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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Professors enjoy Lawrence’s charms

August 16, 2003

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Lawrence is known for its downtown and being home to Kansas University.

The attitude and nature of the city changes when students arrive in Lawrence every semester. Bars, restaurants and stores are busy while students indulge in various social settings.

Sometimes lost in the student madness are the faculty.

Bud Hirsch, coordinator of undergraduate studies in English, is from Chicago. Despite his big-city upbringing, he still enjoys what Lawrence offers.

"There is a very strong cultural life here," Hirsch said. "My English background does affect my views on the city because of my appreciation of the cultural life."

One of Hirsch's two fields is American Indian literature. Hirsch says Haskell Indian Nations University is another reason he enjoys Lawrence.

"Haskell is a wondrous resource for anybody in that area because they have some incredibly talented faculty and staff," he said.

Lawrence life can be appreciated without a car.

Mary Catherine Davidson, assistant professor of English, has lived in Lawrence for a year and a half after moving from Toronto and has not seen much of Lawrence because she does not own a car.

"I don't see the city at all," Davidson said. "I only see Mass. Street."

Davidson feels at home downtown.

"It's a community," she said. "I can go along the street and see familiar faces, and it feels like a small town."

The university setting also brings people from all walks of life and creates a diverse atmosphere in a relatively small population. Diversity is what makes Lawrence so special to English lecturer Ellen Kroeker.

"My Christmas dinner had someone from Sudan, Nigeria and Panama," Kroeker said. "That's what I value. I can sit in my home state, and I can learn, touch and enjoy people from all over the world."

The charms of Lawrence also resonate in the literature the professors read as well.

"Lawrence reminds me of Oxford, England, as portrayed in the book, 'Elegy For Iris,' by John Bayley," said Susan Linden, former English lecturer. "It reminds me of Oxford in the book because of the academic atmosphere, the dinner parties and there is a variety of people."

With so many cultural and historical landmarks in Lawrence, professors are hard pressed to pinpoint the most unique thing about Lawrence.

"Lawrence is a different kind of place," Hirsch said. "It seems to me like a place where different people can find a niche they see themselves fitting into and those of us who don't have a niche can find one."

How does one envision Lawrence 100 years from now?

"My dream is that Lawrence would be absolutely unchanged," Davidson said.

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