Lehigh First-Year Student Rally 2016 (Storify Edition)

On Saturday, August 27, Lehigh University welcomed its newest family members – the Class of 2020! During the annual tradition, attendees were encouraged to use #Lehigh20 on social media, and with several posts from alumni, students, and friends, we captured this special evening on Storify.

Denny Diehl ’70: Remembering Lehigh Rallies


For many reasons I’m especially excited to be attending my 18th “Freshman/Alumni Rally,” which has changed its name to “First-Year Student Rally,” since the event began over six decades ago. The reason is that transfer students are also welcomed, which doesn’t change one great annual tradition: that this year’s “Great Class of 2020” will be adopted by my own “Great Class of 1970.” (Tradition says that every class is described this way, regardless of their performance.)

First-Year Student Rally 1974
First-Year Student Rally in Grace Hall (1974)

Another ritual: some inevitable “freshman indiscretions” from being away from home for the “first” time (tell that to those who boarded at prep schools). I was living proof of this in 1966, when I misused my Rally gift from the Alumni Association – the then traditional corn cob pipe, with free packet of tobacco (!). The startling gifts were eventually discontinued for obvious reasons.

Six years later I had the privilege of attending, and helping organize, my first of 14 Rallies as Alumni Association staff assistant. Among top memories were the astoundingly loud cheers and chants led by the immortal John Steckbeck, later ably followed by Asst Athletic Director and former MLB pitcher, Craig Anderson ’61. Even louder was the band’s stunning insistence on setting off its revered cannon — loud enough outdoors in Taylor Stadium, but ear-shattering in the front lobby of Grace. In apoplexy each year at his inability to curb this zeal, Alumni Director, Jim Niemeyer ’43 got the final word in the script: “THE CANNON WILL NOT BE USED IN GRACE HALL!!!”

John Steckbeck
John Steckbeck
Craig Anderson ’61
Craig Anderson ’61

But the event is really about the new, young and impressionable arrivals. Will they appreciate advice offered from the Lehigh president, Dean’s Office, coaches, or 50-Year Class Representative? There was a good-natured, uproarious response in the 1970’s when a popular women’s coach inadvertently said at the mike, “We still have some slots to fill on our field hockey team!”

The majority of new students have little idea what lies ahead in their futures. When C.J. McCollum arrived in 2009 as a 6’3”, 165 lb. basketball prospect, he wrote: “I chose Lehigh because of its great academic reputation; I’ll major in Journalism because I want to be a sports analyst and broadcaster.” He listed his dream job as “The NBA” – and, yes, has now beaten the odds as one of the pro league’s top young point guards. He recently signed a 4-year contract extension with Portland for $106 million.

In 1982, freshman Cathy Engelbert started out in computer engineering, the daughter of an RCA engineer working on NASA projects. She finished in accounting and, like McCollum, she became a senior basketball captain and also captained women’s lacrosse. After 29 years with the world’s largest accounting firm, Cathy last year became Deloitte’s chief executive in the U.S. and cracked a glass ceiling as the first woman to lead a Big 4 firm, leading its $14 billion division with over 60,000 people in over 100 offices nationally.

You don’t have to be an athlete to succeed, but another outstanding example is Colin Kilrain, who enrolled in ’77 to become the first-ever 3-time wrestling All-American hailing from Massachusetts. As a senior, CK wanted to become a Navy Top Gun pilot, but his eye exam prevented that. Undaunted, he became a renowned Navy SEAL before assuming global responsibilities. These included special operations in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa; commander of all 2,000+ East Coast Navy SEALs and also head of U.S. Pacific Command. When Osama bin Laden was killed, Colin was serving in the White House on the National Security Council as director of Strategy and Policy for the Office of Combating Terrorism. This June, the President appointed Kilrain as three-star vice admiral as commander of NATO’s Special Operations Headquarters in Brussels.

The bottom line for all of us (newbies or old timers) is the importance of having dreams, plus the flexibility to deal with hurdles along the way, i.e., “life is what happens when making other plans.” Best wishes for the coming years on campus to all our new arrivals at Lehigh!  

Watch the live stream of the 72nd Annual
First-Year Student Rally on August 27!

Stefanie Burke: Experiencing Lehigh’s First-Year Student Sendoff

Representing Lehigh’s Office of First-Year Experience, I had the honor of attending a First-Year Student Sendoff in Long Island on July 17, 2016. See more 2016 Student Sendoff photos

It’s that exciting (and sometimes anxious) time of the summer when moving away from home and starting orientation feels like it cannot come quick enough and yet the summer is flying by too quickly. As the Director of First-Year Experience at Lehigh, I know that feeling all too well. There is anticipation and excitement for the upcoming semester, and our office savors every moment to ensure we are prepared for the year ahead. For the students and families I met on July 17, they got a quick glance into just what Lehigh will offer students in the fall — a welcoming community and opportunities to connect, learn, and engage.

