Contact: Rick Peterson, Manager of News Services, 920/832-6590
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2001

Lawrence University Awarded $500,000 NEH Challenge Grant for Freshman Studies Program

APPLETON, WIS. -- Lawrence University's signature curricular program -- Freshman Studies -- will be the beneficiary of a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lawrence has been awarded the one-half million dollar grant contingent upon the college raising a matching $2 million by July 31, 2005. The entire $2.5 million total will establish a permanent endowment to support its Freshman Studies program.

The NEH grant and subsequent matching funds will support a broad spectrum of programs designed to enhance Freshman Studies, including faculty development initiatives to prepare faculty to teach the course, provide released time for up to three years to the director of Freshman Studies and add a full-time academic support person who would supplement Freshman Studies instruction and also supervise tutors in Lawrence's writing lab.

The grant also will support additional library holdings and technological resources for the program and provide increased opportunities for campus visits by distinguished lecturers, noted artists and performers, such as the theatre troupe Actors from the London Stage, on a more frequent basis.

Plans also call for an expansion of the Lawrence Institute for Student Asssessment program and to extend the influence of Freshman Studies beyond the Lawrence campus, enabling the program's director to attend national conferences and discuss the program with other colleges and universities.

"For more than 50 years, Freshman Studies has been Lawrence's signature course and this NEH grant will secure and advance its place and purposes at Lawrence for generations to come," said Lawrence President Richard Warch in announcing the award. "This grant is a wonderful testimony to the significance of Freshman Studies as an exemplar of liberal learning and we are excited by and grateful for the NEH endorsement.

"Freshman Studies is the one course that our alumni most frequently cite as the most telling and lasting intellectual experience of their college years. The coincidence of receiving news of the grant just a few weeks after the death of former Lawrence President Nathan Pusey was not lost on me or others. The resulting endowment will be a fitting tribute to his great legacy at Lawrence."

Pusey, who died Nov. 14 at the age of 94, established Freshman Studies in 1945 and the course is still taught relatively unchanged from the way he introduced it. A sequential two-course program required of all freshmen, Freshman Studies is designed to increase critical thinking, writing and speaking skills. It emphasizes the scholarly discussion and analysis of ideas through the study of classical works of literature, art and music. The program is considered the cornerstone of a Lawrence education.

Lawrence was one of only three private institutions awarded a challenge grant by the NEH among 33 total recipients, 13 of which were colleges and universities. The $500,000 challenge grant is the second such grant Lawrence has received from the NEH. In 1977, Lawrence was awarded a three-year, $150,000 challenge grant for renovations to Main Hall. That grant ended in 1980 with the college successfully raising $452,000.

The NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the U. S. government dedicated to supporting research, education and public programs in the humanities.