As outlined in President John Simon’s Path to Prominence initiative, Lehigh is aiming to increase the undergraduate population by 1,000 students and the graduate population by 500 students, recruit 100 new faculty members and add a College of Health, all in the next 10 years.
The changes in the Lehigh and the Bethlehem communities mirror those of other schools in the Patriot League. Across the 10 schools in the Patriot League, several universities are undergoing varying degrees of expansion.
This September, Lafayette College made a request to the city of Easton to construct new dormitories. The city ultimately rejected the school’s proposal, but the planning commission solicitor allowed the school to appeal the decision to the city council, according to Lehigh Valley Live.
Boston University also plans to expand. The school is looking to complete a new undergraduate residential dorm, alumni center and theater and production center in the next few years, according to Boston University Facilities and Management.
Colgate University, located in rural New York, has already acted on its expansion plan.
“We have expanded by adding to campus, opened up a new ice rink (and are) currently constructing three major buildings: a career services (building) and two new residence halls,” said Dan DeVries, the director of media relations at Colgate. “We don’t see any need to expand further in other areas because we’re already situated on 575 acres.”
Unlike Lehigh, however, Colgate has no immediate desire to increase its undergraduate population.
DeVries said the undergraduate population remains the same at 2,900 students and he does not see that number changing in the near future.
Some Patriot League schools, like American University, have no future plans for expansion.
“We have no plans present, but like any other university, we always have a wish list in terms of things we would like to get done,” said Doug Dull, an associate athletic director for communications at American. “Part of the problem at American is the campus, because it’s pretty locked in in terms of the campus footprint being a part of the metro D.C. area.”
Loyola University Maryland, Bucknell University, Holy Cross and Lafayette College did not respond to requests to comment.
Lori Friedman, the director of media relations at Lehigh, said in an email that the university expansions include a new 427-bed dormitory called the SouthSide Commons on Broadhead Avenue, which will be completed by 2019.
Friedman said 175 Lehigh employees from various administrative officers will be relocated to the Gateway at Greenway Park, currently under construction at the intersection of New Street and East Third Street.
Transportation Services will add a Lehigh bus stop on Mechanic Street, opposite the new building.
Another project, scheduled to begin Nov. 13, is the construction of Brinker Lofts, formerly known as the Lehigh Service Building. This new 30-unit apartment building will have first-floor retail space and is open to anyone who wants to live in the Lehigh Valley, not just Lehigh students.
In recent years, South Bethlehem has undergone a series of urban development projects, including updates to the Fahy Bridge, construction of a new parking garage and construction of the Greenway Commons, which is nearing completion.
The Greenway Commons apartment complex will offer 95 luxury apartments above a first-floor retail space across from Northampton Community College and is estimated to be completed in spring 2018.