Presidents of Lafayette
Daniel H. Weiss
2005-2013: Weiss led the planning process that culminated, in 2007, in a new strategic plan for Lafayette. The size of the permanent faculty has increased by more than 10 percent. The Common Course of Study has been revised, and several new interdisciplinary programs developed. Initiatives are under way to build on the College’s traditional strengths in engineering.
Lafayette has achieved greater national recognition for academic excellence, as shown by record numbers of applications for admission and improvements in both selectivity and the quality of incoming classes.
Several projects made possible by major gifts are in progress. These include the development of the Williams Arts Campus, with new facilities for the programs in theater and film & media studies, and the creation of the Oechsle Center for Global Education. They also include a residence hall for students with a special interest in global topics; a new endowment to support strategic initiatives in the Division of Engineering; and the transformation of the Quad and central campus into a greener, more accessible area.
The creation of a new senior leadership position, vice president for campus life and senior diversity officer, reflects the College’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity. New residential opportunities include more than 20 Living-Learning Communities. Facilities for varsity athletics have been improved dramatically.
The College also has been recognized frequently for its commitment to community service and economic revitalization in Easton.
Prior to becoming Lafayette’s president, Weiss served as the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University.
Arthur J. Rothkopf ’55
1993-2005: Rothkopf led a far-reaching transformation of Lafayette. He headed the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in the College’s history, the Lafayette Leadership Campaign, which concluded in 2001 with $213 million in gifts and pledges, far exceeding its original goal of $143 million. More than $100 million was dedicated to strengthening excellence in the classroom, the campaign’s highest objective. The College transformed its campus with more than $150 million in new and renovated academic, residential, and recreational facilities. During Rothkopf’s presidency, Lafayette’s endowment grew from $284 million to more than $565 million.
Under Rothkopf, the College played a key role in the revitalization of the City of Easton and forged a closer relationship with the city. This included developing the Williams Visual Arts Building in downtown Easton and acquiring and beautifying properties near the arts building. In addition, there was impressive growth in community outreach activities, with about half of Lafayette’s students engaged each year in sustained programs of voluntary service.
Prior to becoming Lafayette’s president, Rothkopf was U.S. deputy secretary of transportation, appointed by President George H.W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate. Before joining the Department of Transportation, where he first served as general counsel, Rothkopf was a senior partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Hogan & Hartson.
Robert I. Rotberg
1990-1993: During the presidency of Rotberg, a historian specializing in African history, the curriculum was reformed and faculty teaching loads reduced. Prior to becoming Lafayette’s president, Rotberg was a member of the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then was academic vice president for arts, sciences, and technology at Tufts University.
David Wertz Ellis
1978-1990: During the Ellis administration, the endowment passed the $200 million mark, the Williams Center for the Arts was built, and programs in fine arts matured. Skillman Library was expanded and computer science was introduced. The Colonial League, renamed the Patriot League, was formed. Prior to becoming Lafayette’s president, Ellis was vice president for academic affairs and a member of the faculty at the University of New Hampshire.
Kaare Roald Bergethon
1958-1978: The contribution of the Marquis Foundation during the Bergethon administration placed the College on a firm financial footing and inaugurated a series of successful drives for capital improvement and endowment. The campaign for a long overdue new library signified the new emphasis on academics, and the construction of a field house demonstrated that athletics were not to be abandoned. The faculty also improved through a greater emphasis on scholarship. The introduction of co-education was a further stimulus to both the academic and extracurricular life on the campus. Born in Norway, Bergethon was dean and a member of the faculty at Brown University before assuming the presidency at Lafayette at age 40.
Ralph Cooper Hutchison ’18
1945-1958: The College revived with President Hutchison’s successes in building and fund raising. Prior to assuming the presidency of Lafayette, he served as president of Washington and Jefferson College, 1931-45.
William Mather Lewis
1927-1945: Lewis’ administration included an ambitious building program. A turning point in academics took place when the classical language requirement was dropped. To help deal with the effects of the Great Depression, the faculty accepted a cut in salary. Wartime military programs also helped greatly.
John Henry MacCracken
1915-1927: During MacCracken’s presidency, the curriculum was modernized and a healthy relationship was established between liberal arts and science & engineering. Enrollment leveled at 1,000 students, and the endowment and the value of the physical plant increased substantially.
Ethelbert Dudley Warfield
1891-1915: Warfield was the first layman appointed president of Lafayette College, but he studied theology at Princeton and in 1899 was ordained. A fund-raising drive during the 75th anniversary celebration in 1907 was successful.
James Hall Mason Knox
1883-1891: During the administration of Rev. Knox, a College trustee, an Alumni Advisory Committee for athletics was formed and alumni representatives were for the first time appointed to the Board of Trustees.
William Cassidy Cattell
1863-1883: In the administration of Rev. Cattell, the wishes of the founders of the College were finally realized with the building of Pardee Hall and the establishment of the scientific department. With the help of many more benefactors, the endowment was placed on a firm footing and an extensive building program initiated. Fraternities were recognized and intercollegiate athletics established.
George Wilson McPhail
1857-1863: During Rev. McPhail’s administration, the College created the first philological professorship in the country, held by Francis A. March. As enrollment decreased due to the Civil War, the faculty voted to give up their salaries for the duration. President McPhail resigned so the College could save his salary.
Daniel Veech McLean
1850-1857: Rev. McLean was the first president of the College appointed by the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia. He raised $100,000 for the College by selling scholarships.
Charles W. Nassau
1849-1850: Nassau had been on the faculty and vice president of the College for eight years when the Board of Trustees elected him president as an emergency measure. The College appealed to the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia for financial help.
John William Yeomans
1841-1844: Rev. Yeomans attempted to open the College to both black and Native Americans. The former were educated for missionary work in Liberia and sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. The Choctaw Indians never arrived, possibly because the president of the Board of Trustees, James Madison Porter, who as Secretary of War designate was responsible for sending them to the campus, was not confirmed by the Senate. The College was filled to capacity.
1832-40, 1844-48: Lafayette opened its doors May 9, 1832, offering the traditional classics course and providing manual labor for poor students to pay their way. To raise additional funds, Junkin introduced a model school and the cultivation of mulberry trees for silkworms. He returned for a second term in 1844 before leaving to become president of Washington College, Lexington, Va.