President John D. Simon is an internationally renowned chemist and highly respected leader in higher education. Formerly executive vice president and provost at the University of Virginia, Simon took office at Lehigh on July 1, 2015 and was installed as Lehigh’s 14th president on October 2, 2015. Read President Simon’s bio >
I have spent the majority of my professional life working in the world of higher education, which means I have experienced the emotional rush that comes along with the first day of the new academic year more than a few times. But even after all of these years, and even after seeing countless first year students walk wide-eyed onto their new campus homes for the first time, I still walk away from that wonderful day, known here at Lehigh as Move-In, feeling as though I just witnessed something truly special—and truly powerful, too.
Such was the case again this past August, as our university community gathered to welcome the newest members of our family—the Lehigh Class of 2021. With glorious weather and another great show of support from our faculty, staff and students, the day was nothing short of what MOOV-in at Lehigh should be: a celebration of what our just-arrived first-years had accomplished simply to earn their place here on South Mountain, and an opportunity to look hopefully to the future, and all they might accomplish.
The Class of 2021, I am certain, is a group of truly wonderful young people—bold, creative, ambitious individuals who will most assuredly make us proud in the years to come. In this group I see future scholars and business leaders, artists and educators, innovators and entrepreneurs. In other words, I look at that group, and I see almost limitless potential.
But of course, exactly what becomes of their careers—what becomes of their lives—is entirely up to them. Their futures lie in their own hands, to be shaped only by their ambition, their intellect and their willingness to put in the hard work that is inevitably tied to all greatness. This enormous sense of possibility—this exhilarating idea that all things are possible—is something I take away from the start of every new year, and now that I serve as Lehigh’s president, our collective return to campus serves as an annual reminder of our shared obligation to continue fashioning a brighter future for this great university. Just as our new first-years have the opportunity to build any life they wish, so too do we have the chance every day to build a better Lehigh.
A few months back we unveiled our “Path to Prominence,” which lays out a bold vision for a new Lehigh—one that will include a larger student body, an expanded faculty, a new college of health and crucially important building projects. It is a plan that will make our university larger, yes. But this initiative is not about growth alone; rather, it is about recognizing our current strengths and building on them in order to make a greater impact on the world.
We aim to craft an even more powerful undergraduate and graduate/professional student experience. We endeavor to support research that changes lives for the better. We will expand our commitment to support our hometown of Bethlehem, and we will strive to make Lehigh a truly global university. The Path to Prominence is our roadmap to achieve all of these things—and we actually believe it could spur us to achieve even more. I invite you to learn more about Lehigh’s future by visiting the Path to Prominence site, which you can see at lehigh.edu/vision. There, you can read in closer detail our vision for this university, as well as learn how you can do your part to help us achieve it.
As always, I thank you for your loyalty to Lehigh. And I know that everyone in the campus community does as well.
John D. Simon, President
Building on its proud legacy of success, Lehigh has laid out an ambitious vision that will allow it to grow and evolve into an even more impactful and innovative university.
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