ISE alum's gift will fund one of the highest academic awards a university can bestow on a faculty member

Sam Banks with his wife, PamalaSam Banks wanted to be an engineer, and had heard about Lehigh’s reputation as an outstanding engineering school. “Also, I figured it must be the right place, considering that the student body was known as the Lehigh Engineers,” Banks joked. 

He thought so much of his Lehigh experience and education that he recently made a generous $3.5 million bequest—a future gift from his estate—to endow a chair in the department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. The gift includes $2.5 million for the endowed chair and $1 million for faculty startup and related research costs for the chairholder.

Banks (pictured with his wife, Pamala) received his bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1963, and although his career path took him in a different direction, it was important to him to endow a chair in the department. 

“My ISE training served me well, even though I never really practiced as an industrial engineer. ISE is an excellent way to prepare for manufacturing cost analysis,” Banks said. “My engineering education also helped me quickly understand corporate finance and competitive strategy.”

“Sam’s gift will fund one of the highest academic awards that a university can bestow on a faculty member: a named, endowed chair,” said Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “It is an important recruiting tool that recognizes and honors the holder of the appointment. Hiring the best faculty is critical as we try to increase the quality and rankings of our departments.”

Steve DeWeerth, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, said, “We truly appreciate Sam’s gift and generosity. This endowed chair will support our cutting-edge research and education in a discipline that significantly impacts the global engineering and business communities. Donors like Sam exemplify the passion and commitment of Lehigh alumni to the advancement of the Rossin College mission.”

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center

Story by Cynthia Tintorri