Tag: Commencement

Class of 2021 celebrated for courage, resilience: “You have shone brightly”

The Lawrence University Class of 2021 celebrates at Commencement in the Banta Bowl. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Commencement held at Banta Bowl to accommodate pandemic protocols; farewell honor given to Burstein

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

They rose to the challenges of a rigorous Lawrence University education and persevered through obstacles no one could have imagined when they arrived on campus four years ago. On the morning of June 13, with Commencement moved to the Banta Bowl to better accommodate pandemic protocols, the Class of 2021 was celebrated for not only their many accomplishments but also their resilience and courage.

“Despite the circumstances life throws at us, we must find those glimpses of hope and joy,” said Jailene Rodriguez ’21, who served as senior speaker.

It was a theme echoed frequently during the ceremony, one held in the midst of an unusual June heat wave that provided its own challenges.

 “You have shown grit and determination, and you have thrived,” Commencement speaker Dr. John R. Raymond Sr. told the nearly 300 graduates, most in person but some looking on remotely. “Facing enormous challenges, you responded with courage, resolve, exemplary professionalism and volunteerism—and you have shone brightly, brilliantly.” 

For more photos from 2021 Commencement, see a gallery here.

For the first time ever, the Banta Bowl served as the setting for Lawrence’s Commencement ceremony. It was moved to the Banta Bowl to better accommodate pandemic protocols.

Watch a video replay of the Commencement ceremony here.

The graduates’ journey through Lawrence was, of course, much more than persevering through the COVID-19 pandemic. But there was little doubt the pandemic, which dramatically altered the class’s final four terms, weighed heavily on the experience. The presence of masks, social distancing, and limited seating at Commencement spoke to that, as did the Banta Bowl setting, which subbed in for the traditional Main Hall Green.

Raymond, the president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and a frequent guiding voice for Lawrence and others during the pandemic, spoke in glowing terms about how Lawrence and its students stepped up despite unrelenting public health and economic challenges.

“Your responses have made you stronger, have tested your resolve, and have tempered you so that you will turn future challenges into opportunities,” he said. “And you have validated the Lawrence experience as formative and essential to who you are, and who you will be.”

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), delivers the Commencement address.

With COVID vaccines now readily available, and confirmed cases of the coronavirus across the country in rapid decline, Commencement returned to an in-person celebration following a year in which the pandemic forced the 2020 ceremony to be presented virtually.

Graduates on Sunday were shuttled from the main campus to the Banta Bowl, and faculty, led by Faculty Marshal Kathy Privatt, showed out with traditional regalia. The pomp and circumstance was back, although graduates and faculty were able to remove their robes for portions of the ceremony because of the heat.

Things were different, but there was much familiarity, even as temperatures soared into the high 80s and volunteers worked to keep everyone hydrated. Graduates who couldn’t be there in person were shown on a big screen. Decorated mortar boards reflected the hopes, struggles, and gratitude of the graduates. Fist bumps replaced handshakes as graduates crossed the stage. Families gathered after the ceremony back on the main campus for hugs, photos, and tears.

Warm temperatures didn’t dampen the excitement at Sunday’s Commencement in the Banta Bowl.

Commencement included the presentation of three faculty awards—the Award for Excellence in Scholarship to Gustavo Fares, professor of Spanish; the Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member to Rebecca Perry, assistant professor of music theory; and the Award for Excellence in Teaching to Massimiliano Verità, instructor of Arabic, Italian, and Religious Studies.

See story on faculty award winners here.

It also included farewell citations for five retiring faculty members following long and distinguished careers at Lawrence­—Terry Gottfried, a professor of psychology since 1986, Gerald Metalsky, a professor of psychology since 1992, Alan Parks, a professor of mathematics since 1985, Jerald Podair, a professor of history since 1998, and Bruce Pourciau, a professor of mathematics since 1976.

And the ceremony concluded with a surprise for President Mark Burstein, who was overseeing his final Commencement after eight years leading Lawrence. Cory Nettles ’92, the incoming chair of the Board of Trustees, and Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat presented Burstein with a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, citing his “innumerable contributions to the welfare of Lawrence University, which you have served so well and with such abiding devotion and care.”

But for the bulk of the ceremony, the focus was squarely on the graduates and the possibilities that await.

Burstein’s message to the graduates was all about joy, gratitude, and deep respect.

“At Lawrence we often say that we intend to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world,” Burstein said. ‘You, the members of the class of 2021, truly know what that means. Just in your last year at Lawrence, the pandemic, one of the most partisan presidential elections in the history of this country, a riot in the Capitol, and the persistent killings of Black people reinforcing the systemic racism that grips this country, all of these events have changed in deep and essential ways our lives and the society in which we live.”

President Mark Burstein, overseeing his final Commencement at Lawrence, was surprised near the close of the ceremony with an honorary degree.

The challenges and frustrations stacked up quickly and robustly, altering conversations and priorities on campus, in Appleton, in Wisconsin, and across the country.

“Every time another event threatened my confidence in the future of this great country and my belief in human progress, your leadership, your passion for each other, and your care for the future of human society lifted me up,” Burstein told the graduates. “In a time when community has become so hard to sustain, and when people of different backgrounds and views are more likely to argue, compete, or ignore each other, you came together to learn, to celebrate, and to struggle—and at times agreeing to disagree—as one Lawrence community. … You have renewed my confidence and raised my expectations for what is possible.”

Jailene Rodriguez ’21 served as senior speaker.

Rodriguez spoke of the resilience and support she has seen from her classmates. An ethnic studies and Spanish double major from New York, she said she saw that strength in the classroom, in her involvement in numerous student organizations and causes, as a student athlete, among her Posse members, and while serving as a manager and bartender in the Viking Room.

“This pandemic has been quite the testament to our strength and perseverance,” she said.

Rodriguez said the lessons learned as a student at Lawrence go well beyond academics, lessons that will inform the journey to come.

“I quickly learned the importance of establishing who I am and being comfortable in my individuality,” she said.

She then encouraged her fellow graduates to embrace their own individuality as they move on to new adventures, opportunities, and challenges.

“Do not let anyone determine who you are,” she said.

Burstein, meanwhile, called the day bittersweet. Like the graduates, he too is in a moment of transition, with all the emotions that come with it.

“My years at Lawrence have provided me a clear sense of the power of community and the need to live a life of meaning rooted in the values our university represents,” he said. “But I also know it is time for me, as it is for you, to pick up life’s journey elsewhere and bring what we have learned into the world.” 

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

9 things to know as you prepare for LU’s 2021 Commencement at Banta Bowl

The Banta Bowl will be the site of Lawrence’s 2021 Commencement ceremony on June 13. It begins at 10 a.m.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University will hold a Commencement ceremony on June 13, a celebration of the accomplishments of the Class of 2021.