On July 17, I was fortunate enough to attend the First-Year Student Sendoff in Long Island which was hosted by Eve Mongiardo ’86. You could feel the excitement in the room once students and their families started arriving. They can’t wait to get to Lehigh, and the current students and alumni who attended were ready and eager to share their experiences and answer questions about their beloved school and alma mater. It is this willingness to give back and help each other that I have loved and appreciated about the Lehigh community since I started working here about four years ago. Every day, I see examples of this, and Sunday was no different.

Alumna Linda Kagan Horowitz ’86 (left), a long-time friend of Eve, attended the event and talked about her experiences at Lehigh with incoming students and families.
Current students, (left to right) Matthew Rothberg ’18, Joseph Mitri ’17, and Jared Horowitz ’18, were excited to answer questions and ease the nerves that come with moving to a new place.
Families were present to support their incoming student, and be a part of the excitement too.

Lehigh is a community where everyone takes part, which is what makes it so special.  It was refreshing to see that the first-year students could experience that so early in their career and know that they will get to continue that tradition into the future.

What a great event to introduce members of the Class of 2020 to what their Lehigh experience is all about.  It is more than just four years and a degree, but a transformative experience and a community they’ll be a part of for a lifetime.

OFYE_BurkeStefanie Burke
Assistant Dean & Director of First-Year Experience

Lehigh Home Club Sendoff Provides Wisdom to Incoming Students

On July 13, in Lamberton Hall, more than 100 guests (comprised of alumni, current students, incoming students, parents, and staff) gathered for the 2016 First-Year Student Home Club Sendoff. See more 2016 Student Sendoff photos

For a majority of the Lehigh University Class of 2020 — filled with 17- and 18-year old incoming students — there is a good chance that they didn’t know who guest speakers Joe Sterrett ’76 and Charlie Lieb ’70 were before the 2016 Lehigh Home Club Sendoff on July 13.

Rest assured, Joe and Charlie made sure their remarks were an impacting first impression — especially when it came to their punchlines.

“My most distinguished accomplishment in my 45-year career [at Lehigh] is meeting my wife [Cindy Sterrett ’76] and walking out of this place with a future wife, at a time when there were only a couple hundred women on campus,” Sterrett said, followed by laughter from the crowd of more than 100 attendees gathered in Lamberton Hall.

Humor and laughter would be a common theme during this annual event, but as many of Lehigh’s local incoming students [and their parents/family] are anxiously entering the Lehigh family, wise words from Joe and Charlie once again proved why alumni like themselves are integral parts of the Student Sendoffs’ continued success and calming presence.

“Be prepared for the day that your student talks about going home, and they’re not talking about ‘your home’ — they’re talking about Lehigh. That’s a good thing. That means that they’ve settled in. That means the transition [into adulthood] is nearly complete.” — Joe Sterrett ’76

At this year’s sendoff, Joe (left) and Charlie continued their tradition of welcoming incoming Lehigh students with humor and wisdom.

Here are some snippets of the advice and counsel that Joe and Charlie provided the Class of 2020 and their families during their individual remarks:

Joe (to parents/family)

“This is a very, very exciting opportunity to be a part of. It’s time for you to also have some anxiety, [but] this is a time to celebrate the achievements of your sons, daughters, and family members who have the opportunity to [attend Lehigh].”

Charlie (to students)

“Every [student] in here will graduate if you apply yourself and work hard. There’s no reason to panic. Put it in your mind that you are here because Lehigh wants you here. Lehigh wants you to graduate. You have the talent to graduate or you wouldn’t be here.”

Joe (to students)

“If deep down inside of you, you have a bit of anxiety about what is about to happen to you, that’s really normal. That’s a good thing. It keeps you on edge and keeps you engaged.”

“There is nothing more important to the learning process than your ability to listen.”

“Get your brain in gear because in a month, you’re going to have to read a lot, and just like physical activity, if you stay away from it for too long, it gets really hard to do it again. Physically, you have to stay in shape — your brain is the same way.”

“Write down your thoughts and your feelings, and one day, you’ll be glad that you did it.”

“This time goes really quickly. Right now, it doesn’t feel like that, but four years will go by fast, and you want to take full advantage of that. Go into this with your eyes wide open and a willingness to engage in ways that you haven’t yet experienced in your life.”

