The strategic impact of COVID-19 around the world for the past two years is something that no one had anticipated. A virus that indiscriminately and unfortunately took the lives of loved ones, young and old, locally, nationally, and internationally. An impact that will be felt for generations to come. As a result, the multiple communities at Lehigh University, particularly offices such as, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, Student Affairs, International Affairs, and Library and Technology Services, stepped up to provide necessary support services for our students, faculty, and staff. The well-being of every member of the university community has been and continues to be critically important to the vibrancy of the university.
I would like to emphasize the value of diversity and culture at Lehigh these past two years, coupled with the spirit of persistence and resilience. As we continue to explore creative and innovative ways to recover from COVID-19, the university’s unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging has not changed. In fact, the university recently rolled out a five-year strategic plan with the following four priorities: enhance our culture; improve institutional infrastructure; diversify faculty and staff; and expand student access and support. This plan, I believe, will better position the university on its journey to become a campus that will be perceived by all as welcoming, inclusive, and engaging. This is a call to action, and all of us in the Lehigh community have the opportunity and are welcome to contribute as we embark on this important journey together. I am particularly excited that contributions will come from both our domestic and international communities at Lehigh, and will depend on the efforts of everyone: students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty, staff, administration, alumni, board of trustees, and friends of the university.
It is important to share that valuable contributions to advance diversity, inclusion, and belonging are coming from organizations, including Council for Equity and Community, Undergraduate Student Senate, Graduate Student Senate, Faculty Senate, Employee Relations Advisory Council, and many student clubs.
We see many examples of Lehigh celebrating its rich diversity and culture that are contributing to a vibrant campus, such as the recent return of Dance Fest, the 50th anniversary celebration of women at Lehigh (Soaring Together), the upcoming International Bazaar, and the second Annual Africa Business Conference, and much more. As we continue on this important journey, it is my hope that diversity, inclusion, culture, and belonging will become a part of Lehigh’s fabric.