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.
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/.
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.
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.
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.”
J. Terrence (Terry) Franke ’68, an impactful
leader who helped guide Lawrence University through transformative changes and
served as a mentor for past and current students, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 21,
at the age of 73 with his wife, Mary, his three children, and siblings at his
Franke, of Evanston, Illinois, served as the chair
of Lawrence University’s Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2015, a capstone to five
decades of service in which he provided calm and insightful leadership and
mentored countless students, alumni, and fellow trustees.
As Board chair, he delivered steady guidance during
a time of great transition, leading to the 2013 appointment of Mark Burstein as
the University’s 16th president.
“Terry’s passion, unbounded energy, and strategic vision have carried Lawrence successfully forward,” Burstein said. “His investment in countless student interns and persistent support of many aspects of our learning community has had an extraordinary impact on the University. 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.”
as chair of the Board were preceded by his long service to the University as a
trustee, beginning in 2002. He also served an earlier term as an alumni trustee
from 1995 to 1998.
Among other leadership efforts, Franke led the
Board’s Investment Committee, stewarding the endowment through the Great
Recession of the late 2000s.
He transformed the Investment Committee shortly after
becoming chair, bringing in alumni who had expertise in the areas of private
equity and real estate and opening the conversation to a wider range of voices.
That had never been done before, and it reinvigorated the committee, bringing change
that would pay off in a big way when the markets collapsed in and around 2008.
“I can remember being in a meeting in March of 2009, which was within a few days of the market low, and the endowment had fallen from about $200 million to something in the $130 million range,” recalled David Knapp ’89, who now serves as the Investment Committee chair. “We were unsure of where we were going to go from there. And Terry was calm and had a long-term view, and helped lead the conversation in a way that kept us all from panicking. What followed was a decade of sustained growth of the endowment through appreciation and new gifts that has brought it over $350 million today. … He stewarded the endowment through the roughest financial period of our lifetimes.”
Knapp took over the lead role on the
Investment Committee when Franke was named chair of the Board of Trustees in
the Board of Trustees while chair, recruiting and welcoming new Board members
with wide ranges of experience and diverse perspectives, expanding the depth
and breadth of the Board.
always answered the call of his alma mater with talent, energy, and passion for
the Lawrence community,” said David Blowers ’82, the current Board chair. “He
led the Board of Trustees during a critical period in Lawrence’s
history. His ability to orchestrate a seamless presidential transition put
the University on the successful path it enjoys today. I know that I speak on
behalf of the entire Board when I say we will greatly miss his wisdom, energy,
and, above all, his loyal friendship.”
It was during Franke’s time leading the Board of Trustees that Lawrence launched its Full Speed to Full Need campaign to support student scholarships. When he stepped down as chair of the Board in 2015, Franke received a surprise announcement: The establishment of the Terry and Mary Franke Scholarship Fund, courtesy of a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor. The money was put toward the Full Speed to Full Need campaign, to be used exclusively for endowed scholarships to help meet students’ demonstrated financial needs.
That was fitting because Franke’s commitment
to Lawrence ran so deep, as did the respect for him among his fellow alumni.
When he asked others to engage, the answer was most often a yes.
A committed mentor
Franke spent most of his professional career
at Hewitt Associates, where he was a senior partner. He also served as a senior
consultant for Productive Strategies Inc., a management and marketing
consulting firm based in Northfield, Illinois, and Franke Associates.
He was a dedicated member of the Lawrence community from the
moment he stepped on campus as a student in 1964. Since graduating in 1968, he has
fostered and maintained connections, sharing his time and knowledge with alumni
as well as current and future Lawrentians. Franke was ready to lend a hand as
an event volunteer, admissions volunteer, and as a member of reunion committees
and class leadership teams. He took particular joy in mentoring the student
interns at his workplace, supported by the Franke Scholarship Fund.
A proud member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Franke
connected often with past and current fraternity members.
Jake Woodford ’13, special assistant to the president at
Lawrence, first connected with Franke while a student in 2010. Those
connections continued, and Franke proved to be a mentor and supporter as
Woodford moved into Lawrence’s administration.