The 10 a.m. outdoor ceremony moves from its traditional location on Main Hall Green to the Banta Bowl to allow for physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols.

In a message to seniors, President Mark Burstein praised the students’ commitment to following pandemic protocols, allowing Lawrence to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check and thus be able to hold an in-person Commencement.

“Since your arrival in Appleton, I have had the honor of watching you take full advantage of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Your successes as Lawrentians are even more meaningful in light of the challenges of this past year.”  

Here are nine things to know (and a couple of bonus notes) about Commencement 2021:

1 We’re back in person: It was a year ago that Commencement had to be moved to a virtual ceremony as the pandemic was in full force and Spring Term classes were fully remote. A year later, with vaccines available and the number of COVID cases across the country in rapid decline, the decision was made to hold an in-person event but move it to the more spacious Banta Bowl and limit attendance. Masks will be required; each graduate will be allowed up to two guests, to be seated in pairs; and social distancing will be maintained.

2 All graduates are welcome: While not all members of the Class of 2021 have been living on campus during the academic year, all have been invited back to participate in the Commencement ceremony. Lawrence is requiring that all students participating in the in-person ceremony be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Nearly 280 seniors are eligible to walk at the ceremony.

3 Getting there: Graduates will be shuttled from campus to the Banta Bowl. For faculty, staff, and guests, a limited amount of parking will be available at the Banta Bowl. Priority will be given to individuals needing accessible parking or other special needs. Look for parking at Mead Pool (across John Street) or on nearby streets. Give yourself time to find parking and to possibly walk a block or two. You can find a parking map here.

4 Watch it live: For those who can’t get into the Banta Bowl or choose not to, the ceremony will be streamed live on Lawrence’s YouTube channel. You can find it here and can access it at any location where Wi-Fi is available. You can use the live chat feature to offer your congratulations during the ceremony (note that you’ll need to log into a Gmail or YouTube account to access the live chat).

President Mark Burstein will preside over his final Commencement.

5 Presidential remarks: Always a big part of Commencement, this year’s address from Burstein will have special significance. This will be his final Commencement as he prepares to leave Lawrence after eight years. The 16th president in Lawrence’s history said he relishes each Commencement he has been a part of since arriving in Appleton.

“It is not only the culmination of the academic year, it is the culmination of students’ progress through Lawrence and the celebration of real accomplishment by faculty,” Burstein said. “So, it’s just a moment where everything comes together, and each Commencement is clear in my mind and an event that I really cherish.”

Jailene Rodriguez ’21, here taking part in an Advanced Painting class earlier this year, was chosen by classmates to be the senior speaker at Commencement.

6 Senior speaker: This year the honor goes to Jailene Rodriguez ’21, an ethnic studies and Spanish double major from New York. She will speak to her class about the journey they’ve been on together and the world that is unfolding in front of them as they take their individual paths.

A standout in the classroom, Rodriguez also has been active in other parts of the Lawrence community. She played on the women’s soccer team, was active in student clubs, has been a manager at the Viking Room, and earned the John Alfieri Tuition Scholarship in Spanish. She’s a member of Posse 11 and plans to return to New York to pursue work in the nonprofit sector.

“I want my class to remember to keep finding ways to learn and grow with any opportunities that open to them,” she said of her message to classmates. “I want them to remember to be as unapologetically themselves as possible.”

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr. will give the 2021 Commencement address.

7 Commencement speaker: Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), will deliver the Commencement address. He emerged as an important voice across Wisconsin during the pandemic, providing guidance on safety protocols and the challenges of keeping the spread of the virus in check. The Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team leaned into Raymond’s advice often as decisions were made about how to proceed on campus.

Raymond said he will speak to the graduates about resiliency and the lessons they can take from the past 15 months.

“The resiliency that students show is an example for the rest of us about how to be flexible when we face challenges, as well as how to persevere through our social networks, through finding our passion for making a difference, and for being innovative under duress,” he said.

8 Faculty honors: Three Lawrence University faculty members will be honored during the ceremony when the annual faculty awards are announced—Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member, and Award for Excellence in Teaching. A year ago, the award winners were announced in advance of Commencement because of the ceremony having to go virtual. This year the tradition returns, with the awards being revealed as part of Commencement.

9 Faculty retirees: Another Commencement tradition that returns this year is the honoring of faculty who are heading into retirement. Retirees include Terry Gottfried (psychology), Gerald Metalsky (psychology), Alan Parks (mathematics), Jerald Podair (history), and Bruce Pourciau (mathematics). Watch for a coming feature on the news blog at lawrence.edu that shines a light on all five retirees.

Main Hall Green is always picturesque.

Bonus: Photos on campus: Following the ceremony, students will be shuttled back to the main campus. Families will be able to meet up with their students at that point to take photos. There are multiple great locations on campus for photos. We’ve provided some suggestions here. If you share that photo or other well-wishes on social media, use the hashtag #LawrenceGrad. You can find a Grad Celebration Kit complete with fun social media tools here.

Bonus II: There are more weekend events: The Sunday ceremony won’t be the only in-person event for the graduates. Other traditions will continue during Commencement weekend, including:

  • Senior Art Show is available for viewing June 11-13, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Members of the Class of 2021 can request a time for friends and family to visit the exhibit in the Wriston Art Galleries. Visits are available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and noon-2 p.m. Sunday. See details here and take a virtual peek here.
  • The Commencement Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. The in-person audience will be limited, but it will be streamed live, with a link provided shortly before the event. See details here.
  • The Baccalaureate Service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Chapel. It will be a multi-faith celebration of the spiritual journey of the Class of 2021. It will be streamed live, with a limited number of in-person seats available for Lawrence students, faculty and staff. A form for requesting an in-person seat can be found on the Commencement page at Lawrence.edu.

Need more? Graduates and their families can find Commencement information here and FAQs here.

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

Looking to take a fun photo on campus? We’ve got some ideas (10 of them)

Main Hall and the green that surrounds it provide a plethora of photo opportunities for those living on or visiting campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

A picture is worth a thousand words—at least that’s what Instagram has taught me.

This article was made for me: I’m the friend who insists on the group photo every time we go out. I scroll through my camera roll when I’m trying to remember that one student life event from freshman year. I always have my phone camera ready (and my hair and outfit lookin’ cute), because you never know when that perfect photo op will present itself.

We did an earlier version of great campus photo ops. Check it out here. (These nine plus our new 10 give you 19 great ideas)

Every photo is a memory saved for later, and I want to make sure I remember it in all its glory. So basically, I’ve been scouting out Lawrence’s best photo spots since I first visited campus. Whether you’re looking for the “undeniably Lawrence” backdrop or one of campus’s many hidden gems, get ready to smile, because these 10 destinations (we tried not to duplicate the above version; and please remember of follow all safety protocols) will guarantee your pic is worthy of the rinsta.

