June 1, 2000
The work of the Task Force on Residential Life has entered its final phase, and it is expected that a final report with recommendations on housing, food service, and campus life will be presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration in October.
During the spring, the Task Force completed the last segment of a year-long information-gathering exercise that involved current students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni, and trustees. A series of listening sessions was held in March with alumni groups in the Fox Cities, Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee. A previous listening session had been conducted with the Twin Cities alumni club in December.
The listening sessions provided the Task Force with an opportunity to engage in a series of discussions with alumni about residential life at Lawrence and to answer questions about the work of the Task Force. The benefits of the residential nature of the college, the importance of supporting student groups and organizations, and possible improvements in residential facilities and services were among the topics discussed.
The alumni listening sessions were but one of many venues through which the Task Force received comment on residential life at the college. As the study got underway, the Task Force interviewed individual students, small groups of students, and representatives of campus organizations; spoke with faculty, staff, and trustees; and held several open forums. Parents also provided opinions and ideas to the Task Force at a focus group held during Family Weekend in October 1999. Written opinion surveys were distributed on campus during Term I. The student survey received a response of 604, providing a "snapshot" of the thinking of just over half the students in residence at Lawrence.
As part of its initial research, the Task Force also gathered comparative information on where Lawrence stands in terms of housing, food services, and related matters, conducting site visits to Ripon, St. Norbert, Grinnell, Macalester, Carleton, and St. Olaf Colleges. These site visits provided the Task Force with information on a variety of residential models and practices.
All of this input has been used by the Task Force to inform its thinking and begin the process of drafting recommendations for the Trustees' consideration. In April, the Task Force held two open meetings on campus and issued a general call for comment to solicit reaction to various ideas and proposals under examination.
Members of the Task Force would like to express their appreciation to all alumni who participated in the listening sessions and to those who have written or emailed the Task Force with their comments. The Task Force continues to welcome additional feedback, and alumni are encouraged to contact either of the co-chairs, Nancy Truesdell and Michael Orr, or Jeffrey Riester '70, trustee liaison to the Task Force. Updates on the work in progress have been regularly posted and are still available on the Task Force's website.