Category: Press Releases

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

“Impressive” class welcomed to campus on busy opening day of student orientation

The front of Main Hall was the setting Thursday for the annual President’s Welcome. Faculty and staff gathered to greet the 410 first-year, 15 transfer, and four visiting students who now call Lawrence home. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Brighter Together banners and the flags of 31 countries and five indigenous tribal nations displayed on the front of Main Hall provided a dazzling backdrop Thursday as Lawrence University welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus.

“I want you to remember that you are surrounded by light at Lawrence,” President Laurie A. Carter said in a President’s Welcome ceremony that was moved from its traditional space in Memorial Chapel to the outdoor setting in front of Main Hall. “Look around you at your classmates, your faculty, your staff and administration, and the upper-class students. Our lights will always be here to light your path when you need us. That is what it means to be a Lawrentian.”

The President’s Welcome was the centerpiece of a busy move-in day across campus, kicking off four days of New Student Orientation. The sun shone bright and temperatures topped out at 70 degrees; the banners—along with Brighter Together T-shirts worn by students, faculty, and staff—and the flags representing members of the incoming class added to a gorgeous setting as Lawrence continued to bring back to campus all of its students for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year and a half ago.

Large gatherings such as the President’s Welcome and the parents’ reception were moved outdoors to accommodate pandemic protocols.

Returning students will move in this weekend in advance of Fall Term classes beginning on Monday. But New Student Orientation is all about the first-year students, more than 410 strong, and the 15 transfer students now calling Lawrence home. Events ranging from open houses and tours to a resource fair and the signing of the Honor Code highlighted opening day.

Lawrence plans in-person classes with safety protocols in place.

The President’s Welcome ceremony also marked Carter’s first in-person address to the Lawrence community since beginning her tenure as the university’s 17th president on July 1.

President Laurie A. Carter speaks to new students and their families at the President’s Welcome, held Thursday afternoon in front of Main Hall.

“I came to Lawrence because I was drawn to its light,” Carter told the incoming students and their families, gathered amid the trees and flowers in front of Main Hall. “Lawrence’s mission of creating lifelong learners who are committed to making meaningful contributions to society inspires me. But I was also attracted to its faculty, staff, and students, who are committed to working together to make the world a brighter place.”

John Holiday, associate professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, sang of light and unity at the outset of the ceremony. Christopher Card, vice president for student life, and Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty, welcomed the students, imploring them to be actively engaged with their fellow Lawrentians in and out of the classroom.

Senior Kelsi Bryant, president of the Lawrence University Community Council, encouraged the new students to embrace the traditions of Lawrence, many of them built on gratitude and outreach. She joined other members of the Class of 2022 in presenting the class color—purple—to the Class of 2025.

“With our dynamic faculty and supportive staff, you are in very good hands,” she told the first-year students.

Students sign the Honor Code Thursday evening during the President’s Handshake in Memorial Chapel.

Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications, called the incoming class “one of the largest and most impressive” in the history of Lawrence.

“This class has some of the strongest academic credentials we have seen in a long time,” he said. “Considering that they have performed at such a high level while learning in the midst of a pandemic speaks volumes about the resilience and readiness of our newest Lawrentians. They are going to do great things.”

Anselment said members of the class come from 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Another 30 countries are represented, as are five sovereign native nations (Menominee Nation, North Dakota Mountain Chippewa, Hopi Nation, Nenana Native Association in Alaska, and Native Hawai’i).

The state with the largest number of incoming students is Wisconsin (23%), followed by Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, California, New York, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.

Anselment said 27% of the Class of 2025 identify as BIPOC or domestic students of color. Another 10% are international students, led by China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Canada.

About 84% of the students are pursuing a degree in the college, with the other 16% seeking a degree in the Conservatory. Twenty-six of those students are doing both.

Elizabeth Rienstra was among the first-year students moving into residence halls on Thursday.

More than 20% are first-generation college students.

About 100 members of the class will be competing as varsity athletes.

“Brighter Together” was adopted as a mantra to begin this academic year, a nod to both the power of collective light that Lawrence has long leaned into and the return of in-person classes after four terms of mostly distance learning. It is reflected in signage placed all across campus, on the T-shirts donned by faculty and staff to show support for students, and in the words shared by Carter in her welcoming message.

“The last 18 months have been dark days for many of us,” Carter told the incoming students. “The pandemic changed how we live and learn, but it did not change your desire to grow and develop. Your resilience and strength have led you to pursue your higher education at a place that is committed to helping you find your best self, while drawing on your light from within. And that light, when joined with others within our Lawrence community, is why we say we are brighter together.”

