James B. Swenson ’59 ’15GP ’17GP graduated with a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Lehigh University in 1959. As a student, he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity; Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society for business students; and Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor society for accounting, finance, and information systems students. He was the manager of the 1957 first-ever Lambert Cup football team.
Jim began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked for 35 years, becoming a partner in 1971 and retiring in 1994. He joined the Lehigh University Office of Development in 1994, where he currently serves as senior director of national development.
As a dedicated alumnus, Jim served on the Lehigh University Board of Trustees from 1986 through 1994 as an alumni trustee and appointed trustee. More recently, he serves as a trustee emeritus. In addition, he was a member of the Lehigh University Alumni Association (LUAA) Board of Directors for seven years, including serving as president of the LUAA board from 1985 through 1986. He has also been very active with LUAA in various capacities, including serving as president, treasurer, and vice president of his class as well as various committee roles.
Jim and his wife, Roberta, have generously supported many programs and initiatives at Lehigh University, including the James B. Swenson ’59 Scholarship and the Marion and Bennett Swenson Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Jim and Roberta support the Lehigh Fund, Athletics Partnership, and multiple athletic teams, including football and lacrosse. In 2015, Jim created the James B. Swenson Endowed Fund for Athletics to sustain athletic programs at the university. In addition, they support many academic initiatives, including those within the College of Business and Economics, the Accounting Department, the Martindale Society, and the PwC Endowed Fellowship Fund. Jim is one of the founding members of the Tower Society, a premier giving society honoring donors who have supported the endowment of Lehigh University.
In 2009, Jim received the Eugene G. Grace 1899 Award, which recognizes distinguished service to Lehigh for encouraging support to the university. In 2010, he received the James Ward Packard ME 1884 Award, which is given to an individual or a family who have championed the educational mission of Lehigh and exemplifies meritorious volunteer work for the Planned Giving program. This award simultaneously honors the life of an illustrious business pioneer and generous alumnus or alumna.
Jim and Roberta have three children and nine grandchildren, including two grandchildren in the Lehigh Classes of 2015 and 2017. Roberta is a graduate of the University of Maryland, earning a bachelor of arts degree in English. She owns and operates a residential real estate firm in Wellesley, Massachusetts. They reside in Needham, Massachusetts.