Vincent Forlenza ’75 Named New Chair of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees

He succeeds Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, who has been Chair of the Board since July 1, 2017.

Story by

Carina Sitkus

Vincent Forlenza ’75

Vincent Forlenza ’75

Lehigh Trustee Vincent Forlenza ’75 has been selected and approved by the Lehigh University Board of Trustees to serve as the next Chair of the Board, commencing July 1, 2022 after the term of Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P concludes on June 30, 2022.

Selected as Vice-Chairs were Ann Lewnes ’83 ’22P, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Development of Adobe, and Jordan Hitch ’88 ’20P ’21P, formerly a Managing Director of Bain Capital. Maria Chrin ’87 ’10P and Philip Sheibley ’81 ’19P will conclude their terms as Vice-Chairs on June 30, 2022.

“I’m honored to have served Lehigh and am looking forward to working together with my colleagues, as well as President Joe Helble and the Lehigh leadership, during this next stage of Lehigh’s future,” said Forlenza.

“Lehigh is an inspiring, resilient community,” he continued. “There are many successes to point to over the past decade that we will continue to build on; more recently, it’s indicative of the talent and drive of our students, faculty, staff, community, and leadership that during the pandemic the university continued to not only make progress toward its goals in research and scholarship but also make contributions that will leave a lasting positive impact for years to come. The launch of a college dedicated to improving human health outcomes—during a pandemic, no less—is one such example.

“I am particularly humbled to succeed my close colleague, Kevin Clayton, who helped ensure these advancements were fully realized through his clear-eyed and passionate leadership. I aim to follow his example and bring the same level of dedication and spirit of collaboration to my work as Chair.”

Forlenza will succeed Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, who has been Chair of the Board since July 1, 2017, and whose dedicated service has included 22 years on the Board and a year as Interim President of Lehigh in 2014-15.

“It has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve Lehigh over the years and to work alongside my colleagues on the Board of Trustees in advancing the strategic goals and the global reach of the university," said Clayton. “The great strides Lehigh has made are in large part a testament to their steadfast commitment and leadership. I also am fortunate to have worked closely with many students, faculty and staff, who are inspiring in their commitment and dedication and demonstrate daily what it means to be a part of the Lehigh community.

“I am confident that Vince’s strong leadership, vision and knowledge, as well as his love for Lehigh, will continue to be a tremendous asset to the university,” Clayton continued. “His leadership as Chair will undoubtedly propel our great university successfully into the future. Lehigh is in very capable hands with Vince and the full Board.”

Forlenza’s Leadership at Lehigh

Forlenza was an appointed Trustee on the Board for two terms, serving on the campus planning and operations committee and the global affairs subcommittee before his appointment as a corporate Trustee, serving on the Board's finance, executive, and academic affairs committees and the compensation subcommittee.

A passionate supporter of Lehigh’s academic and research mission, Forlenza is an active member of the College of Health Dean’s Advisory Council and a past member of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean's Advisory Council. With his background as CEO of a global medical technology company, Forlenza provided strategic insights that were instrumental in shaping the creation of the College of Health early on in the process and through its launch.

Forlenza and his wife, Ellen, are ardent supporters of research and educational innovation at Lehigh. In 2020, the Forlenzas established the Ellen and Vincent Forlenza ’75 Chair in Health Innovation and Technology Endowed Fund for Lehigh's College of Health. The gift enables the college to recruit the very best talent in a fiercely competitive market. The Chair helped to launch the College of Health’s department of health innovation and technology, where innovators will develop health applications utilizing artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and data science, and design cutting-edge technologies that address urgent needs in population health.

Additionally, the Forlenzas established the Ellen and Vincent A. Forlenza ’75 Endowed Fund for research, faculty and programs within the health and healthcare initiative at the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and contributed to the construction of the STEPS facility. They are honored as part of Lehigh's leadership giving societies: the Asa Packer Society, the Tower Society, and Leadership Plaza.

Forlenza earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in 1975 and a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. While at Lehigh, Forlenza was a member of the Newman Association, Delta Chi, and the American Institute for Chemical Engineers.

A Storied Career

Forlenza recently retired as executive chairman of the board of directors of Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a global medical technology company headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, after serving as its CEO. He led the transformation of the company from a manufacturer of medical supplies to a top-five medical device, diagnostic and life science company. Under Forlenza’s leadership, the market capitalization more than tripled.

