Lehigh University
Lehigh University


In Memoriam: Paul J. Franz Jr., vice-president emeritus for development and university relations

Paul J. Franz Jr., vice-president emeritus for development and university relations at Lehigh University, and the man considered to be the dean of American's college and university development officers, died Saturday, July 13th, in Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

"Paul was truly the founding father of development at Lehigh, and everyone of us owes him a debt of gratitude for all that he did over an astounding six decades of service to his alma mater," said Bonnie Devlin, vice-president of advancement at Lehigh. "We will all remember his gentle sense of humor, his optimism and above all, his love of Lehigh."

Adds Robert Holcombe, associate vice president of development and longstanding friend and colleague of Franz, "Paul Franz was a consummate gentleman and one of the premier fund-raising executives in the country. Along with a few others, he established the concept of college development as we know it today at a meeting at the Greenbrier in 1957."

Franz received several national awards for his success in fund raising and his work as one of the pioneers in elevating the standards and systems of collegiate fund raising to a high level of sophistication and professionalism. Under his leadership, Lehigh raised more than $300 million, $200 million of that during the 1980s alone.

Many of those who supported Lehigh, such as business magnate and Lehigh alum Lee Iacocca '45, credited Franz's extraordinary success to his ability to develop and sustain lifelong friendships. Franz knew Iacocca from the days when they were both undergraduates at Lehigh.

"Lee will do anything for you, if you say it's for Paul," a former Lehigh development official told the Chronicle of Higher Education, which featured Franz in a 1987 profile and credited at least part of his stellar development record to his personal charm.

"Mr. Franz, with his smooth manners, cigars and stories about the neighboring Pennsylvania Dutch told in accents honed by years of practice at alumni gatherings, is the university," the Chronicle wrote.

Also striking, according to the Chronicle, was the level of respect accorded him by faculty members. In 1996, the faculty honored Franz by bestowing upon him the rank of Professor Honoris Causa, "in grateful recognition of his significant and enduring contributions to the university's educational mission." The presentation at his final faculty meeting drew a standing ovation.

The university also established an award in his name in 1989, which is given to a university professional staff administrator who has combined excellence of performance with a service of dedication and devotion to Lehigh University.

Originally from Elkins Park, Pa., Franz had been associated with Lehigh since he came to the university as an undergraduate studying business administration. He began working at Lehigh upon graduation in 1944, and in 1949, he was named assistant to the president of Lehigh, in charge of development.

He became vice-president of development in 1962 and retired in 1988 in order to devote more time to his family and to various civic and community causes, which included leadership positions with St. Luke's Hospital, Trinity Episcopal Church, the Allentown Art Museum, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Lehigh Valley Conservancy, Moravian Academy, the United Way and the former Blue Cross of the Lehigh Valley.

He remained connected with Lehigh long after he retired, serving as a consultant and supporting Lehigh's efforts to expand both its physical campus and its academic programs.

"He came in almost every day," Holcombe said. "He continued to provide counsel to many of the younger people working here, and remained an active and valued participant."

In 1996, Lehigh honored Franz' dedication with a plaza outside the University Center, which was named in his honor at the request of Sue and Eugene Mercy Jr. '59, former Lehigh trustee and chairman of Granite Capital International Group of New York City.

Over the years, Franz also received several other awards for his work including the L-in-Life Award, which is given to an alumnus who distinguishes himself through career accomplishments and outstanding service to the community, and the Frank L. Ashmore Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Franz earned his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1944, and a master's degree in history in 1955. In 1980, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

He and his wife, the former Jean Pope, have two children and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Franz's honor at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 31st in Packer Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either Lehigh University (for the Paul J. Franz Jr., Memorial Scholarship Fund) or the Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem.

Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2002

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