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Lehigh lauds leaders in Founder’s Day celebration

From left, Lehigh President Alice P. Gast, featured speaker Andrea Lavin '12, and mace bearer James R. McIntosh, professor of sociology and anthropology, lead the Founder's Day procession to Packer Memorial Church Friday.

The world may have changed dramatically since Lehigh founder and industrialist Asa Packer walked Lehigh’s hilly, tree-studded campus, but it still needs strong leaders, senior Andrea Lavin told a standing-room-only crowd at the 2012 Founder’s Day ceremony.

Lavin, a finance major with an engineering minor who is involved in a number of student activities, was the featured speaker for this year’s event, held in Packer Memorial Church Friday afternoon.

“Lehigh has given me—a student who works really hard, but is not valedictorian—the tools and opportunities to go far beyond my boundaries,” Lavin said. “I have landed in places that I quite frankly never thought I would be. … I attribute this to the fact that I was open to new things at every stage. There were amazing faculty and staff there to guide and encourage me along the way. And there has always been an abundance of opportunity to choose from.”

Lavin said that Packer, whom she called “a savvy entrepreneur and risk-taker,” sought to create an educational institution that would develop leaders and that Lehigh has certainly honored that vision.

“He understood that intelligence and knowledge are not enough to truly create,” she said. “Those attributes, combined with leadership, are required for greatness.”

She cited examples of alumni, who “dreamed big enough to expand across a continent like the engineers of the Panama Canal and Golden Gate Bridge,” or the natural entrepreneurs who rose through the ranks to head multi-national corporations.

“Like these alumni,” she said, “we have access to the culture that prepares us to dream big and make it happen.”

Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who advised to “go where there is no path and leave a trail,” Lavin said that she sees this directive in action every day on the Lehigh campus.

“It makes me proud to be a part of the Lehigh community,” said Lavin, who will spend a year traveling before working internationally with Ernst & Young. “Lehigh students are continuing Asa Packer’s vision by discovering and seizing leadership opportunities all over the world. I feel proud about being a Lehigh student and I look forward to witnessing the impact my generation of Lehigh alums will have on this world.”

An enduring Lehigh value

Lehigh President Alice P. Gast welcomed those assembled by reminding them that Packer’s commitment to a university that would develop leaders remains a driving influence.

“In the year 2011 … a Lehigh education has never been more important,” she said. “We live in a world where one in seven people don’t have enough food, where 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, where 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation, and where 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line.”

The question, Gast said, is what does our nation need in such perilous times?

“My answer is the same as Asa’s: higher education,” Gast said. “Education is the key to our continued prosperity, and to our position as a global leader. Everywhere I travel, from Uzbekistan in Central Asia to Moline, Illinois in the central United States, I see people looking to universities to produce the globally competent, highly educated workforce that we need for the future.”

Gast said Lehigh will answer the call through integration, globalization and leadership.
“Integrating new perspectives, adept at relationships across the world, leading at every opportunity – these attributes reflect our needs today and our values as a university,” Gast said.

Founder's Day has been an annual Lehigh tradition since it was first celebrated in 1879, following the death of Asa Packer. The October event celebrates Packer's legacy and honors the leaders of the Lehigh community.

Following the ceremony, a Founder’s Day Rally was held outside the STEPS building featuring refreshments and music, the Marching 97, cheerleaders, Lehigh mascot Clutch, and more.

Lehigh leaders honored

Gast recognized the eight new members who joined the Lehigh Board of Trustees this year. They are: Nicholas P. Bigelow ’80; John R. Delaney ’64; James M. Flanagan ’80; Vincent A. Forlenza Jr. ’75; James G. Hernjak ’96; Mark Mactas ’74; Philip “Phil” Sheibley’81; and Michael J. Yaszemski ’77.

This year’s ceremony included the installation of Donald Hall, the new Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the recognition of two administrators: Emil A. Gnasso, university registrar, and Henry Odi, who was recently appointed to the newly created position of vice provost for academic diversity.

Also honored were faculty members who were awarded tenure at the rank of full professor:
• Ajai Singh, Perella Department of Finance
• Alan Snyder, vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies, electrical and computer engineering

The following were promoted to the rank of full professor:
• Gordon Moskowitz, psychology
• Vassie Ware, biological sciences

The following faculty members were awarded tenure at the rank of associate professor:
• Eugene Albulescu, music
• Andrew Ward, management
• Aladdin Yaqub, philosophy

The following were promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure:
• Catherine Arrington, psychology
• Robert Booth, earth and environmental sciences
• Breena Holland, political science
• Iveta Silova, education and human services
• Chad Meyerhoefer, economics
• Joan Ramage Macdonald, earth and environmental sciences
• Xiaofeng Sun, mathematics
• Zhiyuan Yan, electrical and computer engineering

The following faculty members were recently appointed to endowed chairs, fellowships and professorships.
• Deepa Chandrasekaran, who was named the Thomas J. Campbell ’80 Professor
• Brian Conley, who was named the Steven J. ’69 and Karen A. Lee Head Crew Coach
• Sushil Kumar, who was named a P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor
• Xu Li, who was named a James T. Kane Faculty Fellow
• Chad Meyerhoefer, who was named a Class of 1961 Professor
• Jeetain Mittal, who was named a P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor
• M. Edurne Portela, who was named a Class of 1961 Professor
• Eugenio Schuster, who was named a Class of 1961 Professor
• Mark Snyder, who was named a Frank Hook Assistant Professor
• Michael Spear, who was named a P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor
• Cameron Wesson, who was named Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor
• Bruce Whitehouse, who was named a Frank Hook Assistant Professor
• Benjamin Wright, who was named a University Distinguished Professor

The following individuals were recently named as the first holders of new endowed chairs, and were recognized along with the generous donors who endowed the positions:
• Ajai Singh, who was named Bolton-Perella Chair, endowed by Amy and Joseph R. Perella ‘64
• Jesus Salas, who was named a Frank J. Ingrassia and Elizabeth McCaul Endowed Professor, endowed by Elizabeth McCaul and Frank J. Ingrassia ‘75
• Andrew Ward, who was named the Charlot and Dennis E. Singleton ’66 Endowed Chair in Corporate Governance, endowed by Charlot and Dennis E. Singleton ‘66
• Dena Davis, who was named Lehigh’s first Presidential Chair in Health in the social sciences and humanities, created by the university

Also recognized were new $1 million donors for the Leadership Plaza:
• Jane P. ’75 and Frederick H. Jamieson ‘74
• Karen A. and Steven J. Lee ’69, ‘02P
• Kathryn and Mark R. Yeager ‘81

Presidents of the undergraduate classes and members of the Student Senate, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Council of Student Presidents were installed.

The ceremony featured a performance by Dolce, a group founded in 2007 for the women of the University Choir, under the direction of Debra Field, Cutler Professor of Practice for Choral Activities. Also performing was organist Rebecca Kleintop Owens, director of music and organist for the historic Central Moravian Church of Bethlehem.

The invocation was given by Kenneth Kraft, professor of religion studies. The ceremony was closed with a benediction by Lloyd Steffen, University Chaplain and professor of religion studies.

Photo by Theo Anderson

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011

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