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Only the best: Part II

From inside and outside the Lehigh community, we received more tributes and well-wishes regarding Gregory Farrington than we could print in the Spring 2006 issue of the Lehigh Alumni Bulletin. Here are the rest.

Dedication and service

Please allow me the honor and privilege of congratulating you on your service to Lehigh as well as to the city of Bethlehem.

Throughout your tenure at Lehigh, you were instrumental in creating new techniques to improve student learning as well as leading the “academic venture capital fund.” I am also aware of your vast involvement in the Bethlehem community. Certainly, your dedication has not gone unnoticed.

On behalf of the people of Pennsylvania, allow me to join your family and friends in honoring you on this occasion. Once again, thank you for your years of service to education and the community.

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.


Greg’s vision

One of the programs that I am very proud of at Lehigh is the Community Fellows Program, a joint masters program shared between sociology and political science that places graduate students in local agencies to work on projects for the betterment of the community. In 1999, when I first approached Greg with the idea for the new program, I asked him—a new president with plenty of challenges on his plate—if he would be willing to host (and pay for) a reception in the President’s House to launch the program. To my surprise, he agreed. Few people remember that the Community Fellows Program was launched out of Greg and Jean’s living room, but Greg’s vision of re-forging the university’s relationship with the Lehigh Valley, and the Southside of Bethlehem in particular, has been the foundation of the program’s success.

While Community Fellows build bridges between the university and community agencies and non-profit organizations in the Lehigh Valley, undergraduate Global Citizens commit to becoming more fully informed and responsible citizens of the world. The Global Citizenship Program is Greg’s brainchild. His image of a “backpack” program, or a certificate that any student can complete—regardless of major or curriculum—is typical of Greg’s vision of how to educate tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Rather than thinking in the narrow terms of traditional disciplines, Greg pushed the faculty to devise an approach that would broaden the horizons and refine the sense of personal responsibility of any student—because all students face their futures in a globalized world that will require both a flexibility of mind as well as a belief in one’s personal agency. Greg’s vision not only attracted support from the Mellon Foundation, but more importantly the creative contributions of the faculty, administration and students at Lehigh.

Both of these programs—Community Fellows and Global Citizenship—are innovative and multidisciplinary, the hallmarks of the best that higher education can offer to today’s students. Both were possible because of Greg’s vision.

Hannah Stewart-Gambino, professor of political science


A far better place

President Farrington came to Lehigh in August 1998. Like the freshmen class that year, he entered this new environment full of excitement and I, suspect, a tad of apprehension. Unlike the majority of those students, however, it has taken him eight years to graduate. Nonetheless, given his accomplishments during that period, I think we can all agree he is graduating with honors.

His commitment to improving student life at Lehigh has resulted in numerous physical enhancements that have literally altered the campus landscape. The Adirondack chairs on the UC lawn, Campus Square, Memorial Walkway, the Center for Academic Success, the Rainbow Room, a relocated and renovated Women’s Center, and of course, the recently completed transformation of Lamberton Hall represent a sampling of the positive changes during his tenure.

In addition to physical changes, his vision for Lehigh as a healthy, respectful community has enhanced the quality of student life enormously. With his support, we have achieved a dramatic reduction in the number and nature of problems due to alcohol abuse. President Farrington knew that effort would be neither easy nor popular, but he was unwavering in his commitment to the health and safety of our students.

Similarly, there has been a major transformation in Greek Life during his presidency. President Farrington’s challenge to fraternities and sororities to “Be Great or Be Gone” set the standard and the tone. Over the past three years, the progress achieved in terms of chapters living in accord with their founding values of scholarship, leadership, service, and friendship has been nothing short of remarkable.

Lehigh is a far better place as a result of his leadership and service.

John Smeaton, Vice Provost for Student Affairs


An entrepreneurial environment

One of Dr. Farrington’s passions has been building an entrepreneurial environment at Lehigh, “incubating” students and their ideas and encouraging them to commercialize their innovations and launch companies. Our work at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania—investing in and assisting early-stage technology firms and funding innovation in established companies—dovetails perfectly with the culture at Lehigh. Our shared passion for innovation and entrepreneurship continued to build the tremendous working relationship between Lehigh and Ben Franklin.

