Over the past four years, Lehigh’s seniors have been a part of various momentous experiences, including three 150th anniversary celebrations, several campus renovations and expansions, and a significant shrink in the size of the Greek community.
The university has a lot more change to look forward to in years to come as the campus continues to expand and more students join the Lehigh community.
Renovations and the Path to Prominence
Three years ago, a newly renovated Williams Hall reopened as a global hub and took in offices and departments that were previously distributed throughout campus during the building’s construction.
Last year, the Lehigh University Police Department moved into its new location on East Packer Ave after outgrowing its space on campus in Johnson Hall.
In addition to these changes, Lehigh revealed its 10-year “Path to Prominence” plan in October 2016.
Lehigh started making changes to areas on and off campus this year, including further down into South Bethlehem. Several administrative offices moved into the new Gateway building earlier this year. The SouthSide Commons, which is currently under construction, will house students in the fall of 2019.
Other ongoing changes include renovations on Mountaintop Campus’ Building C, where the art, architecture and design department will move from Chandler-Ullmann next semester. Building C will also house the Mountaintop Initiative and DataX, and Chandler-Ullmann will be renovated as part of the plan.
Other proposals include renovations of the University Center, Rauch Business Center and E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library.
Over the past four years, the Lehigh community took an interest in improving the university’s relationship with the South Bethlehem community. This has included partnerships between university and community groups, as well as student projects focused on changing students perception of the city.
In fall 2014, former graduate student Michael DeCrosta began his LehighxSouthside project to make students feel safer while walking around Southside and to strengthen relationships with groups such as the Bethlehem City Council.
Students also created programs through the Global Citizenship senior capstone project such as the 2017 “Be Bethlehem Be Here” mapping project completed by Corina Fitzgerald, ’17, Alejandra Silguero, ’17 and Julia Patterson, ’17, and this year’s “Unmaking Sketchlehem” documentary project presented by Ashley Omoma, ’18.
Several university departments have also worked to build their community relations over the years. Zoellner Arts Center is involved in Bethlehem Area School District’s Any Given Child program, which helps bring art experiences into local schools. Karen Beck-Pooley, the director of Lehigh’s environmental policy design graduate program, is leading the Lehigh-South Side collaborative Southside Art’s District Mural Arts Project. Lehigh and Bethlehem police departments also collaborated to open a substation on New Street in March 2018.
Throughout Lehigh’s history, four sororities and 22 fraternities have been removed from the Hill. Included in that list are six from the past four years — one sorority and five fraternities.
The class of 2018 entered the Lehigh community following Lambda Chi Alpha’s loss of recognition in the summer of 2014, when they received an “unacceptable” accreditation rating. Throughout that year, the former Lambda house, then called House 97, was available for student housing through the lottery, and in 2015 Phi Delta Theta took over the space.
Delta Phi fraternity’s loss of recognition followed soon after in February 2015. This decision came following an investigation into a new member educator notebook from 2011 that kept record of illegal alcohol consumption and hazing. In September 2015, Delta Chi fraternity found its home in the former Delta Phi house.
In 2017, both Kappa Sigma and Sigma Chi fraternities lost university recognition — Kappa Sigma in July and Sigma Chi in November. Both dissolutions followed off-campus incidents where several students were cited and hospitalized for alcohol-related emergencies.
Alpha Chi Omega sorority was removed from the Hill in March 2018 as a result of a “road rally,” or scavenger hunt, that involved various activities that violated the university’s policies.
Most recently, Pi Kappa Alpha lost recognition in April 2018, after the fraternity violated several alcohol-related university policies.