Author: Ed Berthiaume

Be the Light! closes at $232.6M, adding strength, support for decades to come

Renewal of the Lawrence campus has been a big piece of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University raised $232.6 million in its seven-year Be the Light! Campaign, surpassing the $220 million goal and strengthening the school in myriad ways going forward.

The final tally was unveiled Thursday night at a virtual We Are the Light! campaign-closing event that drew an audience of Lawrentians from all over the world. It was a significant moment in the 174-year history of the private liberal arts college, and it comes in the midst of a pandemic that has tested the resolve and financial fluidity of colleges and universities across the country.

“What is most heartening about the Be the Light! Campaign is the alignment of donor interests and University need,” President Mark Burstein said of the generosity of alumni and other supporters. “The Lawrence community fundamentally cares about this place, the education we provide and the students we serve.”

This wasn’t a campaign to build a new building or expand the campus’ physical footprint. Rather, it was about the renewal of existing facilities, about strengthening and expanding academic offerings, about enhancing the student experience, and about providing scholarship resources to lower student debt and open new avenues for all academically qualified students to be able to attend Lawrence.

“This campaign has touched every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Scholarship, internships, religious and spiritual life, endowed faculty chairs, bricks and mortar projects, athletics, Bjorklunden. It’s just really touched every aspect of who we are and what we can offer to students.”

Flash back to 2014, when a $25 million matching grant from an anonymous donor (it would later grow to $30 million) kindled the possibilities to come. Earmarked for the newly launched Full Speed to Full Need scholarship initiative, the grant was matched by donors in less than 16 months, kickstarting the “quiet” phase of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Then, as Lawrence leadership prepared to go public with the campaign, the boldest fund-raising effort in the school’s history, outside voices urged them to pump the brakes a bit for fear that any goal beyond $200 million would be an invitation to failure. Burstein huddled with campaign tri-chairs David Blowers ’82, Cory Nettles ’92, and Charlot Nelson Singleton ’67, and Vice President for Alumni and Development Cal Husmann. With confidence in the vision of a transformed university, they opted to dream big.

“We were afraid if we set the goal too low it wouldn’t raise the aspirations of the Lawrence community,” Burstein said. “We knew that every dollar would have a direct impact on our students and the quality of the education we offer.”

They settled on a goal of $220 million as the campaign went public in late 2018. It was an audacious undertaking, designed to grow the endowment and support scholarship in ways that would sustain the school’s academic mission for decades to come, even as higher education braces for a multitude of challenges.

“I think we all decided to take the leap of faith together,” Burstein said.

“Exceeding our expectations”

Today’s students and those in generations to come have been at the heart of the Be the Light! Campaign. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

On Thursday night, the fruits of that faith were revealed and celebrated.

More than $91 million was raised for Full Speed to Full Need, providing endowed scholarships that help bridge the difference between a student’s financial aid and their demonstrated need. Burstein called that a core piece of the Be the Light! Campaign, one that drew an enthusiastic response from donors as contributions pushed past the initial goal of $85 million.

“This idea of supporting each of our students and their families to the level that methodology says we should, that just resonated in a way far exceeding our expectations,” Burstein said.

The results are already evident. The Full Speed to Full Need contributions have led to a decrease in the average student debt for graduating seniors each of the past four years, dropping from a high of $34,573 in 2016 to last year’s $29,118. That decline in debt for Lawrence graduates comes as reports show student loan debt trends continuing to rise across the country.

The campaign drew another $31 million to support the college’s day-to-day operations through the Lawrence Fund.

Nearly $26 million was raised for campus renewal, including renovations to Kohler Hall, Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Warch Campus Center, Ormsby Hall, Mudd Library, Brokaw Hall, Banta Bowl, and Alexander Gymnasium, among others. Classrooms are being upgraded in Youngchild and Briggs halls. Landscaping was or will be replaced in multiple spaces across campus. And the Net-Zero Bjorklunden Initiative has been launched, which will eliminate the generation of greenhouse gases from the Door County campus.

The campaign also has delivered five new endowed professorships, strengthening academic disciplines across campus. The Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was created.  An investment of $5 million has revamped and invigorated the Career Center, a major push following a 2018 Life After Lawrence study.

Upgrades on numerous facilities, including the Banta Bowl, have been possible courtesy of the Be the Light! Campaign.

The breadth of the investments is what stands out, making “a profound impact on almost every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” said Blowers, who serves as chair of the Board of Trustees as well as a tri-chair on the campaign. He applauded the vision and the work that went into making it happen.

“It has been such a privilege for me to be involved with our development staff, our tireless volunteer leadership, and President Burstein to mount the most successful campaign to date in Lawrence’s history,” he said. 

Burstein, who announced last summer that he would step away from Lawrence following this academic year, said the ebb and flow of the campaign has been amazing to watch. It was launched a little more than a year after his arrival as Lawrence’s 16th president.

“You start out with the prospectus, but that was seven years ago,” Burstein said. “That intervening time has allowed us to refine the needs and interests. Some things have stayed constant, like Full Speed to Full Need. But the Life After Lawrence Task Force, for example, defined the way forward for career services. That happened after the campaign launched. … Even the things we added, like Spiritual and Religious Life or the investments in the Career Center or going carbon neutral at Bjorklunden, all those move central aspects of the University forward.”

Campaign contributions came from more than 16,000 donors, including nearly 9,000 alumni. While large, multi-million-dollar donations drew the headlines and were critically important, nearly 70% of the gifts came in at $100 or less. For more than 4,000 of the donors, it marked the first time they had given to Lawrence.

Singleton, one of the tri-chairs providing leadership throughout the campaign, called the response from alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters “historic and transformational,” and said all Lawrentians should take pride in what they have collectively accomplished.

“The results of the campaign are already at work as we provide scholarships, create new professorships, develop our co-curricular options, and see our campus being renewed,” she said. “Hats off to each of you who have so faithfully contributed to the success of the Be the Light! Campaign.”

Nettles, also a tri-chair of the campaign, said the investment in student support alone will bolster generations of Lawrentians.

“By every measure, the campaign was a success and exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Meeting an unexpected challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic was nowhere in sight when the Be the Light! Campaign launched. But as he prepared to unveil the final tally on Thursday, Burstein said he couldn’t help but look at the campaign results through the lens of what has transpired over the past year – a Spring Term fully remote; Fall and Winter terms in hybrid mode; students, faculty, and staff striving to maintain the high quality of a Lawrence education through never-before-seen obstacles.

Campaign investments have done more than provide financial flexibility during what Burstein called “a 100-year crisis.” The contributions funded numerous enhancements that have proven to be invaluable as the campus has navigated the pandemic — improvements in air quality in buildings across campus; the Spiritual and Religious Life leadership team that has been key in caring for students isolating or quarantining in Kohler Hall; the growth of the Career Center that has worked closely with new and soon-to-be graduates seeking employment amid economic upheaval.

The architects of the campaign envisioned investments that would prepare Lawrence for the known and the unknown, for the short term and the long term. The pandemic put that to the test even before the campaign concluded. 

“Just so much gratitude,” Burstein said. “The campaign is so hard for me to separate from this past year in the pandemic, how central the investments have been in sustaining this institution and student learning.

“This is what it means to strengthen an institution; it strengthens it for the challenges that come.”

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

Lawrence’s pandemic response has kept campus safe in midst of chaos elsewhere

Meralis Alvarez-Morales ’22 works at the COVID-19 testing site in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center gymnasium. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Christyn Abaray knew she and her Lawrence University colleagues were walking a fine line when they welcomed 800 students back to campus in early September for the start of Fall Term.

