On Being First

Acknowledging the attention she has received as Lafayette’s first female president, Byerly is nuanced in talking about that history-making move. “As a woman who has risen to leadership positions over time, I’m pretty sensitive to where being a woman is an issue and where it’s not. I never got the sense that the search committee here was trying to check off that box or that it was feeling a lot of pressure to name a female president,” she says.

“I’m very honored to be the first female president of Lafayette, but I wouldn’t want that to be read as something to dwell on and I don’t get the sense that it will create undue challenges for me. I do get the sense that Lafayette is good at change. This strikes me as a place willing to confront new things and absorb them. Lafayette was ready to take that step of naming a female president, it did it without a lot of fuss, and that’s a great thing.”

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