Author: Ed Berthiaume

Right at home: Discovering the joys of an (almost) endless Appleton summer

Lawrence University students, from left, Awa Badiane ’21, Carly Beyer ’21, and Chris James ’21 shop at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market on a recent Saturday morning.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

After finals are done, dorm rooms are packed and the academic year has come to an end, most Lawrence University students go home for the summer. However, there are always some students who decide to stay and take advantage of amazing opportunities — whether it be conducting research with a professor, interning at one of the campus offices, or finding an off-campus job in Appleton.

For those who stay, it’s a chance to experience campus at a slower pace and to see Appleton in a way that just doesn’t happen during the academic year.

I’ve been one of the 146 students who stayed on campus all summer, calling Colman Hall home. I’m a government major from New York who is working as a student writer in the Communications office. I talked with other students who have been here this summer about the Appleton experience.

Spoiler alert: We love it.

Fun in Appleton  

When students are here during the school year, they get so caught up in the abundance of things going on on-campus they rarely get to enjoy the many things Appleton has to offer. With gorgeous weather (usually) and not having classes to worry about, summers at Lawrence give students a chance to do just that.

“This year was my first time at the Mile of Music festival, and it was so much fun,” said Shonell Benjamin ’20. “It was really nice getting to see Appleton come alive the way it did, and the performances I got to see were great.”  

Mile of Music is an Appleton tradition — seven years and running — that many students do not get a chance to experience because it happens during the summer. Over the course of four days in early August, the downtown is filled with live music, all original, with more than 900 performances taking place in 70 venues along a mile stretch of College Avenue. In addition, nearly 50 music education workshops take place, allowing festival-goers to get interactive instruction in diverse forms of music and dance, many of the sessions hosted by Lawrence Conservatory faculty or alumni.

“I got to go to all the Music Education events,” said Thuy Tien Tran ’20, who is majoring in film studies and economics and stayed this summer to work on video projects in the Communications office. “I got to see a lot of great artists from Lawrence. They shared their experience from during their time at Lawrence and how they use that to help other people.” 

Mile of Music, of course, is not the only thing Appleton’s downtown has to offer during the summer months. There’s a myriad of small shops, art studios, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, a weekly Thursday night concert in Houdini Plaza, and every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the downtown strip gets blocked off and is used for the Downtown Appleton Farm Market.   

“As long as I’ve been here on the weekends, I’ve gone to the farmers market and got stuff for dinner,” said Isabella Mariani ’21, who is studying French, with an English minor, and is working as a student writer in the Communications office. 

With more than 150 vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, meats, baked goods, and other specialty items, the farm market is a beautiful thing, and it’s just steps off of the Lawrence campus.  

“I love the farmers market,” said Briana Wilson ’21, a biology major. “I remember when I went a few weeks ago there was a tornado warning, but the vendors were still set up and people were still shopping. Everyone was just having too much fun to stop.”  

Well, the storm did eventually bring the market to an abrupt stop that morning, but point well taken. The farm market is a must visit if you’re staying on campus for the summer.

Trying something new 

Most students stay on campus because they’ve found an opportunity that allows them to stretch their educational wings.  

“My professor asked me if I was interested in being part of his lab group,” said Benjamin, a biology major. “I thought it would be a cool opportunity, and a chance to take a risk and explore something new.” 

Benjamin previously spent her summers at home in New York City, but she accepted the invite from biology professor Israel Del Toro. She has spent her summer doing work in the biology department, conducting research that is going toward Del Toro’s ongoing study of urban bee habitats. 

“I’m really happy I stayed to do research,” said Benjamin. “I enjoy being part of Professor Del Toro’s lab and working with him. I’m also happy to be part of this research. The work we are doing is important because climate change is real and we have to protect the bees.”   

Samantha Torres, a psychology and theatre arts double major, also from New York, opted to spend her summer in Appleton as well.  

Professor Jesus Smith in the Ethnic Studies Department “told me he was very impressed with my work in the classroom and thought I would be a great assistant for him this summer,” said Torres. “I’d never considered living in Appleton for the summer, but I thought taking the risk would be worth it.” 

Stepping out of her comfort zone turned out to be a decision Torres does not regret. Staying on campus allowed her the opportunity to build transferable skills through research and the chance to experience Appleton in a way she is not able to during the school year.  

“I was especially driven to the research position because of my graduate school plans after Lawrence,” said Torres. “I knew research would make me a standout candidate. But staying also allowed me to meet so many new people and create fond memories that I wouldn’t have during regular term.” 

Than, meanwhile, said she’s learning a ton while spending her summer working with the Lawrence Office of Communications in video production.  

“I make videos that help promote Lawrence and the different aspects of Lawrence,” said Than. 

She started working at her position in the Communications office during the academic year. When she transitioned to a summer position, she wasn’t sure what to expect. 

“I didn’t expect to really get a chance to work on projects,” said Than. “But the whole (video) process, I get to do everything. It’s not just helping and assisting (the director of video production) with his work, I actually can work on my own projects.”     

Keeping it casual

Whether staying on campus or exploring the areas of Appleton near campus, there are plenty of things to do during down time in the summer. The pace is much slower.

“One day me and my friends just decided for dinner we were going to barbeque,” said Wilson. “We barbecued some burgers and then went inside to watch a movie; it was lots of fun.”  

There are tons of opportunities on campus to enjoy being outdoors. There’s a summer exclusive cookout every Wednesday in front of Kaplan’s Café called Griff’s Grill, plus outdoor volleyball games, and tons of spots around campus to enjoy a picnic.

A walk across the College Avenue bridge and a hard left onto S. Walter Street will take you into Telulah Park, home to a skateboard park, a disc golf course, a baseball diamond and a picnic area. It’ll also connect you to the Newberry Trail if you’re looking to hike or bike.

Besides the shopping and dining opportunities along College Avenue, you’re also close to coffee shops and restaurants overlooking the Fox River, some along the Newberry Trail near the Banta Bowl and some a short hike past the tennis courts on Drew Street (think E. Walter Street and S. Olde Oneida Street). Many of them have outdoor decks, allowing you take in the Wisconsin summer in all its glory.

Enjoy it while you can.

