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Lafayette College is a private coeducational liberal arts and engineering college located in Eastonmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, USAmarker. The school, founded in 1826 by citizens of Easton, first began holding classes in 1832. 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...the great cause of freedom".

The student body, consisting entirely of undergraduates, come from 37 U.S. states and 57 countries. In its 2010 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked Lafayette 35th out of all liberal arts colleges in the nation, while Barron's ranked it among the top 65 "Most Competitive" colleges and universities. Lafayette's endowment is one of the 100 largest in the country, indicating significant wealth, especially for an entirely undergraduate institution. Its 23 Division I sports teams participate in the Patriot League, with its football team claiming the league championship from 2004-2006.


A group of Easton citizens led by James Madison Porter met on December 27, 1824 at White's Tavern to explore the possibility of opening a college. The recent visit of the General Lafayette to New Yorkmarker during his grand tour of the US in 1824 and 1825 prompted the founders to name the school after the Frenchmarker military officer. The group also established the 35-member Board of Trustees, a system of governance that has remained at the College since its inception. In need of an education plan, the meeting gave the responsibility to Porter, lawyer Jacob Wagener, and Yalemarker educated lawyer Joel Jones. The charter gained approval and on March 9, 1826, Pennsylvania Governor John Andrew Shulze's signature made the college official.

The school did not open until six years later when the Rev. George Junkin, a Presbyterian minister, took up the charter and moved the all-male Manual Labor Academy of Pennsylvania from Germantown to Easton. Classes began on May 9, 1832, with the instruction of 43 students on the south bank of the Lehigh River in a rented farmhouse. Students had to earn money to support the program by laboring in the fields and workshops. Later that year, Lafayette purchased what is now known as "College Hill" - nine acres of elevated land across Bushkill Creek. The College's first building was constructed two years later on the current site of South College.

Lafayette became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in 1854, although recently the ending of this official relationship has been discussed. In 1857, Francis March became the first professor of English at an American college when Lafayette became the first college to implement the program of study.

The Lafayette, Lafayette's weekly student newspaper, was founded in 1870 and is the oldest college newspaper in Pennsylvania. It is available in both print and online form.

In 1970, the college increased total enrollment after changing from an all-male school to a coeducational institution.

In 2007, the college commemorated the 250th birthday of the General Lafayette through a series of lectures and campus dedications. 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.


Kirby Library, with its oak-paneled bookcases, cork floor, and elaborate carvings, is located in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.
Lafayette's student body consists of 2,382 undergraduate students hailing from 37 U.S. States and 57 countries. For the class of 2012, the acceptance rate was 37%, with 75% of those accepted ranking in the top 10% of their high school classes. The middle 50% of accepted students have SAT scores ranging from 600-700 Critical Reading and 640-730 Math, and ACT scores ranging from 27-32. The college has 199 full-time faculty members, giving it an 11:1 student to faculty ratio. This ratio will decrease to 9:1 after the hiring of 35 new faculty members as part of the College's Strategic Planning Initiative.

Lafayette students have been honored in recent years with national and international scholarships, including the most Goldwater Scholarships obtained by a liberal arts college over the past six years. 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. The college also offers a merit-based academic scholarship - the Marquis Scholarship, which provides $16,000 per year. Lafayette's endowment is more than $680 million, placing it in the top 2% of all colleges and universities in endowment per student, with total assets amounting to more than $1 billion.

Lithograph of Lafayette College, circa 1875.

In its 2010 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked Lafayette 35th out of all liberal arts colleges in the nation, with its engineering program ranked 12th out of non-doctoral schools. In Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, a study of the best valued schools ranked Lafayette 14th among liberal arts colleges. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has ranked Lafayette as fifth among the nation’s 50 leading liberal arts colleges and universities in the percentage of full-time African American faculty members, and twelfth for first year black enrollment.

The College offers 45 different Majors across four academic divisions: natural sciences, humanities, engineering, and social sciences. Most departments offer minors, and twelve interdisciplinary minors are also available. A.B. requirements allow students to double major or create a coordinate major in two departments. Students declare their major during the second semester of their sophomore year.

