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Founder's Day 2012: Lehigh celebrates its heritage

Lehigh founder Asa Packer’s dedication to cultivating well-rounded students is at the heart of the university’s culture of leadership, senior Samuel Hodges told a standing-room-only crowd at the 2012 Founder’s Day ceremony.

Hodges, a double major in international relations and history, was the featured speaker for this year’s event, held in Packer Memorial Church on Friday afternoon. He said he was able to explore areas of study outside his major because “the approach of producing well-rounded students has stayed at the forefront of Lehigh’s mission.”

“It is because of the unique culture of Lehigh that I was able to explore different fields of study outside my international relations and history majors,” said Hodges, who is a theatre minor. “From my theatre classes, I have learned important skills like leading groups, thinking creatively and seeing a plan through completion. The culture of Lehigh, in advocating for a diverse academic experience, provided the opportunity for me not only to find a new passion, but to learn valuable life skills along the way.”

Hodges, a native of Big Timber, Mont., spent his summer interning for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in Washington, D.C., and said that his experiences as a Lehigh student prepared him for the frantic pace on Capitol Hill.

“The ability to synthesize complex information and fully understand complex policy discussions was a vital skill I learned from the many readings and discussions I completed for my international relations classes,” said Hodges. “My Lehigh education allowed me to hold my own with other interns with much more political experience.”

“A collective responsibility”

Hodges has been active as a student leader. He is parliamentarian of Kappa Kappa Psi, a member of the Marching 97, an orientation leader, a resident in the Live.Learn.Serve community, and a brother of Phi Sigma Pi. He is also a student coordinator at the community service office, and was a member of the 2012 Camp Hawk Planning Board. He plans to attend graduate school for higher education administration.

“The culture of a widely educated student that started with Asa Packer’s vision in 1865 is still alive and well here today. It is this culture that provided the framework for me to expand my horizons at Lehigh and to learn the lessons that have prepared me for the future,” Hodges said.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure Lehigh continues to be an institution that strives to broaden the experiences, skills and knowledge of its graduates. If we all take on this responsibility, I have full faith that Lehigh will continue to shine as brightly for the class of 2063 as is has done for myself and the rest of the class of 2013.”

Lehigh President Alice P. Gast welcomed those assembled by reminding them of Packer’s commitment to a university that encouraged collaboration, change and competition. She spoke about his travels to Europe, and how he collaborated with leaders in the railroad world to implement new ideas that moved industry forward and helped America compete more effectively.

Gast, who recently traveled with a Lehigh delegation to six universities in China, said that the progress and investments being made at those universities reaffirmed her belief in Lehigh’s ability to promote leadership.

“I returned from this trip more convinced than ever that there is great value in what we do at Lehigh,” said Gast. “At Lehigh, we have tremendous strength in our ability to make discoveries and take them into the world.”

“Our student leaders take risks and step out in front of their peers to effect change, to improve our university and to get things done.”

Founder's Day has been an annual Lehigh tradition since it was first celebrated in 1879 after the death of Asa Packer. The October event celebrates Packer's legacy and honors the leaders of the Lehigh community.

The ceremony featured a video presentation as well as a performance by the Lehigh University Choir of “Women Make the Earth Move: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman.” The piece, which honors the next 40 years of women at Lehigh, was composed by conductor Steven Sametz, the Ronald J. Ulrich Professor of Music, with text by Deborah Sacarakis, artistic director of Zoellner Arts Center.

Following the ceremony, a Founder’s Day Rally was held outside the STEPS building with refreshments and music, the Marching 97, cheerleaders, Lehigh mascot Clutch and more.

Lehigh leaders honored

Gast recognized the six new members who joined the Lehigh Board of Trustees this year. They are: Shari L. Aronson, a class of 2015 parent; Thomas J. Campbell ’80, ’13P, ’14P; Marinee G. Cabrera ’05; Andrew C. Fiala ’92; Anne R. Kline ’81; and Mark R. Yeager ’81.