After going fully remote during Spring Term, the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT)—a campus leadership group led by Abaray, assistant to the president—spent late spring and much of the summer sifting COVID-19 data, studying options, consulting with experts on and off campus, and eventually drafting a multi-layered strategy that would allow for a mix of in-person and remote study.

But as Fall Term neared, with roughly 60% of the school’s nearly 1,500 students opting to return to the Appleton campus, news reports were painting a bleak picture. Wisconsin was the No. 1 hot spot in the country for new COVID cases, with Appleton being one of eight Wisconsin cities making the New York Times’ top 10 list.

Christyn Abaray

Abaray watched those reports with understandable concern. LPPT members began fielding queries from concerned students and parents about how safe it was to return to Appleton.

But Abaray and her team stayed confident in the strategic plan they had put together, which included the initial testing of all students, faculty, and staff on campus, weekly random testing throughout the term, ample space for quarantining and isolation, and strict requirements to Honor the Pledge, including wearing a mask and adhering to physical distancing.

As the COVID test results came in through September and into October, the difference between what was happening in the Fox Valley—and, really, most of Wisconsin—and what was happening on the Lawrence campus could not have been more stark. While Appleton case numbers blew up, the campus emerged as arguably the safest place in the city.

“We were regularly just in awe of what the testing was showing,” Abaray said. “We were just blown away.”

Positive cases on campus through Fall Term stayed below 1% even while cases surged in the surrounding community. And while reports of bars and restaurants filling with unmasked patrons were frequent in the Fox Valley and across Wisconsin, Lawrence students overwhelmingly stayed true to the pledge they signed to follow safety protocols.

Campus buildings were closed to the public. Signage reminded all to wear masks anytime on campus. Students were asked to socialize mask-less only in their pods, with all other interactions requiring masks and distancing.

Now, midway through Winter Term, with six months of experience to lean on and protocols still in place, Lawrence continues to have success in limiting the spread of the virus on campus, with cases detailed weekly on its digital dashboard. There have been slight upticks, but nothing that has been sustained.

At its most problematic point during Fall Term, Lawrence counted 20 positive COVID cases among its students. That number fell back to two a few weeks later and never went above 10 the rest of the term.

In Winter Term, which began with the return to campus of about 900 students the first week of January, there was a quick increase, with 30 students testing positive and going into isolation during the week of Jan. 11. It was a potential tipping point, Abaray said, and the LPPT quickly communicated concerns, reminding the Lawrence community how precarious the situation was and how important it remained to adhere to safety protocols.

The message hit home. The feared spread never happened, with positive tests and needed isolation quickly dropping again into single figures. As of mid-February, there was one active student case.

Abaray and her team know this is not a victory lap. There remains a long way to go. New COVID variants spreading across the U.S. pose new threats, and losing focus on what got Lawrence to this point could send things south quickly. But they also know the strategy they adopted last summer works.

Testing, testing, testing

D’Andre Weaver ’21 (left) and Sterling Ambrosius ’22 wear protective gear as they work at the testing site. Fifteen students were hired to help staff the site each week.

Despite a hefty price tag, Lawrence committed to testing early and often and has stayed with it. The LPPT, which consulted frequently with Medical College of Wisconsin President and CEO Dr. John Raymond and ThedaCare President and CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi, identified testing as key to keeping the plan on track.

Everything else would fall in place based on what the testing numbers told them, Abaray said. If they could mitigate the spread of the virus, then they could launch academic programs as envisioned in various modalities and they could take steps to make the student experience as robust as possible despite the obvious limitations that come with safety protocols.

“The big piece of making all that happen was testing,” Abaray said.

Every student and employee who planned to set foot on campus at any point during the term was required to be tested before the term began. After that initial round, at least one-third of the campus population was tested weekly.

During Fall Term, that meant nasal swabs administered by Bellin Health. For Winter Term, the LPPT opted to switch to saliva-based PCR tests that could be administered by Lawrence staff in partnership with Concentric.

Richard Jazdzewski

“This allows us to be much more efficient and able to scale our staffing patterns to match the testing numbers for the given week,” said Richard Jazdzewski, dean of Wellness Services and an LPPT member. “This has resulted in less time waiting in line on site for our LU community.”

It’s also allowed Lawrence students to work as part of the testing team. Meralis Alvarez-Morales ’22 jumped at the chance to don protective gear and go to work. She’s now working between four and five hours a week, gathering needed information on site from Lawrentians being tested.

“I choose to work as a testing assistant not only because of the opportunity to be paid, but also because I wanted to do my part in giving back to my community,” Alvarez-Morales said. “We are still in a global pandemic after all, and many hands do make light work.”

The testing, which is set up in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center gymnasium, will continue in Spring Term, Abaray said. The cooperation to date from students and employees has been stellar. The push to stay the course will continue even as COVID numbers in the surrounding community continue to go down and a growing number of people are being vaccinated.

“The only way our testing strategy works is because we have a group of students, faculty, and staff who are adhering to all it means to be in the Pledge,” Abaray said. “It’s an interwoven group of things that all have to be happening for us to be where we are right now. Holding each other accountable is a big piece to that.”

The Pledge

Wearing a mask on campus is part of Honor the Pledge.

Honor the Pledge, launched before Fall Term began, is a pact between the University and all students, faculty, and staff who opted to or needed to be on campus. It lays out 10 promises tied to safety protocols, from mask-wearing to social distancing to testing.

Violations of the Pledge have been addressed on an individual basis, Abaray said. And while there have been occasional violations among students, the vast majority of Lawrentians on campus have stayed true to the Pledge. That, more than any other factor, is why Lawrence has had success mitigating the spread while some universities across the country have struggled.

“Student adherence to what we’re asking them to do, for the most part, is what’s making this possible,” Abaray said. “We’ve all read the stories from other places where decisions that students make really do make or break what happens. We have students who get it. They’re making some of the most mature decisions that we could ask for.”

Being a small campus certainly helps. Abaray and the rest of the LPPT know it’s easier to get that buy-in from a student body of 1,500 than it is for a campus with 50,000 students. But it’s still impressive. And the work continues.

A new incentive program launched through Wellness Services, called #VIKINGSCARE, gives Lawrence community members an opportunity to recognize their peers for behavior that keeps the campus community safe.

“Students who have been nominated can win weekly prizes, including free dinner with five friends from a local restaurant, an Apple watch, a Bluetooth speaker, LU gear, and more,” Jazdzewski said.

Alvarez-Morales, a Global Studies and Spanish double major, speaks with pride about her fellow students. She said students’ willingness to adhere to the Pledge, as limiting as it is, is what has separated Lawrence’s success in mitigating virus spread from what’s happened off campus.

“Lawrence overall has done a great job enforcing safety protocols and guidelines on campus,” Alvarez-Morales said. “Lawrence has also done a great job of providing students with the resources to obtain masks, reusable dinner bags, food, and sanitizing products to clean their spaces.”

The vast majority of students have taken the virus seriously. They understand that masking up and following protocols are selfless acts aimed at keeping others safe and the campus functioning. Alvarez-Morales said she wishes that was the case everywhere.

“In short, yes, I feel safer on campus now than I did when I first thought of returning to campus. But I do not feel safe in the surrounding community.”

Isolation and Quarantine Space

Kohler Hall was set aside as isolation and quarantine space as part of the strategic plan to mitigate virus spread on campus.

Lawrence limited the number of students who could live on campus – roughly 800 opted in for Fall Term and about 900 for Winter Term – so adequate housing space could be dedicated to isolation and quarantine.

