I had the honor of delivering remarks to the Class of 2022 at Lehigh’s 154th Commencement, my first as Lehigh’s president. I spoke about the sense of community that was central to my experience as a Lehigh student, and that I believe still defines Lehigh today.
Along with the graduates’ individual accomplishments, we had much to celebrate as the academic year came to a close—new initiatives, innovative faculty and student research, a growth in collaborative programs and more. Most notably, we opened the Health, Science and Technology Building, an important interdisciplinary research space that is home to our rapidly growing College of Health. Our resilience, engagement and adaptability as a community were critical to our successes.
This summer, the pace continues, with graduate student research and interdisciplinary deep-dive Mountaintop projects in full swing. And, after two summers with no travel, students are again engaged in Lehigh’s global programs, as they conduct research and field study in 21 different countries on four continents. Work also continues on the new College of Business building, which will have collaborative and high-tech spaces for learning, teaching and research, and on design planning for the long-awaited renovation of the Clayton University Center.
Additionally, we are set to embark on Lehigh’s first comprehensive strategic planning process since 2009. Preparations began earlier this year with a review of the progress made toward goals set in the original 2009 strategic plan. In the fall, we formally commence the process. This will allow us to further develop our plans for interdisciplinary education at both undergraduate and graduate levels, identify steps needed to drive our already-outstanding outcomes measures to greater heights, and ask how we can best and more fully utilize our geographic and physical assets. We also will consider what it means to be a global research university of our size as well as a community that welcomes and respects every student and member of our community.
As we chart our course, I look forward to working with our new Chair of the Board of Trustees, Vincent Forlenza ’75. Vince is a passionate supporter of Lehigh’s academic and research mission, and his strategic insight helped shape the creation of our College of Health.
I am very thankful for the past leadership of former Board Chair Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, whose term ended June 30. Kevin provided strong leadership throughout the pandemic, and his tenure was marked by many notable advancements, including the construction of new residential and academic facilities, the launch of the College of Health and the diversification of the student populations and faculty.
I enjoyed seeing so many of you at Reunion 2022, as an unprecedented 42 classes came together to celebrate. I hope to see you again this fall on my regional tour, as I talk with alumni about strategic planning and the future of Lehigh University.
Joseph J. Helble '82