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. 

  • 121. Tracy Byrnes

    Television anchor and reporter Tracy Byrnes ’92 was a senior accountant at Ernst & Young LLP before transitioning to financial journalism in 1997. She worked as a senior writer for, wrote weekly columns for the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal Online, and contributed as a freelance writer to Smart Money, Forbes, and Byrnes joined the Fox Business Network (FBN) in 2007 and appears weekdays on Varney & Co., one of the network’s highest-rated programs.

    Byrnes has received the Newswomen's Club of New York Internet Breaking Business News Award and the New York State Society of CPAs award for Online Excellence in Journalism. Her first book, Break Down Your Money: How to Get Beyond the Noise to Profit in the Markets, was published in June 2008. Still connected to her alma mater, Byrnes serves on Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics Dean’s Advisory Council. 

  • 122. WLVR

    WLVR-FM, Lehigh’s award-winning freeform radio station, officially went on the air at 11:30 a.m. on May 8, 1973. Today the station offers a wide range of programming types and is recognized as one of the top outlets in the Lehigh Valley. It was named “Best College and Community Radio Station” by the Lehigh Valley Music Awards nine times between 2005 and 2014, and DJ A.J. Fritz has been recognized as “Best College and Community Radio Personality” a total of eight times. 

    Staffed by Lehigh students and members of the community, WLVR broadcasts throughout the Lehigh Valley at 91.3 MHz FM 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A signal expansion in the near future will further the station’s reach, and listeners can also stream programming via its website.

  • 123. Zoellner Arts Center

    What do Tony Bennett, the New York Philharmonic and Bobby McFerrin have in common?

    They’ve all performed at the Zoellner Arts Center.

    The late Robert Zoellner ’54 and his wife, Victoria, donated $6 million to build the arts center, which opened in 1997. Zoellner was a securities investor, arts patron and lifelong supporter of Lehigh.

    The 105,000-square-foot arts center is home to Lehigh’s Department of Music, the Department of Theatre, the Art Galleries and the Guest Artist Series. Bringing everything under one roof, the facility transformed the arts at Lehigh and provides unique learning opportunities for students and venues for community members.

    The arts center houses three theatres:  Baker Hall, a 1,000-seat proscenium theatre; the Diamond Theatre, a 300-seat thrust theatre; and the 125-seat Fowler Black Box Theatre.

    In the past 18 years, more than 700,000 people have used the arts center as patrons, students, performers and visitors. 

  • 124. Terry Hart ‘68

    In 1978, NASA named Terry Hart ’68 a member of “Group 8” – the first selection of Space Shuttle astronaut candidates in nine years. As a mission specialist aboard the STS 41-C Challenger in April 1984, Hart operated a robotic arm that retrieved the Solar Maximum Satellite for repairs and filmed footage for an IMAX movie titled The Dream is Alive (1985).

    After retiring from NASA in 1985, Hart, a former Air Force fighter pilot, had a successful career in telecommunications. He retired as president of Loral Skynet to join Lehigh’s engineering faculty in 2004.

    Hart currently teaches courses on aircraft design and performance, and his current research activities include spacecraft attitude determination and trajectory optimization and Lehigh's NASA Hopper Spacecraft Simulator project. Visitors to the office of the dean of the College of Engineering in Packard Lab can see the Lehigh banner Hart carried with him on his space flight. 

  • 125. Marjorie M. Nemes ’51G ’55G

    As one of the few female research scientists in the 1960s and ’70s, the late Marjorie Nemes ’51G ’55G made significant advances in learning what might prevent viruses and the common cold. Her work with the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research team was reported in Newsweek and Time magazines.

    An avid traveler who made several scientific treks to the Arctic and the Amazon, Nemes was a generous Lehigh benefactor. In support of graduate research, she established the Marjorie M. Nemes Fellowship in the department of biological sciences in 1983.

    A provision in her estate plans also provided the funds to create the Francis J. Trembley Chair in earth and environmental sciences and a new fellowship in her name to support a graduate student to assist the Trembley chair. For her commitment to education and research development, Nemes was awarded Lehigh’s Learning and Leadership Award in 1992.

