The Umoja House 30th anniversary celebration reached a crescendo over Lehigh-Lafayette weekend as the Lehigh community, including the House’s founding members, gathered to recognize the creation of the residential option, which President John D. Simon called “a defining moment for Lehigh.”
The celebration included a welcoming reception for alumni on Friday night at the President’s House, a breakfast on Saturday morning at the Umoja House, a tailgate party at Goodman Stadium before the 155th Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry football game and “The Vibe” Umoja Celebration Party Saturday night at the Wood Dining Room in the Iacocca Conference Center.
“Thirty years ago, a group of student leaders, led by Leon Caldwell, approached then-President Peter Likins with a request to secure a space on campus for a more inclusive residential option,” said Lehigh President John D. Simon, in remarks at Saturday’s celebratory dinner. “The result was a defining moment for Lehigh: the creation of Umoja House.”
Umoja—the Swahili word for unity—opened its doors at Warren Square A with 12 beds at the start of the 1989-1990 academic year. It was the first campus house for African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students. It has since relocated to a bigger space on the Hill, with a 28-bed capacity.
“It has become, in the words of a former resident,” Simon said, “‘not a place for just students of color, but a place of diversity and inclusion for everyone on campus.’”