Dear Friends,

It is a privilege to share with you the Spring 2020 issue of Acumen. The creation of this issue was both challenging and exciting, as we sought to showcase the best of the College of Arts and Sciences during a period of daily obstacles. The news and insecurities surrounding COVID-19 has us adjusting to new realities. Keeping up with, and understanding, the rapidly evolving medical and social landscapes surrounding this outbreak are challenging. We know these are uncertain times, yet there is a constant that leads the college forward, a deep commitment to our students, their education and our scholarly activity. 

We have taken a different approach with this issue, as feedback from an alumni survey told us you would rather read stories online. In these days of social distancing, we thought we’d test an e-zine instead of mailing a print publication. While the format may be different, the stories continue to demonstrate that, even in these unclear times, our faculty continue to lead the way in their respective disciplines and shape the lives of so many students. I continue to be inspired by these colleagues who are so strongly committed to teaching and scholarship. This issue of Acumen offers a view of the breadth of work underway by College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) students and faculty, and the support provided by our alumni.

Through their teaching and research, whether it is in the classroom, studio, or out in the field, CAS faculty help students find the tools that will allow them to succeed throughout their lives. The stories in this issue are evidence of this. Koula Sossiadis Kazista ’95 took a journalism degree and became a successful independent film maker. Sean Gulick ‘99G has assembled a record of what happened just after an asteroid impact killed the dinosaurs, while Marc Falato ’87 moved from a successful banking career to become a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer. Jessica Mun ’20 is using her global studies and anthropology majors to forge a budding career as a documentary film maker. Closer to home, Pam Pepper, who has shaped the lives of countless students over a decades-long career, is retiring in August and inside is a profile of The Broken Machine, a commissioned work by the theatre department and Pam’s last Lehigh directorial project. 

In my conversations with alumni and friends, I am refreshed and energized by your continued association with the College of Arts and Sciences. Your connection is a gauge of our commitment to prepare students for a rapidly changing world. Many of our alumni are working in fields outside the majors they pursued as undergraduate or graduate students. Many of our students will go on to work in fields not yet created. And while so many people speak of the need for STEM education, the answers to countless future challenges will also come from the humanities and social sciences. The impact of a liberal arts education is enduring, but that influence is impossible without the interest and support of our alumni. As educators, we encourage students to think, feel, and act in ways that will shape who they are as individuals and leave a lasting effect on the world around them. Acumen is evidence that our alumni go on and make magnificent things happen. 

This issue of Acumen highlights CAS alumni, students, and faculty who are making a difference. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I have. I invite you to learn more about how alumni can play a role in the College’s departments and programs. As Lehigh alumni, you can help shape the future of today’s, and tomorrows, students. 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

Robert A Flowers II
Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean