Dear Parents,

As you know, this has been a busy spring for Lafayette. We have had some wonderful highlights, such as the Tom Hanks talk in February. On the other hand, I am sure you have all heard enough about the norovirus outbreak to know that it was the low point of the semester for many students. Although it was a challenging time, it was truly inspirational to see how the community pulled together. In spite of the concern about possibly being infected, students were always ready to help each other out—by bringing food from the dining halls to the rooms of friends who were ill, by seeing that sick students got to the Health Center if needed, by sharing notes with students who missed classes, or just by offering support and good cheer to friends who were feeling lousy.

I got a closer look at the impact of this event on students by virtue of the fact that I am teaching a course this semester, my first class at Lafayette. Fictional Worlds is being taken by about 30 students, a terrific mix of English majors, engineering majors, film and media studies majors, and everything in between. In the course, we are looking at works of literature and film that create detailed, realistic fictional universes—works such as Robinson Crusoe, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Matrix., and A. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

While the course presents some challenges to my schedule as president, I look forward to the chance to trade budget memos for great books every Tuesday and Thursday. Perhaps the greatest benefit of teaching is the opportunity it provides for me to get to know students as students, in the classroom, and learn about their intellectual interests and capabilities. I have been very impressed by what I have seen so far!

Best wishes to all for a pleasant remainder of the spring.

Alison Byerly