Tag: Lawrence University

Lawrence’s beloved Rock is heading east, a gift to university’s departing president

The Rock first came to the Lawrence University campus in 1895. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

The Rock, a 2-ton boulder that has been part of Lawrence University lore for 126 years, is being gifted to departing President Mark Burstein.

In searching for the perfect gift for a leader whose rock-solid leadership has helped guide Lawrence to new heights, the university community opted to follow the lead of Burstein’s previous employer. When he left Princeton University to join the Lawrence family eight years ago, Burstein was given small honed pieces of material that were used in the many building and landscape projects constructed and renovated during his nine-year tenure there. These pieces form a small square that resides on his desk in Sampson House. 

It’s hoped he’ll proudly display The Rock in similar fashion as he leaves Lawrence and moves back east to begin a new adventure.

“I’ll need a bigger desk,” a gracious Burstein said. “Or David will have to design a garden with The Rock as a center point.”

The Rock came to Lawrence as a gift from the Class of 1895, plucked from a field during a geology trip near New London. It made the 30-mile trip east to Appleton and has since been painted, buried, hidden, and moved. But mostly revered.

Now it’ll go further east with a president who also is revered. The gift didn’t include a means of moving The Rock because of ongoing budget constraints. So, come June, volunteers, fully masked and following The Pledge, will be needed to hoist The Rock atop Burstein’s car for the 900-mile drive. A sign-up sheet can be found on the fifth floor of the Mudd Library in the Center for the Advancement and Study of Humor, Hijinx, and Fools.

Lawrence’s pandemic response has kept campus safe in midst of chaos elsewhere

Meralis Alvarez-Morales ’22 works at the COVID-19 testing site in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center gymnasium. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Christyn Abaray knew she and her Lawrence University colleagues were walking a fine line when they welcomed 800 students back to campus in early September for the start of Fall Term.

After going fully remote during Spring Term, the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT)—a campus leadership group led by Abaray, assistant to the president—spent late spring and much of the summer sifting COVID-19 data, studying options, consulting with experts on and off campus, and eventually drafting a multi-layered strategy that would allow for a mix of in-person and remote study.

But as Fall Term neared, with roughly 60% of the school’s nearly 1,500 students opting to return to the Appleton campus, news reports were painting a bleak picture. Wisconsin was the No. 1 hot spot in the country for new COVID cases, with Appleton being one of eight Wisconsin cities making the New York Times’ top 10 list.

Christyn Abaray

Abaray watched those reports with understandable concern. LPPT members began fielding queries from concerned students and parents about how safe it was to return to Appleton.

But Abaray and her team stayed confident in the strategic plan they had put together, which included the initial testing of all students, faculty, and staff on campus, weekly random testing throughout the term, ample space for quarantining and isolation, and strict requirements to Honor the Pledge, including wearing a mask and adhering to physical distancing.

As the COVID test results came in through September and into October, the difference between what was happening in the Fox Valley—and, really, most of Wisconsin—and what was happening on the Lawrence campus could not have been more stark. While Appleton case numbers blew up, the campus emerged as arguably the safest place in the city.

“We were regularly just in awe of what the testing was showing,” Abaray said. “We were just blown away.”

Positive cases on campus through Fall Term stayed below 1% even while cases surged in the surrounding community. And while reports of bars and restaurants filling with unmasked patrons were frequent in the Fox Valley and across Wisconsin, Lawrence students overwhelmingly stayed true to the pledge they signed to follow safety protocols.

Campus buildings were closed to the public. Signage reminded all to wear masks anytime on campus. Students were asked to socialize mask-less only in their pods, with all other interactions requiring masks and distancing.

Now, midway through Winter Term, with six months of experience to lean on and protocols still in place, Lawrence continues to have success in limiting the spread of the virus on campus, with cases detailed weekly on its digital dashboard. There have been slight upticks, but nothing that has been sustained.

At its most problematic point during Fall Term, Lawrence counted 20 positive COVID cases among its students. That number fell back to two a few weeks later and never went above 10 the rest of the term.

In Winter Term, which began with the return to campus of about 900 students the first week of January, there was a quick increase, with 30 students testing positive and going into isolation during the week of Jan. 11. It was a potential tipping point, Abaray said, and the LPPT quickly communicated concerns, reminding the Lawrence community how precarious the situation was and how important it remained to adhere to safety protocols.

The message hit home. The feared spread never happened, with positive tests and needed isolation quickly dropping again into single figures. As of mid-February, there was one active student case.

Abaray and her team know this is not a victory lap. There remains a long way to go. New COVID variants spreading across the U.S. pose new threats, and losing focus on what got Lawrence to this point could send things south quickly. But they also know the strategy they adopted last summer works.

Testing, testing, testing

D’Andre Weaver ’21 (left) and Sterling Ambrosius ’22 wear protective gear as they work at the testing site. Fifteen students were hired to help staff the site each week.

Despite a hefty price tag, Lawrence committed to testing early and often and has stayed with it. The LPPT, which consulted frequently with Medical College of Wisconsin President and CEO Dr. John Raymond and ThedaCare President and CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi, identified testing as key to keeping the plan on track.

