Category: 2021

Matriculation Convocation 2021: Comfort with Discomfort

Thank you for joining us this afternoon.  And what a thrill it is to be here. That music was so incredibly beautiful. It just warmed my heart.

But I want to begin by acknowledging my message to the campus community this morning addressing two recent incidents of concern, both of which involved our students witnessing or being the target of hateful speech in our surrounding community. This is not how I wanted to start this academic year or this Convocation. But we cannot talk about our future without addressing the challenges of our present. These incidents–and others like them–are not acceptable and are in direct conflict with our values as a community. Ensuring that Lawrence is a place of safety and belonging is an essential priority.  And I pledge to you that Lawrence will continue to work closely with the City of Appleton to ensure that the safety of Lawrence students both on and off campus. It is a top collaborative priority. More information about about joint efforts with the city will be shared soon.

I am honored to serve as President of Lawrence University at this moment in history, just a few months away from the 175th anniversary of this renowned College of Liberal Arts & Science and Conservatory of Music. While I was told about Lawrence’s traditions prior to my arrival on campus, witnessing them first-hand last week brought them to life. I was particularly moved to see the hand-off of the purple class flag to the incoming Class of 2025. This is a tradition that not only unites our students and graduates but also honors our ties to Milwaukee-Downer College, whose students brought the class colors tradition with them when our two colleges merged more than 50 years ago. 

I am looking forward to experiencing first-hand more of Lawrence’s rich traditions just as I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to speak with you this afternoon about Lawrence’s bright future.  

But before I discuss where we are going, I want to take a moment to look at where we’ve been and to express gratitude to Lawrence faculty, staff and students for their extraordinary show of solidarity and sense of community during the 2020-21 academic year.  The manner in which the community came together to support one another during the pandemic is why we are brighter together today.  Thank you for allowing me to join a community that is poised to confront the challenges ahead with a focus on what is best for our students and our mission.   

I also want to thank the facilities and grounds team for successfully completing multiple complex construction projects this summer, many of which were funded by our generous donors or through grant funding. From the replacements of sidewalks across campus to the addition of an accessible ramp on Brokaw Hall to the truly transformational renovation of Youngchild’s lecture hall into the new Science Learnings Commons and the first phase of the reimagined student residence Kohler Hall, the campus looks great.  Providing our students with newly upgraded living and learning spaces is a testament to your dedicated work.  And I would be remiss if I did not thank the volunteers who pitched in to help beautify our campus in preparation for the arrival of our students.  We truly are brighter together.  

The Admissions team also deserves our gratitude for their extraordinary work in recruiting one of the largest first-year classes since 2012. 

I had the privilege of welcoming our newest Lawrentians to campus last week.  I was moved by the hope and anticipation they brought to campus. I met three first-generation college student who want to study biology.  An African-American student who wants to learn more about Korean culture and language.  A track and field scholar-athlete who specializes in hurdles and also wants to be a pentathlete.  And in the truest form of exploration, the student from Tunisia who knows nothing about American football but is serving as operations manager to the team.  

Each of these students has come to Lawrence to challenge themselves in new ways.  They realize that the path to their success requires them to stretch outside of their comfort zone.  After all, this is the way we grow as individuals.  We develop a level of comfort with discomfort that allows us to forge new paths, engage with different people and cultures, and confront and persevere through challenges that have been placed in our way.  Our students also came to Lawrence with the expectation that we nurture and support that growth while we—faculty, staff, and administrators—model this path ourselves. 

Our students have entrusted their education to us at arguably the most tumultuous time in recent history.  We have been in the midst of a global pandemic for more than 18 months with no clear end in sight.  The United States is confronting political strife that has torn families apart.  We are grappling with a racial reckoning that is exacerbated by that divide.  And for schools like Lawrence, we face more complex challenges in addition to these national and global disruptions than ever before. The value of higher education, especially the liberal arts, is under attack by political parties and factions of the media.  And while student loan debt is skyrocketing, college retention and graduation rates are not. Post-graduation placement into work or graduate programs is being scrutinized like never before, and employers are frustrated that recent graduates are not meeting expectations of critical thinking, adaptability and teamwork.  And if that isn’t enough, the nation is approaching a demographic cliff when the birthrate will drop so low that the competition for college-age students in the Midwest will be more intense than ever.

