Category: Faculty Profiles

On Main Hall Green with … Melissa Range: Mixing it up with poetry, history, literature

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Melissa Range (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

Melissa Range, an associate professor of English at Lawrence, is a poet with a love of both creative writing and literature.

Her poetry, which has drawn national honors, is often informed by the teaching she does.

“I am working on a historical poetry collection about the abolitionist movement, so the research I do to prepare for teaching courses on the 19th century is profoundly influencing what I end up writing poems about,” she told Art Lit Lab in a 2018 interview.

In 2015, Range was named one of five national winners in the annual Open Competition sponsored by the National Poetry Series, cited for her second collection of poems, Scriptorium.

Find more On Main Hall Green With … faculty profiles here

A year earlier she was named one of 36 national recipients of a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing.

Range, who has been on the English faculty at Lawrence since 2014, has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Tennessee, a master’s in creative writing from Old Dominion University, a master of theological studies from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

We caught up with Range to talk about 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?

Expect the unexpected. My favorite thing about teaching is mixing it up and having the freedom to be creative. Maybe one day you’ll come into a literature class and we’ll start digging through digitized 19th century newspapers and relating advertisements for women’s hats to the poems we’re studying. Maybe one day my Emily Dickinson or Frederick Douglass finger puppets will show up. While I am deadly serious about the power of literature—I one hundred percent believe reading poems, novels, plays, and essays can make us better, more just, more empathetic people—I also have a wacky sense of humor. It will show up in the activities we do, especially in creative writing classes. You might end up writing a poem from the point of view of a spoon who wants to join a roller derby team or a snowman who just stole a car, or maybe trying to make metaphors about whatever junk I just pulled out of a cupboard in Briggs 315. (These are real and not hypothetical examples.)

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

There’ve been a lot of exciting moments. Definitely teaching Native Guard in First-Year Studies; Trethewey’s one of my favorites (I teach her other books, too!). I am currently rethinking the way I teach poetry workshops and trying lots of new things in my creative writing class, so that’s fun. I really love teaching 19th century literature, especially my course on Emily Dickinson. She’s my favorite poet, and her life and art (not to mention her century) are so complex, intense, maddening, and wild. I have been so proud of how students have jumped into her poetry both times I’ve taught this class.

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?

My career as a professor is itself a surprise. I grew up a first-generation student in a small town in southern Appalachia, and there was no expectation from anyone that I would go to college at all, let alone do anything like becoming a professor. My path to becoming a professor was quite meandering. There were all kinds of stops—and all kinds of odd jobs—along the way. I didn’t decide I even wanted to go into academia until I was in my mid-thirties; I got my job here at LU when I was 41. So, I’m living proof that you don’t have to have everything figured out the second you graduate.

But, to be Lawrence-specific, I never thought I’d be getting up in front of an entire class of first-years and giving a lecture on Native Guard. Somehow, I’ve done it six times now! And I still love that book just as much as the first time I picked it up.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

I have many ideas—opening a sandwich shop is at the top of the list. Several of my colleagues say they are in—don’t be surprised if one day there are professors slinging sammies on College Ave. Karaoke DJ? It would also be cool to open my own thrift shop. I think I’d also be great at hawking squashes at the farmers’ market. I’ve had so many odd jobs already in my life! What’s a few more?

But of course, there is actually only one other job. That’s the job I already have, which is being a poet. It just doesn’t often pay actual money.

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

I love the Wriston Galleries. There’s always something provocative to see. Wriston is also my venue of choice for poets who come to Lawrence as part of the Mia Paul Poetry Series. My poetry classes also often give readings in Wriston—so it’s got a lot of great memories for me.