“One of the hallmarks for me was how much Terry cared about
people and how much he kept track of people,” Woodford said. “He knew the
projects they had going on. Their relationships and their passions in many ways
Franke would meet with fraternity members whenever he was on
campus for Board meetings.
“He was always mentoring,” Woodford said. “That was a really
special part of who he was.”
Henry Chesnutt ’14 was among the nearly 20 Lawrence students
who served as interns over the past decade in Franke’s office.
“Interning with Terry was an apprenticeship to a life of
integrity and hard work,” he said.
Chesnutt recalls struggling through much of his internship,
but Franke was there to guide him along and prep him for his launch into the
workforce. With Franke’s gentle prodding, he eventually found his bearings, and
is now thriving as a software engineer with Bain and Company.
“You might think that after his 15th intern he
might have stopped, relaxed, and rested on the fruits of his altruism,”
Chesnutt said of Franke. “But even up to his passing, he was still mentoring
students and offering internships to do all he could to pay it forward.”
In Lawrence’s Center for Career, Life, and Community
Engagement, Franke long set an example of how alumni can positively impact the
lives of current students. It’s those kinds of connections the office is
striving to enhance.
have helped countless students over the past decade, and have advanced the
lives of individuals now working in health care, consulting, finance, and more,”
said Mandy Netzel, assistant director of the CLC for employer and alumni
In honor of his lifelong commitment to his alma mater and its students, Franke received Lawrence’s Presidential Award in 2018.
Details on a Lawrence gathering to celebrate Franke’s life will be announced at a later date.
A story announcing the hiring of five new tenure-track faculty at Lawrence University was the most-read story at lawrence.edu in 2019, followed closely by a guide to the books on the reading list for Freshman Studies.
The new faculty story, posted in May, welcomed Abhishek Chakraborty, statistics; Estelí Gomez, Conservatory of Music (voice); Vanessa D. Plumly, German; Relena Ribbons, geosciences; and Austin Segrest, English. All five started their new appointments at the start of Fall Term.
It heads our list of the top 10 most popular stories of 2019 on
the Lawrence news wire, a list that includes Lawrence landing high in national
rankings, a nod to tradition, the arrival of a new degree, and an embrace of
the school’s commitment to the sciences.
Here, then, are the top 10 stories for 2019 at lawrence.edu, based on analytics that track readership:
We’ve had a lot of fun on the Lawrence news wire during 2019, getting to know students and faculty, catching up with alumni, and showcasing the innovative work being done in classrooms, performance spaces, and athletic venues across campus.
As we bid adieu to the year and prepare to welcome 2020, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite moments of the past 12 months, superlative style. (Also look in the coming days for favorite alumni moments and our top 10 most-read stories.)
Let’s start with the superlatives — 19 strong, with story links — in no particular order:
2 … Most emphatic reminder of bonds between Lawrence, Appleton
The bonds between Lawrence and the Appleton community are deep and important. A Report to the Community in April highlighted a study that shows Lawrence’s annual impact on Appleton and the greater Fox Cities totals nearly $70.3 million — from employee earnings, goods and services, construction projects, off-campus spending and visitor spending. It also showed contributions to the community go well beyond economics, highlighting ongoing cultural and charitable relationships, including work on Mile of Music.
— — —
3 … Most likely weekend to be filled with sleeplessness
When we talk about traditions that continue to engage and amuse, it’s hard to beat Lawrence’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest. For the 54th edition, we gave you 37 reasons to love trivia weekend, the 37 being a nod to the very specific start time of 37 seconds past 10 p.m., the kickoff to 50 hours of madness that is annually a highlight of winter term.
The unveiling of a new degree program is no small thing. The Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.) degree was introduced this year, opening the Conservatory of Music to a more expansive group of student musicians. With a foundation in jazz and contemporary improvisation, the degree is built to accommodate a wider range of music making. The possibilities are many, and the excitement is palpable.
— — —
6 … Favorite hometown connection on a Presto! tour
Voice professor John Holiday returned to Houston as part of the Lawrence Conservatory’s annual Presto! tour, a spring outing that embraces both performance and community outreach. For Holiday, doing so in his hometown made it all the more special and presented opportunities to share his love of Lawrence with prospective students. For the Conservatory, it was one more opportunity to showcase its mantra of music with a mission.
