Lawrence University
Lawrence University of Wisconsin seal.svg
Former names
Lawrence College
Lawrence Institute
MottoLight! More Light!
Veritas est lux
Motto in English
Truth is Light
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1847; 176 years ago (1847)
Academic affiliations
Oberlin Group
Annapolis Group
Associated Colleges of the Midwest
Endowment$487.0 million (2021)[1]
PresidentLaurie Carter
Administrative staff
164 faculty[2]
Students1,555 undergraduates
(fall 2013)[2]
Location, ,
United States

44°15′40″N 88°24′00″W / 44.261°N 88.400°W / 44.261; -88.400Coordinates: 44°15′40″N 88°24′00″W / 44.261°N 88.400°W / 44.261; -88.400
CampusUrban - 84 acres (34 ha)
Björklunden - 425 acres (172 ha)
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIIMidwest Conference
Lawrence University of Wisconsin logo.svg
Appleton is located in Wisconsin
Location in Wisconsin

Lawrence University is a private liberal arts college and conservatory of music in Appleton, Wisconsin. Founded in 1847, its first classes were held on November 12, 1849. Lawrence was the second college in the U.S. to be founded as a coeducational institution. (The first was long-vanished New York Central College.)


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.[3][4] Its oldest extant building, Main Hall, was built in 1853.[5] Lawrence University was the second coeducational institution in the country.[6]

Lawrence's first period of major growth came during the thirty-year tenure (1894―1924) of alumnus Samuel G. Plantz as president, when the student body quadrupled, from 200 to 800.

From 1913 until 1964, it was named Lawrence College, to emphasize its small size and liberal arts education focus. The name returned 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.[7]

The Lawrence Conservatory of Music, usually referred to as "the Con", was founded in 1874. Lawrence offers three degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Musical Arts. It also offers a five-year dual degree program, where students can receive both B.A. and B.Mus. degrees.

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, the list varying from year to year. 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.[8]

In 2005, LU 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.[9] In January of 2014, LU embarked on a new capital campaign called "Be The Light!". Upon the conclusion of the campaign on December 31, 2020, more than $232,613,052 had been raised in total toward four campaign priorities: Lawrence Fund, Full Speed to Full Need, Student Journey, and Campus Renewal.[10]

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

Milwaukee-Downer traditions

Main Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an Appleton landmark.
Main Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and 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.)


Lawrence Memorial Chapel
Lawrence Memorial Chapel

University presidents

Presidents of Milwaukee-Downer College


Seeley G. Mudd Library contains over 420,000 volumes
Seeley G. Mudd Library contains over 420,000 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.[12]

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. 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.[clarification needed]

All students are required to take First-Year Studies during their first two trimesters, which introduces students to broad areas of study and provides a common academic experience for the college. Known as Freshman Studies until 2021, the program was established in 1945, and aside from a brief interruption in the mid-1970s it has remained a consistent fixture of the school's liberal arts curriculum.[13] Lawrence's First-Year Studies program focuses on a mixture of Great Books and more contemporary, influential works, which include non-fiction books, fiction books, and various other types of works, such as paintings, photographs, musical recordings, and the periodic table of the elements. Readings are replaced every few years, with the exception of Plato's Republic, which has been included on the list since 1945.[14]

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. Students take about 2/3 of their classes in Music and about 1/3 in other subjects for the B.Mus., and the reverse for B.A. in Music.

The Conservatory offers also a Bachelor of Musical Arts, primarily—but not exclusively—for students whose interest is in other than Western Classical Music; students take 3/4 of their classes in Music, and 1/4 in other subjects.

Academic affiliation

Lawrence is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, an academic consortium of 14 liberal arts colleges in the Midwest and Colorado which coordinates several off-campus study programs in a large number of countries as its primary activity.


