President Burstein talks liberal arts education on WPR ‘Morning Show’

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein joins host Kate Archer Kent Thursday morning on Wisconsin Public Radio's "The Morning Show."
Lawrence University President Mark Burstein joins host Kate Archer Kent Thursday morning on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show.”

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein appeared Thursday morning on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show” with Kate Archer Kent to talk about challenges facing higher education, the value of a liberal arts college and the need to assist students in navigating the costs of college.

Below are excerpts from what President Burstein had to say on the live show. To listen to the interview, click here.

On the type of connection a private institution such as Lawrence can have with the surrounding community:

“One of the things that really drew me to Lawrence and the Fox Cities was what I would consider a symbiotic relationship between the college and Appleton and the Fox Cities. Appleton is actually named for Amos Lawrence’s wife, her maiden name. And that relationship, that connection is so alive and well today. We collaborate on so many different things, Appleton and Lawrence, and we really both together create a more vibrant place for all of us to live.”

On the draw to a private liberal arts college?

“We do provide a different type of education. The faculty-student ratio at Lawrence is 8 to 1, which allows us to provide a more individualized, engaged learning experience for every student on campus. And that can be summer research opportunities in laboratories or it could be individualized study.”

On helping students navigate costs of college?

“At Lawrence, this has been a real focus for us. … Our stated price is about $57,000 a year. But 98 percent of our students get aid. And that aid on average is half the cost. So, it halves the costs every year.

“And we’re really trying to raise even more money to increase that grant aid to students and families. Right now, our average debt that a student graduates with is $31,000. That has decreased over the past six years. And we’re trying to get it down to about $25,000. So, for Lawrence, it is a sustainable proposition. We’re really trying to raise more money to support every student and family to ensure they can afford a Lawrence education.

“On the other hand, not every private institution has the kind of resources Lawrence has. We have an endowment that’s over $300 million. We have an extraordinarily generous community that surrounds us. It’s really something that students and families have to think about. What is the debt you would have to take out for a four-year college education, and is that sustainable for you?”

On how the Full Speed to Full Need campaign came about at Lawrence?

“Full need means the institution, the college or university, has enough resources to support every family to the level that federal methodology says that we should. What surprised me … is that there are only 70 full-need institutions in the country. And there are over 3,000 institutions that teach undergraduates.

“One student came in … said he was working 38 hours a week, he already took out $20,000 in debt, he was a first-term sophomore and he needed to take out more to complete that year. … His parents were divorced, his dad had just been evicted from his home for not paying his rent, his mom worked in a bookstore, and he loved it at Lawrence and wanted to stay there. And I started by saying, maybe you should think about transferring to your local state institution, where maybe the finances would be different for you. He said, ‘Mark, you didn’t hear one part of what I just said, which is I love it here.’ …

“So that started me on this odyssey of what it means to be full need. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Lawrence community we’ve now raised $79 million in scholarship aid, which goes into the endowment and supports students and families absolutely every year, including that student, who did graduate from Lawrence with more aid.”

On the battle to keep enrollment numbers up?

“In general, we are seeing declining enrollment in colleges across the board, both in public and private institutions. We see that in the UW System as well. That’s a demographic change, which is we have fewer high school seniors graduating in the United States. …

“Lawrence is very fortunate in that we have a student body of 1,500, and strong demand for the education we offer. About 25 percent of our students come from the state of Wisconsin, but 75 percent come from elsewhere. We have 47 states represented on campus and actually over 70 countries around the globe. That kind of demand is essential for both the future of Lawrence but also for the learning experience; interacting with this diverse population is part of the learning we offer.”

Cultural Expressions brings talent to the stage; check out photos from the big night

Kyree Allen sings during Cultural Expressions.
Kyree Allen was among the performers at Saturday’s Cultural Expressions.

Cultural Expressions, a showcase of talent ranging from music to dance to spoken word, highlighted a festive Saturday night at Lawrence University.

The annual performance event brought People of Color Empowerment Week to a rousing close.

The Saturday festivities started with a dinner in the Intercultural and Diversity Center. That led into a gallery exhibit that put student works in the areas of art and film on display in the Mead Witter Room in the Warch Center, followed by the talent showcase on stage next door in Esch-Hurvis.

Here are some photos from the big night. You can find more photos here.

Bjornerud’s ‘Timefulness’ brings in string of literary honors

Marcia Bjornerud poses for a photo on rocks in Svalbard, arctic Norway.
Marcia Bjornerud in Svalbard, arctic Norway. Photo by Emily Thiem ’08.

