Lehigh alumni and friends have supported a new endowment for the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise created in honor of Professor Emeritus Rich Aronson.
The intention to create an endowment was first shared at the Martindale Society’s annual reception in New York City in fall 2014, when Aronson announced his upcoming retirement. Last month, Aronson was presented with a framed honor roll featuring the names, in calligraphy, of the many top donors to the J. Richard Aronson Endowment Fund. The fund commemorates his “life-long dedication to students and to his over fifty years of distinguished teaching and service at Lehigh University.”
Lehigh University Trustee Sarat Sethi ’92, who spearheaded the fundraising effort, called it an act of gratitude. “We wanted to thank a person who is inspirational and who provided immense support and encouragement to me and so many other alumni through college and since graduation,” he commented.
Sethi, a former student of Aronson’s, is president of the Martindale Society and a member of its advisory committee. He described Aronson as kind, intelligent, and supportive. “He is a person who has always been there with encouragement. He fostered the environment that enabled so many of us to success in our professional and personal lives,” he said.
Todd Watkins, who assumed the role of executive director of the Martindale Center after Aronson’s retirement last year, shared in the celebration. “Rich built one of Lehigh's true gems in the Martindale Center,” he said. “It's been both humbling and inspiring to see how deep the loyalty and support for Rich and the center is. It's true testimony to how much Rich's warmth and embracing spirit meant to so many of those 50 years’ worth of Lehigh students he nurtured.”
Upon receiving the honor roll, Aronson shared, “I am overwhelmed by our students – by their generosity and their love of Lehigh.”
Looking back, he said he’s most proud of the center’s ability to produce a fresh journal of the students’ work each year – referring to the bound compendium of student research papers centered around the annual Martindale Center international trip. “We haven’t missed one in 35 years,” he said. “That means a lot of people were involved, including the editor and the faculty who participated.”
“We revel in the success of our students,” he said. “As a group they’ve done marvelously well and we can be proud of them.”
Aronson served as the director of the Martindale Center since its inception in 1980. An interdisciplinary resource in Lehigh University's College of Business and Economics, the Martindale Center advances educational and scholarly programs to increase understanding of the U.S. economy and its relationship with the world economy.