Joseph J. Helble will assumed the role of Lehigh's 15th president on Aug. 16, 2021. He will be participating in the Pace the Prez running series with students and faculty. (Courtesy of Lehigh University)

President Helble invites Lehigh community to ‘Pace the Prez’


Lehigh students and faculty have the opportunity to get in some steps and conversation with President Helble during a run around Asa Packer Campus in a weekly event called “Pace the Prez.”

The event takes place every Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. Helble and participants complete a 4-mile run on or near the campus starting from the Clayton University Center flagpole on the Asa Packer campus.

Helble, an avid runner who ran cross country at Lehigh, said he thought this was a great opportunity to connect with the Lehigh community while encouraging a healthy exercise habit.

“I know that there are many members of the student community who like to run, and I thought rather than running on my own every day of the week, it would be a nice way to meet members of the Lehigh community,” Helble said.

President Joseph J. Helble ’82 addresses the crowd. Helble will be participating in the Pace the Prez, a running series with students and faculty. (Nora Thomson/B&W Staff)

On the debut of the event, Feb. 1, Helble was accompanied on his run by Julia Patridge, ‘22, Erica Ashby, ‘22, and James Berneking, innovation and program manager at the [email protected] Center.

Ashby said she learned about the event from her friend and running buddy, Patridge. She said before the run she had never met Helble, let alone knew what he looked like.

“We love to run and thought it was a cool opportunity,” Ashby said. “It was very interesting to learn about his background and passions for things like national parks, first-generation students and overall just innovation and education.”

Ashby said Helble was curious to learn more about  the current Lehigh student experience, as well as what can be done to make it better. Ashby said she was curious to know why Helble chose to return to his alma mater as president.

Berneking said he first learned about the event through an email. The California-native said, although it was cold, the run was an enjoyable experience.

“I would recommend this event because it was a good opportunity to hear directly from him about the vision at university,” Berneking said. “And, he set the running pace for us so members don’t have to be concerned about it.” 

Despite the small turnout for the first run, Helble said he is hopeful to see many more students join in the future.   

Students who attend are encouraged to share their experience on social media via the hashtag #PaceThePrez.

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