The Lehigh community gathered to honor the legacy and vision of university founder Asa Packer and recognize the contributions of faculty and administrators in a late afternoon ceremony in venerable Packer Memorial Church this week.
The annual autumn event is dedicated to the 19th-century industrialist, who was born into a humble family in Mystic, Conn., and made his fortune in the coal industry. A well-rounded and accomplished entrepreneur, Packer was a judge, a congressman and a developer of several transportation channels. But his most enduring legacy remains Lehigh University, which was founded on his belief in a broad, yet practical education.
In opening the ceremony that celebrated that accomplishment, Chaplain Lloyd Steffen offered the invocation and recognized Packer’s dedication to the goal of creating "a home where all contributors excel and flourish in pursuit of learning."
Lehigh President Alice Gast welcomed the university community, including members of the Board of Trustees, who dedicate themselves to Lehigh through their time, efforts, and generosity. She also recognized the three newest members of the board: Patrick A. Fischer ’97, Daniel Haime ’82, and Kathleen D. Trimble ’87.
Recognizing Packer’s vision of a park-like campus, dotted by majestic buildings that were set like gems on the gently sloping hillside, Gast mused about the physical features that would catch his eye today.
"He was not the most effusive of men," she said. "He was not freely given to displays of emotion. But I think he would look in wonder at how this university, his university, has been transformed over the decades."
She felt certain he would be gratified that his dream was not only still alive, but thriving in the 21st century.
The Founder’s Day address was delivered by Robert Storer, professor of industrial and systems engineering and co-director of the university’s Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) program. Earlier this year, Storer was named the fifth recipient of the Lindback Faculty Award, which is presented to a senior faculty member for distinguished teaching.
Storer spoke of department colleagues similarly honored—Wally Richardson and George Kane—and their dedication to both the institution and their students.
Although he’s been at Lehigh for 22 years, Storer told the audience that he is now viewing the Lehigh experience through the eyes of a parent of a Lehigh student, and that he’s gained a deeper appreciation of the university’s educational experience. His daughter’s work ethic, for example, is not unique. "She is typical of the vast majority of Lehigh students—dedicated and hard-working."
Through his work overseeing Lehigh’s IBE (integrated business and engineering) program, Storer said he’s continually impressed by the stellar students who are attracted to the rigorous program.
"It’s a tough four years for them," he said. "At times, they love us and at times, they hate us. They will, however, rise to literally any challenge. Witnessing this growth is truly the most rewarding experience at Lehigh."
All who participate in the endeavor of teaching, he said, share a "simple and moral obligation: to truly and genuinely care about students and their education. From this, I believe, all else flows naturally."
The ceremony also included the formal installation of Pat Farrell as provost and vice president for academic affairs and of Mohamed El-Aasser as vice president for international affairs; the formal recognition of faculty who have been promoted to full professor and to associate professor with tenure; and the formal recognition of the recipients of endowed chairs and professorships
Farrell presided over the installation of the presidents of the classes 2010 - 2013, the Student Senate, the Graduate Student Senate and the Association of Student Alumni.
Special recognition was given to Leadership Plaza Donors, including William J. Ash ’37; Alison and Norman H. Axelrod ’74; Mary T. and Lowry S. Danser ’33; Gene W. Mulvihill, Sr. ’56; Oliver Hobson Smith ’11; and Lawrence E. White ‘64
The Lehigh University Choir performed "Beati quorum via" (Blessed are they who walk in the way of righteousness) by Charles Villiers Stanford. The benediction was given by Ayse Bayat ’11, president of the Muslim Student Association.
Awarded Tenure at Current Rank:
Paul Brockman, Perella Department of Finance
Nada R. Sanders, management
Awarded Tenure and Promoted to Associate Professor:
Anne-Marie Anderson, Perella Department of Finance
Liang Cheng, computer science and engineering
Ravindra Chitturi, marketing
Brian D. Davison, computer science and engineering
Matthias M. Falk, biological sciences
M. Kathryn Iovine, biological sciences
Shalinee Kishore, electrical and computer engineering
Tiffany Jing Li, electrical and computer engineering
Tianbo Liu, chemistry
Patricia H. Manz, education and human services
Ziad W. Munson, sociology and anthropology
Eugene Perevalov, industrial and systems engineering
Brian K. Pinaire, political science
Miren Edurne Portela, modern languages and literature
Robert T. Rozehnal, religion studies
Amardeep Singh, English
John R. Spletzer, computer science and engineering
Nelson Tansu, electrical and computer engineering
Stephanie Watts, English
Promoted to Full Professor:
Dan Lopresti, computer science and engineering
Judith A. McDonald, economics
Ageliki Nicolopoulou, psychology
Todd A. Watkins, economics
Endowed Chairs and Professorships:
Anne-Marie Anderson, named third Joseph R. Perella and Amy M. Perella Chair
Floyd D. Beachum, named first Peter E. Bennett Chair in Urban Principalship
Paul Brockman, named second Perella Chair
Derick G. Brown, named Class of 1961 Professor of civil and environmental engineering
Ravinda Chitturi, named Class of 1961 Professor of marketing
Robin S. Dillon, named William Wilson Selfridge Professor of philosophy
Xiaolei Huang, named P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor of computer science and engineering
Deborah Laible, named Class of 1961 Professor of psychology
Kevin Narizny, named Frank Hook Assistant Professor of international relations
Shamim N. Pakzad, named P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor of civil and environmental engineering
Nada R. Sanders, named Iacocca Professor of management
Iveta Silova, named Frank Hook Assistant Professor of comparative and international education
Mark A. Snyder, named P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor of chemical engineering
Todd A. Watkins, named Arthur F. Searing Professor of economics
Photos by Theo Anderson