Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As we approach the end of 2022, I write to provide some timely updates and to celebrate several important developments from this momentous semester. But first I want to wish you the very best as we head into these final days of the year. I know it is an extraordinarily busy professional and personal time for everyone, especially for our students as they prepare for the start of exams and complete major research, writing, internship projects, and more. My thanks to the faculty as they guide our students through this intensive time of year, and to all our staff who continue to ensure the success of so much of this College’s impactful work.

As this semester has unfolded, the discovery process for our first Campus Master Plan (CMP) since 2015 has gotten underway, and it has benefited immensely from your participation in the open forums, focus groups, and surveys examining the places and spaces that shape the campus experience. My thanks to all of you who have participated in these discussions so far. If you have not already completed the related survey or shared your ideas via email, please do so this month, as your perspective is essential to informing the eventual direction of this plan. As the CMP work moves from discovery into conceptualization in 2023, we will incorporate those possibilities into our strategic planning.

I am very much looking forward to getting our strategic planning process underway in January. We will begin with an important first step of discussing goals and priorities that promise to best advance our mission and values in specific ways as the future unfolds. As some of you know, it has been roughly 15 years since the College’s last comprehensive strategic plan was established. Obviously, much has changed since then on campus and in the community, across higher education, and in the ways we live and work. Building a strategic plan that will guide College decision-making for the years ahead presents all of us with a critical opportunity to chart our future together.

As a framework, we are calling the strategic planning process “Becoming Lafayette.” Our strategic planning process will consist of four phases:

Phase I: Identifying Strategic Priorities
To start our strategic planning process, we will host moderated discussions for faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees, parents, and community members and, where we can, across these groups. All these sessions will be voluntary. In these discussions, we will ask such questions as the following:

  • What are your top three priorities for Lafayette’s future?
  • What aspects of Lafayette should be preserved no matter what?
  • What qualities and strengths characterize and distinguish Lafayette College?
  • If you could decide the next major areas for new College investments, which few would you select?
  • What do you consider ambitious but realistic objectives for Lafayette in such areas as academics, arts, athletics, regional and national standing, diversity and inclusion, retention, graduation rates, and more? (During the conversations, we will provide College and peer information on such matters.)
  • What academic fields/educational opportunities may students most want across the next five and 10 years, and even beyond, in which Lafayette could grow or develop as a leader or innovator? Would they require building new programs or expanding existing units?
  • What types of new or expanded student experiences should the College prioritize in the years ahead?
  • What do you think the College’s priorities should be for staff, services, and support that students will most need in five and 10 years?

We will initiate Phase I in January and continue through February to ensure opportunities for robust conversation around who Lafayette is and its potential strategic priorities.

In January, we will share a website that features a variety of information on the strategic planning process, including dates and times for everyone to participate in Phase I. The first forum for faculty will occur immediately after the Jan. 24 faculty meeting, and the first forum for staff will occur on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 8:45-10:30 a.m. We urge faculty and staff to plan to participate in these meetings. More details will follow, including on meetings for students, alumni, and others.

Phase II: Shaping Our Strategy
During this phase, we will review and look for intersections across the ideas that developed in Phase I and begin shaping the goals and priorities that will guide the eventual strategic plan. By this phase, I will have appointed a Strategic Plan Steering Committee. We also will appoint in this phase the appropriate subcommittees to conduct the necessary due diligence, contribute ideas and insights, and inform and articulate the goals that this phase creates as the architecture for the College’s future. The steering committee and subcommittees will have robust faculty representation and be broadly inclusive of the Lafayette community. As the strategy comes together, ample opportunities will be provided for the community to assess the emerging direction and provide feedback.

Phase III: Building Our Plan
This phase will operationalize the direction and clarity that result from “Shaping Our Strategy” and produce the final written strategy that will be presented to the Board of Trustees. The Strategic Plan Steering Committee will play a lead role with the senior administrative team and me in writing and reviewing this document, with the input of the subcommittees, and we will invite the campus community to vet the draft before it is completed. 

Phase IV: Realizing Our Promise
By this phase, having completed the written strategic plan, we will formally initiate the actions necessary to fulfill it. 

As you may have noticed, this schedule does not define the exact lengths of time we will dedicate to the steps that follow Phase I. I will want the guidance of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee (to be appointed during Phase I) on structuring and scheduling the subsequent phases.

With the activation of our strategic planning process about to begin, I will soon be hiring two staff for the Office of the President. One will focus on managing strategic and office priorities, including supporting the strategic planning process; and the other will assume lead responsibilities for community relations, including with our neighbors, Easton, state offices, and more. I look forward to sharing these appointments with you and the work these two new staff will be doing to serve these and other goals.

Let me also take a moment to mark some of the significant news from this semester. Among other major steps forward, this fall the College:

  • Announced the $5.25 million gift of Chip ’79 H’22 and Juliet Bergh to support the internships, global engagement, and research experiences of 1,000 students across the next five years.
  • Came together as a community to celebrate and rededicate the Portlock Black Cultural Center.
  • Celebrated the arrival and promotion of an exceptional group of faculty.
  • Benefited from the extraordinary generosity of 2,804 students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends who contributed more than $816,000 for academic, arts, and athletics programs during Bring the Roar
  • Enjoyed seeing the Dyer Center earn national recognition by receiving a 2022 Award for Outstanding Emerging Center from the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.

Let me conclude by mentioning an event that recently brought the Lafayette College and Easton area communities together. As you know, to start the winter season, we held a short evening ceremony on Dec. 1 to mark the transformation of the Quad for the first time with an array of lights. It was a lovely moment, and now every night we get to see the centerpiece of our campus glowing under the stars.

This is the season of light, of hope and possibility, and as we celebrate this season and all it means, I extend my gratitude to you for all you do to make Lafayette such a beautiful community—and all we will do together in 2023 for our College.

To great things ahead,

President Nicole Hurd



Categorized in: Presidential News, Strategic plan