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The Power of the Lehigh Family

Joe Sterrett ’76 ’78G ’03P ’05P ’07P ’09P, Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics, moderated the student-coach presentation that included (from left) Pat Santoro, Lawrence E. White ’64 Head Wrestling Coach; 2017 NCAA wrestling champion Darian Cruz ’17 ’18P; Fran Troyan ’16P ’20P, head softball coach; and Nicole Yozzo ’18, member of the 2017 Patriot League championship softball team. Click here to see more photos.

Making a gift to Lehigh is an investment that impacts the future, and those gifts that are made to the university endowment fund make an impression that lasts in perpetuity. Alumni and friends whose philanthropy has strengthened Lehigh’s endowment were celebrated at the Tower Society annual meeting held Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the Smith Performance Center at the Haigh Cundey Varsity House. Rounding out the morning were welcoming remarks from President John D. Simon ’19P and Kevin L. Clayton ’84 ’13P, chairman, Board of Trustees; a sports-themed presentation; and the presentation of the James Ward Packard Award by Tower Society chair Michael Caruso ’67 to D’Arcy Roper III ’67 ’94P.

Simon and Clayton both shared their appreciation to those in the room who believe in and generously support Lehigh’s mission.

“No matter which way you look at it, we have talented students, we have dedicated faculty and tireless coaches, and we have committed alumni like you,” said Clayton. “I am impressed by what you have done for Lehigh and excited about what we can collectively accomplish. Thank you for all that you do.”

Joe Sterrett ’76 ’78G ’03P ’05P ’07P ’09P, Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics, moderated the panel presentation that shared insights into the Department of Athletics’ goal to develop young student athletes and prepare them for a lifetime of learning, personal growth, and leadership.

“The vision is to grow young people in a holistic way, and that means that we are partners with the academic world in the development of intellectual curiosity and academic excellence,” Sterrett said. “The habits that are formed among high-performing athletes are the same habits that are required to be high-performing students.”

Sterrett explained that the process to attaining a “better me” in a student, that ultimately forms a “better we” for all, starts off by letting students know the challenges and expectations before them. A video that included Caruso, Greatness Lies in the Smallest of Margins, was shown to highlight that greatness comes from what we give to others.

“We expect our student athletes to be leaders on campus, to develop a sense of responsibility for one another that they can exhibit to others,” added Sterrett.

Panelists Pat Santoro, Lawrence E. White ’64 Head Wrestling Coach, and Fran Troyan ’16P ’20P, head softball coach, spoke about developing young people to their fullest potential and about recruiting student athletes. Santoro said that the most important lessons instilled in Lehigh wrestlers are: no matter what the circumstances are, always do the right thing; trust the process to pursue greatness; and strive for excellence in everything by being grateful and having resilience, grit, and a positive attitude. Santoro introduced Darian Cruz ’17 ’18G, 2017 NCAA wrestling champion, who talked about his journey to Lehigh in the footsteps of his brother, Randy Cruz ’17, and the university’s esteemed wrestling program.

“No other school mattered to me,” said Cruz. “Lehigh is a family. No matter if you are a freshman, fifth year, graduate student, coach, professor…it doesn’t matter. We are a family.”

Nicole Yozzo ’18, a member of the 2017 Patriot League championship softball team, talked about her path to the university which was encouraged by her father Peter Yozzo ’88, her honor of being a female Lehigh athlete, and her appreciation for her softball experience that includes competing on a new athletic field.

“I know that a lot of the people in this room had impact on making that [field] happen. And I cannot even tell you how gratifying it is to be able to stand on that field and play,” said Yozzo, who added that she achieved her “12-year-old self” dream of how her Division 1 softball college experience would be at Lehigh. “I just wanted to say thank you for your influence.”

The aura in the room was one of comradery and being part of something bigger.

“I was a scholarship student. I worked summers. You did what you did to be able to afford to come here,” said Tower Society member Victor Maslanka ’77 who earned his degree in civil engineering. “I support Lehigh because I want those opportunities to go to other students. If I can pay back in some way to whatever Lehigh has given me, I think that is great.”

Karl Bongarten ’74, who traveled from Durham, North Carolina, commented about attending his very first Tower Society meeting, “Not only was the program interesting, it had both students as well as faculty from the Lehigh family. I think the most important take away that I have is a sense of belonging. It is very encouraging to see this kind of support and friendliness. The total demeanor is just wonderful.”

Caruso concluded the presentation and said, “I tell you, if you don’t feel like this is a feel-good morning, there is something wrong. I’ve been proud of Lehigh for 50 years.”

Dawn Thren ’21P

Photos by John Kish IV