In 1865, Asa Packer founded a university that would contribute to the "intellectual and moral improvement" of the Lehigh Valley. One hundred and fifty years later Lehigh University has its eye on the future, redefining what it means to lead every step of the way.


Turn of the Century

Before the "Great War" destroyed untold lives and changed the face of world politics, the United States would exert greater influence than ever before as a global powerhouse—and as a center of innovation as well. These years saw the Wright Brothers take to the skies, Henry Ford’s Model T roll off the assembly line and, with the help of some engineering prowess by Lehigh alums, the Panama Canal connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The Physics building

Fire Destroys the Physics Building

Started in a first-floor photography lab when flash powder exploded, igniting heavy curtains, the fire quickly spread to nearby lumber. Nobody was injured in the blaze, and the building (now known as the Sherman Fairchild Center for the Physical Sciences) was rebuilt.

Williams Hall

Williams Hall Opens

Edward H. Williams '75 was a professor of geology and mechanical engineering who donated much of his own money to create a new home for Mechanical Engineering, Mining and Geology.

The Sayre Observatory Annex is completed.


The First Student Government Body was Founded

Known as Arcadia, it aimed to uphold the honor code and promote student activities. Representatives initially came from campus organizations and sports teams and later from fraternities and residence halls. Eventually, students came to feel that they were not being heard by administrators, and in 1970 the group disbanded.

Henry S. Drinker '71 is named president.

The Marching 97

The Marching 97 is Founded

Fifteen men gathered in Christmas-Saucon Hall under the direction of band leader E.E. Ross. Now known as the Marching 97 (named for the fact that it has 97 members - the number needed for the band to spell out "Lehigh"), it is one of the few collegiate marching bands in the nation that remains completely student-run.

Percy Hughes

Percy Hughes Joins Lehigh

A philosopher, teacher and professor, Percy Hughes directed the Philosophy, Education and Psychology Department until 1942. Over the course of his 35-year tenure at Lehigh, Hughes used the responsibility of scholarship to pursue social change and transform the Lehigh culture. From women’s rights to environmentalism, Hughes devoted his life to historically progressive ideas.

Drown Hall, Taylor Hall and College Commons Dining Hall are completed.

The Hill

The Hill

Sayre Park was formally established in 1909 after a donation from the children of Robert Sayre, chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and an original member of the Board of Trustees. Throughout the early 1900s, many fraternities moved onto “The Hill” once they raised money for construction. In the late 1950s, Lehigh started a program to help the remaining off-campus fraternities move onto campus by contributing money toward construction. Sororities began to move onto The Hill in the 1990s, and Sayre Park opened in 1998 as an apartment-style option. In 2003, the UMOJA living community moved onto The Hill.

The School of General Literature was replaced by the College of Arts and Science.

The flagpole is presented by the Class of '78.

John Fritz inside Fritz Laboratory

Fritz Laboratory is completed

John Fritz was a friend of Asa Packer, an original Lehigh trustee and a steel industry pioneer who loved Lehigh so much that, at the age of 87, he funded, designed and supervised the construction of the research laboratory that bears his name. The original lab had state-of-the-art machines, including an 800,000-pound Riehle universal testing machine, that allowed for testing of many structural components, including sections of the gates of the Panama Canal.

The first four-year business curriculum was established.

Wrestling begins as an official sport.

Cover of the Fall 2014 Lehigh Bulletin

Alumni Bulletin is First Published

Starting as a 12-page pamphlet about campus happenings designed to promote a closer relationship between alumni and the student body, the Bulletin grew into a major university publication, publishing monthly in 1920, then nine or 10 times a year. Today the Bulletin, which is full of information about the university, faculty research and alumni achievements, is distributed three times a year.

Crowd in Taylor Stadium

Taylor Stadium Opens

Charles L. Taylor '76 presented “his” stadium to Lehigh on October 17th, a day that was to become known as “Taylor Day” in appreciation of what he brought to the Lehigh athletics program. The stadium was built in conjunction with Taylor Gymnasium to create a home for both personal, intramural and intercollegiate athletics for Lehigh students.

Old photo of Lehigh campus

The University Divides into Three Colleges

College of Arts and Science; College of Business Administration; and College of Engineering.

Women are admitted as graduate students.

Students in the ROTC program

ROTC Program Begins

The university initially required all physically qualified students to complete the basic ROTC course in order to graduate. The “Steel Battalion” became voluntary in 1961.

Clarence “The Wonder Dog” becomes Lehigh’s unofficial mascot.