Lehigh officially marked the start of the 2021-2022 academic year with a University Convocation at Baker Hall Thursday, as President Joseph J. Helble ’82 delivered a message to the Classes of 2025 and 2024, as well as transfer students, that they had embarked on a journey unlike any other. “Trust me,” he said, “the Lehigh journey is a journey that will change you.”
He pointed to his own Lehigh student experience, when he arrived on campus as a first-year, unsure of his major and unsure whether he’d be able to compete in intercollegiate sports. Graduate school was not on his radar. But he was open to possibilities, he said, and Lehigh faculty and staff encouraged him to go outside his comfort zone.
“If you don’t have it all figured out, don’t worry,” he said. “It will come.”
In his address, Helble encouraged incoming students to experiment outside their academic and intellectual cores, by taking classes outside their fields of study or by attending lecture series on topics they know nothing about. “If you are truly open to it, it might help you see the world in extraordinarily new and different ways,” he said.
After a series of orientation events and a week of classes, few students attended the convocation in person. Those who did stood out to Helble, who told them they had demonstrated independence of spirit and thinking in choosing to attend the convocation over other activities. “Hang onto that,” he told them.
The program began with an invocation from Rabbi Steven P. Nathan, director of Jewish Student Life and associate chaplain; a welcome from Ric Hall, vice provost for Student Affairs; and a greeting from Provost Nathan Urban. The Lehigh University Choir, directed by Steven Sametz, the Ronald J. Ulrich Chair of Music, performed.
Mechanical Engineering Professor Christina Viau Haden delivered the keynote address. In her message to students, she told three stories of “passions intersecting in unexpected ways.”