Calling it “the privilege of a lifetime,” Joseph J. Helble ’82 was inaugurated as Lehigh’s 15th president Friday in a joyous ceremony under Lehigh’s Tamerler Courtyard Tent in which he outlined “the Lehigh promise” to expand signature interdisciplinary programs, create new interdisciplinary programs and make key elements of the business, engineering and arts and sciences colleges available to all undergraduates.
Helble, with his family in attendance, including his 89-year-old mother, wife, three children, sisters, brother-in-law and son-in-law, spoke about the opportunity to shape the university that helped shape him.
“One of the reasons I was excited by this opportunity to return to Lehigh is because this is a research university that, for much of its history, has been quietly giving lie to the idea of narrow focusing,” Helble said. “What makes Lehigh distinctive? How can we raise our profile even higher? Where can we be ‘first, best or only’? I believe we need to play to our strengths, and there may be none more significant than our legacy of interdisciplinarity. The problems that confront the world in 2021 demand solutions drawn from different disciplines. Curricula must evolve to meet these needs—and that is something that Lehigh does extraordinarily well.”
Former Lehigh President Greg Farrington, as well as delegates representing more than a dozen colleges and universities, joined members of the Lehigh community at the inauguration ceremony, held on an unseasonably warm October afternoon. The ceremony kicked off Lehigh’s 2021 Founder’s Day weekend celebration.