Celebrating the Inauguration of Joseph Helble, Lehigh University’s 15th President

By Sydney Badman  

On October 15th, Lehigh University inaugurated Joseph J. Helble as their 15th President. The University held a lovely in-person event that was also live-streamed globally. 

Helble, who ran the Boston Marathon days before his inauguration, proudly served as the Provost at Dartmouth College before his journey as President of Lehigh University. Helble is only the second alumnus to hold the office of President at Lehigh. 

In attendance at the ceremony was President of Darthmouth College Philip J Hanlon and  Trustee and Board Chair Emerita at Darthmouth Laurel J Richie. Both spoke highly of Helble and expressed their bittersweet emotions about his departure from Darthmouth. Helble’s achievements at Darthmouth include financially revamping the Thayer School of Engineering, and transforming the entire West End of campus. Hanlon remarked, “I can assure you that he is already engineering in his head a bright future for this institution.”

Two Lehigh students also spoke on the traditions, leadership, and growth throughout COVID-19  that they witnessed at Lehigh. Student Senate President Victor Cochrane and Graduate Student Senate Representative Kadia Hylton Fraser welcomed Helble with open arms and uplifting words.

Soon after, Chair of Lehigh University Board of Trustees Kevin Clayton officially inaugurated President Helble. Helble was presented with three symbols: a walking stick, which is a symbol of traditional status and leadership; the academic scepter representing order, academic integrity, and truth; and lastly the Chain of Office Medallion of the University, which is the official symbol of the University and Office of the President. This is to be worn at all academic ceremonies and dates back to medieval times. It symbolizes strength and unity as well as strong communication. 

The ceremony concluded with Helble adding that “as an alumnus this opportunity to help shape the University that shaped each of us this is the privilege of a lifetime.” 

Helble spoke with all six living previous presidents detailing their impact on Lehigh University. He has bright ambitions for the university, saying “Where can we be the first, the best, or the only?” He ends inspirationally saying, “Our process is to take the world’s talented youth to teach them, to challenge them, to give them the opportunity, to inspire them to use their skills and their knowledge to leave here committed to making a difference.”