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

I love the poetry collection Peach State, by Adrienne Su, which came out earlier this year—it’s about food, family, place, and identity, she’s one of the best rhymers out there, and it’s funny. I’m also rereading the novel Middlemarch, by George Eliot, and my jaw is dropping every other page at her sentences and her insights. I could be here all day just talking about books. Same with records—I used to work at a record store and I have way too many I love. Lately I’ve been really into revisiting Anita Baker’s album Rapture from . . . I dunno, 1986? 87? Perfect then and perfect now! And also listening to Outkast’s Aquemeni from 1998. Such perfect rhymes! Y’all see I love rhyme, right? I actually don’t watch a lot of movies or TV, but I do have a soft spot for extremely silly comedies. One I love is What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire show that is a) not scary; and b) truly ridiculous. Also not gonna lie, even though I am not an especially good baker, sometimes the Great British Bake-Off is the only way to end a busy week.

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

On Main Hall Green With … Kathy Privatt: The joy of collaboration on and off stage

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Kathy Privatt (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

Kathy Privatt and the stage have gone hand in hand for more than two decades of teaching at Lawrence University.

The James G. Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts has taught in Lawrence’s theater department since 1999. A faculty leader across campus, she currently serves as chair of the Theatre Arts Department and is the university’s faculty athletic representative.

Through those 22 years of teaching, she has annually directed theater students through main stage productions, one-act plays, and a bevy of other theater experiences. When teaching went remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, she deftly transitioned her students into producing radio dramas via Zoom.

She has held the Barber Professorship since 2008. It was originally established in 1985 by Ethel Barber, a 1934 graduate of Milwaukee-Downer College, and recognizes her lifelong interest in and support of the performing arts and higher education.

Privatt earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in theatre and speech at Central Missouri State University and her Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Nebraska.

We caught up with her 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?

Collaboration drives my work, and I really do expect the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. When I’m directing a production, the collaborative process may seem obvious, but it’s how I think about teaching, too. Coming to class means we’re all agreeing to show up together, and while I certainly have a plan, I also expect to learn from each student, and for students to learn from each other so that we’re all learning from each other and together.

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

Right now, a set of three one-acts that I’ll be directing Winter Term because it’s a joyful collaboration. It all started with student Lexi Praxl’s independent study on contemporary French theatre. As she was collaborating with the reference librarians, she discovered what seemed to be a project to commission new short plays, inspired by the plays of Molière. We reached out to professor Eilene Hoft-March for translation help, and that led to a plan to have a student translator (Claire Chamberlin) create English versions. Now I’m starting production meetings with the designers for two new plays inspired by Molière, and one play by Molière, who was, himself, inspired by the Italian Commedia dell’arte. We’ll be performing these in the year of Molière’s 400th birthday. Oh, and did I mention that I also get to work with other colleagues for pronunciation help in a variety of languages? And this production will be Lexi’s Senior Experience? Collaborating is like going to a really good buffet, and every time you put something on your plate it creates interesting flavors with the food that is already there. It’s delicious, and just a bit intoxicating.

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?

Thanks to former Provost Dave Burrows, I am a certified Alexander Movement Technique (AT) teacher. I love sharing that work, whether through the classes I teach, in workshops, or in individual lessons. What I didn’t expect was to find myself sitting in church, making connections with the metaphors of the Christian faith and ways that AT guides us to experience ourselves in the world – and it feels so organic to me. Those connections have launched me on a project I call Embodying Your Faith, and I’m continuing to build on the collection of workshop sessions I’ve created. Most recently, I finished a set called Belonging that lives on the Spiritual and Religious Life YouTube page.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

I think I’d be a physical therapist. They’re really effective body-detectives, AND relieve pain.

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

My office. I’m a bit of a “nester,” so I’ve filled it with mementos, even toys, that either remind me of someone or some event I’m connected to.

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

Book: Love Wins by Rob Bell. Not a fluffy little examination, and even controversial for some, but to me, this book makes a really compelling case that God love us all, no matter what – period.

Recording: Poncho Sanchez’ Latin Spirit. My husband and I first heard Sanchez at a Jazz Series concert, and I hope I never forget how much sheer joy I felt watching those musicians as the music poured out of them. We bought the CD, and are lucky it still plays because I’ve lost count of the times we’ve put it on to dance a little salsa in the kitchen.

