Lehigh in Latin America

Joseph J. Helble '82 met with students and alumni during his first overseas trip as Lehigh president. One of the stops included a visit to the Galápagos Islands where Helble met with Lehigh Launch students.

Spring, a Time of Renewal

A Letter from President Joseph J. Helble.

Photography by

Taylor Stakes

I had the opportunity to travel to Latin America late last year to meet with students who are studying abroad, as well as with alumni in Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala and Panama. I was on the road during the spring semester as well, meeting with alumni across the country to share news about the great progress we are making toward the initial goals of our strategic plan.

Illustration of President Helble

Much is happening. We recently announced a new University Research Center, the Center for Catastrophe Modeling and Resilience. Led by structural engineering professor Paolo Bocchini, it is the first of three new centers that will be established, with an aim of identifying and exploring problems related to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, pandemics and other events that can become catastrophic because of the interlocking systems they can affect. One of our key goals is to invest in strategic interdisciplinary research, and we believe Lehigh is well positioned to be a national leader in the area of catastrophe modeling.

Additionally, aided by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation, Lehigh is working to increase the translation of scientific discoveries by our faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers into products, programs and services. The aim is to increase the economic and social impact, particularly, of the research.

We recently announced a new University Research Center, the Center for Catastrophe Modeling and Resilience.

President Joseph J. Helble '82

In the area of educational innovation, a team has been tasked with developing ideas for an “exploratory semester” that would allow students to enroll at Lehigh without having to declare a college affiliation. That would give students an opportunity to determine which of the undergraduate colleges might be the best fit, given their interests and career goals. We also are exploring ways to integrate technology into students’ core Lehigh experience, along with business and the arts and humanities, to provide them with a framework to continue in any of those areas.

By design, we are not moving forward with every initiative in the strategic plan at the same pace. Trying to do everything all at once would be, in my view, the definition of chaos. Rather, we are implementing the plan in structured and thoughtful ways, so that we can measure our progress and address questions as they arise.

I will provide updates as we continue with the plan’s implementation, including our initiatives to transform the Mountaintop Campus and make Lehigh an organization of the future.

Stay tuned.

Joseph J. Helble '82
President of Lehigh University

Photography by

Taylor Stakes

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