Category: 2020

Community Health & Safety (October 1, 2020)

Dear Lawrentians, 

In this unprecedented time, our goal of protecting the health and safety of our community is more important than ever. Each week—and often every day—brings news that is deeply troubling, whether it is our nation surpassing more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 or the presence of a potential hate crime in a neighborhood near our campus. I write today both as your president and as a Lawrentian to address the critical issues of the health and safety of our community.  

Health
The spread of COVID-19 in the Fox Cities has reached alarming levels. According to data from the Appleton Health Department, we have moved from community spread to widespread community transmission. The Federal Government has designated the Fox Cities and most of Wisconsin a “red zone” the highest designation for community transmission of the virus. Please take seriously this frightening increase in the presence of COVID-19 in our surrounding community.  Limit all nonessential interactions off campus. For those living on campus, the safest place for you right now is the Lawrence campus. For those commuting to campus for work or learning, please exercise great care in your life at Lawrence and beyond. 

In the midst of such a fast-moving outbreak, we at Lawrence have done a truly amazing job mitigating the spread of the virus. As of September 27, we have administered 2,878 tests on our campus and have only 7 total active cases among those living, learning, or working on campus. This is a rate of positivity of less than one half of one percent:  a testament to your diligence in adhering to health and safety guidance.  

On this Giving Day when we thank our community for their support of Lawrence, I cannot fully express how thankful I am for the actions all of us are taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. We have all worked to Honor the Pledge—wearing masks, physically distancing, limiting your exposure to the virus. We have become a model for members of our surrounding community. Please continue with your practices. It is only by working together that we will mitigate the spread of the virus and keep each other healthy. 

Safety
As was communicated earlier this week, the unrest, violence, and vitriolic, blatantly racist actions associated with our current political moment have again touched our campus. The police are actively investigating this weekend’s incident, targeting a private home in a neighboring community, as a potential hate crime. Sharing more details on this ongoing investigation may impede the investigation. We also want to ensure the privacy and safety of those individuals directly affected by the weekend’s event. The goal for us and for the city is to find the perpetrator(s) as quickly as possible.  

Although we cannot offer further details, we can say this: 

Lawrence University does not tolerate hate speech or actions of intolerance, including racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.  We believe that Black Lives Matter.  

I know these recent events have generated stress, anxiety, even fear and anger in our community. I am struggling with these feelings myself. I know that many of you are experiencing them in your own lives. But I am strengthened when I remember the University’s core values of respect for justice and the dignity of all human life.  These values inform our current work to become an antiracist institution, work that is wholeheartedly supported by the Board of Trustees. In addition to this effort, practicing empathy towards our fellow Lawrentians is one of the most important actions we can take. Remember that our own daily struggles and those of our peers and colleagues may not always be visible.  

Being a Lawrentian is one of the true honors and privileges of my life. I will continue to Honor the Pledge and do all that I can to become antiracist. I ask each of you to join me in this work. Please support and protect each other, stand up to racism and intolerance, take advantage of the services the university offers, and work to make a positive difference—to be the light—in our community. 

Be well and make choices that keep others well. 

Sincerely, 

Mark 

Mark Burstein
President, Lawrence University
Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699 | Office 920.832.6525

A Message from President Burstein & the Board of Trustees (September 11, 2020)

Dear Lawrence Community,
 
I write to inform you that this academic year will be my last at the University. Serving as president of Lawrence for the past seven years has been the greatest honor and pleasure of my professional life. We have accomplished so much together: launching new curriculum and teaching methods; renewing campus infrastructure; and deepening our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. I have had the privilege of participating in the lives of smart and caring students. Our endowment has grown more than 70% which has helped us make Lawrence more affordable and decreased the average debt of our graduates. Many talented faculty and staff have joined us with their energy, insights, and new ideas. You have welcomed David, Homer, and me into this beloved learning community with open arms. We have established friendships that will endure for the rest of our lives.
 
With the end of our strategic plan in sight and the completion of the Be The Light! Campaign this December, it seems like an appropriate juncture in the arc of the University to prepare for new leadership. The pandemic has also made it difficult for David and me to keep connected to our parents during an important period in their lives. I plan to serve as your president for this academic year with all of my focus and energy.  After June 30th we expect to move our center of gravity to New York City and Washington, DC to be closer to family.  We also hope to frequently return to Appleton to cheer on Lawrence and do what we can for its future.   
 
