Linderman Library in spring

How Are We Re-Emerging?

The university is maintaining connections with alumni through virtual programming and in-person gatherings.

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I’m sure you’ve heard news about how society is re-emerging from our two years of COVID lockdowns. Many people are paring down their social calendars to emphasize quality over quantity. Employees are quitting their ho-hum jobs and rethinking their purpose in life. Families are adding more together time and fewer after-school activities to their daily routines.

The Lehigh community is also re-emerging in new and interesting ways, like the alumni couple who paused their day jobs to travel around in their tiny house. Or, Lehigh’s new president who is going cross country for Meet the President events and Pace the Prez morning runs with alumni, parents and friends. The Lehigh Asian Alumni Network (LAAN) that, in just a few months, has established a strong bench of leaders and involved several hundred alums. The Giving Day challenge from Maria Chrin ’87 ’10P, who will give $50,000 if 500 women participate in Giving Day on April 27. The Lehigh Writer’s Group that gathers to support each others’ creative talents. The alumni Pen Pals, who went “old school” writing letters to each other. 

If you join our LinkedIn group of 18,000 alumni, you’ll see classmates and friends announcing new jobs, promotions, startup funding, scholarly accomplishments and more.

In Alumni Relations, it’s an exciting time too. In full transparency, a few staff members left during the pandemic, and so we took the opportunity to rethink position descriptions and reallocate some resources. We’re hiring a second person to engage with alumni through our digital communities—to start conversations on LinkedIn and Lehigh Connects, and take our virtual book club and Mountain Talks to new heights. We’ve also expanded the roles of our associate directors for student engagement and young alumni: Both will work more collaboratively with campus partners and volunteers to connect students and alumni to each other and to Lehigh. We’re working with a freelance travel guru who will reignite our Alumni Travel Program. We’re focusing on engaging alumnae to help us plan the next few years of Soaring Together: 50 Years of Coeducation at Lehigh, and posting a position for a person to better serve our graduate alumni (those who received a master’s or Ph.D).

The staff is working harder than ever to maintain connections with the thousands of people who engaged with the Lehigh network through our COVID-driven virtual programming—AND plan gatherings for all of us who are SO ready to be together in person again. In a sense we’re doing double-duty, which is forcing us to look more at how we can better empower our volunteers and what, besides event-related events, we can do to engage.

One thing is, we’re launching a new website! Visit alumni.lehigh.edu to check out our new look and learn about ways you can get involved. I’m proud of the work the team did to make our site more reflective of the innovative and expansive engagement opportunities we work so hard to produce. That said, a website is by definition always a work in progress, so if you have feedback on ways we can improve it, please email me.

Finally, three-fifths of you will celebrate your milestone reunions in person in June. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes: Some schools normally do “cluster reunions” like this, inviting back alums from multiple five-year cycles. We’ll do a lot of data analysis through the summer to determine whether we go back to the tried-and-true five-year milestone, or alter how we think about reunions. If you attend,

I hope you’ll send me your thoughts!

Yours in Brown & White,
Jennifer Cunningham
Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations

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