P.C. Rossin College of
Engineering and Applied Science
11 employees talk about their time at the Rossin College with pride, joy, a hint of nostalgia—and excitement about what’s up next

It says a lot about a place when its employees stick around for decades. So much has to align—the challenge, the camaraderie, the purpose. All of the recently—or soon-to-be—retired members of the Rossin College team found joy and meaning in their long tenures here, primarily because of the connections they made with colleagues and students. They have all made their mark in many different ways, both big and subtle. And they will all be missed.

Bryan Hodgson, Systems Manager, Computer Science and Engineering, 17 years

For some people, the more challenging the job, the more fun it is. That’s the perspective of Bryan Hodgson who spent 17 years as systems manager for the CSE department. “The job was a big thought problem,” says Hodgson. “Basically, it was, ‘Here’s everything I have to accomplish, and here are the resources I have.’ It’s a bit of an engineering problem of, ‘How are we going to make everything fit together, make it work, and keep the customers happy?’ I enjoyed it.”

Hodgson knew he’d miss all that problem-solving in retirement. Pretty soon, however, he’ll start casting about for more problems to solve with his new “retirement computer.” The other thing he came to enjoy over his time here will be harder to replicate. “When I first arrived at Lehigh in 2002, I was a bit surprised at how sincerely intrigued the faculty were about working with students. I didn’t get it. But after I sat down a couple of times and went through the problems that students were trying to solve, I realized, ‘Hey, this is actually a lot of fun, isn’t it?’”

Diane Hubinsky, Coordinator for Graduate Studies, Electrical and Computer Engineering, 17 years

She’s one of those people who really likes moving around and trying new things. Diane Hubinsky’s first position was in the admissions office back in 2002. Having never worked in higher education, she found it a great place to learn more about Lehigh. After nearly four years there, she moved to the registrar’s office where she did “everything academic,” and came to truly enjoy her daily interactions with students. About eight years later, she began her most recent position as coordinator for graduate studies in electrical and computer engineering. “I knew nothing about electrical and computer engineering,” she says. “But it was fun learning it.”

Hubinsky is most proud of her work as a committee member for the Successful Ongoing Administrative Relationships, or SOAR program. “We show new employees around and make them feel more comfortable,” she says. “We’ll say something like, ‘Have you been to Linderman Library yet? No? Ok, let’s go for a walk there.’” She’s been touched by the appreciation she has felt from those new employees. And it’s those interactions with colleagues—and with students—that she’ll miss the most. “I’m going to have to find my new connection to people,” she says. “I have so many connections here, and you lose that when you retire. I’ll have to find something else to fill that gap.” Never one to sit too still for too long, Hubinsky will no doubt find a way. But maybe not until after she gets back from the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Shaku Jain-Cocks, Event Manager, 10 years

It takes persistence, foresight, and incredible attention to detail to pull off successful events. All three came easy to Shaku Jain-Cocks, who organized everything from faculty meetings and research symposiums to summer camps and multi-day conferences. She spent 18 months organizing the five-day International Semantic Web Conference in 2015, which drew 500 researchers from around the world. “Every little detail, I was responsible for,” she says. “It was a long few days, but it was very rewarding to hear how pleased everyone was with how it turned out. I felt like I did okay.”

But even more rewarding were the events she organized with “the most awesome students.” They helped her with the spring and summer CHOICES camp, and with the undergraduate research symposium. “I loved their innocence and their curiosity,” she says. “I loved how driven they were in terms of what they wanted to accomplish.” She often had students come to her, curious about opportunities they might participate in but unsure where to go or who to talk to. Because of her extensive network across the university, Jain-Cocks could help them connect with faculty members. “I liked the feeling that I was maybe facilitating opportunities for them. That felt good.” In retirement, Jain-Cocks will continue doing good. But first, she’ll run a half marathon in Stockholm with her son, then a marathon here in Bethlehem. After that, she plans to travel the world, and volunteer where needs are great.

Carolyn Jones, Coordinator, Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering, 31 years

“I learned a lot,” says Carolyn Jones. After three decades in which she worked as an administrative assistant for the Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering (CMSE), served as the center’s coordinator, assisted with the Introduction to Engineering Practice course, and worked part time for several years for the Center for Valley Chain Research for the College of Business, Jones came to appreciate change. Improvements in programs and software weren’t a burden so much as an opportunity to learn something new. And Jones leveraged Lehigh’s tuition exchange program to expand her skills even further, getting an English degree from Moravian College. “That was wonderful,” she says. “It gave me a lot more confidence in my writing, and that was helpful for my job here.”

She especially enjoyed her time working for professor emeritus and former director of CSME, Keith Gardiner. “One of the things that I liked best was the ability to work independently for most of my time at Lehigh,” says Jones. “Professor Gardiner was the type of manager that let you do your job. He trusted you to get the work done, let you do it your way, and as long as you did what was expected and the results were good, he stood back and let you do it. He felt it was best to empower the employee so that the person would grow in the position. It was a true joy to work for someone like that.”

Barbara Kessler, Graduate Coordinator, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 32 years

“I love working with the grad students,” says Barbara Kessler. “That’s what I’ll miss the most. They’re almost like my kids.”

