Beck delivers convo

Rebecca Carvalho

President Jill Beck opened Lawrence’s 2009-2010 convocation series Tuesday, Sept. 17, speaking on the university’s current stability and success in various fields and recognizing students and faculty for various recent accomplishments.
Beck spoke about the university’s preparedness in weathering current economic conditions. Recently, Lawrence was able to open the Warch Campus Center after 21 years of planning. “Thanks to our alumni, Lawrence does not owe a dollar on the construction and costs of its building”, Beck said.
Despite this success, the university is and was not immune to the crisis. However, Beck said Lawrence has not cut positions or programs because of a commitment to the current learning environment made possible through donations from the university’s strong alumni and donor network.
“Relationships appear to be the glue that keeps Lawrence strong,” Beck added.
Other changes for the new year include the addition of nine new faculty members, a financial aid increase of 5.4 percent according to one calculation, a new Web site and e-mail system and grounds improvements.
Beck went on to highlight the accomplishments of students and faculty during the past year. Of special interest are the university’s U.S. News and World Report ranking of sixth in the nation in the category of “Faculty Accessibility to Students” and of 10th in the nation in the category of best college theater program.
Individual faculty achievements include German professor Brent Peterson’s grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a summer seminar in Berlin.
Beck also emphasized the national and international accolades of students. During the 2008-2009 school year, Lawrence students were awarded two Downbeat magazine awards, four Fulbright scholarships and one Watson Fellowship.
Other noteworthy moments of the convocation include University Organist Katherine Handford’s organ rendition of Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 547” and David N. Johnson’s “Trumpet Tune in D Major” during the faculty processional.
Other musical performances included the freshmen Welcome Week Choir conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Phillip Swan and Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Paul Nesheim in his first Lawrence performance and an original genre-bending rendition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting” from “A Coney Island of the Mind” for narrator, didgeridoo, percussion and double bass.
Additionally, Howard Niblock, professor of music, read Kate Light’s poem, “What I did to Time,” whose speaker expresses a profound sense of regret after taking time for granted.
Associate Professor of Geology Jeff Clark concluded the convocation with an update on Lawrence’s Green Roots, a two-year initiative which is updating the university’s environmental and sustainability policies.
The 2009-2010 Convocation series will also include the following:
Oct. 20, 2009 – Marcia Bjornerud, Lawrence University professor of geology and Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Studies
Feb. 16, 2010 – Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S.
April 8, 2010 – Rebecca Solnit, award-winning writer with works focusing on environmental issues
May 20, 2010 – Robert Hartwell, Vermont State Senator
An audio version of Beck’s speech is available on the Lawrence University Web page.

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