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Lawrence University
Motto Light More Light!
Veritas est lux
(Truth is Light)
Established 1847
Type Private
Endowment $168.5 million[1]
President Jill Beck
Staff 132 faculty
Students 1,420 undergraduates
Location Appleton, Wisconsin, USA
Campus Urban, 84 acres (340,000 m²) main campus, 425 acres (1.7 km²) Björklunden
Athletics 23 varsity sports teams
Mascot Viking
Affiliations Associated Colleges of the Midwest

Lawrence University is a private liberal arts college located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Founded in 1847, the first classes were held on November 12, 1849. Lawrence was the second college in the United States to be founded as a coeducational institution.

Lawrence University has a 425-acre (1.72 km2) northern property, Björklunden, in Door County, Wisconsin, which serves as a site for retreats, seminars, concerts, and theatrical performances. Donald and Winifred Boynton of Highland Park, Illinois, donated the property to Lawrence in 1963.

The student newspaper is known as The Lawrentian. Lawrence University is known by many for the Great Midwest Trivia Contest broadcast every January over the college radio station WLFM. The contest is now exclusively webcast because of WLFM's move away from traditional FM radio broadcast.



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 in its 1847 charter from the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature. Its oldest currently-standing building, Main Hall, was built in 1853.[2]

Lawrence's first period of major growth came during the tenure of alumnus Samuel G. Plantz as president. From 1894 until 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 joined with Milwaukee-Downer College, symbolizing the two schools united as one. 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. 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 born by a senior female professor, but her only duty is to carry the Downer Mace in academic processions.

The Lawrence Conservatory of Music, usually referred to as "the Con", was founded in 1894. The university confers a Bachelor of Music degree and also offers a five-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in addition to the music degree.

Lawrence University is distinguished by originating the idea of freshman studies.[citation needed] Freshman Studies at Lawrence is a mandatory two trimester class that panoptically exposes students to noted literature from many fields. President Nathan M. Pusey is credited with initiating the program in 1945, although Professor Waples chaired the Freshman Studies Committee and was responsible for actually implementing the program. The program continues to this day, despite being temporarily suspended in 1974, and has been adapted by many liberal arts colleges.

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.

When the University had separate offices for a "Dean of Women" and a "Dean of Men", the officer overseeing women students was called the "Dean of Downer." That title is still borne by the senior woman on the faculty, but her only duty now is carrying 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 bachelor's degrees are conferred in the name of "Lawrence & Downer Colleges of Lawrence University."

Ranking and reputation

Lawrence consistently ranks in the first tier of liberal arts colleges in the report released by U.S. News & World Report.[citation needed]

Lawrence is also highlighted as a "best value" by Princeton Review. The school is one of the few colleges in America that has need-blind admissions, and the college awards both need and merit-based financial aid to over 93% of its students.

Lawrence is included in Loren Pope's, Colleges That Change Lives

In 2009, Forbes ranked Lawrence 41st on the list of America's 600 Best Colleges, which combined national research universities and liberal arts colleges in a single survey[3]


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

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, much lower than the national average.[citation needed]

Lawrence grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees. A double degree is possible and double degree students are not uncommon. Lawrence offers a number of cooperative degree programs in areas such as engineering and environmental studies.

The college has major programs in most areas of the liberal arts. The school also offers the option of interdisciplinary majors and allows students to create 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.

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.

In 2005, Lawrence University began the Lawrence Fellows Program, initially selecting eight recent Ph.D.s to teach and research at Lawrence for a period of two to three years. The goal is to expand the program to twenty Ph.D.s.

Student body

Lawrence enrolls about 1,400 students who hail from nearly every U.S. state, though the majority of them are from Wisconsin and other Midwestern states.

Over 75% of the students identify as white. About 12% of the students are international students.


Athletics logo

In 2005-06, Lawrence University men's basketball team was ranked number one in NCAA Division III for much of the season after starting the season unranked. The team was the only undefeated team in all divisions of college basketball for the last six weeks of the season, ending up 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. Coach John Tharp was named Division III Midwest Coach of the Year. Excitement among fans caused attendance to increase to capacity for home games, causing local fire officials to demand that Lawrence cap attendance for the NCAA tournament games that Lawrence would host. The university decided to issue passes to attendees. Following their win of the Midwest Conference Tournament in 2009, the Vikings have qualified for the NCAA Division III National Tournament in five of the last six years. 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 in Tacoma, Washington.

Notable alumni

Hiett Hall houses 183 students. Lawrence offers housing to all accepted students.


University presidents

  • 1849-1853 William Harkness Sampson, principal
  • 1853-1859 Edward Cooke, president
  • 1859-1865 Russell Zelotes Mason, president
  • 1865-1879 George McKendree Steele, president
  • 1879-1883 Elias DeWitt Huntley, president
  • 1883-1889 Bradford Paul Raymond, president
  • 1889-1893 Charles Wesley Gallagher, president
  • 1893-1894 L. Wesley Underwood, acting president
  • 1894-1924 Samuel G. Plantz, president
  • 1924-1925 Wilson Samuel Naylor, acting president
  • 1925-1937 Henry Merritt Wriston, president
  • 1937-1943 Thomas Nichols Barrows, president
  • 1943-1944 Ralph Jerome Watts, acting president
  • 1944-1953 Nathan Marsh Pusey, president
  • 1954-1963 Douglas Maitland Knight, president
  • 1963-1969 Curtis William Tarr, president
  • 1969-1979 Thomas S. Smith, president
  • 1979-2004 Richard Warch, president
  • 2004-present Jill Beck, president

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ Council of Independent Colleges, "Main Hall", Historic Campus Architecture Project.
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  29. ^"Justus+Henry+Nelson"
  30. ^ Alumni Authors – Harry Maclean ’64 – – Retrieved November 23, 2009
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  32. ^ a b
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External links



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