Tag: Lawrence University

President’s Matriculation Convocation kicks off new year; circle these key dates

President Mark Burstein poses for a photo on the Lawrence campus.
President Mark Burstein will deliver the Matriculation Convocation at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Welcome to the 2019-20 academic year. As classes begin today, students are kicking off a journey filled with performances, events and activities, and amid all the fun, they must stay in control of exams and deadlines. We couldn’t include everything, but we chose some important dates you should remember — the indispensable Lawrence traditions and crucial academic deadlines — so you can make the most of this year at Lawrence.

Matriculation Convocation

Thursday, Sept. 19, 11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Memorial Chapel

At the start of each academic year, the president welcomes the Lawrence community back to campus with the Matriculation Convocation. The speech lays the foundation for a collaborative, engaging year. This Thursday, President Mark Burstein will address students, faculty and members of the Appleton community with “Is Our Future Too Hot to Handle?” He’ll examine how human activities are impacting our natural environment and speak to how higher education institutions can better educate and inform on the topic. The convocation is open to the public. Admission is free.

Last day to make class changes

OK, this one has several dates to mark on the calendar. Fall Term: Friday, Sept. 20 | D-Term: Monday, Dec. 2 | Winter Term: Friday, Jan. 10 | Spring Term: Friday, April 3.

Some students miss their registration time or are waitlisted for a class. That’s what late class change deadlines are there for. When you get into that class you were waitlisted for, or you decide on the second day of the term that a course isn’t for you, your schedule is still in your hands. Remember, failing to finalize your schedule by these dates will earn you a late registration fee.

Involvement Fair

Friday, Sept. 20, 7-8 p.m., Somerset Room

Do you want to get involved on campus? This is the place to go. The Involvement Fair gives students the chance to explore more than 100 clubs and organizations at Lawrence, from the Baking and Cooking Club to the Society of Physics Students. Tour the booths and chat with club representatives to explore all of your extracurricular options. Who knows, you might find the group you stick with for the rest of your Lawrence journey.

“The Involvement Fair is a great way for student organizations to recruit new members and spread the word about their purpose,” says Assistant Director of Student Organizations Charity Rasmussen. “Or just have a great time welcoming new or returning students to campus.”

To learn about student organizations before the fair, visit the directory of student organizations.

Mid-term reading period and D-Term registration deadline

Thursday, Oct. 24 to Saturday, Oct. 27

This long weekend is designated for students to prepare for midterm exams. Some students use this free time to take a trip home; the winter and spring reading periods only last two days. In the meantime, maybe you’ve been considering a supplemental academic experience during your winter break. If so, in the midst of studying, don’t forget to register for D-Term. Lawrence’s optional two-week term runs Dec. 2-13. Registration can be completed on Voyager. Find information on D-Term and the course list here.

Convocation Series: “The Parallel Polis”

Thursday, Jan. 16, 11:10 a.m., Memorial Chapel

Russian-American journalist, author, translator and activist Masha Gessen will give a speech, “The Parallel Polis,” as part of the 2019-20 Convocation Series. These convocations are free and open to the community.

Cultural Expressions

Saturday, Feb. 29, Warch Campus Center

Cultural Expressions is an evening of performances in music, dance and poetry that showcase the talents of students of color on campus. This free event serves to celebrate and educate about cultures at the close of Black History Month. Cultural Expressions also punctuates the end of POC Empowerment Week (Feb. 23-29), highlighting the amazing contributions of people of color on our campus.

Cabaret

Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12, Stansbury Theatre

Lawrence International presents Cabaret, an evening of impressive student talent and a whirlwind of cultures. Members of Lawrence’s diverse student body – approximately 13 percent of which are international students – take the stage and treat the audience to cultural performances with the goal of cultural education. This annual spring showcase has taken the stage for 43 years and counting.

Zoo Days

Saturday, May 16, Main Hall Green

By mid-May, the weather is warming up and the school year is winding down. In true Ormsby Hall spirit of tradition, members of the Ormsby community host this event to showcase activities from student organizations, Greek Life and other residence halls at booths and tables. Zoo Days is distinguished from other campus affairs by the classic carnival booths that are brought to Main Hall Green. Try your hand at the dunk tank and enjoy live music, snow cones, cotton candy and popcorn.

LUaroo

Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, Quad Green

Every Memorial Day weekend, students gather on the quad in the final days of Spring Term for Lawrence’s own student-run music festival. The lineup consists of student musicians and exciting headliners, with past performances from The Tallest Man on Earth and Empress Of. This always much-anticipated Lawrence tradition is one last hurrah before finals arrive.

Georgia Greenberg ’20, co-chair of the Band Booking Committee and co-director of LUaroo, says the festival strikes a special chord with students.

“(Students) should feel like they can take time to relax and celebrate how far they’ve come in the school year,” she says. “It’s usually about two weeks from finals, and while that can be a stressful time, Lawrentians like to set time aside to party with their friends and have an awesome and fun-filled weekend.”

Honors Convocation

Thursday, May 28, Memorial Chapel, 11:10 a.m.

The 2019-20 Convocation Series closes with the Honors Convocation, which highlights academic and extracurricular achievements of students. Amy Ongiri, the Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and Associate Professor of Film Studies, was selected for this year’s honor. Her speech is “The Importance of Failure.”

Final exams

Again, several dates to be aware of here. Fall: Sunday, Nov. 24 to Tuesday, Nov. 26 | D-Term: Friday, Dec. 13 | Winter: Monday, March 16 to Wednesday, March 18 | Spring: Monday, June 8 to Wednesday, June 10.

Final exams are perhaps the most important dates for a student to mark on the calendar. Know the dates well ahead of time so you can give yourself enough time to prepare and ace those tests. Professors give reminders as the exams approach, but they can still sneak up on you.

Commencement

Sunday, June 14, Main Hall Green

Residence halls close for underclassman three days prior, but the year’s festivities aren’t over yet. Graduating seniors stay on campus for Commencement, which signifies their move into life after Lawrence. It’s a time for family, friends and the future. There will be a number of events during the weekend for the graduates, culminating with Sunday’s Commencement.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

By the numbers: Getting to know Lawrence’s Class of 2023

Members of the Lawrence Class of 2023 get situated before having their class photo taken in front of Memorial Chapel.
First-year students get situated earlier this week for the annual class photo in front of Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The photo shoot is a Welcome Week ritual.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Lawrentians come from all reaches of the United States, and from all over the world.

The Class of 2023 is no different. Members of the class — 390 strong — have their own experiences to weave into the deep and vibrant Lawrence tapestry.

