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.

Meet the Head Gryphons: Divya Sirdeshpande


  • Name: Divya 
  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Residence Hall: Dravo
  • Year and major: Junior, Molecular Biology Major, Health, Medicine, and Society Minor
  • Hometown: Lancaster, PA
  • One thing I can’t live without: Dark Chocolate
  • Favorite movie: The Lion King
  • Favorite TV show: Parks and Recreation
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: The beautiful views!
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: Being a support system for my residents    
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: The sense of community
  • Favorite thing about Bethlehem: Amazing restaurants!
  • One thing on my Lehigh bucket list: Join African Renaissance for a semester  
  • Other clubs and organizations: Leela Fusion Team, Kappa DeltaIndian Students Association
  • Fun fact about myself: I love to travel and went to Bermuda this summer!


Meet the Head Gryphons: Dakota DiMattio

Meet Dakota DiMattio, Head Gryphon of Farrington Square and this week’s featured Head Gryphon!

DiMattio_Dakota (1)

  • Preferred Name: Dakota
  • Gender Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
  • Hometown: Wilton, CT
  • One thing I can’t live without: Bread
  • Favorite Movie: Sleeping Beauty
  • Favorite TV Show:  Suits
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: The rich traditions
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: Meeting new people
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Being surrounded by friends
  • Favorite thing about Bethlehem: The history
  • One thing on my Lehigh bucket list: See the Packer Memorial Church catacombs
  • Fun Fact: I’ve climbed Machu Picchu



Meet the RHA and RHC!


The day that a Lehigh student moves into a residence hall is the day that they automatically become a member of their building’s Hall Council. Each Residence Hall Council (RHC) is headed by a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and advocacy coordinator. The RHCs advocate for their members, as well as plan events like movie nights, barbecues, and more. The hall’s Head Gryphon advises the Residence Hall Council, which is guided by the overarching Residence Hall Association (RHA).

The Residence Hall Association is comprised of students from all residential areas and various years. Their purpose is to improve the quality of the residence halls through social and educational programming, advocacy, and leadership development. Similar to the RHCs, the RHA executive board plans events for students, though on a much larger scale. Past events have included trips to NYC or Philadelphia, ice skating, bowling, midnight movie premieres, and the annual Rock the Quad. Rock the Quad is held at the end of every school year and includes free T-shirts, a DJ, cook-out food, inflatable obstacle course, games, airbrush and glitter tattoos, and a photo booth.


The RHA executive board elections are held in February to elect the next year’s board. To serve on the executive board, you must have served on a RHC for at least one year and must live in a residence hall. The 2016-2017 RHA executive board is: President Angela Young, Vice President  Eden Weinflash, Secretary Bryant Lindsay, Treasurer Winston La, Public Relations Chair Katie Teitelbaum, Advocacy Chair Allen Chan.

The RHC officers for each residence hall are elected in September and serve throughout the academic year. Applications for officer positions are sent out in early September via email.

Meet the Head Gryphons: Kelsey Leck

This week’s feature is Kelsey Leck, Head Gryphon of Warren Square!Kelsey Leck

  • Preferred name: Kelsey
  • Gender pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
  • One thing you can’t live without: nutella
  • Favorite movie: Cinema Paradiso
  • Favorite TV show: Arrested Development
  • Favorite thing about Lehigh: I love our symbol with the open book, heart, and sun
  • Favorite thing about being a Gryphon: getting to know students I probably wouldn’t have the chance to become friends with otherwise!
  • Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: how busy and fun the community is, since there’s always someone hanging out in our communal space at any given time
  • Fun fact about yourself: I love all kinds of animals, so I used to have pet frogs as a kid



Meet the Gryphon Society!


Almost 60 years ago, a group of 40 undergraduate men at Lehigh established a campus “living group” to provide social functions for its members. These students petitioned the Committee on Social Activities for recognition and thus the Gryphon Society was founded. In Greek mythology, Gryphons were winged beasts, half lion and half eagle, who were keepers of the gold. At Lehigh, Gryphons are still keepers of the gold, though a different kind. A Gryphon is Lehigh University’s version of a Resident Assistant (RA), who lives in residence halls with other students, aka the “gold.” Gryphons serve to promote “an inclusive, supportive, and engaging environment in the residence halls.”

Fast forward to today, the Gryphon role has expanded to serve as advocates, mentors, role models, policy enforcers, administrators, programmers, resources, and leaders for the students residing in all first-year and upperclassmen residence halls. Since its inception, the Gryphon Society has doubled in size to approximately 102 Gryphons, 12 of which are Head Gryphons. Head Gryphons are resident student staff leaders who work closely with their Assistant Director (AD), assisting in administrative duties in regard to the daily operations of their residence hall in addition to their general Gryphon duties.

Gryphons do more than just stay on duty weeknights and weekends or help with lockouts. Gryphons are tasked with creating educational and inclusive communities with the members of their residence halls known as Community Development Experiences (CDEs). Gryphons are trained to assist their residents with roommate conflicts, lockouts, emergencies, illness, and other issues, as well as finding the appropriate resources to help in other situations. Throughout the year, the Gryphon Society sponsors CDEs in the residence halls such as coffee talks, tutoring, hall events, community dinners, and campus events, like the annual Rock the Quad in spring. Community Dinners will often feature food from a local restaurant along with a faculty or staff member, student leader, alumni, or Bethlehem community member to talk about a particular topic.

G-chats, short for Gryphon chats, are one-on-one conversations between a Gryphon and their resident. These chats give residents the opportunity to ask questions, work out an issue, share ideas, express concerns, or just get to know their Gryphon better. 

Applications to become a Gryphon the following school year become available in the fall and interviews are held after students return from winter break. Prospective students must hold a 2.5 GPA and be in good disciplinary standing with the university. In addition to free room and board, plus a stipend, students chosen for the role of a Gryphon gain excellent leadership, communication, and teamwork skills.