh who now resides in Winneconne, has left an indelible musical imprint, locally as well as nationally, as a pianist, composer, arranger and educator. After earning a bachelor of music degree in composition from Lawrence in 1957, he embarked on a musical career that saw him study with legendary pianist Oscar Peterson, work as a performer and arranger in New York City and tour Europe as the leader of a jazz trio. He also was a founding member of Matrix, the critically acclaimed contemporary nonet that recorded five albums in the 1970s and early ’80s.
In 1971, Harmon returned to Lawrence and founded the college’s award-winning jazz studies program. He has remained involved with his alma mater over the years, directing Lawrence’s jazz combo program and teaching improvisation and jazz composition.
As a composer, Harmon has received more than 50 commissions for a wide variety of genres, including orchestra, band and chamber ensemble. In addition, he has written more than 50 works for chorus. He has held composer-in-residence appointments at more than 40 elementary and secondary schools in Wisconsin and beyond and has served in that role at the Red Lodge Summer Music Festival in Montana since 1991.
Harmon’s musical virtuosity has been recognized with numerous honors, among them the Renaissance Award from the Fox Valley Arts Council, the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association and the Performance of the Month Award from Jazziz, the international jazz magazine. Most recently, Harmon was elected a fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.
Arguably best known for the world-class golf courses he has built in Wisconsin, including Whistling Straits, the acclaimed links course along the shore of Lake Michigan in Haven, Kohler has established himself as a visionary business leader and generous benefactor of the arts.
A graduate of Yale University, he worked his way up through the ranks from high school laborer in the family manufacturing business founded by his grandfather in 1873 to become head of what is now one of the world’s largest privately owned companies. He was named a director of the Kohler corporation in 1967 and held successive appointments as vice president of operations, executive vice president and chairman of the board. He was appointed company president in 1974.
During his career, Kohler has received more than 200 design and utility patents and his business acumen has earned him induction into the National Association of Home Builders’ National Housing Hall of Fame, the National Kitchen and Bath Hall of Fame and the Family Business Hall of Fame of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. In 1997, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which recognizes distinguished Americans who have made significant contributions to the nation’s heritage.
In addition to his executive responsibilities with the Kohler Company, he serves as chairman of the Kohler Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports educational, cultural and preservation projects in Wisconsin.
The Kohler family has held a long association with Lawrence. Just as his mother and uncle had done previously, Kohler served as a member of the Lawrence Board of Trustees (1974-2002). Kohler Hall, a student residence, and the Kohler Gallery in the Wriston Art Center are named in honor of Kohler’s mother and father, respectively.
The Kohler Company, the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education and the Kohler Foundation have supported numerous campus projects and programs, among them Science Hall, Wriston Art Center, the reconstruction of the Björklunden lodge, the Kohler Program in Art History and an arts program endowment. The Kohler Endowed Scholarship Fund has provided financial assistance for countless students.
Warch, the second-longest serving president in Lawrence’s history, was named the college’s 14th president in 1979. Prior to that, he served the college two years as vice president for academic affairs.
During his 25-year tenure, Warch established himself as a national advocate for the residential liberal arts college model of education, promoting the values of teaching and learning as well as civic and voluntary service.
In 1987, he was cited as one of the country’s top 100 college presidents in the two year study, “The Effective College President,” which was funded by the Exxon Education Foundation. That same year, while delivering one of the keynote addresses of the NCAA annual convention, Warch sparked national discussion by calling for the elimination of all athletic scholarships in favor of administering financial aid to all students equitably on the basis of demonstrated need.
Among the most important legacies of Warch’s presidency was the creation of the popular weekend student seminar program at Björklunden, Lawrence’s 425-acre “northern campus” in Door County and the establishment of Björklunden as an integral part of the Lawrence educational experience.
As president, Warch oversaw the construction of six new campus buildings and the renovation of eight others. Lawrence’s endowment grew from $23.4 million at the start of his presidency to $182.2 million at the time of his retirement.
Since leaving Lawrence, Warch has been honored by Campus Compact, a national higher education association dedicated to campus-based civic engagement, with its Presidential Civic Leadership Award and been appointed by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle to the state Ethics Board.
