President Helble shares reflections on this fall semester at Lehigh and the broader national and global context. As we approach election day, Lehigh joins the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Finally, the Lehigh community is invited to join an upcoming campus-wide strategic planning conversation and an end-of-semester community conversation.
“I am seeing everywhere reminders of how important being part of this community and gathering together is for all of us.
Other presidents are saying the same for their campuses, a positive note in the midst of what remain challenging times for more than a few members of our Lehigh community.”
Transcript of video:
Over the past several weeks, I've been sitting in on classes, speaking with students, faculty, and staff in many different settings, and occasionally meeting with other university presidents, discussing the environment and mood on our campuses.
Last fall, our first semester returning to full in-person operations, the mood was upbeat. But I can now appreciate how different this fall is, how much closer we are to what we might call normal. We're back working hard in the classroom and in the laboratory, or on the stage, on the playing fields, or simply sitting in the stands or the audience, largely without limits. I'm seeing everywhere reminders of how important being part of this community and gathering together is for all of us. Other presidents are saying the same for their campuses. A positive note in the midst of what remain challenging times for more than a few members of our Lehigh community. Particularly amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the protests and violent government response in Iran, I ask that we continue to be mindful of the devastating events directly impacting some students, faculty and staff, and their families, and to offer our understanding and our support for one another.
Here in Pennsylvania and across the country, election day is fast approaching, and with it, important and sometimes heated debate around candidates and issues continues. Lehigh is again recognizing the importance of this day as a civic engagement day to encourage our students to engage in the democratic process. On behalf of Lehigh, I recently joined other college and university presidents in committing to supporting student participation in elections as part of the "All-In" campus democracy challenge. Voting is the hallmark of our democracy. As many know, younger voters, ages 18 to 24 turn out in lower percentages than the nation as a whole, and historically, this gap is even larger in midterm election years. In 2018, turnout among this age group was less than two-thirds of that of the population as a whole. To our students and to all in our community, please take the time to participate. Get out and vote on Tuesday, November 8th.
Here on campus, our strategic planning process continues to move forward. On November 16th, I hope those of you on campus will join us as the four strategic planning working groups host a forum for the community to weigh in on a few of the initial ideas beginning to take shape. Thank you to everyone who has engaged in the process to date. Your questions, ideas, and the conversations we've been having as a community are helping us identify areas where Lehigh can be even more distinctive, areas where Lehigh can truly excel. I'm excited to see what emerges from the continued conversation.
Work is also continuing on the review of our Title IX response and communications, and we remain on track to report back to the campus on the findings of our consultant and committee by the end of the fall semester.
Shortly we'll begin project work on the Clayton University Center major renovation. While operations will remain the same through the fall, campus will begin to see preparation for the start of work in mid-November.
Towards the end of the semester, I'll be hosting a community conversation to provide a forum for more detailed campus updates and to answer your questions and hear what's on your mind. Please be on the lookout for an invitation soon, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity for us to gather again together as a community.