Editorial: President Helble, what will your legacy be?


One of Lehigh’s oldest traditions is the celebration of Founder’s Day or Weekend, which has commemorated the legacy of Lehigh’s founder Asa Packer, since his death in 1879. 

As you could suspect, it’s an immense event occuring every October – food trucks, games and a shining stage are perched on the Clayton University Center front lawn for the sake of celebrating Lehigh’s leadership.

This year, Founder’s Weekend dually celebrated the inauguration of President Joseph Helble – our 15th president since Lehigh’s start. 

Helble follows the presidency of John Simon, who announced his sabbatical over a year ago. Simon will return as a faculty member in the summer of 2022. 

Around one year ago, following the announcement of Simon’s departure, The Brown and White editorial board discussed what they wanted to see in Lehigh’s new president. 

After revisiting this editorial, we can say with utter certainty that nothing has changed in terms of what we, the current editorial board, want to see in President Helble. 

With President Helble now officially inaugurated, we’re here to say it again. 

Prioritize current students. Invest in current students. Care about current students. And you’ll hear us say those three phrases again and again until we see change.

Especially in recent years, there’s been an incessant push to increase the graduating class sizes, construct new buildings across campus, and most of all, carry out the principles defined in the Path to Prominence.

There are boundless opportunities when it comes to developing what is underdeveloped. Yet, the entirety of Lehigh’s current focus is aimed at developing brand-new initiatives where sufficient development has already been made.

For instance, the College of Arts and Sciences accounts for 37 percent of the undergraduate student body.

Collectively, the resources and technology received by the college falls short compared to what the College of Business and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science have. 

Lehigh prides itself on its strength in building careers – that’s what college is for, after all. Yet, this strength is skewed when students in Arts and Sciences have no motive to attend the semesterly Career Expo where the opportunities all target students in business and engineering. 

Thirty-seven percent of undergraduate students are neglected in career planning. 

When student well-being is neglected, in more ways than just one, shouldn’t the advancements focus on them, rather than new buildings?

We aren’t just a statistic. We are humans, existing under this leadership for four years.

The majority of us, as students, haven’t felt cared about for the past few years. Our voices have been dissolved. 

Helble is the only president – not serving as interim – who graduated from Lehigh in the past century. A minor, but distinguishing feature: He was a Lehigh student too.

In seven short weeks, Helble seems nothing short of highly welcoming and involved with the student body. By being involved in events, like the Inaugural Run, and simply engaging with students in the middle of campus, he seems to genuinely care.

We only hope this is a behavior that will continue throughout his entire term.

Helble, we welcome you back into the Lehigh community. You were a Lehigh student. You know us and you feel for us. You should keep the student body in the forefront of your mind, alongside all that you accomplish for the years to come.

We entrust you to make the changes crucial to increasing current students’ well-being, success and happiness. 

Focus on anti-racism efforts on-campus, recruit diverse members of the student body, ensure all faculty and staff members are compensated fairly for their hard work. Establish transparent and honest communication between the administration and students. 

The real celebration commences once change is made. Meanwhile, we have no other choice but to keep our fingers crossed.

President Helble, what will your legacy be? How will you be remembered as our 15th president?

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