Lafayette College

Lafayette College is a private liberal arts college based in Easton, Pennsylvania with a small satellite campus in New York City.[6] Founded in 1826 by James Madison Porter and the citizens of Easton, the school first held classes in 1832.[7] The founders voted to name the school after General Lafayette, who famously toured the country in 1824–25, as "a testimony of respect for [his] talents, virtues, and signal services... in the great cause of freedom".[7] Lafayette is considered a Hidden Ivy[8] as well as one of the northeastern Little Ivies.[9]

Lafayette College
Latin: Collegium Lafayettense
MottoVeritas liberabit (Latin)
Motto in English
The truth shall set you free.[1]
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Endowment$830.6 million (2018)[2]
ChairmanRobert E. Sell
PresidentAlison Byerly
ProvostJohn Meier[3]
Academic staff
229 full-time members[4]
Location, ,
United States

40°41′55″N 75°12′29″W
110-acre (0.45 km2) main campus
and additional 230-acre (0.93 km2) athletic complex.[5]
ColorsMaroon and White
AthleticsNCAA Division IPatriot League
Annapolis Group
Oberlin Group

Located on College Hill in Easton, the campus is in the Lehigh Valley, about 70 mi (110 km) west of New York City and 60 mi (97 km) north of Philadelphia. Lafayette College guarantees campus housing to all enrolled students.[10] The school requires students to live in campus housing unless approved for residing in private off-campus housing or home as a commuter.[10]

The student body, consisting entirely of undergraduates, comes from 46 U.S. states and territories and nearly 60 countries.[11][12] Students at Lafayette are involved in over 250 clubs and organizations including athletics, fraternities and sororities, special interest groups, community service clubs and honor societies.[13] Lafayette College's athletic program is notable for The Rivalry with nearby Lehigh University. Since 1884, the two football teams have met 155 times, making it the most played rivalry in the history of college football.[14]



A group of Easton citizens led by James Madison Porter (son of General Andrew Porter of Norristown, Pennsylvania) met on December 27, 1824 at White's Tavern to explore the possibility of opening a college.[15] The recent visit of General Lafayette to New York during his grand tour of the US in 1824 and 1825 prompted the founders to name the school after the French military officer.[7] The group also established the 35-member Board of Trustees, a system of governance that has remained at the college to this day.[15] In need of an education plan, the meeting gave the responsibility to Porter, lawyer Jacob Wagener, and Yale-educated lawyer Joel Jones.[15] The charter gained approval and on March 9, 1826, Pennsylvania Governor John Andrew Shulze's signature made the college official.[15] Along with establishing Lafayette as a Liberal Arts College, the charter called for religious equality amongst professors, students, and staff.[16]

The Board of Trustees met on May 15, 1826 for the election of officers, resulting with Thomas McKeen as Treasurer, Joel Jones as Secretary, and James Madison Porter as the first President of the College.[15] Over the next few years, the Board met several times to discuss property and funding for the college's start-up.[15] Six years after the first meeting, Lafayette began to enroll students.[15]

The College opened on May 1, 1829, with four students under the guidance of Rev. John Monteith.[15] At the start of the next year, the Rev. George Junkin, a Presbyterian minister, was elected first official President of the college and moved the all-male Manual Labor Academy of Pennsylvania from Germantown to Easton.[15] Classes began on May 9, 1832, with the instruction of 43 students on the south bank of the Lehigh River in a rented farmhouse.[7] As George Junkin was a supporter of the colonization of Liberia by ex-slaves, he positioned Lafayette as a training ground for African-Americans to be educated for missionary work. Between 1832 and 1844, ten black students were enrolled at Lafayette, four of whom went on to perform mission work in Liberia.[17]

During the college's first years, in order to earn money to support school programs, students had to labor in the fields and workshops.[7] This manual labor would remain part of the curriculum until 1839 due to the schools initial founding which was focused on Military and Civil Engineering.[15] Later that year, Lafayette purchased property on what is now known as "College Hill" – nine acres of elevated land across Bushkill Creek.[7] The College's first building was constructed two years later on the current site of South College.[7]