There will be plenty of time to celebrate what we have accomplished together for Lawrence and the many students and alumni we serve. But I do want to take a moment to thank you. Your advice, counsel, and friendship have made me a better leader and for that I will be eternally grateful. 
 
I look forward to seeing each of you on campus or via Zoom very soon.
 
Yours,
 
Mark

Mark Burstein
President
Lawrence University


To the Lawrence Community,
 
After more than seven years of leadership, President Burstein informed the Board of Trustees today that this will be his last academic year at Lawrence. I am deeply grateful to Mark for all that has been accomplished during his tenure. The depth and breadth of his experience, paired with deft and compassionate leadership, made him the right leader for Lawrence at the right time in our history. He has led the university through unprecedented challenges and remarkable opportunities. During Mark’s tenure, our curricular offerings became deeper and broader, applications and the endowment increased dramatically, and our community became more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded. Thanks to his dedication and service, Lawrence is well positioned for the future.
 
Throughout the year, the Lawrence community will celebrate our collective success and Mark’s impact on the university’s trajectory. In the meantime, I want to provide a sense of how we will proceed with the selection of the university’s 17th President. We plan to mount a national search supported by a national search firm. We are in the process of forming a Presidential Search Committee, which will be made up of trustees, alumni, faculty, students, and staff. I have asked trustees Cory Nettles ’92 and Sarah Schott ’97 to lead the Search Committee as chair and vice chair, respectively. We have also asked Christyn Abaray, secretary to the board, to support the selection process from an administrative standpoint. We expect to select a search firm shortly and have every expectation that we will select a new president during the Winter Term.
 
The Search Committee will soon launch a webpage to share its progress with the Lawrence community. We look forward to hearing from you about what characteristics you believe we should seek as we consider candidates for the position. In addition, we will set up processes to gather these views and suggestions of candidates as well. 
 
In these moments of transition, it is important to find time to celebrate our progress and imagine our future. I hope the entire university community will join us in both activities. Thank you for your patience and contributions as we proceed with this important work.
 
I would be remiss at the start of this unusual Fall Term if I did not use this opportunity, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to thank all members of the Lawrence community who have worked so hard to sustain the university during this pandemic. I know many faculty, staff, and students have provided leadership and extra time and effort to ensure that the learning environment we cherish continues to prosper. 
 
From the entire Board of Trustees, we express our thanks and warmest regards.
 
Be well, and stay well,
 
David C. Blowers ’82
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Lawrence University

Fall 2020 Plans (7/14/2020)

Dear Lawrentians, 

After two months of thoughtful collaboration across campus, we announce today that the university will offer all Lawrentians the opportunity to live and learn on campus this fall. We will also provide a distance learning option for the fall term for those who decide not to return to campus, whether it is because of health concerns; an inability to observe all the essential safety protocols described in this letter and accompanying information; limits on traveling; or any other challenges.  

To reach this decision, the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT) researched ways to approach our learning, living, and working environments for the coming academic year. The team consulted with health experts, both within Wisconsin and around the country, and with various faculty, students, staff, and trustees through the shared governance process. Our goal was to ensure that every Lawrentian will have the opportunity to learn, teach, and work as fully and safely as possible. The President’s Cabinet, informed by the LPPT’s recommendations, made this decision grounded in three guiding priorities: protecting the health and safety of our community; sustaining our academic mission; and supporting faculty, staff, and students. When we paired these priorities with our core Lawrentian values of community, equity, and student empowerment, the path forward for fall was clear.  

This fall term will not look like any other in Lawrence history. But we can assure you that this academic year will adhere to the best public health guidance available to us, offer a robust academic program and co-curricular experience, and gather us together once again as a community—in new ways. 

What You Need to Know about Fall 2020 

Following are highlights about fall term 2020 to help you make your decisions. More details and an extensive FAQ can be found on the Planning for Fall 2020 website. I encourage every member of the Lawrence community to review the site and explore the FAQ.  

