Ty Collins has put his experience working in radio to good use at Lawrence, recently launching a podcast that aims to connect alumni with students as they plan for life after college.
Collins, assistant director in the Career Center, interviews alumni who share career advice, discuss avenues into particular fields, and talk about successes and missteps along the way. The podcast is heard at lucareersandcommunity on Soundcloud.
The idea for the podcast came about in Spring Term of 2020 when students were sent home as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Career Center, located on the second floor of Chapman Hall, was discussing ways to reach students who were no longer on campus. Collins floated the idea of hosting a podcast series.
“Pairing my background in broadcasting with my knowledge of Lawrence students and alumni and the Lawrence environment, I think combined to work out pretty well,” Collins said.
Collins, who came to Lawrence five years ago, has worked in radio for more than 20 years. He continues to work part-time for Woodward Radio Group in Appleton.
“Things rarely, if ever, go by plan,” O’Connor said. “Where you end up is way more a function of your life circumstances and network than your plan. Hearing about failures of alums I really admire is very uplifting.”
Collins also knows how demanding students’ schedules are, so a podcast seemed to be a good fit. Rather than having an event on campus at a certain time of day where maybe a student could not attend due to class or other scheduling conflicts, a podcast can be listened to wherever and whenever.
The podcast is updated every month when classes are in session. Each episode runs about 20 minutes. Collins said he wants Lawrence alumni to share their unique experiences and offer advice to students who are just beginning their career journey.
He aims for the podcast to feature alumni from each of the eight Career Communities so that students can listen to an episode catered to their own area of study.
There is a widespread network of Lawrence alumni who have a lot of wisdom and advice they can offer students but who aren’t always taken advantage of as resources, Collins said. His goal is for students to gain some insight from alumni who can influence or inspire their plans.
“I figure that if a former student did it and now they’re really successful, then a current student will at least consider doing it because clearly it worked for someone else,” Collins said.
Collins uploaded the first episode about seven months ago. It featured an interview with Josh Dukelow ’02, a history major who is currently the host of Fresh Take on WHBY radio in Appleton. Collins talked with Dukelow about his career trajectory and what led him to particular jobs.
So far, the podcast has five episodes. Several of the interviewees are recent alumni who Collins worked with when they were students – McKenzie Fetters ’19, an editing associate at Guidehouse; Nick Ashley ’18, a data science consultant with Grant Thornton LLP; and Sarah Woody ’19, a graduate student in biology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Collins uses LinkedIn and Viking Connect to reach out to potential podcast guests. Most, if not all, of the alumni are willing to be contacted by students as well, Collins said.
The interviews take place over Zoom. Collins uses a microphone to make his sound quality better and then spends about two hours editing the recording before it’s uploaded to Soundcloud.
“I try to ask questions that are going to generate answers that students might find interesting,” Collins said. “I’m always trying to approach it with a perspective of, ‘Would the student want to hear this answer or not?’”
O’Connor said Collins’ podcast is a tool that partners well with Career Communities, Viking Connect and other efforts to better utilize alumni as resources and mentors for Lawrence students.
“He’s an excellent interviewer and has the ability to communicate a lot of information very quickly and concisely,” O’Connor said of Collins. “The podcast wouldn’t have happened without Ty.”
Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.
More than 3,300 donors stepped up Wednesday to contribute more than $1.97 million in Lawrence University’s Giving Day—both all-time highs for the eighth annual event.
The day was a celebration of being back together after more than a year of remote study, with on-campus engagement events mixed with a virtual campaign to connect with alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends, getting them excited about what’s to come for Lawrence.
Amber Nelson, associate director of annual giving and project manager for Giving Day, said the day was all about supporting students—current and future—and nurturing day-to-day life at Lawrence, mostly through the Lawrence Fund, which provides for campus improvements, sustainability efforts, academic innovations, and student opportunities in arts and athletics. Alumni who signed up as “game changers” matched donated funds as part of various “game changer challenges” on campus and on social media throughout the day.
“We are so grateful that the Lawrence community shined so bright on Giving Day to help us break records for both donors and dollars,” Nelson said.
Nelson said support came from on and off campus. There was a 36% increase in participation from faculty and staff; more than 150 alumni volunteers signed up to help spread the word of Giving Day; and students helped unlock $5,000 of “game changer” funds while organizing and participating in a bag toss challenge.
