Community Development & Programming by Marissa Galante

The Office of Residence Life has initiated a new programming model for Gryphons and Head Gryphons that will take effect this fall. The main goal of the ORL is to build relationships in residential communities providing a safe and secure environment for students to engage with their peers and develop. Although you may have never attended a Gryphon program, due to a crazy schedule, exams, extracurricular activities, campus events, the topic, etc.,…… it is not too late.

What if I told you that you now have a say in the planning process.

The new programming model actively involves each resident in his or her community. Through one- on one- meetings with Gryphons, you will now have a say in how you want to shape your Lehigh experience.

Here is an outline and brief summary of the new Gryphon programming model:

Before: Gryphons planned three programs per semester with each fitting a Dean of Students Core Competency. Gryphons picked the topics for these events. Unfortunately, students were not coming to the programs initiated and executed by Gryphons. This is due to Gryphons speaking at students rather than forging relationships in their resident halls.

So what now?  Although the traditional core competency model did not work, the Office of Residence Life found having dinner with residents and going to events planned by other offices worked better. Gryphons will be now be planning Dinners and Coffee Talks that revolve around the interests within their residential community. The main goal for Gryphons is to engage residents in the planning process. Gryphons will be planning two Community Dinners and two Coffee Talks throughout each semester.

Community Dinners: Dinners will be organized in the residence halls and feature one guest speaker. The speaker can be a faculty or staff member of the communities choosing.  Food served at the dinner will be from a business within the South Bethlehem Community. You may see meals from Sals, La Lupita, Asian Bistro, you name it!

Coffee Talks: The talks will occur late at night and ask a guest (faculty or staff member) to speak of a passion or area of interest, about their lives, etc. Great way to gain further knowledge about your own interests! There will also be coffee and snacks 

How does this involve you?  It is important to let your Gryphons know what your interests are and what events you would like to see in your community. In your one-on-one Gryphon conversations, tell your Gryphon exactly whom you would like to see and speak with at the Community Dinners or Coffee Talks. 

When? Stay posted this year! There will be a lot of great speakers and new events coming your way. Remember, there will be 2 Community Dinners and 2 Coffee Talks to attend so it’s not too late to start getting involved in your community and getting to know your Gryphon staff.

  • Community dinners will take place during September, November, January, and March.
  • The Community Coffee Talks will occur in October, December, February, and April.

So what do you think? Who would you like to have Community Dinners or Coffee Talks with this year? Feel free to leave a comment and provide any feedback. 



What do you want your legacy to be? – Liz Lucas

You are now an adult, are you ready? How are you going to fill the time when you are not in class or studying?

The choice is all yours. I am here to briefly talk about how I chose to spend my free time while at Lehigh. The best thing I did at Lehigh was challenge myself in every way I could. I chose to challenge myself academically, athletically, and interpersonally.

I can tell you without a doubt I learned so many life skills through my campus involvements. I am able to facilitate meetings, manage projects, coordinate with other organizations, work with all different kinds of people, and utilize the tools within my toolbox.  One of the most valuable lessons I learned however, is how to move my way up through an organization.  This is the most valuable lesson that I have learned because it requires one to drop their ego and use all of the tools in their toolbox. It requires starting out as the low person on the totem pole and slowly working your way up. This sounds so easy doesn’t it. . . . Truthfully, I am using these skill sets right now in Germany as I try to help the Softball/Baseball Club become bigger and better. I am starting as a worker in hopes that one day I will work my way up to potentially be a person in charge.

When I started in SALSC (Student Athletes Leading Social Change) I was just a member of the team, I had no special responsibility. I was solely a worker. As a worker I worked as hard as I could, doing whatever needed to get done.  A major part of this organization is to raise money to build schools for the underprivileged in foreign countries. This task required a lot of brainstorming, phone calls, and originality. During this project, I learned two valuable things:

1. Failure is inevitable. Every idea you come up with, or phone call you make, is not going to turn out the way you want it to so if you are afraid to fail then this is not going to work out for you.

2. Question everything! Respectfully of course, get to know the ins and outs of the organization, really understand what is going on and where they want to go.

From here, I made it clear to the people in charge that I was interested in taking over for them once they graduated. Being up front with them was perfect because then they would walk me through the process they were doing so that I had some clue when I was on my own. Taking on extra responsibilities and really showing that I was committed got me the co-captain role, but that didn’t mean I knew how to lead a group…

Leading an organization is a roller coaster, there are times that things are awesome and there are times that people aren’t doing what they need to do and the organization is suffering because of it. I am going to let you in on a little secret. . .just kidding, there is no secret but here are some obvious guidelines I have tried to follow in my attempt to co-run an organization.

