Lehigh's $1-billion fundraising initiative launched on Oct. 25, 2018, on the UC Front Lawn. The launch included performances from student groups, Lehigh Idol winners and Grammy-nominated singer Halsey. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

Lehigh launches $1 billion fundraising campaign, receives $20 million donation


Lehigh launched the public phase of Go: The Campaign for Lehigh, a five-year fundraising campaign, on the UC Front Lawn with headlining performer Halsey Thursday, Oct. 25.

Chairman of the board of trustees Kevin Clayton, ‘84, ’13P, signed the resolution unanimously adopted by the board to go public with the campaign, which aims to fund university growth and impact.

The launch included three feature speakers, Daniel Amankwatia, ’19, Nadine Elsayed, ‘18, and Vassie Ware, a professor of bioscience. Joseph Buck, the vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, said planners wanted to feature a student, an alumnus and a faculty member.

Campaign launch events will also be held in Manhattan and San Francisco on Oct. 26 and 27, respectively.

President John Simon compared the campaign to a marathon. He said there will be events all over the world for several years and the university is about to take the campaign to China next weekend.

“We are organizing a campaign road trip,” Buck said. “Not everyone is here (at Lehigh), in New York or in San Francisco, so you take Lehigh to (them). You have to meet people where they are, literally — you have to go to them.”

Simon said in addition to China, the campaign will travel to India, London, Texas, Florida and other locations.

Leaders chose to host the first campaign launch on campus, however.

“This is what it’s about, is here,” Simon said. “The whole campaign is to support the mission of what we do — and what we do is here.”

Buck said the money to pay for the launch events this weekend came from of his office’s operating budget. Buck said it will be important to receive investments for upcoming campaigns to continue to build and feed the momentum of the initiative.

To date, $550 million of the $1 billion-plus fundraising goal has been raised.

Buck said the $550 million was raised primarily from 2013 to 2017, but some gifts date back to 2012. He said these earlier gifts were part of the private phase of the campaign, during which the objective was to raise half of the current fundraising goal.

At the launch event, the university announced a $20 million gift from Clayton and Lisa Clayton, ’13P, that will specifically support renovations to the University Center.

The campaign prioritizes student access and opportunity, impact of the new college of health and the expansion of research efforts and facilities, in addition to other initiatives across the university.

The campaign is chaired by  alumni Maria Chrin, ’87, ’10P,  Jordan Hitch, ’88, ’20P, ’21P, James Maida, ’85, ’17P, ’19P, and Mark Yeager ’81. There are also four honorary chair members for the campaign, including Murray Goodman, ’48, Lee Iacocca,  ’45, Joseph Perella, ’64, and Daniel Smith Jr., ’71.

In addition to Halsey, the launch featured performers from Lehigh Idol, the Marching ‘97 and the Lehigh cheerleaders and student dance groups, such as LU Bhangra.  

The launch offered free food catered primarily by Lehigh Dining, with a few exceptions, such as Island Noodles.

Evan Rehrig, the marketing manager of Lehigh Dining, said the event required a team effort by the entire Dining Services staff.

“This is a memorable experience for (Dining Services) too,” he said. “I think it’s our biggest event, ever, really.”

Clayton said the plan is ambitious, but  Lehigh has embarked on many ambitious pursuits over 153 years.

He has faith in alumni, community, staff, faculty and student support.

“Somebody asked me today ‘When did you start giving to Lehigh?’” Clayton said. “It was my $10 deposit on my cap and gown in 1984.”

He said the amount one chooses to donate isn’t what is important to this campaign. Instead, he wants people to get engaged, get excited and see change happen.

“It’s the types of things that (students) see that give the institution value to (them) that we are trying to raise support for to make sure that continues well into the future,” Simon said.

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1 Comment

  1. Amy Charles '89 on

    So: Dude with too much money gives $20M to people with too much money and a handful of aspirants to having too much money. Does it on an island in a post-industrial near-slum where an apparently very nice homeless lady died last winter and a center for poor kids closed last year, not enough money.

    Awesome. Bring on the pop stars and exhume Tom Wolfe. Man, this place is grotesque.

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