Alice P. Gast was appointed Lehigh’s 13th president in August of 2006. Prior to her appointment at Lehigh, Dr. Gast served as vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held the Robert T. Haslam chair in chemical engineering.
Under Gast’s leadership, Lehigh completed a campus-wide strategic planning and implementation process; concluded a $500-million capital campaign and raised an additional $225 million in new resources; expanded its work in and with the City of Bethlehem; increased the size of its physical footprint with the addition of the 750-acre Stabler Campus; constructed a $62-million multidisciplinary science, technology, environment and policy for society (STEPS) building; and vastly expanded its global profile, seeing the percentage of international students on campus double and ensuring that nearly 40 percent of Lehigh students would have a global experience before graduation. Gast also was a driving force behind the acquisition of two former Bethlehem Steel research facilities on South Mountain and the creation of the Mountaintop project, which officially launched in the summer of 2013 and provides students with a unique, open-ended educational experience.
A highly respected researcher who studies surface and interfacial phenomena, Gast received several honors and accolades during her tenure. In 2010, Dr. Gast was named to the prestigious post of U.S. Science Envoy by the U.S. State Department. As one of three science envoys named in 2010, Dr. Gast traveled to the Caucasus and Central Asia and has advised the White House, the Department of State and the U.S. scientific community about ways to deepen existing ties and foster new relationships there. That same year, Dr. Gast was awarded an honorary degree from The University of Western Ontario, where she was described as “a scholar, a researcher and a leader who is a great inspiration to female and male students alike, who aspire to enter the profession of engineering.” And in 2012, she was awarded an honorary professorship from East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST).
An advocate for women studying in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gast created a $1 million scholarship for female Lehigh students in those fields in 2012. That scholarship fund was later named the Alice P. Gast Women in STEM Scholarship in her honor.
Gast departed Lehigh to become president of Imperial College, London.