So how will we at Lawrence confront these issues? How will we maintain and amplify the quality of the Lawrence experience and position Lawrence as a leader in higher education now and into the future?  Like our students, we must develop a level of comfort with discomfort.  We will need to challenge ourselves in new ways, ask ourselves hard questions and boldly move forward while keeping our focus on what is in the best interest of our students, sustains the university’s mission, and honors our history. 

I am excited for this work, and I feel uniquely positioned for the challenges ahead.  As an African-American woman and leader, discomfort has always been a part of my journey.  It started as a child when I was often either the only Black person—or one of few—in the room and certainly the darkest.  Later, I added the discomfort of being a female athlete—I ran sprints and hurdles—at a time when femininity and athletics were in tension with the other.  Later, as a professional, I can clearly remember being in roles where I was expected to be present in the room but to either remain silent or only speak on behalf of all Black people.  I recall when seeking advancement, being told that I should not expect to have it all.  The pretext was that being a mother and a professional should be enough.  But with each experience, I grew.  I understood that if I was to achieve my goals, I couldn’t allow the barriers placed in my way to stop me.  I guess in some respects, being a hurdler helped.  Instead of looking down at the barrier I was crossing, I learned to look ahead and keep my eye on the goal of crossing the finish line first.  Being the first woman or the first BIPOC person in a space can come with discomfort, but it can also come with the comfort of success.  And that is how we will proceed.  With the knowledge that if we work together, we will not only overcome the discomfort challenges bring, we will succeed, and ultimately find comfort in our success. I want to be clear that comfort does not equal complacency. Comfort is knowing that we were able to overcome the hurdles we faced and met our objectives. Comfort is also having the confidence that we can face even more discomfort and rise to the challenge again. 

Since the announcement of my presidency in March, I have spent time getting to know the Lawrence community.  I have had conversations with trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and Appleton community leaders.  I want to thank all with whom I’ve spoken for your time, candor and commitment to Lawrence.  It has been invaluable to me in planning for how best to move the university forward at such a challenging and uncomfortable moment in our history. 

I have also learned of the many incredible things happening at Lawrence.  The pandemic has clearly not extinguished the light emanating from this community.  And I’d like to take a few moments to share a few examples of these bright lights from the past year with you.

Multiple faculty members received prestigious awards or grants, including Jake Frederick, Professor of History, who was awarded a short-term Newberry Library/Associated Colleges of the Midwest Fellowship in October 2020.

Beth Zinsli, Assistant Professor of Art History and Curator of the Wriston Art Center Galleries, won the inaugural M.C. Lang Fellowship in Book History, Bibliography and the Humanities Teaching with Historical Sources from the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School in March.  Beth was also named a winner of a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance grant to determine approaches to preserving Lawrence’s Downer College Teakwood Room.

In July, Julie Rana, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, was awarded a National Science Foundation LEAPS-MPS—or Launching Early-Career Academic Pathways in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences–grant. And Israel Del Toro, Assistant Professor of Biology, was awarded an EAGER grant from the National Science Foundation to forward his work in bee conservation.

And recently, Lori Hilt, Associate Professor of Psychology and Department Chair, received a subaward grant from the National Institute of Health through Harvard’s McLean Hospital Corporation.

In addition to stellar research, scholarship, and performance, our faculty remain committed to excellence in teaching, a fact that was recognized just this week by U.S. News & World Report, which included Lawrence on its 2022 list of Best Undergraduate Teaching. 

And there’s more: 

Dr. Brittany Bell, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center, contributed a chapter to the recently published book Teaching Beautiful Brilliant Black Girls

Vice President for Enrollment and Communications Ken Anselment’s podcast The A.L.P. recently received the John B. Muir Editor Award, recognizing the NACAC member that has made the most significant communications-related contribution to the college admission counseling field during the past year.


LeRoy Frahm, electronics technician in the Physics department since 1975 and an Air Force veteran, recently received the 2021 James M. Roche Spirit of Volunteerism Award from the U.S. Department of Defense. 

The Lawrence Conservatory of Music’s jazz program earned an Outstanding Performance award in Downbeat magazine’s annual Student Music Awards, marking the fourth consecutive year the program has been honored. 

Lawrence opened its inaugural varsity women’s hockey season in February. This was the first new varsity sport launched since 1986.

