Robert E. Zoellner, an esteemed Lehigh graduate, securities investor and arts patron whose deep commitment to Lehigh is visible in the university’s premier performing arts center that bears his name, passed away Dec. 23, 2014 at the age of 82.
Zoellner, who graduated from Lehigh in 1954 with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and engineering physics and later served as a Lehigh trustee, was a lifelong supporter of the university. In the early 1990s, he and his wife Victoria committed $6 million to establish the Zoellner Arts Center, a 105,000-square-foot performing arts venue on the Asa Packer campus that brought measurable change to the university and provides students and the surrounding community with unique opportunities for learning, performing and the visual arts.
"Bob Zoellner was and will remain a Lehigh Legend," said Interim President Kevin Clayton '84 '13P. "Lehigh has been truly transformed by the Zoellner Arts Center and it was Bob and Vickie's leadership and generosity that made it happen. Bob was a bold thinker and one that took action. As a result, generations of Lehigh students, faculty and the community are beneficiaries of his impact. He was a kind gentleman and Bob will be missed in many ways."
The Zoellners’ key gift to Lehigh – the naming of the arts center – was transformative. The theatre and music departments, after operating in a former power plant and dining hall, were euphoric over the Zoellner Arts Center’s 1,002-seat, acoustically near perfect Baker Hall, its 307-seat Diamond Theater, its 100-seat Fowler BlackBox Theater, practice rooms and set-design shops.
In addition to their contributions to the arts center, Zoellner and his wife made a number of other significant gifts to Lehigh. They spearheaded the effort to restore Lehigh’s physics buildings, now known as the Sherman Fairchild Center for the Physical Science, and helped underwrite the cost of rebuilding Pi Kappa Alpha after a 1995 fire damaged the fraternity house.
Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center.
Story by Mary Ellen Alu