Category: Faculty

Giving Day builds on momentum, sets records for Lawrence donors, donations

Spin the Wheel Trivia was part of Giving Day activities at Lawrence on Wednesday. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

More than 3,300 donors stepped up Wednesday to contribute more than $1.97 million in Lawrence University’s Giving Day—both all-time highs for the eighth annual event.

The day was a celebration of being back together after more than a year of remote study, with on-campus engagement events mixed with a virtual campaign to connect with alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends, getting them excited about what’s to come for Lawrence.

Amber Nelson, associate director of annual giving and project manager for Giving Day, said the day was all about supporting students—current and future—and nurturing day-to-day life at Lawrence, mostly through the Lawrence Fund, which provides for campus improvements, sustainability efforts, academic innovations, and student opportunities in arts and athletics. Alumni who signed up as “game changers” matched donated funds as part of various “game changer challenges” on campus and on social media throughout the day.

“We are so grateful that the Lawrence community shined so bright on Giving Day to help us break records for both donors and dollars,” Nelson said.

Nelson said support came from on and off campus. There was a 36% increase in participation from faculty and staff; more than 150 alumni volunteers signed up to help spread the word of Giving Day; and students helped unlock $5,000 of “game changer” funds while organizing and participating in a bag toss challenge.

“The success of this day really was a full community effort—from alumni reaching out to their classmates encouraging them to give, to staff answering phones, to students running events on campus, to the generosity of our ‘game changers’ who provided matching gift funds, to countless other ways people showed their support for Lawrence,” Nelson said.

President Laurie A. Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president in July, participated in her first Giving Day. She joined students for trivia and bag toss challenges.

Senior Anna Kallay (left) joins President Laurie A. Carter in a bag toss challenge on Main Hall Green.

“There is so much to love about Lawrence, but one thing I notice every day is how much our community cares,” Carter said. “Giving Day is such a powerful and exciting example of that.”  

A year ago, Giving Day went entirely virtual because of COVID-19 pandemic protocols. Having on-campus activities again provided additional enthusiasm, another “shining example,” Carter said, of being “Brighter Together.”

All of the “game changer” challenges were met.

“Lawrentians are pretty humble,” said Matthew Baumler, executive director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement. “All that changes on Giving Day when their support, their stories, and their encouragement is heard from around the world. It’s a day that reaffirms our commitment to the mission, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

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

Former U.S. ambassador brings insights to Lawrence as visiting Scarff professor

Shaun Donnelly, Distinguished Visiting Scarff Professor, speaks to students earlier this week in Dylan Fitz’s Effective Altruism class in Briggs Hall. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Shaun Donnelly ’68 says his message to Lawrence University students interested in careers with an international focus is a simple one.

You’re in the right place.

“My message is that I think a good liberal arts education is about the best preparation you can have for working internationally,” Donnelly said during a break from participating in economics and government class discussions as the Distinguished Visiting Scarff Professor at Lawrence. “The world is constantly changing and you’ve got to be able to adjust.”

Donnelly forged a 36-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service, retiring in 2008. He served as U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka from 1997 to 2000, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and worked as deputy ambassador in Tunisia and Mali, among other positions. He spent 15 of those 36 years living and working abroad.

He is spending two weeks in October on the Lawrence campus, the latest in a line of distinguished public servants, professional leaders, and scholars who have shared insights and collaborated with students and faculty since the Scarff Professorship was established in 1989 by Edward and Nancy Scarff in memory of their son, Stephen. It is designed to bring civic leaders and scholars to Lawrence to provide broad perspectives on the central issues of the day.

Donnelly, who studied economics at Lawrence, worked on international economics and trade policies during much of his Foreign Service career and continues to work part-time as a consultant for the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). He said students today need to be aware that there will almost certainly be an international component to their work no matter the field they’re in.

Shaun Donnelly on liberal arts colleges preparing students to work internationally: “It’s a good training ground, I would argue.”

“They are going to be living in a world that’s going to be increasingly international,” Donnelly said. “They may think, oh, I’m going to work for a company like Kimberly-Clark or Caterpillar or something, but those are international companies. They’re competing with international companies and their markets are going to be increasingly outside of the U.S.”

He encouraged students to seek out international opportunities while in school, from studying foreign languages, to taking educational trips abroad, to attending events hosted by international students on campus.

Donnelly found his path into the U.S. Foreign Service while volunteering with the Peace Corps in Tunisia shortly after graduating from Lawrence in 1968. He took his first assignment during the administration of Richard Nixon and would work through seven presidents, retiring as George W. Bush was leaving office.

He said he leaned into his Lawrence education each step of the way as he climbed the ranks as a government servant, working in Senegal for two and a half years, Ethiopia for two years, Egypt for two years, Mali for two years, Tunisia for three years, and Sri Lanka for three years.

He quickly learned to navigate the world of government service when elections shuffle the players.