Members of the Class of 2021 received prestigious national grants, including Travis Dillon, how. received a prestigious National Science Foundation award that will assist the mathematics major as he heads to graduate school and pursues a doctorate. Ricardo Jimenez and Ben Portzen were named national recipients of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.  Additionally, 2018 graduate Koby Brown was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Brazil to pursue his ethnomusicology research. 

And we cannot forget that during some of the darkest days of the pandemic, John Holiday’s performances on “The Voice” lifted our spirits.  I want to thank John for leading our new students and their families in an inspiring rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” at our President’s Welcome last week.

These accomplishments—and so many more that we don’t have time to name here but are equally impressive—pay testament to the strength and resilience needed to propel our scholarship, our work, and our creativity forward even during a challenging time. It is heartening to see that the discomfort of this pandemic did not impede progress at Lawrence. And the external forces that will challenge us in the coming years will not impede our progress either. 

At this moment we must dig deep within ourselves to do more to move the university forward. Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment.  And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it.  

Dr. John Kotter, author of “Leading Change” and several other books on the subject, says that “transformation is a process, not an event.”  Unlike the way the world had to shut down almost overnight to mitigate COVID, our process of change will take a little longer, but it must keep pace with the need to provide an exceptional education to students and prepare them for a rapidly changing world, while appropriately responding to the national discourse on higher education.

Just as Lawrentians have shared their pride in the university’s many strengths and accomplishments with me during recent conversations, they have also generously shared their insights on our future.  As a result of those discussions, the President’s Cabinet and I have developed five priorities that will frame our work moving forward:    

  • Strategic Equitable Student Success
  • Lawrence Brand Enhancement
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism
  • An Enhanced Integrated University Experience
  • Strategic Financial Stewardship

While these five priorities touch nearly every aspect of our university, from recruitment and retention to the curricular and co-curricular programs, they all are in service of our students.   And our ability to collectively engage in dialogue and problem-solving around these areas will determine our course for the future. 

In “Leading Change,” Kotter described his change model that evolved in his later book, “Accelerate.” The process involves a parallel construct.  On one side, the traditional hierarchy of our university will continue to operate.  We must press forward with the day to day operations and honor our policies, processes and shared governance.  At the same time, parallel to the traditional hierarchy, we will work through the steps of change using Kotter’s model, which has proven effective for so many organizations.  

Creating a sense of urgency is the first step in the process.  Let’s look back to the issues that higher education is facing in this new landscape.  Declining applications. Declining net tuition revenue. Inconsistent and aspirationally low retention rates. Public discourse challenging higher education, specifically, the liberal arts. High national student loan debt. And the perception of a low return of investment in terms of job placement and continuing education.  

Lawrence is not immune to these issues.  Yes, we have a strong foundation with talented and dedicated faculty and staff and bright motivated students. We have extraordinarily generous alumni and friends who supported the historic Be the Light! capital campaign. We introduced three new areas of study in the last year and recruited one of the largest incoming classes in Lawrence’s history. The university’s outlook has improved thanks to these efforts, and we should be proud of our accomplishments.  But financial issues still need to be resolved, including deferred and other maintenance that will cost in the tens of millions of dollars.  And we can’t forget that enrollment cliff that’s on the immediate horizon. We need to ensure that a Lawrence education is more attractive and accessible to incoming students than ever before.

Do you feel a little more urgency now?  

So let’s work together to strengthen Lawrence’s position and build a brighter future for our university and our community.

Following Kotter’s model, we will build a series of guiding coalitions that will serve as accountable, integrated groups bound by opportunity, strategy and action.  Consisting of a volunteer army of Lawrentians from across the university, the guiding coalitions will form the strategic visions and initiatives to move us forward.  They will work and be authorized to remove barriers so that they are able to generate short-term wins, sustain acceleration, and ultimately institute change. 

Implementation of the process is critical.  Because we have so many challenges ahead of us and some issues require more immediate action than others, we will move forward along three consecutive paths, using our normal hierarchical model, a hybrid model of hierarchy and accelerate, and a pure accelerate model for areas that need immediate, focused attention.  

Let me take a moment to share how this will work.

Our current strategic plan, Veritas est Lux, expires in 2022.  The process to create a new plan will work through our existing governance models.  A strategic planning committee will be formed in the next two months.  This group will be charged with evaluating the current plan.  Once that work is completed, we will be better positioned to begin the creation of a new plan based upon the work of our guiding coalitions.