Everything else would fall in place based on what the testing numbers told them, Abaray said. If they could mitigate the spread of the virus, then they could launch academic programs as envisioned in various modalities and they could take steps to make the student experience as robust as possible despite the obvious limitations that come with safety protocols.

“The big piece of making all that happen was testing,” Abaray said.

Every student and employee who planned to set foot on campus at any point during the term was required to be tested before the term began. After that initial round, at least one-third of the campus population was tested weekly.

During Fall Term, that meant nasal swabs administered by Bellin Health. For Winter Term, the LPPT opted to switch to saliva-based PCR tests that could be administered by Lawrence staff in partnership with Concentric.

Richard Jazdzewski

“This allows us to be much more efficient and able to scale our staffing patterns to match the testing numbers for the given week,” said Richard Jazdzewski, dean of Wellness Services and an LPPT member. “This has resulted in less time waiting in line on site for our LU community.”

It’s also allowed Lawrence students to work as part of the testing team. Meralis Alvarez-Morales ’22 jumped at the chance to don protective gear and go to work. She’s now working between four and five hours a week, gathering needed information on site from Lawrentians being tested.

“I choose to work as a testing assistant not only because of the opportunity to be paid, but also because I wanted to do my part in giving back to my community,” Alvarez-Morales said. “We are still in a global pandemic after all, and many hands do make light work.”

The testing, which is set up in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center gymnasium, will continue in Spring Term, Abaray said. The cooperation to date from students and employees has been stellar. The push to stay the course will continue even as COVID numbers in the surrounding community continue to go down and a growing number of people are being vaccinated.

“The only way our testing strategy works is because we have a group of students, faculty, and staff who are adhering to all it means to be in the Pledge,” Abaray said. “It’s an interwoven group of things that all have to be happening for us to be where we are right now. Holding each other accountable is a big piece to that.”

The Pledge

Wearing a mask on campus is part of Honor the Pledge.

Honor the Pledge, launched before Fall Term began, is a pact between the University and all students, faculty, and staff who opted to or needed to be on campus. It lays out 10 promises tied to safety protocols, from mask-wearing to social distancing to testing.

Violations of the Pledge have been addressed on an individual basis, Abaray said. And while there have been occasional violations among students, the vast majority of Lawrentians on campus have stayed true to the Pledge. That, more than any other factor, is why Lawrence has had success mitigating the spread while some universities across the country have struggled.

“Student adherence to what we’re asking them to do, for the most part, is what’s making this possible,” Abaray said. “We’ve all read the stories from other places where decisions that students make really do make or break what happens. We have students who get it. They’re making some of the most mature decisions that we could ask for.”

Being a small campus certainly helps. Abaray and the rest of the LPPT know it’s easier to get that buy-in from a student body of 1,500 than it is for a campus with 50,000 students. But it’s still impressive. And the work continues.

A new incentive program launched through Wellness Services, called #VIKINGSCARE, gives Lawrence community members an opportunity to recognize their peers for behavior that keeps the campus community safe.

“Students who have been nominated can win weekly prizes, including free dinner with five friends from a local restaurant, an Apple watch, a Bluetooth speaker, LU gear, and more,” Jazdzewski said.

Alvarez-Morales, a Global Studies and Spanish double major, speaks with pride about her fellow students. She said students’ willingness to adhere to the Pledge, as limiting as it is, is what has separated Lawrence’s success in mitigating virus spread from what’s happened off campus.

“Lawrence overall has done a great job enforcing safety protocols and guidelines on campus,” Alvarez-Morales said. “Lawrence has also done a great job of providing students with the resources to obtain masks, reusable dinner bags, food, and sanitizing products to clean their spaces.”

The vast majority of students have taken the virus seriously. They understand that masking up and following protocols are selfless acts aimed at keeping others safe and the campus functioning. Alvarez-Morales said she wishes that was the case everywhere.

“In short, yes, I feel safer on campus now than I did when I first thought of returning to campus. But I do not feel safe in the surrounding community.”

Isolation and Quarantine Space

Kohler Hall was set aside as isolation and quarantine space as part of the strategic plan to mitigate virus spread on campus.

Lawrence limited the number of students who could live on campus – roughly 800 opted in for Fall Term and about 900 for Winter Term – so adequate housing space could be dedicated to isolation and quarantine.

Kohler Hall has been that space, with students being moved into the hall for isolation if they test positive and for quarantine if they have had close contact with someone who tested positive.

Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life and chaplain to the University, Terra Winston, associate dean of Spiritual and Religious Life, and Curt Lauderdale, dean of students, have been instrumental in creating a responsive and caring space for students entering Kohler. Bon Appetit, Lawrence’s on-site provider of campus meals, has been essential in providing food delivery.

Abaray praised Morgan-Clement and Winston for their ability to provide comfort—physical and emotional—for students going through isolation or quarantine. And she called Bon Appetit employees unsung heroes for their willingness to adapt in ways that serve those students.