The ceremony also recognized Brad Scheler ’76 as the incoming chairman of the board of trustees, taking on the role Daniel E. Smith Jr. ’71 had held since 2007. Scheler, a board member since 2006, led the fundraising effort for the renovation for Linderman Library, and has chaired the advisory council for the College of Business and Economics. He and his wife, Amy Frolick, created the Scheler Family Humanities Forum, a space dedicated to the exchange of ideas, and they also established an endowed scholarship at Lehigh.

Also honored were faculty members who were awarded tenure at the rank of full professor:
• Dena Davis, religion studies
• Donald Hall, English, and the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
• Cameron Wesson, sociology and anthropology

The following were promoted to the rank of full professor:
• Gregory Ferguson, chemistry
• David Johnson ’12P, mathematics
• Tianbo Liu, chemistry
• Michael Santoro, management
• Robert Skibbens, biological sciences

The following faculty members were awarded tenure at the rank of associate professor:
• David Casagrande, sociology and anthropology
• James Peterson, English and Africana studies

The following were promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure:
• Robin Hojnoski, education and human services
• Nevena Koukova, marketing
• Michelle LeMaster, history
• Kevin Narizny, international relations
• Dimitrios Vavylonis, physics

The following faculty members were recently appointed to endowed chairs, fellowships and professorships:
• Deepa Chandrasekaran, the Alison and Norman H. Axelrod Class of 1974 Endowed Summer Research Fellowship
• Marietta Peytcheva, the Thomas J. Campbell Class of 1980 Professorship
• Grace Lee, the Charlotte and Robert L. Brown the Third Class of 1978 Summer Research Fellowship
• Grace Caskie, Class of 1961 Professor
• Breena Holland, Class of 1961 Professor
• Kristin Jellison, Class of 1961 Professor
• Nevena Koukova, Class of 1961 Professor
• Iveta Silova, Class of 1961 Professor
• Susan Sherer, Scott Hartz Class of 1968 Term Professorship
• Michael Santoro, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship
• Thomas Hammond, Frank Hook Professorship
• Almut Hupbach, Frank Hook Professorship
• Oliver Yao, George N. Beckwith Class of 1932 Professorship
• George White, Iacocca Professorship
• Samuel Weaver, John C. Swartley Memorial Visiting Professorship
• Yaling Liu, P.C. Rossin Assistant Professorship
• Steven McIntosh, P.C. Rossin Assistant Professorship
• Muhannad Suleiman, P.C. Rossin Assistant Professorship
• Sun Min Lee, Professor of Practice in the Choral Arts

Also recognized were new $1 million donors for the Leadership Plaza:
• Barbara and David Baldwin ‘51
• Lynn and Douglas Borck ’78, ’05P, ’07P
• Lisa and Kevin Clayton ’84, ’13P
• Elmer Easton ‘31
• Sandra and George Engelke ‘60

Presidents of the undergraduate classes and members of the Student Senate, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Council of Student Presidents were installed.

The invocation was given by Lloyd Steffen, university chaplain and professor of religion studies. The ceremony was closed with a benediction by Rabbi Seth Goren, associate chaplain and director of Jewish student life.

Photos by Christa Neu

Posted on Monday, October 22, 2012
Samuel Hodges ’13 said Asa Packer’s dedication to producing well-rounded students remains at the heart of Lehigh’s culture of leadership.
This video, which debuted at Founder's Day, captures the Lehigh spirit and demonstrates the impact the Lehigh family has on our community, our nation, and our world. Narration by Julia Sloane '15. Photography by Douglas Benedict, Theo Anderson, John Harry, Ryan Hulvat and Christa Neu.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure Lehigh continues to be an institution that strives to broaden the experiences, skills and knowledge of its graduates.”—Samuel Hodges ’13
The Marching 97 entertained following the conclusion of the ceremony.
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