Alison R. Byerly became Lafayette College’s 17th president in 2013. In 2016, she launched an ambitious 10-year strategic direction, Affordability and Distinction through Growth, that will increase the size of Lafayette’s student body by 16 percent while more than doubling the financial aid budget and adding 40 new faculty positions. By making the College more accessible to talented students from a range of backgrounds, the plan is strengthening Lafayette’s competitive position among peer institutions. At the same time, the addition of tenure-track faculty positions supports a newly developed academic plan that is expanding the curriculum in innovative and interdisciplinary areas.
The plan has made significant progress in its first three years, increasing financial aid resources by 30 percent and adding 100 students, with each successive entering class demonstrating increased academic quality and diversity. Eleven new faculty positions have been filled.
Under Byerly’s leadership, Lafayette launched and completed its largest-ever fund-raising effort, the Live Connected, Lead Change campaign, which raised $426 million, exceeding its $400 million goal. In fall 2019, Lafayette opened the five-story Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, the largest capital project in the College’s history. A LEED Gold qualified building, it houses a variety of science departments, a center for innovation and entrepreneurship, and a center for inclusive STEM education. In fall 2020, the College will open a new mixed-use facility on the edge of campus that combines additional student housing with street-level retail.
Prior to assuming leadership of Lafayette, President Byerly was provost and executive vice president at Middlebury College. During her tenure on Middlebury’s faculty, she served as a visiting scholar at MIT, Stanford, and Oxford. President Byerly is the author of two scholarly books— Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism (Michigan, 2013) and Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Cambridge, 1998) — and has written and spoken extensively on the role of technology in higher education.
Byerly earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in English from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in English from University of Pennsylvania. She is married to Stephen Jensen, a medical editor. Their daughter, Laramie, a graduate of Carleton College, is pursuing her doctorate in oceanography at Texas A&M. Their son, Ryan, attends Dickinson College.