From supporting Lafayette’s academic and athletic programs, to funding scholarships and internships and everything in between, the generosity of many through time, talent, and treasure is helping to make a difference at Lafayette. Here, we share their stories, which are elevating the student experience and strengthening Lafayette for the next 200 years.
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There aren’t many alumni who use the phrase, “I am Lafayette” as regularly as Alumni Association Board Vice President, Michael Weisburger ’82 (he signs his emails with this phrase). Whether that reference is connected to the famous fighting Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette, or the beloved College that sits at the top of the hill, the meaning is the same. Both General Lafayette and the College have left a lasting impression on Weisburger and as a result, he is passionate about making the institution stronger.
“I think about the Marquis de Lafayette and his fight in the American cause for freedom,” says Weisburger. “I often wonder what advice he would have for the College and Lafayette students today. His ‘Cur Non’ motto (Why Not?) exemplifies his ability to take risks, a defining factor in the Lafayette ethos. We challenge students each day to be bold, to think outside the box. My hope is that he would be proud of this great institution.”
Weisburger is always thinking about ways to make Lafayette even stronger. Among the many ways the Weisburger family has supported Lafayette, in 2014 Michael and Jenny ’82 drove a Lafayette-themed Airstream across the country to garner support for the 150th Rivalry football game. Their “Road Trip to #Rivalry150” kicked off in Los Angeles with scheduled stops on their route to Easton in preparation for the 150th Rivalry football game against Lehigh at Yankee Stadium. With a simultaneous love for travel and supporting his alma mater, Weisburger embarked on a second road trip in 2020 to visit with members of Lafayette’s regional councils to speak about the importance of annual giving when he was chair of the Annual Fund.
Weisburger will assume a two-year term as president of the Alumni Association Board in June 2022.
Concrete, asphalt, and brick. These were the simple, unassuming materials that originally came together to create the walking path sitting just outside Lafayette’s South College first-year residence hall. But in summer 2019, the space received a much-needed facelift thanks to the generosity of Patricia Donahue—a now-retired professor of English whose illustrious career left behind an indelible legacy at the College—and her husband, Michael Garst—retired senior vice president of chemical sciences at Allergan and current partner at three pharmaceutical companies.
Now replete with charming pavers, a bluestone courtyard with seating, and lush landscaping, Donahue-Garst Plaza has transformed into a private, peaceful retreat where students can go to study, collaborate, or simply relish the outdoors. The project, Donahue says—which was officially dedicated in the couple’s name in 2021—was nothing short of a labor of love.
“Lafayette has been a major part of our lives, directly and indirectly,” she says. “There’s considerable pleasure in creating opportunities for students that will enhance and energize their academic and personal lives.”
Nestled in the plaza is a plaque inscribed with these intimate words about Donahue’s emotional connection to the College—a connection that continues to move her even now in retirement: “I have loved Lafayette because I have loved my students.”
“Lafayette is special to me because of the many opportunities it afforded for professional development and growth, because of its community, which I enjoyed being a part of, but mainly because of the many students I taught over the years,” she says. “They are special: They’re smart, aware, committed, lively, challenging, and fun. I taught them, but they also taught me.”
“In 1959, I was in the sixth grade attending an elementary school in Easton. That December, my sister took me to a Vespers service held in Colton Chapel where the all-male Lafayette chorus performed a number of holiday carols. Although I was a native Eastonian, I had never visited the campus except to attend the Easton-Phillipsburg football game on Thanksgiving Day. Upon leaving the cChapel, my sister and I noticed that my sixth grade teacher was also in attendance. After we exchanged greetings, she suggested that one day I might be fortunate enough to attend Lafayette. In 1965, I began classes.
The Vespers service in 1959 marked the beginning of my interest in Lafayette. The winter evening was clear and brisk, and the music was extraordinarily beautiful. For the 12 year old son of a beer truck driver, the campus appeared quite magical. Given my family’s blue collar background, the thought of attending Lafayette seemed unlikely.”
Barrese applied Early Decision and was accepted. But most importantly, he was granted a generous scholarship as well as a National Defense Education loan.
“I am grateful to Lafayette because I’ve always felt they took a chance on me,” explains Barrese, who subsequently served ten months in Vietnam and 35 years in civil service after graduating. “They weren’t stretching the rules to let me as I did well on my SATs and was 20th in my class. However, I still felt that the College was generous in their scholarships, which I really appreciated because I was making like 80 cents an hour!”
Barrese generously decided to give back to Lafayette by naming the college in his estate plans. Doing so will leave a lasting legacy for Barrese as well as honor the College that took a chance on him years ago.