The accolades keep rolling in for Marcia Bjornerud’s 2018 book that explores Earth’s deep past and the lessons we need to take from it to ensure a more sustainable future.

Bjornerud, the Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Sciences and Professor of Geology at Lawrence University, has received a number of national honors for Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World.

The latest comes from the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, where Timefulness has been selected as a finalist in the category of Science and Technology. Bjornerud joins four other finalists for the award, set to be announced April 12 at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, one day before the opening of the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The honor follows a January announcement that the Bjornerud book had been selected for a PROSE Award from the American Association of Publishers in the category of popular science and mathematics. She was one of 48 winners in subject categories, selected from 156 finalists.

That followed the news in December that Timefulness had been long-listed for the PEN America Awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious literary awards. Bjornerud was nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing, which honors “a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.”

Bjornerud said she’s savoring the attention from the run of literary awards, in part, because it shows the book is finding an audience.

“I wrote the book in the belief — possibly naive — that if more people understood our shared history and destiny as Earth-dwellers, we would treat each other, and the planet, better. So, it is tremendously heartening to find that the book is gaining visibility and reaching receptive readers.”

In the LA Times Book Prize competition, Bjornerud is joined in the Science and Technology category by Mona Hanna-Attisha, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City; Rose George, Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood; Eliza Griswold, Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America; and Beth Macy, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.

The complete list of finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize includes, among others, Michelle Obama, Susan Orlean, Michael Ondaatje and Terrance Hayes. There are 10 categories in the annual literary prize competition.

In her book, Bjornerud writes of the dangers of not paying attention to the passage of time as it relates to the Earth’s history. The rocks can tell us important things.

“As a species, we have a childlike disinterest and partial disbelief in the time before our appearance on Earth,” Bjornerud writes in Timefulness. “With no appetite for stories lacking human protagonists, many people simply can’t be bothered with natural history. We are thus both intemperate and intemporate — time illiterate. Like inexperienced but overconfident drivers, we accelerate into landscapes and ecosystems with no sense of their long-established traffic patterns, and then react with surprise and indignation when we face the penalties for ignoring natural laws.”

Timefulness, which includes illustrations from Lawrence alumnae Haley Hagerman ’14, has drawn rave reviews for its ability address complex geological issues in an accessible way.

Science wrote: Timefulness is a delightful and interesting read. The author’s cadence and the illustrator’s … figures made me feel as though I was having a glass of wine with a friend who was explaining geologic history while sketching on a napkin.”

Timefulness was published by Princeton University Press.

Alumni get chance to reconnect, give back through Bjorklunden seminars

Registration is now open for Bjorklunden summer seminars

Link to video of Bjorklunden
Video: Bjorklunden

The 2019 Björklunden summer seminar lineup will feature a strong showing by Lawrence University alumni eager to return to their roots at the university’s pristine northern campus.

The lineup features 40 speakers, with topics catering to a wide range of interests. Fourteen of the instructors will be Lawrence alumni. That’s no coincidence.

“We try to get alumni as well as current Lawrence faculty (to teach seminars),” Director of Björklunden Mark Breseman said. “We think it is a positive thing for everybody.

“We figure alumni can attract some other classmates, which is a cool thing, and the same goes for the faculty.”

Robert Spoo ’79, who holds an endowed chair in law at the University of Tulsa and is a former English professor and editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, is among those Lawrence alumni excited for that connection. He’s been a frequent instructor at Björklunden, and returns in June to lead “The Ulysses Starter Kit,” a seminar that will explore James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, as well as Joyce’s life, Dublin of the early 1900s and Irish history, music and culture.

“There are various ways we can give back to LU,” Spoo said. “One of those ways, for me, is to step into a role — teaching — that had such a great impact on me when I was on the learning side of the lectern. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t borrow something in my own classroom work that inspired me as a student at LU.

“Conducting seminars at Bjork is both an opportunity to give back in kind through teaching and to strengthen my connection as a LU alumnus. It’s especially satisfying when I can teach a subject at Bjork — in recent years it’s been the Irish author James Joyce — that I first encountered at LU.”

This year’s Björklunden seminar topics come in the areas of art, geology, film and television, history, literature, music, politics, religion and more. The seminars are open to both commuters and residents, who are housed in the estate’s 37,000-square-foot lodge, located on 425 acres just south of Baileys Harbor along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

One of Lawrence’s most visible alumni, ABC News chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran ’82, will lead a seminar titled “Americans First: We Don’t Actually Hate Each Other as Much as You Think.”