“Ninety percent of American foreign policy doesn’t change,” Donnelly said. “We’re doing visas for people coming, we’re out there trying to promote American companies, we’re looking for support at the UN for democracy. That doesn’t change. But you do see changes when a new administration comes in.”

Some administrations he worked through were more idealistic in their foreign policies, he said. Others were more pragmatic. As an employee of the government, you aren’t always going to agree with policies, but you have a job to do, he said.

“I quickly realized that I was not elected to make these policies,” Donnelly said. “We have a process. Government employees are basically paid to implement them. So, I say to young people all the time, if you are going to go work for the government—internationally or domestic—you need to know enough about yourself to know if you’re comfortable being a government servant.”

Donnelly is one of four Lawrence alumni who have been appointed U.S. ambassadors by presidents, joining Walter North ’72, U.S. ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Republic of Vanuatu from 2012 to 2016; Christopher Murray ’75, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of the Congo from 2010 to 2013; and David Mulford ’59, U.S. ambassador to India from 2004 to 2009.

“All of the traits that make someone successful in business or academia or journalism or whatever it is, you need all of those to succeed in international work,” Donnelly said. “But you also need to be culturally sensitive and be understanding and be intellectually curious about other cultures and free from quick value judgments. You have to be willing to try to understand the complexities of the international world.

“And I do think a good liberal arts college like Lawrence does that. It’s a good training ground, I would argue.”

Jason Brozek, the Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and associate professor of government, has been coordinating Donnelly’s visit to Lawrence, bringing him into courses ranging from International Law, to Intro to Political Science, to Effective Altruism. Donnelly also is meeting with students in the Career Center and talking with faculty.

He was initially due to be the Distinguished Visiting Scarff Professor in Spring 2020, but that was postponed due to the pandemic. In Spring 2021, he and Brozek worked to split the duties of the position to accommodate the times. He spent a week with Brozek’s remote-synchronous Intro to International Relations class, and in May he delivered a remote public lecture titled “America’s Trade Mess: Who Caused it, and Can Biden Fix it?”

“Thanks to the support of the Scarff family over the last three decades, we’ve been able to connect students with ambassadors, diplomats, leaders of global nonprofits, and other experts in international affairs,” Brozek said.

Scarff visiting professors have included, among others, William Sloane Coffin Jr., civil rights and peace activist; Takakazu Kuriyama, former ambassador of Japan to the United States; George Meyer, former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Robert Suettinger ’68, Intelligence analyst and China policy expert; Russ Feingold, former U.S. senator from Wisconsin; and Nancy Hendry, international attorney fighting sexual exploitation.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to enrich our academic community and to make the work of international politics tangible and hands-on for multiple decades of Lawrentians,” Brozek said.

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

Four national grants provide boost for LU faculty, bring more students into research

Julie Rana, assistant professor of mathematics, works with students in a Discrete Mathematics class in Briggs Hall. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Two Lawrence University faculty members—Julie Rana in Mathematics and Israel Del Toro in Biology—are the recipients of six-figure national grants that will further their research and bring more Lawrence students into the research process.

Two other faculty members—Lori Hilt ’97 in Psychology and Beth Zinsli ’02 in Art History— received five-figure national grants to enhance their work.

Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty, said bringing in four national grants this fall speaks to the breadth of the high-level work being done by Lawrence’s faculty. It comes on the heels of Lawrence being named one of the best liberal arts colleges for undergraduate teaching by U.S. News and World Report.

“It’s wonderfully gratifying to see our faculty receiving national recognition for something we at Lawrence have always known—our faculty are gifted, dedicated teachers who are also engaged in ground-breaking scholarship across the full range of the liberal arts disciplines,” Kodat said. “Being able to count such accomplished individuals as colleagues is a true privilege.”

NSF math grant supports research, inclusive pedagogy

Rana, assistant professor of mathematics since 2017, was awarded a two-year grant of $192,905 through the National Science Foundation’s Launching Early-Career Academic Pathways in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (LEAPS-MPS) program. It’s a first-time grant, awarded to pre-tenure faculty. It’s a huge accomplishment for Rana, with only 21 grants awarded across the country.

A portion of the grant will allow Rana to work on research in algebraic geometry related to moduli spaces, collaborating with math scholars in Europe, Chile, and elsewhere in the United States. The funding will allow her to hire four students in each of the next two summers to work with her on research in an area of math known as graph theory.

“The best part of this project is that students will join a community of peers working together on fun and interesting math problems,” Rana said. “Mathematics is a very collaborative discipline, and I’m just thrilled that I get to share that joy of collaboration with students over the next two summers.”

In addition, the grant will cover costs of work Rana is doing in developing math curriculum and support mechanisms aimed at making Lawrence’s mathematics, computer science, and data science programs more inclusive and accessible. She’s developing two new math courses—Mathematics and Community (developed in collaboration with senior Caitlyn Lansing), debuting in Winter Term, and Modern BIPOC Mathematicians, debuting next year—and organizing inclusive pedagogy reading groups among the faculty.