1. Have a vision for the organization (I started developing my vision when I started in SALSC. After asking a million questions, I was able to mature my vision and eventually turn that into a reality in my senior year)

2. Earn respect. . . . be the hardest worker and have a plan (for ME I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that my work ethic is what earned me respect!)

3. Ask for help! (Sorry to burst your bubble but you are not a super hero and you cannot be successful on your own. Accepting this can be very helpful, because there are faculty and staff to help you! USE THEM. I could not have done anything without the help of the staff)

4. Give team members personal responsibility (We had teams of 2 people who were in charge of one fundraiser. This gave them the freedom to develop the fundraiser and develop necessary skills of communication, project planning, and execution of a plan. This is not always a success but sometimes failures are the best time for growth! As a leader this is tough because you can’t micro manage or it will really begin to fall apart.

Here’s the real deal, being just a student-athlete can be challenging, on top of all your academics you must also practice 2-3 hours a day morning and/or night and your weekends are pretty booked with competition. So the time you have to commit to other things is slim, but being part of an organization that is bigger than yourself, and bigger than your team is one of the coolest experiences I had in college.

I am not going to sit here and tell you it’s all flowers and roses and everything works out perfectly, and everyone you work with is awesome, because that would not be fair to you. There are days that it sucks having so many responsibilities (8am-9 SALSC meeting, 10-12 class, 12-1 lunch meeting, 1-2 class, 2-4 work study, 4-7:30 practice, 7:30-8:30 dinner 9-10 Leadership development, 10-11 gryphon staff meeting). There are days when you have no free time because of all the meetings, school work and sports. But on those days if you can take just two minutes and tell yourself I am honored to have these responsibilities and the time I spend here you will be rewarded in the end.

At the end of the day hearing a middle school student say to me at the end of a SALSC event “I am thinking that I want to go to college now,” because they don’t come from a place where going to college is normal, is a huge reward. Raising almost double the money after doing a fundraiser for the second time, and hearing about how we made an impact on students, especially when we talked about living conditions in Africa, is extremely rewarding. These are just a few of the rewards I have received since being a member of numerous organizations.

What do you want your legacy to be when you graduate college, how do you want to be remembered? These are the questions that the faculty and staff ask first year students during orientation. They are challenging questions to answer but they are incredibly important and the way you answer these questions will shape your experience at Lehigh. I thought about these questions a lot and decided that my goal in college was to become multi-dimensional. I was already a student-athlete and this label carries a lot of prestige and responsibility. But, I didn’t want to just be labeled as a student-athlete. I wanted to carry a few different labels that were unique to just me but that were going to require a lot of work. But work I was willing to put in.

What do you want your legacy to be?

My First Year as a Gryphon by Shelby Wirtz

When I first fell in love with Lehigh and learned about its student life, I always grappled with the idea of becoming a Gryphon.  In high school I was involved in activities similar to the Gryphon role, such as Peer to Peer and tutoring, so the idea of being involved in the student community during the next phase of my academic career sounded enticing.  So as a first-year student still trying to navigate college life, I applied for the Gryphon position more or less just to “give it a shot.”  I had a pretty good idea of what my Gryphon did, not really that much of an idea of what other Gryphons did, and no idea what the Office of Residence Life did, but I figured I could find out if the opportunity ever presented itself.

It’s hard for me to believe that was almost two years ago.

            I was a first-time Gryphon as a sophomore in Stoughton in Lower Cents for 2012-2013.  While moving into my room in mid-August for Gryphon training, I was just as excited – if not more excited – as I was moving in for my first day at Lehigh.  However, there was still some apprehension and uncertainty.  How much is this role going to affect my life at Lehigh?  Will the other Gryphons like and accept me?  Will I be able to step up to the plate when the time calls for it?  Because of these feelings of excitement and anxiety, I was a little shy during training and initial meetings with my Centennials staff.  I wanted to make sure I absorbed all the information given to me, and maybe I focused on that a little too much.