This is Moran’s third visit to Björklunden as a summer seminar instructor, with previous forums also focused on American politics.

Joining him in the political category is Paul Wickham Schmidt ’70, who is co-teaching the seminar, “American Immigration: A Legal, Cultural & Historical Approach to Understanding the Complex and Controversial Issue Dominating Our National Dialogue.”

Lawrence alumni are also instructing literary and artistic seminars. In addition to Spoo’s seminar on Joyce, Daniel Taylor ’63 will dive into Homer’s Odyssey, while Eric Simonson ’82 spearheads the Door Kinetic Arts Festival.

The summer seminars at Björklunden allow the lecture-goers to explore the northern campus and engage with the beautiful scenery in Door County.

Most seminars, which include meals prepared by Björklunden’s resident chef, begin Sunday evening and end Friday afternoon. Classes meet weekday mornings and some evenings, with remaining time available to enjoy Björklunden’s mile-long Lake Michigan shoreline and wooded walking trails or to explore Door County’s cultural and recreational opportunities.

A daily registration has been introduced this year. For $90 per day,  you can jump into a seminar for a single day.

Complete seminar information, including registration, dates, course descriptions and instructors, can be found at http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/bjork/ or by calling 920-839-2216. Questions can also be directed via email to mark.d.breseman@lawrence.edu.

By Nicole Witmer ’19

Bjorklunden’s summer seminar lineup

June 9-14: Listen to the Birds – Don Quintenz; Door Kinetic Arts Festival – Eric Simonson ‘82

June 16-21: Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World – Marcia Bjornerud

June 23-28: A New Leaf for Your Art – Marjorie Atwood; The Ulysses Starter Kit – Robert Spoo ‘79; Wildlife Photography: Turning Passion into Productivity – John Van Den Brandt

July 7-13: Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp – Bob DeRosa

July 14-19: Villains, Maidens, and Spirits: An Introduction to Russian Folklore – Victoria Kononova; Modern China Through a Lens of History and Art – Shelley Drake Hawks & Brigid E. Vance; Medieval Women: Life, Work, Space and Place – Jane Schulenburg ‘65

July 21-26: Dwight Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Dulles Brothers: American Foreign Policy in the 1950s – Tim Crain; Revolutionary Russia: Politics and Culture from Lenin to Stalin – Peter Thomas; The Great Failure: Why World War I Began, Continued, and Never Ended – Jerald Podair & John Greenwald

July 28-August 2: Americans First: We Don’t Actually Hate Each Other as Much as You Think – Terry Moran ‘82; The American Civil War: News and Views – James Cornelius ‘81

August 4-9: American Immigration: A Legal, Cultural, & Historical Approach to Understanding the Complex and Controversial Issue Dominating Our National Dialogue – Paul Wickham Schmidt ’70 and Jennifer Esperanza; When History Meets Philosophy – Terry Goode; Paraphrases and Reminiscences: Exploring the Art of Piano Transcription – Anthony Padilla

August 11-17: Watercolor: The Expressive Medium – Helen Klebesadel; Three Wives of Abraham – Bill Urbrock; Smartphone Photography: Exploring Creativity with Your Camera – Philip Krejcarek

August 25-30: What Makes a Classic Movie Classic? Learning to Understand the Difference Between a Classic Film and “Just an Old Movie” – Jack Rhodes; The Geopolitics of Energy: Past, Present and Future – Tom Cutler ’73 & J. William Ichord; The Prosecutor’s Art: From the Streets to the Suites of the Oval Office – Steve Licata ’75 & Charlie Schudson

September 8-13: Creating Emotional Landscapes Through Poetry – Marilyn L. Taylor; Wildflowers, Birds, and Mushrooms – Don Quintenz & Charlotte Lukes; Human Microbes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – David W. Hines ‘76

September 15-20: Watercolor: A Fresh Start – Helen Klebesadel; The Migration Phenomenon: Perspectives from Both Sides of the Atlantic – Christopher Murray ‘75; TV’s Middle Period, Late ‘70s to Century’s End: Time of Tele-Transition – Paul McComas ‘83

September 22-27: Stealing the Show: Memorable Supporting Players of the Classic Film Era – Jack Rhodes; Prosperity to Debacle: The Third Century Crisis in Roman History – Gerry Max ‘67; Experience Björklunden: Explore Door County on Your Own

September 29-October 4: Lincoln’s Spies – Doug Waller; Homer’s Odyssey – Daniel Taylor ‘63; Experience Björklunden: Explore Door County on Your Own

October 6-11: Baseball Double Header: Classic Baseball Films and the 2019 Postseason – Steven Landfried ‘66.