Kohler Hall has been that space, with students being moved into the hall for isolation if they test positive and for quarantine if they have had close contact with someone who tested positive.

Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life and chaplain to the University, Terra Winston, associate dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, and Curt Lauderdale, dean of students, have been instrumental in creating a responsive and caring space for students entering Kohler. Bon Appetit, Lawrence’s on-site provider of campus meals, has been essential in providing food delivery.

Abaray praised Morgan-Clement and Winston for their ability to provide comfort—physical and emotional—for students going through isolation or quarantine. And she called Bon Appetit employees unsung heroes for their willingness to adapt in ways that serve those students.

“Their planning and their ability to adjust their planning for our students who are in Kohler in quarantine or isolation has been phenomenal to watch,” Abaray said. “We had a plan going in, and that wasn’t providing the best experience for the students, so they pivoted. It illustrates how much adjusting you need to do. It’s OK to adjust. You don’t have to have all the answers on the front end. You won’t. Adjusting is part of that.”

The making of the LPPT

Leadership and communication via the LPPT have been critical from the beginning. The group includes President Mark Burstein and most of his cabinet, as well as key personnel from Wellness Services, the faculty, and other points across campus. In all, more than 50 voices have been part of that team, including a number of student leaders.

“We figured out very quickly that we needed to have a lot of stakeholders around the table if we were going to do this the right way,” Abaray said.

The group met twice weekly through the spring and summer as it drafted a strategy to, if at all possible, bring students back to campus. It split into five subgroups to explore in detail various aspects of that challenge—a group focused on the campus calendar and curricular issues; a co-curricular group focused on student life, housing, meals, and student engagement; a group focused on visitors to campus; a health group that included faculty members with expertise in the biomedical field; and an employee group that explored potential workplace issues.

Those subgroups met regularly, then reported back to the LPPT as the strategy slowly evolved.

“All of it needed to come together by the middle of summer to have an idea of what direction we wanted to go for the fall,” Abaray said. “That was the first big decision that needed to be made.”

Once the decision was made to proceed with at least a portion of the student body on campus, the LPPT went to work drafting particulars, communicating the plan in detail to students, families, faculty, and staff, and answering an onslaught of questions.

That work is ongoing, with the LPPT continuing to meet weekly.

“We feel somewhat comfortable with where we are,” Abaray said.

But as it was nearly a year ago when the pandemic first arrived, there are more questions than answers. LPPT members know they must continue to listen, learn, respond, and adjust.

“Everything changes by the day,” Abaray said. “It’s that level of living in the gray. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to people. You hear, ‘You all said this on this day and now you’re saying this.’ Yes, we did. We learned something. It’s not that we were wrong. It’s that we’ve learned something, and that’s moving us forward. We are making decisions with the best information we have at that particular moment, and the moment we have more information we are going to adjust. I know that’s not comfortable and it’s not ideal. For the control freak in me, it’s unnerving. But you have to be able to be in that space right now if you’re going to be productive.”

What’s next?

Vaccines are on the horizon. Jazdzewski said Lawrence will continue to work with city and county health officials in efforts to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines on campus, but how and when has yet to be determined.

In the meantime, preparations are under way to launch a Spring Term that will look very much like Winter Term. Students are again being given the option of living on campus or staying remote. If living on or visiting campus, adherence to the Pledge will remain a must. Adjustments in protocols will be made as conditions dictate.

Confidence in the strategy that has gotten Lawrence to this point is strong, Abaray said. But she and others on the LPPT know there will be more hurdles and more questions as winter turns to spring and impatience grows. The finish line remains murky at best.

“Every day we doubt everything because we just don’t know,” Abaray said. “We still don’t know what’s going on with this virus; still don’t know a lot of things. But I trust and I have confidence in our protocols and our strategy.”

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

Student-to-student: Advice on staying connected in a remote world

Tip for remote students: Reach out to classmates who are on campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

In our fast-paced, hyper-connected world, we had to make a lot of adjustments when we were thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago. As Lawrence students know, everything changed.

Isabella Mariani ’21

Now in my third term learning remotelyand second-to-last term of collegethe challenges I’ve faced with distance learning are ongoing. But I’ve learned a lot along the way. So, I’m here to offer some advice, from one struggling student to all the others who are trying to find their way through this pandemic while studying from afar.

Winter Term brings its own challenges for those of us who are remote. For many students, cold weather and short days can augment those feelings of detachment from the campus community. For those students struggling to stay connected, here are some things that have helped me.

1. Utilize your professor’s office hours: Does you professor have that Zoom link designated for office hours? You don’t need to be struggling in class to set up a meeting. Having a one-on-one with your professor can be a lifeline if you’re feeling disconnected from Lawrence. Most would be happy to discuss something from class or just to chat; they miss you, too.

2. Have virtual hangs with on-campus friends: If you have friends who are on campus, catching up with them via video chat is a great way to bridge the gap. Maybe they can take you on a virtual tour around campus buildings to show you the sights you miss most. Or, if you’re like me and most of your pals are remote, too, video chatting with them can also keep you in the loop.

3. Keep up with the Lawrence News Blog: My totally unbiased opinion is that bookmarking the News Blog page is an easy way to maintain a relationship with Lawrence when you’re learning remotely. For the low price of a few minutes of your time, you’ll receive a variety of news on fellow students, professors, and campus events that you may not hear about elsewhere.

4. Look for virtual events: Living and learning off campus doesn’t mean you’ve lost access to the events Lawrence has to offer. Some events you loved on campus have adapted to the virtual world, including LU Reads and guided meditations. Maybe you’ll see someone you know there. You can find them on the Calendar of Events.

5. Write about it: Hear me out. Writing about this whole pandemic experience is a healthy outlet to vent those feelings of separation from life at Lawrence. Jot down your favorite Lawrence memories, document your experience with distance learning. Wherever you are, this is a simple way to keep Lawrence close.

6. Just talk to people: Few things are as effective as remembering you’re not alone in the ordeal of remote learning. Don’t forget about your friends. Respond to those unopened texts. Be honest about your day-to-day life away from campus.

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

Changes aim to improve student access to Experiential Learning Funds

Thinking about summer plans? Then you should be thinking about applying for Experiential Learning Funds. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A record number of Lawrence University students received funding over the past year through the school’s Experiential Learning Funds (ELF) program, designed to support students pursuing summer internships, self-directed research, and volunteer work.

Ninety student projects were financially supported, more than double the usual amount, an increase due in part to changing needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said Emily Bowles, Experiential Learning Funds coordinator.

Now the deadline for 2021 applicants is straight ahead—it’s set for March 5 but flexibility is being built in because of ongoing pandemic uncertainties—and administrators are expecting another robust year.

The Career Center has streamlined the application process in an effort to make it easier for students with qualifying projects to access the funding. Students are being asked to submit a common application, leaving the ELF committee to match it with the most appropriate of the more than two dozen donor-supported funds that make up ELF. That removes the need for students to seek out specific funds, and it provides flexibility to match a request with a fund that has like-minded intentions.

“We’re hoping we can dismantle some barriers students may have faced in the past, increase awareness of funding opportunities, and ensure we help donors—many of whom are our alumni—match their dollars to projects that align with their values,” Bowles said.

The ELF committee is expected to issue decisions on each request by the end of March.

Student uses Experiential Learning Funds for computer science simulation. See more here.

Career Center here to help as pandemic affects job searches. See more here.

