Lehigh Formally Opens HST Building, Celebrates Founder’s Weekend

Events included guided tours of Lehigh’s new Health, Science and Technology Building, a festival on the Clayton University Center lawn and more.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Videography by

Stephanie Veto

As Lehigh gathered to celebrate its annual Founder’s Weekend, the university also formally introduced its new Health, Science and Technology Building (HST) to members of the Lehigh community gathered inside the building’s Community Health Room.

Provost Nathan Urban opened the Friday afternoon ceremony, which featured numerous speakers, including Vincent A. Forlenza Jr. ’75, chair of the Board of Trustees; Elizabeth Dolan, interim dean of the College of Health; J. William Reynolds, mayor of the City of Bethlehem; and Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82.

Urban welcomed attendees to the largest building Lehigh has ever built and touted the new home of the College of Health as a flagship building on campus for interdisciplinary research.

“The design of the building fosters a more collaborative, more interdisciplinary and more nimble approach to answering some of society's most challenging problems,” Urban said. “And this is important because most of the problems in the world, most of the challenges in the world, are not focused or not limited to a single discipline.”

Marching 97

The Marching 97 performs at Lehigh’s Founder’s Festival on Friday afternoon.

Helble later built on Urban’s remarks, stressing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. The opportunity for Lehigh to be even more interdisciplinary, “perhaps even radically interdisciplinary” in its approach to scholarship, as well as the HST building and the College of Health, was discussed as the Board of Trustees reviewed Lehigh’s strategic planning process.

“The challenges that the world is facing cannot recognize disciplinary boundaries,” Helble said. “Why should our scholarship? Why should our teaching? Why should our approach to research?”

Helble listed multiple examples of interdisciplinary projects currently taking place, including one that Hyunok Choi, associate professor in the College of Health and an environmental epidemiologist, is working on with colleagues in education, biology, psychology, business and engineering to explore how pollution causes asthma in children.

“What I hope you get is a sense for the exciting work that is, and will be, taking place in this building and the exciting collaborations that this facility and these partnerships among the colleges have made possible,” Helble said. “They are just a few examples. And this is only the beginning. Just imagine the conversations we'll be having here in these halls in the years to come.”

Forlenza, who spent nearly 40 years working in the medical device and health care industries and served on a Lehigh faculty task force to develop the first strategy for the College of Health, said he was proud to be a part of what he called a “transformational moment” for the university.

“I've seen many research buildings around the world. This building will be the choice for world class researchers,” Forlenza said. “But it's more than a building. It is the foundation of Lehigh's impact on health around the globe.”

Dolan noted as she began her remarks, Forlenza gave the first major gift to the College of Health and the college is currently in the midst of a search for the Ellen and Vincent Forlenza ’75 Chair in Health Innovation and Technology.

Following the approximately 30-minute ceremony, those in attendance were invited to take tours of the HST building, which included a presentation at the Nano | Human Interfaces Visualization and Data Analysis Lab.

Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 (left) with Asa Packer

Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 (left) with Stephen Cutcliffe, Asa Packer impersonator/professor emeritus, at Lehigh's Founder's Festival on Friday afternoon.

While attendees took guided tours of HST, Lehigh’s Founder’s Festival got under way on the Clayton University Center lawn under cloudless skies and crisp fall temperatures. Food trucks served up a variety of food including tacos, skewers and The Brown & White sandwich from the Füd Truck as students participated in lawn games and a Battle of the Classes contest. Attendees also received Lehigh blankets and the annual Founder’s Weekend shirt.

The weekend’s festivities kicked off Thursday evening with the Iacocca Leadership Speaker Series. Sylvia Acevedo, who began her career working in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and most recently served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, was the series’ inaugural speaker and joined Richard Verma ’90, former U.S. ambassador to India and Lehigh trustee, to share what she’s learned as a leader; how she’s working to increase access for women and those of diverse backgrounds; and why she thinks it’s important to cultivate a global outlook.

Helble helped continue the weekend’s events on Saturday with a Founder’s Weekend edition of his signature Pace the Prez run. Each Tuesday, Helble, an avid runner, invites the campus community to join him on a four-mile run, beginning at 6:30 a.m. as he looks to connect with students, staff and faculty while also engaging in exercise. The run preceded a tailgate held later on the lawn in front of Goodman Stadium between the women's soccer team hosting Loyola Maryland and the men's soccer team hosting Navy.

Founder’s Weekend wrapped up with the dedication of Lehigh’s new Jewish Student Center at 233 W. Packer Ave. on Sunday. The large, historic home features enough space to include a kosher kitchen, dining room, student lounge and game room, study spaces, a meditation room, prayer room for student-led religious services, and offices for additional staff to oversee expanded programming and student engagement initiatives.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Videography by

Stephanie Veto

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