Tag: Be the Light

Be the Light! closes at $232.6M, adding strength, support for decades to come

Renewal of the Lawrence campus has been a big piece of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University raised $232.6 million in its seven-year Be the Light! Campaign, surpassing the $220 million goal and strengthening the school in myriad ways going forward.

The final tally was unveiled Thursday night at a virtual We Are the Light! campaign-closing event that drew an audience of Lawrentians from all over the world. It was a significant moment in the 174-year history of the private liberal arts college, and it comes in the midst of a pandemic that has tested the resolve and financial fluidity of colleges and universities across the country.

“What is most heartening about the Be the Light! Campaign is the alignment of donor interests and University need,” President Mark Burstein said of the generosity of alumni and other supporters. “The Lawrence community fundamentally cares about this place, the education we provide and the students we serve.”

This wasn’t a campaign to build a new building or expand the campus’ physical footprint. Rather, it was about the renewal of existing facilities, about strengthening and expanding academic offerings, about enhancing the student experience, and about providing scholarship resources to lower student debt and open new avenues for all academically qualified students to be able to attend Lawrence.

“This campaign has touched every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Scholarship, internships, religious and spiritual life, endowed faculty chairs, bricks and mortar projects, athletics, Bjorklunden. It’s just really touched every aspect of who we are and what we can offer to students.”

Flash back to 2014, when a $25 million matching grant from an anonymous donor (it would later grow to $30 million) kindled the possibilities to come. Earmarked for the newly launched Full Speed to Full Need scholarship initiative, the grant was matched by donors in less than 16 months, kickstarting the “quiet” phase of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Then, as Lawrence leadership prepared to go public with the campaign, the boldest fund-raising effort in the school’s history, outside voices urged them to pump the brakes a bit for fear that any goal beyond $200 million would be an invitation to failure. Burstein huddled with campaign tri-chairs David Blowers ’82, Cory Nettles ’92, and Charlot Nelson Singleton ’67, and Vice President for Alumni and Development Cal Husmann. With confidence in the vision of a transformed university, they opted to dream big.

“We were afraid if we set the goal too low it wouldn’t raise the aspirations of the Lawrence community,” Burstein said. “We knew that every dollar would have a direct impact on our students and the quality of the education we offer.”

They settled on a goal of $220 million as the campaign went public in late 2018. It was an audacious undertaking, designed to grow the endowment and support scholarship in ways that would sustain the school’s academic mission for decades to come, even as higher education braces for a multitude of challenges.

“I think we all decided to take the leap of faith together,” Burstein said.

“Exceeding our expectations”

Today’s students and those in generations to come have been at the heart of the Be the Light! Campaign. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

On Thursday night, the fruits of that faith were revealed and celebrated.

More than $91 million was raised for Full Speed to Full Need, providing endowed scholarships that help bridge the difference between a student’s financial aid and their demonstrated need. Burstein called that a core piece of the Be the Light! Campaign, one that drew an enthusiastic response from donors as contributions pushed past the initial goal of $85 million.

“This idea of supporting each of our students and their families to the level that methodology says we should, that just resonated in a way far exceeding our expectations,” Burstein said.

The results are already evident. The Full Speed to Full Need contributions have led to a decrease in the average student debt for graduating seniors each of the past four years, dropping from a high of $34,573 in 2016 to last year’s $29,118. That decline in debt for Lawrence graduates comes as reports show student loan debt trends continuing to rise across the country.

The campaign drew another $31 million to support the college’s day-to-day operations through the Lawrence Fund.

Nearly $26 million was raised for campus renewal, including renovations to Kohler Hall, Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Warch Campus Center, Ormsby Hall, Mudd Library, Brokaw Hall, Banta Bowl, and Alexander Gymnasium, among others. Classrooms are being upgraded in Youngchild and Briggs halls. Landscaping was or will be replaced in multiple spaces across campus. And the Net-Zero Bjorklunden Initiative has been launched, which will eliminate the generation of greenhouse gases from the Door County campus.

The campaign also has delivered five new endowed professorships, strengthening academic disciplines across campus. The Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was created.  An investment of $5 million has revamped and invigorated the Career Center, a major push following a 2018 Life After Lawrence study.

Upgrades on numerous facilities, including the Banta Bowl, have been possible courtesy of the Be the Light! Campaign.

