Kelsey McCormick

Author: Kelsey McCormick

Note to Campus Community on the Election (11/9/16)

Dear Lawrence community,

The recently concluded election cycle raised deep concerns for many of us, including me. The tenets of a Liberal Arts community: respect for others, openness to new, challenging ideas, and reliance on research to help determine solutions, were largely absent from the discourse. But, as we heard from many elected officials today, it is now time for all elements of this nation to come together, as Americans do after elections are over.

That is especially true for us, here, at Lawrence. Some members of our community feel deeply threatened by the outcome; others wonder what this transition will mean for their futures. Others, who are residents from other countries, find themselves participating at a major moment in the history of the U.S. It is now, more than ever, a time when we need to be present for one another and listen carefully for concerns which need to be addressed. This morning’s community gathering was a first step in that effort. Notes from that meeting are attached. Additional events will be posted on the Diversity and Inclusion web page under the “Post-Election Support” tab.

I take heart in knowing that you all join me in this effort.

In the past days a few members of the Fox Cities community have publicly demonstrated their prejudice. If at any point you feel your safety is at risk, please contact at once Campus Safety at x6999 or the Appleton Police Department at 911 or 920-832-5500.

I have faith we can work against this divisive trend in society and strengthen our community and the common values that bind us together.



Note to the Campus Community on the Events of Summer 2016 (8/16/16)

Dear Members of the Lawrence Community,

Like many of us, I am deeply troubled by the events of this past summer.  So much violence and so many lives lost, both here in the United States and abroad, that underlined society’s conflicts about race, sexual orientation, and religion.  Each week seemed to bring more tragedy, more sources of division in the world at large.  Even more concerning to me was the lack of real discussion and progress toward solutions for the issues that troubled us in the United States.  In many ways the presidential election and its coverage by the media seem to be exacerbating this situation rather than providing us with opportunities to discuss these issues and find common ground.

At a memorial service in Dallas, President Obama said: “I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week.  All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt.  It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened.  And although we know that such divisions are not new ̶ though they have surely been worse in even the recent past ̶ that offers us little comfort.”

Many of us now return to campus carrying the pain of these events.  Even here, the past year was marked by slights and insults posted on social media and shared in discussion on campus.  As a liberal arts college, one of our core beliefs is addressing the complex issues that face society today through thoughtful discussion and careful research of all points of view.  We, as a community, must find ways to work against the stream of outside events, to create a learning community here that is a hallmark of the Lawrence experience.  I ask each of us to join in reaffirming our core principles. 

As former President George W. Bush said at the Dallas memorial, “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.  And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.  But Americans, I think, have a great advantage.  To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.  We have never been held together by blood or background.  We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.  At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others.  This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.”

We at Lawrence believe that difference makes us stronger as a community; difference provides us opportunities to learn and to grow.  As we begin this academic year, I ask you to think of the words and intent of President Obama and former President Bush.  We can and should choose another path as a campus community here at Lawrence.  Whatever our individual political and social viewpoint, racial, ethnic or gender identities, sexual orientation, or religious creed, we must uphold Lawrence’s commitment to maintaining a learning community that welcomes and supports us all.  That fosters civil discourse.

We have put in place a number of initiatives this fall in support of this aim, and I want to thank all of you who have worked hard to make this possible.  Dean Lauderdale will launch Lawrence’s version of Sustained Dialogue a national program focused on training students, faculty, and staff to be effective small group discussion leaders and to engage in meaningful dialogue about relevant and sometimes difficult topics.  Sustained Dialogue professionals will begin training on the Lawrence campus October 21.

The Curriculum Committee will continue to rewrite the university’s statement on academic freedom.  This important work will help us to see more clearly how the classroom, the studio, and the laboratory can foster open and challenging conversation, intellectual engagement, and enhance mutual understanding.  Many new courses this year will explore the issue of difference and hopefully give us a chance to practice the art of civil discourse and develop the skills of collective problem solving that seem to be so necessary now. 

I know this has been a trying time for many of us personally.  I urge all of us to show compassion for one another as we process the latest tragedies and developments in our own ways.  I encourage you to prioritize your own well-being and that of fellow community members.  The university resources listed below stand ready to help you process these events and help determine your own personal response.  

This coming week we welcome over 400 new students and more than a dozen new faculty and staff to our campus.  Let us encourage constructive discourse throughout our community.  Let us reject violence, whether physical or rhetorical.  Together we can create the considerate, respectful, caring environment that makes us proud to call this place home.

I look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming weeks.



Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University


University Resources:

Health and Wellness Center – for health, counseling and wellness: or 920-832-6574

Employee Assistance Program for staff and faculty:  For more information, contact ASSIST EAP at 1-800-222-8590 and identify yourself as a participant of Lawrence University’s ASSIST EAP, or log on to AssistERC.

Diversity Center:  stop by first floor of Memorial Hall or contact Pa Lee Moua, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity at or 920-832-7030 or Chris Vue, Diversity Center Coordinator at or 920-832-6695

Curt Lauderdale, Dean of Students

Contact Curt at: or 920-832-6596

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

Contact Kimberly at: or 920-832-7451

Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement, Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life

Contact Linda at: or 920-832-6673

Rochelle Blindauer, Director of Human Resources

Contact Rochelle at: or 920-832-6541

Note on Inclusive Community (11/25/15)

Dear Lawrence Community,

When I interviewed to be president four years ago, what struck me most about Lawrence were the strong connections among students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Every interaction displayed a common purpose and a shared vision of our University. Encountering a community driven by this impulse, to connect with and to support one another, to consider the University first, made my decision to join Lawrence a simple one. Events over this past week have further highlighted the importance of working together to make Lawrence a more welcoming and supportive community in which all students can thrive.

