Lawrence University

This article is about the college in Wisconsin. For the university in Michigan, see Lawrence Technological University. For the university in Canton, New York, see St. Lawrence University. For the school in Pakistan, see Lawrence College Ghora Gali.
Lawrence University
Former names
Lawrence College (1913-64)
Lawrence Institute (1847-49)
Motto Light More Light!
Veritas est lux
Motto in English
Truth is Light
Type Private - Liberal Arts
Established 1847
Endowment $212.4 million[1]
President Mark Burstein
Administrative staff
164 faculty[1]
Students 1,555 undergraduates
(fall 2013)[1]
Location Appleton, Wisconsin, U.S.
Coordinates: 44°15′40″N 88°24′00″W / 44.261°N 88.400°W / 44.261; -88.400
Campus Urban - 84 acres (34 ha)
Björklunden - 425 acres (172 ha)
Athletics Division III (NCAA)
23 varsity teams
Affiliations Associated Colleges of the Midwest
Lawrence University
Location in Wisconsin

Lawrence University is a liberal arts college and conservatory of music in Appleton, Wisconsin. Founded in 1847, the school held its first classes on November 12, 1849. Lawrence was the second college in the United States to be founded as a coeducational institution. The school is a member of the Colleges That Change Lives and one of the Great Books Colleges.

In a study by the National Science Foundation, Lawrence ranked 28th nationally in the percentage of graduates who go on to earn doctorates.[2]


The 84-acre (34 ha) campus is located in downtown Appleton, divided into two parts by the Fox River. The academic campus is on the north shore of the river, and the major athletic facilities (including the 5000-seat Banta Bowl) are on the southeast shore. Lawrence also has a 425-acre (172 ha) northern estate called Björklunden (full name: Björklunden vid sjön), which serves as a site for retreats, seminars, concerts, and theatrical performances. It contains a chapel for weddings. Donald and Winifred Boynton of Highland Park, Illinois, donated the property in Door County to Lawrence in 1963.

Campus development

In the mid-1980s, the Physics Department built a $330,000 small laser laboratory (known as the "laser palace"), which includes 800 5 mW small lasers and more than 500 mirrors.

In 2009, Lawrence opened the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center, a gathering place for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests from the Fox Cities community.[3] The 107,000 square foot building is situated on the Fox River on the site of the former Hulburt House. The Warch Campus Center includes a cinema, campus dining services, campus mailboxes, and various meeting and event spaces. The building has earned a LEED Gold certification for meeting sustainability goals in energy conservation, environmental friendliness, and green building.

The college has a long history of razing buildings on its campus, because of the limited land available for constructing new buildings. Many buildings on campus are built on the site of former buildings. Some razed buildings include:


Lawrence's first president, William Harkness Sampson, founded the school with Henry R. Colman, using $10,000 provided by philanthropist Amos Adams Lawrence, and matched by the Methodist church. Both founders were ordained Methodist ministers, but Lawrence was Episcopalian. The school was originally named Lawrence Institute of Wisconsin in its 1847 charter from the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, but the name was changed to Lawrence University before classes began in November 1849.[4][5] Its oldest extant building, Main Hall, was built in 1853.[6] Lawrence University was the second coeducational institution in the country.[7]

Lawrence's first period of major growth came during the tenure of alumnus Samuel G. Plantz as president. From 1894 to 1924, when Plantz presided over the school, its student body grew from 200 to 800.

From 1913 until 1964, the school was named Lawrence College, to emphasize its small size and liberal arts education focus. The name was changed to Lawrence University when it merged with Milwaukee-Downer College. The state of Wisconsin then purchased the Milwaukee-Downer property and buildings to expand the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Initially, the university designated two entities: Lawrence College for Men and Downer College for Women. This separation has not lasted in any material form, though degrees are still conferred "on the recommendation of the Faculty of Lawrence and Downer Colleges" and the university by-laws still make the distinction.

During World War II, Lawrence College was one of 131 colleges and universities in the nation that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[8]

The Lawrence Conservatory of Music, usually referred to as "the Con", was founded in 1874. Lawrence offers two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music.

Freshman Studies at Lawrence is a mandatory two-term class, in which all students study the same selected 11 classic works of literature, art, and music. President Nathan M. Pusey is credited with initiating the program in 1945, although Professor Waples chaired the Freshman Studies Committee and was responsible for implementing the program. The program continues to this day, despite being temporarily suspended in 1975.[9]

In 2005 Lawrence University initiated a capital campaign called "More Light!", which aimed at raising $150 million. By October 2011 the college had raised $160,272,839, with the conclusion event held on October 28, 2011.[10]

Lawrence University is part of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of liberal arts college libraries.

Milwaukee-Downer traditions

The cupola on Main Hall at Lawrence University is an Appleton landmark.

The traditions and heritage of Milwaukee-Downer are woven into the Appleton campus, from the grove of hawthorn trees (called Hawthornden) between Brokaw and Colman halls, to the sundial on the back of Main Hall, to the bestowing upon each class a class color and banner.