Excellence Ball, Cultural Expressions to highlight 2019 Empowerment Week

Cultural Expressions, a five-year tradition at Lawrence University, returns on Feb. 23, the conclusion of People of Color Empowerment Week on campus.

Performers are on stage during a past Cultural Expressions event.
Cultural Expressions features music, dance, poetry and more.

A week of activities celebrating and empowering people of color on the Lawrence University campus will kick off Saturday with a new event, the Excellence Ball.

It will be held Saturday night in the Esch-Hurvis Studio in the Warch Campus Center to officially launch the annual People of Color Empowerment Week.

The week, featuring a series of speakers and performers, will culminate with the Cultural Expressions talent showcase, set for Feb. 23. Check out a video preview here.

The Excellence Ball is the new entry this year. It will be a stylish affair, with attire billed as black-and-white formal wear. It runs from 8 p.m. to midnight and organizers say it aims to be a gathering to “acknowledge the accomplishments of people of color and to come together as a community to uplift each other and to have a good time.”

Music will be provided by DJ King Szn.

Cultural Expressions, meanwhile, is all about showcasing talented Lawrence students. Following a 4 p.m. dinner in the Diversity and Intercultural Center, an art gallery will be featured in the Mead Witter Room in Warch, showing students’ work in a range of art, film, poetry and sculptures. That’s followed by a series of performances in music, dance, poetry and spoken word beginning at 7 p.m. next door in Esch-Hurvis.

Admission for all of the student-organized events is free. All of the events are open to the public.

Awa Badiane ’21, president of Lawrence’s Black Student Union (BSU), said the Excellence Ball was added this year to provide a more significant launch to Empowerment Week.

“We’ll have posters and framed pictures up of people who represent black excellence,” she said. “The Obamas will be up, Maya Angelou, and others with captions underneath to describe who they are. It’ll be decorated like a ball. It’ll be a formal event with everyone dressed up.”

Like Cultural Expressions, the new ball is being organized by BSU.

“There was never really a celebratory event to say, hey, this is going to be a week about empowering and uplifting,” Badiane said. “So we’re going to start it off with this.”

Empowerment Week activities are being organized by All Is One: Empowering Young Women of Color (AIO), led by President Krystin Williams ’19.

Empowerment Week participants will include Vision, a spoken-word artist, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Diversity and Intercultural Center; Sin Color, a Latin band from Los Angeles, performing at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Warch Campus Center; and Brienne Colston and Jaz Astwood, two Lawrence alumnae with New York City-based Brown Girl Recovery, facilitating a conversation on community accountability at 7 p.m. Friday in the Diversity Center.

Also planned is the showing of the movie “The Hate U Give,” set for 6 p.m. Monday at the cinema in the Warch Campus Center. Organizers also are working to set up an open mic at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Diversity Center.

Brown Girl Recovery is an organization in the Bronx that “aims to create avenues of support and community for black and brown folks through innovative and social justice-based programming, workshops and events,” according to its web site. It was founded by Colston, a 2015 LU graduate. Astwood, also a 2015 graduate, works with the organization.

“I think it’s nice to have alumnae from this campus back who did a lot for people of color while they were here,” Williams said of bringing Colston and Astwood in for Empowerment Week. “To bring them back and show the progress and how they’re still helping women of color in their own hometowns.”

Badiane said seeing alumni return for Empowerment Week sends an important message to current students.

“As a person of color on this campus, I do see the effects that POC Empowerment Week has,” Badiane said. “It’s essentially empowering you while you are on campus. It says I matter. And you see representation throughout campus, and you see accomplished people who get invited back. …. And you say, wow, that’s my goal.

“You see people who were in your shoes taking steps toward their goals or who have reached their goals, and you’re doing what they had been doing. So, you deserve an opportunity to celebrate that.”

Much-anticipated performance of Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ ready to open

Lawrence Opera Theatre’s presentation of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” runs from Thursday through Sunday at Stansbury Theater. Here’s what you need to know before you go. Tickets are available via the Lawrence Box Office

Image from video interview with Robert SchleiferA Lawrence University production of Leonard Bernstein’s highly acclaimed “Mass” will be staged this week with a significant twist.

The much-anticipated production by Lawrence’s Opera Theatre Ensemble, led by Copeland Woodruff, the award-winning Director of Opera Studies and Associate Professor of Music at Lawrence, will incorporate a Deaf character played by professional Deaf actor Robert Schleifer.