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Lawrence unveils new B.M.A. degree, widening path for student musicians

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble performs at Memorial Chapel during the 2018-19 academic year.
The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble has been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music’s long history of jazz education excellence. The new B.M.A. degree, beginning this fall, will build on that with its Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Electric guitars and synthesizers could soon become as familiar as violins and bassoons in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

A new degree program is being introduced at Lawrence University that is expected to open the school’s Conservatory of Music to a wider group of student musicians. Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.), with a Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track, has been added to Lawrence’s degree options, joining Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

It’s a new avenue for a conservatory whose history dates back to the 19th century. Built on the strength of a nationally recognized jazz program that has been earning major honors since the 1970s, the new degree expands on the classical music component in the Conservatory, allowing students for the first time to audition with non-classical repertoire. The foundation is in jazz and contemporary improvisation, but the degree is built to accommodate a wide range of music making.

The B.M.A. degree, in place beginning this academic year, has a 50-50 split between music studies and a student’s choice of another field in the liberal arts landscape, with expectations to connect the two.

The high standards haven’t changed. The audition process for acceptance into the Conservatory remains intact, and the skill-development expectations continue to be top level. But for prospective students eyeing the B.M.A. degree, the audition no longer needs to be limited to pieces from the Western classical repertoire, potentially opening the door for students who see their strengths and interests in jazz or pop or hip-hop or another music genre. And the new degree presents an alternate path of study for classical musicians, as well.

It unwraps all sorts of additional choices, said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory.

“The new degree will open the Conservatory to a broader range of musical interests,” he said. “No longer does a student have to audition on a Western classical instrument and perform classical repertoire. Drummers, electric guitarists, fiddlers, keyboard players, jazz vocalists, songwriters and contemporary composers are all welcome to audition into the new program.”

For more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, see here.

For details on the new B.M.A. degree, including an FAQ, see here.

This isn’t completely new territory for the Conservatory. It has long had a thriving jazz program. Lawrence won the first of its 28 Downbeat jazz education awards as far back as 1985, its latest as recently as April, picking up the award for the best undergraduate large ensemble for the second consecutive year. But current students have had to come into the jazz track via the classical music auditions and training, then seek a jazz emphasis while also studying classical repertoire.

The current B.Mus. degree, Pertl said, works well for many aspiring musicians who seek both classical and jazz training, but it leaves out those whose aspirations do not include the classical side of performance training. The new degree will rectify that. It also will expand the opportunities to tap into music-related fields that don’t necessarily involve performance.

Students perform as part of a Jazz Ensemble concert in Memorial Chapel.
Jazz and improvisation have long been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. The new B.M.A. degree will add flexibility for music students.

Read more: Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble wins DownBeat Award for second consecutive year

Read more: Roomful of Teeth’s Estelí Gomez to join Lawrence Conservatory

The late Fred Sturm, who oversaw the jazz studies program at Lawrence for 26 years, began laying the groundwork for the new degree prior to his death in 2014.

What started as a specific focus on jazz eventually grew into the more wide-ranging B.M.A. degree, Pertl said. The degree allows the Conservatory to welcome in musicians who don’t necessarily fit a certain musical footprint.

“Last year, for example, we graduated an exceptional student from Chicago named Bernard Lilly,” Pertl said. “Bernard is an amazing soul singer. He’d been singing long before he came to Lawrence and sang all the way through Lawrence, but he never took any courses in the Conservatory because he didn’t feel like there was anything there for him, until his last term in his senior year when he took my entrepreneurship class and studied with (voice professor) John Holiday, and worked with professors in our jazz department. He would have been a perfect candidate for a B.M.A. degree.

“To be able to give students like Bernard high-level musical training will certainly broaden what they can do. But it also expands the musical culture of the Conservatory, mixing different genres and different musical sensibilities. This will be a huge advantage to everyone at the Conservatory.”

Students pursuing a B.Mus. degree in the Conservatory take about two-thirds of their classes in their major area of study and about one-third in general education or electives. Music students who pursue a double degree — a music degree and a B.A. in the college — do so on a five-year plan.

The new B.M.A., meanwhile, combines high-level music study with another field of interest in a four-year plan. As part of the degree requirements, students pursue a cognate focus that makes up 15% of their coursework. The cognate allows them to deeply explore another area of interest that ties into their music studies.

“It could be musically oriented but in the area of anthropology,” Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat said. “Or musically oriented but in political science.”

Core classes, one-on-one work with faculty and a wide range of electives give B.M.A. students opportunities to carve their own musical paths, some performance based, some not.

That, said Patty Darling, director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, speaks to how music can inform so many disciplines in a variety of ways. Today, preparing young musicians to pursue their musical lives can’t be limited to focusing solely on technical mastery. Each year, opportunities will arise that don’t exist today, so musicians need to pair their high-level musicianship with high-level thinking, creative problem-solving, and the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities that others don’t even see.

Flexibility, an ability to adapt quickly, and a willingness to collaborate are all key attributes for anyone entering the world of music in the 21st century. Blending those core musicianship skills with an education in a student’s other field of interest is the next step in keeping the Conservatory forward-thinking.

“A lot of these students who come in wanting to create their own musical voice are pretty self-directed already,” Darling said. “While they’ll be gaining a lot of these core musicianship skills, they also want to be able to access entrepreneurial practices, music business models and opportunities for internships.

“It’s really interesting how the recording scene has developed, how music publishing has changed,” she said. “Even large ensembles and orchestras — all these musical opportunities have transformed dramatically in the last 10 years and students need the ability to self-promote. That’s a very important skill to have … to be able to put your best self out there.”

Pertl called the B.M.A. a natural progression for the Conservatory as it embraces and nurtures the modern musician.

“At Lawrence, we’ve already been incorporating so many of the elements of improvisation and world music into the trajectory of a classically trained musician for the same reason,” he said. “It’s going to be the flexibility of art, and of mind, that will help you to successfully create your musical life.”

