Inspired by his daughter’s meaningful experience on the Lehigh women’s crew team, Steven J. Lee ’69 and his wife Karen A. Lee have established an endowed chair for the head coach of the men’s and women’s crew teams at Lehigh.
The Lee endowment will provide funding for the head coach of both the women’s program, recently elevated to varsity status, and the men’s club varsity program.
The Lee Family and head coach
Paul Savell at the dedication of the
Lee Family Shell, October, 2001.
“My wife and I are pleased to be affiliated with the Lehigh crew program and are excited to show our confidence in it by endowing the head coach’s position,” Steven Lee said. “We are very encouraged by the swift progress made by the crew program
, and are impressed by the talented student athletes who participate in this demanding sport. The leadership of head coach Paul Savell has been extraordinary. Paul is a credit to Lehigh and we are proud to provide support to his program.”
Lee earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and math from Lehigh in 1969. He furthered his education in the fields of business and law, earning an M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.
As an undergraduate at Lehigh, he was among an active group of students who aided Lehigh in its decision to become a coeducational institution. More than three decades later, Lee’s daughter, Megan ’02, followed her father’s path to Lehigh, where she became a member of the highly successful women’s crew team. Megan earned degrees in information systems and marketing from Lehigh in 2002 and is now doing an M.B.A/J.D. joint program at Suffolk University in Boston.
Most recently, Steven Lee served as chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of PolyMedica, the leading national provider of direct-to-home specialty and diabetes medical products and services to Medicare eligible senior citizens. PolyMedica is a publicly traded company listed on NASDAQ. Lee also serves as a director of several companies, including Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Kensey Nash and Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railroad, and runs a private hedge fund investing in high technology and medical companies.
"A catalyst for more excitement"
The women’s crew program was rewarded with varsity status in the fall of 2003, becoming Lehigh’s 25th intercollegiate varsity program. The crew program has enjoyed considerable success in recent years while competing as a club team, including the women’s team winning the collegiate eight division of the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, and the combined men’s and women’s team winning the Rowing Championship of Patriot League schools. In addition, the team boasts a 3.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
“I am very pleased that Steve and Karen Lee decided to step forward and lead us on this most distinguished and worthy endeavor,” says Joe Sterrett ’76, director of athletics. “This kind of a commitment will serve as a catalyst for more excitement and support for Lehigh crew among our alumni, friends and the university. It is also very special for Lehigh to have an endowed coaching position that serves both men and women, the first of its kind in our history.”
The Lee family has contributed to Lehigh and the crew program in the past, providing funding for a new racing shell—or boat—for the women’s program in 2001. The boat was christened in October of 2001 at the Head of the Charles race.
Paul Savell, the head coach of the crew program, will serve as the inaugural Steven J. ’69 and Karen A. Lee Head Coach of Crew. Savell is in his sixth season at Lehigh and has grown a fledgling program of 30 novice rowers into a formidable program of champions. A decorated rower at the scholastic and collegiate levels, Savell won National Championships at Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey and stroked his team to an IRA National Championship at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Savell earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Wisconsin and earned an M.B.A. from Lehigh in 2001.
“We have all worked hard for many years and it is so wonderful to have this kind of support for Lehigh crew,” Savell says. “Many students, coaches, alumni, parents and friends have helped to make Lehigh Crew the program that it is today and the Lee family’s generosity brings us special distinction as we continue to move the crew teams for men and women forward.”