Meeting Lehigh University’s new president and enjoying a long-awaited opportunity to gather in person to celebrate were the order of the day at the Tower Society’s annual breakfast, held on Sept. 18. The society marked its 30th anniversary in 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions forced the members to hold their annual meeting virtually.
“I’m thinking of this event as our ‘30-plus-one’ anniversary,” Lorraine Wiedorn, assistant vice president for planned giving, told the members.
Michael Caruso ’67, chairman of the Tower Society, welcomed more than 140 alumni and guests to this year’s event, held under a tent outside of Rauch Field House. He highlighted the many things the society has to celebrate, from the new president; to “Soaring Together,” Lehigh’s yearlong celebration of 50 years of coeducation; to the advancement of initiatives such as the College of Health and the Health, Science and Technology Building.
“The progress can be seen all around campus,” Caruso said. “And when I look around this gathering, I see the people who are helping to make this progress possible. Your generosity helps bring talented students to campus and ensures they have an exceptional experience that will change their lives – as it did mine, and so many of yours.”
Caruso then introduced Lehigh’s 15th president—an alumnus and the Tower Society’s newest member —Joseph J. Helble ’82. Caruso presented Helble with a Tower Society pin and thanked him for his generosity, leadership and commitment to Lehigh.
“I’m pleased and proud to be a new member,” Helble said to the crowd, thanking them for their unwavering support of Lehigh and students now and for generations to come. “I can personally testify to the power and impact of endowed scholarships. I benefited from the Clarence Campbell ’47 Endowed Scholarship—which supports Gryphons with financial need—to help make my Lehigh education possible.”
Helble said he is honored to take up the presidency at the university that “did nothing less than change my view of what’s possible in life.” He said he is excited about the Lehigh of today, as well as the opportunity to shape the Lehigh of tomorrow.
“I look forward to working with all of you to help elevate the distinctiveness of the Lehigh experience, to draw on what made this institution such a meaningful and impactful part of our lives, and to share that experience with the world,” Helble said.
A Question-and-Answer followed Helble’s remarks, in which he was asked about the biggest challenge facing higher education. He said he believes it to be the sustainability of the financial model. “I want Lehigh to be accessible to every student who has the ability to come to our campus and benefit from a Lehigh education.”
Story by Cynthia Tintorri