Countdown to 150

Looking Back: The People, The Places, the Traditions

In Fall 2015, as we celebrated Lehigh's 150th anniversary, we looked back on 150 of the people, places, breakthroughs and traditions that have helped make Lehigh what it is today. Our list is hardly comprehensive—so many more people and places and memories could have been included—but it offers a historic (and fun) snapshot of Lehigh's proud history. 

  • 101. James Ward Packard

    James Packard, Class of 1884, was an engineer both in and out of the classroom. He wired the door and alarm clock of his dorm room with switching mechanisms and rigged telegraph lines to friends’ rooms. Five years after graduating, he applied for the first of over forty patents.

    In 1890, Packard opened the Packard Electric Company with his brother in their hometown of Warren, Ohio. Thanks to the company’s electric lightbulbs, Warren became the first U.S. city with incandescent-bulb street lamps. Packard is best known, however, for the Packard Motor Car Company, whose first automobile, the “Ohio Model A,” was the finest American-produced luxury vehicle of the time.

    Packard’s $1.2 million gift to Lehigh led to the construction of Packard Lab, home of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. His legacy lives on there, as well as in the “Ohio Model A” on display in the main lobby, known affectionately as “Old Number One.”

  • 102. Lehigh’s upset over Duke

    It was a sports stunner!

    On March 16, 2012, Lehigh dreams came true when its 15th-seeded men’s basketball team scored a 75-70 upset over second-seeded Duke University.

    It was Lehigh’s first NCAA tournament win.

    Lehigh never trailed by more than five points during the game and led for much of it. C. J. McCollum ’13, who now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, led the way with 30 points.

    At the time, Lehigh was only the sixth No. 15 seed to ever beat a No. 2 seed, and the second team to do so that day. The Lehigh win was even nominated for the ESPY “Best Upset.”

  • 103. IDEAS Program

    What if an undergraduate student wants to study two focus areas in two different colleges?

    It’s possible with IDEAS.

    Lehigh's Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) Program allows students to combine two programs of study in a four-year undergraduate experience, culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in both the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (RCEAS). A rigorous honors program jointly administered by CAS and RCEAS, IDEAS allows students to pair diverse subject areas such as bioengineering and religion studies or industrial engineering and international relations.

    Students must apply to the program, and IDEAS selects only 30-40 highly qualified candidates each year. Equipped with valuable interdisciplinary skills and innovative ways of thinking, graduates pursue a wide variety of careers. 

  • 104. Thomas Messinger Drown

    Thomas Messinger Drown, Lehigh’s fourth president (1895-1904), was born and raised in Philadelphia. Drown studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania before moving on to post-graduate work at Yale and Harvard. He held teaching positions at Harvard, Lafayette College and MIT, where Drown helped establish the chemical engineering department. In 1895, Drown became president of Lehigh.

    Drown’s time at Lehigh was characterized by financial difficulty, as the Panic of 1893 had devastated the University’s stock holdings in the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was, however, able to lead the university to growth in enrollment, academics and physical size. Drown’s tenure saw the establishment of the department of zoology and biology, the development of the curriculum leading to a degree in arts and engineering, and the completion of Williams Hall.

    Drown Hall, currently the home of the English department and the Writing and Math Center, is named in his honor. 

  • 105. John W. Fisher

    When civil engineering legend John W. Fisher formally retired from Lehigh in 2002, experts from around the world assembled here to celebrate his unprecedented contributions to bridge engineering and structural connection in his more than 40-year career.

    Internationally renowned for his expertise in fatigue and cracking of steel bridges, Fisher investigated some of the world’s most notable structural failures in the last half-century, including a Marcy Pedestrian Bridge that had been under construction in New York. He was among a panel of national experts that investigated the World Trade Center’s collapse after the 2001 terrorist attacks. 

    Fisher, who was the Joseph P. Stuart professor of civil engineering, also pushed for research to advance technologies and prevent building and bridge failures. He founded Lehigh’s ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Center, a national center for research and education.

    Fisher has won nearly every medal and distinction in his field. His work, including his photos, analyses and opinions, are part of Linderman Library’s “hidden” collections

  • 106. The Brown and White

    The first issue of Lehigh’s student newspaper was published on January 16, 1894.

    "In response to a general feeling that has existed for some time that Lehigh could support and really should have a publication appearing at least twice a week, if not daily, The Brown and White, in its initial number, now greets you,” read the greeting on the first page.

    Today—121 years later—the student-run newspaper still provides “All the Lehigh News First,” appearing in print twice a week and on an active and independent website.

    Early editions, for which students paid a $2 yearly subscription fee, were set by hand and printed by the South Bethlehem Star. New technology has since changed the look and production of The Brown and White, but the spirit of the newspaper remains the same.

  • 107. Lehigh’s Third President

    The Lehigh campus saw a lot of change under the 13-year leadership of Robert A. Lamberton, the university’s third president. Both a gym (now Coppee Hall) and Chandler Chemistry Laboratory (now Chandler-Ullmann Hall) were built, the mechanical engineering department was established, the Mustard and Cheese put on its first dramatic presentation, and the Lehigh chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was founded.

