College of

Percy Hughes Award

Scholarship, Humanity, and Social Change
2019 Percy Hughes Award Winner, Scott Burden with Dean William Gaudelli - Read more below about Scott!
Professor Percy Hughes
Professor Percy Hughes

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.

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.

Nominations criteria:

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:

  1. Positive orientation: Committed to improving Lehigh and/or the broader communities (whether at the local, national, or global level).
  2. Visible impact: Has a noticeable effect on Lehigh and/or the broader communities.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 

Nomination Process: 

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. 

The nomination form is posted here. Nominators may download the form and complete it electronically. 

The deadline for submissions of 2020 nominations is 5:00pm EST, Monday, March 16, 2020.

Nominations may be submitted electronically by attaching a completed copy of the nomination form to an email to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Education ( or by hand-delivering nominations to the deans’ secretary in room A325 of Iacocca Hall.  Nominations received after that 5:00pm deadline will not be considered.  Please do not use campus mail unless you have sufficient time for delivery to take place before the deadline.

Selection Process: 

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.  (See Tables 1 & 2.) 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. 

Award Process:

The award consists of two parts: A $2500 cash award given to the recipient, and a $2500 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.  In 2016, the Percy Hughes award was given at the COE anniversary celebration on Thursday, May 5. In subsequent years, it has been held as part of the university-wide Symposium on Teaching and Learning in April.
Nominees will be notified that their names were put forward for the award, and nominators will be thanked for their participation. 

Special collections:
Current award winner:

Dr. William Hunter, 2019/2020

Previous award winners:

Scott Burden, 2018/19, 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 hopes 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 three years he has been 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, 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, is a second-year Master's student in the English Department. Brenda embodies 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 then enjoyed three 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 has organized a series of informative and innovative programs and events for students across the University. This past year, Brenda has worked as a Teaching Fellow in the English Department, where her culturally relevant courses have 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 has continued to work 5 hours a week for OMA to ensure that staff and students have additional support during a difficult period of transition, as the OMA continues to search for a replacement director and assistant director. Often volunteering her time beyond her scheduled work hours, Brenda has ensured that students who rely on the Multicultural Room as a safe space continue 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 has 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 a second year. 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 has just recently been accepted to Ph.D. programs. 

David J. Fine, 2015/2016, is completing his doctorate in English at Lehigh before taking a faculty position at the University of Dayton. His dissertation explores the relationship between secularization and ethics in the mid-twentieth-century British novel. During his doctoral program, David has served as the Assistant Director of the Global Citizenship program. This program seeks to challenge students from many disciplinary backgrounds to envision and then live their civic identity. In his Global Citizenship classes, David has 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 has sought to develop within students the capacity to reflect critically and ask difficult questions about equity, human rights, and social justice.

Ralph Jean-Noel, 2013/2104, College of Arts & Sciences, student in Global Studies and Africana Studies. Ralph Jean-Noel​ is a Junior pursuing a double major in Global Studies & Africana Studies here at Lehigh. He is set to graduate in 2015, and hopes to also complete a minor in Entrepreneurship. On campus, Ralph serves as the Vice President of the Black Student Union, Intern for Diversity Recruitment in the Office of Admissions, Co-chair of the Black History Month Committee and Strive for Excellence Banquet committee, and is a student staff member in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The work he does in and outside of the classroom with his peers and mentors is to make the experience at Lehigh University better for everyone, and foster a true all inclusive and just environment. He believes inclusive collaboration is the key to the transformative change that needs to take place here at Lehigh and in society overall. The motto of the Haitian flag states “L’union fait la force” or “Unity Makes Strength” – a phrase he proudly carries with him through everything he does and a legacy he hopes he has left at Lehigh. Ralph donated a half of his award to The Boys and Girls Club of the Southside of Bethlehem, which is committed to enabling all young people (especially those who need it most) to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible individuals. 

Dr. Linda Bambara, 2012/2013, College of Education, Professor of Special Education, College of Education. Dr. Linda Bambara is a professor of special education, Department of Education and Human Services, Lehigh University. Her expertise in developmental disabilities spans over 30 years, and includes research in the areas of social and communication interventions, self-determination and self-management interventions, and positive behavior supports for individuals with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviors. She has served as PI or Co-PI on grants from the U. S. Department of Education and Autism Speaks, most recently investigating a peer mediated intervention to improve the conversation skills of high schoolers with autism. Additionally Linda served as Executive Director or Co-Director of two university-based service programs for individuals with developmental disabilities, including Transition and Employment which provides community inclusion and employment support to transition age youth with ASD and other developmental disabilities and is a former co-PI of ASERT (Autism Service, Education, Research, and Training) a center funded through PA’s Bureau of Autism Services that provides training, education, and outreach for providers and families, and clinical services for individuals with ASD. Professor Bambara donated half of her award to TASH, a values-based organization that believes all people deserve to be participants in their communities, build lasting relationships with peers and neighbors, and access the opportunities promised to us all.

