As an undergraduate, Charles Taylor criticized the Lehigh trustees for their refusal to build dormitories and their slowness to build the university's first gymnasium (Coppee Hall). When he became a Lehigh trustee, many years later, he helped to transform student living and athletics. Taylor, who graduated in 1876 with a degree in mining engineering, was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and The Cannibals eating club, where he was given the nickname, "Pickles." He was also a member of the literary club, the Gymnastics Association, Tau Beta Pi, was his year's Wilbur Scholar, and valedictorian of his class.
He first went to work as an assistant chemist for the Cambria Iron Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. From there he moved to Pittsburgh where he was the Superintendent of the Homestead Steel Works. It was when he became General Manager of The Hartman Steel Company that Taylor first began to work for Andrew Carnegie. Next he was the Assistant Secretary of Carnegie, Phipps, and Company, and finally, in 1893, Assistant to the President of the Carnegie Steel Company. Taylor became one of Carnegie's most trusted associates. When he retired from the company in 1901, he was placed in charge of Carnegie's philanthropies.
Throughout his career, Taylor remained active with the Alumni Association, serving as secretary-treasurer from 1877 to 1880, president from 1881-82 and an alumnus trustee from 1887 to 1895. When he returned to the Board of Trustees in 1905, Taylor finally was able to change the undergraduate living. With the aid of Henry S. Drinker, Lehigh's fifth president and a close friend, Taylor asked Carnegie to donate funds to build the university's first dormitory. Carnegie agreed, but only if the modest Taylor would permit it to be named in his honor. Taylor Hall was completed in 1907.
A longtime supporter of Lehigh Athletics, Taylor provided the funding and an endowment for Taylor Gymnasium and Fieldhouse in 1913 and headed the fundraising effort for Taylor Stadium. The Stadium's opening, October 17, 1914, was declared "Charley Taylor Day." Taylor received an honorary doctorate from Lehigh in 1919.