 “For those of us who have been recruiting the class of 2023, Welcome Week is one of our favorite weeks of the year because it’s the first time we all get to see, for the first time together, all of our new first-year, transfer, visiting and exchange students,” says Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communication and dean of admissions. “It’s a time of joy, promise and great expectations, and it’s truly a privilege that we get to experience it with them.”

President Mark Burstein greeted each and every incoming student with a handshake during Welcome Week. It’s become a tradition. We caught ’em all. Check it out:

As we conclude Welcome Week and prepare for Monday’s start to the Fall Term, we thought it would be fun to get know our new students … by the numbers. Who is the Class of 2023? Well, with the help of the Admissions office, we collected some data to introduce you to the students who just embarked on their Lawrence journey.

390 …

Total number of first-year students. Class of 2023 is one of the 10 largest classes ever at Lawrence.

32 …

Number of states represented. Students have come from all over the country to make their home away from home at Lawrence, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

26 …

Number of citizenships represented. The diversity of the student body at Lawrence is no secret, and that includes the array of citizens and dual citizens represented in this class: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, China, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam — in addition to, of course, the United States.

80 …

Number of first-year students from Wisconsin. Just like in previous years, more incoming Lawrentians hail from Wisconsin than any other single state. “The Wisconsin high school population has been shrinking and will continue to do so,” says Anselment. “Even as we continue to recruit a nationally and internationally diverse pool of applicants, we expect Wisconsin to have the largest cohort in each class, even though it is likely to be a little smaller.”

57 …

The number of first-year students from Illinois. That makes our neighbor to the south the leading state not named Wisconsin. Minnesota and Michigan are not far behind. The influx of students from our neighbor states means you’ll find Midwestern hospitality all over campus. Following Illinois, the most U.S. students in the Class of 2023 come from, in order, Minnesota, California, Texas, New York, Michigan, Colorado, and Washington.

3.67 …

The average high school GPA of our incoming students. Classes haven’t even started yet and these new students are already setting the bar high.

14 …

Number of class valedictorians. And those are just the ones from schools that provide class rank. Many more students come from non-ranking high schools but have GPAs at or above the 4.0 mark.

23 …

Number of students who have a parent, sibling, grandparent or other relative who attended (or is attending) Lawrence. Members of the Class of 2023 are beginning their own Lawrence journeys. Some just happen to have a little more Lawrentian family history than others.  

98 …

Students in at least one studio in the Conservatory of Music. The incoming class has its share of musicians who have come from all reaches of the music world to be a part of the Conservatory, some pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree and some tapping into the newly launched Bachelor of Musical Arts degree.

40 …

Number of students planning to pursue degrees in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. Splitting time between the Conservatory and other areas of study can be a big commitment, but these incoming students have found their passions in multiple areas and will experience the full range of academics at Lawrence.

7 …

Number of first-year students who share a first name. That would be Emma. Yes, Emmas make up 1.8 percent of the Class of 2023. Hopefully they have different last initials in case they all end up in the same class.

19 …

Number of transfer students coming in. These students arrive from two-year or other four-year institutions from all over the country and the globe.

As Christopher Card, vice president for Student Life, told the incoming students during Monday’s Welcome Week gathering in Memorial Chapel, “Hello, and welcome.”

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Grateful Grads Index highlights generosity, commitment of Lawrence alumni

A graduate stands and applauds during Lawrence's 2019 commencement ceremony in June.
Rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Lawrence University graduates at the 2019 commencement ceremony. Lawrence alumni have a long history of staying connected to their alma mater.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The bonds between Lawrence University and its graduates are among the strongest and most enduring of any across the higher education landscape, according to a newly released report from Forbes magazine.

Lawrence landed at No. 26 on Forbes’ 2019 edition of the Grateful Graduates Index, which follows the money in terms of alumni giving at private, not-for-profit colleges. Lawrence is the only Wisconsin school to place in the top 70.

“When I meet with alumni and ask them why they give, two strong themes emerge,” said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni and development. “The alumni reference the impact faculty members have had on their educations and lives — specifically, the strong relationships they’ve formed with faculty. Another theme is gratitude for the financial assistance they received as students and wanting to pay it forward.” 

Lawrence ranks high on U.S. News’ Best Value Schools list. Details here.

The Grateful Graduates Index takes a couple of factors into account — the seven-year median gifts per full-time enrolled student and the average percentage of alumni who give back, regardless of the amount.

“We boil down the analysis to a single factor,” Forbes says in its report. “Does your alma mater ‘spark joy’ in your heart, enough to cause you to reach into your wallet and show your gratitude in the form of a donation?”

This marks the seventh consecutive year Lawrence has made the Grateful Grads ranking. It has placed in the top 70 in each of those years, with this year’s No. 26 slot being the highest ranking yet.

From support of current and future students to partnerships with faculty and staff to enhancements of the university’s infrastructure, the generosity of alumni is critical to the ongoing financial health of any private college.

Lawrence has seen that generosity play out in multiple ways. The school’s recent 2018-19 fiscal report showed support topping $24.4 million, the fourth highest year to date.

The $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, which launched quietly in January 2014 and had its public launch in November 2018, has surpassed $184 million in gifts and pledges.

The Lawrence Fund, which plays a significant role in supporting the campus’s operation, from scholarships and study abroad opportunities to athletics and campus upkeep, is coming off a particularly strong year. Support reached $3.9 million in the last fiscal year, second only to the 2015-16 year. Without the fund, it’s estimated each student’s tuition would increase by more than $10,000 per year.

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.

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

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

The Forbes’ report comes one month before Lawrence’s sixth annual Giving Day, set for Oct. 10.

“Lawrence’s relationship with its alumni continues to be special,” Husmann said. “It’s a point of pride that those bonds don’t end when a student graduates. The ongoing support of current and future Lawrentians is critical, and our alumni rise to the occasion time after time.”

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

Academic quality, access to financial aid put Lawrence on ‘Best Value’ list

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is ranked among the Best Value Schools in the country in a report released Monday by U.S. News & World Report.

Citing a combination of academic quality and the availability of need-based financial aid, the annual Best Value Schools rankings placed Lawrence at No. 37 among national liberal arts colleges.

Lawrence also placed in a tie at No. 58 for Best Liberal Arts Colleges and No. 60 for Best Undergraduate Teaching.

“Our focus at Lawrence has always been on providing an educational experience that doesn’t just push students, but lifts them,” said Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communication. “And that means investing in the quality of our academic and co-curricular offerings as well as student financial aid.

“Being rated a Best Value is a welcome by-product of our focus on these priorities at Lawrence.”