“My inspiration was two-fold — the obvious metaphor of our current society, where people have a difficult time listening to one another, and the inclusion of community members who might not necessarily attend an opera,” Woodruff said.

American Sign Language (ASL) and Pidgin Signed English (PSE) will be used throughout the production. Twenty-one members of the student ensemble have spent weeks learning to communicate in sign language.

There’s a lot to unpack with this production, opening Thursday (Feb. 14) and running through Sunday (Feb. 17) at Lawrence’s Stansbury Theater.

A cast member gets makeup applied before rehearsal.
Actors prepare for Tuesday’s dress rehearsal of “Mass.”

First, there’s the staging of a production as wide-ranging as “Mass,” which was both acclaimed and controversial when it debuted in 1971 and is being presented now as part of the world-wide celebration of Bernstein’s 100th birthday.

Woodruff and his ensemble are collaborating with members of two local children’s choirs to reimagine Mass, structured like a Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass but mixing sacred and secular texts and music. The celebrant leads the ceremony, and the Deaf character is the voice of the congregation challenging the celebrant. They argue and search for answers to universal questions together—their diversity highlighted by an eclectic blend of blues, rock, gospel, folk, Broadway, jazz, hymnal, Middle Eastern dance and orchestral music. Ultimately, they affirm the value of faith and hope for peace.

“Distinctive productions like Mass provide students with a rich educational opportunity to practice being a singer-actor, hone full-bodied communication skills, as well as develop appreciation and respect for the experience of others,” Woodruff said. “We hope that students will learn that the arts can be a powerful vehicle for personal and societal awareness and change.”

Actors on stage use sign language during dress rehearsal.
Sign language is used in real time throughout the production.

That speaks to the addition of Schleifer’s Deaf character, a statement on the difficulties we have in communicating when ideological differences come between us, be it political, religious or otherwise. It’s also a nod to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities and the daily struggles they endure.

“The use of ASL and PSE underscores the struggle to communicate, particularly between Deaf and hearing communications and within the Deaf community itself,” Woodruff said.

Community connections

Woodruff has a track record of partnering with community groups to examine socially relevant issues through opera. Members of the production team hope Mass will reach more than 2,000 people in the Fox Valley, many of them from the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

“It is rare — even at the national level — for a signed opera to be produced and performed,” Woodruff said. “The majority of our area’s theater-going public would not ordinarily experience this type of performance. Mass will open dialogues about faith and inclusion to our community.”

Besides Schleifer, Kristine Orkin, a local interpreter for the Deaf, and two professional vocal/style specialists are participating in the production. Schleifer, along with Lawrence student performers, will sign most of the opera’s lyrics in real-time during the performance. Deaf audience members also will be able to read supertitles.

Lawrence student Erik Nordstrum, who shares the main role of the celebrant with Aria Minasian, said he has learned a lot about himself through his work on the production.

“Through working on this piece, I realized that I have not been listening to other people, or to myself, as intently or as consistently as I would like to, and that so many human failures stem from a failure to communicate,” he said.

Minasian, meanwhile, has taken lessons from members of the Deaf community she’s interacted with in the lead-up to the production.

“Learning about the Deaf community and applying it to the show has been awesome,” she said. “I’ve also found challenges with figuring out how to be a female celebrant in a Roman Catholic church setting. This show has a lot to unpack and many different ways it can be presented and interpreted, leaving a lot to the performers and production team.”

Religious conversations

Congregants from four Fox Cities faith communities have used this production of Mass as a vehicle to talk about how we communicate – or more likely, don’t communicate – when it comes to our differences.

“The Mass is this touchpoint for us,” said Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life at Lawrence.

Morgan-Clement’s office has been collaborating with Woodruff to bring together public conversations about Mass. She led a discussion at First Congregational United Church of Christ that included participants from that congregation as well as Memorial Presbyterian Church, First English Lutheran Church and the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. It was a chance to talk about our often jumbled and conflicting faith journeys and the barriers that keep us from communicating effectively. The arts — and in this case, Bernstein’s Mass — can be used to engage people in conversations they might not otherwise have.

“It gives people a touchpoint around which to come together,” Morgan-Clement said. “It’s not just let’s get together and talk about the ways we don’t talk.”

This production provides a plethora of jumping off points in that conversation.

There’s the modern music, the discord, the journey of doubt playing out on stage, all crashing into the deep traditions of a Catholic mass. It provides an avenue for discussion of our differences and our similarities.

