As the first person Packer informed about his plan to create a university, Bishop Stevens was instrumental in building and shaping Lehigh. Plus, as the President of the Board of Trustees, Stevens was involved in every decision made for the school's early years.
Stevens wrote of his first meeting with Packer in 1864:
"Filled with profound emotions at the mention of such a gift for such an object, I asked the noble donor what specific plans he had framed in his own mind in reference to it. His reply was, "I am not much acquainted with these matters, but you are, and I want you if you will to devise a plan which I can put into effective operation." I told him that I would make the attempt. I did so. I drew up the outline sketch of such an institution as I thought would give the largest results for the means used, and submitted it in a few weeks to his inspection. He examined it with the practical judgment and business habits with which he deals with all great questions, and adopted the scheme as the basis of his future university."