Lehigh University will broaden its senior leadership team to focus on strategic initiatives critical to expanding its intellectual footprint and establishing itself as a premier residential research university.
The decision resulted from a comprehensive and collaborative strategic thinking, planning, and implementation process that began in 2007 and continues through the fall. This past spring, the Lehigh community participated in working groups and online forums to provide their best thinking and perspectives on long-term goals and challenges for Lehigh over the next decade.
Three critical areas of focus were identified: enhancing distinctive student life and learning experience; increasing research and graduate programs to respond to vital challenges; and investing in faculty and staff to be at the forefront of distinguished universities. The establishment of two new leadership positions, vice president for international affairs and vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies, will ensure strong leadership and provide the necessary direction needed to reach these important goals.
Provost Mohamed El-Aasser will become Lehigh’s first vice president for international affairs and a national search for a new provost will begin immediately. The hard work of the committee that prepared the report Getting to Global Lehigh
and the strong endorsement of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees subcommittee for global affairs catalyzed the process of moving this appointment forward. El-Aasser will continue in his role as provost and the university plans to complete a search for his replacement by January 2009.
“I am pleased that Mohamed has agreed to assume leadership of our international initiatives. His expertise and interest in international affairs, his exemplary work on Global Lehigh and international initiatives, and his deep understanding of the Lehigh community make him ideally suited to lead this important area,” said President Alice P. Gast. “I would like to thank Mohamed for his service as Provost and I am grateful that his wisdom and counsel will continue to be available to me and to the community as he takes on this new role.”
“Well positioned to expand our international presence”
El-Aasser has served Lehigh as a full professor of chemical engineering and the director of emulsion polymers institute. In addition, he has served as the department chair of chemical engineering, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and for the past four years in his current role as provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The university is well positioned to expand our international presence and opportunities, and I am passionate about making international experiences and Global Lehigh a signature of a Lehigh education,” said El-Aasser. “I am excited to lead our efforts to ensure that internationalization transcends the university’s intellectual, cultural, and social life.”
In his new role, El-Aasser will report to the president and will collaborate with university leadership, faculty, and staff to expand Lehigh’s portfolio of international networks, programs, and activities. He will provide leadership in establishing partnerships with universities and corporations abroad for developing international internships and other new learning experiences for our students and international scholar exchange programs for our faculty. In addition, El-Aasser will focus on enhancing Lehigh’s current international programs such as study abroad, faculty-led international programs, Global Union, English as a Second Language, United Nations and Global Citizenship programs, and the Iacocca Institute, including the Global Village and the Governor’s School for Global Entrepreneurship, in order to meet the growing needs of Global Lehigh.
Advancing Lehigh's ambitious research goals and graduate programs
Bruce Koel, interim vice provost for research, will assume the vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies position on an interim basis on September 1, 2008. Plans for filling this position will be shared with the community in the near-term.
“Bruce has done an outstanding job in his role as vice provost for research and I am confident our momentum will continue under his leadership,” said Gast.
The vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies will provide leadership and support for research and graduate studies across the university. The person will support faculty and staff research needs in a number of ways, including mobilizing interdisciplinary teams to compete for large federal, state, foundation and industrial funding and distributing ignition funds for innovative research ideas that require development before competing for outside funding. The vice president will also provide support and direction for Lehigh’s graduate programs, graduate fellowships, graduate recruiting, and funding for graduate students. This position will report to the president on matters of research and graduate and postdoctoral student policies.
The vice president and associate provost will report to the provost on matters of budget for infrastructure and support of research and graduate studies. In addition, the vice president will work with the president, provost, deans and department chairs to ensure that research and scholarly work are effectively pursued and appropriately valued in faculty and staff reviews.
“The research conducted at Lehigh addresses some of society’s most pressing problems, and is an essential element in the intellectual vitality of our university,” said Gast. “This new position will allow us to even further integrate our outstanding research and teaching, which is a distinguishing characteristic of Lehigh University. The vice president and associate provost will lead a team to advance our ambitious research goals and graduate programs. This is the right time for Lehigh to be taking the initiative to move ahead in these important areas.”
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008