Category: Press Releases

Five retiring Lawrence faculty members to be honored at 2021 Commencement

Lawrence University’s Main Hall (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University will honor five retiring faculty members at the June 13 Commencement.

Terry Gottfried, a professor of psychology since 1986, Gerald Metalsky, a professor of psychology since 1992, Alan Parks, a professor of mathematics since 1985, Jerald Podair, a professor of history since 1998, and Bruce Pourciau, a professor of mathematics since 1976, are stepping into retirement after long and distinguished careers at Lawrence.

They each will be presented with a citation at Commencement and will be awarded a Master of Arts, ad eundem, degree.

2021 Lawrence Commencement preview: 9 things to know. See story here.

Terry Gottfried

Terry Gottfried: “In the midst of these challenges, however, I also think we might remember to treat ourselves and others with kindness and generosity of spirit.”

Gottfried has taught a wide array of psychology courses and has played key roles in the growth of interdisciplinary academic programs over the last three and a half decades, including Linguistics, Cognitive Science, and Gender Studies; he’s been an active participant in First-Year Studies; and he’s developed and frequently taught the psychology of music course for students in the Conservatory of Music and the college, exploring musical structure and expression and their implications for human experience.

“I think Lawrence is stronger and more responsive to intellectual and social challenges by these [interdisciplinary] programs, and I look forward to Lawrence expanding its traditions of excellence into new fields of discovery and understanding,” he said.

Gottfried, who earned both a bachelor’s degree in French and psychology and a doctoral degree in experimental psychology at the University of Minnesota, has twice been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in the Fulbright Scholar Program. In 2001, the fellowship was for a teaching and research position in the English department at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he taught a seminar on the psychology of language for English language students and conducted research comparing Danish and American English listeners’ perception of American English vowels. In 2014, he spent five months as the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Brain, Language and Music at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, continuing his research into the relation between music and speech processing.

Gottfried said he walks away from his teaching duties at Lawrence continually amazed at students’ desire to be challenged and their willingness to support each other. He said he recalls early in his tenure having psychology students ask to read historical text written by early psychologists to get a better understanding of their theories.

“It was good advice, and I wisely took it,” he said.

It speaks to a thread that runs through Lawrentians, whether 35 years ago when he came to Lawrence or today, Gottfried said.

“Students at Lawrence have consistently shown themselves to be engaged, hard-working, and curious; in that way, from my earliest experiences to today, students have put forth effort in the classes but have also asked for more challenges,” he said.

The pandemic of the past 15 months has certainly posed new challenges, and has been a stark reminder of the importance of caring for our mental health, Gottfried said. That is a message he leaves with this year’s graduates.

“To call post-graduation activities the ‘great unknown’ is spot-on—we’ve learned that much of what we’ve taken for granted may not be certain,” he said. “I think we’d all be well served by openness to both the new opportunities and especially to the challenges posed by these opportunities. In the midst of these challenges, however, I also think we might remember to treat ourselves and others with kindness and generosity of spirit.”  

Gerald Metalsky

Gerald Metalsky: “Individualized learning is at the core of a Lawrence education. It was true of Lawrence when I first arrived in 1992 and remains true today.”

Metalsky joined the Lawrence faculty after spending five years in the psychology department at the University of Texas.

He has specialized in depression, stress, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and general psychotherapy. He also worked for 35 years as a practicing clinical psychologist.

He is a former associate editor and consulting editor of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the flagship publication of the American Psychological Association for research on psychopathology. In 2005, he became the first and only Lawrence psychologist to serve on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Psychological Association. He has been a fellow of the American Psychological Society since 2009.

Metalsky earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California-Berkeley and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For 34 consecutive years—five at UT and 29 at Lawrence—he has taught a series of three courses, known as the “clinical sequence,” for every student who is looking to pursue a career in clinical psychology or in allied mental health professions. The third step in the sequence involves students working at mental health residential treatment facilities.

“I am particularly proud of the large number of students who took the ‘clinical sequence’ and subsequently went on to pursue careers as mental health practitioners and/or psychology professors,” Metalsky said. “Over the years, most of these students reached out to express their appreciation and tell me they did not realize until starting their program just how well-prepared they were due to taking the clinical sequence.”

Metalsky said he was astonished when he arrived at Lawrence to find such a small student-to-faculty ratio. It remains one of the best attributes of the Lawrence experience.

“Individualized learning is at the core of a Lawrence education,” he said. “It was true of Lawrence when I first arrived in 1992 and remains true today. Indeed, the thought of teaching such small classes on a regular basis was a central factor that went into my decision to … come to Lawrence. It was one of the best decisions of my entire career.”

Metalsky said his words of wisdom to this year’s seniors echoes his advice to Lawrentians over the past three decades.

“My message to graduating seniors has not changed over the years, though I believe it is even more relevant today than when I first arrived at Lawrence,” he said. “My message to this year’s graduating seniors is this, ‘Always be mindful of your mental health.’”

Alan Parks

Alan Parks: He became the first holder of the Pieper Family Servant-Leader Professorship at Lawrence.

Parks has taught mathematics and computer science since joining the Lawrence faculty in 1985.

Besides excelling in the classroom, he has written text material for multiple upper- and lower-level courses, among them applied calculus, optimization, foundations of analysis, and theory of computation, and he provided leadership in the Mathematics Department and beyond.

A member of the American Mathematical Society, Parks’ research interests in applied mathematics include dynamical systems, differential equations, and error correcting codes, among others.

Two years after arriving at Lawrence, Parks was honored with the university’s then-named Young Teacher Award.

“You have waged a vigorous assault on math anxiety, transforming mathophobes into mathophiles, even as you have given previously dedicated students of mathematics a heightened appreciation for the discipline,” the citation reads. “These attainments derive, in equal measure, from the strength of your scholarship and from your keen sense of the teacher’s craft.”

Parks continued to excel in the classroom for the next three and a half decades, being a fixture in a Mathematics Department that has seen robust changes through the years.

In 2003, he served as the Science Semester Resident Director at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He has had papers published in the American Mathematics Monthly, the Journal of Algebra, the Canadian Journal of Mathematics, and the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society.

From 2007 to 2010, he was the first holder of the Pieper Family Servant-Leader Professorship. The endowed position included responsibilities for enhancing Lawrence’s involvement in courses that feature community-based learning. He received the then-named Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 2007 and the Mortar Board Honorary Award in 2010.

Parks earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jerald Podair

Jerald Podair: “You have to ask the question ‘why?’ over and over, in every class you take. And that goes for the professors, too.”

Podair, the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies and professor of history, steps aside after 23 years of teaching, much of it focused on United States history.

