Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 followed the conferring of degrees and doctoral hooding as the ceremony’s final speaker and shared reactions he received from students when he asked them about their graduate experience. He said he received a range of answers including having had the freedom to study whatever they were interested in, the thrill of asking—and trying to answer open-ended questions and taking steps to enhance their career.
They also expressed being part of a global community. “One of the best-kept secrets of American higher education is how truly international it’s become,” Helble said.
Forty years ago, around the time he graduated from Lehigh, just over 7% of master’s degrees in the United States were granted to international students, he said. By 2021, it was 15%. He said the percentages for doctoral degrees are similar, with 12% of doctoral degrees granted in 2021, and 60% of those granted in engineering, being received by non-resident international students.
Lehigh has followed the trend, Helble said.
Of this year’s graduates, 23% of the master’s degrees granted were to international citizens while 47% of the doctoral degrees were granted to international citizens. In addition to the United States, China and India, Helble said Lehigh’s graduate degree recipients hailed from 32 additional countries, including the United Kingdom, Greece, Nepal, Kenya, Australia, Jamaica and Colombia.