May 042006
 
Authors: NATASHA GRUNDEN The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Longtime foreign policy instructor Robert Lawrence is retiring after more than 30 years teaching in the political science department at CSU.

“Professor Lawrence has always been helpful and supportive of my endeavors as a student at CSU. He has served as a great adviser regarding my pursuit of law school,” said Christina Farhart, a senior political science and psychology double major.

In his time at CSU, Lawrence taught Introduction to American Government, National Security Policy, American Foreign Policy, Space Policy, Environmental Policy, capstone courses in the honors program and political science. But Lawrence doesn’t keep his work inside the classroom. He is known to help students outside of class, and most recently, has helped one student obtain a significant scholarship.

Awarded the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study at the University of Ghana for nine months, Luci Storelli-Castro, a political science and philosophy double major and Collegian columnist, obtained the award with Lawrence’s help.

“Dr. Lawrence’s role in my receiving this award should not be understated,” Storelli-Castro said. “To begin with, he informed me about the scholarship opportunity. He also wrote me a very generous letter of recommendation, kept interest on my research of African universities and, upon passing the first round of interviews, he helped prepare me for the last interview by supplying me with information about Rotary. Overall, he was a great source of support and an exceptional mentor.”

Lawrence started teaching in 1960 at the University of Kansas as a graduate student. He went on to teach at Texas Tech, the Hudson Institute, the Stanford Research Institute and the University of Arizona before making his way to CSU in 1971. During the 1990s, he taught at CSU in the morning, at the University of Colorado in the afternoon and a TV class at the University of Wyoming.

“Teaching at a land grant school provides the opportunity to work with students from farm and blue collar families, as well as students from other backgrounds, which was not so much the case at Colorado and Arizona,” Lawrence said. “Such diversity in background is stimulating.”

But there are more reasons that Lawrence is a notable instructor, Storelli-Castro said.

“I think Dr. Lawrence stands out as a professor because not only does he have a strong grasp of the material he is covering, but he also has established creative modes of presenting information. He throws quite the skits in class, morphing into the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party one moment and into God the next moment,” she said. “He provokes students to learn by providing a stimulating and intellectually challenging classroom environment.”

But one can’t talk about Lawrence without discussing his passion: nuclear weapons.

“He incorporates a discussion on nuclear weapons wherever he can fit one, even when reading Dr. Seuss books,” Storelli-Castro said.

After countless lectures and interactions with hundreds of students, Lawrence leaves students with one overarching piece of advice.

“My message to students is to strike a balance between learning as much as possible in their chosen field … and enjoying the college experience outside the classroom,” Lawrence said.

Professor Lawrence will be recognized with other retiring professors at tonight’s Retiree Recognition Event at 4 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.

Natasha Grunden can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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