They arrived in sports cars, SUVs and even pick-up trucks laden with suitcases, boxes, computers, TVs, and refrigerators. All told, nearly 1,230 students from all over the country and the world arrived on campus on Thursday to settle in for their first year at Lehigh.
“Move-in was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” said Jacqueline Sigel of Durham, Conn. “The volunteers were very helpful. All my stuff was brought up and waiting here for me.”
Adds her mother, Cheryl: “It went very smoothly -- there were more than enough helpers to help us bring everything up to the room.”
The Sigels and other families were greeted by hundreds of volunteers from Lehigh staff, faculty, fraternities and sororities, as well as other student groups who joined with Residence Life staffers to help arriving students settle in and cut through administrative red tape.
“Move-in is such a positive experience for me,” says Kathy Miller, who works in the Controller’s office. “I don’t often get to interact with students face-to-face; this is such a nice welcoming experience for parents and new students. It’s nice to be a part of that.”
Derek Longo, a sophomore mechanical engineering student and member of Delta Phi fraternity, was motivated to volunteer because of his move-in experience.
“I had a lot of help at move in when I was a freshman so I decided to give back,” Longo says. “Community service is a large part of the fraternity life at Lehigh and it was a part of that commitment that led us to help out here today.”
Gene Lucadamo, industrial liaison officer with Lehigh’s Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, shared a similar motivation.
“When I went to college,” he said, “we didn’t have this. We lugged everything up the stairs ourselves. This is a great help and it’s a great opportunity for the students to see how the university family supports them in the next four years.”
The heavy lifting behind them, parents and students were able to avail themselves of a variety of activities throughout the day, including walking tours of campus, orientation sessions for parents, and a picnic lunch that was served in the dappled sunlight on the University Center front lawn
Later in the afternoon, Lehigh President Gregory C. Farrington officially welcomed the newest members of the university family in an address delivered in Packer Church. In it, Farrington shared his advice for the parents who filled the pews of the chapel and lined the walls, and offered an apology for the inconvenience caused by several ongoing campus improvement projects.
“This summer has been the most intense period of construction in Lehigh’s history,” he said. “For a time, I think that we had every backhoe in the Lehigh Valley on our campus, and that every one of them was backing up and the same time.”
Emphasizing the theme of personal responsibility, Farrington assured parents that Lehigh takes the commitment of helping their sons and daughters evolve into successful, productive adults seriously.
“But I will tell them they must also learn to take responsibility for themselves, and to be responsible for those around them,” he said. “I will tell them to experiment and to explore – to reach out academically to topics and issues that are new. To be open and welcoming to their fellow students. To learn from the diversity of their friends. To develop minds open to new ideas, but based in sound values. To make wise choices. To understand that they must make choices.”
To parents, Farrington encouraged them to begin their journey home “confident that Lehigh works.”
“Second, stay in touch—your kid needs you. We
need you as partners. Third, let your son or daughter bloom.
Remember, their dreams may be different than yours. Fourth—and this is the hard part—let them go. Your children are here to learn how to handle responsibility. Don’t fight their battles for them.
“And finally,” he added, “send cookies. Care packages from home do wonders for the spirit of first-year students. So, in the words of college students everywhere, stay cool. Things will work out.”
-- Sarah Cooke
and Linda Harbrecht