Strategic Equitable Student Success is our first priority.  No later than October 31, we will use our existing hierarchy and an accelerated approach to begin the creation of a Strategic Equitable Enrollment Management plan – the hybrid model.  The team responsible for the plan will represent a cross section of the campus community.  It will use data and best practices to create a plan that will allow us to grow applications, increase net tuition revenue, and better serve all students by focusing on recruitment and retention strategies that will position Lawrence as a leader in the future of higher education.

We will also begin working through the steps of “Accelerate,” by creating five guiding coalitions.  Each will focus on one area and will be given a charge and timeline specific to that area.  The timelines will begin within the next month and conclude prior to the completion of this academic year.  Each guiding coalition will consist of members from multiple layers of the university hierarchy and will represent all constituents—faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni.  Each will have at least two co-chairs, one representing faculty and one representing staff.   Some may include additional co-chairs representing other constituents.  Members of the coalitions must have a sense of urgency and a commitment to the change initiative at hand. The guiding coalitions will focus on five areas:

  • Visioning of Our Five Priorities
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism
  • Full Speed to Full Need
  • Amplifying Athletics
  • 175th Anniversary

Our volunteer army will consist of members of the community who are passionate about these issues and are willing to lock arms with others to create meaningful change around them. You—faculty, staff, students alike—have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before.  Everyone, regardless of role, can engage in this process, and I truly hope that you will.

For our students, I have heard loud and clear that you feel pressured to not only alert the faculty and staff to the work required to best serve your needs but also to DO the work yourselves. That stops here. We need your ideas, thoughts, and experiences. While your participation is desired and necessary for the success of this process, you should not feel compelled to lead it.  We have heard you and will continue to do so throughout this process and beyond.  

Lawrence’s motto calls for Light! More Light! Remember, the points at which light intersect are brighter than any singular light, and I am asking each of you to bring your light to this process. 

Later this afternoon you will receive an email inviting you to join this effort.  I hope that you will join me and your colleagues and classmates to heed that call. 

Elizabeth Kubler Ross said, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  Lawrence is known for its light.  And when the sun was shining brightly, meaning before the public discourse on higher education turned negative and the pandemic disrupted the world, our light shone brighter than ever.  But now that darkness has threatened us, we must use the light within us to demonstrate to the world who we are.  

So for a moment close your eyes.  Imagine yourself in this Chapel on a winter’s eve surrounded by Lawrentians past and present.  Then imagine everyone in the Chapel lighting a candle in the darkness.  Imagine the power of that light illuminating the stained glass of this beautiful structure so that it shines beauty and light on the outside world.  That is our path forward.  Our individual lights will join together to face and embrace discomfort and guide our university to an even brighter place. We will be brighter together.

October Campus Updates (October 6, 2021)

Dear Lawrentians,

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.

Sincerely,

Laurie

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University

VP DEI Announcement (October 4, 2021)

Dear Lawrence Community,

There is much work for us to do together as we look to Lawrence’s future, and one of our most pressing needs this fall was our search for the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Today, we are delighted to announce that Dr. Eric Mayes will soon join the Lawrence community in this critically important role.

Dr. Mayes, who currently serves as executive director of the Center for Educational Equity within the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, will begin his duties in early November, leading the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He will work collaboratively across campus with faculty, staff, students, Board of Trustees, and alumni to strengthen its community, culture, and climate in its mission to be an equity-minded and antiracist institution. Dr. Mayes will also serve as a member of the faculty.

“This is an opportunity to be a part of important change happening at a critical time in both Lawrence’s history and our country’s history,” said Dr. Mayes, adding, “Lawrence is getting a collaborator, someone who values diversity, equity, and inclusion at an extremely high level, someone who is committed to the truest notion of a liberal arts education.”

From the beginning, Dr. Mayes was the most impressive among a strong field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals. He has a level of passion and commitment to DEI work that will be game-changing for Lawrence. In addition, his story of grit, determination, and resilience will allow him to serve as an excellent role model for our students while collaborating with faculty and staff to create an environment of belonging for all members of the Lawrence community.

Thank you to members of the search committee who worked so hard to help us find the right candidate for this position, as well as other community members, who met with candidates throughout our search process. You can read more about Dr. Mayes and his background in our news blog story announcing his new position at Lawrence.

