Nearly 1,000 members of Lehigh’s Sesquicentennial Class arrived on campus Thursday under sunny skies. The first-year students—who will be seniors when the university celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015—came from more than 40 states and 25 countries to move into the place they will call home for the next four years.
They were aided in the task by nearly 800 volunteers, who helped the new students and their parents unload TVs, bookshelves, suitcases and other belongings.
The volunteers included 318 members of fraternities and sororities, 131 staff members, 15 alumni and 10 faculty members, as well as 40 members of the Student Athletic Council, SustainabLEHIGH, the Reformed University Fellowship, ASA, CHOICE Housing, the Latino Student Alliance and other student groups.
Also on hand were 296 first-year students, who arrived at Lehigh on Monday, Aug. 20, to take part in Prelusion, an experience designed to connect new students who have similar interests. This year’s Prelusion offerings included ArtsAlive, Global Lehigh, an Outdoor Adventure Program, the Quest program, Real World-LU, SustainabLEHIGH, Urban Ops, Self-revoLUtions and a Volunteer Experience.
All told, there are just over 1,200 students in the Class of 2016.
Speaking as one parent to another
After moving in, the students and their families jammed the bookstore and the I Forgot Shop, toured campus and enjoyed a lunch-time Flash Mob performance on the UC walkway.
Later, Lehigh President Alice Gast gave her traditional address to families of students following Move-In. Her comments this year were perhaps more personal than usual.
“I can fully empathize with what you are going through,” Gast told the parents. “One month from today, my husband, son and I will be moving our daughter into the University of Chicago.
“We are confident that she is fully prepared for a great college career. We know how transformative these years will be.”
One of the best parts about being Lehigh’s president, Gast said, was the opportunity to meet alumni and listen to them describe how their experiences at Lehigh helped them succeed in all facets of life.
“The stories that these alumni tell illustrate three things we think are essential to a Lehigh education—integration of knowledge, leadership and globalization,” she said.
Gast promised parents that Lehigh would push their children to be open to new perspectives, help them develop confidence and seize leadership opportunities.
“We are very enthusiastic about the class of 2016 and the great things that they will do,” she said.
Orientation and acclimation
After the students settled in, they immediately plunged into a four-day orientation program designed to help them acclimate to university life. Sessions include group meetings, dinners, the traditional First Year Student/Alumni Rally, tours of the local area, summer reading discussions and symposiums on a variety of topics.
A highlight of the weekend events will be the kickoff of the new Lehigh After Dark program with an event at SteelStacks, which will include a live music, food, trivia, dancing, games and a showing of the movie “The Hunger Games.”
The new, student-led Lehigh After Dark program aims to increase the number of social options from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Friday and Saturday nights.