“Their planning and their ability to adjust their planning for our students who are in Kohler in quarantine or isolation has been phenomenal to watch,” Abaray said. “We had a plan going in, and that wasn’t providing the best experience for the students, so they pivoted. It illustrates how much adjusting you need to do. It’s OK to adjust. You don’t have to have all the answers on the front end. You won’t. Adjusting is part of that.”

The making of the LPPT

Leadership and communication via the LPPT have been critical from the beginning. The group includes President Mark Burstein and most of his cabinet, as well as key personnel from Wellness Services, the faculty, and other points across campus. In all, more than 50 voices have been part of that team, including a number of student leaders.

“We figured out very quickly that we needed to have a lot of stakeholders around the table if we were going to do this the right way,” Abaray said.

The group met twice weekly through the spring and summer as it drafted a strategy to, if at all possible, bring students back to campus. It split into five subgroups to explore in detail various aspects of that challenge—a group focused on the campus calendar and curricular issues; a co-curricular group focused on student life, housing, meals, and student engagement; a group focused on visitors to campus; a health group that included faculty members with expertise in the biomedical field; and an employee group that explored potential workplace issues.

Those subgroups met regularly, then reported back to the LPPT as the strategy slowly evolved.

“All of it needed to come together by the middle of summer to have an idea of what direction we wanted to go for the fall,” Abaray said. “That was the first big decision that needed to be made.”

Once the decision was made to proceed with at least a portion of the student body on campus, the LPPT went to work drafting particulars, communicating the plan in detail to students, families, faculty, and staff, and answering an onslaught of questions.

That work is ongoing, with the LPPT continuing to meet weekly.

“We feel somewhat comfortable with where we are,” Abaray said.

But as it was nearly a year ago when the pandemic first arrived, there are more questions than answers. LPPT members know they must continue to listen, learn, respond, and adjust.

“Everything changes by the day,” Abaray said. “It’s that level of living in the gray. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to people. You hear, ‘You all said this on this day and now you’re saying this.’ Yes, we did. We learned something. It’s not that we were wrong. It’s that we’ve learned something, and that’s moving us forward. We are making decisions with the best information we have at that particular moment, and the moment we have more information we are going to adjust. I know that’s not comfortable and it’s not ideal. For the control freak in me, it’s unnerving. But you have to be able to be in that space right now if you’re going to be productive.”

What’s next?

Vaccines are on the horizon. Jazdzewski said Lawrence will continue to work with city and county health officials in efforts to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines on campus, but how and when has yet to be determined.

In the meantime, preparations are under way to launch a Spring Term that will look very much like Winter Term. Students are again being given the option of living on campus or staying remote. If living on or visiting campus, adherence to the Pledge will remain a must. Adjustments in protocols will be made as conditions dictate.

Confidence in the strategy that has gotten Lawrence to this point is strong, Abaray said. But she and others on the LPPT know there will be more hurdles and more questions as winter turns to spring and impatience grows. The finish line remains murky at best.

“Every day we doubt everything because we just don’t know,” Abaray said. “We still don’t know what’s going on with this virus; still don’t know a lot of things. But I trust and I have confidence in our protocols and our strategy.”

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

2020 in focus: Photographer shares 10 favorite Lawrence images of the year

By Danny Damiani / Communications

At the end of a year that included more than 1,000 edited photos taken in and around the Lawrence University campus, I was tasked with selecting my top 10 images of 2020. Narrowing this rather unusual year down to 10 photos was a difficult task, but below you will find my favorites, along with notes on how and why. A huge thank you to all the students, faculty, and staff who allow me to step into their world both digitally and in person to make all of my photos happen.

1. Aerial Landscape, the Wellness Center, and Sampson House reflected just before sundown on Aug. 6. One of my goals this year was to try to show campus in new ways. I spent many hours this summer looking for different angles to reflect this beautiful campus. It wasn’t until I spotted a portion of Aerial Landscape reflected in nearby glass that I stopped and worked the angle of the reflection to get this result.

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2. Students dance during the Feb. 1 President’s Ball in Warch Campus Center. Thinking back to winter term, a favorite memory is the smiling faces at the President’s Ball. Covering the event was a bit of a technical challenge because of the low light, but like many assignments, it’s all about waiting in the right place for the right moment.

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3. Ryan Erdmann ’22 wears a mask while taking part in a Chamber Music class in City Park on Oct. 7. Mask-wearing quickly became a vital aspect of 2020, so I always kept an eye out for students who were using their masks to show off a little of their personality. It took nearly the entire class before I was able to get the light to fall in just the right spot for this photo.

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4. Kelvin Maestre ’21, a Makerspace assistant, watches as a laser cutter starts its work on a piece of wood on Jan. 22 in the Seeley G. Mudd Library. Having the chance to document the interesting work that students do is a highlight of my job. That often goes hand in hand with our 2 Minutes With series of student features. I knew the Makerspace would have lots of interesting light sources, so I went in looking to take an image that utilized one of them.

