Category: Faculty

Burstein: Nurture a campus home that “spans geography, race, and all identities”

President Mark Burstein delivers his Matriculation Convocation address virtually from the Memorial Chapel stage.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

President Mark Burstein spoke of the need for Lawrence University to feel like home to all Lawrentians as he headlined a virtual edition of the 2020-21 Matriculation Convocation on Thursday morning.

Striving for that sense of belonging comes with additional challenges this year as the University adapts to life in a pandemic and the country continues to grapple with ongoing issues of racism and racial injustice and political divisions that grow deeper and more caustic by the day.

It’s critical, Burstein said, to make sure all members of the University feel they belong here. He called on students, faculty, staff, and alumni to be part of the conversation to help make sure that becomes reality—and is sustained.

“I look forward to hearing your ideas, reactions, and disagreements as we make Lawrence the ‘home’ we all need it to be—one that spans geography, race, and all identities,” he said. “One that helps us all to become ourselves.”

Under normal circumstances, Burstein’s address, Finding Home: Belonging During a Pandemic, would have been delivered to a full house at Memorial Chapel, per tradition. But with strict social distancing protocols in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and a portion of the campus community teaching and studying from afar, the convocation was streamed online.

Besides Burstein’s talk, the convocation included a beautiful and creative introduction of Burstein by Allison Fleshman, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Public Events Commitee, and a musical prelude by Conservatory faculty Estelí Gomez, Esther Oh Zabrowski, Stephen M. Sieck, Steven Paul Spears, and Phillip A. Swan (Show Us How to Love, Mark A. Miller). The virtual choir was individually recorded, then manually assembled for the composite performance.

Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, provided closing words, encouraging Lawrentians to rise to the challenges before us. “Together we have the ability to love each imperfect self,” she said. A postlude on piano was then delivered by Hung Phi Nguyen ’21.

The Matriculation Convocation, delivered each September to mark the launch of another academic year, will be one of three convocations to be held this year.

This marked Burstein’s final Matriculation Convocation. He announced recently that he will step away from his presidential post at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, a decision informed by the need for him and his husband, David Calle, to be closer to family on the East Coast.

“I began to think about the theme of belonging and home for this Matriculation Convocation last spring in response to the societal convulsion created by both the pandemic and the deepening recognition of systemic racism in our culture,” Burstein said. “At that moment, I had no idea how personal this topic would become for me. This summer has been a time for me to reassess my priorities and decide to prioritize family, specifically my mother and my in-laws, over a position I love.”

Burstein said he, like others, is feeling the strain of the political tenor that has gripped the country in recent years. It’s been particularly raw here in Wisconsin, a state he quickly adopted when he was named Lawrence’s 16th president in 2013.

“I expect many of you feel, as I do, the pain, the conflict, and the dislocation in our society,” he said. “The new presidential election cycle has unleashed overwhelming forces to divide us. Our country’s attempt to reckon with systemic racism brings both hope and conflicting views of an aspirational future. Environmental degradation continues to march on around the globe. And, the pandemic has curtailed ways to process all of this stress, has upended family life, and has created severe economic burdens on many of us and the institutions we serve.”

All the more reason, he said, for Lawrence to double down on its efforts to make sure inclusion and equity are part of daily life here. He cited the words of an array of writers who have addressed themes of home and belonging, among them Nira Yuval-Davis (The Politics of Belonging), Brene Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection), Natasha Trethewey (he quotes from Theories of Time and Space), Kwame Anthony Appiah (In My Father’s House:  Africa in the Philosophy of Culture), Kath Weston (Families We Choose:  Lesbians, Gays, Kinship), and Toni Morrison (Home).

“Many theorists who have explored the concept of belonging find that one of its central aspects is the need to feel that your whole identity is recognized and affirmed,” Burstein said. “This recognition is seen as an invitation to create a deep connection. If this is true, how can belonging be created in a society in which racism and bias against minority identities continue to exist?”

That’s a challenge going forward, Burstein said, to make sure that sense of belonging is woven into this learning environment. And all of us need to play a role.

“Research has found that the smallest social belonging interventions can yield lasting positive effects on individuals,” he said.

Burstein said he will be locked into that work for the remainder of this academic year. And he pledged to remain connected to the Lawrence community and the work it’s doing after he departs in June, all the while maintaining his own sense of home and belonging here.

“Serving as your president has been the central privilege and pleasure of my professional career,” he said. “David and I want to thank all of you who have allowed us to join, to belong, and to call this university and Appleton our home. Lawrence will always be in our hearts and we will always be proud to call Appleton our home no matter where we reside.”

A replay of the Matriculation Convocation can be accessed here.

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

Lawrence mourns passing of former anthropology professor George Saunders

George R. Saunders, 1946-2020

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

George R. Saunders, a Lawrence University anthropology professor for more than two decades before a serious brain injury took him from the classroom in 2001, passed away on Sept. 17.

He died at his Appleton home with his wife, Bickley Bauer-Saunders, and family at his side. He was 74.

Saunders, who held a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California-San Diego, joined the Lawrence faculty in 1977. He spent many years as chair of the Anthropology Department and is being remembered by colleagues for his mentoring skills, his commitment to his students, and his anthropology scholarship in the areas of language, religion, and Mediterranean Europe.

