Byerly inaugurated as 17th president

Byerly inaugurated as 17th president

Matthew Mitterhoff

By Matt Mitterhoff ‘16 & Ben Brown ‘14 | News Editors

Photo by Ally Hill ‘15 | The Lafayette

During a day highlighted by emphasis on the changing nature of higher education in liberal arts colleges, Alison Byerly was inaugurated as the 17th and first female president of Lafayette College.

The day of events began with a luncheon in Kamine Gym filled with student leaders, faculty, staff, and figures from Byerly’s past. Jay Parini ‘70, now an English & Creative Writing Professor at Middlebury College, Byerly’s previous institution, spoke about his personal relationship with the new president.

“What we value at…Lafayette College [is] that personal touch,” Parini said. “Alison has always had the personal touch. I remember when she first came down the hall from me…I’d see her there day after day, really welcoming students in her office, talking to them. Alison is going to bring so much to the table here at Lafayette.”

Byerly’s inaugural events continued with a procession on the Quad, led by geology professor Guy L. Hovis as macebearer and President Emeritus David Ellis as Marshal.

Byerly received welcomes from delegates from different groups involved in the campus and Easton communities, including the students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

“Alison, it is my hope that you and your family, in this special community, the friendships, support, and joy, that my family did during our years here,” former President Daniel Weiss said.

In a time where traditional models of college learning are constantly being questioned, Byerly’s convocation address stated that the Lafayette community must assess its practices in education and how these methods are to adapt with the changing college environment.

“We have to be prepared to think about every element that makes up the Lafayette experience: the academic program, the athletic and extracurricular opportunities, [and] the residential environment,” she said during her address. “It means we must understand and be able to justify the value of the ‘complete package.’”

She used examples of change in Lafayette’s past, such as the admission of women, as record that alterations did not disfigure the traditional mold of the college.

“While the structures of the college may change, as they have over almost two centuries, its essential DNA will not. Nonetheless, we must by wary of allowing nostalgia, prevent evolution,” she said. “We are not competing with the past, we are competing with the future. It is precisely Lafayette’s history with self-determination and its tradition of embracing change that make me confident that we can succeed in that future.”

Byerly examined the idea of how the liberal arts colleges today prepare people for life after school, especially when individuals are challenging the value of a liberal arts experience. She answered them by asserting that Lafayette is not an isolated microcosm, but rather a preview of post-graduate life.

“Lafayette does not simply prepare you for the real world, Lafayette is the real world. Once you enter it, you’ll never have to leave.”