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Lehigh University

By Michelle Pittman

Lehigh University is one of the nation’s most selective private research universities. Founded in 1865 by Asa Packer, a leading 19th century entrepreneur, philanthropist, and industrial pioneer who built the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Lehigh University remains rich in tradition and steeped in this industrial spirit.

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Lehigh University is one of the nation’s most selective private research universities. Founded in 1865 by Asa Packer, a leading 19th century entrepreneur, philanthropist, and industrial pioneer who built the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Lehigh University remains rich in tradition and steeped in this industrial spirit.

Packer recognized the need for workers who were broadly educated in the liberal arts and science – young people who could combine practical skills with theory, judgment, reasoning and self-discipline. He kept this in mind when founding Lehigh with a generous endowment of $500,000 – at the time, one of the largest gifts an American had ever given in a single sum for a literary institution.

For the site of his university, Packer chose a railroad junction just across the Lehigh River from Bethlehem; the campus today is built into the side of Old South Mountain and covers 1,600 acres that host 147 buildings, many historic structures, and 3.6 million square feet of classroom, laboratory, office and living space.
Lehigh’s 4,800 undergraduate students and 2,100 graduate students come from nearly every state and more than 65 countries across the globe. The university is constantly infused with new faculty and students who are determined to push the limits of technology, research, innovation, and global expansion.

The university’s academic coursework is designed to make individuals not only qualified in their fields, but better thinkers, problem solvers, leaders, and citizens of the world. Students can choose from nationally recognized programs in the arts and sciences, humanities, business, engineering, and education, and choose from more than 90 programs and majors and 2,000 courses.

With a 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, students work alongside faculty members who are leaders in their fields and who bring the latest knowledge and newest discoveries to Lehigh’s classrooms and laboratories. Undergraduate and graduate students are provided unparalleled opportunities to take part in exciting research projects that include developments in nanotechnology, alternate forms of energy, and cell division research to improve disease prevention and treatment.

Student life at Lehigh integrates academics with a vibrant array of activities, leadership development programs, the arts, athletics, and community service opportunities. With more than 150 different clubs and social organizations to enrich life outside the classroom, there is something
for everyone.

The student-run University Productions sponsors more than 60 events every year, including concerts, fairs and festivals, movies, comedy shows and one of the nation’s largest International Week celebrations. The arts are integrated into the fabric of life at Lehigh and an appreciation for creativity is encouraged. The campus boasts the Zoellner Arts Center, a state-of-the-art, multi-venue arts complex that houses the departments of music and theatre and the university’s widely acclaimed art galleries. With the university-wide ArtsLehigh program, the arts and creativity are promoted throughout the curriculum and through programs that link those concepts.

Lehigh is a member of the Patriot League and competes in 23 of 25 Division I sports for men and women (football competes in the Football Championship Subdivision and the school’s nationally ranked wrestling program is a member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Association). There are also more than 40 intramural and club sports. Lehigh’s campuses feature the 16,000-seat Goodman Stadium for football; the 5,600-seat Stabler Arena for indoor athletics contests, concerts, and special events; the Rauch Field House; the Ulrich Sports Complex and extensive outdoor athletic fields for intercollegiate and intramural sports.
The university is also committed to acting as a catalyst for the revitalization of South Bethlehem and works through its Office of Community and Regional Affairs to utilize the school’s considerable resources – both human and capital – for the advancement of the larger community. Part of this commitment includes engaging faculty, staff and students in community service work and providing a variety of services to the general public. Lehigh is determined not only to present its interest in a positive light, but to understand and respond to community concerns and issues.


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