A dispute between Porter and Rev. Junkin led to his resignation of the presidency in 1841.[15] Though still young, Lafayette was beginning to take shape, grappling with the possibility of religious affiliation for financial stability.[15] In 1854, Lafayette College became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. By relinquishing their control, the College was able to collect $1000 a year from the Presbyterian Church Board of Education as regularly as the latter could pay it.[15] In the time from 1855 to 1856, Lafayette experienced a new peak enrollment of 112 students, leading to the "famous class" of 1857.[15] This close-knit class of 27 men worked in secrecy to establish charters in national fraternities, thus instating the first Greek Fraternities at Lafayette College.[15] These Fraternities remained secret and discouraged by the authorities until 1915.[15]

World War I

In preparation for World War I, Lafayette announced that their current students would be awarded their degrees in absentia if they enlisted or went to work for farms to support the war effort. Professor Beverly Kunkel organized The Lafayette Ambulance United, Section 61, United States Army Ambulance Corps. During the summer of 1917, Dr. MacCracken arranged to turn the campus into a war camp for the War Department. Men trained to serve in mechanical trades. Lafayette remained a war camp until January 2, 1919 when the regular course of study was re-established at Lafayette.[18]

Lafayette in The Depression

A drastic change in numbers of undergraduate and graduate students occurred between 1930 and 1934 during the Great Depression. The college made efforts to bolster enrollment including creation of new scholarship opportunities as well as scholarship loans. Lafayette College also founded an Engineering Guidance Conference for boys. The Conference was two weeks long and introduced twenty-one high school students to the concepts of engineering. This program continued until the outbreak of World War II. Though the College faced its own deficits, it aided the larger community by offering a series of classes to unemployed men free of charge beginning in 1932. They also made athletic facilities available to unemployed members of the community. Enrollment began to rise again for the 1935–1936 school year.[19]

Decade of Progress campaign

As the college moved out of the great depression, the college's new President, William Mather Lewis, began what it called the Decade of Progress campaign. It started as a celebration of the 70th anniversary of Lafayette's engineering program. President Lewis regarded this 70-year period as a period, which "covers the great development in American engineering which has now seemed to reach its peak." The goal of this campaign was to raise $500,000 for payments on Gates hall, renovation of Van Wickle Memorial Library as well as equipment upgrades in other departments. By the time the campaign closed in 1944, the total amount received was $280,853.34.[19]

World War II

Initially, Lafayette College on the student and faculty level was committed to keeping peace in the Western Hemisphere. When President Roosevelt addressed the Pan-American Congress stating that it was America's duty to protect American's science, culture, freedom and civilization, thirty-seven Lafayette faculty members wired the President objecting to his sentiments. When the country was left with no other option in the wake of Pearl Harbor, The College Council of Defense was organized and overseen by the Northampton County Council of Defense. The college took official action as well. It bolstered its ROTC program and improved their facilities to prepare for air raid tests. The college continued to thrive until the draft age was lowered from 20 to 18 in November 1942. Lafayette College was one of 36 academic institutions selected to train engineering and aviation cadets by the War Department. After the war The Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944 caused enrollment at Lafayette to jump dramatically peaking in 1949 with approximately 2000 students.[19]

Coeducational institution

In 1967, faculty requested that a special committee be formed to discuss making Lafayette a co-educational institution. That committee issued a formal recommendation the following year. In September 1970 Lafayette College welcomed its first official coeducational class with 146 women (123 freshmen, and 23 transfers).[20]

21st century

In 2004, a report on religious life at Lafayette College was compiled. This report recommended a review of the college's formal relationship with the Presbyterian church.[21] To date, however, this affiliation remains in place, although the college is not a member of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.

In 2007, the college commemorated the 250th birthday of General Lafayette through a series of lectures and campus dedications.[22] Major festivities were held on September 6, 2007, Lafayette's birthday, and were kicked off the night before with a lecture by renowned historian David McCullough. Lafayette commemorated the recognition of the College Charter by the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 9, with a campus wide and alumni toast around the world.

