Lehigh’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, Patricia Johnson, to Retire

Johnson’s tenure has been defined by tremendous growth and advancement for Lehigh, spanning finance and administrative functions across the university.

Story by

Carina Sitkus

Patricia A. Johnson

Patricia A. Johnson

Patricia A. Johnson, vice president for finance and administration, has announced her retirement for later this academic year. 

Starting her tenure on January 30, 2014, Johnson has been responsible for the leadership, oversight and stewardship of all aspects of the university’s financial resources across a broad range of finance and administrative functions, including the budget office, treasurer’s office, facilities and campus planning, business services, human resources, student auxiliary services, and university police over her more than seven years at Lehigh. She has also served as a strategic advisor to the president and trustees. 

As part of the university’s Path to Prominence plan, Johnson helped to lead new and innovative capital investment projects, including funding for the new Health, Science and Technology building, the Lehigh University Police Department station on Packer Avenue, Building C on Mountaintop, and the Singleton, Hitch & Maida Houses, as well as the renovation of Chandler-Ullmann Hall. 

She was responsible for initiating the university’s first Public-Private Partnerships “P3” Projects that supported the creation of new residential housing for students at SouthSide Commons and apartment housing at Brinker Lofts in South Bethlehem. Through this approach, resources were focused on strategically enhancing the educational and residential experiences and benefits for Lehigh students while maintaining the university’s strong financial position. 

“What I find most remarkable about Pat is her ability to carry out and improve the financial elements of Lehigh without losing sight of the fact that the mission of the institution is not financialwe are about education and research and the impact those can have on students and the world,” says Patrick Farrell, professor of mechanical engineering and former provost and vice president for academic affairs at Lehigh. “I found Pat to be a vital and enthusiastic partner in moving the university forward.”

Johnson says she is proud of the relationships and partnerships she’s cultivated with the Faculty Senate, and faculty and staff across the university. 

“The academic mission is what [the Lehigh administration] supports,” Johnson says. “I’ve always seen my role as supporting the faculty and others across the university to be able to make their jobs easiermeaning better performance, more opportunities for research, different ways of teachingin support of Lehigh’s academic mission and students.” 

Johnson also leaves a legacy of coaching and supporting the development of her colleagues and team. 

“Pat has been a wonderful colleague,” says Georgette Chapman Phillips, dean of the College of Business. “I benefited from her expert advice—and her good humor. I will miss her both professionally and personally.”

“Identifying talent and giving people opportunities is really important to me,” Johnson says. “I think what I’ve enjoyed most [about my time at Lehigh] is the people that I work with, especially my team and how much we have accomplished during the time that I’ve been here, and our role in making the culture of Lehigh action-oriented. We have the right people to help continue that trajectory.”

Johnson has overseen personnel and organizational changes that helped enhance many areas across the university. Johnson has been responsible for several hires and promotions in the police department, facilities, the controller, budget, financial planning and treasurer’s offices, business services and human resources. Johnson co-chaired the national search that led to the hiring of Lehigh’s first vice president for equity and community. Under her tenure, more women were hired within the Lehigh University Police Department and facilities, positions that had previously been filled predominantly by men. With the addition of an associate vice president for human resources, Johnson said Lehigh gained a deeper focus on organizational development and cultivated enhanced training and educational opportunities for staff.

Johnson also contracted with Baker Tilly to provide internal auditing services, established a partnership with Bright Horizons for the child care center, and added a real estate services department. 

Under her encouragement and direction, the Office of Sustainability has made great strides in increasing the visibility of sustainability at Lehigh, which was recently named as one of five post-secondary institutions nationwide to receive the distinction of being a Green Ribbon School.  

“Pat Johnson has been a remarkably steady force in leading Lehigh through one of the most challenging financial times in the history of higher education,” said Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “In all of the decisions that she has made, Pat has been focused on doing what is best for the long-term health of Lehigh and the Lehigh community, while considering much more than just the financial bottom line. In addition to the financial acumen that is of course needed to manage budgets and financial plans, she has a deep appreciation for Lehigh’s mission and I believe that it’s this appreciation that has made her exceptional in her role as vice president for finance and administration. I have really enjoyed working with and learning from Pat for the last 16 months and wish her the best in her retirement.”

Before coming to Lehigh, Johnson was the associate vice president of finance and treasurer for Cornell University and has held senior positions in higher education and in the private sector. Prior to Cornell, Johnson served as investment officer for the University of Dayton. She also held positions in internal audit and cash administration for the Mead Corporation and has banking experience with Wachovia Bank and Bank of America.

Story by

Carina Sitkus