The breadth of the investments is what stands out, making “a profound impact on almost every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” said Blowers, who serves as chair of the Board of Trustees as well as a tri-chair on the campaign. He applauded the vision and the work that went into making it happen.

“It has been such a privilege for me to be involved with our development staff, our tireless volunteer leadership, and President Burstein to mount the most successful campaign to date in Lawrence’s history,” he said. 

Burstein, who announced last summer that he would step away from Lawrence following this academic year, said the ebb and flow of the campaign has been amazing to watch. It was launched a little more than a year after his arrival as Lawrence’s 16th president.

“You start out with the prospectus, but that was seven years ago,” Burstein said. “That intervening time has allowed us to refine the needs and interests. Some things have stayed constant, like Full Speed to Full Need. But the Life After Lawrence Task Force, for example, defined the way forward for career services. That happened after the campaign launched. … Even the things we added, like Spiritual and Religious Life or the investments in the Career Center or going carbon neutral at Bjorklunden, all those move central aspects of the University forward.”

Campaign contributions came from more than 16,000 donors, including nearly 9,000 alumni. While large, multi-million-dollar donations drew the headlines and were critically important, nearly 70% of the gifts came in at $100 or less. For more than 4,000 of the donors, it marked the first time they had given to Lawrence.

Singleton, one of the tri-chairs providing leadership throughout the campaign, called the response from alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters “historic and transformational,” and said all Lawrentians should take pride in what they have collectively accomplished.

“The results of the campaign are already at work as we provide scholarships, create new professorships, develop our co-curricular options, and see our campus being renewed,” she said. “Hats off to each of you who have so faithfully contributed to the success of the Be the Light! Campaign.”

Nettles, also a tri-chair of the campaign, said the investment in student support alone will bolster generations of Lawrentians.

“By every measure, the campaign was a success and exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Meeting an unexpected challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic was nowhere in sight when the Be the Light! Campaign launched. But as he prepared to unveil the final tally on Thursday, Burstein said he couldn’t help but look at the campaign results through the lens of what has transpired over the past year – a Spring Term fully remote; Fall and Winter terms in hybrid mode; students, faculty, and staff striving to maintain the high quality of a Lawrence education through never-before-seen obstacles.

Campaign investments have done more than provide financial flexibility during what Burstein called “a 100-year crisis.” The contributions funded numerous enhancements that have proven to be invaluable as the campus has navigated the pandemic — improvements in air quality in buildings across campus; the Spiritual and Religious Life leadership team that has been key in caring for students isolating or quarantining in Kohler Hall; the growth of the Career Center that has worked closely with new and soon-to-be graduates seeking employment amid economic upheaval.

The architects of the campaign envisioned investments that would prepare Lawrence for the known and the unknown, for the short term and the long term. The pandemic put that to the test even before the campaign concluded. 

“Just so much gratitude,” Burstein said. “The campaign is so hard for me to separate from this past year in the pandemic, how central the investments have been in sustaining this institution and student learning.

“This is what it means to strengthen an institution; it strengthens it for the challenges that come.”

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

Giving Day goes virtual, sees outpouring of support from Lawrence community

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University supporters contributed more than $1.9 million Thursday on the school’s annual Giving Day, the second most in the event’s seven-year history.

In all, 2,987 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends participated in an event that went all virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To see this level of support in these trying times is a testament to the generous spirit of our Lawrence community,” President Mark Burstein said. “We are so very grateful. The funds raised will support the essential needs of our students today and in the future in countless ways.”

Giving Day festivities annually draw attention to how the financial contributions support Lawrence students, from campus improvements and sustainability efforts to academic innovations and opportunities in arts and athletics.

“I don’t think I can properly express how blown away I was by how the Lawrence community came together to support Giving Day,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual Giving and project manager for Giving Day. “The success of the day really shined a light on how impressive the Lawrence community is and how they support each other.”

The Giving Day success is the continuation of momentum that has been building since the launch of the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, quietly in January 2014 and then publicly in November 2018. The campaign, the largest in Lawrence’s history, is scheduled to close at the end of 2020.

A Be the Light! Virtual Happy Hour was held Thursday as part of Giving Day, giving alumni and others a chance to interact. The first-time event was a rousing success, said Matt Baumler, executive director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement.

“It was an incredible display of community,” he said. “Lawrentians and Downerites from around the globe came together to celebrate, to learn, and to share their light.”