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5. Ghania Imran ’21 poses for a May 22 portrait in her Chicago home via Zoom. Speaking of our 2 Minutes With series, many of the photos I take for those stories are portraits. Spring Term brought new challenges for taking portraits of students. For this photo, I decided to try a portrait through Zoom. It involved lighting the laptop with two separate lights, help from Ghania to find a good spot in her home, and finally positioning the laptop for the right angle.

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6. Sonja Klusman plays the piano with Matt Turner, instructor of music, during an Applied Musicianship II class on Feb. 17 in Shattuck Hall. I always take into account the amount of time that’s available to me when I get to an assignment. Do I need to get a photo within five minutes or, in the case of this image, do I have the time to really explore different angles?

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7. Nicholas Jatta ’21 kicks a soccer ball with friends Oct. 6 on the Quad. During Fall Term, I spent a good deal of time looking to document what students were up to in this Honor the Pledge environment. Finding Nicholas kicking the soccer ball with friends was a pleasant surprise. Not only was the afternoon light falling beautifully on the Quad, but it had been a long time since I had the chance to photograph anything related to sports.

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8. The moon rises above Main Hall on Jan. 7. This image came together as I was nearing the end of a workday. While walking to Brokaw Hall from the Warch Campus Center, I noticed the moon was bright, and close enough the cupola to capture a photo.

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9. Nathan Graff ’22 and Daniel Johnson ’23 rehearse outdoors with the Jazz Ensemble on Oct. 7. After taking photos of an outdoor music class in City Park (see earlier entry), I decided to edit the images on Main Hall Green. Not long into my edit I heard the sounds of brass behind me. After getting a few images of the Jazz Ensemble students as they practiced, I noticed the shadows against the white chapel, so I reset myself and took this photo.

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10. Sophia Driessen ’22 transplants leafy greens while working on a hydroponics research project on Dec. 10 in the Briggs Hall greenhouse. This was the first time I took photos in the greenhouse. The purples and greens are what pull this image together for me.

Danny Damiani is a multimedia specialist in the Communications office. Email: daniel.t.damiani@lawrence.edu

Most-viewed Lawrence stories of 2020: Bright lights in midst of a daunting year

The President’s Handshake, a tradition of Welcome Week, was reimagined at the outset of Fall Term, one of many adjustments made to keep campus safe during the pandemic. President Mark Burstein met each incoming student and presented them with a luminary to be displayed. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

It’s been a different sort of year. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly altered life on the Lawrence campus.

But one thing proved true. Lawrentians (and future Lawrentians and friends of Lawrence) are hungry to read about Lawrence and their fellow Lawrentians. We’ve dived into the analytics to share today the most viewed stories of 2020 on the Lawrence news site. (A few of the stories that placed in the top 20 are partnered here because they are so closely related.)

Eight alumni, eight stories: See 2020 edition here.

From voice professor John Holiday’s success on NBC’s The Voice to Lawrence again being hailed as a world-class school to adjustments made to campus life in the midst of a pandemic, there was no shortage of Lawrence news that drew a lot of interest. We provide here links to those most popular stories. Check out what you missed or take another look at stories that remind us of what makes Lawrence shine.

1. John Holiday hits big on NBC’s The Voice.

“There are people who dare to dream bigger than themselves; they never stop learning, never stop growing. I wanted to show my students what that looked like.” See stories here and here.

2. Princeton Review names Lawrence one of nation’s Best Impact schools.

“I see it and hear it when I meet with our alumni around the world. They point back to their time at Lawrence as unlocking something for them, discovering an interest or talent they didn’t know they had until they started working with professors here who helped guide them in that discovery.” See story here.

3. We say farewell to beloved Lawrentians.

“I will always remember Lifongo as the warmest, kindest, and most generous, joyful, and magnanimous of colleagues and friends.” … “I know many Lawrentians join me in remembering moments when Terry’s advice provided exactly what you needed to hear to be the best version of yourself.” See stories here and here.

4. Campus life changes amid COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of us living, learning, and working on campus this fall need to understand and to honor the responsibilities outlined by the Pledge.” See stories here and here.

5. A professor’s guide offers look at Freshman Studies.

“The entire list shows a remarkable range and an admirable ambition.” See story here.

6. New trestle trail adds to trails, parks near campus.

“The abandoned railroad trestle has been transformed into a 10-foot-wide trail that spans the Fox River at the southern edge of campus.” See story here.

7. Bidding good-bye for now to retiring faculty.

“You have served as a steadying force, stepping into a host of academic leadership positions that have lent stability in moments of uncertainty and grace in times of worry.” See story here.

8. Six faculty earn tenure.

“I’m absolutely delighted that their contributions are being recognized through the awarding of tenure and promotion, and look forward to continuing together our rich, rewarding work for years to come.” See story here.

 9. Jake Woodford ’13 elected mayor of Appleton.

“It has been a pleasure to watch Jake’s energy turn toward the city he loves.” See story here.

10. Princeton Review names Lawrence to Best Colleges list.

“As we head into another academic year, albeit one that looks different from any other in history, it’s reassuring to see that some things have remained the same.” See story here.

