Peter W. Likins was President of Lehigh University from 1982 to 1997. He sought to complete what he called the "transformation" of Lehigh that began under his predecessor, President Deming Lewis. In 1997, the university dedicated the $33-million Zoellner Arts Center, which houses the departments of theatre and music and the university art galleries. The Rauch Business Center (1990) became home to the College of Business and Economics. In 1986, Lehigh doubled its size with the purchase from Bethlehem Steel of the 800-acre Mountaintop Campus, which houses the departments of biological sciences and chemical engineering, and a half-dozen research centers, including the ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Center.
In 1988, the university replaced Taylor Stadium with the Murray H. Goodman Stadium. The E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library and Computing Center (1985) gave Lehigh one of the most automated libraries anywhere. A major renovation to the Sherman Fairchild Center for the Physical Sciences linked Lewis Laboratory with the Sherman Fairchild Laboratory. And Lehigh installed one of the nation's first university telecommunications systems, wiring all university buildings and residences to give students and faculty access to the Internet.
In 1983, Lehigh became home to the North East Tier Ben Franklin Advanced Technology, one of four such centers established by the Pennsylvania legislature. Matching Lehigh professors with industry owners, the center has helped several hundred new businesses get started.
Likins helped establish of the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies, which serves Lehigh and other area colleges. He led the way in founding the Patriot League, one of two Division I athletic leagues emphasizing need-based scholarships and academic achievement.
Lehigh's financial-aid program grew greatly under Likins; half the university's undergraduates now receive assistance. The Welch Fitness Center opened in 1993, and the Iacocca Institute (1988) helped students embrace the challenges of the global economy. Taylor Residential College opened in 1984, the STAR program (1991) gave Lehigh students a chance to tutor Bethlehem school children, and the President's Scholars program (1995) offered a fifth year of tuition-free education to students with a 3.5 GPA.
The university completed the $300-million Campaign to Preserve the Vision. More than half of alumni made gifts to Lehigh, placing the university second in the nation in percentage of alumni making gifts.
Likins is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineering. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford, and an M.S. from M.I.T. He is a former provost at Columbia University. Earlier, he was a development engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, and a professor and associate dean of engineering at the UCLA.
Likins left Lehigh to become president of the University of Arizona until his retirement in June, 2006. He and his wife, Patricia, continue to reside in Tucson, Arizona. The Likins are the parents of six adopted children.