He has taught with a passion, has been oft-quoted in local and national media on topics of American politics, and has written books that have dug into the histories of everything from controversial politicians to baseball’s impact on a city to civil rights icons.

A native of New York, he came to Lawrence mid-career in 1998 after deciding to pursue his love of history and teaching. He had earned a bachelor’s degree at New York University, a law degree from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and had spent more than a decade as a practicing attorney in New York.

He quickly became a deeply respected history scholar, twice being honored with Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship (2010 and 2018), as well as earning its Faculty Convocation Award in 2012.

Podair co-authored 2019’s Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America (University of Virginia Press). That followed his award-winning 2017 book that explored slices of both baseball and political history, City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles (Princeton University Press). Among his other books are The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis and Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer, a biography of the civil rights leader who planned the 1963 March on Washington.

As he heads into retirement, Podair is writing a new book, Promised Lands: A History of the American People in the Twentieth Century, which, as the title implies, is a massive undertaking and is the reason he’s chosen to retire now.

“Most history books involve learning a lot about a little, but this one has forced me to learn a little about a lot,” he said. “Thanks to the book, I now know about subjects as diverse as the arrangements of lifeboats on the Lusitania, the ballistics evidence in the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and the details of Woodrow Wilson’s love life. I have about 100,000 words drafted so far but miles and miles to go before I sleep.”

Podair said he takes great pride in contributions he’s made at Lawrence toward First-Year Studies, Bjorklunden, and tutorial and independent study, all part of what makes up the “Lawrence difference.”

“What was true when I arrived in 1998 is still true today—you have to ask the question ‘why?’ over and over, in every class you take,” he said. “And that goes for the professors, too. The ‘why?’ question is the central one in critical thinking, which is the essence of the Lawrence experience. The great philosopher Yogi Berra once said that, ‘if you don’t got a bullpen, you got nothing.’ Yogi’s grammar errors notwithstanding, the same goes for critical thinking in a liberal arts education. If you don’t have it, you have nothing.”

Bruce Pourciau

Bruce Pourciau: “If my courses have helped to rekindle that child-like awe, not just for mathematics, but for all the magic and mystery that surround us, I will be happy.”

Pourciau has been a mainstay in the Mathematics Department for four and a half decades, bringing scholarly insight across the landscape of mathematics. He has been an expert on the work of Isaac Newton, earning national and international recognition. Other areas of expertise have included optimization theory, global analysis, topology, and philosophy of mathematics.

Pourciau was honored in 2000 with Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and again in 2009 with the Award for Excellence in Scholarship. “The breadth and depth of your work are outstanding, and establish you as a person of great intellectual achievement,” the latter citation reads. He has twice won the Halmos-Ford Award given by the Mathematical Association of America for expository excellence.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of California—San Diego.

Early in his career at Lawrence, Pourciau began to wonder why he and his colleagues were teaching calculus to so many students who would never need a single calculus technique in their lives.

“The answer was shockingly obvious—because all students, whatever their career paths, benefit from wrestling with and absorbing the ‘mathematical way of thinking,’” he said. “Each discipline—economics, philosophy, psychology—has its own way of forming, asking, answering, and judging questions, and the particular definitions, theorems, proofs, and applications of calculus, taught in the right way, could convey not only the beauty, spirit, and imagination of mathematics, but its particular modes of thought as well, ways of thinking fundamental in mathematics and often fundamental in life.”

This led Pourciau to develop a list of proverbs, each capturing some aspect of the “mathematical way of thinking.” These were proverbs for any mathematics class, not just calculus. Some were proverbs for life. Among them: “Be awed, like a child; Put meaning before truth; Choose to live honoring your gifts; and Be moved by mystery.”

“These are four of the many proverbs I have chalked on the blackboard for generations of students,” he said. “And if I had a big enough blackboard for the graduating students this year, I would chalk the same advice.

“If my courses have helped to rekindle that child-like awe, not just for mathematics, but for all the magic and mystery that surround us, I will be happy.”

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

A conversation with Mark Burstein as he brings his Lawrence presidency to a close

President Mark Burstein arrived at Lawrence in July 2013. He departs at the end of June, closing a successful eight-year run.

Story by Kelly Landis / Communications

From the spirit of human connection that infuses Lawrence to his love of the Viking Room, to the three words he’d use to describe Lawrentians, Lawrence Magazine spent some time with President Mark Burstein as he reflected on his time at Lawrence, what makes it so special, and what the future might hold for him.

Burstein, the 16th president in Lawrence’s 174-year history, announced in the fall that he would step down from his position at the close of the 2020-21 academic year. Laurie Carter is set to become the 17th president on July 1.

Hey, Lawrentians: Share a message to Mark Burstein on the Kudoboard here.

Here is our conversation with Burstein as he prepares for his final Commencement and his departure from Lawrence.

What do you remember about your first day at Lawrence?

My announcement day felt like the day I joined the Lawrence community. I was on campus in December for my announcement as president. And first I remember the weather—there were snow flurries—but I also remember the warmth of the community, the outreach to me through that day. Not only the Lawrence community, but also Appleton. It was the first time I met Tim Hanna, at that time mayor of Appleton. It was just a whirlwind of a day, but I remember the individual outreach and connection.

Did that first day give you any sense of the scope or scale or a look into what was to come for you?

I’d had the privilege of working for college presidents for 20 years before I became one, but it is different being one. That day underlined the intensity of that and the careful observance of every word and action to look for clues.

Inauguration day in 2013.

You mentioned having worked for other college presidents—you obviously came from an East Coast higher education tradition, some pretty elite names on your resume. What drew you to the Midwest and what drew you to Lawrence?

I was extraordinarily fortunate that I had a lot of options when I decided that being a liberal arts college president was probably my next step. There was just something that felt like a fit through all of my conversations at Lawrence. The sense of community, the focus on a rigorous academic education for a broader student body—I really wanted to move away from an institution that focused exclusively on academically perfect students.

Another thing that appealed to me through all the conversations was this sense of aspiring to be a better version of Lawrence rather than wanting to be another institution. Many institutions where I interviewed would say, “We are X, but we want to be Y,” and Y would be another liberal arts college. And I thought, “Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. Why don’t you want to be a better X when you already have some real strengths? Why don’t you want to be a better version of that?” And at Lawrence, those aspirations were central in every conversation that I had; it was just so appealing to me.

What do you think makes Lawrence Lawrence?

I think this theme around human connection, that we are a community where people make time for investing in and carefully stewarding human connection. It’s not always perfect. It is not always offered or received in the right way, but it is still a value of who we are and who we want to be, what we want to improve.

What is your favorite Lawrence memory?

