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.