Two tenure-track faculty and one long-time adjunct faculty will bid farewell to Lawrence University at the close of spring term.
Bruce Hetzler, a fixture in the psychology department for more than four decades, and Kenneth and Joanne Bozeman, key players in the growth and success of the Conservatory of Music, are retiring. The three have a combined 110 years of teaching at Lawrence.
Lawrentians with long memories may recall that the Bozemans,
then a young married couple, also served as head residents of Trever Hall for two
years in the early 1980s.
Hetzler and Ken Bozeman came to Lawrence at the same time, joining the robust incoming faculty class of 1977. Joanne Bozeman joined as an adjunct faculty member in 1993.
They talked to us about Lawrence pride, new journeys and the emotions of saying goodbye.
Bruce Hetzler: “We were one of the few undergraduate institutions to have a neuroscience program.”
Bruce Hetzler has been a leading voice in the psychology
department at Lawrence since 1977. You might even say his 42-year run has been
Hetzler has often mixed his love of magic with his passion
for teaching about the brain.
Much of his work at Lawrence focused on neuropharmacology,
effects of alcohol on the brain, computer analysis of brain waves and
He and his students through the years published dozens of papers
on a wide range of brain-focused topics, the latest being a study on why some
people co-abuse methylphenidate (most common trade name is Ritalin) and
alcohol. That paper, with co-authors Lauren W.Y. McLester-Davis ’18 and Sadie
E. Tenpas ’17, was published in the June edition of the journal Alcohol.
“I have mixed emotions,” Hetlzer said of his retirement. “I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve loved it. I’ve enjoyed teaching, I’ve enjoyed doing research, and I’ve enjoyed working with students in the laboratory. But it has been 42 years, so I think it’s time for this chapter in my life to close.”
Hetzler spent much of his career doing research on the effects of drugs on the brain, most specifically alcohol. He is a charter member of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.
He was part of a faculty group that launched the initial
neuroscience program at Lawrence in the early 1980s.
“At the time we were not able to put together a neuroscience
major, but we did start the neuroscience program,” Hetzler said. “In 1980, we
were one of the few undergraduate institutions to have a neuroscience program.”
It eventually became a major at Lawrence, and the number of
faculty positions tied to the program has grown considerably.
“That wasn’t just me, it was a lot of people who put that
together,” Hetzler said. “But it’s been very pleasing to see it grow like
Outside of his teaching duties at Lawrence, Hetzler for years could be found doing table-side magic at local restaurants such as B.J. Clancy’s and Ground Round.
He persevered with both his teaching and his magic after
suffering a major stroke in the summer of 2011. Relearning magic tricks, he
said, helped with his long and slow recovery.
Now he hopes to dedicate more time in retirement to the physical
therapy that’s needed to regain many of his magician skills.
“I’d love to be able to do table-side magic at a restaurant again in the future, but that depends on my determination to do exercises to increase my dexterity and my ability to walk without a cane,” Hetzler said. “The year before I had a stroke I was doing 100 magic shows a year. Now I do maybe five. I’m not sure my wife would like me to do 100 again, but somewhere in between would be nice.”
Kenneth Bozeman: “When you are working on someone’s voice, in a sense you are messing with their soul.”
Music professor Kenneth Bozeman, retiring after 42 years on the Conservatory of Music faculty, has left an impressive imprint that’s difficult to measure.
He led the voice department for much of his tenure, in the process providing important leadership not just in the Conservatory but across campus. In addition to his work as a respected voice teacher, he has led or been a part of talent searches for Conservatory faculty and new deans and has played a big role in campus projects such as the expansion of the Music-Drama Center and the building of the Warch Campus Center.
In recent years, his focus has been in the growing field of
acoustic voice pedagogy. He’s become an in-demand scholar on that topic across
But it’s in the voice studio, working one-on-one with students, where Bozeman says his heart remains.
“Voice teaching is totally one-on-one, so it’s pretty personal,” he said. “When you are working on someone’s voice, in a sense you are messing with their soul. Their sense of personal identity is wrapped up in their voice.”
He’s done it well. In 2018, Bozeman was chosen by his peers for
the Lawrence Faculty Convocation Award, which honors a faculty member for
distinguished professional work. He was the ninth faculty member so honored.
Bozeman is the author of two books, Practical Vocal Acoustics: Pedagogic Applications for Teachers and Singers and Kinesthetic Voice Pedagogy: Motivating Acoustic Efficiency. He was awarded the Van Lawrence Fellowship by the Voice Foundation in 1994 for his work in voice science and pedagogy.
He has been recognized with two Lawrence teaching honors,
the Young Teacher Award in 1980 and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1996.
Under his guidance, the voice department within the Conservatory has grown from about 40 students and four instructors to nearly 100 students being taught by five full-time studio faculty, one adjunct faculty, two choral directors, opera and theater directors, a vocal coach and other contributors.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth,” Bozeman said. “There’s been
good quality all along. There was always some good talent in the student pool.
… But now it certainly feels like there is a lot more talent here. It’s
definitely harder to get in here. The talent floor has risen because of the
competitiveness of it.