There are still several Lehigh Student Sendoffs available. If you want to be a part of welcoming the Class of 2020 to the Lehigh family, click here to register for a sendoff near you.

Rich Earl ’80: My Search for Lehigh’s Spiritual Roots

During Lehigh Alumni Weekend 2016, alumni, students, friends and I gathered for Celebrating Lehigh’s Spiritual Roots, which was an event to examine the role of religion and spirituality at Lehigh University. Here are the findings that I shared during that service and the motivation that fueled my research.

Lehigh Bulletin 1982 (Vol. 69, Number 4)
“There was a spark that ignited my passion for Lehigh’s spiritual roots and it struck in 1982 as a result of a cover photo in the Alumni Bulletin (Vol. 69, Number 4).”

Searching for the spiritual heritage of Lehigh University has been a project of passion for the past 25 years. Discovering the people, places, and principles involved in the founding of my alma mater has led me down many pathways, some fruitful and others not so much. The real meaning of the Lehigh seal, and the original mission and character of the founding fathers have been unearthed.

Many, if not most of our greatest universities (Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wake Forest, Boston College, Notre Dame to name a few) began as seminaries or church-related schools for the purpose of training young men and women, not just in academic fields, but in morality and a deeper understanding of the Bible. As it turns out, Lehigh, and our chief counterpart Lafayette, have this same foundation.

I came to Lehigh in 1975 as a scholarship wrestler. I handled my first year fairly well as a student and backup to two-time national champion Mike Frick, but the following few years were not as fruitful, and I stumbled badly. During this period, I turned to my Christian brother Jim, a scholarship wrestler at Penn State, who shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with me. Thus began my journey as a follower of Jesus.

After graduation I followed a call to ministry that had begun years earlier, and became an associate pastor in our home church on Long Island. I have now been in full time ministry for over 33 years and currently shepherd a small church in the former coal mining town of Shamokin, Pa.

There was a spark that ignited my passion for Lehigh’s spiritual roots and it struck in 1982 as a result of a cover photo in the Alumni Bulletin. The photo depicted a sun being grasped between a thumb and index finger. The picture was interesting, but implied that the fate of the earth was in the hands of mankind.

I was a zealous young preacher and from my perspective found this to be a blatant falsehood. The fate of the earth is in the hands of God. So I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my objection. At the time I was not cognizant of the fact that the Lehigh motto “man, the servant and interpreter of nature” (Francis Bacon) embraces this same idea, but I soon found out and this journey began.

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Here are a few buried nuggets of Lehigh history I have uncovered:

Lehigh’s official seal, was adopted by the Board of Trustees meeting in the autumn of 1865 and is a depiction of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “The seal of the Lehigh University is of an oval form. In the upper part a Sun on which is inscribed the word Lux (Light): below is an open Bible on which is written Veritas (Truth); on the Bible lies a heart bearing the inscription Amor (Love); thus bringing in the three Persons of the Godhead…the God of Love, Christ as the Light of the world, and the Holy Spirit as the inspiration of the Word and the Spirit of Truth.”

Asa Packer was a deeply committed Christian man. His motivation for establishing Lehigh as a free school for young men came largely from his Christian faith and convictions.

“Packer attached one cardinal condition to this project for educating youth: While gaining knowledge, they must not lose faith in God. Packer was profoundly religious. He took literally the scriptural passage, “What shall it profit a man, that he gain the whole world but lose his soul?” From Asa Packer: A Perspective 1983 by W Ross Yates

Bishop William Bacon Stevens, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, was the architect of Lehigh as an institution. As a trained minister, medical doctor and historian he possessed education and skill that Packer, as a self-made businessman sorely lacked.

God and Science are partners. Bishop Stevens made it clear that Lehigh’s place among the nation’s universities would be marked by her cooperation with God in improving the lot of mankind by responsibly harnessing and molding earth’s resources. Bishop Stevens laid out the Lehigh vision in a speech delivered on Founders Day 1869 where he stated:

“This education to be really valuable must be moral as well as scientific and practical. The God of Nature, and the God of the Bible are one…there can be no science without God, no laws of nature without Him, no nature itself aside from Him, yet human science too blindly constructs its theories and schemes totally apart from God, leaves Him out altogether, as if the presence of God was the great disturbing factor in the region of their study…The best posture of the mind for the study of any science is a reverent recognition of the existence and presence of God.” The Lehigh University: It’s Origins and Aims

I suspect that these revelations will be new to most people connected to the Lehigh community. It is crucial that any institution remember it’s past and original vision. The truth is our friend, and my hope is that Lehigh will embrace her heritage and seek to understand what it means for us today.

