Past Provosts

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Harvey Alexander Neville (1957-1961) arrived at Lehigh in 1927, having received his master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Princeton University, and taught in the chemistry departments at Princeton and the University of Illinois. Neville taught in Lehigh's Department of Chemistry for more than twenty-five years, acting as the chair of the department between 1938 and 1952. During his time at Lehigh, Neville also served as the Director of the Institute for Research and the Dean of the Graduate School. After four years of service as the university's provost, Neville became president of Lehigh, the only university faculty member ever to be elected to this position.

Glenn James Christensen (1961-1969) began teaching literature courses at Lehigh in 1939, having received his PhD in English from Yale University that same year. He became an assistant professor of English at Lehigh in 1942, and subsequently rose to the rank of associate professor in 1946. Christensen assumed the post of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1956, a position which he held until he became provost in 1961. A strong advocate of community outreach, Christensen served as a co-founder and trustee of Northampton Community College, and as a co-founder and president of the Lehigh Valley's educational television network, WLTV.

Albert Charles Zettlemoyer (1969-1980) first came to Lehigh as an undergraduate, earning his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the university in 1936. After receiving his doctorate in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zettlemoyer returned to Lehigh in 1941 to teach in the Department of Chemistry. He taught at the university for almost four decades, attaining the rank of distinguished professor in 1960. In addition to his teaching, Zettlemoyer served as Senior Vice President for Research from 1966 until 1969, when he assumed the position of provost. A skillful and dedicated researcher and fundraiser, during his tenure at Lehigh Zettlemoyer played a vital role in the foundation of the Center for Surface and Coatings Research (now the Zettlemoyer Center for Surface Studies.)

Arthur E. Humphrey (1980-1987) received his PhD in chemical engineering from Columbia University in 1953, and began teaching in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania that same year. Humphrey taught at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly two decades, and also served as a Fulbright Lecturer and a National Science Foundation Fellow at institutions in Japan, Australia, and the United States. Humphrey assumed the position of Lehigh's provost in 1980, after eight years as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

David A. Sanchez (1987-1990) earned his PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1964. An instructor of mathematics at the University of Chicago until 1965, Sanchez accepted the position of visiting lecturer in mathematics for the 1965-1966 academic year at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. He attained the rank of professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, where he taught from 1966 to 1977. From 1977 to 1987, Sanchez taught mathematics at the University of New Mexico, leaving that institution to become Lehigh's provost in 1987. After his tenure at Lehigh, Sanchez worked, amongst other positions, as an assistant director for the National Science Foundation and an assistant director for the Los Alamos National Lab.

Alan W. Pense (1990-1997) began his long and distinguished career at Lehigh in 1962, when he received his PhD in metallurgy from the university. Pense went on to teach in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, acting as the department chair between 1977 and 1983. He served as Associate Dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (RCEAS) between 1984 and 1988, and as RCEAS Dean between 1988 and 1990. A member of the American Welding Society and the National Academy of Engineering, Pense has won awards for his teaching and research from Lehigh University, the American Welding Society, and the American Society for Engineering Education.

Nelson G. Markley (1997-2000) came to Lehigh from the University of Maryland, College Park where he had worked as an administrator and professor of mathematics for more than thirty years. Markley began his teaching career at the University of Maryland in 1966, having received his PhD in mathematics from Yale University that same year. At the University of Maryland, Markley served as the Director of Graduate Studies between 1982 and 1985, the chairperson of the Department of Mathematics between 1985 and 1991, and acting Senior Vice President between 1995 and 1997. During his tenure as provost at Lehigh, Markley emphasized the importance of recruiting excellent faculty, staff, and students in order to create the most dynamic, intellectually engaged campus community possible.

Roland K. Yoshida (2000-2004) received his PhD in educational psychology from the University of Southern California in 1974. After working for eight years as an Education Program Specialist for the U.S. Department of Education, Yoshida became an associate professor in the School of Education at Fordham University in 1982. He served as chair of the Division of Psychological and Educational Services at Fordham between 1985 and 1987. In 1987, Yoshida moved to Queens College and the Graduate School at the City University of New York, where he was a professor in the Department of Educational and Community Programs, the Dean of the School of Education between 1990 and 1995, and the Associate Provost and Assistant Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs between 1995 and 1996. Yoshida came to Lehigh in 1996, where he was the Dean of the School of Education until he assumed the position of Provost in 2000.

Mohamed S. El-Aasser (2004-2009) is an internationally renowned researcher in the fields of emulsion polymers and colloids. He and his students have published more than 300 scientific articles, and he holds nine U.S. patents. El-Aasser received his PhD from McGill University in 1972. He joined Lehigh as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1974, subsequently chairing this department from 1996 to 2001. Between 2001 and 2004, El-Aasser served as the Dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (RCEAS). He has also held the positions of Director of the Polymer Interfaces Center (1991-1996), Iacocca Endowed Chair in Engineering and Applied Science (1992-2001), Director of the Center for Polymer Science and Engineering (1988-2001), and Director of the Emulsion Polymers Institute (1989-2009). El-Aasser has received awards for his teaching, research, and academic service from the American Automatic Control Council, the American Chemical Society, and the Council for Chemical Research. He is also the recipient of Lehigh's Hillman Award for Distinguished Service and the Eleanor and Joseph Libsch Research Award.


Patrick V. Farrell (2009-2020) is a well-regarded researcher of combustion, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, has written more than 90 papers for peer-reviewed publications, and is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Farrell joined Lehigh in 2009 as provost and Senior Vice President for academic affairs after serving as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his tenure as Lehigh’s provost, he led the implementation of the university’s 2009 Strategic Plan and served as one of the co-principal investigators for the Lehigh NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant. He directed the Cluster Initiative, which fosters collaboration through the development of small, cross-disciplinary disciplines and departments organized around a common intellectual theme, as well as the Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative, which aims to create a more diversified faculty. Farrell played a key role in the development of Lehigh’s Mountaintop initiative and the Data X initiative, and he opened the doors of Lehigh’s Western Regional Office (WRO), which focuses on engaging alumni, corporations and prospective students and guidance counselors on the West Coast. He led the effort to envision and launch Lehigh’s College of Health, and was a key contributor to faculty and student growth, as well as expansion efforts and capital projects under Lehigh’s Path to Prominence. Most recently, Farrell worked to maintain the university’s mission and momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, providing support and communication to the university community during a particularly challenging time. Currently on sabbatical, Farrell will return to Lehigh’s faculty in July 2021 as a professor of mechanical engineering.