Andrew Carnegie is known for the development of the American steel industry and for the use of organized philanthropy to distribute vast wealth. Lehigh benefited from Carnegie’s philanthropy because one of his chief lieutenants, Charles L. Taylor, graduated with the Class of 1876. Taylor, who rose through the ranks of Carnegie Steel to become assistant to the president, later became director of the Carnegie philanthropies. As a trustee of the university, Taylor drafted the request to the Carnegie Foundation for funds to build Lehigh’s first dormitory, named Taylor Hall at Carnegie’s insistence.
To thank its benefactor for his generosity, the university declared April 28, 1908 “Carnegie Day.” Carnegie and guests were greeted on campus by students, faculty, alumni and the university band. According to Lehigh legend, students stopped Carnegie’s carriage in front of the President’s House and sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” After Carnegie inspected Taylor Hall and Drown Hall, he was honored at a luncheon in the College Commons, now Lamberton Hall.
“We have been greatly charmed by the beauty of your surroundings,” Carnegie said. “I believe that educational institutions should always have a site as much resembling Lehigh as it is possible to get.” He also praised the university for its emphasis on scientific and engineering education and for the devotion of its alumni. Lehigh also benefited from Carnegie’s generosity in 1920 when the Carnegie Foundation gave the University a grant to improve faculty salaries which had been eroded by inflation.