The grant is covering the costs of bringing two speakers to campus who have been significant voices in improving inclusivity in STEM fields. Both are women of color who have carved out impressive careers as math scholars and have authored or edited works aimed at widening the path into the mathematics field.

Emille Lawrence, an associate professor and chair of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of San Francisco, is expected to visit Lawrence in Winter Term, Rana said. She is the editor of the American Mathematical Society’s Math Mamas blog and co-edited Living Proof, a collection of essays featuring mathematicians of various identities sharing how they found communities and persevered through professional challenges.

Pamela E. Harris, an associate professor of mathematics and statistics at Williams College, is expected to visit during the 2022-23 academic year. She has been a leading voice for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM fields, math in particular. She co-founded Lathisms.org, a platform that features the contributions of Latinx and Hispanic math scholars, and co-hosts the podcast, Mathematically Uncensored. She’s the co-author of two books advocating for students of color in mathematics.

The NSF grant will allow for all of these initiatives to move forward at once.

“I worked hard to get this grant,” Rana said. “I’m really proud that I got it because there just aren’t very many of us who got it.”

Rana said the collaborations with other math scholars who are focused on algebraic geometry will take her research to another level. She’ll have the opportunity to travel to other institutions to work directly with her collaborators, and she’ll be able to bring some of them to Lawrence.

“Without this, I wouldn’t be able to go work with them in person,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to do math in person.”

Bee research focus of NSF grant

Israel Del Toro

Del Toro, an assistant professor of biology since 2016, was awarded a two-year, $199,957 EAGER grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance the research he’s doing on bee conservation. The grant will allow Del Toro to supersize his research, including bringing more students into the process.

Over the past five years, Del Toro has done extensive field work on pollinator habitats, advocating for bee conservation not only on campus but across the Fox Valley. This grant will allow him to take that work into a lab, investigating the varied reasons that bees are good pollinators. He’ll be collaborating with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, using microtomography (microCT) technology to take a closer look at the inner workings of bees.

“We are taking a look under the hood of a bee,” Del Toro said. “And really taking a peek to see why the internal parts of the bee allow them to be effective pollinators.”

Read more: Lawrence on front lines of bee advocacy

Del Toro will be using the microCT technology at UW. He and his students also will be doing experiments in the lab at Lawrence that relate to climate change.

“We’ll be doing thermal tolerance, figuring out how bees are affected as we increase and decrease temperature,” he said. “We want to see how increases and decreases in temperatures affect bee behavior and bee restoration and try to make predictions of how these populations would be affected in the future.”

Over the two years of the grant, eight Lawrence students will be able to join Del Toro in his research.

“I’m actively recruiting students who have interest in ecology or microscopy or pollinator biology,” he said. “Those are the students I’m looking to take on. We’re going to learn some really cool new things about pollinators, but also how to better protect our pollinators in light of climate change.”

Psychology grant to help build on adolescent rumination research

Lori Hilt

Hilt, an associate professor of psychology, received a subaward for more than $51,000 throughHarvard University from the National Institutes of Health. She will serve as an expert on adolescent rumination on a five-year clinical trial. It follows a three-year $368,196 grant she received from NIH in 2019 to study adolescent rumination and the development of a mobile app designed as a coping tool for young people.

Adolescent rumination refers to a mindset in which someone can’t get beyond the negative things that are happening around them. Where most kids will process something bad that has happened, react to it and then move on, an adolescent struggling with rumination will dwell on the negative information, stew on it until it consumes them, unable to let go.

Read more: 2019 NIH grant helps professor develop mental health app

“The new NIH grant is a really nice follow-up to my other NIH grant,” Hilt said. “In our previous grant research, we found that using a brief mindfulness mobile app intervention that we developed — known as the CARE app — reduced rumination and mental health symptoms relative to a mood-monitoring control condition. The new grant will similarly recruit ruminative teens and ask them to use a mindfulness mobile app, this time for one month using the Headspace app vs. a control condition.”

The primary study site is at Harvard’s McLean Hospital. A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan will be done before and after the teens use the app.

“This will allow us to see whether a brief mindfulness intervention changes brain network patterns that have been associated with rumination,” Hilt said.

This grant will allow Hilt and other participants to take a personalized medicine approach by examining which teens benefit from mindfulness training.

“This is something that we started looking at in our other grant, and it offers a promising new approach to mental health—being able to know if a particular intervention will work before engaging in it,” Hilt said.  

NEH grant to provide insights into preserving Teakwood Room

Teakwood Room

Zinsli, assistant professor of art history and curator of the Wriston Art Center Galleries, was awarded a $10,000 Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will provide a professional assessment of the Teakwood Room and its contents so that Lawrence knows best how to steward the room going forward.

