From left, Jackson Kramp, '27, Professor Michael Kramp, Professor Rita Jones, and Niko Jones, '24, pose for a photo on March 26, 2024 outside of the Alumni Memorial Building. Rita Jones is the Director of the Center of Gender Equity and her husband is an English professor on campus. (Elise Grass/B&W Staff)

Lehigh lineage: How an entire family ended up on the same campus at the same time


When Michael Kramp and Rita Jones are not spending time with their sons at sporting and music events or at home cuddling their cat, they can be found leading lectures on Lehigh’s campus. 

Their two sons, Niko Jones, ‘24, and Jackson Kramp, ‘27, can also be found around campus, attending lectures as political science and anthropology students. On any given weekday, their entire family can be found upholding a different role within Lehigh’s community.    

Michael Kramp and Rita Jones met at Washington State University in a small town in southeastern Washington called Pullman.

They were both enrolled in the university’s English graduate program, when Rita Jones was one year ahead of Michael Kramp. He said they met when Rita Jones was paired as his teaching mentor as a part of their graduate assistantship.

The two became close due to the vibrant and supportive community of graduate students within their department. Rita Jones said this group would often meet up to study or host dinner parties and buy gift care packages for each other to support their friends through exams. 

After completing their graduate program, both Rita Jones and Michael Kramp ended up working at the University of Northern Colorado. Jones directed the women’s studies program there, but she soon began seeking some redirection. 

“I was trying to think of how I could do work that went broadly across the institution,” Rita Jones said.   

That was when she found and landed an open position at Lehigh. 

Their entire family, which now included their two young sons, followed Rita Jones across the country to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 

“Jackson was about 2, and (Niko) was probably 5,” Michael Kramp said. “It was sort of a totally crazy decision. I mean, we moved across the country with two small kids and knew nobody.”

Rita Jones started working at Lehigh in 2008 to direct the then Women’s Center at Lehigh. She’s now the director of the Center for Gender Equity. 

Not long after Rita Jones became a part of Lehigh’s faculty, Michael Kramp followed suit. He started working at Lehigh in 2010 and teaches courses in three main areas: nineteenth-century British literature and culture; critical theory with an emphasis on gender and sexuality; and film and visual culture.  

Now after being at Lehigh for 16 and 14 years respectively, with two adult sons who also attend Lehigh, Rita Jones, Michael Kramp and their family now share a space outside of their home. Still, the family members are able to maintain their individuality.

“I hardly ever see (Michael) on campus,” Rita Jones said. “We hardly ever work together in terms of our jobs. I know it probably seems weird to people that we hardly ever run into each other on campus, but I also hardly ever run into my sons on campus.”  

Niko Jones echoed this sentiment. He said he sees his parents on campus maybe once a month, although he still lives at home with them. 

Jackson Kramp said he sees his parents around campus more than his brother, but running into his parents at school can be an odd dynamic to navigate.  

“I think it can be a little awkward to see (my parents),” Jackson Kramp said, “But usually it’s not a full conversation, just passing by and saying hi.” 

While the Jones and Kramp family don’t often cross paths on campus, Michael Kramp said they are always supporting each other nonetheless. 

Niko Jones said he supports his younger brother by giving him advice about which classes to take and how to succeed as a student, as he is a senior and Jackson Kramp is a first-year. 

“I think honestly we are probably just like any other family,” Michael Kramp said. “We try to support each other’s work, each other’s ideas and each other’s needs. I know that Rita has always been sort of the best reader of my work, and so I really depend upon her as somebody who reads my work really carefully and thoughtfully, and is a really honest critic of my work.”

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