“I received two enduring gifts at Lafayette, the ability to think critically and a life-long deep interest in the history of the American experience. While these may have come to me at another college or university, I will always be thankful for the Vespers service in the winter of 1959 that led me to attend that college on the hill in my hometown.”
Thinking of including Lafayette in your estate plans? It is much easier than you think. For additional information, contact Joe Samaritano ’91, director of gift planning at 610-330-5047 or email@example.com.
“I found Lafayette through the Posse Foundation. I’m a Posse Scholar from D.C. (Posse D.C. 7). And that’s how I ended up here at Lafayette. I’m originally from Maryland and had not actually heard of Lafayette College before. I thought it was fake because when I saw brochures that were mailed to my house, they talked about designing your own major and connecting with your faculty and peers. I’m a first-generation college student, so I didn’t really know what to look for when it came to college. But the Posse Foundation was what helped me and showed me Lafayette and the opportunities that are here.
As a student, I took any opportunity that came my way. I worked in Student Involvement. I was an RA and a head resident. I was on the dance team because one of my Posse mentors and peers encouraged me to be a part of it. I was hesitant at first, but it ended up being the most glorious experience. I ended up becoming a dance team co-captain during my junior year, so I had a lot of experiences that I never even knew were going to be possible, and they all came to me here at Lafayette.
If someone were to ask me about supporting financial aid and scholarships at Lafayette, I would
give them the quintessential answer of Cur Non—why not? You have the chance to bring someone’s dream to life. And by doing so you are supporting the next generation of engineers, imagination warriors, entrepreneurs, social influencers, humanists, artists, and everything in between.”
Thinking about supporting financial aid and/or scholarships at Lafayette? There are many ways in which you can make a difference including through named endowed scholarships, annual scholarships, athletic scholarships, and more. For additional information, contact Development and College Relations at (610) 330-5037 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Jersey deputy attorney general, Richard “Rick” Engel ’74 has served as chief fundraiser for the Class of 1974 for the past 10 years. In this position, he works tirelessly to advance Lafayette’s reputation.
“I’m a big fan of Lafayette, where I learned independence and how to think critically, and have been very involved in serving on leadership councils and on the Board of Trustees,” he says. “I try my best, because I believe in Lafayette. Whenever I’m doing fundraising and get pushback, I always say to my fellow alumni, the better Lafayette looks, the better you and your degree look. When you can say you went to Lafayette, people are going to be impressed with you.”
Engel was recognized in 2021 for his tireless work in enforcing environmental laws by his DOL peers by nominating him for the New Jersey Law Journal Lifetime Achievement Award. Since 1981, he has been with New Jersey’s Division of Law (DOL) Environmental Enforcement/Environmental Justice section, ensuring that polluters remediate some of the most notorious hazardous waste sites in New Jersey, including a dioxin/Agent Orange manufacturing site in Newark, chromate waste sites in Hudson County, and a former radioactive waste site in Montclair.
Engel says he could have retired a long time ago, but there’s still work to do.
“I just feel like as long as I can do some good work, I’ll stick with it,” he says. “It’s satisfying work.”
There are many reasons why alumni, parents, and friends support Lafayette. Perhaps it’s due to inspiring professors, the ability to attend Lafayette through financial aid, impactful athletic experiences, or all of the above. Allen ’78 and Janet Haddad love Lafayette, especially Lafayette Football. Allen played football as a student, and his terrific experience as a student-athlete is what prompts him to stay connected.
“I had a great experience at Lafayette as a student, from my freshman year all the way through. I was fortunate to be able to play football and to be an English major at Lafayette,” says Allen. I was very lucky that Lafayette gave me the opportunity to work various jobs. I worked in the kitchen in Marquis; I worked in security. I had different functions to help pay my way through Lafayette. Lafayette gave me every opportunity to be successful.”
Allen and Janet met at Lafayette and have been inseparable ever since. The couple were married in Colton Chapel and will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on campus in spring 2022.
The Haddads are longtime supporters of the football program’s Sponsor-A-Player initiative. They have sponsored one or more players every year since the program started in 2010.
“We keep in touch with our players and their families long after they’re gone. So it’s become a very personal way to encourage the fellowship and the support within the football program,” explains Allen.
“This is significant to us on various levels. It’s not just about athletics and football for us. It’s also about supporting the cheerleaders, supporting the dance team, and being involved in the extracurricular life of the College,” adds Janet. “We’ve always felt when you give what has meaning from our hearts, the receivers receive not only the gift, but part of your heart as well. That is very important.”
