Q&A: College architect to leave Lehigh
Patricia Johnson, Vice President of Finance and Administration at Lehigh, announced in an email on November 23 that Brent Stringfellow, Lehigh University Architect and Associate Vice President of Facilities, has accepted the position of Director of campus planning at the University of Texas at Austin. .
Stringfellow will be leaving Lehigh at the end of 2021. He has been working at the university since 2013, first as an assistant professor, and started his current position in 2016.
While at Lehigh, Stringfellow led renovations to Mountaintop Building C, Center for Career and Professional Development, Chandler-Ullman and Grind @ FML.
He has also initiated major construction projects, such as the Carol & John Covert Athletic Lodge, SouthSide Commons, and Singleton Hitch & Maida Residential Homes.
Some of these projects, such as the health, science and technology building and the expansion of the College of Business, are currently underway.
Johnson will retire later this school year. The new Vice President of Finance and Administration will lead the search for Stringfellow’s permanent replacement. In the meantime, Don Pasda, Director of Buildings and Utilities Systems, will take on the role of Acting Assistant Vice President of Facilities.
Stringfellow sat down with Brown and white to discuss his plans for the future, as well as the future of his current projects at Lehigh, and to reflect on his time at Lehigh.
Q: What prompted you to take on the role of Director of Campus Planning at the University of Texas at Austin?
Brent Stringfellow: It’s just an exciting new opportunity. It’s a different type of university with different challenges, obviously, so it’s interesting. It’s also a role that will allow me to focus a bit more on my architectural background than my role at Lehigh, which is a bit broader.
Q: What will happen to the ongoing projects you started in Lehigh, such as the Health, Science and Technology building and the College of Business expansion?
BS: Everything will continue. We have the whole project management team, and the planning, design and construction of the facilities (LU) part is still there. They are the ones who have been really responsible for the day-to-day implementation. So there really won’t be any change as to how this work proceeds or how this work is affected. We have what I like to think of as a deep bench of facilities, so everything will kind of go on as planned.
Q: I understand that Don Pasda, Director of Buildings and Utilities Systems, has been selected to serve as Acting Assistant Vice President of Facilities until a permanent replacement is found. Is there a reason he was chosen?
BS: Don has been with Lehigh for almost 15 years, I believe. (He has) a lot of experience and somehow understands university very well. He’s been involved in all aspects of the facilities so I think he has a good handle on everything, and I think everyone respects that he will be able to get things done efficiently.
Q: Will you play a role in finding a permanent replacement?
BS: No, it will really follow once I leave here, it will happen later. This is really going to be an issue probably for the office of the president and also the office of the vice president of finance and administration, which is really where this position relates. So that will be their challenge and their point of view.
Q: Is there anything you are looking for in your replacement or things you would like to see continue after you leave Lehigh?
BS: Obviously I love the campus here. It was not an easy decision to leave. I had a lot of experience working at Lehigh. I think the buildings, the scenery and the way people use them are just breathtaking. And I think what I’m hoping for is that my replacement brings the same level of enthusiasm about the campus and the potential. Building on such a great legacy is such a great opportunity for anyone who can take on this role.
Q: The university has seen a lot of leadership changes recently, such as the introduction of a new president and the announced retirement of Pat Johnson. Is there a correlation between these changes and your decision to leave Lehigh?
BS: No, the timing has more to do with the new position than my position at Lehigh in terms of when certain opportunities arise, you take advantage of them. So it has nothing to do with Lehigh at this point.
Q: What have been the highlights of your career at Lehigh?
BS: There have been a lot. I think, obviously, being able to move a lot of these big capital projects forward that I think have had a really positive impact on campus and started to point out some of the directions the campus can take. Less on specific projects, but just in general, I think working with the different groups on campus as we went through different project or facility related challenges has always been rewarding. I’ve always found this to be a bunch of incredibly decent people at Lehigh and people who are really committed to trying to do the right thing and committed to college. And that’s true for faculty, staff, and students, and it’s something I’ll definitely take with me. So there were a lot of great experiences, big and small projects. I even remember things like when we opened the cafe at FML, what a success it was. Realize that it’s not just the really big projects, but it’s these smart projects that have a big impact on the life of students and the life of the university in general.