  • Student Choice: Students will choose whether they will come to campus. We will offer a mix of in-person and online courses to ensure continuity of experience throughout the term. We will also offer remote learning opportunities for those who will not be on campus due to personal circumstances, challenges preventing them from traveling to campus, or a decision not to adhere to our safety protocols. Students living on campus should expect an experience that includes online instruction. Technology and student support services will be available to students both on- and off-campus to help with access to resources and the learning experience. 
  • Academic Calendar: Classes for this academic year will begin on September 14, and exams will end before November 25 and the Thanksgiving holiday. December Term will not be held this year. 
  • Living on Campus: Our regular housing practice of assigning students to the capacity indicated by the type of room (for example, two students to a double room or four students to a four-person suite) will continue. Students can apply for a single room if they prefer that choice. Final housing assignments and move-in details will be available in early August.  
  • Working on Campus: Faculty will choose whether they will continue to teach and work remotely. Staff will continue to work remotely unless their duties or other needs require them to work on campus or unless they would prefer to return to campus. Students will be offered both in person and telecommuting work opportunities. 
  • Testing: Students will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive. Faculty and staff will be tested as they return to campus. Students, faculty, and staff will take part in frequent testing and daily symptom monitoring throughout the term.  
  • Health Partners:  The University has contracted with Bellin Health to be our healthcare partner as we adapt as a community to living with COVID-19. They will provide on-campus testing for all community members. We are also fortunate to have long-term existing relationships with Ascension and ThedaCare health systems in the Fox Valley, who will continue to supply essential local support. For contact tracing we have developed a partnership with the Appleton Health Department to ensure the process will be thorough and quick. 
  • Safety Protocols: We ask all students to take preventative steps for 14 days before coming to campus to ensure a safe and healthy arrival on campus (e.g., practice physical distancing, self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, consider taking a COVID-19 test). All members of the community will be required to wear masks in classrooms and other indoor public spaces as well as outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible. We will promote physical distancing and reduce contact through adjustments to classroom occupancy; new plexiglass and signage to highly trafficked areas; dining services modifications; and density control in housing assignments. We are currently upgrading our building ventilation systems to minimize recirculation of contaminants. Faculty, students, and staff will also be expected to receive an influenza vaccine, which will be made available by the university.  
  • International Students: We are working to ensure that students with F1 visas will remain in compliance with federal guidelines if they choose to join us on campus.  
  • Protecting Ourselves & Others: Protecting the health and safety of our campus community will require participation by all members of our community. We ask everyone who joins us on campus to sign the Lawrence Campus Community Pledge, which commits each of us to follow our public health and safety protocols. Violation of these protocols will lead to disciplinary action. 

Ongoing Work 

Preparing for the fall has been, and will continue to be, a community effort. While we have made many decisions, we are still sorting through more details as we approach the start of the academic year. Please visit the Planning for Fall 2020 website for the most up-to-date information. I would like to thank everyone engaged in this process and offer my ongoing gratitude to our entire community for your patience and efforts to successfully launch an academic year in this challenging environment.  

We will continue to adjust our protocols to follow guidance from local and state health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure community health and safety. When a policy change is needed, the LPPT will discuss options with the proper shared governance committee. In addition, we have developed contingency plans in case of a virus surge on campus. 

Additional Information 

I know that this email includes a great deal of information. To help you fully understand our plans and answer questions you may have, we are hosting two Q & A sessions—one for faculty and staff and one for students and families—later this week: 

We will also host other Q & A sessions for Conservatory students, international students, and student athletes and their families. We will send further details about these sessions soon to all students in these communities. All sessions will be recorded and made available for future viewing. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please visit the Planning for Fall 2020 website or email coronainfo@lawrence.edu. You can also call the university directly at 920-832-6576 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, July 16, and between 8 a.m. and noon on Friday, July 17. Staff will be available to answer your questions or direct you to the right office. 

Next week, we will contact all incoming and returning students, to ask you to share with us your plans for fall term, along with other important questions. Your thoughtful and prompt response will help us make plans for on-campus accommodations and other necessary coordination. 

Moving Forward, Together 

I have appreciated hearing from many of you through email, phone calls, and virtual town halls over the last few months. Your questions and concerns have helped tremendously as we completed our plans. I understand that the announcement of this framework of both on-campus and distance learning options is only part of the complex assortment of questions and considerations we all confront now. I hope the information offered here will help as you consider the personal circumstances that will shape your decision about how to engage this fall with the Lawrence living, learning, and working experience. 