A native of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., Warch earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Williams College and a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale. He makes his home today in Ellison Bay.
The following is a transcript of Lawrence President (1979-2004) Richard Warch’s final Reunion Convocation remarks, delivered in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel June 19, 2004.
I trust you will understand that I have anticipated this moment with mixed emotions for some time, and most especially in the last several weeks. In my recent letters to alumni, I’ve quipped that after Commencement, the final farewell event last Thursday, and Reunion Weekend, you could put a fork in me: I’ll be done.
That comment tripped rather easily off the word processor, but what began as an attempt to be lighthearted has taken on a greater and more poignant reality as the days have gone by. And so here we are — or at least here I am — for one last time. I’m pleased that this one last time is with Lawrence alumni and takes place in Memorial Chapel, one of the architectural icons of the campus. I’d like to take a moment to recognize with thanks the exceptional generosity of Dorothy Hoehn, who has provided Lawrence with the wherewithal to renovate the Chapel over the past decade and to thereby both retain its character and enhance its utility. We’re grateful.
Though I’ll try to come up with a few clever quips before I’m done, I take seriously the fact that this is my final opportunity to speak with alumni as Lawrence president. Come to think of it, it’s my final opportunity to speak to anybody as Lawrence president, so settle down and buckle up.
Many of you have heard one or another version of my Valedictory remarks, which I have delivered 15 times over the past several months, coast to coast, north to south. For those of you who have not heard the speech, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Lawrence needs and deserves alumni endorsement and advocacy of its purposes and alumni support to further those purposes; liberal learning as professed at Lawrence in both college and conservatory is a powerful and life-changing, if often undervalued and misunderstood, brand of higher education, and it will thrive in the future to the extent that those who have experienced its virtues promote its persistence into that future. That’s the short version.
Here’s the shorter one: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Naturally, I have sought to be slightly more circumspect in conveying that message over the years and in recent months, but with 11 days to go, I say the hell with circumspection: Give to The Lawrence Fund! Or, as I put in a letter of acknowledgment to an alumnus I know pretty well: “Thanks for the gift. We can use the cash.”
Seriously, nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing the alumni donor participation rate return — after a two-year absence — to the 50th percentile. Again borrowing from the Valedictory, I’ve been sharing with alumni a profound proposition, prompted by the fact that about 67 percent of you have made gifts to The Lawrence Fund at least once in the past three years. And here’s the insightful and innovative idea: if alumni made annual gifts annually — that is a difficult concept, so let me repeat it: if alumni made annual gifts annually — our donor participation rate would be truly enviable. We stood at 47 percent as of yesterday, so I assume a number of you in the Chapel this morning have the power to put us over the top or know those who can; I urge you to do your part and to spread the word.
But enough on that topic. I’ve only got 11 days to go, so won’t have many more opportunities to make the predictable presidential pitch and didn’t want to let this one pass by.
One of the consequences of being a college president for 25 years is that one tends to exhaust the repertoire of quips and quotations; tends to repeat oneself; becomes, at best, known for certain turns of phrase and, at worst, for certain rhetorical devices, alliteration being the petard on which I’m most often hung. Over the past several months, various folks have had the proverbial picnic providing parodies of my proclivities (did I mention alliteration?).
First, there was the faux issue of the student newspaper, entitled The LaWarchian, written by a gang of 19 merry pranksters from classes of the early 1980s. They called it “affectionate abuse,” and while I am pleased to acknowledge the adjective, I can assure you that the noun is accurate. Abuse it was.
Then, Greg Volk had a run at me at the Founders Club dinner on May 6, in a speech entitled “Never Can Say Good-bye” or, as he put it, “Never Can Stop Saying Good-bye,” which he likes to consider a terrific testimonial tribute (did I mention alliteration?) but which contained more than a few friendly jabs.
Next, Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester and former dean of the faculty at Lawrence, took his turn at giving me the business at the farewell event in Minneapolis last month, in which he said that it was a “great and good thing to speak of the values and virtues, not to mention the principles and purposes” that I’ve espoused over the years (did I mention alliteration?) and complimented me on being the “first college president to have his word processor retired by the editors of the Metaphors R Us website.”