“So, it opens up this moment in today’s time for people to talk about the ways in which we … are still being human together, sharing this earth, a lot of commonality in our emotional framework and the ways we operate,” Morgan-Clement said. “And in what ways do the symbols and the language get in our way of actually hearing each other?”

‘Touches my soul’

For Schleifer, the blending of opera with sign language is powerful and moving.

Robert Schleifer performs on stage during dress rehearsal.
Robert Schleifer performs in a dress rehearsal of “Mass.”

“My love of opera is longstanding, its visual language fascinating — depicted through conductor wand gyrations, the energetic dance of bodies fused with instruments in orchestral rhythms, singers’ storytelling through facial expression and movement and breathing strength — the power I see touches my soul,” he said.

Bernstein’s Mass – full title is Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers — debuted in 1971 after the famed composer was asked by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to compose a piece for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Seeing it unfold on an LU stage come Thursday night with sign language being incorporated throughout will be an emotional moment for Schleifer.

“Bernstein’s Mass project has been both a challenging and awesome experience,” he said, “from the sound of the music itself and the abstract concepts portrayed through tone and inflection, which I cannot hear, relying on facial and body cues, figuring how to match American Sign Language with operatic language, to the awesome collaboration with Copeland and Kris, who helped me understand the complexities of poetic language, appreciate the culture of opera, and together watch the beautiful magic unfold.”

On stage

What: Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14 through Saturday, Feb. 16; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17

Where: Stansbury Theater, Lawrence University, Appleton

Cost: $15 ($8 for seniors and non-LU students; free for LU students and staff)

Contact: 920-832-6749,  boxoffice@lawrence.edu, or buy online

 

 

Dean selected to lead Center for Career, Life and Community Engagement

Michael O’Connor has been selected as the new Riaz Waraich Dean of Lawrence University’s Center for Career, Life and Community Engagement.

Currently the Director of Career Exploration at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, O’Connor will fill the newly endowed deanship. It’s supported by a $2.5 million gift from J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 that was announced in November at the launch of Lawrence’s $220 million Be the Light! Campaign.

Portrait of Michael O'Connor
Michael O’Connor

O’Connor will begin his new role May 1, overseeing a revamped and reenergized office that prepares students for life after Lawrence, develops and sustains networking connections with alumni near and far, assists in fellowship opportunities and enhances career connections in the community. He will report to Christopher Card, Vice President for Student Life.

For O’Connor, the opportunity to put into play the recommendations that came from the Task Force on Life After Lawrence – the final report was released in May 2018 – was too good to pass up. He praised President Mark Burstein’s leadership, saying the enhanced commitment to career services for all Lawrence students ties in well with other initiatives designed to make Lawrence more accessible and increasingly responsive to student needs.

“I love the strategic direction the school is going under Mark’s leadership,” O’Connor said. “I love how the college is smart for investing in its core strengths, and raising its national profile while increasing affordability/accessibility and leveraging its unique learning environment.

“I love the integration of fellowships, community engagements, and career services under CLCE, and see limitless potential for connecting our broader mission to both the broader Lawrence and Appleton communities.”

Card said O’Connor’s appointment “is the culmination of a national search for a distinguished professional to lead the center.”

O’Connor comes to the Riaz Waraich Deanship following more than five years as director of the Career Exploration program that is part of the Career Center at Williams College. He is second in command at the Career Center, and spent seven months as its interim director in 2015-16.

He previously served as director of the Office of Career Planning at Sage Colleges in New York, and worked in career services at Union College in New York and Hiram College in Ohio.

He has a bachelor’s of arts degree with a major in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a master’s of arts and social sciences degree from Binghamton University with a concentration in student affairs and diversity.

Associate Professor of History Monica Rico, who was a member of the Lawrence search committee, said she was impressed not only with O’Connor’s wide-ranging work with students but also his collaborations with faculty.

“Mike has a proven record of developing, implementing, and refining approaches to post-graduate life that connect with students at all phases of their college experience,” Rico said. “He’s emerging as a nationally known expert on career planning for liberal arts students.”

Anne Jones, who has served as the interim dean of the CLCE for the past year, will continue in that role until O’Connor arrives in May.

“I want to acknowledge the amazing work by Anne Jones, who has led that department with distinction since February of last year,” Card said.

The deanship is named after Hurvis’ business partner, Riaz Waraich, as recognition of how quality partnerships are often key to career success.

That’s a theme O’Connor is looking to build on in his new role.

“I loved the thoughtful design of the position and fabulous work by the Life After Lawrence Task Force,” he said. “I think the CLCE team is poised for big things.”