The Policy Studies program, established in 2006, is an interdisciplinary major that allows students to better understand the design, management, and evaluation of policies and institutions. The Policy Studies Program sponsors student events such as the Election Night Broadcast, where students reported the events of the 2006 mid-term election to the College, and also brings guest speakers to campus. Also new to the College is a Chinese language program which will offer classes on Chinese language and culture. Lafayette's Strategic Planning Initiative is also considering the possibility of introducing additional non-European language programs over time, including Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili.

Participation in U.S. News rankings

Starting in the 2006-2007 academic year, President Daniel Weiss agreed to boycott the controversial Peer Assessment in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which accounts for 25% of a school's overall ranking. Lafayette and eleven other colleges, working with Lloyd Thacker of the Education Conservancy, created a petition calling for a boycott of the reputational survey as well as a refusal to use the rankings to promote a college or to indicate its quality. 63 college and university presidents have signed the letter. Predictably, Lafayette College's ranking fell from #30 in 2007 to #34 in 2008.

Campus overview

Pardee Hall, the largest academic building on campus, was devastated by fire twice in the 1800s. One fire began when a science experiment was carelessly left in a lab drawer. The other fire was arson, deliberately set by a professor of moral philosophy and ethics, who reportedly enjoyed watching the building burn from across the Delaware River in Phillipsburg, New Jerseymarker. Although Pardee Hall is truly oriented southward, with the gently sloping hill leading to its front entrance, the students refer to this as the "back" of Pardee because the other side (the true back) faces the Quad. During the winter, or after a drenching spring rain, sledding is popular on the hill "behind" Pardee Hall.

Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, the interior of which is constructed of travertine marble, was rumored to have been the most expensive collegiate building, per square foot, built at its time. The building was designed by the same architectural firm that designed New York Citymarker's Grand Central Terminalmarker.

South College is one of Lafayette's largest residence halls, housing approximately 220 students in a coeducational setting.

Farinon College Center, the student union, was architecturally inspired by the McKelvy House, a college-owned mansion just off campus. It is located in the original location of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, and the fireplace in the lobby is the original fireplace from the fraternity. While the top floor of Farinon is an "all-you-can-eat" style buffet paid for in blocks from a meal plan, the downstairs is a station-based food court in which students pay itemized fees for food. The dining area for the downstairs area also serves as the stage for comedy acts brought in by the Lafayette Activities Forum, the College's student-run activities committee.

Markle Hall, now the main administrative building, housing 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.

Gilbert's Cafe, a coffeehouse located on the ground floor of Kirby House, was opened in 1999 to provide a late-night hangout for students. Its name was the subject of a contest, and the winning student selected one of General Lafayette's middle names: Gilbert. In the fall of 2006, a sinkhole was discovered underneath Kirby House, and the much-beloved coffeehouse had to be closed during the spring semester. However, it was reopened for the subsequent fall semester. Gilbert's Cafe is the site of many open mic nights where student bands can perform for their fellow classmates.

Skillman Library underwent an extensive renovation from 2003 to 2005, and the building has won several awards, including the 2006 national honor award for interior architecture from the American Institute of Architectsmarker.

Also in the fall of 2006, Lafayette signed a deal with MTV to designate the campus as an MTVu campus. As a result, Lafayette hosted an MTVu concert in the spring of 2006, as opposed to the regular concert chosen by the student government. In the spring of 2007, Third Eye Blind was selected to perform in Kirby Gymnasium, followed by the musical artist Ben Folds in the spring of 2008.


Lafayette offers students an array of athletic opportunities, which includes 23 Division I sports, 18 club sports, and over 30 intramural sports. The football team has made three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division I-AA football tournament. American football innovations at Lafayette include the first use of the huddle and the invention of the head harness, precursor to the football helmet. The men's basketball program also has a long 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.

