5.15.20: A Message for All Students from President Simon

Reflections to close out the end of the academic year.

Dear Lehigh Students,

Congratulations, you did it.

Perhaps like me, at this moment you have mixed emotions. We’re marking the end of an academic semester unlike any in recent Lehigh history, feeling accomplished, probably a little tired from our hard work, and knowing that ahead still lie many unknowns. Normalcy has been upended and everywhere in daily life are constant reminders we are in the middle of a serious public health crisis that demands our focused and prolonged attention.

In the midst of this reality, I am asking that you pause. Allow yourself to reflect on the positive and your great accomplishments in light of these challenges. Take pride in what you have achieved. Given the gravity of the world situation, it can be tempting to dismiss reflection as extraneous. But it is important that you take stock of what you have learned and to honor your experience.

Looking back, given the choice between being on campus or spread out across the world, I am certain none of us would have chosen this semester’s reality. Both graduate and undergraduate students have shared with me their sense of loss by not being on campus for the final eight weeks of the semester.

Seniors especially have expressed regret of missing moments that bring closure to their undergraduate experiences on South Mountain. Those graduating with masters or doctoral degrees have shared their sense of anti-climax at the very moment they are completing years of work. I hope this weekend’s virtual events and the degree conferral ceremony can provide a timely sense of celebration until we can all gather and appropriately recognize these achievements in person. No one can take from you that you have earned your Lehigh degree, forever connecting you to more than 80,000 alumni who will be there to support you in the next stage of your journey. We are so proud of you.

To all our students, through your persistence this semester, you have demonstrated exactly what it means to be a Mountain Hawk. Do take some valuable time to think on this and acknowledge what you have accomplished. On behalf of the entire community, congratulations, and know that we all continue to be in this together.


John D. Simon ’19P