— — —
7 … Strongest embrace of a Wisconsin winter
Have you seen the ice rink that is the annual handiwork of Chuck McKee ’68? It’s a sight to behold. He and his wife, Lesley McKee ’68, have deep bonds with Lawrence that continue to this day. They live a couple blocks north of campus. Each winter for the past 25 years, Chuck, a retired doctor and Lawrence Hall of Fame football player, has turned their yard into an elaborate skating rink, drawing a bevy of friends and acquaintances for pickup hockey games (and from time to time Lawrence hockey players looking for ice time). They’ve also been known to throw a party or two on the ice, one of which landed their rink in the pages of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.
— — —
8 … Most eye-opening testimonial to Lawrence’s strength in STEM
There’s nothing like a midsummer arrival of goats to liven up one of the quietest stretches of the campus calendar. When the students tending to the SLUG garden garnered a sustainability grant to bring in 10 goats to do some weeding, well, we turned a GoPro camera into our very own Goat Cam. The goat initiative was just one of numerous sustainability projects on campus, and played a part in Lawrence’s upgraded sustainability rating.
— — —
10 … Most madness-filled athletics flashback
In the college basketball world, March Madness shouldn’t ever be taken for granted. Fifteen years ago, the Lawrence men’s team went where no Vikings had gone before, winning an NCAA tournament game (and then some) for the first time in the program’s 101 years. We revisited the magical run to the NCAA D-III Elite Eight on the 15th anniversary, catching up with that 2003-04 team that had Lawrence dancing like never before.
— — —
11 … Biggest artful addition to campus
When Matika Wilbur of Project 562 came to campus to share a journey that has taken her to tribal lands across the country (and beyond), she was looking to redirect the narrative on indigenous people. In addition to a convocation address on her work with photography and art installations, she led Native students in the creation of a gorgeous mural on the side of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center.
— — —
12 … Most toast-worthy Lawrence tradition
A lot was happening back in 1969. Among the changes at Lawrence was the transition of the Viking Room from an alcohol-free student hangout to a full-fledged campus bar. The popular spot in the lower level of Memorial Hall marked its 50th anniversary as a bar.
— — —
13 … Funkiest alumni celebration of Lawrence roots
We love it when Lawrence alumni stay connected, return to campus, and share their passion for this place that helped shape them in their adult lives. If it gets a little quirky, so be it. Members of Porky’s Groove Machine, a funk band that started at Lawrence and is now based in Minneapolis, wear their quirkiness like badges of honor. The Porky’s crew — seven Lawrentians strong — returns often, and we are forever thankful.
— — —
14 … Best use of a swimming pool in a non-traditional way
The opera presented at Lawrence in late March was probably a bit different than any you’ve experienced before. For starters, the musicians — and some instruments — were in the water. Held in the pool at the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center, the opera included violins and cellos and keyboards and fancy attire — and water. Lots and lots of water. We chatted with the creative artists behind Breathe.
The Rock has been part of Lawrence since the class of 1895 first hauled the big boulder to campus and carved their signature into it 124 years ago. While the traditions and squabbles that have been part of that history haven’t always been embraced by school administrators, that history was finally recognized with signage that went up this summer. With it came this rock-solid history lesson.
Eyes got a little wide when Jason Brozek told his Government
425: War & Pop Culture students they’d be researching, scripting, and
recording a series of podcasts during fall term.
Fallon Sellers ’20 just smiled and nodded.
The Lawrence University senior, one of about 20 students in the class, knew the drill, having done a podcast in the spring in Brozek’s Environmental Justice class and already being deep into a podcast in Linnet Ramos’ fall term Psychopharmacology & Behavior class.
“I was able to be a little reassuring to everybody else,” Sellers
Welcome to the world of classroom podcasting.
