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President Joseph Helble

Biography

Joseph J. Helble ’82, Lehigh’s 15th president, is a highly respected leader in higher education and the former provost of Dartmouth College.

Helble comes to Lehigh from Dartmouth College, where he served as provost from 2018-2021. As provost, Helble was the university’s chief academic and budget officer. He oversaw all of Dartmouth’s professional and graduate schools—Geisel School of Medicine, Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Thayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business—as well as major academic support units and a variety of other offices, academic centers and institutes. He set the budget for Arts & Sciences and was also responsible for setting the university’s budget priorities and overseeing its annual budget process, developing financial plans, and coordinating support for Dartmouth’s research infrastructure. Helble also served as a professor of engineering in the Thayer School of Engineering, and he played a critical role in guiding the campus community through the COVID-19 pandemic and providing regular updates about the university’s operations and decisions.

Before becoming provost, Helble served for 13 years as dean of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. As dean, he oversaw a record increase in the school’s research funding, a near doubling of enrollment, an increase in its number of tenure-track faculty and the introduction of new majors and programs. The school also experienced during Helble’s leadership a sharp increase in the percentage of engineering graduates who are women. Helble and his colleagues in the Thayer School also created the PhD Innovation Program (PhD-I), the first program in the nation to prepare engineering doctoral candidates for entrepreneurial success.

Prior to arriving at Dartmouth, Helble served as professor and chair of chemical engineering at the University of Connecticut.

After graduating with highest honors from Lehigh in 1982, Helble earned his PhD in chemical engineering, with a minor in Spanish, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987. He worked for several years in the private sector as a research scientist at Physical Sciences, Inc., during which time he also spent several months on leave as a science policy fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Later, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Revelle Fellow, he spent a year in Washington, D.C., working on environmental and technology policy.

Helble is married to Rebecca Dabora, chief technology and manufacturing officer at Adagio Therapeutics, a biotechnology firm developing best-in-class monoclonal antibodies that broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2, SARSCoV and additional pre-emergent coronaviruses. They have three adult children.

Education

BS, Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University (1982)
PhD, Chemical Engineering, MIT (1987)

Research Interests

Helble’s research interests have included studying the environmental impacts of fossil energy utilization with an emphasis on mercury and particulate matter (PM) air pollutants, exploring technologies for CO2 capture, and developing approaches to produce nanostructured ceramic powders. He has authored more than 100 publications and holds three U.S. patents.

Awards and Honors

Helble was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2017. He is a co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering's 2014 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education for the design and implementation of Dartmouth College's Engineering Entrepreneurship Program. As the AAAS Roger Revelle Fellow, he worked on environmental and technology policy in Washington, D.C., in 2004-2005. Helble received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1998 and the AAAS Barnard Award in 1994.