I am mindful that preparing a safe environment for every Lawrentian also extends to our efforts to dismantle systemic racism, whether it is here at Lawrence or beyond. I am eager to continue this work, which will ensure a healthy, rich, and supportive learning environment for all. I know that together, we as Lawrentians will meet these challenges with ingenuity, creativity, and compassion. 

My Cabinet colleagues and I are committed to doing everything within our power to keep the Lawrence experience strong, supportive, and safe. I look forward to seeing you on campus this fall or connect with you through technology. As always, be well and make choices that keep others well. 

Sincerely, 

Mark 

Mark Burstein 

President, Lawrence University 

Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699| Office 920.832.6525 


Message from the Board of Trustees: Affirming our Commitment to Antiracism

Last week, the Board of Trustees took time out of its annual spring meetings to discuss the current civil unrest in our country. As a result of these discussions, the Board chose this moment to share the following statement with the Lawrence community affirming the University’s values and the necessary work ahead to fulfill Lawrence’s commitment to antiracism.

***

The most recent killings of Black people in the United States compel us to recognize that the horrific violence of racism persists today in America and fundamental work for racial justice remains to be done. 

Centuries of discrimination based on race have embedded inequities in every aspect of our lives, including here in Appleton and on the Lawrence University campus. 

We affirm our commitment, led by all members of our community—the administration, faculty, students, and staff—to continue to eliminate the impacts of racism at Lawrence as we prepare our students to be leaders in their communities. 

Black lives matter. 

We acknowledge the work that remains for Lawrence to be a university in which all members of our community are welcomed, valued, and supported in reaching their potential. 

The Lawrence University Board of Trustees affirms the university’s commitment to antiracism, and we will hold ourselves accountable for real progress. 

_____________________________________________

Lawrence University Board of Trustees Officers 

Dave Blowers ’82, Chair 

Cory Nettles ’92, Vice Chair 

Dale Schuh ’70, Secretary 

The Work Ahead (6/10/2020)

Dear Lawrence Community, 

Thank you for sharing your hopes and frustrations with us individually or in larger community discussions over this past week. We too are experiencing anger and frustration and are at a time in our history when systemic oppression, racial injustice, and police violence are not just on the minds of our Black and other community members of color, but on the minds of all of us.   

As we wrap up final projects and complete the academic year, we will work to make Lawrence University a better place for all to thrive, especially for community members of color. Lawrence has a history checkered with racism and oppression. As our values have evolved, we have arrived at a moment to declare where we stand.  

We stand against racism. We stand against systemic oppression of people of color. We stand against police violence.  

To ensure that these values are realized, the President’s Cabinet has started to assemble institutional actions that will continue to foster an antiracist campus culture. We have much work to do—some of it builds on continuing initiatives; some of it is planned but not yet in action; and some of it still needs development. All of it is vital to our institution.  

Our next steps are outlined below. 


Resources, Reading & Workshops 

Recognizing that our community needs time to process all that has happened and prepare for concerted action in the fall, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion has provided resources to help you, your families, and communities put this in context at your own pace over the summer. The resources, which can be accessed on the Lawrence website, include short articles, videos and books. 

We also invite all faculty, staff, and students to participate in a summer Community Read of How to Be an Antiracist by National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi. The University will provide books to all members of the community who would like to participate. Lawrence’s Antiracist White Affinity Group (ARWAG) will offer workshops over the summer as well. Details about how to get the book, as well as dates and times of book discussions and workshops, are forthcoming.  


Curricular Work 

Lawrence will focus on integrating works of Black and Brown scholars and artists into what we teach as well as teaching in ways that are antiracist. This will begin prior to fall term during the Freshman Studies Symposium and continue throughout the year with professional development provided for faculty by the Inclusive Pedagogy Committee. In addition, the Curriculum Committee will pursue strengthening the diversity-related general education requirements (GER) and centering anti-racist work in our curriculum more broadly.  