“And what we’re able to provide in terms of training is much
deeper and richer as well.”
As the years have gone by, an increasing number of voice students have gone on to sing professionally or pursue voice in graduate school programs.
“Now it’s pretty routine that that happens,” Bozeman said.
He said he’ll continue to do voice work in retirement. He’s already committed to a weeklong workshop on acoustic voice pedagogy this summer at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He’ll also be presenting at multiple conferences and will be doing private voice teaching, focused on young professional singers.
Joanne Bozeman: “The change between an 18-year-old singer and a 21- or 22-year-old singer is a huge transition.”
Joanne Bozeman has been an adjunct member of the voice department at Lawrence since 1993, teaching studio voice and related course work.
She also was a sought-after soloist in recital, concert and oratorio for nearly four decades. She’s appeared with, among others, the Fox Valley Symphony, the Green Lake Music Festival, the Bach Chamber Choir in Rockford, Illinois, and the Lawrence University Concert Choir and Orchestra.
While she’ll stay active in private teaching and related projects in retirement, it’s the voice studio instruction — working one-on-one with students as their voices and their music knowledge transform over four years — that will be difficult to leave behind.
“I’ll miss working with students in the long term, four or
five years, developing their skill set and seeing them master certain things,”
she said. “The change between an 18-year-old singer and a 21- or 22-year-old
singer is a huge transition. It’s really exciting to be involved with that.”
Many instrumentalists arrive at the Conservatory having been in training for a dozen or more years. Not so much for voice students.
“Singers don’t know they have an instrument until they’re
maybe 14, 15 or 16 years old,” Bozeman said. “They maybe haven’t had theory or
lessons and they come in a little more raw. To see their incredible strides and
development over that period of time is really cool.”
Bozeman called working with the voice faculty in the Conservatory a joy.
“We don’t always agree with each other, but we really do get along,” she said. “I admire my colleagues’ skills in the studio, and we are friends. I’ll miss that kind of intimate relationship. I’ll miss the people in the office, and I’ll miss my wonderful colleagues all over the Conservatory.”
In addition to giving private voice lessons, Bozeman is working on a book about women’s singing voices as they go through perimenopause and menopause. The book, which she is co-writing with two other women, has included interviews to date with nearly 60 women, ranging from elite professional singers to those who participate in community choirs.
It’s an emotional and very personal issue for women who want
to continue singing as they age, Bozeman said.
“Some breeze through it,” she said. “Some struggle. I really
struggled. That’s kind of what fueled my interest in the issue.”
The breadth of knowledge and teaching experience immeasurable. The number of classes taught, studio lessons given, recitals and concerts performed virtually incalculable.
Six retiring faculty members — including four from the conservatory — with an incredible 191 years of combined service will be recognized Sunday, June 10 by Lawrence University at its 169th commencement. Each will receive an honorary master of arts degree, ad eundem.
This is the most faculty retirements in one year since 1993, when eight left the academy.
“Retirements are always bittersweet events and that is even more the case this year,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “These faculty leave sterling legacies in excellent teaching, superior scholarly and artistic accomplishment, and selfless institutional service. It is impossible to imagine Lawrence without their contributions—contributions that will continue to inspire and motivate us for many years to come. They have made Lawrence a better place than it would have been otherwise, and we—their colleagues and students alike—will be eternally grateful.”
Janet Anthony, George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music and cello teacher
Anthony joined the Lawrence conservatory in 1984 as a 27-year old cellist from Vienna, Austria, via graduate school in New York. During her 34-year career, Anthony has mentored some 300 aspiring cellists, performed on the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage countless times, played live on Wisconsin Public Radio and entertained audiences in well-known music venues around the world, including throughout Europe, South America as well as in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
“Music is a wonderful way to remove borders and remove blocks,” said Anthony, a native of Tucson, Ariz. “For me, personally, it has mainly been through music that I’ve traveled and gotten to know other cultures and see other things.
“The chance to perform with remarkable colleagues has been one of the greatest gifts of my time at Lawrence,” she added. “Performing with the Lawrence Chamber Players for some 30 years was a rich part of my life.”
When it comes to career highlights her thoughts turn immediately to students.
“It’s really always about the students and the amazing individuals who have come through the studio over the past 34 years,” said Anthony, who earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Arizona after three years of study at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. She earned a master’s degree in music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
“There have been so many people of such varied interests and varied gifts. Keeping in touch with a number of them through the years has been very gratifying and rewarding.”
Much of the last third of Anthony’s career focused on what she calls her “obsession.” The country of Haiti, where she’s compassionately cultivated a variety of youth music programs both before and after the devastating earthquake in 2010, has occupied copious amounts of Anthony’s free time. While on sabbatical this spring, she spent three months there assembling an orchestra for the 2nd Annual Haitian National Orchestra Institute.
“We had members of the Utah Symphony and their music director, a bass player from the Cleveland Orchestra and 100 participants from 23 different music schools in Haiti,” said Anthony. “They played so well.”