“The success of this day really was a full community effort—from alumni reaching out to their classmates encouraging them to give, to staff answering phones, to students running events on campus, to the generosity of our ‘game changers’ who provided matching gift funds, to countless other ways people showed their support for Lawrence,” Nelson said.
President Laurie A. Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president in July, participated in her first Giving Day. She joined students for trivia and bag toss challenges.
“There is so much to love about Lawrence, but one thing I notice every day is how much our community cares,” Carter said. “Giving Day is such a powerful and exciting example of that.”
A year ago, Giving Day went entirely virtual because of COVID-19 pandemic protocols. Having on-campus activities again provided additional enthusiasm, another “shining example,” Carter said, of being “Brighter Together.”
All of the “game changer” challenges were met.
“Lawrentians are pretty humble,” said Matthew Baumler, executive director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement. “All that changes on Giving Day when their support, their stories, and their encouragement is heard from around the world. It’s a day that reaffirms our commitment to the mission, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Lawrence University sophomore Tashi Litch is a mandolin player with a passion for bluegrass music and a deep curiosity about the world.
So, when the Orcas Island, Washington, native set out to select a college, he had two priorities in mind. He sought a music conservatory willing to nurture his bluegrass skills, and he sought a college that would allow him to explore academic subjects across the liberal arts. He found what he was looking for in Lawrence’s Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.) degree, launched three years ago with a focus on jazz and improvisational music but open to almost any genre of music. Its 50-50 split between music courses in the Conservatory and non-music courses in the college gave him what he needed.
Litch is now one of more than 30 students who have come to Lawrence via the B.M.A. program since it launched in 2019.
“Lawrence was one of the few that has a college and a conservatory and allows students to participate in both,” he said. “That was pretty important to me, to be able to study music at a high level and also be able to take liberal arts college courses. That’s what drew me in.”
A love of bluegrass
Since arriving at Lawrence, Litch has found his interest in bluegrass nurtured, embraced alongside the classical and jazz repertoire that has long been the Conservatory’s calling card.
He connected almost immediately with a fellow B.M.A. student from Washington state, Evan Snoey, a fiddle player who shares his deep love of bluegrass.
“We knew each other from out in Washington,” Litch said. “He is a year ahead of me and he had felt out the scene here and knew a few players. When I got here, I said, ‘We have to do something, we’ve got to play some bluegrass.’”
That led them to Dominic LaCalamita, a B.M.A. student from Naperville, Illinois, and Ian Harvey, a music and philosophy double major from Seattle. Together they became The Woebegones (they were earlier known as Highcliff).
Coached by Matt Turner, a music instructor in the Conservatory, the foursome has been pushing the boundaries, turning a Billie Eilish song into a bluegrass tune, covering a song by The Strokes, and embracing the progressive bluegrass sounds of the Punch Brothers. They’re also playing some bluegrass standards and have a couple of originals in their set.
They’re getting a chance to show their skills on a big stage during the first weekend of October. The foursome has been invited to perform at the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. They’ll be performing as the Lawrence University Bluegrass Band as part of Saturday’s College Band Showcase.
Litch had connections with some of the festival organizers after having played the festival in his youth as part of a Kids on Bluegrass collective.
“I thought it might be cool to put our names in and see if we can go out there to play,” Litch said. “And here we are. We’re going to be doing an hour-long set on one of the big stages.”
Litch said he grew up playing the fiddle and then the mandolin. He tagged along to jam sessions with his musical family and spent much of his free time trying to emulate the skills of mandolinist Chris Thile. He hit the road during recent summers to play at bluegrass festivals as a duo with his brother.
Now studying at Lawrence and playing in a quartet with other talented music students is raising his game, he said.
“I’m used to playing with a duo, so having the four-piece band was a really different dynamic for me,” he said. “It’s really exciting. There are so many more possibilities and directions we can go with that. I love the more high-energy type of bluegrass that you can do with four of us.”
A beautiful fit with B.M.A.
That’s sweet music to Turner, who has worked closely with the bluegrass foursome while also welcoming B.M.A. students focused on jazz, electronic music, punk, mariachi, global music, and songwriting. They are students looking for high-level music and theory instruction but through a lens of their own choosing.
“I think I can safely say that most of these students would not have come to Lawrence if the B.M.A had not been here,” Turner said. “We’re very excited about all of these students. They’re really good musicians and they’re great scholars, which is an important part of the B.M.A. because it’s a 50-50 split between non-music and music courses.”
Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory, said it’s no coincidence that three of the four members of the bluegrass band are seeking B.M.A. degrees. They are following a path that was envisioned when the program was first rolled out.
“Although the specific track in the B.M.A. degree is called Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation, the program welcomes students interested in a broad range of contemporary music styles,” Pertl said. “The common thread is that all of our students, no matter their primary focus, are musically curious, collaborative, and boundary-crossing. These students have brought bluegrass in as another prominent voice in our multi-faceted musical community, so they really are a perfect fit for Lawrence and the B.M.A. program.”
Litch said he has felt that love since the day he brought his mandolin to campus.
“I’ve been able to improve my skills as a musician technically, but also my theory understanding, especially with jazz theory, which complements bluegrass and makes me a more well-rounded musician,” he said.
“The whole ethos of the B.M.A. program is that anyone is welcome,” Litch added. “So, for me, with bluegrass, it’s been great. It’s been really supported.”
Picture the Lawrence campus. Which scenes scream, “Lawrence,” as soon as you see them? Where would tourists go to get a glimpse of what this college is really like? What sites help connect students to their home away from home?
Chances are, Main Hall Green (MHG) was probably one of the first images that popped into your head—and for good reason. Serving as the centerpiece of campus, this stretch of greenery in front of Main Hall provides the perfect location for any number of opportunities to make your life on campus just a little bit better.
Here’s our guide to utilizing all MHG has to offer.
This is quintessential MHG usage: on any given day at Lawrence, you’re likely to spot someone sitting on the Green with a stack of textbooks and some highlighters. A cool breeze and some sunshine is just the right thing to get you into that focused headspace!
What you need:
A nice picnic blanket protects you from any invading bugs, protruding rocks, or grass stains on your white shorts.
In addition to storing all your schoolwork, your backpack doubles as a pillow for your inevitable mid-afternoon nap.
It’s not a college campus without some avid (and a lot of beginner) Frisbee players. Take a break after classes with a quick game of Frisbee!
What you need:
A Frisbee (Or two? You never know who might want to join you!)
Grab yourself a partner, be it a friend, classmate, or beloved pet.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, there’s nothing like a friendly game of kickball or soccer to get those endorphins flowing. Set up your own game with friends or join Recess Club’s mailing list and show up at one of their scheduled events.
What you need:
A ball and any other supplies you need to set up the field.
Of course, a key part of any sport is bonding with your teammates.
We’ve all gotten used to dining alfresco lately. Grab a couple friends to appreciate the outdoors while also appreciating a delicious meal.
What you need:
Check your mailbox for a clamshell, a compostable container that allows you to take food to-go from the Commons.
Unless you’re eating handhelds, don’t forget to bring utensils!
Clear skies, full charts, can’t lose—is that how the saying goes? Regardless, the night sky above MHG is dotted with constellations and planets, perfect for a night of stargazing.
What you need:
Download an app, like Star Walk or SkyView Lite, to compare your vision to astronomical maps of the sky.
Binoculars (for the true aficionados)
Ready for your close-up? The vibrant colors and quaint architecture of MHG make the perfect background for any Instagram post. For more photo ops on the Lawrence campus, check out our Top 10 photo destinations.
What you need:
A camera with plenty of storage for all background options.
It’s not a photo shoot without a stellar outfit.
Get yourself a hammock: it’s worth it. With various clusters of trees providing shade and branches for your straps, an afternoon on a hammock will take your mind off any stressors in your life.
What you need:
A hammock (this one is maybe a bit obvious).
It’s not a true hammocking excursion without a good book to read.
Rest and relaxation
One of the best things about Wisconsin weather is that it never gets too hot to lay out in the sun. Just lay down in the grass on a lazy Saturday, feel the breeze, listen to the birds, and take it all in.
What you need:
Even if it’s not particularly hot, sunlight can be deceptively damaging: put on sunscreen!
A pair of sunglasses will keep the light out of your eyes.
And, of course, you hardly need an excuse to visit MHG—you can just bring yourself! Find a nice spot, sit down, and take a minute to enjoy the sights and sounds of campus.
Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.
Lawrence University has an opportunity to build on past successes, but it’ll need to do so at a time of significant challenges in higher education, President Laurie A. Carter said Friday in her first Matriculation Convocation address.
Carter, who began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1, said Lawrence isn’t immune to the growing turbulence across higher education—financial pressures heightened by the pandemic, political strife, attacks on the liberal arts, bloated student debt, declining retention and graduation rates, and a coming steep decline in the number of college-age students. But its community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni are ready to rise to the challenge and place Lawrence among the leaders in a new higher education environment.