Most of the funds raised Thursday will go to the Lawrence Fund, which is used to support the day-to-day operations of the campus and the student experience. The Lawrence Fund is one of the pillars of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Monies donated were matched by supporters who agreed to be “game changers” in the Giving Day campaign. Every game-changer challenge was met, Nelson said.

“I thought it was really impactful to see the engagement that was happening on social media this year,” she said. “One of the Giving Day challenges was #LULights, where we ask people to share a story about someone at Lawrence who changed their life for the better. It was extremely moving reading all of the positive stories of people’s experiences at Lawrence, and it made me very proud to work here.”

The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.

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

Lawrence feels strength of support from alumni, friends amid ongoing challenges

Work is under way to renovate the second floor of Mudd Library into the Center for Academic Success. A $1.5 million fund-raising goal for the project has been met. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Financial support from Lawrence University alumni and friends hasn’t waned amid the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contributions to the Lawrence Fund, a key funding mechanism to support students, the work of faculty, and the upkeep of the campus infrastructure, set a record with just over $4 million contributed during the 2019-20 fiscal year that concluded at the end of June. That surpassed the previous high of $3.9 million in 2015-16.

The Lawrence Fund is key on a number of levels. The funding affects almost every student and classroom, supporting the daily operation of the campus and bolstering everything from scholarships and study abroad opportunities to infrastructure upkeep, Conservatory performances, and athletics. The alumni donor participation rates in the Lawrence Fund also have an impact on national rankings and future funding opportunities. It’s estimated that without the Lawrence Fund and endowment earnings, each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 a year.

Topping the $4 million mark for that fund for the first time is no small thing, said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development.

“The Lawrence community continues to impress with its fierce loyalty,” he said.

The support comes at a time when institutions of higher education across the country are grappling with financial challenges unforeseen at the outset of the year. As the spread of COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic, Lawrence joined other schools in sending most students home for remote classes during spring term, resulting in significant revenue losses. Lawrence trimmed more than $3 million from its operating budget through new efficiencies, cuts in travel and non-essential expenses, and assorted staff furloughs. President Mark Burstein took a 20% pay cut for six months, and the leadership team that comprises the president’s Cabinet each took pay cuts of 10% over that same time period.

The University recently announced that the campus would reopen in the fall, with both students and faculty being given the option to be on campus or continue with distance learning. Classes will be delivered in a mix of in-person and remote formats.

Through it all, the generosity of alumni and other supporters has helped keep Lawrence moving forward despite the ongoing uncertainties.

“Thanks to support from the Lawrence community and high demand from high school seniors for a Lawrence education, the university enters these turbulent times in a strong position,” Burstein said. “Each effort to support our students, faculty, and staff during the pandemic has been made possible through extraordinary investments from our community. Lawrentians’ belief in the future of the transformative education they themselves received motivates us every day.”

Besides the Lawrence Fund record, other notable end-of-fiscal-year examples of generosity include:

  • The Supporting Our Students (SOS) Emergency Fund, set up to help students with unexpected expenses caused by the pandemic, has raised more than $161,000 from nearly 600 donors.
  • The Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign passed its $85 million goal and now sits at $87.3 million. The fund raises money to provide additional financial aid to students who show a demonstrated need.
  • The overarching Be the Light! Campaign, ongoing since 2014 and scheduled to conclude at the end of this calendar year, continues to push toward its $220 million goal. The campaign ended the fiscal year at $214.2 million, a mix of cash donations, pledges, and deferred commitments from more than 15,800 donors.

The generosity that continued as the pandemic brought deep challenges over the past five months highlights the importance of the long-nurtured relationship between Lawrence and its alumni and community supporters, Husmann said. That the support never wavered is a testament to the bonds that connect Lawrentians through generations and the commitment to meet the needs of current and future students.

“During the pandemic, we surpassed the $85 million goal for Full Speed to Full Need, which is allowing us to provide more financial support to our students and their families,” Husmann said. “The community also made additional gifts for the SOS Fund, which helped hundreds of students navigate the sudden shift to distance learning during third term.”

The SOS funds have helped students with expenses ranging from emergency travel and temporary storage to short-term food and housing needs.