Before her involvement, Haiti had one primary music school in the country.
“Since then, there have probably been 20 music programs that have blossomed and are doing very well,” she said while deflecting credit.
“I think the work that I’ve done with a lot of other people has had something to do with it, but really these are organically grown programs. They arrive out of the desire of specific communities to do something in music. We don’t implant things. It all comes from within the community. But there is a burgeoning interest in music there.”
““What I will miss about teaching at Lawrence is the incredible students we have, the camaraderie that develops in the studio, the fun we have and the hard work we do.” — Janet Anthony
When the subject of legacy comes up, Anthony turns philosophical.
“I hope that it has something to do with striving for beauty, striving to create beauty in the world around us. Bringing that home and further afield, and making what music brings to our lives more accessible to people,” said Anthony, co-recipient of the 2017 Faculty Convocation Award.
She will return to the southwest in retirement — just outside Albuquerque, N.M — and plans to continue teaching locally there and in Haiti, and performing with her piano partner of 36 years.
“What I will miss about teaching at Lawrence is the incredible students we have, the camaraderie that develops in the studio, the fun we have and the hard work we do. Everybody throws themselves wholeheartedly into what happens here. I don’t know if it is that rare, but it’s something that I treasure about Lawrence.”
James DeCorsey, associate professor of music and horn teacher
Growing up in Palm Springs, Calif., DeCorsey often crossed paths with celebrity A-listers. As a teen, he delivered flowers and groceries to Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Natalie Wood. He frequently sat on the roof of his house to watch the likes of President Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon land at the airport a few blocks away. His next-door neighbors included Liberace’s brother and old-time Hollywood director Eddie Sutherland.
After graduating from Stanford University, DeCorsey enjoyed a 15-year career as a professional musician. It was a life that saw him share a stage with Sinatra for a two-week gig, play with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Ballet during a five-year stay in England and perform in the orchestra pit for the Broadway smashes “Cats,” “Evita,” and his personal favorite, “Sugar Babies” with Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney, who handed him a note each night from the stage.
While living in New York City, where he played horn with the American Symphony, Musica Sacra (under the direction of 1954 Lawrence graduate Richard Westenburg) and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, DeCorsey developed an itch…to teach.
“My wife and I had grown up in much smaller places than any of these large metropolitan areas we’d been living in the past 15 years,” said DeCorsey. “The idea occurred that I might like to teach, particularly at the college level.”
A colleague encouraged an audition, which led to DeCorsey’s acceptance as a non-traditional student to Yale University, where he eventually earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate of musical arts degree.
“I hadn’t been in school for over 15 years and certainly wondered how I would do,” he said, “but I found that I instantly felt at home in the academic setting.”
While most students start looking for performing opportunities upon earning their master’s degree, DeCorsey already had a substantial performance resume.
“I made it very clear I wanted to teach,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Great, go find yourself a job.’ There were three openings that year for college teaching jobs for horn specialists. Amazingly I got interviewed for all of them and of the three, Lawrence was obviously the right fit.”
He still considers his undergraduate degree in English — instead of music — something that worked to his advantage when he interviewed here.
“I grasped the concept of Freshman Studies and was lucky enough to teach it a few times over the years until the horn studio grew,” said DeCorsey, whose daughter works at 30 Rockefeller Center and whose son makes violins in northern Wisconsin.
DeCorsey’s time living in London before embarking on his teaching career left an indelible imprint on his life. He called the opportunity to return — twice — to England’s capital via Lawrence’s London Centre “the two undoubted highlights of my time at Lawrence.”
“Living overseas hugely effected my eventual path in life and so I wanted to help create similar life-changing, world-expanding experiences for the Lawrentians I worked with in London,” said DeCorsey, who served as the centre’s director in 2001-02 and co-taught there with Professor of English Tim Spurgin in 2009-10. “One of the things I assuredly will do in retirement is to return to London whenever possible to take advantage of my reader’s card at the British Library, which I should be able to renew in perpetuity due to emeritus faculty status.”
While he may have arrived a bit later to the teaching game than some of his colleagues, the impact of the students he’s worked with is much the same.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is the students. They are wonderful, keen, hard-working,” said DeCorsey, who spent 2015-17 honing his administrative skills as associate dean of the conservatory. “They often come in very bright, very talented, but rather unsophisticated. But to watch them grow over the next four or five years is the most gratifying experience.”
Coming to Lawrence to scratch his teaching itch did not extinguish his desire to still perform and his association with various ensembles remains a bright spot on his 28-year tenure.
“Playing chamber music with my colleagues certainly is one of the highlights for me over the years. I’m surrounded by this terrific faculty and the Lawrence Brass has been a very important part of my time here.”
“The thing I’ll miss the most is the students. They are wonderful, keen, hard-working.” — James DeCorsey
DeCorsey plans to relocate to Vancouver, Wash., to rejoin his wife, Patricia, who is an international Montessori teacher there.
