Should the Marquis de Lafayette be included in the mission statement?
The history of the institution’s founding and naming is inextricably linked with the Marquis de Lafayette (see further information on the Marquis de Lafayette and the history of the College). Some of the feedback from the campus community suggested that a level of caution should be exercised when directly connecting the institution’s mission to a historical figure, and particularly one hailing from a time period of endemically problematic social and political conventions. Ultimately, the steering committee decided that it was important that the Marquis be explicitly named and highlighted in the updated mission statement for several reasons: 1) the historical connection offers a point of distinction for the institution; 2) to acknowledge, as the citizens of Easton wished to do when proposing the College, the admirable service of the Marquis to the young republic. The committee found the following quote from the Marquis to be particularly poignant, as it captures the curious spirit and commitment to rational thought and critical thinking that is indispensable within an academic institution:
- I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I think, and out of all that I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can.
Considering this rich history and legacy, the committee decided that it is important to name the Marquis in the mission statement, opting to better contextualize the naming within the statement rather than remove the Marquis altogether.
Should sustainability be noted as “environmental sustainability” for one of our institutional values?
The environmental sustainability value is one that the steering committee felt was of utmost importance to be featured in the strategic plan. The first draft of the parameters of the value focused almost exclusively on environmental sustainability issues, but taking into consideration constructive feedback from the campus community, particularly those engaged in sustainability work at the College, a more inclusive and comprehensive description that also addresses the connections between the environment and social, economic, and human rights issues was developed (purposeful sustainability).
Why use the word “leaders” when referencing student development?
Some members of the campus community raised concern over the reference to the institution’s stated dedication to developing student “leaders,” as the term could be interpreted as catering exclusively to students who hold formal leadership positions on campus. The steering committee was particularly swayed by the feedback of students on this point, and decided to maintain the reference to “leaders” with the understanding and acknowledgment that students can lead in a multitude of ways and that the College is committed to helping students discover areas in which they are comfortable authentically leaning into their passions.
Should Athletics be called out prominently?
The College recognizes that its NCAA Division I athletic programs, club sports, and recreation programs are integral to both the student and overall campus experience. The steering committee concluded that it was important to explicitly acknowledge the value that athletic events and programming provides to the campus community, along with the additional benefits that sport participation provides in the areas of student development, experiential leadership opportunities, and holistic well-being.
Is the length of value descriptions appropriate?
The steering committee wanted to be rigorous in synthesizing large quantities of information and ideas and distilling them into a message that captured the spirit of the institution. In some cases, this necessitated longform explanations and descriptions of the concepts being communicated. As the community becomes more comfortable with these concepts and their intended meaning, we will explore how best to share our institutional values, and consider producing short form versions that will condense the message into a more quickly digestible format.
Is Lafayette’s teacher-scholar model being highlighted sufficiently?
Lafayette features a unique educational environment in which undergraduate students are offered ample opportunity to engage in scholarship alongside members of the faculty. This characteristic of the college was not well-articulated in the first draft of the mission and values and is now highlighted in the most recent draft because it is both distinctive and vital to the collaborative student-faculty relationship that the College aims to nurture.
Is it genuine and authentic to include the College’s ability to offer an inclusive and equitable educational environment in the mission statement?
Initial drafts of the revised mission statement alluded to the College’s ability to offer an inclusive and equitable educational environment. Feedback from the community, however, emphasized that while some progress has been made in this area, the College still has a lot of work to do in order to realize that ideal. The steering committee found it important that the wording used within the mission statement be aspirational in nature, acknowledging that while the goal has not been accomplished yet, the College will continue to strive to offer a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and socially just environment.
Are Lafayette’s academic divisions and interdisciplinary studies emphasized appropriately?
Both the revised mission statement and draft values make specific mention of “arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.” This nomenclature is intentional, as it highlights each of the College’s distinct academic divisions, as well as the opportunity that students are offered to study across disciplines.