It is clear we have work to do to become the inclusive community we aspire to be. By the beginning of winter term the administration will offer a response to the requests submitted to Dean Lauderdale and me. I hope the actions we take will provide more opportunity for all of us to better understand central questions around race, identity, and the searing impact of racism. I also believe we must continue to take steps to ensure that all students, faculty and staff at Lawrence can thrive and feel at home on campus and in Appleton. Recent events have convinced many members of our community who spoke with me that these steps must be taken.

I believe we can restore the bonds that connect us as a community of learning and exploration. Freedom of inquiry and expression forms the bedrock of our education; it prepares Lawrentians for success in the greater world. As we strive to become a more inclusive community, in which respect for difference is the norm, we also need to ensure that different points of view and interests can be shared and discussed. I believe we have the will and the ability to sustain such a learning community if we work together.

I wish you all a happy holiday season and a restful break. Over the next few weeks members of the administration and I will work to develop ways for us to continue to make progress toward our goal of creating a better Lawrence. I look forward to the start of Winter Term when we can pick up this community conversation and take up this vital work together.



Email to Parents and Alumni on Inclusive Community (11/20/15)

Dear Lawrence parents and alumni,

Through the fall, students at many colleges and universities have pressed issues of racism and the need for more inclusive communities. Lawrence students joined this conversation by demonstrating in downtown Appleton and presenting a list of requests to me Tuesday night. Since then students, faculty, and staff have debated the merits of these requests through social media, in classrooms, and on campus. We need to work toward civil discourse as a community so that we can discuss our different opinions in a constructive way.

Some of the core student demands are ones we have investigated and discussed over the past year. They connect directly with existing initiatives, which would strengthen the education we offer. At the same time, we need to reinforce the value of free exchange of different opinions and perspectives. Our classrooms must remain places where open exchange is possible. As we develop ways to enhance the study of race and identity in our curriculum, and as we work to create a campus community, where all students can thrive, our efforts will be strengthened by continuing conversation among us. This is true for institutions across the country. And it is central to our learning environment.

I have attached a letter sent on Monday, from me to the campus community, as well as one sent by Vice President Truesdell yesterday. Please feel free to contact me or other campus colleagues if more information would be helpful .I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and I hope our paths cross soon.



Letter to the Editor of the Post-Crescent (11/17/15)

Dear Fox Cities Community,

When I arrived in Appleton and at Lawrence over two years ago, I cherished the warmth and the welcome that this community offered to me. Many people had told me that the Fox Cities were special, somewhere that everyone could call home. I did not believe this was possible until I experienced it myself. Staff in the Post Office, neighbors I met on the street, community leaders, and many more extended their hands and opened their hearts to me and, I am sure to many of you.

However, events over the past few weeks also suggest that this warm and welcoming embrace is not extended to all members of our community. Many students of color, as well as those who identify as LGBT, have shared experiences with me that do not live up to our community aspirations. At times, they have been harassed and insulted on our streets and in our stores. Their experiences mirror those of other residents in our area.

Lawrence students took to the streets two weeks ago to focus our attention on our need to become more tolerant of difference. To become more inclusive as a community. I want to thank many of you who sent me messages that supported our students’ courageous efforts. But others have posted comments that underline our need to change.

I think itis time for us to include all of our residents in this warm and welcoming community. I believe that this is who we want to be. The vast majority of Appleton residents want to sustain this type of community, but we will need to work harder to reach that goal.


Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Note on Activism and Acceptance (11/16/15)

Dear Lawrentians,

During the past few weeks student activism, Expressions of Acceptance micro-­‐operas, the Convocation, and other activities have encouraged us to consider racism on our campus and in the surrounding community. Themes raised here have echoed recently at other universities around the country.

For example, a number of Lawrentians took to the streets of Appleton to raise awareness about acts of racism that they have encountered downtown and in other parts of the local community. Their protest was met with support, but also with skepticism from some Lawrentians as well as some Fox Cities residents. We need to understand that when we deny or ignore the existence of painful and dehumanizing encounters, great and small, which members of this community have experienced and continue to experience, we undermine the core values of Lawrence. We must awaken to the reality that confronts members of our community every day.

Convocation speaker Ta-­‐Nehisi Coates reinforced themes raised by our own students and alumni. He made it clear that systemic injustice is real, and that it predates the formation of the United States. His charge to us was also clear:

One of the things I really, really want to urge you, as young people here today, is to understand that all of us —black, white, whatever —we live underneath of our history. And so when you see these people, you know, shouting “black lives matter,” which seems like the most obvious thing in the world, they’re not just shouting at something that happened on tape. They are shouting at a long, lengthy history that begins in 1619,and has effectively proceeded unbroken.

Lawrentians have tried for many years to make their community more inclusive, a place in which all students, faculty and staff can truly feel at home. But we need to keep working at it. Every one of us needs to face the truth directly .We need more change on campus and in Appleton if we are to live up to our aspirations to create a welcoming and supportive community for all. We cannot refuse to take notice of the routine acts of aggression and malice that make members of our community, the Lawrence community, feel like outsiders.

As we enter the 10th week of the term I realize it would be difficult to deepen our discussion of these issues before winter break. But when we return in January, we must pick up this conversation; we must work together to fashion a community that will feel like home for all of us. In the meantime please contact me or other members of the administration if you would like to suggest ways to help us with this crucial task. I am confident we can continue to make progress.

I hope each of you has a successful end of the term. I look forward to seeing you after the New Year –if not sooner.