Elmer C. Easton graduated from Lehigh University with both a bachelor of science and master of science degree in electrical engineering in 1931 and 1933. He furthered his education at Harvard University earning a Doctor of Science degree in 1942. In 1965, Lehigh acknowledged his decades of work in the field of engineering with an honorary Doctorate of Engineering degree. As a student, Easton was a member of Theta Chi, honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Eta Kappa Nu, the WLVR (LU Radio) Club, and the Electrical Engineering Society.
Easton began a teaching career by accident in 1935, filling in for a professor who left mid-term at the Newark College of Engineering (now the New Jersey Institute of Technology). During WWII, Easton accepted a request from Harvard University to teach RADAR (radio detection and ranging) to officers in the Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard. After the war ended, he continued teaching electrical engineering at Harvard and was the assistant dean of the Faculty of Engineering. In 1948, he became the dean of the College of Engineering at Rutgers College (now Rutgers University), a post Easton served until 1974.
At Rutgers, Easton drove the expansion of almost all aspects of the engineering college. During his tenure, he saw to fruition four new buildings dedicated to engineering; new majors added in the program; curriculum restructuring and development; student recruitment advancement; and fundraising, stewardship, and alumni cultivation. He also taught graduate and honors classes, and expanded the master’s programs and started a doctorate program. In 1964, he received the Rutgers Distinguished Engineer Award, and received the university’s highest honor in 2008 when he was awarded the Rutgers Presidential Citation.
Easton was a member of a number of technical professional societies and received numerous awards, among them being elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers; the American Society for Engineering Education; and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. A dedicated Lehigh alum, Easton volunteered as member of the National Leadership Committee for the Preserving the Vision campaign; and was Planned Giving Class Chairman from 1996 to 2003. He also contributed his time to the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way, serving in leadership positions.
The Frank and Helen Easton Memorial Scholarship that he established at Lehigh in honor of his parents has supported 10 students since its inception in 1979. These scholars included a star field hockey player, a top swimmer in the Patriot League, and a starting wide receiver on the football team. Today, the students are employees at top companies such as Boeing and Merrill Lynch. In addition, Easton’s generous support of Lehigh’s charitable gift annuity program has had a tremendous effect on the university’s scholarship fund, impacting an even greater number of talented students.
Easton passed away on June 22, 2013.