SLU's Frequently Asked Questions:
Words: Reports, observations and reflections on the September 11 attacks
Frequently Asked Questions - Page
How do you decide to add or drop a sports team?
The decisions are based on a number of factors. We believe that athletics
are an important component of a liberal arts education, and allow
students to augment the skills they learn in a classroom setting.
In recent years, we have greatly increased the number of opportunities
for participation in intercollegiate athletics, based on student interest
and "fit" with the University's educational program. St.
Lawrence today offers 32 teams, more than the vast majority of the
nation's small private liberal arts colleges.
For more information: Margaret Strait M'73, director of
Is St. Lawrence "need-blind" in admissions?
Yes, which means we do not consider a family's financial situation
in the review of most applicants. We do consider the financial situation
in the review of applications from international students, and we
may consider it for students at the margin of admissibility. It is
likely that financial need will be considered for students being reviewed
for admission off the wait list.
For more information: Patricia Farmer, director of financial aid,
How has the curriculum changed?
One clue here is the word "studies." The University, in
keeping with general trends in American higher education, has been
moving toward a more interdisciplinary curriculum for some time. In
this structure, the boundaries of the more traditional departments
are crossed and re-crossed as "higher" themes are investigated
and woven together. So we have thematic "area" studies-outdoor,
gender, environmental, religious-and geographic "area" studies-Canadian,
African, Caribbean and Latin American, Native American, Asian, European
and our newest and perhaps the ultimate, until we head for outer space,
Another clue is merged names for newer fields of inquiry, a step
into etymological necromancy that further reinforces the interdisciplinary
concept. Our two newest majors, for example, are biochemistry and
For more information: Dean Thomas B. Coburn, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who are St. Lawrence's most famous alumni?
Depends-those who are well known in some circles may be unheard of
in others. And what century are we talking about? Some "generalists"
we can think of:
Olympia Brown, Theological School Class of 1863, the
first woman in America to be ordained a minister and in her day a
widely known and influential women's rights activist.
Irving Bacheller, Class of 1882, "discoverer"
of authors such as Stephen Crane and author of the first best-seller
of the 20th century, Eben Holden.
Owen D. Young, Class of 1894 (you know his name if
you've been anywhere near the library anytime since 1959), head of
GE and RCA, candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency
in 1932 (he deferred to his good friend FDR) and author of the Young
Plan for German reparations after World War I.
"Prince Hal" Schumacher '33, star pitcher
for the New York Giants when they ruled the baseball world (except
in the years the Yankees ruled).
Kirk Douglas '39, actor and, lately, author; this
shot was taken during his visit to campus in 1999, when he announced
a $1 mil-lion gift to St. Lawrence for scholarships for minority students.
Susan Collins '74, United States Senator (R-ME).
What is the endowment and how does it work?
In simplest terms, the endowment of any organization is
its savings account, the income from which can go toward operating
expenses. As we assemble this magazine, St. Lawrence's endowment stands
at around $192 million (down from $230 million since early 2000, a
drop similar to those at many other institutions). The trustees have
authorized the University to spend no more than 5.5% of the market
value of the endowment, which at the moment means disbursements of
something in the very broad neighborhood of $11 million. To meet its
annual operating budget, which in fiscal year 2001-2002 is just shy
of $73.1 million, the University depends considerably more on comprehensive
fee revenue (tuition, room and board, which comprise 57% of our annual
revenue) and those all-important gifts.
For more information: Kathryn Mullaney, vice president for finance
and treasurer, email@example.com.
Why aren't the hockey scores in the New York Times?
The news media include information they believe is of the most interest
to the greatest number of readers or viewers. Generally, Division
III sports results do not receive a great deal of coverage in the
national press and ice hockey is not considered by the editors to
have broad enough appeal. We're always working to increase visibility
for the University and its people and programs, however.
For more information: Wally Johnson, director of sports information,
When is "Homecoming"?
For a number of years, "Homecoming" was simply a date on
the calendar. The University planned little programming to welcome
its alumni back to campus. In 1997, in partnership with the Alumni
Executive Council, University staff retooled and redefined that weekend
as "Laurentian Leadership Weekend," at which everyone is
welcome. LLW is a weekend program of immersion in college life, and
we specifically invite those alumni who are most involved with the
University to attend. We have a keynote speaker, classes with faculty,
athletic events and time for guests to have in-depth conversations
with President Sullivan. All alumni, parents and friends are welcome
at LLW; dates for 2002 are September 20-22.