As we look forward to Dr. Mayes’ arrival, the work addressing DEI issues at Lawrence continues. More information regarding the progress of that work since the spring will be shared with our community later this week.

I am truly excited to welcome Dr. Mayes to Lawrence. His contributions will add to our important work as we continue to shine brighter together.

Best,

Laurie

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University

Bring Your Light—Join a Guiding Coalition (September 17, 2021)

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Earlier this afternoon at Matriculation Convocation, I shared with our community a framework for a new way of collaboratively working together to strengthen our university. This framework was informed by the many conversations I’ve had with Lawrentians—students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and Appleton community members—since my arrival on campus and based on a model created by Dr. John Kotter. I write now to ask you to join me, the President’s Cabinet, and your fellow Lawrentians as we embark on this transformative journey together.

During my discussions with community members, I felt the deep love of and pride in Lawrence University, particularly when they described its many accomplishments achieved over the last year. These accomplishments pay testament to the strength and resilience needed to propel the university forward even during a challenging time. Yet we cannot lose sight of the many external factors, in addition to the pandemic, like declining applications, public discourse challenging higher education, and rising student loan debt, that challenge our strength as a university.

Lawrence has a strong foundation on which to face these challenges, but we must dig deep within ourselves to do more to move the university forward in such strong headwinds. Through our collective efforts, we must transform Lawrence into a university that is poised to lead in this new environment. And as the environment evolves, we must be nimble enough to evolve with it. 

As we look to our future, five overarching institutional priorities have emerged out of my conversations with Lawrentians:  Strategic Equitable Student Success; Brand Awareness, Reputation, and Elevation; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism; Enhanced and Integrated University Experiences, and Strategic Financial Stewardship. Helping us focus on and engage with these priorities as quickly as possible is where John Kotter’s model comes into play, becoming our catalyst for change.   
 
Kotter describes his change model in his book, “Accelerate.” The process involves a parallel construct. On one side, the traditional hierarchy of our university will continue to operate as we press forward with the day-to-day operations and honor our policies, processes and shared governance. At the same time, parallel to the traditional hierarchy, we will work through the steps of change using Kotter’s model of guiding coalitions, which has proven effective for so many organizations.

Bolstered by the sense of urgency that comes with the external challenges at hand, our guiding coalitions will serve as accountable, integrated groups bound by opportunity, strategy, and action. Consisting of a volunteer army of Lawrentians from across the university, they will form strategic visions and initiatives to move us forward. They will also work and be authorized to remove barriers so that they are able to generate short-term wins, sustain acceleration, and ultimately institute change.

Each coalition will be provided a charge and timeline for the work. Structurally, each will have co-leads (at least one faculty member and one staff member) who facilitate the group’s work and will consist of members from multiple layers of the university hierarchy and will represent all constituents—faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni. Members of the coalitions must have a sense of urgency and a commitment to the change initiative at hand. Our five guiding coalitions and their co-leads are:

  • Visioning Our Five Priorities—Jason Brozek, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs & Associate Professor of Government & Jenna Stone, Associate Vice President of Finance
  • Full Speed to Full Need—Cassie Curry, Director of Major & Planned Giving & Jake Frederick, Professor of History
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism—Connie Kassor, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies & Jacklyn Fischer, Assistant Director, Career Center – Health Professions
  • Athletics—Kim Tatro, Director of Athletics & Gary Vaughn, Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program
  • 175th Anniversary—Ed Berthiaume, Director of Public Information & Lina Rosenberg Foley, University Archivist

All members of the Lawrence community have the opportunity to participate, step up and act like never before. Everyone, regardless of role, can engage in this process, and I truly hope that you will.

If you are interested in joining a guiding coalition, please email Alice Boeckers, executive assistant to the president, at alice.o.boeckers@lawrence.edu by Friday, September 24. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Cabinet member or one of the leads listed above. Coalition membership will be finalized and communicated with campus by September 30.

Lawrence’s motto calls for Light! More Light! I ask each of you to bring your light to this process. I hope that you will join me and your colleagues and classmates to heed that call.

We are brighter together.

