Author: Ed Berthiaume

Barnes, Neilson, Vance honored for teaching, scholarship excellence

From left: Celia Barnes, Rob Neilson, and Brigid Vance

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Three members of the Lawrence University faculty are being honored for academic excellence.

Celia Barnes, associate professor of English, is the recipient of the University Award for Excellence in Teaching; Rob Neilson, the Frederick R. Layton Professor of Studio Art and professor of art, is receiving the Award for Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity; and Brigid Vance, assistant professor of history, has earned the Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member.

While the annual awards are typically announced during the Commencement ceremony, the 2020 announcement is coming early this year because the June 14 Commencement will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celia Barnes: “Relatable, approachable”

Barnes, a specialist in 18th-century British literature who was recently inducted into the Johnsonian Society, an eminent assembly of scholars, lexicographers, and collectors, was described by a student as “one of those relatable, approachable professors that you really only find at Lawrence,” according to a citation in her honor from Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat.

Students have praised her ability to deepen the learning experience with insightful engagement. One student said of Barnes: “She is unapologetic (in a good way), brazen, and encourages students to ask questions, challenge each other and pre-conceived notions, and step out of their comfort zones to expand their knowledge and horizons.”

Her ability to seamlessly reach across departments is not lost on her colleagues, Kodat said.

“Over the course of your 10 years at Lawrence, you have partnered with faculty colleagues in Philosophy and Physics to offer courses that help students understand the range and importance of 18th century art and thought, from Newton’s theories to the thinking of the Enlightenment,” the citation reads. “You are an eminent scholar, a generous colleague, and a dedicated, superb teacher.”

Rob Neilson: “The beauty of shared experience”

Neilson, meanwhile, was praised for his public art projects. In the 17 years since he arrived at Lawrence, Neilson has completed 14 public art commissions across the country. Five of those have been in Appleton.

“Most recently, you have contributed two elegant pieces to the new Fox Cities Exhibition Center,” reads Kodat’s citation to Neilson. “You Are Here evokes a large map of Wisconsin with a red push-pin denoting Appleton. The 10 dramatic, outsized images of We Are Here are comprised of some 10,000 photographs of Appleton community members, combined in mosaic fashion to represent a moving, composite portrait of human togetherness and community.”

The citation notes that Neilson’s work speaks to shared history, culture, and humanity and asks all of us to contemplate more directly the physical world.

“By your own admission, you did not set out to be an artist known for creating public work,” Kodat notes. “But you have clearly been called to make your aesthetic contributions to the world in ways that heighten our sense of the beauty of shared experience, to the benefit of us all.”

Brigid Vance: “Balance rigor with flexibility”

A member of the History department for five years, Vance is a specialist in late imperial China. She has quickly built a reputation for creativity that has resonated with students.

“We have seen a steady increase in the number of students who have discovered your courses and concluded that you are, indeed, exactly the kind of professor they would love to take more classes with,” Kodat writes in the citation to Vance. “Impartial faculty observers describe your almost magical effect on History 105, the department’s entry-level course. ‘Since Professor Vance began to teach that course,’ one colleague observed, ‘department enrollments and majors have climbed noticeably.’”

Kodat praises Vance for her attention to detail and her ability to engage with her students.

“Students appreciate your ability to balance rigor with flexibility, your skill in cultivating energetic classroom discussion, your detailed attention to their writing, and—above all—the warmth and respect with which you approach each and every one of them.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

A time to celebrate: What you need to know for June 14 virtual Commencement

Banners are on display along College Avenue to honor 2020 graduates. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A virtual Commencement on June 14 will honor Lawrence University’s Class of 2020, celebrating graduates who had their final term disrupted by a global pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis resulted in Spring Term courses being delivered via distance learning. That means the ceremony will take on a different look, one that will still honor the great accomplishments that Commencement represents, but this time with graduates and their families looking on from home.

“I promised that we would do our best to recognize your achievements and celebrate your graduation, even if we could not all be together on Main Hall Green,” President Mark Burstein said in a message to graduates. “We have been working closely with the senior class leaders to ensure that we celebrate you in a way that reflects the many contributions you have brought to Lawrence during your time on campus.”

Here’s what you need to know in advance of the virtual ceremony.

How to view Commencement

Commencement, honoring nearly 300 students from the Class of 2020, will be streamed at 10 a.m. You can access the ceremony at the Commencement page at There will be an opportunity to leave congratulatory messages during the ceremony. You also can celebrate the graduates using tools found in this Celebration Kit.

A message to classmates

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20, a psychology and theater arts double major from New York City, will serve as class speaker. In addition to celebrating achievements, she said she’ll focus her message on opportunities to be part of the solution as she and her classmates confront societal challenges. 

