Welcome to Spring Term whether you have joined here in Appleton or you are joining from around the globe. Spring has always brought thoughts of renewal for me and, I expect, for many of you as well. After a long 12 months of the pandemic, we do seem to be turning a corner. I am looking forward to attending outdoor athletic competitions and campus events again, to hearing music across the campus, picnicking on Main Hall Green, and, of course, to celebrating our graduating seniors at Commencement in the Banta Bowl. David and I will savor each of these experiences even more as our time on campus draws to a close.
We have spent this academic year together in a hybrid mode, which has allowed all of us to make our decisions about whether to come to campus or to join this learning community from home. About 70% of students decided to live on campus. Thanks to our community’s commitment to Honor the Pledge, we have managed to keep infection rates well below 1% for nearly the entire year. With your leadership and vigilance, we will be able to maintain this remarkable record.
Through the ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff we have found ways to reimagine teaching, learning, and community. Many memories will remain in my mind of this past year, but examples of our community’s creativity and resilience will always be foremost. I am also thankful for our community’s efforts to become a more antiracist, equity-minded institution, even as the pandemic occupied much of our energy. Current events reinforce the importance of this work for us.
As vaccination rates rise and infection rates decline, we are ever more hopeful to enjoy the gift of human connection, face-to-face instead of screen-to-screen. We have begun to make Fall Term plans that allow for a return to in-person experiences in our classrooms and labs, on the playing field and stage, and through campus activities. These plans will continue to closely follow CDC and State health guidelines. At the same time, we are mindful that the pandemic has taught us to be agile, which is why we are also developing plans to modify our housing processes, workplace rules, and course modality should conditions warrant.
We will continue to update you with our plans as they are finalized for the academic year. I look forward to being with you this spring as we work together to sustain and deepen this learning community we call Lawrence.
President, Lawrence University