“Creating a sense of urgency is the first step in the process,” Carter told the Lawrence community in a presidential address that annually serves as a kick-off of a new academic year.
Speaking at Memorial Chapel and via a livestream, Carter reiterated how honored she is to lead Lawrence. She celebrated the university’s 174-year history and its recent successes and invited all Lawrentians to sign up for the hard work to come, even if it means working outside of their comfort zones.
“I am excited for this work, and I feel uniquely positioned for the challenges ahead,” she said. “As an African American woman and leader, discomfort has always been a part of my journey.”
Following Carter’s speech, a video was presented featuring students speaking about why they love Lawrence:
There is much to build on at Lawrence—the success of the recently concluded Be the Light! Campaign, the commitment of dedicated alumni, the size and strength of the newest class, the recent launch of five key academic programs, the addition of several endowed professorships that have strengthened existing programs, and the unity in purpose that has been so evident over the past year and a half.
“The manner in which the community came together to support one another during the pandemic is why we are brighter together,” Carter said.
Let’s celebrate those successes, she said. Embrace the great traditions of Lawrence. But don’t lose sight of the challenges ahead for higher education; they will be significant.
“Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment,” Carter said. “And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it.”
Carter laid out five priorities that will be key pieces of a to-be-built strategic plan — strategic equitable student success; Lawrence brand enhancement; diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; an enhanced integrated university experience; and strategic financial stewardship.
“While these five priorities touch nearly every aspect of our university, from recruitment and retention to the curricular and co-curricular programs, they all are in the service of our students,” Carter said. “And our ability to collectively engage in dialogue and problem-solving around these areas will determine our course for the future.”
Lawrence’s current strategic plan expires in 2022.
Carter also introduced the formation of five guiding coalitions, each with a mix of faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni, to address particular areas that need expedited attention. These coalitions will be tasked with creating a path to meaningful progress in the assigned areas, with timelines focused on the current academic year. The work of the coalitions will help inform the strategic plan.
The guiding coalitions include: Visioning of Our Five Priorities; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism; Full Speed to Full Need; Amplifying Athletics; and 175th Anniversary. Each will have at least two co-leads, one from faculty and one from staff. Members of the Lawrence community are being invited to join the coalitions.
“Our volunteer army will consist of members of the community who are passionate about these issues and are willing to lock arms with others to create meaningful change around them,” Carter said. “You—faculty, staff, students alike—have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before.”
The Convocation, the first of three to be held during the 2021-22 academic year, featured a performance of Mark A. Miller’s Creation of Peace by the Welcome Week Choir, directed by music professors Phillip A. Swan and Stephen M. Sieck. Other elements of the program, including the size of the audience in Memorial Chapel, were adjusted to accommodate pandemic protocols.
Allison Fleshman, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Public Events Committee, announced that Austin Segrest, assistant professor of English, has been chosen as the Honors Convocation speaker in the spring. Multidisciplinary artist Alexandra Bell will deliver the Winter Term convocation.
As the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, Carter encouraged all Lawrentians to lean into the truth Lawrence has long embraced — “light, more light.”
“When the sun was shining brightly, meaning before the public discourse on higher education turned negative and the pandemic disrupted the world, our light shone brighter than ever,” Carter said. “But now that darkness has threatened us, we must use the light within us to demonstrate to the world who we are.”
President Laurie A. Carter will deliver her first Matriculation Convocation to the Lawrence University community at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17.
Centered on the theme of comfort with discomfort, the address will focus on Carter’s priorities to ensure that Lawrence remains a leader in higher education. She will discuss the need to build on Lawrence’s enduring strengths as we look to the future and the challenges facing higher education, and she will call on all members of the Lawrence community to join together to guide Lawrence to a brighter future.
The event will be held in Memorial Chapel with an audience limited to 300 to account for pandemic protocols. It will be livestreamed at go.lawrence.edu/convo so all Lawrentians can watch from their rooms, offices, or another location.
While Memorial Chapel is closed to the public, alumni and friends are encouraged to access the stream to watch.
The Matriculation Convocation address, delivered by the university president each September to mark the launch of another academic year, will be one of three convocations held this year. The others are scheduled for Feb. 18 and May 27
Carter began her tenure as Lawrence’s 17th president on July 1.
“Getting involved is the best thing you can do in college!”