“It is never my intention for all of us to agree, but we do need to be able to see each other and hear each other,” Torres said. 

“We also need to be able to unlearn and relearn. Lawrence taught me a lot about unlearning.  That unlearning meant accepting that someone like me can succeed at an institution that may not look like home to me. Thanks to Lawrence’s Posse Program, I, a first-generation child of immigrants, was able to leave my low-income home for a prestigious school halfway across the country. Now, I’m the Commencement speaker. But how do I reach an audience that doesn’t look or sound like me, that doesn’t know me, and I don’t know them? I think about how I see myself in them.” 

Torres said her speech will address the pain of having to finish her Lawrence education 1,000 miles from campus as the pandemic took its toll on people’s health and the economy. She’ll encourage her classmates to persevere amid challenges no graduating class has seen. 

“I chose to reflect, to be thoughtful and cognizant of the good and the bad of the moment,” she said. “We have all experienced loss. Not just the loss of our last spring term, but the loss of family members, jobs, financial security, and opportunities that awaited us after graduation. Still, we’ve experienced great joy through the kindness we’ve received from our Lawrence community. It’s also a time to be grateful. But we need to be respectful of all feelings. Not just good or just bad. It will take time for my class to process all of this after graduation. It’s not easy.”

A familiar, poetic voice


Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose Native Guard has been required reading in Freshman Studies for the past five years, will deliver the Commencement address.

She served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States and is the author of five collections of poetry: Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—Thrall (2012), and Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018). In 2010, she published a book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“Having Ms. Trethewey’s commencement address will help us all remember the importance of inclusive social connection and the power of humanity,” Burstein said.

The ceremony details

While a virtual Commencement ceremony may not be able to duplicate the experience of an in-person event, many familiar elements will be incorporated. The ceremony will include opening remarks from President Burstein, the reading of the land acknowledgement by Shelby Siebers ’20,  speeches from Torres and Trethewey, conferring of degrees by Burstein, Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat, and Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl, a message from Burstein, and closing words from Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life. Also, watch for congratulatory messages from faculty and staff.

Four long-serving Lawrence faculty members are retiring at the close of the academic year: David Burrows, Ruth Lunt, Thomas Ryckman, and Richard Sanerib. See details and reflections in this story.

Three members of the Lawrence faculty are being honored with annual faculty awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. See details here.

More weekend celebrations

In addition to Commencement, you can find two other celebratory events being showcased virtually during Commencement weekend. The annual Commencement concert will be seen at 7:30 p.m. June 12 and the Baccalaureate Service will be seen at 3 p.m. June 13. Both are available at Also, the 2020 Senior Art Exhibition is viewable now. It can be found online here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Lawrence bids farewell to four faculty members with impactful contributions

Retiring faculty include (from left, above) David Burrows, Ruth Lunt, (below) Thomas Ryckman, and Richard Sanerib.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Four Lawrence University faculty members who excelled in the classroom and provided significant leadership out of the classroom are being honored as they retire at the conclusion of Spring Term.

David Burrows, who served 12 years as Lawrence’s provost and dean of the faculty before retiring from that post in 2017 to return full-time to the classroom as a professor of psychology, is among the retirees, joined by Ruth Lunt (German), Tom Ryckman (philosophy), and Richard Sanerib (mathematics). Lunt served in numerous faculty leadership positions, including a five-year stint as associate dean of the faculty. Ryckman served at various times as Freshman Studies director and as Senior Experience director. Sanerib was the recipient of multiple teaching awards.

Lunt, Ryckman, and Sanerib are being awarded a Master of Arts, ad eundem. Burrows was awarded the honorary degree in 2017.

David Burrows


Joining Lawrence in 2005 as provost and dean of the faculty, Burrows led Lawrence’s academic side for a dozen years. He previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Beloit College and had faculty leadership positions at Skidmore College and the State University of New York College at Brockport.

“Over the course of your 12 years as Lawrence’s provost, you served under two presidents and distinguished yourself as a kind, steady, and thoughtful leader,” reads a citation from Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine G. Kodat. “Academic initiatives that you helped create include the Senior Experience program and the Mellon-funded Inclusive Pedagogy project.”

Burrows called launching the Senior Experience program one of the definitive achievements of his time at Lawrence because of the way it wraps up the student journey in such an emphatic way.

“Having students do a Senior Experience project creates an important arc that defines their development as liberally educated persons,” Burrows said. “It is an important point that represents a transition to life after Lawrence, just as Freshman Studies represents a transition from high school to Lawrence.”

Whether in the role of provost or in the classroom, Burrows said he stands in awe of the student-faculty relationship at Lawrence. The willingness of faculty to go the extra mile for students – and to see that play out year after year even as the students come and go and new faculty arrive – is a beautiful thing to witness.