  • 126. Historic Fritz Lab

    John Fritz – friend to Asa Packer, an original Lehigh trustee and a steel industry pioneer – 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.

    In 1991, the lab was declared a national landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. A Pennsylvania historical marker also notes Fritz’s contributions.

    Fritz Lab thrived by supporting the testing needs of the steel industry.

    The original lab, which opened in 1910, had state-of-the-art machines, including an 800,000-pound Riehle universial testing machine, that allowed for testing of many bridge components, including pieces of the George Washington Bridge. Tests also were run on structural pieces used in the Panama Canal and the Golden Gate Bridge.   A seven-story addition, which accommodated a 5-million-pound testing machine, was dedicated in 1955.

    The lab is active daily.

  • CJ McCollum

    127. Scoring with the NBA

    C. J. McCollum ’13 made Lehigh history on June 27, 2013, when he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA draft. He was the 10th overall pick.

    He had finished his Lehigh career as the Patriot League’s all-time leading scorer.

    His rise to prominence was a point of pride for the Lehigh community. A journalism alum, he frequently emphasized the importance of education, family and commitment when giving interviews and in articles he penned. In “Poked, Prodded … Then Picked,” an editorial in Sports Illustrated, McCollum wrote that his time at Lehigh had helped prepare him for the life of a professional athlete.

    “A lot of guys leave college early, but I wouldn’t have been ready for this process two years ago,” wrote McCollum in June 2013. “That extra maturity helped me.”

  • 128. The Hillel Society

    For generations, the Hillel Society has provided a Jewish home for students on campus – a place where they can socialize, study, share meals and observe Shabbat.  Located at the Jewish Student Center at 214 Summit St., Hillel has sponsored a host of religious and cultural activities, with an aim of encouraging and strengthening Jewish values.

    Articles in The Brown and White and The Epitome chronicle decades of contributions to campus life, from religious talks, to a concert by an Israeli opera singer, to film screenings, prayer services and Hanukkah parties. The organization is student-run, and programs are open to those of all faiths.

    The Hillel is one facet of Jewish life at Lehigh. Others include the Tamid Investment Group, Birthright Israeli trips, Challah for Hunger, Chabad, Friends of Israel and the Berman Center for Jewish Studies.

    In 2014, the Hillel Society welcomed a new director, Rabbi Danielle Stillman. 

  • 129. The Harmony Pavilion

    The Harmony Pavilion, with its puzzle-like corner bracket, tiles and intricate vaulted roof, stands as a symbol of Lehigh’s cultural link to China as well as the university’s efforts to build relationships with the city of Bethlehem. Rising on the southside Greenway, the pavilion was designed and built by an interdisciplinary team of Lehigh students. With Chinese pavilions historically viewed as places of rest and reflection, the pavilion was intended to contribute to community spirit.

    The pavilion, dedicated in 2013, was part of Lehigh’s Chinese Bridge Project, which emphasized Lehigh’s century-old relationship with China. That relationship continues today with many Chinese students choosing to study at Lehigh.

    Also as part of the project, students built a wooden bridge on the Lehigh campus in 2011 that was modeled after the traditional Chinese Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is just off the Upper Sayre Park Road drive, near the gate to Mountain Drive north.

  • 130. The Epitome

    The Epitome is not just a yearbook. It’s the oldest existing publication at Lehigh, born when the Class of 1875 decided to represent the social aspect of Lehigh in print.

    Early versions of the Epitome included few photographs. Initially a sophomore-class publication, the book contained class histories and lists of fraternities, clubs, and teams. Over time, photographs and advertisements began to dominate the publication, until the junior class took over in 1884 and incorporated more writing. By the time the senior class took the reins in 1931, the book included histories of fraternities, seasonal sports reviews, and a brief summary of each graduate’s Lehigh career positioned under his photograph. 

    Still a student-run publication, the Epitome has changed quite a bit since 1875. What hasn’t changed is its significance – it captures the Lehigh student experience and allows graduates to hold on to their South Mountain memories for years to come.