Student Support & Dialogue 

Student Life staff will work to enhance their ability to support student activists by engaging and learning from experts in peaceful protests. Staff will also increase the efforts to hear directly from students about their experiences on campus as we seek to develop more effective strategies to support a campus culture where antiracist work is central. Starting this summer, we, members of the President’s Cabinet as well as other campus leaders, will participate in structured Sustained Dialogue with student leaders to develop a shared sense of the work needed on these vital issues. 


Community-Wide Training & Response 

We will impact campus climate by expanding mandatory training for employees to include specific workshops related to racism in higher education and society. We will also provide additional training for students on antiracism throughout the academic year. Alumni will also be engaged in dialogues and trainings over the summer via virtual townhall meetings and other gatherings. In addition, the Bias Response Team will lead a task force this fall on preventing and responding to hate speech on campus. We will also add to efforts already underway to increase the number of staff and faculty of color on campus. 


We must take this moment, as a community and as an institution, to make real change in the battle against racism. Continuing to build on our ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts will help to bring us closer to creating lasting, structural change. Please stay tuned as we update you while the work progresses.  


Sincerely, 

Mark Burstein 
President 


Christyn Abaray 
Assistant to the President 
Secretary to the Board 

Ken Anselment 
Vice President for Enrollment & Communication 

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

Christopher Card 
Vice President for Student Life 

Jeffrey Clark 
Special Assistant to the President 

Associate Professor of Geosciences 

Calvin Husmann 
Vice President for Alumni & Development 

Catherine Kodat 
Provost & Dean of the Faculty 

Brian Pertl 
Dean of the Conservatory of Music 

Megan Scott 
Associate Vice President of Communication Jenna Stone 
Associate Vice President of Finance 

A Safe Society for All (6/1/2020)

Dear Lawrence Community,

Events of the last week have reminded us that as we prepare campus and general society for a new normal in the midst of a global pandemic, other threats to safety exist for members of our community.  Like many of you, George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis left me angry and in pain.  The shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia earlier in February and the many other deaths of black people over the years underlines that Mr. Floyd’s death is not an isolated incident.  It belongs to a social pattern we must change if we are to create a society that is safe for all of us. 

It has been hard enough to watch the pandemic’s unequal impact on people in this country.  But when we continue to witness systemic racism in our communities, it is evident that we have more work to do than responding to a public health crisis.  The rapper Killer Mike, the son of an Atlanta police officer, said at a press conference Saturday in that city, “It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization.”  As we make plans to welcome you back to Appleton this fall we must also take Killer Mike’s charge and look for ways to fortify our own house, our campus community, to ensure we are a force for anti-racism, equity, and safety for all. 

We will schedule time over the next few weeks for the Lawrence community to gather via Zoom, to discuss these events, and determine how we should move forward together.  We also need to remember we are not alone in this work.  I was heartened Saturday to join more than a thousand people in downtown Appleton, including many students, faculty and staff, at a Black Lives Matter rally.  I know Lawrentians around the world participated in similar rallies and protests.

As we complete spring term and look to summer break please reach out to university services if we can be of help.  Assistant Dean Bell, Vice President Card, Vice President Barrett and I are available at any time if you need us. I look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Yours,

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Looking Forward to the Fall (5/28/2020)

Dear Lawrentians,

I hope that you and your loved ones are well in your homes, on campus, across the nation, and around the world. Things are going well on campus. But I miss the energy that Spring Term brings when you are all here:  ensembles and theater performances, senior recitals, athletic competitions, research and art presentations, LUaroo and other community gatherings to attend. Most importantly, I miss the impromptu interactions I had with students, faculty and staff each day. I know I am not alone in a feeling of loss of these truly Lawrentian moments.

With midterms almost complete, we now turn our thoughts to fall and our hopes for gathering again as a community enriched by collaborations and supportive relationships among students, faculty, and staff, and by a campus culture wonderfully alive. We hope to welcome students back to Appleton this fall, if federal and state policies allow, even though we also need to develop contingency plans … just in case. If we are allowed to gather again in September, we will have rules in place that will foster a safer environment in response to the pandemic. We plan to make a final decision about the fall term before the end of July. 

Until then we will continue to make preparations for a reimagined re-union on campus, and a fall experience that embraces both community and physical distance. It is likely that fall term will begin two to three weeks later than our scheduled start date of September 7. This potential change to our academic calendar gives us more time to develop—in association with some of the state’s leading health care researchers and advisors—appropriate protocols to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater Appleton community.