11. President Mark Burstein announces plans to leave Lawrence.

“During Mark’s tenure, our curricular offerings became deeper and broader, applications and the endowment increased dramatically, and our community became more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded.” See story here.

12. Lawrence offers assistance during pandemic.

“We have always risen to the challenges that face us with resilience and ingenuity.” See story here.

13. Conservatory named ‘hidden gem,’ adapts to life in pandemic.

“It’s beautiful, creative flexibility. We’re working with our students all the time to say, ‘This is what you’re going to need out there in the world, and this is what’s going to be exciting about being a musician in the world today.’” See story here.

14. Natasha Tretheway named 2020 Commencement speaker.

“Our journeys have been intertwined since I visited Lawrence four years ago, and I am delighted and honored to be able to reconnect with this class in such a meaningful way.” See story here.

15. Spencer Tweedy ’19 enjoys Kimmel appearance, Instagram show.

“One of the really, really cool things about my time at Lawrence was that the boundary between the Conservatory and the college is pretty permeable.” See story here.

16. Lawrence adds major in Creative Writing, minor in Statistics and Data Science.

“We’ve seen more prospective students articulating their desire to focus directly on creative writing.” … “Data scientists are working with bioinformatics, genetics; it’s huge in economics, and it’s become a huge thing in political science.” See story here.

17. Four alumni added to Board of Trustees.

“At this critical moment for higher education, I couldn’t be more appreciative for the diverse group of individuals who are giving so much of their time and talent as trustees to ensure that the college continues to distinguish and differentiate itself.” See story here.

18. Alexander Gym court gets a redesign.

“While resurfacing was certainly a maintenance requirement, the fresh new design work is an added bonus.” See story here.

19. Our 2020 Alumni Awards are announced.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the annual Reunion celebration, this year’s recipients are still being celebrated for their contributions to both the Lawrence community and the world.” See story here.

20. Alex Damisch ’16 cherishes her Jeopardy experience.

“After I taped the shows, I thought to myself, ‘Man, it went by so fast, and I was always so focused on my next move, I hope I remembered to smile.’ Spoiler alert: I did not.” See story here.

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

Noonan puts focus on balancing short-term challenges, long-term strength

Mary Alma Noonan is Lawrence University’s new vice president for finance and administration.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Mary Alma Noonan will tell you that interviewing for and landing a new job in the midst of a pandemic can be a bit disconcerting.

Lawrence University’s new vice president for finance and administration came on board in early August after going through a lengthy interview process, all without ever leaving her home in Vermont. Thus, Appleton became her new home sight unseen.

“The hardest part was wrapping my head around coming to Appleton when I had never set foot here, had not really spent any time in Wisconsin at all,” she said.

Six weeks in, so far so good. The campus is gorgeous, the weather has been beautiful, and the Lawrentians she’s met – masked up and at a distance or via Zoom – have been helpful, collaborative, and committed. In other words, as advertised.

“Because of the pandemic, I haven’t been exploring as much as I might have otherwise,” she said of Appleton. “But I’ve been doing a lot of walking, getting a sense of the geography.”

Noonan also has dived into Lawrence’s finances, which, like those of most every institution of higher learning across the country, are being stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She arrives on campus at a particularly difficult time, with much of the instruction taking place virtually and a little more than 60% of students living on campus for Fall Term.

Noonan said she and other members of the Lawrence leadership team will need to work closely with shared governance committees to make decisions with an eye on both the short-term financial realities and the long-term health of the University.

“It’s difficult, but that also makes it interesting and challenging,” Noonan said of her new role. “If it were just a job that I stepped into and it was just clicking through the steps and checking the boxes, I probably wouldn’t be as interested in it. There are challenges out there. I feel I have some ideas that can be helpful, looking at strategies going forward. Right now, we are so focused on the here and the now and getting through this crisis that the strategic part is a little bit on the back burner. But I know that that is going to pop into the foreground before too long. That’s really an interesting part of this to me, to think about how to make the institution stronger, how to ensure the best possible experience for the students we have now and those in the future.”

Noonan spent the past year as the chief financial officer for the Rutland City Public Schools in Vermont. Prior to that, she spent a year and a half as the vice president for finance and administration at Green Mountain College, a struggling liberal arts college in Poultney, Vermont. She came on board well aware that Green Mountain was trying to dig out of serious financial difficulties. Efforts to reverse the slide were not successful and the school closed its doors after the 2018-19 academic year.

The experience gave Noonan insights into the hurdles facing higher education. And furthered a desire to work in the world of liberal arts education.

“Lawrence is in a relatively fortunate position vis-à-vis some of its peers in that we’ve got a pretty solid financial footing supported by a good endowment,” she said.

That endowment is being significantly bolstered by the $220 million Be the Light! Campaign that launched six years ago and is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2020, providing long-term sustainability.

The endowment isn’t “luxurious” when compared to the handful of other schools with similar faculty-student ratios to Lawrence and that count their endowments in the billions, Noonan said, but it’s strong enough to provide stability that some schools just don’t have right now.