Whether it’s coming from parents, teachers, or alumni, we’ve all heard that advice dozens of times. And yeah, it’s good advice—but honestly, when I was an incoming first-year, I didn’t have a clear idea of what it meant or how to do it. Get involved with what? With whom? To what end?
I mean, seriously, can you get any more vague?
But with a couple years of schooling under my belt, I’m finally getting the hang of this whole “get involved” thing. And if you’re looking to join the club—literally—here’s where you should start your search:
1. Your residence hall is the first stop
Going to residence hall activities is how I met 75% of my friends during my first year, so it kind of had to top this list. Community Advisors (CAs) put in so much effort to create opportunities for you to bond with your neighbors, and a lot of the time, it works. Game nights, trips to the Appleton Farmers Market, tote bag decorating sessions—I did it all, and it’s one of the best decisions I made, so be on the lookout from invites from your CA throughout the year.
2. Fun student orgs are everywhere
When I say there’s a student org for everyone, I’m not exaggerating. With dozens and dozens of student organizations to choose from, each dedicated to a specific interest and activity, you’re sure to find a group of people who just get you. From sea shanties to swing dance, from recess club to social justice organizations, you can explore Lawrence’s student organizations with the directory, or meet potential new friends face-to-face at the annual Involvement Fair, set for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in Warch.
3. Also, tap into professional student orgs
In addition to the many student organizations geared toward student engagement, Lawrence is also home to several professional student orgs, which help students prepare for their post-graduation careers and bond with others on a similar path. Aspiring doctors, lawyers, writers, bakers—and the list goes on—can get involved (plus get a pretty major head start) through membership in one of these organizations.
4. Share your gifts: Volunteer
Volunteering offers you the chance to connect with classmates, get to know the local community, and give back all at the same time. With six distinct service areas, each with a variety of programs, you’re sure to find your perfect volunteering niche. Use Lawrence’s GivePulse page to sign up.
5. Be active with intramurals
Sports: the OG team-building exercise. Whether it’s as an official Lawrence athlete, representing the Vikings in competition, or as part of a more laid-back, recreational team, playing a sport builds bonds across campus, regardless of academic area or professional interest. Explore intramural sports here.
6. Make a difference in student government
If you want to contribute to real change on campus, the Lawrence University Community Council is definitely the way to go. Through the combined work of elected class representatives and appointed committee members, LUCC touches virtually all aspects of the university, from finance to student welfare, as it takes its place as a vital part of Lawrence’s shared governance.
7. Make money and friends with student jobs
Everyone who has worked part-time knows that there is no bond quite like the bond between coworkers. Student employment is no exception, which makes it a key outlet for getting involved with the campus community. There’s no shortage of jobs to choose from, but some of the most popular include food service in the Commons, the circulation desk in the Seeley G. Mudd library, or writing for the Office of Communications! (OK, maybe I’m a little biased toward that last one.) You can use HandShake to find a campus job that is right for you.
8. Trips and togetherness
There’s nothing like a change of scenery to get to know your fellow Lawrentians in a new light. Day trips to High Cliff State Park, weekend excursions to beautiful Bjorklunden, even international travel to gain field experience for an academic course—all these trips (and more!) can help you get involved with your studies and classmates in a more hands-on, distinctive setting.
9. The Lawrentian/WLFM path
If you want to get your voice out there, try your hand at cross-campus communications with The Lawrentian or WLFM Radio. As the official student newspaper of Lawrence University, The Lawrentian is a hub for student news, opinions, photography, and more, while also providing a space for you to hone—or learn—journalistic skills. Likewise, WLFM is broadcast-central for all things Lawrence, with student hosts leading talk shows, music broadcasts, and, annually, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest.
Have a specific interest or passion? Immerse yourself in it while connecting with other students who feel the same way by living in one of Lawrence’s group houses. Passion for art? Art house is a staple on the quad. Want to get off the meal plan and make your own healthy food? SLUG house emphasizes sustainable living and eating. Looking to share a safe space for students of marginalized identities? Sankofa house might be the perfect fit. Live to game? Gaming House could be the place for you. These are just a few of the current options, and even if none of those are for you, keep an eye out for new affinity housing options as they shift, or propose your own.
