Dean's Advisory Council

Our advocates
Dean's Advisory Council Members
Peter Bennett & Dean Gary M. Sasso, New York Times Building, 2009

The College of Education Dean's Advisory Council (DAC) consists of noteworthy and influential individuals from a wide range of professions and experiences. The Council, who meet with the dean on campus three times each academic year, advises the dean and serves as an advocate for the college.

The Dean’s Advisory Council (“DAC” or “Council”) is an external consultative group to the leadership of the college. This group provides the college with a cadre of professionals, experts, and informed lay people who offer guidance, serve as ambassadors, and often provide financial support.  As such, members are valuable sources of expertise and networking contacts for our leadership. 

Governance and fiduciary responsibility for the University rest solely with Lehigh University’s Board of Trustees. The Dean's Advisory Council fulfills an important role for Lehigh’s College of Education and other constituent groups by serving in an advisory capacity.

College of Education Dean's Advisory Council members

Steven A. Villas '75, VP of Oil and Gas Marketing & President of Hess Trading CorporationHess Corporation, New York, NY 

Steve Villas is Vice-President of Global Crude Oil Marketing for Hess Corporation, an independent, integrated energy company based in New York City. A 1975 graduate of Lehigh University’s College of Engineering, he has spent his entire career in the oil industry, working for Exxon (now ExxonMobil Corporation), Standard Oil of Ohio (now part of BP), and Hess. His wife, Elizabeth, grew up in Bethlehem and is an elementary school teacher/librarian in Millburn, NJ. Steve and his family reside in Summit, NJ.


Peter Bennett '63, Founder and President, Liberty Partners LP, New York, NY 

Peter Bennett is the founder and Chairman of Liberty Partners, a private equity investment firm which provides capital for middle market leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations and growth financings. Liberty currently has over $500 million under management.  Mr. Bennett is a member of the boards of directors of several of Liberty’s portfolio companies including EdisonLearning Co. and Avenues, the World School, and is serving his third term as a member of the Board of Trustees of Lehigh University.  He is also a member of the advisory board of the New York chapter of New Leaders for Schools.  Prior to forming Liberty Partners, Mr. Bennett spent 21 years with Merrill Lynch & Co., most recently as a Senior Vice President of Merrill Lynch Interfunding, Inc.  Mr. Bennett received his B.S. from Lehigh University in 1963, after which he served for two years as a Lieutenant in the United States Army Signal Corps., including an assignment as Commanding Officer of the 28th Signal Detachment, U.S. Army Vietnam.  He received his MBA from Columbia University in June, 1967. 


Bob Doolittle '65, Retired Investment Banker, J.C. Bradford & Co.

From 1969, Bob worked at J. C. Bradford & Co., investment bankers based in Nashville, starting as an associate in Corporate Finance and eventually heading the Department as Managing Director until the firm was sold in 2000. In addition to managerial responsibilities, he did merger and acquisition advisory work for companies, with an emphasis on healthcare services in the US and abroad. From 2000 to 2003, he helped lead a new healthcare  banking effort as a Managing Director of Jefferies & Company, investment bankers,  based in New York. He retired in 2003 and now sits on several corporate boards and has been a Trustee of a private girl’s school in Nashville for a number of years.  In 2004-05 with a view toward improving public education locally, he joined with several other businessmen and community leaders in Nashville to found the Excellence for Public Education P.A.C. aimed at supporting a number of more highly qualified candidates for upcoming elections to the School Board for Nashville/Davidson County. Four of the five candidates supported won their races, and three of the four candidates supported in the subsequent race two years later also won. In 2010, the P.A.C. was terminated and the efforts folded into Success P.A.C., affiliated with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Doolittle sits as a board member of that PAC at present. Bob received his B.S. in Business Administration from Lehigh University in 1965 and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1968.


Beall Fowler ’59, Professor of Physics Emeritus at Lehigh University

Beall Fowler is a Professor of Physics Emeritus at Lehigh University. A 1959 graduate of Lehigh, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester and joined the Lehigh faculty in 1966. As a faculty member he was active in teaching and research and served twice as physics department chair and as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He and his late wife, Linny, have been strong supporters of the arts, education, and community development in the Lehigh Valley. He currently serves on several boards, including the DaVinci Science Center and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and he is a strong advocate for community schools and urban education, especially in south Bethlehem.