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

Voices from abroad: LU students share takeaways from studying across the globe

Fallon Sellers drinks milk from a coconut while studying in Auckland, New Zealand.
Fallon Sellers ’20 enjoys fresh coconut milk while studying in Auckland, New Zealand.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

It’s more than traveling the world; students who have enhanced their college experience with off-campus study often return with new perspectives and skills that stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Studying abroad last year made a lasting impression on Jackeline Flores ’19, who studied at the Lawrence University London Centre for her global studies major and Spanish minor.

“Personally, I feel that my experience abroad really solidified the idea that the world truly is my oyster,” she said. “All the knowledge and culture I was exposed to while abroad reminded me that there is so much out there left for me to learn about, which I find super exciting.”

Jackeline Flores takes in a view of the streets of London.
Jackeline Flores ’19 spent a term studying in London.

She’s not alone. We sampled more than a dozen Lawrence students who studied abroad during the past academic year, asking them to share key takeaways from their experience.

So many opportunities

The London Centre satellite campus is just one of 52 life-changing opportunities available to Lawrence students through the off-campus study program.

Each program blends classroom and experiential learning to facilitate students’ personal and academic growth through engagement with different cultures in an immersive learning environment. This leads to a range of profound benefits, says Director of Off-Campus Programs Laura Zuege.

“We know it affords the opportunities for intercultural learning, growth and development that employers time and time again are looking for,” she says. “Study abroad is a laboratory for that kind of development.”

Zuege and her colleagues work tirelessly to make these programs accessible and suitable for students of diverse academic, socioeconomic, social and ethnic backgrounds, by offering programs for every major and addressing students’ varied needs.

For more information on off-campus study, click here.

To see the full list of programs, click here.

“Different students have different concerns in different locations,” Zuege says. “We want to be tuned in with some of our portfolio (program) choices but also with how we approach, prepare and recruit students to be sure we’re reaching a range of the student body that’s representative of our student body.”

This fall, a breakthrough financial aid policy change is making that possible. All of a student’s institutional financial aid — grants, federal loans, scholarships — can now be contributed to off-campus study, in addition to existing study abroad scholarships. In the past, 100 to 120 students went abroad each year; this fall there will be 145.

What they’re saying

Here are a dozen more Lawrence students whose lives changed thanks to off-campus study last year:

Tamima Tabishat poses for a photo overlooking Rabat, Morocco.
Tamima Tabishat ’20 takes in a view overlooking Rabat, Morocco.

Tamima Tabishat ’20, AMIDEAST, area and Arabic language studies in Rabat, Morocco; global studies/German language studies and French language studies: “The most important (impact) was the way it helped me learn how to adapt quickly and smoothly to a new environment. Morocco’s geographic, linguistic, religious, political and cultural elements are very different from my typical academic environment. By studying in a new context, I felt that I was able to adopt new habits, adapt to new customs, and abide by new social rules, all of which are incredibly important skills to have in life. Practicing these things every day taught me how to see everything from a totally new perspective, which has made me not only a more critical thinker, but also a more considerate and tolerant citizen of the world.”

Joe Hedin ’19, Lawrence University London Centre, government/Spanish: “The London Centre allowed me to prepare myself for life after Lawrence. Thanks to the London Centre and Off-Campus programs staff, I had an internship, so I learned how to work in traditional offices, along with learning how to commute to work. I will never be able to put into words how impactful this was.”

Abigail Keefe ’20, IES Paris, language and area studies; violin performance, and mathematics/French and music theory: “Living in France with my host family helped me to improve my skills in the French language way beyond what I ever thought I would be capable of. Living in a country where my native language was not the primary language also helped me to try to understand how it would feel for people living and working in America for whom English is not their native language.”

Ryan Leonard sits in the sand in front of Mount Maunganui.
Ryan Leonard ’19 poses for a photo in Tauranga in front of Mount Maunganui.

Ryan Leonard ’19, IES Auckland, New Zealand, geology: “This experience is going to be one of the biggest selling points in my life after college. From the challenge of moving to a new country alone and having to meet new people, to maintaining good grades and budgeting and making time for travel, I have gained many marketable skills that I may not even realize I have acquired.”

Julia Johnson ’20, IES Vienna, music, cello performance; psychology/pedagogy: “It pushed my boundaries in so many ways such as speaking another language, making friends, being comfortable with public transportation, making travel plans, and not being afraid to explore Vienna and go to performances on my own. I feel like I grew more as a person studying in a new city where they speak another language more than I ever would have on my own campus.”

Ethren Lindsay ’20, Japan; linguistics and Japanese: “I was able to take many classes that would not have been available at my home university, one of which was a translation job. Since I am planning on possibly going into translation as a part of my future work, this was quite literally the most valuable thing that I could have gotten out of college.”

Alice Luo poses for a photo in an urban garden in Berlin.
Alice Luo ’19 visits an urban garden in Berlin.

Alice Luo (Manxin) ’19, IES Berlin, language and area studies; history: “Berlin is such a dynamic city with people coming from all over the world. In America, I felt an urge to be more American and I tried to deny my Chinese identity to some extent in order to better merge into the American culture. In Berlin, with the diverse population and cultures and a seemingly freer atmosphere, which I personally felt, I learned to accept my identity and even celebrate it and appreciate it.”

Juan Marin ’20, IES Freiburg, language and area studies; film studies and German: “I feel like the program taught me how to understand people better. I met a lot of people abroad, and I don’t just mean my classmates and more Americans. I met people from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Russia, Bolivia, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Australia, Germany (of course), Morocco, the UK, and more. The program gave me an even higher appreciation for diversity and inclusion.”

Kate Martensis ’20, Budapest, semesters in mathematics education; math and history: “As part of our practicum course, my fellow students and I each had to teach two classes at a local high school. Though the process was not without its difficulties, it was an incredibly valuable experience, and I was so glad to put all the things we’d learned from school visits and our classes into practice. This made me all the more excited to be a teacher.”

Tia Colbert looks up at a wax figure of Sherlock Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.
Tia Colbert ’20 checks out a wax figure of Sherlock Holmes while visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London with her British Crime Fiction class.

Tia Colbert ’20, Lawrence University London Centre, English and Greek/creative writing: “There was a significant focus on using London itself as a textbook, and I feel like that enhanced all the classes. I believe that experiential learning is one of the best ways to engage students, and the London Centre Program definitely delivered in that respect.”