Other highlights on the fund-raising front during the just concluded fiscal year:

  • When J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 established the endowed Riaz Waraich Dean for Career, Life, and Community Engagement, he challenged the Lawrence community to match the $2.5 million gift. Contributions toward that match now stand at $2.2 million, providing support for internships and other career exploration.
  • Contributions toward the development of a Science Learning Commons in Youngchild Hall have grown to $429,000. The goal is $1.4 million.
  • Kuo-ming Sung was named the first professor to hold the Wendy and KK Tse Professorship of East Asian Studies, established by Wendy and KK Tse ’81 as part of the Be the Light! Campaign.
  • The goal of $1.5 million to renovate the second floor of Mudd Library into the Center for Academic Success was met. Work on the center is under way this summer, with expectations for it to open by the start of Fall Term. Other campus renewal work supported by gifts during the fiscal year include Brokaw Hall renovations, new bleachers in Alexander Gym, and new landscaping in front of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center.

The Be the Light! Campaign saw new contributions totaling $32 million during the year, up from the $26 million to $27 million range in preceding years. To see that happen amid the uncertainties of the pandemic was particularly satisfying, Husmann said, noting that alumni and other supporters have shown an appreciation for the difficult challenges facing the University and its students as preparations are made for an academic year that’ll be unlike any that came before.

“I’ve been motivated and heartened to hear numerous accolades of support and encouragement from our community and the expression of this through financial support,” Husmann said. “We are grateful.”

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

One family’s generosity nurtures four new Lawrentian student journeys

Lawrence photographer Danny Damiani paid a visit to the Kaukauna front porches of each of the Paulson Scholars: From left top: Bailey Underwood ’20, Isaac Wippich ’21, Molly Ruffing ’22, and Enna Krnecin ’23.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Bailey Underwood ’20, Isaac Wippich ’21, Molly Ruffing ’22, and Enna Krnecin ’23 have a few things in common when it comes to their college paths.

All four are proud Lawrentians. All four hail from Kaukauna, a 10-minute drive east of the Lawrence University campus. All four are distance learning from their Kaukauna homes during spring term. And all four can point to a generous Kaukauna family as an impetus to their Lawrence journeys.

Four years ago, when Tom ’93 and Mary Paulson and their three children, Sarah, Nick ’14, and Erik ’16, committed $2.5 million to create a Lawrence scholarship fund, the dream was for four Kaukauna students to be attending Lawrence as Paulson Scholars year in and year out.

That dream has been building since 2016, one scholarship at a time. This marks the first year Paulson Scholars can be found in each of the four classes at Lawrence.

Underwood, the first recipient, is a fourth-year biology major. Wippich is a philosophy and psychology double major who was a visiting student at the University of Oxford in England before the COVID-19 pandemic brought him home. When he graduates next year, he will be the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Ruffing is a second-year student pursuing a psychology and English double major. And Krnecin is part way through her first year with her options wide open.

Bailey Underwood ’20

“Not only did the Paulsons make it financially feasible for me to attend college, they shared genuine compassion and support every step along the way,” Wippich said. “They brought us Scholars out to dinner and engaged with us about our passions with sincere curiosity.”

Similar thoughts are echoed by each of the Paulson Scholars, each of whom say the Paulsons helped them realize a dream of attending Lawrence. The annual scholarship provides the full demonstrated financial need for four years to a Kaukauna High School graduate attending Lawrence. If no Kaukauna students are eligible or interested, the scholarship expands to other Fox Cities students. It focuses on high-need applicants.

Tom Paulson said he and his family, so grateful for how Lawrence has impacted their lives, made the decision to create a scholarship fund after Lawrence launched its Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) financial aid initiative as part of the Be the Light! campaign. The $85 million FSFN target has been reached, the university announced Monday.

The timing was right, the need was there, and the chance to support students in their Kaukauna hometown just felt right, Tom Paulson said.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity, and almost a responsibility to pay it forward.”

The commitment has been more than financial. The Paulsons annually invite the Paulson Scholars to dinner. They stay in touch, and offer advice, solace, and mentoring as needed.

Isaac Wippich ’21

Tom Paulson graduated from Lawrence in 1993 at age 32, completing a winding path that included going to school while working full-time and supporting a growing family. Two of his children, Nick and Erik, would later graduate from Lawrence.

“The Paulsons are genuinely interested in how to continue to improve Lawrence and also how we are all doing as individuals,” Ruffing said. “They remember who we are and what we’re passionate about and urge us to continue to reach our full potential.”

For Underwood, the opportunities she’s had at Lawrence go well beyond the classroom. The research she’s been able to do within the biology department is just the start.

