Strategic Plan > Partnering in the Renaissance of the Local Community
Partnering in the Renaissance of the Local Community

Lehigh's location in a mid-size urban community offers a unique opportunity for the university to partner with local government officials, businesses and community organizations to create a vibrant environment that benefits students, faculty, staff and members of the community.

As we consider Lehigh's relationship to the community, it is important to recognize that much has been accomplished. The city and the community have made great progress by promoting new commercial development, offering events such as First Friday, and creating the Greenway. The university's South Side Initiative has engaged in a range of academic-community collaborations, and has been a vehicle for sharing the university's intellectual resources (faculty and students) as well as fostering informed dialogue about transforming our neighborhoods. Service, including service to the community, is one of our core values.

Lehigh has contributed to the city's evolution through the creation of Campus Square, through neighborhood student housing, through its support of high technology start-ups, and its economic support for local business. We have been recognized nationally for our successful partnerships on economic and entrepreneurial initiatives in the local community, and the timing is ripe for increasing these efforts. In addition, there is opportunity to engage our students through entrepreneurial learning initiatives in our immediate neighborhood.

There are already a great number of positive community interactions involving faculty, staff, and students. Examples include STAR, an intervention program for at-risk children; STEM, a program where Lehigh students teach elementary through high school students science, technology, engineering, and math; the Community Service Office, which provides student volunteer opportunities in over 100 local agencies; C.O.A.C.H., a service program where Lehigh student-athletes connect with middle and high school students; and CHOICES, a program designed to interest middle school girls in science and math. There are also academic opportunities through the Community Fellows Program, the College of Education Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders, and the Health, Medicine and Society minor.

Future Success Tied to the City

Lehigh's future success is inextricably tied to that of the local community and the region. Universities serve as anchor institutions for cities, and the strategic role Lehigh can play in bringing about positive change is significant.

Flourishing communities often include the following characteristics and features: A vibrant street life with an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and galleries; a mix of housing (including safe, affordable housing and options for residents of different income levels); a lively arts scene; an environment where students and faculty live and mix easily and comfortably with other residents; a rich intellectual and cultural climate; a well-maintained downtown area that encourages interaction; and readily available public transportation.

We aspire to create visible collaborations between the university and the community and showcase a city inspired by ideas, innovations, and new businesses. We also seek to help create an environment that draws and nurtures entrepreneurs. Lehigh's success in serving as a collaborator in the continuing renaissance of the local community will depend on the relationships we maintain and continue to develop with a broad range of partners with a legitimate interest in this endeavor.

The community around Lehigh can enrich the experience of Lehigh students, faculty, and staff through service learning, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We believe the university can likewise enrich the community. The partnerships between the university, its alumni, and the community can enhance the learning and development of students, provide research opportunities, and provide support and expertise that remains a part of the community. Building such partnerships is essential to create sustainable change.

View the complete plan on the Transforming Lehigh site (PDF) >