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Alum’s generosity to expand global engagement at Lehigh

Herb Roemmele ’53 provided a $5 million gift toward the transformation of Williams Hall into a true campus hub for enhancing global competencies and international connections for all Lehigh students.

Herb Roemmele describes himself as being filled with emotion on his first day at Lehigh. Although he had mixed feelings when his parents drove away, he knew it was time to prove what kind of person he could become.

Now a senior vice president with Wells Fargo Advisors, Roemmele credits his experience at Lehigh University as shaping him into the leader he has become. In return, he has been a long-time benefactor of his alma mater. “I really feel that Lehigh changed my life. My experience turned me around both as a personality and as an individual to lay the foundation to succeed in business,” says the 1953 business administration alum. “I have been very fortunate to have done well in the business world, so I am happy, in my way, to repay Lehigh for the benefits I have received through that education and friendships and activity on campus.”

Roemmele has now provided a generous gift of $5 million for the transformation of Williams Hall, an initiative that will help the next generation of students gain the experiences needed to become leaders of the future.

“To become leaders of the future–in business, engineering, the arts, and beyond–college students must be well versed in the relationships of U.S. companies abroad and foreign businesses in the United States,” he said. “That is why I have an active interest in global education, educational opportunities, and the advantage that today’s Lehigh students will have when they gain global competencies.”

Roemmele’s gift, joined by two anonymous gifts, will transform the 100 year-old Williams Hall located next to Linderman Library into a true central campus hub focused on enhancing global competencies and international connections for all Lehigh students. The renovated building will offer a variety of spaces, both formal and informal, that will provide a vibrant center for global activity, showcase the dynamic international work of faculty and students, and foster collaborations in research and scholarship.

To increase opportunities for intellectual and social engagement around global topics, Williams Hall will also include seminar rooms and offices for diverse disciplines and programs including global studies, modern languages and literature, and religion studies. Student affairs and other student services will also be located in Williams Hall, which will create opportunities for spontaneous exposure and engagement with global activities.

“Herb Roemmele is a very generous, warm, and gregarious person and his leadership gift is very important to Lehigh,” says President Alice P. Gast. “Herb is a “connector” who brings people together and builds relationships. That is exactly what the spaces in Williams will do; students and faculty will be drawn to the Roemmele Plaza and Global Commons to meet one another, discuss world affairs and build relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Roemmele Plaza and the Herbert A. Roemmele ’53 Global Commons will be signature community spaces and destinations for global discourse.

The new Roemmele Plaza will be a dynamic exterior space that serves as a new “back porch” for Williams Hall. The Plaza, with its views of the Baer International Centre at Coxe Hall, will offer seating to encourage conversation and draw people to pass through the building.

Once inside, visitors will enter through the café and the Herbert A. Roemmele ’53 Global Commons. The Commons, a two-story interior area with a main floor and mezzanine, is designed as a campus crossroads, with spaces to accommodate everything from one-on-one conversations and small group presentations to large campus events. Video feeds will stream live news stories from around the world.

As a longtime member of the Asa Packer Society and Tower Society, Roemmele received the James Ward Packard Award in 2007 for his volunteer work in planned giving and for his unceasing campaign on behalf of Lehigh’s educational mission. Many alumni know Roemmele as a host of Florida swing events and the Lehigh/Lafayette Jersey Shore telecasts. As a “roving ambassador for Lehigh,” he also shamelessly recruits students to attend the university, draws new friends to Lehigh, and connects with alumni from across the years.

“I talk up my activities and my enthusiasm for Lehigh, and before long they become interested,” he says. For his distinguished service in encouraging support to Lehigh University, he received the Eugene G. Grace Award during Reunion Weekend in 2013.

Roemmele’s impressive undergraduate achievements include being president of both his junior class and Sigma Nu fraternity, vice president of the Interfraternity Council, assistant sports editor for The Brown and White, and member of honorary fraternities Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Continuing to be a ceaseless advocate of advancing the reputation and effectiveness of Lehigh, Roemmele says, “Lehigh did provide the kinds of leadership for me to end up where I have been for over 50 years in the stock brokerage business. So I am definitely indebted to Lehigh for my education and for my career.”
 
Photo by John Kish IV 

Story by Dawn Thren

Posted on Monday, November 04, 2013

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