Lawrence ranks among ‘Best Value Schools’ in the country, places 4th on Impact Schools list

Lawrence University has been recognized as one of the “Best Value Schools” in the country by The Princeton Review, ranking No. 4 in the category of best schools for making an impact.

Photo of the cover of the book, "The Best Value Colleges"
Lawrence University is included in the newly released book from The Princeton Review, “The Best Value Colleges.”

Lawrence is one of 200 schools selected for inclusion in the 2019 edition of the newly released book, The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment.

ROI references Return on Investment.

Within the book, Lawrence is ranked No. 4 in the category of Impact Schools, a category driven by student ratings of their experiences on campus, including student engagement, service, government and sustainability, and by the percentage of alumni who report that their jobs have “high meaning.”

In The Best Value Colleges – an annual release that was previously titled Colleges That Pay You Back – “we recommend the colleges we consider the nation’s best for academics, affordability, and career prospects,” according to the book’s editors at The Princeton Review.

The 200 schools that were selected were not ranked in any particular order. But within the book, Top 25 rankings were done in several categories, including Impact Schools.

The book lauds Lawrence for its academic strategies, including the Freshman Studies program, its “significant financial aid and scholarship opportunities,” its social activities that have “an altruistic bent” and its effective career services outreach to graduating students.

The ranking is one more reminder that the value of a Lawrence education continues to resonate long after graduation day.

“Lawrence has been transforming students’ lives for generations,” said Ken Anselment, Vice President for Enrollment and Communication. “So we are thrilled that the Princeton Review, which started measuring this phenomenon a few years ago, has once again rated the experience of our alumni so highly.”

The book highlights Lawrence’s commitment to financial aid and scholarships.

Lawrence has garnered national attention for its “Full Speed to Full Need” campaign designed to help bridge the financial gap for students who show a demonstrated need. The campaign has raised more than $74 million since 2014 and Lawrence is on its way to becoming one of only about 70 universities nationwide to be designated as full-need institutions.

Bolstered by a $30 million matching gift to kick off the campaign, the school has made a bold commitment to “make Lawrence accessible and affordable by meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student.”

The Impact School ranking, meanwhile, speaks to the experience on campus and beyond.

“When families are considering the return on their investment in a college,” Anselment said, “we like to talk about this particular ranking because it highlights that Lawrentians feel that their careers and lives have meaning and that they are truly making a difference in the world.

“What better outcome could you ask for from a college experience?”

Lawrence University on list of schools producing most Fulbright recipients

With five recent graduates teaching abroad on Fulbright awards, Lawrence University landed on a prestigious list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright students this year.

Fulbright logoEach year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

The 2018-19 list that features Lawrence  was published Monday in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Five students from Lawrence received Fulbright awards through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program for academic year 2018-19, tying a school record previously set in 2014-15. Lawrence has had at least one Fulbright student recipient every year since 2006-07. The school has had multiple recipients in nine of the past 11 years.

“The designation as a top-producing institution reaffirms that our students continue to excel at the highest levels and that a Lawrence education is well recognized as rigorous, competitive and influential,” Vice President for Student Life Christopher Card said. “That we have earned this distinction is cause for celebration for the whole institution, in part because it is a collective, institutional effort to prepare our students to ‘be the light’ for all to see.

“We are grateful to the scholars, their faculty supporters and fellowship staff for their hard work and dedicated energies – they have made us proud and deserve our gratitude.”

The five Lawrence Fulbright recipients this year:

Nalee Douangvilay ’18, who studied English, is spending her Fulbright year teaching in South Korea.

Augusta Finzel ’18, who studied biology and Russian studies, is teaching in Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland, and studying the effects of climate change on the local population.

William Gill ’18, who studied German and government, is teaching in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

Elena Hudacek ’18, who studied Spanish and linguistics, is teaching and leading conversation circles at the National University of Colombia in Bogota.

Emilio Salvia ’17, who studied biology and German, is teaching at a gesamtschule, a comprehensive school in Harsewinkel, Germany.

Kia Thao, Coordinator of Pre-Professional Advising and Major Fellowships at Lawrence, said the Fulbright honor highlights the numerous opportunities students have to pursue fellowships and scholarships.

“Getting recognized as one of the top-producing institutions is an acknowledgement of the great things Lawrence students can achieve,” she said. “I would like to encourage Lawrence students to dream big dreams and to apply to as many fellowships and scholarships as they are eligible. In addition to receiving the grant, the benefits of applying to scholarships and fellowships are also valuable.  The process of applying to any scholarship will help students develop a clear sense of their career goals, enhance their writing and interviewing skills, and personal growth.”