Scenes from move-in day

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

Meet Garrett Singer: New CCE director looks to raise awareness, grow engagement

Garrett Singer is the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change at Lawrence University. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22 / Communications

An important part of the Lawrence experience is the opportunity to volunteer and make connections within the surrounding community. As students return to campus for the start of Fall Term, Garrett Singer is excited to welcome them as the new director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE).

To hit the ground running, the CCE is holding an outdoor engagement fair on the quad at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17, where incoming and returning students can meet with about two dozen community partners to learn about their missions and be introduced to the work that happens in the Fox Valley. There will be food trucks, carnival games, and live music leading into the fair.

“We’re really hoping to make a splash as students return to campus, and to grow awareness of our work, our mission, and our physical space,” Singer said.

He said he looks forward to engaging with Lawrence students to help them discover opportunities to serve in the community and build lasting relationships with area nonprofits. He wants to raise the profile of the CCE on campus while emphasizing the importance of building community engagement skills.

“What it’ll develop, hopefully, is this cycle of engagement, dialogue, and action where our own ability to serve is informed by our previous service experiences and those interactions with communities and individuals whom we might not have crossed paths with in our pre-Lawrentian lives,” Singer said.

Learn more about Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change here.

From an early age, Singer was exposed to the impacts and benefits that come from a working relationship between higher education and the surrounding community. Both of his parents were involved in education commissions with local community colleges that aimed to increase educational attainment. Their work sparked his desire to enter the nonprofit field, and after earning his bachelor’s degree at Washington and Lee University, Singer went to work as district executive for Boy Scouts of America in North Carolina.

“I was exposed to the incredible work that young people are capable of and I think is often overlooked,” Singer said.

He eventually enrolled in a master’s program of higher education and administration at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. There he worked with nonprofits and designed programs to develop service-learning opportunities for undergraduates to form partnerships with those local organizations.

After earning his masters, Singer set his sights on Lawrence. He knew he wanted to sit at the juncture between higher education and civic work. He also knew that he wanted to re-enter the private liberal arts setting that he enjoyed during his undergrad years. A main draw for Singer, though, was Lawrence’s ongoing commitment to social change despite all the uncertainty during the pandemic.

“A lot of colleges and universities were not making a demonstrated commitment to the type of work that I was interested in,” Singer said. “Lawrence was the exception to that rule.”

Singer said he feels honored to join Lawrence as its new CCE director and is ready to dig in to the work ahead. The first objective, he said, is simply to grow awareness of the CCE on campus and let students know of the varied volunteer opportunities that exist.

The second objective is to make sure the partnerships that are developed with community agencies reflect and represent student interests and identity, Singer said.

A third objective focuses on improved academic integration with civic work. The CCE has service-learning programs—Viking Ambassadors in Service and Engagement (VASE)—that help students make connections through volunteering while also learning about issues within the community. Singer wants to expand those programs and explore ways to better integrate them in the curriculum.

“Those are the things that we want to think about, not only defining those learning outcomes, but also assessing them on the tail end and figuring out how we are really impacting student development,” Singer said.

An important aspect in reaching these goals is to have a good working relationship with Lawrence faculty, he said. Many faculty members have already been supplementing students’ academic experiences through their own community connections. The next step, said Singer, is to encourage those faculty members to be ambassadors for community-based learning, showing other faculty how they’ve built these service-learning experiences into their classrooms.

“The CCE comes into play by facilitating those conversations and those relationships, as well as building out a library of resources that faculty can leverage to support that development,” Singer said.

Volunteering, he said, will help students build lives of meaning and purpose. That happens not only by sending students into the community, but also by creating innovative ways to bring the community to campus.

“So, as the CCE moves forward,” Singer said, “we’ll build relationships that will allow for richer, more robust, and more colorful experiences, and I think that’s really what we’re striving for—to get us on the same page so that we can move forward together.”

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

Lawrence lands on The Princeton Review’s 2022 list of best colleges in nation

Main Hall on the Lawrence University campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is again listed as one of the best colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. It’s also included in several separate lists within the ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.

The Best 387 Colleges for 2022 highlights the top colleges based on data and feedback the education services company annually collects on everything from academic offerings to financial aid to student experiences. The book was released Aug. 31.

“At a time when students are searching for institutional strength and quality, we appreciate that The Princeton Review has once again recognized Lawrence University as one of the best colleges in the country,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications.

