Lafayette Interim Course in Egypt 2011

The students of the 2011 interim course in Egypt

When we talk about Academic Excellence at Lafayette we’re not just alluding to that fact that we have a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, an outstanding 87% four-year graduation rate, and an average class size of just 17 students. Because while our academic statistics are strong, as any Lafayette current student or alumnus can tell you, those numbers only tell a tiny part of a bigger, and frankly more interesting, story.

The Academic Excellence we as Lafayette students, staff, faculty, and alumni refer to are the experiences Lafayette provides and the opportunities students seek out to conduct independent or EXCEL research, work across disciplines, learn on interim abroad courses, and even simply take courses with amazing professors which can change our views, our beliefs, and our career paths.

As I was planning this blog post I kept trying to pinpoint the best, the most outstanding, the most excellent academic experience I could share. There was the Intro to American Studies course I took with Prof. Liz Rosen that forced me to stop just observing during class discussions and encouraged me to participate in debates about the role of women in American society or the influence of 9/11 on our generation. Then there was the VaST I took three years ago with Prof. Chris Phillips about the technological evolution of reading and writing that sparked my interest in digital media and is perhaps even responsible for this blog. And, of course, my senior thesis on the representation of the Holocaust in fiction was undoubtedly the most challenging project I took on during my four years on campus but it was also extremely rewarding because it forced me to spend the academic year thinking and re-thinking the two novels I wrote about and defending my conclusions to my advisor, Prof. Steve Belletto.

What I’m trying to say is that Academic Excellence isn’t just about having smart students or a low student-faculty ratio. It’s about a community that encourages academic exploration and an institution that supports students, faculty, and even alumni in pursuing their intellectual curiousity. It’s a culture of questioning, debating, and never settling and it’s one of the things I happen to love about Lafayette.

– Amanda Whitbred ’11

P.S. Help support Academic Excellence at Lafayette! There are only 15 days until the end of the fiscal year! Make your gift now to your academic department, the EXCEL program, or the area of campus that means the most to you by clicking here.