Lehigh Valley

Lehigh University opens new dorm with plans to increase student body

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - An ambitious plan is underway at Lehigh University to bring up the number of students.

The private school hopes to increase its student body by 20%, but that doesn't mean getting in will get easier.

"No, no, no, we're getting better, which is kind of interesting. It's also exciting. Our scores are going up," said Patricia Johnson, VP of finance and administration for Lehigh University.

The university receives more than 15,000 applications a year and accepts only about 3,500, about 22%. The school is now pushing for a larger, more diverse student body, with a 10-year plan called the Path to Prominence.

Dozens gathered Tuesday morning at the SouthSide Commons courtyard for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new residential quarters, where 428 juniors, seniors or graduates will live.

It took 15 months and $48 million to build.

With more buildings going up, Lehigh hopes to welcome 1,000 more undergrad and 500 more graduate students over the next decade.

"The world is becoming more diverse, so we're going to be recruiting throughout the United States for undergrad and grads, and we are recruiting internationally, too," Johnson said.

Construction is already underway on other buildings, like the new College of Health. Some students have already moved in to the SouthSide Commons.

The other residential facilities will be built in two phases.

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