    The number of students grew dramatically, from 87 to about 600, and the faculty more than doubled to 35.

    Lamberton, who served from 1880 to 1893, was a Lehigh trustee when he was asked to become president. Before stepping into office, he had practiced law and served as a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War. He also was executor of Lehigh founder Asa Packer’s estate and a director of the Lehigh Railroad.  Lamberton died in office. 

  • 108. Lehigh’s colors

    Since 1876, brown and white have been Lehigh’s official colors.

    The inspiration?

    Women’s hosiery – or, so the story goes.

    According to an article published in The Brown and White in October 1929, brown-and-white striped stockings were a prevailing fashion for women in 1876. With Lehigh’s male students “in a quandry” over what to select as the school colors, one “artistic and gallant” student who admired the color combination in the hosiery made the suggestion when the topic arose at a meeting of the student body.  The students, who were meeting to also organize a boat club and athletics at the university, adopted the suggestion. And the rest, as they say, is history.

  • 109. Maria Jacquemetton ‘83

    Emmy-winning writer and producer Maria Mastras Jacquemetton ’83 majored in English at Lehigh, where she says she gained the confidence to express her inner voice. 

    Jacquemetton is perhaps best known thus far for her success as a writer and producer for the hit television drama Mad Men, which won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Jacquemetton and her colleagues—including her husband, Andre Jacquemetton—have also been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series multiple times. The team won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series in 2008 and for Best Dramatic Series in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

    Today, Jacquemetton is taking her voice in a different direction. She and her husband left Mad Men after its sixth season to develop a drama series based on the DC comic book DMZ for the SyFy channel. 

  • 110. A distance-learning pioneer

    In 1992, Lehigh became the first university in the country to create an independent digital satellite network to broadcast a class nationwide, with 27 students taking courses toward a master’s degree in chemistry.

    Distance learning at Lehigh has grown significantly since then. The Office of Distance Education at Lehigh University is committed to providing graduate and professional education, in real-time or asynchronously, to a global workforce through the use of the best delivery technology platforms available.

    Lehigh utilizes two distance-learning platforms: Classroom LIVE, an integrated, interactive, web-based virtual environment that delivers programs in real time from campus classrooms to students wherever they are; and Classroom Online, an asynchronous online format that offers flexible scheduling and participation.

    At any given time, 700 students are enrolled in a range of programs in business, engineering, science and interdisciplinary fields. The courses provide students with the same standard of excellence as on-campus courses.

    More information can be found at

  • 111. J. Richard Aronson

    Legendary economics professor J. Richard Aronson is believed to have taught more students than any other Lehigh professor – an estimated 20,000. Past students include Interim President Kevin Clayton and several university trustees.

    Aronson also distinguished himself as director of The Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise. As director, a position he held since the center’s inception in 1980, he influenced the lives of hundreds of students who took life-changing trips to countries that included Iceland and Greece.

    After 50 years at Lehigh, Aronson, the William L. Clayton professor of Business and Economics, plans to retire at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

    “To his students, Rich is more than just a great teacher,” said Sarat Sethi ’92, a Lehigh trustee and The Martindale Society president, in marking Aronson’s golden anniversary. “He’s a dynamic leader, and he’s a shining example of mentorship at its best.”

  • 112. The buzz

    Honeybees are hard at work at Lehigh’s apiary, tucked under a canopy of trees on the Mountaintop campus. The Lehigh University Beekeeping Club, which established the apiary, aims to raise awareness of the plight of the honeybee and promote environmental sustainability.  As the tens of thousands of bees hopefully reproduce and build up their hives, students may eventually be able to harvest honey and beeswax while learning how super-organisms live.

    The manmade hives are situated outside the College of Education, away from any regular foot traffic but close to COE’s educational community garden. In summer, the bees help pollinate the area and increase vegetation.  The campus club is being mentored by the Lehigh Valley Beekeeping Association.

  • 113. Olympian Bobby Weaver

    Former Lehigh wrestler star Bobby Weaver ‘ 83 won Olympic glory when he claimed the 105.5-pound gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.  He is Lehigh’s only Olympic gold medalist.

    Weaver, a native of Easton, also had qualified for the 1980 Olympic team but the team did not compete in Moscow because of a U.S. government boycott.

    He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008, joining Mike Caruso ’67 who was inducted in 1991.

    At Lehigh, Weaver won EIWA championships at 118 in 1982 and 1983 and earned All-American honors as a junior with a third-place finish. Finishing his Lehigh career with a record of 57-14-1, he was inducted in the Roger S. Penske/Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.

    Weaver also earned a silver medal at the 1979 World Championships and had a fifth-place finish at the 1983 World Championships.

  • 114. The Cane Rush

    In Lehigh’s early days, freshmen were forbidden by sophomores to carry canes on campus. If a freshman chose to defy this custom, sophomores would seize the cane and cut it into pieces to distribute as trophies.