12. Is Greek life for you?
Participation in Greek life isn’t as common at Lawrence as it is at some other schools, but Greek organizations and members still play a very active role on campus. If you’re looking for a more traditional, social group with a philanthropic orientation, Lawrence has you covered with three fraternities and three sororities to choose from. But if that’s not for you, professional fraternities offer performance, volunteer, and social opportunities for Lawrence musicians, and Beta Psi Nu is a social sorority aimed at empowering women of color. Formal recruitment generally takes place at the beginning of Winter Term, with informal admission occurring at various points throughout the year.
13. Get fit, have fun
It’s easy to associate wellness services with treadmills and counseling—and the Wellness Center does offer plenty of exercise equipment, mental health services, and health care professionals—but participation in wellness activities can also be a great way to get involved! In addition to periodic programs and initiatives geared toward a particular aspect of health and wellness, Wellness Services hosts weekly activities that can be done with a group, including yoga, meditation, and volleyball.
14. Student Life is all about involvement
I know, I know, this one’s a bit obvious, but it’s true! Student Life events are literally designed for the sole purpose of getting students involved, and the Student Life staff knows what they’re doing. I’ve made tie blankets and listened to comedians at the various weekly S.O.U.P. (Student Organization for University Programming) events, and that doesn’t even mention the many beloved Lawrence events that are held annually, like Blue and White Weekend, President’s Ball, and LUaroo.
15. Explore downtown Appleton
Even though we love our little campus bubble, we can’t forget that Lawrence students are an essential part of the wider Appleton community. With a vibrant art, music, and food scene, Appleton regularly presents a vast array of events that allow students to get involved with the rest of the community. For information on the city and upcoming events, check out Appleton Downtown Inc.’s website or Instagram.
Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.
Lawrence University is once again ranked among the best colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
In addition to being included in the 2022 Best Colleges report, placing No. 62 among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Lawrence placed high on four other lists that are part of the annual rankings:
No. 36: Best Value
No. 44: Best Undergraduate Teaching
No. 54: Best First-Year Experiences
No. 167: Top Performers on Social Mobility
Released today, the rankings come as Lawrence opens its 2021-22 academic year amid the excitement of having all of its students back on campus.
“We are, of course, happy to be recognized once again among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “That US News bestowed upon Lawrence a bouquet of additional rankings about the quality of our educational environment makes this year’s ranking season that much sweeter.”
Lawrence moved up one spot in the ranking of liberal arts colleges and maintained its No. 36 ranking for Best Value among liberal arts colleges. The latter speaks to Lawrence’s push to make more need-based aid available in the form of grants and scholarships, bolstered by a Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign that has now raised more than $91 million.
To be considered for U.S. News’ Best Value Schools listing, a school first had to be ranked among the Best Colleges in the nation. Those qualifying schools were then examined on the basis of net cost of attendance and available need-based financial aid.
Placement on the other lists, meanwhile, is particularly gratifying because they each reflect ongoing efforts to make Lawrence more inclusive and to provide a broad, holistic student experience.
Being on the list for Best Undergraduate Teaching is heartening because it speaks to the relationship-building that comes with Lawrence’s 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and the expansion of key academic programs.
“Lawrence’s faculty are not only terrific scientists, artists, and scholars—they are also first-rate teachers,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty. “It’s extremely gratifying to see them receive this much-deserved national recognition for the extraordinary work they do with their students.”
The First-Year Experiences ranking is new for Lawrence this year. It follows efforts across campus to enhance the student life experience in a holistic way, including more coordinated health and wellness outreach, the launch and growth of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, the expansion of the Center for Academic Success, and the more intentional focus of the Career Center in connecting with students in their first year on campus. That has all played into first-year students having positive experiences as they transition to college life.
“You join a community of scholars who are ready to engage you, befriend you, teach you, and learn from you,” Christopher Card, vice president for student life, said last week as Lawrence welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus. “We are a community that’s interested in the whole person, not just the academics. … Fundamentally, all of us are here to learn—with each other and from each other.”
The Top Performers on Social Mobility list speaks to the success of a college advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating economically disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell Grants. The majority of those federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are below $50,000.
The U.S. News announcement marks the second significant national college ranking that Lawrence has landed on in the past two weeks. On Aug. 31, The Princeton Review listed Lawrence as one of the best colleges in the nation, including the university in its annual Best 387 Colleges for 2022 guide. Lawrence was included on several separate lists within the Princeton Review ranking—Best Value Colleges, Best Green Colleges, and Best Midwestern Colleges.
Brighter Together banners and the flags of 31 countries and five indigenous tribal nations displayed on the front of Main Hall provided a dazzling backdrop Thursday as Lawrence University welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus.