On January 16, 2013, Dr. Alison R. Byerly was announced as Lafayette's 17th and first female President. She took office on July 1, 2013, replacing outgoing president Daniel Weiss.[23]


Lafayette College offers a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in 37 fields. Lafayette also offers 14 bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees, 10 in areas of science and four in fields of engineering. The most popular majors are in the fields of Social Sciences, Engineering, Biology, English, and Psychology. Students may also create their own major by combining courses from different programs.[24]

Lafayette College offers engineering programs within its liberal arts setting. The engineering programs offer five concentrations: Chemical, Civil, Electrical & Computer, Mechanical, and Engineering studies. In 2012, 94% of Lafayette's candidates (currently enrolled) passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. This is the first requirement toward getting a professional engineering license. The National average varies from 70–87% depending on the type of engineering.[25]

In the recent years, Lafayette College students earned numerous national and international scholarships,[26] For the class of 2012, Lafayette gave financial aid to 66% of the students, with the average package amounting to $26,850 for all students.[27] The college also offers merit-based academic scholarships – the Marquis Fellowship, a full-tuition scholarship, and the Marquis Scholarship, a half-tuition scholarship.[28] Lafayette's endowment is more than $830 million, with total assets amounting to nearly $1.2 billion.[29]

Rankings and reputation

University rankings
Forbes[30] 57
Times/WSJ[31] 87
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[32] 39
Washington Monthly[33] 26


Class of 2021[34] 2020[35] 2019[36] 2018[36]
Applicants 8,469 8,123 7,465 7,796
Admits 2,293 2,293 2,250 2,319
Acceptance Rate 27.1% 28.2% 30.1% 29.7%
SAT Range 1310–1470 1880–2170 1870–2170 1870–2150
ACT Range 30–33 29–33 29–33 29–32
GPA Average N/A 3.63 3.59 3.57

Note: The SAT range for the Class of 2021 is out of 1600, in accordance with the new SAT.

Peer schools

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lafayette's peers include Bowdoin, Colby, Colgate, Franklin & Marshall, and Hamilton.[37]


Lafayette College is settled at the top of College Hill in Easton, Pennsylvania, located in the Lehigh Valley. The campus location is about 70 mi (110 km) west of New York City and 60 mi (97 km) north of Philadelphia. Its 340-acre campus houses 69 buildings, comprising approximately 1.76 million square feet, which includes a 230-acre athletic campus.[38] Lafayette's campus buildings range in architectural style from Pardee Hall's Second Empire design and Hogg Hall's Collegiate Gothic, to the late modern architecture of the Williams Center for the Arts, the William E. and Carol G. Simon Wing of Skillman Library and the Farinon College Center.[39]

Academic facilities

Williams Center for the Arts is the college's performing arts center. Completed in 1983, the building houses the Performance Series, the Williams Art Gallery and College Collections, the College Theater program, the departments of Art and Music, and the student-led Arts Society.[40] The centerpiece of the Williams Center is the 400-seat theater/concert hall and also contains a versatile art gallery, a 100-seat black box theater, and classrooms and studios for music and art.[40]

Pardee Hall, funded by Ario Pardee, was completed in 1873 and remains one of the earliest buildings constructed at Lafayette College. When initially constructed it was one of the largest academic buildings of its era.[41] Pardee was first designed to hold all of the science programs; currently it holds most of Lafayette's humanities and social science departments.[42]

The Kirby Hall of Civil Rights was constructed in the late 1920s between the First World War and the Great Depression.[43] It was donated by the entrepreneur Fred Morgan Kirby.[43] In accordance to its time, the design "rumored to be per square foot the most expensive building of its day."[43] Lafayette selected the architectural firm Warren and Wetmore, known for their project designs with the New York Yacht Club, the Biltmore Hotel and Grand Central Station.[43] The building's exterior embraces styles of Republic Rome, the Renaissance, 17th English classicism, and Beaux-Arts. The interior lobby area contains broad staircases and is constructed of travertine marble.[43] The building currently houses the Government and Law department, giving students access to the Kirby library, with its twenty-foot ceilings and oak-paneled book cases.[43]

Markle Hall, now the main administrative building, home of the Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid, originally was designated the Hall of Mining Engineering. An online historical survey of campus buildings is maintained by the College's Special Collections.[44]

The David Bishop Skillman library built in 1961 is the main library on campus with the addition of the Simon Wing in 1986 and $22 million renovation and expansion in 2004.[45] [46] The library contains over 500,000 volumes in its collections and is subscribed to thousands of magazines, journals, and newspapers in the electronic and paper format.[45] In addition, the college's Special Collections and College Archives are located inside for research and displays holdings related to the Marquis de Lafayette.[45] Inside also contains reading and study areas and computer labs available to the students.[46]

