Lehigh President John D. Simon '19P and Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez walk between the Gateway at Greenway Park building (left) and Joe's Creative Hair Center, a South Side fixture. 

Lehigh President John D. Simon '19P and Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez walk between the Gateway at Greenway Park building (left) and Joe's Creative Hair Center, a South Side fixture. 

Lehigh: Forging Forward

A letter from President John D. Simon '19P

Photography by

Christa Neu

Four years ago, I walked into my office in the Alumni Memorial Building for the very first time as Lehigh’s 14th president. It was a day I’ll never forget, not only because of the great sense of pride I felt for being entrusted with the stewardship of such a fine institution, but also because of the vast potential I saw for this great university. 

Having spent my entire career working in higher education, on the faculty and in administration, I had long admired and respected Lehigh from afar. It was an institution that had earned a fine and well-deserved reputation among my peers in teaching and research, but also one that had begun to innovate and lead in interdisciplinary programs, global immersion, the undergraduate experience, and so many other areas as well. By the time of my arrival, I had great confidence that Lehigh was poised to make a tremendous leap forward. 

As it turns out, I was right.

A mural by Pau Quintanajornet outside Cafe the Lodge.

A mural by Pau Quintanajornet outside Cafe the Lodge.

With the support of our Board of Trustees, and thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, I can proudly say today that we are well on our way to creating the Lehigh of the future—and the future looks bright.  

On each of our three campuses, we continue to reimagine our facilities in order to meet the changing needs of a leading 21st-century institution of higher learning. This summer will see us break ground on the new Health, Science & Technology Building, which will be the most expansive, cutting-edge academic building we have built in years; continue construction on the New Residential Houses, which will help reshape student life on the Hill; and wrap up work on both the SouthSide Commons student living complex and our extensive renovation of historic Chandler-Ullmann Hall. 

Each of these projects is essential to our broader mission as a university, but our evolution, of course, is about more than just new buildings; it’s about new ideas, and new ways of leveraging our historic strengths to make a positive impact on our students, our community and our world. 

Significant investments in our research infrastructure—which include the new Research Futures initiative, the launch of the research-focused College of Health, and faculty hiring efforts—will strengthen our reputation as an institution dedicated to solving the most vexing problems of our time. We have expanded our presence on the West Coast and are actively working to grow our portfolio of global programs. As part of the Path to Prominence initiative, we are increasing our graduate and undergraduate student population, and as we welcome to Lehigh more students from more diverse backgrounds than ever before, GO: The Campaign for Lehigh is enabling us to provide greater financial and social support to help these young people thrive and grow. Additionally, we are doubling down on our commitment to the City of Bethlehem and the South Side. These critical community-focused efforts, which you will read about in this issue of the Bulletin, are already helping spark a new era of growth and revitalization in this vibrant city we call home. 

I have been proud and honored to lead Lehigh. Together, we have succeeded not just in identifying and amplifying our core strengths as an academic community, but also in building on those strengths in ways that will ensure that Lehigh remains, for decades to come, a university that can change lives—and, indeed, the world—for the better. 

Thank you for your continued support. Go Lehigh! 

John D. Simon '19P, president
Follow President Simon on Instagram @lehighpressimon

Photography by

Christa Neu

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