Lawrence’s leadership team, including the President’s Cabinet and COVID-19 Management Team, are currently working with the University’s shared governance to develop a spectrum of scenarios for fall term. The range of scenarios includes on-campus learning as noted above, a second term of distance learning, and a mixed model featuring both on-campus and home-based instruction. Each scenario will aim to provide our students with the best educational experience possible, no matter the circumstances. Last week we announced our plans for summer. You can find that information here. If you have questions about this or any other matter, please reach out to the appropriate office, faculty advisor, or supervisor. Communication is essential as we determine the changes ahead.

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic that Lawrence has had to endure and overcome. The 1918 influenza outbreak also brought with it public health concerns and operational challenges that reached us here in Appleton. While the circumstances 100 years ago might have been different, the impact on teaching and learning for our student body is in many ways the same. We must strive to keep our campus community safe, while also preserving the University’s mission and rich, inclusive learning environment.

Thanks to aggressive state-wide actions, the influenza outbreak took less of a toll in Wisconsin than in other areas of the country. We are also grateful that, just as in 1918, our own current efforts are making a difference in preventing the spread of COVID-19. This success, along with the ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff, brings me hope. I promise you that the University’s leadership will continue to work to ensure that we keep our community safe and that Lawrence continues to share its light with the world.

Be well and make choices that keep others well.

Yours,

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699 | Office 920.832.6525

A Message from President Burstein (3/24/2020)

Dear Lawrentians,

These have been turbulent times for all of us. I would like to thank all members of the Lawrence community—your patience, ingenuity, and suggestions are helping us transition to distance learning and helping us do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. These have been challenging times for all of us. Guidance on how to address the spread of COVID-19 changes daily, sometimes hourly. This morning, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm issued a safer at home order

I write today to share with you information on how the University will continue with this new order in effect. 

The safer at home order urges Wisconsinites to limit travel to essentials only—trips to stores and pharmacies for necessary supplies, and for medical care. It also limits business activity to essential services. Because of the nature of Lawrence, especially since we are still responsible for a residential community, much of our work remains in the essential category by definition. We have already taken steps to ensure that our University is doing its best to mitigate the spread of the virus. Many faculty and staff who are able to do so are already working from home. We are using digital tools to limit in-person meetings. And custodial services have been redeployed to high-traffic areas of the campus. To free custodial colleagues for this important work we have closed offices and buildings wherever possible. 

The Governor asks that we remain in our homes or dorm rooms as much as possible. Faculty and staff who have not fully migrated to home for their campus office should make plans to do so now. Staff should check in with supervisors to make sure we provide appropriate accommodations to ensure work can continue without being physically present on campus. Essential employees who will continue to work on campus are to follow all precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. If special identification of essential employees becomes necessary, Human Resources will issue such identification. At this time, there is no local requirement of special identification. 

We are focused on ensuring continuity of Lawrence’s operations and functions so that we may continue to deliver on our educational mission. Shared Governance continues to operate, with faculty committees actively addressing policy issues from instruction to curriculum. Many departments continue the work of hiring, tenure, and promotion. LUCC leadership is working to adjust its meeting processes and will continue to represent students. Core functions in all operational divisions continue and a COVID-19 management team meets daily to handle Lawrence’s ongoing response to this situation. 

As we work to adhere to our new statewide guidance and prepare for Spring Term, I want to take a moment to remind us all that our bonds as Lawrentians will endure. Community is a hallmark of the Lawrence experience. I mourn the loss of the vibrancy of the Spring Term. While it will be different, we must find ways of sustaining our social connection in these difficult times, including connections via social media, electronic gatherings, or other virtual means. 

In this spirit of social solidarity, I took a moment yesterday to record a short video to share my thoughts with the Lawrence community as we adjust to the many changes in our lives. As I say in the video, we promise to update our social media accounts frequently to give you a sense of what’s happening on campus. We hope that you share your experiences with us as well. Please also feel free to contact me via email or telephone to share your suggestions and ideas or just to hang out. These connections will make us stronger as a community and as individuals. 

As the virus progresses, more operational changes will be necessary. The COVID-19 blog will be updated as soon as any change is made. The LU Insider will now come out twice a week to summarize those changes as well as provide other information about our community. And, of course, continue to check email. 

