President Joseph J. Helble ’82 comments on the return of Lehigh University's student community for the fall semester, acknowledges the community's extraordinary collaborative efforts during move-in and orientation and discusses the university's strategic plan.
Transcript of video:
We're now more than three weeks into the fall semester and it's great to see the full Lehigh student community back on campus. Welcome back to all of our students, faculty, and staff, and welcome to our new students.
We welcomed more than 1500 new undergraduates from the largest pool of applicants in Lehigh's history and more than 500 new graduate and professional students to our campus this year. The community-focus theme for the class of 27 was reflected strongly in the interactions of our entire Lehigh community, from the impressive move-in and orientation volunteer effort to the rally in the start of classes and now looking ahead, the family and founders weekend. August move-in and the team assembled to support that effort deserve a special shout-out as the mobilization effort was extraordinary. In addition to our student affairs and res life and housing operations staff, more than 100 Gryphons, 860 students from nearly 30 student groups and 100 faculty and staff volunteered, a testament to the spirit and collaborative energy of the Lehigh community. As I walked around campus that week, families repeatedly commented on the highly coordinated organization and the incredible support they received.
This deep engagement of the Lehigh community is exceptional, whether at move in, in the classroom, at campus events, or in contributing to advancing the university as a collective whole.
In June of this year, we launched our strategic plan, Inspiring the Future Makers, which asks all of us to think differently about our approach to education, to identify areas where Lehigh can and must excel. While a release of that plan is in itself a milestone, I've referred to that step as the end of the beginning. Taking action, making decisions, and implementing our plans is where the exciting and truly transformational work begins.
Early in September, we held our first campus-wide session to discuss the implementation process. Project leaders for each of the six key initiatives and four foundational initiatives were announced, and they'll be leading conversations this next year and beyond to translate the ideas of the plan into concrete action.
Much work is already underway, including steps to provide a deeply, even radically interdisciplinary education that embraces technology, business, and the liberal arts at undergraduate and graduate levels alike. Embracing universal design for inquiry across the campus, being student-centered in our approach to education and learning, taking our outstanding student outcomes to the next level, being a national leader. Transforming the mountaintop campus into a vibrant center of living, learning, and intellectual exploration. Investing to build research focus in a limited number of critical areas, and doing it all in a community that values every individual, fostering an environment where everyone knows that they truly are welcomed and that they truly belong.
This is exciting work that will take many years and the energy of many to see to completion. I look forward to collaborating with each of you to bring this vision to life and to engaging in conversations around strategic planning and Lehigh's future throughout this year.