Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Welcome to the new academic year! I hope you had a productive summer that allowed for some rest and reflection. Making my commute across the Quad over these last several days, I could feel the excitement in the air as students began to return to campus and we prepared for the Class of 2027. Now that our new students are here, the boxes are (mostly) unpacked, and we all have the first day of class behind us, I look forward to seeing you around campus as we all settle into the routines of a new semester. The year ahead will be full of important work, and I thought you might appreciate an update on progress made this summer around critical strategic initiatives. Thanks to faculty and staff across campus, it has been a productive summer with institutional planning, capital projects taking shape across campus, and new additions to the administration.

Strategic Planning
Throughout the summer, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has continued to meet, and I greatly appreciate the group’s time and diligence. We have been reviewing the material collected during the spring semester’s robust campus and community listening sessions, analyzing the results of the community-wide survey, and discussing the College’s vision, mission, and values before we take the next step of identifying themes for institutional priorities. As those broad priorities take shape, the committee will assign working groups for further analysis, review, and recommendations; and we will invite the campus and wider community to participate in the deliberations about these important foundational concepts and priorities.

The steering committee is being aided in its work by the consulting firm Grant Thornton, which is helping to facilitate and focus our discussions and guide timing and coordination of the planning process. 

I have also appointed a Feasibility and Implementation Committee to provide advice and support to the Steering Committee throughout the planning process, as well as review all recommendations proposed to ensure that they are actionable for the College. The Committee is not meant to check the ideation and creativity of the planning process, but to ensure that those innovative ideas can be realized within the context of College’s other priorities and constraints, including those related to the Campus Master Planning process, budget, and personnel resources. The Committee will assist the Steering Committee in working across the institution to ensure that ideas are presented and vetted appropriately through shared governance channels, including with senior leaders and the Board of Trustees. The Committee will also work to ensure that, once a plan is adopted, infrastructure exists to support the implementation of the goals and objectives that are central to the plan. My thanks to the following colleagues for agreeing to join me on this committee, which held its first meeting last week.

Feasibility and Implementation Committee Members:

  • Lauren Anderson ’04, Professor of Engineering, and Jeffers Dean of Engineering 
  • Nicole Eramo, Chief of Staff to the President
  • Sherryta Freeman, Director of Athletics
  • Ingrid Furniss, Dean of the Faculty, Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Professor, Art History 
  • Lisa Gabel, Professor, William C. ‘67 Rappolt and Pamela Scholar in Neurosciences, and Dean of Natural Sciences
  • Audra Kahr, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration
  • Pete Mackey, Interim Vice President of Communications and Marketing
  • John Meier, Provost
  • Angel Mendez ’82, Secretary, Board of Trustees
  • David Shulman, Professor, Anthropology & Sociology, and Dean of Social Sciences 

Campus Master Planning
As the strategic plan continues, the campus master plan is also taking shape. The SmithGroup returned to campus in early June to review its initial findings and themes with the community, including a meeting with local community members on June 2. The SmithGroup team also met with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee to begin to pull themes from the campus master planning research into the wider planning process. Ultimately, as each plan coalesces, we will bring their timelines and goals into alignment as our capital infrastructure plays an important role in creating physical spaces and places that support our strategic goals and aspirations. 

Capital Projects
We are also in the midst of completing several timely capital projects: 

  • Easton/College Hill Escarpment Trail and Historic Step Refurbishment – As we announced last evening, the historic step refurbishment has been completed and the steps are now open. The escarpment ramps that connect the Karl Stirner Arts Trail to the steps and the Class of 1962 Plaza are expected to be finished in approximately three weeks. We will also be welcoming back the Class of 1962 during Homecoming weekend for a dedication of the plaza that now surrounds the Civil War monument, which was beautifully restored through our partnership with a skilled preservation company. The College is working closely with the City of Easton on a reforestation plan to address the removal of trees that were dead, dying, or diseased, and could potentially cause injury to construction workers and, ultimately, trail users. This plan will bring more trees to the City landscape, the hill, and other areas of the College. Thank you to Professor Nancy Waters of Biology who is kindly assisting in this effort to ensure that the trees and other vegetation planted are native to the area.
  • Seven other important projects have either been recently completed or remain on schedule:
    • Simon Center for Economics and Business (Kunkel Hall Renovations)
    • McCartney Street Phase II 
    • Gummeson Grounds: Home of Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium 
    • Leopard’s Lair (the student space in the basement of Farinon)
    • Simon’s Market, featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology
    • Post Office
    • Gilbert’s Cafe

Leadership Team
As announced previously, thanks to the leadership of a diligent search committee of faculty and staff, we successfully completed the search process for our Vice President for Student Life, and will welcome Sarah Moschenross to campus on September 1. Sarah is also joining us for several welcome and orientation events prior to her official arrival.

