Matriculation Convocation encourages sustainability

Emily Koenig

In May of 1979, the first year that formal convocation speakers were present at Lawrence, a man named Michael Hammond gave a speech titled “It Takes a Skyblue Juggler.” Although the content of this oddly titled speech remains a mystery, it shows that convocation series have long been an important institution at Lawrence.
Last year’s speeches focused on the importance of political involvement, and speakers included former ABC Chief White House Correspondent Terry Moran ’82 and U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford. Responding to a growing awareness of environmental concerns, Lawrence’s speakers will discuss ecological responsibility and progress in accordance with this year’s theme, “A Sustainable Lawrence.”
Each year, the Committee on Public Occasions, together with the President and the Provost, selects speakers for the convocations based on suggestions from the faculty, staff and students. This year, the speakers were chosen based on suitability, cost and availability from a field of over 60 suggestions.
The year’s theme was essential to their selection. President Beck reminded students, “It is a world-wide issue and [we] hope students will learn what we can do here in Appleton — and what we can learn about what is taking place in the world — to make a difference.”
The series opened Sept. 25 with the matriculation convocation, featuring six speakers from the Lawrence campus and Appleton community. This opening convocation emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts towards sustainability. The speakers represented a wide variety of interests and areas of expertise.
Jeff Clark, associate professor of Geology, and Marty Finkler, professor of Economics, discussed the significance of environmental impact and the importance of research and study. Tom Boldt, the chief executive of major construction services company The Boldt Company, spoke about the rising prevalence of green buildings as well as the execution of green features in the new Lawrence campus center.
Appleton community leaders Margaret Carroll ’61 and Pat Schinabeck informed Lawrence of the plans to build a garden on the College Avenue median. Finally, Lawrence University Community Council President James Duncan-Welke stressed the impact that students can make with simple decisions such as turning off computers overnight and taking shorter showers.
An exciting lineup of speakers will be available to the Lawrence campus during this year’s convocation series.
New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich will deliver a speech Dec. 2 titled “The Post-Bush Era Begins.”
In February, biologist, deep-sea explorer and co-founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association Edith Widder will present “Eye in the Sea: What Does Deep Sea Exploration Tell Us About Marine Conservation?”
Finally, at the honors convocation in May, author, activist and former editor of Ms. magazine Jennifer Baumgardner ’92 will speak about “Climate Change We Can Live With: The Ecology of Justice.”
These interlocking perspectives will all contribute to the concept of “A Sustainable Lawrence.” Said President Beck, “[The committee hopes] that after the presentations this year, Lawrentians will have a greater knowledge of how enormous and crucial the topic of sustainability is.