Nick Keelan, associate professor of music, trombone teacher
Anyone who has enjoyed the Tuesday night jazz at Frank’s Pizza Palace in downtown Appleton played by the Big Band Reunion, can thank Keelan. It was his idea to start the group, which he co-led for a decade and still performs with occasionally.
His arrival at Lawrence in 1985 came after 10 years of teaching music in high school in Texas and Colorado and with a word-of-mouth assist from Bob Levy, the former long-time director of bands at Lawrence, who was once one of Keelan’s undergraduate professors at Henderson State University.
Keelan’s initial teaching load included trombone, euphonium, tuba and running the instrumental music education program, including formulating a new system of education based on a new state law.
“I got real busy. At one point, I had 29 trombone students and there weren’t enough hours in the day,” said Keelan, who estimates he’s worked with some 500 trombonists in his 33 years at Lawrence.
At various times along the way, Keelan served as conductor of Lawrence’s Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Band and Jazz Workshop. He is a founding member of the Lawrence Brass, the faculty brass quintet, and the Faculty Jazz Group.
“The Lawrence Brass has been very active here as a resident performing brass quintet,” said Keelan. “As a group we’ve rehearsed twice a week for the last 25 years or so.”
Speaking of rehearsals, Keelan makes sure to find time to blow his own trombone every day, anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours.
“Some days, when I play with students, it could be an eight-hour day with a horn on the face. That’s just what it takes,” Keenlan said with a hint of a drawl from his time growing up in Arkansas and Texas. He attended and graduated from Little Rock Central High School, 10 years after the group of African-American students known as the “Little Rock Nine” enrolled in the then-all-white school. “I’m a night owl so my practice would often start at 10 at night and often go to two or three o’clock in the morning. Then I’d have to get up and go teach.”
“I’ve enjoyed a lot of cool things — concerts, clinics, performances off campus. It’s that regular schedule of getting together with people you like to work with that I’ll miss a lot.” — Nick Keelan
When on that rare occasion he’s not in his office, the studio or rehearsal room, Keelan is likely at a clinic, mentoring an aspiring elementary or high school trombonist. Despite his busy schedule, he typically manages to shoehorn in about 25 clinics a year, some in Wisconsin, others out of state.
“I do a lot of clinics at the schools,” said Keelan, who was recognized with Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in 1988, “But I have to be cautious with how much I leave campus. That’s why Jazz Celebration Weekendis nice. The students come to us.”
Music may be central to Keelan’s life, but he has other interests that provide an adrenaline rush that’s different than a standing ovation. He drives Formula Ford race cars. He flew his own airplanes for a decade, although he’s since given those up for a motorcycle and a dirt bike. He enjoys four-wheeling and remodeling projects.
Retirement will find him in Colorado at a home he’s owned for 16 years “in the boonies up on a cliff” overlooking Twin Lakes. He plans to continue playing and conducting with the local Summit County Band and the Colorado Brass Band.
“I’ve enjoyed a lot of cool things — concerts, clinics, performances off campus,” Keelan said of his three-plus decades at Lawrence. “It’s that regular schedule of getting together with people you like to work with that I’ll miss a lot. And the students, you see their progress, their successes and you stay in touch with them. I’ll miss those interactions I get once they leave. I’ll miss a lot of that stuff.”
Carol Lawton, Ottilia Buerger Professor of Classical Studies and professor of art history
The longest-serving of the six retirees, Lawton has called the Agora —the civic and commercial center of ancient Athens — her home every summer of her 38 years at Lawrence. It’s there she’s conducted much of her life’s work, studying sculpture from the 4th and 5th centuries B.C.
“I specialize not in the big names in Greek art, but in so-called anonymous sculpture, unsigned works like votive reliefs that give us important insight into the concerns of their dedicators,” said Lawton, who grew up in tiny Oakland, Md.
Much of Lawton’s more recent work concerns the sculpture from the excavations begun in 1931 by the American School of Classical Studies, which have uncovered more than 3,500 pieces, only a fraction of which has been published. In her 2006 book “Marbleworkers in the Athenian Agora,” Lawton presented the archaeological evidence for sculptors’ workshops in the area of the Agora.
Her most recent book, 2017’s “Agora XXXVIII: Votive Reliefs,” detail how most of the reliefs weren’t dedicated to Olympian deities but rather to gods and heroes who were closer to the people and who were concerned with the daily aspects of the people’s lives such as healing, fertility and prosperity. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim, Kress and Loeb Foundations and the Archaeological Institute of America.
Her interest in art history was cultivated as an undergraduate at Vassar College, where she enrolled with political science major intentions.
“Vassar had a requirement that you had to take two languages – the one you took in high school and another foreign language,” said Lawton. “I thought why not take Greek? Simultaneously, I took the intro to art history course, just as people do. The two kind of went together. So, I became an art history major and classics minor. It all just worked out that way.”
Beyond her yearly field research in Greece, Lawton also has been the caretaker of Lawrence’s stunning collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins, donated by alumna Ottilia Buerger ’38. Over the years Lawton has supervised 25 students who have contributed to the online publication of the coins, which has been viewed by more than four million readers.