As the popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past few years and the technology for recording and sharing podcasts has been streamlined, professors have increasingly turned to the format as an alternate means of research and study in their classes. Instead of an end-of-term paper being due, students are showcasing what they’ve learned by creating episodes of podcasts that will in many cases be accessible to anyone who wants to listen.
At Lawrence, the creation of podcasts as part of coursework is becoming more frequent. Brozek and Ramos are the latest, but they are far from alone. Marcia Bjornerud in geosciences, Brigid Vance in history, and Israel Del Toro in biology, among others, have all experimented with podcasting in their classes.
“First, the barrier to entry is low,” Jedidiah Rex, a designer on Lawrence’s Instructional Technology staff, said of the increase in podcast usage as a teaching strategy. “The tools necessary to create podcasts are easy to use. Second, podcasting makes use of writing skills but offers an opportunity for students to express creativity. There is a pedagogical value in students doing this work.”
Podcast numbers keep growing
According to a survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital, released earlier this year, the percentage of U.S. residents 12 and older who have listened to a podcast at least once surpassed 50% for the first time. That milestone marks a “watershed moment” for podcasting, Edison Senior Vice President Tom Webster wrote in a blog entry about the report.
“With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have
listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream,” he
Brozek said he was intrigued to incorporate podcasts into
his teaching in part because it gives his students a chance to create something
that can be shared much wider. Topics his students are exploring in the areas
of environmental justice and war and pop culture have potential audiences
across the globe.
“They’re out there,” Brozek said of the eight episodes on environmental justice his students did in spring term. “When I go through my podcast app, they are just in my list of podcasts along with the other things I listen to. I like the idea that they’re available for a much wider community.”
In the process, the students are learning technical skills,
writing strategies, script creation, interviewing techniques, and copyright
laws, all valuable things no matter what career path they might be eyeing.
“I thought this was a way we could keep expanding the quiver of professional skills that we’re trying to help students learn,” Brozek said.
They’re also learning and discussing privacy topics — putting yourself in the public conversation, and what that means. That’s an issue professors using podcast technology need to navigate.
“One of the challenges of doing public-facing scholarship in classes is that students have reasonable privacy concerns, but we can always find a way to work within those boundaries,” Brozek said. (To that end, the release of some or all of the podcasts created in the War and Pop Culture class will be held until early in winter term to make sure all participants are comfortable with the process).
While most of the students in the Brozek and Ramos classes
were new to creating their own podcasts, most had long been consumers of the
“Podcasts are ubiquitous, consumed by this generation, and
it’s a genre that they largely already understand,” said Andrew McSorely, a
reference and digital librarian in Lawrence’s Seeley G. Mudd Library. “It’s not
a huge leap to apply it to the classroom, and, generally speaking, it’s as easy
to set up and get students to engage with as a blog. Because of that, it’s hard
to say how many classrooms are utilizing podcast assignments, but there’s no
question that more instructors have asked about this technology in the library
the past few years.”
Finding an audience
The appeal comes as podcasts have transitioned from the
domain of sports and pop culture to something that can find niche audiences in
almost any sector.
“Where once it was distinctly for entertainment purposes, it
now can hold scholarship and be taken seriously,” McSorely said. “For content
creators in the academy, this serves as a way to engage with new audiences, and
for undergraduates, it’s a means of expression that can seem more natural than
a traditional essay.”
In Ramos’ psychopharmacology course, the students, working
in groups of three to five, are recording video podcasts where they explain,
critique, and discuss research articles on a specific drug. The episodes are being
made available on the class’s
new YouTube channel.
“Often times in classes, students read an article, create a
PowerPoint presentation that describes it and mention a couple of ideas on how
it can be improved,” Ramos said. “But rarely do I get to hear how students felt
after reading the article or get to hear their opinions on why it matters, what
they learned from it, how it can impact other sciences or society.”
In Brozek’s War & Pop Culture class, the students have dug
into topics ranging from post-nuclear apocalypse to how terrorism is depicted
in the media to the use of propaganda to influence audiences during wartime.
Doing that in a podcast allows not only for substantial research but also
“Part of what they’re required to do in the podcast is bring
in academic scholarship,” Brozek said as the fall term course got rolling.