Harry Rivas ’19, ACM Shanghai, economics: “The program had a drastic impact on my life. It changed the way I saw the rest of the world, specifically how I saw China, the impact China has already had on the world, and what is to come. I got to explore a culture and mindset so different from my own.”

Fallon Sellers ’20, IES Auckland, New Zealand, government/international relations: “It was incredibly interesting to interact and work with others my age from a different social and academic culture than mine. Collaborating with them and learning their stances on business and ethical behavior was fascinating, and it was immensely rewarding to observe other points of view outside of the U.S.”

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

Princeton Review cites Lawrence as one of ‘Best’ colleges in the country

Students pose for a selfie before the 2019 commencement ceremony at Lawrence.
Lawrence University students hailed the school as supportive, inclusive, and empowering in a survey from The Princeton Review. Lawrence ranked as one of the 385 best four-year colleges in the U.S.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University continues to feel the love from The Princeton Review.

After being named the No. 4 Impact School in the country on a Princeton Review ranking earlier this year, Lawrence has made the education service company’s list of the best 385 colleges in the country — only about 13% of eligible four-year colleges make the “Best” book.

“The Best 385 Colleges,” published each August, has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 385, but it does include a series of Top 20 lists in a variety of sub categories. The lists come after data is gathered from school administrators and interviews are done with students from each of the schools.

See “The Best 385 Colleges” report here.

Earlier this year, Lawrence was hailed by The Princeton Review as one of 200 “Best Value Schools” in the United States. That book placed Lawrence at No. 4 in the category of best schools for Making an Impact, which focused on life on campus but also post-college work.

“The college ranking field is full of many flowers,” notes Ken Anselment, dean of admissions at Lawrence. “But one of our favorites is being shortlisted as one of the Princeton Review’s Impact Schools because it underscores the quality of life our graduates enjoy after Lawrence. It affirms that our mission of providing a transformative education is, indeed, having an impact.”

Here’s a quick guide to Lawrence’s evaluation in the most recent book:

What students are saying about academics: “Tutoring is readily available, and the school ‘places an incredible focus on mental health issues and counseling.’ Lawrence is especially good at ‘providing a creative and explorative atmosphere within the college,’ and structuring itself in a manner that allows for student flexibility, so students ‘are able to explore and study whatever we are interested in, and we are encouraged to do so.’”

What students are saying about life at Lawrence: “Many people take advantage of the school’s offered activities like dances, comedians, musicians, speakers who are brought to campus, and movies shown in the cinema, and every term has a big event, such as the Fall Festival, Trivia, Winter Carnival, Cabaret and LUaroo. … As the university houses a popular music conservatory, ‘there is ALWAYS a type of concert going on.’”

What students are saying about their classmates: “Students here ‘are not afraid to show who they really are’ and ‘truly just love expressing how every person is their own and that we all accept it.’”

What the Princeton Review editors are saying: “Lawrence University takes a holistic approach to the admissions game. The school does its best to look beyond numbers and get a full sense of each applicant.”

In addition to the Princeton Review rankings, Lawrence also was honored earlier this year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for being among the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. With five recent graduates teaching abroad on Fulbright awards, Lawrence landed on the prestigious list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright students during the past academic year.

The 2018-19 list that features Lawrence  was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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

Signage a nod to strange, complicated history of Lawrence’s favorite rock

New signage has gone up next to the Rock on Lawrence’s Main Hall lawn, noting the big boulder’s ties to campus dating back to 1895.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The Rock, a 2-ton boulder resting peacefully on a stretch of lawn near the northwest corner of Main Hall, has finally had its long, strange history commemorated by Lawrence University.

Newly installed signage provides a nod to the 4,700-pound piece of granite that has been tolerated but rarely celebrated by the university that has been its home — mostly — since members of the Class of 1895 first hauled it to campus 124 years ago.

As campus traditions go, this is one that has had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the school. The Rock — not to be confused with a certain Hollywood celebrity of the same nickname — has been the subject of pranks, fraternity feuds and deep mysteries through the decades. It was returned to campus in the spring of 2018 after having gone missing for 20 years.

Now it’s home, and there’s nothing but love. Thus, the new signage recently placed next to the Rock:

“Members of the Class of 1895 found this boulder on a geology field trip in New London, WI, and brought it to campus to serve as the senior class gift. In the years since, the Rock has been painted, buried, moved around, and even removed from campus. After a 20-year stay on the Nickel family farm (Michael Nickel ’02, Adam Nickel ’03), it was returned to its original placement in front of Main Hall in spring 2018.”

The Rock, now painted green with the white lettering of the Class of 2019, has a history that started out combative, if all in good fun. Consider this dispatch in The Lawrentian in July 1895:

“Tuesday afternoon was Class Day and the big boulder of the Class of ’95 made its debut in college history. Somehow the seniors had an idea that the giddy juniors would not allow it to become a landmark on the campus and they watched all night till the day of its dedication, lest some festive ’96er should come along and carry the pebble off and throw it in the river.”

That would set a tone that would become part of the Rock’s tradition, one of mostly harmless rivalry and midnight escapades stretching across more than 100 years, frequently chronicled by The Lawrentian and sometimes The Post-Crescent.

Among the highlights:

With concerns the pranks had gotten out of hand, the Rock was moved to a mostly out-of-the-way spot near the Fox River in 1939; it would be returned to the Main Hall green by ambitious students three years later.

It would go missing in 1964, finally retrieved in 1983 (it had been buried behind Plantz Hall by members of the Class of 1967, so, technically, it was still on campus).

And it would once again disappear in 1998, discovered 20 years later by students Sarah Axtell ’17 and Jon Hanrahan ’16, who had launched an entertaining, Serial-style podcast in hopes of solving the mystery of the Rock’s whereabouts.

In between all of that, the Rock was at the center of some much-chronicled campus rivalries and shenanigans that included students hiring towing companies to move the rock around campus in the dark of night, tossing it into the Fox River on multiple occasions, placing it in cement, and building a papier-mache replica that would appear one morning in 1957 on the roof of the former Stephenson Hall.