Film: That’s easy, The Princess Bride. I adore fairytales, and this one contains “love, true love” that isn’t afraid to sacrifice for one’s love . . . and the grandpa-reading-a-book frame makes me a little teary-eyed every time. So good.

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

On Main Hall Green With … Israel Del Toro: Lawrence’s champion of bees

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Israel Del Toro (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

Israel Del Toro loves bees.

The Lawrence University assistant professor of biology studies bees, researches bee habitats, teaches about bees, caters to bees on the Lawrence University campus, and advocates for bees across the Fox Valley and beyond.

His efforts earned Lawrence a Bee Campus USA designation two years ago and his advocacy for bees off campus has led to a growing embrace for No Mow May, a movement that calls on homeowners in the community to hold off on mowing their grass in spring to help the pollinators thrive.

Much of Del Toro’s research and data analysis has centered on those pollinators, and a growing number of Lawrence students have joined his research efforts since he arrived on campus in 2016.

We caught up with Del Toro to talk about his interests on and off campus.

IN THE CLASSROOM

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

My classes are all about experimenting, trying different approaches to problem-solving, failing, trying something new, and learning from the previous attempts. I don’t stress too much about grades but rather focus on the experience of trial and error. Having said that, I’m an easy grader; all I expect from my students is that they put their best effort forward. Don’t stress about your grade, rather show me that you learned something new. In my classes, students learn to code, think about biological data analyses, and geek out about exciting new science. 

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

Bees! Our lab is all about pollinator research. If you want to learn about protecting the important little things that run the world, then this lab is the place for you. This is the style of teaching that I enjoy the most, working one-on-one with you to ask really nerdy questions. I live for the moment when my students branch out and ask their own interesting questions, develop an elegant and simple study and go get that data. To work with me you have to be self-driven, independent, and curious about the natural world.

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?

One of the things I love about being an ecologist is that I constantly get to be outside in cool new places. I’ve been privileged enough to see all seven continents and do field work throughout the world. From the Australian Outback to the Savannahs of Africa, to the frozen islands of the Antarctic, and now the adventure-filled forests of North America. It’s simply exciting to be in a new ecosystem and learn about all the critters in it. While at Lawrence, I also learned that you don’t have to go somewhere remote to do cool science and engage with nature. There’s a ton of biodiversity right here in our own back yard that is awaiting exploration.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

Fishing my way around the world. I love to travel, see the world, and learn all about different cultures and people. I have found that by learning to fish in a new place, you learn a ton about the people in that community. I first realized this when living in Darwin, Australia. I caught my first big fish there and have been hooked ever since. I’ve fished and lived in Denmark, Wales, South Africa, New Mexico, and Massachusetts. At every place, I learned a lot about the community from their fishing practices. Now I’m all about fishing for nearly everything that Wisconsin has to offer.

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

If I need a moment to get away, you will find me hiking the wooded trails along the river. I love the sound of the rushing water; it is my moment of Zen. When life gets busy and I find myself overwhelmed, sometimes taking that little 15-minute hike helps me reset. Make time to just be still, quiet, and enjoy the ever-changing sounds of nature right on campus.

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

My recommendation for any incoming student is E.O. Wilson’s Letters to a Young Scientist. Even if you are not planning to be a STEM major, this book is filled with great tips for succeeding as a college student, and developing a curiosity-driven, exploratory mentality. Lately, I’ve found myself jamming out to some funky folk music. Check out the Punch Brothers or GreenSky Bluegrass. But I have to say that sometimes you will find me jamming out to a good corrido or some classic Los Tigres Del Norte—it’s in my DNA. This time of year, you will find me watching all the creepy horror movies and TV shows. American Horror Story and The Exorcist are just perfection in the fall!

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

On Main Hall Green With … Gary Vaughan: Skills in business, innovation

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Gary Vaughan (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

Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and lecturer of economics, lives the words “innovation” and “entrepreneurship.”

They are part of almost every conversation he has with his students, whether teaching business and economics classes or guiding students through their business models and presentations in preparation for the annual The Pitch competition.