“I was lucky enough to pursue my own research and experience the scientific process truly from beginning to end, and I’m seeing it in my Senior Experience project,” she said. “This would not have been possible had I gone to another school and had I not had the Paulson family supporting me. They have truly become a second support system, for which I am so thankful. Because of Lawrence, I can truly say I’m a scientist, but also a flautist, a Francophile, a psychology geek, and so many other things because the education Lawrence provides allows me to be all of those things.”

Krnecin, meanwhile, said attending college would have been “much more difficult and complicated” if not for the Paulson support. “Without their help, I would not be at Lawrence,” she said.

Molly Ruffing ’22

Tom Paulson’s unlikely path through Lawrence

Tom Paulson’s own Lawrence journey came about in a non-traditional way. He was working full-time at the Institute of Paper Chemistry, then located in Appleton, and took advantage of a tuition agreement between the Institute and Lawrence, whereas he could take a course per term on the dime of the Institute. He did that for six years, starting in the mid-1980s. But when the Institute relocated to Atlanta, the tuition agreement ceased.

“I was kind of out on my own, wondering how I was going to find my way through the rest of my degree,” Paulson said. “I had senior status but I would still have probably three-plus years of part-time schooling. It was incredibly expensive doing it that way.

“I had a growing family. We were a family of four at that time. That really wasn’t feasible and it looked like I maybe wasn’t going to make it.”

That’s when then-chemistry professor Jerry Lokensgard stepped up and said he and others would work with Paulson to see him through to graduation.

“I think the operable word was ‘we’,” Paulson said. “He was invested in this, which is really amazing to me. He had already talked to the financial aid department and talked to professors and looked my schedule over and did a lot of leg work on his own.”

They found a path where Paulson could juggle full-time work and school to complete his degree in a year.

Enna Krnecin ’23

“I just don’t think this could have happened anywhere else,” Paulson said. “It was incredibly humbling that he did all this. So, we ended up doing exactly that, enrolling full time for a year. And I had to continue working. My wife and I had just had our son, Nick, so we were struggling financially, as young couples do, but the financial aid that came through and the generosity of complete strangers really made it happen.”

Paulson would get that degree, setting him on a career trajectory that would include two successful business start-ups.

“It was really the most transformative, humbling, busy, crazy year of my life,” Paulson said of that 1992-93 academic year. “But, not only the financial support, but support from my professors was amazing. If I needed to miss a lab because I was traveling with my work schedule, they’d allow me to do it at night or on weekends. It seemed like a team effort to get me through this. To me, that’s the Lawrence difference.”

Seeds had been planted

Tom Paulson said he and Mary had talked for years about giving back to Lawrence when the time was right. When Nick and then Erik attended Lawrence, they both had transformative experiences that further solidified the family’s commitment to the long-term health of Lawrence.

“When Nick and Erik were both at Lawrence, we started talking as a family about this idea,” Tom Paulson said of making a financial commitment to the school.

They settled on the idea of an ongoing scholarship fund to support students from Kaukauna. It became part of the Be the Light! campaign, which to date has raised more than $208 million toward the $220 million goal.

For more information on the Be the Light! campaign, see here.

Tom Paulson speaks during a Be the Light! campaign event held during winter term in the Warch Campus Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

“It was a great thing for us as a family,” Tom Paulson said. “The kids know this is money that is somehow coming out of their pockets down the road. That was a real powerful motivator for us. The ability to sit down as a family and openly discuss this.

“Everything came together as a real magical moment. A match came in, the Be the Light! campaign was here, and everything just flowed together. I am overwhelmed at the response to the campaign, and I love the fact that we’re involved.”

For the four students now benefiting from the Paulson decision, the generosity is not taken lightly.

“It’s a wonderful experience having donor support from such caring people, and I honestly cannot imagine my Lawrence experience without the Paulson family,” Ruffing said. “It has made me truly feel valued and part of a community greater than just the current student body.”

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

The Paulson family (from left): Tom ’93, Sarah, Nick ’14, Mary, and Erik ’16.

Lawrence’s Full Speed to Full Need campaign surpasses $85M milestone

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) campaign has reached a historic milestone, passing the $85 million goal set six years ago.

Nearly 1,200 donors have contributed gifts and pledges along the way, pushing the tally to $86.8 million, University leaders announced Monday.

