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Fall forums focus on “Our Future, Our Lehigh”

At each forum over the three days, President Joseph J. Helble ’82 welcomed the participants. “It’s really good to have you all here for the start of an important, and hopefully exciting and engaging series of conversations that will help us all chart the course for Lehigh’s immediate and longer-term future. focused on strategic planning,” he said. said at the faculty forum.

As Lehigh began work earlier this year, Helble said, he was often asked why Lehigh was engaging in a strategic planning process at this time in Lehigh’s history. “First of all, it’s a question of time and opportunity,” he said, noting that Lehigh last went through the process more than a decade ago. “During this time, so much has changed in the world, so much has changed in the world of higher education, and so much has certainly changed at Lehigh.

“And if we think about the world of higher education very specifically since our last strategic planning effort,” he said, “blended, online and distance learning…has exploded, both for intentional reasons, and then of course, because of forced adaptation and everyone’s adoption of new technologies or new approaches to delivering content due to the pandemic.

Additionally, he said, “There has been tremendous questioning, concern and criticism of higher education regarding the outcomes for our students. “Does the education they receive matter? Does it provide them with the tools, learning, awareness and skills they need to go out and lead lives of meaning and difference – making a difference in their communities, making a difference in their employers and getting jobs remunerated? »

The good news, Helble said, is that Lehigh is “extraordinarily well-positioned,” both financially and in terms of student outcomes. Over the past year, student applications have increased, the number of faculty has increased, and research funding has increased.

“The challenge for us is to identify the real points of excellence here at Lehigh and grow them, to invest in those areas that really set us apart, to do more of what we do extraordinarily well, and to identify opportunities to do the new, focus, make choices, have investments that follow and stick to it,” he said.

Rather than letting a small group decide Lehigh’s future, Helble said, the university can bring the campus community together to work hard to identify the broadest and most creative ideas. “We are doing it from a position of strength,” he said, “but it is essential that we do it now.”

The strategic planning process

During the forums, Provost Nathan Urban and Vice President of Strategic Planning Chris Cook, who lead the strategic planning effort, took turns explaining the scope and timeline of the process, the structure of campus engagement , the themes guiding the discussion, and the ways faculty, staff, and students can join the conversation about the future of Lehigh.

They said the process will also include identifying barriers to realizing new initiatives. The campus is invited to submit operational challenges that impede strategic discussions by emailing [email protected]

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