Kessler started her career at Lehigh as a part-timer, back when the university had its own temp service. After that she worked for nearly eight years as “the director of whatever the heck it was” in Sinclair Lab, before moving to the chemical and biomolecular engineering department. She worked first as the assistant to the coordinator, then became graduate coordinator in 1996. In that position, she’s found satisfaction and a sense of purpose. “Everybody likes to be needed,” she says. “When the students come in and need help, I know what to tell them. It makes me feel good to help them.” She admits she probably has a tendency to “overly mother them” with things like reminder emails, but that’s only because she hates to see students get hit with a late fee if they’ve waited too long to register for classes. Kessler doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement, other than finally pulling all the weeds out of her garden. She’s just looking forward to her wide-open days. “Doing what I want,” she says, “and not having a time constraint on anything.”

Gene Lucadamo, Director of Industrial Research Engagement, 17 years

For Gene Lucadamo ’71 ’77G, it’s been good being in the middle of things. He was the industrial liaison officer for the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology for 15 years. There, he helped industries looking to problem solve or improve their processes connect with the university. He also helped create the Lehigh Emerging Technologies Network, a diverse group of members dedicated to all aspects of novel materials technology from research to commercialization. In his most recent role, Lucadamo supported the Interdisciplinary Research Institutes by connecting them with industry and government. “I’m proud that we established some very good connections with the Department of Defense,” says Lucadamo. “We have strong connections with the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, which allows us to bring money and projects into the university. They employ a lot of Lehigh students, and it’s been a very good relationship for us.” 

Lucadamo has been in the Lehigh Valley for 40 years, but his work with the university gave him a new perspective on the area. “It’s much more dynamic than I thought before,” he says. “There’s a tremendous amount of talent around here, and it’s been enlightening to understand how the economic system works in the Valley. I’ve really enjoyed being in a spot where I can help my state and my community.”

William Michalerya, Director of Federal Research Engagement, 32 years

William Michalerya ’88G ’04P is a builder. And he’s spent his decades building the kind of relationships that have bolstered Lehigh’s reputation. He started at the ATLSS Engineering Center as manager of industry liaison and technology transfer, where he built the industry partner program. As VP and COO of Competitive Technologies of PA Inc., a firm partly owned by Lehigh University, he helped launch companies and manage intellectual property. After that, Michalerya was the assistant vice president for government relations, where—among many other things—he worked with Carnegie Mellon University to launch the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance, or PITA. “It was an alliance that put our respective graduates and undergraduates in internship-type opportunities with Pennsylvania companies,” says Michalerya. “I was one of the original writers of that proposal, and PITA’s first executive director, and I proudly say that we’re now in our 22nd year of our five-year plan.” He also built many entrepreneurship and economic development programs that served Lehigh faculty, students, and the local community—programs that garnered Lehigh four best practices awards from the University Economic Development Association (of which he is a past president). Michalerya has spent the last two years building additional strategic alliances as director of federal research engagement. 

“To me, it’s all about partnership,” he says. “I’ve built relationships with federal and state supporters, industry, other universities. I most proud that through these programs, Lehigh has been recognized as a good partner, and a trusted partner.”

Roger Moyer, Engineering Technician, ATLSS Engineering Research Center, 24 years

“Roger proved to be a versatile and skillful employee who contributed to ATLSS’s structural testing program in many ways,” says Chad Kusko, administrative director of ATLSS. “For example, Roger contributed to the growth of the center through the NSF-sponsored Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) and Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) programs in the laboratory. He also contributed to the structural testing of several prototype bridge designs, including those for the Verrazano-Narrows and Throgs Neck bridges.”

Kathy Rambo, Coordinator, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 40 years

Kathy Rambo spent her entire career in the same department, first as secretary, then as graduate coordinator, then—and for the past 25 years—as office coordinator. “Working in the same department for so many years definitely made me feel like I had a second family,” says Rambo. “We often got together for picnics and holiday parties. Professor [Greg] Tonkay was a great one for throwing lavish Halloween parties where costumes were required!”

In her role at Lehigh, she was involved in the launch of several conferences and symposiums, including Modeling and Optimization: Theory and Applications, which is now in its 11th year. While organizing these events, she met and worked with people from all over the world, an experience she found to be truly rewarding. But it’s the camaraderie with her colleagues she will miss most, and the many conversations about their children, their vacations, and just life in general. As for vacations, Rambo is currently planning a doozy: Visiting Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon—basically all the national parks out West, she says. “It’s always been a dream of mine.”

Jennifer Smith, Accounting Coordinator, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, 37 years

There is one thing that Jennifer Smith wants to make very clear about her time at Lehigh, and specifically, about her colleagues in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department: “We worked as a team here,” she says. “These people are like family to me. And so leaving is hard. It’s bittersweet. I’m scared, and excited.”

Smith joined the department in 1988 after brief stints as a temporary worker and as the assistant box office manager at Stabler Arena. “I wanted to get into academia to see what it was all about,” she says, “and it was the best decision I ever made.” In overseeing all the department’s finances, Smith has interacted with virtually everyone—faculty, staff, administrators, graduates, and undergraduates. She found the pace of the job suited her “nonstop” personality and the challenge was a constant source of education and fulfillment. She also loved learning about the cultures and backgrounds of international students. “They have educated me beyond what I ever could have imagined,” she says. “I just don’t travel like that.” But in the end, it was the lasting bonds she formed that have been the most meaningful. “We’re all friends,” she says. “I will miss this department.”

Pages

Reporting by Christine Fennessy, staff writer for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science

Five Rossin College Retirees

From left: William Michalerya, Jennifer Smith, Prisca Vidanage, Diane Hubinsky, and Gene Lucadamo

Kathy Rambo

Kathy Rambo

Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones