Lehigh's department of industrial and systems engineering (ISE) has announced the recipients of its 2010 ISE Distinguished Alumni Award: Lee Iacocca '45, for unparalleled contribution to industry and society; and, Dr. Paul Torgersen '53, for achievement and leadership in academia. They will be honored at the annual ISE banquet on Thursday, April 29, at Iacocca Hall on Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus.
ISE presents these awards to graduates who have distinguished themselves professionally, made significant contributions to society, and through their achievements have reflected positively upon Lehigh University. Recipients are selected by members of the ISE faculty and the department's Advisory Board.
Born and raised in Allentown, Lee Iacocca graduated from Lehigh in 1945. He began his professional career as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company immediately following graduation. After working with Ford for over 30 years, he was hired to lead the Chrysler Corporation as President and CEO. Mr. Iacocca introduced Chrysler's K-car series and the 1984 T115 minivan and is credited with the firm's turnaround. As a philanthropist, Mr. Iacocca has supported institutions and charitable foundations in many fields. As a member of the Lehigh Board of Trustees, he chaired the fundraising campaign to purchase the Mountaintop Campus from Bethlehem Steel and jointly started the Iacocca Institute. In June 2005, Mr. Iacocca was named by CNN as the fifth most influential business leader of the past 25 years, and in 2007 Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine named Iacocca the 18th greatest CEO of all time.
Paul E. Torgersen graduated from Lehigh in 1953. After studying at Lehigh, Torgersen went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Torgersen first arrived at Virginia Tech in 1967 as head of its industrial systems department. By 1970, he was dean of engineering, and in 1990 he became president of Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center. In 1993, he began a seven-year term as the fourteenth President of Virginia Tech. During his terms as dean and as president, 62,191 diplomas presented to Virginia Tech graduates were signed by Paul E. Torgersen. VT named its engineering building and a major campus bridge after Dr. Torgersen following his formal retirement from the university in 2000. He has taught at least one class every semester since 1967 and continues to teach on a part-time basis.
"The ISE department is honored to recognize our exceptional alumni who, with their Lehigh IE degrees, went out and impacted the world," said Tamás Terlaky, Lehigh ISE department chair and George N. and Soteria Kledaras '87 Endowed Chair Professor.
"The Distinguished Alumni Award is a small token of our appreciation to our distinguished alumni for their exceptional leadership and achievements. The success of individuals such as Lee Iacocca and Paul Torgersen reflects positively upon all Lehigh IEs, and serves to inspire countless current and future Lehigh students in our field."