J. Leon Washington
Following an international search, J. Leon Washington, assistant vice chancellor, student affairs and enrollment management, at the University of California-Davis, has been named dean of admissions and financial aid at Lehigh University effective June 1. The appointment was jointly announced by President Alice P. Gast and Provost Mohamed S. El-Aasser.
During his distinguished 28-year career in higher education, Washington has held leadership roles in enrollment management, admissions and retention programs at liberal arts colleges and major universities across the country including University of California-Davis, California State University, Guilford (N.C.) College, Oberlin (Ohio) College, Amherst (Mass.) College and Iowa State University, among others.
“Leon is an effective leader, strategist and true collaborator,” says Gast. “His bridge-building abilities and interpersonal skills will be great assets to our successful recruitment and admissions program.”
Washington comes to Lehigh at a period when the number of student applications—and the academic quality of students applying to Lehigh—are both at all-time highs.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead Lehigh’s admissions process,” says Washington. “When I first started investigating Lehigh, the ‘Challenging Great Minds, Inspiring Great Imaginations’ saying that appears on the Web site really spoke to me.
“Once I started to learn more about Lehigh, I realized that my values and those of Lehigh align perfectly. For instance, I’m highly supportive of Lehigh’s stance of attracting diversity of all types in the future and creating a student body that brings a diversity of thought, socio-economic status, race and geography. Lehigh is well-positioned to attract the best and the brightest from this country and all over the world.”
During his three-year tenure at UC-Davis, Washington provided leadership in enrollment management planning and services, as well as leadership for the offices of undergraduate admissions, academic preparation programs and advising services. He also managed additional important areas, including the educational opportunity programs, financial aid, the learning skills center, services for international students and scholars, registrar, student judicial affairs, and student affairs research and information.
Prior to joining UC-Davis, Washington spent nearly a decade in California’s state university system—serving as the director of student outreach and recruitment at San Jose State University before being named associate vice president for enrollment services. He was then appointed associate director of system enrollment management services at California State University.
Washington earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., and his master's degree in anthropology from California State University at Hayward.
"Innovative, inclusive and thoughtful"
“Leon comes to Lehigh with a wide breadth of professional experiences which will ensure a leadership style that is innovative, inclusive and thoughtful,” says El-Aasser. “He is a person of high integrity whose work style is noted to be that of a direct and clear thinker, team builder, and maintaining the highest of standards. Leon's talents and values match our needs, and we look forward to Leon and his wife Maria-Lucia joining our Lehigh family.”
The search committee, chaired by Bruce Taggart, vice provost for library and technology services (LTS), was made up of a cross-section of campus leaders: Lori Bolden, assistant dean of students for first-year experience; Arthur King, professor of economics; Gerard Lennon, professor of civil engineering, and associate dean of undergraduate studies (RCEAS); Jacqueline Matthews, associate vice president of human resources; Debra Protchko, assistant vice president for marketing; Michael Raposa, professor of religion studies, E.W. Fairchild chair in American studies and associate dean for undergraduate programs (CAS); Michelle Samuels, former associate dean of student development; and Billy Taylor, men’s basketball head coach. In addition, Helen Zuercher, from Library and Technology Services, provided staff assistance to this search committee, and Debra Nyby, director of administration, from the provost’s office.
During his two-day, on-campus interview, Washington met with the staff of the admissions and financial aid area, senior university administration, college deans, the Council of Student Presidents, student representatives of The Movement, the Enrollment Management Team, and the members of the Task Force for Student Diversity.
“Leon has had a long and very successful career in the area of admissions and financial aid at selective private and public universities,” says Taggart. “Throughout the interview process, he was very personable and exhibited high energy and an expertise in both strategic planning and operational aspects of admissions and financial aid.”
Washington is looking forward to bringing that expertise to Lehigh.