Sincerely,

President Laurie A. Carter


On behalf of the President’s Cabinet:

Christyn Abaray, Assistant to the President & Secretary to the Board of Trustees 
Ken Anselment, Vice President of Enrollment & Communications 
Alice Boeckers, Executive Assistant to the President 
Jason Brozek, Special Assistant to the President, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs & Associate Professor of Government 
Christopher Card, Vice President for Student Life 
Calvin Husmann, Vice President for Alumni & Development  
Catherine Kodat, Provost & Dean of the Faculty 
Mary Alma Noonan, Vice President for Finance & Administration 
Brian Pertl, Dean of the Conservatory 
Megan Scott, Associate Vice President of Communications

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University

Recent Incidents of Concern (September 17, 2021)

Dear Campus Community,

Yesterday evening I was made aware of two disturbing incidents involving Lawrence students and members of our surrounding community.

The first incident occurred at the Banta Bowl during a men’s soccer team practice session. The driver or passengers of a truck passing by the field shouted racial slurs at the team while they were practicing. The second incident took place on Wednesday evening, around 9:00 p.m., when a student witnessed a group of loud vehicles cheering and yelling racial slurs at the intersection of Lawe Street and College Avenue.

These incidents are not acceptable and are in direct conflict with our values as a community. We do not—and will not tolerate—this type of hateful behavior on or near our campus. I have spoken to Mayor Jake Woodford and know that he shares my concern and agrees that behavior of this nature has no place in our community. 

Security footage of Wednesday’s incident has been shared with the Appleton Police Department (APD), and we will continue to work with the APD to identify the individual(s) involved in the incidents. I am also committed to working with the City of Appleton, including the chief of police with whom I met this morning, to ensure that the safety of Lawrence students both on and off campus remains a top priority for the city.

My heart goes out to our students who had to endure such vile behavior, as well as to all members of our community who have had to endure similar experiences. We at Lawrence are a united community, and we will stand together to support each other even at our darkest moments. My colleagues and I pledge to work with our student, faculty, staff and community leaders, including Timber Smith, Appleton’s new diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator, to plan a time for the campus and Appleton communities to come together in solidarity and to ensure that all Lawrentians feel a sense of belonging. We will share more information on this event in the coming days.

If you experience or see any further incidents of concern, please contact Campus Safety at 920-832-6999 or at security@lawrence.edu. Or if you witness a bias incident, fill out a bias incident report.  The Rave Guardian Safety App also provides easy access to safety and community resources. To learn more or to download the app, please visit the Lawrence website.

In addition, campus support services are readily available for all students, including Wellness Services, Dean Linda Morgan-Clement and Associate Dean Terra Winston in Spiritual & Religious Life, and Dr. Brittany Bell in the Diversity & Intercultural Center.

Whether you live or work on campus, Lawrence is our home. I look forward to joining with you to stand against hatred and bigotry and to find solace in the strength and resilience of our community.

Sincerely,

President Laurie A. Carter

Laurie A. Carter

Brighter Together (August 30, 2021)

Dear Lawrentians,

With the arrival of our fall athletes and Summer Institute participants, there is a renewed sense of energy and excitement on campus. This excitement and energy will grow when our international students arrive in early September, followed shortly after by our new and returning students. And with the majority of faculty and staff now working back on campus, the Lawrence community will soon be reunited for the first time in nearly 18 months.

I often say that I was drawn to the light of Lawrence—the light of knowledge, the light of truth, and the light each member of our community brings to campus. The points at which light intersect are always brighter than any individual light, and our strength as a community shines when we engage in challenging endeavors, share our talents, pursue our passions, and enjoy all that this rich and vibrant community has to offer.

We are brighter together. 

As the start of the academic year approaches, you’ll see and hear this phrase—Brighter Together—more frequently. In fact, I think of it as an anthem for this moment in Lawrence’s history and a reminder of our strength as a community. The strength has supported this university for the last 174 years, bolstered us during our current pandemic, and will propel us as we look to this coming year and beyond.

We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we navigate the ongoing pandemic. As I’ve heard many times over the last year, we can’t look to what we knew but, instead, must look to what is new as we live and learn together. We will continue to Honor the Pledge and adjust our lives to protect the health and safety of our community. 

Just last week, we announced the need to postpone the presidential inauguration planned for October to a time when we can more safely gather together as a community. I was truly looking forward to the inauguration and to celebrating Lawrence’s bright future, as well as meeting Lawrentians from near and far. Yet many opportunities still remain to celebrate our community, including the start of the academic year.

In honor of this historic return to campus, I ask that we show the world how bright Lawrence can shine.