“The higher education sector is going through some tough times, but Lawrence will get through it,” Noonan said. “We just need to be good conservators of the resources that we have. We need to put in the work and make sure that we’re using those resources as effectively as possible to ensure the longevity of what we do.”

Ultimately, identifying ways to generate higher levels of revenue while maintaining a commitment to Lawrence’s mission and values will be key going forward, Noonan said.

A new career path

Entering the world of higher education was no accident. Noonan, who has a bachelor of arts degree in East Asian Studies from Middlebury College and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and speaks fluent Mandarin, spent the bulk of her career in the business world, holding financial leadership posts with Sara Lee Corporation, Arrow Electronics, and Fannie Mae.

But after she took some time off to help see her mother through a health crisis, she shifted her focus toward more mission-driven work.

“When I started to go back to look for my next step, I realized my heart really wasn’t into continuing with a lot of the private sector functions I had been doing,” Noonan said. “It didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of purpose or mission behind that work.”

She had long been doing pro bono work on the side for a variety of nonprofits. That, she said, is where she was finding joy.

“I felt, particularly when I was in Washington, that I was getting more fulfilment out of some of the nonprofit work I was doing than in my day job,” she said.

She started to explore career opportunities in the nonprofit world. And that led to her connecting with Green Mountain, which put her on a path that would eventually lead to Lawrence.

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

Library project leads list of renovations happening across campus this summer

The second floor of Mudd Library is being transformed this summer into the Center for Academic Success. The revamped space is expected to be open by the time Fall Term begins in September. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Maintenance and infrastructure upgrade projects are proceeding at Lawrence University this summer, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

In addition to the recently announced upgrades in lighting and heating and air conditioning infrastructure by Johnson Controls Inc., the campus projects include the renovation of the second floor of Mudd Library into the Center for Academic Success, the installation of new bleachers as part of an Alexander Gym revamp, and a new outdoor stairway leading from Briggs Hall to the trail along the Fox River.

Much of the work is donor funded.

Here are seven notable projects taking place across campus this summer (and seven more that were recently finished):

1. Mudd Library second floor transformed into Center for Academic Success

Center for Academic Success, second floor of Mudd Library

This work is ongoing through summer, with the new Center for Academic Success scheduled for occupancy by the beginning of September. It will feature nine private offices, a classroom, a testing room, a conference room, a general tutoring area, two new restrooms, and a remodeled Help Desk and computer lab. It’s a major investment for an academic initiative that was launched in 2016 to help support Lawrence students on their academic journeys. The library renovation was made possible by a $1.5 million fundraising campaign. The center offers support in areas that range from tutoring to accessibility services and more.

2. New hardscape in front of Wellness Center

Hardscape in front of Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center

The replacement of concrete from Sampson House to Memorial Hall is under way. This hardscape repair helps beautify the area directly in front of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center. It also helps improve safety, as the concrete in that area was in disrepair.

3. Outdoor stairway at Briggs Hall

Outdoor stairs along west side of Briggs Hall

The installation of the new metal stairway and adjoining landscaping next to Briggs Hall are nearing completion. The stairs provide an easy and safe route to the trail along the Fox River and the SLUG Garden, not to mention easy access to the City of Appleton’s new Lawe Street Trestle Trail, which is set to open later this summer. The stairs replace the old wooden steps, which had been closed off because of safety concerns.

4. Alexander Gym revamp

Alexander Gym floor

New bleachers in Alexander Gym are being installed this summer. That follows a new wall that was constructed to hold the bleachers. Earlier, the gym floor was refinished and now features a large Viking ship logo. It should enhance the playing and viewing experience for basketball games, volleyball games, and other athletic events at Alex.

5. Memorial Chapel upgrades

Memorial Chapel

A large projection screen is being mounted above the stage in Memorial Chapel to enable the space to be used as a classroom and to enhance certain productions. Additionally, stained-glass window repairs will happen this summer courtesy of a donor fund that supports annual upkeep work on the Chapel windows. Also, a section of the Chapel roof is being repaired.

6. Warch Campus Center flooring

Andrew Commons (before construction) in Warch Campus Center

A planned Warch dining area renovation project, funded by Bon Appetit, is on hold for a year; however, the replacement of the flooring in both Andrew Commons and The Cafe is still a go for this summer. The new terrazzo flooring takes 12 weeks to install. Doing it this summer will reduce the construction time to complete the remainder of the project next year. The flooring is expected to be completed by the end of August. 

7. Plantz Hall Wi-Fi and new paint

Plantz Hall

Technology Services staff are completing copper data wiring infrastructure upgrades in Plantz Hall, preparing the residence hall for the next generation of Wi-Fi. Also, the lounge and lobby at Plantz are being painted and two new murals added.

And more: Here are seven other projects that have been completed since most Lawrentians left campus in March:

Briggs Hall 223:  This classroom was remodeled in June, complete with new flooring, furniture, and paint.

Women’s hockey locker room remodel: The women’s hockey locker room, located at the Appleton Family Ice Center in Memorial Park, was remodeled in April, part of the preparation for the debut of Lawrence’s women’s hockey team. The refurbishment included adding an additional stall, new fixtures, rubber flooring, benching, and shelving.

