Since its founding in 1865, Lehigh University has been a place with a purpose – in the words of its founder, industrial pioneer and philanthropist Asa Packer, to contribute to the “intellectual and moral improvement” of its students so that they, in turn, could contribute to a strong national economy. Firmly rooted in its mission of teaching, research, and service, Lehigh prepares students to become leaders through outstanding teaching by internationally recognized faculty who also perform groundbreaking research to meet the needs and challenges of society. Through academic rigor, an entrepreneurial mindset, and collaborative opportunities, Lehigh challenges its students to become the leaders of the future.
Today, Lehigh University is among the most selective, premier private research universities in the U.S. Academic programs are offered through five colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Economics, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, College of Education, and College of Health. Graduate and doctoral programs are offered in all five colleges.
In 2022, US News & World Report ranked Lehigh 49th among national universities, 29th when measured by “value proposition,” and 13th in undergraduate teaching. US News also ranks Lehigh’s College of Business and College of Engineering among the top undergraduate business and engineering programs in the country and ranks Lehigh’s online MBA as a top 10 program.
Lehigh University’s research strengths span its five colleges and are supported by approximately $40 million in externally sponsored funding in 2021. Lehigh has made targeted investments in research with the recent founding of the College of Health and the construction of the new Health, Science, and Technology Building (HST). The university has invested in new faculty hires, especially for the College of Health, and provides competitive start-up support for key faculty hires. The additional open and flexible lab space in the HST will provide a valuable opportunity to accelerate research success with key allocations of space and appropriate investments.
Lehigh employs more than 550 full-time faculty, including more than 460 tenured or tenure-track faculty, and nearly 100 non-tenure track faculty, and approximately 1,200 full and part-time staff who support the academic, research, and administrative functions. Lehigh has more than 85,000 active and engaged alumni.
The university enrolls approximately 5,450 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate students. A small student-faculty ratio (9:1) allows students to work closely with their professors. First and second year undergraduate students live on campus in residence halls and specialty housing options. Students engage in leadership development activities and participate in more than 200 clubs and organizations around social, academic, cultural, and intellectual activities. Lehigh participates in NCAA Division I sports, fielding 25 teams for men and women, as well as 40 intramural and club sports. The varsity football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, golf, tennis, and softball teams have all won Patriot League Championships, and some sports have reached NCAA tournament championship level.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Lehigh
Lehigh is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for faculty, staff, and students. There are many offices, centers, committees, working groups and others who work to foster inclusive diversity at Lehigh. These efforts reach into every facet of campus life and engage the entire community of students, faculty and staff. Lehigh’s efforts include changes to policies and practices at the institutional level as well as work creating a more inclusive campus culture through opportunities for education, dialogue and action.
The institution has adopted a statement entitled “The Principles of our Equitable Community” that affirms the institutional and personal responsibility to foster an environment that is welcoming and collaborative. Several committees including the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Diversity, the Council for Equity and Community and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity highlight the importance of and commitment to creating an inclusive community at all levels of the institution. The commitment to inclusive excellence and belonging has never been stronger at Lehigh.
The university has adopted its first Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Strategic Plan which asserts Lehigh’s unequivocal commitment to being an institution that strives to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity. We believe that enhancing a diverse community in which wide-ranging experiences and perspectives are represented and in which disparate ideas are freely expressed and discussed is necessary for any outstanding university.
Commitment to International education
Lehigh’s commitment to international education is reflected by the more than 250 study abroad programs in 74 countries, giving opportunity to more than 40% of Lehigh students who enjoy an international experience while at Lehigh. More than 100 fully-funded Iacocca International Internships in 32 countries are awarded each year, expanding the range of international experiences for students.