  • Let’s welcome our newest Lawrentians as they arrive on campus on September 8 and 9 by helping our Student Life colleagues greet them upon their arrival.
  • Let’s gather together as a community to celebrate the start of their Lawrence experience at the annual President’s Welcome. The President’s Welcome will be hosted on Main Hall Green this year, and there’s plenty of room for all members of our community to join the festivities. Mark your calendar for Thursday, September 9 at 3:30 p.m.
  • Let’s showcase how proud we are of our university by wearing Brighter Together t-shirts (we have one for every member of our community—staff, faculty, and students) during New Student Orientation.
  • Let’s join together on Friday, September 17, as I deliver my first Matriculation Convocation in Memorial Chapel.

Vice President for Student Life, Christopher Card, will provide more information on ways you can help welcome our newest Lawrentians later this week, and the LU Insider will include additional information about opportunities to gather. I encourage you to share your warmth with our new and returning students.

We are Brighter Together, and I look forward to seeing us shine.

Sincerely,

Laurie

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University

Moving Forward Together (July 27, 2021)

Dear Lawrentians,

Just a few short weeks ago, my family and I arrived in Appleton, and I officially started my role as 17th president of Lawrence University. The welcome we have received upon our arrival has only solidified the sense of community that I felt the moment I first interviewed for this position, and I am thoroughly enjoying Lawrence and Appleton first-hand as I settle into the rhythm of campus.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many members of the Lawrence community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees. I’ve taken to heart the conversations I’ve had with each Lawrentian, learning about their hopes for Lawrence’s future, as well as the challenges and opportunities we face together.

I want to share a few examples of the informative and inspiring conversations I’ve had with the on-campus community to date:

  • I am grateful for the Physics faculty for being the first academic department to meet with me and to share their passion for excellence in teaching. I also had the opportunity to meet their students who are on campus engaged in summer research. The deep connection between Lawrence faculty and students was inspiring.
  • I had lunch with three students who serve as Admission student ambassadors. They talked about their connection to campus, life-changing faculty members, and their hopes for the future. They articulated how Lawrence is stretching them and preparing them for life upon graduation. They embody what it means to be a Lawrentian, and I was honored to break bread with them.
  • I toured the Conservatory with Dean Brian Pertl ’84. While the building was silent, the energy of creativity filled the air. I heard from students who are spending the summer preparing the shop for a busy fall term, and I met a student whose recently discovered ability to create new music is transforming his life. 

I have walked away from each conversation confident in the good work our community has done to ensure that Lawrence meets its mission and serves its students even in the most challenging of times. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to meeting with even more Lawrentians, including our alumni and friends, listening, learning, and illuminating our path forward.

As we look to the immediate future, I am most excited to start the new academic year in September, when our community will reunite on campus for the first time in more than a year. This is a moment unlike any other in Lawrence’s history. We will all adjust to new ways of engaging with each other as we learn to live with the ongoing pandemic. Past traditions will be renewed, and new traditions will be introduced. Performing arts events and athletic competitions will resume. Many of us will meet classmates, students, or colleagues in person for the first time. I cannot wait to greet our new and returning students and to feel the energy, creativity, and excitement they bring to campus.

I am truly honored to serve as Lawrence’s 17th president at this moment and to join this vibrant community dedicated to academic excellence, student success, and inclusion. Together, we will ensure that the light of Lawrence shines brighter than ever before.

Sincerely,

Laurie

Laurie A. Carter

President, Lawrence University

A Conversation with Presidents Laurie A. Carter and Mark Burstein (May 4, 2021)

Lawrence’s 16th and 17th presidents recently had the opportunity to spend time together on campus. They discussed everything from their hopes for Lawrence, their respect for presidential history and their personal and professional journeys, to Meatless Mondays. They also answered questions from Lawrentians along the way.

Fall 2021 Plan Update (April 28, 2021)

Dear Lawrence Community, 

A few weeks ago I shared the news that the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT), in consultation with campus colleagues and public health experts, was developing plans for Fall Term.  In the meantime, our community commitment to Honor the Pledge has continued to keep infection rates below 0.5% for most weeks during this academic year.  Many members of our community have also diligently pursued vaccination.

Thanks to this shared effort, we can now confirm our plan to return to in-person living, learning, and working this fall.  The university made this decision grounded in the guiding principles that have framed our planning from the pandemic’s inception:  to protect the health and safety of our community; to sustain our academic mission; and to support faculty, staff, and students.  We continue to pair these principles with our core Lawrentian values of community, equity, and student empowerment. 

