In her remarks at the signing ceremony at Lehigh, Matherly noted that Lehigh founder Asa Packer, in the decade before he established the university, had visited Saxony to study the mining and manufacturing techniques used there. She said Packer was impressed by what he saw in Saxony and believed that many of the region's manufacturing and engineering practices could be applied in the United States. When he established Lehigh, she said, he operationalized that belief when he encouraged a curriculum focused on engineering and science to train graduates who could lead economic growth and innovation in the Lehigh Valley.
Helble also spoke about Lehigh’s founder, identifying Packer as a business leader, industrialist and visionary who, he said, "changed the very notion of what higher education could be. At Lehigh, one did not choose between studying the classics and studying technology. Lehigh brought them together, to provide an education that was purposeful in its intent and wide-ranging in its application. This interdisciplinary mode of education—with engineering, or in today’s language, technology at its core—is what Lehigh does best. That spirit and approach to learning flourishes to this day.”
Helble also made note of the many innovators and entrepreneurs who have graduated from Lehigh, some of whom have established successful companies in the Lehigh Valley. He spoke too of the opportunities that Lehigh continues to provide to support entrepreneurship through the Baker Institute and other efforts, and to engage interdisciplinary teams of students in solving today’s innovation challenges and the work of Lehigh’s South Side Initiative in bringing together Lehigh faculty, students and staff and the city’s elected officials, residents and community and business leaders to improve the quality of life in Bethlehem.
Perhaps the most important of Lehigh’s contributions to the local region, he said, is the part that the university plays in helping to produce a properly educated and trained workforce, and noted the many Lehigh alumni who choose to build their careers and their business locally, and who call the Lehigh Valley home.
Helble also noted that he was proud of the many graduates who depart from Lehigh with a perspective that is much broader than the local region, through their collaborative work with local and regional organizations through to engaging in global programs, including in Germany, that help them understand issues such as economic development in a broader context.
In closing, Helble presented Kretschmer, the Minister-President of the Free State of Saxony, with a student-designed piece created in Lehigh’s Maker Space. The piece was made with steel to represent the Lehigh Valley’s history and with wood from one of the trees that came down on campus during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.