President’s Message: Building Community

Building Community
One year ago, the first official duty I undertook as President of Lafayette College was to write a column for Lafayette magazine. With copy due a few days before I took office in July, I had to project what a new president might think and say about the road ahead. Now, with one year already behind me, I am delighted to be writing, not as a newcomer, but as someone who has been warmly welcomed and fully immersed in the Lafayette community.

This has been a year of learning for me, and my own process of inquiry and conversation has strengthened my conviction that the extraordinary education we offer is grounded in our strong community. Students learn from expert, creative, and dedicated faculty who not only excel in the classroom but are willing to go beyond its four walls and teach students wherever there are lessons to be learned. Students also learn a great deal from coaches, from staff, and from each other. The deepest learning depends on a level of mutual respect, camaraderie, and trust that enables a free and open exchange of ideas, and the airing of diverse perspectives.

This new initiative will allow us to use our strong residential community as a platform for an integrated and holistic educational experience.

Finding this kind of close-knit community can be difficult in the super busy, competitive, and technologically driven environment of today. For this reason, the colleagues who served on the Presidential Task Forces appointed this year to examine key campus issues focused much of their attention on ways to strengthen our residential community. This spring, the Board approved a new residential program called “Connected Communities.” This new program provides a structure that will enable the continued growth of many different living options, including fraternities and sororities, living-learning communities, and theme houses, and will create a structure for ongoing, four-year class activities, advising, and events that will build a stronger sense of community across each class year as well.

I am excited by the launch of this new initiative, which will allow us to use our strong residential community as a platform for an integrated, holistic, and comprehensive educational experience. This issue features stories about alumni who benefited from the strong connections that started on College Hill, creating the foundation for the impact they have had over time and around the world.

I look forward to sharing more details in the months and years ahead, as we work together to strengthen and celebrate our unique community.

Alison Byerly

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