Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Earlier this afternoon at Matriculation Convocation, I shared with our community a framework for a new way of collaboratively working together to strengthen our university. This framework was informed by the many conversations I’ve had with Lawrentians—students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and Appleton community members—since my arrival on campus and based on a model created by Dr. John Kotter. I write now to ask you to join me, the President’s Cabinet, and your fellow Lawrentians as we embark on this transformative journey together.

During my discussions with community members, I felt the deep love of and pride in Lawrence University, particularly when they described its many accomplishments achieved over the last year. These accomplishments pay testament to the strength and resilience needed to propel the university forward even during a challenging time. Yet we cannot lose sight of the many external factors, in addition to the pandemic, like declining applications, public discourse challenging higher education, and rising student loan debt, that challenge our strength as a university.

Lawrence has a strong foundation on which to face these challenges, but we must dig deep within ourselves to do more to move the university forward in such strong headwinds. Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment. And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it. 

As we look to our future, five overarching institutional priorities have emerged out of my conversations with Lawrentians:  Strategic Equitable Student Success; Brand Awareness, Reputation, and Elevation; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism; Enhanced and Integrated University Experiences, and Strategic Financial Stewardship. Helping us focus on and engage with these priorities as quickly as possible is where John Kotter’s model comes into play, becoming our catalyst for change.   
Kotter describes his change model in his book, “Accelerate.” The process involves a parallel construct. On one side, the traditional hierarchy of our university will continue to operate as we press forward with the day-to-day operations and honor our policies, processes and shared governance. At the same time, parallel to the traditional hierarchy, we will work through the steps of change using Kotter’s model of guiding coalitions, which has proven effective for so many organizations.

Bolstered by the sense of urgency that comes with the external challenges at hand, our guiding coalitions will serve as accountable, integrated groups bound by opportunity, strategy, and action. Consisting of a volunteer army of Lawrentians from across the university, they will form strategic visions and initiatives to move us forward. They will also work and be authorized to remove barriers so that they are able to generate short-term wins, sustain acceleration, and ultimately institute change.

Each coalition will be provided a charge and timeline for the work. Structurally, each will have co-leads (at least one faculty member and one staff member) who facilitate the group’s work and will consist of members from multiple layers of the university hierarchy and will represent all constituents—faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni. Members of the coalitions must have a sense of urgency and a commitment to the change initiative at hand. Our five guiding coalitions and their co-leads are:

  • Visioning Our Five Priorities—Jason Brozek, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs & Associate Professor of Government & Jenna Stone, Associate Vice President of Finance
  • Full Speed to Full Need—Cassie Curry, Director of Major & Planned Giving & Jake Frederick, Professor of History
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism—Connie Kassor, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies & Jacklyn Fischer, Assistant Director, Career Center – Health Professions
  • Athletics—Kim Tatro, Director of Athletics & Gary Vaughn, Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program
  • 175th Anniversary—Ed Berthiaume, Director of Public Information & Lina Rosenberg Foley, University Archivist

All members of the Lawrence community have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before. Everyone, regardless of role, can engage in this process, and I truly hope that you will.

If you are interested in joining a guiding coalition, please email Alice Boeckers, executive assistant to the president, at by Friday, September 24. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Cabinet member or one of the leads listed above. Coalition membership will be finalized and communicated with campus by September 30.

Lawrence’s motto calls for Light! More Light! I ask each of you to bring your light to this process. I hope that you will join me and your colleagues and classmates to heed that call.

We are brighter together.


President Laurie A. Carter

On behalf of the President’s Cabinet:

Christyn Abaray, Assistant to the President & Secretary to the Board of Trustees 
Ken Anselment, Vice President of Enrollment & Communications 
Alice Boeckers, Executive Assistant to the President 
Jason Brozek, Special Assistant to the President, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs & Associate Professor of Government 
Christopher Card, Vice President for Student Life 
Calvin Husmann, Vice President for Alumni & Development  
Catherine Kodat, Provost & Dean of the Faculty 
Mary Alma Noonan, Vice President for Finance & Administration 
Brian Pertl, Dean of the Conservatory 
Megan Scott, Associate Vice President of Communications

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University