Zinsli called the room “a university treasure and a distinctive piece of global material culture” that needs careful attention.

“The recommendations from the assessment report will allow LU to steward the room and its objects responsibly and expand access to the space,” she said.

Read more: Teakwood Room among the treasures of Lawrence

The Teakwood Room, located in Chapman Hall, was originally built by American artist and architect Lockwood de Forest in Alice Chapman’s Milwaukee home. After Chapman died in 1935, the Teakwood Room was placed in Chapman Library on the Milwaukee-Downer campus and used for receptions, poetry readings, and chamber music. When Lawrence and Downer consolidated in 1964, members of the Downer community asked that the room be preserved. The room was carefully disassembled and stored in a warehouse until 1968, when it was reassembled at Lawrence.

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

Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this content are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, or the National Science Foundation.”

Carter calls on Lawrentians to work together to confront coming challenges

Lawrence University President Laurie A. Carter delivers her first Matriculation Convocation Friday in Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has an opportunity to build on past successes, but it’ll need to do so at a time of significant challenges in higher education, President Laurie A. Carter said Friday in her first Matriculation Convocation address.

Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1, said Lawrence isn’t immune to the growing turbulence across higher education—financial pressures heightened by the pandemic, political strife, attacks on the liberal arts, bloated student debt, declining retention and graduation rates, and a coming steep decline in the number of college-age students. But its community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni are ready to rise to the challenge and place Lawrence among the leaders in a new higher education environment.

“Creating a sense of urgency is the first step in the process,” Carter told the Lawrence community in a presidential address that annually serves as a kick-off of a new academic year.

Speaking at Memorial Chapel and via a livestream, Carter reiterated how honored she is to lead Lawrence. She celebrated the university’s 174-year history and its recent successes and invited all Lawrentians to sign up for the hard work to come, even if it means working outside of their comfort zones.

“I am excited for this work, and I feel uniquely positioned for the challenges ahead,” she said. “As an African American woman and leader, discomfort has always been a part of my journey.”

Following Carter’s speech, a video was presented featuring students speaking about why they love Lawrence:

Looking forward

There is much to build on at Lawrence—the success of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign, the commitment of dedicated alumni, the size and strength of the newest class, the recent launch of five key academic programs, the addition of several endowed professorships that have strengthened existing programs, and the unity in purpose that has been so evident over the past year and a half.

“The manner in which the community came together to support one another during the pandemic is why we are brighter together,” Carter said.

Let’s celebrate those successes, she said. Embrace the great traditions of Lawrence. But don’t lose sight of the challenges ahead for higher education; they will be significant.

“Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment,” Carter said. “And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it.”

Watch a replay of President Carter’s speech here

Setting priorities

Carter laid out five priorities that will be key pieces of a to-be-built strategic plan — strategic equitable student success; Lawrence brand enhancement; diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; an enhanced integrated university experience; and strategic financial stewardship.

“While these five priorities touch nearly every aspect of our university, from recruitment and retention to the curricular and co-curricular programs, they all are in the service of our students,” Carter said. “And our ability to collectively engage in dialogue and problem-solving around these areas will determine our course for the future.”

Lawrence’s current strategic plan expires in 2022.

Carter also introduced the formation of five guiding coalitions, each with a mix of faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni, to address particular areas that need expedited attention. These coalitions will be tasked with creating a path to meaningful progress in the assigned areas, with timelines focused on the current academic year. The work of the coalitions will help inform the strategic plan.

The guiding coalitions include: Visioning of Our Five Priorities; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism; Full Speed to Full Need; Amplifying Athletics; and 175th Anniversary. Each will have at least two co-leads, one from faculty and one from staff. Members of the Lawrence community are being invited to join the coalitions.

“Our volunteer army will consist of members of the community who are passionate about these issues and are willing to lock arms with others to create meaningful change around them,” Carter said. “You—faculty, staff, students alike—have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before.”

The Convocation, the first of three to be held during the 2021-22 academic year, featured a performance of Mark A. Miller’s Creation of Peace by the Welcome Week Choir, directed by music professors Phillip A. Swan and Stephen M. Sieck. Other elements of the program, including the size of the audience in Memorial Chapel, were adjusted to accommodate pandemic protocols.

Allison Fleshman, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Public Events Committee, announced that Austin Segrest, assistant professor of English, has been chosen as the Honors Convocation speaker in the spring. Multidisciplinary artist Alexandra Bell will deliver the Winter Term convocation.

As the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, Carter encouraged all Lawrentians to lean into the truth Lawrence has long embraced — “light, more light.”

“When the sun was shining brightly, meaning before the public discourse on higher education turned negative and the pandemic disrupted the world, our light shone brighter than ever,” Carter said. “But now that darkness has threatened us, we must use the light within us to demonstrate to the world who we are.”

