Students celebrate at the 2021 commencement ceremony. The class of 2023's Undergraduate Commencement ceremony will be held at Goodman Stadium on May 21, 2023. (Sharon Jo/B&W Staff)

Revisiting pivotal moments of the past four years


Four years in review: The Class of 2023

Aug. 13, 2019: Southside Commons Open

After 15 months of construction, the Southside Commons opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, offering off-campus housing to more than 400 students. The opening marked an important milestone in Lehigh’s Path to Prominence initiative, aiming to expand the undergraduate and graduate student populations.

Jan. 28, 2020: Greek “pause” starts

Following a series of incidents in multiple Greek chapters, former President John Simon and Vice President of Student Affairs Ric Hall issued a temporary pause on Greek activity due to a concern of the well-being and safety of students involved in Greek life. The pause was lifted nearly a month later on Feb. 25, 2020.

March 12, 2020: Lehigh goes remote due to COVID-19

Lehigh announced a switch to online learning to prevent the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus for the spring semester. The 2020 commencement ceremony was postponed and all in-person summer classes were moved online.

Nov. 7, 2020: Presidential election concludes

Joe Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States after Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes put him over the 270 needed to win the presidency. Kamala Harris made history as the country’s first woman, first Asian-American and first Black person to be elected vice president.

April 21, 2021: Lehigh requires COVID-19 vaccine 

The university announced through an email to the community the COVID-19 vaccine would be mandated for all undergraduate and graduate students returning to campus in the fall of 2021. This comes after multiple organizations released COVID vaccines federally approved and made available to the public.

April 26, 2021: Joseph Helble named university president

Joseph Helble, who graduated from Lehigh in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, was elected Lehigh’s 15th president. He officially took on the role on Aug. 16, 2021. Helble previously served as the dean of Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering for 13 years and the provost of Dartmouth College for three years. 

Feb. 24, 2022: Russo-Ukrainian War starts

Russia officially invaded Ukraine after months of growing tensions between the two countries. The U.S. committed humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, donating nearly $50 billion in resources from the beginning of the war to January 2023. 

April 2022: Lehigh’s Health, Science and Technology Building opens 

After nearly three years of construction on the corner of Morton and Webster streets, the Health, Science and Technology Building opened its doors to students and faculty. Fifteen labs moved from elsewhere on campus into the 200,000 square-foot building, which is the largest building Lehigh has ever constructed. 

September 2022: Lehigh announces a major renovation of the University Center

The renovation aims to provide an inviting and collaborative meeting space for students. It will feature lounge areas, club spaces for student organizations, dining spaces, a fire pit outside and various other amenities. Construction began in January 2022 and is set to be complete in 2025.

Sept. 8, 2022: Queen Elizabeth II dies

The longest-reigning British monarch, ruling for 70 years, died at the age of 96. She was succeeded by her oldest son, Charles III. Her funeral was attended by 2,000 people, including 500 heads of states and foreign dignitaries. 

February 2023: Lehigh sees a record number of applications

The Office of Admissions reported receiving 18,000 applications for the class of 2027. Not only was this the greatest number of applications in Lehigh history, but it also marked a 21% increase in applications from the class of 2026.

March 3, 2023: Business Innovation Building Opens

After years of planning and construction, the 74,000 square foot building opened in March. The building features 16 additional teaching spaces for the College of Business, an expanded financial services lab, a behavioral research lab and high-tech facilities.

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