Location and campuses
Located in the city of Bethlehem (population 75,000), Pennsylvania, Lehigh is 50 miles from Philadelphia and 75 miles from New York City. Lehigh is situated on more than 2,300 acres on four campuses in Pennsylvania’s scenic Lehigh Valley, making it one of the largest (by land) private universities in the country. Three of Lehigh’s four campuses are contiguous: The Asa Packer Campus is the original and predominant campus; the Mountaintop Campus, a former Bethlehem Steel facility, is home to the College of Education, Iacocca Hall, several academic departments, and major research facilities; Murray H. Goodman Campus houses Lehigh’s athletic complex, the Murray H. Goodman football stadium, Stabler Arena, and other sports facilities. The Stabler campus, on 755 acres in nearby Upper Saucon Township, provides an opportunity for long-term advancement of the university’s academic mission. The University’s corporate entity, LU Properties LLC, manages the finances, maintenance, and any future development of this property.
Governance and Finance
The university is governed by a 25-member board of trustees, composed primarily of prominent business, civic and academic leaders with a deep commitment to the mission of Lehigh; many are university alumni and key donors.
Lehigh has one of the strongest balance sheets in higher education, with total assets of nearly $1.9 billion, modest debt, and an endowment with a market value of approximately $2 billion. The university has a budget of $437 million. Tuition and fees costs for the 2021-2022 academic year are $56,980, with room and board fees totaling $15,330. Keeping tuition increases down has been an important university priority. More than 50 percent of Lehigh students receive financial aid, which is awarded based on need and merit. In FY 2021, Lehigh awarded more than $100 million in university grants and scholarships from a variety of sources. Lehigh has been ranked among the nation’s “Best Value” universities by The Princeton Review and US News and World Report.
Lehigh is led by a new President, Joseph Helble ’82, who was appointed Lehigh’s 15th President in 2021. Helble previously spent 16 years at Dartmouth College, where he served as provost from 2018-2021. As provost, Helble was the university’s chief academic and budget officer, with responsibility for overseeing all of Dartmouth’s professional and graduate schools—Geisel School of Medicine, Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Thayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business—as well as major academic support units and a variety of other offices, academic centers and institutes. He set the budget for Arts & Sciences and was also responsible for setting the university’s budget priorities and overseeing its annual budget process, developing financial plans, and coordinating support for Dartmouth’s research infrastructure. Helble , played a critical role in guiding the campus community through the COVID-19 pandemic and providing regular updates about the university’s operations and decisions. Before becoming provost, Helble served for 13 years as dean of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. As dean, he oversaw a record increase in the school’s research funding, a near doubling of enrollment, an increase in its number of tenure-track faculty and the introduction of new majors and programs. During Helble’s leadership, the school also experienced a sharp increase in the percentage of engineering graduates who are women. Helble and his colleagues in the Thayer School also created the PhD Innovation Program (PhD-I), the first program in the nation to prepare engineering doctoral candidates for entrepreneurial success. Prior to arriving at Dartmouth, Helble served as professor and chair of chemical engineering at the University of Connecticut.
After graduating with highest honors from Lehigh in 1982, Helble earned his PhD in chemical engineering, with a minor in Spanish, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987. He worked for several years in the private sector as a research scientist at Physical Sciences, Inc., during which time he also spent several months on leave as a science policy fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Later, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Revelle Fellow, he spent a year in Washington, D.C., working on environmental and technology policy. Helble was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2017. He is a co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s 2014 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education for the design and implementation of Dartmouth College’s Engineering Entrepreneurship Program.
Nathan Urban was appointed Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs in July 2020. As provost, he serves as the university’s chief academic officer and oversees all academic matters at the university while working collaboratively with the president and university leadership on the implementation of Lehigh’s strategic plan and campaign. Prior to joining Lehigh, Urban was Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, and co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2017, he was appointed as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives after serving as the Vice Provost for Special Projects beginning in 2015. Prior to joining Pitt, Urban was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University where he was the Frederick Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences, served as Head of the Department of Biological Sciences (2010-2014) and interim Provost from 2014-2015.
Urban graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991 with majors in Neuroscience, Mathematics, and Philosophy. Following graduation, he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar before returning to the University of Pittsburgh to earn his Ph.D. in Neuroscience. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg Germany, Urban joined Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Biological Sciences in 2002. Urban’s scientific work continues to focus on experimental and computational analysis of sensory processing by neural circuits in the mouse brain, with a focus on the sense of smell. He is also interested in development of new techniques and methods for neuroscience, especially in the areas of recordings of brain activity and the computational analysis of behavior. His work has been funded by NIH, NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, the Simons Foundation, the Commonwealth of PA and the Human Frontiers Science Program.