Housing and student life facilities

Lafayette College guarantees campus housing to all enrolled students.[10] The school requires students to live in campus housing unless approved for residing in private off-campus housing or home as a commuter.[10] The College offers on-campus housing options including traditional halls, Greek chapter houses, suite-style halls, and group living units; where some halls are single gender while others may be co-ed by floor, wing, room, or suite.[47] In addition, Lafayette College provides specialty housings that ties to specific academic departments, student organizations, or religious affiliations.[48] Other residences include the McKelvy House, the Arts Houses, the French/German House, Hispanic Society of Lafayette, and the Hillel House.[10]

Lafayette College offers a variety of dining options for the campus residents. Farinon College Center houses two of the main dining halls on campus. The top floor of Farinon is an "all-you-can-eat" style buffet, while ground level is a food court.[49] Marquis Hall, the second largest dining hall on campus, is the second dining hall with an "all-you-can-eat" style buffet. Marquis also houses regularly themed events and contests.[49] Gilbert's Cafe, a coffeehouse located on the ground floor of Kirby House, was opened in 1999 to provide a late-night hangout and food for students. Simon's, a sandwich shop is located in the ground floor of Kamine, a residence hall.[49] The Skillman Café located in the Skillman Library sells Starbucks coffee and fresh-baked items made by the college.[49] Lafayette also maintains an off-campus organic farm, Lafarm, which provides vegetables to the dining halls and employment for interested students.[50]


The Lafayette Leopards compete in the Patriot League under the guidance of current Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman.[51] Lafayette offers students the opportunity to participate in 23 NCAA Division I sports, 18 club sports, and over 30 intramural sports. The student-athletes are considered students first, and athletes second. Lafayette currently ranks 3rd nationally in student-athlete graduation success rate, according to the most recent NCAA study.[52]

Among other firsts, Lafayette became the first non-Ivy League school to win a national football championship in 1896. Additionally, other American football innovations at Lafayette include the first use of the huddle[53] and the invention of the head harness, precursor to the football helmet.[54] The men's basketball program also encompasses a decorated history, peaking in the late nineties under the leadership of Fran O'Hanlon, who led the Leopards to back-to-back Patriot League championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 1999 and 2000. These seasons were documented by John Feinstein in his book, The Last Amateurs.

Varsity sports

The Rivalry (Lafayette-Lehigh)

Lafayette College's athletic program is notable for "The Rivalry" with nearby Lehigh University. Since 1884, the two football teams have met 150 times, making it the most played rivalry in the history of American college football, and also one of the oldest when including high school or secondary school contests.[55] It is also the longest running rivalry in college football, with the teams playing at least once every year since 1897.[14] The Rivalry is considered one of the best in all of college athletics by ESPNU, which recently ranked it #8 among the Top Ten College Football Rivalries.[56]

Lafayette leads the all-time series 79–71–5. In the most recent contest, on November 23, 2019, Lafayette defeated Lehigh by a score of 17-16.

Student life

Students at Lafayette are involved in over 250 clubs and organizations including athletics, fraternities and sororities, special interest groups, community service clubs and honor societies.[13] The Lafayette College Student Government, consisting of fifteen elected students,[57] is responsible for most of the student organizations on campus, and is responsible for the budget, emergency allocation, programming.[58] These programs and activities are meant to promote student involvements around campus and to provide a space for interactions outside of the classroom. Further, Student Government actively collaborates with different bodies on campus to better the community, as well as maintains an influential relationship with the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees in order to best meet the needs of the students.[59]

Greek life

Lafayette College encompasses a lively Greek community. Though students are not eligible to join these organizations until sophomore year, approximately 40.20% of eligible students join the school's fraternities and sororities.[60] All but two of the Greek organizations at Lafayette are located on campus, making it a viable living option. Additionally, members of each house commit themselves to various philanthropic ventures throughout the academic year as these groups work together with the college, local, and national affiliates to help achieve the goals and ideals their organizations were founded upon.[61]



In addition to the social fraternities and sororities, there are also a number of academic honor societies on campus.[62]

Academic honor societies


The Lafayette, Lafayette's weekly student newspaper, was founded in 1870 and is the oldest college newspaper in Pennsylvania.[63][64] It is available in both print and online form. The newspaper has been published continuously since its creation, with the exception of during World War II, when operations were suspended between fall 1943 and March 1945. Over 4,200 digitized issues of The Lafayette are available online.[65]

Investment Club

Founded in 1946, it is the oldest student-run investment club in the country. The club made national news in 2016, when CNN profiled their investment skills that led to returns of over 175 times their initial investment over 70 years (from $3,000 in 1946 to $530,000 in 2016), thereby beating the S&P 500 Index. As of March 2016, the portfolio contains 41 stocks.[66]

Engineers Without Borders

The club was founded in 2003 and is a member of EWB-USA.[67] Members of the club represent many disciplines in engineering and the liberal arts. The club is linked with rural villages in the Yoro region of Honduras.[67] EWB's mission is to design and implement projects in these villages that help promote better life. The club has focused its efforts on water treatment systems.

