October 20, 2000
Dear member of the Lawrence Community,
In his October 1998 "Charge to the Lawrence Community," Board Chair John Luke Jr. initiated on behalf of the Board of Trustees a comprehensive review of residential life at Lawrence. Its goal was "determining if current policies and practices in this area are consistent in furthering Lawrence's mission of liberal education and suggesting specific ways in which the college can ensure that the residential life experience contributes vigorously to the intellectual, personal, and social development of Lawrence students and the overall quality of campus life for all members of the Lawrence community." I am pleased, two years later, to present you with the initial outcome of that review. Enclosed is a copy of the response of the Board of Trustees to the final report of the Task Force on Residential Life, a response that reiterates the principles guiding the work of the Task Force, that signals the Board's acceptance of the report, and that identifies actions the Board plans to take in the months and years ahead. A copy of the full report has been posted at the Lawrence website.
The process of reviewing our residential community has been open and consultative from the start. The Task Force itself was composed of students, faculty, staff, and alumni representing a variety of views and interests, and its members have met with and sought input from constituencies on campus and off. Assistance from appropriate outside consultants has been enlisted when necessary. The result, the Board believes, is a report that weighs carefully the many factors defining and affecting a residential college, that embraces our institutional commitment to equity, and that lays the groundwork for very substantive improvements to the quality of life for all students at Lawrence.
Among the improvements recommended by the Task Force and most exciting to the Board are the planning for and eventual construction of a new campus center that would serve as the hub of residential activities on campus; the construction and renovation of residence halls in order to provide more attractive and varied housing options for students; the strengthening of food service; and the expansion of opportunities for students to live together in formal and informal small groups. We believe that these enhancements will change for the better life beyond the classroom at the college.
At the same time, all significant change invites apprehension, and the Board recognizes that some members of the Lawrence community have been concerned about contemplated alterations in our residential arrangements. I ask now that you read the Task Force report and the Board response with care and am convinced that you will see in both the report and the response a determination to act in the best interests of all current and future Lawrentians. As trustees of the university, we are responsible for ensuring that Lawrence provides first-rate programs and facilities, that it manages its resources judiciously, and that it exemplifies in its own behavior the honesty and fairness that it expects, indeed demands, of its students. In accepting and responding to the Task Force report, we believe we have taken seriously all of those responsibilities.
Everyone associated with Lawrence can point to, and be justly proud of, the investments and changes of the past few years, including the addition of the new lodge at Björklunden, the creation of new majors and programs, and the construction and renovation of academic buildings--crowned, this month, by the opening of our magnificent new Thomas A. Steitz Hall of Science. Each of these changes has been effected for the sole purpose of enhancing the undergraduate experience of the students at our college. Planned enhancements to the quality of residential life will be carried out with the same purpose in mind, and we believe they will help secure Lawrence's place as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country.
In closing, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the work of the Task Force. Once again, I invite all members of our community to participate in the ongoing discussions of residential life and to work with us as we carry out these and other improvements to Lawrence.
Harold E. Jordan, '72
Chair of the Board of Trustees