The Percy Hughes Award for Scholarship, Humanity, and Social Change honors those individuals who work towards implementing big, transformative ideas in the local, national, and world communities with grace, tenacity, and devotion. For example, Percy Hughes made a continuous effort to bring co-education to Lehigh University starting in 1918. The Percy Hughes Award recognizes those who advance Lehigh University's culture of addressing the world's most pressing challenges with sleeves rolled up and an orientation towards real world issues. The award recipients are leaders who not only foster Lehigh's historic educational mission, values, and core beliefs but also push Lehigh in new directions and heights of excellence.
Awardees will receive $5,000, in which half will be donated to a charity of their choice, and have their names engraved on the Percy Hughes Award plaque. Read more below about the criteria and guidelines.
Submissions are not being accepted for 2021. We expect to resume the nomination process in 2022.
Who was Percy Hughes?
He was a philosopher, teacher, and professor who directed the Philosophy, Education, and Psychology Department at Lehigh University beginning in 1907 until 1942. Over the course of his 35-year tenure at Lehigh, Hughes used the responsibility of scholarship to pursue social change and transform the Lehigh culture. By committing himself to interdisciplinary work and humanistic principles, he furthered Lehigh’s tradition of scientific and classical education. From encouraging curriculum reform for engineers to campaigning against compulsory chapel attendance, Hughes worked tirelessly to transform Lehigh on an educational level. From women’s rights to environmentalism, Hughes devoted his life to historically progressive ideas. Hughes personified and advanced Lehigh’s motto – Homo minister et interpres naturae (man, servant and interpreter of nature) – throughout his career at Lehigh. Read more about him here!
Who does this award honor?
Those individuals who work towards implementing big, transformative ideas in the local, national, and world communities with grace, tenacity, and devotion. For example, Percy Hughes made a continuous effort to bring co-education to Lehigh University starting in 1918. The Percy Hughes Award recognizes those who advance Lehigh University’s culture of addressing the world’s most pressing challenges with “sleeves rolled up” and an orientation towards real world issues. The award recipients are leaders who not only foster Lehigh’s historic educational mission, values, and core beliefs but also push Lehigh in new directions and heights of excellence. The award covers the calendar year prior to its being awarded. For example, the 2016 award recognized accomplishments in January-December of 2015. Thus, any deserving faculty, staff, or student—including those recently graduated—who provided exemplary leadership and service in the previous calendar year is eligible to be nominated.
The recipient shall be a Lehigh University faculty member, staff member, or student (either graduate or undergraduate in good standing) who works towards implementing large, transformative ideas in the local, national, and world communities with grace, tenacity, and devotion. Specific examples of previous faculty, staff, and student work meriting this award can be found below. In general, the recipient should demonstrate the following four characteristics and behaviors:
- Positive orientation: Committed to improving Lehigh and/or the broader communities (whether at the local, national, or global level).
- Visible impact: Has a noticeable effect on Lehigh and/or the broader communities.
- Innovative and/or transformative vision: Whether within Lehigh or in broader communities, contributes to enhancing current processes or helping to formulate new approaches and processes, or to helping others come to understand and support a transformative vision of how to move from where we are now to a state more in keeping with the spirit of Lehigh University.
- Positive interpersonal characteristics: Demonstrates respect for all with whom he/she deals, demonstrates persistence when/if facing a setback, and honors both similarities and differences within and across communities.
The award covers the calendar year prior to its being awarded. For example, the 2016 award recognizes accomplishments in January-December of 2015. Thus, any deserving faculty or staff member, or any student, including those recently graduated, who has demonstrated the characteristics and behaviors listed above in the previous calendar year is eligible to be nominated.
Nominations may be submitted by current students, faculty or staff. Self-nominations will not be considered.
All departments in the four colleges will be asked each year to nominate deserving faculty, staff, and/or students. While nominations are most likely to come from the same department or college as the nominee, there is no restriction; any nominee can be nominated from any part of the university.
Submissions are not being accepted for 2021. We expect to resume the nomination process in 2022.
The COE Associate Dean for Graduate Studies is the non-voting chair of the committee and responsible for overseeing all committee procedures.
The Graduate Assistant in the Multicultural Resource Center supports the chair in conducting the committee procedures: helping publicize the award, collecting applications, updating webpages, and so forth.