“George was a well-respected scholar of religious movements in contemporary Italy,” said Peter N. Peregrine, a professor of anthropology who worked with Saunders beginning in 1995. “He focused on Pentecostalism among rural communities and the interesting relationships and conflicts between Pentecostals and Catholics within that strongly Catholic nation.”

Saunders helped found the Society for the Anthropology of Europe in 1986, served on the group’s first Executive Committee, and was the group’s treasurer from 1996 to 2000.

Four years after arriving at Lawrence, Saunders earned the school’s Young Teacher Award (today known as the award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member), one of numerous honors he’d receive for his teaching and scholarship. Then-President Richard Warch said Saunders brought to the classroom “an infectious enthusiasm for learning, a solid grounding in theory, and a wealth of field experience, and has, in the process, made the study of anthropology both intellectually challenging and humanely rewarding.”

Saunders suffered a serious brain injury in 2001 as a consequence of a brain tumor. Almost two decades later, his presence continues to be felt in and beyond the Anthropology Department.

The university funded an anthropology library in his honor shortly after he left the faculty. It still resides in the anthropology seminar room, Briggs 305, and has been used by generations of students for classes and research projects.

Peregrine called Saunders “a calming influence across the campus” and said his leadership helped build a strong Anthropology Department.

“Within the department he was a strong leader and tireless promoter of anthropology’s central role in developing a better appreciation for diversity among our students,” he said. “He was a wonderful, caring, and supportive mentor to me. … He was universally loved by his students, and was known as one of the most talented teachers at the University.”

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

Diversity award honors work Lawrence is doing to address equity, inclusion

A rise in retention and graduation rates among African American students at Lawrence speaks to focused work on equity issues across campus, says Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is being honored for its work in becoming a more diverse and inclusive campus.

INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, announced that Lawrence is one of 90 recipients of its 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. Lawrence will be featured, along with the other recipients, in the November issue of the magazine.

It’s a notable honor because it recognizes the significant progress Lawrence has made in recent years, but it comes with the understanding that this is a work in progress, said Kimberly Barrett, who joined Lawrence as its first vice president for diversity and inclusion in 2016.

“Although much work remains to be done, this honor acknowledges the progress that has been made in both achieving equitable academic outcomes for students of all backgrounds as well as in our efforts to increase the diversity of folks working and learning at Lawrence,” Barrett said. “Like institutions around the country, we must continue to enhance the quality of these efforts.”

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity, said the HEED Award follows a “comprehensive and rigorous” application process.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus,” Pearlstein said.

Barrett pointed to retention and graduation rates at Lawrence for African American students, which have gone up significantly over the past half decade. In the most recent Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report, it’s noted that the graduation rate for African American students at Lawrence is up 56%, and the retention rate for students of color has been equal to or above white students over the past three years. That, Barrett said, speaks to progress being made in achieving racial equity on campus.

Initiatives such as the annual Cultural Competency Lecture Series, the work of the Inclusive Pedagogy Committee, the annual Diversity Planning Retreat that keeps a leadership focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics, and the growth and activity of various employee affinity groups have helped move efforts forward, Barrett said.

National honor spotlights Lawrence affinity group. See details here.

From 2015 to 2020, the percentage of students of color at Lawrence has increased from 19% of the student body to 26%, Barrett said. The number of faculty of color also has grown over that five-year period, going from 13% of total faculty to 17%. The number of staff who identify as people of color saw a jump of 65%.

Besides Barrett’s vice president position, other new leadership positions added since 2016 to address equity and inclusion include the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, a Title IX coordinator, a Diversity Center coordinator, and a Dean of Academic Success.

Also, through a grant from the Mellon Foundation and the work of the President’s Committee on Diversity Affairs, Lawrence has implemented training to enhance the process for recruiting diverse applicants for faculty positions. Another grant from the Mellon Foundation has led to the diversifying of curriculum and the development of new pedagogical methods.

In recent months, as a movement for social justice has elevated conversation and calls for systematic change across the country, Barrett has been leading a series of virtual workshops on antiracism for Lawrence faculty and staff. Those conversations will continue with the return of students to campus, either in person or from a distance, for Fall Term. Barrett also has stepped up as a leader with Imagine Fox Cities, a local initiative aimed at fostering conversations on a range of societal and community issues, including diversity and inclusion. That work has included, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizing virtual conferences on topics related to social justice.  

In a recent letter to the Lawrence community in advance of the start of Fall Term, President Mark Burstein pledged continued focus on issues of equity and inclusion.

“We continue to dismantle systemic racism through individual and organizational learning; through curricular, pedagogical, and policy change; and through enhanced efforts to increase the racial diversity of students, faculty, and staff,” he wrote. “We also continue to collaborate with the City of Appleton to help ensure that Lawrentians are safe and welcome here. Our goal is to create a campus climate that allows each of us to feel that we belong in this community whether we are learning on campus or at a distance.”

Lawrence wants to be a leader on these issues, both on campus and in the Fox Cities, Barrett said. The HEED Award is recognition that that hard work is being done and, despite setbacks and frustrations, progress is being made.