As CEO, Forlenza also led BD's strategy to improve healthcare in countries with underdeveloped healthcare systems. As a leader in developing public-private partnerships, BD partnered with PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and the Clinton Health Initiative to provide low-cost diagnostics for HIV patients and access to cervical cancer testing in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Other programs included extending vaccination programs in developing countries with both the Gates Foundation and UNICEF and improving infection prevention in countries lacking effective systems. BD was named three times to Fortune Magazine's List of 50 Companies Changing the World. During his nearly 40-year career with BD, Forlenza held several executive leadership positions globally, in the United States and Europe, including Grenoble, France, when he was running strategic planning for BD Europe.

Additionally, Forlenza served as chairman of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) Board of Directors. In that role, he significantly advanced the association’s innovation agenda, collaborating with policymakers and industry partners to reinvigorate the innovation ecosystem and promote the value of medical technology in extending and improving patients’ lives.

Forlenza currently serves on Moody’s Corporation Board of Directors, as lead director and chair of the nominating and governance committee. He is also chairman of The Valley Health Systems Board of Trustees.

Forlenza and his wife are actively involved in autism awareness and advocacy, helping to found the Quest Autism Foundation, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that works to provide support and services to adults with autism. Throughout his career, Forlenza has served as an advocate for hiring and supporting individuals with autism in the workplace and is currently working in collaboration with the College of Education on further developing these connections at Lehigh. He is also a board member of Marabio, a start-up company developing a test to assess the risk of autism pre-pregnancy and to provide early indication of the need for developmental intervention and support in the event of developmental delays.

The Forlenzas reside in Franklin Lakes, NJ, and have two daughters, Joy and Corie.

Clayton’s Legacy of Service

Clayton’s service to Lehigh has been lifelong, as he is the son of a Lehigh alumnus, a member of the Class of 1984 and a Lehigh parent. Over his 22 years of service on the Board, Clayton has served as a Young Alumni Trustee, Appointed Trustee, Corporate Trustee, Vice-Chair of the Board and Chair of the Board. He served as Lehigh’s Interim President for the 2014-2015 academic year. Clayton then returned to the Board of Trustees as Vice-Chair and was named Chair in April 2017.

Clayton’s tenure as Chair of the Board has been marked by numerous notable advancements and innovations, including the launch of the College of Health, the expanded recruitment of diverse undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, and investments made in infrastructure and programs across the university to enhance the overall academic, research and student experience, including the construction of new residential and academic facilities. Over his tenure as Trustee, he has served on all committees, including the Committee on Nominations and Trusteeship, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Campus Planning and Operations Committee (as Chair and Vice-Chair), the Finance Committee, the Investment Subcommittee, the External Engagement Committee and the Compensation Subcommittee. He also served on the College of Business Dean's Advisory Council.

As Chair, Clayton oversaw the launch of the university’s Path to Prominence plan and the $1 billion-plus fundraising campaign, GO: The Campaign for Lehigh. Most recently, he successfully stewarded Lehigh through the most challenging times of the pandemic.

In 2020, Clayton charged a presidential search committee co-chaired by Maria L. Chrin ’87 ’10P and Philip B. Sheibley ’81 ’19P with the search for Lehigh’s 15th president.

Clayton and his wife, Lisa, have established and funded programs across the university over the years, including a $20 million gift to revitalize Lehigh’s iconic University Center, a project that will preserve the historic nature of the building while creating a dynamic, state-of-the-art environment for student life. The renovation will impact the entire university community and future generations of students, faculty and staff.

Lisa and Kevin also endowed the Kevin L. Clayton ’84 ’13P and Lisa A. Clayton ’13P Deanship for the College of Business, a strategic endowment intended to bring to Lehigh top leadership to drive the upward trajectory of the college and university. That position is held by Georgette Chapman Phillips, an internationally respected scholar who came to Lehigh in 2014 from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

In honor of Kevin’s parents, Lisa and Kevin established the William L. and Carol L. Clayton Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2003. In 2008, they established the Kevin L. Clayton ’84 and Lisa A. Clayton Endowed Scholarship Fund. Since they were created, these two scholarships have benefited numerous students over the years.

Their generosity also includes supporting the Annual Fund, the Athletics Partnership Program, programming initiatives in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Business Dean’s Strategic Initiatives Fund. They have been long recognized as part of the Asa Packer Society and the Tower Society. In 2012, their names were engraved on Leadership Plaza, outside of the Alumni Memorial Building, in recognition of their philanthropy and commitment to Lehigh.

Story by

Carina Sitkus