As I write this, fall weather has finally come to College Hill, providing a nip in the air at the Homecoming game two weeks ago. I’ve noticed that Homecoming has a very different feel from Reunion, because alumni don’t come to an empty campus in October. Instead, they get a glimpse of regular campus life through visiting with their favorite faculty, eating at some of their old hangouts, and talking with students. When they meet students at events sponsored by clubs, teams, and other affinity groups, or just walking around campus, they are always incredibly impressed with their energy, quality, and passion. “I could never get in today,” alums say with rueful pride.
Of course, you don’t need to be reminded how hard it was for your son or daughter to get in! You should take pride in the fact that the high caliber of our current student body helps alumni to recognize the importance of our being able to admit talented students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our initiative to enhance our affordability and distinction through growth, now entering its third year, is already achieving the results we had hoped in enhancing the quality and diversity of each admitted class. Alumni have been very supportive of this initiative because they can see its impact.
As excited as we are at our progress, we recognize that even the modest and gradual growth we are undertaking will require careful management. As planned, we have been adding new faculty at a pace that ensures the same close student-faculty interaction that has always been a hallmark of a Lafayette education. We have also added some staff in areas, like the counseling center, where additional students may contribute to higher demand. Some entirely new positions, like a recent hire specializing in student transition support, have been added where we anticipate that student needs may grow or change.
In terms of facilities, we are renovating and adding academic space, including of course the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, which is on track to open next fall. I hope you’ll stop by to take a look at it next time you’re on campus. On my most recent hard-hat walk-through, I was thrilled to see how closely it is starting to resemble the plans we have been poring over for several years. We expect to break ground for the planned residence hall on McCartney Street next summer. That project, expected to open in the fall of 2020, will include an additional dining venue. We recognize that the major dining halls can be quite crowded for lunch on many weekdays, so we are working now on strategies to address the concentration of students during peak lunchtime hours.
As we enter this phase of our growth initiative, we are focusing our attention on programmatic enhancements. This fall has seen major announcements about three key student programs. In late September, the Career Services program announced a new name and direction under the leadership of assistant vice president Mike Summers. Now the Gateway Career Center, it is undergoing some organizational changes that will allow it to do an even better job of matching student majors and interests with career possibilities. A few weeks ago, a two year process of reviewing our Athletics program culminated in the announcement by Athletics Director Sherryta Freeman of an exciting new athletics strategic plan, called “Creating a Championship Culture.” And during Homecoming weekend, we announced the transformation of the IDEAL Center into the Bradbury Dyer III ’64 Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Under the direction of Yusuf Dahl, it will move into a wonderful new space one year from now in the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center.
I hope the fall semester is going well for your family. From my perspective, it’s been a great fall so far — and will be even better *when* we beat Lehigh on November 17!
President Alison Byerly