Two Lawrence University faculty members were named to endowed professorships this fall.
Monica Rico, a professor of history, has been named the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies, and pianist Michael Mizrahi, a professor of music in the Conservatory, has been named the Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music.
Rico joined the Lawrence faculty in 2001, with her research focused on gender and cultural history. She’s been honored multiple times both on campus and in the Fox Cities community for her scholarship, teaching, and outreach. She assumes the endowed professorship held by Jerald Podair since 2005. He retired in 2021
Mizrahi joined the Lawrence faculty in 2009. A member of the music collective Decoda, he has recorded multiple albums and has performed world premieres of new music on numerous occasions. His latest album, with the group NOW Ensemble, debuted in November. He also presented the Lawrence premiere of the Florence Price Piano Concerto with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra. He played a lead role in relocating the annual Decoda Chamber Music Festival to Appleton, beginning in the summer of 2021. He assumes the endowed professorship that had been held by Kenneth Bozeman from 1999 until his retirement in 2020.
The Robert S. French Professorship in American Studies was established in 2001 by a gift from William F. Zuendt and his family in honor of his former high school counselor and long-time friend. Robert S. French graduated from Lawrence in 1948 with a self-devised major in American Studies and carved out an impressive career in education.
The French Professorship is intended to embrace and examine a broad array of American subjects, from history to literature, from political thought to artistic and creative expression.
Ruth Harwood Shattuck, Class of 1906, provided the initial funding for establishing the Shattuck professorship in 1969. It became fully endowed in 1999 through a bequest from her son, Frank C. Shattuck. The chair was then renamed in Frank Shattuck’s honor.
He was the architect of seven buildings on the Lawrence campus, and he was a major supporter of the Conservatory of Music. The Shattuck professorship supports a faculty member in the Conservatory.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
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”
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.
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.”
During a 38-year career with 3M, the company that developed Scotch Tape and the Post-it Note, Dwight Peterson learned the importance of innovation and creative thinking.
Peterson, a 1955 Lawrence University graduate, is a firm believer that a liberal arts education can be a hotbed of innovation because of the way liberally educated students think about ideas and problems from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and look at old problems in new ways.
To fuel innovative thinking at Lawrence, Peterson and his wife, Marjorie, have established an endowed professorship in innovation with a $1.5 million gift.
Adam Galambos, associate professor of economics, has been named the first holder of the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson Professorship in Innovation.
Appointments to endowed professorships are made in recognition of academic and artistic distinction through teaching excellence and/or scholarly achievement. Galambos was one of three faculty leaders who launched Lawrence’s program in innovation and entrepreneurship in 2008.
Dwight Peterson, a former member of the Lawrence Board of Trustees (2005-2013), spent his entire professional career at 3M, where he says innovation is ingrained in the company’s culture.
“The long term history of 3M is based on continuous development of new products,” said Peterson, citing Wet-Or-Dry sandpaper, masking tape, Scotch Tape, magnetic recording tape and reflective sign sheeting as examples of the many products the company has created. “I learned about Lawrence’s program in innovation and entrepreneurship a few years ago and found it stimulating.
“We’ve been thinking about being able to help the school in a major way and decided that innovation really fit my interest most closely,” Peterson added. “The idea of looking at things from new and different perspectives, of doing collaborative interdisciplinary work, of having a culture where there is the possibility to fail — and it is acceptable — and then start over and rework it, that all fits very well with a Lawrence education.”
David Burrows, provost and dean of the faculty, said the college was “very excited and grateful” for the Peterson’s gift establishing the professorship in innovation.
“The ability to create what is new is one of the primary goals of a liberal education,” said Burrows. “As the world changes more and more rapidly, this ability looms larger in its importance. Professor Galambos has established a brilliant record as a person who engages in the creation of new ideas and new approaches. He is an ideal person to hold this professorship.”
“The idea of looking at things from new and different perspectives, of doing collaborative interdisciplinary work, of having a culture where there is the possibility to fail — and it is acceptable — and then start over and rework it, that all fits very well with a Lawrence education.” — Dwight Peterson ’55
While thrilled to be named the professorships inaugural holder, Galambos said its establishment is the result of the collaborative efforts of many.
“Dwight and Marjorie’s generosity is wonderful recognition of the work we have done over the past few years, starting with Marty Finkler in economics, who introduced the idea of entrepreneurship to the Lawrence community more than 10 years ago, and John Brandenberger in physics, who first proposed that we teach innovation,” said Galambos, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 2006.
“In addition to Marty and John, the variety of courses and co-curricular programming we now have in I&E is a result of the enthusiasm and commitment of a number of other colleagues as well, including Gary Vaughan in I&E, Dena Skran in government, Tim Troy in theatre arts, Brian Pertl in the conservatory, and art department members Rob Neilson, Ben Rinehart, John Shimon and Julie Lindemann. The Petersons’ gift is a great affirmation of all of their efforts and encouragement to continue to bring I&E to Lawrence students in new ways.”
A number of student-created and directed ventures have grown out of the I&E program — the Rabbit Gallery, a pop-up art gallery in downtown Appleton, Greyfell Theatre, a company devoted to producing student-written plays, the Paper Fox, a printmaking workshop with a community programming component and the Lawrence Baroque Ensemble, a student performance group that focuses on community outreach activities — and other projects continue to be created by students who have taken I&E courses.
