Tower Society Panel Discussion

At the Tower Society Annual Meeting, President John D. Simon ’19P, left, leads a panel presentation that includes, from left, Patricia A. Johnson, vice president for finance and administration; Patrick V. Farrell, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Dan Warner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid; Cheryl A. Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs; and Donald A. Outing, vice president for equity and community. Click here to see more photos.

Portraits of Leadership: Providing a Transformative Experience

More than 150 alumni and guests attend the Tower Society Annual Meeting in Iacocca Hall.

Photography by

John Kish IV


Transformative experiences for students—and the people who help make them possible—was the theme for the Tower Society Annual Meeting on Sept. 28 in Lehigh’s Wood Dining Room in Iacocca Hall. President John D. Simon ’19P led a panel discussion that addressed the challenges and opportunities of keeping Lehigh at the forefront amid a changing higher education landscape. Michael Caruso ’67, chairman of the Tower Society, welcomed more than 150 alumni and guests and highlighted advances the university is accomplishing through GO: The Campaign for Lehigh.

Caruso named visible infrastructure changes on campus—construction of the New Residential Houses, the newly opened Southside Commons Residence Hall, the renovation of Chandler-Ullmann and Building C at Mountaintop, and the work that has started on the new Health, Science & Technology building. He also included academic and programming initiatives such as the new College of Health, the Lehigh@Nasdaq Center on the West Coast, and technological progress in the way students learn and live.

“Lehigh remains committed to providing the most talented students with a superb education so they can lead lives of impact and consequence,” Caruso said. “All this change is for their sake. Keeping Lehigh at the forefront is what guides the leadership team you’re going to hear from.”

Caruso introduced Simon, who thanked members of the Tower Society for their unwavering support of Lehigh and their commitment to the institution.

“You’ve invested in Lehigh’s success, and many of you have told me stories about how Lehigh’s investment in you prepared you for the lives you are now living,” said Simon, who likened them to the university’s founder. “You are the Asa Packers of today. You are the Lehigh brand.”

Michael Caruso welcomes alumni and guests

Michael Caruso ’67, Tower Society chair, welcomes more than 150 alumni and guests to the group’s annual meeting on Sept. 28 in Iacocca Hall.

Simon moderated a panel of Lehigh administrators who spoke from their own perspectives on how to provide a student experience that will change their lives and prepare them for the future. The panel included Patrick V. Farrell, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Patricia A. Johnson, vice president for finance and administration; Cheryl A. Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs; Donald A. Outing, vice president for equity and community; and Dan Warner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid.

The issues panel members face in preparing Lehigh students for the future was the main topic of conversation. Matherly said a globally competitive landscape has huge implications for education in the United States as more countries around the world adopt national strategies in global education.

“While the U.S. is still the preferred destination for international students, that position is not assured. If we’re going to remain a leading institution, we need to understand that there’s some really innovative work going on in other parts of the world, and we need to remain responsive to that,” she said.

Farrell pointed to the challenge of how to engage today’s students in the way that they learn best. Warner elaborated on that sentiment.

“Students today expect a 360-degree experience,” Warner said. “This is not the singular channel of receiving information from a faculty member with a textbook. It is peer-to-peer … experiential. They’re not satisfied to master knowledge that other people long ago have discovered—they want to participate in the discovery of new knowledge.”

“When talking with alumni about their transformative experiences, I hear very little about it being in the classroom,” Simon said.


Cynthia Welton ’94 addresses panel

Cynthia Welton ’94 addresses the panel during a Q&A at the end of the presentation.

Where students learn and study is just as important as the experience. Johnson said that Lehigh’s new buildings are designed to be collaborative learning spaces that students employ to take their learning outside of the classroom.

Outing spoke of creating academic and residential experiences for the changing demographic of students and enhancing the campus environment for student access and success.

“We need to meet the financial challenge to impact the demographic shift. We need to become the institution of choice for that group,” he said, referring to students who are coming from different parts of the country and have different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Echoing his colleagues, Farrell described Lehigh’s mission of providing transformative experiences to future generations as preparing students to live lives of consequence.

“To me, that is success,” he said.

Story by Cynthia Tintorri

Photography by

John Kish IV


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