Posse to attend Lawrence in fall

Brianna Stapleton

In autumn 2007, a new freshman class will take over campus during Welcome Week, ten of whom will be attending Lawrence through the help of the Posse Foundation.
The Posse Foundation selects minority youth from inner-city high schools and gives them the chance to succeed in college through leadership training and tuition assistance.
Steve Syverson, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said that President Beck met with Debbie Bial, the founder of the Posse Foundation, before agreeing to be a partner university.
Beck also spoke with the presidents of other colleges who host “posses” and found that they were pleased with the program.
“She felt that our participation in the program would have a similar impact here at Lawrence as we work toward becoming as diverse a community as possible,” said Syverson.
Posse scholars are selected through the Dynamic Assessment Process, developed exclusively by the Posse Foundation. Representatives of the foundation travel to high schools in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
In the first phase, DAP requires students to showcase public speaking, listening, negotiation and communication skills in nontraditional forums.
About 60 percent of the participants are invited to advance to the second phase, which consists of an individual interview.
Only 20 candidates are selected to move to the final phase, where they must participate in a workshop with trained staff from the Posse Foundation and representatives from the partner university.
The workshop tests their ability to work with others as well as their individual motivation.
“Once they are here, we expect them not to band together as a group – they each have very different interests and strengths, so they will be out there on campus just like any other 10 individual students,” Syverson said.
After this final phase, the university admissions staff will deliberate with the Posse Foundation to select the 10 students who will be invited to attend Lawrence University on a full academic scholarship.
According to Dean Syverson, one generous trustee emeritus will help financially support the Posse program for the first few years.
The team of 10 will undergo eight months of academic, cross-cultural communication and team-building workshops before arriving in Appleton. This will equip the students to lead programs while here on the Lawrence campus.
“One of the things I am most excited about is the potential impact of the Posse Plus Retreats,” Syverson said.
The scholars will get to pick a topic for the retreat at Bj”rklunden, but one not often addressed on campus, perhaps relating to cultural or socioeconomic differences.
Posse scholars can invite other students, faculty and staff to the retreat, bringing the total number of participants to about 80. Because of their extensive training before arriving at Lawrence, “these retreats apparently are amazing,” said Syverson.
The title of the Posse Foundation program comes from an interesting anecdote.
A minority youth who received a college scholarship dropped out after six months. When asked why he did not continue, he replied, “I never would have left if I’d had my posse with me.”
The Posse Program has been extremely successful at other colleges and Lawrence hopes that the incoming posse will find the same success here, bringing diversity and awareness to the campus dynamic.