“That this group continues to value the development of students is a tribute to the mentorship and leadership of the faculty already here,” he said.

Burrows said his message to this year’s graduates is to hone in on intellectual, emotional, and action-oriented connections, and understand that they don’t exist in isolation. Take the ideas you’ve developed as Lawrentians and connect them with others and connect them with action.

“For example, understanding that suffering is a difficult thing to endure should be connected to the knowledge that others are suffering,” he said. “This lack of connection starts with a failure of seeing connections among ideas, extends to a failure to see that ideas can lead to effective action, and that connecting with others is a crucial part of making a difference.”

Ruth Lunt


The associate professor of German has been part of the Lawrence faculty for 28 years. Her contributions have had an impact across campus.

“You have served as a steadying force, stepping into a host of academic leadership positions that have lent stability in moments of uncertainty and grace in times of worry,” her citation reads. “Your patience, kindness, and good humor are admired and appreciated, and will be missed.”

After joining the German faculty in 1992, Lunt would become director of the Linguistics Program in 1996. She would go on to chair or co-chair Spanish, Russian, and German departments and took on other faculty leadership posts. From 2010 to 2015, she served as associate dean of the faculty.

“The thing that I am most proud of is the growth of the Linguistics program,” Lunt said. “When I arrived in 1992, there were only a handful of courses. … Because we regularly had students doing self-designed majors, Kuo-ming Sung and I decided that we needed to propose a major and a minor. We spent a lot of time doing research and putting together a proposal, and once it was passed, Linguistics really took off. The program has continued to grow and thrive. Right now, we have 20 majors and a dozen minors, a weekly Linguistics tea, and a strong curriculum.”

Much of that progress has happened because of Lawrence faculty being willing to collaborate across departments, Lunt said.

As she closes her teaching career, she implores her students not to shy away from the unknown. A Lawrence education prepares you to adapt and thrive in a myriad of settings.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new, perhaps something that does not seem to be associated with your major,” Lunt said. “And don’t worry about that first choice you make. You will have the opportunity to re-imagine and remake yourself down the road, if you decide that you want to.”

Thomas Ryckman


The professor of philosophy has been part of the Lawrence faculty since 1984.

“You have served as a linchpin in the Philosophy department, offering courses in symbolic logic, epistemology, metaphysics, the philosophy of art, and the philosophy of language,” his citation reads. “For many years you offered the Freshman Studies lecture on Plato’s theory of forms, introducing hundreds of students through one of the University’s quintessentially Lawrentian experiences and inducting them into our extended intellectual community.”

Ryckman received the University’s Outstanding Young Teacher Award, Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Mortar Board Honorary Award. He served as director of Freshman Studies in the late 1980s and again in 1995. From 2008 to 2010, he served as director of the Senior Experience program. And he regularly served on major committees of the faculty.

He walks away from the classroom knowing he helped to develop something that is an important piece of Lawrence’s liberal arts curriculum.

“I have helped to build and maintain a robust and well-respected Department of Philosophy,” Ryckman said. “In addition, I have helped in small ways to increase gender diversity in philosophy. Two of our department’s current tenure or tenure-track members are women, and three of my former advisees are women with tenured or tenure-track positions in philosophy.”

For 36 years, Ryckman has taught students as they sought to find their academic footing, to be inquisitive and open-minded in search of answers to life’s questions.

“Although the demographic profile of our students might have changed, the students are markedly consistent,” Ryckman said. “So many of them are pleasant, polite, responsible, and capable. Yes, today’s students carry smartphones, and clothing styles have changed, but they are still, in all their variety, very much like they’ve ever been.”

To those students, Ryckman’s message is simple: Lean into that Lawrence education.

“Be confident that your time at Lawrence has prepared you for life’s challenges,” he said. “Also, understand that for most of us, life is long, and, so, you need not panic if things get tough and you experience setbacks. You’ll have plenty of time to reach your goals, or to modify them in light of your experiences.”

Richard Sanerib


The associate professor of mathematics taught for more than 40 years in mathematics. Along the way, he earned three of Lawrence’s top teaching honors – the Young Teacher Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Mortar Board Honorary Award.

“You were first recognized for your excellence in the classroom in 1979, receiving what was then called the Young Teacher Award,” the citation reads. “In presenting this award, then-President Richard Warch noted your impressive pedagogical range, praising your ability to allay ‘math anxiety’ among some students while heightening mathematical competence among others. Twenty-four years later, on the occasion of presenting you with the Excellence in Teaching Award, President Warch termed you ‘the type of teacher parents hope their children will encounter in college,’ someone who fills ‘the classroom with infectious passion for mathematics and then fills office hours with the sage and thoughtful advice of a caring mentor.’”