Steam line repair: Two steam line repairs were completed during the spring and early summer.

Parking lot of Big and Little Exec: The lot surface has been repaired.

Install of METASYS metering system: This is an HVAC control system upgrade at Warch Campus Center.

Community Music School roof replacement: The Lawrence Community Music School (formerly known as the Academy of Music) received a new roof in March.

Alexander Gym transformer: A new transformer was installed at Alex Gym courtesy of WE Energies

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

Lawrence partners with Bellin for COVID-19 testing as it sets plans for fall

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Bellin Health will be the COVID-19 health care partner with Lawrence University during the coming academic year, part of the University’s comprehensive plan for reopening the campus for Fall Term.

Lawrence announced July 14 that its Appleton campus would open as planned for the Fall Term, which begins Sept. 14, with students, faculty, and staff having the option to be on campus or remain remote. Classes will be offered in a mix of in-person and distance learning, with physical distancing requirements in place on campus.

The partnership with Bellin will be a key piece of that strategy.

“Lawrence is fortunate to reside in a community with many talented health care organizations,” President Mark Burstein said. “The University has contracted with Bellin Health to be our health care partner as we adapt as a community to living with COVID-19. They will provide on-campus testing for all community members. Our long-term existing relationships with Ascension and ThedaCare health systems in the Fox Valley will also continue to supply essential local support.”

Planning for Fall 2020: See letter from President Burstein, details, FAQ here.

The partnership with Bellin Health includes COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff when they arrive on campus. Any member of the Lawrence community living or working on campus will then need to complete a daily screening of temperature and symptoms and participate in frequent testing through the term.

Physical distancing and masks will be part of campus life when Fall Term opens.

“At Bellin Health, we understand that improving health means going beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics to serve our communities up close, working together to keep people safe and improve overall health and well-being,” said Randy Van Straten, Bellin’s vice president for business and community health. “We look forward to the opportunity to partner with Lawrence, helping this great local university coexist with COVID-19 and maintain a safe and healthy campus environment.”        

The university will continue to collaborate with the Appleton Health Department for contact tracing for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

The academic year at Lawrence will look different than any before. Physical distancing rules will be in place and all members of the community will be required to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including classrooms, as well as outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible. All members of the Lawrence community who opt to be on campus will need to sign a community pledge agreeing to an understanding of what it means to be physically on campus.

“Ensuring the health and safety of the Lawrence University community and beyond only works when everyone does their part, together,” said Christyn Abaray, assistant to the president.

Lawrence’s pandemic planning team consulted with health experts, both within Wisconsin and around the country, and with various faculty, students, staff, and trustees through the shared governance process, Burstein said.

“Our goal was to ensure that every Lawrentian will have the opportunity to learn, teach, and work as fully and safely as possible,” he said.

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

Can’t visit in person? 8 ways to experience Lawrence from your couch

Lawrence Memorial Chapel is just one stop on our virtual tour. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Nothing beats an in-person campus visit, but if you want to experience Lawrence University without making the trip to campus, here are 8 ways you can do that – all without leaving your couch. 

1. Take the virtual tour 

If you’re anxious to see campus and check out the spaces where you’ll live, learn, and socialize, Lawrence has an excellent virtual tour available. You can click through the tour at your own pace without audio, or you can follow along with the student-narrated journey and hear facts and stories along the way. 

2. Watch YouTube playlists 

Spend a lot of time on YouTube? You can learn about Lawrence’s traditions, people, and spaces on our YouTube channel. Tour our buildings and city with the Campus and Appleton playlist. You can get to know some of your future professors with the Meet the Faculty playlist. And the Campus Life playlist will introduce you to traditions, events, and activities you’ll take part in as a student. 

3. Dive into your interests on our website 

If you’re looking for some more specific information about Lawrence’s academic programs, student life, study abroad opportunities, or just about anything else, the website has you covered. Just a few clicks and you’ll have all the details you need about life at Lawrence. 

4. Request a chat 

Some questions are best answered in-person. You can schedule a one-on-one meeting with your admissions counselor, a faculty member, or even a current student to ask all your in-depth questions and hear about Lawrence from a personal perspective. If you’re interested in the Conservatory of Music or joining one of our 22 varsity athletic teams, you also can schedule a chat to talk about those interests with Conservatory faculty or a coach

5. Listen to lectures 

As the one course all Lawrence students take, Freshman Studies is the perfect (not to mention iconic) introduction to what it means to be a Lawrentian. Featuring works from all academic areas of study, check out some of this year’s lectures for a taste of the freshman experience. 

6. Read profiles 

There’s no better way to get to know Lawrence than by getting to know the individuals who call it home. Learn all about your future classmates, professors, and alumni through engaging profiles at blogs.lawrence.edu/profiles/

7. Read what our student writers have to say 

Our student writers have a thing or two to say about Lawrence. From advice for incoming students to a guide to Lawrence slang, from creative final exams to treasures found on campus, articles by student writers will give you a feel for the authentic student experience.