1. Ready the Ship window in Warch

As the newest addition to my collection of campus backdrops, it’s only fair that the new logo decal in the front window of Warch Campus Center tops the list. The Viking Athletics ship logo incorporates so many aspects of Lawrence history—the antelope of the Amos Lawrence Family Coat of Arms as the figurehead, the university crest holding up the mast, the immediately recognizable LU decorating the sail—and honestly, it just looks pretty freaking cool.

Insider Fun-Fact: Starting this piece with the viking ship lets me make a cheesy joke about setting sail with the rest of this list!

2. Colman/Brokaw bridge

The Colman/Brokaw bridge is the type of photo spot that you walk by every day but probably don’t appreciate how photogenic it is. This one is all about the angles. Whether you’re taking a selfie against the railing, sitting in the middle of the path with a friend, or looking over the edge at the photographer standing down below, there’s no shortage of opportunities to capture a top-notch and uniquely-you photo.

3. Mural on Drew Street

Who doesn’t love a little surprise in their life? Just below the aforementioned bridge is a mural, regularly repainted to showcase varying on-campus events and phenomena. A mural celebrating Earth Week was up when I had my photo shoot, but this location is unique in that the shot will always provide the context of a special moment in time—you never know what you’re going to get, but it will always be distinctly Lawrence.

4. Basically, anywhere on Main Hall Green

As soon as the sun comes out and the temperature hits 60 degrees, I’m busting out the picnic blanket, some sunscreen, and a good book and heading over to Main Hall Green. From there, I can look straight in any direction to find a top-notch photo spot. Quaint benches are scattered around the yard for traditional family photos, or of course, you can always just lie in the grass if you can’t resist the temptation. Trust me, you’ve never seen another scene that’s quite this green.

5. Steitz atrium

Natural light enhances any photo, but the weather doesn’t always agree with me. When I found an indoor location with brilliant natural light from the skylight (which, well, takes up the whole ceiling), I knew it was a keeper. Soaring three floors up in Steitz Hall’s atrium, this photo spot promises a compelling backdrop of geometric patterns, accent plants, and the comfiest chairs on campus.

6. Trever woods

The Trever woods are easily the most secluded, unknown photo location on campus. I, a self-proclaimed photo-aficionado, only found this spot a couple weeks ago, so I know it’s past time that the Trever woods are exposed for their full glory. Right behind Trever Hall, on the very edge of campus, a short trail leads down to the Fox River, and the surrounding trees offer the perfect backdrop of foliage, with glimpses of blue water and sky peeking through the branches.

Location-scouting tip: Exploring is a great way to find new photo ops! Because campus is constantly evolving, there’s always something new to find, no matter how long you’ve lived here.

7. Chapman Hall welcome wall

There’s a reason why the first thing prospective students see when they start their campus tour is Chapman Hall, and I think it’s just to show off the “Bring Your Light” wall. And after seeing it myself, I can understand why. The word I keep coming back to is just “stunning.” Showcasing a stunning aerial photo of the Lawrence campus, lit up by a stunning sunset, the wall flows neatly into a stunning series of photographs of Lawrence’s stunning accomplishments. Do you see what I’m going for here? It’s pretty stunning.

8. Briggs Hall overlook

My first photo shoot on campus was at the Briggs Overlook, and freshman-me knew what she was doing. Jutting out over the hill Briggs Hall is built into, the overlook offers the best view on campus: towering bridges, treetops extending for miles, blue sky as far as the eye can see, and of course, the beautiful Fox River.

9. Ledge between Memorial Hall and Wellness Center

The Briggs Overlook is a classic for any photo, but just a short walk to the east leads you to one of Lawrence’s most criminally under-utilized photo backdrops. With a view of Appleton that rivals that of Briggs, the stone ledge between Memorial Hall and the Wellness Center provides an impressive frame for a deserving view, curved in a way that makes the background look even more expansive.

Posing tip: Any location that gives you the opportunity to sit down makes it easier to answer the age-old question: What do I do with my hands???

10. Sage patio

I know, I know, more views of Appleton and the Fox River—but hear me out! This one is special. The metallic, industrial staircase and railings provide an eye-catching contrast to the serene view of trees and water below. Just behind Sage Hall, this patio area is the most underused of all the prime river photo locales, so you know you’ll have plenty of time to snap as many photos as you want without getting side-eye from passersby. And when you’re done, you can just head straight down the steps for a stroll along Lawrence’s very own river path!

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications. Thanks to Alex and her friends for supplying all these great photos.

Dr. Raymond, a top medical voice during pandemic, to be Commencement speaker

Dr. John Raymond

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and an important guiding voice for many during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be Lawrence University’s 2021 Commencement speaker.

Dr. Raymond will address Lawrence’s graduates in an in-person Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. June 13 in the Banta Bowl, with health and safety protocols in place.

See Commencement weekend details here.

The resiliency shown by young people through the pandemic will be part of his message, said Dr. Raymond, who oversees a Milwaukee-based School of Medicine with regional campuses in Green Bay and Wausau, a School of Pharmacy, and a Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences—encompassing a total enrollment of almost 1,500 students.

“The resiliency that students show is an example for the rest of us about how to be flexible when we face challenges, as well as how to persevere through our social networks, through finding our passion for making a difference, and for being innovative under duress,” he said. “In general, I believe that students and young people are more resilient than individuals who have greater decision-making responsibilities, so it has been refreshing for me to be recharged and redirected by our students, who have been thinking differently about opportunities during the pandemic.”

Dr. Raymond, who became MCW’s sixth president in 2010, has been among the leading medical voices in Wisconsin over the past year, providing advice and updates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it’s not a role he necessarily sought, but he opportunely stepped up when disinformation and confusion were hindering efforts to get needed information to citizens, employers, and elected officials.

“We needed multiple voices in science and medicine to share well-curated information so that individuals, businesses, and communities could make critical decisions,” he said.

Among those who leaned into Dr. Raymond’s advice and insights were the members of the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team. They talked frequently with Dr. Raymond, as well as with ThedaCare President and CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi, as decisions were made about going to remote classes in the spring of 2020, closing campus to the public, establishing Honor the Pledge protocols, and bringing nearly 60% of the students back to campus in the fall.

Dr. Raymond provided high-level insight into the spread of the virus in Wisconsin, how hospitals and others in the medical community were responding, and how institutions such as Lawrence could help keep their communities safe. As a president of a health sciences university, he also brought an important educational perspective.

“When the pandemic first began, there were few clear voices that provided direction,” Lawrence President Mark Burstein said. “John was there ready to offer insight and essential health context for the decisions that faced Lawrence. He not only stayed current with the constant updates in research and policy changes, he also saw each decision through the lens of leading an academic community himself.” 