Sanerib said he steps away from his teaching duties after four decades with deep pride in and respect for the students who have shared his classroom.

“The four young women in the ’90s with whom I worked with over the summer before their sophomore year preparing for the rigors of a mathematics major,” he said. “Two went on to become the first African American math and math-econ majors at Lawrence. Bright, talented, resilient women in a difficult environment whom I am proud to have taught, advised, and mentored.  

“Then there are the many international students who leave their family, home, and country to come to a strange environment in the name of education. Almost universally I have admired these students and their commitment to learning, and have valued the bonds we have established through advising, teaching, talking, and sharing. 

“There are the intellectual renegades who blaze their own trail after Lawrence, and the talented students who can do almost anything they choose but come to Lawrence with a commitment, be it teaching, or physical therapy, or working to solve a problem that has plagued either their family or our society.  Of course, too, there are the academic underachievers at Lawrence who later grow into citizens we never imagined, those who built upon the foundation they established while here, and emerged from their Lawrence bubble to blossom in life after Lawrence.”

Sanerib said his students helped him become a better teacher and mentor.

“They taught me the value of being open, caring, honest, supportive, challenging, and passionate about mathematics,” he said. 

The Lawrence experience doesn’t stop at learning the content of the course, Sanerib said. It’s the liberal arts education that prepares students to be lifelong learners that brings him the most joy.

“It is about teaching them how to learn and think critically, inspiring them to be better, encouraging them to find something they are passionate about and to reach, explore, and not fear failure,” he said. 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Diversity and Inclusion Award recipients honored for campus, community efforts

From left, top: Awa Badiane, Tim Hanna, Gaelyn Rose, and Jesús Smith.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is honoring several members of the campus community, as well as a former mayor of Appleton, with its annual Diversity and Inclusion Champion Awards.

The awards celebrate efforts to foster greater diversity and inclusion on campus while creating a climate that encourages and supports the expression of diverse perspectives and builds avenues to academic and personal success for groups that have been underserved and underrepresented in higher education.

“It is especially important given the current national context to recognize members of our community who make extraordinary efforts to create a more just Lawrence,” said Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of the faculty. 

Recipients include:

  • Jesús Smith, assistant professor of ethnic studies, with the Faculty Award.
  • Awa Badiane ’21, a former president of Lawrence’s Black Student Union (BSU), with the Student Award.
  • LUNA (Lawrence University Native American), with the Student Organization Award.
  • Gaelyn Rose, associate director of admissions, with the Staff Award.
  • Tim Hanna, the former mayor of Appleton who opted not to seek re-election following 24 years in office, with the Community Partner Award.

“I am extremely impressed by this year’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award recipients,” Barrett said. “The fact that they are being recognized in this way will come as no surprise to those who are fortunate enough to know them, given their positive presence on campus and in the Appleton community.”

The awards announcement comes at a time of pain and unrest across the country. It amplifies the need for leadership as has been shown by these recipients, Barrett said.

“As our country has seen the consequences of centuries of inequities play out in real time over the past few months in terms of needless death and suffering, these impressive individuals have used their many talents, resources, influence, and privilege to help make Lawrence University more inclusive,” she said. “While excelling in their individual roles of faculty, student, staff, or community leader they are helping to create a new normal in which we are all treated with dignity and respect.”

Smith has been part of the Lawrence faculty since 2017. He was recently awarded a 12-month Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship that supports the career development of underrepresented junior faculty in the arts and humanities.

“In just three short years on campus he has become a favorite role model and mentor to Lawrence students while also making his mark nationally in terms of his scholarly research in ethnic studies,” Barrett said.

Badiane is a government major from New York City who served as president of BSU and has been a writer in the Communications office the past two years. She is being honored for her ongoing advocacy for students of color.

LUNA helped create the mural on the side of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center.

Also, the students who are part of LUNA are being recognized. It’s the first time a student organization has been given one of the D&I Awards. LUNA played a huge role in bringing Project 562’s Matika Wilbur to campus and creating the indigenous education mural that now adorns the side of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center.

“Although we usually only give one student award, this year we had two extremely strong nominees in this category,” Barrett said. “One was an individual and the other was an organization. So, we decided to give two student awards. I think giving an award to both an individual student and a student organization will become a tradition for us.”

Rose has worked diligently to enhance Lawrence’s admissions process to make sure it is accessible and equitable for all.

“As associate director of admissions, she helped recruit international students, students from tribal nations, and domestic students of color,” Barrett said. “She also helped to create systematic changes in the way the admissions counselors recruit students by developing training materials that address issues of diversity.”

Hanna, meanwhile, is being honored for his efforts to champion diversity and inclusion in the community during his six terms as mayor.

