In just a few short days, we will celebrate our graduating seniors at Commencement, and this academic year—my first at Lawrence—will officially come to an end.
As I look back upon my first year, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the warm welcome my family and I received upon joining the Lawrence and Appleton communities, and gratitude for all the students, faculty, and staff who shared their experiences with me and helped me learn what it means to be Lawrentian. I am especially thankful for all members of the community who volunteered their time to work on the Guiding Coalitions and other working groups dedicated to planning for the university’s future, both immediate and long term.
I am also filled with pride in the work we accomplished both individually and collectively as a community. Here are just a few of the year’s highlights:
- Six faculty members received national grants or fellowships to support their research, and three students received national fellowships—one Watson and two Fulbright Fellowships.
- Our faculty were recognized by U.S. News & World Report for excellence in undergraduate teaching.
- The university signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment.
- We launched our 175th anniversary celebrations, as well as a new website.
- We welcomed back traditions and programs like the Harrison Symposium, the Rabbit Gallery, and the Oratorio for the first time in more than two years.
Our athletic teams proved that it was a good year to be a Viking: Two individual university basketball records were set; three track and field students won individual Midwest Conference Championships; and three teams ended their seasons as Midwest Conference Champions—men’s and women’s cross country and baseball.
I am especially proud of the tremendous work that went into the university’s plan for the historic, one-time strategic investments, which the Board affirmed at its May meeting. Work is already underway on this investment in Lawrence’s future, including a review of Student Life, the branding initiative, and the introduction of EAB Navigate to help with student retention. Work updating our residence halls, Drew Street bridge, and other key capital improvements will begin immediately after Commencement and will continue over the summer; many of the projects will be complete by the fall.
We launched this academic year with the anthem Brighter Together, and the Lawrence community has shown me that the points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light. This year was not an easy one, as we continued to navigate the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, but our strength as a community shines brightest when we engage in challenging endeavors and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.
I wish you all a restful and rejuvenating summer and look forward to the energy, excitement, and good work awaiting us in September.
Laurie A. Carter