Only about 14% of the nearly 2,800 eligible four-year colleges make the Best book each year. Published each August and focused on undergraduate education, it has been an annual resource for prospective students since its debut in 1992. The book does not rank the schools within the list of 387.

See more on Lawrence admissions here.

Information on Lawrence application process here.

The Green College ranking speaks to the work Lawrence has done on sustainability and reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

The Best Value designation, meanwhile, is based on stellar academics, affordable cost with financial aid factored in, and strong career prospects for graduates, according to Princeton Review editors.

Showing up on the Best Value list is particularly heartening, Anselment said. It not only speaks to the academic offerings that make Lawrence such a draw, but it also highlights two huge, ongoing investments—the launch of the Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign to make the school more accessible and the retooling of the Career Center as part of a Life After Lawrence initiative.

While average student loan debt has continued to rise across the country, Lawrence’s numbers have been going down, fueled by the $91 million that has been raised in the FSFN campaign. Those funds have augmented other available financial aid and scholarships. The average student debt for Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,118, its lowest mark in 10 years. It hit a high mark of $34,573 in 2015–16 and has dropped steadily each year since. The percentage of Lawrence’s students graduating with debt has dropped to 56%, well below the 75% a decade ago.

“While being considered one of the best is great, we’re even more excited that The Princeton Review continues to acknowledge the important work we do every day on behalf of our students, which is providing top-notch preparation for a meaningful life after college, and doing so in a way that families can afford,” Anselment said.

The Princeton Review report lauded Lawrence for its “stunning 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means students have access to their professors at all times.” It also praised Lawrence for its robust international student population, its impressive First-Year Studies program, and its “holistic approach to the admissions game.”

The Princeton Review’s school profiles and ranking lists in The Best 387 Colleges are posted at www.princetonreview.com/best387 where they can be searched for free with site registration.

The Best 387 Colleges is the 30th annual edition of The Princeton Review’s best colleges book.

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

Conservatory students partner with NAMI to use music to aid mental health recovery

Clockwise from top left: senior Holly Beemer, Community Programs Manager Betsy Kowal Jett, senior Mindara Krueger Olson, and senior Jacob Dikelsky helped present Creative Recovery: Music in Motion sessions on Zoom earlier this summer.

Story by Karina Herrera / Communications

It’s easy to recognize the power of music while in concert halls and music classrooms, but Betsy Kowal Jett and four Lawrence Conservatory of Music students looked to take it a step further this summer, tapping into music’s healing powers to help people on their mental health recovery journeys.

Kowal Jett, the Lawrence Conservatory’s community programs manager, recruited four music students to launch the outreach support group Creative Recovery: Music in Motion in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Fox Valley.

The four Conservatory students—seniors Jacob Dikelsky, Mindara Krueger-Olson, Lucian Baxter, and Holly Beemer—set out to use music to strengthen the community participants’ well-being. They partnered with Paula Verrett, the Iris Place program director for NAMI, to organize the sessions.

“NAMI, for a really long time, has been wanting to create music-based programming for their clients,” Kowal Jett said. “So, I saw that there was this need and desire for music in NAMI, and they recognized the power that music could have for their community.”

The goal was to explore various kinds of research on the healing impact that music can have, and then use appropriate methods and techniques to help participants bring out their own creative voices.

“Everyone who we’ve worked with in this creative recovery support group is in their mental illness recovery journey every single day,” Kowal Jett said. “I wanted to explore how music could become a part of their tool kit to help maximize their well-being.”

See more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music here

The group met for one-hour Saturday sessions during three consecutive weeks in July. All of the participants were provided with a music-making kit and connected on Zoom, where the number of NAMI Fox Valley participants fluctuated between four and seven people.

Kowal Jett and her team would meet the Wednesday prior to go over what they had planned for Saturday, but Kowal Jett noted that she had already been training with her students for several weeks. They would plan and co-create the best way to introduce each week’s curriculum.

Each Saturday they shared different musical practices with the NAMI participants. The first Saturday they focused on body percussion, where they explored body movements through a call-and-response technique. The teaching artists and participants would create a rhythm and then the ensemble would echo that rhythm back. Then they explored the sounds that their bodies can make, and then finished their first session by co-creating a body percussion dance together.

The second Saturday focused on creating visual art in response to music. Each participant created graphic scores in response to music selections provided by the students. Baxter played an improvised piano piece; Beemer sang a Shakey Graves song accompanied with guitar; Krueger-Olson shared Through the Fence, a piece she co-created with her jazz combo.