This is clear in my mind: Commencement. Every Commencement is just … It is not only the culmination of the academic year, it is the culmination of students’ progress through Lawrence and the celebration of real accomplishment by faculty. So it’s just a moment where everything comes together, and each Commencement is clear in my mind and an event that I really cherish.

In addition to Commencement, what is your favorite Lawrence tradition and why?

I love both Cabaret and Cultural Expressions. Both of those events allow our students to fully express unique aspects of themselves in performance. It feels like such a privilege to experience them.

Personally greeting every first-year student became a tradition during Mark Burstein’s tenure.

What do you think it says about the Lawrence culture that so many traditions are events or rooted in events?

When I was thinking about my favorite spot on campus, I was torn between two places, and one of them is the Chapel, because it is a place of performance. It has all the history of Lawrence in the stained glass windows, in the representation of the classes when we welcome the first-year class. But it’s also in the decades of convocations spoken in the space, where we come together as a community to see performances happen. And I think it’s back to this theme around human connection—we gather as a community and listen to each other, experience one another’s performative work. Whether that’s music or spoken word or dance or theater, or athletics. That’s just such a central part of who we are as an institution.

What is that other favorite spot?

My other favorite spot is the Viking Room (VR). It’s a student owned space—the bartenders are students, it is filled with students. It also has that great view out to the river, so there’s an indoor-outdoor experience. It’s not the space that is best maintained or perfectly lit or perfectly cleaned, but it’s got a feeling of Lawrence in it that I think is really special.

And because it is a student-owned space, the VR has really kept up with the change of Lawrence. It has that grounding in 50 years of history, but it’s also contemporary Lawrence at the same time, which is a really nice thing.

What surprised you most about Lawrence or about Appleton or both?

I think that what surprised me most about Lawrence was how strong the welcome was for David and me, how much of an embrace we have felt from the community. I expected it to be something that was present for us, but it has far exceeded our expectations in so many different ways. And about Appleton, I think what’s really surprised us most is the food, the cosmopolitan nature of our food offerings. Both from the variety of the different food cultures and, as someone who is gluten-free, the amount of gluten-free options in the Valley is extraordinary, far beyond any other environment that I’ve ever lived in. And that’s a surprise.

Every Commencement is a treasured experience, Burstein said.

If you had to describe Lawrence in three words, what would those words be?

That is so hard. I think I would go with creative, community, and future.

Would you apply those same words to Lawrentians or would you have different three words?

For Lawrentians, I would go certainly with “passion.” The word “change,” those wanting to change the world, and maybe the word “connection.”

What has been your biggest challenge as president of Lawrence?

My biggest challenge, and I would argue the largest challenge facing Lawrence right now, is to make the transition from a predominantly white institution to one that is anti-racist and creates a learning environment in which every student, as well as every faculty and staff member, can thrive. It is a national, international, issue and it is certainly one that is a challenge alive and present on our campus every day. I’ve learned so much from the community and from my experience trying to make this change. And I have a lot more to learn, as I would argue many of us on campus do.

What will you look back on with the most pride or the greatest sense of accomplishment?

There are two places that really resonate for me. One is the effort to become full need and the progress we’ve made to support students and families financially to the level that our methodology says we should. That is work I did very closely with development colleagues. The other place is work with faculty renewing the curriculum. The various different curricular offerings that we have now that we didn’t before and how they really build off of strengths that already existed in our faculty and in their research.

What will you miss most and what will you miss the least?

What I will miss most are the people.

What I will miss least is the public nature of the role. Many people who are presidents receive energy from the public side of the role, but it is not personally a place where I get energy. The thing with the public piece is that I love the community experiences, and I love speaking to the community. I just don’t like every time I’m out, I am known and seen and stared at, and people always interact with me as president of Lawrence, even at the grocery store. Walking around Woodman’s and having folks come up to me and talk to me about issues on campus, and sometimes I think, “I know I’ve been spending a lot of time in the egg aisle, but I’m just trying to figure out if extra large is what I really need.”

And yet, at the same time, I think that one of the beautiful things about Lawrence is this relationship with Appleton. Sarah Appleton Lawrence, Amos Lawrence, this marriage between our college and municipality and the city. But because of the size of Appleton, it just means that is heightened in a way that I experienced in Princeton, New Jersey, but I certainly never experienced at Columbia in the City of New York.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would that piece of advice be?

Always know that we believe in you.

Any words of wisdom or tips for Laurie Carter as she prepares to take the helm?

Laurie is so talented and already a sitting president, so I think she knows the lay of the land. And I think she knows this already, but I just want to reinforce that there is so much talent here and that people are genuinely interested in supporting her.

President Mark Burstein, joined by his husband, David Calle, and their dog, Homer, walks across campus with students and others in mid-May as part of Mark’s Last Lap, an event organized by the Lawrence University Community Council. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Any insight on what’s next or what the future holds for you?

I have just started to think about what is next for me. It’s been a very demanding year, and I’ve wanted to make sure that I have been fully present for my responsibilities here. So that has meant thinking about next steps has been, well, a tertiary priority.

The one thing I have done that I’m super excited about is that in the past, my board commitments have always been connected to my responsibilities at my institutions, but now I’ve been freed up to follow my passions a little bit more. I just joined the African Wildlife Foundation Board. It focuses on environmental issues, which is a personal passion, and in a part of the world that I care deeply about. And it also has an almost entirely African programmatic staff and leadership based in Africa. So also following my values which is, “Yes, we Westerners can raise money for this and maybe give some advice, but let the leadership of the continent lead and think about what change would look like for them.” I’m really, really excited about it.

Any final thoughts or reflections on your Lawrence experience?

We say that we’re a learning community, and I have learned so much over my eight years here. And I just feel so grateful for that experience.

Kelly Landis is editor of Lawrence, the alumni magazine that publishes twice a year.

9 things to know as you prepare for LU’s 2021 Commencement at Banta Bowl

The Banta Bowl will be the site of Lawrence’s 2021 Commencement ceremony on June 13. It begins at 10 a.m.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University will hold a Commencement ceremony on June 13, a celebration of the accomplishments of the Class of 2021.

The 10 a.m. outdoor ceremony moves from its traditional location on Main Hall Green to the Banta Bowl to allow for physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols.

In a message to seniors, President Mark Burstein praised the students’ commitment to following pandemic protocols, allowing Lawrence to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check and thus be able to hold an in-person Commencement.

“Since your arrival in Appleton, I have had the honor of watching you take full advantage of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Your successes as Lawrentians are even more meaningful in light of the challenges of this past year.”  