            As the year went on, I gained more and more confidence in the Gryphon role and found a genuine love and appreciation of it.  Just by getting to know my residents a little bit, planning programs that they would enjoy became a breeze.  Being on duty became a great opportunity to get to know not only Stoughton residents, but residents in the other Lower Cents buildings as well.  When the time came to enforce ORL policies, I was at first a little apprehensive, but I had many Gryphons and Assistant Directors to be role models and guides.  The more I got involved in the Gryphon program, the more I wanted to improve and be more creative, so by the end of the school year I was ready and willing to take on another assignment for 2013-2014 in M&M.  This area will definitely be different from Lower Cents, but I’m very excited to learn how to adapt as a Gryphon and also mentor other new Gryphons.

            Overall, I’m so glad that I faced my fears almost two years ago and sent that “big bad application” in.  I remember going back and forth night after night about whether it was the right choice for me, but I know now I would have deeply regretted it if I didn’t apply.  Since then, I’ve definitely learned what Gryphons and the ORL do, but I’ve also learned even more.  Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

 To students living in a residence hall with a Gryphon:

1.)  Don’t be afraid to talk to your Gryphon about anything – good, bad, boring, funny, whatever.  That’s what we’re here for!  We’re always happy to help you with any issues that may arise, and we’re trained to respond to a variety of student needs.

2.)  Utilize the entire Gryphon Society, not just “your” Gryphon.  As much as we try, Gryphons can’t be around 24/7.  Unless we’re on duty, we could be in class, at the library, at the gym or dining hall, or anywhere else any other Lehigh student would be.  However, there’s always a pretty high chance that at least one Gryphon in your area will be around the residence area at any given time.  Get to know them; you never know when you might need their assistance!

3.)  Give the Gryphons a chance.  Gryphons love to build community and make Lehigh memories.  Although it’s fun for us, the main reason we do it is for you.  Be open to the programs, activities, and opportunities that Gryphons organize, because you never know who you’ll meet or what fun you’ll have!

To upcoming first-year Gryphons or students considering being Gryphons:

1.)  If you’re grappling with the idea of applying…JUST DO IT!  The application and interview process is an amazing and unique experience.  Regardless of the outcome, it’s good to get some of that experience under your belt for future interviews.  And if you do get an offer for a position, go with your gut.  If you have any questions about it, there are about 100 members of the Gryphon Society who would be glad to share their stories.

2.)  Don’t be afraid to have fun with the Gryphon Society.  It may seem like this role is a “job” that requires you to always be on your toes, but that is far from the truth.  Being a Gryphon is about creating a positive community at Lehigh, and how can you do that without having fun?  Now that I’ve learned this, I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for me as a returning Gryphon.

3.)  Push yourself to become a better Gryphon than you were yesterday.  The difference between good Gryphons and great Gryphons is this: good Gryphons do exactly what is expected of them, great Gryphons think of ways to exceed those expectations.  And trust me; it’s not as hard as it sounds.  Being a creative Gryphon has never been a burden to me academically or socially.  The Gryphon role has only enhanced my Lehigh experience.




Richards, Packing Tips, & Lehigh Experience by Dan O’Leary

Introduction: Welcome to the Garage! Well at least that’s what we called it my first year. My name is Dan O’Leary. I’m a gryphon at Richards now and still the house’s nicknames continue to change, but one thing stays the same. It’s the place I call home and it houses what I think are the best and biggest rooms on campus. We were really different people walking in; I was a baseball player studying engineering and my neighbor played acoustic guitar in his band, but it is definitely the differences that made us closer. I got some guitar lessons, some programming skills, and a couple people to play pick-up basketball games with, while others got some lessons on how to get whooped in FIFA. Woot Woot!!!! It’s different going to one of the best engineering and overall academic schools in the country than just going to a dime-a-dozen school I imagine. My teachers in high school used to beg me to tutor people, but at Lehigh I can actually work with others and get things done as a team. Everyone is on my level or pushing me to do better. I will always remember Richards as where I started to grow Lehigh family, expand my networks, and slowly learn all the nuances of Lehigh’s culture.

What to do ASAP: Just talk to people!!! It’s crazy how much I’ve grown at Lehigh. I came in as a cocky yet shy first-year student who was hesitant to talk to people, but after a day or two that shyness went away. Why? I could only ignore people for so long. I’ve always embraced the open door mindset rather than the cell block mentality. These are residence halls not jail cells. Yes, I have had a few smelly people post up on my bed, but a friend can be anyone at first. You may be surprised who your best friends become. There are no more cool kids, jocks, or cliques of that nature unless you want there to be. There’s just people who work hard, play hard, and sleep hard.