And those are just from alumni and colleagues. The faculty — ah, the faculty — have had their own opportunities, which they have seized with reckless relish and devilish delectation, most often at the Senior Class Dinner. No faculty speaker, it seems, can concoct a set of remarks for that occasion that does not use me as a prop; a few years ago I was a physical prop and just a month ago a Photo-Shopped prop on a take-off of The Matrix called The LUtrix.
On the day the Board of Trustees selected me as the 14th president, Ed West [’32] took me aside and told me that I would be responsible for everything. Art Remley overheard the remark and told me that, as president, his grandfather, “Doc Sammy” Plantz, often did the shopping for the dining rooms.
That sense of presidential oversight and involvement with everything has certainly obtained for me over the past quarter century, but at least I haven’t received a letter from a faculty member resembling the one Professor of English W. E. McPheeters sent to Sammy Plantz in 1921 (he’d written on the same topic a year earlier, evidently to no good effect):
Dear Doctor Plantz: The ivy has grown over my office window to such an extent that when the leaves are out almost all the light is barred from the room. I would be very much obliged if you would have this cut away. It ought to be done now, I presume, before the leaves come out. A great deal of filth from the vines as well as from the birds that nest in them has accumulated just outside the window of my office. Will you please have the man who cuts the vines clear this away also, as it is not only unsightly but insanitary.
But, if the faculty have not harassed me about overgrown ivy and bird droppings, the students have had their moments, often about food service or other matters that strike them as a perverse example of the Lawrence Difference. Their complaints are familiar, as I had the same ones when I was in college. Our culinary question was this: “How can we have leftover lamb when we never had lamb?”
The students have had at me on other fronts as well. Over the years I have found myself interviewed in the Coffeehouse by an undergraduate who seemed to be auditioning to replace David Letterman, have been the subject of ”The Warch Hour” on Trivia Weekend, have gotten roped in to singing “O’er the Fox” for a musical show put on by a student I had taught in Freshman Studies, and have helped students raise money for worthy causes by having whipped cream pies thrown at my face, being placed in a dunk tank, and other moments of a like sort, none of which were intended to honor the dignity of the office, to say nothing of bolstering the self-esteem of the 14th holder of the office. I’ve had my face plastered on t-shirts and on reunion postcards, usually with some clever slogan appended. And I’m not even going to touch the April Fool’s edition of The Lawrentian. My principal claim to fame in that annual effort is that I share center stage with Bert Goldgar in providing grist for the undergraduate humor mill.
Among the indignities I’ve experienced over the years are those that deal with my name. Last spring, a student asked me why I spelled it that way, and I had to confess that my mother had come up with that version by reading Rudyard Kipling’s story about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. At least she didn’t nickname me Tikki.
Nonetheless, I have received salutations addressed to Ric with a c, sometimes with a c and a k. There are those who have, in a failed effort to feign friendly familiarity (did I mention alliteration?), called me Dick; actually, my sons Stephen and David often called me Dick, but that was when they were upset with one of my parental rulings. My last name has been spelled like the month or like a swampy area, and while one obsequious writer saluted me as The Distinguished Richard Warch — though that letter was postmarked from overseas and written by someone who didn’t know any better — my favorites are letters addressed to me — inexplicably — as Shannon Warch and, at the top of the list, and two times, no less, as Richard Worst.
All of which is to say that, after 25 years, I have come to the conclusion that to be the Lawrence president is to be treated like a piñata by the various constituencies of the institution. And I am pleased to pass these particular and peculiar presidential prerogatives (did I mention alliteration?) on to Jill Beck with my best wishes.
The lady with the Manhattan
Of course, not everyone taking a whack at the piñata does so with the intention to be humorous; not all the abuse is affectionate. I’ve certainly had reason to confirm Abraham Lincoln’s claim that you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.
In the course of a quarter century, there is a high probability that you will make decisions or take actions that will irritate somebody, and over time, those somebodies can constitute a considerable crowd. But that comes with the territory, and while I have not become wholly inured to the expressions of such aggravation, I have tried to soldier on. The secret, as Casey Stengel put it, “is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”
There are, of course, some minor pleasures even here. As when one faculty member, with whom I had, shall we say, a difference of opinion, told me that he would outlast me at Lawrence and get his way eventually. I had the good grace not to remind him of that comment when he retired.