As the location of the Rock became a competition among fraternities, there was an unwritten rule that said wherever the rock was located on the morning of homecoming, that is where it would stay for the rest of the school year.

The 1998 disappearance came not long after the Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta fraternities had a bit of a public showdown, one that involved a front-end loader and required the dean of students to negotiate a compromise as local media looked on.

The engraving of Class of '95 can clearly be seen on the Rock, which sits on the Main Hall lawn. The rock is painted green with Class of 2019 in white.
A paint job by the Class of 2019 does not obscure the engraving from the Class of ’95 (that’s 1895) on the Rock, which sits on the Main Hall lawn with newly installed signage commemorating its history.

A search and a podcast

The Rock was then mostly forgotten for nearly two decades until Axtell and Hanrahan launched their No Stone Unturned podcast in 2016.

“Sarah and I were real dorks about Lawrence history,” Hanrahan said.

Their sleuthing eventually took them to a farm in Calumet County where the rock was found behind an old barn, the carved Class of ’95 in plain sight. It turns out there were a lot of complicated emotions tied to the Rock and how it ended up on that farm.

Lawrence and the Nickel family would eventually reach agreement that the Rock should return to the Main Hall green. It came home in 2018.

The ongoing fascination with the big boulder speaks to college students’ need to feel connected to their school’s history, said Hanrahan, who now works as an associate producer for New York Public Radio. He points to other schools with similar objects that have served as traditions that tie together generations of students — Rutgers’ cannon, Carnegie Mellon’s fence painting, and Northwestern’s own version of an oft-painted rock.

“There’s definitely that element of college students wanting and needing that quirky sense of identity,” Hanrahan said.

The podcast not only gave Hanrahan and Axtell the chance to fixate on Lawrence history — “This project was one of the first real moments when I fell in love with archives,” Hanrahan said — it also provided an opportunity to connect with alumni in a meaningful way.

“We got a sense of what life was like at Lawrence, especially in the ’90s, which was when the disappearance occurred,” Hanrahan said. “… We got a taste of life in the ’60s when the Rock disappeared then. That was very, very different from what life was like in the ’90s, which was also very different from what life is like in the 2010s.”   

An uneasy history

Erin Dix ’08, the university’s archivist over the past nine years, said the many Rock-related pranks left some past university administrators uneasy. That’s why the new signage is notable.

“The administration at Lawrence has not always embraced the disruptive elements of the Rock’s tradition,” she said. “In 1939, college officials moved the Rock to the tennis courts at the bottom of the Drew Street hill to try to discourage the constant pranks. But students managed to hoist it back up the hill three years later. During the Rock’s most recent absence, I often heard the theory that the administration had purposefully removed it from campus.” (It had not.)

“My favorite anecdote about the Rock comes from a Post-Crescent article published when it was being exhumed from the parking lot behind Plantz Hall in 1983,” Dix said. “‘Richard Warch, president of the university, was there, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from his sack lunch during the noon-hour event. “What a great day for Lawrence University,” he said with mock enthusiasm as a big P.G. Miron crane lifted the rock from the ground.’”

Hanrahan believes that kind of history should be celebrated. Students today should be aware of the school’s deep history and the student experiences that preceded them, even if it’s just a goofy old rock. That it has Class of ’95 carved into it is reason enough to acknowledge that connection, he said.

“That’s not 1995, that’s 1895, this unimaginably distant group of people,” Hanrahan said. “And it has these classes from the 1930s carved on the side as well. So, it’s a rock and it’s obviously this old geological artifact, but it broadcasts its oldness and it’s Lawrenceness right there on the side. It’s hard to look at it and not think of a Lawrence from 100 years ago.”

New signage now accompanies the Rock on the Main Hall lawn.

Axtell, now working in New York City for Accomplice the Show, an immersive theater company, applauds the university for formally recognizing the history of the Rock, calling it an important connection between generations of students.

“I don’t think the university can always take an official stance on some of the goofy things that have happened in the past, but I think the university should be proud of the ingenuity and creativity of its students,” she said.

“It gives people a reason to connect back to the history of the place. People need to pay more attention to the history of the areas around them, for better or worse.”

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

From Houdini to Ferber, 6 things you should know about Appleton

Photo of the signage in Houdini Plaza.
Houdini Plaza, named for Harry Houdini, is at the center of Appleton’s downtown.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Like any city, Appleton has its own claims to fame, whether it’s an actor from here who made it big or an innovation in technology that has its roots here in this community. 

For incoming Lawrence students trying to get the lay of the land when it comes to a new home, here are six curious tidbits about Appleton history that may surprise you.

Appleton was the childhood home of Harry Houdini

This amazes a lot of people, but there’s no trick to it. Houdini, or Erik Weisz, was born in Budapest in 1874. His family settled in Appleton in 1878, where they lived for four years until his father lost his job and they moved to Milwaukee. Despite the move, Houdini considered Appleton to be his boyhood home. Houdini Plaza, the community space in the center of downtown, is named for the famed escape artist. The History Museum at the Castle, just down the street, has an extensive Houdini exhibit. There’s a Houdini Elementary School in town. You can eat at the Houdini’s Escape Gastropub, and each fall you can run in the Houdini 10K race. So, yea, Houdini is here.

Willem Dafoe got his start in Appleton

You might recognize Willem Dafoe from Platoon (1986), Spider-Man (2002) and The Florida Project (2017). Did you know the four-time Academy Award nominee was born in Appleton in 1955? He was William then. Early in his teenage years, he began acting in Appleton’s Attic Theatre. He was Billy then. When he was kicked out of Appleton East High School (that’s another story) he fulfilled his graduation requirements by taking a class at Lawrence.

Appleton is the home of the oldest coeducational college in Wisconsin

Here’s some history that involves Lawrence. Did you know Appleton has been making strides in gender equality since the time of its founding? Lawrence University was chartered in 1847 and has admitted women since the first day of classes on Nov. 12, 1849, making it the oldest coed college in Wisconsin.

