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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.

Abby Guthmann Wins Grand Prize in ACM Photo Contest

Abby Guthmann’s study-abroad experience in Tanzania generated a lifetime of memories—and an award-winning photograph.

The senior biology major from St. Paul, Minn., was selected as the Grand Prize winner in the Abby Guthmann's "Girls in the Shambaas"Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s 2013-14 Off-Campus Study Photo Contest. Guthmann’s photo, “Girls in the Shambass” was taken while Guthmann was hiking through the Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania.

“Children would often run after us and ask for their pictures to be taken,” said Guthmann. “These two followed me through the shambass, hoping to get a few more pictures. After asking if I could take one more, they grinned and clenched their fists with excitement as I took the photo and showed it to them.”

Guthmann traveled to Africa in fall 2012 to participate in the ACM Tanzania program Ecology and Human Origins at the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Her photo was selected among 109 entries submitted for the contest by ACM colleges’ off-campus study offices. Guthmann’s winning photograph will be part of a traveling digital photo exhibit at ACM campuses during winter and spring 2014.

This is the second year in a row that a Lawrence University student has taken home the Grand Prize in the ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest. Xavier Al-Mateen ’13 took top honors last year with a photo he took during a study-abroad trip to Senegal.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.



Lawrence University Named one of Nation’s “Greenest” Colleges

For the second straight year, Lawrence University’s commitment to sustainability has earned it inclusion in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges.”

The guidebook, released Wednesday, April 20, recognizes 308 U.S. and three Canadian colleges and universities that have demonstrated exemplary efforts toward environmental responsibility.

Developed with the U.S. Green Building Council, the second edition of the 220-page guidebook highlights colleges that have demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.

The guide profiles the nation’s most environmentally-responsible campuses, spotlighting each institution’s ecological commitment based on several criteria, including building certification using the USGBC’s LEED certification program, use of renewable energy resources, formal sustainability committees and recycling and conservation programs.

Lawrence was cited for its Green Roots environmental initiative, which promotes environmental awareness on the campus and the Committee on Environmental Responsibility, which facilitates dialogue among students, faculty, administrators and community members about the direction Lawrence should take on its path to sustainability.

Other factors include the Warch Campus Center’s LEED Gold certification by the USGBC, the student-run sustainable garden that provides fresh produce to the dining hall, the composting of all food prep waste and the college’s vibrant environmental studies program which draws faculty from 11 different departments and focuses on research projects that lead to solutions for real world environmental problems.

The guide also cited Lawrence students for developing position papers for the Sierra Club, conducting amphibian, bird and water quality surveys for Menasha’s Heckrodt Wetland Preserve and working at New London’s Wind River Bird Rehabilitation Center.

Most recently, Lawrence finished 10th nationally among 363 colleges — and first among 15 Wisconsin colleges — in the 2011 Recyclemania competition’s per capita recycling category (39.15 lbs/person).

“We continue to make great strides on the sustainability front,” said Jeff Clark, associate professor of geology and faculty associate to the president for the Green Roots initiative. “We’ve conducted a waste audit for campus, have acquired state and utility funding for a windmill at Bjorklunden and have moved to using 100 percent recycled paper across campus. That our efforts are being noticed off campus motivates us to continue to move forward.”

According to a 2011 The Princeton Review study, 69 percent of 8,200 surveyed college applicants said information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school.

“College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president for publishing. “To that end, we highly recommend the terrific schools in this book.”

The schools selected for the 2011 guidebook were based on a 50-question survey conducted in 2010 of more than 700 colleges across the U.S. and in Canada used to tally “Green Rating” scores scaled from 60 to 99. The 311 schools profiled received scores of 80 or above in that assessment.

Nothing Trivial About This Birthday: Lawrence University’s Marathon of Minutia Turns 40!

Back when a first-class stamp set you back a nickel and the Beatles’ “We Can Work it Out” was tearing up the pop charts, Lawrence University student J.B. deRosset decided he would try to build a better mouse trap.

While no mice were ever caught with deRosset’s creation, he did manage to ensnare a generation of college students who, for the past 40 years, have turned matters of minutia into an annual 50-hour artform of outrageous questions and answers.

Welcome to the 40th edition of Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest, the nation’s longest-running salute to the obscure and inconsequential, where first-place prizes like toilet seats and bags of Ramen noodles are revered as badges of honor.

Broadcast on the Lawrence campus radio station, WLFM, 91.1 FM, the madness marathon begins Friday, Jan. 28 at the all-too-appropriately insignificant time of 10:00:37 and runs through midnight Sunday, Jan. 30. Fifty continuous hours of off-the-wall questions culled from the minds of a team of student “trivia masters,” all designed to challenge — and occasionally stump — even the best “Googlers.”

In honor of the contest’s 40th birthday, deRosset, who holds near cult-like status among Lawrence trivia diehards, is returning to the scene of the crime, flying to Appleton from his home in Miami, Fla., to spend the weekend as the contest’s guest of honor.

