Lehigh Class of 1973 gathered at Reunion 2023 and posed in front of the University Center construction site.

The Clayton University Center is remembered as Packer Hall by many alumni, and their memories of their time spent there as students is vivid, as the historic building has been the backdrop for so much of student life through Lehigh history.

At Reunion 2023, alumni returned to campus and stole their first glances at their beloved University Center under construction. We took the opportunity to reminisce with a few about their most memorable UC moments and consider the possibilities for future students with the renovations made possible by the extended Lehigh community and their gifts of all sizes.

Alumnus stands in front of the University Center construction site wearing a brown Lehigh polo shirt lanyard with a name tag
Bobby Gower ’12

“They had a little coffee shop up in there, and I used to like to grab a breakfast sandwich and an unsweetened iced tea. And I would sit and eat it out here on the UC front lawn, which was always very nice, because it was always quiet. After graduation, I worked in an oil refinery. I would be sitting there, looking at distillation comps, and I would look at my watch and think about how six months ago, I was sitting at the UC with my breakfast sandwich and the New York Times and think, ‘This isn't quite the same.’”  
Bobby Gower ’12

Alumnus sits in a lawn chair at Reunion 2023 wearing a brown Lehigh jersey and lanyard.
Thomas Fisher ’73 ’79G

“The University Center was a great gathering place. We played many pinball machines down there. That was entertainment at the time. The University Center was especially great our freshman year. It was the one gathering place we had. There weren’t any separate game rooms or anything else at Richards or Drinker or anything, so you'd come to the University Center, have something to eat, and then spend a lot of time playing pinball.” 
— Thomas Fisher ’73 ’79G

Alumnus stands in front of the University Center construction wearing a brown t-shirt and lanyard.
Cory Ackerman ’79 ’11P

“On the left behind the post office was Neville Lounge. That's where we had all of these jazz band concerts, and they were always well attended. We used to put up posters all over the place, and we had a famous guest artist once — Buddy Rich.” 
— Cory Ackerman ’79 ’11P

Alumnae stands in front of the University Center construction wearing a brown t-shirt and a smile.
Kristin Coville-Wildermann ’96

“There was a huge seating area [in the Red Lounge], and we’d push all the seats back, and the university would put up a stage. We would turn down the lights because we thought that was very cool, and we would get a sound system. We'd have an open mic night, and people from all over campus would come and play guitar or perform poetry or sing, and a couple of bands would show up, and that's what we did upstairs.” 
— Kristin Coville-Wildermann ’96

Alumnus wearing a brown t-shirt and bucket hat kneels on the grass beside a sandy colored dog at Reunion 2023.
Philip Trackenberg ’14

“After marching band practice in the fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we'd end right around six o'clock. So we would come down to the upper UC where they had a food court, and everyone would get their dinner. We’d move the long tables together, making shapes with them however we could so we could all be sitting at the same table … even though it was, you know, 50 or 60 feet long. The whole band would basically be there, all at once, having dinner together. It was fantastic.” 
— Philip Trackenberg ’14

Alumnus sits at Reunion 2023 wearing a brown polo shirt and blue lanyard.
Fred Braun ’63

“There was also a mailroom attached to part of the bookstore, with all the little boxes. And right across the hall was the sweet shop. I remember freshman year they had milk machines for both white milk and chocolate milk. We used to borrow the trays, and on a snowy, icy day, we would use the trays as toboggans and come down the hill.” 
— Fred Braun ’63

Learn more about the Clayton University Center renovations, the vision for each space, and how to impact the next generation of students by giving your support.

Black and white photo from the 1963 yearbook shows a woman using the milk machines in the University Center dining hall.

In This Image: Fred Braun ’63 remembers the milk machines that offered white and chocolate milk to students.

Black and white photo from the 1996 yearbook shows students lined up at the Stack's Deli counter.

In This Image: The dining options at the University Center in 1996 appealed to students, including Stack's Deli counter (shown) and Burger King.

Black and white photo shows four students in 1980 gathered around a pinball machine watching one play the game.

In This Image: With its popular pinball machines, Thomas Fisher ’73 ’79G remembers the University Center offering the best gathering place on campus.

Black and white photo from the 1963 yearbook shows a man wearing a hat and blazer standing at a wall of mailboxes looking down at his mail.

In This Image: Fred Braun ’63 remembers that there was a sweet shop positioned across the hall from the mailroom in the University Center.

Black and white photo from the 1963 yearbook shows a man behind a counter scooping ice cream into a glass dish with happy students waiting for their treat.

In This Image: The 1963 Epitome recalls that one of the biggest attractions of the University Center was its snack bar, featuring Sealtest ice cream — "a delicious treat."

Black and white photo from the 1973 yearbook shows an Americana II jukebox.

In This Image: Cory Ackerman ’79 ’11P remembers the music that flooded the University Center during his time there — the jukebox, concerts, and posters punctuated the era.

From under an archway, the front of the University Center shows the stairs, sloped lawn and bell tower.

In This Image: Many memories took place on the lawn of the University Center, including quiet moments for Bobby Gower ’12, who would enjoy mornings there with a breakfast sandwich and iced tea.

Black and white photo shows a student sitting at a dining hall table hunched over a plate of food.

In This Image: The food is a vivid memory for those that fondly recall their time at the University Center, including Chuck Leuthauser ’63 who still dreams of the pecan pie.

Discover More

Reimagining the Heart of Campus

Rendering of the Clayton University Center Exterior

Clayton University Center at Packer Hall

More than a building, the Clayton University Center at Packer Hall is the heart of the Lehigh campus. Current renovations will reinvent the Clayton UC into a vibrant space that fosters collaboration and equips students with the skills to lead.