Month: March 2021

On Main Hall Green with … Benjamin Rinehart: Creativity, art, and equity

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Benjamin D. Rinehart (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Benjamin D. Rinehart, a professor of printmaking and artist books, knows a thing or two about the creative field of book-making. He’s written the book on it.

A member of the Lawrence art faculty since 2006, Rinehart specializes in socially charged images with an emphasis on printmaking, book constructions, painting, and drawing. His work is included in numerous public and private collections and has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

He’s the author of Creating Books & Boxes, a book that explores a range of art techniques.

Rinehart received a bachelor’s degree at Herron School of Art and a master’s degree at Louisiana State University and previously taught at Pratt Institute in New York and New Jersey, Rutgers/Mason Gross School of the Arts, Long Island University, Fordham University, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Manhattan Graphics Center.

We caught up with him to talk about his passions in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I aim to create a welcoming, challenging, and equitable learning environment in my classes. Teaching and making art are two of my greatest passions in life aside from my family—including the fur babies. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and challenges whether big or small. I especially enjoy anything centered around artistic practice.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Becoming a Posse mentor is one of my proudest achievements on campus. In the past year and a half, I have learned so much about myself and the scholars that I support. It has made me a better advisor, teacher, advocate, artist, and socially engaged human being. The connections that I’ve made through this program are extremely meaningful and fulfilling.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I moved to NYC with less than $1,500 in my bank account after grad school with no job prospects. Expecting to only stay for a year, I was reluctant to settle down. Things in my life started falling into place after a few months and I made connections all along the eastern seaboard that I maintain to this day. The eight years that I spent in NYC—Brooklyn primarily—was an exciting, uncertain, challenging, and extremely rewarding time in my life.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I would definitely want to become a chef. I love making a wide variety of foods, and it’s a fun challenge to try out new recipes. Cuisine outside of the United States offers a glimpse into commonalities between cultures. They all seem to have a similar foundation when beginning the cooking process, but the ingredients vary according to region and availability. One of our family favorites is a Masaman curry with homemade naan and mango lassis. Serving others something tasty brings me great joy. It is satisfying to see smiling faces after spending time in the kitchen whether it be from the flavor or presentation. Only the best recipes make it into the family cookbook.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

I enjoy the view from the hill behind Memorial Hall. Seeing the garden, river, and shoreline offers a peaceful vantage point. Seeing bald eagles isn’t something that I ever saw growing up, and their majestic presence is undeniable. Also, I hear the hill is amazing for sledding during the winter. I haven’t tried it out yet but imagine that I would be screaming (mostly with joy) the entire way down.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

The book Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is a work that has influenced my view of the world since I first read it. Perhaps it’s cliché, but his writing style and observations resonated with me deeply. Baldwin represented a world that was real and fraught with problems while simultaneously and desperately trying to connect with others. He was a person who was decades ahead of his time and is still one of my heroes.

I never grow tired of listening to Sade. Her hypnotic voice floods my brain, encouraging creative flow and contemplation.

It’s hard to pinpoint a single film, so I choose any of the Marvel movies.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Find more On Main Hall Green With … features here.

2 Minutes with … Iyanu Osunmo: Insight into D.C. via Washington Semester

Iyanu Osunmo ’22 is participating in Washington Semester remotely.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Despite not being able to attend the Washington Semester program in person in the nation’s capital because of pandemic restrictions, Iyanu Osunmo ’22 is still embracing the off-campus program.  

She began her studies in January, working remotely from her home in Houston, and will continue into May.

“I am doing two seminars in the foreign policy concentration,” she said. “One of my seminars is about managing the pandemic in globalized societies and the other one is about political transition and political implications.”  

Osunmo, a government major focused on international relations, is taking classes with the American University faculty as part of the Washington Semester program, offered through Lawrence University’s Off-Campus Programs. The program is encouraged for government majors but is open to all students.

The Washington Semester enables students to participate in a thematic program of study at the American University in D.C. In addition to the core seminar, students pursue an internship related to the program topic and an independent study project. The Lawrence-approved program tracks include American Politics, International Environment and Development, International Law and Organizations, Justice and Law, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Islam and World Affairs Foreign Policy, and Global Economics and Business.

Typically, students participating in Washington Semester would be in D.C., giving them the opportunity to physically experience working and studying in the nation’s capital. That isn’t possible right now, with all classes being moved online.

Still, there is a lot she is gaining from the program, Osunmo said.

“I am taking seminars with people from many universities; for example, Lehigh University and students from other liberal arts universities across the country,” she said. 

Hearing from expert voices

The Washington Semester instructors have been able to bring in pieces of Washington.  

