The Mielke Family Foundation, one of northeast Wisconsin’s most active philanthropic foundations, was recognized Tuesday, Sept. 21 with Lawrence University’s first “Collaboration in Action” award during the college’s second annual Report to the Community. Oscar Boldt, chairman of The Boldt Group, served as emcee of the event, while Dave Vander Zanden, CEO of School Specialty, was the featured speaker at the program, which attracted an audience of nearly 150 community leaders.
The Collaboration in Action award honors an individual or organization, who, in partnership with Lawrence, has provided exemplary service to the Fox Cities community. Richard Calder, president of its board of directors, and Dr. John Mielke, a member of the board, accepted the award on the foundation’s behalf from Lawrence University President Jill Beck.
For nearly 30 years, the generous support of the Mielke Family Foundation has enabled Lawrence to enhance its work on campus and build bridges into the community.
In 1982, the foundation established the Edward F. Mielke Professor of Ethics in Medicine, Science and Society, currently held by Associate Professor of Philosophy Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald.
As holder of the professorship, Boleyn-Fitzgerald annually organizes the Edward F. Mielke Lecture Series in Biomedical Ethics that brings speakers to campus for community discussions on topics related to topical ethical issues.
In 1996, the foundation established the Bee Connell Mielke Professor of Education, currently held by Associate Professor of Education Stewart Purkey. It was the education department’s first endowed professorship.
In conjunction with the Bee Connell Mielke professorship, the foundation also established a community outreach program — the Mielke Summer Institute in the Liberal Arts. Directed each summer by Purkey, the program provides approximately 25 educators from Appleton and Shawano a week-long opportunity to examine a specific theme of cultural or social significance from a multidisciplinary perspective at Bjorklunden, Lawrence’s northern campus in Door County.
In discussing Lawrence collaborations in the Fox Valley, Beck highlighted the ArtsBridge program in which eight student-scholars and other Lawrentians worked with 132 area elementary school students to prepare ethnic dances, social studies projects and folk songs for World Arts Day; the Lawrence Scholars Programs, which brings alumni from around the world to campus to share their expertise with students, participate on panels, speak with classes and network with those who might be interested in internships and future career opportunities; and the college’s emerging innovation and entrepreneurship program, including a recent student-driven initiative to open temporary art gallery spaces in empty downtown Appleton storefronts.
“A great college-community relationship, like any successful partnership, is a constant act of collaboration, a commitment to one another’s welfare that is renewed every day,” said Jill Beck. “I am very proud of this partnership and the good work that we have done together.”
Lawrence’s community engagement efforts in the past year included more the 300 student volunteers who participated in the AmeriCorps M3C Fellows program, serving at local schools and nonprofit organizations; the establishment of the Young Band Project, a partnership between the Lawrence Academy of Music and the Appleton Area School district to provide twice- a-week band instruction to fifth-grade students at Lincoln Elementary School; and an outreach program supported by a federal grant to provide training and education to lower suicide risk. More than 120 educators, clinicians and nonprofit staff members from 13 area schools and 24 youth-serving organizations attended a day-long training session at Lawrence in March.
During the 2009-10 academic year, Lawrence faculty and staff members supported more than 150 Fox Cities’ churches, schools and organizations through volunteering and charitable gifts, including serving on boards and committees of nearly 40 local nonprofits.