Placing Students First

By Jill Spotz |  Photography by Clay Wegrzynowicz

In the 34 years Jim and Donna Krivoski have been connected to Lafayette, they have experienced 68 semesters, more than 17,000 graduating students, several capital campaigns, presidential transitions, and campus renovations. They even raised their two young daughters, Jamie and Jill, while living in the Watson Hall faculty suite during their first six years on College Hill. “Our kids loved living on campus and being able to interact with students,” says Donna. “They were invited by students for milkshakes in the Leopards Lair (former snack bar in the basement of Marquis Hall) and even asked by an astronomy professor to bring their telescope and join a class on March Field for stargazing.” “It also helped that I could ask mechanical engineering majors living in Watson for help when it came time to assemble the girls’ Christmas presents!” adds Jim.

Jim accepted a position as assistant dean of students in 1985 after serving as director of residence life at James Madison University. “When I first came to Lafayette, the department had two staff members: an assistant dean of students and a secretary,” explains Jim. “I thought, ‘For 2,000 students? I will probably stay for three years until I finish my graduate studies.’ I ended up staying for 33.” Donna soon followed, accepting a position as part-time coordinator of parent programs in 1990. Both positions were on the front line, serving students and families during good times and bad.

For many students, the four short years spent at college are crisis-free. The most stressful moments are relegated to tougher classes, exams, or roommate issues. But unfortunately for some, crises do occur. Over the three decades Jim and Donna served students and families, they helped navigate through many unexpected and pressing circumstances. “Some students experienced a death in the family and could not afford to fly home,” explains Donna. “Or, parents that live far away could not afford to fly to Easton to be with their child when they were hospitalized.”

“As with many of our faculty and staff, we always looked for ways to help students in need,” explains Jim, “whether it was by reallocating funds from our departmental budgets, inviting students for dinner, and even welcoming students to stay at our home during winter or summer break or inviting their parents for Commencement weekend. We always found a way; it’s just the way things are done at Lafayette.”

In honor of their three decades of commitment to Lafayette students and families, the College created the James F. and Donna L. Krivoski Student Assistance Fund this year. A permanent fund in the College’s endowment, the Krivoski Fund is available for students who experience a crisis and require financial assistance for basic needs like food, clothing, a plane ticket, etc.

Jim retired in 2017 after serving in several positions including dean of students, vice president of campus life, and vice president and liaison to the Board of Trustees. Donna retired in 2019 after serving as director of parent and family relations, associate director of development services and special events, and director of the Council of Lafayette Women. The Krivoski Fund honors their combined dedication to students and families and the countless ways in which they made the Lafayette experience special for students. Since the fund’s creation, more than 130 alumni, parents, and friends have contributed or supported similar initiatives, including the Remmel Foundation through PNC Charitable Trust, enabling future students to receive necessary support in times of a temporary hardship.

As for Jim and Donna, they will remain forever connected to Lafayette. “It’s like ‘Hotel California,’ ” says Jim. “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”