Here are nine things to know (and a couple of bonus notes) about Commencement 2021:

1 We’re back in person: It was a year ago that Commencement had to be moved to a virtual ceremony as the pandemic was in full force and Spring Term classes were fully remote. A year later, with vaccines available and the number of COVID cases across the country in rapid decline, the decision was made to hold an in-person event but move it to the more spacious Banta Bowl and limit attendance. Masks will be required; each graduate will be allowed up to two guests, to be seated in pairs; and social distancing will be maintained.

2 All graduates are welcome: While not all members of the Class of 2021 have been living on campus during the academic year, all have been invited back to participate in the Commencement ceremony. Lawrence is requiring that all students participating in the in-person ceremony be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Nearly 280 seniors are eligible to walk at the ceremony.

3 Getting there: Graduates will be shuttled from campus to the Banta Bowl. For faculty, staff, and guests, a limited amount of parking will be available at the Banta Bowl. Priority will be given to individuals needing accessible parking or other special needs. Look for parking at Mead Pool (across John Street) or on nearby streets. Give yourself time to find parking and to possibly walk a block or two. You can find a parking map here.

4 Watch it live: For those who can’t get into the Banta Bowl or choose not to, the ceremony will be streamed live on Lawrence’s YouTube channel. You can find it here and can access it at any location where Wi-Fi is available. You can use the live chat feature to offer your congratulations during the ceremony (note that you’ll need to log into a Gmail or YouTube account to access the live chat).

President Mark Burstein will preside over his final Commencement.

5 Presidential remarks: Always a big part of Commencement, this year’s address from Burstein will have special significance. This will be his final Commencement as he prepares to leave Lawrence after eight years. The 16th president in Lawrence’s history said he relishes each Commencement he has been a part of since arriving in Appleton.

“It is not only the culmination of the academic year, it is the culmination of students’ progress through Lawrence and the celebration of real accomplishment by faculty,” Burstein said. “So, it’s just a moment where everything comes together, and each Commencement is clear in my mind and an event that I really cherish.”

Jailene Rodriguez ’21, here taking part in an Advanced Painting class earlier this year, was chosen by classmates to be the senior speaker at Commencement.

6 Senior speaker: This year the honor goes to Jailene Rodriguez ’21, an ethnic studies and Spanish double major from New York. She will speak to her class about the journey they’ve been on together and the world that is unfolding in front of them as they take their individual paths.

A standout in the classroom, Rodriguez also has been active in other parts of the Lawrence community. She played on the women’s soccer team, was active in student clubs, has been a manager at the Viking Room, and earned the John Alfieri Tuition Scholarship in Spanish. She’s a member of Posse 11 and plans to return to New York to pursue work in the nonprofit sector.

“I want my class to remember to keep finding ways to learn and grow with any opportunities that open to them,” she said of her message to classmates. “I want them to remember to be as unapologetically themselves as possible.”

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr. will give the 2021 Commencement address.

7 Commencement speaker: Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), will deliver the Commencement address. He emerged as an important voice across Wisconsin during the pandemic, providing guidance on safety protocols and the challenges of keeping the spread of the virus in check. The Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team leaned into Raymond’s advice often as decisions were made about how to proceed on campus.

Raymond said he will speak to the graduates about resiliency and the lessons they can take from the past 15 months.

“The resiliency that students show is an example for the rest of us about how to be flexible when we face challenges, as well as how to persevere through our social networks, through finding our passion for making a difference, and for being innovative under duress,” he said.

8 Faculty honors: Three Lawrence University faculty members will be honored during the ceremony when the annual faculty awards are announced—Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member, and Award for Excellence in Teaching. A year ago, the award winners were announced in advance of Commencement because of the ceremony having to go virtual. This year the tradition returns, with the awards being revealed as part of Commencement.

9 Faculty retirees: Another Commencement tradition that returns this year is the honoring of faculty who are heading into retirement. Retirees include Terry Gottfried (psychology), Gerald Metalsky (psychology), Alan Parks (mathematics), Jerald Podair (history), and Bruce Pourciau (mathematics). Watch for a coming feature on the news blog at that shines a light on all five retirees.

Main Hall Green is always picturesque.

Bonus: Photos on campus: Following the ceremony, students will be shuttled back to the main campus. Families will be able to meet up with their students at that point to take photos. There are multiple great locations on campus for photos. We’ve provided some suggestions here. If you share that photo or other well-wishes on social media, use the hashtag #LawrenceGrad. You can find a Grad Celebration Kit complete with fun social media tools here.

Bonus II: There are more weekend events: The Sunday ceremony won’t be the only in-person event for the graduates. Other traditions will continue during Commencement weekend, including:

  • Senior Art Show is available for viewing June 11-13, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Members of the Class of 2021 can request a time for friends and family to visit the exhibit in the Wriston Art Galleries. Visits are available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and noon-2 p.m. Sunday. See details here and take a virtual peek here.
  • The Commencement Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. The in-person audience will be limited, but it will be streamed live, with a link provided shortly before the event. See details here.
  • The Baccalaureate Service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Chapel. It will be a multi-faith celebration of the spiritual journey of the Class of 2021. It will be streamed live, with a limited number of in-person seats available for Lawrence students, faculty and staff. A form for requesting an in-person seat can be found on the Commencement page at

Need more? Graduates and their families can find Commencement information here and FAQs here.

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

Center for Spiritual and Religious Life gets new name in rededication ceremony

Prayer flags are hung outside the Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life during a May 25 rededication ceremony. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s Sabin House officially became the Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life on Tuesday as campus leaders, students, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate a welcoming space that has come to represent togetherness and connection for everyone on campus.

Named for the Esch Hurvis family, the center has become a home for people of all faiths and religious traditions, and those who have none, who are interested in learning, connecting, and exploring religious and spiritual practice and identity.

“We decided that the new Center for Spiritual and Religious Life would be a welcoming place for curious, intentional, respectful engagement with persons of similar, different or no religious tradition, and for quiet, personal reflection and spiritual practice,” the Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life and chaplain to the University, told the dozens of onlookers who gathered in the Center’s newly landscaped Goldgarden for a rededication ceremony.

The possibilities of this gathering space, first funded with a gift from Tom Hurvis ’60 and family in memory of his late wife, Julie Esch Hurvis ’61, shortly after her passing in July 2015, began to come to fruition with the hiring of Morgan-Clement in 2016. The creation of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life included the establishment of the Center.

Visitors to the rededication ceremony walk the grounds of Lawrence University’s Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life.

It has continued with the growing of the Center’s staff and its outreach over the past five years, supported by additional gifts from Hurvis. The renaming and rededication follow an additional investment from Hurvis in an endowed maintenance fund for the building.

