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Rethinking Lehigh’s Mission Statement

On Wednesday, April 6, a group of 38 Lehigh faculty, staff, students and alumni gathered in Williams Hall to discuss the future of Lehigh—or, at the very least, the mission statement that will help guide the university’s efforts in the years and decades to come.

The gathering, organized by Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs Jennifer Jensen on behalf of President John Simon and Provost Pat Farrell, marked the formal launch of a new effort that will see the Lehigh community revisit and eventually revise its mission statement. The current mission statement was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1992, and the revision process will provide an important opportunity for Lehigh’s leadership to think more deeply about the university’s core mission.

“This is an exciting time at Lehigh, with many changes occurring on many different fronts,” said Jensen. “As we move forward, it’s imperative that we ask ourselves not only what Lehigh can be, but also what we should be.”

The process will continue with a Town Hall gathering on Tuesday, April 12. The meeting, which is open to all Lehigh faculty and staff, will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Rauch Business Center Room 292.

At Wednesday’s kick-off event, participants gathered in small groups to discuss any number of questions, with the ultimate aim of putting together a clearer picture not only of Lehigh’s strengths, but also its responsibility toward its students and the world:  What makes Lehigh Lehigh? What is Lehigh’s distinctive purpose? What is the world and time we are in, calling Lehigh to be? How will Lehigh meet the demands of tomorrow’s world?

The wide-ranging discussion was facilitated by Kathryn Burkgren, senior director of organizational and workforce development at Cornell University. Burkgren will serve as a consultant to Lehigh throughout the revision process.

“It’s exciting to be working with Lehigh University to craft a mission that speaks to the 21st century, and helping Lehigh look at why it exists … and how its stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, and the many partners – work together,” Burkgren said.

"It was terrific to see such collaboration and involvement from all different parts of the Lehigh community,” Jensen added. “There was so much energy in the room as people generated ideas."

Jensen encouraged all members of the university community to participate in the mission statement revision process. For those who can’t attend the Town Hall gathering on Tuesday, ideas and feedback can be submitted online at the Mission Statement website, where visitors can also read the current Mission Statement.

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