To be considered for U.S. News’ Best Value Schools listing, a school first had to be ranked among the Best Colleges. Those qualifying schools were then examined on the basis of net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid.

“Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically,” the U.S. News report stated. 

Lawrence’s Full Speed to Full Need (FSFN) fund, part of the overarching $220 million Be the Light! Campaign, is a key effort in the university’s commitment to make sure the doors are open to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The FSFN fund, which has surpassed $82 million to date, has already delivered direct financial aid assistance to 250 students, and another 100 incoming students are expected to benefit in the 2019-20 academic year.

The U.S. News rankings come on the heels of similar plaudits from The Princeton Review, which last month ranked Lawrence as the No. 4 Impact School in the country, included LU on its list of the best 385 colleges and hailed it as one of the 200 Best Value Schools.

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

Welcome, Class of 2023: Student-to-student advice for those new to Lawrence

Story by Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21

Hey, incoming students! We know transitioning to independent living at college is a big leap, and you’re going to get plenty of information during Welcome Week. But we’re here to talk student to student. While a successful life at Lawrence can’t be boiled down to a simple set of rules, we’ve learned a few important things in our first two years here. We hope it’s helpful as you navigate your new surroundings.

Communicate openly with your roommate. And do it from the start.

Isabella: As they say, you don’t have to be best friends, but you have to at least be able to talk to each other about boundaries, and you need to show them respect. In my first year, my roommate and I never really spoke to each other about anything. The result was that I avoided being in my room, and that was not a good feeling.

Awa: I agree 100 percent, communication with your roommate is key. No matter what, at some point you have to go back to your room. You wouldn’t want your room to be a space that you don’t feel comfortable in. I got really lucky and had great relationships with both roommates that I’ve had. I think the reason my roommates and I worked well together is because we were not afraid to talk to each other.

Isabella: Wow, that’s ideal. Simply talking to each other right off the bat can prevent any discomfort as the year goes on. Everybody is nervous about their roommate. That’s normal. You have to be open, up front and honest in order to have the best possible roommate experience.

Curious about Andrew Commons and the food offerings? In this video, Awa Badiane ’21 takes you on a mini-tour of the dining hall in the Warch Campus Center:

Keep up with your assignments. That’s now, not later.

Awa: I remember this one time at 3 a.m., while opening a second Monster, I thought to myself, “Why do professors assign assignments so early if they know we’re going to just wait until the last minute?” Then I realized there are students who don’t wait until the last minute. This is not how assignments are supposed to be done. And it was like a portal to another realm opened for me and I realized I’m doing this all wrong. I still procrastinate, but not to the extent that energy drinks have to be involved.

Isabella: You’re so right. It’s great that you realized that and you’re aware of your procrastinating, because a lot of people realize it too late. My experience is different. Since coming to Lawrence I’ve become pretty vigilant about starting assignments early and getting them done. But I’ve seen those good habits get out of control and make me really high-strung. I got so obsessive about making sure I got assignments done early that I’d panic if I took an afternoon to myself where I wasn’t working on anything. Basically, yes, please be proactive with your assignments, but work in the balance between academics and your personal life. I’m still trying to find it.

Can we agree we all need to be healthy?

Isabella: If you have two 100-page readings and a paper due and you feel like you’re going to explode, drop everything you’re doing and talk to someone about it. A friend, a family member, maybe a professor. Try not to let stress break you down. There are always resources for you. You just need to reach out.

Awa: Going to talk to a professor if you’re feeling overwhelmed was the best advice I have ever received. Professors are not evil; they understand we are trying and sometimes we bite off a little more than we can chew. When this happens, just talking to your professor about what you are going through helps a lot. Chances are they’ll understand.

Isabella: Definitely. Teachers are so accessible in college. And Campus Life has all sorts of resources to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.

See Welcome Week schedule here.

Students carry their things into Ormsby Hall.
It’s Welcome Week. Incoming students began moving into residence halls on Monday.

Go to your classes. All of them. Well, most of them. Really.

Awa: I remember the first time I skipped a class. It was a really nice day spring term my first year. It was Friday and it was probably one of the first days during spring term where it was REALLY spring. I threw on a dress, curled my hair, and I even wore sunglasses. I got ready expecting to go to class, but the second I stepped outside, that glorious spring sun hit me and I didn’t want to go to class. I convinced myself that I didn’t have to go to class because it was just too nice out and I deserved to spend that time outside. So, rather than going to class I went to the café, got a buffalo chicken wrap, and sat outside to eat it. I am not going to lie. Despite feeling a little guilty, I really enjoyed my “ditched day outside.” That was until I went to class on Monday. It turns out, my professor also thought it was too nice to be inside a classroom and she decided to have class outside that day, and they learned about 40 new vocab words that the whole class then knew, except for me. I was lost in class and I ended being lost for that entire week. I had to spend the next weekend learning the vocab words they learned on that Friday and trying to piece together what was taught during the week. I never deliberately skipped another class after that day; it’s not worth it.

Isabella: It’s true that sometimes you don’t know what the next class will bring, so you shouldn’t miss it. And skipping classes can quickly become a bad habit, that’s for sure. Once I skipped one of my winter term classes, it was hard not to do it every day. I wish I was like you and could control my urge to skip. Here’s the other thing I’ll say. Every professor has their own attendance policy, and I’ve had a lot of them who offer a few free absences to use in the term. If that’s the case, I believe in using some of those for those spring days at the end of the year when you’re needing a break. Just saying. Mental health is important. But be smart about it.

Go to those office hours. They can be useful.

Awa: The first time I went to office hours was not by choice. My Freshman Studies professor made it a requirement. In order to turn in our first essay, we had to go to his office hours and discuss our essays with him. I was so scared at first. The idea of sitting in an office and having my first college professor critique my work was the scariest thing I could think of. In the time leading up to the one-on-one, I think I re-read that essay at least 80 times. But when I got there, I forgot I was nervous. My professor talked to me about my essay for about 10 minutes. He told me I was going in the right direction and he helped me organize my thoughts so that my essay had a better flow. We had an hour blocked off for it, so we spent the rest of the time just talking. He was asking me about my adjustment to Appleton from New York and he was telling me how he had spent some time in New York. I created a bond with my professor that made me more comfortable in his classroom, and when I had questions about my work, I wasn’t afraid to talk to him.

Isabella: Yeah, being comfortable with your professors is super important. Office hours is definitely a great place to build those relationships. I’ve honestly only been to office hours a couple of times in those mandatory one-on-one meetings. But they were similar situations to yours, I think, where I sort of realized that professors are real people who want to get to know you and help you succeed. It’s one of my goals going forward to make more use of office hours.

A little food in your room goes a long way.