“This new course is designed around thinking about the way political science
scholars write about and think about issues related to war, like terrorism,
extraordinary, exceptional circumstances, torture, things like that. Think
about the way political science crafts narratives and asks and answers
questions and the way pop culture crafts those narratives — where they may have
some overlap, where there are differences, what those differences mean, how
concerned we ought to be about the differences.
“If (pop culture) is where most people are getting their
perspective on terrorism, what does it look like and how consistent is it with
the political science literature? So, those are the kind of questions we’re
asking in this course.”
For the students, that kind of scholarship isn’t out of the
ordinary. Academic work is almost always question-driven. But channeling that
work through a podcast takes it in a different direction. That is where
excitement meets anxiety, Sellers said.
“Most of the anxiety comes with just learning the technical
stuff,” she said. “A podcast is essentially just a conversation. You’re talking
through something with your peers. That’s pretty natural to do. I don’t think
that’s the hard part. The daunting part was I didn’t have any experience with
the computer-related things, the audio techniques, and learning how to use
Audacity and how to navigate that.”
Learning those technical skills and related communication
skills will pay off later as students enter the job market with a wider breadth
of knowledge and know-how. For Sellers, a government major, that’s no small
“Media is so pertinent in our society, and I think it’s so
important that higher education is also moving along with that, and we’re
learning how to adapt,” she said. “Being able to go into a job and say, ‘Hey,
I’m able to produce a podcast, I know how to use these techniques,’ I think people
are generally pretty excited about that.
“By the end of my Lawrence career, I will have done podcasts
on the dairy industry, on pedagogy and propaganda in pop culture and on opioids
and how they impact social behavior,” Sellers said. “So, it’s very Lawrence,
and very well-rounded.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
The Lawrence-owned house on Union Street that was to be restored and used as a home for the provost and dean of faculty will instead be torn down due to damage from a fire a year ago.
The house, owned by Lawrence since 1928, has great historic significance. But efforts to restore it following the fire have proven not to be viable. Construction Project Manager Joseph King said the announcement comes with much “sadness.”
The following letter from King is being sent to City Park Historic District neighbors and local community leaders regarding plans to demolish the property at 229 N. Union Street:
We write today with the announcement that we’ve made a very difficult decision regarding the Lawrence-owned property at 229 N. Union St. The home, which suffered extensive damage in an October 2018 fire, will be torn down in the coming days, and the property will be returned to green space.
The decision to demolish the home follows a year of study by architects, engineers, and City of Appleton inspectors. We explored an assortment of options for renovating or restoring the home. In the end, the fire damage was too extensive to make the house viable. It is with great sadness that we have made the necessary arrangements to have the home demolished.
We are notifying the Lawrence community and neighbors because we understand and appreciate the historical significance of this home. It was built in 1901 and has been owned by Lawrence since 1928, serving a variety of purposes through the years. Perhaps most noteworthy, Attic Theatre was founded in this home. We celebrated that history a little more than two years ago when we had the 2,700-square-foot home moved a block down Union Street.
Unfortunately, the damage from the fire last fall was too much to overcome. The fire occurred while a contractor was working on renovations. The contractor’s insurance is covering the loss and the demolition. At the time of the fire, Lawrence was preparing the home to become the residence for the provost and dean of faculty. Alternative housing arrangements have been made.
A small slice of Appleton and Lawrence history will be lost with the demolition. For that, we are heartbroken and know that those who appreciate that history are feeling the same.
Nearly three years ago, in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, as the results of one of the most stunning election nights in U.S. history began to come into focus, Jerald Podair sent an urgent email to two fellow history scholars.
They were his co-authors on a book project, in its early
stages, about Spiro Agnew, the oft-dismissed former vice president who they believe
served as a harbinger for the modern Republican party.
“Our book just became very, very relevant,” Podair wrote in
that email as the clock ticked past 3 a.m. and it became clear that Donald
Trump would become the nation’s 45th president.
Three tumultuous years later, that book, Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the
Origins of Donald Trump’s America, has arrived, set to be published Oct. 18
by University of Virginia Press.
