Lehigh welcomed its first group of 169 undergraduate women in Fall 1971, some 18 months after the Board of Trustees’ vote made it possible. Women had been taking classes at Lehigh since 1902 and had been accepted as graduate students since 1918, but the Board’s decision was a significant step in Lehigh’s history.
For the “Soaring Together” feature, I reached out to the five alumnae—one from each decade that undergraduate women have been welcomed at Lehigh—who I knew from my colleagues at the university would have compelling stories to tell and who have enjoyed impactful careers.
I was deeply honored to talk with Susan Sachs ’77, Sherrie Blevins Green ’84, Jennifer Gentile Long ’93, Hetal Jani ’05 and Whitney Levine ’10, and I am inspired by their stories, stamina and perspectives. I hope you are too. As Sachs’ told me, “Things have to start somewhere.” In the case of these women, this is especially true.
We know that there are many more stories to tell from all of our alumni, both men and women, of how coeducation helped shape the university and its people and how it continues to influence its future. You will hear from several men who were at Lehigh when the university was all male, then when the first cohort of women arrived. If you also have a story to tell, we’d love to hear it. You can share it at go.lehigh.edu/mysoaringstory.
We hope you enjoy this issue, which also includes stories on LUAG’s extensive collection of outdoor sculptures that allows the Lehigh community to immerse itself in art, and on “The Power of Us,” a new book from Lehigh researcher Dominic Packer and a colleague that explores how our identities influence our beliefs and behavior and can inspire social and political movements.
We welcome your comments through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail at 301 Broadway, 4th Floor, Bethlehem, Pa. 18105.
Mary Ellen Alu