“I want you to remember that you are surrounded by light at Lawrence,” President Laurie A. Carter said in a President’s Welcome ceremony that was moved from its traditional space in Memorial Chapel to the outdoor setting in front of Main Hall. “Look around you at your classmates, your faculty, your staff and administration, and the upper-class students. Our lights will always be here to light your path when you need us. That is what it means to be a Lawrentian.”
The President’s Welcome was the centerpiece of a busy move-in day across campus, kicking off four days of New Student Orientation. The sun shone bright and temperatures topped out at 70 degrees; the banners—along with Brighter Together T-shirts worn by students, faculty, and staff—and the flags representing members of the incoming class added to a gorgeous setting as Lawrence continued to bring back to campus all of its students for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year and a half ago.
Large gatherings such as the President’s Welcome and the parents’ reception were moved outdoors to accommodate pandemic protocols.
Returning students will move in this weekend in advance of Fall Term classes beginning on Monday. But New Student Orientation is all about the first-year students, more than 410 strong, and the 15 transfer students now calling Lawrence home. Events ranging from open houses and tours to a resource fair and the signing of the Honor Code highlighted opening day.
“I came to Lawrence because I was drawn to its light,” Carter told the incoming students and their families, gathered amid the trees and flowers in front of Main Hall. “Lawrence’s mission of creating lifelong learners who are committed to making meaningful contributions to society inspires me. But I was also attracted to its faculty, staff, and students, who are committed to working together to make the world a brighter place.”
John Holiday, associate professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, sang of light and unity at the outset of the ceremony. Christopher Card, vice president for student life, and Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of faculty, welcomed the students, imploring them to be actively engaged with their fellow Lawrentians in and out of the classroom.
Senior Kelsi Bryant, president of the Lawrence University Community Council, encouraged the new students to embrace the traditions of Lawrence, many of them built on gratitude and outreach. She joined other members of the Class of 2022 in presenting the class color—purple—to the Class of 2025.
“With our dynamic faculty and supportive staff, you are in very good hands,” she told the first-year students.
Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications, called the incoming class “one of the largest and most impressive” in the history of Lawrence.
“This class has some of the strongest academic credentials we have seen in a long time,” he said. “Considering that they have performed at such a high level while learning in the midst of a pandemic speaks volumes about the resilience and readiness of our newest Lawrentians. They are going to do great things.”
Anselment said members of the class come from 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Another 30 countries are represented, as are five sovereign native nations (Menominee Nation, North Dakota Mountain Chippewa, Hopi Nation, Nenana Native Association in Alaska, and Native Hawai’i).
The state with the largest number of incoming students is Wisconsin (23%), followed by Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, California, New York, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
Anselment said 27% of the Class of 2025 identify as BIPOC or domestic students of color. Another 10% are international students, led by China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Canada.
About 84% of the students are pursuing a degree in the college, with the other 16% seeking a degree in the Conservatory. Twenty-six of those students are doing both.
More than 20% are first-generation college students.
About 100 members of the class will be competing as varsity athletes.
“Brighter Together” was adopted as a mantra to begin this academic year, a nod to both the power of collective light that Lawrence has long leaned into and the return of in-person classes after four terms of mostly distance learning. It is reflected in signage placed all across campus, on the T-shirts donned by faculty and staff to show support for students, and in the words shared by Carter in her welcoming message.
“The last 18 months have been dark days for many of us,” Carter told the incoming students. “The pandemic changed how we live and learn, but it did not change your desire to grow and develop. Your resilience and strength have led you to pursue your higher education at a place that is committed to helping you find your best self, while drawing on your light from within. And that light, when joined with others within our Lawrence community, is why we say we are brighter together.”
“Brighter Together” is a message you’ll hear and see repeatedly as Lawrence University prepares to launch a new academic year, one marked by the arrival of a new president, Laurie A. Carter, and the much-anticipated return to campus of students, faculty, and staff after 18 months of mostly remote learning.
Those two words—Brighter Together—will be displayed on banners hanging in front of Main Hall and on T-shirts and face masks being made available to the Lawrence community, and will be repeated in conversations, in convocations, and in campus celebrations. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but we are together again.
“I think of it as an anthem for this moment in Lawrence’s history and a reminder of our strength as a community,” said Carter, the university’s 17th president since its founding 174 years ago.
