Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As the strategic planning and the campus master planning processes enter their next phases, I write to update you on the ideas resulting from the community’s discussions so far. Lafayette’s priorities and focus for the future—where we want to go and how we can best get there—are beginning to take shape. As we pivot to the next phase, we have exciting opportunities to connect these ideas with our mission, vision, and values.
Summary of Becoming Lafayette, Phase I: Identifying Strategic Priorities
The Strategic Planning Steering Committee will start Phase II: Envisioning our Future by reviewing the insights that resulted from the many meaningful Phase I open discussions.
Beginning in January and throughout February and March, the College hosted more than 20 strategic planning conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and our neighbors on College Hill and in the Easton community. Over 700 people participated. My thanks to everyone who did, including those of you who have contributed to the recently distributed strategic planning survey.
As those of you who attended an open session or two know, the Phase I conversations primarily focused on three overarching questions:
What are the top priorities for Lafayette College over the next five to ten years?
What are the top qualities that characterize and distinguish Lafayette College?
What skills, attributes, abilities, and support services will Lafayette students most need to thrive in the years ahead?
Across the conversations, the following themes consistently emerged:
❖ Adapt the curriculum: The conversations produced interesting suggestions about the College’s potential future curriculum, including:
● Make interdisciplinarity and innovation more visible aspects of the curriculum
● Explore the potential of a required engineering component of the Common Course of Study
● Build a deeper focus on Easton and the Lehigh Valley, or more general place-based pedagogies
❖ Strengthen community: Almost every conversation generated multiple views that the sense of community at Lafayette—on campus, among alumni, and within Easton/Lehigh Valley—is an important College strength worth building upon.
❖ Invest in facilities: In every conversation, at least one group mentioned that the College must undertake important facility upgrades and preserve Lafayette’s beautiful campus. On the former, most of these comments referenced the need to enhance campus residential and student living spaces. The College’s current work on developing a new campus master plan, noted further below, will help inform these ideas.
❖ Prioritize financial stability: At least one group in every conversation identified financial sustainability as a high priority. It was also noted that while Lafayette is in an enviable financial position overall, the ongoing debate about higher education’s value proposition and escalating cost, and growing demographic challenges, make the College’s financial future a critical factor for the next strategic plan.
❖ Additional themes that emerged across multiple conversations included:
● Support student mental health and wellness
● Remain an exclusively undergraduate institution
● Advance Lafayette’s national reputation
● Increase student, faculty, and administrative/staff diversity
● Ensure Lafayette is accessible to students of all backgrounds
● Enhance Lafayette’s focus on sustainability
● Expand our partnerships with Easton and the Lehigh Valley
There is still time to share your perspective by filling out the strategic planning survey today. While this brief survey includes some of the same questions from the initial conversations, it also includes new questions that emerged from them. Your answers will further inform the second phase of our strategic planning process.
Summary of Campus Master Planning Process: Phase I
The Smith Group has now placed online its summary of the Campus Master Plan Phase I survey results. More than 1,000 members of the community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and College Hill and Easton neighbors—took the survey. As you will see in the report, five main themes emerged:
➢ Better leverage current campus infrastructure assets.
➢ Support Lafayette’s culture of “and”
➢ Embrace a more sustainable mindset
➢ Focus on student wellness and success
➢ Strengthen both local and regional connections
The report provides a detailed summary of key takeaways and next steps around each of these themes. Our thanks to everyone who has helped inform the campus master planning process so far. That work will also be incorporated into the strategic planning process as it continues forward.
I will share additional updates soon.
To great things ahead!
President Nicole Hurd