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Insisting on excellence

Greg Farrington's legacy will be apparent for generations of students to come. His impact on the university, on the Lehigh culture, on the approach to learning, and even on the visual appeal of the Lehigh campus will reflect the vision of a leader who genuinely embraced a holistic view of education, and who insisted on excellence.

From the beginning of his tenure, Greg articulated a goal of producing well-rounded, broadly educated individuals who benefited from a truly integrated university. In support of that vision, he committed a significant investment in academic infrastructure that fortified a broad array of programs through the 2020 initiative, which he announced in October of 2000.

That funding further strengthened programs in science and engineering, and laid the foundation for a number of other cross-disciplinary initiatives that are currently thriving: our new Global Citizenship program, which expands a student's understanding of the world; the new ArtsLehigh program, which links creativity and learning to life; and the Humanities Center, which has been instrumental in creating intellectual communities and transforming the relationships between students and faculty.

From the start, Greg has been able to build a shared understanding among faculty, students, and administrators that knowledge is inherently multidisciplinary. Once students get out in the world, they quickly realize that they will deal with issues, questions, and problems that require a breadth of knowledge and multiple perspectives. They will benefit from Greg's insistence on a broad approach to education.

Lehigh faculty point to a strong and proud tradition of combining both teaching and research, and I'm sure Greg would agree. He has not only embraced that distinctiveness, but advanced it by supporting and strengthening ongoing efforts, and by making decisions with a careful and discerning eye toward the future.

He's empowered colleges with both the freedom and the means to upgrade facilities and labs, which, in turn, provide undergraduate and graduate students with academic experiences that are found at few other institutions.

As a visionary, Greg has been particularly adept at recognizing challenges and opportunities as he's set us on the path toward continued success. He also possesses the rare ability to see the big picture while maintaining a focus on the way those major decisions impact the daily lives of students.

More than one-third of our new faculty were hired under Greg--all with an eye for excellence, which Greg has faithfully extolled and exhibited. Under his leadership, Lehigh has been able to attract nationally and internationally respected scholars who are highly accomplished in their disciplines, and who share a passion for teaching. They're here because they want to teach, in addition to doing leading research and scholarship.

And the campus itself has been literally transformed under Greg's leadership.

Visitors will recognize buildings, such as Packer Memorial Church and Linderman Library--a home of the humanities at Lehigh--restored to original glory. They'll see the creation of a pedestrian campus, the renovation of Coppee Hall, as well as the expansion of plazas and courtyards.

They'll find a beautifully maintained campus that respects the environment and embraces the casual interaction that characterizes academic life.

At the heart of the university campus, they'll see a president's home that has been a warm and welcoming gathering spot for the campus community--which, at times, even extended to prospective students and their families.

Moreover, this has all been accomplished with the proper focus on the right balance between funding for facilities and academic programs.

In his many conversations with the faculty, students, and staff over the years, Greg was often fond of saying that "the only thing good enough for Lehigh is the best."

Clearly, that's what he gave us, and what we'll be reminded of for years to come.

Anne Meltzer is the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of Lehigh University's College of Arts and Sciences and is an internationally renowned seismologist who has supervised major international research projects in the Himalayas.

Next: Solving the puzzle

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Spring 2006

Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006

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