The CEE department financial coordinator reflects on the joys of a university career

Growing up in the Lehigh Valley, Dawn McClay always had an eye for working at Lehigh University. It wasn’t necessarily the location or even the work itself that appealed to her but rather the scholastic environment and how being at a top-notch academic institution day in and day out could introduce her to so many interesting people and ideas.

"It was the best thing that ever happened to me," McClay says. "It definitely expanded my world."

McClay says attending the annual Tresolini and Kenner lectures have been highlights across her 48 years at Lehigh. "It would be a real deficit for me to lose that, so I intend to keep coming back as long as I can," McClay says.

Her first eight years at Lehigh were split evenly between the university’s Payroll and Accounts Payable departments. "At the time, I was the only one in Accounts Payable, and now the office has a number of staff members," she says.

Then, she joined the staff in the civil and environmental engineering department, working under Bruce Laub, who managed the department’s finances at the time. "It was very different then compared to now," McClay says. "I didn’t have a computer those first years, so all the accounting was done using pen and paper."

Upon Laub’s retirement, McClay accepted his position, and it’s where she’s stayed until today. But still, despite the positional stability, the way she went about her job continued to change. "I work a lot with government research contracts, and that’s constantly changing, usually becoming more complicated."

For this reason, McClay says she’s looking forward to retirement, to slowing down, to catching up on her reading (and her sleeping). At the same time, she says it will be hard to say goodbye. "I spend more time here than I do at home," she says. "These people have become my family. I will miss them, but I know I will remain active and keep in touch with everyone."

-John Gilpatrick is a freelance contributor to the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Dawn McClay

CEE Department Financial Coordinator Dawn McClay announced her retirement after 48 years at Lehigh University. (Photo courtesy of Lehigh CEE)