President Daniel Weiss accepts honor from Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce honored Lafayette with a 2006 Community Partner award in recognition of Lafayette’s collaborations with the City of Easton, including the College’s investment in downtown revitalization.
President Daniel Weiss accepted the award, which was presented at the chamber’s annual membership luncheon Nov. 7.
Weiss was introduced to the more than 1,000-person chamber audience in Bethlehem by Easton Mayor Philip B. Mitman.
“When I learned that the purpose of the community partner award was to honor a person, group, or organization whose relationship makes a significant contribution to our city, I knew there could be no better partner than Lafayette College,” Mitman said.
In accepting the award, Weiss said the College views its horizon of partnership with the city looking forward “not in terms of next year or the year after, but in decades and centuries.”
In emphasizing the importance of his focus on Easton, Weiss said, “I am spending more time lately with the mayor than I am with my wife.”
He noted that Lafayette has invested more than $9 million to acquire and beautify properties in the North Third St. area at the base of College Hill, the gateway to campus from downtown Easton and Route 22, and is formulating plans for continuing investment and development in the area.
The initiative is part of the Bushkill Creek Corridor Revitalization project, which also includes improvements to former industrial properties on North 13th St. and the addition of trails along the Bushkill Creek. The project is a collaboration of the College, city, Easton Redevelopment Authority, and Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
Forging closer ties with Easton is a key objective of the College as it develops a new strategic plan. “The long-term health and vitality of Lafayette is tied in essential ways to that of Easton,” states one of five strategic planning topics. “The College serves its educational mission best when it fosters a relationship with the surrounding community and, in so doing, invests in strengthening the city.”Weiss said, “It is immensely gratifying for Lafayette to be honored in this way because it demonstrates that we are making important — and widely recognized — progress in advancing our vision of Lafayette as a leading community partner.”
Another dimension of Lafayette’s engagement with Easton is the active role played by students, faculty, and staff as volunteers in the community, with the Landis Community Outreach Center taking the lead. This community-centered mission is increasingly reflected in the College’s academic programming, as well. Members of the faculty are responding to students’ growing interest by incorporating service-learning components into courses. Also of note are the community-based teaching initiatives offered through the Williams Visual Arts Building.
Other collaborations between the College and the city include partnerships with the Easton Business Association, among them First Weekend Easton, the All Access Pass to Easton, a Merchant’s Fair Nov. 13, and holiday trolley tours of Easton Dec. 2 and 3.