In 2016, Lehigh laid out a plan for growth in faculty, students, programs, and facilities entitled “Path to Prominence.” Guided by that plan, much was accomplished, including the establishment of the College of Health, the addition of new buildings on the Mountaintop Campus, and the creation of new residential facilities using public-private partnerships. Under Lehigh’s new leadership, the University will be engaged in developing a new strategic plan during 2022 that will guide Lehigh over the next decade. The University is currently in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising and engagement initiative, “Go: The Campaign for Lehigh,” designed to strengthen efforts to attract the best students, develop new facilities and programs, and support faculty research. Launched in 2018, the campaign has raised more than $700 million. to date.
With the vast changes taking place in higher education, Lehigh University has an immense opportunity given the new leadership, development of a new strategic plan, and positive energy fueled by a desire to move the institution forward to achieve greater academic and reputational excellence. With the benefits of a strong financial position and tremendous physical assets, the university has the capacity to make strategic investments that will position the institution distinctively for decades to come. The Vice President for Finance & Administration is a key leader in this process, with the responsibility to ensure that the university can identify, maximize, and steward the resources needed to achieve its strategic objectives and fulfill its aspirations.
Finance and Administration at Lehigh University
Finance and Administration (F&A) supports the university’s core mission through collaborative and entrepreneurial management of human, business and facilities resources. As a division, F&A consists of more than 200 employees working within ten departments: budget; business services (bookstore, childcare center, design and print center, parking and transportation services, purchasing, real estate services, sustainability); campus safety (Lehigh University Police, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Access); facilities services & campus planning; finance and administrative systems; financial planning and analytics; controller (including accounting systems and financial aid); human resources; student auxiliary services (conference services, dining services, housing services); and treasurer. (For an organizational chart of Finance and Administration, please see Appendix B.) F&A maintains stewardship of the university’s resources through a sound internal control structure and by ensuring that financial statements are prepared in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles and Lehigh University policies.
The Vice President for Finance and Administration (vice president) is the chief financial and operational officer of the university and reports to, and serves at the pleasure of, the president. The vice president provides leadership, oversight, and stewardship for all aspects of the university’s financial and administrative resources while ensuring absolute institutional integrity on fiscal and human resource matters. The vice president serves as a strategic advisor to the president, provost, and the board of trustees and recommends financial and administrative objectives, policies, programs and practices that ensure a sound financial structure for the university. Working with the president and the provost, the vice president is responsible for planning the operating and capital budgets and for developing a long-term sustainable economic model that ensures the viability and vibrancy of the university. The vice president is responsible for the management of financial matters and for compliance with audit, legal, and donor requirements, IRS, federal and state regulations, and financial aid. The vice president manages cash flow through the organization and maintains the integrity of funds. The vice president works closely with the chief investment officer, general counsel, vice president for development and alumni relations, the faculty senate and key faculty committees, the staff employment relations and advisory committee (ERAC), and other members of the president’s senior leadership team. The vice president supervises the unit heads of F&A departments and has total responsibility for more than 200 staff members and more than 500 staff in outsourced activities. The vice president also meets regularly with the business officers in the colleges and units. Beyond responsibility for the staff of Finance and Administration, the vice president is the key voice for recognizing the contributions of staff to the services and functions of the university.
The vice president is a member of the president’s senior leadership team and serves as liaison to the trustee committees on finance, audit, and capital projects. The vice president also works closely with key faculty committees, such as the Faculty Financial Planning and Operations Committee (FFPOC) and Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC). In support of and in collaboration with the provost, the vice president actively participates in university budget policy decisions, while promoting fiscal accountability. The vice president is a significant contributor to advancing the mission and strategic direction of the university, which includes promoting a climate of equity and inclusion.
