NOTE: The answers below represent our thinking at the time of writing. All of the dollar values, faculty lines, and other quantitative aspects of the answers below are estimates and will likely change over time. Similarly, the qualitative answers represent expectations and not definite plans.

We currently estimate that (very roughly) over 10 years, the strategic plan implementation will represent approximately $500 million in new, one-time, capital expenditures and a “delta” of approximately $140 million per year in new annual spending compared to “business-as-usual.” The “business-as-usual” scenario includes the regular operations of the University if there were no strategic plan and assumes maintaining the current size and scope of the University staffing and programs with little to no additional growth beyond inflation. 


Capital Costs: The estimated $500 million in new capital expenditures will be funded primarily from a combination of auxiliaries, third-party developer investment (such as public-private partnerships  - or “P3”), and debt. Auxiliaries refer to things like student housing and dining operations and parking that should pay for themselves. Third-party development refers to non-Lehigh entities that fund new construction for a university-related purpose and then earn revenue from those facilities. (Southside Commons was funded through a P3). With regard to debt, roughly 3.5% of Lehigh’s overall budget currently goes to servicing debt. This is relatively low compared to many peer universities and some portions of our current debt will be paid off in the next 5–10 years. In other words, we will have some capacity to take on additional debt without adverse financial consequences.

Annual Operating Budget: Some existing budget will be reallocated to support projects identified via the strategic plan. The 2% budget reallocation process that we have initiated in the last two years will continue for at least three more years to support allocation of existing resources (operating budget and personnel) to areas identified as priorities of the strategic plan. This will require that we identify things that we need to stop doing and/or do less well. Beyond reallocation of existing budget, we are estimating that over the next ten years, $140 million in new annual expenditures will be funded primarily from a combination of new research funding, growth in undergraduate and graduate enrollments, and anticipated new philanthropy. The new research funding and tuition correspond to the strategic plan goals of increasing both research output and graduate enrollment. Revenue associated with these activities will support growth in these areas.


Normal, “business-as-usual” hiring will continue. As has been the case in the past, faculty lines can be requested to replace faculty members who retire or leave Lehigh. In the past, such lines were not necessarily replaced, nor will they be in the future; each line must be justified based on its alignment with department, college, and university priorities. The strategic plan represents a set of new priorities that will influence, but not by themselves determine, these hiring decisions. In other words, “business-as-usual” hiring under the strategic plan will look much as it does currently, with a more public statement of the criteria for evaluating these requests.

The strategic plan anticipates that new faculty lines will be added and supported via the estimated $140M/year increase in revenue that we project to be generated through  key elements of the strategic plan. Approximately half of the new lines funded by the “delta” will be closely tied to the three strategic research initiatives, while the other half will be tied to other strategic plan goals such as increasing Master’s programs, strengthening interdisciplinary education, and enhancing innovation in education.


No. Allocation of new faculty lines will align closely with the strategic plan priorities, while the “business-as-usual” hiring will not be. However, all hiring decisions—in fact, all decisions at the University more broadly—are influenced by the strategic plan. In other words, alignment with the strategic plan may be a factor that affects decisions about allocation of faculty lines, along with factors related to student enrollments, growth of graduate programs, strengthening key departments and quality of teaching.

Yes. Lehigh will continue to be a comprehensive university that has many programs that meet the needs of many different kinds of students. The strategic plan presents an opportunity to expand and enhance certain existing and new academic areas at Lehigh. If there is student demand for an area, we will hire the faculty necessary to make that area successful, whether or not those faculty align closely with the strategic plan.


No. It’s great if a new faculty member has strong interdisciplinary research. It’s great if a new faculty member falls into one of the three strategic research initiatives. But they need not do both. (Moreover, it’s great if a new faculty member contributes to the strategic plan’s goals of growing a Master’s program, or enhancing educational innovation, or increasing our National Academy membership, but not all of these things need to be true for someone to be hired under strategic plan funds.)


No. The goal is to double research output across the university. A significant part of this doubling will be driven by an increase in the number of faculty through strategic plan hiring. For current faculty members, we expect that some faculty might double (or more) their research output while others might increase their output by a smaller amount, or not at all. Note that in the last three years we have increased our federal funding for research (one measure of activity) by about 50% and we did this without any total increase in faculty. So there are many ways in which research activity can be increased. We will be looking for ideas and opportunities to change the ways in which we support faculty in their research activity to achieve this goal. 

The phrase “research output” is intentionally vague at this point. Research is measured in many different ways and we are working to more specifically articulate university goals in terms of publications, funding and other measures of research activity and impact.

To learn more, watch this video series


Each initiative of the strategic plan has a dedicated web page

There are a variety of resources identified for the plan. Some of the needed funds will be from existing annual budgets (redirecting some of our work toward the strategic efforts, faculty hires in some cases, etc.), some from philanthropy (capital projects, scholarship, etc), some from partnerships (P3 such as SouthSide Commons). To gain access to new funds, units are encouraged to focus on the resource planning process and several special initiatives including the  Future Maker Strategy Grants and the Team Teaching Grants that were announced recently. 

The final Working Group reports from the Strategic Planning process area available on our website behind a user log in.

We expect that departments will hire new faculty who will help support the growth in master’s and graduate certificate programs. These faculty lines (tenure track and teaching track) will be supported by the revenue streams associated with these increases in enrollment. PhD student growth will most likely track with expanding research funding. 

We envision undergraduate teaching in the future looking much like it does currently, in terms of who is teaching the courses: primarily tenure-track faculty, with some courses being taught by Teaching Professors, Professors of Practice, adjunct and visiting faculty, etc. We do not anticipate the balance changing significantly. 

(Having said that, we note that Lehigh does not hire tenure-track faculty solely to fill teaching needs. If a department needs to staff courses on a topic that they do not feel is an area of research they wish to hire in, we might focus on hiring teaching track faculty, professors of practice or adjunct or visiting faculty. This has been Lehigh’s approach to hiring for many years, and we do not anticipate a change in the future.)

As per the announcement

  1. August 31, 2023: Due date for optional LOIs.
  2. September-October 2023: Consulting with each group (Dominic Packer, Kate Bullard, and Anand Jagota met with each group; Nathan Urban met with all PIs as a group).
  3. October 30, 2023: Due date for white papers.
  4. Early November 2023: Evaluations by study groups, including iterative improvements by mid-November (three study groups; five members each, including four faculty members (filtered for conflicts of interest) and one expert external to Lehigh).
  5. Late November 2023: Preparation of preliminary reports (Study groups made up of 3 Lehigh faculty, 1 non-Lehigh faculty expert and 1 Lehigh staff member with content expertise).
  6. November 27: Overall evaluation of proposals (Joe Helble, Nathan Urban, with consultation by visiting Carnegie Mellon VPR and consultation with Deans and VPR).
  7. Early December 2023: Further external validation (McAllister & Quinn (MQ), industry and academic experts) and possible iteration.
  8. Mid-December 2023: Study groups conclude work, report to Urban and Helble.
  9. January 2024: Possible further study and iteration.
  10. January 31, 2024: Decisions announced.

 Lehigh UDI represents a plan to shift our educational approach  to better foster authentic curiosity for students and support the value of a Lehigh education for all students. To date, over 100 Lehigh faculty have begun to engage in Lehigh UDI. Click here to hear directly from some of your faculty colleagues who incorporated Lehigh UDI concepts into their courses.