“In any circumstance, you get out of life what you put into it.” It’s a lesson David N. Miller Jr. ’93 first learned when he arrived at Lafayette College in 1989 as an 18-year-old unsure of what the future held for him, and it’s a lesson he still carries with him today as a two-star major general in the United States Space Force.
Miller’s illustrious military career is certainly a testament to the heart and hard work he’s poured into it. Over the last 28 years, Miller dedicated every fiber of his being to serving his country in the United States Armed Forces, working his way up the ranks from an ROTC student at Lafayette, to a second lieutenant in the Air Force, and all the way up to a highly decorated director of operations, training, and force development of the United States Space Command.
In his current role, Miller is responsible for deterring conflict, defending U.S. and allied freedom of action in the space area of operations, delivering combat-relevant space capability to the joint/combined force, and developing joint military forces to advance U.S. and allied interests in, through, and from the space domain.
Miller’s passion for helping others realize their full potential was awakened when he was a student at Lafayette, where the support he received from the College and its community, he says, set him on the path to fulfilling his own dreams.
While Miller had been accepted to several different colleges, he ultimately chose Lafayette because not only was his sister studying there, but the financial aid package offered to him by the College was second to none. “As the son of a single mom who was a New York City school teacher, there were real financial choices we had to make in order for me to go to college,” Miller says, “and thankfully Lafayette was able to put together a package we could live with.”
“Above anything, I take a lot of pride in helping take care of my teammates and ensuring that they achieve their personal and professional potential,” Miller says. “I learned that from Lafayette, from select opportunities where people said ‘yes’ to me when I needed help, whether I knew I needed it or not. Now, I try to do that for others. I set very high standards for myself and the people whom I serve with, but I will do anything I can to help them succeed. Service in the military has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I’m privileged to be a part of this team. As long as they’ll have me, I’m willing to keep showing up every day and giving this team the best that I have.
“If there is any nugget I would pass to other Lafayette students, whether they are thinking of a career of service or not, it is just that: Give your team the best you can each and every day, and when one of them needs help, you say ‘yes’ and stand up and be counted. Trust me, there will be many days when you need a helping hand, so make it a priority to pay it forward.”
When it came time to choose a college, Brad Meigs ’71 decided to make the trip to visit Lafayette from his hometown in Manchester, Massachusetts, through a recommendation from his godparents.
Meigs entered Lafayette as an engineering major and remembers Prof. Clay Ketcham fondly. As his adviser, Ketcham helped Meigs navigate his path at Lafayette. Meigs ultimately switched to economics, which more closely aligned to his interest in finance. Meigs also participated in ROTC and was a member of Delta Tau Delta. After graduating, he served in the Army before launching his successful career in finance, which coincidentally also was initiated through his connections at Lafayette.
“My first job after graduating actually came together through two fraternity brothers who were also brothers, Bill ’71 and Peter ’69 Hurwitch. We are still great friends today. Their parents were very close with a senior member at an investment firm called L.F. Rothschild on Wall Street and were able to get me in for an interview,” explains Meigs. “I started working for L.F. Rothschild in 1972, which included six months of training in New York, before I transferred to their Boston office. I worked at L.F. Rothschild for two years before moving to New York Life, where I’ve been ever since.”
Meigs has had a successful career in finance and supports many causes and institutions that have been beneficial to his family over the years, including Lafayette. Several years ago, Meigs decided to name the College as one of the beneficiaries of his 401k to ensure his support will not be taxed and could be stretched further.
“One of the benefits of naming a charitable 501c3 institution as a beneficiary of your 401k or IRA is that the investment isn’t subject to hefty taxes. An inheritance gift could be subject to four different taxes—federal and state income tax and federal estate tax and state inheritance tax, which could take a substantial amount from the inheritance. This is a terrific option for those who want to make sure their gift is 100% supporting the causes they intended,” Meigs explains.
When asked why he decided to support Lafayette, Meigs explains that the four years spent on College Hill were an enjoyable time in his life. He is happy to have made the connections that he did, connections that he still enjoys today.
Lafayette College received a major gift from Andrew ’95 and Dina Wallach ’95 in 2021 to name the Wallach Sports Performance and Lacrosse Center. Slated to be built in the footprint of the Maroon Club Strength Center adjacent to Fisher Stadium, the new Center is anticipated to be completed by spring 2024 and is contingent on additional fundraising.
The $10 million center will become the new home for the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs, providing locker rooms, a cutting-edge film room, lounge areas, and office space for each team’s coaching staff.