  • 131. Percy Hughes

    Percy Hughes, philosopher, teacher, and instrumental figure in the development of Lehigh’s education program, began his 35-year tenure at the University in 1907 at the invitation of President Henry S. Drinker.

    Hughes directed the Philosophy, Education, and Psychology Department at Lehigh from 1907 to 1942. During this time, Hughes used the responsibility of scholarship to pursue social change and transform the Lehigh culture. He encouraged curriculum reform for engineers, campaigned against compulsory chapel attendance, and worked continuously to bring coeducation to Lehigh. Hughes endeavored to make Lehigh a better place and devoted his life to historically progressive ideas.

    Hughes’ influence was paramount in the education program’s growth from department to school and eventually into one of Lehigh’s four colleges. The College of Education’s Percy Hughes Award honors current Lehigh faculty, staff, or students whose academic, professional, and/or societal work reflects the spirit and vision of Hughes’ ideas and values.

  • 132. The Dink

    Can you spot a freshman in the crowd? Up until the early 1970s, you certainly could, thanks to the dink.

    The dink is a small, brown, peaked hat. Embroidered with the wearer’s name and class year, dinks adorned the heads of every first-year student six days per week from the start of the fall term until the Lafayette football game.

    In the October 2, 1928 issue of The Brown and White, students sounded off about the distinctive accessory: 

    J.J. Kirkpatrick ’29: “The wearing of the freshman dink is a worthwhile institution. It helps class spirit by putting the men on equal level. It also makes it easier for the enforcement of traditions and regulations. Likewise, the dink enhances the appearance of some types of freshman pulchritude.”

    A. Lehr ’29: “Truly, it is a horrible example of what the well-dressed man should wear, but still, it does make a frosh look very cute.” 

  • 133. ‘The first four’

    The arrival of professors Rosemarie Arbur, Elizabeth Fifer, Rosemary Mundhenk and Barbara Traister to Lehigh’s Department of English in 1972 and 1973 was a landmark in campus diversity and inclusion.

    The women’s stories and lives are chronicled in “The First Four,” a documentary written and produced in 2013 by four Lehigh students.

    At times, campus culture proved challenging as the women faculty faced outdated notions of gender roles. The women professors, however, found their interactions with students to be positive.

    Traiser describes an encounter years later in New York’s Central Park when a student who had not had her in class recognized her as a Lehigh professor who had been pregnant.

    “It was so unusual to see a woman faculty member, and especially a woman faculty member pregnant, that he had remembered,” she said. “He picked me out just sitting under a tree in Central Park.” 

  • 134. Howard “Bosey” Reiter

    Howard “Bosey” Reiter dedicated 31 years of his life to Lehigh as a football coach and as the University’s first athletic director. He is perhaps more famous, though, for originating the overhand spiral pass.

    Reiter played football at Princeton and was a member of the 1899 All-America Team. In 1902 he played for and coached the Philadelphia Athletics of the first National Football League. Reiter’s short arms limited his ability to throw for distance, so he began working on an overhand spiral pass for greater distance and accuracy.

    Reiter went on to coach football at Wesleyan in 1903. He claimed that the first modern forward spiral pass in college football was thrown in a game between Wesleyan and Yale in 1906.

    Reiter became Lehigh’s football coach in 1910. His legacy lives on through the Bosey Reiter Leadership Cup, awarded each year to an outstanding leader in Lehigh’s senior class.

  • 135. The Space Shuttle Columbia Analysis

    "You are detectives," Arnold Marder, now professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, told students in his failure-analysis class in 2005. "Your job will be to examine the failure surface, back-track and determine what were the conditions under which it failed and why it failed."

    This wasn’t just any lab analysis. At Marder’s urging, NASA had selected Lehigh as the first academic institution in the U.S. granted access to the debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The Columbia exploded over the southern United States on February 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. Two years later, each of Marder’s students was assigned a single previously unanalyzed piece of debris and charged with analyzing the failure and characterizing the materials’ response to hypersonic reentry conditions.