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

President Carter to discuss Lawrence priorities in opening convocation

President Laurie A. Carter (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Communications

President Laurie A. Carter will deliver her first Matriculation Convocation to the Lawrence University community at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17.

Centered on the theme of comfort with discomfort, the address will focus on Carter’s priorities to ensure that Lawrence remains a leader in higher education. She will discuss the need to build on Lawrence’s enduring strengths as we look to the future and the challenges facing higher education, and she will call on all members of the Lawrence community to join together to guide Lawrence to a brighter future. 

The event will be held in Memorial Chapel with an audience limited to 300 to account for pandemic protocols. It will be livestreamed at go.lawrence.edu/convo so all Lawrentians can watch from their rooms, offices, or another location. 

While Memorial Chapel is closed to the public, alumni and friends are encouraged to access the stream to watch.

The Matriculation Convocation address, delivered by the university president each September to mark the launch of another academic year, will be one of three convocations held this year. The others are scheduled for Feb. 18 and May 27

Carter began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1.

Lawrence places high in value, teaching, first-year experience in U.S. News rankings

Four days of New Student Orientation led into today’s opening of the Fall Term at Lawrence University. U.S. News and World Report lists Lawrence among the best schools in the nation for first-year experiences. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is once again ranked among the best colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to being included in the 2022 Best Colleges report, placing No. 62 among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Lawrence placed high on four other lists that are part of the annual rankings:

No. 36: Best Value

No. 44: Best Undergraduate Teaching

No. 54: Best First-Year Experiences

No. 167: Top Performers on Social Mobility

Released today, the rankings come as Lawrence opens its 2021-22 academic year amid the excitement of having all of its students back on campus.

Class of 2025 welcomed as new academic year begins

“We are, of course, happy to be recognized once again among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “That US News bestowed upon Lawrence a bouquet of additional rankings about the quality of our educational environment makes this year’s ranking season that much sweeter.”

Lawrence moved up one spot in the ranking of liberal arts colleges and maintained its No. 36 ranking for Best Value among liberal arts colleges. The latter speaks to Lawrence’s push to make more need-based aid available in the form of grants and scholarships, bolstered by a Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign that has now raised more than $91 million.

To be considered for U.S. News’ Best Value Schools listing, a school first had to be ranked among the Best Colleges in the nation. Those qualifying schools were then examined on the basis of net cost of attendance and available need-based financial aid.

Placement on the other lists, meanwhile, is particularly gratifying because they each reflect ongoing efforts to make Lawrence more inclusive and to provide a broad, holistic student experience.

Being on the list for Best Undergraduate Teaching is heartening because it speaks to the relationship-building that comes with Lawrence’s 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and the expansion of key academic programs.

“Lawrence’s faculty are not only terrific scientists, artists, and scholars—they are also first-rate teachers,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “It’s extremely gratifying to see them receive this much-deserved national recognition for the extraordinary work they do with their students.”

Lawrence has added or strengthened academic programs in, among other areas, music, data science, computer science, creative writing, neuroscience, psychology, environmental science, and global studies. In some cases, majors or minors were launched. In other instances, endowed professorships were added as part of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign.

The First-Year Experiences ranking is new for Lawrence this year. It follows efforts across campus to enhance the student life experience in a holistic way, including more coordinated health and wellness outreach, the launch and growth of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, the expansion of the Center for Academic Success, and the more intentional focus of the Career Center in connecting with students in their first year on campus. That has all played into first-year students having positive experiences as they transition to college life.

“You join a community of scholars who are ready to engage you, befriend you, teach you, and learn from you,” Christopher Card, vice president for student life, said last week as Lawrence welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus. “We are a community that’s interested in the whole person, not just the academics. … Fundamentally, all of us are here to learn—with each other and from each other.”

The Top Performers on Social Mobility list speaks to the success of a college advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating economically disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell Grants. The majority of those federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are below $50,000.

The U.S. News announcement marks the second significant national college ranking that Lawrence has landed on in the past two weeks. On Aug. 31, The Princeton Review listed Lawrence as one of the best colleges in the nation, including the university in its annual Best 387 Colleges for 2022 guide. Lawrence was included on several separate lists within the Princeton Review ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

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

We’re “Brighter Together”: In-person Fall Term welcomed; health protocols in place

It’s almost that time. Fall Term classes at Lawrence will begin Sept. 13. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

“Brighter Together” is a message you’ll hear and see repeatedly as Lawrence University prepares to launch a new academic year, one marked by the arrival of a new president, Laurie A. Carter, and the much-anticipated return to campus of students, faculty, and staff after 18 months of mostly remote learning.

Those two words—Brighter Together—will be displayed on banners hanging in front of Main Hall and on T-shirts and face masks being made available to the Lawrence community, and will be repeated in conversations, in convocations, and in campus celebrations. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but we are together again.