An in-person ceremony

While not all Lawrence students are on campus during Spring Term, all members of the senior class are being invited back to campus to participate in the Commencement ceremony. Each graduate can have up to two guests. The ceremony is being moved from its usual location on Main Hall Green to the Banta Bowl to accommodate health and safety protocols.

It will be streamed live via Lawrence’s YouTube channel.  

“As we end our last year at Lawrence, together, I am deeply thankful for your leadership of our learning community,” Burstein said in a letter to seniors announcing Commencement plans. “I am particularly grateful for your commitment to Honor the Pledge, which has allowed us to consider an in-person celebration of your time here.”

A nod to science, medicine

As part of the ceremony, Dr. Raymond will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

At MCW, Dr. Raymond leads a health sciences university, including Wisconsin’s only private medical school, with a total operating budget of about $1.2 billion. Approximately 50 percent of Wisconsin’s practicing physicians graduated from MCW or trained at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals. MCW is ranked in the top third of all medical schools nationwide for National Institutes of Health research funding.

A practicing nephrologist, Dr. Raymond also is a medical researcher studying the basic mechanisms of kidney cell function. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees with honors from The Ohio State University and performed his internship, residency, chief residency, and nephrology fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center.

It’s fitting, Burstein said, that this year’s Commencement speaker is someone steeped in science and medicine and who played such an important role in helping to guide Lawrence leadership through the uncertainties of a once-in-a-century crisis.

“John’s advice, counsel, and good common sense provided and continues to provide an invaluable resource for the Lawrence community,” Burstein said. “I look forward to welcoming him to campus for our Commencement celebration.” 

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

Class of 2020 celebrated with virtual Commencement: Don’t lose the joy

(Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The Lawrence University community gathered virtually on Sunday for a Commencement celebration unlike any other in the school’s 171-year history.

Held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic that moved Spring Term classes to distance learning, the ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of nearly 270 Lawrentians in the Class of 2020.

“We are at a time like no other, when both far too much—and not nearly enough—has changed,” President Mark Burstein told the graduates and their families, all looking in from locations around the world.

Watch the 2020 Lawrence University Commencement webcast in its entirety here.

Congratulatory messages from faculty and staff, shared via video and an online chat, were mixed with the traditional speeches and the conferring of degrees.

Commencement speaker Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose book, Native Guard, has been on the Freshman Studies reading list at Lawrence for five years, implored the graduates to find inspiration in the arts as they make sense of a world that has changed mightily since they first stepped on campus four years ago.


Divisive politics, a pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen in 100 years, and racial injustice protests that are shining new light on systematic inequalities have rocked the world. Find your voice, Trethewey urged the graduates. Seek inspiration in poetry, music, and other arts as a means to process and navigate these times.

“Art allows us the opportunity to reflect on the human condition, to see ourselves in others, evoking in us our noblest trait, the ability to empathize,” she said. “Art has always been a necessary part of our collective survival.”

Trethewey said she turned to poetry and other art in the aftermath of the murder of her mother, citing W.H. Auden’s poem, Musée des Beaux Arts, and Pieter Bruegel’s painting, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, as being particularly enlightening.

“It was the first time I understood that art could speak to me intimately about my own experience, that the language of a poem or a painting could save me from the feeling of overwhelming isolation brought on by trauma and grief,” she said. “In the midst of my despair, I suddenly felt part of something communal—ancient and ongoing.”

Cling to such beacons as you set out to make your mark in the world, Trethewey said. This moment in time isn’t an easy one, but it’s one that is ripe for change. And with it comes a need for compassion and empathy, and this generation is positioned to embrace each other wholly like none before.

“We are in a moment of shared national and international mourning and we are reminded of what links us to every other human being on this planet: our mortality, our need for justice, shelter, sustenance, sanctuary, air to breathe,” Trethewey said.

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20, selected as the senior class speaker, asked her classmates not to lose sight of the great accomplishment of graduating from Lawrence despite the global pandemic short-circuiting their final term on campus, not allowing for proper good-byes and celebrations. As a first-generation college student, a daughter of immigrants, missing out on an in-person Commencement has been painful, she said.

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20 delivers a Commencement address to her classmates.

“Like many of you, I am still grieving this loss. The act of physically walking across that stage to receive a hard-earned diploma is one of the pinnacle moments for first-generation families and our most marginalized students. Lawrence is not easy for us. It was never meant to be. But signing up for that challenge, whether that meant leaving home a mile away or a continent away, demonstrates the strength and audacity it took to make Lawrence your own. I implore you to recognize the sheer amount of work, dedication and heart you’ve poured into yourselves and this Lawrence community over the past four years. You may be tired, overworked, or even burnt out. Relish this moment and all you’ve accomplished. Recognize the sacrifices you and your families have made and remember the great joy you’ve experienced here.”

Torres, a Posse scholar from New York City, praised her classmates for raising their voices over the past four years on issues ranging from divisive politics and immigration to LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter protests.

“We followed in the steps of our ancestors and of the great Lawrentians who have paved the way for us to continue making Lawrence a safe haven for all identities to be embraced and celebrated,” she said.

Continue that work no matter where your journey takes you, she said. It’s a responsibility that comes with being a Lawrentian.

“When the world tries to dim your light, shine bright,” Torres said. “No matter what comes next, anxieties and all, shine your light as fiercely as you can.”

Burstein told the graduates that a virtual Commencement does not diminish in any way the celebration of their accomplishments. But he said he has agonized over the prospect of not celebrating in person, unable to shake the hands of each graduate as they cross the stage.

“Even harder,” he said, “is knowing that Lawrence graduates you today into a world more uncertain than many generations before you. As someone who graduated from college and graduate school in another moment of economic and societal stress, I have a sense of what you may feel as you face the future. I am confident saying that regardless of what happens next, I know you have all acquired the skills necessary to succeed in this increasingly complex world.  Your future homes and workplaces will benefit from your passion and skill. Your leadership will strengthen the world in which we live.”

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

A time to celebrate: What you need to know for June 14 virtual Commencement

Banners are on display along College Avenue to honor 2020 graduates. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A virtual Commencement on June 14 will honor Lawrence University’s Class of 2020, celebrating graduates who had their final term disrupted by a global pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis resulted in Spring Term courses being delivered via distance learning. That means the ceremony will take on a different look, one that will still honor the great accomplishments that Commencement represents, but this time with graduates and their families looking on from home.

“I promised that we would do our best to recognize your achievements and celebrate your graduation, even if we could not all be together on Main Hall Green,” President Mark Burstein said in a message to graduates. “We have been working closely with the senior class leaders to ensure that we celebrate you in a way that reflects the many contributions you have brought to Lawrence during your time on campus.”