To protect community health, we will require all students accessing or residing on campus to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  This requirement begins this summer and joins the existing requirement that students be immunized for various other highly contagious diseases.  Exceptions will be made for medical reasons, religious beliefs, or personal conviction.  Faculty and staff are highly encouraged to be vaccinated.  Aspects of university activity will be restricted to vaccinated individuals in order to sustain community health.  For members of the Lawrence community who are living, learning, or working on campus, the Fox Cities offers several opportunities for vaccination.

 Thanks to the efforts of many, our plans for the fall are now taking shape. 

  • Faculty have worked hard to reestablish in-person classes.  The class schedule provides more specific details.  In person services provided by staff offices are being evaluated and expanded to meet the needs of all constituents
  • The housing lottery has begun.  All residence halls will be available except for 300 South Meade Street (Big Exec) and the guest houses along North Park Avenue, which will be reserved for potential quarantine and isolation needs. 
  • We have relocated new student move-in and orientation from September 6 to September 9.  This orientation will be augmented with online programs provided during the summer for incoming students. 
  • For students currently in their first year at Lawrence, we also plan to provide time before the Fall Term begins to reconnect to campus. 

More information regarding orientation and move-in dates will be shared in the coming weeks.

We know the pandemic will continue to have an impact on campus life.  We will adapt the university’s health framework as the CDC and others provide new guidance.  Additional information will be provided by the LPPT in the coming weeks and months, including: 

  • Updated health and safety protocols, including changes to the Lawrence Campus Community Pledge, surveillance testing, and campus guest guidelines. 
  • New rules for hosting public events and providing public access to campus. 
  • New guidelines regarding employee density in campus offices and departments.  
  • An updated travel policy.  

We are planning a live question and answer session for students and families as well as for faculty and staff within the next few weeks.  Please stay tuned to your email for additional details.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about our plans, or other issues surrounding the pandemic, please email coronainfo@lawrence.edu.  Even as we create a framework for the fall, we need to continue to be flexible as new information and conditions unfold.  If adjustments to our fall plans are needed, we will be in immediate communication.  

Examples of our community’s creativity and resilience will always be foremost in my many memories of my time at Lawrence.  Thank you, again, for your commitment to your fellow Lawrentians. 

Yours, 

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University

Welcome to Spring Term (March 30, 2021)

Greetings Lawrentians, 

Welcome to Spring Term whether you have joined here in Appleton or you are joining from around the globe.  Spring has always brought thoughts of renewal for me and, I expect, for many of you as well.  After a long 12 months of the pandemic, we do seem to be turning a corner.  I am looking forward to attending outdoor athletic competitions and campus events again, to hearing music across the campus, picnicking on Main Hall Green, and, of course, to celebrating our graduating seniors at Commencement in the Banta Bowl.  David and I will savor each of these experiences even more as our time on campus draws to a close.  

We have spent this academic year together in a hybrid mode, which has allowed all of us to make our decisions about whether to come to campus or to join this learning community from home.  About 70% of students decided to live on campus.  Thanks to our community’s commitment to Honor the Pledge, we have managed to keep infection rates well below 1% for nearly the entire year.  With your leadership and vigilance, we will be able to maintain this remarkable record. 

Through the ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff we have found ways to reimagine teaching, learning, and community.  Many memories will remain in my mind of this past year, but examples of our community’s creativity and resilience will always be foremost.  I am also thankful for our community’s efforts to become a more antiracist, equity-minded institution, even as the pandemic occupied much of our energy.  Current events reinforce the importance of this work for us. 

As vaccination rates rise and infection rates decline, we are ever more hopeful to enjoy the gift of human connection, face-to-face instead of screen-to-screen.  We have begun to make Fall Term plans that allow for a return to in-person experiences in our classrooms and labs, on the playing field and stage, and through campus activities.  These plans will continue to closely follow CDC and State health guidelines.  At the same time, we are mindful that the pandemic has taught us to be agile, which is why we are also developing plans to modify our housing processes, workplace rules, and course modality should conditions warrant. 


We will continue to update you with our plans as they are finalized for the academic year.  I look forward to being with you this spring as we work together to sustain and deepen this learning community we call Lawrence. 

Yours,

Mark

Mark Burstein

President, Lawrence University