Scott Koerwer, ’90G, is the new director of the Iacocca Institute. Koerwer hopes to foster collaboration between Lehigh’s five colleges and bring a sense of entrepreneurship to the program. (Sam Barney-Gibbs/ B&W Staff)

Scott Koerwer named new Iaccoca Institute director


Scott Koerwer, ‘90G, is going global at Lehigh, as the university announced he will be the new director of the Iacocca Institute, a program within the Office of International Affairs. 

Cheryl Matherly, vice president of the Office of International Affairs, said the institute was founded in 1988 by automobile executive Lee Iacocca, ‘45, to connect Lehigh students with international business and global interactions. 

Koerwer comes back to Lehigh with an education spanning nine different institutions. He received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Muhlenberg College, a master’s degree in government from Lehigh, a Ph.D. from Thomas Jefferson University, and his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has received certificates from four other institutions and one from Thomas Jefferson University. 

He attributes his education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business for introducing him to global business and said he still does his best to think like a political scientist and become a better problem solver when approaching roles of leadership. 

Most recently, Koerwer served as vice president and chief administrative officer at the Wright Center for Community Health and Medical Education. 

“I believe each of these positions has helped me develop an appreciation for the challenges leaders face,” Koerwer said. “And all of that culminates at the Iacocca Institute at Lehigh in developing programs for emerging, hopeful leaders that want to take on the most pressing challenges we face.” 

Koerwer said he tries to understand the cultural, economic, political and social challenges that leaders must be prepared to address when solving the most complex global problems.

He said his experiences and education have led him back to Lehigh more enthusiastic than ever to interact with students and hear about the issues they care about.

The addition of Koerwer to the institute is anticipated to bring a new era of connectivity between the Iacocca Institute and Lehigh, especially with Lehigh’s new Strategic Plan. The plan has a large influence on the direction of the Iacocca Institute and is guided by four main themes: Education with Purpose, Lehigh User Experience, Research with Impact and Smart Growth.  

“We’re thinking very broadly about how the institute can align some of the university’s ambitions around support for entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems,” Matherly said. 

In addition to the Strategic Plan, the Iacocca Family Foundation has recently made a $10 million donation to the Institute — what Matherly calls a “matching obligation.” In order to receive the $10 million gift, Lehigh must raise $5 million itself. This gift will act as a catalyst for the Iacocca Institute to explore new opportunities for the Lehigh community.

Matherly said the institute hopes to find ways to bring the experiences students receive from summer programs into academic curriculums at Lehigh. 

Entrepreneurship is not limited to business students, Koerwer said, and it is a skill that can be developed regardless of major. He said reaching out to collaborate with all five of Lehigh’s colleges will also be a leading focus in fostering the future of the Iacocca Institute. 

The 2023 Iacocca International Internship program cohort poses for a group photo in the Business Innovation Building. The program fully funds students’ internships abroad, with options to study in one of 58 different countries. (Courtesy of Sadie Clark)

Daniel Xie, ‘26, said Iacocca’s Global Village program “totally changed (his) life,” after he was inspired by the community to switch from the College of Business to the College of Arts and Science to major in theatre. 

The Global Village is an intensive summer program that brings together young talents from numerous countries to harvest international business, leadership and entrepreneurial skills through comprehensive events. 

“I talked to villagers about what I really wanted to do,” Xie said. “They encouraged me to be courageous, make big dreams happen and not to limit myself.” 

Matherly hopes more Lehigh students receive similar beneficial experiences as the Iacocca Institute grows under Koerwer’s leadership. 

Koerwer will work closely with Matherly, who shares his enthusiasm for the evolution of the institute with new direction and donations. 

“He brings a real breadth of experience, both with (a) business education but also in healthcare,” Matherly said. “He had a global experience and familiarity with Lehigh that we needed.” 

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