“When we began the campaign, our goal was to ensure Lawrence remained affordable to all students no matter family income. Thanks to the support of the university community, this goal has now been achieved,” President Mark Burstein said. “I am so grateful to every donor whose investment guarantees hundreds of students can attend Lawrence every year in perpetuity.” 

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

Meeting, and then surpassing, the $85 million goal is a huge step forward. More than 300 students have received full-need scholarships to date. The average debt of Lawrence’s graduating seniors has declined by $5,000 since the campaign began even as the University’s comprehensive fee has increased. This lower average debt at graduation is in contrast to the rising debt numbers nationally.

Hitting the campaign goal is welcome news in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development.

“During uncertain times, many of us seek out things that help give us hope for the future—FSFN represents that hopeful future as an investment in our students today and for years to come,” he said.

The Full Speed to Full Need initiative, one of the key strategic priorities of the Be the Light! campaign, was jump-started by a $25 million gift from an anonymous donor. Support has flowed in since as alumni and other supporters have responded to the need to make a Lawrence education attainable for all students who qualify academically.

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

FSFN scholarships are aimed at covering the gap between the full ticket price of enrollment and a student’s demonstrated ability to pay, meaning more students are taking out fewer loans to cover that gap. It is leveling the playing field for families with limited resources.

The average student debt for new Lawrence graduates has dropped to $29,504, its lowest mark in 10 years. It hit a high mark of $34,573 in 2015-16 and has dropped steadily each year since the Full Speed to Full Need campaign launched. The percentage of Lawrence students graduating with debt dropped to 54.7% in 2018-19, also the lowest mark in a decade.

About 70% of Lawrence students receive some level of need-based aid.

Of the Full Speed to Full Need scholarships that have been awarded to date, 61% of the recipients have been students of color and 45% have been first-generation college students.

Dave Blowers ’82, chair of the Board of Trustees and co-chair of the capital campaign, called the support for FSFN inspiring.

“As a first-generation college student at Lawrence who had a financial need and received a significant financial aid package, I personally understand the importance of scholarship support,” he said. “This investment in the future of Lawrence and our students will pay dividends for years to come. I especially want to thank the anonymous donor family that started us on this journey. Their foresight has changed the trajectory of hundreds of students’ lives.”

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

$200 million mark surpassed as Be the Light! campaign enters stretch run

Aerial photo of Kohler Hall.
Important upgrades in Kohler Hall will be among the campus renovations being supported by the ongoing Be the Light! campaign. Campus Renewal is one of four priorities in the $220 million campaign that has now passed the $200 million mark.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University has passed the $200 million mark in its Be the Light! campaign, a major milestone in the largest campaign in the university’s history, President Mark Burstein announced to the Board of Trustees today.

More than 15,500 alumni and friends of Lawrence have supported the campaign since it launched six years ago with an ambitious goal to raise $220 million.

“The impact of Be the Light! is already profound,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development, pointing to declining student debt at Lawrence as the school draws closer to being a full-need institution, new curricular initiatives in cognitive neuroscience and computer science, among others, and revamps in residence halls and classrooms.

Some contributions to the campaign, which has now reached $203.8 million, have been massive, including the $30 million matching gift to Full Speed to Full Need that launched the campaign in 2014 and others that have been in excess of $2 million. But many others have been smaller gifts that add up to major contributions. More than 14,000 gifts have come in at $50 or less, adding up to nearly $400,000.

“This demonstrates that every gift makes a difference,” Husmann said.

The campaign is now in its stretch run, with a closing set for November. Contributions have already strengthened each of the four campaign priorities — $83.5 million for Full Speed to Full Need, $72.4 million for the Student Journey, $27.8 million for the Lawrence Fund, and $20.1 million for Campus Renewal.

Keeping that momentum rolling through the campaign’s end will be critical.

Tom Paulson ’93 spoke at a recent Be the Light! campaign event held in the Warch Campus Center, telling alumni gathered how enthused he is to see the number moving closer to the $220 million goal. He and his family — two of his children are Lawrence alumni as well — pledged $2.5 million to the campaign, helping to support students via scholarships.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity, and almost a responsibility to pay it forward,” Paulson said.

An anonymous donor matched his family’s $2.5 million gift, boosting it to $5 million.

“Everything came together as a real magical moment,” Paulson said. “That $2.5 million match came in, the Be the Light! campaign was here, and everything just flowed together. I am overwhelmed at the response to the campaign, and I love the fact that we’re involved.”

