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Lawrence University’s new trailblazing president talks at length about diversity and COVID-19

Local News

APPLETON, Wisc., (WFRV) – Lawrence University’s first woman president of color is excited and positive for the school year ahead.

Laurie A. Carter was at the helm of Shippensburg University when the pandemic started and is bringing confidence to her historic transition of power to the private, liberal arts university in Northeast Wisconsin’s Fox Valley.

Wanting to know more, Local 5 News Anchor Michele McCormack sat down with President Carter to learn more.

President Carter shared, “So, for me, the pandemic has just been a part of my work since march of 2020, and being able to navigate the shifting landscape during the pandemic has become second nature.
But just now I’m doing it in the Lawrence community. But this community is so primed and willing to do the work necessary to thrive in this new landscape, it’s actually more exciting. If you’re a person who enjoys challenges as I do then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get through it. How to put the pieces together.”


Michele McCormack asked President Carter, “Lately all we hear about is the technical schools. You don’t need a four-year degree. It’s a high-tech job. What is your argument for a liberal arts education?”

President Carter responded, “Well, this is so interesting because this has been one of the debates about education is a four-year degree necessary. A technical degree will give you skills. But you don’t get the soft skills that businesses are looking for. That’s what our four-year education provides. But I want to take it a step further. That’s what the liberal arts provide. Problem-solving, critical thinking ability to work well with others to bring diverse viewpoints to the table that respects others in the room.”

Michele McCormack followed by asking, “Words matter. I noticed right away, you refer to yourself as BIPOC. Black, Indigenous person of color.”

President Carter responded, “Words are important. Allowing folks to identify themselves is important. I am a BIPOC person with Latinx roots. So, I have this melting pot within me as, of course, many people. So I think it’s important that we honor people for who they view themselves as in the world and stop trying to label them as we view them in the world. And that’s part of Lawrence becoming an anti-racist institution. So I am embracing all that I am. Not everyone does. not everyone is comfortable. But everybody should have the opportunity to do that should they want to.”

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