A plaque in the front hall of the Center reads: “The Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life embodies the welcoming spirit of the Esch Hurvis family. Authentic care and listening that encourage open sharing and trust were embodied in Julie Esch Hurvis’ life. Her art, which is found throughout the building, and her passion for young people was grounded in her Bahai’ faith.” 

One by one, visitors representing various departments, student groups, and collaborations across campus offered blessings for the Center and the people who care for it during Tuesday’s ceremony. They hung prayer flags on a line in the Goldgarden and invited others to do the same.

President Mark Burstein, speaking from the Center’s porch, said the Center has filled an important void at Lawrence, giving people who want to explore and embrace religion and spirituality a place to connect, and to do so in a way that is inviting for all. He said it was during his exploration of Lawrence while interviewing for the president’s job nine years ago that he first sensed a disconnect for those who lean into their faith.

“One of the aspects of Lawrence I sensed was how many members of our community whose faith or spirituality was important to them didn’t feel like the university was home,” he said. “That spoke to me. That’s something we really aspire to be, a place where everyone feels like they can count Lawrence as home.”

It was shortly after Julie died that Hurvis mentioned to Burstein that he’d like to present a gift to Lawrence in her memory. That eventually led to endowing the dean position that would be filled by Morgan-Clement.

Tom Hurvis ’60 talks about his late wife, Julie Esch Hurvis, during Tuesday’s ceremony. She was “wonderful with people in making them feel good because they trusted her,” he said.

Hurvis and his wife, Ann, were on hand Tuesday to take in the Center’s rededication and to applaud Morgan-Clement and her staff for bringing the dream to life.

“We wanted to dedicate the religious and spiritual center to Julie Esch Hurvis, who was just wonderful with people in making them feel good because they trusted her,” Tom Hurvis said. “Linda is so much like Julie it’s incredible, and it makes me want to cry every day. I think we are heavenly blessed. Julie isn’t here, but Linda has come to take this position that is so important. We’re developing an environment where more and more people are coming every day into the Center because they know that in the Center they will find trust; they can talk; they have a comfort level.”

Morgan-Clement said Hurvis told her early on in her time at Lawrence that the key to making the Center thrive was building and maintaining a feeling of trust.

Linda Morgan-Clement: “We’re here because Lawrence values everyone.”

“Trust and trustworthiness, connection with the land, with the people, with ourselves, with the sacred,” she said. “We’re here because Lawrence values everyone.”

Burstein said he has little doubt that Julie Esch Hurvis would be thrilled with what the Center has become and with those from all backgrounds and beliefs who shared their blessings at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I feel that Julie is with us here,” Burstein said. “Julie was someone who cared deeply about interpersonal connection and about community. … This is about how we can come together across our differences and make community, make connection. I think Julie would be so proud of that.”

Burstein also took time during the rededication to thank Rick Moser ’83 and Lisa Miller Moser ’84, whose generosity funded the Goldgarden, a beautiful space on the east side of the Center that is now utilized for group meditation and other outdoor gatherings.

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

D&I Award winners engage with issues, initiatives that make LU more equitable

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 2021 recipients of Lawrence University’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards were celebrated May 25 in a virtual event that highlighted their contributions to the campus.

Recipients include Shaun Brown ’21, Student Award; LUDWiG (Lawrence University Disability Working Group), chaired by Alex Chand ’22, Student Organization Award; Jaime Gonzalez ’16, Staff Award; Horacio Contreras, assistant professor of music, Faculty Award; and the Kaukauna Area School District First of Many program, Community Partner Award.

“These impressive individuals have used their many talents, resources, influence, and privilege to help make Lawrence University more inclusive,” Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of the faculty, said in announcing this year’s recipients. “While excelling in their individual roles of faculty, student, staff or community leader, they have also helped us become a more diverse and equitable university that supports all associated with the institution reach their unique potential. Whether through service, activism or teaching, they have all helped to make Lawrence a better place in which to work and learn.”

Shaun Brown ’21

Shaun Brown ’21 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

A psychology and cultural anthropology double major, Brown has been involved in numerous initiatives, including working as an Admissions senior intern on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Student Recruitment Team and serving as one of two student representatives on the recent Presidential Search Committee.

“As an admissions counselor, he has effectively modeled what an antiracist admissions process can look like through his culturally informed information sessions, compassionate interviewing, and careful reviewing of applications,” his nomination stated.

Brown also has shown leadership within Sankofa House and Black Student Union and has helped nurture cross-cultural connections via All is One, LU Native Americans (LUNA), Brother to Brother, and Alianza.

LUDWiG, chaired by Alex Chand ‘22

LUDWiG participants include: top row from left, Maria Jankowski, Alex Chand, Jojo Maier; bottom row from left, Malcolm Davis, Sterling Ambrosius, Zoe Nicole Adler

LUDWiG is a new student organization, launched in February through the leadership of Chand, that brings together students, faculty, and staff with a mission to foster inclusion and equity of disabled individuals at Lawrence. It does so through mentorship, education, and a commitment to equitable access.

The nomination for the group applauded Chand, a double major in physics and English, for her persistent efforts to bring the organization to fruition.

“Identifying as a person with a disability and as a person of color, these intersectional identities developed her insight and awareness,” the nomination stated. “Frustrated by challenges disabled students face at Lawrence, Alex worked to promote intergroup and cross-cultural understanding through her event programming and cross-organization collaborations.”

Among other efforts, LUDWiG members are working on a Know Your Rights brochure that will highlight disabled students’ rights and resources on campus and will be distributed to incoming first-year students.

Jaime Gonzalez ’16

Jaime Gonzalez ’16 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Gonzalez serves as director of transfer and transitions in the Admissions office, a position he moved into in April 2020. Prior to that he served as a diversity, inclusion, and access specialist.

He has made significant contributions to diversity recruitment and transfer recruitment strategies since returning to Lawrence in 2019.

“Leading efforts to increase access to Lawrence for underrepresented prospective students, he maintained and strengthened relationships with community-based organizations and provided diversity, inclusion, and access training for our admissions staff to further support our goals of becoming an anti-racist office,” his nomination stated.

“In addition to his current role and his support of many other groups on campus, his day-to-day actions exemplify what being an anti-racist person means. He is forever learning and encouraging others to do the same. The changes he’s created at Lawrence have made us a more anti-racist institution and will leave a legacy for decades to come.”

Horacio Contreras

Horacio Contreras

A professor of cello, Contreras was applauded in the nomination for his long commitment to dismantling bias in music. He co-authored the Sphinx Catalog of Latin-American Cello Works, a free database containing information about works for cello by Latin American composers.

“He is making accessible long-unheard voices, increasing representation, dismantling stereotypes, and creating new ways into cello music’s history and future,” the nomination stated.

Contreras has created opportunities for underrepresented students to pursue high-level professional research, and he frequently helps students who face barriers locate funding for summer experiences, giving them opportunities that will help them pursue graduate work or professional careers.

“By acknowledging and dismantling bias, Professor Contreras demonstrates to his students that they can be both gifted musicians and anti-racists,” the nomination stated. “He achieves all of this in ways that foster greater diversity on campus and beyond through his research, teaching, professional service and mentoring students.”

Kaukauna’s First of Many Program

From Left: Corey Baumgartner, Molly Ruffing ’22, Matt Binsfeld

Molly Ruffing ’22, the Equal Access to Education Service Corps leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE), led the charge to create this mentorship program in her hometown. It matches first-generation Lawrence students with potential first-generation students at Kaukauna High School.

Ruffing worked closely with Principal Corey Baumgartner, counselor Matt Binsfeld, and other officials at the high school to make the program a reality.

The Lawrence mentors meet weekly with their mentees to talk through a range of topics that range from financial aid to the application process to potential barriers.

“With six Lawrence mentors and five Kaukauna juniors, the program was successfully piloted in Winter Term 2021,” the nomination stated. “Due to positive feedback from students, plans are in the works to continue the program in the 2021-22 academic year.”

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

Joy (and concern) in the night sky will be focus of Honors Convocation message

Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics, leads an Earth Hour event on Main Hall Green earlier this spring, sharing information on the night sky. She’ll give the Honors Convocation address on May 27. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The beauty of the night sky, the stories it can tell, and the “light pollution” that is increasingly hindering our view will be the topic of Lawrence University’s May 27 Honors Convocation.

Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics, will deliver the Convocation address, The Stars: Mansions Made by Nature’s Hand, at 11:15 a.m. It will be delivered virtually and is available to the public on the Honors Convocation page at

In her address, Pickett will share why light pollution, the ever-increasing brightening of the sky by artificial lighting, is a concern that has long-term economic, health, and biological costs.

“The stars tell our stories, guide our way, and quietly mark time,” Pickett said in preparation for the Convocation. “They inspire artists and compel scientists. The shared heritage of the night sky is a universal natural resource—and we are losing it, one star at a time.”

The annual Honors Convocation, which publicly recognizes students and faculty recipients of awards and prizes for excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, languages, music, athletics, and service to others, is traditionally held in Memorial Chapel. But due to campus facilities being closed to the public and physical distancing practices being in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this marks the second year it is being held virtually.

Pickett said she remembers being 12 years old and holding a copy of H.A. Rey’s book, The Stars, as she stared at the night sky in her suburban Detroit neighborhood.

“I truly saw for the first time the hidden treasure suspended above,” she said of that night. “I knew then, standing in a palpably spiritual awe, that my life’s work would be to share that joy and wonder.”

Megan Pickett (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Pickett would go on to become an astrophysicist, earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Indiana University. She joined the Lawrence physics department in 2006 after six years on the faculty at Purdue University. Before that, she spent four years as a research associate at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

Much of her research through the years has focused on the formation of solar systems.

Now she wants to share some of that work and her passions for protecting the night sky with the Lawrence community.

“I will discuss the problems of light pollution, and the solutions that I and other astronomers advocate—simple, cost effective changes that can give us back our nights,” she said. “I will also explore what we are losing, from the soaring spirit of exploration the sky inspires to the traditions of so many peoples—often overlooked—that are celebrated in the stars themselves.  My work in understanding our home in the cosmos has given me a deep appreciation for how we all come to see that home, and a sense of urgency to save the night for all those 12-year-olds who step out in the cold and look up.”

Pickett said more than 80% of the world, and 99% of America, lives under a polluted sky. 

“Fully one-third of the world can no longer see the Milky Way, our home galaxy, including more than half of Europe and three-quarters of America,” she said. “In the few enclaves of pristine sky, you can see 5,000 stars on a clear night, but if you live in suburban America, only a tenth of that number; in a city, less than 50.”

Don’t take it for granted, Pickett said. There is joy in those stars, and generations to come may be hard-pressed to find it.

“The night sky is at once a visible and an ephemeral natural resource,” she said. “Its loss, and the increase in unnecessary sky-brightness come with economic, medical, and biological costs. As important, we lose something of ourselves, and our history, as each generation sees less of the wondrous night.”

Ami Hatori ’23 will perform the Convocation’s prelude, Jupiter’s Moons, on piano. The postlude, On a Clear Day, will feature Courtney Wilmington ’22, soprano vocals; Samara Morris ’21, alto vocals; Jack Murphy ’21, tenor vocals; David Womack ’22, bass vocals; Nick Muellner ’20, alto and tenor saxophones; Alyssa Kuss ’22, baritone saxophone; Jack Benedict ’21, trumpet; Allie Goldman ’21, trombone; Carson Bell ’22, guitar; Rowan Barcham, keyboard; Ali Remondini ’21, double bass; and Daniel Green ’21, drum set.

This is the third and final convocation of Lawrence’s 2020-21 academic year. The earlier convocations featured President Mark Burstein and author Kiese Laymon.

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

Jazz program plays through obstacles to earn another coveted Downbeat award

Matvei Mozhaev ’23 rehearses outdoors during Fall Term with other members of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Patty Darling. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The Lawrence Conservatory of Music’s jazz program has received a national honor that speaks to its ability to creatively make music amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawrence earned an Outstanding Performance award in Downbeat magazine’s annual Student Music Awards, marking the fourth consecutive year the Conservatory has been among the honored programs. The Downbeat awards, now in their 44th year, are among the highest honors in jazz education.

This year’s award, announced on May 6 and being featured in the June edition of the magazine, comes in a new undergraduate category set up specifically because of the pandemic—Asynchronous Large Jazz Ensemble. Downbeat created the new category for students in large ensembles who did not rehearse together as a full band but instead recorded remotely and asynchronously.

For information on the Conservatory of Music, see here.

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE), under the direction of Patty Darling, submitted three recordings, Optimistic, TipToe, and St. Thomas.

“It is an honor for these outstanding students to see their hard work and musicianship be recognized on a national level,” Darling said. “With limited rehearsal time, social distancing, and the weirdness of not being together as a big band, I am grateful for not only everyone’s incredible talent and dedication but for their support of each other and their ability to create beautiful music during these challenging times.”

This marks the 30th time Lawrence has earned a Downbeat award, coming in categories that have included large ensemble, small group, jazz composing, jazz arranging, solo performance, jazz vocal group, and Latin group. The annual awards are presented in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, high school honor ensemble, undergraduate college, and graduate college.

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble used outdoor spaces to rehearse whenever possible.

The challenges the past year have been unlike anything the Lawrence jazz program has faced in its nearly five decades of music-making. Some LUJE members were on campus, rehearsing at times outdoors or physically distanced in various settings. Others were connecting virtually. Creativity and patience were at a premium.

“Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to record bass and drums separately on TipToe and St. Thomas at different times—the groove between bass and drums is such a critical foundation for the rest of the group, and we didn’t want to use a click track,” Darling said. 

She credits Ali Remondini ’21, Clay Knoll ’20, and Liam Fisher ’21 with finding a workable solution that didn’t compromise the music.

Another challenge came when students recorded their parts for Optimistic with cell phones. They were then synced and mixed using Logic Pro X software. 

“Liam was instrumental in recording an awesome drum track with just one overhead mic,” Darling said. 

The recordings were done over the course of two terms—last year’s Spring Term in which all 15 student musicians were remote and this year’s Fall Term in which there was a mix of remote and in-person among the 19 students.

The recordings found life and engagement thanks to “great improvisational solos” by multiple students in the band, Darling said. The musicians rose to the occasion despite obstacles at almost every turn.

“We haven’t played as a full ensemble since last March—new LUJE students have not even met everyone in the band in person yet,” Darling said. “We can’t wait to start outdoor full ensemble rehearsals in mid-May.”

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

On any given day: April 22 is packed, offering glimpse of campus life to come

Tai chi sessions began in the fall on Main Hall Green. They continue indoors in the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

April 22 is shaping up as a day to remind us of the breadth and depth of the Lawrence experience.

It’s often been said that on any given day Lawrentians have at their fingertips a richly satisfying array of academic, arts, athletic, recreational, and social opportunities. When paired with the school’s small size and close community connections, it speaks to the transformational experience that has long defined Lawrence.

That has been tested at times during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But April 22 provides a hint that campus activity, all done with Honor the Pledge protocols in place, is again becoming robust.

This is just one day; a moment in time. But it has us remembering what’s to come when we return to something resembling normalcy on campus.

Let’s take a guided walk to see what April 22 has in store, in addition to classes.

11:15 a.m.

Yoga, anyone? Physically distanced, of course. Yoga sessions are a regular thing on campus, adapted this year for Honor the Pledge protocols. They’ve been held outdoors on campus when the weather has made that doable; otherwise in the gym in the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center.

“We know that movement and experiences that are not on screen are beneficial to the overall health and well-being of our students,” said Erin Buenzli, director of wellness and recreation. “Not only can physical activities help us connect socially, it helps improve our sleep, our mood, energy, and, most of all, should be fun.”

12:30 p.m.

Let’s move on to tai chi, which follows yoga in the Wellness Center. It also has been held outdoors at times. It’s organized by Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, and this term is being led by fencing coach Eric Momberg.

Upwards of 40 students have turned out for sessions that Morgan-Clement calls socially distanced and physically present.

“Tai chi is internal awareness, opening energy, and connecting beyond oneself,” she said. “This year, tai chi has made us aware of our connections even when we are not able to be together, of our bodies in motion through opening and grounding, and of gratitude for breath and the possibilities in each inhale and exhale.”

3 p.m.

Here’s a chance to support Lawrence athletics on a beautiful spring day. The softball team plays a doubleheader against St. Norbert College at Whiting Field. Lawrence is now allowing two guests per LU student-athlete at spring sporting events. There are some rules. Guests will be checked in on a pass list, masks are required, and spectators will need to bring their own chairs. Go Vikings!

4:30 p.m.

OK, as we make our way deeper into the afternoon, we’ve got some decisions to make. Several options are on tap—one is the return of a notable lecture series from the Government Department, one is a chance to connect with classmates, one encourages you to connect with yourself, and one will deliver some knowledge courtesy of an accomplished mathematician.

Option 1: The Povolny Lecture Series will be held in Wriston Art Center. Lt. General William Troy will present “Three Challenges for the U.S. Military: The Rising Importance of Soft Power; Urbanization; and The State of Civil-Military Relations.” Open in person to Lawrence students, faculty, and staff (socially distanced), it is part of a Povolny Lecture Series that’s named in honor of former government professor Mojmir Povolny. It promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions. Troy was an Army officer for 38 years; he rose to the rank of lieutenant general (three-star) and went on to become a CEO in the private sector. His talk also is available via Zoom:

Option 2: The Mudd Library staff will host a one-hour Zoom chat focused on fiber arts. Work on your knitting, needle point, cross stitch, or any other art or craft activity while enjoying connection with others. Join here:

Option 3: Gather outdoors at the Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life for guided meditation.

Option 4: A McDougal Lecture features Lillian B. Pierce, a Duke University math professor whose research connects number theory with harmonic analysis. She’ll speak on, “What we talk about when we talk about math.” It’ll be presented via Zoom: The McDougal Lecture is in honor of alumnus Kevin F. McDougal ’79, a leading math scholar before his death in 2004.

6:30 p.m.

All campus community members will have the opportunity to join a two-hour virtual Courageous Conversations Workshop for skill-building and discussion toward being an antiracist, equity-minded institution and community. A Zoom link will be sent to community members earlier that day. Simon Greer, founder of Bridging the Gap, a Courageous Conversation at The Neighborhood Project, will facilitate the workshop. It will launch Courageous Conversations at Lawrence, to be followed by a four-week boot camp for Lawrentians who want to take on leadership roles in ongoing antiracism efforts.

“Recognizing that engaging in these dialogues is much easier said than done, we sought out a program that would equip our campus community with the skills and tools necessary to have these often intense and emotion-inducing conversations,” the Office of the President and Public Events Committee said in an invitation sent to all students, faculty, and staff.

7 p.m.

Intramural sports offer chances to get some exercise, connect with other students, and scratch that competition itch. The Wellness Center gym will feature intramural volleyball on this night.

“We have been able to safely operate the Wellness Center since last summer,” Buenzli said, noting that that includes personal training programs for students, all with health and safety protocols in place. “Offering a place where students can get out of their rooms, concentrate on their wellness, and see others has been important.”

8 p.m.

We’re all well aware of the richness of arts opportunities available at Lawrence because of the Conservatory of Music. Nothing speaks to the Conservatory experience quite like a student recital, putting into practice all that has been learned in classroom and studio spaces. This night’s recital, available via livestream, will feature Ben Hiles ’22 and Melanie Shefchik ’23, both on saxophone. Among the works they will perform is one composed by a Lawrentian who came before them, Evan Williams ’10.

“Having a joint recital during the pandemic comes with obvious logistical challenges in working with each other and other musicians, but we have found a way to make it work,” Hiles said. “This opportunity to work on a recital with one of my closest friends has been so rewarding.”

Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl notes that this will be one of 73 student recitals taking place during Spring Term.

“Some students will play live recitals with limited audiences—no more than 10 people in Harper Hall—but also webcast; others webcast their recitals from home; others use the opportunity to create feature-length films that incorporate their recital repertoire. They provide a portal from the upside-down world of the pandemic into a space of music and magic and community.”

8:30 p.m.

LU Earth Hour in celebration of Earth Day will bring students to Main Hall Green after dark. Sponsored by Greenfire, a student organization dedicated to environmentally-conscious initiatives, Earth Hour aims to be a global energy-saving activity in response to climate change. For this hour, all of Lawrence’s nonessential lights will go dark around campus. Students are encouraged to turn out their lights and come together on Main Hall Green to watch the stars and learn about astronomy with associate professor of physics Megan Pickett. Glow sticks will be provided.

“We need to use less energy to combat climate change, and this event will allow students to do that while still having a good time together,” said Grace Subat, sustainability and special projects fellow in the president’s office. “Even unplugging your electronics and turning off your lights for one hour can make a difference.”

Need more motivation? “There also will be free stuff for all who attend,” Subat said.

That’s a full day.

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

Lawrence ranked by Princeton Review among “Best Value” colleges in nation

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is ranked as one of the “Best Value Colleges” in the country by The Princeton Review.

The 2021 Best Value list, released Tuesday, includes Lawrence as one of the top 200 private colleges across the country based on academics, costs, financial aid, debt, graduation rates, and alumni career and salary data.

“We are happy that, after they evaluated some 650 colleges on more than 40 data points, The Princeton Review has determined Lawrence University provides one of the nation’s best returns on investment,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “For students and families who are making the decision to invest in a Lawrence experience, this is welcome news.”

The schools listed are not ranked in order.

“The 200 schools we chose are those we recommend as offering the best ROI (return on investment),” The Princeton Review said in announcing the rankings. “Our ROI rating tallies considered more than 40 data points, broadly covering academics, affordability, and career preparation.”

Lawrence recently marked the close of its Be the Light! Campaign, which raised $232.6 million. That includes more than $91 million for Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN), an ongoing initiative that provides endowed scholarships to help bridge the difference between a student’s financial aid and their demonstrated need.

The impact of the FSFN efforts can be seen in the lessening of the average debt for Lawrence graduates over the past five years. The average student debt 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 dropped to 56% in 2019-20, well below the 75% of a decade earlier.

“The schools we name as our Best Value Colleges for 2021 comprise only just over 1% of the nation’s four-year colleges,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “They are distinctive in their programs, size, region, and type, yet they are similar in three areas. Every school we selected offers outstanding academics, generous financial aid and/or a relative low cost of attendance, and stellar career services.”

The Princeton Review is a tutoring, test prep, and college admission services company.

In August, The Princeton Review included Lawrence in The Best 386 Colleges guide, which came months after the organization named Lawrence the No. 3 Best Impact School in the country.

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

“Dedicated and richly talented:” 10 Lawrence University faculty earn tenure

Main Hall

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Ten members of the Lawrence University faculty have been granted 2021 tenure appointments.

President Mark Burstein and the college’s Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the faculty Committee on Tenure, Promotion, Reappointment, and Equal Employment Opportunity, granted tenure to Ingrid Albrecht (philosophy), Matthew Arau (music education), Chloe Armstrong (philosophy), Stephanie Burdick-Shepherd (education), Horacio Contreras (music), John Holiday (music), Danielle Joyner (art history), Victoria Kononova (Russian), Nora Lewis (music), and Brigid Vance (history). All 10 have been tenured and promoted to associate professor.

The appointments span multiple disciplines across the college and conservatory.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be welcoming such a dedicated and richly talented group of faculty into the tenured ranks,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine G. Kodat. “The breadth of ability and skill represented in this year’s tenure ‘class’ is truly extraordinary, both in terms of individual achievement and in how those achievements support our broader efforts to expand and enhance our curriculum to support diversity, inclusion, and excellence.”

The 10 newly tenured faculty:


Ingrid Albrecht: A specialist in ethics and moral philosophy, she joined the Lawrence philosophy department in 2013. Her courses have ranged from existentialism and ethics to feminism and philosophy and biomedical ethics.


Matthew Arau ’97: A Lawrence alumnus, he joined the Lawrence Conservatory’s music education faculty in 2014 and serves as the associate director of bands. His efforts on and off campus to teach a positive mindset in music education have drawn a strong following.


Chloe Armstrong: A specialist in early modern philosophy, she joined Lawrence’s philosophy department in 2015. Her teaching ranges from the works of Margaret Cavendish and Gottfried Leibniz to courses on food ethics and ancient Greek philosophy.


Stephanie Burdick-Shepherd: A specialist in early childhood education, she joined the education department in 2015. She played a big role in launching the new teacher certification program in early childhood education and provides leadership for students going through teaching residencies.


Horacio Contreras: A professor of cello, he joined the Conservatory faculty in 2017. He taught for 10 years at Universidad de Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela, before receiving his DMA in cello performance from the University of Michigan in 2016. He performs regularly nationally and internationally.


John Holiday: A professor of voice, he joined the Conservatory faculty in 2017 after teaching for two years at Ithaca College. He has been hailed as a rising star in the opera world and performs frequently on some of opera’s biggest stages. He gained national attention as a crossover artist in late 2020 when he advanced to the finals on NBC’s The Voice.


Danielle Joyner: A medieval art historian, she joined the art history faculty in 2018. She teaches courses on medieval and gothic art and is part of a faculty research and teaching collective on ancient and pre-modern societies.


Victoria Kononova: A specialist in nineteenth-century Russian literature and theater, she joined the Russian department in 2015. She teaches advanced Russian language classes and courses in English translation that include Russia’s Golden Age, women and gender in Russian culture, and Slavic science fiction.


Nora Lewis ’99: A professor of oboe and an alumna of Lawrence, she joined the Conservatory faculty in 2018 after teaching stints at Austin Peay, Kansas State, and Western Michigan. She has performed extensively and presents master classes nationally and internationally.


Brigid Vance: A historian of late imperial China, she joined the history department in 2015. A regular contributor to First-Year Studies, she teaches courses that range from Chinese women’s history and the West’s view of China to the history of Chinese medicine and modern East Asian civilization.

The high level of achievement across the group speaks well of Lawrence’s ongoing commitment to academic excellence, Kodat said.

“It’s such a pleasure seeing their many past accomplishments rewarded with tenure, and I look forward to many years of rewarding partnership,” she said.

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