For more information: Lisa Cania, associate vice president for University
What are the most popular majors?
What with combined majors, double majors, self-designed multi-field
majors and some other permutations, this one's not as easy as you
might think. Generally, though, the most commonly declared majors
over the last six years (they trade places in the rankings year by
year) have been, alphabetically, biology, economics, English, government,
psychology and sociology. Forced to pick a winner, we would have to
observe that psychology has finished at the top of the heap in four
of those six years, and tied with biology one other time.
How's the weather?
This is the one question that ties all generations of Laurentians
together and is perhaps the most frequently asked of all. It even
ropes in parents, who are prone to calling us with a variation on
the theme, which usually goes something like "What will the weather
be like on my son/daughter's Commencement Day in 2005?"
Given that Canton is capable of experiencing all four seasons in
one day, the safe answer is "normal." But we tend to remember
the extremes of weather, not the norms, and thus those who ask this
question often seem a little disappointed if it's not snowing like
mad and 20 below zero, even in May. In fact, though, the realities
of global climate change notwithstanding (and whether that's all due
to man-made warming or merely nature's mega-cycles we don't care to
get into here), the winters are still long and snowy, with periodic
days of the bluest sky you ever saw, the springs are all the more
embraced for the length of winter, the summers are not as hot and
sticky as they are in most places in the U.S., and the falls are still
riots of color. So perhaps the best answer to "How's the weather?"
is, "Just as you remember it."
Can You Believe It?
Some literally incredible things have happened at St. Lawrence
University in its nearly 150 years, or so we've heard. Did any of
them really happen? Did anyone ever actually say we had to have "cold
dorms"? Will we ever know? After searching the archives and contacting
several alumni, we have found many that we're not so sure about. Do
you know if there is any truth to them? Can you fill us in on other
Did Vice President Walter Mondale's daughter land
on the Quad in an Air Force helicopter when she attended SLU?
Did you know that there is a picture of a building
on campus that no one is sure was ever built? A 1908 lithograph shows
an observatory standing in the place where Vilas Hall now is. The
late E.C. Robinson '11 is the only person to claim that it did once
exist, but no one can provide any proof. Can you?
Did the president have the gymnasium torched in 1925?
The story is told that the gymnasium was scheduled to
be moved to a different location so that Gunnison Chapel could be
built on the site. But the night before its departure, it burned to
the ground; a cause was never verified.
It is speculated that the president did not want it moved to the selected
spot, so he saw to it that it was done away with.
Was there an underground tunnel that connected the
old residence halls?
Who was Saint Lawrence and why was the river named for him?
Lawrence (more properly Lorenzo), according to a fuzzy blend of Roman
Catholic history and myth, was a 3rd-century Spanish monk who, when
asked to turn over to local secular authorities the riches of the
Church, produced the poor, sick and elderly, for which he was martyred
on a gridiron (thus the name of our yearbook). He was later beatified,
and August 10 was declared his feast day, that being the day on which
it was thought he was killed. On that date in 1535, the French explorer
Jacques Cartier sailed into the mouth of an immense river whose native
name he probably neither knew nor, in all likelihood, cared about
and renamed it in honor of the Saint. He would have named it the same
thing if he'd "discovered" it on July 21; that's St. Lawrence
of Brindisi's day (our saint was from Huesca). But Laurentians everywhere
should be grateful he avoided February 23, feast day of St. Polycarp.
For more information: Neal Burdick '72, editor, nburdick@
stlawu.edu. See also "The Real St. Lawrence," St. Lawrence,
Winter 2001, p. 26.
What are Reunion clusters?
According to a plan developed by Dartmouth College some years ago,
and picked up by several other colleges, including St. Lawrence, each
year for Reunion Weekend two groups of three classes each are "clustered"
one milestone reunion. Thus, for example, the Classes of 1996, '97
and '98 will all observe their 5th reunion this May 30-June 2, even
though only '97 graduated five years ago. The theory is that since
students likely had friends in more than just their own class, it
stands to reason that they want to see people from more than their
own class at reunions. The plan is cleverly contrived so that over
several years the clusters interlock in such a way that whereas in
one cluster you may join with the two classes behind you, in a few
years you'll join with the two classes ahead of you.
For more information, or to see this in visual form: Greg Griffin'91,
director of alumni and parent programs, firstname.lastname@example.org.