Asa Packer impersonator Professor Stephen Cutcliffe greets professors during the processional into Packer Chapel in their regalia on Friday, Oct. 13, 2014. Cutcliffe spent much of Founder's Day walking around campus as Asa Packer. (Chris Barry/B&W Photo)

150th Founder’s Day to install President Simon and celebrate the arts


The Founder’s Day celebration this year is going to be bigger than ever before. Lehigh’s sesquicentennial anniversary and the installation of President Simon both fall on Founder’s Day, Friday, Oct. 2.

According to Rachel Fisch, Lehigh’s director of regional events, Founder’s Day is traditionally meant to be a celebration of leadership.

“Historically, it was when the class presidents get installed and get their walking stick. This year they’re getting it at a private lunch at (President) Simon’s house,” Fisch said. Instead of a student speaker this year, President Simon will give his first formal address to the campus community.

“I think its special that we have an inauguration on Founder’s Day because it celebrates new leadership and new goals being added,” said Erica Kier, ’17, president of the Association of Student Alumni.

Because of all these events coinciding, the Founder’s Day celebration will include more people in the celebration. Along with the traditional ceremony in Packer Memorial Church, members of the Lehigh community can register for a viewing party in Grace Hall.

Fisch said that the viewing party will also include rounds of Lehigh trivia, snacks and a faculty member that dresses up as Asa Packer.

Tickets are already sold out for inside Packer Memorial Church, because the guest list for presidential installations includes presidents of other local institutions, local mayors and state representatives, among others.

Following the ceremony, a huge parade will move everyone from the ceremonies to the reception in Pamerler Courtyard, which is between Zollener Arts Center and Rauch.

“It’s cool that everyone will get to embrace Founder’s Day, not just get the t-shirt and go to the rally afterwards but go to the viewing party in Grace Hall as well, which kind of just reaches out and engages the whole campus,” Kier said.

Silagh White, the director of arts engagement and community relations, said the parade is happening in the streets to engage as many people as possible because no one building on campus has room for everyone, but the streets do.

“We’re hoping its one of those moments where Lehigh students in the future will say, “I was there!”” White said.

The reception in Pamerler, which also requires registration, will feature free refreshments, a performance from the music department, a light show extravaganza and special birthday toast. According to White, a huge tent will be set up in the courtyard, with images projected on the inside of the tent. Later Friday night, UP’s featured performers Griz and Vic Mensa will be performing in the tent.

White said there will a private breakfast on Saturday to celebrate with 10 other community organizations that also have significant anniversaries. Broughal Middle School is turning 100 years old, Boys and Girls Club turns 40 and Northampton Community College Fowler turns 10 years old.

White says that while last year’s 150th rivalry celebration focused on athletics, the sesquicentennial year events focus more on the arts.

“Zoellner Arts Center is going to be celebrating its 20th anniversary as a significant contribution to the arts signature of Bethlehem. ‘ART’ of ‘pARTy’ is the idea that has been driving this from the beginning,” White said.

Thus, many other events thoughout the weekend, like the VOCALPALOOZA Student Talent Show on Thursday and Indian Student Society Ethnic Party on Sunday, are focused on the arts.

White said this is in-line with Asa Packer’s vision in founding Lehigh. Kier agreed that this Founder’s Day celebration and inauguration is in line with what Asa Packer intended for Lehigh.

“We are trying to give a nod to the past, celebrate where we are and look towards the future. People should come and hopefully be inspired in some way to be a better leader themselves,” Frisch said.

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