The funds cover expenses for students doing internships, job shadowing, research, or volunteer work. Some of the funds are broad in nature, giving the committee flexibility in how to disperse the monies. Other funds are specific to a particular field of study. The payments might help defray a student’s transportation costs, purchase needed resources, or cover living expenses.

The maximum outlay is $5,000, although the average is usually between $1,000 to $2,000.

The record 90 projects last year were supported to the tune of more than $160,000. The increase in the number of approved requests, Bowles said, was driven by the pandemic, which took many internship and research projects virtual, removing or lowering travel and housing expenses.

A new fund in the ELF program, the Equal Opportunity Fund for Career Exploration and Development, was launched to support Black, Latino, and/or first-generation students in new ways. And new attention was paid to using ELF funds to get students experience in social justice initiatives or with nonprofits that offer only unpaid internships, Bowles said.

“We were able to support more projects specifically designed by BIPOC and/or first-generation students thanks to the Equal Opportunity Fund,” she said. “In the midst of COVID, this fund source let us meet students where they were and alleviate some financial pressures so they could pursue projects based on their passions and personal or professional goals, even with so many factors conspiring to make pursuing internships or unpaid opportunities untenable for many people.”

A wide breadth of work

Among the 90 projects funded in the past year: a virtual internship at a psychology clinic working on social skills with middle school students; immersion in a public health research study; a data science internship; research into creating biographies for a catalog of Latin-American cello works; exploration of the barriers the arts present to artists of color; research into food insecurity issues across multiple continents; work in the offices of local elected officials; and many more.

Natalie LaMonto ’22

Natalie LaMonto ’22, an anthropology major from Frankfort, Illinois, was among the students who tapped into ELF funds after the pandemic shifted summer plans. She had planned on traveling to New Zealand, but that was no longer doable. The Sara A. Quandt and Thomas A. Arcury Endowment for Experiential Learning and Research in Public Health, one of the available ELF funds, gave her a viable plan B.

“This was not the summer I was imagining back in March, but I am glad that it turned out this way,” LaMonto said in a Career Center report on ELF impact.

She took on a virtual internship researching public health issues in vulnerable communities in North Carolina. She worked closely with Lawrence alumna Sara Quandt ’73, a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest University who does extensive research in public health.

“This past year, after taking Nutritional Anthropology, I had realized that I wanted to pursue a career in public health, but I did not know exactly what that meant,” LaMonto said. “When I was chosen for this internship, I knew that I wanted to research vulnerable communities, like the Latinx migrant farmworker community in North Carolina, but I did not know exactly what that meant either. Through this internship, I have grasped what it means, what it is like, to be a researcher in public health.”

Gabriel Chambers ’22

Gabriel Chambers ’22, a government major from Queens, New York, took on a self-directed research project on food insecurity, funded in part by the Equal Opportunity Fund.

“We see that some populations have lack of access to safe and nutritious food whereas some don’t,” Chambers said in the ELF report. “In the current pandemic, this threat leaves at-risk individuals vulnerable to malnutrition while simultaneously trying to protect themselves from a virus. This project identifies what is food insecurity, why is this an issue, who is affected by this crisis, where in the world are these conditions prevalent, and my personal insight on my story with food insecurity.”

Besides helping to center his career ambitions, Chambers said the summer experience helped him develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and networking skills. 

“In a time of need, the Equal Opportunity Fund provided me with resources to build a foundation to a path I want to follow upon leaving Lawrence,” he said. 

Funds to fill in the gaps

Bowles said those types of student experiences are at the heart of the Experiential Learning Funds program. It’s what motivates donors to participate and what drives students to seek out such opportunities.

“Experiential learning projects over the summer can help students harness their theoretical knowledge to practical, hands-on experiences,” Bowles said. “I know when I was in grad school, I struggled with a sense of disconnect—I was talking about feminist and queer theory without having opportunities for advocacy or activism—and I think for Lawrentians, these funds can help fill in that space.”

For students eyeing law school or medical school or seeking additional business training, the funds can provide opportunities to build important connections. The funds, for example, can assist students in accessing online Harvard Business School courses in partnership with Lawrence.  

“Some of these projects have direct connections to classroom learning, and others let them try out things as interns with alumni or on the job so they can start to think about what possibilities their degrees hold for them,” Bowles said. “With the funds, it’s also possible for students to try out things that Lawrence doesn’t offer without having to do that during an academic year, when the work might conflict with their ability to show up fully for their courses.” 

Bowles said students looking to apply for ELF funds should consult with their advisors, be creative in what they envision, and be realistic in their budget projections.

“One of my favorite things about working with Lawrentians is seeing the myriad ways in which imagination, passion, ambition, and critical thinking become the foundation for such different experiences in the short and long term,” Bowles said. 

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

“We are setting some history here”: Women’s hockey ready to make its debut

The Lawrence women’s hockey team will drop the puck on its debut season on Saturday, Feb. 13. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Joe Vanden Acker / Lawrence Athletics

When Jocey Kleiber started as Lawrence University’s first women’s hockey coach in August 2019, she wrote a number on the whiteboard outside her office at Alexander Gymnasium. That figure was more than 400, and it signified the number of days until the Vikings dropped the puck on the first game in program history, set for late October 2020.

“It feels like five years ago now,” Kleiber said with a laugh.

That number was finally down to double digits, less than two months away from the opener, when the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) announced in August 2020 the season was going to be suspended until at least January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of taking it as a soul-crushing setback, Kleiber took it in stride.

“The pandemic had been raging at that point so it wasn’t like it came out of the blue,” Kleiber said. “I kind of chuckled a little bit, and it was like, of course, I try to start a new program and a pandemic hits.”

Now the day Kleiber and her team have waited for, planned for, longed for, is finally upon us. Lawrence opens its inaugural season on Feb. 13 against the College of St. Scholastica at the Appleton Family Ice Center. The puck drops at 7 p.m. No fans will be allowed for Lawrence home games, but the contests will be webcast here. Lawrence then travels to St. Scholastica for a 4 p.m. Feb. 14 game in Duluth, Minn.

“It was kind of like our hearts dropped,” said first-year forward Delaney Kingsland of the decision to suspend the season. “We had worked through the year to get to this place. When we got the news that we were going to have a season, we were super excited.”

Women’s hockey is Lawrence’s first new varsity athletics program since men’s hockey was elevated from club status in 1986. Lawrence, which started its athletic program with a track and field day in 1889, now has 22 intercollegiate athletic teams. The addition of the Vikings brings the number of NCAA Division III women’s hockey teams to 67.

A slow build

Kleiber was only half-joking when she said it felt like five years ago that she was hired. It would be a colossal understatement to say much has transpired in the past 12 months. A once-in-a-century pandemic has dominated our lives. Kleiber was undeterred as she went about the business of building her team from scratch.

“As soon as I was hired and able to start recruiting, the first thing I did was to try and get as many feelers out as I could,” Kleiber said.

“I focused solely on recruiting. I was trying to go to as many tournaments as I could to get people to see me more and more. I had a mom say to me, ‘I’ve seen you everywhere on the road.’”

Kleiber kept plugging away as she saw hundreds of players in games across the country. She polished her pitch about why these young women should choose Lawrence and be part of something brand new. It didn’t always go smoothly.

The Vikings recently began full team practices at the Appleton Family Ice Center.

“Being a college coach, you get used to hearing the word no a lot, and you just kind of roll with it and go to the next kid,” Kleiber said.

And every once in a while, you hear, “Yes!”

Prescott native and goaltender Sydney Seeley didn’t know a lot about Lawrence, but Kleiber convinced her to see the campus.

