Making the Time for Students
A busy man, who travels often and works long hours, Lemons has consistently made time to provide guidance and support to students. December 2016 grad Cecelia Gigliotti sought him out for career advice last fall when she realized she would complete her studies a semester early. "I was feeling a little lost and thought he would be a great resource. He made time to meet with me. I was really touched by that. He goes out of his way to make every student feel like they belong at Susquehanna and that he personally appreciates their presence."
Miles Collins '17 has also experienced that personal touch. During his first semester on campus, Collins, now one of two student representatives on the university's Board of Trustees, encountered Lemons at the entrance to the Degenstein Campus Center. Lemons opened the door for him and called him by name. "It was amazing. I had never met him, yet he knew who I was."Some on campus were skeptical at first, assuming that Lemons' efforts to make personal connections would wane as he got busier, but nearly 20 years later, he's still the same."He's the real deal," Collins says. "He knows students personally and is incredibly smart and quick-witted. And he has an unrelenting commitment to his values.
"The university's sense of community was something that stood out for junior Basil Mokhallalati,who visited more than 60 schools before choosing Susquehanna. An active and engaged student, Mokhallalati has spent a good deal of time with Lemons, whom he credits with setting the tone that makes Susquehanna special. "This is a place where an effort is made to give everyone a voice and feel acknowledged. That only happens if you have a leader who fights for that, and President Lemons has done that."Whether you've agreed or disagreed with Lemons' decisions over the years,Kelly Jockwer '16 is confident they've been made for the right reasons and in the best interest of Susquehanna. "I appreciate his commitment, his transparency around his values, his openness and his fairness. I respect the way he comports himself."
Signe Gates '71, chair of the university's Board of Trustees, has had the opportunity to stand with Lemons on two occasions that mark rites of passage for students-Convocation, as they enter the university, and Commencement, as they leave."We stand at the top of the field house steps as the students go by. At Convocation, he high-fives them and spots the ones who are a little uncomfortable, reaching out to them in a way that doesn't single them out. Then graduation comes and he knows their names and remembers details of their lives. It's a joy to watch him."
Senior Katherine Allebach will be among those graduating this year. "I feel a debt of gratitude toward him," she says. "I want him to know that he's inspired me to be someone who makes people feel better after they leave me."
Angela Burrows is the chief communications officer at Susquehanna.