A member of the Lawrence faculty since 2009, Vaughan also has lived those words in his own business pursuits. He’s the founder of the Kimberly, Wisconsin-based Guident Business Solutions LLC, providing business consulting in areas ranging from company culture to human resources to strategic planning.

He’s helped build Lawrence’s growing Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, which brings together faculty expertise from various parts of the curriculum, most notably economics and the Conservatory of Music. It allows students to enhance their major with an I&E interdisciplinary focus, prep for master’s programs in business, economics, public policy, and international development, or prepare to launch careers in the business world.

Vaughan calls the I-E courses an ideal complement to any major a student is pursuing. They are elective courses open to all students.

“We spend time talking about career goals and life after Lawrence, and how to apply the lessons learned in I&E to that end,” Vaughan said. “Many I&E alumni stay in touch with me, asking for advice and sharing their career achievements along the way.”

Vaughan’s students finished in the money the first three years of The Pitch, a regional Shark Tank-type competition featuring students from northeast Wisconsin colleges pitching business start-up ideas. 

Vaughan and his wife, Sharon, also have been active volunteers in Lawrence’s Friendship Family Program, providing guidance and outreach to international students.

Vaughan earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a master’s degree from Silver Lake College and previously taught business courses at Concordia University and Fox Valley Technical College.

We caught up with him to talk about his 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 have been a teacher throughout my career.  If not in the classroom as I do today, in the businesses I consult with and in the businesses I ran. I have viewed every co-worker as a student of business and have tried to pass along any experiences I have had that would benefit them. One of my goals for my students at Lawrence is for them to be much smarter than I am when they get to be my age and achieve a similar position in life.

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

The Pitch competition and the Rabbit Gallery practicum excite me the most. The Rabbit Gallery, a pop-up art gallery on College Avenue run by I&E students, didn’t happen during the pandemic, but we are intending to pick it up as usual for this next Spring Term. We have approximately 600 community members tour the Rabbit Gallery each spring. It is one of our more popular practicums for students in the I&E program, with an average of 20 students participating each year. Watching our students excel outside the “Lawrence bubble” is exciting to watch. Our students have proven they can compete and represent themselves in a professional manner in academics as well as on the field or on the court. By the way, we also have a lot of fun as we learn together.

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?

To be honest, I never aspired to teach at a university in a formal way. Like many of our Lawrence alumni, when the opportunity arose, I said yes. This is an “entrepreneurial mindset” we try to instill in our students. To have the courage and self-confidence to say yes when opportunities present themselves. As we discuss in class, our careers are most likely not going to develop as a straight line; they are made up of many crooked lines that are moving us forward in our careers in interesting and exciting ways.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

My dream job would be to work in the National Park System taking care of the grounds and talking with the visitors. Hiking trails and taking in the sights when I’m not emptying the trash containers.

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

I enjoy walking on campus at dusk in the summertime. It is peaceful and quiet as the moon shines on Main Hall, and 10th week is far away.

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

Many may not know that I enjoy reading about the Civil War and have either read or listened to many books on that era. I enjoy the strategies that worked and didn’t work during that time in our country’s history. I am currently listening to The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War and His Decision That Changed American History, by Jonathan Horn.

As my students do know, I am also a Star Wars enthusiast.  I have several Star Wars articles in my office and have seen all the episodes several—OK, more than several—times, including Solo and Rogue One, and have enjoyed the story line for many years. May the force be with you.

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

Find more faculty profiles here.

On Main Hall Green With … Marcia Bjornerud: Knowledge to save the planet

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Marcia Bjornerud (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

Marcia Bjornerud’s deep interest in the Earth—what rock formations tell us about the health of our planet and its history, for example—has led to scholarly work that has drawn accolades far and wide since she joined the Lawrence faculty in 1995.

The Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Studies and professor of geology has become a sought-after writer on a range of geology topics, her work appearing in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

She’s drawn rave reviews for her books, including 2005’s Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth and 2018’s Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, the latter named to the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards Short List and selected as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the category of Science and Technology.