And then, of course, there are the alumni who, disagreeing with this or that policy or action, play the infamous “Not another dime” card. In these cases, the satisfaction comes from discovering, upon investigation of the donor rolls and records, that it turns out that most of them had not given the first dime, therefore mitigating the threat not to contribute another one.
Then there were the alumni who attended an event several years ago in the early stages of the dispute with the fraternities who passed out literature and treated the question-and-answer portion of the evening as a deposition of yours truly. I’m pleased to report that, a few months ago, following the settlement of that dispute, one of those alumni had the good grace and humor to stand at the question-and-answer portion of a farewell tour event to ask me if I would appreciate it if he didn’t ask a question, to which I replied in the affirmative.
I have many memories of alumni gatherings around the country, and memories especially of Reunion Weekends. The first time I took a tour to visit alumni was when I was serving as vice president for academic affairs and then-director of alumni relations Gil Swift [’59] took me to Chippewa Falls, Minneapolis, and Duluth. I had prepared a set of remarks, though when we got to Duluth for a mid-day luncheon gathering, only four women showed up, one of them from the Class of 1929.
We assembled at 11:30, and the member of the Class of 1929 promptly ordered a Manhattan. Hmmm, I thought, this could get interesting. In any case, with only four people there, I decided not to deliver my remarks but indicated I’d be pleased to respond to questions and have a conversation, at which point one of the women said, “I understand that there are coeducational residence halls at Lawrence, and will you please explain that?”
As I paused to contrive a response, the lady with the Manhattan piped up and said, “When I was at Lawrence, George Smith [I forget the name, but let’s say George Smith] got caught climbing through a window at Ormsby Hall [then housing women], and he and 11 sophomore women were kicked out of college.” She took a sip of her drink, and continued: “He went on to play football in Green Bay, and that’s why they’re called the Green Bay Peckers.”
Well, that defused any questions about coeducational residence halls and prompted me to think that Lawrence alumni were likely to be a lively and engaging group. I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve had wonderful visits with alumni since, but nothing to top that first encounter.
My first memory of Reunion Weekend dates from around the same time, when I was still the chief academic officer, and the alumni office assigned various members of the administration to serve as hosts for individual reunion classes. Margot and I were duly assigned and faithfully showed up and sat at a dinner table in Alexander Gymnasium with members of the class. At which point, the members of the class at the table promptly got up and moved elsewhere. It was not an auspicious beginning, though it has gotten better since, perhaps because we serve adult beverages and provide meals for some of the milestone reunion classes.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve welcomed over 20,000 alumni to this festive occasion and had the privilege and pleasure of conveying outstanding service and achievement awards to 158 of you, including the six this morning. I’ve enjoyed each of these celebratory weekends and appreciate the efforts all of you make to be here and to celebrate, appreciation that is shared, I might add, by the tavern owners along College Avenue, whose annual profits depend almost entirely on
Lawrence reunion weekends
I do want you to know that alumni — along with students, faculty, and friends — have also provided counsel to me over the past quarter century, leading me to realize that being a college president is the easiest job in the world: everyone knows how to do it and will cheerfully inform you of the fact.
Still and all, I look back on my Lawrence years and my interactions with alumni with gratitude and pleasure. I have heard your recollections of favorite professors and the ways in which your liberal education has served you long beyond graduation. I have derived reinforcement from you in appreciating the abiding value of Freshman Studies, and the transforming nature of a Lawrence experience.
I have embraced the traditions of the college; have promoted its special brand of liberal learning, in and beyond Freshman Studies; have acknowledged and sought to sustain and extend the contributions of a distinguished array of presidential predecessors; and have relished the opportunities to work with an assemblage of bright, interesting, engaged — if sometimes contentious — cohort of faculty members, the vast majority of whom I had the privilege of hiring and promoting.