“Despite the work that still remains ahead,” she said, “it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the righteous work in which we have been engaged because, as Audre Lorde wrote, ‘Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted. Every victory must be applauded, because it is so easy not to battle at all, to just accept and call that acceptance inevitable.’”

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

Burstein’s Convocation address to explore sense of home during pandemic

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A sense of belonging, something that may feel adrift in the midst of a pandemic, will be a central theme when President Mark Burstein delivers his eighth Matriculation Convocation to the Lawrence community on Sept. 24.

In an address to be presented virtually at 11:15 a.m. (access it here), Burstein will push Lawrentians to work in unison to assure that all students, faculty, and staff feel they have a home at Lawrence. The speech, Finding Home: Belonging During a Pandemic, will address the emotions of a campus community strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some students studying on campus amid new safety protocols and others spread across the globe as Fall Term gets rolling with most classes being taught remotely.

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. Alumni are encouraged to access the stream to watch.

This will be Burstein’s final Matriculation Convocation. He announced on Friday that he will step away from his presidential post at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. That decision itself ties in with the theme of the talk, as Burstein has said he and his husband, David Calle, are drawn to return to the East Coast to be closer to family.

In his talk, Burstein will explore the pain and conflicts that have gripped the nation this year, from the ongoing pandemic that has dramatically changed life as we know it, to the systematic racism that has led to ongoing, emotional public demonstrations, to the political divisions that have become increasingly strident as the presidential election draws closer. And he’ll discuss how that pain adds to the anxieties about home and belonging, and how it adds urgency to efforts to make sure Lawrence is truly a home for all who choose to study, teach, and work here.

A musical prelude will be presented by Conservatory faculty Esteli Gomez, Esther Oh Zabrowski, Stephen M. Sieck, Steven Paul Spears, and Phillip A. Swan. Hung Phi Nguyen ’21 will present the postlude on piano.

Jessica Hopkins ’22 will present the traditional land acknowledgement and Allison Fleshman, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Public Events Committee, will introduce this year’s Convocation series.

The Matriculation Convocation details and information on other convocations can be accessed through the Speakers and Convocations page on the Lawrence website.

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

Lawrence remembers talents, kindness of retired music professor Dan Sparks

Dan Sparks (Lawrence University archive photo, 1993)

Dan Sparks, a professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music from 1962 to 1994, is being remembered for his deep contributions to the Lawrence and Appleton communities, from his musical talents to his willingness to share his wisdom and creativity with others.

He passed away Sept. 4 at age 89.

Sparks was a vital part of the Conservatory for three decades, teaching, mentoring, and, for a time, overseeing Conservatory admissions.

After completing military service in the 29th Army Band as the principal clarinetist and assistant conductor, Sparks started his college teaching career at Jackson State University in Alabama. He then made his way to Lawrence in 1962.

It proved to be an ideal fit, and he would call Lawrence home for the next 32 years.

In addition to teaching clarinet, he taught music theory, form and analysis, and music history. He was a member of the Lawrence Faculty Woodwind Quintet and a founding member of the Fox Valley Symphony. 

“All my memories of Dan, whether in department meetings, casual hallway encounters, or performing chamber works together, are filled with his kindness, his non-judgmental character, his ego-less professionalism, and his thoughtfulness toward everyone around him,” said percussion professor Dane Richeson, who joined the Conservatory faculty in 1984.

Kenneth Bozeman, professor emeritus of voice, said Sparks brought warmth to every interaction.

“Dan was a gentle, patient man, a lovely clarinetist,” Bozeman said. “I never saw Dan riled about anything, though like all of us, he probably had opportunities for that. He was a soothing presence.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1931, Sparks fell in love with music and went on to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he received both his Bachelor of Music Degree in clarinet performance and his Master of Music Degree in clarinet performance and form and analysis. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music, and finished all of the coursework for a Ph.D. in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. 

Besides being a stellar music instructor, Sparks was known to be an excellent chef and entertainer. His dinner parties were legendary, as were his yearly recitals, billed as Dan Sparks and Friends.

“Dan positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students and colleagues,” said Brian G. Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. “He helped our Conservatory become what it is today.”

Becker returns to Lawrence to teach psychology and neuroscience

Elizabeth Becker ’04

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The newest member of Lawrence University’s Psychology Department faculty is plenty familiar with what makes this place special.

Elizabeth Becker ’04 earned a double degree in psychology and music performance here before going on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The lessons learned and relationships with faculty forged at Lawrence have been a guiding light in my own career as I sought to become the type of teacher that would make LU proud,” Becker said. “It is a true honor to be welcomed home and be part of the Lawrence community.”

Becker steps in as an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, beginning with Monday’s launch of Fall Term.

She is one of two new faculty members, joining Miriam Rodriguez-Guerra, who begins work as an assistant professor of Spanish.

Becker had been teaching at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, where she served as director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program and was the faculty affiliate to the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. As a faculty member of the Psychology Department, she mentored both graduate and undergraduate researchers.