She was named a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters (2016), was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (2003), and twice was named a Fulbright Senior Scholar, first in Norway (2000-01) and then New Zealand (2009). She was named Outstanding Educator by the Association of Women Geoscientists (2011) and was recognized with Lawrence’s Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity Award (2007).

Bjornerud was the founding director of Lawrence’s degree-granting program in environmental studies and helped in the creation of the newly launched environmental science major.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in geophysics from the University of Minnesota and master’s and doctoral degrees in structural geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We caught up with her 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 have high expectations for students, and the demands of labs, exams etc. no doubt loom large for those in my classes. But I hope students recognize that my earnest aspiration is simply to help my fellow Earthlings understand how their planet works. Why? Because this is urgently important to the future of humanity.

I’d also like students to know that besides being a professor, I’m a mother of three sons in their 20s and have great empathy for the challenges and stresses of early adulthood in these times.  

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

Some of my fondest Lawrence memories, and things I look forward to again in post-pandemic times, are field trips and field courses with students to places near and far—the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Minnesota, western Ontario, the southern Appalachians, the Montana Rockies, Scotland, Italy and elsewhere. Because I was a single parent, my kids came on many such trips when they were young, so these adventures are family memories as well.  Doing geology in the field, with nature as the authoritative textbook, is the very best way to develop a deep understanding of the earth and its immensely complex, interconnected systems. 

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’ve had the privilege as a geologist of traveling to fairly inaccessible places in the high Arctic (northernmost Ellesmere Island in Canada and protected parts of Svalbard). Since I’ve been at Lawrence, I’ve also been lucky enough to have sabbaticals—again with my kids along—in Norway and New Zealand. But perhaps the most important way my “life itinerary” has changed since I came to Lawrence has been discovering my voice as a science writer. My academic scope has been greatly expanded by immersion in the liberal arts environment at Lawrence, and in particular by teaching First-Year Studies, which initially terrified me as a bachelor of science graduate in geophysics who had barely taken any humanities courses in college. I can safely say that I would not have written my books Reading the Rocks and Timefulness nor had a stint as a contributing writer for the New Yorker if I hadn’t come to Lawrence.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

I’d be on the shores of Lake Superior looking at rocks, picking wild berries and cross-country skiing according to the season—but wait, I guess nobody would pay me to do that.

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

I live not far from Alexander Gym, and in the winter, if there is too much snow for me to bike to campus, I walk to work via a path near the gym down to the river. On the way, I pass through the grove of old white oaks just west of the former soccer field. I think those oaks are among the oldest in the city, probably older even than Lawrence. Every time I walk under those trees, I say a word of gratitude for them.

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

Just one of each? I’ll stretch the definition of a “book” a little and say the collected works of Louise Erdrich, an Ojibwe writer from North Dakota and Minnesota. Many of her books are in a sense one large book, the stories of multiple generations of the same interconnected families, a tangled skein of characters linked through time. Her novels have an evolutionary, almost geological, sensibility, which obviously appeals to me. But that would feel cold and analytical without Erdrich’s extraordinary capacity for empathy—her deep insight into the interior lives of so many different kinds of people—which makes her characters from a reservation in North Dakota feel like a microcosm of all of humanity.

Recording:  The Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers album. I actually remember my dad buying the record when it first came out in 1967. Its exuberant, non-formulaic creativity stands as an inspiration whenever the forces of conformity seem to be closing in. 

Film: Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala (1975). Set in the Russian far east in the first decades of the 1900s, it’s based on a true story of the friendship between a native hunter (Dersu) and a Russian surveyor (Arsenyev) charged with mapping the remote territory. Arsenyev respects Dersu’s deep understanding of the harsh but magnificent landscape, which is as much a protagonist as the human characters. The two don’t even share a language but grow to truly love each other across vast cultural differences. The film is also about the discord between the cyclical, continuously renewing character of natural processes vs. the irrevocable industrial alteration of landscapes. And it’s simply beautiful to watch.

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

See more profiles of the Lawrence faculty here.

On Main Hall Green With … Dane Richeson: Lawrence’s percussion maestro

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Dane Richeson (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

Dane Richeson, professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, has crafted a performance and teaching career that has allowed him to explore music around the world and share performance space with a widely diverse array of talented artists.