Husmann called the $200 million milestone a significant marker that will provide momentum during these final 10 months of the campaign.

“The success of Be the Light! is a product of the strength of our community,” he said.

Charlot Singleton ’67, one of the tri-chairs of the campaign, said today’s milestone announcement is worth celebrating for what it means for current and future Lawrentians.

“This is great news for our students and faculty,” she said.

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

Generous donors put Lawrence’s annual fundraising at near-record levels

Nabor Vazquez '19 gives a presentation as students and faculty look on during Lawrence University's Biofest 2019.
Nabor Vazquez ’19 gives a presentation during Lawrence University’s Biofest 2019. A wide variety of academic endeavors are supported by the Lawrence Fund, which had its second best giving year to date.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The generosity of Lawrence University supporters shone bright in the 2018-19 fiscal year that concluded at the end of June.

Monies raised for the Lawrence Fund, a key funding mechanism to support students, the work of faculty and the upkeep of the campus infrastructure, surpassed $3.9 million, the second highest one-year total in the school’s history.

But that is just one slice of the good news the school is reporting. The overall giving across all funds topped $24.4 million, the fourth highest ever.

The ongoing generosity of donors speaks to the deep relationship Lawrence alumni and other supporters have with the school, the desire to enhance the Lawrence experience for today’s students and the pledge to pay it forward for future Lawrentians, said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development.

“The impact of philanthropic investment in the college is profound and enhances all aspects of the student experience,” he said.

The Lawrence Fund plays a significant role in the campus’s operation, supporting everything from scholarships, study abroad opportunities and research to infrastructure maintenance, Conservatory performances and athletics. It affects every student and every member of the faculty and staff in some measure.

Students and faculty pose for a selfie on a D Term trip to Hong Kong in 2018.
Study abroad opportunities are supported by the Lawrence Fund. Here an LU group poses for a selfie in Hong Kong in December 2018 while studying sustainability, livability and urban design.

The alumni donor participation rates in the Lawrence Fund have an impact on national rankings and future funding opportunities. It’s estimated that without the Lawrence Fund, each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 per year.

“Gifts to the Lawrence Fund keep the entire academic and co-curricular offerings robust,” Husmann said. “Donors have invested in the curriculum, allowing us to add new professorships, enhance classrooms, and fund student-faculty collaborations.”

The $3.9 million raised in the Lawrence Fund is second only to the $3.91 million raised in the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

Meanwhile, the overarching $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, which launched quietly in January 2014 and had its public launch in November 2018, has reached $182.3 million in gifts and pledges. The ongoing campaign, the largest in Lawrence’s history, includes the Lawrence Fund as one of its four cornerstones. It also includes the Full Speed to Full Need initiative to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying students, the Student Journey, which has welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.

The recent $2.5 million gift from J. Thomas Hurvis ’60 to create an endowed professorship to teach the psychology of collaboration is the latest in a string of endowed positions, supported by Lawrence alumni, that have boosted and diversified the school’s academic offerings.

Mike O’Connor recently began his work as Lawrence’s new Riaz Waraich Dean of the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC), a newly endowed position that aims to better prepare students for life after Lawrence by, in part, enhancing connections with alumni in the students’ fields of interest.

The Full Speed to Full Need fund has made progress toward its goal of reaching $85 million, Husmann said. When that number is finally reached, it will mark a major milestone for the university in its ongoing commitment to make sure the doors are open to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

The fund has already delivered direct financial aid assistance to 250 students, and another 100 incoming students are expected to benefit in the 2019-20 academic year.

“The Lawrence community has rallied around the Full Speed to Full Need fundraising initiative in an increasingly strong fashion,” Husmann said. “With more than $82 million raised, we can provide more financial resources for our students than ever before, which is driving LU student debt down — against a national trend of increasing student debt.”

That sort of engagement is seen from Lawrence alumni all year round, Husmann said, and not just in the form of financial gifts or pledges. Lawrence alumni give back to Lawrence in other ways, too, he said.

“Hundreds of alumni serve as resources for the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement, volunteer with Innovation and Entrepreneurship, volunteer with admissions, and serve on boards and advisory groups. This reflects the enthusiasm Lawrence alumni have for their alma mater.

“We in the Lawrence community are so grateful for this impressive support.”

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