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Lehigh President Alice Gast to Step Down in July 2014; Will Become President of Imperial College London

Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast will step down on July 31, 2014. She has accepted an appointment as President of Imperial College London. Gast, who is Lehigh’s 13th President in its 148-year history, was appointed in 2006.

Brad Eric Scheler, Chairman of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees, praised Gast’s leadership of Lehigh. “Alice has been a remarkable leader. With boundless energy, enthusiasm, wisdom, judgment and insight, Alice has advanced and best positioned Lehigh to be at the forefront of higher education in the 21st century,” he said. “Her commitment to students and her advocacy with respect to the import of residential research universities in educating leaders and improving society made her the right and ideal leader for Lehigh. We thank Alice for her tireless service and dedication to Lehigh.”

Scheler added that Lehigh is well-positioned to build upon its momentum. “Now is a most exciting time in the history of Lehigh filled with a myriad of opportunities for our students, faculty and administration. We are uniquely positioned in our role as a higher education leader and innovator. As we continue our mission and quest for excellence, the search for and recruitment of Lehigh’s next president could not be more opportune and exciting,” Scheler said. He added that a Search Committee will be appointed in the near term and that he would keep the University community informed about developments in the search process.

During Gast’s tenure, Lehigh completed a campus-wide strategic planning and implementation process; Lehigh concluded a $500-million capital campaign and has since raised an additional $225 million in new resources for the University; Lehigh has expanded the University’s work in and with the City of Bethlehem; Lehigh increased the size of the University’s footprint with the addition of the 750-acre Stabler Campus; Lehigh increased the University’s international presence and has perpetuated and expanded innovative new approaches to student-directed learning with the launch of Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus initiative.

Gast said: “Lehigh is an incredible university with outstanding students, faculty, administration, staff, trustees, alumni and friends. I will always value my relationships with them and what we have accomplished together.”

In an email to the campus community, Gast said: “As excited as I am about joining Imperial College London, there is much I will miss about Lehigh. One of the things that drew me to South Mountain is Lehigh’s commitment to its students. Each year I am struck by the personal and intellectual growth of our students over the course of their years here. I feel a special pride in their accomplishments. I will remember and carry with me always their hugs and handshakes at commencement and our many conversations at lunches, dinners and around campus.”

“Lehigh is blessed with a faculty that excels in teaching and competes at a national level for research funding. I will admire always their dedication and energy and hold them up as best examples for making our University experience so valuable and transformative.”

Gast also said she was continually inspired by the accomplishments and commitment of Lehigh alumni. “I have learned a tremendous amount from our alumni and friends and I greatly value my relationships with so many dedicated and passionate supporters. Their commitment to the University and our students is what distinguishes Lehigh University from other institutions.”

Gast pledged that during her remaining months at Lehigh, she will continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion at the University, to build upon the momentum of the Mountaintop initiative, to raise additional resources for the University and to be a resource to the Board of Trustees in ensuring a smooth transition to a new presidency.

During Gast’s seven-and-a-half years as president, the University:

  • Further strengthened its research capabilities and resources and its undergraduate and graduate programs
  • More than doubled the annual fundraising yield and increased by 50 percent the number of members of the Asa Packer Society representing the University’s most committed donors
  • Constructed a multi-disciplinary science, technology, environment and policy for society (STEPS) building
  • Established the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation
  • Established the Iacocca International Internships for Global Leaders with a challenge gift from Lee Iacocca
  • Established an endowed scholarship program for women studying in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and, Mathematics
  • With a generous gift from a trustee, established the Smith Funds for Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering
  • Forged new connections with the City of Bethlehem by establishing programs to improve public education, make the local community safer and more stable, revitalize the commercial district and increase student and faculty engagement
  • Grew the University’s global profile, doubling the percentage of international students on campus and ensuring that nearly 40 percent of Lehigh students have had an international experience in the community

Gast, who will assume her new position at Imperial College London in September 2014, succeeds Sir Keith O’Nions, who is retiring.

“It is difficult for me to leave Lehigh, and I would only consider a move for an extraordinary opportunity. Imperial College London is one of the world’s great universities, and an established center of excellence in science, technology and medicine and it is a natural fit with my strengths. I look forward to helping shape Imperial’s next chapter.”

Baroness Manningham-Buller, Chair of the Council at Imperial, who led an international Appointments Committee to find a successor to Sir Keith, said of Gast’s appointment: “We were ambitious in seeking a new leader for Imperial. I am absolutely delighted that Alice Gast has agreed to be our new President. She has all the personal qualities and relevant experience that we hoped to find. I expect her to be an outstanding leader of the College and am much looking forward to welcoming Alice and her husband Brad to London, and to working with her at Imperial.”

Lehigh University is a premier private residential research university, and is ranked in the top-tier of national research universities. The University has earned a reputation for its entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching. Faculty work closely with students across disciplines and translate research and theory into practice to make a difference in society. Nearly 97 percent of last year’s undergraduates have gone on to find career-related opportunities within six months of graduation.

Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. It is one of the top ranked universities in the world. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment.



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Alice Gast has served as Lehigh's President since 2006.