As director of percussion studies since 1984, he leads the Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble (LUPÉ), which has released two well-received albums and has been honored by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association and the Percussive Arts Society. He was given Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

As a performer, Richeson has been featured as a solo marimbist, contemporary chamber music percussionist, world percussion specialist, and jazz drummer and has performed with such notable artists as Bobby McFerrin, Gordon Stout, Nancy Zeltsman, and Gunther Schuller.

His research has allowed him to live, study, and teach in three distinctly different cultures: Ghana, studying the music and dance of the Ewe people; Matanzas, Cuba, where he worked with celebrated Afro-Cuban drummers; and Salvador and Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he studied the drumming traditions of the State of Bahia.

We caught up with Richeson to talk about 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?

That I care about them as individuals and understand—and am sympathetic to—the challenges they will face during their undergraduate journey. I think most students don’t realize that some of their professors have had very challenging experiences in their own college years. My mentors held high standards that helped me get through challenging periods and improved my chances of a career in music.

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

Creating music with my colleagues and students. Witnessing the progress and growth of each student in my studio across the four years. Encouraging my students to not be afraid of taking chances and making mistakes. In addition, traveling abroad to research the music traditions of indigenous cultures outside of Europe.

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 have been fortunate to have performed in many countries around the world with a variety of great artists and in many styles of music. I never thought that I would have had these experiences as a performer. Being afforded to take sabbaticals to places I dreamt of visiting while very young to study the drumming traditions, e.g., Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, has been a life-changer.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut. 

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

Alexander Gym’s all-weather track. I am usually the only one there when going for a slow run; always a nice breeze—geese, hawks, and eagles keeping you company while running in circles. Peaceful.

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

Hard to narrow it to one. For books, Black Elk Speaks; Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. For recordings, Alina by Arvo Pärt; Love Supreme by John Coltrane. For viewing, Battlestar Gallactica (2004–09) series; Cinema Paradiso.

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

See more faculty profiles here.

On Main Hall Green With … Alyssa Hakes: Digging deep into plant ecology

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Alyssa Hakes (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

Alyssa Hakes, an associate professor of biology, has focused on plant ecology since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2012.

Much of her research has involved plant-insect interactions. She involves her students in that research, using observational studies, field experiments, and computer models to understand how the spatial location of plants and plant traits might influence interactions with other organisms and what that might mean for plant reproduction and trait evolution.

Over the past year, Hakes has used goofy costumes to lighten the mood and help her students on Zoom get through the pandemic.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

We caught up with her to talk about 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 always get nervous and excited on the first day of class. I’m nervous because I care about you and your learning experience and I want to do a good job. I want our classroom—whether in Steitz, Youngchild, or on Zoom—to be a fun and welcoming space. My office is overgrown with potted plants and if you visit me, I will likely offer to give you one. 

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

My lab conducts field work at Whitefish Dunes State Park located near Bjorklunden. I study a rare plant called Pitcher’s thistle and an invasive insect, an evil weevil, that is eating their seeds. We discovered areas of the dunes that are more susceptible to weevil infestation and are studying how weevils move and select their plant hosts so that we can use this information to develop conservation strategies. It’s exciting research in a beautiful natural area. 

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?

As a college freshman, I knew I wanted to become a biologist but I was worried that learning about evolution in my classes would damage my religious faith. I was surprised to find support and acceptance from both my church—turns out my denomination is fine with evolution—and science mentors who insisted that I belong. It turned out not to be the issue I thought it would be. Now, evolution is one of my favorite topics to teach.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

I would want to work for the Girl Scouts of the USA organization. I’m a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and I benefited from their girl-centered mission and programming. When I was a graduate student at LSU, I volunteered for Girl Scouts and led local scouts on several backpacking and canoeing adventures. 

