First Woman President
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 09:01
Alison R. Byerly has been selected as Lafayette’s 17th president, college officials announced via email Wednesday morning. Currently Provost and Executive Vice President at Middlebury College, Byerly assumes her new role July 1. She is Lafayette’s first female president.
For 23 years, Byerly served as both a professor of English and an administrator at Middlebury. She has spent time as a visiting scholar in literature at Oxford, Stanford, and most recently, MIT, according to her curriculum vitae.
Byerly holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and has written two books: Realism, Representation, and Arts in Nineteenth Century Literature and Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism. She lectures broadly on digital humanities, curricular innovation, and social media of the past and present.
“She is one of the leading voices in the country today in terms of growth of technology and use of technology in teaching and learning,” Board of Trustees Chair Ed Ahart ‘69 said.
The search for Byerly began in the summer, soon after President Daniel H. Weiss announced his resignation. In the fall, the search committee led forums with alumni and parents across the nation, discussing concerns and preferences for the next president.
“The search committee reviewed the professional materials of multiple candidates and interviewed those that seemed to best meet the needs of the college,” Vice Chair of the Search Committee Elisabeth MacDonald ‘81 said.
“I’d say we had it down to 12-15 candidates that we moved forward with,” Chair Alan Griffith ‘64 added. Along gender and ethnic lines, Griffith said, the group was “very well balanced.”
Sitting presidents and provosts were among the strongest candidates, Weiss said.
A smaller number was pooled to participate in on-campus interviews. “These candidates met with many different constituents at the college—including students, faculty representatives, and staff—and they toured the campus and downtown Easton,” MacDonald said.
Just before the holidays, the search committee made its final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board unanimously approved Byerly’s appointment, according to Ahart.
“She’s a well-established and widely respected leader,” Weiss said. “She knows our institution well and I think she’s capable of doing a wonderful job at Lafayette.”
Ahart recognized that the new president will be charged with “a high ambition.”
“We have been engaged in a process to continue to move the college forward,” he said. “We want to be—and be recognized to be—one of the very best of our type in the world. And her appointment signals a continuation of all of that.”
To find Byerly on twitter: https://twitter.com/alisonbyerly
To find Byerly's personal page: http://blogs.middlebury.edu/alisonbyerly