Isabella: You should always have a little food in your room for when you’re short on time and can’t get to the café or the commons. Especially at the end of a term when things are hectic.

Awa: My first year, my dad bought me a 96-pack of Nature Valley granola bars. At first I thought it was ridiculous. What am I going to do with 96 granola bars? But by the end of the term, I ended up finishing them all. Whether it was because I woke up late and missed breakfast or if I was staying up late and got hungry, having some good snacks in my room came in handy.

Isabella: Having bulk snacks like that in your room is the way to go, I think. Especially stuff that’s easy to take to class with you, like a granola bar. I would say, make sure it’s not super unhealthy stuff, otherwise you might get stuck in a rut of eating junk food in your room instead of a real meal in the commons.

Resources like the writing center and career center can be helpful right from the start.

Isabella: They’re there for you all the time, at any stage of the process, not just when you’re struggling at the last minute. I was glad it was mandatory for my Freshman Studies class to go to the writing center in the Center for Academic Success for our papers. I had never received that kind of assistance before, and it made me open to going again on my own time.

Awa: Don’t think that because you are a first-year it is too early to go to the career center, known as the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement. They have lots of resources available for all years. Plus, it is important to have someone in the career center who knows you. When opportunities you have expressed interest in come along, you will be one of the first to know.

Isabella: That’s something I recently realized. I’ve met with the same person in the career center twice; once at the start of my first year and once this summer before my junior year. When I met with them recently, they remembered what kind of music I liked back then and how I brought my stereo system up to school with me. That small personal detail made me a lot more comfortable with coming back if I ever needed anything, because I know they just want to get to know you and guide you on the path that’s right for you. Give them the opportunity to do that.

The Con is pretty cool. Attend some plays, musicals, concerts.

Isabella: You should definitely go to some Conservatory performances, even if you’re not involved in the production. It’s a great way to spend an evening, alone or with friends, and it feels good to support your peers. I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve been to. For me, going to a performance in the Con has always felt like taking a little break from the term for a night.

Awa: The performances on campus are actually really good, and they are free! I went to my first show on campus because it was a requirement for class, but I loved the first show so much that I kept going back.

Athletic events also are a fun part of campus life.

Awa: If theater or music productions are not your thing, games and matches are just as fun. Football and soccer games at the Banta Bowl, basketball and volleyball games at Alexander Gym, baseball and softball games at Whiting Field all can be a blast, not to mention hockey, track and the other sports. And it’s all free.

Isabella: That’s true. I’m not a big sports fan, but one of my goals during the next two years is to do more of that. It’s really the same idea as supporting the Con productions. You’re having a great time while also supporting the talents and efforts of other students.

Get off campus once in a while. It’ll feel good.

Isabella: In the fall and spring, I like to take walks to get groceries or personal items. Or going to some of the coffee places to do assignments instead of my room or the library. It’s refreshing.

Awa: I try to get off campus at least once every two weeks. I don’t know how to drive yet because I’m from New York, so it helps having things to do off campus that are walkable. Appleton has a lot of things to do downtown that are just a few blocks away from campus. There also is a shuttle on campus that can take you to things that are not walking distance.

Isabella: That’s true, you do not have to have a car here. Even though you’ll feel like you’re in a bubble, Lawrence’s location promotes integration with the surrounding community. And Lawrence gives you resources like the shuttle to make that possible when it gets too cold to walk or you’re going somewhere that’s too far to walk.

Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.

Speaking Lawrentian: A helpful guide to talking the talk on the Lawrence campus

Alexander Gym is
often referred
to as Alex.
What other Lawrence
phrases, words
or nicknames
do you need to know?

Story by Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21

There are two commonly used phrases on Lawrence’s campus. One, the Lawrence bubble, and two, the Lawrence difference.

The Lawrence bubble refers to the Lawrence campus, which is nestled in the heart of downtown Appleton, and the culture Lawrentians all share. The Lawrence difference, meanwhile, refers to the often interesting, creative, wacky, unpredictable, quirky things that happen in the bubble. And life in the bubble can sometimes be a little confusing if you are not aware of “the difference.”

Thus, as an assist to incoming students, we have created this list of 15 additional words or phrases you will most likely come across while at Lawrence. It might just help ease your transition into life in the Lawrence bubble.

Honoring the Honor Code:
Yes, there’s an acronym for that.

1: IHRTLUHC (i-hart-luke): This is the acronym used to reaffirm the Lawrence University Honor Code: “No Lawrence student will unfairly advance their own academic performance or in any way limit or impede the academic pursuits of other students of the Lawrence community.” Students are required to reaffirm the honor code on all assignments and exams by writing IHRTLUHC, or “I hereby reaffirm the Lawrence University Honor Code.” Don’t worry about forgetting the acronym, it’s too catchy.

Ex. “Don’t forget to reaffirm the Honor Code before you submit that assignment.”

2: Café (ka-fey): Refers to Kaplan’s Café and Coffee Shop, the casual dining establishment near the entrance of the Warch Campus Center. Here students can use “cul cash” to purchase an array of foods and beverages, including sandwiches, coffee, juice, pasta bowls and ice cream. A lot of ice cream.

Ex. “What did you get for lunch?” “I just got a bowl from the café”

3: Corner store (Kawr-ner stohr): Also known as C Store, Kate’s, or Kate’s Corner. All referring to Kate’s Corner Store located on the second level of the Warch Campus Center. This is where students can purchase bulk food, fresh fruits and vegetables, snacks, sack lunches, beverages and various personal items. This also is where you can get your Lawrence spirit gear. Think sweatshirts, hats, and mugs. It’s a one-stop shop.

Ex. “I’m going to grab some pretzels from the corner store before we go.”

4: Turnaround (turn uh-round): Also called the Wriston Art Center Turnaround, located adjacent to the Wriston Art Center. The turnaround is a common pickup spot for campus shuttle services. So, if you want to get to the grocery store or the mall, or you want to catch a ride to the Banta Bowl or Alexander Gym, you’ll want to know where this is.

Ex. “They’re picking us up at the turnaround.”

Meet me at Banta: The Banta Bowl
is home to Lawrence football and soccer.

5: Banta (baahn-ta): Short for the Banta Bowl, home of Ron Roberts Field. It’s the stadium where Lawrence football and soccer teams play. Also, students who have cars but don’t have a campus parking spot can park in the Banta Bowl parking lot. Pro tip: If you’re at the Banta Bowl and don’t want to walk across the E. College Avenue bridge to get back to the main part of campus, there’s a beautiful bike trail that goes past the parking lot that will take you near campus. It’s a little longer hike, but much more scenic.

