Shaping Our Future

What a unique and wonderful time it is to be here at Lehigh. In early October, and on the occasion of a very special Founder’s Day celebration, I had the great honor of being installed as your 14th president. For myself and for my family, it was a truly memorable day—one that we’ll surely treasure for years and years to come. But as proud as I was to formally take office, I was even more excited simply to be part of the wider celebration that this year’s Founder’s Day was really all about—the landmark occasion of our university’s Sesquicentennial.

For 150 years now, this university has been helping shape young lives—and shaping the world around it—through its scholarship, teaching, research and community outreach. Asa Packer founded this university with the aim of creating an institution that would prepare young people to contribute to and lead in the world around them. In the century and a half since Packer’s founding gift helped make Lehigh a reality, that’s precisely what this university has done. In fact, it’s done that, and a great deal more, too.

In this special issue of Lehigh Bulletin, we take a moment to look back on our university’s extraordinary and distinguished history—one that has seen Lehigh grow and evolve from a tiny school on South Mountain into one of the nation’s finest private research institutions. We have, as a university, accomplished so very much, and we are proud to celebrate the people who have helped define what Lehigh is today.

This year of celebration should not pass, however, without us pausing to consider what the Lehigh of the future might become—or even what it must become. These are both exciting and in some ways challenging times for the world of higher education, and as the demands placed on universities—by our society and by our students—change, it is imperative that we change as well.

In my installation speech, I announced to the university community that our Board of Trustees had approved a plan that will see Lehigh spend $250 million in institutional resources to push our university forward in teaching, learning, research and student life. This is a significant commitment on behalf of the Trustees, and it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to collectively put forth our best efforts to ensure that this investment pays the greatest dividends possible.

These funds can and, I am confident, will help us create a stronger, more dynamic Lehigh. But I truly believe that the ceiling of success at this university has not and will not ever be defined by dollars alone. Rather, how high we can climb will ultimately be determined by the effort that each of us puts forth, each and every day, to help make this a better place to live, to work, to learn and to grow.

This is a year of celebration—and celebrate we will. But as we do so, we must make sure we learn from, and are inspired by, those who came before us—those who never stopped believing that this university is capable of meeting any challenge, of overcoming any obstacle, and of always evolving into a stronger, more impactful university.

We are the stewards of Asa Packer’s vision. And as great as we have been, we must always strive to be better.

John D. Simon, President

Follow President Simon on Instagram @lehighpressimon