Since March of 2020, a new word can be added to that list: resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global struggle, one that has inflicted pain, suffering and hardship on people the world over. This has of course been true for our campus community as well.
Over these challenging past few months, members of our community have fallen ill, lost loved ones, or taken care of sick family members. Our students have been asked to make sacrifices, and to endure during a crisis that has robbed them of so many experiences central to the Lehigh experience. Our faculty have striven to innovate and find new means of connection as they were thrown into a virtual learning environment. Our staff have gone above and beyond simply to keep essential operations up and running.
Think back, if you will, to early March 2020, when the full force of the pandemic—which had already swept across much of Asia and Europe—began to hit our nation, our region and our campus. With case numbers rising nationwide, we were forced to make the difficult decision to move to fully remote education for the remainder of the spring semester. It was a decision made in the interest of the health and safety of our community, but the complications that arose with this significant shift were numerous, touching every aspect of daily life at Lehigh. Everyone in our community was asked to step up to face innumerable challenges, and everyone did so. Though the semester was not what any of us would have preferred it to be, the fact is that we got through it—and learned more than a few important lessons along the way.
Those lessons would prove invaluable as we mapped out our return-to-campus plan for Fall 2020. An extraordinary amount of time, energy and effort were expended during the summer months as we worked to develop new safety protocols, make infrastructure improvements, and prepare our faculty and students for what would be one of the most unusual semesters in Lehigh history. The semester was not without its challenges, and the university was forced to pivot a number of times, as the situation with the virus changed. But once more, working together, the Lehigh family made the absolute most of an incredibly difficult situation.
This Annual Report is published each year not only to document the state of Lehigh, but also to allow us all to take the time to reflect on the achievements of our university, and those who make it such an extraordinary institution. This year, it also allows us, as Chair of the Board and President of Lehigh, to offer our most sincere gratitude for your cooperation, your dedication and your continued support.
John D. Simon '19P
Kevin L. Clayton '84 '13P
Chair of the Board