Say what you will about the old adage that dealing with faculty is like herding cats, or that faculty are people who think otherwise, or that they are individuals, not to say independent contractors, who are not always amenable to “direction.” Indeed, faculty members sometimes respond to such direction like Bartleby the Scrivener: they “prefer not to.”
But, a feisty faculty is, frankly and for the most part, a first-rate faculty; that’s not, I’ll grant you, a causal relationship, but the traits are often paired. “Docile” is not a word I would apply to them, although on occasion “rebarbative” is (look it up!). But that too comes with the territory.
I know I’ll miss the company of such people and the stimulation they provide. They and those whom many of you remember from your Lawrence years carry the teaching and learning mission of college and conservatory forward with excellence, share the commitment to Lawrence and its purposes that you hold, and are a group I am proud to leave for Jill Beck.
The same may be said of students. To be sure, there are moments when their youthful behaviors whiten the hair, though at least those behaviors have not caused me to lose it (the hair, that is). At times one feels like the basketball coach who lamented “How would you like it if your job depended on a bunch of youngsters in shorts running up and down the court?”
But Lawrentians are a great group, and they achieve many moments of insight and accomplishment in their academic and creative pursuits. Observing the ways in which they grow and flourish in the college years is one of the great rewards of the job. I’ll miss them too.
Two years ago, when I was discussing my intention to retire with Harold Jordan [’72] and Jeff Riester [’70], then respectively chair and vice chair of the Board of Trustees, they told me not to feel dispirited if all that I might wish to see accomplished at and for Lawrence did not come to pass on my watch. That was good advice, though I am obviously pleased that the settlement with the fraternities has been accomplished and that the slate on that score is essentially clean for Jill Beck.
One often reads about departing college presidents who say that they’ve been in the job long enough, or that they have accomplished all they set out to do, or who leave for presumptively greener pastures. Clearly, whatever numerical figure one places on the notion of “long enough,” I’ve blown by it. And any college president who claims a completed set of accomplishments may have set his or her sights too low or may have served an institution without ambitions. However long one serves, there is always more to be done, challenges to be met, improvements to be made, initiatives to be imagined and undertaken. So while the tenure of a college president occurs in a fixed period, the job of a college president is ongoing. It is Jill Beck’s good fortune to have the chance to assume that ongoing job at Lawrence. And while other pastures may appear greener, the Lawrence pasture has been green enough for me.
Leaving Lawrence is, of course, difficult and bittersweet. I will miss the place and its people and especially the good friends I have been privileged to make here. I have been deeply touched by the notes and letters of well wishes extended to me by many of you; by the expressions of affection and support I have received from our alumni and friends on the farewell tour — including the “affectionate abuse” provided by the 19 alumni who produced “The LaWarchian”; by the thoughtfulness of the emeriti faculty in honoring Margot and me at a lunch in April and establishing a book fund at Lawrence in our names; by the spirited farewell and gifts from members of the alumni board, who feted and serenaded me at their spring meeting; by the recognition and the gifts from India, Ghana, and Jamaica from the students in Lawrence International at their International Cabaret; by the magnificent result of the Thanks Rik! Campaign, to which many contributed so generously, that will establish an endowed fund to support Björklunden; by the parting recognition conveyed by Mortar Board with its Honorary Award conveyed at the Honors Banquet last month; by the LUCC recognition, the Hyde Park bench and the Lawrence letter jacket from the all-campus farewell on June 5; by the print of my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh quotation from the residence life staff, commemorating my proclivity for reading bedtime stories to students; by having the Lawrence rowing club’s new shell named for me and Margot and christening it a week and a half ago; by the plot of moon acreage given me by the women in Sampson House; and by the bench and a Winifred Boynton cartoon given to me by members of my administrative staff three days ago.
I am also pleased that David Heller [’80], a member of the first class I taught at Lawrence when he was a freshman, has returned to play the organ this morning. If you want to hear the Brombaugh Opus 33 in full voice and some smash-mouth music, I urge you to stay for the postlude.
I assure you that leaving Lawrence is a physical act, not an intellectual or emotional one. Lawrence will be much on my mind in the months and years ahead, and it will be the focus of and the inspiration for the writing I plan to do in that time. And as an added bonus, I know that Björklunden is only 20 miles away from our retirement home in Ellison Bay.