“I think of it as an anthem for this moment in Lawrence’s history and a reminder of our strength as a community,” said Carter, the university’s 17th president since its founding 174 years ago.

Fall Term, beginning Sept. 13, does not arrive without challenges. The spread of the Delta variant has kept us from getting to the finish line of the pandemic. But, the Lawrence community has shown its ability and willingness to work together to overcome pandemic challenges. With a campus vaccine mandate for students in place, once again wearing masks in indoor public spaces, and continuing to Honor the Pledge by following health and safety protocols, we are facing the challenges.

Classes will again be mostly in person. Athletic competitions have resumed. Conservatory ensembles are practicing together. Andrew Commons will be open for meals. Like last year, the university will continue to monitor the health situation and adjust accordingly.

Julia Ammons, a senior biology major from Sheboygan who has spent much of the summer on campus, said she can deal with masks. She just wants to be together with her classmates.

“I have been looking forward to campus getting somewhat back to normal ever since we got sent home in 2020,” she said. “I am really excited to be able to eat in the Commons again with my friends.”

New students set to arrive

Admissions reports a strong first-year class, numbering about 400 students. Welcoming them to Lawrence will be a campus-wide effort, with faculty and staff joining together to greet incoming students who are being celebrated for the resiliency they’ve shown just to get to this time and place.

“For the past 18 months, this year’s class of new students—not just Lawrentians, but nearly every college-bound student on the planet—has been exploring their college options at a distance, with a small percentage of them ever having physically been on their college’s campuses,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “Every year, we are eager to meet our students in person for the first time—but this year’s eagerness is unprecedented given the circumstances.”

First-year and transfer students will begin arriving for New Student Orientation Sept. 8 and 9. For the first-years, it follows a chaotic and often frustrating end to their high school journeys.

Sophomores, meanwhile, are coming to campus—some also for the first time—having experienced their first year at Lawrence mostly from a distance.

It all ties in to the palpable excitement building as the campus begins to fill up. Athletes from Lawrence’s fall sports teams began moving in to residence halls in mid-August. International students arrived this week, to be followed by first-years and transfers mid-next week, and then other returning students on the weekend. It’ll mark the first time the entire campus community has been together in 18 months.

“I often say that I was drawn to the light of Lawrence—the light of knowledge, the light of truth, and the light each member of our community brings to campus,” Carter said. “The points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light, and our strength as a community shines when we engage in challenging endeavors, share our talents and strengths, pursue our passions, and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.”

A robust welcome to Lawrence

The New Student Orientation will begin the campus’s slow walk toward a new normal, with pandemic-related adjustments in place, as first-year and transfer students go through four days of orientation. The welcome from the president—Carter’s first—will break from its traditional location in Memorial Chapel and instead become an outdoor gathering in front of Main Hall. A reception for parents of new students will take place on the Hamar House lawn.

“This year’s welcome to campus is an even bigger deal than usual because we are essentially welcoming two classes of new students to Lawrence—the 2021 class and the 2020 class, who arrived on campus last year under very different circumstances,” Anselment said.

Sophomores will get their own assist in acclimating to campus. Some were fully remote last year. Others were on campus but mostly with classes delivered via Zoom.

Once here, the sophomores will get an added assist settling into their residence halls, connecting to the Center for Academic Success and the Career Center, and will be able to participate in sophomore programming focused on belonging, community, and purpose.

“We plan to do even more intentional outreach to the sophomore class knowing that they will in some ways have similar transitional hurdles as our first-year students,” said Rose Wasielewski, associate dean of students and dean of the sophomore class. “Regardless of whether they were on campus last year, I want to provide additional opportunities for these students to connect to the campus physically, as well as to each other socially.”

Finding a balance, together

Classes will begin Sept. 13 with the excitement of being together—the 2020-21 academic year had nearly two-thirds of the student body on campus but with most classes being taught remotely and social distancing protocols in place—balanced with the need to keep one another safe. Fall Term protocols will include masks being worn in indoor shared spaces no matter your vaccination status, the return of surveillance testing on campus (weekly for anyone unvaccinated, randomly for others), and rigid rules regarding campus visitors. Details are being shared on the COVID-19 page here.

The first week of classes will close with the annual Matriculation Convocation, set for 12:30 p.m.  Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel and available via a livestream. It will mark Carter’s first in-person address to all Lawrentians. That day also will feature a community fair organized on the quad by the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) at 5:30 p.m. and a men’s soccer game at the Banta Bowl at 7 p.m.

It’ll all be framed by the “Brighter Together” message.

“We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we navigate the ongoing pandemic,” Carter said. “As I’ve heard many times over the last year, we can’t look to what we knew but, instead, must look to what is new as we live and learn together.”