    In 1886, the freshman class broke the rule frequently, resulting in many scrimmages with sophomores. The freshmen upped the ante that year by gathering in the freight yard of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, placing a cane in the hands of their strongest men and encircling them with the rest of the class. Nevertheless, the sophomores were victorious. This was Lehigh’s first organized cane rush, a raucous and memorable—but ultimately short-lived—tradition.

    In 1887, the university administration recommended that a single supervised rush be held on the athletic field. However, student injuries remained common.

    Lehigh’s final cane rush took place on September 26, 1891. Weeks later, the university abolished the event.  

  • 115. Lehigh’s Second President

    John McDowell Leavitt, an Episcopal clergyman, lawyer and author, was Lehigh’s second president. He served for five years, from 1875 to 1880, and he was in office when university founder Asa Packer died, in 1879.

    A child prodigy, Leavitt had graduated from Jefferson College with honors at age 17, according to a history of the university written by Willard Ross Yates. He had taught at Kenyon College and Ohio University before coming to Lehigh.

    During his tenure, the university was divided into two schools, General Literature and Technology. As of 1876, a student could receive two engineering degrees by taking a longer course. Then, beginning in 1877, students could pursue a master of arts, doctor of philosophy and doctor of science degrees.

    Also during Leavitt’s tenure, Linderman Library rotunda was completed, and in the months after Packer’s death , Founder’s Day was established. 

  • 116. Asa Packer's Walking Stick

    Lehigh’s founder Asa Packer often walked with a cane, reportedly one that was crafted from the vertebrae of a deer. In portraits of the 19th century industrialist on campus – one in the Asa Packer dining room in University Center, the other in the Alumni Building –and as part of the life-sized sculpture in Leadership Plaza, Packer is depicted with the cane.

    Given Packer’s vision and leadership in establishing Lehigh University in 1865, a walking stick has become a symbol of leadership at the university. Each Founder’s Day, Lehigh’s president carries a chestnut replica of Packer’s walking stick. The president also presents walking sticks to Lehigh’s student leaders, which is considered a tremendous honor for those who publicly represent the university as models of leadership, wisdom and accomplishment. 

  • 117. Alumni Memorial Building

    The stately Alumni Memorial building rises on the Asa Packer campus as a tribute to the 46 Lehigh alumni who died in World War I and the 1,921 alumni who served in that war.  Plaques also commemorate alumni who died in subsequent wars.

    The Gothic-style, ivy-covered building, with its tall, stained glass windows, was a project of the Lehigh Alumni Association. Designed by alums Theodore G. Visscher and James Lindsey Burley, it opened in 1924. The offices of the President and Provost, as well as admissions and alumni, are located there.

    The building, one of the most impressive at Lehigh, has a central three-story tower. Huge glass doors on the ground floor open to the campus, revealing the beauty and expanse of the grounds.

  • 118. A pioneering professor

    The first woman in Lehigh University’s history to become a full professor and department chair, Anna Herz taught Slavic and Eastern European languages for decades and welcomed any opportunity to share her passion about foreign cultures with others.

    A strong advocate of higher education, Herz, who died in 2013, provided many student scholarships through Lehigh’s life income program. Through the endowed funds she created, she provided many student scholarships through a planned gift to Lehigh.

    Her eventual scholarship will be known as the Professor Anna P. Herz Scholarship, which will support undergraduate students with a concentration in either Russian studies, Hungarian, or Austrian international relations, government, political science, or history.

  • 119. Eagles Training Camp

    From 1996-2012, the Philadelphia Eagles held their annual preseason training camp on Lehigh’s Goodman Campus from mid-July to mid-August. Team members stayed in dormitories, ate meals together, lifted weights in the A. Haigh Cundey Varisty House, and practiced on Lehigh’s three natural-grass fields.

    Most practices were open to the public with no admission fee. Thousands of fans would visit each summer to watch the team and participate in NFL-style skills tests and children’s activities. An autograph tent provided an opportunity to meet players.

    In 2013, new head coach Chip Kelly moved the training camp back to Philadelphia for the first time since 1943. The team now practices at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. 

  • 120. Landing Ship Tank (LST)

    The innovation of two Lehigh graduates helped Allied forces storm beaches in Normandy and the Pacific in World War II. The Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh, a shipbuilding company founded by brothers Francis Dravo (Class of 1887) and Ralph Dravo (Class of 1889), designed and built a new kind of attack landing craft, the landing ship tank (LST).

    In the early 1940s, the Dravo Corporation produced hundreds of LSTs, 328-foot cargo ships capable of carrying and landing 160 soldiers and more than twenty tanks and trucks directly on a beach. LSTs enabled armored support of landings without the need to capture a port, made it difficult for enemies to defend against the landings, and increased the Allies’ choices of invasion locations.

    Dravo House, built in 1948 and home to 258 first-year students, honors the contributions of the Dravo family to Lehigh.