The vice president is specifically responsible for creating and implementing a broad and compelling vision for finance and administration and assessing its effectiveness; providing continuous evaluation of short and long-term strategic financial objectives; producing budgets, forecasts, financial analysis, and other financial statements and reports and presenting them to the President, board of trustees, and the university community; providing executive leadership with insights and advice on the financial implications of business activities, the costs of strategic priorities, and options for funding strategies; ensuring that effective accounting controls are in place and ensuring compliance with GAAP and applicable federal, state, and local regulatory laws and rules for financial and tax reporting; fostering collaborative relationships with external auditors; working with the general counsel to negotiate, review, and execute major contracts for the university; working with other key university leaders to ensure effective strategies to address emergency planning and risk management; engaging collaboratively with Lehigh’s community affairs leaders to work productively with the City of Bethlehem and to contribute to the development of South Bethlehem; and creating and sustaining an environment of service excellence and innovation.
Opportunities and Challenges
The new vice president will be a joining a university that has significant strengths and offers many attractive features. Looking forward, Lehigh has:
- A new administration providing new momentum to a vibrant campus community;
- A strong financial position compared to many of its peers;
- Strong faculty engaged in transformative research and scholarship in a range of fields;
- Extraordinary land assets on four individual campuses;
- A sense of place and community to serve others locally while providing global impact;
- A student-centered philosophy and approach, with small class size and individualized attention;
- Talented, committed and collaborative faculty, students, administration and professional staff, working together to achieve common university goals and to create a welcoming community;
- Strong student outcomes;
- A spirit of ingenuity and pragmatism; and
- A deeply committed alumni population.
Building on these institutional strengths, the vice president will be an instrumental partner in addressing a number of key opportunities and challenges, such as:
- Aligning budget strategies with strategic objectives – Lehigh is a tuition-dependent institution, requiring strong financial management and planning and creative thinking about investments in order to accomplish strategic objectives. As the university approaches its next strategic planning process, the vice president will be an important partner in ensuring the development of multi-year and long-range planning models for revenues and expenditures so that university leadership can make informed decisions about funding of strategic priorities. At the same time, the vice president will have the opportunity to partner with the president and provost in implementing a budget model that promotes innovation and incentivizes collaboration.
- Ensuring that university administrative processes are effective and agile – Lehigh is in the midst of a transition from an institution operating at a smaller scale to one that is more sophisticated, professional and nimble. This will require a vice president who is experienced in leading change, who understands how to implement technological and process efficiencies, and who can motivate innovation and creativity. The vice president will need to bring a strong analytical mindset to ask critical questions, assess how things are accomplished, eliminate antiquated systems, and inspire others to embrace change.
- Thinking strategically about resource planning and utilization – Lehigh is rich in assets that provide opportunities for growth, expansion, and resource generation. The vice president will need to think creatively about the possibilities of these and other resources to support growth in research funding and to generate non-tuition revenue to support university priorities.
- Facilities planning – In the last five years, Lehigh has undertaken initiatives to build and upgrade facilities on the Packer and Mountaintop campuses, and more will need to be done to keep the university competitive and address deferred maintenance issues. Among the key priorities for the new vice president will be (1) to fill the recently vacated position of Associate Vice President for Facilities and University Architect to plan, oversee, and manage these efforts, and (2) to identify sources of funding for these construction priorities.
- Providing communication and transparency around budgets and financial decisions – The vice president will play an important role in helping the board of trustees, senior leadership, and faculty understand financial needs, in bringing clarity to opaque budgetary issues, and in enabling a collaborative discussion around priorities.
- Ensuring Lehigh’s ability to attract and retain high quality faculty and staff – The last five years have seen significant pressure on compensation and benefits, impacting Lehigh’s ability to attract and retain excellent people. The vice president will need to be thoughtful and creative in helping the university to address these issues to remain competitive.
Addressing these issues will require a forward-thinking leader with strong technical skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to balance firm fiscal management and stewardship with skillful administration.