Victoria Herrmann, 2011/2012, College of Arts & Sciences, student of International Relations and Art History. Originally from Paramus, NJ, Victoria Herrmann is a senior double major in Art History and International Relations at Lehigh University. On campus, she is the current president of the Association of Student Alumni, the past president of Green Action, and the Social Chair of Engineers without Borders. After spending four months in Tbilisi, Georgia last spring working on human rights issues as a State Department intern, she spent the summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art working with the Multicultural Audience Development Initiative on programming for New York City's Muslim communities. She hopes to continue her work in human rights and minority empowerment after graduation. As a part of the Percy Hughes Award, Victoria donated US$2,500 to DC Central Kitchen. 

Michele Vella, 2010/2011, College of Education,  Doctoral Student of Counseling Psychology. Michele Vella is a doctoral student in counseling psychology and received her M.Ed. in counseling and human services and graduate certificate in women?s studies from Lehigh University. Her research interests include domestic and international mental and physical health disparities, psychological adjustment and resiliency in environments affected by war and poverty, and the psychological aspects of international peace and war. Before attending Lehigh, Michele lived and studied in New York City receiving an M.S. from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a M.A. in Spanish from the City College of New York.  She credits the mentorship, support, and inspiration of Latino community as well as her undergraduate institution, Middlebury College, for her interest in social justice and advocacy work. Michele is the UN ECOSOC Non-Governmental representative of the Geriatric Care Foundation of Pakistan, a Central and South American liaison for United Nations Academic Impact, serves on Lehigh?s Council for Equity and Community and World AIDS Week Committee, and is currently doing her counseling psychology practicum at a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania. Michele has donated half of her award to Lehigh University/United Nations Partnership, the American Behcet's Disease Association (ABDA), and First Hospital Substance Abuse Unit.

Jessica Harris, 2009/2010, College of Education, Graduate Student of Teaching, Learning and Technology. Jessica Harris '09, a student in COE 5-year Elementary Education program was nominated for her leadership in improving reading levels among low-income Southside elementary students at Donegan school.  Jessica has been working with the Donegan Family Center and Bethlehem Partnership agencies to develop the "Reading Rocks" competition.  Over 160 Donegan students participated and achieved pre-established goals for number of books read. They received incentives and rewards for their accomplishments, including a trip to an Iron Pigs game where the top readers in each grade threw out the opening pitch. Jessica also coordinated an afterschool reading program, recruiting over 50 athletes and sorority and fraternity members to meet and read with nearly 100 Donegan youth each week to help them improve their reading skills.  In addition, Jessica developed a Reading Theater program for students during the summer months and has helped with book donation drives at St. Luke's Hospital and in the community. Jessica donated half of her award to the Reading Rocks Program. 

Carolina Hernandez, 2009/2010, Lehigh University, Director of Community Service. Carolina was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her family left Cuba in the early sixties to escape the oppressive Castro regime, and instilled in her both Cuban and American values. Carolina has first arrived to Lehigh in 2001 through AmeriCorps as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA).  After serving as an AmeriCorps*VISTA for two years, the Community Service Office Director position became available – and she has been there since. Carolina says: “I often say that I have the best job on campus.  It is in this position that my personal values and professional goals intersect. I am constantly working with students and teaching them about critical elements of service, community voice and active citizenship while also connecting and partnering with non-profits and helping meet community needs. Truly – the best job.” Additionally, Carolina has been given the opportunity to play a role in the Council for Equity and Community. It is through this role that she is able to work internally at Lehigh and work on the important issues to create a stronger campus community.  Carolina donated half of her award to Victory House, a nonprofit, community-based organization committed to addressing the problems of homeless men -- veterans and non-veterans between the ages of 18 and 65.

Committee members:
  • Arpana G. Inman, 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
Past committee members:
  • Thomas Hammond, Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Teaching, Learning, & Technology

  • Carla Kologie, Office of Teacher Certification, College of Education

  • Naomi Rothman, Professor, College of Business and Economics

  • Iveta Silova (Committee Chair), Professor and Program Director, Comparative and International Education

  • Arpana Inman, Professor of Counseling Psychology and Chair, Department of Education and Human Services

  • Cameron B. Wesson, Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology

  • Roslyn Weiss, Clara H. Stewardson Professor of Philosophy and Chair, Department of Philosophy

  • Ilena Key, Department of Library and Technology Services

  • David Nguyen, doctoral student in Counseling Psychology, College of Education

The Percy Hughes Award for Scholarship, Humanity, and Social Change
The Percy Hughes Award for Scholarship, Humanity, and Social Change