Ex. “I can drive us to the store; my car is at Banta.”

6: Bjork (be-york): Our affectionate name for Björklunden, Lawrence’s 441-acre estate on the shore of Lake Michigan. The property boasts a 37,000-square-foot lodge where Lawrence students stay for weekend seminars in their areas of study. The scenery is gorgeous. Oh, and it’s in Door County. It’s like you’re on vacation.

Ex. “I can’t wait to go to Björk this weekend.”      

7: Viking Gold  (vahy-king gohld): Viking gold is currency in a debit account that students can use at the corner store, most vending machines and to do their laundry. Students can replenish Viking Gold through their Voyager account, at the ID office in the Warch Campus Center, and at the cashier window in Brokaw Central using a cash or check.

Ex. “Come with me to Warch, I need to add Viking Gold so I can do laundry later.” “You know you can add Viking Gold on your phone, right?”

8: SLUG Hill (sluhg hil): The steep hill behind Memorial Hall, at the base of which lies the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden, known as SLUG. It’s a tradition to go sledding down this hill in the winter months.

Ex. “It’s snowed last night. Let’s meet up at SLUG Hill.”

9: Alex (al-iks): Short for Alexander Gym, located across the Fox River from the main part of campus. It’s the home of Lawrence basketball and volleyball teams, and houses the athletic offices. Go Vikes!

Ex. “Are you going to Alex to watch the game tonight?”

10: Culinary Cash (kul-i-nary kash)

Culinary cash, or cul cash, is used to purchase fare from Kaplan’s Café and food items from Kate’s Corner Store. Students have a set balance of cul cash for each term.

Ex. “I need to budget my cul cash so I don’t run short.”

Andrew Commons is better
known as the Commons.
Here you’ll learn
to use swipes.

11: Commons (kom-uhns): Short for Andrew Commons, this is the all-you-can-eat buffet-style eating establishment located in Warch Campus Center. Whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the Commons offers a variety of specialty food stations. They also host the ever-popular weekend brunch at 10:30 a.m. Get there early to beat the lines and grab a table.

Ex. “Are you going to the Commons for breakfast?”

12: Swipes (swahyps): Swipes, or meal swipes, are used to get meals at Andrew Commons. The swipe refers to the action of swiping your student ID card to pay for the meal.

Ex. “I still have two swipes left to use.”

13: The Con (th-uh kon): This is what everybody calls the Conservatory of Music. Performance spaces and classrooms for the Conservatory are mostly located on the north side of College Avenue in the Music-Drama Center and Memorial Chapel.

Ex. “We’ll catch up later, he’s at the Con practicing.”

14: Voyager (voi-uh-jer): Voyager is the online system Lawrence students use to access important personal and academic information. It’s really the nucleus of life as a student. Here you register for classes, see your class schedule, request transcripts, change your meal plan, view housing assignments, view financial aid statements and much more.

Ex. “How do I check my financial aid for spring term?” “It’s on Voyager, let me show you.”

15: Senior Experience (seen-yer ex-peer-e-ince): Also called a capstone, the Chandler Senior Experience is the culminating project that completes a student’s major. Capstones range in nature and requirements depending on the area of study. From research projects to art exhibitions, the projects are all about demonstrating what you’ve learned on your Lawrence journey.

Ex. “I can’t go out tonight, I have to work on my capstone paper.” Or, “She’s giving her Senior Experience presentation in Warch in 10 minutes.”

Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.

From podcast to escape rooms, final exams at Lawrence can get creative

Students look through clues in an escape room in the Mudd Library.
Students work to solve an escape room set up in the Mudd Library during spring term finals. For Lavanya Murali, the teaching approach was all about experiential learning.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Professors at Lawrence are continuously tapping into new and creative ways to assess how well students comprehend the information taught in their classrooms.

We caught up with two classes at the end of spring term where new approaches were being used, setting aside the traditional final exam or research paper — Lavanya Murali’s Anthropology 531 Semiotics course, where students were asked to build escape rooms, and Brigid Vance’s History 101 course, where students created a Lawrence history-focused podcast.

Sharing the history

History 101 is an introductory course, meaning there is a different professor teaching the course each year. When it was Vance’s turn to teach the course, she decided to incorporate a more interactive element for both her and her students to engage with. Rather than assigning a research paper, which is typically the final assessment for the course, Vance assigned her students to work together to create a podcast. 

“You hone the same kinds of skills, you still write the script, you still do the research, but the tone is a little different” Vance said.  

Throughout the term, students learned how to conduct research and explored the techniques historians use to do their work. With that knowledge in place, the students began doing research on Lawrentians from the past.

“I met with the university archivist and asked if this was a possibility, and she was totally on board,” Vance said. “We worked together a few months in advance of the class, figuring out what would be possible for students in the class to complete given the 10-week term.”

Using a list of noteworthy Lawrentians compiled by the archivist, techniques on research they learned in class, and a podcast they listened to in class as a reference, the students set out to create their own podcast on notable Lawrentians through the years. Listen to a few examples below:

“Tell ’Em That It’s Human Nature: Nathan Pusey’s Defense of the Liberal Arts”
by Holly McDonald
“The Teacher Who Died in Class” by William Kertzman
“Emma Kate Corkhill: A Private Life” by Anna Johnston
“Western Learning and Patriotism: Was It a Paradox?” by Angel Li and May Li
“Ye Yun-Ho: Lawrence Through the Eyes of a Korean Minister” by Ressa Crubaugh

“I care a lot about the way the class feels,” Vance said. “And that’s not something I think you can control, but I think you can try to help create a space where people can connect with one another.”    

Vance called her new approach to assessment “very successful” — not only through the positive reaction from her students to the more engaging assignment, but also to creating something that could then be shared. They placed posters in the Mudd Library near the end of spring term to direct people to the podcast.

“The posters with the QR codes that linked to the podcast were up through reunion weekend (in mid-June),” Vance said. “So, all the alums coming in could learn something about the history of this place, too.”  

Check out all episodes of the podcast here

Vance has gone the more traditional route for assessing her students in the past, but she has found that when taking a more creative approach, learning is a lot more enjoyable for both her and her students.  

“At least for me, I get very excited when doing something creative and collaborative,” Vance said. “So that’s something that I feel is really authentic and honest, and if I am honest with myself, it allows for others to be honest with themselves. Ultimately, I think it makes for a better learning environment.”

Vance would like to thank the following people who helped make the project possible: David Berk, Gretchen Revie, Erin Dix, Debra Walker, her History Department colleagues, and all of her Spring 2019 History 101 students.