“I’m very excited to bring my program of research here to Lawrence to work with our incredibly talented undergraduate students,” Becker said. “I am dedicated to providing laboratory and professional development opportunities to prepare our students for graduate study.”

It was 20 years ago that Becker landed on the Lawrence campus as a first-year student. She said a matriculation convocation address delivered by then-President Richard Warch ignited a spark, a drive to learn and excel, that continues to this day.

“Starting the term I feel the same sense of excitement and nervousness I felt then,” Becker said. “Back in 2000, when I heard President Warch’s convocation address, that nervousness I felt was replaced with passion, admiration, and inspiration. I knew I was home. Indeed, my time at Lawrence was transformative and personally defining as I was pushed and challenged to be and live greater.” 

The Warch address touched on the importance of community, something that resonates even deeper this year as Fall Term begins amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Becker said.

“Not all institutions of higher learning will address this challenge well, but I can guarantee we will,” she said. “In my preparation for fall, which will be online, I have worked hard to ensure a high level of engagement with the material as well as with each other — including social distance walks — because I espouse the philosophy of President Warch, that ‘liberal education is best conducted as a personal experience.’ I am so happy to be home.”

Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine G. Kodat said bringing Becker back to Lawrence is a huge win for a department that continues to serve one of the largest numbers of majors at Lawrence.

“As an alumna and double-degree graduate, she appreciates all the things that make Lawrence special,” Kodat said. “I am delighted to welcome her back to her alma mater.”

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

President Burstein announces plan to leave Lawrence at end of academic year

President Mark Burstein

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Mark Burstein, president of Lawrence University since 2013, will leave the post at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, he announced Friday in a letter to the Lawrence community.

Burstein called his time at Lawrence the “greatest honor and pleasure of my professional life,” and said he made the difficult decision to leave for family reasons. He and his husband, David Calle, will return to the East Coast to be near their parents.

He is the 16th president in Lawrence’s history, which dates back to its founding in 1847. He has overseen notable changes over the past seven years, including significantly lowering student loan debt for graduating students through the Full Speed to Full Need initiative, fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded campus culture, and launching or enhancing curricular programs in, among other areas, data science, musical arts, neuroscience, and global studies. The University’s endowment has grown by 70% during his tenure thanks in part to the ambitious $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, which launched six years ago and is on track to reach its fund-raising goal before the campaign concludes in December.

Burstein is beginning his eighth and final year at Lawrence with the start of Fall Term on Monday. He said he will “serve as your president for this academic year with all of my focus and energy” before stepping away on June 30. 

“With the end of our strategic plan in sight and the completion of the Be the Light! Campaign this December, it seems like an appropriate juncture in the arc of the University to prepare for new leadership,” Burstein said in his message. “The pandemic has also made it difficult for David and me to keep connected to our parents during an important period in their lives.”

David C. Blowers ’82, chair of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees, praised Burstein for his “deft and compassionate leadership” and said his work over the past seven years has positioned Lawrence well to succeed amid the many challenges facing higher education in the coming years.

“During Mark’s tenure, our curricular offerings became deeper and broader, applications and the endowment increased dramatically, and our community became more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded,” Blowers said in a message to the Lawrence community. “Thanks to his dedication and service, Lawrence is well positioned for the future.”

A national search for a new president will begin immediately, Blowers said. A Presidential Search Committee will be formed, with membership from trustees, alumni, faculty, students, and staff. A national search firm will be selected to assist with the search.

“We expect to select a search firm shortly and have every expectation that we will select a new president during the Winter Term,” Blowers said.

The Presidential Search Committee will launch a web page shortly to provide updates and solicit input from the Lawrence community.

“In these moments of transition, it is important to find time to celebrate our progress and imagine our future,” Blowers said. “I hope the entire University community will join us in both activities.”

While Burstein’s focus now is on launching the Fall Term during these unprecedented times, he said there will be plenty of opportunity for celebration and reflection as the year goes on.

“We have accomplished so much together: launching new curriculum and teaching methods; renewing campus infrastructure; and deepening our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity,” he said. “I have had the privilege of participating in the lives of smart and caring students. Our endowment has grown more than 70%, which has helped us make Lawrence more affordable and decreased the average debt of our graduates. Many talented faculty and staff have joined us with their energy, insights, and new ideas. You have welcomed David, Homer, and me into this beloved learning community with open arms. We have established friendships that will endure for the rest of our lives.”

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

Challenges mix with excitement as a Fall Term like no other is set to open

Mask up, Lawrentians. Wearing a mask is among protocols for anyone on campus.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University students are preparing to begin a new academic year – some on campus, some remotely – in a world that looks decidedly different than it did one year ago.

The excitement and promise that marks the arrival of Fall Term remains intact, but it comes with the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adjust behaviors to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, including the required signing of the Lawrence Campus Community Pledge by every student, faculty, and staff member who will set foot on campus.

A little more than 850 students, or roughly 62% of the student body, are expected to be living on campus for the Fall Term, with another 118 living off campus but in the Fox Valley. The remaining students, roughly 25%, will be accessing classes remotely from other locations around the world.

See details on Lawrence University’s plan for Fall 2020 here.

