August 24, 2013

Building on Strong Momentum

Lafayette President Alison Byerly emailed the following message before the start of the fall semester:

To the College Community:

As students return to campus, faculty finalize their syllabi, and staff across the college work hard to prepare for the start of a new academic year, I am excited to begin my first year as President of Lafayette College. I appreciate the warm welcome that my family and I have received from the entire community since arriving here on July 1.

Over the course of the coming year, I look forward to continuing to get to know the community better and hearing what issues are on the minds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In addition to meeting with student organizations, faculty departments and committees, and alumni chapters across the country, I hope to meet many of you through open office hours, visits to the dining halls, and other informal opportunities for one-on-one conversations. Already, over the last few weeks, I have enjoyed some terrific conversations in the library, the fitness center, or walking across campus.

It is clear to me, seeing the excitement of the first-year students moving in yesterday, the enthusiasm of the crowds of alumni and parents who have come to recent welcome receptions, and the extraordinary commitment of faculty and staff, that there is strong momentum at Lafayette right now. I see my major task as building on that momentum and defining a clear trajectory for the future. The 2007 strategic plan laid out important directions for the college, and we remain committed to its major objectives. Other exciting new ideas and initiatives have emerged since then. And significant changes both in the national economy and in the higher education landscape have created new opportunities and challenges. Amidst all these goals and pressures, we will need to focus our energy as strategically as possible in order to continue the college’s upward trajectory.

I will lay out plans in the coming weeks, therefore, for seeking input on some specific items on the college’s evolving agenda. These include: ongoing discussions of academic and residential life, following up on the groundwork laid through the Laf360 initiative; explorations of technology and curricular innovation, supported in part by the $700,000 grant for digital humanities recently received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and continued consideration of issues relating to the college’s enrollment size.

As you know, all members of the community are invited to Convocation on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. on the Quad, where we will gather to welcome the Class of 2017 and celebrate the start of the new year. The Convocation ceremony is a wonderful blend of new energies and old traditions. It will include remarks and welcomes, music from the college choir, brief readings from the college archives by two Marquis Scholars, and my own convocation address, entitled “Choosing Lafayette.” I hope to see you there.

Alison Byerly

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