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

Lawrence launches new Health and Society minor, with focus on health disparities

The Health and Society minor will dig deep into issues and complexities that shape individual and public health, from food sourcing to social inequities.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has introduced a new Health and Society minor that will explore the intersection of human health and global social inequities.

The program, drawing on faculty expertise from social, cultural, biological, and environmental fields across campus, will be available to students beginning in Fall Term. It can be paired with any major and will provide important preparation for students eyeing health- or social justice-related careers or graduate school programs, said Beth De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology.

The minor isn’t only about health care; rather, it’s focused on all of the complex issues that shape individual and population health.

“It brings together courses from across the humanities, social and natural sciences to give students a more holistic understanding of the origins of health, illness, and disability, including origins of the disparities in health and health outcomes we see in this country and across the globe,” De Stasio said.

More on the Health and Society minor can be found here

Students pursuing the Health and Society minor will take classes across fields such as anthropology, ethnic studies, and philosophy. They will examine their own experiences working with vulnerable populations and explore career paths that empower them to make a difference in people’s lives.

The minor will include one course that places health in a global or community setting; two courses covering cultural and psychosocial aspects of health and illness or disability; two courses focused on the biological, biochemical, or environmental aspect of human health; one course that facilitates career exploration and self-reflection; and an option for 100 hours of engaged learning.

It will allow students the space to learn about the complexities and complications tied to health and the varied factors at play—from privilege and discrimination to food systems and infrastructure.

The new minor represents a liberal arts approach to a complicated, important area of study, said Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology.

“They often seek out and demand rich, complicated understandings of outcomes using tools from across the curriculum,” he said of Lawrence students. “The Health and Society minor gives them an opportunity to do so specifically in the realm of health. We hope that the broader and deeper understanding of why health disparities exist, both locally and globally, that they gain from the minor will help to make them more empathetic, critical, and ultimately more effective health care providers in their chosen field.”

One newly developed course brings it all together with a focus on career exploration tied to health. Alumni who are working in related fields will be integrated into the teaching of the course to share their wisdom and experiences with students, De Stasio said.

“It will allow students the time and intention to undertake exploration of the wide variety of career paths within the field of health care, as well as provide a facilitated discernment process in which their values and skills can be matched against various types of career paths,” she said.

In addition to the classroom work, faculty will work with students in pursuit of internships, paid employment, or volunteer work related to health care delivery, health care policy, or related work with vulnerable populations.

“I think health-interested students will be drawn to the minor because it is distinctive,” Jenike said. “And that’s the point of coming to Lawrence in the first place, right?”

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

10 new tenure-track faculty join Lawrence University for 2021-22 academic year

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has announced the hiring of 10 new tenure-track faculty, all beginning at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

Three of the new faculty will fill positions in the Psychology department, including two newly created endowed professorships, one in cognitive neuroscience and one in collaboration and organizational psychology.

The influx of new faculty brings talent and experience across the college and the Conservatory, including in environmental studies, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and vocal coaching.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming such a talented, dedicated group of scholars to the Lawrence faculty,” said Catherine Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “Our new colleagues will fortify strengths in existing academic programs and help us develop new areas of focus.”

The new hires include:

Alperin

Brittany Alperin, assistant professor of psychology. She will be the inaugural holder of the Singleton Professorship in Cognitive Neuroscience. She comes from the University of Richmond, where she’s been a visiting assistant professor since 2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Hampshire College and a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience from Oregon Health and Science University.

Colon

Sigma Colón, assistant professor of environmental and ethnic studies. She has been teaching at Lawrence since 2017, first in postdoctoral NEH fellowships in geography and history, then as a visiting assistant professor of environmental and ethnic studies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in history from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

Culhane

Kelly Culhane, assistant professor of chemistry. She has been working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota since 2019. She joins the Chemistry department after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University.

Dixon

Scott Dixon, assistant professor of philosophy. He has been on the faculty at Ashoka University in Haryana, India since 2015. He studied philosophy and German at the University of Montana and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Davis.

Draheim

Amanda Draheim, assistant professor of psychology. She joins the Psychology department at Lawrence after recently completing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Georgia State University. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Trinity University.

Heaton

Alex Heaton, assistant professor of mathematics. Beginning in 2019, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences and the Math+ Berlin Mathematics Research Center, both in Germany. He then joined the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences in Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Koker

Margaret Koker, assistant professor of physics. She has been teaching in the Physics department at Lawrence as a visiting assistant professor since 2018. She previously worked as a postdoctoral research fellow, a research assistant, and an engineering lecturer at Cornell University and as a Beamline scientist at the University of Chicago. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, a master’s from the University of Illinois, and her doctor rerum naturalium from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.

Ng

Linnea Ng, assistant professor of psychology. She will be the inaugural holder of the Hurvis Professorship in Collaboration and Organizational Psychology at Lawrence. She is completing a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology at Rice University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College.