“I’m very proud of the work that the students have done for this collection,” said Lawton, who earned a master’s degree in art history at the University of Pittsburgh and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in art history at Princeton University. “Ottilia was very clear that the collection be used for teaching. This is not easy material to study. Most publications on ancient coins are simply lists with very abbreviated information that nobody could ever read. Our goal is to explain what the images are and who issued them so that an interested high school student who is taking Latin could look up our collection and understand what that coin is all about.
“I’d like to think I did a pretty good job of teaching them how to do research and how to write it up in a way that by publishing the catalog the collection was made accessible to the public,” she added.
“I’m very proud of the work that the students have done for this collection.” — Carol Lawton on the Ottilia Buerger Collection of Ancient and Byzantine Coins
If recognition is any indication, Lawton did considerably better than “pretty good.” She is one of only four faculty members in the university’s history to receive Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award (1982), the Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004) and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award (1998).
Shortly after commencement, Lawton will leave for a full year in Athens, with her husband Jere Wickens, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, where she hopes to finish two more books about her research that are in progress.
“It’s going to be odd not being in the classroom,” said Lawton, who was the entire art history department when she started in 1980. “I do some teaching in Greece when people come through to see the Agora, but it’s not the same as introducing students who have never seen these things before to something new. I will miss that.”
Howard Niblock, professor of music and oboe teacher
It took eight years of teaching — five at Luther College and three at Ohio University — before Niblock arrived at Lawrence in 1981, a place he described as “perfect.”
“It was a more professionally oriented music program, but it gave me the ability to exercise my interdisciplinary liberal arts roots,” said Niblock, whose undergraduate degree was in English and philosophy, although he did earn a master’s degree in oboe performance at Michigan State University and took additional music classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In a performance career spanning 50 years, Niblock has served as principal oboe with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra and Band for 17 years and has played with nearly two dozen symphonies and orchestras, including the Milwaukee Symphony, the Pamiro Opera and the Fox Valley Symphony.
He counts the simple, daily interactions with students among the things that he will miss the most in retirement.
“It’s not just the interaction of teaching them, but all of the other kinds of interactions, too,” said Niblock. “We’re fortunate at Lawrence in that we get a really special brand of young person. I’ve just been lucky enough to get to know so many of them so well.”
Weekend road trips to Björklunden — Lawrence’s northern campus in Door County — with his oboe studio students red-line the needle on Niblock’s memory meter.
“The very first year that the new lodge opened, I took a bunch of woodwind quintets up there,” recalled Niblock, citing guest visits by some of his first oboe students, Katherine Hopkins ’85 and John Perkins ’83 among them, on some of his Björklunden trips as special highlights. “Every time I’ve gone up there, it’s been a wonderful memory.”
An avid Freshman Studies teacher — he’s taught Lawrence’s signature course some 30 times in his 37 years on the faculty and was recognized in 2003 with the university’s Freshman Studies Teaching Award — Niblock established a tradition in the late 1990s, reuniting graduating seniors each spring who were in his Freshman Studies section for group toast in the Viking Room. “That’s always been a blast to do,” he says.
“We’re fortunate at Lawrence in that we get a really special brand of young person. I’ve just been lucky enough to get to know so many of them so well.” — Howard Niblock
One of the things Niblock is best known for is offering the opening words — usually an appropriate excerpt from a poem — at the start of commencement and the annual matriculation convocation. It came to him in the form of a request from then-President Richard Warch in the early 1990s.
“After I did it the first time, Rik came up to me and said, ‘I want you to do this again.’ And then he asked me every year,” said Niblock, a self-described poetry lover. “When Jill Beck came, she said, ‘We want to keep a number of things the same, have some continuity here. Would you do it?’ And when Mark Burstein came, he kept the same continuity. It’s turned into quite a long time.”
As a fitting ending to his career as a music teacher and “opening words” speaker, Niblock is considering reading a poem written by his son, a poet, at the 2018 commencement.
As he looks back, one thing that generates a proud smile is the fact his incoming successor for next year, Nora Lewis, is a former student of his.
“That really puts a nice glow on the whole thing,” said Niblock, who grew up in East Lansing, Mich. “It kind of closes the loop, but also continues it. It’s hard to top that.”
While he’s played the oboe since the age of 11, his crystal ball hints at more writing — music and otherwise — in his immediate future.
“I’m going to spend some times composing,” said Niblock, who plans to still call Appleton home for the near future. “I have some music in my head that I haven’t had time to write.”
Dirck Vorenkamp, associate professor of religious studies
Maybe his imposing stature has something to do with it. A former Tulsa, Okla., police officer, Vorenkamp casts a large shadow. He is known among the student body as being one of the toughest graders on the faculty.
“That’s my reputation,” laughs Vorenkamp at the suggestion. “The truth of the matter is, if you look at the grade distribution, I give pretty much as many As and Bs as my colleagues in the humanities. This ‘tough thing,’ a lot of it just has to do with personality.”
A specialist in East Asian Buddhism, Vorenkamp lived in Taiwan for a year while completing his Ph.D. He spent a combined five years teaching at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee before joining the Lawrence faculty in 1997, when he learned quickly he was no longer at a public institution.
