On August 21, the newest members of the Lehigh family were aided by volunteers from Lehigh’s faculty, students and staff—much to the relief of harried parents and first-year students.
"The move-in process was absolutely fabulous," says Janet Palomba of Long Island, N.Y., whose daughter, Melissa, was moving into Dravo House. "I have another college student and we did it all ourselves before. This was phenomenal."
Megan Connelly, a student from Long Island N.Y., agreed: "The move-in process was very smooth; I think they were very helpful out there and I thought that it went well."
For the more than 500 volunteers, meeting and helping the new students reaped its own rewards.
"It’s a chance to meet the new freshmen students and be a part of the Lehigh community," says Jeff Tourial, sports media relations director. "Residential Services does a lot for athletics, so the least we can do is help them out. This is their big day and it’s cool to meet new people as they come in."
While students continued to settle into their new homes, an outdoor luncheon for students, parents, and volunteers was offered on the spacious lawn in front of the University Center.
`Outstanding promise and potential’
As the dust started to settle, Gregory Farrington, Lehigh’s president, welcomed the 1,143 first-year students and their parents during an afternoon talk at Packer Memorial Church.
"Well, the big day is here at last," he told the audience. "The day that marks the start of the Lehigh adventure for your sons and daughters—and for you, too."
He complimented the parents, telling them that they have done "a great job as parents," and reminded them that Lehigh is one of the most selective universities in the country.
"We admit only those students who demonstrate outstanding promise and potential," he said. "You should be very proud that your sons and daughters are joining this fine institution. The fact that your daughters and sons are about to become part of our Lehigh family says a great deal about them—and about you as moms and dads."
Touting the distinguished scholars and undergraduate excellence, Farrington also assured parents that Lehigh’s commitment to their children was an important and serious task, with the goal of educating and preparing leaders for a world that becomes more difficult each day. He also shared the most important lesson that their children would learn: the need to take responsibility for their actions.
Being a parent himself, Farrington shared the journey he and his wife, Jean, Linderman Library Project Liaison in the Development Office, went through as they sent their son to college. He described the concerns they had about how their son would adjust to college, and how he would handle his new-found freedom. Farrington assured parents that Lehigh would be a good place for their children to make their journey into adulthood.
"While Lehigh may not be able to guarantee safe passage in their coming of age, what we can guarantee is that we would talk openly and honestly with them about the choices that they face, and about the more personal issues that they will need to take responsibility for," Farrington said.
He advised parents to return home confident that Lehigh works, and to let their sons and daughters bloom.
"Remember," he said, "their dreams may be different from yours … and that’s OK."