Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Spring has again brought out the natural beauty of our campus, and it is wonderful seeing so many of you outside enjoying it.
As our students head into the final weeks of the semester, I want to wish you well with all your hard work as the academic year ends. My best wishes especially to the members of the Class of 2023 as you conclude the last few weeks of your momentous time as Lafayette students. Our entire community looks forward to celebrating you at Commencement and events surrounding it. Make the best of these final weeks as you complete your degrees and prepare for the extraordinary opportunities that await.
At this time, I thought you might want an update on some of the major actions underway presently in the College administration. Recently, I updated you about the strategic plan and the campus master planning processes, and below is some news on other developments.
National Scholarship Recipients, Fellowships, and Awards
It is a thrill to share news that, yet again, several of our students have earned some of the most competitive national and international scholarships.
Congratulations to each of these students, and to the faculty whose close work with them throughout their studies, and in many cases on the scholarship vetting processes, contributed to the learning experience and preparation that helped each student earn these honors. And our deep thanks to Julia Goldberg, who leads the scholarships and fellowships office, and her team for all they do to support our students through these highly competitive and demanding scholarship reviews.
After the current vetting processes underway at national organizations and agencies on faculty national grants and fellowships are concluded, I am sure we will have more exciting news to share about our faculty recipients, and I look forward to sharing that news then.
The admission cycle for this fall and the Class of 2027 is wrapping up with significant successes in meeting our goals. The numbers in hand presently will change as the summer unfolds, as some students may decide to go elsewhere and others will decide to choose Lafayette. Our admissions team works hard to reduce the summer melt and help other students reconsider Lafayette. But at this time, our Class of 2027 numbers are as follows:
Our goal remains to enroll 700 new first-year students, including—as part of our goal to enroll outstanding students from all economic strata—that 12.5% of the class come from families who are Pell Grant-eligible. As of May 2, we had 715 students who had accepted admission for the Class of 2027, including
As these early data suggest, the Admissions and Financial Aid teams, under the leadership of Vice President Forrest Stuart, are doing a fantastic job. Besides their hard work throughout this admissions cycle, they worked many long and late hours solidifying this class, especially this last week and weekend as May 1 (Decision Day) approached. This includes five new admission counselors, who quickly made major contributions to the team’s work to build trusting relationships with College counselors, parents, and students. My thanks to this team for all they have done, and will continue to do in the days and months ahead, to complete this admissions cycle.
My thanks as well to the many students, faculty, and staff across the College who have played such an important role again in this admissions cycle in hosting prospective students and families and talking with them about Lafayette. The scale of this work requires a massive community effort. Thanks for your engagement in this vital process. There is every sign that this fall we will welcome another exceptional and diverse cohort of outstanding young people to our community.
Our Generous Donors
In addition to some key gifts in support of student experiences and capital improvements, Lafayette donors continue to be incredibly generous in supporting current operating expenses through the Annual Fund. Annual Fund support (both unrestricted gifts and those that are restricted) so far this year includes gifts from alumni, parents, and friends in excess of $6.3 million. These funds go directly to the everyday needs of the institution to ensure an excellent Lafayette experience. Overall fundraising for the institution this year now exceeds $18.3 million, including Annual Fund and longer-term commitments through generous multiyear pledges from donors to support key projects.
I have continued to meet with alumni and friends around the country. Most recently, I have had the opportunity to join alumni, parents, and accepted students at events in Connecticut and San Francisco. These events have allowed alumni to meet prospective students and share their own Lafayette stories and experiences.
Impact of Bergh Gift Update
Last October, as you know, we announced the largest-ever gift to the College to support student internships, student-faculty research, and study abroad experiences, a $5.25 million gift from Chip ’79 H’22 and Juliet Bergh. Beginning this academic year and in honor of the College’s Bicentennial in 2026, the Berghs’ gift is funding 200 students who are engaging in the type of life-changing learning experiences for which the College is known.
The impact has been immediate and significant. Thanks to the Bergh Family Fellowship (BFF), the Office of Financial Aid and the Study Abroad Office have been able to award more students more aid for interim study abroad experiences than ever before–and, for the first time, to award some form of aid to every participating student demonstrating need.
Prior to the BFF’s beginning this academic year, across the prior three years combined we awarded a total of 92 students this type of grant aid. Those grants averaged $3,749 per recipient. By comparison, thanks to the BFF, this year alone we have awarded 69 students grants averaging $5,610–marking an increase of nearly 60% in the total grant amount and more than doubling the annual number of students receiving these grants.
Building on the Berghs’ generosity, we have been talking with other donors about endowing 200 annual experiences with $20 million to establish the BFF program permanently. We are optimistic our generous donor community will make that happen.
In early June, the new Welcome Center and pedestrian bridge to Markle Hall parking deck will be completed and ready to welcome guests to the admissions office and to the greater campus. The final work ahead includes the installation of three remaining components: bird-friendly glass, concrete and landscaping on the pedestrian bridge, and audio-visual screens and displays along the office corridor that will highlight the College’s academic programs and the work of our faculty and students. Funding for the Welcome Center was provided by Charles E. Hugel ’51 and Cornelia F. Hugel.
The construction of the new Simon Center for Economics and Business is also proceeding well, including the extensive interior demolition. This month will see the start of the work to install interior wall layouts and new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. Over the summer, the builders will put in place new foundations and steel for the new front glass addition and entryway. The project remains on schedule for opening at the start of the 2024 fall semester.
In April, we broke ground on a renovation project at Metzgar Fields for our men’s and women’s soccer programs: Gummeson Grounds: Home of the Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium. This project will include updated roof-covered seating, English-style terraces behind the goals and along the sidelines, a new press box, and an irrigation system for the playing surface. Thanks to a lead gift from Peter Gummeson ’80 and commitments from 40 additional donors, the new stadium will be open for this fall’s soccer season.
We have two searches underway for senior administrative positions:
Critical Incident Management
I have asked members of my administrative team to focus on critical incident management to ensure that the College is as prepared as possible to keep our community safe in cases of an emergency. I’ve charged several subcommittees to work on different elements of this issue, including:
I am grateful to all our colleagues involved in every aspect of these preparations and reviews. We will share further updates on this work as it continues. Speaking of which, if you haven’t registered for Leopard Alerts yet, please do so now. It provides the fastest way for you to learn quickly about emergencies on campus and to receive quick information that can help keep you, those around you, and our community safe.
It has been a productive semester, full of progress on many fronts. As we move into these final weeks, may we celebrate the many accomplishments and find joy in this exceptional community.
To great things ahead!
President Nicole Hurd