“I was teaching the Intro to East Asian Religions course and in the very first week, one of the upperclassmen came up to me and asked ‘Why aren’t we reading original sources in this class?,’” recalled Vorenkamp, who was born in Baton Rouge, La., but grew up in Tulsa. “If somebody had taken my picture right then, I’m pretty sure my jaw would have been on the floor. I taught at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee and never had a student ask me something like that. In my first week here, students clued me in about some of the important differences between Lawrence and those schools.”
He credits bright and motivated students for keeping the classroom energized and counts them among the highlights of his Lawrence tenure.
“It’s really a joy to work with students like that, as well as so many colleagues who are doing interesting things in their classes. Just in our everyday interactions, getting to know and work with smart, talented folks, learn about some of the things they’ve succeeded in has been a real pleasure. And the freedom to pursue lines of intellectual inquiry that are personally interesting to me has all helped make this a wonderful way to spend the last 21 years.”
A major grant Lawrence received allowed for numerous trips to East Asia in the early 2000s. Vorenkamp was able to participate in eight of the trips.
“I was a part of the Freeman group that helped put things together and I got to guide a number of those trips,” he said. “That was just an amazing opportunity for all of us.”
“It’s really a joy to work with [bright, movitated] students, as well as so many colleagues who are doing interesting things in their classes.” — Dirck Vorenkamp
Vorenkamp also guided Lawrence’s signature Freshman Studies program as its director from 2005-07 and was recognized with the university’s “Freshman Studies Teaching Award” for the 1999-2000 academic year.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in education, Vorenkamp spent four years as an officer with the Tulsa Police Department, earning two “Chief’s Commendations” for outstanding performance in the line of duty, before turning his career interests toward higher education. He earned a master’s degree in East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Kansas and completed his doctorate in Buddhist studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
The siren call of two young grandchildren and the chance to be a full-time “Opa” is luring Vorenkamp to suburban Detroit this summer.
“As much as I enjoy working, I’ve never been one of those folks who felt that work was the primary thing in my life,” said Vorenkamp, who’s looking forward to more time for riding his motorcycle. “My wife and I are ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives, as much as we’ve enjoyed the years thus far.”
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.
It’s easy to understand why Richmond Frielund is a fan of “do-overs.” Early in his career he was the beneficiary of one.
Frielund, who has helped stage more than 100 Lawrence University productions, and Richard Yatzeck, who led Lawrence students on a dozen summer-long treks through Eastern Europe, will be honored Sunday, June 15 as retiring faculty members for their combined 82 years of teaching at the college’s 165th commencement.
Frielund, associate professor of theatre arts, and Yatzeck, professor of Russian, will be recognized with professor emeritus status and awarded honorary master of arts degrees, ad eundem, as part of the graduation ceremonies on Main Hall green.
Five years after joining the Lawrence theatre arts department as technical director in 1979, Frielund left for what he thought was a better opportunity at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. It turned out to be a less-than-ideal fit.
“I was thankful I saw my job listing and I reapplied for my old job and wound up getting hired back,” said Frielund, who rejoined the college in the fall of 1985.
In a largely behind-the-scenes career spanning a total of 44 years, including 10 before coming to Lawrence, Frielund has directed set and lighting design for more than 100 Lawrence play, opera, musical and dance productions and has assisted with more than 200 others outside the college, including concerts for Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney, several touring Broadway musicals, including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked” and a visit by then President George W. Bush to Appleton, for which he received a White House citation of thanks. Unfortunately his name was misspelled on it.
“I have found fulfillment in doing some shepherding,” said Frielund, a native of Duluth, Minn. “You’re in the back and you just keep things going. I take great pleasure in coming up with something and seeing how other people can use it well.”
Among all the productions he’s had a hand in, three in particular still stand out in Frielund’s mind: A 1980 performance of “The Crucible,” 1998’s “Sweeney Todd” and a 1999 staging of “Translations,” which was selected to go to the American College Theatre Festival.
“For the production of ‘The Crucible,’ Campbell Scott (’83) played John Proctor when he was 19 years old. That was the first big part he’d had, but that’s not the only reason I remember that show,” said Frielund. “I had built this ceiling piece. It was sitting on the floor and as we hoisted it up, part of it stayed in the air and the other part flopped back down on the floor. It wasn’t quite back to square one, but it certainly was a teaching moment for us all.
“The single, salient most significant memory of my career at Lawrence was in 1998,” Frielund added. “We did a production of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and this was the first time we did a rehearsal at Bjorklunden. There were all of these really good singers rehearsing and I walked in the door and heard ‘Swing your razor high, Sweeney,’ and this huge, huge beautiful, glorious sound hit me. I thought to myself, ‘This is what Lawrence can really do well.’”
Frielund says it’s the beginnings and endings of a term or academic year that turn him reflective.
“I can’t tell you how many times on a day when a term is starting or its the end of the year, I will have a very warm feeling for this place. I just stop and think, ‘Thank God I’m here.’ This place doesn’t operate like a lot of institutions and for that I’m thankful.”