The recruitment and hiring process for our new Vice President for Inclusion is underway, aided by our search partners, Witt/Kiefer, who also assisted the VP for Student Life search. Professor Jorge Torres and VP Forrest Stuart are co-chairing this search, along with the help of search committee members Professor Chris Phillips, Professor Robin Rinehart, Rev. Alex Hendrickson, Rico Reyes, and Nicole Eramo. We hope to welcome this new leader later in the fall semester.

In May, we celebrated Leslie Muhlfelder ’81, our long-time General Counsel and head of Human Resources, with great appreciation and an Honorary Doctor of Letters. Leslie retired from the College July 1. Audra Kahr, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, has assumed responsibility for the Office of Human Resources, and the College will continue to benefit from outside legal counsel as we build plans to recruit a new General Counsel. 

This summer, we also celebrated Kim Spang, Vice President for Development and College Relations, who accepted an opportunity at Haverford College. Last week, we announced that Kimberly Verstandig, a higher education fundraising leader with decades of experience, has been named Interim Vice President for Development and College Relations. We look forward to welcoming her on Sept. 18. 

Faculty Updates
In addition to celebrating named chairs and professorships, faculty promoted to full professorship and those promoted to associate professor with tenure, we are excited to welcome 15 new tenure-track faculty and several visiting faculty to our campus community. My thanks to all the faculty who dedicated the incredible amount of time and attention that these important searches require. 

I am also excited that a revised Common Course of Study was approved at the last faculty meeting of the 2022-23 academic year and will be effective by the time the Class of 2029 enrolls in fall 2025. As the proposal for this new course of study states, “(Our) graduates are distinguished by their engaged, informed citizenship in the world, and by their ability to collaborate and communicate both within and across disciplinary boundaries. Lafayette’s Common Course of Study contributes significantly to the development of these qualities by encouraging students to use and to connect a variety of modes of inquiry and ways of knowing. It challenges them to engage with issues of power and privilege in both local and global systems and contexts, to develop socio-technical thinking, and to cultivate their intellectual maturity and critical thinking.” 

This revitalized Common Course will ensure that our graduates continue to lead and serve at Lafayette and beyond.

Noteworthy Updates
There have been some great Lafayette moments over the past few months. Just to name a few (for more summer highlights, please see our online newsroom): 

  • Lafayette to reduce Common App activities submissions – With this important change to our admissions process, we will be asking applicants for up to six co-curricular activities rather than the 10 available through the Common App form. The Common App supports this step and will be collaborating with us on evaluating its impact. 
  • Bushkill Creek restoration project – In July, crews started to safely remove the Lafayette dam, the first and most critical of a series of dams upstream of the confluence of the Bushkill and the Delaware. Nearly 20 years in the making and guided by Lafayette faculty members along with numerous classes of students, the College is playing a vital and impactful role in this project, which will lead to the return of freshwater mussels in the Bushkill Creek. 
  • Green Move Out & West Ward Sale – The Office of Sustainability and Landis Center for Community Engagement partnered on a highly successful Green Move Out and West Ward Sale at the end of the spring semester. The impact of this effort was impressive. More than 22,000 pounds of items were collected by 119 volunteers. As a result, the West Ward Sale was able to serve approximately 300 families and make donations to 13 local partners. 

The start of our third century is near, and soon we will begin to focus on celebrating our Bicentennial and planning a new and ambitious comprehensive campaign. It is an exciting time and all the progress we are making stems from the investment that our students, faculty, and staff make each day in bringing the mission and vision of Lafayette to life through your time and talent. As I begin my third year at the College, my gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful community only grows.

I look forward to seeing you on campus.

To great things ahead!

President Nicole Hurd



Categorized in: Presidential News, Strategic plan

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