I have faith we will weather this crisis together as we have before. Homer, David, and I look forward to having you all back on campus soon.

Be well and make choices that keep others well,

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699 | Office 920.832.6525

COVID-19 Update from President Burstein (3/12/2020)

Dear Lawrentians,

Like many of you, I have been carefully following the global outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19. This past week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed this country’s strategy from one of outbreak containment to acknowledgement that this goal is no longer possible. We must now work to mitigate eventual spread of the virus throughout the United States. Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the virus had reached pandemic status, and last night President Trump suspended all travel from Europe, excluding Great Britain, for a 30-day period. 

Our goals as a university are first to protect the health and safety of the campus community, including those members who are at high risk for severe complications from the virus, and to sustain the teaching and learning that are a hallmark of all that we do at Lawrence. Our community prides itself on the enduring relationship between faculty and students, and frequent personal interaction is core to this relationship. But this is difficult to sustain in an environment that asks for limiting in-person interaction.

I write today to share with you updates on how the University plans to address these priorities and ensure that we remain true to our core community values of compassion and respect. While there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on the Lawrence campus, we recognize that we can no longer continue as usual and still protect all members of our community, especially those most at risk. As a result, and in consultation with faculty, students, and staff, we have determined that the best course of action for Lawrence is to move to distance learning starting Spring Term. This was an extraordinarily difficult decision to make. 

Here is what this decision means for our campus:

Spring Break

Spring Break will begin on March 19, as planned, and will be extended until April 5 to provide faculty and staff additional time to prepare for distance learning. All University-sponsored spring break trips, both domestic and international, are canceled. Students are welcome to stay on campus for spring break, but they cannot travel outside of the immediate vicinity. 

Spring Term Classes

Spring Term (or third term) classes will begin on April 6. Spring Term will end as-scheduled on June 10. Classes will be taught via distance learning. What we mean by distance learning is the delivery of instruction and participation in courses through the use of technology. We recognize that some courses, such as research laboratories, studios, or ensembles, will not easily translate to this format, and we are working closely with faculty to resolve these issues prior to the start of the term. The Provost or individual faculty will be in touch with their students before classes resume. No study abroad programs will run during Spring Term. 

Students can apply to the Dean of Students through this webform to remain on campus for Spring Termif returning home is impossible for various reasons. All other students will be expected to leave campus for the remainder of the academic year by April 5 and will need to plan accordingly. More information regarding move-out is available on the website.

Financial Assistance

Our goal is to ensure individual finances do not impact the important choices that lie ahead for each student and their familyFor students who leave campus and complete Spring Term from home, we will remove all on-campus related fees from your bill for the third term such as the final remaining room, board, as well as the student activity fee. Third term tuition still applies. Your financial aid will be adjusted proportionately to reflect the remaining amount due. For students who remain on campus, there will be no change to your third term bill or the financial aid you have already been allotted. We encourage all students to contact Financial Aid if they have any questions regarding their financial need, including their ability to travel home.

University Operations

The University will remain open to provide our students with needed support, including academic and career assistance. Staff will continue to work scheduled hours and will receive regular pay. We will issue guidance for University employees no later than March 19. If staff have any questions in the meantime about remote working options, leave, pay, or other issues, please contact your direct supervisor or Human Resources

University-Related Travel

All international travel on behalf of the university is canceled. Domestic travel is allowed only for essential purposes as approved by a member of the President’s Cabinet. Any individual who recently returned from a Category Level 2 or Level 3 country as defined by the CDC is required to self-isolate at an off-campus location for 14 days upon your return. Please note that the CDC recently designated continental Europe as a Level 3 area. Information on self-isolation and monitoring is available on the CDC website

Campus Events 

Campus events, such as lectures, theatre productions, musical performances, art exhibits, or other large public gatherings, are canceled for Spring Term. Information regarding Admission visit programs can be found on the website.