This spring, students Joe Bazydlo and Eddie Elizondo were among 20 finalists from among more than 250 teams from around the country to deliver a presentation in Princeton University’s Entrepreneurship Club’s annual national competition. They pitched a smart phone app — Trailblazer — to be used by hikers and other trail users to unlock preloaded information about specific locations in U.S. national parks was was developed in Lawrence’s “In Pursuit of Innovation” course.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and 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.
Deep-seated appreciation for film and opera has led a pair of Lawrence University alumni and an anonymous donor to establish new endowed professorships at the college. Lawrence requires a minimum of $2.5 million to establish an endowed professorship.
Tom Hurvis, and his wife, Julie, 1960 and 1961 Lawrence graduates, respectively, and the Caerus Foundation, Inc., have established the Jill Beck Professorship in Film Studies in recognition of Lawrence’s 15th president, her service to Lawrence, their love of film and their conviction that student participation in film studies has an important role in a liberal arts education.
In 2011, a $5 million gift from the Hurvises enabled Lawrence to establish the Hurvis Center for Interdisciplinary Film Studies, a facility dedicated to the integration of film production into the Lawrence curriculum.
Motivated by a desire to encourage participation in music and arts at Lawrence, an anonymous donor made a gift to enhance the college’s capacity to provide learning and performance opportunities for students in opera studies while increasing multifaceted collaboration within the curriculum by establishing the endowed director of opera studies position. The Lawrence conservatory, with the support of the theatre arts department, has annually staged an opera production since 1961.
In conjunction with the newly created professorships, Lawrence President Mark Burstein announced the appointment of Amy Abugo Ongiri, currently an associate professor of English at the University of Florida, as the Jill Beck Professor and Director of Film Studies and J. Copeland Woodruff, assistant professor and co-director of opera studies at the University of Memphis, as Director of Opera Studies.
Both Ongri and Woodruff join the faculty with the rank of associate professor. Ongiri’s appointment includes tenure.
“One of the many strengths that a Lawrence education develops is the ability to link a student’s own talent and creativity with performance and presentation, a skill one needs to succeed in the world today,” said Burstein in announcing the appointments. “The addition of Amy Abugo Ongiri and J. Copeland Woodruff significantly enhances our capability in this area both for students interested in film studies and in the conservatory and also in the larger Lawrence student body.
“I want to thank Julie and Tom Hurvis and anonymous members of the Lawrence community for making these two important appointments to our faculty possible,” Burstein added.
Ongiri joined the University of Florida faculty in 2003 after four years at the University of California-Riverside. In 2006, she was recognized with both UF’s Teacher of the Year Award and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teacher of the Year Award.
Her scholarship interests focus on African American literature and culture, film studies, cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies. She is the author of nearly 20 published journal articles, three dozen conference papers and the 2009 book, “Spectacular Blackness: The Cultural Politics of the Black Power Movement and the Search for a Black Aesthetic.” She spent 2005 in Dakar, Senegal on a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar in African film.
She is a member of the editorial board of the journals American Literature and Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies and serves as a reviewer for the Journal of African American History and the Journal of American History.
At Florida, Ongiri has taught courses ranging from the history of film and African cinema in a world cinema context to an introduction to Asian American film and video.
Ongiri earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s degree from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Amy Ongiri as the first director of film studies,” said Brent Peterson, professor of German, chair of Lawrence’s film studies program and a member of the search committee. “She is an accomplished scholar and dedicated teacher; someone who is there for every last one of her students at a large public university. She will be a terrific asset for Lawrence students. She is also exactly the right person to put together an expanded curriculum for film studies and to shape the program in film making.”
“Amazingly Creative, Innovative”
Woodruff has taught at the University of Memphis since 2008. He previously has held teaching appointments at The Julliard School, Oberlin College, Temple and Yale universities as well as the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and Germany’s Universität Bamberg. He also has served as a guest instructor with La Musica Lirica in Italy, the Festival of International Opera of the Americas in Brazil and at Bejing University.
He has directed more than 90 opera productions, including the 2013 world premiere of “Raise the Red Lantern” at the Tianqiao Theatre in Bejing, one of three productions in China he has directed. Since 2006, Woodruff has earned four first-place National Opera Association Best Opera Production Awards and was recognized in 2013 with the University of Memphis’ Dean’s Creative Achievement Award.
Woodruff has enjoyed an extended relationship with Boston’s Guerilla Opera, serving as stage director of a new production of “Heart of a Dog” and earning Second Prize in the 2012 American Prize in Opera Performance competition, professional division.
“It is with great excitement that we welcome Copeland Woodruff to Lawrence,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music. “Besides being an amazingly creative, innovative and well-respected opera director and educator, he is also passionate about the liberal arts and cross-disciplinary collaboration. In short, he will absolutely flourish at Lawrence. We are entering an exciting new era for opera studies at Lawrence and I can’t wait to see how all the possibilities unfold.”
Woodruff attended the University of South Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in vocal performance and also completed extensive master’s level coursework in theatrical design. He earned a master’s degree in stage directing for opera from Indiana University.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.