Patricia Johnson, vice president for finance and administration at Lehigh, announced in an email on Nov. 23 that Brent Stringfellow, Lehigh’s university architect and associate vice president of facilities, has accepted the position of Director of Campus Planning at the University of Texas at Austin.
Stringfellow will be leaving Lehigh at the end of 2021. He has been with the university since 2013, first as an adjunct professor, and began his current position in 2016.
During his time at Lehigh, Stringfellow led the renovations of Mountaintop Building C, the Center for Career and Professional Development, Chandler-Ullman and the Grind @ FML.
He also initiated major construction projects, such as the Carol and John Covert Track and Field Pavilion, SouthSide Commons and the Singleton Hitch & Maida Residential Houses.
Some of these projects, such as the Health, Science and Technology Building and the College of Business expansion, are currently ongoing.
Johnson will be retiring later this academic year. The incoming vice president of finance and administration will lead the search for Stringfellow’s permanent replacement. In the meantime, Don Pasda, director of buildings and utility systems, will serve as interim assistant vice president of facilities.
Stringfellow sat down with The Brown and White to discuss his plans for the future, as well as the future of his ongoing projects at Lehigh, and to reflect on his time at Lehigh.
Q: What prompted you to take the position of Director of Campus Planning at the University of Texas at Austin?
Brent Stringfellow: It’s just an interesting new opportunity. It’s a different type of university with different sets of challenges, obviously, so that’s of interest. It’s also a role that will allow me to focus on my background in architecture a little bit more than my role at Lehigh, which is a bit broader.
Q: What will happen to the ongoing projects that you started at Lehigh, such as the Health, Science and Technology Building and the College of Business expansion?
BS: Everything will continue. We have the entire project management team, and the planning and design and construction part of (LU) facilities is still here. They’re the ones who have actually been responsible really for the day-to-day implementation. So, there will really be no shift in terms of how that work continues or how that work is impacted. We have what I like to think of as a deep bench in facilities, so everything will kind of continue as has been projected.
Q: I understand that Don Pasda, director of buildings and utility systems, has been selected to serve as Interim Assistant Vice President of Facilities until a permanent replacement is found. Is there a reason as to why he was chosen?
BS: Don has been at Lehigh for I think almost 15 years. (He has) a great deal of experience and kind of understands the university really well. He’s been involved with all aspects of facilities, so I think he has a good handle on everything, and I think everybody respects that he’ll be able to keep things rolling in an effective way.
Q: Will you play a role in the search for a permanent replacement?
BS: No, that will really follow once I depart here, that will occur later. That’s really going to be a question probably for the president’s office and also the Vice President of Finance and Administration’s office, which is really where this position reports. So that will be their challenge and their take on it.
Q: Is there anything you’re looking for in your replacement or things you would like to see continue after you leave Lehigh?
BS: Obviously, I love the campus here. It was not an easy decision to leave. I’ve had a great experience working at Lehigh. I think the buildings and the landscape and how people use them are just stunning. And I think what I would hope is my replacement brings that same level of enthusiasm about the campus and about the potential. Building on such a great legacy is such a great opportunity for anybody who can occupy this role.
Q: Recently the university has seen many changes in leadership, such the introduction of a new president and the announced retirement of Pat Johnson. Is there any correlation between these changes and your decision to leave Lehigh?
BS: No, the timing has to do more with the new position than my position at Lehigh in terms of when certain opportunities present themselves, you take advantage of them. So it doesn’t have anything to do really with Lehigh at this point.
Q: What have been some of the highlights of your career at Lehigh?
BS: There’s been a lot of them. I think, obviously, being able to get a lot of these large capital projects moving ahead that I think have had a really positive impact on campus and started to point in some of the directions that the campus can go. Less about specific projects, but just in general, I think working with the different groups on campus as we’ve gone through different challenges related to projects or related to facilities has always been rewarding. I always found that it’s an incredibly decent set of people at Lehigh and people who are really committed to trying to do the right thing and committed to the university. And that’s true of faculty, staff and students, and that’s something I’ll certainly carry with me. So there’s been a lot of great experiences, projects large and small. I remember even things like when we opened up the café in FML, what a success that was. Realizing that it’s not just the really big projects, but it’s these smart projects that have a great impact in terms of the lives of the students and the life of the university in general.