Commencement

I realize the decision to move to distance learning impacts the senior class in a unique way. The last term provides time to celebrate a glorious set of cumulative accomplishments. We are committed to helping each senior to complete their Lawrence requirements in time for graduation as well as ensure all students progress towards their degree of choice. Commencement and its surrounding events may need to be modified. We are working to finalize these decisions as quickly as possible and will share our final plans with the senior class and their families by April 15. I promise you that we will do our best to recognize your achievements and celebrate your graduation, even if we cannot all be together on the Main Hall Green.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of this global pandemic, I recognize these changes may elicit many questions. If you have any questions regarding our path forward, please email coronainfo@lawrence.edu, and we will do our best to answer them in a timely fashion.

We will host two live question and answer sessions tomorrow: one for Lawrence faculty and staff at 1:00 p.m. CDT, and one for Lawrence families and students at 3:00 p.m. CDT. Please use this form to submit questions in advance of the webinar.

Also, starting Friday, March 13, through Thursday, March 19, a call center will be dedicated to answering your questions. Please call 920-832-6576 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CDT. In addition, please visit the COVID-19 News blog for all recent updates and resources. 

I recognize this decision presents many challenges to our students, faculty, and staff. We have always risen to the challenges that face us with resilience and ingenuity. I know, as we have in the past, we will rise to this challenge and ensure that Lawrence continues to create a learning environment second to none. Thank you all for your patience, dedication, and, most importantly, your tireless work to support our institution. 

Please take care of yourselves, and each other.

Sincerely,

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Sampson House, 711 E. Boldt Way | Appleton, WI 54911-5699 | Office 920.832.6525

Note on Community Approach to Upcoming National Events (2/3/20)

Dear Lawrence Community,

2020 brings two important moments in civic life: elections at the national, state, and local level, and the completion of the 2020 Census. I want to share information about both of these critical exercises and to ask all members of our community to participate in these important civic events. As we approach this next year we need to commit ourselves to upholding our value of civil discourse and debate as we seek understanding. We also need to respect the free expression of political views by all members of our community.

The 2020 Election Cycle

The 2020 election cycle is in full swing. Iowa holds caucuses today, and the New Hampshire primary is not far behind. They will be followed by dozens of states across the nation in the coming weeks and months. Wisconsin’s presidential primary is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. Our home state is set to be a battleground in this year’s presidential election. Several important state and local offices are also up for election on April 7, including the mayor of Appleton and a state supreme court justice. These two positions have direct impact on our daily lives here in Appleton. The primary for these state and local races is on February 18. One of the central responsibilities of being a citizen of this country is participation in the democratic process. I encourage all Lawrentians who are eligible to exercise their constitutional right to vote in these important upcoming elections. To be eligible to vote in Wisconsin, you must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen, and have lived in Appleton for at least 10 consecutive days.

As was the case in previous national election cycles, many politicians or their representatives may visit the Fox Cities, including Lawrence’s campus as they seek to share their message with voters. Lawrence is committed to the free expression of political views by members of our community; the university values civil discourse and debate as an essential underpinning of a liberal arts education. We must also ensure that any political activity on campus complies with state and federal law; the University’s policy governing campus involvement in electoral activity reflects this commitment. Please review this policy and understand our procedures, especially if you belong to an organization or department that is interested in hosting a campaign event on campus. The opportunity to engage with candidates for office provides all Lawrentians with a unique educational experience. I hope to see such opportunities available to our community in the coming months.

The Census

This year offers us the opportunity to exercise another important civic duty: the completion of the 2020 Census on April 1. The census is conducted every 10 years. It counts everyone who currently lives in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. Its results are the basis for congressional representation and help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds is distributed each year to support vital programs in states and communities across the nation. These funds shape our local health care, housing, education, transportation, employment, and public policy. The better our census completion rate, the more funding our community is eligible to receive.

Lawrence is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to support the census, and a campus committee is currently working to get the word out about this important initiative. Please stay tuned in the coming week for more information about the voter registration process and the 2020 Census to be shared via email, in the LU Insider, or through other communication channels.

We must engage compassionately with community members during this election season. We live in a truly polarized moment for our nation. It is difficult to find objective news sources; at times it can even be hard to converse respectfully with friends, family, and colleagues.  In this environment, we must uphold the tenets of our community: respect for others; openness to different, challenging ideas; and reliance on research and non-partisan sources to help determine our decision.

I look forward to connecting with our campus, local, and national communities in the coming year as we engage in the democratic process and help to set the course for our collective future.

Yours,

Mark