Lawrence announces convocation speakers for 2010-2011

Laura Streyle

After much collaboration and deliberation within the Committee on Public Occasions, the Convocation Series for the 2010-2011 academic year has been set. The series will be based on Lawrence’s theme for the next academic year, “Innovation Through Collaboration.”
The Convocation Series has a permanent opening and closing: the year always begins with the matriculation convocation in September at which the president of the university speaks. At the end of the year, a Lawrence graduate speaks for the honors convocation. Next year’s speaker will be medical anthropologist Dr. Sara Quandt, ’73.
Quandt, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention within the Division of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, works to correct the health disparities experienced by rural and minority populations. Her work has also examined pesticide exposure, green tobacco sickness and occupational injuries and illnesses.
Between matriculation and the honors convocation, PBS commentator Ray Suarez will speak Oct. 5, independent curator Mary Jane Jacob will speak Jan. 27 and Lawrence’s own Associate Professor of Theater Arts Timothy X. Troy will speak April 5.
Suarez, a senior correspondent for “NewsHour” on PBS, has authored two books and contributed to many other publications. He most recently wrote “The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America.”
Jacob, Professor of Exhibition Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has published a number of books and articles that focus on innovation, creativity and collaboration that can bring art from the museum into living communities.
A recipient of the Faculty Convocation Award, Troy has been recognized for his energy and enthusiasm, for his recent creative interdisciplinary research regarding the water systems in China and the Great Lakes region and for his outstanding work within the Lawrence Theatre Department.
The process of choosing speakers for the Convocation Series begins with an e-mail from the Committee on Public Occasions sent to students and faculty soliciting suggestions for possible candidates for the series. There is often a much higher response rate from faculty than from the student body.
Next, the committee turns to the office of President Jill Beck to see what the administrative cabinet has decided to be the new theme for the upcoming academic year.
The Committee on Public Occasions then whittles down the suggestions from the students and faculty based on the relevancy of the speaker’s topic to the president’s theme, the cost of bringing the speaker to Lawrence, the speaker’s skill at inspiring or captivating an audience and the compatibility of the speaker’s schedule with the academic calendar.
“It’s a balancing act!” said Lynn Hagee, Director of Conferences and Summer Programs and five-year member of the Committee on Public Occasions.
“The way the committee functions is very much in line with the liberal arts ideals of Lawrence. Members of the committee all meet to discuss the decisions and try to include the interests of people from many different areas of study,” said Patrick Miner, student member of the committee.
Thanks to a sizable donation from an anonymous donor, the 2010-2011 Convocation Series will be enjoyed in the newly renovated chapel, complete with new chairs that are similar to those in Harper Hall and the Warch Campus Center Cinema, aisle lighting and expanded seating.
The 2010-2011 speakers will be in good company. According to the online archives of Lawrence University’s Convocation Series, the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage has been occupied in the past by leading personalities such as Philip Glass, Susan Sontag, Gwendolyn Brooks and Elie Wiesel.