The "Brown and White Night" was the brainchild of Alison Ragon.
Lehigh’s Office of the First-Year Experience
held the first annual “Brown and White Night” late last semester to recognize the members of the Class of 2012 who have already had a positive impact on the campus community.
Nearly 200 people attended the event in the Asa Packer Dining Room, with more than 100 first-year students receiving a card acknowledging their contributions. The cards were given to students nominated by staff, faculty or fellow students, who were asked to identify those who have “intellectually engaged or who contributed greatly to the Lehigh environment,” according to Allison Ragon, director of Orientation and New Student Programs at Lehigh.
“I was thrilled with the participation from faculty, staff and students in recognizing the accomplishments of members of the Class of 2012, just 107 days into their Lehigh career,” Ragon says.
Faculty members who had any contact with first-year students were invited to submit nominations, with several responding, Ragon says.
“We also had a good number of current students recognize their peers for work with various organizations including Spectrum, the Community Service Office, Student Senate and the Step Team,” she says.
Those in attendance also included Gryphons, orientation leaders, and a broad group of faculty and staff. A slideshow of first-year events—including the “Battle of the Dorms” event that was created by first-year students—was shown. Additional remarks were offered by class president Alexander Gromadzki and Dean of Students
Sharon Basso, who thanked the students for their contributions.
Basso said she and her colleagues wanted to recognize those students who “have already made a positive impact and contribution to Lehigh’s campus environment.”
This event may have been one of the first of its kind in the country, said Ragon, who said she’s tossed the idea around with colleagues a few years back and finally decided to implement it this year.
“The intent was to find a way to bring the class together to celebrate the successful completion of their first semester, as well as highlight how so many of these students have already shaped Lehigh,” she says.
Class of 2012 is highly engaged
Under the current slate of formal events planned for these students, Ragon says, the entire class is only together during orientation and graduation.
“Our office is always looking for ways to help bring the class together and to help build and maintain a sense of community since being engaged in campus life is critical for first-year students,” she says.
“Research shows that students who do not get involved are more likely to drop out or transfer to another institution. During orientation, we discuss the value of getting involved and the benefits that come with campus involvement such as great friends, leadership experience and the ability to change campus culture.”
Already, administrators agree, the Class of 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most engaged in the university’s history.
Maddy Eadline, director of the Office of Special Projects
at Lehigh, said that she was impressed by the enthusiasm among members of the Class of 2012 before they even arrived on campus.
“Participation rates for the AlcoholEdu, the online prevention course that first years students took last summer, were 99 percent, which placed Lehigh students in the top percentile across the country,” she said. “Additionally, responses regarding interest in campus involvement—ranging from late night movies to helping craft policy recommendations—were much higher than we had seen in previous years.”
Ragon says that many first years are already involved in student government, community service programs, Leadership Lehigh and other student activities.
“We are seeing students jump in with organizations like Hillel and Black Student Union, and as well as create their own clubs,” says Ragon.
She says that students of the Class of 2012 “already have an idea of what they want to do and how they plan to achieve their goals. Most of our Lehigh students come in with a vision of their life after Lehigh, but this class has a vision and
a plan of attack!”
Adds Basso: “All of us who work closely with this group of students feel that there is something special about this class. They are dedicated, motivated, energetic and engaged. It will be very gratifying to see how they develop as leaders and how they will contribute to the culture of this campus.”