The traditional Welcome Week for first-year students begins Sept. 8 with a mix of in-person and virtual activities designed to assist in the transition to Lawrence. Returning students will follow, with classes beginning Sept. 14.

Nearly 80% of the more than 410 new first-year and transfer students are expected to be on campus for Fall Term.

The vibrancy and interactive nature of classes, long a hallmark of Lawrence, will be a priority no matter how those classes are delivered. And efforts by Student Life will focus on helping students find ways to interact outside of classes in a safe manner. Throughout the summer, Lawrence leadership, faculty, and staff have been exploring options and making changes in physical spaces and protocols in an effort to tackle the daunting challenge of launching an academic year in the midst of a global pandemic.

Living by the Pledge

All Lawrentians who will be on campus will be called upon to “Honor the Pledge” in order to keep safe those with whom they are sharing spaces. Among the Pledge requirements: wear a mask in indoor public spaces and when gathering in groups outdoors; maintain 6 feet of physical distance; get a flu shot; participate in testing and contact tracing; and follow the same safety-minded behaviors while off campus.

“We are personally and communally responsible to keep ourselves, and each other, healthy: to physically distance, to wear masks, to monitor our health, and to regularly clean personal campus spaces,” President Mark Burstein said in a message to the campus community in late August. “All of us living, learning, and working on campus this fall need to understand and to honor the responsibilities outlined by the Pledge.” 

The University’s pandemic health plan speaks to how different campus life will be during Fall Term. Bellin Health has been contracted as a health care partner. Students will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival on campus. Faculty and staff are being tested as well. Bellin will continue to test regularly throughout the term, and Wellness Services will coordinate contact tracing with the Appleton Health Department. Kohler Hall, meanwhile, has been set aside for use as quarantine and isolation space as needed.

None of it is ideal. The challenge for students, faculty, and staff is to work together to find ways to make experiences in and out of the classroom – in person or online — as fulfilling as possible while adhering to the new safety protocols.

Sterling Clarke Elvin Ambrosius ’22 chairs the Lawrence University Community Council’s Student Welfare Committee and will be among the students leading that charge, reminding fellow students early and often of the importance of staying committed to this new reality.

“We have the ability to make or break this term on campus,” Ambrosius said. “It is really important that we show that we care about our fellow Lawrentians by doing everything we can to maintain best practices for public health.”

With the help of Student Life and other campus resources, students will need to tap into creativity and resourcefulness as they navigate a different kind of college experience. That will begin with the arrival of Welcome Week on Tuesday and continue through the end of Fall Term on Nov. 24 and most likely into Winter Term.

“Even during such uncertainty, I remain hopeful that we will come together as Lawrentians, both virtually and in person, to make the most of this new academic year,” Vice President for Student Life Christopher Card said in a message to students.

The classroom experience

David Berk, director of instructional technology, shows what a classroom adjusted for physical distancing will look like during Fall Term. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

The majority of classes during Fall Term are being delivered virtually, and Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine G. Kodat said faculty have worked hard over the last three months to improve upon online instruction. The lessons learned during Spring Term, when remote classes were pulled together quickly, will pay off with a more deliberate and confident classroom experience, with the focus staying true to the faculty-student interactions that Lawrence prides itself on.

“In making their decisions about how best to teach their courses, faculty have carefully considered how campus requirements for masking and social distancing will affect in-person instruction,” Kodat said in a message to students. “In addition, they have participated in workshops enabling multiple refinements and improvements in distance instruction.”

Physical changes, some more noticeable than others, will greet students returning to campus. A number of classrooms have been altered to allow for physical distancing during class, and some have been outfitted with new technology to better accommodate distance instruction.

Nine classrooms – four in Main Hall, three in Briggs Hall, and two in Youngchild Hall – are being equipped with ceiling microphones and web cams to make them Zoom-ready. It will allow students who are remote to participate in the class in real time. 

In all, 27 spaces have been adapted for in-person instruction, including 12 classrooms, one computer lab, five art studios, three science labs, four performing arts spaces, and two rooms in Warch Campus Center that have been repurposed into a classroom.

Large classrooms that previously accommodated as many as 48 students will now be limited to 16 students, with desks or tables spaced across the room. Walkways will be marked to route traffic in and out of those classrooms with physical distancing in mind.

In the Conservatory, meanwhile, significant changes have been made in how music and performance spaces will be used.

For practice rooms that previously were available on a first come, first served basis, a new assignment protocol has been established. Five to six students will be assigned to each practice room, meaning only that select grouping will have access.

Studio spaces, meanwhile, have been outfitted with new technology, allowing one-on-one lessons to be conducted remotely. The on-campus student will be in the studio while the professor will connect via Zoom from a remote location. This isn’t new to the Conservatory. Two music professors who have significant touring commitments were already doing this while on the road; now it’s being expanded to the other studio spaces in the Conservatory. The investment in new tech will remove any connectivity issues.

When ensemble or other music sessions need to be held in person, they will move to bigger spaces in Lawrence Chapel or the Music-Drama Center, spaces that are being adapted with new technology and will be more readily available because musicology and music theory classes will be remote and thus not using those spaces. The larger spaces will allow for needed physical distancing.