Reading the signs

In Murali’s anthropology course, students learned about the different ways in which signs can be expressed, shown throughout the world, and how to make meaning of them.  

“A sign can be anything from a street sign to the clothes someone wears,” said Joseph Wetzel ’20, a student who took Murali’s course. “So, anything that signifies something else is a sign.”  

Throughout the spring term, the class built on this idea of signs being more than we typically think of. 

“A lot of understanding of how information is translated through signs is thinking about shared cultural knowledge,” Wetzel said. 

All of the work they did throughout the term led to students breaking into groups and creating their own escape rooms in various places around campus. 

“The students spent all term drawing on the semiotic theory they were learning in class to understand how clues work as signs, and how escape rooms are semiotic spaces,” Murali said. “They then applied this knowledge to creating their own escape rooms.”  

During class, they looked at different escape rooms online to familiarize themselves with them. At the end of the course, they used all the knowledge they gained about signs having deeper meanings based on cultural knowledge to create the escape rooms, and opened them to others on campus to solve. 

“There are clues that refer to different buildings on campus, and we have clues (that refer to) Lawrentians,” Wetzel said. 

It was a fun way to also explore Lawrence culture.   

Students work to solve the escape room set up in the Mudd Library.
“Escape Room: Library” was created by a group of students in Lavanya Murali’s Anthropology 531 Semiotics course. “I think it went well,” Murali said of the hands-on approach.

One of the escape rooms, created by Amy Courter ’21, Hayoung Seo ’19, and Wetzel and titled Escape Room: Library, was based on a concept that students could identify with. “It’s based on a student waking up from her dream, because they fell asleep while studying for finals,” Seo said.

Murali has been incorporating innovative learning methods into her classroom and has seen it have a positive impact on the way her students react to learning. 

“I have increasingly been focusing on engaged, hands-on assignments as a way to help students understand and apply what they learn in class, and this assignment follows that pedagogic strategy,” Murali said. “I think it went well, and I’m very proud of my students.”   

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

These 4 Lawrence faculty members push physical limits with ultramarathons

Douglas Martin, Megan Pickett, Relena Del Toro Ribbons, and Jason Brozek pose on campus in their running gear.
Ultramarathoners on the Lawrence University campus include, from left, Douglas Martin, Megan Pickett, Relena Del Toro Ribbons, and Jason Brozek.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Whether it is for a worthwhile cause, to satisfy your competitive nature, or just to say you did it, running a full marathon is a remarkable achievement. But for a small collection of runners in this world, 26.2 miles is not enough. 

These ultramarathoners are a special breed — according to ultrarunning.com, only 0.0139% of the Wisconsin population partake in this sport.

And, yet, here on the Lawrence University campus, four faculty members count themselves among the state’s ultramarathoners. Relena Del Toro Ribbons, Jason Brozek, Megan Pickett, and Douglas Martin have all competed recently in ultramarathon races, some in the 31-mile range, others stretching as long as 100 miles. 

“26.2 is the marathon distance in miles, or 42.125 in kilometers; any distance over becomes an ultramarathon,” Ribbons said. “But the general consensus is around 50 kilometers, or 31 miles, is the entry-level ultramarathon distance. So, any person who runs that distance or walks it or hikes it is an ultramarathoner.” 

Ribbons, Brozek, and Martin all competed in 100-mile runs this summer, Ribbons and Brozek in Wisconsin, Martin in England.

Ribbons: “I love the solitude about it”

Ribbons, a 32-year-old geoscience and environmental studies professor, started running ultramarathons when she moved to Appleton in 2017. 

“To mark the fact that I was turning 30, I decided I wanted to run 30 miles, and 50K is just a little farther, so I might as well sign up for a race that was the day before my 30th birthday,” Ribbons said. 

What she expected to be a one-time milestone marker turned out to be something she really enjoyed. She was hooked. 

“I found once I got into trail running, I love the solitude about it,” she said. “It can be really social, or really great alone time. If I’m having a bad day, running will make me feel better, and a great day running will make my day feel awesome.” 

Since her first 50K, ultramarathon training has become a big part of Ribbons’ life. She runs at least one mile a day, no matter the circumstances, and averages 70 to 100 miles a week. 

She also happens to be really, really good at it. She placed in the top five in three ultramarathon races in 2018. 

Ribbons’ most recent long race was the Kettle Moraine 100 in June, a 100-mile trail run in east-central Wisconsin, with 65 of the miles coming on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It’s part of the Midwest Grand Slam of Ultra Running. 

“This year we had a torrential downpour,” Ribbons said. “Lightning and thunderstorms were rolling in while everyone was out running, the mud was really bad, and it was really humid in the build-up to that. It was kind of intense.” 

Despite all the adversities, Ribbons managed to complete her first 100-mile race in 27 hours, 4 minutes.

“I’d go from these really intense ‘this is amazing’ moments to ‘this is terrible, why did I sign up for this,’” she said. “’Who said this will be fun,’ and then someone else is like, ‘Nobody said this will be fun, you did this to yourself, remember?’ and I was like, ‘oh, right. I know it will be fun at some point,’ and you hang on until you get back to that high. … 

“I got to the last part with about a mile to go, and I was like, ‘Guys, do you think it’s OK to just sprint this in? I just want to feel like sprinting again.’ So, I zoomed in to the finish line, and it felt amazing. Then I sat down and I’m like, now I’m tired.”  

Brozek: “It was the farthest and longest I’d ever run”

Brozek, a 39-year-old professor of government, also ran in this year’s Kettle Moraine 100. He was among those getting a DNF (did not finish), but he’s not apologizing for that. He made it 77 miles, a new personal best. 

“This year, I think 50% of the starters dropped out of the Kettle 100,” Brozek said. 

He’s been participating in ultramarathons since 2014. 

“I did my first marathon with my wife the year after our second child was born,” Brozek said. “We ran that together in San Francisco. She decided, ‘Check, I got that off my list, I’m happy to do that.’ And then I signed up for a trail ultramarathon that next spring.” 

Since that first ultramarathon, Brozek has run in more than 20 ultramarathons, including June’s Kettle 100. 

“I dropped out of my most recent race, but I’m OK with it,” Brozek said. “It was the farthest and longest I’d ever run, and I’m happy with that.”

Brozek made it to mile 77, crushing his distance from the previous year of 62 miles. 

In the five years since his first ultramarathon, Brozek has become well known in the running community. He’s even become a running shoe product tester. 

“I don’t really wear out shoes,” he said. “Twice a year companies send me new shoes that are pre-release. Then I review them for Outside Magazine and a company called Gear Institute.” 