  • Affiliation: NCAA Division I, Football: Football Championship Subdivision
  • Conference: Patriot League
  • Team name: Leopards
  • Team colors: Maroon and white
  • Arch rival: Lehigh Universitymarker
  • Other rivals: Bucknell Universitymarker, Colgatemarker, Princetonmarker, Pennmarker
  • Facilities: Fisher Field at Fisher Stadiummarker (Football), Kirby Sports Centermarker (Basketball), Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex
  • National Football Championships:
    • Football: 1896 (National Championship Foundation, Parke H. Davis)
    • Football: 1921 (Boand, Parke H. Davis)
    • Football: 1926 (Parke H. Davis)
  • Patriot League Championships:
    • Field Hockey: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2002; ECC Champions 1987, 1989
      • NCAA Tournament Berths: 1999, 2002
    • Baseball: 2007; ECC Champions 1990
    • Men's Soccer: 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005; ECC Champions 1984, 1986, 1987
      • NCAA Tournament Berths (non-play-in games): 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005
    • Football: 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006
      • NCAA Tournament Berths: 2004, 2005, 2006
    • Men's Basketball: 1999, 2000
    • Women's Lacrosse: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002; ECC Champions 1988, 1989
      • NCAA Tournament Berths: 1988, 1989, 1991, 2002
  • National Championship:

The Rivalry

Lafayette won the 142nd edition of "The Rivalry" against Lehigh University, but lost the most recent contest in 2008.

Lafayette College's athletic program is notable for The Rivalry with nearby Lehigh Universitymarker. Since 1884, the two football teams have met 145 times, making it the most played rivalry in the history of college football. It is also the longest running rivalry in college football, with the teams playing at least once every year since 1897. The Rivalry is considered one of the best in all of college athletics, and ESPNU recently ranked it #8 among the Top Ten College Football Rivalries. The game is sold out long before gameday each year.

Lafayette leads the all-time series 76-64-5. In the latest contest, Lafayette lost to Lehigh on Saturday, November 21, 2009 by a score of 27-21 at Lehigh's Goodman Stadium.

Student life

Fraternities and sororities

Lafayette has five fraternities and six sororities, all but two of which are located on campus. Approximately 30% of students participate in Greek Life at Lafayette, making it a viable living option. Members of each house commit themselves to various philanthropic ventures throughout the academic year.

Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity was founded in 1925 at Lafayette College by Frank Reed Horton in Hogg Hall (formerly Brainerd Hall) still exists and continue what Frank Reed Horton was started.

The Rho Chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is the oldest fraternity and the oldest student organization at Lafayette College, having been chartered on October 15, 1855. Among the chapter's alumni chapter are Peyton C. March, U.S. Army Chief of Staff during World War I, and William E. Simon, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house was in Guinness World Records for a number of years as the largest free standing structure to undergo transportation. The "Old Grey Barn", as it is often called, is now located along March Field. It underwent a major interior renovation during the 2006-2007 academic year.

Members of the student body have displayed an interest in introducing a historically black Greek organization to campus. Students have met with President Daniel Weiss regarding the matter.

Engineers Without Borders

The club was founded in 2003 and is a member of EWB-USA. Members of the club represent many disciplines in engineering and the liberal arts. The club is linked with rural villages in the Yoromarker region of Hondurasmarker. 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. 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.

WJRH 104.9FM

The campus radio station, WJRH 104.9FM, first established licensure with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1946, broadcasting under a Class D educational license on 90.5 FM. As FM frequencies grew in demand, the FCC mandated that stations operating in the frequency range currently provided to WJRH increase their power to serve larger audiences. Since WJRH was only to serve the Lafayette community, it was decided to give the frequency to another facility and relocate to its current home frequency, 104.9.

The station is regularly being upgraded with the latest broadcasting technology. Several additions have included the relaunch of WJRH Broadband (a live Windows Media Player stream available to Lafayette students) and WJRH PC (an online database of MP3 Podcasts of select shows as part of an overall website renovation). WJRH has been housed for over 30 years in its current location, Hogg Hall.


William E.
Simon, class of 1952, served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1974-1977.
Lafayette has produced many prominent businessmen, engineers, politicians, and other notable individuals including James McKeen Cattell, the first psychology professor, Vineyard Vines founder Ian Murray, and Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon. David K. McDonogh, of the Class of 1844, is argued by the College to be the first "legalized" slave ever to receive a college degree. In addition, the founders of the 1960s pop group The Cyrkle, guitarists Don Danneman and Tom Dawes, were graduates of Lafayette. F. Wilbur Gingrich, Class of 1923, became a well known Greek scholar, and is noted for translating and adapting the work of Walter Bauer’s Greek-German lexicon (Bauer lexicon) in collaboration with William F. Arndt. Leonard Jeffries, a professor at CCNY, was president of a traditionally Jewish fraternity while he was a student at Lafayette College. The College has approximately 28,000 registered alumni.


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