The university seeks a respected leader in strategic and financial planning, forecasting, resource allocation, and analysis with broad experience in administration to serve as its next Vice President for Finance and Administration. The new vice president will be an able and experienced manager and leader capable of motivating diverse teams of employees across the wide spectrum of areas within the portfolio of Finance and Administration and across the university. The vice president will have the skills to serve as a strategic partner to the president, provost and board of trustees, and the talent and experience needed to develop and execute plans to enhance the university and to manage change within a complex environment. The vice president must be an effective communicator who will be expected to explain complex matters to diverse audiences in written and spoken messages. Experience in managing change, streamlining administrative processes, and simplifying procedures will be an advantage. The vice president will be dedicated to serving Lehigh’s mission and promoting its commitment to world-class research, distinctive undergraduate education, and outstanding teaching. The vice president must exemplify and uphold the core values of the institution, which include academic freedom, collaboration, commitment to excellence, equitable community, integrity and honesty, intellectual curiosity, leadership, and respectful dialogue.
The vice president will demonstrate the following essential competencies:
- Ability to serve as a trusted, strategic, and collaborative partner to the president, senior leadership team, and board of trustees in service of Lehigh’s academic mission;
- Ability to work with diverse groups of faculty, trustees, and staff on complex resource allocation issues;
- Capacity to be forward-thinking, open-minded, strategic, analytical, and creative with the ability to think broadly about the institution as a whole; a good listener, able to offer thoughtful counsel on viable alternatives and consider diverse opinions while keeping the university mission, and its health and financial well-being the foremost priorities;
- Learning agility as demonstrated in assessing and operating in new situations, new systems, and new institutional environments;
- Experience in managing change simultaneously in multiple activities, taking intelligent risks in a complex environment, and developing and executing plans to enhance an organization while respecting its history and legacy:
- Experience as an effective, confident, and clear communicator, both in written and spoken communications, to a wide range of internal and external audiences;
- Experience in an institution that has undergone significant change or improvement, and a comfort level with the re-evaluation of practices, activities and culture that supports these kinds of changes ; ability to engage internal and external stakeholders in major initiatives to deliver outcomes; ability to build external networks and relationships to inform approaches and to implement appropriate best practices to improve university systems, business processes, policies, and functions, and to support Lehigh’s mission and reputation;
- Integrity, a commitment to transparency, and dedication to the highest ethical standards.
In addition, the successful candidate will demonstrate a preponderance of the following skills, competencies, and experience:
- Demonstrated success through progressively responsible financial management and leadership roles, with comprehensive budget and financial planning experience and responsibilities; an understanding of complex financial instruments, financial modeling, and financial reporting; proven experience developing financial strategies that support strategic priorities. Experience within a complex research university would be desirable;
- Proven administrative, managerial, supervisory, problem-solving, and planning experience within a complex environment, preferably in higher education; ability to organize, prioritize, and delegate effectively;
- An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, with a strong preference for an advanced degree such as an MBA and/or CPA equivalent;
- The ability to set challenging and attainable goals, set priorities, work with and inspire others to high levels of creative performance, and leverage ideas into action; able to lead and navigate in a time of change;
- Demonstrated commitment to building community and vigorously promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Excellent judgment in recognizing talent and assessing where improvements are needed; an open and creative approach to problem solving and a willingness to address issues across areas and without concerns for organizational boundaries;
- Demonstrated ability to recruit, mentor, support, retain, and reward high quality staff; an engaged and open management style that delegates authority, empowers staff, sets high expectations, and holds departmental colleagues accountable;
- Strong interpersonal skills; self-confidence; ability to relate, build relationships, work with diverse constituencies, and inspire trust; an even-keeled management style together with patience and a good sense of humor.
Lehigh University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Lehigh University provides comprehensive benefits, including partner benefits.
For additional information, please consult the university’s website at lehigh.edu.
Screening will begin in late February and continue until an appointment is made. Nominations, inquiries, and applications (including CV; cover letter addressing interest, leadership philosophy, and commitment to diversity; and the names of five references) should be directed electronically to LehighVPFA@divsearch.com.
Kim M. Morrisson, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Education Leadership Searches
Vice President and Senior Associate