Over the summer, the residence moved from its Warren Square building to the former Phi Delta House on Lower Sayre Park Road.
The new Umoja House location was formally dedicated on Saturday in a ceremony attended by Gregory Farrington, university president, and John Smeaton, vice provost, as well as alumni and others.
The move helps to fulfill a commitment made seven years ago by the offices of residence life, residential services and others to offer different housing options in the area that formerly housed only fraternities. Umoja House joins four sororities and the Sayre Park Apartments.
"One of the university’s core missions is to promote and enhance campus diversity," says Michelle Samuels, associate dean of student development. "The president, provost, a number of students, administrators and alumni felt that moving the Umoja House was a powerful opportunity for Lehigh to come together to strengthen our campus community."
Umoja is the Swahili word for unity and directly reflects the house’s vision and mission. Umoja House was established 14 years ago by Leon Caldwell ‘91 and other student pioneers who wanted to create a safe haven where students of color could express themselves culturally, feel validated and valued, share strategies for survival and success on campus, and find unconditional support.
Umoja House soon evolved to serve not only the African American and Latino cultures, but other students of diverse backgrounds and interests.
The current residents represent students from a variety of backgrounds, interests, and experiences. There are plans for faculty to hold formal and informal discussions, alumni receptions, dinners with faculty and staff, roundtable discussions, and tutoring/mentoring sessions. Networking, cultural, and social events are also in the works.
Umoja House residents have the opportunity to take responsibility for their community. "As an empowered student community, residents will guide the philosophy of the house, as well as its mission, governance, and continued development," Samuels says.
The offices of residence life and multicultural affairs support the residence facility and community.