“J.B. is our Great Grand Master, our hero,” said Jonathon Roberts, a senior from Sturgeon Bay who is serving as this year’s trivia grand master. “If it weren’t for him we would just be sitting around staring blankly for 50 hours in a row this weekend. But because of him, we have an actual activity. For many of us, up until now he has just been an untouchable being of history. It will be an honor to finally meet the mythical legend.”

It was the dead of winter of 1966 when deRosset, then a senior at Lawrence, began plotting how to improve an idea he stumbled upon while visiting a woman-of interest who was attending Beloit College at the time.

“Some group at Beloit was putting on a trivia contest at their student union. My only recollection was that it was a lame, pathetic, pitiable attempt,” deRosset recalled of his original inspiration. “I knew it could be done a whole lot better. I came back to campus all enthused about how Lawrence could do a better job at a trivia contest.”

With the help of two friends who worked at the campus radio station at the time, deRosset started tinkering.

“The three of us created the synergy needed to create a weekend radio contest,” said deRosset, 61, who has since built a successful career doing legal and financial planning work for McDonald’s Corporation. “We spent a month or two drafting questions, each of us utilizing our particular specialty. Mine at the time was rock and roll. Somebody else watched too much TV, and another had comic books.”

The first contest — only 26 hours long — hit the airwaves in May of ’66, coinciding with Lawrence’s annual “Encampment Weekend,” an academic retreat in which select students and faculty members headed off to discuss issues of great importance. deRosset engaged those students who were left behind in an intellectual battle of a different sort, asking them to call in answers to esoteric questions asked during the course of a radio broadcast. The team that answered the most questions correctly received a fitting prize for a contest of this ilk: an old refrigerator filled with 45 rpm records.

Forty years later, the Internet has altered the trivia contest landscape — computers and laptops with high-speed network connections have gradually replaced mountains of almanacs, encyclopedias and reference books as the “weapons of choice” — but the spirit of the contest retains much of its original verve.

“Trivia is the perfect relief from the winter blues,” said Roberts. “Everyone is exhausted from the cold this time of year so the idea is, with 50 hours of sleeplessness, we push you over the edge into a world of complete ridiculous exhaustion. That’s the land where real creativity and fun lies.”

“And people love the prizes,” Roberts added. “I mean, where else can you win seven pounds of human hair and a broken TV in exchange for 50 hours of your life?”

At the time, deRosset had no idea his idea would have such staying power. But with the perspective of 40 years, he’s not entirely surprised, either.

“We had such great camaraderie that it was simply a blast that winter of 1965-66 putting together the concept and working on the details,” said deRosset. “I have to believe the same is still true today, even if the academics sometimes get in the way. It is sort of like playing football for USC or the University of Miami, but without the large payoff or the disabling injuries.

“From the listeners’ viewpoint, I don’t believe college humor will ever get old,” deRosset added. “As cable TV pushes the major networks to lower their taste thresholds to newly discovered subterranean depths, maybe the Lawrence trivia contest will not be that different. But I love the team names. I love the irreverence. I love all the strange pieces played during the contest, especially the Monty Python stuff. Most of all I love the brief relief it gives in an increasingly troubled world.”

From “Frying Nemo” and “Apocalypse Cow” to “Smarter Than the Average Bush,” creative, often outrageous and sometimes borderline offensive team names add a playful dash of fun to the weekend.

Playing this year as The West Bank of Kaukauna Concealing Weapons of Mass Deduction, a team of several dozen smarty pants twentysomethings who gather annually from eight states, including California and New York, has dominated the competition in recent years. The Bank, which has won four consecutive trivia titles and six of the last eight, will be among the 60 some teams expected to vie for this year’s off campus title. Joining the 8-10 on-campus teams this year will be a special team made up primarily of recent Lawrence alumni.

Bigger. Stronger. Faster. That is how Roberts promises to make this year’s 40th trivia contest.

“The 40th edition of the contest is a milestone,” said Roberts, “and we’re going to mark the occasion with harder questions, more extreme action questions, more ridiculous skits and more celebrity guest spots. We have been building this up
for 40 years now and let me tell you, trivia, like life, begins at 40.”

To help celebrate trivia’s 40th birthday appropriately, Roberts has organized a special “pre-contest” party Friday, Jan. 28 from 7:30-9 p.m. in Riverview Lounge of the Lawrence Memorial Union for all the trivia teams to gather and meet each other prior to waging their battle of wits.

New Lawrence President Jill Beck will make her trivia debut by asking the contest’s opening question, which by tradition, is always the final “Super Garruda” question from the previous year. All those paying attention should be able to start this year’s contest with an easy 100 points because they will know by now what casts a shadow on Jesus in the DeBakey Room in the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Last year, no team was able to correctly identify the cupped hands on a sculpture of Dr. Michael DeBakey as the source of the shadow.

For additional information on the contest or how to register, visit

In addition to being broadcast on WLFM, the entire contest also will also be webcast at