Sen. Joe McCarthy grew up in the Appleton area

Here’s a refresher from history class: Sen. Joseph McCarthy achieved notoriety in the 1950s when he accused members of the U.S. government (and others) of communist activity, contributing to the collective panic that marked the Cold War era. Before that, the senator was Joe from Appleton. Well, Grand Chute, actually. He was at one time the manager at an Appleton grocery store. He later earned his law degree at Marquette University, was elected to a circuit court judgeship and eventually was elected to the Senate, all before becoming one of the most reviled politicians in U.S. history. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Appleton.

Appleton had the first hydroelectric power station

In 1882, Appleton paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers needed a source to power his paper plant. Inspired by Thomas Edison’s designs for a steam power station in New York, Rogers commissioned the first hydroelectric power station to be built. It came to fruition along the Fox River, generating enough power to run his plant, his home, and a nearby building. The Hearthstone House Museum in Appleton is now open to the public, marking that historic contribution to the modern power grid.

Appleton gave us author Edna Ferber

The Pulitzer Prize winner was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1885, moving with her family to Appleton when she was 12. She started her writing career here in Appleton, working as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent at age 17. She nurtured her love of writing and reporting, leading her to eventually write iconic novels such as So Big (1924) and Showboat (1926). She’s often mentioned among the greatest novelists of her generation.

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

Summer renovation projects keep campus infrastructure in prime shape

Photo of Memorial Chapel with the lawn to the east torn up for work on the steam line.
Work on the steam line near Memorial Chapel continues this summer. The chapel also is getting new exterior lighting. The steam line work continues what was started in spring on the south side of College Avenue.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Maintaining the campus infrastructure at Lawrence is an investment in the well-being of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community, which is why campus renewal is a key priority of the Be The Light! Campaign.

That has been in full view this summer as multiple renovation projects are taking place across campus thanks to a series of gifts and support.

This summer’s more ambitious projects include new concrete at the plaza by Memorial Hall and an upgrade of its entryways, new hardscape on the Conservatory walkway, and the repaving of the Alexander Gym horseshoe, part of a facelift that includes lighting and new sidewalks. And while the installation of a generator may not seem like much, it kicks off the multi-million dollar renovation transforming Kohler Hall into a 21st-century living space.

“Campus infrastructure enables the university to deliver on its mission,” says Jacob Woodford, assistant to President Mark Burstein. “Careful stewardship of the investments of Lawrentians, family, friends, and supporters of the institution in our campus ensures our ability to deliver on that mission for generations to come.”

Work continues on the hardscape and landscape between Memorial Hall and the Wriston Art Center.

When the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign made its public launch in November 2018, campus renewal joined Full Speed to Full Need, Student Journey, and the Lawrence Fund as the four cornerstones that would anchor the campaign.

A $2.5 million gift from the Kohler Co. to renovate Kohler Hall into a modern residential space was a key piece of the campaign launch. This summer’s work on the generator is a piece of that renovation project.

Among the other key projects in play this summer:

Music and Drama: Installing new doors and windows on the Music and Drama side of Shattuck Hall.

Steam line: Replacing the portion of the steam line north of College Avenue, a continuation of the work that was done during spring term.

Memorial Chapel: Lights are being added in front of the chapel to increase visibility, a nod to pedestrian safety along the walkways.

Brokaw Hall: Carpet installation in the 1911 building that includes office space and a residence hall.

Quad 5: Reworking the plumbing, electrical, and sprinkler system, plus painting.

Small Exec: Sprucing up and repainting the kitchenettes.

The campus updates ensure a welcoming environment for current and incoming students and encourage alumni and others to visit. The work speaks to the university’s commitment to maintaining its facilities at a high level, the supportive relationship between the university and its alumni and other supporters and its embrace of future generations of students.

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

Work study program connects Lawrentians with local nonprofits

Johanna Kopecky '21 sits at the front desk of the History Museum at the Castle in downtown Appleton.
Johanna Kopecky ’21 works at the History Museum at the Castle through a federal work study program.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Being connected to the Fox Cities community while also earning the all-important paycheck is a win-win for Johanna Kopecky ’21.

The junior from Appleton and a part-time employee of the History Museum at the Castle is one of 13 Lawrence University students working for area nonprofits through a Federal Work Study program directed by the school’s Financial Aid office.

The program aims to increase student involvement with the community by allowing students who qualify for Federal Work Study in their financial aid packages to apply for a job with participating local nonprofit organizations. Students who hold positions at nonprofits through the program are provided with essential work experience in an intimate community setting while the nonprofits receive financial assistance in paying the students’ wages.

Kopecky began her job at the History Museum through the program at the start of her freshman year. Working at the front desk, she handles admissions, gift shop sales and various other projects as needed. She believes this job opportunity has strengthened her already firm ties with her community.

“Working in the museum has really connected me with the local businesses on College Avenue because sometimes we all interact,” she says. “I’ve gotten to know the people who run these things. It definitely has a strong sense of community and I feel very involved in the downtown Appleton enterprise.”

For more on financial aid at Lawrence, see here.

Since applying through the program two years ago, Kopecky recognizes its positive influence on the community. She also appreciates what is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the program — the ability for students to make a difference outside of the Lawrence campus.

“The benefit I see comes in the small businesses downtown — that they get more work, but we get the opportunity to have some income and become involved with the community,” she says. “It just seems ideal that everything we do isn’t always on the Lawrence campus, that we can work with the community rather than just with ourselves.”

The program stems from a mandate in the 1992 Higher Education Act, which states that 5 percent of a university’s work study funds must be allocated to community service. Lawrence’s subsequent work study program went into effect in the 1993-94 academic year. Today, there are 13 students aiding 12 different participating nonprofits.

“The purpose is to get students working but also help the community at large,” says Lawrence financial aid counselor Dan Erickson, pointing out how the program fosters mutually beneficial relationships. “On our end, it helps us build better relationships with different organizations around the area.”

From a community perspective, participating Fox Cities nonprofits gain hardworking employees who contribute to their efforts and aid the local economy.

“Through the program, we have a committed employee who can walk across the street to work,” says Sheila Ploekelman, business manager at the History Museum at the Castle. “As a nonprofit, we also benefit from the partnership, allowing us to offer a more competitive wage by receiving reimbursement for part of the student’s wages.”