There are 5 voting members of the committee, drawn from Lehigh faculty, staff and students. The voting members are formally appointed by the Dean, but the process of requesting and facilitating their participation will be handled by the chair. Those five members include:
- One Lehigh student. Typically the student representative is a previous award winner; in the event that no previous student recipient is able to serve, the MRC GA will serve as the voting student representative of the committee. No previous award recipient will be asked to serve in two consecutive years, whenever possible.
- One Lehigh staff member. Again, previous award recipients are asked to serve as a member of the committee. (No previous award recipient will be asked to serve in two consecutive years, whenever possible.) In the event that no previous staff recipient is able to serve, the chair will ask a non-recipient staff member to serve as the voting staff member of the committee.
- Three Lehigh faculty. The three faculty members of the committee rotate across the four colleges of Lehigh in the pattern illustrated below. The chair will ask previous award recipients to serve as a member of the committee. No previous award recipient will be asked to serve in two consecutive years, whenever possible. As needed, the chair will recruit non-recipient faculty member(s) from the appropriate college(s) to serve on the committee.
The selection committee shall select a single recipient, although co-recipients may be selected when the committee finds it impossible to identify a single, most-deserving recipient.
- Robin Hojnoski, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, College of Education
- Carolina Hernandez, Assistant Dean and Director, Community Service Office
- Lee Kern, Professor, College of Education
- Roslyn Weiss, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
- Ray Pearson, Professor, College of Engineering and Applied Science
- Marisa Solé, doctoral student in School Psychology, College of Education
The award consists of two parts: A $2,500 cash award given to the recipient, and a $2,500 cash award to be contributed to one or more charities designated by the recipient.
The name of each year’s recipient(s) will be engraved on a publicly posted institutional plaque listing all previous recipients, and the accomplishments of the recipient(s) will be described and posted on the College of Education’s website. Nominees will be notified that their names were put forward for the award, and nominators will be thanked for their participation.
Previous award winners:
Dr. William Hunter, 2019/20: Dr. Hunter is an experiential educator who has worked in a variety of internationally focused capacities at Lehigh University for 21 years. He is the founder and Director of the Lehigh University / United Nations Partnership and is also the Director of the Office of Fellowship Advising. Some highlights of his efforts include establishing Lehigh as the 6th university in the world to attain United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) certification, creating the Ambassadorial Speaker Series (hosting the Iraqi, Afghani, Palestinian, Pakistani, Korean, Israeli, and Sudanese Ambassadors to the United Nations), the creation of more than 800 internationally focused educational, cultural and social programs for the Lehigh community, developer of Lehigh’s first International Community Service Trip (to Antigua & Barbuda) and service as a Guide and Project Mentor for several years in the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry. He is credited with developing the world’s first NGO Youth Representative program for the United Nations and recently completed a two-year term as an elected Director of the UN’s NGO Executive Committee. In recognition of his groundbreaking research on global competence, Dr. Hunter was nominated as a Chronicle of Higher Education “Rising Star in International Education.” He has also been honored as Pennsylvania’s “Outstanding International Educator.”
Scott Burden, 2018/19: Scott was born and raised in the great state of Michigan, where he began his journey into student affairs as an undergraduate student at Calvin College. Through various leadership opportunities and the embrace of his queer identity, Scott found his way to Grand Valley State University studying in their Master's Program for College Student Affairs Leadership. During his time there, he served for two years as the graduate assistant in their LGBT Resource Center. Scott has a deep passion for student support and a desire to empower students to move toward authenticity in all aspects of their lives. He also has a passion for educating students, faculty, and staff about intersectional social justice and Queer politics. In his spare time, you will find him reading a book, riding his bike, or going out for a run! In the years he has held in a professional role in a university LGBTQ+ Center, Scott has produced influential scholarship, implemented innovative new programming, and inspired his colleagues and peers to relentlessly pursue intersectional justice. These accomplishments and more not only demonstrate the impact he has already had on our field in such a short amount of time, but also illustrate his great promise to continue advancing the profession going forward. In summary, Scott has positively influenced the profession of LGBTQ+ student services through his scholarship; he has impacted our campus as a result of his creativity and commitment; and, he has moved others to act in solidarity with all marginalized communities through leading by example.