In the book, Podair, the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies and professor of history at Lawrence University, and co-authors Zach Messitte, president of Ripon College, and Charles J. Holden, professor of history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, detail how the ascent of Trump and his populist base can be traced back to Agnew, whose political star burned bright briefly in the late 1960s and early 1970s before crashing hard.
Agnew was much maligned in his day and is often referenced
among the worst vice presidents in history. But Podair, Messitte, and Holden argue
that historians and political observers need to take a closer look. Agnew’s
populist “everyman” appeal, his very public disdain for political correctness
and the academic class, his depictions of the media as the enemy, and his
ability to rally supporters by railing against uncomfortable cultural change
woke up a political base that would eventually lead the Republican party into
the era of Trump.
Agnew was considered a joke by many political pundits of the
day when Richard Nixon surprisingly tabbed him as his running mate in 1968. Time magazine called him “a narrow and dangerous man with a genuine capacity
“That’s how he was viewed,” Podair said. “Just like Donald
Trump is viewed in many ways today. But, like Trump, Agnew had much more
substance to him and really had a powerful populist message that resonated very
deeply with middle Americans at the time — the Trump voters we’d call them today
— and may very well have swung the 1968 election to Nixon.”
Interest in the book is already ramping up. An op-ed about Agnew written by the three co-authors appeared in the Baltimore Sun in late September and has since been picked up by numerous other media outlets across the country. A book event featuring Podair, Messitte, and Holden is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Warch Campus Center Cinema at Lawrence.
The timing of the book’s release, just weeks after Democrats
in the House launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump, should give it
prime exposure. It wasn’t necessarily planned that way.
Podair, Messitte, and Holden began conversing about the
Agnew book before Trump even declared his bid for the presidency. Its focus was
more about Agnew’s role in the transition of the Republican party from one focused
on economics and the business elite to one focused on cultural unease and an angry
Messitte and Holden have long studied the political waters of Maryland, from whence Agnew emerged. And Podair is well-versed in the politics and cultural dynamics of the 1960s and the various arcs and swings of politics through the 20th century.
Thus, they agreed to team up on a book project that they
believed was important, whether Trump was in play or not.
“We divided the book into sections,” Podair said. “My
portion was to explain how the Republican party changed from the 1930s, when it
was viewed as the party of the economic elite, to the 1960s, the late ’60s,
when it began to be viewed as the party of the average man, the working man.
Not necessarily economically populist, but certainly culturally populist.”
The Democratic party, meanwhile, had seen its own role
reversal, becoming the party of “cultural elitism” in the 1960s as the country navigated
race riots, student rebellions and an anti-war movement that divided much of
the country, Podair said.
“Spiro Agnew was uniquely positioned to take advantage of
that,” he said.
Agnew would become Nixon’s “point of the spear,” Podair
said, ridiculing protesters in often crude and seemingly mean-spirited ways,
all the while working up what was a growing base of resentment against the
cultural transformations that were taking place in the U.S.
“That flies in the face of the traditional view of Agnew as
some bumbling, inarticulate clown,” Podair said. “He did say some things that
were gaffes. But there was much more to him than these gaffes, which is what
the media focused on. He was able to bring a culturally populist message to the
American people and get people who had normally voted for Democrats their whole
lives — the New Deal Democrats — and get them to vote for Republicans. And
that’s the way I think he shifted the political ground.”
If that sounds very much like 2016, Podair said you are not
wrong, and that’s why historians and others who are studying the unfolding
drama that is the Trump presidency would do well to zero in on Agnew, from the
time he first garnered attention as a national political figure in the late
1960s to his resignation from the vice presidency in late 1973 amid revelations
that he committed income tax fraud while governor of Maryland.
“When Trump took the escalator ride and started speaking the
way he did, he was really tapping into a welter of cultural resentments,”
Podair said. “Whatever you want to call his typical voter — blue collar white
voter or alienated working class voter — well, he was tapping into a welter of
cultural resentment that Agnew had definitely tapped into. And I would argue
that if you took the name off of Agnew’s speeches and updated it a little —
obviously there was no Twitter in those days and the media that Agnew was railing
against was the three networks, that’s it — these are words that Donald Trump
could have spoken.”
