Dartmouth College provost and professor of engineering will assume the presidency on August 16

Joseph J. Helble, Lehigh University's 15th president
Joseph J. Helble, Lehigh University's 15th president, is a chemical engineering alumnus.

The Lehigh University Board of Trustees announced today the selection of Joseph J. Helble ’82, currently provost of Dartmouth College, as Lehigh’s 15th president. He will assume the presidency on August 16.

Helble, a Lehigh graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1982, was named president after a comprehensive and global search process that began last fall following the announcement that Lehigh’s current president, John D. Simon ’19P, would be stepping down on June 30. Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim president until Helble’s arrival.

“I am honored to be taking on this leadership position at a university that has been such an important part of my life,” said Helble. “Lehigh is an outstanding institution, and I’m humbled by the confidence the Board of Trustees has placed in me. I’m inspired by the university’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service, and its focus on thoughtful innovation, international engagement and interdisciplinary experiences. I look forward to engaging with faculty, staff and the entire Lehigh community to advance this work and ensure an exceptional Lehigh education for generations to come.”

Lehigh Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P said that Helble’s impressive achievements and leadership at Dartmouth distinguished him among a diverse and talented pool of candidates.

“We are thrilled that Joe Helble, a widely respected leader, accomplished scholar and a 1982 graduate of Lehigh, will be joining us as our 15th president,” said Clayton. “Joe’s passion for excellence, interdisciplinary learning and innovation in higher education make him the perfect choice to lead Lehigh into the future. We are tremendously impressed by the personal and professional qualities that made him so successful at Dartmouth, and are confident those same qualities will make him an outstanding president at Lehigh.”

Prior to becoming Dartmouth’s provost in 2018, Helble served for 13 years as dean of the 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. The school also experienced during Helble’s leadership a sharp increase in the percentage of engineering graduates who are women. In 2016, Dartmouth was the first research university in the nation to have more women graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering than men. 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.

Helble was appointed a Lehigh trustee on July 1, 2020. He recused himself from his trustee position when he became a candidate during the early stage of the search process.

Helble has authored more than 100 publications and holds three U.S. patents. In 2017, he was elected a Fellow of the AAAS. 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's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, which includes the PhD Innovation Program. He received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1998.

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center.

Story by Kelly Hochbein

Welcoming Lehigh’s 15th President, Joseph J. Helble ’82

Helble, a Lehigh alumnus, is currently provost of Dartmouth College.