Here’s what you need to know in advance of the virtual ceremony.

How to view Commencement

Commencement, honoring nearly 300 students from the Class of 2020, will be streamed at 10 a.m. You can access the ceremony at the Commencement page at lawrence.edu. There will be an opportunity to leave congratulatory messages during the ceremony. You also can celebrate the graduates using tools found in this Celebration Kit.

A message to classmates

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20

Samantha Lizbeth Torres ’20, a psychology and theater arts double major from New York City, will serve as class speaker. In addition to celebrating achievements, she said she’ll focus her message on opportunities to be part of the solution as she and her classmates confront societal challenges. 

“It is never my intention for all of us to agree, but we do need to be able to see each other and hear each other,” Torres said. 

“We also need to be able to unlearn and relearn. Lawrence taught me a lot about unlearning.  That unlearning meant accepting that someone like me can succeed at an institution that may not look like home to me. Thanks to Lawrence’s Posse Program, I, a first-generation child of immigrants, was able to leave my low-income home for a prestigious school halfway across the country. Now, I’m the Commencement speaker. But how do I reach an audience that doesn’t look or sound like me, that doesn’t know me, and I don’t know them? I think about how I see myself in them.” 

Torres said her speech will address the pain of having to finish her Lawrence education 1,000 miles from campus as the pandemic took its toll on people’s health and the economy. She’ll encourage her classmates to persevere amid challenges no graduating class has seen. 

“I chose to reflect, to be thoughtful and cognizant of the good and the bad of the moment,” she said. “We have all experienced loss. Not just the loss of our last spring term, but the loss of family members, jobs, financial security, and opportunities that awaited us after graduation. Still, we’ve experienced great joy through the kindness we’ve received from our Lawrence community. It’s also a time to be grateful. But we need to be respectful of all feelings. Not just good or just bad. It will take time for my class to process all of this after graduation. It’s not easy.”

A familiar, poetic voice


Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose Native Guard has been required reading in Freshman Studies for the past five years, will deliver the Commencement address.

She served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States and is the author of five collections of poetry: Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—Thrall (2012), and Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018). In 2010, she published a book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“Having Ms. Trethewey’s commencement address will help us all remember the importance of inclusive social connection and the power of humanity,” Burstein said.

The ceremony details

While a virtual Commencement ceremony may not be able to duplicate the experience of an in-person event, many familiar elements will be incorporated. The ceremony will include opening remarks from President Burstein, the reading of the land acknowledgement by Shelby Siebers ’20,  speeches from Torres and Trethewey, conferring of degrees by Burstein, Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat, and Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl, a message from Burstein, and closing words from Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life. Also, watch for congratulatory messages from faculty and staff.

Four long-serving Lawrence faculty members are retiring at the close of the academic year: David Burrows, Ruth Lunt, Thomas Ryckman, and Richard Sanerib. See details and reflections in this story.

Three members of the Lawrence faculty are being honored with annual faculty awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. See details here.

More weekend celebrations

In addition to Commencement, you can find two other celebratory events being showcased virtually during Commencement weekend. The annual Commencement concert will be seen at 7:30 p.m. June 12 and the Baccalaureate Service will be seen at 3 p.m. June 13. Both are available at go.lawrence.edu/commencement. Also, the 2020 Senior Art Exhibition is viewable now. It can be found online here.

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

Lee Chemel: Commencement speaker on her spark for the arts, early struggles and working with TV’s biggest stars

Lee Chemel

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lee Shallat Chemel ’65 has been doing a fair bit of soul searching.

Since graduating from Lawrence University 54 years ago, Chemel has forged an impressive career as a director, first in theater and then in television — a 10-year stint as a conservatory director at South Coast Repertory in Orange County, California, eventually led to a more than three-decade run working behind the scenes on some of the most iconic shows in TV history.

Now she returns to Lawrence as the 2019 Commencement speaker on Sunday, June 9, ready to impart insight and wisdom drawn from a professional career that she says has everything to do with the liberal arts education she received at Milwaukee-Downer College and then Lawrence.

“It’s forced me to investigate my entire life,” she said with a laugh. “It’s been a fascinating experience.”

She’ll be joined at the Lawrence Commencement ceremony by her husband, David, and her daughter, Lizzy. Her son, Tucker, won’t be able to make it.

Details on 2019 Commencement, related events

19 things to know about Lawrence’s 2019 Commencement

Without stealing from her Commencement speech —no spoiler alerts here — we chatted with Chemel, an English major as an undergraduate, about her journey, her deep affection for Lawrence and why she has a special fondness for Michael J. Fox, Lauren Graham and Jason Bateman.

On how Milwaukee-Downer and Lawrence — she was part of the first Downer class to merge with Lawrence, spending her first three years in Milwaukee and her senior year in Appleton — lit a fire in her for the arts and planted the seed that a career in the arts might be possible: 

“My path to theater happened because of Lawrence. And that’s kind of significant. I never thought I would ever enter the arts of any kind as a way to live. Being a woman who was brought up in the ’40s and then the ’50s, I didn’t even foresee that possibility for myself. 

“I grew up in very modest circumstances, five people in a one-bedroom apartment when I was young. I didn’t have big dreams of anything except going to college. That was a big deal to me. I loved my teachers, so I thought I really want to teach. I never had the dream of doing anything in the arts. It didn’t seem like it would be practical enough. It just never occurred to me that that would be something I would do.”

On seeing her first theater production at Lawrence, a staging of Macbeth directed by David Mayer III:

“I was just blown away by it. I had done some theater. I wasn’t one of those kids who did musicals and stuff in high school, but at Downer I had done theater. And I was just blown away by this production.”

On her early mentors in theater at Lawrence, Mayer and Ted Cloak:

“When I got to Lawrence, I decided I would take an acting class from Ted Cloak, who was probably one of the best acting teachers I have ever had, even including the three years I spent with Duncan Ross (in a professional acting program in Seattle) and all these other fabulous people. But Ted Cloak was a wonderful acting teacher, and he loved theater and understood it, and the productions they did, they were just phenomenal.

“I really believe that because of David Mayer and Ted Cloak, I found that theater was more than I thought it was. I really loved it although I still didn’t buy the idea of it as a career at that point. But I became much closer to that idea. Lawrence opened my eyes completely to the richness of the arts, particularly the theater and the film arts. It was remarkable what an influence it had on me.”

On making the transition from Milwaukee-Downer to Lawrence:

“I was only at Lawrence for one year. But it was a year that was packed with amazing things for me. Downer was a very good school in that the professors there were kind of radical. … They were sharp people. They radicalized me politically. Got me involved in the Civil Rights movement. Linus Pauling came to talk with us, Upton Sinclair. It was amazingly rich for a tiny, tiny school. But Lawrence took that and just broadened it – everything became broadened and deepened.”