“Pokemon Go” is taking over Lehigh University

In case you didn’t know, Pokémon Go is everywhere — including Lehigh’s Asa Packer campus. Just take a look at a recent post by the official Lehigh University Instagram account:

#PokemonGo Campus tour 2.0! #pokestops

A photo posted by Lehigh University (@lehighu) on

Pokémon Go has provided an added adventure to campus visits for current students and prospective students — and for local alumni, it is the perfect excuse to come back to campus and reminisce about college years, and for some, teleport to their childhood pastime.
Here is a small sampling of the social media chatter surrounding Lehigh and Pokémon Go:

Lehigh Student Sendoffs 2016


At the various Student Sendoffs across the country, Lehigh alumni, current students, and parents had the chance to share memories and advice with the incoming Class of 2020, welcoming them to the Lehigh family.

Central New Jersey (Hosted by Sharon Siegel Voelzke ’88)

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Lehigh Valley/Home Club (With guest speakers Joe Sterrett ’76 and Charlie Lieb ’70)

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Philadelphia (Hosted by Susan Shea ’84)

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Jersey Shore (Hosted by Kelley & Brian Duddy)

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Denver (Samantha Bennett ’94 & Andy ’94)

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Long Island (Hosted by Eve Mongiardo ’86)

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Westchester County (Hosted by Michele ’90 & Fred Brettschneider)

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Northern New Jersey (Hosted by Marty Horn ’86)

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Pittsburgh (Hosted by Laura Kronk ’82)

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Fairfield County (Hosted by Allyson & Peter Burns ’18P)

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Connecticut Valley (Hosted by Bill ’90 & Susan ’88 Reboul)

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New York City (Hosted by GroupM, Stuart Diamond ’18P)

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Northern Ohio (Hosted by Sonia ’83 & Michael ’84 Mintun)

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Arizona (Hosted by Brian Regan ’06 & Joe Iagulli ’75)

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Dallas (Hosted by Elizabeth Hainey ’83)

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San Francisco Bay Area (Hosted by Peter ’88, ’18P & Laura ’18P Yozzo)

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Southern California (Hosted by Lehigh Alumni Club of Southern California)

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San Diego (Hosted by The Lehigh Alumni Club of San Diego)

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Atlanta (Hosted by John ’86 and Linda ’87 Menna)

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Washington DC (Hosted by Gary ’86 & Wendy Pan, ’16P)

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Baltimore (Hosted by Krista Belick ’11 ’12G & Bobby Buckheit ’09)

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Susquehanna Valley (Hosted by Glen Sponaugle ’84 & Ross Santangelo ’84)

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Southeast Pennsylvania (Hosted by Blair ’82 ’05G & Karen Hogg ’17P)

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Chicago (Hosted by Dana Moyles Eberle ’94 and John M. Eberle)

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Tampa (Hosted by Marcy Baker ’92)

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Boston (Hosted by Kathy ’18P and Ed Kelly ’87, ’18P)

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Sarah McClutchy ’08: Teaming Up for Atlantic Cup Kids Day

Fellow Lehigh alumna Kristen Silfies ’08 (right) and I planned a special field trip for high school students to attend the Atlantic Cup Kids Day in Brooklyn, NY.

BROOKLYN, NY // June 3rd, 2016 — In June, the Atlantic Cup — the longest offshore sailing race in the western Atlantic Ocean and the USA’s most sustainable sailing event — arrived in New York, and I had the opportunity to direct social media for the three-week event. The race, comprised of three separate legs spanning the east coast, kicked off in Charleston, South Carolina on May 28th, made a stopover in Brooklyn, NY during the first week of June, and culminated in Portland, Maine with an inshore racing series in Casco Bay on June 10th and 11th.

While I was primarily focused on managing the race’s social media accounts and promoting action happening on water and on land, I immediately thought of a fellow alumna and friend Kristen Silfies ’08, when it came time to plan Atlantic Cup Kids Day at the Brooklyn stopover. Kristen, a 11th grade math teacher at the Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce, and I discussed the idea of bringing her students to Pier 5 in Brooklyn to learn about sailing, science and math, and coordinated a curriculum for the day.  

On Friday June 3rd, Kristen’s students had the opportunity to meet with former Atlantic Cup champion Captain Dave Rearick and professional sailors from around the world while learning about how geometry and trigonometry concepts are applied to sailing and navigation. Students also learned about various marine industries and the many issues affecting ocean health and marine environments.

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SARAH MCCLUTCHY, Class of 2008

I am a 2008 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences. After working in marketing and advertising in New York City for six years following graduation, I moved to Newport, RI in 2014 and started my own freelance marketing & consulting business, Wind & Wake Media.