Allentown native, auto industry great, Lee Iacocca dies at 94

Lee Iacocca was on Lehigh University’s campus in 2011 to announce the gift that created the Iacocca International Internship program. (Photo submitted) –

Allentown native Lee Iacocca has passed away at the age of 94 according to news reports.

Iacocca, who built a reputation as an executive in the auto industry with Ford and Chrysler, was also a 1945 graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.

According to his bio, Iacocca started working at Ford Motor Co. in 1946 and became president in 1970. Under his leadership, Ford introduced several successful models, including the iconic Mustang.

He was credited with the 1980s turnaround of the Chrysler Corporation, which was on the verge of bankruptcy when he became president in 1978.

As a graduate of Lehigh, Iacocca was also very involved with the school, he founded the Iacocca Institute at Lehigh in 1988 to, in the school’s words, “help prepare the next generation of leaders to thrive in a global economy, with the belief that successful leadership in the 21st century would require a deep understanding of different cultures and countries and comfort working across boundaries and borders.”

Current Lehigh University president, John Simon, issued a statement on the passing of the legendary businessman.

“Lehigh lost not only a great man but a great friend as well,” said Lehigh President John Simon. “His dedication to Lehigh was unwavering throughout the years. His extraordinarily successful career served as an inspiration for generations of students. And, through his vision for the Iacocca Institute’s Global Village and the Iacocca International Internships, Lee made it possible for the world to come to Lehigh and our students to have life-changing educational experiences that prepared them to thrive on the world stage. He leaves a strong and enduring legacy at Lehigh.”

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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