Douglas Martin, Megan Pickett, Relena Del Toro Ribbons, and Jason Brozek pose in their running gear on the Lawrence campus.
Douglas Martin, Megan Pickett, Relena Del Toro Ribbons, and Jason Brozek share a passion for running. They often train together.

Martin: “I truly love being out in nature”

Martin, a 44-year-old professor in the physics department, has been running ultramarathons since 2012.

“I have a running friend who, because he is not a very good friend, asked me to run with him to help him run a 100-mile race, to run with him the last 38 miles,” Martin said. “After thinking about it, I decided, I’ll do that with you.”  

Martin called that first ultramarathon a great experience.  

 “That first run of 38 miles, because it was the last 38 miles — (my friend) had already run 62 before that — it was delightful for me and it was terrible for him,” Martin said. “It was over night, we were moving smoothly, and I could talk with him, and there were a lot of check points where you would stop to get drinks, and there are volunteers to help you out, and I would talk with them. I had a great time.”  

Because Martin enjoyed that first ultramarathon so much, he decided to continue, upping his investment and the physical toll it would take. The running, of course, got more difficult.   

“When I started running the first 62 miles, it got much, much harder,” Martin said. “I always thought at the end of a race, ‘Wait, I want this to be more fun and less hard.’ So, that kept me trying, to ‘Let’s do another one, I’ll do another one.’”  

Martin has now run so many ultramarathons he said he’s lost track. 

“I don’t know, maybe two dozen, maybe three dozen,” he said.  

Aside from the pain of running such distances, there is joy to being on the trails.

“I truly love being out in nature,” Martin said. “It’s so much fun to run trails, to just go out and have a reason to be outside for five or eight hours every week.”  

Martin has spent the past year in London as a visiting professor at the Lawrence London Center. Being on another continent has not stopped him from running ultramarathons, with his most recent race being a 100-mile event in England this summer called the 1066 Run. The route, dubbed Harold’s Way, follows King Harold’s 1066 march from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, where he and his army fought William the Conqueror.   

Martin said he plans to continue running ultramarathons, and has plans to run in the 50-mile North Face Endurance Challenge in Milwaukee the weekend before classes start.  

Pickett: “I wanted to do better and push myself” 

Pickett, a 53-year-old professor in the physics department, participated in her first ultramarathon a few years ago. Initially, she would run them as a relay with friends. 

It started when a friend saw information on the Apple Creek 50K near Appleton and suggested they run it as a relay team, Pickett said. 

“One person would do one of those eight-mile loops and then the other, so it would be half of (a full ultramarathon). And we’ve done something called Ragnar Races, which are 100-mile races broken up to a team of four or eight.” 

This year, however, Pickett and her friend decided to push themselves, signing up individually for the Apple Creek 50K race in April. 

“She wanted to sign up for this as a relay, but I said, ‘We’ve already done half of it, let’s do the full,’” Pickett said. “Worst thing is that I would regret it in the middle of the race. I’ve run half of the ultra already, so I wanted to do better and push myself.” 

 Pickett, who plans to run the Community First Fox Cities Marathon on Sept. 22, did indeed push herself, managing to finish her first ultramarathon in 7 hours, 31 minutes. 

“There’s a joy to crossing the finish line with someone who has never crossed that distance,” Pickett said. “For me, that was the longest distance I’ve ever run and the longest time I had been running. … You get emotional. We both ended up crying.” 

Awa Badiane is a student writer in the Communications office. 

Chimpanzee skeleton gets a much-needed makeover in LU student’s study project

For Claudia Rohr ’19, the chimpanzee project was an ideal supplement to a double major in biological anthropology and biology. The skeleton, seen over Rohr’s right shoulder, is on display in Briggs Hall. “It was a way to expand my work with primates,” she says.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Claudia Rohr ’19 remembers when Dan Proctor, a Lawrence University visiting assistant professor of anthropology, first wheeled an old chimpanzee skeleton into the forensic anthropology classroom.

A sophomore at the time, Rohr was struck by the skeleton’s appearance — the skull and torso hung limp from a hook and the limbs rested on a nearby table. There were missing pieces and backwards parts that made its purpose as a teaching tool difficult to fulfill.

Proctor said he was looking to have a student rearticulate and refurbish the skeleton. Make it useful again. Rohr was immediately interested.

With some help from the Mudd Library’s Makerspace and the physics department, Rohr spent much of the spring term rearticulating the skeleton as an independent study project.

“I thought it would be really cool if it could be put together well because Lawrence doesn’t have a lot of primate-related things,” she said.

The skeleton’s origins are unknown. For as long as anyone in the Anthropology Department can remember, it has hung on its stand on the third floor of Briggs Hall. It is believed that Lawrence student Richard H. Dorsey ’51 first articulated the skeleton in 1949, threading wire through small drilled holes in the bones to fasten them. But time and outdated articulation techniques eventually pushed the skeleton into disrepair.

To start her ambitious project, Rohr spent some late nights disassembling the skeleton, pulling wire apart from bone. She then took inventory of what bones she had and, with an osteology textbook at her side, deciphered which of the numerous tiny bones belonged to hands and which to feet. Eventually she was able to glue everything together and reattach the arms and legs to the torso.

But what to do about the missing bones? With training from Angela Vanden Elzen in the Makerspace, Rohr learned how to 3D print the missing bones using the existing parallel ones for reference. Most of these were finger bones. She quickly got the hang of it and printed with a resin so well matched to the skeleton’s original color that it’s difficult to tell the authentic bones from the fabricated ones.

With all the bones accounted for, the skeleton needed a new display configuration that would do justice to Rohr’s work and the chimpanzee itself. For this, Rohr reached out to LeRoy Frahm, the longtime electronics technician for the physics department. Frahm constructed a custom stand for the skeleton that would support its new knuckle-walking position.

The joint assist from anthropology, physics and the Makerspace carried Rohr’s project beyond an ordinary independent study.

“I thought it was really cool being able to work with everyone,” Rohr said of the collaboration. “LeRoy and Angela were really into it. It all worked together really well.”

Rohr graduated in the spring. From an academic perspective, the hands-on project turned out to be an excellent supplement to her double major in biological anthropology and biology.

“It was a way to expand my work with primates,” she said. “It was cool being able to see how the skeleton works as a whole and how different bones are articulated, rather than just looking at it for a day or two in class and then being tested on it.”

Rohr recently returned from her second research trip to Peru, where she studied the behaviors and disease ecology of New World monkeys.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Mark Jenike said the skeleton will be more useful than ever as a teaching tool in anthropology lab classes.

“People can look at it more easily now than they would’ve been able to when it was hanging from that hook,” he said. “It’s really for seeing what the whole skeleton together looks like, the way in which the chimpanzee would have been when it was alive.”

