Until a recession in the 1890's diminished the value of the Lehigh Valley Railroad stock, Packer's endowment allowed the institution to offer its education free of charge by competitive exam. This, plus its blend of engineering and liberal arts, attracted some of the nation's brightest students, many of whom went on to distinguished careers in industry and engineering.
Unlike other engineering schools of the day, Lehigh was never envisioned to be an "Institute of Technology" but always a University, combining both scientific and classical education for its students. Initially there were five schools; four scientific (civil engineering, mechanical engineering, mining and metallurgy, and analytical chemistry) and one of general literature. Over time, additional areas of the arts and sciences were added and engineering curriculums were both merged and expanded.