Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has announced a $2.5 million gift from Charles Marcon to establish an institute dedicated to social justice.
In addition to research, the core activity of the Marcon Institute will be to prepare and deploy undergraduate scholars — to be known as Marcon Fellows — alongside community partners working to advance social justice. The CEO of construction company Duggan & Marcon in Allentown, Charles Marcon became engaged in issues of race and race-based discrimination as a high school baseball player on a mostly Black team and as a player on his Army basketball team. Later, the subject of racial equity became more personal for him as the grandfather of biracial grandkids.
"That got me thinking about these issues and what I could do about them," said Marcon, whose wife and sister are Lehigh alumnae. "It's easy to recognize them globally or nationally, but one person with limited resources will not make any impact at that level. But locally, I certainly could have impact....I would like [the Marcon Fellows] to be conscientious, thoughtful, caring people who really have a passion for social justice. My hope is that they, and the institute, can create a voice that is heard far beyond our community to highlight and eliminate racial injustice."
"Students are passionate about social justice, and the Marcon Institute will provide an important way for them to be deeply engaged and have an impact, doing things that make a difference in our community," said Nathan Urban, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "It will shape both their undergraduate experience and their lives after Lehigh. It will allow Lehigh to be a catalyst for promoting social justice in the region and prepare students to be agents for change."