Illustration to show travel around the globe

Illustration: Silke Werzinger

On the Road

A letter from President John D. Simon '19P

As president of Lehigh, my office is in the stately old Alumni Memorial Building. But in reality, as I’ve learned over the past five years, the real work of a university president isn’t conducted in an office, nor even very often on campus. 

Rather, the job of a modern-day president is a mobile one, which is to say: Yes, I spend quite a lot of time on the road, in airports and at 30,000 feet.

It is my charge to set forth and execute on a vision for how we can build a stronger, more dynamic Lehigh, and that is simply not something I could achieve were I only stationed on campus.

President John Simon and Kelly Wallace '05

President John Simon with Kelly Wallace '05, the past president of the Boston Chapter of Lehigh Alumni

Lehigh, after all, is a global university, boasting more programming in more corners of the world than ever before, and more international alumni, as well. As president, of course, it is my job to support those programs—whether  at our growing Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in San Francisco, our new global portal in fast-growing India or in the many other nations worldwide where we are building critically important new partnerships—and connect with those alums. That means leaving Bethlehem and traveling the world.

The travel itself is interesting. In my time here at Lehigh, I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many amazing and beautiful places, and for that, I am grateful. But I am even more grateful that these travels have allowed me to meet so many proud, engaged Lehigh alums.

These interactions, whether planned far ahead of time or completely spontaneous, almost always serve as reminders of how deeply our alumni care about our university. So very often, the alums I meet on my travels tell me how Lehigh helped shape them into the leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators that they are today; how much their time at Lehigh challenged and pushed them in ways they could have never imagined; and how they are proud to give back to their university—whether by offering their financial support, volunteering their time, mentoring current students or hiring recent grads—simply because of what their university gave to them.

As a university president, these are conversations to be treasured because they push me, and everyone on my leadership team, to serve as careful stewards of an institution that has given so much to so many.

Since my very first days on campus, it has been clear to me that the Lehigh experience is a powerful one. This is a university that builds leaders by building their resolve; a university that holds proudly onto its traditions while at the same time seeking new ways to teach, explore and change the world for the better; a university that is embracing its ever-more global imprint, and a university that embraces, too, the many changes, now underway, that will enable us to continue to grow and thrive as one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher education. It is a university, in other words, that I am incredibly proud to lead.

I thank you once again for your support during this exciting time for our university. See you on the road.


John D. Simon '19P

Follow President Simon on Instagram @lehighpressimon

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