Dr. Lee Kern, 2017/18: Dr. Kern is a professor of special education, department of Education and Human Services, in Lehigh's College of Education. Dr. Kern has dedicated her career to improving the lives of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities through research, training, and direct service. Her areas of expertise include positive behavior support (PBS), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and school-based interventions to meet students' needs. Throughout her career, she has conducted over $20 million in funded research to develop and test interventions in schools to support students at risk for academic underperformance, dropping out, and negative life outcomes. She served as the Primary Investigator of the Center for Adolescent Research in Schools, where she helmed a 5-year study conducted by Lehigh and six other institutions: Ohio University, the University of Missouri, the University of South Carolina, the University of Kansas, the University of Houston (TIMES) and Miami University of Ohio. Over 600 students at 54 high schools, both regionally and nationally, participated in the study. Twelve of the schools were in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley and the surrounding region. Dr. Kern also helped found the Autism Clinic at Lehigh University. The clinic serves children and families in language and social skills development, trains graduate students, and offers workshops to promote positive outcomes for children on the autism spectrum.
Brenda Martinez, 2016/2017: At the time of the award, Brenda was a second-year Master's student in the English Department. Brenda embodied the transformative ethos championed by the Percy Hughes Award by serving the greater Lehigh community as a dedicated educator and a passionate scholar-activist. Brenda graduated with a BA from Lehigh in 2015, and knew she wanted to continue advocating for her fellow first generation students and those who had struggled to find a supportive environment at a prestigious university. She was integral to the founding of the Lehigh University Summer Scholars Institute (LUSSI) program, which has since enjoyed years of success in providing first generation students from a diverse range of backgrounds with preparatory summer courses and additional support throughout the school year. During Brenda’s first year of her MA program, she continued to support marginalized students by serving as a Graduate Assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), where she organized a series of informative and innovative programs and events for students across the University. Brenda worked as a Teaching Fellow in the English Department, where her culturally relevant courses provided students not only with the technical skills needed to compose college-level writing, but also the critical analysis skills that they can utilize beyond the classroom to question how education intersects with cultural constructions of race, class, and gender, etc. In addition to working as a full-time educator and carrying a full course load, Brenda continued to work 5 hours a week for OMA to ensure that staff and students had additional support during a difficult period of transition, as the OMA continued to search for a replacement director and assistant director. Often volunteering her time beyond her scheduled work hours, Brenda ensured that students who rely on the Multicultural Room as a safe space continued to receive the guidance, support, and programming that they need to feel included and valued on campus. Her mission to bring greater visibility to El Salvadoran women in the U.S. exemplifies her dedication to have her advocacy and activism engage with her scholarship. As an El Salvadoran woman herself, Brenda describes critical aspects of her “identity theory in the flesh,” as seen in her Spanglish and South Central origin, by creating a “politic born out of necessity” (Cherrie Moraga). Brenda further expanded opportunities for local women and girls of color by co-founding Sisters in Conference. The now-annual conference “connects [women and girls] across generations through examining their own practice of self-care and self-love.” Using a collective approach, the conference organizers encourage women and girls of color to come together to perform imperative healing work. Brenda’s tenacity and perseverance have ensured that this unique opportunity is available to conference participants for subsequent years. Brenda has transformed Lehigh University to its core through her tireless activism and unbreakable spirit. Though she faced tremendous adversity as an undergrad during the trying times of Lehigh’s racial tension, she never let that dissuade her love for Lehigh. Brenda’s goal has always been to change the world one mind, one heart, and one spirit at a time, and her intention was to make that change felt, first and foremost, at her home of Lehigh. The fact that she has continued to mentor five generations of undergraduate students through the programs she created and implemented is astounding work for a woman who had just recently been accepted to Ph.D. programs.
David J. Fine, 2015/2016: At the time of the award, David was completing his doctorate in English at Lehigh before taking a faculty position at the University of Dayton. His dissertation explored the relationship between secularization and ethics in the mid-twentieth-century British novel. During his doctoral program, David served as the Assistant Director of the Global Citizenship program. This program sought to challenge students from many disciplinary backgrounds to envision and then live their civic identity. In his Global Citizenship classes, David facilitated hands-on, experiential learning, such as a reciprocal service-learning experience with international refugees brought by a local resettlement agency, and encouraged his students to bring about social change and community development through their capstone projects. He designed a community-engaged practicum called "The Citizen and the City" that draws on readings from a wide range of theorists and activists to explore what it truly means to be a citizen in South Bethlehem. He also worked on a summer Mountaintop project, mentoring undergraduate students to develop their interviewing skills and ethical storytelling models as they created their own community storytelling project. Throughout his work, David sought to develop within students the capacity to reflect critically and ask difficult questions about equity, human rights, and social justice.