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

Cheesehead or cheese curd? A guide to talking the talk in Wisconsin

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21 and Awa Badiane ’21

With three-quarters of Lawrence University students coming from out of state — or, in some cases, out of the country — there can be a learning curve on all things Wisconsin. Getting to know Wisconsin is an important part of adjusting to life at Lawrence.

With that in mind, we’ve created this quick and handy Wisconsin vocabulary guide for our out-of-state newcomers who are getting ready to make this their home away from home for the next nine months.

Isabella is a born-and-raised Wisconsinite. Awa hails from New York City and has been busy learning this Wisconsin lingo for the past two years. We’re here to be your tour guide through Wisconsin vocabulary. There are other phrases to explore, but we cut it off at our favorite 15. There will not be a test.

1. Cheesehead (cheez-hed): Refers to a person from Wisconsin, especially a Packers fan. Also refers to the foam cheese wedge-shaped hat worn by fans at Packers games. It’s a fashion thing. You’ll get used to it.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “All the cheeseheads were cheering when the Packers scored the touchdown.”

2. Brat Fest (braht-fest): This is an annual three-day festival held in Madison that celebrates Wisconsin heritage by dishing out hundreds of thousands of brats to hungry festival-goers. We highlight the festival because it so nobly honors the state’s love affair with its favorite sausage meat. Billed as the world’s largest bratwurst festival, it comes around again in late May, should you be thinking about a road trip.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I ate five brats at Brat Fest last year and I can’t wait to go again this year!”

3. Sconnie (skah-nee): Referring to a person who hails from Wisconsin. It’s a term embraced by some, derided by others. People can be seen proudly sporting “Sconnie” T-shirts; the term signifies pride in being from Wisconsin.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I’ve lived in Madison my whole life. I’m proud to be a Sconnie!”

4. “Squeaky” cheese curds (skwee-kee cheez kurds): The “squeak” is the sound you’ll hear when you bite into fresh cheese curds. This is exactly what you want to hear; squeakiness indicates freshness. It’s an acquired taste.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “The cheese curds I got from the farmer’s market are really squeaky. It’s going to be a good day.”

5. Deep-fried cheese curds (deep frahyd cheez kurds): A Wisconsin staple food. Cheese curds, ideally squeaky and fresh, are breaded and deep-fried and served as an appetizer. Best when they’re not too greasy. No fried cheese curds are exactly alike; they’re served at a variety of eating establishments that have their own particular claim to cheese curd goodness.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “The deep-fried cheese curds at this bar are the best in town.”

6. Supper club (suh-per klub): A traditional family-owned eating establishment. Only open for supper. But it’s more than a meal. It’s a social engagement. You’ll spend some time in the bar (not optional) before you’re shown to your table. Typical fare includes fish fry, prime rib, a salad bar, cheese and crackers, a relish tray and cocktails. Supper clubs can be found throughout the Midwest, but the tradition lives on most strongly in Wisconsin. They differ from location to location, but all come with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “This is the supper club my grandma went to all the time in the ’60s. We still go every Sunday for prime rib.”

7. Stop-and-go lights: A reference you’ll sometimes hear from Wisconsin motorists as they approach traffic lights because, well, you stop and then you go. Used interchangeably with stop lights.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Take a right up here at the stop-and-go light.”

8. Bubbler (buh-blur): A Wisconsin term for a water fountain. This one’s a classic. Wisconsinites take pride in it. Residents of neighboring states tend to mock it. You’ll get used to it.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I filled my water bottle at the bubbler in the hallway.”

9. Friday night fish fry (frahy-dey nahyt fish frahy): This is more of a way of life than a vocabulary quirk. It’s a traditional Wisconsin dinner — usually cod, perch, haddock or walleye, fried and served with lemon wedges and tartar sauce. Accompanied by a slew of sides: coleslaw, potatoes in numerous forms, and bread and butter. Sometimes it’s all you can eat. Can be enjoyed at a variety of eating establishments, especially supper clubs. You also might find a fish fry in the basement of a church. And always, of course, on Friday.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I’m still so full from that Friday night fish fry last night.”

10. The Pack (th uh pak): Referring to the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin’s NFL football team. This, too, is a lifestyle thing among Wisconsinites. The cheesehead headwear is optional, but full-throated fandom is encouraged.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “We’re rooting for The Pack tonight. Go Pack, go!”

11. TYME machine (ty-m muh-sheen): A reference to an ATM machine that to a newcomer makes absolutely no sense. But there’s history here. TYME was a specific brand of ATM machines local to Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The name at some point expanded in usage in Wisconsin to include all ATM machines. The acronym stands for “Take Your Money Everywhere.” The TYME brand went away a decade ago, but its usage in the Wisconsin vocab continues.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I have to go to the TYME machine to get some cash.”

12. Sausage race (saw-sij rey-s): Referring to the race of sausage mascots that takes place at Milwaukee Brewers’ home games at Miller Park. The five participants — Brat, Italian, Chorizo, Hot Dog and Polish — sprint along the track around the baseball field. Again, this is more Wisconsin tradition than a vocabulary quirk. But, still, it’s a sausage race.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “I rooted for the Chorizo in the sausage race at last night’s game.”

13. “Aw jeez!” (aw jeez): Exclamatory remark expressing regret, sympathy or excitement. Usually punctuated by a very strong Wisconsin accent. Its multiple uses make it a go-to in almost any situation.

  • Use in a sentence, please: Person 1: “Aw jeez, who ate the last cheese curd? Person 2: “Aw jeez! I ate it, I’m sorry.”

14. “Uff-da!” (oof-duh): Exclamatory remark expressing amazement, exasperation or relief.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Did you see that Packers game yesterday? Uff-da!”

15. “Or no?” (er-no): An utterance placed at the end of a question or an invitation to present the option to decline. The sound tends to blend into the rest of the sentence, functioning more as a habitual articulation than a question.

  • Use in a sentence, please: “Did you enjoy this Wisconsin vocabulary guide, or no?”

Isabella Mariani ’21 and Awa Badiane ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.

