Muhlenberg Announces $15M+ Gift, Increase of Campaign Goal During 175th Anniversary Celebration

The gift, from the estate of Edward ’42 and Lois Robertson, is the largest from an individual or family in the College’s history. The weekend’s events also included the dedication of The Fahy Commons for Public Engagement and Innovation, a keynote speaker and a community celebration.

Gala attendees react as the College announces an increase to the goal for Boundless: The Campaign for Muhlenberg. Photos by Marco Calderon

At a gala held in the Wood Dining Commons on Friday night, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the College came together to celebrate 175 years of Muhlenberg. In her remarks, President Kathleen Harring announced another major milestone: Thanks to the generosity of Edward ’42 and Lois Robertson (pictured), the College is receiving its largest ever gift from an individual or family, more than $15 million.

Harring spoke fondly of the Robertsons’ dedication to the causes they cared about, including the success of Muhlenberg and its students. “There is no way to adequately measure their devotion to the people and causes they loved,” she said, adding later, “They were family — warm, generous people who cared about making Muhlenberg and the world a better place.”

After Harring’s remarks, the co-chairs of Boundless: The Campaign for Muhlenberg took the stage to deliver more big news: The College is increasing its campaign goal from $111 million to $125 million. Doug Peebles ’87, speaking first, shared the progress of the campaign, with more than $98 million raised to date. Tammy Bormann ’83 P’16 spoke next, recognizing the leadership gifts the College has received, including $7.5 million from Gerald P. Fahy ’79 and Cathleen A. Fahy for The Fahy Commons for Public Engagement and Innovation and $4 million from James R. Lentz ’66 P’20 and Debra A. Lentz P’20 for endowed professorships in theatre and dance. And Mark Paris ’80 P’16 revealed the increase in the campaign goal.

“We hope you will join with the many valued donors who have chosen to make a difference in the world through an investment in this ambitious campaign,” Paris concluded. “Our vision is boundless — and so is our potential to bring it to life.”

Earlier, in the late afternoon, the College and Lehigh Valley communities gathered under a tent in front of The Fahy Commons for Public Engagement and Innovation for its dedication. In her remarks, Harring joked that the rainy weather was a positive thing — the building, constructed to the highest standards of sustainability, collects rainwater that is used to flush the toilets.

One of the speakers was Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, who reflected on the many partnerships between Muhlenberg and the city of Allentown — the students conducting watershed testing in city parks, for example, and the alumni now working in local government — and how they related to the opening of this unique building: “This milestone is emblematic of the innovative spirit that embodies the Muhlenberg College I’ve come to know,” he said.

Next, Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Lance R. Bruck ’89 P’21 spoke about the Boundless campaign goals and successes so far: “How will we equip our students, faculty, staff and community members with the on-campus resources and spaces they need to succeed? Behind me is a 20,000-square-foot answer to that question,” he said. “Welcome to the Fahy Commons. This building demonstrates to the Muhlenberg community the impacts of boundless generosity.”

Bruck, the Fahys, Harring, Tuerk and Vice President for Advancement Rebekkah Brown ’99 used giant scissors to cut a symbolic ribbon in front of the building, which has been open to the campus community since the start of the semester. Guests were able to enter and tour the building following the dedication.

Earlier in the afternoon, Leo M. Lambert, Ph.D., delivered a keynote address titled “Relationship-Rich Muhlenberg: How Human Connections Drive Success in College.” Lambert, a professor of education and president emeritus of Elon University, is a national expert on higher education and the undergraduate experience.

His talk centered on lessons from The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most, Relationship Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College, a 2020 book he co-authored, and the forthcoming Connections Are Everything; A College Student’s Guide to Relationship-Rich Education. For example, the first principle in the former book is “all students must experience genuine welcome and deep care,” and one of the interviewees described instilling a sense of “relentless welcome” on his campus, a phrase Lambert revisited throughout his talk. After the address, six Muhlenberg faculty members spoke on a panel moderated by Provost Laura Furge about relationship-rich education at the College.

Muhlenberg’s 175th anniversary celebration continued throughout the weekend. The Life Sports Center hosted a community event Saturday with performances from student groups, an indoor roller rink, inflatable games, arts and crafts stations and snacks. On Sunday, guests were invited to have brunch in the Wood Dining Commons before departing campus.


To help students become boundless, we must be boundlessly generous.