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Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss

Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss

Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss informed the campus community today that he will complete his service as president at the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year, having served eight years in the position. He will become the president of Haverford College July 1, 2013.

The College’s Board of Trustees had been informed about the decision earlier. The board’s chair, Edward W. Ahart ’69, said a search committee will be formed to identify Weiss’ successor and information on the search will be communicated in the coming weeks.

“Lafayette College has accomplished a great deal under the leadership of Dan Weiss, and a number of important initiatives will be completed in the upcoming academic year under his continuing leadership. The board remains firmly committed to the vision for Lafayette set forth in the strategic plan whose development he led,” said Ahart, who is a partner in and chairman of the law firm of Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP, Florham Park, N.J.

“We remain resolved to building on the momentum that has been established toward achieving the plan’s goals and to maintaining Lafayette’s position as a premier small college that is academically distinguished in the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering and has international reach and presence,” Ahart said.

In a letter to the campus community Weiss said, “Although my decision was not an easy one, I believe that the time is right for Lafayette to transition to new leadership to continue the great progress we have made in advancing our strategic objectives for the College. I am enormously proud of what we have accomplished together, especially in light of the extraordinary economic challenges we have all faced following the recession of 2008.

“We have made outstanding progress in increasing the visibility of the College for prospective students and their families, the higher education community, and the public. Interest in the College, as measured by applications for admission, alumni giving, foundation support, and community involvement in our programs, has never been greater. This work would not have been possible without the strong and coordinated commitment of the Board, the Faculty, our staff, students, and alumni,” he said.

“We will have much to do in the year ahead, including the design and construction of the Oechsle Center for Global Education and the Williams Arts Campus, continued progress in faculty hiring, further planning for the new biology building as the first phase of the Center for the Life, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, and continued work on our comprehensive residential-life initiative.

“I am grateful to so many of you for your steadfast support of Lafayette and for your friendship. I look forward to thanking you personally and to continuing our work together in the year ahead.”

Read the letter to the campus community

Weiss led a yearlong planning process that culminated in a new strategic plan for the College. Approved unanimously by the trustees and faculty in the fall of 2007, The Plan for Lafayette calls for ambitious investment in the College’s academic core, including a 20 percent increase in the size of the permanent faculty. It also calls for an enhanced commitment to student access and community diversity, the development of new programs and facilities in the life sciences and the arts, and a renewed commitment to a strong and vital partnership with the City of Easton.

In the first four years of the plan’s implementation, the College has increased the size of the permanent faculty by more than 10 percent. The Common Course of Study has been revised, and interdisciplinary programs have been developed in environmental science, health and life sciences, film and media studies, theater, women’s and gender studies, and bioengineering. The international affairs major has been significantly recast. Initiatives are also under way to build on the College’s traditional strengths in engineering.

Alumni have supported the College’s strategic objectives generously in a volatile economic climate. Several initiatives made possible by major gifts are in progress. These include the development of the Williams Arts Campus, with new facilities for the programs in theater and film & media studies, and the creation of the Oechsle Center for Global Education. They also include the conversion of an existing building into Grossman House, a residence hall for students with a special interest in global topics; a new endowment to support strategic initiatives in the Division of Engineering; and the transformation of the central campus, including the Quad, into a greener, more accessible area.

Under Weiss, Lafayette has achieved greater national recognition for academic excellence, as shown by record numbers of applications for admission and improvements in both selectivity and the quality of incoming classes.

In the area of student life, the creation of a new senior leadership position, vice president for campus life and senior diversity officer, reflects the College’s commitment to ensuring that inclusiveness and diversity receive appropriate consideration in decision-making that affect campus life and learning. New residential opportunities that support students’ personal and intellectual growth include more than 20 Living-Learning Communities that will open this fall.

The College’s commitment to continuing its affiliation with the Patriot League and ensuring that its intercollegiate programs are competitive in league play was reaffirmed and strengthened. In addition, facilities for varsity athletics have been improved dramatically.

The College also has strengthened its ties with the City of Easton, whose citizens founded the College in 1826. Lafayette has been recognized frequently for its commitment to community service and economic revitalization in Easton. In collaboration with the city, it was the only college in the nation to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for NEA’s Art of Urban Environments initiative.

Weiss is chair of the Council of Presidents of the Patriot League. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network and of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Prior to becoming Lafayette’s president July 1, 2005, Weiss served as the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Johns Hopkins. He also holds an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management. He received his B.A. from The George Washington University.

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  1. Tom Gray '70 says:

    I was very surprised to learn yesterday that President Weiss would be stepping down. His tenure (was it really eight years?) did not seem very long. I think this article (and the article in The Morning Call) does an extremely good job of highlighting his career on The Hill.

    When he was appointed, I had concerns, knowing his background. We had someone filling the Lafayette presidency in the past who had similar credentials, and I feared that President Weiss would try to change the character of Lafayette to be more like Williams, or Haverford. While he did make some changes on The Hill, they were, for the most part, very positive.

    The article in The Morning Call stressed his renovation of the land at the foot of College Hill and how this has positively impacted town-gown relations. This, and the other town-gown positives that occurred under his leadership, is a great step forward. All of his accomplishments took place in an economic environment that was, to say the least, very challenging.

    I look forward to learning the type of leader the Board will be seeking. I hope it is someone who recognizes the unique character of Lafayette – providing an educational environment that balances liberal arts, the sciences, and engineering, along with a wealth of extracurricular activities not found elsewhere in a school of its size. These strengths need to be maintained and built upon as we move forward.

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