On the final Saturday, the group created musical affirmations to embody the wisdom that guides each participant through their life challenges. The participants worked one-on-one with a teaching artist to transform their words into a song, and each songwriting pair shared their song for the group at the end of the session. 

“The third session was so powerful because at the end of the session almost every person said that what they experienced filled them with hope,” Kowal Jett said.

The debut of the Creative Recovery program could not have gone smoother, Kowal Jett said. She attributes that to the hard work and dedication of the students and emphasizes that she could not have done this without support from her colleagues in the Conservatory, especially Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory, and Leila Ramagopal Pertl, professor of music education and the harp.

Verrett worked closely with Kowal Jett every step of the way. She said she was thrilled at how the program was delivered and received.

“This program made such a difference for me and the other participants,” Verrett said. “It was an opportunity to use music in a new way that supported the recovery of everyone in the group. It was an opportunity to be creative in ways that did not require formal music training. The group provided an opportunity to share with each other without fear of judgment and connect in a unique and different way.”

Not only did the Creative Recovery program leave a positive and hopefully lasting impression on the NAMI participants, but the four students who worked as teaching artists say they also benefited from the learning experience.

“These experiences have repeatedly shown me that we can—and should—broaden our musical focus to include many more styles of music to bring people from all walks of life together,” Dikelsky said.

Kowal Jett wants Creative Recovery: Music in Motion to become an annual summer program, where she can continue to help connect students with the community and provide safe and creative healing environments.

“Every single person is musical, every single person is creative, and to design a program where each person’s intrinsic, musical voice can flourish is so incredibly powerful to me,” Kowal Jett said. “It’s what I absolutely love about my job.”

Karina Herrera, a Lawrence senior, is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

John Ellerman, one of Lawrence’s “most passionate supporters,” remembered for generosity, leadership

Lawrence University (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is mourning the death of John Ellerman ’58, a Board of Trustees emeritus who has been actively engaged with the university for more than six decades.

He died Aug. 20 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 84.

John Ellerman ’58

Ellerman, an economics major at Lawrence who went on to great success as a leader and innovator in the insurance industry, joined the Lawrence Board of Trustees in 1983 and continued to serve in various leadership capacities for nearly 40 years. He was elected trustee emeritus in 2016.

“Throughout this remarkable time of service to his alma mater, he provided thoughtful counsel to all as one of Lawrence’s most passionate supporters,” President Laurie A. Carter said.

Cory Nettles ’92, chair of the Board of Trustees, called Ellerman’s enthusiasm for all things Lawrence palpable.

“There never was a more committed Lawrentian than John,” Nettles said. “His passion for Lawrence knew no bounds.”

See obituary for John Ellerman here.

Ellerman served on several Board and Reunion committees and was a champion of the Lawrence Fund.

He brought his insights to the Building and Grounds Committee and Subcommittee, the Committee on Trustees, the Committee on Business Affairs, the Recruitment and Retention Committee, and the Finance Committee, of which he served as vice chair in 2011 and 2012. He also was a longtime member of the Lawrence Corporation of Wisconsin, the Investment Committee, and the Development Committee. 

Ellerman played big roles in multiple Lawrence fundraising campaigns. He served on the Campaign Steering Committee for three comprehensive campaigns: the Lawrence Ahead CampaignLawrence 150, and More Light! Those campaigns raised a cumulative $268 million, supporting students, bolstering academic and artistic programs, and helping to fund important building and renovation projects across campus.

His desire to support Lawrence never waned. Most recently, he was part of the leadership team of the Full Speed to Full Need endowed scholarship campaign that was launched as part of the just-concluded Be the Light! Campaign.

Throughout, he led by example.

Philanthropic gifts from him and his wife, Judith, frequently supported the Lawrence Fund, as well as campaigns to bolster Bjorklunden and the arts. He also was a member of the Lawrence-Downer Legacy Circle.

“His personal outreach efforts have strengthened relationships with the university’s most generous donors and inspired others to give back,” Carter said. “John was one of the university’s most passionate supporters, and we are grateful for the thoughtful and candid counsel he has shared over the years with Lawrence trustees, presidents, and staff members.”

After graduating from Lawrence, Ellerman forged an impressive career in the insurance industry, first with Northwestern Mutual and later with his own firm, Ellerman Companies Inc., which specialized in estate planning, business insurance, and executive compensation programs. He served for a time as board chair of the Management Compensation Group.

Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1, said she is saddened she won’t get a chance to spend more time with Ellerman. But she can already feel the impact of his loss.