As a gryphon, I’ve seen the a lot of emotions at move in. If there is one thing I know, it’s that you should be happy when your mom cries at the thought of leaving. It means she loves you, some sweet treats may come in the mail regularly, and she thinks you’ll never come home because you like it too much. As a gryphon, I’ve transformed from that arrogant fool I mentioned to a confident ice-breaker. I thrive in awkward moments and it is because the bar is set too high now. Nothing is more awkward than the first day of college. People say it’s kindergarten all over again, but there is no comparison. Big people like us don’t just talk to strangers easily; little kids haven’t even learned not to answer the door to strangers yet. Good news is that everyone is in the same boat, so we all need to float together. Bottom line is you need to take risks, be open-minded, and simply keep your door open. I give my 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Room Opinion: Everyone has a different opinion about the different residence hall rooms, but here are some tips

–        Only bring what you need!!! If you really want all your clothes fine, but I only bring what I’m going to wear. You’re going to go home at times during the semester most likely so bring clothes in waves if you can.

–        Stock up on cleaning and shower supplies and get some good hygiene habits going. It’s the classic tale of “no one likes the smelly kid,” but in this case that includes the kid that doesn’t change his clothes or do laundry.

–       Bring a Whiteboard for your door! As a first year student, it was a great way to communicate because people get bogged down with texts or simply miss it sometimes. As a gryphon, I always feel loved when a resident draws something hilarious on my whiteboard or simply writes a quote that inspires me.

–        Keep a well-stocked fridge.

–        Bring a small area rug. Tile flooring is great because it’s easy to clean but it’s cold and some comfort on your feet will eventually be appreciated. You can’t wear shoes and socks all the time.

–        Bring stuff for your wall. Personalize your room. White walls play tricks on the mind!

–        Bring a pair of plastic tubs to put under your bed and organize your stuff. Great way to save space and store food or simply miscellaneous items.

–        Bring an egg crate for your bed. It makes a difference.

–        Bring simple medicine. Bring Nyquil, Emergen-C, or pain relievers. You never know. You’re not going to what to go to the medical center for small stuff. It’s just a good thing to have.

To sum things up, bring what your gut tells you to bring. Think about what you want to do at Lehigh and do it. As a gryphon, I’ll always try to get you more involved, studying harder, more social, etc… but you know you best. You may need your daily personal time or things to do with friends. Simply rule is that if it doesn’t fit in your car in one load, you probably have too much stuff. You can then expect to get claustrophobic symptoms.

Ugly Truth: Through my residence hall experience, I’ve gained numerous opportunities. I’ve gotten internship/job offers from parents, joined Baja SAE because of friends, and am serving as president in a fraternity with past friends and residents. The people around you give you opportunities that vary greatly. Doors open and life-changing experiences happen here. Whether its attempting to make food or simply going to the beach for a day, the first-year experience is something that is hard to let go. In high school, most make friends that last for the moment. In college, you make friends that last a lifetime all in that first year. From resident to gryphon to fraternity president, it’s all about having and being a part of that first year experience over and over again for me. The sad thing is no one knows it until they go home for the first time, until you miss every person you’ve met over the past couple of weeks, or in my case until I yell at my mom for picking me up earlier than she said. The ugly truth is that I wish I could be a first year student just one more time.

The End: In an effort to keep it readable and brief, I, of course, could not answer all the questions you have. As I said my name is Dan O’Leary and I am a rather active, confident, and rugged Irish Italian American. I went from the city lights of New York to the suburbs of Allentown, PA. I went from blue collar jobs to the “yuppie mentality.” I went from playing sports at the college level, to injuries, to coaching youth sports for little kids and big high school babies. Bottom line is that I have a huge range of experience and would be happy to use that coupled with my 3 years of student life, fraternity experience, and gryphon employment to answer any questions you have. I’m happy to now be a gryphon in Leavitt of Upper Cents with an exceptional gryphon staff beside me. My email is and I’m always open to a phone call or video chat in case you need something more personal and private. Just reach out to me with questions or just to know one more person at Lehigh before school starts. We will surely work something out. I can answer questions about the dorm, greek life, your love life according to my residents last year, and anything else you got. I do love a challenge. I warn you that I’m a blunt guy. I only deal in honesty. Don’t be a stranger and have a fantastic year at Lehigh! Or exceptional if you prefer…