    Upon completion of their analysis, which garnered global media attention, students presented their findings to scientists and astronauts from NASA during a two-day symposium.

  • 136. Jesse W. Reno

    Your tired feet should thank Jesse W. Reno of the Class of 1883.

    Reno invented the “inclined elevator,” the predecessor to today’s escalators.

    Reno received the first patent for his plans to build the electric-powered moving stairway in 1882. He presented it during a two-week stay in September 1896 at Coney Island’s Old Iron Pier. Reno eventually sold his patents to the Otis Elevator Company and together they produced the first commercial escalator, which won first prize at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. Some of Reno’s inclined elevators were still in operation in the Boston subway system as recently as 1994.

    While at Lehigh, Reno was in the Engineering Society, a member of Chi Phi (Psi Chapter), president of that fraternity's Lawn Tennis Club, Class Historian, and editor for the Epitome in 1882. He also sang second tenor in the University Choir and played for the University baseball team.

  • 137. STEPS Facility

    The Science, Technology, Environment, Policy, and Society (STEPS) facility, completed in 2010, provides a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment for natural and social scientists and engineers.

    The $62.1 million, 135,000-square-foot facility features research and teaching labs for earth and environmental science and environmental engineering; undergraduate instructional labs for biological sciences, chemistry, and earth and environmental science; and offices for the interdisciplinary Environmental Initiative.  In keeping with Lehigh’s commitment to environmental principles, the building meets the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, minimizing global environmental impact and raising awareness of sustainable development on campus. Art incorporated into the building construction, which includes large public installations by nationally renowned artist Larry Kirkland, reflects the natural environment and complements the overall design.

    The STEPS facility positions Lehigh as a global leader in addressing energy- and environment-related research issues.

  • 138. Henry Coppee

    Lehigh’s first president was also a civil engineer, a war hero, and an English professor.

    Henry Coppee spent two years at Yale before working as a civil engineer and eventually graduating from West Point. He served as a lieutenant and was brevetted captain for gallantry in the Mexican-American War. After resigning from the army, Coppee taught English at West Point. He then taught English literature and history at the University of Pennsylvania until Asa Packer named him the first president of Lehigh in 1866.

    Coppee’s tenure (1866-1875) was a time of great growth: a Moravian church on Packer Avenue was remodeled into Christmas Hall; a house for the president was erected; and Packer Hall, the university center, was built. Coppee Hall, Lehigh’s first gymnasium, was named for him. The building later housed the Department of Arts and Sciences and today is home to the Journalism and Communication program.

  • 139. A nod to Lehigh’s 10th president

    W. Deming Lewis led the university from 1964 to 1982

    Lehigh’s 10th president was a scholar, inventor, space engineer, and the longest serving president in the university’s history.

    When W. Deming Lewis became president on June 16, 1964, the university was known for its engineering, mathematics and related sciences. After his 18 years, there was much more to celebrate -- new majors in natural science, biology, social relations, geological sciences and religion studies; women as undergraduates; interdisciplinary programs in computer engineering, applied mathematics, management science and American studies; 13 new research centers and institutes.

    Lewis, who had degrees from Harvard and Oxford University, was one of four executives who started Bellcomm Inc., which engineered systems for the Apollo moon project.

    He was reportedly a whiz at crossword puzzles and Trivial Pursuit, and he held 33 patents on such devices as microwave antennas.

    The Lewis Tennis Facility and the original physics laboratory are named in his honor.

  • 140. The Steps of South Mountain

    Do you know how many steps are cut into the Asa Packer campus?

    There are 2,600 steps – count ‘em! – on the Asa Packer campus of Lehigh University.

    Forget the gym. Students can get a workout just climbing the stairs on campus, as they go to and from classes, residence halls, and fraternities and sororities.

    Looking for survival tips? Check out this video with Ben Mandelbaum ’17 (coach), Andrew Benito ’17, Ileana Exaras ’18 and Daniel Patracuolla ’18.