El Convento, which is located in the Yoro district of central Honduras, will be the third sustainable water project EWB-LC students have worked on in the country since 2003 when the club was founded.[68] The group has implemented gravity-fed water systems in neighboring Lagunitas and La Fortuna. In La Fortuna, the group utilized a slow sand filter in its system. The group's previous work garnered national media exposure for being one of six national institutions to receive a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[69]

Volunteer opportunities

Landis Center

The Landis Center, Lafayette College's community outreach program, provides students with service opportunities.[70]

Alternative School Break

Another volunteering alternative to the aforementioned Engineers Without Borders and Landis is Alternative School Break (ASB). Students travel in teams during the January interim or spring break and help communities build homes, paint, and tutor. Recent destinations have included the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York City.[71] Students raise money through various fundraising events to mitigate the cost of the trip.

Lafayette Activities Forum

The Lafayette Activities Forum is a student-run organization to "promote campus interaction and student relations by incorporating programs and entertainment that reflect the interests of the general student body".[72] LAF is made up of three committees: Live Entertainment, Campus Culture, and Marketing & Public Relations. They are in charge of planning events such the Spring Concert, Fall Fest, the Spot Underground, Open Mic nights, and Live Comedy.[73]

Notable people

Notable alumni of Lafayette College include chairman and Filipino presidential candidate Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. (San Miguel Corporation),[74] CEOs Ian Murray (Vineyard Vines) and Chip Bergh (Levi Strauss & Co.), author Jay Parini, major league baseball manager Joe Maddon, and politicians William E. Simon (Secretary of the Treasury), John W. Griggs (Attorney General), and Marcia Bernicat (U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh). Additionally, Lafayette counts among its alumni two Nobel Laureates ( Philip S. Hench, Haldan K. Hartline), two billionaires, one MacArthur Fellow, and dozens of prominent bankers, judges, and scientists.

Notable faculty

Notable coaches

Notable alumni

Since the college's establishment in 1826, and in conformity with the changing role of higher education in the U.S., the occupations of its graduates have shifted greatly from mainly clergymen, to rail road engineers, to lawyers, and then in the early-mid 20th century to the more diversified roles across the occupational spectrum seen presently. A non-exhaustive list of alumni achievements known to be deserving of recognition is as follows:

In government: Seventeen United States Congressmen, six governors, more than fifty members of state legislatures, four members of the President's cabinet, four Ambassadors of the United States, countless diplomats, judges, mayors, and local government officials

In business: Innumerable executives have attended including Captains of Industry at the turn of the century such as the founding members or directors of Carnegie Steel, Dow Jones & Company, and Woolworth's. In more recent times, graduates have held executive positions at a variety of Fortune 500 companies including ExxonMobil, Asbury Automotive Group, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.

In technology: Sarkis Acopian, inventor of the solar radio; William C. Lowe, supervisor of the team that launched the first IBM PC;

In academia: James McKeen Cattell, the first professor of psychology in the United States; Frank Reed Horton, founder of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity; Barry Wellman, founder of the International Network for Social Network Analysis.

In literature: Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage; Jay Parini, professor and one of the leading innovators in biographical fiction

In medicine: Two Nobel Prize winners – Philip S. Hench and Haldan K. Hartline

In military: Two four-star generals – Peyton C. March and George H. Decker, as well as a three-star general, Edgar Jadwin

In science: Chief Chemist William McMurtrie; inventor of Corningware, S. Donald Stookey; MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychiatry, Jay Weiss

In sports: Five members of The College Football Hall of Fame, eight NFL players, seven professional baseball players, and an Olympic gold medalist. Stand-outs among them include two-time World Series champion Joe Maddon (2002, 2016); and Charlie Berry Jr, who not only played for the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics, but also was the only man to officiate a NFL Championship, World Series, and College All-star game in the same year.


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