Ada E. and Peter C. Rossin ’48 ’99H believed that helping others was a given, that a commitment was meant for life, and that family came first. Ada Rossin, wife of the late Peter Rossin for whom the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science is named, passed away on November 17, but the legacy of the Rossin’s values and actions will remain part of Lehigh University in perpetuity.
Ada and Peter were married 57 years when he passed away in 2003. Hometown sweethearts, they wed after Rossin returned from serving as a navigator in World War II, as he was completing his first year at Lehigh on the G.I. Bill. They lived in an apartment in the Lehigh Valley, while Peter completed his studies in metallurgy and materials engineering a year early.
Soon, the family grew to include son, Peter Jr. ’71, and daughter, Joan. Ada was by Peter’s side when he started his early career in the metals industry and was steadfast when he began his own titanium business at age 44.
Joan shared in an interview that her childhood was very idyllic in a 1950s style, with her mom taking care of home life and her dad going off to work. She recalled the family meeting when her dad discussed starting his own business. He wanted it to be a family decision.
“He said it was something that he always wanted to do, so we were behind him,” said Joan.
The innovative business was called Dynamet and started with one employee – Peter C. Rossin – and the financial help from 23 investors who believed in his vision of filling the need of a growing titanium market. At its peak, the company was an international supplier of titanium bar, wire, and forged products for the aerospace, medical, and sports industries.
In 1997, Rossin sold Dynamet to Carpenter Technology Corporation in Reading, Pennsylvania, for $150 million. The following year, Ada and Peter made a $25 million gift to Lehigh University – the largest gift in the history of the university at that time – to support the “people and programs” of Lehigh’s renowned engineering school. Because of this landmark donation, the College of Engineering and Applied Science was named in his honor.
John Coulter, interim dean of the P. C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, says “The Rossins’ generosity lives on at Lehigh through the work of our faculty and students and is brought to the forefront through the Rossin Fellowship Leadership Program.”
The Rossin legacy will continue to advance Lehigh engineering. Provost Patrick Farrell explains, “The university continues to benefit from the tremendous generosity of Ada and Peter Rossin. Lehigh engineering is at a pivotal point, with the arrival of our new president and the anticipation of a new dean. The Rossins’ investment enables our leadership to make strategic investments to take Lehigh’s engineering heritage in new directions for the 21st century and beyond.”
Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.
-Dawn Thren is the Associate Director of Communicationswith with Lehigh University's Office of Advancement.