Fall Term, beginning Sept. 13, does not arrive without challenges. The spread of the Delta variant has kept us from getting to the finish line of the pandemic. But, the Lawrence community has shown its ability and willingness to work together to overcome pandemic challenges. With a campus vaccine mandate for students in place, once again wearing masks in indoor public spaces, and continuing to Honor the Pledge by following health and safety protocols, we are facing the challenges.
Classes will again be mostly in person. Athletic competitions have resumed. Conservatory ensembles are practicing together. Andrew Commons will be open for meals. Like last year, the university will continue to monitor the health situation and adjust accordingly.
Julia Ammons, a senior biology major from Sheboygan who has spent much of the summer on campus, said she can deal with masks. She just wants to be together with her classmates.
“I have been looking forward to campus getting somewhat back to normal ever since we got sent home in 2020,” she said. “I am really excited to be able to eat in the Commons again with my friends.”
New students set to arrive
Admissions reports a strong first-year class, numbering about 400 students. Welcoming them to Lawrence will be a campus-wide effort, with faculty and staff joining together to greet incoming students who are being celebrated for the resiliency they’ve shown just to get to this time and place.
“For the past 18 months, this year’s class of new students—not just Lawrentians, but nearly every college-bound student on the planet—has been exploring their college options at a distance, with a small percentage of them ever having physically been on their college’s campuses,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. “Every year, we are eager to meet our students in person for the first time—but this year’s eagerness is unprecedented given the circumstances.”
First-year and transfer students will begin arriving for New Student Orientation Sept. 8 and 9. For the first-years, it follows a chaotic and often frustrating end to their high school journeys.
Sophomores, meanwhile, are coming to campus—some also for the first time—having experienced their first year at Lawrence mostly from a distance.
It all ties in to the palpable excitement building as the campus begins to fill up. Athletes from Lawrence’s fall sports teams began moving in to residence halls in mid-August. International students arrived this week, to be followed by first-years and transfers mid-next week, and then other returning students on the weekend. It’ll mark the first time the entire campus community has been together in 18 months.
“I often say that I was drawn to the light of Lawrence—the light of knowledge, the light of truth, and the light each member of our community brings to campus,” Carter said. “The points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light, and our strength as a community shines when we engage in challenging endeavors, share our talents and strengths, pursue our passions, and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.”
A robust welcome to Lawrence
The New Student Orientation will begin the campus’s slow walk toward a new normal, with pandemic-related adjustments in place, as first-year and transfer students go through four days of orientation. The welcome from the president—Carter’s first—will break from its traditional location in Memorial Chapel and instead become an outdoor gathering in front of Main Hall. A reception for parents of new students will take place on the Hamar House lawn.
“This year’s welcome to campus is an even bigger deal than usual because we are essentially welcoming two classes of new students to Lawrence—the 2021 class and the 2020 class, who arrived on campus last year under very different circumstances,” Anselment said.
Sophomores will get their own assist in acclimating to campus. Some were fully remote last year. Others were on campus but mostly with classes delivered via Zoom.
Once here, the sophomores will get an added assist settling into their residence halls, connecting to the Center for Academic Success and the Career Center, and will be able to participate in sophomore programming focused on belonging, community, and purpose.
“We plan to do even more intentional outreach to the sophomore class knowing that they will in some ways have similar transitional hurdles as our first-year students,” said Rose Wasielewski, associate dean of students and dean of the sophomore class. “Regardless of whether they were on campus last year, I want to provide additional opportunities for these students to connect to the campus physically, as well as to each other socially.”
Finding a balance, together
Classes will begin Sept. 13 with the excitement of being together—the 2020-21 academic year had nearly two-thirds of the student body on campus but with most classes being taught remotely and social distancing protocols in place—balanced with the need to keep one another safe. Fall Term protocols will include masks being worn in indoor shared spaces no matter your vaccination status, the return of surveillance testing on campus (weekly for anyone unvaccinated, randomly for others), and rigid rules regarding campus visitors. Details are being shared on the COVID-19 page here.
The first week of classes will close with the annual Matriculation Convocation, set for 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in Memorial Chapel and available via a livestream. It will mark Carter’s first in-person address to all Lawrentians. That day also will feature a community fair organized on the quad by the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) at 5:30 p.m. and a men’s soccer game at the Banta Bowl at 7 p.m.
It’ll all be framed by the “Brighter Together” message.
“We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we navigate the ongoing pandemic,” Carter said. “As I’ve heard many times over the last year, we can’t look to what we knew but, instead, must look to what is new as we live and learn together.”