Mohamed El-Aasser, professor and dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, has been appointed provost, a position in which he has principal responsibility for Lehigh’s academic and intellectual life.
El-Aasser succeeds Ron Yoshida, who last month was named to the new position of senior vice president for external relations and campus life. Under an administrative reorganization announced by Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president, the major responsibilities of the Office of the Provost have been separated to allow greater attention to be paid to both academic and student life.
“I have asked Mohamed to continue to focus the office of the provost on the academic and intellectual life of the campus, including fostering an environment supportive of success on the part of our faculty, effective shared governance, diversity and the distinctiveness and competitiveness of our undergraduate and graduate programs,” Farrington said.
Yoshida will have responsibility for student life, including the ongoing Greek life initiative; admissions and financial aid; and institutional research. In addition, he will work closely with Lehigh’s advancement staff, serving as a major external spokesman as the upcoming capital campaign progresses.
"The next level of excellence"
Farrington praised El-Aasser as an ideal choice to lead the academic life of Lehigh.
“Mohamed is a visionary leader, an accomplished scholar, a dedicated teacher and loyal friend of the university,” Farrington said. “I am confident he will excel in his new role and help guide the university to be the very best Lehigh possible. His commitment to Lehigh, his intellect and his deep, abiding respect for the special vitality that sets our community apart from so many others will ensure his success as provost.”
El-Aasser’s appointment followed a two-week period during which Farrington accepted letters and e-mail messages from faculty and staff members regarding their suggestions and thoughts about choosing a new provost from within Lehigh. The decision was made last month that the need for continued leadership in academic affairs and the upcoming capital campaign made an extended national search for a new provost “not practicable,” Farrington said.
Farrington engaged in numerous conversations with faculty and staff regarding the selection of Lehigh’s next provost and received more than 100 e-mail messages after inviting faculty and staff to send him their thoughts and suggestions regarding the provost position during his annual state of the university address.
He also consulted with the academic deans, other senior administrators, and various members of the Board of Trustees. After considering the messages he received and conversations he participated in, Farrington chose to nominate El-Aasser as the next provost. The Personnel Committee offered their unanimous support of the choice, and the Executive Committee of the trustees ratified it.
An immediate search will begin for a new dean for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. El-Aasser will consult with department chairs to select an interim dean.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve this great institution in yet another capacity,” El-Aasser said. “My vision is to propel Lehigh to the next level of excellence, through strengthening partnerships between our four academic colleges, collaboration between people across all boundaries, creative integration, and continued assessment and improvement of all our academic programs.”
An internationally renowned researcher
El-Aasser was named dean in July 2001. He had served as chairman of the department of chemical engineering at Lehigh since 1996 and is internationally known for his research in polymer colloids and emulsion polymerization processes. Since joining Lehigh as an assistant professor in the department of chemical engineering in 1974, El-Aasser has been the principal and co-principal investigator on many research grants and contracts, with funding from NASA, NSF, DOE and numerous industrial companies.
He is the Director of the Emulsion Polymers Institute, which interacts with industry via a successful liaison program with 25 industrial member companies from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Korea.
A prolific scholar, El-Aasser and his students and postdoctoral fellows authored 337 published technical articles. He holds nine U.S. patents and has published five edited books based on symposia meetings. His most recent book Emulsion Polymerization and Emulsion Polymers
was published in 1997 and is now in its 3rd printing.
Farrington said the appointments of Yoshida and El-Aasser will position Lehigh to better meet the challenges it faces.
“This is a great team -- I know because Mohamed and Ron already have been integral to the success we have had over the past several years,” Farrington said. “Now, with these formal organizational changes, I am certain that we have the best people in the best positions for the work we need to do in the years ahead.”