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Creation of Pamela E. Brewer Leadership Institute honors former administrator who placed students first and founded leadership development program at Lafayette
Students at Lafayette College who are interested in honing their leadership skills will soon have the opportunity to participate in an ongoing leadership program that will prepare them to be effective leaders after Lafayette.
The new Pamela E. Brewer Leadership Institute will be made possible through a recently launched fundraising effort to honor the former director of student leadership and involvement, and associate dean of students, Pamela E. Brewer, who passed away in April. Fundraising will support the creation of an endowment to rename the institute and restructure it as a yearlong leadership development initiative. Students will have the opportunity to earn leadership credentials through a combination of educational and experiential opportunities over multiple semesters.
Brewer created the Lafayette Leadership Institute in 1996, and it has been going strong ever since thanks to funding from the Class of 1968 Leadership Endowment. Annual sessions have focused on providing students with leadership theory, tools, and application through presentations and interactions with successful alumni who have spoken about their personal leadership experiences. With a keen eye toward involving students in decision-making, Brewer initially formed a Lafayette Leadership Education Committee, comprising faculty, staff, and students, to serve an integral role in developing the annual leadership event. That structure still exists today.
“There is no doubt in my mind that what I learned as a colleague of Pam’s, and what students learned from Pam, was her emphasis on student development, especially including the student voice,” explains Jodie Frey, associate dean of students and director of recreation services. “There were many times where she would advocate to the administration that student views be included in campus planning or decisions that would ultimately impact them.”
Brewer left a lasting legacy at Lafayette, especially on the many students she mentored over her nearly three decades at the College. As a testament to her work, former student leadership interns from each of the previous Lafayette Leadership Institutes returned for her retirement celebration in 2015 that took place during the 20th anniversary of the institute. Brewer continued to work for Lafayette, even in retirement, by managing special projects in Development and College Relations, helping with the advising of Student Government during a semester in which it had no adviser, and as recently as fall 2021, served as a team judge for Lafayette’s Leadership Competition.
Planning is underway to transition the existing program elements into an overarching institute, which will launch in 2024. The new institute format allows students to join as a cohort with the goal of earning their credential in three semesters or accumulate leadership learning hours over a more extended period.
Students couldn’t agree more that the leadership skills they gained as members of the planning committee equal the knowledge and skills gained by participants in past programs.
“The committee is very valuable to all our planning and organization because we have student representation from different classes, and we’re engaged differently in campus activities so the perspectives matter,” explains associate intern Swati Pandy ’23. “I think during our reflection sessions, the committee members have always been very positive. For me, it’s been a very educational and rewarding experience.”
The same holds true for student leadership intern, Meghan Haddad ’22.
“My love for puzzles has helped define my leadership style, where I can see the big picture and encourage individuals to use their strengths to achieve a shared goal. Throughout my time with LLE, I had the honor to help students lead with purpose, seamlessly collaborate, and effectively communicate. This experience enabled me to hone my leadership skills and inspire a shared vision in other campus areas.”
Two student interns and committee members comprising staff and students form the Leadership Education Committee. The Committee also supports many leadership education programs throughout the year including the Aaron O’ Hoff Awards, which Brewer established in 1991.
This year’s committee members include:
Student Leadership Interns for 2021-22: Meghan Haddad ’22 (leadership fellow), Maddie Barto ’22 (lead intern), Swati Pandey ’23 (associate intern).
Committee Members for 2021-22: Jade Saybolt ’16 (Admissions), Jaison Freeman (Campus Life), Jake Bates (Student Involvement), Kate Keane ’22, Julia Alves ’22, Jordan Lam ’23, Emma Taylor ’23, Sej Cho ’23, Ashley Payano ’23, Jose Ornelas ’24, Josh Joseph ’24, Ryan Park ’25, and Jodie Frey (adviser).
Brewer was dedicated to her family as well as to the College, and she will be dearly missed. She is survived by her husband, Lloyd G. Brewer; two children: Jason L. Brewer (Caroline) of Doylestown, Pa., Amy Beachy (David) of Harleysville, Pa.; and five grandchildren: Jack, Nora, Allison, Brandon, and Maclin.
For those interested in viewing the Memorial Service held for Pam Brewer in Colton Chapel May 13, you can view the recording here.