The years ahead
Finally, then, to John Reeve [’34], who chaired the Board of Trustees in 1979, and to Jeff Riester, Class of 1970, who chairs it today, and to others who served with them on the presidential search committee in 1979, I extend thanks for the opportunity.
And to all of you, let me leave you with this last word: There is a Celtic saying that goes “we are warmed by fires we did not build, we drink from wells we did not dig.” And so might it be said that we are educated at colleges we did not create. But we can stoke the fires, we can maintain the wells, and we can support the colleges, in the present instance this college. None of us created Lawrence, but all of us have benefited from it, and thus I hope will work to sustain and enhance the college for the benefit of those yet to come. For you are not only Lawrence’s alumni, but also its stewards.
To all of you who claim Lawrence as alma mater and who share my great regard for its values and for the important work that it does, thanks for your devotion to this special place and the support you’ve extended to the college and to me for the past quarter century.
I urge you to do the same for Lawrence and for Jill Beck in the years ahead.
For the 25th — and final — time, Lawrence University President Richard Warch will lead the procession of seniors and honored guests to the stage where he’ll award honorary doctorates, confer bachelor’s degrees and congratulate students for completing their undergraduate education Sunday, June 13 during the college’s 155th commencement. Graduation ceremonies begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall green.
Warch will retire as Lawrence’s second-longest serving president at the end of the month. He is currently the longest-standing president of any college or university in Wisconsin and believed to be one of only 20 current presidents in the country who have served their present institutions for 20 years or more.
An expected 303 seniors, Lawrence’s largest graduating class since 1977, will receive bachelor of arts and/or music degrees. In addition, Lawrence will award honorary doctorate degrees to John Carroll, editor of the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Stanley Fish, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois-Chicago and Samantha Power, lecturer in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Also, Professor of Music Robert Levy, who is retiring after 25 years as director of bands at Lawrence, will receive professor emeritus status and awarded an honorary master of arts degree, ad eundem.
A baccalaureate service, featuring Daniel Taylor, Hiram A. Jones Professor of Classics delivering the address “Making Connections,” will be held Saturday, June 12 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
All four honorary doctorate degree recipients, along with President Warch, Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Riester and student representative Andrea Hendrickson, a senior from Tillamook, Ore., will address the graduates during commencement. Both the baccalaureate service and commencement ceremony are free and open to the public.
Carroll, whose distinguished journalism career spans more than 40 years and includes seven Pulitzer Prizes, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Named editor of the Los Angeles Times in 2001, he helped the paper earn five Pulitzers earlier this year, the second most ever won by a newspaper in a single year. The New York Times was awarded seven Pulitzer’s in 2002 for its coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
After beginning his career as a reporter for the Providence Journal in Rhode Island, Carroll was drafted into the Army and served in Alaska, writing for the base’s newspaper. He joined the Baltimore Sun as a reporter in the late 1960s, covering the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration. He became the subject of a front page story in The New YorkTimes after having his press credentials suspended for writing a story detailing U.S. plans to abandon Khe Sanh. Without his knowledge, the Army had imposed an embargo on news coverage of Khe Sanh. Following protests from media colleagues and a Congressional investigation, the Army restored Carroll’s credentials.
He spent seven years as a city editor and metropolitan editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer before being named editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. Carroll returned to the Baltimore Sun as its editor in 1991, guiding it to Pulitzer Prizes in 1997 and ‘98 before taking editorial leadership of the Los Angeles Times.
Fanton, who will receive a honorary doctor of laws degree, has served as president of the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation since September 1, 1999. With assets of nearly $4.3 billion, MacArthur is one of the nation’s 15 largest foundations and annually awards grants domestically and internationally of more than $180 million in support of public education, community development, system reform in mental health and juvenile justice, human rights, biodiversity preservation, reproductive health and international peace and security. It also supports public radio and television and the making of independent documentaries as well as support for exceptionally creative individuals through its famed “genius grant” Fellows program.
Before joining the MacArthur Foundation, Fanton served as president of New York City’s New School University (formerly known as New School for Social Research) from 1982-99. As president, he led the integration and enhancement of the seven divisions of the university, the expansion of the Greenwich Village campus and development campaigns that increased the university’s endowment from $8 million to more than $80 million.