“He was a true strategic partner with the university in its efforts to become more inclusive,” Barrett said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: 

Can’t visit in person? 8 ways to experience Lawrence from your couch

Lawrence Memorial Chapel is just one stop on our virtual tour. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Nothing beats an in-person campus visit, but if you want to experience Lawrence University without making the trip to campus, here are 8 ways you can do that – all without leaving your couch. 

1. Take the virtual tour 

If you’re anxious to see campus and check out the spaces where you’ll live, learn, and socialize, Lawrence has an excellent virtual tour available. You can click through the tour at your own pace without audio, or you can follow along with the student-narrated journey and hear facts and stories along the way. 

2. Watch YouTube playlists 

Spend a lot of time on YouTube? You can learn about Lawrence’s traditions, people, and spaces on our YouTube channel. Tour our buildings and city with the Campus and Appleton playlist. You can get to know some of your future professors with the Meet the Faculty playlist. And the Campus Life playlist will introduce you to traditions, events, and activities you’ll take part in as a student. 

3. Dive into your interests on our website 

If you’re looking for some more specific information about Lawrence’s academic programs, student life, study abroad opportunities, or just about anything else, the website has you covered. Just a few clicks and you’ll have all the details you need about life at Lawrence. 

4. Request a chat 

Some questions are best answered in-person. You can schedule a one-on-one meeting with your admissions counselor, a faculty member, or even a current student to ask all your in-depth questions and hear about Lawrence from a personal perspective. If you’re interested in the Conservatory of Music or joining one of our 22 varsity athletic teams, you also can schedule a chat to talk about those interests with Conservatory faculty or a coach

5. Listen to lectures 

As the one course all Lawrence students take, Freshman Studies is the perfect (not to mention iconic) introduction to what it means to be a Lawrentian. Featuring works from all academic areas of study, check out some of this year’s lectures for a taste of the freshman experience. 

6. Read profiles 

There’s no better way to get to know Lawrence than by getting to know the individuals who call it home. Learn all about your future classmates, professors, and alumni through engaging profiles at

7. Read what our student writers have to say 

Our student writers have a thing or two to say about Lawrence. From advice for incoming students to a guide to Lawrence slang, from creative final exams to treasures found on campus, articles by student writers will give you a feel for the authentic student experience.

8. Follow on social media 

For all the latest Lawrence news—plus must-see updates on the adorable presidential pup, Homer—follow @lawrenceuni on social media. With accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s the best way to stay up to date on all things Lawrence. 

We look forward to when we can welcome you to campus in person, but until then, there are plenty of ways for you to explore Lawrence from anywhere in the world. So, take the virtual tour, check out our website, and schedule a chat soon. We can’t wait to meet you! 

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

As they await medical school, these ’19 LU alums reach out a hand to children

From left: Nick Felan ’19, Madeleine Felan, and Lizzy Garcia Creighton ’19 started a nonprofit in Dallas called All in for Children. Nick and Lizzy also are preparing to enter medical school.

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Nicholas (Nick) Felan ’19 thinks often of Tyce.

They met in the hospital, where Tyce was recovering from a car accident that he had been in while trying to steal pizza. When Nick came to see him as part of a volunteer program, Tyce told Nick how he was thinking about dropping out of school, even referencing suicidal thoughts. In the two weeks Tyce had been in the hospital, he had no other visitors.

Tyce was 12 years old.

“I think when I was 12, my only worry was what Pokemon cards I was getting for Christmas—nothing like that,” Nick said. “Seeing that different perspective, it really just opens your eyes as to how badly people need strong mentors and influential people in their life.”

Nick’s passion for helping children in need started as a Lawrence student, volunteering with classmate Elizabeth (Lizzy) Garcia Creighton ’19 at the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley. After graduation, the two biology and biochemistry double-majors headed south to Dallas, where they have spent the last eight months volunteering while studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)—only to have it canceled three times due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With their futures abruptly put on pause and the world in the midst of a pandemic, Nick and Lizzy took the opportunity to start giving back in a more substantial way. On March 31, four days after they were originally scheduled to take the MCAT, Nick and Lizzy, along with Nick’s younger sister, Madeleine Felan, launched All in for Children, a nonprofit organization aiming to better the lives of young people and their families.

Getting started

When brainstorming potential projects for All in for Children, the first one seemed obvious: making masks. There was a huge need within the community, plus it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get more people involved with the organization.

After reaching out to their local children’s hospital to get an approved design for the masks, the founders got to work ordering supplies and learning how to sew. But they knew that if they wanted to make a substantial impact, they needed more people. With Madeleine taking the lead on spreading the word, All in for Children turned to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Nextdoor to find their reinforcements—and their followers made sure they got plenty of shares. Altogether, more than 20 people contributed to their mask-making efforts, a connection that Lizzy hopes will be long-lasting.