All the more reason for historians to take a deeper dive
into the makings of Agnew, Podair said. With an impeachment inquiry under way,
a 2020 election campaign heating up, and emotions running high, Trump is a daily
fixation, for better or worse. Republican
Populist may provide a little context as to how we got here.
“Our general thesis is, if you want to understand where Donald Trump came from, he didn’t come out of nowhere,” Podair said. “He has, in fact, deep roots in the changes in the Republican party that go back more than 50 years. If you want to understand Donald Trump, you’ve got to understand Spiro Agnew. He is actually a pivotal figure, and, I think, a very understudied and underrated political figure.”
Book event: A book discussion featuring Podair, Messitte, and Holden will be held at Lawrence University on Oct. 28. The Main Hall Forum begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center Cinema. It is free and open to the public.
Lawrence University saw a huge outpouring of support Thursday as alumni, faculty, staff, students and other supporters contributed more than $1.94 million on the school’s annual Giving Day, the most ever in the event’s six-year history.
Giving Day was highlighted with a one-hour live webcast on Thursday evening, hosted by Terry Moran ’82, a national correspondent for ABC News and the parent of a 2018 Lawrence graduate.
The $1,940,586 in contributions that arrived over the course
of the day came from more than 3,100 donors. Records were set in the amount
raised, the number of overall donors and the number of participating faculty
“Wow, what a day for Lawrence,” President Mark Burstein said. “The funds we raised will support our students in countless essential ways. Thank you to the Lawrence community for your investments in the university. Our game changers, the Classes of 2003 to 2023, and faculty and staff blew the roof off.”
Giving Day drew attention to the myriad of ways financial contributions
support Lawrence students, among them campus improvements, enhanced
study-abroad opportunities, burgeoning sustainability efforts, new and diverse
classroom and research innovations, music and other arts activities, and
Faculty, staff, and students pitched in over the course of the day, holding engagement events on campus and reaching out to alumni around the world, capped by the evening webcast that featured videos on campus construction projects, the school’s Full Speed to Full Need initiative, the Conservatory of Music’s Presto! tour, and the athletic department’s camaraderie and enthusiasm. Burstein, faculty and students joined Moran as guests to talk about the many ways in which the funding supports the liberal arts experience for today’s students.
“We are beyond excited and grateful that the whole Lawrence community came together to break records,” said Amber Nelson, associate director of Annual Giving and a key organizer of Giving Day. “It is always impressive seeing so many people rally around Giving Day. From alumni reaching out to their classmates, encouraging them to give, to staff answering phones, to students running events on campus, to countless other ways people showed their support, it really takes so many different people coming together to make this day so special for Lawrence.”
The Giving Day success is the continuation of momentum that
has been building since the $220 million Be
the Light! Campaign first launched, quietly in January 2014 and then
publicly in November 2018. Last month, Lawrence
landed at No. 26 on Forbes magazine’s 2019 edition of the Grateful Graduates
Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private,
not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence was the only Wisconsin school to place in the
top 70, one more sign of the enduring bonds between the school and its alumni.
Most of the monies raised Thursday will go to the Lawrence
Fund, which is used to support the day-to-day operations of the campus and the
student experience. The Lawrence Fund is one of the pillars of the Be the Light! Campaign.
Monies donated Thursday were matched by supporters who agreed to be “game changers” in the Giving Day campaign. For contributions from the Classes of 2003 through 2023, they matched $500 for every contribution, no matter the amount. For all other contributions, they matched dollar for dollar.
Lawrence’s 2018-19 fiscal report showed support topping $24.4 million, the fourth highest year to date. The Be the Light! Campaign has surpassed $185 million to date in gifts and pledges.
The Be the Light! Campaign includes the Lawrence Fund as one
of its four cornerstones, along with the Full Speed to Full Need initiative
to make Lawrence accessible and affordable to all academically qualifying
students, the Student Journey, which has
welcomed numerous endowed positions aimed at supporting cutting edge programs
and course offerings, and Campus Renewal, targeting
facility and infrastructure upgrade projects on campus.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org