Dear Students and Colleagues,

I hope your spring semester is off to an invigorating start. From the moment our students returned to a snow-covered campus a few weeks ago, I know we have all once again immersed ourselves in the rigor, joys, and connections that fill life at Lafayette College. Today I write to share some updates regarding the exciting work underway for several key initiatives. 

Strategic Planning
Our comprehensive strategic planning efforts are making significant progress. The steering committee extends its appreciation to everyone who took the community-wide survey on draft 2.0 of the mission and values statements. This draft reflects the valuable feedback the Strategic Planning Steering Committee received from faculty, staff, and students this fall at open listening sessions; the fall survey of the community; and several other data sources. A final draft will be released to the community through Lafayette Today on Thursday of this week, and will be presented at upcoming meetings of the faculty, staff, and student government before I share them with the Board of Trustees for consideration at our winter meeting on February 24.

Enrollment Update
The College received more than 10,150 admission applications for fall 2024 enrollment, the second highest in College history and a 3.6% increase over last year. Not only are the numbers impressive, but Lafayette’s geographic reach into the Southwest, Midwest, and Mountain West rose markedly.

Similar to last year, our goals for this class include increasing the percentage that are Pell Grant recipients (federal grants reserved for very low-income students). While not a perfect proxy for low-income students, Pell Grant percentages help provide a sense of how schools are contributing to social mobility. We are proud that approximately 14% of the Class of 2027 are Pell Grant recipients, the most ever for the College. We are encouraged that the breadth and quality of our applicant pool for the Class of 2028 may give us an opportunity to match or surpass the percentage of Pell Grant recipients in the Class of 2027. We take this goal seriously, as a proud member of the American Talent Initiative, whose member colleges seek to increase the proportion of a student population that is Pell eligible to 15%.

During the Early Decision I phase of enrollment, 281 students committed to attend Lafayette next fall. The admissions team is now actively engaged in reviewing Early Decision II admissions applications. The goal is for total ED admits to represent approximately 50% of our incoming class. Early Decision II admission decisions will be released the afternoon of February 15, and Regular Decision admission decisions are scheduled to be released March 22. Other information about the Class of 2028 applicant pool includes the following:

  • The 553 Early Decision I applications received were the most in Lafayette history
  • Geographically, we experienced growth in the Midwest, Mountain West, and Southwest
  • The number of applications from 16 different states set a record for Lafayette, including Arizona, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia
  • The application pool is 52% Male, 48% Female
  • First-generation applicants (2,750) make up 27% of our applicant pool

The entire Lafayette community shares in the work of each year’s admission cyclefrom recruitment events to campus visits to applications to the all-important yield. I am grateful to VP for Enrollment Management Forrest Stuart, our entire admissions team, and everyone who has been involved in this productive and meaningful effort

Black Heritage Month
Black Heritage Month celebrations are well underway, with a variety of opportunities to learn about, celebrate, and explore Black heritage as a community. I encourage you to attend the events that the Office of Intercultural Development, in partnership with the Association of Black Collegians, has organized for this month.

Title IX Training
I am delighted to report that 98% of active faculty and staff have completed the Title IX training we launched last fall as part of the College’s commitment to combat discrimination in all its forms. Thank you for taking the time to complete this important training and to advancing our shared commitment to creating a safe and welcoming community for all.

Landis Center to Become Hub for Community Engagement and Outreach
Last April, I convened a group of faculty and staff representatives to explore the many ways the College engages with our neighbors in Easton and across the Lehigh Valley. Based on this group’s findings and conversations with members of the community, we have concluded that the Landis Center is uniquely positioned to play an expanded role in coordinating these important efforts College-wide. 

Building on its many productive partnerships with local, regional, and global organizations, the center will now serve as the primary point of contact for external partners that engage with the College. This role will include working with partners and local residents and connecting them with necessary resources. The center will continue to report to the Provost’s Office, with significant collaboration with my office through Chief of Staff Nicole Eramo.

To support this additional charge, the Landis Center is restructuring some of its internal responsibilities. I am pleased to share that Chelsea Morrese has agreed to assume the role of executive director of community engagement in addition to her role as center director. I am grateful to Caroline Lee for continuing to lead the center’s support of faculty work in the community as faculty director, to Jodi Fowler in her new role as associate director of civic leadership programs, and to the entire center team for taking on new responsibilities in support of our students and community.

A full listing and description of the center’s staff and their responsibilities, as well as more details about its expanded charge, are available on the Landis Center website.

Leadership Team
We are thrilled to welcome to our community Ernest Jeffries, who joined us officially on January 8 as Vice President for Inclusion. He is eager to meet and hear from as many members of the community as possible as he undertakes the essential work of developing and implementing a plan to connect, leverage, and further equity and inclusion efforts at Lafayette.

The Provost Search Committee, aided by AGB Search, has identified four finalists from a highly talented pool of more than 70 applicants in the search for the College’s next provost. I am grateful to the committee members for devoting a significant part of their winter break to evaluating candidates and interviewing eight semi-finalists, a process that yielded the four finalists. The finalists are visiting campus this week and next for in-person interviews and open community forums. Your input remains vital to this process, and I encourage you to attend these forums. Materials on each of the finalists, the forum schedule, and additional information about the search are available on the Provost Search website.

It is also a pleasure to report that the recruitment of our next general counsel is underway. We posted the position in late December and have already received more than 25 applications for this essential role. Thanks to Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Audra Kahr for overseeing this search, and to the members of the search committee: Associate Professor of Psychology John Shaw, Executive Assistant to the General Counsel Jody Poniatowski, Director of Educational Equity Amanda Hanincik, and Senior Advisor to the Executive Vice President Heather Hartner. The committee is in the process of reviewing applications. We will keep you updated on the process and will be inviting additional members of the community to partake in campus interviews.

Vice Presidential Debate
We have been coordinating closely with the Commission on Presidential Debates; local, state, and federal law enforcement; and production partners as we prepare to showcase the College as host of the 2024 Vice Presidential Debate on September 25. We have now launched a Vice Presidential Debate website with initial hosting details and opportunities to participate. Meanwhile, two internal committees of administrators, staff, faculty, and students have begun meeting regularly to create engaging opportunities for our Lafayette family and the surrounding community to participate in debate-related programs. The VP Debate Committee welcomes ideas or questions at

Bicentennial Celebration
The five Bicentennial task forces are busy vetting and developing ideas for consideration by the Bicentennial Planning and Management Group to engage the entire Lafayette community in our historic celebration. Thanks to everyone who has submitted ideas so far. Please keep the ideas coming.

The start of 2024 marks the beginning of a momentous year for our College–one in which a new strategic plan will be formalized, Bicentennial plans will be set, the College will host a vice presidential debate for the first time, and so much more. I wish you the greatest success in your academic endeavors, scholarly pursuits, and co-curricular passions as this semester moves forward. 

To our shared progress,

President Nicole Hurd



Categorized in: Presidential News, Strategic plan

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