To the College Community:

I am delighted to share the news of the successful conclusion of our reaccreditation process: Lafayette College has been formally reaccredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Middle States logoThis outcome represents the culmination of nearly three years of work involving many members of the community. In September 2016, we appointed a Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee that included five members of the faculty, nine members of the staff and administration, and a member of the Board of Trustees. This dedicated group led the campus effort to design the self-study and prepare the final report. Seven Working Groups, co-chaired by members of the steering committee, prepared a self-study report addressing how Lafayette meets each one of the seven standards for excellence established by Middle States. The Working Groups included nearly 50 faculty, staff, and administrators, along with student and trustee representation. Student input for the self-study was solicited through focus groups and surveys of the campus community, while the Board of Trustees was kept informed about the self-study through regular meeting updates.

I am very grateful to all who participated, and in particular to the members of the Steering Committee who led the process:

Jason Alley Susan Averett Jamila Bookwala
Roger Clow Patricia Donahue Markus Dubischar
Michael Heaney Holly Lantos Brandon Morris
Elaine Reynolds S. Abu Rizvi Carol Rowlands
Alma Scott-Buczak Joshua Smith Louis Zulli
Amber Zuber

In April of 2019 we hosted a three day visit by the Middle States evaluation team, a group of seven colleagues from prestigious institutions led by Dr. Jared Cohon, president emeritus of Carnegie Mellon University.  During the visit, the team met with the President, trustees, cabinet members, steering committee members, students, faculty, staff and administrators in small group meetings and with members of the larger campus community in an open meeting. The evaluation team gave a verbal overview of its report to the community prior to departing, and submitted its report to Middle States soon after the campus visit.

The final report of the visiting team can be found here.

The report conveys recognition of many strengths of Lafayette, starting with the great love and dedication for the College the visiting team saw in all parts of the community. The report notes that faculty, staff, students and alumni all speak “with pride and passion” about Lafayette.

The report also affirms our commitment to becoming more affordable and more distinctive by growing the size of the student body and faculty, noting that this “bold strategic plan for Lafayette’s future.. builds on the College’s strengths and promises to elevate the institution’s standing.”

Importantly, the report does not offer any “requirements” or “recommendations” that we are formally obligated to satisfy for our next reaccreditation. (Lafayette will be due for its Mid-Point Peer Review in 2023-24 and its next Reaccreditation Review in 2027-28). As a result of the hard work of faculty, departments, and the academic administration over the last three years, we successfully addressed concerns about the pace of academic program assessment that were raised in our midterm review.

The report does include a number of “suggestions” for areas of improvement, suggestions which largely mirror the issues identified in our own self-study.

Major suggestions in the report include:

  • Re-examining our mission statement and ensuring that it is well communicated and understood throughout the community

  • Reviewing and assessing policies related to freedom of expression on a regular basis

  • Reviewing the Common Course of Study (CSS) in order to ensure its fit within the College’s mission and vision

  • Following up on our recent Campus Climate Study by reviewing our communication and messaging around diversity and inclusion

  • Continuing to address potential staff needs arising from the Affordability and Distinction through Growth initiative by considering ways to streamline the process and to communicate more regularly with the College community about these concerns

  • Working in a collaborative and transparent fashion to undertake a review of governance processes, especially the number, responsibilities, and membership of faculty committees

The administration will collaborate with appropriate faculty committees and with Administrative Council in determining the best pathway to move these and other suggestions in the report forward.

I view this as a very positive outcome, not simply because the report contains many positive observations about the College, but because the concerns that are also identified by the visiting team are pertinent and fair. The report commends our “comprehensive, honest, and thorough Self-Study process.” Our community’s willingness to engage in candid discussion of genuine issues facing the College is what allowed the visiting team to provide genuinely useful advice. I am very proud of how well our community represented Lafayette in this process, and I look forward to our continued work together to make the College even stronger.

President Alison Byerly

 

Categorized in: Academic News, Faculty and Staff, Featured News, News and Features, Presidential News
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