Dr. Farrington has supported our efforts at the award-winning Ben Franklin Business Incubator on Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus. He has encouraged our work with Lehigh faculty and students and our use of Lehigh's equipment and facilities to help our clients. He has collaborated with us on the development of the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone, and in other significant economic development initiatives. Greg has been a true friend to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, to the clients that we serve, and to the region that we all work to advance. Our best wishes go to Greg and Jean on their retirement.

R. Chadwick Paul, Jr., chief executive officer, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pa.


An advocate for Lehigh

During his tenure, Greg Farrington has been an articulate, aggressive and effective advocate for Lehigh in Harrisburg—whether it was making a compelling argument for allocating PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) state grant money for Lehigh undergrads or fighting to secure state funds for campus improvement projects, for Ben Franklin Technology Partners (a state-funded, wholly-owned subsidiary of Lehigh charged with building Pennsylvania’s technology economy or for the KIA program.

Greg was such an effective negotiator on Lehigh’s behalf because he’s smart, articulate, easy to talk to, never lets the political party of the person he’s talking to even affect the discussions—the latter of which isn’t true of many college presidents that I’ve dealt with during my 12 years in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18th District)


A great story to tell

Since Greg Farrington became president of Lehigh University in 1998, the library and technology infrastructure of the campus has undergone a major transformation forever changing how faculty teach, students learn, and how the campus interacts and communicates. When I think of Greg Farrington, I think of George Bernard Shaw’s quote, “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” On a recent tour of the new Digital Media Studio in Fairchild-Martindale Library, Greg was listening to Professor Ed Gallagher from the English Department explain how he is using new digital media to teach first-year composition and how the final student report is no longer a traditional written essay but rather a multimedia research essay. After Professor Gallagher finished his talk, Greg paused, reflected a moment, and said, “And why not! Why shouldn’t we explore and use new forms of intellectual expression using digital information and technology? I love it!” The New Digital Media Studio was made possible by the Greg Farrington 2020 capital investment initiative.

Greg Farrington also has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of a discussion, summarize it succinctly, and nicely brand the outcome. For more than a year, LTS was working on a strategy and organization change to support and enhance innovation in teaching and learning at Lehigh. This included developing a virtual campus learning environment for faculty development, identifying best practices in teaching, testing new teaching methods, and disseminating the results among and between the faculty and staff. The names proposed for this new teaching support organization were: The Instructional Development Support Center; or the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning; or the Center for Academic Excellence. In a follow-up meeting on faculty development, Greg said he liked the concept of viewing Lehigh as a learning laboratory and exploring new methods of teaching, but he didn’t like any of the proposed organizational names. He paused, reflected—tapping his fingers together, and simply stated, “Why don’t you just call it the Lehigh Lab?” So it was named. The Lehigh Lab virtual campus learning model was awarded the 2004 EDUCAUSE Award for “Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning.”

Greg Farrington has left his indelible mark on a broad cross-section of library and technology projects that past and future generations will benefit from. They include: campus-wide networking improvements; electronic classroom expansion; digital library development; MyLehigh portal initiatives; facilitating Lehigh’s experiment with fully on-line courses through the Mellon Foundation Clipper project; and funding the Linderman Library Project, thereby transforming and preserving the legacy Humanities library of the campus into the academic destination and intellectual hub of Lehigh: past, present, and future. In summary, Lehigh University is now regarded as one of the top information technology and library innovators in the country. None of the aforementioned projects could have been accomplished without the vision, support, and encouragement of Greg Farrington. One of the keys to life and being successful is having a good story to tell. Thanks to Greg Farrington, we at Lehigh University have a great story to tell on how we are supporting and fostering innovation in teaching and learning in and out of the classroom and generations of future students will be the beneficiaries.

Bruce M. Taggart, Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin Online
July 2006

Posted on Wednesday, July 26, 2006

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