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 5,000-seat Banta Bowl) are on the southeast shore. Lawrence also has a 425-acre (1.7 km2) 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.[15] The 107,000-square-foot (9,900 m2) 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:

Student body

Hiett Hall, a dormitory
Hiett Hall, a dormitory

Lawrence enrolls about 1,500 students. The total enrollment in academic year 2010–11 was 1,566 students,[16] the largest student body in Lawrence University's history. Over 75% of the students identify as white,[16] about 12% are international students,[12] and about 25% of students study in the conservatory of music. In the fall of 2014, a quarter of the incoming class were domestic students of color.[17]

Lawrence students have been named Rhodes Scholars seven times. Since 1976, 57 students and nine faculty have received Fulbright Scholarships. Since 1969, 73 students have been named Watson Fellows.[18]

Student traditions

At the beginning of every academic year in September, incoming freshmen arrive a week before returning students to partake in Welcome Week. During Welcome Week, various activities are planned in order to help the incoming class get to know one another and to help them acclimate to college life.[19] During the first night of Welcome Week, students and their parents attend the President's Welcome, which concludes with the traditional matriculation handshake, where every member of the incoming class shakes hands and exchanges words with the university's president.[19]

During the fall term, the on-campus fraternity Beta Theta Pi hosts the annual Beach Bash. For this event, the brothers of ΒθΠ shovel approximately 14 tons of sand into the fraternity house basement,[20] and install a boardwalk and a lifeguard station that doubles as a DJ booth.This tradition was skipped in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21]

During spring term, Lawrence hosts a music festival, LU-aroo (a play on words on the popular music festival Bonnaroo). Held on the quad, the festival features many talented student bands, both from the college and the conservatory.[22] In 2016, the musician The Tallest Man on Earth played at the festival.[23]

Also during spring term, many seniors participate in the Senior Streak, which typically happens during the eighth week of the term.[24] The goal of the senior streak is to provide seniors with one last opportunity to let loose before finals, graduation, and post-college life.[24] Although rumor says that the senior streak was created as a result of former president Richard Warch's aversion to the activity, this has been proven to be false.[24] Students, often coming from Lawrence's on-campus bar, the Viking Room, strip their clothes and run around the area of Main Hall, as one last hurrah before finals and graduation.


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
UniversityLawrence University
ConferenceMidwest Conference
Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (hockey only)
NCAADivision III
Athletic directorJason Imperati
LocationAppleton, Wisconsin
Varsity teams21
Football stadiumBanta Bowl (5,255)
Basketball arenaAlexander Gymnasium
Baseball stadiumWhiting Field[25]
NicknameVikings (1926)[26]
Fight song"Go, Lawrence, Go"[26]
ColorsNavy and White

Lawrence University's intercollegiate athletic teams, known as the Vikings since 1926,[26] compete in the Midwest Conference in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, and track & field; women's sports include basketball, cross country, fencing, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

In 2005–06, the men's basketball team was ranked first in Division III for much of the season, after starting the season unranked.[27] The Vikings were 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.[28] Coach John Tharp was named Division III Midwest Coach of the Year.[29] Beginning in 2004, Lawrence qualified for the Division III national tournament in five of the next six years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009).[27] Their best result was in 2004, advancing to the quarterfinals (Elite 8), but fell to eventual national champion Wisconsin–Stevens Point by a point in overtime at Tacoma, Washington.[30]

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.


Lawrence was ranked 56th on the 2013 U.S. News: List of Best U.S. National Liberal Arts Colleges.[31]

Notable faculty

Notable alumni

See also


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  2. ^ a b As of Fall 2013. "Lawrence University 2013 Profile" (PDF). Lawrence University. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Lawrence History | Lawrence University". Retrieved 2014-05-18.
  4. ^ See also Charles Breunig’s book, A Great and Good Work: A History of Lawrence University, 1847–1964.
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  6. ^ "President Mark Burstein". Lawrence University. Lawrence University. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
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  8. ^ "Freshman Studies History". Lawrence University. Lawrence University. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
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  10. ^ "Campaign Progress | Be The Light!". 2020-12-31. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
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  19. ^ a b "Welcome Week 2016 Schedule" (PDF). Lawrence University. Lawrence University. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
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