The value of Rohr’s project is far-reaching.

“It’s a form of respect to the skeleton,” Jenike said. “The chimpanzees are our closest living relative species. They have culture, they make tools, they seem to show emotions. … The chimp itself deserves respect. I think this is a more respectful way of displaying it than hanging from a hook with parts falling off.”

Rohr’s work is displayed in a hallway on the third floor of Briggs, visible to all who pass, including prospective students on campus tours. It stands as a testament to Lawrence’s commitment to academic excellence and the value of interdisciplinary teamwork.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Lawrence unveils new B.M.A. degree, widening path for student musicians

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble performs at Memorial Chapel during the 2018-19 academic year.
The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble has been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music’s long history of jazz education excellence. The new B.M.A. degree, beginning this fall, will build on that with its Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Electric guitars and synthesizers could soon become as familiar as violins and bassoons in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

A new degree program is being introduced at Lawrence University that is expected to open the school’s Conservatory of Music to a wider group of student musicians. Bachelor of Musical Arts (B.M.A.), with a Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation track, has been added to Lawrence’s degree options, joining Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

It’s a new avenue for a conservatory whose history dates back to the 19th century. Built on the strength of a nationally recognized jazz program that has been earning major honors since the 1970s, the new degree expands on the classical music component in the Conservatory, allowing students for the first time to audition with non-classical repertoire. The foundation is in jazz and contemporary improvisation, but the degree is built to accommodate a wide range of music making.

The B.M.A. degree, in place beginning this academic year, has a 50-50 split between music studies and a student’s choice of another field in the liberal arts landscape, with expectations to connect the two.

The high standards haven’t changed. The audition process for acceptance into the Conservatory remains intact, and the skill-development expectations continue to be top level. But for prospective students eyeing the B.M.A. degree, the audition no longer needs to be limited to pieces from the Western classical repertoire, potentially opening the door for students who see their strengths and interests in jazz or pop or hip-hop or another music genre. And the new degree presents an alternate path of study for classical musicians, as well.

It unwraps all sorts of additional choices, said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory.

“The new degree will open the Conservatory to a broader range of musical interests,” he said. “No longer does a student have to audition on a Western classical instrument and perform classical repertoire. Drummers, electric guitarists, fiddlers, keyboard players, jazz vocalists, songwriters and contemporary composers are all welcome to audition into the new program.”

For more on the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, see here.

For details on the new B.M.A. degree, including an FAQ, see here.

This isn’t completely new territory for the Conservatory. It has long had a thriving jazz program. Lawrence won the first of its 28 Downbeat jazz education awards as far back as 1985, its latest as recently as April, picking up the award for the best undergraduate large ensemble for the second consecutive year. But current students have had to come into the jazz track via the classical music auditions and training, then seek a jazz emphasis while also studying classical repertoire.

The current B.Mus. degree, Pertl said, works well for many aspiring musicians who seek both classical and jazz training, but it leaves out those whose aspirations do not include the classical side of performance training. The new degree will rectify that. It also will expand the opportunities to tap into music-related fields that don’t necessarily involve performance.

Students perform as part of a Jazz Ensemble concert in Memorial Chapel.
Jazz and improvisation have long been part of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. The new B.M.A. degree will add flexibility for music students.

Read more: Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble wins DownBeat Award for second consecutive year

Read more: Roomful of Teeth’s Estelí Gomez to join Lawrence Conservatory

The late Fred Sturm, who oversaw the jazz studies program at Lawrence for 26 years, began laying the groundwork for the new degree prior to his death in 2014.

What started as a specific focus on jazz eventually grew into the more wide-ranging B.M.A. degree, Pertl said. The degree allows the Conservatory to welcome in musicians who don’t necessarily fit a certain musical footprint.

“Last year, for example, we graduated an exceptional student from Chicago named Bernard Lilly,” Pertl said. “Bernard is an amazing soul singer. He’d been singing long before he came to Lawrence and sang all the way through Lawrence, but he never took any courses in the Conservatory because he didn’t feel like there was anything there for him, until his last term in his senior year when he took my entrepreneurship class and studied with (voice professor) John Holiday, and worked with professors in our jazz department. He would have been a perfect candidate for a B.M.A. degree.

“To be able to give students like Bernard high-level musical training will certainly broaden what they can do. But it also expands the musical culture of the Conservatory, mixing different genres and different musical sensibilities. This will be a huge advantage to everyone at the Conservatory.”

Students pursuing a B.Mus. degree in the Conservatory take about two-thirds of their classes in their major area of study and about one-third in general education or electives. Music students who pursue a double degree — a music degree and a B.A. in the college — do so on a five-year plan.

The new B.M.A., meanwhile, combines high-level music study with another field of interest in a four-year plan. As part of the degree requirements, students pursue a cognate focus that makes up 15% of their coursework. The cognate allows them to deeply explore another area of interest that ties into their music studies.

“It could be musically oriented but in the area of anthropology,” Provost and Dean of Faculty Catherine Kodat said. “Or musically oriented but in political science.”

Core classes, one-on-one work with faculty and a wide range of electives give B.M.A. students opportunities to carve their own musical paths, some performance based, some not.

That, said Patty Darling, director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, speaks to how music can inform so many disciplines in a variety of ways. Today, preparing young musicians to pursue their musical lives can’t be limited to focusing solely on technical mastery. Each year, opportunities will arise that don’t exist today, so musicians need to pair their high-level musicianship with high-level thinking, creative problem-solving, and the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities that others don’t even see.

Flexibility, an ability to adapt quickly, and a willingness to collaborate are all key attributes for anyone entering the world of music in the 21st century. Blending those core musicianship skills with an education in a student’s other field of interest is the next step in keeping the Conservatory forward-thinking.

“A lot of these students who come in wanting to create their own musical voice are pretty self-directed already,” Darling said. “While they’ll be gaining a lot of these core musicianship skills, they also want to be able to access entrepreneurial practices, music business models and opportunities for internships.

“It’s really interesting how the recording scene has developed, how music publishing has changed,” she said. “Even large ensembles and orchestras — all these musical opportunities have transformed dramatically in the last 10 years and students need the ability to self-promote. That’s a very important skill to have … to be able to put your best self out there.”

Pertl called the B.M.A. a natural progression for the Conservatory as it embraces and nurtures the modern musician.

“At Lawrence, we’ve already been incorporating so many of the elements of improvisation and world music into the trajectory of a classically trained musician for the same reason,” he said. “It’s going to be the flexibility of art, and of mind, that will help you to successfully create your musical life.”

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