A misty rain fell on hundreds of students and their parents as they engaged in the late-August ritual of arriving on a new campus for the first year of college.
The morning wore on and the mist turned into a torrential downpour, giving an extra incentive to quickly unload the over-packed cars and SUVs that lined the narrow roads traversing campus.
The newcomers were aided by hundreds of volunteers—members of the faculty and staff and students—who traditionally donate a few hours to help families carry mounds of clothing and bedding, flat-screen TVs, chairs and microwaves into residence halls.
Once the heavy lifting was finished, many parents stayed on. They attended a Resource Fair and visited the I Forgot Shop in Lamberton Hall. They grabbed lunch in one of the campus dining halls and picked up supplies at the Lehigh bookstore in Campus Square.
This year’s new class of 1,230 students comes to South Mountain from 50 states and 50 countries, and represents one of the brightest and most diverse in the Lehigh’s 146-year history.
Exciting times and high expectations
“We know that the students in the class of 2015 are outstanding,” Lehigh President Alice P. Gast told those who filled the pews and lined the walls of Packer Memorial Church for a late afternoon address.
“They will work hard to meet and even exceed our expectations. And they will thrive here on South Mountain. I assure you that we can’t wait to see all that your students will achieve.”
Quoting from the Carly Simon song “Anticipation,” Gast told her audience that one line from it succinctly captures the college experience: “These are the good old days.”
“It’s a great time to be embarking on a Lehigh education,” she said. “Exciting things are happening and a Lehigh education has never been more important to our young people and to our nation.”
Despite daunting global challenges, Gast said she is buoyed by an unwavering belief in higher education—“the key to our continued prosperity and to our position as a global leader.
“Each generation faces challenges, and this generation is no different,” she said. “Addressing today’s problems will require our best minds. My optimism comes from my knowledge of Lehigh students, alumni and faculty. I am certain that the students we moved into residences this morning will be the leaders who help us surmount the challenges of our time.”
Gast was joined by John Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs, who told the parents that their children are now part of a caring and supportive Lehigh community that is well-equipped to provide a broad array of support services and opportunities for personal growth.
“Today is the first day of a very special and exciting journey for the members of the Class of 2015,” Smeaton said. “Along the way, there will be many challenges and opportunities in all dimensions of their lives. And although the route, and in some cases even the destination, may not always be clear, one thing is for sure—they do not go down the path alone.”Photos by Douglas Benedict