Packard Hall is one of many gothic style buildings at Lehigh. Inside of this building is an exhibit of the first Packard automobile. (Lexi Berliner/B&W Staff)

$5.5 million donation to fund search for dean of engineering college


The Strauch family donated $5.5 million to help fund the search for a new dean for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The contribution will help create the Charles S. Strauch and Nan Strauch Endowed Deanship to both fund the search for a dean and to encourage research and teaching endeavors within the college.

This is not the first time the Strauch family has made a contribution to Lehigh. Charles, ’57, and his wife, Nan, donated $1 million to improve Lehigh’s engineering labs and later made efforts to expand Lehigh’s teaching in areas of computer and data science through the Data X Initiatives.

Charles Strauch believes it is critical for Lehigh to keep up with the rapid technological changes of today’s society.

“Lehigh needs to work closely with technological companies and should look to successful companies such as CISCO and form partnerships within areas such as data science, similar to how universities such as Carnegie Mellon (University) have developed close ties with Google,” he said.

Charles Strauch emphasized the importance of Lehigh remaining at the forefront of innovation. He noted Lehigh’s creation of the bio-engineering program after recognizing the importance of biosciences as one of the ways Lehigh has kept up with shifting technology.

The dean position has been vacant since David Wu left Lehigh in 2014. Daniel Lopresti served as the interim dean from July 2014 to July 2015, and professor John Coulter has served as the interim dean since then.

The search committee for the new dean is comprised of professors and trustees. There is no set date for the end of the search, and Charles Strauch said the main goal of the committee is to find a qualified replacement.

“The important thing is to get it right,” he said. “A demonstrated record in the current business world and a record of being a change agent is critical. I cannot emphasize enough how extremely important leadership is in order to implement change. If another year passes, it is fine, as long as we meet a person who has the profile to lead.”

Coulter, who does not have a chief part in selecting a dean, said in a previous interview with The Brown and White the new dean should be someone who is engaged and encourages others to be engaged.

“The new dean must truly believe in a sense of shared community, in a sense of inclusiveness and that together we can achieve this enhanced college and university,” Coulter said. “They must be innovative, creative and a risk-taker. Educated and informed risk is a good thing, that’s how the real world advances, we (the Lehigh community) have to be game changers.”

Charles Strauch said both the new dean and students should recognize the importance of teamwork.

“Engineering is not the same as its old fashioned view of as a high level technical skill, graduates must have an appreciation for the broad perspective which defines engineers and recognize the value of team work,” Charles Strauch said. “In industry project work is executed as a team.”

Charles Strauch, who is part of a three-generation Lehigh family, earned his degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh in 1957 and became a businessman and technology sector entrepreneur. He is the owner of GA Services LLC, Steadfast Construction LLC, and GAS Finance LLC. He has served on the Engineering Advisory Council at the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science since 2008 and is a past recipient of the Lehigh University Alumni Association Alumni Award.


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