“We are trying to do everything we can to make this as easy and convenient and safe as possible,” Dean of Conservatory Brian Pertl said.

Other spaces

Plexiglass has been installed in high-traffic areas across campus, including here in the Wellness Center.

Existing study spaces on the first and second floors of the Mudd Library have been “de-densified” to accommodate distancing. The library’s third and fourth floors will remain closed.

Access to the library’s second floor, home to the newly constructed Center for Academic Success, will be available per designated stairwells to allow for needed distancing. The main stairwell will be for going up only, while the north and south stairwells will be for going down. Library materials will be available through a digital check-out process.

In the Warch Campus Center, stairways also will be designated for one-way traffic. Andrew Commons will function without in-house dining, with all meals served on a to-go basis. Most of the food stations will still be available, but self-serve stations will be closed. There will be no salad bar, for example, with salads instead being available pre-packaged.

In the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center, faculty, students, and staff will continue to have access to recreation and fitness equipment, but they will need to schedule their visits, said Erin Buenzli, director of wellness and recreation. The number of people in the center at any given time will be limited.

Some of the spaces in the Wellness Center have been adjusted as well, including cardio equipment being placed in the gymnasium to better allow for those using it to be spread out.

In the residence halls, shared kitchen space, including refrigerators and cabinets, will be off limits. And access to the residence halls will be limited to on-campus students and staff only.

Across campus, plexiglass barriers have been installed in Brokaw Central, Mudd Library, Chapman Hall, the Music-Drama Center, the Wellness Center, and Warch Campus Center, among other high-traffic areas. All campus buildings with a central ventilation system are being outfitted with new filters that exponentially increase air filtration and disrupt the passage of the virus through the ventilation system. And all systems where feasible are being recalibrated to increase outside air flow.  

The protocols and physical changes, as well as the expectations laid out in the Pledge, are designed to keep those on campus as safe as possible while delivering a robust academic experience. Adjustments will be made as needed. The Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team has a contingency plan in place – known as the “Stoplight Guide” – to determine next steps should a virus outbreak occur. The Fall Term is set to begin under a “green light.” It will move to “yellow light” if enhanced precautions are needed, halting in-person activities for two to five days; and will move to “red light” if the campus needs to be shut down, with in-person classes and activities shuttered for 14 days or longer.

The arrival of Fall Term is an unprecedented challenge for Lawrentians, as it is for institutions of higher learning around the world. We’re about to welcome the Class of 2024. It is go time.

“Even amid the challenges and grief this year has brought, the beginning of a new school year is a moment that I cherish,” Burstein said. “I am looking forward to the academic year, seeing new and familiar faces virtually and on campus.”

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

Let’s explore: Checking out 17 pieces of public art on or near campus

Aerial Landscape, located adjacent to the Wriston Art Center on the Lawrence University campus, is among the pieces of public art on display on or near campus. Check out our list. (Photos by Luke Le ’22)

Story by Lili “Shirley” Xu ’22

Take a walk across the Lawrence University campus and along College Avenue and you will find a diverse range of public art pieces that are part of Appleton’s downtown.

From murals to sculptures to poetry engraved in the sidewalk, you’ll find art in unexpected places. Some pieces have rich backgrounds and others connect to traditions that define Appleton, in all its uniqueness. Next time you’re taking a stroll on or near campus, check out these 17 pieces or projects to enjoy the artistic grooves of Appleton.  

1. Aerial Landscape sculpture, across from Wellness Center  

(Photo by Danny Damiani)

By the late Rolf Westphal, Lawrence’s first Frederick R. Layton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Studio Art, Aerial Landscape can be found on campus outside the Wriston Art Center. Originally installed in 1988, this bright trio of yellow arched structures have become a recognizable landmark on campus—and honestly, the upside-down LU is more iconic for Lawrentians than the McDonald’s yellow arches. For more on art and art history at Lawrence, see here. 

2. Indigenize Education mural, on side of Wellness Center 

Having indigenous representation on a college campus is a huge and necessary step in acknowledging our own history. The Indigenize Education mural on the north exterior wall of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center is part of Matika Wilbur’s Project 562—a project that aims to create positive indigenous role models through artistic representations to counteract stereotypes about Native Americans in the mainstream media. This non-permanent wheatpaste mural is a reminder for us to truthfully embrace who we are and encourage us to make sure everyone’s story gets told. 

3. The Merrill Hall Sundial, Main Hall  

On the south side of Main Hall, you’ll find a sundial adorning the building above the stairs. Milwaukee-Downer College and Lawrence College merged in 1964 to form Lawrence University, and the Merrill Hall Sundial was transferred to Lawrence in 1973 as a gift from the Milwaukee-Downer class of 1932. This sundial was formally installed and dedicated on the south face of Main Hall in 1975. Plus, it offers a built-in timestamp in your photos.  

4. Hawthornden, outside of Colman Hall 

A beloved grove of Hawthorn trees from Milwaukee-Downer College, known as Hawthornden, has been recreated near Colman Hall together with a statue of a young woman sitting in grass and dressed in 1890s attire. The class of 1961 helped plant the trees, designed the statue and commissioned it as a memory of Milwaukee-Downer College.  