Music is everywhere as Mile 7 gets rolling; partnerships grow deeper

With a whistle in his mouth, Kenni Ther gestures while leading the Brazilian samba drumming workshop Thursday at Mile of Music.
Kenni Ther ’16 leads the Brazilian samba drumming workshop in Houdini Plaza during Thursday’s opening day of Mile of Music.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Kenni Ther ’16 had his young charges hanging on his every word, eyes focused, sticks in hand, a mix of drums and upside-down buckets in play on a gorgeous afternoon in downtown Appleton’s Houdini Plaza.

“I get tired of talking sometimes,” Ther told the gathering of several dozen kids and the adults they brought along for this high-energy teaching session on Brazilian samba drumming. “That’s why I have the drum. I’ll let the drum do the talking for me.”

And, so he did. And the young drummers followed suit as a couple hundred spectators nodded their approval.

A few hundred feet to the east, a crowd overflowed from the patio at Bazil’s Pub as singer-songwriter Christopher Gold played a heartfelt set and shared stories of joy and despair and the wisdom gained from both.

It was the middle of the afternoon. On a Thursday. Welcome to Mile of Music.

The annual four-day all-original music festival kicked off its seventh edition on Thursday, mixing nearly 900 live music sets in 70-plus venues with more than 40 interactive music education workshops, a blend that differentiates this festival from most any other music event on the planet. It continues through Sunday — and, yes, admission is free.

The Music Education Team, supported by a grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, is a full-on Lawrence University juggernaut, led by music education instructor Leila Ramagopal Pertl. It features more than 25 instructors, many of them, like Ther, alumni who developed their musical skills and nurtured their passion for music while students at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

Full lineup of Mile 7 music education workshops here.

Meet the Lawrence-led Music Education Team here.

Like the festival itself, the music education workshops have grown in size and scope since first launching in 2013. More than 7,000 people are expected to take part in the hands-on sessions before the finale, a ukulele workshop, brings it to a close on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s great to get out in the community and have people learn music in not a classroom setting,” Ther said after the samba drumming workshop ended. “Sometimes people think you only get to learn music in your private lessons or in a school band or orchestra or choir. No, music is for everybody. Everyone listens to music, so everyone has the right to be their own musician and figure out music on their own.”

Nestor Dominguez ’14 talks to the audience during a mariachi workshop in The Grove, a green space next to Brokaw Hall.
Nestor Dominguez ’14 is joined by Mariachi Jabali as they lead a mariachi workshop Thursday in The Grove, a green space next to Brokaw Hall, during Mile of Music.

A few blocks down College Avenue, on the green space next to Brokaw Hall known as The Grove, Nestor Dominguez ’14 was leading a mariachi band — Mariachi Jabali, featuring students from Appleton North High School — as they introduced the music to a couple hundred onlookers. They ran through a variety of music within the mariachi genre, from jarabe to bolero to ranchera to polka.

“Just get up and wiggle around and come up with a dance,” Dominguez encouraged the crowd as the band showcased the popular jarabe style. “If you’re going to be here with us, you need to get up and dance.”

Then there was bolero, the mariachi music of romance. Dominguez, who plays and teaches mariachi music in Chicago, encouraged the crowd to make and maintain eye contact with the person next to them as the music played.

“Eye contact is so important,” he told them. “Let’s connect as human beings. … I’m not saying you’re going to fall in love with the person next to you, but that would be all right.”

A world of music in our back yard

As the music education offerings at Mile of Music have evolved over the past seven installments, they’ve taken on a more global feel, Brazilian samba drumming and mariachi being part of a festival mix that also includes, among others, Ghanaian drumming and dance, Afro-Cuban singing, and Balinese gamelan. New this year are sessions on Native American music and dances of India.

That’s not by accident. Ramagopal Pertl said the team has purposefully set out to showcase as many cultures and styles as possible, a theme embraced by team members and the audience alike.

“That is really important, especially for the little ones,” said Francisca Hiscocks of Appleton, a native of Spain who attended Thursday’s Brazilian samba drumming session. “Just for their education, to be exposed to something different, that’s important. For me being from a different country, I think this is so great.”

More on the connections between Lawrence, Mile of Music here.

Porky’s Groove Machine returns to Lawrence, Mile of Music. Read more here.

Thel, who teaches music at a middle school in Oshkosh, said cultural variety in the festival’s music education outreach is all about being inclusive and enlightening.

“Maybe hip hop is your thing, that’s great,” he said. “Maybe acoustic guitar playing is your thing, or the ukulele workshop, that’s your thing. Everyone has a specific rhythm in their heart that they can relate and respond to. We’re just trying to help people figure out what that is.”

Mile of Music was drawing rave reviews as it got rolling Thursday. Music could be heard coming from everywhere along and near College Avenue — in bars and coffee shops, in Memorial Chapel, on patios, in alleyways and on green spaces on the Lawrence campus. Even from a camper parked on the Ormsby Hall lawn, home to the Tiny House Listening Lounge, a new venue for this year’s festival.

“I think this is just all really cool,” said Sarah Fischer of Appleton, taking in the festival’s opening day.

Bernard Lilly ’18, who performs as B. Lilly, puts on a songwriting and performance workshop at Copper Rock Coffee Company during Mile of Music.

More photos of the 2019 Music Education Team workshops here.

Cool, indeed. And the opportunity to bang a drum, get a lesson in songwriting, or learn about Native American flute playing while you’re here, well, that’s a bonus that is music to the ears of anyone who cherishes the connections between the festival, the community and Lawrence.

“We all agreed from the beginning that this wasn’t the type of festival that was ogling celebrity, it was craft focused,” said Cory Chisel, the Appleton-raised singer-songwriter who co-founded the festival with marketing executive Dave Willems. “It was like, here are innovative, exciting songwriters from around the world, and I wanted to bring all those people to Appleton specifically because of the specialness of this place and the music that was inside of us and the talent level we have inside of us here.”

It isn’t just about listening to and discovering new music, although that is a huge focus of the festival. It’s also about participating in the music-making, connecting the community with the music, Chisel said. Hence, the launch and growth of the Music Education Team. The partnership with Lawrence for that piece was as important as anything else in establishing the festival as one of the bright lights of the Midwest music scene.

“Mile of Music was about that connection,” Chisel said. “And Lawrence has been deepening and strengthening that community relationship.”

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