“The times I’ve spent working with students in the shop, painting scenery, showing kids how to build things, how to focus lights, those are my fondest memories.” — Associate Professor Richmond Frielund
Prior to Lawrence, Frielund taught for two years at the University of Michigan, where he once had a freshman in a dance class by the name of Madonna Louise Ciccone, who “weighed 85 pounds soaking wet, but she was a really good dancer, to what extent she bothered showing up.” He wound up giving her a ‘C.’
“She had other interests,” recalled Frielund, 64. “She didn’t come back to school and I heard she’d gone off to New York. I had no idea that the Madonna on the radio was the same person I had in class until I read a magazine article about her.”
Brushes with celebrity aside, thoughts of working with students in the theatre department’s back corners are what make Frielund smile.
“The times I’ve spent working with students in the shop, painting scenery, showing kids how to build things, how to focus lights, those are my fondest memories.”
Professor of theatre arts Timothy X. Troy and Frielund’s department colleague the past 17 years, said Frielund believed the study of theatre in performance and design anchored a student’s engagement in the liberal arts generally.
“Rich’s tradition of a fully integrated approach to production and curious exploration of each play’s themes and social context will mark our department well into the future,” said Troy. “Rich taught us all to respect a developmental model of theatre education: let success build upon success until students integrate an ever-widening understanding of the richness and complexity of the theatre tradition.”
In retirement, Frielund will be involved in December performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. He also hopes to do some teaching at Appleton’s Renaissance School.
Yatzeck, 81, began organizing every-other-year trips to Russia and Eastern Europe with former professor George Smalley shortly after he joined the faculty in 1966. Traveling in seven Volkswagen buses, as many as 35 students would participate in the trips throughout the continent.
“The (Lawrence) authorities at that time thought it would be a good idea. I’m not sure why they did because everybody else asked us if we’d get back alive,” said Yatzeck, who calls the biennial trips the highlight of his teaching career. “They were certainly good for my oral Russian.”
Those trips — as well as two stints (1991, 1997) as director of the ACM’s study-abroad program in Krasnodar — inspired him to chronicle his experiences in the 2012 book “Russia in Private,” a collection of his observations of Russian life.
During one of the longest teaching tenures in Lawrence history — 48 years — Yatzeck taught the finer points of Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky. A self-proclaimed non-fan of the modern world, Yatzeck says he would have preferred living in the time of the writers he now teaches.
“Basically, the only way to amuse yourself was to read and that’s what I’ve done all my life and so in some ways I feel as if I still live in the 19th century,” said Yatzeck, who has never owned what most would consider a present-day necessity — a television. “Part of being happy teaching at Lawrence is a lot of my work is spent reading and preparing for classes and the thinking that goes along with it. When you read a book you have to make your own pictures so that you’re exercising your imagination. What is this guy saying, what would it look like.”
A close second to his passion for Russian literature is his love of the outdoors. An avid hunter and fisherman, early in his teaching career Yatzeck was known to occasionally wear his hunting boots to class for a quick jaunt to the woods or the lake in the fall afternoon’s fading light with his Main Hall colleagues Peter Fritzell and Michael Hittle of the English and history departments, respectively. The three were dubbed “The Rod and Gun Club” by former Lawrence historian Anne Schutte.
Fritzell said the three friends “came to know each other as only outdoorsmen can.”
“Sleeping in tents together, discussing poems, novels and historical events around campfires, in boats and duckblinds, we engaged in fairly high-drawer philosophical arguments, enjoying gourmet lunches on tailgates of trucks with our bird dogs or ice-fishing on Lake Winnebago,” said Fritzell. “Dick would often pull from his scholar’s shoulder-bag a bottle of the very best Slivovitz and we’d toast the end of the day, the placing of the last tipup, or, if we were lucky, the first fish on the ice.”
Yatzeck has always maintained his perspective and never considered teaching as merely paying for the time that he could go hunting or fishing.
“They are quite different things. The business about hunting is you switch off your intellect and you listen to your senses. Something smells or you hear or taste something and your intellectual powers are in abeyance and that’s a nice rest. But that isn’t how you teach.”
“What I like best is when one of the students teaches me something I’ve never noticed. That, I feel, is the height of teaching, when you can learn from your students.” — Professor Richard Yatzeck
Yatzeck’s scholarly work includes a dozen published poems, but he also has written extensively about the outdoors, including 11 articles for Gray’s Sporting Journal, the New Yorker of outdoor literature. His first book, 1999’s “Hunting the Edges,” is a collection of his musings about the philosophical, not the practical, aspects of the outdoors.
In a career spanning nearly five decades, Yatzeck says he never counted the days or the years, they “just added up by themselves.”
“Monday has never seemed a time to curse to me. I never felt I was going to a job,” said Yatzeck, who got hooked on Russian as a German-speaking Fulbright Fellow in 1955 after meeting a red-headed Russian woman in Hamburg, Germany. “What I like best is when one of the students teaches me something I’ve never noticed. That, I feel, is the height of teaching, when you can learn from your students.”
