Since Lehigh University first opened its doors in 1865, it has been inextricably tied to South Bethlehem, the City of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley region. Rich in history and steeped in cultural tradition, the area continues to be an outstanding home for the university, which derives much of its inspiration and enthusiasm from its neighbors.
Lehigh, its students, staff and faculty are committed to helping the community invigorate its neighborhoods, redefine economic prosperity and address a full range of critical social issues. Already deeply entrenched in the community, Lehigh strives to be a good neighbor and a partner in the renaissance of Bethlehem. In fact, more than $1 million worth of community service is contributed annually through the 50,000 hours volunteered by members of the Lehigh community.
Lehigh actively participates in exciting programs and partnerships with the local community. The university will continue to strengthen these existing ties as well as make a commitment to build long-term, ongoing collaborations that will help create sustainable change in Bethlehem and beyond.
As an institution, we remain committed to providing an educational and experiential environment for our students as well as the community. We are an open campus and invite you to participate in university programs, attend the myriad of free lectures hosted throughout the year, take in an art exhibit or musical performance, and cheer for the Mountain Hawks at Lehigh athletic events.
The South Side Initiative (SSI) is an ambitious experiment in university-community collaboration. SSI brings together Lehigh faculty, students and staff with the people of Bethlehem in order to study the past, present and possible futures of our city.
The Initiative also strives to enhance the relationship between Lehigh and the community. The project is designed to break down barriers between the university and the people of Bethlehem by providing everyone with the collective goal of creating a better community for people to live in.
SSI has hosted a wide range of lectures and speakers open to the general public. Topics have included the impact of casinos, the Bethlehem Greenway project, environmental justice, and town-gown relations. SSI is also actively involved in creating a network of community gardens throughout South Bethlehem.