George C. Lee came to Lehigh to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1958 and 1960, respectively. He earned his B.S. in the same field from National Taiwan University in 1955. He currently serves as a distinguished professor of engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Previously, he served as the school's Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1974 to 1977. From 1978 to 1995 he served as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Since 1995, Lee has held the title of Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering.
From 1992 to 2003, Lee served as Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) which was established in 1986 at the State University of New York at Buffalo under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. Once called the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, the center consists of more than 80 researchers in the United States and has core components at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University and at Cornell, Lehigh and Princeton Universities and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as at the SUNY campus in Buffalo.
Lee took over this position shortly after the death of fellow Lehigh alumnus and good friend, Bob Ketter. Ketter served as director of the National Center up until his death.
On November 16, 2007 Lee was one of 11 scholars to receive a 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award was presented by President George W. Bush at the White House. Administered by the National Science Foundation, the annual award recognizes commitment to mentoring students and boosting the participation of minorities, women and disabled students in science, mathematics and engineering and includes $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work and a Presidential certificate.
The award comes as a result of Lee creating a summer program in 1981 for 20 students from underrepresented groups designed to boost math, science and computer skills among high school students in the greater Buffalo area. His efforts led to BEAM, Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities, a cooperative educational enrichment program that prepares teen women and minority youth for careers in science, engineering and architecture.
In addition to his work with BEAM, Lee has worked with and fostered SUNY Buffalo organizations focused on underrepresented groups, including the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
"George Lee is one of the most distinguished and accomplished members of the University at Buffalo faculty," said SUNY Buffalo President John B. Simpson. "I extend to him on behalf of the entire university community our sincerest congratulations on this outstanding recognition from the White House."
Degree: M.S., Ph.D. civil engineering
Graduation: 1958, 1960
Notable Achievement: Recipient of prestigious science award presented at the White House