The Lawrence Dean of Women was referred to as the "Dean of Downer", but when the offices of Dean of Men and Dean of Women were merged to form the Dean of Students, the substantive duties of the "Dean of Downer" came to an end; the title is still borne by a senior female professor, but her only duty is to carry the Downer Mace in academic processions. For many years the women's choir was called the Downer Chorus. At one time the BA was conferred upon women in the name of "Downer College of Lawrence University" and upon men in the name of "Lawrence College of Lawrence University"; now all B.A. degrees are conferred in the name of "Lawrence & Downer Colleges of Lawrence University." (The B.Mus. degree is from "the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music.)


Seeley G. Mudd Library. The library contains nearly 400,000 volumes.

Lawrence University operates on a trimester calendar. The academic year runs from mid-September to mid-June. The student/faculty ratio at Lawrence is 9:1.[11] Lawrence grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, with a double degree possible. Lawrence offers a number of cooperative degree programs in areas such as engineering, health sciences and environmental studies.

The college offers majors in most of the liberal arts. The school also offers the option of interdisciplinary areas of study and allows students to design their own majors. All students are required to take Freshman Studies, which introduces students to broad areas of study and provides a common academic experience for the college. Lawrence’s freshman studies program focuses on a mixture of Great Books and more contemporary, influential works. For example, the 2013-2014 list includes Plato's Republic and Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home (subtitled A Family Tragicomic)".

The school has an independent study option that allows students to design their own courses. This allows students to explore academic interests not covered by Lawrence’s classes or to explore topics more deeply. Over 90% of the students take advantage of the independent study program.

Conservatory of Music

The Lawrence University Conservatory of Music was founded in 1874 and has been a part of Lawrence University ever since. The Conservatory offers Bachelor of Music degrees in Performance, Theory/Composition, Music Education, and a five-year double degree option that grants both a BM degree from the Conservatory and a BA degree from the College. Approximately 25% of the Lawrence student body, or 350 students, is in the Conservatory. The Conservatory has three choirs, two bands, two jazz ensembles, a symphony orchestra, an improvisation collective, five world music ensembles, and numerous chamber music groups.

Student body

Hiett Hall, a dormitory

Lawrence enrolls about 1,500 students who hail from nearly every U.S. state. The total enrollment in academic year 2010-2011 was 1,566 students,[12] the largest student body in Lawrence University's history. Over 75% of the students identify as white.[12] About 12% are international students.[11] About 25% of students study in the conservatory of music. In the fall of 2014, a quarter of their incoming class were domestic students of color.[13]


The student newspaper, The Lawrentian, has been published for over a century. Lawrence University hosts the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, webcast every January over the college radio station, WLFM.


Lawrence Vikings
University Lawrence University
Conference Midwest Conference
NCAA Division III
Athletic director Christyn Abaray
Location Appleton, Wisconsin
Varsity teams 21
Football stadium Banta Bowl - (5,255)
Basketball arena Alexander Gymnasium
Baseball stadium Whiting Field[14]
Nickname Vikings - (1926)[15]
Fight song "Go, Lawrence, Go"[15]
Colors Navy and White

Lawrence College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Vikings are a member of the Midwest Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, fencing, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

In 2005-06, the Lawrence men's basketball team was ranked number one in NCAA Division III for much of the season, after starting the season unranked.[16] The team was the only undefeated team in all divisions of college basketball for the last six weeks of the season, ending with a record of 25–1. Star forward Chris Braier won the Josten's Award as the top player in the country for both playing ability and community service.[17] Coach John Tharp was named Division III Midwest Coach of the Year.[18] Beginning in 2004, the men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA Division III National Tournament in five of the next six years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009).[16] Their best finish was in 2004 when they lost in the Elite 8 to eventual national champion University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point 82–81 in overtime at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

In 2011 Lawrence's men's cross country team won the Midwest Conference championships for the first time since 1985, beating Grinnell College and ending its 14-year winning streak.


In 2011 Newsweek named Lawrence University the 18th most rigorous U.S. college.[19] In 2012, it was ranked by Forbes as the top college in Wisconsin.[20] In 2011, Forbes ranked Lawrence 63rd on the list of America's (600) Best Colleges, which combined national research universities, liberal arts colleges, and military academies in a single survey.[21] Lawrence was ranked 56th on the 2013 U.S. News: List of Best U.S. National Liberal Arts Colleges.[22] Lawrence was included in Loren Pope's 1996 book, Colleges That Change Lives. InsideCollege lists Lawrence University as a college of distinction.[23][24]

University presidents

Presidents of Milwaukee-Downer College

Notable faculty

Notable alumni

See also


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  2. "National Science Foundation, Baccalaureate Origins of U.S.-trained S&E Doctorate Recipients".
  3. "About the Campus Center". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  4. "Lawrence History | Lawrence University". Retrieved 2014-05-18.
  5. See also Charles Breunig’s book, A Great and Good Work: A History of Lawrence University, 1847-1964.
  6. Council of Independent Colleges, "Main Hall", Historic Campus Architecture Project.
  7. "President Mark Burstein". Lawrence University. Lawrence University. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  8. "Call to Duty, Lawrence University's V-12 Program". Outagamie County Historical Society (OCHS). 2002. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  9. "Freshman Studies History". Lawrence University. Lawrence University. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  10. "Photos From the More Light! Finale Celebration « More Light Finale". 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  11. 1 2 "International Resources - Lawrence University". Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  12. 1 2 As of Fall 2010. "2010 Profile" (PDF). Lawrence University. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 11, 2012.
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