Robert Flowers is installed as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Flowers addresses those attending his installation as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Robert A. Flowers Installed as Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Family, friends and members of the Lehigh community celebrate Flowers’ installation Thursday as the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Stephanie Veto

As family, friends and members of the Lehigh community looked on, Robert A. Flowers II was formally installed Thursday morning as the 11th dean of Lehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences and the fourth person to hold the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel endowed position.

In the morning ceremony held in the Butz Lobby of Zoellner Arts Center, Provost Pat Farrell recognized Flowers, who previously held the position of deputy provost for faculty affairs, for his myriad contributions to Lehigh University and to the arts and sciences. 

“Bob brings a unique perspective to this new role, well-informed by his work in the provost’s office and his years of teaching and research in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Farrell told the more than 100 people who had gathered for the ceremony. “He has an appreciation for Lehigh’s past and for an expansive plan for the future, and we know he will serve both the college and the university well as we continue to move forward.

“I’m excited about the initiatives Bob will lead us to accomplish in his role as dean, such as providing a supportive and inclusive environment to enable excellence in scholarly activity and teaching,” he said, “while furthering strides in national and international recognition for the college.” 

To applause, Farrell also presented Flowers with the Lehigh medallion.

Flowers receives the Lehigh medallion from Farrell

Flowers receives the Lehigh medallion.

Among those attending the installation were chair of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, Trustee Anne R. Kline ’81 , members of the Dean’s search committee, members of senior leadership, deans of other Lehigh colleges, and faculty and staff.

Flowers received his doctoral degree in chemistry from Lehigh in 1991. He joined the university as chair of the chemistry department in 2003, after having served as a chemistry professor at the University of Toledo and Texas Tech University. 

He taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Lehigh, and he continues to work with students in the Flowers Research Group, which is interested in the mechanistic analysis and development of electron transfer reagents in organic synthesis, organometallic chemistry and proton-coupled electron transfer.

“In short, Bob has spent the last 26 years arguing whether electrons and protons move in one step, or sequentially. While it sounds perhaps a bit esoteric,” Farrell said, “it has important implications in energy and the design of more sustainable chemical reactions important in the production of biologically relevant molecules.”

In his role as Lehigh’s deputy provost for faculty affairs, Flowers was involved in faculty issues and college initiatives that included promoting women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] disciplines and developing Lehigh’s new College of Health. 

Farrell lauded Flowers for his work in those important areas, particularly for his work behind the scenes. “That’s critical—to be able to make things happen,” Farrell said.

In addressing those who gathered for the installation, Flowers said that one of the best decisions he had made was to return to Lehigh, where he developed strong mentoring relationships with students and strong intellectual bonds with faculty and colleagues. 

As scholars, he said, “Our most important role lies in nurturing intellectual practices that enable all students to synthesize facts and material to learn on their own, engage in new concepts and questions.” Ideally, he said, educators are preparing students for the career and life changes they will encounter after graduation, the jobs that haven't been created yet, and a life of important citizenship based on facts and reasoned arguments. 

Anna Chupa congratulations Flowers

Anna Chupa, professor and chair of Art, Architecture and Design was among the well-wishers.

“Additionally,” he said, “I believe we endow our students with two elements critical for success: knowledge and humanity.”  He said a deep respect for human nature is key to solving many of the challenges that face society in the 21st century. 

“As a scientist, I marvel at advances in science and technology, both good and bad…,” he said. “We need to live differently, and the humanities and social sciences are central in addressing these challenges.” 

Flowers also thanked his colleagues for making him “a better scholar and a better person.” He said he and his team are having “a great time” as they chart a new course for the college.

Flowers succeeds Diane Hyland, senior associate dean for faculty and staff and professor of psychology, who served in an interim capacity for several months.

Flowers and his dad

Among those attending the installation was Flowers' dad, Robert Flowers, at left. 

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Stephanie Veto

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