“The program has had to shift quite a bit due to the online nature of it, but I do believe our seminar instructors are doing all that they can to really engage us with D.C.,” Osunmo said. “For instance, they get a lot of speakers from the D.C. area and they tell us what Washington, D.C., is like. … Hillary Clinton’s speech writer came to speak to our class. Lissa Muscatine was the former chief speech writer and senior advisor to the secretary of state. She taught us a lot about the White House’s operations and about her experiences as a speech writer. I learned a great deal from her; that was a really valuable experience.” 

In addition to taking classes, Osunmo is participating in an internship, working for the National Democratic Institute’s Gender, Women, and Democracy office. The National Democratic Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

“Currently, I am helping them with a presentation that teaches women and people in the media about building coalitions and about violence against women in politics and the media,” Osunmo said. “It’s a nice training curriculum that I get to help put together, and it’s a really rewarding experience.” 

Preparing for the next step

The internship and the classes are prepping Osunmo for life after Lawrence. She said she cares deeply about democracy and the equitable treatment of oppressed people and sees herself one day holding elected office. 

“I do believe that my experiences at the Washington Semester program have not only deeply integrated me into the field I intend to go into, by enabling me to hear from government experts and foreign policy experts, but it also has taught me about what is more valuable with regard to governance,” Osunmo said. “Protecting human health and human security, ensuring democracy continually survives, and ensuring elections are fair and transparent.”  

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

2 Minutes With … Jojo Maier: Judicial Board chair works to keep campus safe

Jojo Maier ’21 is chairing the Judicial Board remotely. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Jojo Maier ’21 is probably more present in your life than you think. As this year’s chair of the Lawrence University Judicial Board, the biochemistry major helps make tough decisions in tough times to keep everyone on campus safe.

The Judicial Board is a student-run LUCC committee that oversees alleged violations of the Social Code at Lawrence. While perhaps not as known as the Honor Code, the Social Code encompasses the rest of the Student Handbook, primarily protecting students’ personal safety and property rights. Violations of the Social Code vary from noise complaints to theft to threatening situations.

What doesn’t budge is the Judicial Board’s belief in member diversity and education over punishment. Maier was nominated to serve on the Judicial Board as a first-year student and elected chair this year as a senior. As a supporter of restorative justice, he regards the Board’s tenets highly.

“Part of why I enjoy the Board is because I’m able to bring justice to campus in a way that’s not completely punitive,” he explains. “It’s a nice feeling when you realize that you’re able to make some change on campus and make sure people are upholding the rules.”

Staying safe in a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has recast what it means to be safe on campus. The Judicial Board now refers to the Pledge in hearings regarding violations of COVID safety guidelines.

“This year, being able to help uphold the COVID policies really feels important,” Maier says.

With new policies come more potential violations. Cases totaled only two or three in previous years. By the middle of Winter Term this year, the Judicial Board already saw four cases. And that means Maier is busier; the chair must organize and attend each hearing, acting as a moderator and guiding the procedures.

Gaining problem-solving skills

Despite these changes, Maier emphasizes that maintaining safety on campus is just as important as any other year. Though currently off campus in his home of Eugene, Oregon, he still enjoys the experience Judicial Board has to offer.

“[Board members] appreciate the learning experience,” he says. “There’s a lot of critical thinking involved that prepares you for all sorts of jobs.”

Maier has gained problem-solving and leadership skills, particularly valuable to the hopeful future pharmacist. He encourages fellow and future students to exercise their right to voice their concerns on campus.

“I think Judicial Board is underutilized,” he says. “Often there’s the perception that people are making more complaints than are happening. But there are very few violations reported. That doesn’t mean there are very few violations happening.”

Know someone who can make difficult decisions? The nomination process for 2021-22 Judicial Board members will begin in Spring Term.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

On Main Hall Green With … Eilene Hoft-March: Focused on the student journey

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Eilene Hoft-March (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Eilene Hoft-March joined the Lawrence University faculty with a student-focused teaching style and a deep love of French literature and autobiographies. Thirty-two years later, that all remains true.

The Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French has been the recipient through the years of some of Lawrence’s most esteemed teaching awards—the then-named Young Teacher Award in 1991, the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1997, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011.

She has taught courses in Gender Studies, has directed Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar in Dakar, Senegal, and has advised students coming to Lawrence via the Posse Program.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in French and English from what was then Carroll College and master’s and doctoral degrees in French from the University of California-Berkeley.

