President Daniel H. Weiss sent the following message today to the campus community, alumni, and parents:
The Board of Trustees met this past weekend over a three-day period. I am writing to report on the topics covered, including progress on several ongoing matters and new initiatives. We were pleased to be joined at the meetings by President-elect Alison Byerly.
The Board was updated on the state of the College’s budget and finances, discussed various educational and administrative matters, and received the news that applications for the Class of 2017 reached an all-time high at 6722, exceeding that of last year’s record. I was also pleased to share with the Board the news that President Jimmy Carter will be visiting Lafayette on April 22 to give the inaugural Robert (’69) and Margaret Pastor Annual Lecture in International Affairs, tentatively set to be delivered on the new Quad.
Student experience initiative
The Board received a report on LAFAYETTE 360, an exciting new initiative designed to connect students’ daily lives in ways that increase academic success, enhance a sense of individual fulfillment, provide for a rich and rewarding social life full of tradition and connection to the College, and promote active participation in a community of values. The program is holistic and synergistic in its approach, with the goal of fostering tighter integration among all phases of the undergraduate experience, from academics and residence life to co-curricular initiatives and community service.
This new program is being designed to support the full four-year arc of each student’s enrollment, with steadily rising expectations for the level of independence and responsibility he or she demonstrates from matriculation through graduation. The intended result will be to provide each student with a positive and rich personal experience and, in so doing, to foster each student’s sense of identity as a member of her/his class and the larger community.
The executive committee includes Hannah Stewart-Gambino (Chair), dean of the College; Paul J. McLoughlin II, dean of students; Erica D’Agostino ’95, dean of academic advising; and Grace Reynolds, director of residence life. They have already met with more than 20 groups in the campus community and the extended Lafayette family. The steering committee also includes faculty members, alumni and trustee representatives, and student leaders. Subcommittees have been formed on Learning Beyond the Classroom/Co-curricular and Extra-curricular Life, Academic Success and Advising, and Residential Communities.
About 75 students, faculty, staff, and alumni gathered Jan. 23 to launch this exciting and highly promising initiative. For more information, please visit http://sites.lafayette.edu/laf360/. The Board has asked the administration to formulate a detailed plan by the end of this academic year.
IDEAL: a new multidisciplinary center for collaboration
The Board received a report on the vision for a transformative new initiative designed to support multidisciplinarity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
Building on Lafayette’s strengths in liberal arts and engineering, the Center for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership – known as IDEAL – will foster distinctive learning experiences by providing resources, curricular connections, and incentives that build and sustain a culture of creative collaboration.
Students, faculty, and external partners will come together to design and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. The center will connect campus-wide opportunities for students to learn and apply the skills, perspectives, and attributes of creative leaders in business, non-profit, and governmental sectors.
Components will include curricular and co-curricular initiatives and multidisciplinary projects. It will provide these learning outcomes: (1) ability to connect liberal arts perspectives to real-world issues/opportunities, (2) acquisition of practical skills for the business world, (3) development of global and multicultural perspectives in real-world contexts, and (4) deepening of leadership skills for working collaboratively.
The Center’s chairs are Edward Gamber, David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professor of Economics, and John Nestor, professor of electrical and computer engineering. Implementation of the center is envisioned over a four-year period. Among the next steps will be piloting a new program called Business Link in Summer 2013.
High-risk alcohol use
The Board received a progress report on steps the College has taken to reduce high-risk alcohol consumption among students, which is part of our longstanding commitment and continuing efforts to address high-risk alcohol consumption on campus.
The College implemented successful new policies and practices related to two historically high-risk drinking weekends, Homecoming and Lafayette-Lehigh. During both weekends, the College communicated to students and alumni changes in policies related to restricted time periods for tailgating, personal-carry limits, and enforcement for underage drinking. In addition, and in partnership with student organizations, the College provided new alcohol-free social events and provided free food and water during the tailgating periods. As a result of these steps, alcohol related incidents were significantly reduced from previous years.
The Alcohol and Other Drug Standing Committee, formed last fall, is continuing to assess additional strategies, programs, and policies aimed at reducing high-risk drinking. The committee has developed a plan that addresses the following areas: Student Education, Social Programming, Internal Education and Outreach for Faculty and Staff, Internal Education and Outreach for Parents, Policies and Enforcement, and Internal Education and Outreach to Alumni.
The Board was encouraged by the report on the work being done by the Implementation and Assessment Group on Greek Life. These efforts are aimed at ensuring that students who are members of those Greek organizations currently recognized by the College have a positive experience that contributes to the quality of campus life at Lafayette.
IAGGL met three times during the fall semester. It is now focusing on the implementation of the 2011 recommendations of the Working Group on Greek Life and Campus Community in addition to currently available metrics to measure the progress of Greek organizations toward the objectives set for them by the Board. There has been substantial work completed on revising our annual review and recognition program in order to reflect the objectives on which organizations were asked to focus.
The Board was pleased to learn that, although the sophomore semester in which pledging occurs continues to be a low point in terms of academic achievement, both sorority women and fraternity men close the GPA gap by the spring of junior year, with fraternity men now slightly outperforming their non-fraternity peers. In addition, looking at data from the last academic year, the percentage of College policy violations attributed to Greek-affiliated students appears to be in line with the percentage of the population they represent.
As I reported earlier, at its October meeting the Board expressed concern about the activities of unrecognized Greek organizations and instructed the administration to work with various campus constituencies to render advice that would help keep our students safe while at the same time supporting those Greek organizations that are following College policies and guidelines.
Both the Board and Administration recognize that over the years, fraternity and sorority members of recognized organizations have produced many noteworthy contributions to campus life. Because our students’ safety and welfare are among our foremost concerns, the College provides regular educational training to recognized fraternities and sororities on a variety of topics, including hazing, alcohol use, and sexual misconduct. In addition, recognized fraternities and sororities participate in an annual accreditation process focusing on the core values of academic integration, leadership development, civic engagement, positive relationships, and intercultural development. Finally, the College provides oversight in the maintenance and safety of the buildings in which the recognized fraternities and sororities reside.
However, fraternities and sororities that are not recognized (or authorized) by Lafayette do not participate in these training programs and are not subject to the College’s rules and standards. They operate outside of the College’s oversight, and may engage in unsafe behavior or otherwise undermine the good efforts of the recognized Greek organizations.
In light of this, at its winter meeting, the Board voted to adopt a policy, to take effect immediately, that prohibits unrecognized Greek organizations from operating on property owned or under the control of the College. The policy prohibits students from participating in unrecognized Greek organizations while on the Lafayette campus, or through the use of any other College resources or property, and strongly discourages but does not prohibit such associations when they are wholly separate from campus property or resources.
The Board does not seek through this policy to limit the ability of students to associate freely with whomever they wish entirely outside the bounds of the Lafayette campus. The Board intends that the long-term effect of this policy will be to direct prospective Greek students toward those organizations recognized and supported by the College, while recognizing that students may freely choose to associate with organizations entirely off campus. Students will, of course, be held accountable for their behavior whether on-campus or off-campus, as is currently the case.
These initiatives are among the highest priorities of the Administration and the Board during this academic year. To become the vibrant, engaged, and mutually respectful and supportive community we aspire to be, we must ensure that our students’ residential and social experiences match the quality of the other opportunities for personal growth that are available to them at Lafayette.
I welcome your questions and comments about any of the topics I have covered in this letter or about any other aspects of Lafayette’s operation or goals about which you would like to share your thoughts. I encourage you to communicate with me directly at email@example.com.