8. Follow on social media 

For all the latest Lawrence news—plus must-see updates on the adorable presidential pup, Homer—follow @lawrenceuni on social media. With accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s the best way to stay up to date on all things Lawrence. 

We look forward to when we can welcome you to campus in person, but until then, there are plenty of ways for you to explore Lawrence from anywhere in the world. So, take the virtual tour, check out our website, and schedule a chat soon. We can’t wait to meet you! 

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Noonan selected for Lawrence’s VP for finance and administration position

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Mary Alma Noonan, a financial executive who has deep leadership experience in the public and private sectors, has been hired as Lawrence University’s vice president for finance and administration.

She will join Lawrence in early August.

Mary Alma Noonan

“Her collegial approach, her deep knowledge of finance and operations, and her clear passion for a liberal arts education prepares her well to lead Lawrence forward,” President Mark Burstein said in announcing the hiring of Noonan.

She fills the position left open by the departure earlier this academic year of Christopher Lee.

Noonan is coming from Vermont, where she is the chief financial officer for the Rutland City Public Schools. She joins Lawrence at a time of worldwide angst due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced an abrupt transition to distance learning for Spring Term and has added much financial uncertainty to the higher education landscape.

Noonan said she believes Lawrence is well-positioned to navigate through some difficult financial challenges.

“The global pandemic, which upended spring terms on college campuses everywhere, has intensified the already challenging times higher education in this country has been experiencing,” Noonan said. “In a rapidly transforming and consolidating environment, Lawrence has a number of assets that bode well for its future: solid financial footing, distinct differentiation from its peers and competitors, and enlightened leadership.”

Much of Noonan’s career has been spent in the business world, holding financial leadership posts with Sara Lee Corporation, Arrow Electronics, and Fannie Mae before shifting her career focus to more mission-driven work.

She has a bachelor of arts degree in East Asian Studies from Middlebury College and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is fluent in Mandarin.

Noonan’s brief tenure as vice president for finance and administration at Green Mountain College right before it closed last year returned her to her liberal arts roots, making the Lawrence position that much more appealing, she said.

She emerged from a deep field of quality candidates. Finalists went through a series of interviews with members of Lawrence’s leadership team, including faculty and staff, all done from a distance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a very strong group of candidates from around the country for this position,” Burstein said. “Mary Alma’s deep and wide-ranging background in finance and operations at both private international companies and educational institutions made her a perfect fit for the work we have ahead.”

The conversations with Lawrentians, even done remotely, cemented her interest in joining the Lawrence family, Noonan said, referencing “universally positive interactions I have had with administrators, faculty, staff, and board members” throughout the interview process.

“I am already feeling embraced by the Lawrence community and look forward to joining everyone in person come August,” she said.

Noonan will complete the academic year at Rutland before making the move to Wisconsin.

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

Lawrence’s Buenzli, Rosa earn President’s Award of Excellence

Erin Buenzli (left) and Ariela Rosa ’15

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Two Lawrence University staff members who work closely with students and alumni have been honored for their tireless work and their willingness to reach across departments.

Erin Buenzli, director of wellness and recreation, and Ariela Rosa ’15, associate director of corporate, foundation, and sponsored research support, are the recipients of the 2019-20 President’s Award of Excellence.

The President’s Award of Excellence Committee and President Mark Burstein announced the honors. In past years, the awards have been announced at the annual Service Award Luncheon, but because of steps taken to protect the Lawrence community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been postponed. It’ll be rescheduled at a to-be-determined date.

Nominators cited Buenzli and Rosa for championing the staples of the President’s Award — support, stewardship, innovation, and teamwork.

To see videos about Buenzli and Rosa, and to see past President’s Award winners and this year’s service award recipients, click here.

Buenzli: Seeking wellness

While Buenzli’s work is based in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center, she is active across campus, organizing an annual wellness fair, holding pop-up wellness sessions in unexpected spaces, and even teaching an annual Spring Term wellness class.

“She is in every space you could possibly think of on campus and she’s always looking beyond her position description for the good of Lawrence,” said Kristi Hill, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change.

Leah McSorely, associate dean of students for international student services, applauded Buenzli for reaching out to all students on campus and making wellness services accessible for all.

“She makes sure Lawrence is at the forefront of providing an inclusive wellness space,” she said.

Rosa: Advocating for others

Rosa, meanwhile, drew praise not only for her stellar work on the grants team but also for her willingness to mentor others and be an advocate on and off campus for inclusiveness and fairness.

“She is someone who stands up for people whose voices aren’t heard, making sure people feel supported, making sure people know where to go when they need things, and just having a much bigger vision for what it means to be an inclusive campus community,” said Emily Bowles, coordinator for experiential funding and professional networking.

Jaime Gonzalez ’16, an assistant director of admissions with a focus on diversity, inclusion, and access, called Rosa’s mentoring skills an extension of who she is as a person.

“We kind of all go the extra mile to help and support one another,” he said of the Lawrence culture. “And Ariela is kind of the person who goes the extra, extra mile.”

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