“All speak of his gregarious nature, thoughtful insight, and love of Lawrence,” Carter said. “Many people referred to John as Lawrence’s most enthusiastic cheerleader. … I will miss having the opportunity to learn from John and feel his immense passion for Lawrence.”

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

Lawrence alumni, friends push fundraising to 4th highest level in school’s history

Steitz and Youngchild Halls of Science (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Strong financial support from alumni and friends continued to come in for Lawrence University during a 2020-21 fiscal year that was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A financial report at the close of the fiscal year shows the university raising $25.03 million, marking the fourth time in the school’s history that it has topped the $25 million mark in a fiscal year. It previously did so in 2008 ($31.4 million), 2015 ($34.4 million), and 2016 ($27.6 million).

The fundraising included, among other gifts, a special campaign to provide emergency funds for students dealing with pandemic-related expenses, an alumnus donation aimed at strengthening study abroad opportunities in perpetuity, the final stretch run that pushed the historic Be the Light! Campaign well past its $220 million goal, a campaign to thank outgoing President Mark Burstein by establishing an endowed professorship in his name, and a gift to rename and care for the President’s House.

The fundraising boost, combined with strong growth in investments, helped elevate Lawrence’s endowment by 31% from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2021. A preliminary estimate shows the endowment reaching $474 million, up from $361 million the previous year, said Mary Alma Noonan, vice president for finance and administration.

“The increase is due in part to continued success in fundraising, including closing out the Be the Light! Campaign, and partly due to a booming capital market recovery after earlier COVID-related losses in 2020,” she said.

Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development, said the fundraising success is a result of so many people who care deeply about Lawrence coming together to make sure the Lawrence experience is available and accessible for this generation and generations to come.

He referenced a former colleague once calling fundraising a team sport, and said it felt that way more than ever over the past year and a half.

“The last 18 months definitely had the feeling of an athletic contest, with the Lawrence community rallying several times, especially to support our students during the pandemic,” Husmann said. “They truly were beacons of light during challenging and uncertain times. Their response to the SOS fundraising was moving, especially seeing how that helped Lawrence students directly.”

The Supporting Our Students (SOS) campaign was launched early in the pandemic, an effort to raise funds that would go directly to students to offset unexpected travel, housing, or food expenses brought on by classes going remote for Spring Term 2020. More than 600 donors contributed $229,116.

The Lawrence Fund, meanwhile, saw contributions of $3.9 million. The Lawrence Fund is the key funding mechanism that supports students, the work of faculty, and the upkeep of campus infrastructure on a daily basis. The amount raised was just shy of the record $4 million in 2019-20, with more than 7,000 donors contributing.

The Lawrence Fund helps cover costs of many infrastructure upgrades, including work this summer on the hardscape in front of Hiett Hall. (Photo by Liz Boutelle)

There have been numerous great fundraising moments to celebrate over the course of the past year, Husmann said. He pointed to one alumnus who found motivation in the pandemic to contribute funds to help students wanting to study abroad.

Dr. James Boyd ’56 and his wife, Dr. Sue Ellen Markey, of Fort Collins, Colorado, established the James W. Boyd Sr. and Sue Ellen Markey Endowment for Study Abroad at Lawrence. After their own travel plans were curtailed because of COVID restrictions, they decided to establish the endowment to help Lawrence students be able to travel once it was safe to do so. Funds were also donated to Markey’s alma mater, Lewis and Clark.

In all, donors gifted Lawrence with more than $10 million in endowed gifts in 2020-21.

Channeling that kind of passion into support for current and future students is what drives Lawrence’s fundraising, Husmann said. It was evident at every turn, including in the final weeks of the Be the Light! Campaign, which officially closed on Dec. 31 after seven years. The final tally came in at $232.6 million, more than $12 million above goal.

Be the Light! concluded with great success with so many donors stretching philanthropically to help us exceed goal,” Husmann said.

He also said alumni and friends rallied to support a “Thanks, Mark!” campaign, set up to honor outgoing President Mark Burstein. Nearly $3 million was raised to endow a professorship in global and public health in Burstein’s name and to eventually replace the walking bridge that crosses Drew Street. It’ll be named for Burstein and his husband, David Calle.

“Again, the community rallied around this opportunity to honor the legacy of our 16th president,” Husmann said.

Meanwhile, a gift of $2 million to provide future care for the President’s House and other nearby Lawrence property came from Patricia (Pat) Boldt ’48 in honor of her late aunt, Olive Hamar, who died of meningitis in 1925 while a Lawrence student. The house, occupied by new President Laurie A. Carter and her family, is now known as the Olive Hamar House.

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