The Wallachs have maintained a strong connection to Lafayette since they graduated and are passionate supporters of financial aid and athletics at the College. In 2017 they created the Wallach Family Scholarship Fund to provide need-based financial aid and have generously supported the lacrosse program over the years.
“Dina and I are thrilled to support this transformative project at Lafayette,” says Andrew Wallach. “As an alumnus and former member of the lacrosse team, I have always felt strongly that the student-athlete experience builds critical leadership skills that are carried forward both in life and in business. As Lafayette continues to build a championship culture, we are excited to play a part in enhancing the student-athlete experience in the future and hope that the Wallach Sports Performance and Lacrosse Center will accelerate athletic success at Lafayette.”
The Wallachs join the F.M. Kirby Foundation Inc., which has already committed $2 million for the project, including a $1 million, one-year challenge gift. The project is directly supporting Creating A Championship Culture, the five-year strategic plan set forth by Sherryta Freeman, director of athletics.
Multiple interior named spaces are available from lockers to office spaces. For those interested in contributing to the project, please contact Josh Azer, director of athletic development, at (610) 330-3116.
There’s a palpable buzz of energy radiating through Acopian Engineering Center, where recent and ongoing renovations have attracted more non-engineering students than ever before and offered improved facilities for those pursuing engineering degrees.
With a brighter and more inviting campus destination, Acopian Engineering Center welcomes more than 60 non-engineering students in Introduction to Engineering (ES101) this semester, a new milestone in Lafayette’s tradition of connecting engineering and the liberal arts, says Scott Hummel, William A. Jeffers Director of the Engineering Division. These enrollments reflect a broader shift in mindset that is critical to the Engineering Division’s vision to provide “a welcoming and inclusive climate for all to learn, develop, and apply engineering methodologies.”
The second phase of renovations at Acopian Engineering Center was funded by gifts to the Engineering Division, including major gifts by Alfred and Sharene Chuang P’23, Bill and Jodi Felton P’23, and the Paynton family ’52 ’86 ’04, and ’22. Building on the success of the interior renovations completed during summer 2019, this latest phase was completed over summer 2021.
There’s now more open, flexible space for gathering outside of class and more windows to allow greater visibility and natural light. Reconfigured rooms have updated furnishings, new AV equipment and lighting, and casework cubbies with whiteboard surfaces to make identification a cinch. Additional highlights include updated flooring and paint in the north wing corridors and several rooms configured into updated research labs and collaboration spaces in the Mechanical Engineering Department on the second floor.
The recent renovations mirrored the first phase in 2019, which included three new computer labs, three collaboration spaces, and two multidisciplinary laboratories, and served as the prototype for future phases, incorporating energy-efficient LED lighting, modern aesthetics, and gender-neutral restroom facilities.
The next phase of the Acopian Engineering Center renovations will include an expansion to the fifth floor and will be named the Scott Pavilion. The addition was made possible through a generous gift from Walter Scott ’59. Currently, the fifth floor does not extend to the east side of the facility. The 4,000-square-foot expansion will add three high-tech classrooms and a glass collaboration center, supporting the Engineering Division’s enrollment growth.
When first-year students arrive on College Hill each August, they are filled with excitement and anticipation. Commencement? Life after college? That feels like light years away. But, if you ask most parents of recently graduated seniors, they will tell you the college years actually “fly by.” The time spent at Lafayette is very short in the scheme of life. In these four years, students grow into conscientious young adults as they navigate college life and their newfound independence. During this time, many parents and families of Lafayette students choose to remain involved by volunteering and supporting causes at the College.
For the O’Neill family, two of their three sons graduated from Lafayette (Cameron ’21 and Brian ’16), and their first volunteer connection began during Brian’s tenure. Always strong believers in promoting education, the O’Neills frequently supported schools they were a part of. “We are just real believers in the strength of a good education,” explains Andrea O’Neill P’16’21. “Investing in not only our kids’ experience, but the experience that others can have as a result of our involvement has always been a priority for us.’’
The O’Neills first played a pivotal role in the College’s InternShift program, which was created by a group of alumni and parent leaders in 2015 who saw an opportunity to provide immersive internship opportunities for Lafayette students. But the O’Neills’ involvement with Lafayette took a timely turn in 2019 when the Gateway Career Center began planning a new career exploration program to be held during the winter break called Career Tracks. With a goal of providing students with exposure to potential careers in a variety of disciplines, Noel O’Neill P’16’21 was one of several volunteers who stepped forward to help plan the program.
