Saying goodbye to the Bianchis: a reflection on their time at Lafayette

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Ed and Ashley Bianchi are leaving College Hill after 5 years at Lafayette. (Photo by Elle Cox ’21)

Jane Collins

Ashley and Ed Bianchi, Director of Financial Aid and Assistant Director of Admissions respectively, are leaving College Hill this July after five years at the college. Ashley has accepted a new job at Williams College in Massachusetts, continuing her career as Director of Financial Aid. As he did when Ashley was hired at Lafayette, Ed is leaving his current position unsure of what he’ll do next.

Ashley and Ed met during graduate school at the University of South Carolina, both pursuing degrees in Higher Education Administration. They stayed in South Carolina while Ashley worked at the College of Charleston, and Ed worked at Johnson & Wales University.

Soon after, Ashley was hired at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and Ed worked as a financial advisor at a golf course and at a non-profit during that time. When Ashley was hired by Lafayette in 2013, the two packed up again and moved to Easton with their then 4-year-old son Ward and, in 2014, Ed was hired as Assistant Director of Admissions.

“I had not heard of Lafayette, but everyone around me knew what a fantastic place it was, and honestly I was looking to have opportunities to be more generous with financial aid,” Ashley said.

“To be at a school like Lafayette…to have the resources that we have at Lafayette…to have a very rigorous and generous merit program, to represent a college that has so much going for it and so much for students to enjoy,” were all reasons Ashley said she made the decision to come to Lafayette. In particular, Ashley was motivated by the opportunity and ability to bring more socioeconomic diversity into each class year.

Ashley and Ed said their time at Lafayette has been marked by great accomplishments and great memories. Building relationships with students and being a part of those college experiences will “always be my most proud accomplishment” Ashley said.

Aside from getting close with students, Ashley said other highlights included successes with the financial aid team, such as reducing student loan borrowing, intentionally increasing socioeconomic diversity in each incoming class and working with Dean of Admissions Matt Hyde to open up the population of undocumented students admitted and welcomed to Lafayette.

“We have over the past few years welcomed a pretty significant cohort of undocumented students and their experiences has been really important to me,” Ashley said.

Ed said that Ward, now nine years old, largely grew up at Lafayette and attended theater camp after seeing Marquis Players shows.

“As a family, it’s been really fun to have our son raised here…he has had some great memories… It really has been a great place to watch him grow up,” Ed said.

For Ed, his most memorable experience was when he accompanied an Alternative School Break trip to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where they visited a charter school that sends 100 percent of its graduates to college, in an area Ed said that usually only sends about 10 percent. The group also visited a refugee intake center and attended a rally for immigration reform.

Ed said that in his time at Lafayette he has seen students become “louder,” not rowdier, but more passionate about what they believe in and more willing to use their voices. Ashley echoed this sentiment, saying that when she got here it felt like students were under the impression that they were just lucky to be here, rather than deserving to be here.

What Ashley will miss the most is Posse selection night. “The highlight of my year every year is to call students and tell them that they have been awarded a Posse scholarship…it will probably always be the highlight of my career.”

Ashley accepted the position at Williams for largely the same reason she came to Lafayette: more opportunities at a school that has been doing what Lafayette is currently working to do for years in terms of financial aid. Williams has resources Lafayette doesn’t yet have, and Ashley said she is excited to point those resources in the right direction at Williams, working under a new president who came from Brown University.

“Trying to be, I hope, a national leader in the conversation of financial aid,” Ashley said.