5. Kimball Alley mural, across from Colman Hall 

Located across from the main entrance of Colman Hall (and behind Brokaw Hall), the black and white lines swirl and densify themselves to create many abstract shapes. The other black and white mural shows the skeletons inside a flying creature’s silhouette. They bring so many dynamics to the gray and boring backgrounds in a lesser known corner of campus.  

6. After the Storm, in green space north of Brokaw Hall

Created by sculptor Anthony Heinz May as a part of Sculpture Valley’s Acre of Art, After the Storm is a representation of reform after a disaster. Installed in August 2019 near the intersection where downtown Appleton meets the Lawrence campus, a tree formed of cubes represents the discomfort and displacement after our fights against nature. The branches twist and soar in the sky, symbolizing nature’s consequence to humans’ acts of over-exhausting it—a lesson we should all take to heart.  

7. The Alley Project, west side of History Museum at the Castle 

Across College Avenue from the Taste of Thai restaurant, the west side wall of the History Museum at the Castle is painted, courtesy of Chad Brady. Blocks of vibrant colors and the theme of badgers bicycling celebrates Appleton’s active living style. This mural adds energy to the annual Mile of Music Festival and re-energizes any student making their way to a downtown coffee shop to cram for finals.  

8. Heid Music murals, back and side doors of Heid Music  

Near Heid Music, a music instrument and accessories store a block west of campus on College Avenue, there are two murals. One contains black-and-white silhouettes of different musicians, with a hint of blue. The other one paints a colorful tropical garden where plants are enjoying a music festival. They are really visible and universally recognized by Lawrentians.  

9. Compassion Project manhole covers, various locations along College Avenue 

Designing manhole covers and installing them on the sidewalks was inspired by the community-wide Compassion Project. Led by Lawrence’s Frederick R. Layton Professor of Studio Art Rob Neilson in 2011, Lawrence students were asked to express what compassion means to them via their artwork. It was part of a larger effort that included young students across Appleton using art to explore compassion. For the Lawrence creations, Neenah Foundry helped facilitate and install these customized covers along College Avenue. There is even one compassion manhole in front of the Warch Campus Center. Look around at how unique they are. It will change the way you see manhole covers.  

10. The Fire mural, near The Fire pottery studio 

The Fire is a pottery, mosaic, and glass-fusing studio on College Avenue a block off campus. It features a cool blue background with two phoenix-like birds, one red and the other made of abstract yellow-brown blocks; swirls in the background and the shape of the birds’ wings add motion and excitement. They make you want to go into the store to explore your own artistic potential.  

11. Traffic Box Art Project, various locations throughout Appleton 

Highlighting the stories of diverse populations and their culture, the Traffic Box Art Project involves the collective actions from youth and community partners to paint a more colorful Appleton. Installed in July 2016, the 16 traffic control boxes are scattered around downtown Appleton. Take a walk to look at the stories on the colorful boxes, all located near traffic lights.  

12. Mile of Music mural, corner of College Avenue and State Street 

Nothing defines summer in Appleton better than Mile of Music. Each August, the four-day all-original music festival attracts about 80,000 people to enjoy live music and hands-on workshops, including some led by Lawrentians. Chad Brady painted this mural, located at the corner of College Avenue and State Street, seven blocks west of campus, during the summer of 2019 to commemorate Mile of Music. The cool blues and light yellow-browns, plus hints of purple, makes it seem like you’re watching the sun set in real time.  

13. For Us mural, Houdini Plaza 

For Us is a must-see mural that went up earlier this summer in downtown Appleton. Inspired by the protests following George Floyd’s death, this mural is meant to spread love, peace, and positivity. Painted by Irineo Medina in June, For Us aims to amplify the voices of minorities and offer support via art. This mural is located across from Houdini Plaza, the centerpiece of downtown Appleton and the gathering spot for a number of recent racial injustice protests.  

14. McFleshman’s Brewing Co. mural, 115 S. State St.

This is another work by Chad Brady, painted on the wall of McFleshman’s Brewing Co.’s beer garden. The owner of McFleshman’s (Hint, the owner has a strong LU connection) commissioned this mural to “Rock the Vote” before the 2016 presidential primary. The cool tone and the bold David Bowie portrait are so catchy that you will not miss it.  

15. Sidewalk poetry 

Transforming Appleton into an open poetry book, the sidewalk poems make you look down on the sidewalks so that your mind can wander to another realm for a little bit through poetry. Poems are selected from submissions by residents of Appleton each year to be carved into the sidewalks. The poem you are reading might come from a fifth grader; how cool is that?  

16. Muncheez mural, 600 W. College Ave. 

Located by the beloved Muncheez Pizzeria, the mural paints stories about aliens. Yes, you read that right. The starry black background adds a mysterious atmosphere to the scenes of flying pizzas, rabbits eating pizzas, and the alien ship trying to steal our cows.