During his presidency, the New School merged with the Mannes College of Music, established a drama school in partnership with the Actor’s Studio, merged with the World Policy Institute, added a jazz and contemporary music program, a teacher education program, a creative writing program and an architecture department at Parsons School of Design.
Fanton began his career teaching American history at his alma mater, Yale University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. He served as a special assistant to Yale President Kingman Brewster from 1970-73 and as associate provost from 1976-78. He then moved to the University of Chicago, where he spent the next four years as vice president for planning and also taught American history.
A board member of Human Rights Watch, the largest U.S.-based human rights organization and the Chicago Historical Society, Fanton is the author of “The University and Civil Society, Volumes I and II” and co-edited the books “John Brown: Great Lives Observed” and “The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age.”
Fish will receive a doctor of humane letters. Considered one of America’s most distinguished scholars of English literature, law and literary theory, particularly the subjectivity of textual interpretation, he has served as a dean and distinguished professor of English, criminal justice and political science at UIC since 1999.
During an academic career spanning more than 40 years, Fish has held numerous major positions, including the Kenan Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University (1974-85) and the Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and Law at Duke University (1985-98). A USA Today article described Fish as “an erudite scholar who capably makes difficult subjects understandable… a brilliant original critic of the culture at large.”
Fish as written nearly a dozen books, among them “John Skelton’s Poetry,” “Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost,” the second edition of which received the Hanford Book Award in 1998, “Self-Consuming Artifacts,” which was nominated for a the National Book Award in 1972 and “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too,” which earned the 1994 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award. In the past 30 years, more than 200 articles, books, dissertations and review articles have been devoted to his work.
Fish is a frequent guest on shows ranging from the “MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour” to CNN’s “Firing Line” to “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” In 2003, the Chicago Tribune named him its “Chicagoan of the Year” for culture.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Fish earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and began his teaching career in the English department at the University of California-Berkeley.
Power, a human-rights activist, lawyer, scholar and award-winning author, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Her recent book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” which examines U.S. responses to genocide in the 20th century, was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for general non-fiction and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Arthur Ross Prize for the best book in U.S. foreign policy.
She also co-edited the 2000 book, “Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact,” a collection of essays by leading activists, policy makers and critics who reflect upon 50 years of attempts to improve respect for human rights.
In 1998, she founded Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which trains future leaders for careers in public service with a focus on the most dangerous human rights challenges, including genocide, mass atrocity, state failure and the ethics and politics of military intervention. She served as the Carr Center’s executive director until 2002.
A native of Ireland who moved to the United States when she was nine, Power covered the war in the former Yugoslavia from 1993-96 as a reporter for U.S. News & World Report, the Boston Globe and the London-based news magazine The Economist. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, she is currently working on a book on the causes and consequences of historical amnesia in American foreign policy.
Richard Warch begins his 25th, and final, year as Lawrence University president by officially opening the college’s 154th academic year Thursday, Sept. 25 with his annual matriculation convocation.
Warch, who will retire in June, 2004 as the second-longest serving president in Lawrence history, presents, “The Lawrence Difference: Difference at Lawrence” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
In his address, Warch will discuss the notion of community and the challenges posed by the diversity of that community, including an examination of the recent University of Michigan court cases and racial diversity.
Named Lawrence’s 14th president in 1979, Warch earned his bachelor of arts degree from Williams College and his doctorate in American Studies from Yale University.
An ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church, Warch spent 10 years at Yale in a variety of positions, including associate dean of the college and director of the National Humanities Institute program. He came to Lawrence in 1977 as vice president of academic affairs before being named president two years later.
In the 1987 study, “The Effective College President,” a two-year project funded by the Exxon Education Foundation, Warch was named one of the nation’s top 100 college presidents. In June, 1999, Warch was appointed to the executive committee of the Annapolis Group, an association of more than 100 of America’s leading liberal arts colleges.
He is the author of the book “School of the Prophets: Yale College 1710-1740” and co-edited “John Brown” in the Great Lives Observed Series published by Prentice-Hall.