As the campus settles into the rhythm of our new academic year, I too have started to settle into my own rhythm and take note of the distinct attributes of our community. For example, I give myself a few extra minutes to walk across campus during the noon hour because of the many familiar faces I see along the way. I also know that I’ll always hear music emanating from the Conservatory no matter the time of day I pass by its windows and that hammocks are a regular feature on Main Hall Green. Most important, I have witnessed first-hand the dedication of our faculty and staff as we begin a year unlike any other in Lawrence’s history.
I have also noticed how much our community cares, and I want to take a moment to thank each of you for your cooperation as we’ve launched an academic year as a fully in-person campus. We continue to adapt our policies and protocols in the face of an ever-changing pandemic, and your patience and dedication to Honor the Pledge as we adjust to living, learning, and working together once again is at the heart of our success.
The Lawrentians—students, faculty, and staff alike—who have stepped up to join one of our five Guiding Coalitions are also deserving of our sincere gratitude. Over the last week, the President’s Cabinet and I have worked with our co-leads to finalize coalition membership and formalize each group’s individual charge. The coalitions have already started their work, and I am heartened by the enthusiasm our volunteers have shown for this important work.
I am also heartened by how our community has embraced our anthem for the year, Brighter Together. From the t-shirts and masks I’ve seen across campus to the mentions I’ve heard at faculty and staff meetings, it’s clear that the power of community is one of Lawrence’s greatest strengths. A wonderful example of Lawrence at its brightest occurred this past weekend at the first President’s Tailgate at the Banta Bowl. Students joined me before the weekend’s home football and volleyball games and baseball scrimmage in support of our Vikings student-athletes. In addition to seeing so many excited fans at the Banta Bowl, the Conservatory’s Mariachi Ensemble played the tailgate and entertained the crowd during half-time, along with the ever-enthusiastic LU Cheer Team. College and Conservatory students united in support of our athletes—I can’t think of a better embodiment of Brighter Together. Thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday and to everyone who helped plan the celebration. Watch highlights of the day in this short video.
The coming weeks bring with them many more opportunities to safely gather and celebrate as a community:
- We will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 11. Please participate in the events planned by LUNA to honor the day and join us for the official dedication of the Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza and our newest addition to campus public art, Otāēciah, at 5:30 p.m. that evening. We will be joined on campus by the sculptor, Chris Cornelius, and members of the Wisconsin’s Native Nations as we honor the history of the land on which Lawrence resides.
- Our 8th annual Giving Day on October 13 gives us the opportunity to support our university and our students and to recognize our generous donors. I look forward to joining with Lawrentians both on and off campus during the day’s festivities. Visit go.lawrence.edu/givingday to see how you can participate.
- In addition to faculty and student recitals, the Performing Arts Series recently kicked off a new season, with many more performances planned for the term, including the Fred Sturm Jazz Series. All performances are open to Lawrence students, faculty, and staff with valid Lawrence ID.
- And, of course, there’s Blue & White Weekend, October 22-24, which takes on more meaning as our students come together for the first time in more than a year. I encourage all students to participate in the weekend’s many festivities, including Friday’s dance and the tailgate at the Banta Bowl on Saturday, among other events. I’d love to see our faculty and staff out as well. And remember to wear your Lawrence gear!
This brings me to another opportunity for our pride in Lawrence to shine more brightly . . . Blue & White Fridays. Pull out your Brighter Together or Vikings athletics t-shirts or simply wear Lawrence blue and white each Friday. Plenty of gear is available in the Warch Campus Center’s Corner Store or the Vikings Online Store.
As was announced earlier this week, we are gearing up to welcome new faces to campus, including our new Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Eric Mayes. Active searches are also in process for the Dean of Admission, who is replacing Beth Petrie after her move to DePauw University, and a new position, Vice President for Enrollment, who will focus on student retention. We hope to share news of those hires soon.
At the same time, we are preparing to say goodbye to familiar faces and invaluable community members. Long-time Executive Assistant to the President Alice Boeckers and Events Coordinator Linda Peeters will be leaving the President’s Office at the end of the calendar year as they both retire from the university. On behalf of all members of our community, I’d like to thank them for their outstanding service to Lawrence. Personally, I am grateful to them for postponing their departure to aid me in a smooth transition. Opportunities to wish them well will be shared later this term.
I look forward to seeing you at one of the many upcoming events on campus this fall or along the Hurvis Crossing on a beautiful fall afternoon.
We are brighter together.
President, Lawrence University