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

The Briggs greenhouse is one of my favorite spots on campus, especially during the Winter Term when I’m missing green plants and warmth. We have a nice teaching collection of desert and tropical plants that are used in several of our biology classes. My favorite plants are the cycads and the Amorphophallus titanum corpse flower plant, which I hope will grow large enough to flower someday and bless our campus with its famous stench.

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

I’m going to focus my answer to the art that got me through this past year. My favorite book and movie of 2020 were Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and The Forty-Year-Old Version, respectively. During the pandemic I also turned to the nostalgia and comfort of familiar music and TV. I listened to a lot of David Bowie and laughed along to old episodes of MST3K.

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

See more faculty profiles here.

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.

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

On Main Hall Green With … David Gerard: Economics in real time

Portrait on Main Hall Green: David Gerard (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

David Gerard, the John R. Kimberly Distinguished Professor of the American Economic System and associate professor of economics, has spent considerable time over the past year studying and teaching about the economics of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No surprise there. A specialist in risk regulation and public policy, particularly in areas of energy and the environment, Gerard regularly brings real-time issues into his teaching.

In 2015, his research and teaching on environmental issues earned him Lawrence’s annual Faculty Convocation Award. He then delivered a Convocation address on the growing economic and political challenges associated with climate change.

Gerard joined the Lawrence faculty in 2009 following eight years at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was executive director of the Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation in the College of Engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.

We caught up with Gerard to talk about his 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 developed this class especially for you, the Lawrence student, and I believe in my heart that you can do well. This is especially true for the introductory economics students, who often want me to know that they have never taken an economics class. I tell them, hey, this is intro, you are in the right place.

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

The pandemic has really shaken things up for me. My research and teaching focus on risk regulation and on the interface of the public and private sectors, so there is a lot going on.  There is so much going on, in fact, that I pushed back my Spring 2020 sabbatical to teach a seminar on the economics of pandemics. We followed along with the economics and policy scholarship that was emerging in real time, and we also surveyed the social science and historical scholarship on how epidemics and pandemics have shaped the arc of history. There are elements of that material in just about every course I will teach going forward. It was a pretty central focus of my Public Economics course this past fall. In our Senior Experience seminar this term we are examining recent economics scholarship on topics ranging from vaccine allocation decisions to the effects on public trust in scientists to the lasting impacts on civil liberties. Professor Shober and I are hosting a reading and discussion group on the U.S. experience with infectious diseases. I’m looking forward to finding out how this one ends.

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?

My first time teaching First-Year Studies we covered The Tempest. This was the year we had that giant class of 450 first-year students, so we moved the lecture to the Chapel.  The place was packed. Professor Bond brought the house down with a lecture that featured two student actors and a big log. The Actors from the London Stage were on campus to perform the play and to conduct these hands-on acting workshops for our sections. There was this extended, exhilarating Shakespeare buzz across campus for a week or more. I wasn’t expecting the campus-wide Shakespeare buzz. 

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

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

My wife, Kirsten, tells me that I am happiest when I am teaching, so I count it as a blessing that I will never have to find out. My students will tell you it would have to be something with an “inelastic demand for my services.” The correct answer is a professional bocce player. 

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

That would be the Fishbowl on Briggs 2nd.  The back wall is a big window that looks into the hallway, so passersby can look right in. It is such a ridiculous room, I love teaching in there. Our tutors also hold office hours in there at night sometimes, and I like dropping in to see how that’s going and chat with the students in a more relaxed setting. My second choice would be a chair next to the window in the Nathan B. Pusey Room overlooking the Fox River. Professor Parks and I used to go drink our coffee and while away the hours there back when we were young and carefree.   

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 is Michael Chabon’s Wonderboys. It is about navigating successes and failures and coming to terms with who you are and who you might become. I have read it at different stages of my life and take different things away every time. It is one of the rare books where the book is considerably more violent than the film. And it is set in Pittsburgh!  

The recording is Miles Davis’ Right Off from the Jack Johnson album. A friend gave it to me and I could not believe I had never heard it. The energy is incredible. Everything about it is incredible.

The film that speaks to me is Breaking Away. I still cry every time I see it. Well, now you know.

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

For more On Main Hall Green With … features, see here.