On ditching her teaching career for theater after she and then-husband Phil Shallat moved to Seattle so he could study theater in graduate school:

“I was teaching high school there. … He said, there’s a new thing they’re doing (at the University of Washington School of Drama), a professional acting training program. I said, wow, that is so cool. Meanwhile, I had applied to teach at a terrific private school there. … But Phil suggested I also audition for that M.F.A. program. And I did, just on a lark. And on the same week, I got an acceptance into the (acting) program and an offer for my total dream teaching job. I held those two envelopes up and went back and forth and said, oh, heck, I’m going to do the acting thing. It was a whim almost.”

On her forays into acting after earning a master’s in fine arts from Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program:

“I acted in Seattle, but I knew somewhere in my head that acting, I just didn’t have a tremendous passion for it. I liked it. I loved doing it. But it wasn’t complete for me. I wasn’t secure with it or something.”

On her introduction to directing:

“I moved away from Seattle and down to San Francisco and then I got a job at South Coast Repertory in 1975, and they didn’t hire me for acting but they hired me to teach in the conservatory. And that led me to teaching at the colleges around there, so I was kind of cobbling together a bunch of teaching jobs but then what happened is Orange Coast College said we don’t have the money for you to teach next quarter but do you want to direct a play? So, I directed The Rivals, an 18th Century English play that I really liked. And I fell in love with directing right then and there.”

On embracing and thriving as a theater director, earning five L.A. Drama Critics Awards along the way:

“It all happened through my education in a way. If I hadn’t had the background of this liberal arts education I wouldn’t have been able to make a living doing the teaching part while I searched for what finally struck home for me — the directing.”

On turning to TV directing in the mid-1980s:

“That was another leap. That was like a crazy leap where I was now a resident director at South Coast Repertory. … I’d done some good directing, a lot of directing, to the point where in L.A., I had a little bit of a name. There weren’t a lot of women directing in theater then. 

“But I began to wish sometimes in productions I directed that I could do a close up. That sort of made me realize, maybe you really need to look at film. I applied to the AFI, the American Film Institute; they had a program for helping women get into film. But I didn’t get accepted. I continued to direct in L.A., and my friend Joe Stern, who was a producer on Law and Order, knew TV people as well as theater people. He said, Gary Goldberg has this new show called Family Ties. He’s looking for a woman director because there was some pressure at the time to start hiring women. You can see how far that got after 35 years.

“He said he wants someone who was good with actors, not just technical. I went in and I met Gary Goldberg, and he liked me, and we were the same age, so that was cool. He said, come in and observe. … So, after almost 10 years (at South Coast), I just quit. I had no idea if this was going to take me anywhere or whether I would succeed or not. I just moved up to L.A. and started observing on Family Ties, and I remember I was observing that show from August until, I think, October. … I started borrowing money from my boyfriend, … and then finally on the schedule my name came up for a show in February. So that’s how it all started.”

On how difficult the transition to TV proved to be:

“I think I did six to eight episodes of Family Ties. But not all before I moved on. That year I did one, then the next year I did two. Family Ties people knew me before I stepped up and they were there to support me because I’d been observing there and they were kind to someone just starting out. You go to other shows and they don’t know that. They just know that you don’t know what you’re doing yet. So those are tough times. Part of my speech is how tough it was. You get a few episodes and you try to develop. … You try to get as many gigs as you can and hopefully make a good impression so they’ll ask you back. What I realized is it takes 10 years to be good at that. And we were live-cutting shows. That was really, really hard.

“I had the support of knowing that I was educated. And that sounds weird, but it was actually quite significant to me that I knew things. I knew I could analyze a script, I knew that I could understand things. I could communicate well, I understood tone, I understood people. I was older than a lot of people who start. So, I had lived some life, too. And these were the things that buoyed me up during these very tough times.”

On highlights of a career that would include directing and/or producing work on Murphy Brown, Spin City, Northern Exposure, Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls, and The Middle, among others:

“Murphy Brown was certainly a big jump up for me. That’s when my agent finally talked somebody into getting me onto what you’d call a real major show. Working with such good writers. … And once I had Murphy Brown under my belt, that got me an Emmy nomination, and, all of a sudden, I was kind of accepted. I was brought into the club, I guess you could say.”

On her latest work, a nine-year run as director on The Middle:

“I got to be full-time on that for nine years, and we all became a family. That was a wonderful experience.”

On directing Michael J. Fox, first on Family Ties and later on Spin City, when, unbeknownst to most, he was beginning his battle with Parkinson’s disease:

“Michael J. Fox, I love to talk about him. Initially, Family Ties was supposed to be about two hippie parents who all of a sudden discovered that their kids are conservative. It was that reversal thing. But here comes this guy playing the conservative son who likes Nixon and stuff, and he was so funny and so inventive, and what happens in comedy is that the writers want their jokes to sail, so they start writing for that guy because he’s so good. All of a sudden, the show flipped, because Michael was so damn funny it became more centered on him. He became the star of the show.

“Michael is an interesting guy. He plays the comedy so well and it was a delight to watch him develop and sail, and you take good writers and then you take this great young actor and you watch it as they just start feeding each other. That was quite a wonderful thing to see. I loved watching that.

“Then I got to work with him on Spin City for a whole year in New York. And that’s when I learned that he had Parkinson’s. Nobody knew about it except me and Gary Goldberg because they didn’t want to make it public yet. And it was very challenging for Michael. But he was ever wonderful and I admire him so much.”

On working with Lauren Graham on Gilmore Girls, first as a director, then as an executive producer:

“Lauren Graham and I became friends during that last season on Gilmore Girls. It was very challenging because Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of the show, went away and that took the heart of the writing with it. Now she’s doing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and she’s a brilliant writer. But here we were with a whole year to do the final season of the show; the actors and writers worked incredibly hard to keep the tone of the show consistent. That is a very hard thing to do when for all previous years, Amy had written most of the scripts. Bless those writers and Lauren, they did a phenomenal job.”

On her respect for Jason Bateman, who she directed on Arrested Development:

“I love Jason Bateman. I adore him. Jason and I did a few pilots together before Arrested Development. A lot of the network people thought he was going to be or should be the next Michael J. Fox. But he wasn’t, that wasn’t Jason’s humor.

“I think he went through some real struggles, and then all of a sudden Mitch Hurwitz writes this brilliant series called Arrested Development and it taps into the real place where Jason can shine. I was so happy for him because it validated him, and now he’s got a great, great career. And he’s the nicest guy in the world and he was just very lovely to work with always.” 