Being on the list of top-producing schools is notable and speaks to Lawrence’s world view, officials with the Fulbright program said.

“We thank the colleges and universities across the United States that we are recognizing as Fulbright top-producing institutions for their role in increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Fulbright competition is administered at Lawrence through the Center for Career, Life and Community Engagement.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 390,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns, according to a statement released by the Fulbright program. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries.

Lawrence has had 57 student recipients since 1976.

The annual application process requires a commitment from the students, faculty and staff, Thao said.

“I would like to acknowledge the faculty who were part of the interviewing committee in this application cycle, Ruth Lunt, Alison Guenther-Pal and Matt Stoneking. I would especially like to thank Bob Williams and Pa Lee Moua for their continued support with the 2018-2019 application cycle.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas.

Eleven Lawrence faculty members have earned Fulbright awards since 1995.

In addition, some 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit eca.state.gov/fulbright.

New Diversity Center director provides guidance on academic, social transition

Dr. Brittany Bell believes strongly in the need for universities to provide support to help first-year students in the often anxiety-filled transition to college life.

Portrait of Brittany Bell
Brittany Bell

The reward is seeing them come back for a second year.

For students from underrepresented backgrounds, that transition to college can be fraught with even more potential bumps in the road.

In her new role as assistant dean of students and director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence University, Bell is putting new focus on smoothing the edges for students making that transition.

Bell began her new duties in mid-January, coming to Lawrence after six and half years on the staff at St. Norbert College, where she served as assistant director of multicultural student services and then student success librarian.

At St. Norbert, she was involved in improving first- and second-year student persistence rates, developing programs that help with the college adjustment and increase the likelihood of a student returning for their sophomore year.

“I’ve done a lot of research in first- and second-year persistence and in student success, so being able to … put something like that into practice was something I knew I could do here,” Bell said.

Lawrence launched its Leadership and Mentoring Program (LAMP) several years ago to provide that added assist to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Much of that has focused on the social end of college life, Bell said. She’s looking to expand the program with new emphasis on the academic side, improving interaction with faculty and staff and nurturing leadership skills.

Bell said having a background that has included both academic programming and student life administration gives her insight into navigating both sides of the student experience. If one side of the equation is out of sync, the student will struggle.

“I can see how they connect to their academics but I also can see how they need to connect to student services,” she said.

Bell has been impressed with what she’s seen so far of the students utilizing the Diversity and Intercultural Center, located on the first floor of Memorial Hall.

“There are definitely leaders here,” she said. “There are a lot of leaders. They are already doing programs, and a lot of these things they are doing on their own. … Usually (faculty and staff) are the drivers. But the students here are the drivers.”

The Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement, Lawrence’s Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, led the search to fill the assistant dean position. She said Bell’s work involving a variety of student experiences was impressive.

“The faculty, staff and students who served on the search committee were impressed with Brittany’s genuine interest in Lawrence and the strong background she brings to the position,” Morgan-Clement said. “Her research and practical background situate her well to vision and lead the move toward (growing) a Diversity and Intercultural Center that will serve our increasingly diverse campus.”

Bell, who has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a master’s from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a doctorate from Edgewood College, previously worked in student life positions at Kearney and then Carroll University before joining St. Norbert in 2012.

She had her eye on Lawrence long before January.

“I had been connecting with Lawrence quite often through my other role with multicultural students at St. Norbert,” she said. “I knew a lot about Lawrence University and I knew all about the programs here and I knew that if I ever was going to continue on in student services that a position like this would be something that would be appealing.

“So, when the opening came, I was like, yep, this is where I want to be.”

Business and volunteer spirit

Off campus, Bell is on a mission to serve.

She and her partner, Chris, and their two children, own and operate an apparel line called God’s Purpose Apparel, creating and selling clothing featuring inspirational messages such as “I dream big,” Love thy neighbor” and “Blessed.” Much of their apparel is sold through their web site, godspurposeapparel.com, but they also set up shop occasionally at vendor fairs and other nearby events.

They spin that apparel venture into regular volunteer gigs at Green Bay area homeless shelters, donating time, some of the proceeds from sales and even some of the apparel. They run a weekly Alpha Group at St. John’s Homeless Shelter in Green Bay, providing a meal and engaging visitors to the shelter with discussions of faith and life.

Lessons learned during nights at the shelter provide interesting insights to her work on campus, Bell said.

“Sometimes our students are going through similar struggles and we don’t see the signs,” she said. “My work there has helped me identify different things that I can see within our students.”