Mask-making was the first priority for All in for Children.

“Once we move on from mask-making, people can still be involved,” Lizzy said. “All those people who made masks for us will see our posts and be like, ‘Hey, I made masks for them that one time, maybe I’ll donate $10, maybe I’ll go to that canoe race or 5K or whatever it is that we’re doing.’ We thought it’d be like a great way to kick-start everything.”

Through the combined efforts of the founders delivering packages of supplies (containing pre-cut cloth, elastic, clips, and pipe cleaners) and the volunteers sewing up the finished products, All in for Children has donated about 1,200 masks in total, split between the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and their local Boys & Girls Club.

Moving forward

If All in for Children gets requests for more masks, those will be accommodated. But for now, they’re shifting their focus back to what their name suggests: bettering the lives of children.

Based on their volunteer experiences, Nick and Lizzy both feel that if they can work with someone while they’re still young, it’s possible to create a lasting impact on their future. To that end, All in for Children is looking for ways to provide mentoring and services where they can do the most good.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is fostering a growth mindset in kids,” Lizzy said. “Children are so malleable. We really want to make these kids believe that no matter where they come from, what their background is, what their home life is like, it’s not like life handed you lemons and now you’re bound to not achieve certain goals. We want to open those doors up, make them believe that they can pretty much do whatever.”

On the immediate horizon, this is likely to mean fundraising for other charitable organizations that provide important services to young people. With some ideas—like selling T-shirts and setting up 5Ks—already being discussed, All in for Children hopes to provide financial assistance for local nonprofits like the Boys & Girls Club and the Agape Clinic, which provides inexpensive health care services for families in need.

Despite these developing plans, Lizzy, Nick, and Madeleine recognize that the current situation could shift rapidly. Still, they hope All in for Children will be able to adapt alongside it. With Madeleine graduating high school in a year and Nick and Lizzy still unsure where they will attend medical school, the future of All in for Children could take a variety of forms.

But no matter where they end up, All in for Children will remain focused on its key mission: doing the most good for the most impressionable among us. Kids usually live in environments where many factors are out of their control—but consistent mentorship can provide stability.

“That’s the area where we all think we can make the biggest impact,” Nick said.

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

We miss you! Student writers long to return to these favorite spaces on campus

Hurvis Crossing leads into the patio outside The Café at Warch Campus Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Communications team

We’re all missing campus during Spring Term. With spring now fully in bloom, the yearning to walk the paths of campus, to kick back on Main Hall Green, or to enjoy food and conversation on the Warch Campus Center patio grows that much stronger.

We’ll be back together soon. We cannot wait. In the meantime, we asked the three student writers who work in the Communications office—Awa Badiane ’21, Alex Freeman ’23, and Isabella Mariani ’21—to share their favorite spaces on campus, inside or out. They’re all off campus this term as well, so this exercise provided a chance for the three of them to take their minds to some happy places.

Here are nine favorite student spaces, three from each writer, in no particular order.

1. Main Hall Green

This is a great place for studying with friends or taking naps on warm spring days. Or, just throw down a blanket, bring some snacks, and watch people walk by. There’s always a bustle of activity on Main Hall Green, from a Frisbee being tossed to music being played to games and festivals being held. (Isabella)

2. The path along the river

Whenever the warm weather arrives, I head down the staircase behind Sage Hall to the path that runs behind campus. The trees shading you from the sun and the sounds of the Fox River acting as a natural playlist make it the perfect spot to appreciate the hidden beauty of campus—either exploring with your friends or taking your own personal tour. (Alex)

3. SLUG hill

The hill overlooks the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG), and it’s a great space all year round. During the warmer months in the fall and spring terms, you can lay out a blanket on the top of the hill to do some homework. You’ll have the best view of the Fox River. And during the winter months, the hill is perfect for snow tubing. (Awa)

4. The Café at Warch

I like going to The Café in the Warch Campus Center really early in the morning with the intention of doing assignments, then getting distracted and people-watching instead. Also good for late-night snack sessions with friends. Great seating inside. Even better seating outside when the weather warms up. (Isabella)

5. Top floor of Briggs

The top floor of Briggs Hall might just be the most underrated study spot on campus. It features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Fox River. If you can snag a study table or armchair at sunset, you’re guaranteed an incredible view … which hopefully won’t distract you too much from that midterm essay. (Alex)

6. The Quad

In between all of the group houses on campus, you’ll find The Quad, a grassy hangout spot that beckons on a sunny day. Have a picnic or study amid the sunshine. The Quad also doubles as a concert venue. It is home to Lawrence’s annual LUaroo music festival, which, of course, we’re all missing this year. (Awa)