On whether last year’s series finale of The Middle means the end of her career:

“I don’t know. I did the pilot for a spinoff from The Middle this fall, with the Sue character. It didn’t get picked up. I wrote a note to my agents and said, I’m not dead yet. But I don’t know. I feel maybe it’s time to give back again and do some other things. I’m at a crossroads, but I’ll see what comes up next season.”

On returning to Lawrence while not knowing what comes next:

“I’m like the graduates in a way. What am I going to do now? I just want to be open to stuff. I feel like I am in an interesting place in my life.”

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

Sunshine, please: 19 things to know as you prep for Lawrence’s 2019 Commencement

The march across College Avenue to the Main Hall green, led by Faculty Marshal Kathy Privatt and President Mark Burstein (right), will again be part of Lawrence University’s Commencement. The ceremony, the 170th in the school’s history, is set for 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 9.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

We’re just a couple of short weeks away from Lawrence University’s 2019 Commencement, the 170th in the school’s storied history.

Here are 19 things to know as you prepare for the big day.

1. Sunday morning celebration: The ceremony on the Main Hall green will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 9. All comers are welcome. The big tent that usually covers the seating area is not available this year, so it’ll be an open-air event. An alternate indoor site on campus — with limited seating — will be prepped for use should the weather be such that an outdoor ceremony is not possible. Watch for details on the Commencement page of the Lawrence website.

2. A class of brilliance: More than 330 students are expected to take that magical walk across the stage. Of those, 288 are bachelor of arts grads, 28 are bachelor of music grads and 15 are combo B.A./B.Mus. grads. Another 11 are participating in the ceremony but not receiving degrees until December.

Lee Shallat Chemel ’65

3. A speaker from stage and screen: Commencement speaker Lee Shallat Chemel ’65 will return to campus with stories to tell and wisdom to mine from an impressive career directing theater and television productions. Her deep love of theater was first sparked during her time at Milwaukee-Downer College and then Lawrence. After more than 15 years directing theater, most notably during a 10-year stint as conservatory director at South Coast Repertory in Orange County, California, she transitioned to the small screen, directing for such notable TV shows as “Family Ties,” “Murphy Brown,” “Arrested Development,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Gilmore Girls” and, most recently, “The Middle.”

Jordyn Pleiseis

4. From the senior class: Commencement also features words of insight and wisdom from a member of the senior class. This year’s speaker, selected by her peers, will be Jordyn Pleiseis ’19, an anthropology major from Milwaukee.

5. Saying goodbye: Honoring retiring faculty is always a significant — and often emotional — part of Commencement. The Lawrence community will be celebrating two long-serving tenured faculty as they bid adieu to the classroom, Bruce Hetzler, professor of psychology, and Kenneth Bozeman, the Shattuck Professor of Music in the Conservatory of Music’s voice department. Both have taught hundreds (maybe thousands) of Lawrentians during their celebrated four decades-plus at Lawrence.

6. Livestream available: A livestream of the ceremony will be available for viewing in real time. It’s an opportunity to watch the ceremony online if you can’t be in attendance. The livestream can be accessed at the time of the event from the Commencement page.

There will again be plenty of opportunities for photos following Commencement.

7. Smile, you’re on camera: Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities for family and friends to take photos of their graduates. There are lots of picturesque locations across campus.

8. Talent on display: Commencement weekend is a chance for seniors to show some skills, with a Senior Art Exhibition in the Wriston Art Center Galleries set for Friday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 4 p.m.) and a Commencement Concert featuring members of the Class of 2019 planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Memorial Chapel. Look for a reception following the concert in Shattuck Hall, Room 163.

9. Spiritual journey: On Saturday, the 11 a.m. Baccalaureate Service, a multi-faith celebration of the spiritual journey of the Class of 2019, will be held in Memorial Chapel. Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Constance Kassor will deliver the address. It’s presented for seniors and their families.

10. Picnic moves indoors: The annual Commencement weekend picnic at noon on Saturday, held on the Main Hall green in past years, has been moved inside the Warch Campus Center. Seniors and their families, as well as faculty and staff, are invited. Following the picnic, President Mark Burstein will host a reception for seniors and their families at the president’s home from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

11. In search of parking: Parking is available in the city parking ramp just west of campus. Some street parking is available around campus but availability can’t be guaranteed. Here is some helpful parking info from the City of Appleton.

12. There will be awards: As per tradition, several of Lawrence’s most cherished awards will be handed out to faculty during the Commencement ceremony — the University Award for Excellence in Teaching, Award for Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity, and Excellence in Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member. The winners are not announced until Commencement.

Graduation hats are part of the Commencement day attire. Decorations are optional.

13. Dressed for success: The regalia of Commencement is among the great traditions of higher education — the gowns, the caps, the hoods, the cords all signaling a particular accomplishment along the journey of academia.

14. Music to come and go: Speaking of grand traditions, the music of the processional and the recessional will embrace this group of graduates, courtesy of the Lawrence University Graduation Band. Andrew Mast will again conduct as the band performs Crown Imperial by William Walton for the processional and Procession of the Nobles by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for the recessional.

15. Familiar and new faces: Led by President Mark Burstein, there will be familiarity in the ceremony. Kathy Privatt, the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama, will again serve as faculty marshal. David C. Blowers, chair of the Board of Trustees, will offer the convocation for the second year in a row. Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat will present the faculty awards. One notable change will come in the opening and closing words, a duty handled for many years by Howard E. Niblock. He retired last year, and that honor now falls to Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life.

The Class of 2019 displays its green flag during Welcome Week four years ago. Per tradition, each class is assigned one of four colors.

16. Class colors: Look for plenty of green to be on display during Commencement. The tradition of assigning a color — red, green, yellow, or purple — to each class at Lawrence has its roots in Milwaukee-Downer history. It was reinstated at Lawrence in 1988 and has continued since. The color of the Class of 2019 is green.

17. Conferring of degrees: That magical moment when the graduates’ names are called and they make the walk across the stage and the degrees are conferred is the heart and soul of any Commencement ceremony. Handling those duties for bachelor of music recipients will be Burstein and Dean of Conservatory Brian Pertl ’86. Handling for bachelor of arts recipients will be Burstein and Kodat.

18. A parade of another sort: A parade of graduates isn’t the only parade during the June 8-9 weekend that might get your attention. The 68th annual Flag Day Parade will march through downtown Appleton beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. It will affect traffic in the downtown area as thousands of onlookers line the streets to watch the state’s oldest Flag Day parade. It’ll start on Oneida Street at Wisconsin Avenue, make its way to College Avenue, then proceed through the downtown, turning north at Drew Street and ending at City Park. See details here.

19. A Juneteenth celebration: Speaking of city events near campus, you may also want to note this one on your calendar. Appleton’s ninth annual Juneteenth Celebration will take place from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in City Park, providing a possible post-Commencement destination. It also will affect parking near the campus in the afternoon hours.

