APPLETON, WIS. — A gala three-day celebration commemorating the official grand opening of Lawrence University’s Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center culminated with an open house on Sunday that drew more than 1,000 visitors from the community for tours of the building and entertainment by Lawrence students.
“The opening of the campus center is a monumental occasion for Lawrence and will serve to deepen our historic relationship with the surrounding community,” said President Jill Beck. “We invite residents of the Fox Cities and beyond to visit Lawrence often; to celebrate achievements, to engage one another in communication and to enjoy the arts and other activities on campus. As a residential liberal arts college, interaction outside the classroom — with other students, faculty and the local and global community — is central to the achievement of our educational mission.”
The weekend festivities began late Friday afternoon with a welcoming ceremony. Addressing a crowd of more than 100 faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the college were Board of Trustee members Jeff Riester ’70 and Don Koskinen ’50, Lawrence President Jill Beck and the building’s namesakes, President Emeritus Richard Warch and his wife, Margot.
As part of Friday’s ceremony, an official portrait of President Warch was unveiled. The portrait will hang in the $35 million, 107,000-square-foot campus center.
The weekend celebration showcased artwork of young Lawrence alumni, screenings of student-produced videos on Lawrence’s sustainability efforts, an activities fair highlighting the campus and community efforts of numerous student organizations and live performances of several student groups, including the Sambistas, a Brazilian percussion ensemble, the folk band Liam O’Brien’s Faithless Followers, the Melee Dance Troupe, the student pep band and a demonstration of the art of Japanese self-defense by the student organization Ninjitsu.
The campus center cinema showed three movies over the weekend that included Lawrence connections. The restored version of the 1923 silent movie “The White Sister” featured a musical score composed and recorded last year by Garth Neustadter ’09 for Turner Classic Movies. The 1926 film “The Black Pirate” featured an original piece of music written by David Werfelmann ’06 as part of his senior experience project. And the documentary “Mary and Bill” told the story of two remarkable and inspiring athletes, Mary Stroebe, a 1940 Lawrence graduate who began competing in triathlons in her mid 80s, and Bill Wambach, a 1946 Lawrence graduate, who competed as a high jumper at the age of 83.
“We were absolutely delighted with the response for the entire weekend, especially the outpouring from the Fox Valley community which expressed such interest and curiosity about the building,” said Lynn Hagee, the campus center project coordinator. “We certainly feel we launched the building in grand style.”