7. Fourth floor of Mudd Library

This is the best place to settle in to get some work done because it’s usually dead silent, which is something I lack here at home. The Mudd Library is filled with a variety of great spaces to study, read, or collaborate. But the fourth floor is my favorite. All that beautiful quiet. I can’t believe how much I miss it. (Isabella)

8. Memorial Chapel

There’s a reason that every major concert is held in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel—the impressive acoustics and elegant design cement its place as the best on-campus site to experience music in all of its glory. From student ensembles to Jazz Weekend performances (pictured) to the amazing talents showcased during the Artist Series, Memorial Chapel reminds us regularly that having a music conservatory here adds so much to the Lawrence experience. (Alex)

9. Diversity and Intercultural Center

Ever since my freshman year, the DIC has been a great hangout spot with friends. In between class or at the end of the day, we would come together in the DIC to do homework, watch a movie, or just bond. It is always lots of fun. Plus, the DIC is a prime event space for diversity-focused organizations on campus. (Awa)

Do you have a favorite spot on campus? Share it with us on Lawrence’s social media channels.

Noonan selected for Lawrence’s VP for finance and administration position

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Mary Alma Noonan, a financial executive who has deep leadership experience in the public and private sectors, has been hired as Lawrence University’s vice president for finance and administration.

She will join Lawrence in early August.

Mary Alma Noonan

“Her collegial approach, her deep knowledge of finance and operations, and her clear passion for a liberal arts education prepares her well to lead Lawrence forward,” President Mark Burstein said in announcing the hiring of Noonan.

She fills the position left open by the departure earlier this academic year of Christopher Lee.

Noonan is coming from Vermont, where she is the chief financial officer for the Rutland City Public Schools. She joins Lawrence at a time of worldwide angst due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced an abrupt transition to distance learning for Spring Term and has added much financial uncertainty to the higher education landscape.

Noonan said she believes Lawrence is well-positioned to navigate through some difficult financial challenges.

“The global pandemic, which upended spring terms on college campuses everywhere, has intensified the already challenging times higher education in this country has been experiencing,” Noonan said. “In a rapidly transforming and consolidating environment, Lawrence has a number of assets that bode well for its future: solid financial footing, distinct differentiation from its peers and competitors, and enlightened leadership.”

Much of Noonan’s career has been spent in the business world, holding financial leadership posts with Sara Lee Corporation, Arrow Electronics, and Fannie Mae before shifting her career focus to more mission-driven work.

She has a bachelor of arts degree in East Asian Studies from Middlebury College and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is fluent in Mandarin.

Noonan’s brief tenure as vice president for finance and administration at Green Mountain College right before it closed last year returned her to her liberal arts roots, making the Lawrence position that much more appealing, she said.

She emerged from a deep field of quality candidates. Finalists went through a series of interviews with members of Lawrence’s leadership team, including faculty and staff, all done from a distance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a very strong group of candidates from around the country for this position,” Burstein said. “Mary Alma’s deep and wide-ranging background in finance and operations at both private international companies and educational institutions made her a perfect fit for the work we have ahead.”

The conversations with Lawrentians, even done remotely, cemented her interest in joining the Lawrence family, Noonan said, referencing “universally positive interactions I have had with administrators, faculty, staff, and board members” throughout the interview process.

“I am already feeling embraced by the Lawrence community and look forward to joining everyone in person come August,” she said.

Noonan will complete the academic year at Rutland before making the move to Wisconsin.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

The Lawrentian launches podcast in effort to keep students connected

Luther Abel ’22 and Fariba Lale ’21 are co-hosting a Lawrentian podcast during Spring Term.

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

With its writers scattered across the world, The Lawrentian has not come out in its weekly paper format since the end of Winter Term, but that does not mean it’s gone silent. In an effort to keep the Lawrence community connected and in-the-know during distance learning, Lawrence’s student-run news outlet is now coming to you in the form of the new Lawrentian Student Podcast.

Although you can’t pick up the weekly paper, the podcast is staying true to The Lawrentian’s original focus: providing coverage for Lawrence students.

“If you just want the news, you can get it from a lot of other places that are probably better at it than a bunch of 20-somethings,” podcast host and creator Luther Abel ’22 said. “I want coverage from the eyes of the students, because just naked news coverage gets old in a few days. If we do it more in story format, I think it will stand the test of time better, where we can come back to this in a few years and feel the same emotions we’re going through now.”

Launched on Spotify earlier in May, The Lawrentian Student Podcast is now published at least once a week, perhaps more depending on the schedules of hosts Abel and Fariba Lale ’21. Each episode, they’ll pair up to discuss developments in their lives, provide commentary on major international events, and break down the news coming out of Lawrence. Most weeks will also include a special guest, usually a writer, professor, or member of the administration.

