Lee A. Iacocca graduated from Lehigh with a degree in industrial engineering in 1945, and is an alumnus of Theta Chi. After graduation, he won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and went to Princeton University. He then began a career at Ford Motor Company as an engineer. He switched career paths at Ford, entering the company's sales force.
Iacocca was involved with the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the Ford Mustang. Eventually, he became the president of the Ford Motor Company. Iacocca then joined Chrysler and began rebuilding the entire company from the ground up. Because of reforms Iacocca implemented, the company turned around quickly.
In May 1982, Ronald Reagan appointed Iacocca to head the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. He continues to serve on the board of the foundation. In 1984, Iacocca co-authored his autobiography, titled Iacocca: An Autobiography. It was the best selling non-fiction hardback book of 1984 and 1985. Iacocca left Chrysler in 1992. Following the death of his wife from diabetes, Iacocca has become an active supporter of research to find a cure for the disease.
In 2000, Iacocca founded Olivio Premium Products, and donates all profits from the company to diabetes research. Iacocca is currently chairman of Nourish the Children. In 2007, he published another New York Times bestseller, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Iacocca founded the Iacocca Institute at Lehigh, in partnership with the university. The Institute is dedicated to increasing the global competitiveness of businesses and organizations. Organized as a vision-focused, action-oriented group, the Iacocca Institute was directed to help companies help themselves and to ensure the availability of a competitive workforce today and in the future. Iacocca recently established the Iacocca International Internship program, which creates partnerships with companies around the world to provide robust international internship opportunities for Lehigh University students.
In 2010, Iacocca was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by Lehigh's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.