Meet the Head Gryphons: Kyle Smyth


kyle smyth

  • Preferred name: Kyle
  • Gender pronouns: He/him/his
  • Hometown: Toms River, NJ
  • One thing you can’t live without: My family
  • Favorite movie: Inception
  • Favorite TV show: How I Met Your Mother
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: The perfect size (not too big, not too small)
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: Being able to make a difference in other people’s lives
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: There are plenty of people around
  • Fun fact about yourself: I was a ten pound, 11 ounce baby



Residence Hall Spotlight: Centennial I Complex


The Centennial I complex, commonly referred to as Upper Cents, is comprised of six buildings that reside across from Rathbone dining hall on the easternmost part of campus.

Congdon House was named after Dr. Wray H. Congdon, who served as the dean of students, dean of the graduate school, and as a special assistant to the president. Emery House was named for Dr. Natt M. Emery, who was vice president and controller of the university. Leavitt House was named to honor the second president of the university, the Rev. Dr. John McD. Leavitt, who served from 1875 to 1879. C. Maxwell McConn was the dean of the university for 15 years between 1923 and 1938, thus McConn House was named for him. Smiley House was named for Dr. E. Kenneth Smiley, who served as vice president from 1945 to 1964. Thornburg House was named after Dr. Charles G. Thornburg, a professor of mathematics and head of the department from 1895 to 1923. From the mid 1970’s to the late 1990’s, Upper Cents housed Lehigh’s sororities before they moved into their chapter houses.


Each residence hall houses 44 students, 22 of each of the single-gender floors. Students live together in doubles, equipped with a desk with a bookshelf and desk chair, bed, mattress, dresser, closet, and a medicine cabinet with a mirror.



The first floor of each residence hall features a lounge with a large TV room, game room, study area, and kitchen. The laundry facility, along with a vending area, is centrally located within the Centennial I complex, underneath a large outdoor patio with a gorgeous view of the Lehigh Valley. 


This year, Upper Cents is also home to the Creative Commons themed community. The Creative Commons: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Community houses a variety of students who all have big ideas and want to make them real. Student collaborate with The Baker Institute for Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, as well as other innovators in the Bethlehem community to bring their ideas to life.

Each of the residence halls is managed by a full-time, Master’s-level professional who supervises the Gryphon staff in addition to central office responsibilities and planning. Lou Gardiner, an Assistant Director of Residence Life, oversees both Centennial I and II complexes. Lou lives in an embedded apartment in the Centennial II complex so that in case of an on-campus emergency he can respond quickly.

Lou is new to the Office of Residence Life staff, having joined this June. So what is he looking forward to this year? “What I’m most looking forward to this year is working with the AWESOME ResLife and DOS (Dean of Students) team as well as the Gryphons. Since I started in June, everyone has been so great to work with and so welcoming. With our diverse experiences and personalities, I know that our crew is going to do some big things this year! I’m also looking forward to experiencing and living in a new area and institution. So far, I’ve really been loving the Lehigh Valley and all it has to offer.”

It’s not too much longer until MOOV-In and we get to welcome new students to Upper Cents!

Meet the Head Gryphons: Sonja Gorman



  • Preferred name: Sonja
  • Gender pronouns: She/her/hers
  • Hometown: Portland, Oregon
  • One thing I can’t live without: Interpersonal relationships
  • Favorite movie: An Education
  • Favorite TV show: Lost
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: Opportunities to develop professionally
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: Mentoring students by sharing my own experiences
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: There’s never a dull moment!
  • One thing on my Lehigh bucket list: Find the stairs to the roof of Linderman Library
  • Fun fact about myself: English is my second language



Residence Hall Spotlight: McClintic-Marshall House


McClintic-Marshall House resides South of Johnson Hall, next to Taylor House, and is conveniently near the University Center. Commonly referred to as M&M, McClintic-Marshall is named after two Lehigh graduates, Howard McClintic and Charles Marshall. The Class of 1888 grads built the Golden Gate Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the Panama Canal.


The H-shaped building houses 280 students, who all live in doubles throughout the three floors. M&M is separated into A and B wings, with each side being a single gender hall, that have a shared lounge between them. All of the shared lounges have a TV, couch, comfy chairs, and a table with chairs that many students use to study together.



Each resident has a bed, a mattress, a desk with shelves and a chair, a closet, a bulletin board, and a medicine cabinet with a mirror. One side of the room will have 2 sets of cabinets, which roommates can share between them. All rooms are air conditioned and have a switch to change the temperature.



In the residence hall, there is a lounge area directly inside the main entrance. To one side of that lounge there is a larger programming lounge with a kitchen, game room, and vending machines, and on the other side remains the laundry room.


