The Work Ahead (6/10/2020)

Dear Lawrence Community, 

Thank you for sharing your hopes and frustrations with us individually or in larger community discussions over this past week. We too are experiencing anger and frustration and are at a time in our history when systemic oppression, racial injustice, and police violence are not just on the minds of our Black and other community members of color, but on the minds of all of us.   

As we wrap up final projects and complete the academic year, we will work to make Lawrence University a better place for all to thrive, especially for community members of color. Lawrence has a history checkered with racism and oppression. As our values have evolved, we have arrived at a moment to declare where we stand.  

We stand against racism. We stand against systemic oppression of people of color. We stand against police violence.  

To ensure that these values are realized, the President’s Cabinet has started to assemble institutional actions that will continue to foster an antiracist campus culture. We have much work to do—some of it builds on continuing initiatives; some of it is planned but not yet in action; and some of it still needs development. All of it is vital to our institution.  

Our next steps are outlined below. 

Resources, Reading & Workshops 

Recognizing that our community needs time to process all that has happened and prepare for concerted action in the fall, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion has provided resources to help you, your families, and communities put this in context at your own pace over the summer. The resources, which can be accessed on the Lawrence website, include short articles, videos and books. 

We also invite all faculty, staff, and students to participate in a summer Community Read of How to Be an Antiracist by National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi. The University will provide books to all members of the community who would like to participate. Lawrence’s Antiracist White Affinity Group (ARWAG) will offer workshops over the summer as well. Details about how to get the book, as well as dates and times of book discussions and workshops, are forthcoming.  

Curricular Work 

Lawrence will focus on integrating works of Black and Brown scholars and artists into what we teach as well as teaching in ways that are antiracist. This will begin prior to fall term during the Freshman Studies Symposium and continue throughout the year with professional development provided for faculty by the Inclusive Pedagogy Committee. In addition, the Curriculum Committee will pursue strengthening the diversity-related general education requirements (GER) and centering anti-racist work in our curriculum more broadly.  

Student Support & Dialogue 

Student Life staff will work to enhance their ability to support student activists by engaging and learning from experts in peaceful protests. Staff will also increase the efforts to hear directly from students about their experiences on campus as we seek to develop more effective strategies to support a campus culture where antiracist work is central. Starting this summer, we, members of the President’s Cabinet as well as other campus leaders, will participate in structured Sustained Dialogue with student leaders to develop a shared sense of the work needed on these vital issues. 

Community-Wide Training & Response 

We will impact campus climate by expanding mandatory training for employees to include specific workshops related to racism in higher education and society. We will also provide additional training for students on antiracism throughout the academic year. Alumni will also be engaged in dialogues and trainings over the summer via virtual townhall meetings and other gatherings. In addition, the Bias Response Team will lead a task force this fall on preventing and responding to hate speech on campus. We will also add to efforts already underway to increase the number of staff and faculty of color on campus. 

We must take this moment, as a community and as an institution, to make real change in the battle against racism. Continuing to build on our ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts will help to bring us closer to creating lasting, structural change. Please stay tuned as we update you while the work progresses.  


Mark Burstein 

Christyn Abaray 
Assistant to the President 
Secretary to the Board 

Ken Anselment 
Vice President for Enrollment & Communication 

Kimberly Barrett 
Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion 
Associate Dean of the Faculty 

Christopher Card 
Vice President for Student Life 

Jeffrey Clark 
Special Assistant to the President 

Associate Professor of Geosciences 

Calvin Husmann 
Vice President for Alumni & Development 

Catherine Kodat 
Provost & Dean of the Faculty 

Brian Pertl 
Dean of the Conservatory of Music 

Megan Scott 
Associate Vice President of Communication Jenna Stone 
Associate Vice President of Finance