We caught up with Hoft-March to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I’d like students to know that, while I have a professional responsibility to guide them through the course material, each class is uniquely shaped by who shows up in the classroom. The mistakes we make—and I include myself—the questions we ask, and the challenges we encounter all give distinctive worth to the whole enterprise. The more we dig in, the more our work becomes part of our personal strategies for dealing with what’s beyond the classroom.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Being at the far end of my career at Lawrence, I am grateful for having been able to participate in the launch of Gender Studies and Global Studies, and in the integration of Francophone Studies into my own department, as well as being part of the Posse program. Looking forward, I want to return to the project of reconstructing and writing the story of my grandparents’ immigration to this country.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I first went to Dakar, Senegal in 1998 when the French and Francophone Studies department’s Francophone seminar was new. I had no practical experience and little knowledge of French-speaking West African cultures. My Dakar friends’ and family’s warm hospitality, their patience in making me culturally presentable, and their curiosity about my indelible American-ness was a lot to undertake. I fell in love with their vibrant culture. Every March, the season when we leave for Dakar, I still feel a tug of nostalgia for the sandy, Sahel heat and the musical sounds of Wolof.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I suspect I’d still be teaching, but a back-up career would focus on feeding people. Making food is, in my humble opinion, a sacred and fulfilling task. You can do a lot with food to rekindle energy, friendship, and love.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

My office. I am blessed with two stunning views of the campus from my office windows. The north window gives a view of the Chapel, Lawrence’s iconic performance space open to Lawrentians and, just as importantly, to the community beyond the University. From the south window, you can see the library, also a public space symbolizing a lot of what Lawrence is about. It’s lovely to look on these buildings that support endless potential for engagement with knowledge and art.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

One favorite book? That’s like asking me who my favorite relative is, though I wouldn’t want to push that analogy too far. I have special relationships to books that have accompanied me through tough phases of life or books whose readings shared with others have enriched my relationships. For now, I’ll go with, in English, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and, in French, Marie Darrieussecq’s Bref séjour chez les vivants (Brief Sojourn Among the Living).

One recording? So many choices. Jaap Schröder on violin playing Bach Sonatas and Partitas, Joni Mitchell’s Mingus, and Tracing Astor by Gidon Kremer. The Piazzolla recordings are great for gliding around the kitchen while cooking.

Films? Branagh’s Dead Again and Nolan’s Memento. I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

2 Minutes With … Daniel Toycen: “Emergency” is in the job description

Daniel Toycen ’21 has been working in Milwaukee as an EMT for the past year. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

The importance of first responders has become increasingly evident a year into the pandemic as hospitals and emergency rooms have remained all-hands-on-deck. Daniel Toycen ’21 is one of the many brave essential first responders tackling this pandemic head on.

The Lawrence University biology major has been working in Milwaukee as an emergency medical technician (EMT) since last March, balancing work with his studies. Toycen, who aspires to be a physician assistant, applied for the role right before the pandemic changed everyone’s lives.  

“I was looking to get patient-experience hours for applying to grad school and physician assistant programs,” he said. “I decided on EMT because you are seeing a wide range of patients and arguably seeing them at the most stressful point in their lives. I wanted to be able to develop my bedside manner with them during difficult times.”  

While he lives off campus in Appleton, Toycen opted to work in Milwaukee because of the high volume of calls.

“I also wanted to see the bigger hospitals in the area and how those hospitals work,” he said. “And I wanted to work with a more diverse patient pool.” 

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic last March, Toycen, then a junior, knew hospitals were going to need more help. He started working as an EMT before COVID took a major a toll on Wisconsin hospitals, giving him a glimpse of EMT life “pre-pandemic,” he said.   

“A typical shift, you get there early to talk to the crew that is getting off shift,” Toycen said. “Then we check over the ambulance to make sure we have all of our supplies and the ambulance is working — all the lights are working, checking tires, things like that. Right after that we are put in service and are able to receive calls.” 

Important classroom lessons 

To qualify to be an EMT, Toycen took an accelerated course at Fox Valley Technical College. 

Toycen said he is particularly grateful for the skills he has learned in the classroom at Lawrence, as he finds himself tapping into those skills at work. In addition to his major in biology, he is pursuing a minor in biomedical ethics.

“My medical ethics courses and medical anthropology have both helped me be able to have knowledge on people’s backgrounds,” Toycen said. “[They taught me] how culture and health care intersect, and, being mindful of that, I am able to provide better care to the patients I do have. When I am out there in the field, I think back to lessons or discussions we had in class and I’m like, ‘Woah, this really applies here’.”  

When the pressure is on

Toycen has been on the call for some very high-pressure emergencies.  

“I was on a 16-hour shift and it was getting kind of late in our shift, and nothing exciting happened up until that point,” Toycen said. “Then we get a call, and we have no idea what we’re going for; it just says ‘assault in progress’. And then we get there, and the patient was stabbed four times in the back and obviously it was very serious. Right after we got done with that call, finished the report, this was probably at 4:30 in the morning, we get a call for a pedestrian that was hit by a car and the car was going like 50 miles an hour; so another call back-to-back at the end of a 16-hour shift super early in the morning.”

Toycen said his work as an EMT has reassured his path in the medical profession and he has even used his work as an EMT in his senior capstone project. Next up for Toycen is applying to physician assistant programs.  

Even though being an EMT is a high-pressure job, Toycen has not let it consume him. He continues to complete his course work at Lawrence remotely and plays on Lawrence’s men’s hockey team, all while maintaining health and safety protocols in the pandemic.

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.