This year, McClintic-Marshall is also home to the Outdoor Adventure and STEM themed communities. The Outdoor Adventure community promotes outdoor sports and activities, such as weekend camping trips, hiking, skiing, and themed movie nights. Partially sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the STEM community offers programming, peer-to-peer mentoring, and faculty advising to support the students’ leadership development in their chosen field. Although select activities are reserved only for those living in the specific themed community, others will be open for all students living in M&M to participate.


Each of the residence halls is managed by a full-time, Master’s-level professional who supervises the Gryphon staff in addition to central office responsibilities and planning. Ethan Fields, an Assistant Director of Residence Life, oversees both McClintic-Marshall and Drinker House. Ethan lives in an embedded apartment in M&M so that in case of an on-campus emergency he can respond quickly.


What advice does Ethan have for students living in M&M next year? “(1) Have an open door policy as much as possible. You will really get to know people by just reaching out to the residents who pass by your door. (2) Spend time in the common spaces in your building. Your peers are your greatest resource. (3) Get to know your Gryphon and the rest of the Gryphons in your building. Gryphons are here to help and to make the community a better place to live. (4) Utilize the basketball court in between Drinker and M&M for pick-up games. (5) Run for your area’s Residence Hall Council to serve as a leader in your community. Through RHC, you have access to funds to put on programming for your community and you will serve as the voice of the community to the Residence Hall Association and greater campus.”

We can’t wait until MOOV-In day to see all of the new M&M residents!

Meet the Head Gryphons: Samantha Randall


sam randall

  • Preferred Name: Sam
  • Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
  • One thing I can’t live without: Being the nerd I am, I couldn’t live without Harry Potter!


  • Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice
  • Favorite TV Show: Parks and Recreation
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: My favorite thing about Lehigh is all of the unique opportunities offered. The amount of clubs and activities available help keep me busy and widen my horizon beyond just my academic classes!


  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: My favorite part of being a Gryphon is the mentor aspect. I love being there for my residents and helping them through tough times and just being a friend for them!
  • Favorite thing about living in a Residence Hall: Community all the way! It’s so nice to live on a hall with a bunch of people your age and always having the opportunity to chat with someone no matter the time!
  • Favorite thing about Bethlehem: As a Bethlehem native, I know a few spots around town that many Lehigh students don’t, specifically on the Northside. My favorite thing about Bethlehem is a park called the Archibald Johnston Conservation Area. It is the old mansion and grounds of Bethlehem’s first mayor that has been turned into a public park. The grounds are absolutely beautiful!
  • One thing on my Lehigh Bucket List: My number one activity for my Lehigh bucket list was to go abroad and I’m happy to say I’m currently doing just that! I’m in Tubingen, Germany on an Iacocca Internship!
  • Fun fact about me: My go to fun fact is that I’m so obsessed with Harry Potter that I’ve read each book in the series at least 8 times!



Residence Hall Spotlight: Richards House


Located right next to Dravo is Richards House. Richards houses 143 first- and second-year students within its four floors. The residence hall was named to honor the memory of Charles Russ Richards, president of Lehigh from 1922 to 1935.


Residents of Richards, a co-ed building, will live on single-gender floors in either a single or a double room, with the double being more likely. All rooms contain moveable furniture, including a bed, mattress, desk with shelves and a chair, dresser, closet or wardrobe, and a bulletin board.


Located on the first floor are the TV and study lounges, a game room, kitchen, vending machines, and laundry facilities. Students can relax and cool down in the air conditioned game room while playing a game of pool.


Each of the residence halls is managed by a full-time, Master’s-level professional who supervises the Gryphon staff in addition to central office responsibilities and planning. Amanda Slichter, an Assistant Director of Residence Life, oversees both Dravo and Richards House. Amanda lives in an embedded apartment in Dravo–right next to Richards– so that in case of an on-campus emergency she can respond quickly.

“There are a lot of good lounge and study options in Richards. There’s the big study lounge off to the left upon entering the lobby from the front of the building, and a TV lounge to the right. Through that lounge, there’s another game room (with AC!) behind it,” says Amanda.


What advice does Amanda have for students living in Richards next year? “My best advice for all residents seems basic, but is really important- lock your door! Please please please. It’s a good practice and something we try to stress as a Residence Life staff from day one. Bonus points if you remember your key and swipe every time you leave!”
We can’t wait for MOOV-In Day when new students can finally call Richards home!

Meet the Head Gryphons: Nauman Ahmad



  • Preferred name: Nauman
  • Gender pronouns: he/him/his
  • Residence Hall: Sayre Park Village
  • Hometown: Paramus, NJ
  • One thing I can’t live without: Probably my parents love and my mother’s cooking
  • Favorite movie: Don’t get me started…
  • Favorite TV show: See above
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: Having opportunities to truly help another student through times of difficulty, and the satisfaction that comes with that.
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Meeting new people even towards the end of the year!
  • Fun fact about myself: I am an honorary Native American tribal chief.



Residence Hall Spotlight: Dravo House


Dravo House is one of the largest residence halls on Lehigh’s campus, housing over 250 first-year students. The residence hall was named after two brothers, Ralph M. Dravo, Class of 1889, and Francis F. Dravo, Class of 1887, who founded the Dravo Corporation international construction company in Pittsburgh.

The five-story residence hall contains double and single rooms, as well as a few triples. While the building is co-ed, the floors are single-gender. Students living in Dravo will find that all of the rooms contain moveable furniture, including a bed, mattress, desk, desk chair, and closet with drawers and shelves for each student. Some rooms contain an AC, but please note that not all do. 



The first floor of Dravo houses a TV lounge, game room, vending machines, and a laundry facility. Below, the ground floor contains a large programming lounge equipped with a TV, kitchen, and study facilities. 




Dravo is home to the CHOICE themed community. CHOICE is a community for healthy, substance-free living and active engagement. Pete Costa, Director of Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies, advises the themed community and helps the Gryphons plan events to promote a sense of community.

Each of the residence halls is managed by a full-time, Master’s-level professional who supervises the Gryphon staff (remember Head Gryphon Divya?) in addition to central office responsibilities and planning. Amanda Slichter, an Assistant Director of Residence Life, oversees both Dravo and Richards House. Amanda lives in an embedded apartment in Dravo so that in case of an on-campus emergency she can respond quickly.

Her favorite thing about living in Dravo? “The view from the front of Dravo is beautiful, especially at sunset!” says Amanda. A piece of advice she offers residents is to learn the layout. “The building layout is comprised of the A, B, C, and D wings. When looking at the front of Dravo, it starts from the left with the A-wing. From the inside it can be a little disorienting at first, but residents acclimate quickly. It’s also helpful to know that many amenities are in the middle of the building (B-wing) on the first floor immediately inside the main lobby (laundry, vending machines, gender inclusive restroom, the Gryphon office, game room, ice machine, etc.)”
We cannot wait for Dravo’s first-year students to move in and start to call this wonderful place their home away from home!

Meet the Head Gryphons: Deanna Shepherd


  • Preferred name: Deanna
  • Gender pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Residence Hall: Trembley Park
  • Year and major: 4th year (Senior), Mechanical Engineering
  • Hometown: Phillipsburg, NJ
  • One thing you can’t live without: Chocolate Mint Ice Cream
  • Favorite movie: Pearl Harbor
  • Favorite TV show: Parks and Recreation
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: the landscape during Spring
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: making bulletin boards and door decs
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Having a lot of events throughout the year
  • Favorite thing about Bethlehem: Steel Stacks
  • One thing on my Lehigh bucket list: Get a 5th year free!
  • Other clubs and organizations: Admissions Fellow, Peer Tutor, Design Labs monitor, Leadership Consultant,  Steel Bridge Team, Phi Sigma PiTau Beta Pi
  • Fun fact about myself: This past winter I broke my wrist playing soccer (and had to have surgery the day after my 21st birthday) at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany on a study abroad trip.

Themed Residential Communities


In the past few years, Lehigh has expanded its Themed Community residence hall program to include programs for first-year students as well as upperclassmen. The Themed Community program is a collaboration between the Office of Residence Life, Office of Residential Services, and Office of First-Year Experience. Communities host events such as group meals, discussions, guest speakers, on-campus events, and off-campus trips specific to their area of interest. Each community is advised by at least one faculty or staff member, one Residence Life Assistant Director, and a Gryphon (Resident Assistant).

I sat down with Courtney Stephens, Associate Director of Residence Life, to find out more about this unique opportunity for students.

Besides the titles and the programming, what is the difference between the different themed communities?

There are two different types of themed communities: student driven and university sponsored. Like the name suggests, student driven communities are thought of and led by a student. These communities can be great since the students involved are typically passionate about their particular lifestyle area. The main pitfall is that once those students leave and stop recruiting other students to the community, it may fail to return the following year. It all depends on student interest. University sponsored programs are brought about by the university and tend to be about initiatives that the school supports–for example, CHOICE and UMOJA.

What would you say to first-year students who are afraid of missing out on the more “traditional” first-year residence hall experience?

It’s a misconception that living in a themed community is not “normal.” Every other aspect of living in a residence hall is the same except for the programming aspect. The programming is done with the theme in mind and tailored to the students’ interests. And since everyone in these halls has a common interest, it can be easier and faster to make friends.

If students hear about an event on a themed community floor, are they welcome to join even though they don’t live on that floor?

