“Graduates, the unceremonious way you ended your Lehigh careers does not diminish in the least what it means to have earned your degree,” he said. “You came to Lehigh with high aspirations. You should be tremendously proud of all you have accomplished. Your time with us may have ended in the midst of disruption and uncertainty, but it was not defined by it. You received one of the best educational experiences in the United States.”
He reminded the graduates that they had created memories on South Mountain and forged friendships that will likely last a lifetime. “I have every confidence that you will go from Lehigh and make the world a better place,” he said. “I hope that wherever you are today, you can sense the excitement and pride that all of us feel for you. Congratulations.”
Farrell introduced the deans of four of Lehigh’s five colleges, who delivered messages to the graduates and presented the candidates to Simon for the conferring of degrees.
“As a proud alumnus, I recognize the perseverance that has gotten you through many of the challenges and successes that happened during your time at Lehigh,” said Robert Flowers, the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I know I join my colleagues in recognizing the tremendous effort you put into generating new knowledge that has the potential not only to change the world, but also to help us think differently about the world around us. I have no doubt you will be exemplary envoys for the college and university, and I urge you to embrace that role and dedicate yourself to a lifetime of informed citizenship.”
Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, also offered congratulations to the graduates “on this momentous day.” She said, “It’s been a great journey with you while you were with us.”
William Gaudelli, the dean of the College of Education, offered congratulations to the graduates and addressed the many challenges ahead in the COVID-19 era. “This has demonstrated for us, this global pandemic, the extent to which inequalities plague our society and the challenges with respect to health care, education, mental wellness, counseling ... are quite disparate,” he said, “and we look to you to the future to address these challenges with us and to seek a better world once we are able to come outside again.”
Stephen P. DeWeerth, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, reflected on meeting the incoming Class of 2020 almost four years ago as first-year students, his first day on the job as dean. He had told them, he said, that Lehigh aimed to prepare them to have a profound impact on the world after graduation and that the university would provide opportunities to find their passions, learn from faculty and prepare for their futures.
“I am confident that you are all ready to go forth from Lehigh,” he told the graduating seniors, as well as the master’s and doctoral candidates. “I now challenge each and every one of you to go out and make an impact on the world. In engineering, we talk a lot about finding solutions to society’s grand challenges. We are all living through one of those grand challenges presently.
“I firmly believe that through this experience you will emerge as better engineers, even more equipped to address the challenges and opportunities ahead of you. You will thrive by channeling your passion and your energy into making a difference and to changing the world around you as only Lehigh engineers can.”
Several faculty from across disciplines also delivered well-wishes to the graduates. “As you move on from Lehigh University,” said Sebrina Jedlicka, associate professor and associate chair of materials science, “please keep asking questions and seeking out new knowledge. Most importantly, strive to be a force of good in the world.”
In closing, Simon thanked the graduates and their families, as well as faculty, friends, staff and alumni who joined in the online celebration.
“You are now part of the 85,000-plus Lehigh University alumni network, and we are proud to welcome you,” he told the graduates. “We look forward to hearing about all of your accomplishments in the years to come. … I look forward to when we can all be together in person, and you can watch each other move your tassels to the left as so many Lehigh alumni before you have done. Until we meet again, be well.”