Roach

Kristin Roach, assistant professor of music (vocal coaching). Her recent accomplishments include work as a vocal coach at the Chautauqua Opera Theatre, conductor with the Pacific Opera Project, musical director and conductor with Spotlight on Opera, and conductor with Vocal Academy of Orvieto. She earned a bachelor’s degree in applied piano and a master of music in piano performance/literature and accompanying/chamber music, both from Eastman School of Music.

Schlabach

Elizabeth Schlabach, associate professor of history. She comes to Lawrence following eight years as a member of the faculty at Earlham College. She previously worked as a visiting professor for five years at The College of William & Mary. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and theology from Valparaiso University, a master’s in American Studies from Lehigh University, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from St. Louis University. 

Endowed professorships

The hiring of Alperin as Lawrence’s first Singleton Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience and Ng as the first Hurvis Professor in Collaboration and Organizational Psychology marks a significant milestone in the Psychology department.

The two endowed positions came out of the hugely successful Be the Light! campaign that over the course of seven years raised $232.6 million and added five endowed professorships.

The Singleton professorship elevates Lawrence’s work in the area of cognitive neuroscience and the Hurvis professorship allows for the exploration of the psychology of collaboration, a growing field that has relevance across the curriculum as students prepare for life after Lawrence. 

Kodat called the filling of the two endowed positions “especially gratifying,” a tangible result of the generosity and vision seen in the Be the Light! Campaign.

“These positions—in organizational psychology and cognitive neuroscience—will help advance the curricular innovation that was one of the centerpieces of the campaign,” she said.

The 10 new faculty begin their first academic year when Fall Term opens Sept. 13.

“I look forward to a long and happy collaboration,” Kodat said.

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

Work with economics faculty leads 2021 grad to EPA-funded research program

Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 at her June commencement at Lawrence University.

By Karina Herrera ’22

It was in an environmental economics class at Lawrence University that Doan Thu Thuy Nguyen ’21 realized her interest in economics and her passion for the environment could co-exist.

The experience in that class, taught by David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor in the American Economic System and an associate professor of economics, led Nguyen to two summers at Lawrence spent on environment-related research tied to her home country of Vietnam. And that work has now led the economics and mathematics double major to her next academic adventure—acceptance into Carnegie Mellon University in the doctorate program in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) as a graduate research assistant. She will join a group of Carnegie Mellon researchers this fall.

Reflecting on her undergraduate experience, Nguyen said her time at Lawrence could not have had a more positive or fruitful impact on her academic interests, pointing to her collaborations with Gerard and other economics faculty as key to getting into the Carnegie Mellon research program.

Find more on Lawrence’s economics program here

Get to know economics professor David Gerard here

The Carnegie Mellon team, led by Nicholas Z. Muller, the Lester and Judith Lave Professor of Economics, Engineering and Public Policy, secured an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund the research, which will explore environmental impacts of certain manufacturing processes. Among other things, the funding provides for financial assistantships for graduate students. For Nguyen, this means that she will be given full tuition and a stipend for the initial academic year.

Although a little nervous, Nguyen said she is ready to begin. She’s excited to work with Muller and his team in part because she’s read academic papers of his and admires his work. She’ll also be working with people from different STEM fields and expects to be challenged.

“I expect it to be very intense but I also like that environment,” Nguyen said.

However, making the decision to apply to the Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. program in EPP was not an easy one, Nguyen said. She had offers from numerous economic Ph.D. programs and was hesitant at first to consider Carnegie Mellon because it was the only program that she applied to that was not solely focused in economics. She explained that what drew her in at the end was that the EPP program is exceptionally strong in areas regarding energy and environment, which are her main interests surrounding economics.

“It was clear that it was such a great place to be and I’ll be working with a lot of people who are really pioneering areas in research,” Nguyen said.

When asked how she found her passion for environmental economics and energy, she explained that it was initially through taking the environmental economics class with Gerard. Nguyen has since worked closely with Gerard and associate professor of economics Jonathan Lhost. They and other faculty have helped facilitate and augment her academic interests, she said.

She spent two summers at Lawrence conducting research—one summer focusing on the cost of decarbonizing Vietnam and the other on the air quality and public health in Vietnam. Both professors recommended that she apply to present her research at professional academic conferences and helped her to prepare and practice for her presentation.

“This is just one example of how professors at Lawrence go above and beyond for their students,” Nguyen said. “My professors really didn’t have to do any of those things, but they did because they care.”

Gerard also encouraged her to consider the EPP program at Carnegie Mellon and wrote her a letter of recommendation. He saw Carnegie Mellon as a great fit for her in part because of his own experiences there; he was on the faculty for eight years prior to coming to Lawrence in 2009, serving as executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation. He continues to serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Although he knows it was a tough decision for Nguyen, he doesn’t doubt she’ll exceed expectations.

“She was certainly an extraordinary student,” Gerard said.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.