Despite the structures preventing a more traditional newspaper this term, Editor-in-Chief Dannielle Konz ’21 sees this podcast as an opportunity for The Lawrentian to continue playing a role in connecting the campus community. The podcast will provide The Lawrentian a channel to distribute the news in an easier-to-swallow format.

“I feel like people are constantly being barraged on their phones with news articles and social media posts, and everyone is seeing things all the time,” Konz said. “To have something to listen to rather than to look at, I feel kind of gives our medium for this a little novelty. Having something that’s not being done on campus gives us an opportunity to try and reach students in a way that’s not the same as everybody else.”

In order to foster a diverse student connection, the hosts recognize the importance of providing balanced reporting and commentary on world events. When originally hiring writers for Spring Term, Abel and Lale were brought on to tag-team election coverage for the Op-Ed section, with Abel representing a more conservative viewpoint and Lale writing from a more liberal point of view.

This plan quickly fell through when the shift was made to remote learning, but when Abel pitched the idea for the podcast, Lale was seen as a natural choice for his co-host. With Lale officially signed on, as well as a variety of guest contributors, the hope is that different political beliefs and varying student experiences will always be represented.

“You’re not ever hearing just one side of anything,” Lale said. “You’re always going to be hearing some contrasting views, and then there’s a lot of room for discussion. When you’re on opposite sides of an opinion, if you can have a good-faith discussion, you can find a lot of common ground.”

The hope is that this discussion format will extend beyond just the two hosts. Abel and Lale want to provide an outlet for writers to tell their stories and share their ideas, just as they did through the physical newspaper. Whether it be news, opinion, or any other format, the podcast is a space where The Lawrentian writers can continue doing what they’ve done for campus since 1884: keep the Lawrence community informed and engaged.

“I want it to feel like you’re back on campus, sitting in the dining hall, and people are stopping by the table and sitting to chat,” Abel said. “It was a blast just having people stop by the table. I got to meet them—people I never would’ve met in classes—and all of a sudden hear their life story. It’s amazing. For such a small campus, we should know each other at least a little bit. We can’t do that in person now, but I’m hoping we can do that at a distance this way.”

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

Ongiri to address “Importance of Failure” in May 28 virtual Honors Convocation

Amy A. Ongiri will deliver her Honors Convocation address virtually.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Amy A. Ongiri isn’t shy about telling you she’s failed at various things in life.

But, then, so have you. So has everyone. And yet we are reticent to speak of it, to examine it, to embrace it.

Ongiri, the Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies at Lawrence University, calls that a missed opportunity. She’ll delve into the idea of embracing failure when she delivers the school’s annual Honors Convocation address, “The Importance of Failure.”

The Honors Convocation, which publicly recognizes students and faculty recipients of awards and prizes for excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, languages, music, athletics, and service to others, was to be held in Memorial Chapel. But due to campus facilities being closed and physical distancing practices being in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will instead be pre-recorded and presented here at 11:10 a.m. May 28.

Yes, at an event to honor great successes, failure will take center stage.

Ongiri will tell the audience that we grow from failure, and we need to be comfortable talking about that. That’s a particularly appropriate message for young people to hear as they set out on journeys full of uncertainty. Take chances. Be willing to fail.

“There’s a lot of stigma around failure and it is especially hard to fail as a young person because you are just learning about it as an experience,” Ongiri said.

What students will discover, Ongiri said, is that there is no road map for understanding or negotiating that experience. Some failures are big and bold. Others are slight and nuanced. All are part of the jagged, crooked, unpredictable path of life.

“As a culture, we have tended to value winning over all other experiences but we are all going to fail a lot in life, and we need to learn early on what it means and how to think about it,” Ongiri said.

As we mature, understanding failure and the strength that can come from it begins to make more sense. But that doesn’t mean we’re any more eager to speak of it.

“By the time you’re in your 50s, as I am, you have probably failed a lot at a wide variety of things,” Ongiri said. “But we don’t tend to value or talk about our failures as much as we do our successes.”

Ongiri, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 2014 after more than a decade on the English faculty at the University of Florida, holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s degree from the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her scholarship interests have focused on African American literature and culture, film studies, cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies. She is the author of the 2009 book, Spectacular Blackness: The Cultural Politics of the Black Power Movement and the Search for a Black Aesthetic.

She points to scholars such Judith Halberstam, Timothy DuWhite, and Scott Sandage as sources of insight and reflection on the topic of failure and the cultural dynamic at play. That sort of guidance is valuable at any time, but perhaps even more so as we navigate through the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The global pandemic has not only provided a case study in notable failures around health care and public infrastructure, it has given us the time to reflect on what it all means,” Ongiri said. “It has also given us the chance to reconsider what states of being associated with failure, such as loneliness, mean to us individually and collectively as a culture.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: