Category: Press Releases

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

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

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A replay of the Matriculation Convocation can be accessed here.

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

Lawrence mourns passing of former anthropology professor George Saunders

George R. Saunders, 1946-2020

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National honor spotlights Lawrence affinity group. See details here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

The Matriculation Convocation address, delivered by the University president each September to mark the launch of another academic year, will be one of three convocations held this year. Alumni are encouraged to access the stream to watch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtual biotech conference first step for Kalsi brothers as they eye tech launch

Harsimran Kalsi ’20 and Satvir Kalsi ’17

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

The Kalsi brothers have a lot in common. 

Both are recent Lawrence University alumni. Both were biology majors. Both were first-generation college students. Both managed to graduate in three years. And both have a passion for science—and for using their skill set to address the world’s most pressing health concerns. 

Satvir Kalsi ’17 and Harsimran Kalsi ’20 have spent their summer working as a team, launching a biotechnology conference—it was to be hosted at Lawrence in April but has since moved to a virtual format—and finalizing the details on their own start-up business, tentatively called Otto, which is set to launch later in the fall. With a lifetime of experience learning each other’s habits, predicting each other’s moves, and adapting to each other’s situations and needs, the brothers are well-equipped to tackle any challenge thrown at them as business partners. 

Together, they’re keeping their eyes on a big goal: scientific innovation. 

Healthspan 2020, a virtual conference

The process of aging is arguably the most universal health concern there is, so it was the first issue on the Kalsi brothers’ agenda. Every day, the majority of deaths worldwide are caused by aging and/or age-related illnesses, and aging is, of course, something none of us can avoid.

At least, not yet. 

Even though the average lifespan has increased as modern medicine has continued to develop, age-related health problems have largely remained stagnant. Essentially, people are living sicker for longer. 

That’s where rejuvenation biotechnology, the subject of the Healthspan 2020 conference, comes in. Focusing on repairing the damage aging naturally does to the body, rejuvenation biotechnology aims to enable people to live healthier lives, regardless of their age. 

“The goal is not just to extend life; it is to make people healthier, longer,” Harsimran said. “So, if you’re chronologically 90, you’re biologically 60.” 

The Healthspan conference launched Aug. 26, with an emphasis on the current state of rejuvenation biotechnology research and innovation, as well as the specific health care developments in Wisconsin. Featuring expert speakers from the realms of industry and academia, the entirely virtual, nearly carbon-neutral conference aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the science behind aging—and the potential reversal of its effects—while also ensuring the information is presented in a concise and understandable manner. 

Admittedly, Harsimran did not plan for the conference to be completely online when he came up with the idea as a student back in 2018. The conference was originally scheduled for April 3 on the Lawrence campus, before Lawrence announced it would continue virtually for the Spring Term. But what the virtual conference lacks in direct, in-person communication, it makes up for in accessibility. The website is available to everyone. 

Although Satvir was not originally as involved with the April conference, when the change of date and format resulted in a change of the speaker lineup, Satvir was there to help bridge the gap as he took on the role of Healthspan’s final speaker. As a third-year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, he brings an interesting perspective to the conference: that of an advocate for comprehensive change in how the medical community, and those who influence it, approach aging. 

“There are still people out there who don’t know the problem exists, and that advocacy work is open to pretty much anybody,” Satvir said. “… I wanted to be able to put this problem into perspective and try to connect people to the science without getting bogged down by the specifics.” 

Pursuing entrepreneurship 

The Kalsis’ dedication to scientific innovation does not stop with the Healthspan 2020 conference. 

Especially at this moment in history, the need for speed and reliability in scientific discovery is brutally apparent. But, the Kalsis said, it’s become clear that there are some snags in the system, that the scientific community is not structured in a way that always facilitates fast, effective collaboration. 

“You can imagine, if someone made this process even faster, that could really save not just lives but a lot of time, a lot of money, and obviously the death toll would be decreased by almost any measure,” Satvir said. 

Back in the fall of 2018, after spending a few summers doing scientific research, Satvir and Harsimran said they noticed what others are now starting to see: scientific innovation doesn’t move as fast as it could. Due to a variety of barriers regarding collaborations, including financial and accessibility roadblocks, there is too often excessive red tape standing in the way of scientific discovery. 

“It typically takes 17 years for data on a lab bench to go to being an actual clinical therapy,” Harsimran said. “And, you know, where will we all be in 17 years? How about the oldest people we know? And then it also takes on average $2 billion. … If we can reduce these barriers, there’s a pretty good chance that we could speed up how quickly we get good medical care. I think everyone is realizing the importance of that.” 

That necessity for speed is the basis behind the Kalsis’ new tech start-up. After two years of development, entrepreneurship classes, and recruiting potential users, the brothers are just a few months away from the launch of their new platform, designed to facilitate access to scientific expertise and equipment and to streamline collaboration and communication between scientists. 

Through their website, users, including academic institutions, citizen scientists, and early-stage biotechnology and biopharmacology companies, will be able to work together in their research and experiments, potentially leading to faster and easier scientific discovery. With users from a variety of different fields of industry and academia, individuals and organizations can use the platform to find collaborators for research and to access otherwise expensive and hard-to-get equipment, making the field of science more accessible for more people. 

Although the website will initially be limited to pre-selected and approved users, if all goes well the plan is to expand and make the platform available to the public, facilitating further scientific innovation and discovery. 

“If it works out really well, it’s not only valuable, but it’s actually a catalyst for scientific discovery,” Satvir said. “. . . It’s causing us to discover new things very quickly and causing us to have new treatments very quickly. That could really change the landscape we deal with today.” 

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Lawrence remembers talents, kindness of retired music professor Dan Sparks

Dan Sparks (Lawrence University archive photo, 1993)

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

He passed away Sept. 4 at age 89.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Becker returns to Lawrence to teach psychology and neuroscience

Elizabeth Becker ’04

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All campus buildings to remain closed to public for duration of Fall Term

Signage around campus provides reminders of the safety protocols that are in place.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

In light of ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Lawrence University buildings will remain closed to the public for the duration of Fall Term, which began Monday and runs through Nov. 24.

The campus buildings have been closed to the public since mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

For Fall Term, the Warch Campus Center, Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center, and the Seeley G. Mudd Library, among other facilities, will be available only to Lawrence students, faculty, and staff, the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team announced. No public events will be held on campus as the University focuses on protecting the health of the Lawrence community and beyond.

Library resources will continue to be accessible online.

Lawrence has about 850 students, or 60% of its student body, living on campus for Fall Term. The remaining students have opted to access the term remotely. Most classes are being delivered virtually, with select classes being held in person with physical distancing protocols in place.

All students, faculty, and staff who are on campus have signed a Lawrence Campus Community Pledge, in which they have agreed to follow protocols that have been put in place, including wearing a mask, adhering to the 6-feet distancing rule, avoiding large gatherings, and doing daily checks for symptoms.

Anyone who will be on campus also has been required to get a COVID-19 test, administered on campus by Bellin Health. Additional testing will be done throughout the term.

The protocols also apply to any approved contractors on campus.

The rise in community spread numbers in Appleton over the past few weeks adds further emphasis to the need to be vigilant about safety-minded behaviors and interactions.

For more details on Fall Term, visit Planning for Fall 2020 on the Lawrence web site.

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

Lawrence on U.S. News’ Best Colleges list; earns high marks for value

Lawrence University (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is ranked among the top colleges in the nation in a report released Monday by U.S. News & World Report.

The annual rankings place Lawrence as the No. 36 Best Value among national liberal arts colleges and the No. 63 liberal arts college overall. The Best Value ranking comes as Lawrence’s Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) financial aid initiative has pushed past its initial $85 million fund-raising goal.

“We appreciate that U.S. News has recognized Lawrence University as a Best Value college,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communication. “Thanks to the generosity of the Lawrence community all over the world, we have been able to build a financial aid endowment to ensure that lower- and middle-income families can afford a top-notch college experience like the one we offer.”

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.

“By design, the Best Value Schools rankings place significant emphasis on affordability for students who may be eligible for need-based aid,” U.S. News & World Report said in its release of the rankings. “The 2021 edition introduced a new ranking indicator, contributing 20% toward a college or university’s Best Value Schools rank, which incorporates the proportion of need-based aid in the form of grants and scholarships.”

Lawrence’s Full Speed to Full Need fund, part of the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, is a key effort to make sure the University is accessible to academically qualifying students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The FSFN fund surpassed the $85 million mark earlier this year, drawn from more than 1,200 donors.

The University is working to reach full-need status, meaning it will have the resources to cover 100% of every student’s demonstrated need after other financial aid packages are factored in. Launched in 2014, the ambitious effort would make Lawrence one of fewer than 70 universities nationwide designated as full-need institutions.

The average debt of Lawrence’s graduating seniors has declined by $5,000 since the campaign began even as the University’s comprehensive fee has increased. This lower average debt at graduation is in contrast to rising debt numbers nationally.

“The way in which this community has rallied around that strategic priority to provide more financial resources for students has been breathtaking in terms of the number of donors, the amounts of gifts, the pace in which we’ve been raising money,” Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development, said at the time the goal was reached. “It has resonated with this constituency unlike any other philanthropic priority.”

The U.S. News rankings follow an announcement in August that the Princeton Review has named Lawrence to its Best 386 Colleges for 2021 list, which included placing Lawrence at No. 3 on its Best Impact Schools list.

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

Luminaries light up Main Hall entrance to welcome new students to Lawrence

Luminaries line the walkway and steps in front of Main Hall Sunday night. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The light that glowed from the steps and walkway in front of Main Hall on Sunday night sent a welcoming message to the more than 400 first-year and transfer students who will be beginning their studies at Lawrence University today.

In a reimagining of the traditional presidential handshake, the students made their way to the president’s house, where President Mark Burstein greeted each one on the lawn – masks on, from 6 feet apart – welcoming them to Lawrence and presenting them with a luminary. The students then brought the luminary to the front of Main Hall, placing it with those of their classmates.

Welcome Week greets first-year students. Read more here.

“Bring Your Light” was the theme. With safety protocols in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential handshake ceremony that usually happens the night before classes begin could not take place in its usual way. Thus, it was reimagined in a way that still allowed each first-year student to be personally welcomed by the president.

“It’s an incredibly important moment in the student experience,” Burstein said. “It gave me a chance to talk with every first-year student.”

The process began before the sun went down, but by the time the more than 400 luminaries were in place, the lights were glowing in the dark, lighting the way into a new journey.

Eighty-six luminaries were placed on the Main Hall steps to represent the first-year students who opted to study remotely during Fall Term. The students who are on campus then walked with their luminaries from the president’s house, traversing campus before placing them along the sidewalk leading from the steps.

Perhaps a new tradition was born.

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