“I was coming to Green Bay for a tournament for the weekend, and I thought I would tour (Lawrence) and check it out,” Seeley said. “I fell in love with the campus, and I love coach Jocey. There was something about (Lawrence), and I knew this was the place I wanted to be.”

“Sydney committed right then and there, and a few people committed shortly after that,” Kleiber said.

The momentum continued to build over the following months, and it was late winter 2020 when Kleiber started to feel good about the size of her first recruiting class.

“I think when the calendar flipped to March or April, I was feeling like we were right there. We needed a couple more players to fill out the team,” Kleiber said. “I had a good handful of feelers out to kids that had been accepted, and they just needed to make a decision.”

Navigating a pandemic

At the same time, Wisconsin went into a lockdown as the pandemic hit the population hard for the first time. Lawrence sent students home to study remotely during Spring Term.

Despite the lockdown, Kleiber managed to finish her recruiting class of 14 student-athletes. As we eased toward mid-summer, the number of infections and deaths continued to rise, but the coaches and athletes on the Lawrence campus held out hope they would be able to return to campus and be allowed to compete.

Kleiber continued her preparations for the season and kept her fingers crossed. The first bad news came on July 27 when the Midwest Conference announced it would not play the fall sports season. The NCHA followed on Aug. 6 with word that the men’s and women’s hockey seasons wouldn’t begin until January 2021 at the earliest.

Coach Jocey Kleiber recruited 14 players for the debut season.

“Man, we’re so close,” Kleiber recalled. “We have our jerseys; we have our equipment; the locker room is taking shape, and the world stops.”

That holding pattern continued until January. The Midwest Conference canceled its winter sports competitions, but the NCHA announced it would play an eight-game regular season followed by the playoffs. That announcement set off high-fiving and fist-pumping among the Vikings.

“We were all really excited that we got to have a season,” Seeley said. “Being the inaugural team, we wanted to play. Had we had to wait until next year, it would have been different. One thing that hits home for us is that we are the first people to wear these jerseys, the first people to set records, and it’s super exciting because we get to set expectations for the program.”

The Vikings have been careful since they arrived on campus in the fall. They conducted practice and weight training in small pods before just recently beginning full team practices. Masks are worn at all times. Team meetings and video work are all done via Zoom, and even on-ice conversations are socially distant whenever possible.

Kleiber said she reminds her players daily to “honor the pledge” to ensure the health and safety of the Lawrence community and to make decisions to keep everyone safe. The players are tested for COVID multiple times per week, including the day of a home game and within 24 hours of a road game.

Making history

All of those precautions have allowed the team to reach this point of launching a new program.

“Every time you step out on the ice for a new team it’s kind of exhilarating,” Kingsland said. “You get to do what you love and play with your best friends. Being able to step on the ice for our first game will be memorable. We are setting some history here.”

Women’s hockey became the 22nd intercollegiate athletic team at Lawrence.

A pretty lofty goal of 10 victories had been Kleiber’s goal for the team before the season was shut down last summer. 

“I say it to the players, I’m not someone who’s happy to be here. I want us to be good from the get-go,” Kleiber said. “I want more than that, and I know the athletes that are here want more than that. Having a goal that seems out of reach is better in relative terms than something that is pretty easy to accomplish.”

With the Vikings now playing an abbreviated eight-game regular season, Kleiber has adjusted the goals.

“One of the goals for us will be to make the playoffs,” Kleiber said. “Why not us? We will have to just play it one series, one weekend at a time. However it works out, it’s going to be an inaugural season unlike any other.”

Joe Vanden Acker is director of athletic media relations at Lawrence University. Email: joseph.m.vandenacker@lawrence.edu

Student collaborations put new focus on Black History Month events at Lawrence

Sarah Navy ’22 and Malcolm Davis ’23 took the lead in organizing a series of Black History Month events. Navy is president of the Black Student Union. Davis is program coordinator of the Diversity and Intercultural Center.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s celebration of Black History Month during February includes a series of student-organized events that are shining new light on Black history and culture.

The series comes out of new collaborations between the Diversity and Intercultural Center (D&IC) and the Black Student Union (BSU), led by Sarah Navy ’22, the president of BSU, and Malcolm Davis ’23, program coordinator for the D&IC.

“After attending any of these events people will hopefully leave having learned something new that they can then share with others,” Davis said. “Putting aside sharing, individual growth is huge as well. After attending one of the events, you may leave with a different perspective, or a new understanding of a topic. All of this, I think, will elevate conversation and education surrounding Black history.”

The new series kicked off Feb. 2 with Black History Jeopardy and continues with the following virtual events:

6 p.m. Feb. 9: Film screening of the documentary Talking Black in America.

4-9 p.m. Feb. 11: African Heritage Emerging Leaders Institute.

6 p.m. Feb. 16: A Q&A discussion of the film Talking Black in America. The discussion will be facilitated by Associate Producer Renee Blake, who is featured in the documentary. She will co-facilitate with Executive Producer Walt Wolfram.

6 p.m. Feb. 23: A book discussion of Heavy, open to BSU members only.

Information on how to access the events can be found here.

The series augments other activities in February organized by either the D&IC or BSU or in collaboration with other student groups, including Lunar New Year (Feb. 13), Cultural Expressions (Feb. 27), and a range of activities during the final week of February titled AIO Presents Honoring Black History.

Events to catch in a busy Winter Term. See more here.

Cultural Expressions will be a virtual event this year. Watch for details to be announced.

“We want to have an event that would allow us all to come together, on-campus or not,” Navy said. “And for those of us here, we wanted to do it the safest way possible. The theme for this year will be ‘Black Love’.”

Meanwhile, AIO Presents Honoring Black History will be held Feb. 21-27. To be presented virtually, it’s a collaborative effort between various student organizations, including All is One (AIO), BSU, Beta Psi Nu (BYN), Pan-Asian Organization (PAO), LU Native Americans (LUNA), and Colores. The focus is on “understanding the intricacies of our communities and how blackness can be centered to educate and develop relationships.” A kickoff dinner with limited seating, hosted by AIO, is being organized for Feb. 21. The virtual sessions to follow include:

5 p.m. Feb. 22: Brown Girl Recovery, with Brienne Colston ’15, hosted by BYN.

6 p.m. Feb. 24: Building Generational Wealth in the Black Community, with Cordero Barkley, hosted by BSU.

5 p.m. Feb. 25: Anti-Blackness in the Asian American & Pacific Islander Community, with Maddie Schumacher, hosted by PAO.

7 p.m. Feb. 25: Keynote with Menominee speaker Sasanehsaeh Jennings, hosted by LUNA.

4 p.m. Feb. 26: Loving Radically, with Yante Turner, hosted by Colores.

Students can look for access information to the virtual events in the weekly LU Insider.

Navy said the BSU’s annual presentation of Cultural Expressions remains an important February event, but the launch of these student-directed Black History Month events, and the collaboration with other student groups and the D&IC, will hopefully widen needed conversation on campus.

“There are certain things that need to be understood to move forward,” she said. “I believe that the education, the continuance, and the familiarity of these events can propel us in the right step of accepting and appreciating, and not appropriating, Black culture.”

Davis said the events stem from a desire to go deeper into Black history. Collaborating with the BSU seemed a perfect fit.

“This collaboration allows the D&IC and BSU to combine our resources to produce programming for our community that we have not seen in years past,” Davis said.

Navy said she’s particularly looking forward to the screening of Talking Black in America and the conversation to follow. The documentary explores the history of African American speech, from legacy and identity to linguistic profiling, language-based discrimination, and public misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

“I get a chance to learn about a part of me that is seen as either something that needs to be excused to some or something that can be appreciated by others, and I rather do the latter,” Navy said. “What also makes this special is that the event is open to the whole campus to learn as well.”

