Lafayette’s Year in Review

Lafayette’s Year in Review


As another year draws to a close, I want to
take this opportunity to look back on our many accomplishments, and to wish the Lafayette
community a peaceful and happy holiday. Throughout 2016, we built bridges to the world, across
academic disciplines, and over barriers to student access and affordability. In October, students, faculty, and alumni,
built a replica of Easton’s Northampton Street bridge on the quad. It went up during homecoming weekend, when hundreds of alumni came back to catch
up with old friends and revisit a campus that was celebrating creativity in all its
forms with an arts open house. On top of that, we dedicated William C.Buck
Hall, home to the hundred and eighty seat Landis Cinema, and the Weiss Black Box Theater. The opening of this building completes the
downtown Williams Arts Campus, which serves as a dramatic gateway to the city of Easton. With Lafayette in New York City, the college
is extending its geographic footprint even farther, by leasing classroom space in the
heart of Manhattan. Back on campus, twelve new faculty joined
our ranks. And we welcomed the class of 2020, the most
diverse and academically qualified in college history. That’s saying a lot, considering current students
captured some of the nation’s most prestigious honors and scholarships, including Lafayette’s
first Boren Award for International Study. History professor Deborah Rosen’s book won
the highly prestigious Bancroft Prize, and English professor Ian Smith was named
the inaugural recipient of the brand new Sell Chair in the Humanities. Other faculty are receiving national recognition
from important research in climate change, SOA restoration, and theater in the age of
Shakespeare. Alumni Ross Gay ignited the poetry world,
winning a national book critics circle award and a Kingsley Tufts, while Yolanda Wisher was named poet laureate
of Philadelphia. We also brought luminaries to campus, such
as Sarah Vowell, NPR Radio Personality and the author of “Lafayette in the Somewhat
United States”, Civil Rights activist Diane Nash, astronaut Mae Jemison, and actor Tom
Hanks, who joined his friend and collaborator Don Miller to talk about their shared passion
for World War II. For those of you who want to know what Tom
Hanks is really like, I can confirm for the record that he is every bit as nice a guy
as he seems. More than a 120 students produced
a dynamic election night broadcast that aired live on PBS Chanel 39 to millions
of viewers. And after the election, Lafayettes investment
club became the news, when a CNBC reporter interviewed a few of its members live on campus
about how millennials tend to invest. We said goodbye to several members of our
community: Trustee Emeritus Walter Oechsle, and distinguished
Emeritus Professors Bryan Washington and Erol Ulicakli. We also lost students Sarah Bramley, class
of ’19, and Joey Towers, class of ’18, both vibrant presences on campus who are already
deeply missed. It was also a year in which we, like college
campuses across the country, confronted difficult issues around race, politics, and expression. Our students, faculty, and staff came together
on several occasions to share thoughts and concerns related to events occurring around
the country. And members of our community spoke out on
critical issues from a wide range of perspectives. In the world of sports, mid-fielder Amanda
Magadan, class of ’16, competed in the Junior World Cup in Chile, as a member of the national
women’s field hokey team. She was also named to the patriot league academic
honor role, along with 190 of our athletes. And then there was Chicago Cubs manager Joe
Madden, class of ’76. After lifting his team to World Series history,
he and his wife Jaye returned home to Lafayette, where they hosted a party for the campus community
on Lafayette-Lehigh weekend. Shortly after this years game, long time head
football coach Frank Tavani announced he was retiring. Frank may be remembered best for winning the
150th rivalry game in front of a sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium. The college’s Live Connected Lead Change Campaign
is nearing its goal thanks to the incredible generosity of our alumni, parents, friends,
students, faculty, and staff. I’m thrilled to announced that we’ve raised
more then 300 million dollars. This has emboldened us to increase the portion
allotted for need based scholarships in support of a major new initiative to enhance
the college’s affordability and distinctiveness. And our goal is to become a college that can
admit talented applicants without regard to their family’s financial circumstances. I began by talking about bridges at Lafayette. The most important bridges are the ones that
connect you with the college, and with one another. I’m grateful to all of you for your enthusiasm
and support. From our house to yours, Happy Holidays.

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