December Campus Updates (December 10, 2021)

Dear Lawrentians, 

While there may be fewer students on campus, our daily lives are still filled with activity.  After nearly two full weeks of coursework, December classes are coming to a close. Students and faculty are collaborating on research projects. Our Vikings basketball and hockey teams are competing for the first time in December since 2019. Facilities Services is working on enhancements to residence halls across campus. The faculty, students, staff, trustees, and alumni participating in our five guiding coalitions—Visioning Our Five Priorities; Full Speed to Full Need; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism; Athletics; and 175th Anniversary—and the Strategic Equitable Enrollment Management team are deep into their work planning for Lawrence’s future. All of which facilitates the Strategic Planning Committee, which has commenced its work as well. Thank you to everyone who is dedicating their time, energy, and talent into ensuring that Lawrence meets its fullest potential. 

As November brought moments of reflection and gratitude, December brings moments of celebration and transition. Last week, faculty and staff gathered at our annual holiday reception, and it was wonderful to see so many colleagues gathered safely together to enjoy our bright community. My sincere thanks to Human Resources for helping to plan the gathering, to Bon Appetit for the wonderful food, and to our Conservatory students for the joyous music. Earlier this week, we celebrated Alice Boeckers and Linda Peeters as they embark on their retirement after years of dedicated service to Lawrence. Thank you to everyone who came together to wish them well as they enter this new stage of their lives. 

The new year will also bring a number of transitions for the university, the President’s Office in particular.  

This week, we welcomed Andrea Thorsbakken as my new executive assistant. Andrea brings years of experience serving as a chief of staff and project lead at the Tennessee Department of Education, which will be invaluable to her new role. I’m confident she will be a wonderful addition to our team here in the President’s Office. Mike O’Connor will be transitioning from his position as Riaz Waraich Dean of the Career Center and Center for Community Engagement and Social Change to a new role as special assistant to the president in January. His role will focus on university-wide assessment and metrics and other projects as designed. He will work across the university to create a culture of assessment that includes clear metrics to assess strategic priorities and investments and ensure that we are working toward meeting our goals. I’m excited that Mike will share his skills with the university in this new role, and I look forward to working with him to ensure Lawrence is meeting its full potential. 

Starting January 1, Megan Scott will serve as vice president of communications and marketing, reporting directly to me. This shift in title and reporting is a direct reflection of the quality of work Megan has done during her time at Lawrence, as well as the importance of Communications to the ongoing success of the university. Megan has worked to build an integrated communications office that directly supports the university’s strategic initiatives and has kept our community informed and connected during the pandemic. She and her team will lead our efforts to elevate Lawrence’s reputation and relevance as a leading liberal arts institution. 

Also, as of January 1, Christyn Abaray will officially become my chief of staff, while also continuing her role as secretary to the Board of Trustees. This is truly a change in title only, as Christyn has been an invaluable resource and partner as I’ve transitioned into the Lawrence community. She helped to implement our guiding coalitions, leads the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team, and, when needed, represents the President’s Office. She will also play an integral role in our strategic planning process, helping to set a vision for Lawrence’s future. 

Please join me in welcoming Andrea to Lawrence and congratulating Mike, Megan, and Christyn on their new positions at the university.  

I look forward to welcoming the new year, one in which we will celebrate Lawrence’s 175th anniversary, our storied history and our bright future, together. I wish you all peaceful, safe, and restful holidays with your family, friends, and loved ones. 


Laurie A. Carter
President, Lawrence University
Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699 | Office 920.832.6525