New Chair to Lead Trustees into Period of Residential Improvement -dlh

Katharine Enoch

On Jan. 1, 2005, William Hochkammer was elected chair of the board of trustees. Hochkammer will be tackling a new direction of growth blazed by the ideals of President Jill Beck and the standing desires of our residential campus during his yearlong tenure. In his new position, Hochkammer vows to “maintain some stability and continuance,” with the state of the community and the efforts of the previous chair, Jeff Riester.
Projects to be addressed during Hochkammer’s tenure include a campaign to support individualized teaching *********– a major priority of Beck’s ********– plans to build a new campus center, and “working on the early stages of capitol campaign planning.” “I hope to have a recommendation by May for the Board,” said Hochkammer, “When we are ready, you’ll hear about it.”
Hochkammer views the campaign efforts as an “opportunity to redefine what is special” about Lawrence. He believes that this campaign is more focused on the future, and less on maintenance. The projects of previous years have been efforts to improve the physical state of the academic system here at Lawrence, yielding new academic buildings and attentive maintenance. But he points out that Hiett Hall was the first residential project since the 1960s. “We have done a really good job with academic infrastructure,” opined Jeff Riester, the previous chair, “but Lawrence’s attention to aspects of residential life took a back seat.”
Hochkammer and the board’s goals for this next period of growth appear to be focused on the improvement of the residential community here at Lawrence. They find that they are returning to the reported needs and desires expressed by the residence life task force report they were given three years ago. Emphasis on individualized teaching and the new residential facilities will encourage a stronger sense of community, something unique to the size and character of Lawrence. “So much of the learning goes on because we live together,” said Riester. The board also hopes that this will improve student retention rates.
The campaign for individualized teaching, such as tutorials and student-designed classes, is a major goal expressed by Beck and followed up by the efforts of the board. This plan includes one-on-one education within the academic and athletics programs. To facilitate this new vision, Lawrence is currently searching for a new director of athletics. Once appointed, the new director will be the first who holds only that position and does not also coach.
That the new projects pursued by the board align with the goals and appointment of the new president is not a coincidence. “We knew we wanted the campaign to come after the new president had taken office,” said Hochkammer. “We wanted to do it right, when the resources were at hand,” added Riester, who implied that the fresh outlook and financial efforts of the new presidency provided the opportunity to finally attend to issues bumped to the bottom of the priority list. Most of the projects supported by the efforts of the board are “generated by President Beck and her staff,” said Riester, who also noted that some ideas are generated from within the board.
Riester stated that the job of the chair is to maintain communication between the office of the president and the board and to work on establishing and pursuing common goals, “cooperatively and productively,” Riester said. “Right now, because Jill’s themes and her developing vision for Lawrence are so captivating, the board is caught up in those things … because we agree with her.”
Riester sums up the motivation behind these projects by revealing that the board believes, “Lawrence is better than we are known to be … it is more than just getting people here, it’s about keeping people here.” And the projects planned under Hochkammer’s tenure as chair of the board strive to improve the personal experience of being a student at Lawrence.