Yup, and a lot of times it’s just by word of mouth. So they might be walking through a floor and see a flyer or something like that, but I think typically it’s just you find your people. And that doesn’t mean that your people are only the people you live with. You could be in class with something and they mention “Oh yeah, we’re going kayaking this weekend!” and you are interested in attending. I don’t think anyone would say “We only want M&M residents interacting with M&M residents.” We want everybody! I mean also Greek and non-Greek. We want everybody who lives here to come together, and it sounds so hunky-dory, but it’s your home and we want it to feel like a home. And it feels more like a home when you know the people around you.

What do you think is the advantage to living in a themed community vs. a “traditional” residence hall (for both first-years and upperclassmen)?

My assumption is that residents who signed up for the themed experiences have a vested interest or passion in their respective community. Therefore, one of the advantages to living in a themed community is the programming focuses on what you love! For instance, if you live in the Outdoor Adventure community and like to hike or kayak, you have built-in and funded opportunities to take advantage of, while simultaneously experiencing the “typical” community feel of being surrounded by other Lehigh students trying to find their way on campus. The networking opportunities are also more typical in the themed communities. ORL Assistant Directors and community advisors work to provide residents with chances to interact with people or groups that have relevant experience to the respective community, such as early access to featured campus speakers or presenters.

What are some changes that you are looking forward to seeing?

At the Ivy League schools and others private institutions that are similar to Lehigh, there is a big push for the concept of faculty living on campus to work more closely with students. All of the themed communities have at least one advisor who is a faculty or staff member that works closely with the students to see that they are getting that education outside of the classroom.

Right now, students know where the residence halls are, they know what a Gryphon is, and we want to take that to the next level and this is one way in which we can do that. It’s building a connection, and not just a program on that floor, but something they are already interested in with people from Lehigh.

Director Ashley Lemmons of the Office of Residence Life weighed in on the idea of including faculty members in residence halls and what studies have shown to support it.

Residential colleges and the aforementioned forms of contemporary residence education programs share a common goal of seeking to integrate in-class learning with out-of- class experiences in residential settings. What distinguishes classic residential colleges from other forms of residence education is the level and quality of faculty involvement. In residential colleges found in leading universities, faculty and students live and work in shared residential facilities. Since the publication of the landmark study Involvement in Learning: Realizing the Potential of Higher Education, published by the National Institute of Education in 1984, numerous reports have called for increased emphases on improving teaching and learning, increasing student involvement in learning, and integrating in-class and out-of- class learning. The benefits for students derived from simply living on campus, as opposed to living off campus, are well documented. Living on campus has been linked to increases in aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual values; increases in self-concept, intellectual orientation, autonomy, and independence; gains in tolerance, empathy, and interpersonal skills; persistence in college; and degree attainment. A 1998 meta-analysis by Gregory Blimling of studies published from 1966 through June 1997 shows, however, that residential colleges, as compared to conventional halls, increase students’ academic performance and retention and enhance the social climate of the living unit.


For more on the Themed Communities, here are descriptions on each of the first-year communities offered for the 2016-2017 year:

Live.Learn.Serve.: Through community service, students will explore what it means to be an active citizen with one’s local community and discover how personal contributions and community assets can collectively strengthen one’s community.


CHOICE: This community is committed to healthy, substance-free living and active engagement. The residents are connected with one another and are involved in enhancing the Lehigh community as a whole. The advisor and Gryphon plan extra/co-curricular activities that promote a sense of community and foster individual success.


UMOJA: “Umoja” means “Unity” in Swahili. This community helps residents explore diversity and multiculturalism. Throughout the year, the UMOJA family becomes a center of mentorship and support that is committed to identity development and learning about others’ experiences.


ArtsAlive: ArtsAlive connects living and learning through the arts on campus and in the local community. The community encourages participants to explore the arts and is open to all levels of artistic ability. The community’s goal is for students to exercise their creative energy and seek inspiration through multiple experiences.


Creative Commons: Entrepreneurship & Innovation: Creative Commons houses students from a variety of backgrounds with two things in common: big ideas and the drive to make them a reality. These students tap into their creative energy and explore their passions alongside of similarly motivated students through collaboration with the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship and innovators in and around Bethlehem.


Global Lehigh: A community of domestic and international students interested in exploring different countries and cultures through events, meals, guest speakers, film, and more. Students will connect with Lehigh’s resources for globalization, including the Office of International Students and Scholars, the Study Abroad Office, and the Lee Iacocca Institute. Participation in immersive events and discussion celebrating international cultures will expand students’ worldviews and prepare students for leadership roles in the global community.


Outdoor Adventure: This community is for students interested in outdoor recreation and adventure sports, as well as conservationism and nature.
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, STEM develops students for leadership roles in their chosen field through programming with experts, peer-to-peer mentoring, and close faculty advising for residents.