Author: Sheree Rogers

Haitian Musicians to Perform at “Friends of Haiti Chamber Music Concert” Feb. 6

Lawrence University students, faculty, alumni and friends — including volunteers from music camps and Haitian musicians — will come together for the “Friends of Haiti Chamber Orchestra Benefit Concert”, Saturday, February 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The public is welcome and tickets are not required.

It will be the third concert at Lawrence in as many weeks to benefit Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, where Lawrence students and faculty have taught music for more than 10 years. The school and church complex were destroyed in the earthquake January 12. The Lawrence concerts have, to date, raised nearly $10,000 for Holy Trinity.

The concert on February 6 will begin with a silent auction at 6 p.m. featuring Haitian artwork and art produced especially for the event by members of a studio art class at Lawrence. The concert will highlight the music of Haitian composers and, in addition to numerous Lawrence students and faculty, will feature performances by musicians from across the United States, nearly all with connections to Haiti and the Holy Trinity Music School. Visiting Lawrence to participate will be John Jost, Bradley University; Steven Huang, Ohio University; Donna Lively Clark, Indianapolis; Keith Johnston, Sacred Heart University; Mary Procopio, Mott Community College, Flint, Michigan; Rob Wessler, UW-LaCrosse; and Lawrence alumni Sarah Davies ’09 and Paul Karner ’08.

Joining them will be Haitian musicians Benjamin Pierre Louis, University of Memphis; Canes Nicolas, Ohio University; Jethro Celestin, Loyola University; Tercy Hethkenly, New Wilmington, Penn.; Yonel François, Appleton; Fabienne Fanord, Port-au-Prince; and several musicians from the Mott Community College Educational and Cultural Residency Program in Flint, Michigan, including Fred Clovis, Carlot Dorve, Deborah Etienne, Ralph Stanley Jean Baptiste and Mackelder Saintilus.

“The outpouring of generosity has been overwhelming,” said Janet Anthony, Lawrence professor of cello and the leader of many music camps in Haiti. “I am in contact with many of our friends in Port-au-Prince, and they are so very grateful for our support. Whether it comes in the form of immediate, life saving gifts, or longer term support for a cultural gem such as Holy Trinity Music School, we know we are making a difference in their lives.”

Holy Trinity Music School, Port-au-Prince

Holy Trinity Church was founded in 1863 by the Episcopal Church and, as part of the church’s mission, several primary schools were established. Holy Trinity Music School began in 1970. Now serving over 1200 students, there are five orchestras, including Haiti’s only philharmonic orchestra, a boy choir, and three symphonic bands. Instruction is offered in all instrumental and vocal areas. The Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra and the Petit Chanteurs have a very active performance schedule across Haiti. The Petits Chanteurs and a small instrumental ensemble have toured the United States five times in the past seven years to great acclaim. Those wishing to help the school may contribute online at Select the Haiti Music School Rebuilding Fund from the drop down list of fund options.

Lawrence University Hosts “Concert for Haiti”

The Lawrence University Memorial Chapel will be the backdrop for a special “Concert for Haiti” Wednesday, January 20, at 7 p.m. The concert is the inspiration of Lawrence student Carolyn Armstrong ’10 and Lawrence Professor of Cello Janet Anthony, who last month traveled to Haiti to teach music. The Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, where many of the lessons took place, was destroyed in the earthquake January 12 that killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians and left many more injured and homeless.

The “Concert for Haiti” will feature performances by Lawrence students and faculty, Bob Levy and John Harmon, Jeremiah Nelson, world-renowned improvisational cellist Matt Turner and others. A collection will be taken to benefit Holy Trinity Music School. In addition, donations can be given to the American Red Cross Haitian Relief efforts. Haitian music and music composed at Holy Trinity Music School will be performed. Tickets are not required.

On Thursday, January 21, at 9:30 p.m., Fox 11 WLUK will broadcast the concert highlights, sharing the message and music with viewers across Northeast Wisconsin. “We are grateful for the opportunity to take this message to a larger audience,” Anthony said. “More than 40 Lawrence students have visited Haiti in the last 15 years, many of them working with music students at Holy Trinity. We care deeply about their welfare and we look forward to, when the time is right, bringing music education back to Haiti.”

Lawrence University is grateful for the support of the American Red Cross, Fox-11 WLUK and others for this “Concert for Haiti.”

To support Lawrence University’s fund-raising efforts for Haiti, click here.

Lawrence University Researcher Finds Support for Supreme Court Decision Arguing Diversity Benefits College Academic Discussions

A visiting professor at Lawrence University will present his research into the benefit of ethnic and racial diversity in college academic discussion groups at the Posse Foundation, 14 Wall St., New York City, December 2, 2009, at 11:30 a.m.

Robert J. Beck, visiting professor of educational psychology at Lawrence, completed analysis of 16 transcripts of academic discussions involving 61 students in the college’s Freshman Studies program. Two classes with 25 percent diverse students were compared to two non-diverse classes. Beck’s research resulted in a paper, The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number: An Experimental Study of the Effects of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Liberal Arts College Discussions.

“We were able to do a carefully controlled quantitative study in undergraduate classrooms where all students were reading and discussing the same works,” Beck said. “All the students took part in interpretive discussions intended to voice meanings about “Great Books” including Plato’s “Republic”, Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry, works by a scientist (Einstein) and a composer (Messiaen).”

Among the findings:

  • Students in the diverse classes spoke nearly twice as much as students in the non-diverse classes.
  • Students in the diverse classes contributed nearly 70 percent of the total number of words in the discussion, while in the non-diverse classes students spoke a little less than half the time.
  • The diverse classes had a significantly larger average number of students who spoke in the development of themes of the discussions.
  • About three times as many students in the diverse classes interacted with each other than in the non-diverse classes.
  • Students in the non-diverse classes referred more often to the works in providing evidence and used more complex arguments, but only four students contributed one-third of all arguments.
  • Students in the diverse classes expressed more opinions and referred to personal experiences in making their claims.
  • Diverse class students were more responsive to other discussants’ statements: they followed up with proportionally more high-level questions, re-phrasings, and agreements and a greater number of elaborations/clarifications.
  • Approximately 25 percent of the students in the diverse classes also included evidence backing their opinions, whereas less than 10 percent of the students in the non-diverse classes did so.
  • There were no differences in participation between diverse and non-diverse students in the diverse classes.

“As measured by several criteria, we concluded that the diverse classes provided more value –the “greatest good to the greatest number” — to students than the non-diverse classes,” Beck said. It is more effective to facilitate wide participation and let everyone into the discussion and then support increased levels of critical thinking, rather than to let a few students dominate at a high level and pretty much freeze everyone else out. We will need to do research with larger samples to see if these patterns hold up.”

Funded by the Spencer Foundation, Chicago, the research project was organized to test Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion in Grutter vs. Bollinger, 2003, that diversity contributes to the benefit of all students. The associate justice argued that diversity leads to educational benefits for all because of a “robust exchange of ideas” (U. S. 539, 17). These benefits are “important and laudable,” because “classroom discussion is livelier, more spirited, and simply more enlightening and interesting” when the students have “the greatest possible variety of backgrounds” (U.S. 539, 17).

Convocation Series Video: Geomimicry

In her October 20th convocation, Marcia Bjornerud, professor of geology and the Walter Schober Professor in Environmental Studies at Lawrence, theorized that all of us would be better off if we followed five geological guiding principles. She says the Earth can inspire us to rethink social, economic and agricultural policies.

Watch a video of Bjornerud’s presentation.

A structural geologist who joined the Lawrence faculty in 1995, Bjornerud was appointed the first holder of the endowed Schober professorship in 2007. She has been the recipient of two Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowships, including one earlier this year that supported four months of research on ancient seismic events in New Zealand along the South Island’s Alpine Fault.

She is the author of “The Blue Planet,” a science textbook and “Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth,” in which she provides a tour of “deep time,” chronicles the planet’s changes and examines the toll human activity is exacting on Earth.

LU’s Jill Beck Cited by Forbes as Barrier Breaker recently named Lawrence University President Jill Beck to its list of “barrier breakers” in a report about female college presidents. According to the American Council on Education (ACE), 23 percent of college presidents are women, a significant increase over 1986’s 10 percent. Forbes says the future holds even more promise as women continue to break down gender barriers in higher education. Fifteen of Forbes’ 50 Best Colleges are led by women. Eight presidents, including Beck, are the first female president in their school’s history. Read the full story and learn more about Forbes’ 15 “barrier breakers.”

One of the Real “Best Colleges” – Lawrence University

Lawrence University, called a “liberal arts jewel” by CBS, fared very well in a report this week about popular college ranking systems. examined the methodology behind the college ranking systems of Forbes, Kiplinger’s, U.S. News and World Report and others, and gave the Forbes ranking system its highest rating. According to, “Forbes actually attempts to measure the quality of education students receive.” The report went on to cite Lawrence as an example of a lesser-known school that scored well with Forbes. Lawrence ranked 41st out of 600 colleges in Forbes‘ second annual report published in August, moving up from 68th place a year ago.

Although no college ranking system is perfect, according to, “We can only recommend one: Forbes’ America’s Best Colleges. Despite its limitations, it comes closest to actually measuring the quality of the education at the nation’s best schools.”