Davis and Navy said they are hopeful this year’s Black History Month events will be the start of annual collaborations.

“I do expect this to become an annual event,” Navy said. “Black history is American history. Black history is now. I am hoping that once my colleagues and I move on, this intentionality and passion for creating a space for Black culture will continue to thrive.”

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

Connections, resiliency pay off as new grads navigate job searches in pandemic

Hoa Huynh ’19, De Andre King ’20, Maria Poimenidou ’20 (submitted photos)

Three recent Lawrence grads talk about
anxieties, changed plans, delayed successes
as they job-hunted in the time of COVID

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Launching into a post-college career is no easy thing in the best of times. Now do it amid a global pandemic, the job market suddenly fractured, travel frowned upon, interviews only by Zoom, the family’s basement turned into a makeshift workspace.

“There are six of us in the house working or studying,” said De Andre King ’20, who pursued software engineering jobs from the basement of his family’s New York City home in the months following his June 2020 graduation from Lawrence University. “It meant stuffing a towel under the door to make sure no noise was coming into the room while I was doing the interview. I had to position my table to where the water meter behind me wasn’t showing. It took a lot of planning.”

King is far from alone, of course. We’re closing in on a year since COVID-19 complicated things for new and soon-to-be graduates, adding urgency to the work of Lawrence’s Career Center and importance to connections forged with the school’s alumni.

In some ways, strange as it might sound, the pandemic has lowered the temperature a bit on the pressure to land that perfect job out of school, said Grace Kutney, associate director of the Career Center.

“What I hear from a lot of students, and one of the reasons their shoulders are so tense, is that they feel like they are doing something wrong if they give themselves permission to explore during that first year or two after graduation,” she said. “But I think because of the pandemic, people kind of knew things were going to be weird. I think their families understood that things were going to be weird. And there was the anticipation of bracing themselves for it. … So, it takes a pandemic to be, ‘Oh, it’s OK to find something that is maybe short term.’ But if you look at the statistics nationally, taking a position for a year or two and then shifting to something else is normal; it’s totally normal.”

With that backdrop, we caught up with three recent Lawrence graduates, all of whom leaned heavily on the Career Center and other campus resources as they navigated these uncertain days before landing jobs. Their journeys are all different, but with some shared threads.

^ ^ ^

De Andre King ’20

De Andre King ’20: “It took me a little while to pick myself back up”

King was in Atlanta in early March for the fourth and final round of interviews for an internship with a music company, a software engineering position the computer science major believed would set him on his post-college path.

He nailed the interview. Then everything came crashing down.

The recruiter pulled him aside with a warning. The spread of COVID-19, having recently arrived in the United States, was exploding. The internship was about to be nixed.

“Literally, that world for me was ending,” King said. “And then to check back into reality and see that the world as we know it was possibly ending as well, it was really tough. I was really, really banking on that opportunity. In all of my job-searching experiences, it was something down to the T what I wanted to do.”

He returned to Appleton just as Lawrence was announcing that it would be going to remote classes for Spring Term, and King joined his fellow seniors in scrambling to say goodbyes and honor their college experiences while taking finals amid chaos and tears.

“I wasn’t even able to be fully present for those moments because I was so worried about what was going to happen next,” King said. “Once that opportunity in Atlanta fell through, I was down and out. I’m not going to lie; I was really disappointed and it took me a little while to pick myself back up and keep going. I think I took two or three weeks off before starting back on my job search.”

After going home to New York, he reconnected with the team at Lawrence’s Career Center. Kutney would help guide him through an all-out blitz of job applications, making new connections with alumni, updating application materials, and identifying opportunities that were shifting by the day as companies tried to make sense of life in the pandemic.

“It wasn’t starting from the ground up again, but more so making a pivot and seeing what worked and what didn’t work up to that point,” King said.

He worked through his resume and application letters with Kutney. He circled back with Michelle Cheney, his former advisor in the Career Center who had moved to a position in the Annual Giving office. He reconnected with Cory Nettles ’92, a Lawrence trustee who had been a mentor to him, picking his brain on networking and other skills. He talked with Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, who had been an important conduit to the Atlanta interviews.

“In the earlier search, I was more specifically looking toward the music industry and the music tech industry,” King said. “But after that opportunity fell through, I widened my scope of industries to look into.

“Michelle and then Grace, they were amazing. They took the time to really review each of my materials — my cover letter, my resume, my LinkedIn, my Handshake profile. They also provided me with the tools that helped me manage my time better.”

In all, King sent out about 200 applications.

His efforts eventually led him to Bloomberg LP, where he landed a job in October as a software engineer with the media company’s Princeton, New Jersey office. In November, the Wall Street Journal featured him in a story about the hard work of job searches in the pandemic.

King, still working from the family’s basement, has yet to set foot in the Bloomberg office, but he hopes it’ll happen soon.

“I drove past it one day but I haven’t been inside yet,” he said. “Yea, I’m looking forward to going into the office.”

^ ^ ^

Maria Poimenidou ’20

Maria Poimenidou ’20: “You can fall into a spiral of worries”

Poimenidou has been in Houston since mid-September, working as a research assistant for the Experimental Therapeutics Department in Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Like King, the pandemic not only added new levels of stress to the job search, it also delayed the process.

“While I was hoping that by graduation I would know exactly where I would be, my interviews and job offers were all pushed back until after graduation,” Poimenidou said. “There is a lot of uncertainty that comes with that and you can fall into a spiral of worries, but the way I adapted to everything was by becoming more flexible.”

She leaned even harder into her Lawrence experience and the resources in the Career Center. 

“One of the most valuable lessons you get out of Lawrence is learning how to be flexible and open-minded,” said Poimenidou, a biochemistry and economics double major. “While I waited for my job offers to come back, I reached out to alumni and applied for different unpaid internships that were not directly tied to the job sector I was interested in. I was fortunate to be able to take on an unpaid internship and grateful to receive two job offers by the end of the summer, one in Chicago and one in Houston.” 

Advice from Kutney and Cheney was helpful, she said, keeping her focused on her priorities while letting go of things she couldn’t control.

“Both Michelle and Grace were more than just career advisors, they were life coaches,” Poimenidou said.

Her job interviews were all virtual, which Poimenidou said she found oddly comforting.

“To be honest, I enjoyed the virtual aspect of the application process because in a way it felt more personable,” she said. “I had interviews with people that were in their homes and I was in mine, where I could hear their dog bark or some commotion in the background. It felt less intimidating and I actually had amazing, easy-going conversations.” 

^ ^ ^

Hoa Huynh ’19

Hoa Huynh ’19: “I’ve become much more comfortable in networking”

Huynh is set to begin a new job as a finance trainee with ING in the Netherlands in April. It follows a just-concluded internship with a small U.S. company based in Amsterdam, an internship she landed after the pandemic put her post-Lawrence plans in disarray.

An economics major at Lawrence, she had wanted to add another internship to her resume. She began looking to large companies, exploring data analytics, finance, and marketing opportunities. That all changed as the pandemic arrived, shutting down hiring at many companies.

“I did a lot of reflection about myself and talked to many people, including peers who were also struggling in the pandemic and those who already succeeded in job applications,” Huynh said.

She reconnected with the Career Center and zeroed in on the finance field, where she already had some experience.

“I diversified the types of companies and applied to smaller businesses and startups,” she said. “After changing strategy, I finally got the internship.”

That led to the opportunity at ING, a multinational banking and finance company. Without the internship and the added experience, it would not have happened, she said, noting that she’d been rebuffed by ING prior to the internship.

“I think the pandemic has definitely made the job search more competitive than before, especially at the beginning when companies were also struggling with changes the pandemic posed,” Huynh said. “I had to adjust my goals.

“More importantly, I had to be even more active in networking to build connections and gain more insights, to make sure that I could prepare the best resume and cover letters. Thanks to networking skills that Grace taught me during my time at Lawrence, I’ve become much more comfortable in networking and reaching out to people, and that hugely helped me land the traineeship at ING.”

Huynh said she now hears herself echoing the lessons she learned via Kutney and the Career Center as she talks with peers who are launching job searches during the pandemic.

“Try to build connections, deepen the connections, and don’t be afraid to show that you’re vulnerable,” Huynh said. “For those who are intimidated by networking, like I was in college, think of it simply as asking about other people’s experiences and information; they would love to share that with you.”

Lessons learned

The pandemic is hammering home the important connections Lawrence students and recent graduates have in the Career Center, where Career Communities, Viking Connect and other recent innovations have improved life after Lawrence planning.

Numbers from Lawrence’s 2020 class are not in yet, but Kutney said of the 2019 graduates, 95% are employed or continuing in their education. That is just shy of the 97% average over the past five years, which is good news in a pandemic that started eight months after that class graduated.

Mike O’Connor, the Riaz Waraich Dean for the Career Center & Center for Community Engagement and Social Change, said he was seeing an influx of student interaction even before the pandemic hit. It continues to grow. In September, more than 250 first-year students attended a Career Center orientation, and 150 first-year students paid follow-up visits, an all-time high.

The Career Center’s Instagram account, where important career planning and job search information is shared, has seen an increase of nearly 700 student followers since fall 2019.

“What I say to students in the pandemic is, be prepared to pivot to industries that are hiring,” O’Connor said. “Many are surging. Think tech, health care, even education. Related to that is skill-building for those opportunities. There are tons of ways to approach this, including remote opportunities and internships. And build your network; that is so key. Colleges with ready-to-tap alumni mentors and contacts are super valuable.”

Those conversations are becoming more frequent in the pandemic, Kutney said. The message is often about staying calm and focusing on the next steps.

She talks to students about not stressing over the perfect job. Is the short-term need to earn a certain amount of money? Is the need to gain experience in a particular area? Is the need to be in a particular geographic area?

“In an ideal world, the position would fill all of those things,” Kutney said. “But right now, in a pandemic, that might not be the case. So, we’re really encouraging them to give themselves permission to go, ‘This is what I’m focusing on for this season of time, and then I can shift.’ That’s part of releasing from their shoulders this burden that they have to have it all figured out before June.”

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

Great Midwest Trivia Contest results: “We are so proud of what we pulled off”

Grace Krueger ’21 (center) led her team of trivia masters through a very challenging but successful Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 56th annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest thrived over the weekend in its first all-digital edition.

Forced to make changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of trivia masters led by Head Master Grace Krueger ’21 stayed true to many of the weird and beloved traditions that have been part of the contest for five and a half decades. Bizarre questions that focus on information searches, useless prizes, nods to the contest’s history, and interactions between players and trivia masters all lived on.

“All in all, the weekend went fantastically well,” Krueger said. “Despite some hiccups that are always going to happen with the adaption of new technology and the restrictions we were under this year, the contest was a complete success and we are so proud of what we pulled off.”

For a wider sampling of the 2021 trivia contest, see this playlist.

With the WLFM studio unavailable and trivia masters socially distanced, the contest was held on Twitch. The action questions were all virtual and players called in answers via a virtual phone line on a Discord server.

“Teams adapted to all the changes this year so well, and we want to thank them for learning with us,” Krueger said.

What, if any, changes will be rolled into the traditional format next year will be at the direction of Riley Newton ’22, who was announced as the head master for the 2022 contest.

Despite going all-digital and teams not being able to gather together per usual, this year’s contest remained a big draw. It drew 77 off-campus teams and 14 on-campus teams, featuring a total of 551  players.

Here are the winning teams (yes, the tradition of long and strange names continued):

ON CAMPUS:

1: Team 3, At this point, Why not trust an Aquarius Microwaving and Peeling and why IS [REDACTED] ON FIRE-oh yes, YES, Flambéing and society of bones and pyromaniacs (owo) cinematic Universe (TM). The previous name has burst into flames; like a phoenix from the ashes has risen as a virgo: 1,650

2: Team 1, The Gaming House Special Featuring the Nipples of Knowledge: 1,415

3: Team 6, joe and ethan funtime bonanza team: 1,315

OFF CAMPUS:

1: Team 135, Delguigi: 1,710

2: Team 112, are you the onesie #comfycrew: 1,665

3: Team 106, Hobgoblin of Little Minds: This One is for Sheila: 1,650

The Super Garuda was among the traditions that continued. The Super Garuda is annually a weirdly obscure question that serves as the final question of the weekend and then as the first question of the following year’s contest. Here’s your head start for 2022:

Q: The person who installed Pepsi machines on set played a Prohibition agent in a black-and-white film where Peter sets out to prove that he isn’t a boob. The title of this silent comedy is a featured comical word in a 2018 linguistics paper published by Canadian university researchers. A building at this university is named after a man whose last name is the first name of an actor who played a one-eyed man in a movie once described as having “all the appeal of a seaweed sandwich.” In this building, there is a large room on the mechanical floor directly below 2A2. In the southwest corner of the room, a red, graffiti-covered beam crosses the path near a door. A message is written on the wall next to the beam informing the reader of their odor. What, according to the author, do you smell like?

A: Cabbage

(It was answered correctly by Team 142: Beedough Beedough Beedough.)

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

Kiese Laymon, author of “Heavy,” speaks to need for introspection, revision

Kiese Laymon (top left) speaks with Amy Ongiri (top right), Tania Sosa ’24 (bottom left) and Edwin Martinez ’24 as part of the Jan. 28 virtual Convocation.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Kiese Laymon says he’s never sure how to answer when someone asks him how long it took him to write Heavy: an American Memoir, his widely praised 2018 book that explored, with raw honesty, family secrets wrapped in a mix of brilliance, drive, pain, abuse, and addiction.

He’s not even sure the verb tense is correct.

“I’m not sure how long it took me to write Heavy or I’m not sure how long it’s taking me to write Heavy,” Laymon said Thursday as he virtually delivered Lawrence University’s Winter Term Convocation address.

As it should be with all art, he said, the revisions are ongoing, even though the book rolled off the presses more than two years ago and has racked up a bevy of top literary awards, including the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction and the LA Times Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose.

“Because memory and freedom are so fluid, I’m never going to stop revising Heavy no matter what,” Laymon said. “I think the honest answer to the question of how long did it take you to write Heavy is, I’m going to have to let you know when I’m done. The book is published but the book is not done.”

That need for constant revision in our work, in our lives, to look deeply inward in pursuit of honesty and clarity, was at the heart of Laymon’s address. Titled The Radical Possibility and Democratic Necessity of Navel Gazing, Laymon’s talk challenged people to embrace their own “navel gazing” as they uncover their own truths.

“I would like to argue that in this nation we are suffering because we are not as navel-gazing as we need to be,” Laymon said. “If each of us looked within our navel patiently, with routine and imagination, we would really find things that we never imagined. Those things, if we rigorously push them, would connect us to someone else.

“If you look into your navel with any acuity, with any tenderness, you’re going to find something you never saw before, and that something is going to help you understand the people you love more, it’s going to help you understand context more, and, most importantly, it’s going to help you understand what you want tomorrow to be.”

In Heavy, Laymon, a professor in English and creative writing at the University of Mississippi, offers a personal narrative of growing up Black in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s written as a communication to his mother, woven with layers and complexities of brilliance, passion, abuse, racism, obesity, anorexia, gambling, and more. The Lawrence community discussed the book earlier this month as part of a campus-wide read.

Thursday’s convocation address included a question-and-answer session in which Laymon discussed his work with Amy Ongiri, Lawrence’s Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies, and students Tania Sosa ’24 and Edwin Martinez ’24. President Mark Burstein then hosted a public Q&A with Laymon.

Music included Genius Child, performed by Preston Parker ’23 and Mandy Kung, and Set Me as a Seal, performed by the Lawrence University Concert Choir with members of the Appleton East High School Easterners, under the direction of Stephen Sieck.

Laymon recently released a new essay collection, “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” an expanded and reworked version of an essay collection first released in 2013. He bought the rights to the book from the publisher so he could add six essays and edit others.

Again, introspection and revision.

That need for revision was instilled in Laymon early by a mother who pushed him hard. It has resonated through his teaching, first at Vassar College and then the University of Mississippi.

“It’s hard to have a revision if you don’t have an initial vision,” Laymon said. “It’s hard for that revision to have any integrity if that initial vision doesn’t have some sort of layers and depth. And I think that initial vision can only have depth if we do the rigorous work of looking within. I would argue there is no radical possibility without more sustained democratic navel gazing. And I think Heavy, among other things, is an example of that.”

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

Quarantine in Kohler: Students, staff speak to efforts to ease the anxiety

Kohler Hall

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought plenty of changes to the Lawrence University campus, including the transformation of Kohler Hall from the university’s most tranquil residence hall to what students now call the quarantine tower.

During Fall Term, Kohler provided a temporary home for 89 students who had either entered isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 or had been sent into quarantine as the result of contact tracing. Over the course of the term, 43 students were diagnosed with the virus. See Lawrence’s COVID-19 Dashboard here, which shows the weekly numbers and includes updates for Winter Term.

With a full term of quarantine and isolation to draw from, I talked to a number of students who have had the Kohler experience, as well as the staff members who keep the residence hall functioning. This story offers a glimpse of life in quarantine or isolation and provides students with best practices and tips to make it through the two weeks should you find yourself in Kohler this term.

The quarantine and isolation processes are difficult, and understandably scary—but you can be prepared.

Note: No student names are used for the sake of privacy.

First contact

One Fall Term Kohler resident has two words to describe how she felt when she was first informed that she had been exposed to COVID-19 from a fellow student: sheer terror.

“When I saw that text, my heart just dropped,” she said. “It felt like getting into a car crash. It was that same sort of anxiety response—sort of like an out-of-body experience.”

Fortunately, help was on the way.

As soon as you get that first message, Lawrence’s team sends you a list of instructions with all the fundamentals for life in Kohler: what to pack, how to move in, and dorm expectations, to name only a few of the topics covered.

This list covers the basics, the things everyone needs to know. The next step is to take a deep breath and think about what you, personally, are going to need in order to make it through two weeks in isolation or quarantine.

If you’re sensitive to temperature changes, make sure to pack plenty of sweaters and blankets. If you require a well-lit workspace to feel alert and awake, bring fairy lights or an extra lamp to decorate your room. If you’re the type of person who gets snacky throughout the day, don’t forget to grab that extra-large carton of goldfish on your way out the door.

But if you can’t even begin to figure out what you might need, that’s OK, too. Curt Lauderdale, the dean of students, Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life and chaplain to the University, and Terra Winston, the associate dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, are available to answer your questions and talk through any concerns—even if, as one student recalls from the day leading up to her isolation period in Kohler, the conversation goes on for eight hours.

Day-to-day living

While you’re cooped up inside Kohler, doing your part to keep the campus community safe, there is a network of people on the outside who are available to help with your daily needs.

Spiritual and Religious Life has a set of items students might find comforting during their stay, and if they don’t have what you want in stock, they’ll go to your residence hall to gather what you may have forgotten in your haste to leave. Jill Drier, director of health services and campus nurse, will pick up waiting prescriptions from a local pharmacy to be delivered to students in Kohler. If need be, Lauderdale will even take on the role of DoorDasher, as he did last term after a student in Kohler contacted him about a mix-up with her meal delivery.

And that team is expanding—Lawrence is hiring two students to provide hospitality for individuals in quarantine. In addition to being on-call during the weekends, these new hires are tasked with offering potential social programming to help connect students in Kohler with other students.

“Beyond moving to a new space, with different sounds, smells, and a new rhythm, the emotional background noise of possibly—or actually—feeling sick, worrying about friends, or simply having even more things to do often creates motivation and focus challenges,” Morgan-Clement said. “We find that a series of contacts via email to help normalize responses, reactions, and invitations to be in touch increases the student’s sense that they are not bothering someone and that their request or question would be welcomed.”

However, despite these resources, every former Kohler resident I spoke to agreed that during your time in Kohler, you need to find your own ways to keep yourself grounded and engaged with the world outside those walls.

For one student, it was Zoom movie nights and periodic messaging with friends. For another, it was regularly scheduled group meals over FaceTime. And for yet another, it was a daily phone call to his parents and masked and distanced walks along underused campus paths.

Whatever it is for you, these routines and connections will help you get through your two-week stay in Kohler.

“If I had to give advice to someone moving into Kohler, I would highly recommend doing everything possible to continue to feel human,” said one student who was sent into quarantine through contact tracing. “Whether that means working out, talking to your family or friends every day, or something else, you will need normalcy and sanity.”

Staying healthy

Moving into isolation doesn’t mean that you’re just stuck in a room for 10 days to fight off this virus by yourself. Wellness Services is deeply involved in addressing all the health issues you may face while living in Kohler.

After receiving news of your exposure and/or positive test result, Drier will reach out to you personally to discuss medical aspects, ranging from your health condition to COVID-19 testing instructions and protocols. From there, she will become your designated contact for any and all medical matters, routinely checking in and responding to any concerns you may have.

“I would like students to know that we are here for them, and please reach out if they need anything or have questions,” Drier said. “We understand that living in isolation or quarantine is less than ideal and we want to help students through the process.”

But health encompasses much more than medical symptoms, and being in isolation has the tendency to highlight this reality. Nevertheless, there are ways to manage the mental and physical toll of COVID-19.

To stay physically active and keep your head clear, one of the students I spoke to who was in quarantine recommended getting out of Kohler for a few minutes every day to feel the fresh air, staying distant from others in the process. Students who have tested positive will not be able to leave their rooms for exercise, but you can walk laps around the room, follow along with a YouTube yoga class, or, as another student suggested, challenge yourself with non-stop push-ups like “Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender.

And when fear, loneliness, and doubt start to creep in, the students who experienced Kohler recommend that you take full advantage of Lawrence’s counseling services. In addition to walk-in hours and crisis appointments, students can contact Wellness Services to set up a virtual appointment with a counselor at any time. If you call during business hours, the appointment may even be scheduled for the same day.

Quarantining in Kohler is inevitably a difficult experience. But there are resources to help you get through it.

“The disruption of quarantine or isolation is manageable and can even be a time to step away from the ‘Lawrence busy’ to try some new things,” Morgan-Clement said. “There is a team that makes this possible . . . We are all learning together, and each person has a different story.’”

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.