Noel helped with planning the program, and Cambridge Associates has been one of many companies that participated in the financial services track over the last three sessions. Throughout the program, participating companies representing various industries; including finance, technology, life sciences, and more, offer students an overview of the particular career sector, practical advice, and skills that will help them to ultimately gain employment after they graduate. Last year, more than 40 employers participated in the Career Tracks program in industry-specific hubs including New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., and the West Coast.
“It has helped us as well to do a very effective and efficient job of explaining to top talent what Cambridge Associates is all about in a condensed and focused way,” explains Noel. “We have also hired several interns from Lafayette since the start of the program.”
The O’Neills felt both of their sons developed confidence and curiosity during their time at Lafayette, through their involvement in the Career Tracks program and beyond. “Anything that they were curious about they could learn more about,” explains Andrea. “In turn, this led them to develop confidence in themselves. There is an intersection between the two that contributed to their Lafayette experience, and we hope that is true for other students as well.”
For the Fenaroli family, their connection to Lafayette blossomed since their daughter, Serena ’22, first set foot on College Hill from Kansas City, Mo. Serena, who is majoring in economics and environmental studies, chose Lafayette because of its diverse curriculum, multiple opportunities to pursue entrepreneurial activities, and grounding in the liberal arts. It is no surprise that entrepreneurship entered the equation as Serena’s parents, Paul and Karen Fenaroli P’22, have invested in multiple startup technology companies over the years, and Karen has served as CEO of a startup for more than 20 years.
The Fenarolis participated in the Career Tracks program and were instrumental in the creation of the Data Analytics Boot Camp in connection with the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Gateway Career Center in 2020. In collaboration with two additional families, Doug and Sandra Griebel P’23 and Dan and Danitza Miller P’20, the Fenarolis addressed a critical need: the opportunity to equip students from traditionally non-STEM backgrounds with marketable skills to understand and analyze data. The 10-week Data Analytics Boot Camp was first offered in summer 2020 to fill the gap students were facing as a result of internships canceled due to the pandemic. The program was so successful that it is continuing this year. It resulted from a partnership among Lafayette, a dedicated group of parents, and Podium Education, which served as the curriculum provider.
“In essence, it became a career skills accelerator for 30 kids last summer,” explains Karen Fenaroli P’22. “I knew as a business person that liberal arts interns need soft technology skills. They are behind the eight ball because of the pandemic. The boot camp not only served as the perfect resource by providing entry-level skills in data analytics and digital marketing, but it met a very important goal—it was equitable. With zero cost to students, anyone could participate.”
The Fenarolis also are involved in a new and exciting initiative—creation of the Marquis Parents Catalyst Fund to support programs that do not yet exist for students. Similar to the Data Analytics Boot Camp, the purpose of the fund is to elevate the experience for Lafayette students by providing resources that will equip them for success after they graduate.
“What matters most is what doesn’t exist,” explains Karen. “The boot camp through Podium did not exist a year ago at Lafayette. My vision was to find a couple of parents that could financially support this initiative and that Lafayette would match that funding. Now, to be offering a third boot camp with almost 100 students participating, I know that we’ve made an impact. I know that other new Lafayette parents will gladly become catalysts. We could be the first liberal arts college to say that every student has the equity of getting soft technology skills, because the Marquis Parents Catalyst Fund created that opportunity.”
Lafayette College was fortunate to receive a collection of 3,000 vintage documentary photographs in late 2021 from Bennett J. ’79 and Meg Goodman, estimated to be worth $10 million. The powerful and thought-provoking images feature important moments in civil rights history by some of the most notable names in photojournalism.
The Goodmans are gifting the collection in honor of the Kirby family and their legacy at Lafayette. A century ago, Fred Morgan Kirby established the Kirby Professorship of Civil Rights at the College, considered one of the first positions of its kind at the time. In 1930, Kirby subsequently financed construction of the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. The legacy and impact of the Kirby family at Lafayette have been extensive. Their vision served as the inspiration for the Goodmans to ensure the College continues to be a leader in the world of higher education and the study of civil rights.
Bennett Goodman’s connection to Lafayette extends beyond the formal engineering education he received. Goodman has maintained a passion for the arts ever since he heard Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, speak at his 1979 Commencement ceremony about the impact of art on society and political discourse.
“These photographs remind us of the long and unfinished process of promoting equal justice for all Americans. I look forward to the many ways Lafayette will be able to utilize these images to support the study of civil rights and inclusion efforts at the College,” says Goodman. “It is my hope that during a time of great divide in our country, this collection will serve as a catalyst to foster more dialogue in our national pursuit to create a more perfect union.”