In addition to more trips to the lake and woods and visits with children in Chicago, St. Louis and London, Yatzeck hopes to pen a third book in retirement about his youth in the rural village of Genesee, Wis.
“I have always looked back at that as a model. I’ve written a couple of short pieces about individuals who lived in that village but I’d like to write some kind of account of life at that time. In 80 years a great deal has changed.”
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.
When Mark Dintenfass arrived on the Lawrence University campus in the fall of 1968 to teach fiction writing in the English department, he hadn’t planned on sticking around all that long.
“I was told Lawrence was a great place to start your career,” Dintenfass recalled.
Thirty-eight years later, Dintenfass admits it is not a bad place to end a career, either.
Dintenfass and biologist William Perreault, who together have a combined 73 years of teaching experience at Lawrence, will be recognized with professor emeritus status Sunday, June 11 as retiring members of the faculty at the college’s 157th commencement. They will be awarded honorary master of arts degrees, ad eundem, as part of the graduation ceremonies that begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall green.
Dintenfass admits he has become a bit more “realistic” with the aspiring authors in his fiction writing class during the past few years. The changing publishing landscape has made an already tough field an even tougher nut to crack and he doesn’t want to encourage any false expectations.
“That doesn’t discourage the good writers,” Dintenfass noted. “But anyone who gets to be a published writer today has to be a bit lucky. To become a well-known writer, you have to be good and lucky.
“It’s a rougher business now,” added the Brooklyn, N.Y. native. “Publishers use to be interested in good writing. Now they’re all just looking for the next Dan Brown. Good writing has taken a back seat to marketability.”
When Dintenfass cautions his fiction-writing students about the perils and pitfalls of a writing career, he does so with the experience and perspective of someone who has managed to have six of his own novels published. “Make Yourself an Earthquake” was published by Little, Brown the year after he started at Lawrence. His 1982 work, “Old World, New World” (William Morrow) was a Literary Guild Alternate Selection and came within a few thousand copies of creeping on to the New York Times best-seller list.
His other works include “The Case Against Org,” (Little, Brown, 1970), “Figure 8” (Simon & Schuster, 1974), “Montgomery Street” (Harper & Row, 1978) and “A Loving Place” (William Morrow, 1986).
The Wisconsin Library Association honored Dintenfass as a Notable Wisconsin Author in 1986 and the following year, presented him with its Distinguished Achievement Award.
More recently, Dintenfass has turned his attention to theatre, stepping outside the classroom to direct nearly two dozen Lawrence and Attic Theatre productions during the past 25 years, among them Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” and Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Woman.”
“Writing is solitary, but one of the great things about theatre is you get to work with lots of talented people,” Dintenfass said.
While he’s noncommittal about the prospects of a seventh novel getting written in retirement, Dintenfass will continue to pursue his theatre interests, directing Attic’s production of “Lunch Hour” later this summer.
Perreault, professor of biology, arrived on the Lawrence campus in 1971 with an infectious curiosity about cells — plant as well as animal — and how they operate. And three-and-a-half decades of teaching courses on genetics and microbiology have done little to dampen his spirit of enthusiasm. He still relishes the challenge of trying to coordinate molecular techniques with microscopy techniques and the interplay between them in search of a better understanding of how cells work.
During his 35-year career, Perreault has firmly established himself as Lawrence’s electron microscope guru. When Lawrence was planning its new Science Hall in the late 1990s, Perreault personally designed the plans for the building’s microscopy suite. Over the years, he has individually tutored more than 100 students — and a few faculty colleagues along the way as well — on the finer points of using either Lawrence’s transmission electron microscope or the newer $200,000 scanning electron microscope.
“I’m extremely proud of that,” said Perreault of his work with the TEM and SEM.
Before arriving at Lawrence, Perreault spent seven years in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of captain. Two of his years in the service were spent as a microbiologist at the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick in Maryland.
Originally from Cohoes, N.Y., an upstate mill town near Albany, Perreault often has served as the biology department’s “welcoming face.” He taught the introductory course “Principles of Biology” for 33 of his 35 years. He took particular joy in teaching it because the course typically attracted a fair number of students from disciplines outside of the sciences.
“I like to think part of my legacy will be the sheer number of students who received an understanding of the beautiful science of biology because they took my intro class,” said Perreault.
Two of those former students — Beth and Bart De Stasio — went on to earn their doctorate degrees and returned to Lawrence, where they have spent the last 14 years as Perreault’s biology department faculty colleagues.
“At least I didn’t turn them off to biology,” Perreault said of the De Stasios with characteristic good humor. “Part of my legacy is having them both back here. I may not have been the ‘main man’ when they were students here, but I played a part.”
Perreault says he’s approaching the final days of his residency in the third-floor office of Science Hall with the expansive view of the east end of campus with decidedly mixed emotions.
“I’m not too fond of cold weather mornings and 8:30 classes, but I love this place and I love my job. I will miss my colleagues, but mostly I will miss my students.”