"I am greatly honored to be chosen as Lafayette's 17th president and excited by the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and ambitious institution," Byerly said in a statement. "At a time when many liberal arts colleges are looking for ways to extend their reach further into the world of technology and to connect the traditional liberal arts disciplines with opportunities to pursue more project-based, hands-on modes of inquiry, Lafayette is well positioned to lead in these initiatives."
Byerly was introduced to the Lafayette campus at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Pfenning Alumni Center.
Edward W. Ahart, Lafayette's board of trustees chairman, called Byerly "a visionary leader."
"She has a collaborative, open, and communicative style," he said in a statement, "and brings great passion and humor, in addition to enormous energy and enthusiasm."
Her selection followed a six-month national search by a committee of trustees, faculty, alumni, staff, and students. Lafayette did not disclose Byerly's salary, as is typical for private colleges.
At Middlebury, Byerly oversaw an expansion of the faculty and fostered the holding of academic events and lectures in residential halls. She continued to teach while serving as provost.
She also was involved in developing Middlebury's partnership with the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, a graduate school with an international focus. Middlebury and Monterey offer five joint degree programs.
Byerly has lectured on the growth in massive open online courses - known as MOOCs - digital scholarship, and other technology issues in higher education. In an opinion piece published in September in the Chronicle of Higher Education, she encouraged colleges to offer MOOCs, but only if they fitted in with the college's mission, not just to jump on the bandwagon.
"I hope it is because your institution is prepared to make a substantial commitment to the principles of open access. . . .," she wrote. "If your honest answer is, Because all the cool guys are doing it, then I can hear my mother's next question: If Stanford jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?"
Byerly received a bachelor's in English from Wellesley College and a master's and doctorate in English from the University of Pennsylvania.
Her husband, Stephen Jensen, is a medical editor. Their daughter, Laramie, is a sophomore at Carleton College in Minnesota, and their son, Ryan, is in his first year of high school.
Contact Susan Snyder
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