The tradition of mentoring, deeply rooted in our College’s culture and flourishing vibrantly today, is prominent among the attributes that combine to create a level of educational excellence that few other colleges deliver as effectively as Lafayette does.
It is extraordinary to remember that not one but two Nobel Laureates in medicine, Philip Hench ’16 and Keffer Hartline ’23, were mentored as undergraduates by biology professor Beverly Waugh Kunkel, as were many other students during his remarkable career here. Professor Kunkel is a shining example — but just one example — of the engaged and engaging teacher-scholars who have connected meaningfully with students on both a professional and a personal level throughout so much of our history, a connection that is powerfully exemplified in the mentoring that faculty provide our students in settings both traditional and far beyond the traditional.
More than any other single factor, faculty like Professor Kunkel add value to Lafayette’s mission, and they are the cornerstone of the College’s reputation for excellence. But it is a distinctive feature of our culture and our College that so many other members of the Lafayette family, on campus (including administrators, staff members, and coaches) and off campus (most notably alumni and parents), believe equally strongly in the value of mentoring our students and have the expertise and commitment to spur and guide their success.
Indeed alumni play a vital role. Jessica Frey ’12, who is headed for medical school, numbers Nancy Keller Shumeyko ’80, P’10 among her mentors along with faculty members in both of her majors, chemistry and English. For Joelle Neilson ’12, Curt Allen ’79 and Jim Fusco ’79 are valued mentors, as are faculty and her track and field coach.
Jeff Snell ’12, whose mentors also include faculty, alumni, and coaches, sums it up this way: “Talking with people who’ve been in your shoes and now have experience is more beneficial than assuming you have all the answers.” This insight speaks to the power of the mentoring that thrives at Lafayette. I hope you will enjoy learning more about it in this issue.
Daniel H. Weiss