17. The Collective, west end of the E. College Avenue bridge  

The Collective also is part of Sculpture Valley’s Acre of Art. Many empty propane tanks have been used to create faces that together make up a big head sculpture located at the west end of the bridge on E. College Avenue, just a few steps east of the Lawrence campus. Take a walk around it to see faces of past and present friends and supporters of the sculptor, Paul Bobrowitz, who has said: “The collective unconsciousness is the major source of my inspiration, energy, and solutions. Everyone I have encountered form a collective.” Since this sculpture has been a little divisive, check it out while you can when taking a walk along the beautiful Fox River.  

_ _ _

This isn’t a list of all of the public art in Appleton, just favorites on or near the Lawrence campus. Some of the sculptures change periodically, so there is often something new to explore. The fresh pieces, along with some traditional art projects, show Appleton as an innovative, exciting, and tight-knit community. Know other public art pieces you really like in Appleton? Next time you spot your favorite, grab a picture and tag us on Instagram @lawrenceuni! 

Lili “Shirley” Xu ’22 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Makerspace provides huge assist as it builds needed PPE inventory for campus

Angela Vanden Elzen models one of the face shields built with 3D printers in Lawrence University’s Makerspace, located in the Mudd Library. “It turned into this awesome community effort,” she said. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

In the scramble for an adequate supply of PPEs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawrence University is getting a needed boost from its own Makerspace.

Using 3D printing technology, Reference and Learning Technologies Librarian Angela Vanden Elzen and student intern Kelvin Maestre ’21 have led efforts this summer to 3D print 200 plastic face shields and 150 ear savers in the Makerspace lab inside the Mudd Library.

The Makerspace’s personal protective equipment (PPEs), as well as cloth face masks made by students through the Conservatory’s costume shop, are now being distributed on campus through Wellness Services. The face shields provide another layer of protection beyond masks and the ear savers offer a more comfortable way of securely wearing a mask.

“This work began on a more exploratory level at the start of the summer,” Vanden Elzen said of the Makerspace efforts. “We found 3D printable files for both the ear savers and the face shield visors on the NIH (National Institutes of Health) 3D print exchange. They’ve created a special COVID-19 response collection of objects that have either been tested for clinical use or community use. It was important for us to find designs that were created by scientists and professionals in the medical field.”

Kelvin Maestre ’21 joined Angela Vanden Elzen in the Makerspace this summer in the building of face shields and ear savers, adding to needed PPE inventory on the Lawrence University campus.

Vanden Elzen and Maestre went to work prepping the Makerspace technology to make large batches on the 3D printers. That proved to be pretty easy for the ear savers, where they could print five at a time using two printers. Additional parts or modifications weren’t needed.

The face shields production, meanwhile, was a different story. Initially, only two would fit on a printer at a time, so Maestre, an anthropology major from Revere, Massachusetts, explored ways to modify the process. When he was done, they were able to print 16 at a time, using all three of the 3D printers.

Read more about Makerspace possibilities here.

“After doing some research, I learned how to print the shields in stacks of 16,” Maestre said. “All you need is the right amount of gap between each shield that would allow you to separate them. In our case, the shield was 5 millimeters tall and we used a .2 millimeter layer height to print, so we used a gap of .21 millimeter between each shield to make them separable.”

After Maestre’s ingenuity got production rolling, it was time to recruit some help for the visor construction, which came enthusiastically from other workers in the library.

“It takes a bit of time to carefully separate the visors and sand any rough edges or bumps from the printing process to make them comfortable to wear,” Vanden Elzen said. “The shields then need the actual shield part. We ordered plastic folder covers that each need to be 3-hole punched. The finishing piece is two looped-together rubber bands to hold the visor on the wearer’s head.”

In all, 200 plastic face shields and 150 ear savers were created in Makerspace.

When she asked other library staff members if they might be willing to help if they had any extra time, the response was immediate. And enthusiastic.

Vanden Elzen and Maestre then set up four stations in front of the Makerspace to allow for social distancing. They filled the tables with the tools and supplies needed to make the visors, along with a container of sanitizing wipes. 

“I absolutely love what this project has turned into,” Vanden Elzen said. “It started with Erin Buenzli (director of wellness and recreation) reaching out to Kelvin and me in the Makerspace to see if we could help provide PPEs, and then it turned into this awesome community effort.”

The Makerspace-produced PPEs will benefit the Lawrence community without drawing down the supply elsewhere in the Fox Valley. Wellness Services has the growing inventory of ear savers, masks, and face shields. Department supervisors, employees, and students on campus can request them by using the mask-request web form or by e-mailing Buenzli.

“I’m excited to be using our resources so that we don’t use PPE supplies that are needed elsewhere,” Buenzli said. “The PPEs will help protect our essential workers, and the ear savers will create a better fitting and more comfortable mask.”

Vanden Elzen said the Makerspace is also ready to lend a hand if anyone on campus is in need of custom-built PPEs.

“If it’s something we can 3D print, sew, or laser cut, we’re happy to help,” she said.

The PPE project, Vanden Elzen said, is further evidence of what the Makerspace can become as technologies advance and more students embrace the possibilities.

“It seems like we’re learning new things all the time about what these tools can do,” she said.

“Making 200 shields has been a long process, but I already feel good knowing that our work will be directly helping other students stay safe,” Maestre said.

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