In an environment that fosters the free exchange of ideas, Lafayette College seeks to nurture the inquiring mind and to integrate intellectual, social, and personal growth. The College strives to develop students’ skills of critical thinking, verbal communication, and quantitative reasoning and their capacity for creative endeavor; it encourages students to examine the traditions of their own culture and those of others, to develop systems of values that include an understanding of personal, social, and professional responsibility, and to regard education as an indispensable, life-long process.
Lafayette College was founded in 1826 by the citizens of Easton, Pennsylvania, as an all-male liberal arts institution. Throughout its history, the College has continually shaped itself in ways that best serve its educational purpose, remaining supportive of the tradition of liberal education while being responsive to changes and challenges od society and the times. For example, in 1838, it became one of the first colleges to implement a teacher-training program, thus recognizing the connections within education at all levels. In 1854, the College formed a mutually supportive association with the Presbyterian Church. In 1866, as industrialism was changing the Western World, it established courses in engineering, chemistry, and mining. At a local level, it acknowledged the educational needs of the Easton area by introducing a part-time evening degree program in 1953. More recently, as the role of women in society underwent redefinition, the College, in 1970, began coeducation in order to prepare both men and women to lead the nation into a new century. Today, Lafayette is an independent, coeducational, residential, undergraduate institution with a faculty of distinction and 2,000 full-time men and women students of high intellectual promise and diverse background.
The College’s curriculum is distinguished by the rare combination, on an undergraduate campus, of degree programs in the liberal arts and engineering. Students who come to Lafayette may choose among a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses and pursue the Bachelor of Arts degree in 24 fields or the Bachelor of Science degree in six fields of science and four fields of engineering. In addition, evening division students may seek the A.B. in Engineering or Economics and Business and the B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Chemistry. Those who pursue professional career preparation do so within programs rooted in and enriched by the liberal arts. Lafayette alumni/ae remain unusually active and supportive of the College — and its goals.
Effective and challenging teaching is the first priority of the faculty both in the classroom and in a variety of independent and collaborative learning experiences. Easton’s proximity to New York and Philadelphia helps students extend their learning experiences, as do Lafayette’s full co-curricular intellectual, cultural, athletic, and social programs. Faculty research and scholarship are encouraged and supported in the belief that such professional involvement extends the individual faculty member’s intellectual resources, strengthens and complements teaching effectiveness, facilitates student/faculty research, and contributes to the scholarly and professional communities outside the College.
In addition to a campus of great beauty, Lafayette offers a well-equipped physical plant. Its programs are supported by a multi-media library with nearly 400,000 bound volumes and computerized services; modern computer facilities and laboratories accessible to students; a thriving Center for the Arts; an athletic complex compatible with its intercollegiate Patriot League commitment and its extensive intramural program; two chapels serving a variety of religious commitments; and a diversity of living situations. Lafayette’s endowment per student is in the top two percent of all institutions in the country.
In the coming decade, Lafayette expects to strengthen its position among liberal arts colleges and engineering programs of the first rank; through judicious commitment of its considerable resources, it seeks to advance the quality of its students, its faculty, and its programs. As an ongoing process, the College will set priorities from among the several major directions identified in this vision statement.
Lafayette will enroll students who show evidence not only of academic achievement, but of intellectual curiosity and who show promise of becoming engaged citizens within and beyond the College community. It will continue to recruit and support a faculty of teacher/scholars of high quality who see undergraduate teaching as their primary responsibility and who are committed to scholarship and to an active professional life.
Lafayette will continue to shape its academic program with the goal of assuring that a clear, consistent, and demanding curriculum is in place for all students, requiring study in the arts, the sciences, and technology and encouraging such study beyond the introductory level. In addition, it will continue to work toward greater integration of A.B. and B.S. programs so that all students may be the beneficiaries not only of specialized inquiry but of connected, interdisciplinary inquiry as well. And it will continue to develop a curriculum that conserves the traditional values of a liberal education while remaining responsive to emerging societal needs. As part of this commitment, Lafayette will seek ways to assure that ethical studies are a regular component of each student’s course of study.
The College will strengthen its Honors and Independent Study programs, with the goal of engaging more students in scholarly projects and involving more faculty and students in collaborative learning. Individual attention to students and faculty-student interaction outside the classroom, always a goal of the College, will be encouraged through an increasingly favorable student-faculty ratio and small class size. At the same time, the College, understanding the value of exposure to other cultures, will continue to increase opportunities for students to study abroad and will continue to work in other ways to internationalize the campus.
Because Lafayette knows the potential for learning and growth outside the academic program, it will continue to nurture a campus environment that stimulates and nourishes students both as individuals and as members of a community. with the College Center and the Center for the Arts as hubs of activity, the College will foster an atmosphere characterized by a diversity of opportunities for participation and volunteer service and for student leadership. It will offer an expanding array of living options that encourage healthy relations between men and women and provide environments that encourage personal growth. As part of its educational and social responsibility, it will continue to increase opportunities for minority students and work to achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity among students, and staff.
Members of the Lafayette community have always believed in working together to create a College which they and others value; their collective commitment for the coming years is to extend and enhance the value of the Lafayette experience and the prestige of the Lafayette College degree.