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

NYC environmental justice advocate Peggy Shepard to be honored at Lawrence’s 169th commencement

As a strong supporter of community-based efforts, Peggy Shepard believes if you want to find a solution to a problem, go directly to the people most affected.

Shepard, the executive director of the New York City-based organization WE ACT For Environmental Justice, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Sunday, June 10 by Lawrence University and serve as the principal speaker during its 169th commencement ceremonies at begin at 10 a.m. on the Main Hall green.

Peggy Shepard
Peggy Shepard, executive director of New York City-based WE ACT For Environmental Justice, will receive an honorary degree June 10 at Lawrence’s 169th commencement.

This will be Shepard’s second honorary degree, having previously been recognized by Smith College in 2010.

A total of 335 bachelor degrees are expected to be awarded to the class of 2018. Seventeen graduates are earning both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of music degree.

A live webcast of the commencement ceremony will be available at go.lawrence.edu/livestream.

A baccalaureate service will be conducted Saturday, June 9 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. David McGlynn, associate professor of English, will deliver the main address, “Two Words.”  The baccalaureate service and commencement exercise are both free and open to the public.

Six retiring faculty members — Janet Anthony, James DeCorsey, Nick Keelan, Carol Lawton, Howard Niblock and Dirck Vorenkamp — representing 191 years of teaching experience will be recognized with honorary master of arts degrees, ad eundem.

In addition to Shepard, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, Board of Trustees Chair Susan Stillman Kane and senior Hitkarsh Kumar from Chandigarh, India, also will address the graduates.

Shepard’s initiation into environmental justice started in the mid-1980s over a sewage treatment plant in West Harlem, from which the odors and emissions were making people sick. A research report released at the time talked about environmental racism and how the primary predictor of where toxic sites are typically located were communities of color and low-income.

“That’s when I began to understand the environmental impact and that we were being disproportionately impacted by those issues,” said Shepard.

“That really gave us some of the thinking and research behind what was going on, behind what we saw happening in our community around air quality and housing.”

Shepard co-founded WE ACT in 1998 and three years later, was among 1,000 delegates who met in Washington, D.C., where they developed 17 principles of environmental justice.

“Our mandate was to go back home and develop a grass-roots space of support,” said Shepard. “We didn’t want to have a centralized movement where you had one person or celebrity speaking for everyone. We all spoke for ourselves individually and it was about a movement.”

A graduating student in cap and gown with a flower on her mortar boardFor young people interested in pursuing an environmental-related career, Shepard encourages them to test drive opportunities with different organizations to see what area would best suit their interests and talents.

“I’m on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund and we talk about environmental groups that have different approaches,” said Shepard. “Some have a justice approach, some have a policy approach, some have a business approach or a legal approach. If they’re really interested in these issues, they should try volunteering or interning, or getting a fellowship at these organizations so they really understand the differences.”

A former journalist, Shepard’s efforts to affect environmental protection and health policy have been recognized with numerous honors.

She was the recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment in recognition of her “courageous advocacy and determined leadership in combating environmental injustice in urban America.” In 2008, she received the Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rockefeller Foundation for her activism to build healthier communities by engaging residents in environmental and land-use decision. The National Audubon Society presented Shepard its Rachel Carson Award, which recognizes female environmental leaders and promotes women’s roles in the environmental movement.

Her passion for environmental health and justice extends beyond WE ACT. Shepard is a former chair of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She has worked with the National Institutes of Health, serving on its National Children’s Study Advisory Committee and its National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council.

A graduate of Howard University, Shepard has contributed her expertise to numerous non-profit boards, including the Environmental Defense Fund, New York League of Conservation Voters and the News Corporation Diversity Council, among others. She’s also served as a member of the New York City Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board and the New York City Waterfront Management Advisory Board.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Class of 2017: International refugee expert receiving honorary degree at Lawrence’s 168th commencement

Amid growing global concerns of displaced persons and their impact on the countries they’re entering and those they’re leaving, Lawrence University will honor an international expert on refugee policy Sunday, June 11 at its 168th commencement.

Photo of Gil Loescher
2017 honorary degree recipient Gil Loescher

Gil Loescher, a visiting professor at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during commencement ceremonies that begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall green. Loescher also will deliver the principal commencement address.

This will be Loesher’s second honorary degree. He received an honorary doctorate of law in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame.

Lawrence is expected to award 344 bachelor degrees to 335 students from 28 states, the District of Columbia and 17 countries. A live webcast of the commencement ceremony will be available at go.lawrence.edu/commencement2017.

Peter Thomas, associate professor of Russian Studies at Lawrence, will deliver the main address at a baccalaureate service Saturday, June 10 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

The baccalaureate service and commencement exercise are both free and open to the public.

Retiring faculty member Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music, will be recognized with an honorary master of arts degree, ad eundem, as part of the ceremonies.

In addition to Loescher, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, Board of Trustees Chair Susan Stillman Kane and senior Andres Capous of San Jose, Costa Rica, also will address the graduates.

During a 40-plus-year career, Loescher has established himself as an authority on refugee policy. Prior to joining Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre in 2008, Loescher held appointments as Senior Fellow for Forced Migration and International Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and as senior researcher at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

According to Loescher, containing refugees in camps prevents them from contributing to regional development and state-building.

“Refugees frequently have skills that are critical to future peace-building and development efforts, either where they are or in their countries of origin following their return home,” he has said.

A miraculous survivor of a suicide bomber attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Loescher has a long history of working with the United Nations, especially the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In August, 2003, Loescher was in the office of then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sérgio Vieira de Mello at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad when a suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb outside the building. The blast killed more than 20 people and injured more than 100.

“Refugees frequently have skills that are critical to future peace-building and development efforts, either where they are or in their countries of origin following their return home.”
— Gil Loescher

Loescher was one of nine people in the office, seven of whom were killed instantly. He and Vieria de Mello were trapped in the debris of the collapsed building as American soldiers spent more than three hours trying to rescue them. Vieria de Mello died before he could be extricated. While Loescher survived, his legs were crushed and had to be amputated by the soldiers.

A native of San Francisco, Loescher began his career at the University of Notre Dame, where he spent 26 years teaching in the political science department. During his tenure, he held appointments in the Notre Dame’s Helen Kellogg Institute of International Studies, the Joan Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.Photo of procession of graduating Lawrence seniors

He also has served as a visiting fellow at Princeton University, the London School of Economics and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs at the U.S. State Department.

He has been the recipient of numerous honors and research grants from organizations ranging from the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation to the Fulbright Program and the British Academy.

A graduate of St. Mary’s College of California, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, Loescher also holds a master’s degree in politics and Asian studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.