Michael Golden, Vice Chairman, '71, '74G, The New York Times Company Board of Directors

Michael Golden was appointed vice chairman of The New York Times Company and elected to the company’s Board of Directors in 1997.  From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Golden served as president and chief operating officer of The New York Times Company Regional Media Group. He was publisher of the International Herald Tribune from 2003 to 2008 and chief administrative officer of the Times Company from 1997 to 2003. Previously, Mr. Golden served as the company’s vice president for operations development from 1996 to 1997. He was executive vice president and publisher at the company’s Tennis magazine from 1994 to 1996. He was executive vice president and general manager of the company’s Women’s Publishing Division from 1991 to 1994. The Times Company sold its Women’s Publishing Division in 1994. 

Mr. Golden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1971 and a master’s degree in education in 1974 from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1977 and an M.B.A. in 1984 from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., where he achieved membership to the national honorary business fraternity.  From 2000-2005, Mr. Golden was a member on the Board of Trustees at Lehigh University, serving as the first chairman of the university’s College of Education (COE) Advisory Council until 2007. During his tenure. Mr. Golden spearheaded the efforts to establish the college’s Leaders of Practice Distinguished Lecture Series. Mr. Golden is pleased to rejoin the COE Advisory Council in spring 2017. 

Mr. Golden is chairman of the board of directors for International Center for Journalists, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that raises journalism standards through hands-on training workshops, seminars, fellowships and international exchanges. Additionally, he serves on the boards of The Associated Press and Graham-Windham, New York, N.Y., the oldest nonsectarian childcare agency in the country. Mr. Golden is the First Vice President of the board of WAN-IFRA, a global newspaper association. He is also on the board of the New York State E-health Collaborative, a non-profit that leads statewide electronic exchange of health records.


Rahul Mahna '93, Founder and CEO, Class Compete, Somerville, NJ

Mahna has over 14 years of experience leading education technology-focused companies and has dedicated his career to helping teachers and students succeed. Prior to founding Class Compete, he was a Minority Partner at Learn It Systems, a research-based tutoring service focused on Title I schools under the No Child Left Behind Act. As a key executive, Mahna helped rapidly scale Learn IT into a nationwide service assisting over 100,000 children across 20 states, with nearly 5,000 part-time teachers and 150 employees. The business was successfully sold in 2010, with Milestone Partners taking a substantial equity position within the company. Before joining Learn It Systems, Mahna co-founded HiFusion. Founded in 1998, HiFusion was an internet based company that tailored educational content to K-12 school systems nationwide. Under his leadership, they raised three rounds of financing ($15 mm) lead by Venturehouse Group LLC and partnered with over 220 school districts across the US. HiFusion was successfully acquired by Sylvan Ventures in 2000 for an “eight figure” all stock deal as reported by The Washington Post.

In addition to Class Compete, Mahna also remains actively involved with his family’s IT services business, CSM, that is largely focused on the public sector.  Mahna currently serves as an Advisory Member of Learn it Systems Board of Directors and is on the Board of Trustees of The Jointure, a nonprofit organization focused on before and after school education programs. He holds degrees from Lehigh University, Columbia University and Northwestern University- Kellogg School of Management and is fluent in three languages. An outdoorsman at heart, he enjoys fishing and hiking with an upcoming trek to Mt Everest. He currently lives in New Jersey, with offices in Manhattan. 


Nan Ronis, Executive/Owner, Suntex International Inc., Easton, PA 

Nan Ronis is Manufacturing Company Executive/Owner of Suntex International Inc. Suntex International is the developer of the 24® game, a family of mathematics games suited for children ages 6 and up. Suntex also developed the First in Math Online Program, a technology-based curriculum supplement credited with improving math scores in urban school districts. Other Suntex products include the 24 Game Math Club®, for summer school and after-school programs; and the 24 Challenge® Math Program, a tournament-style program based on the 24 game®, with a seventeen-year track record of engaging students and encouraging math achievement. Ms. Ronis earned an M.B.A. from Drexel University in 1981 and a B.A. from Emory University in 1978.


Karen O’Donnell VanderGoot ’99, Senior Conflict Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development

Karen O’Donnell VanderGoot is a senior conflict advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She previously served as a director for African affairs at the National Security Council and was a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s policy planning staff. In 2006, she received a Meritorious Honor Award for exemplary advocacy and support to USAID work in the field. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and French from Lehigh in 1999 and a master’s of public policy degree from Duke University in 2002.


Susan C. Yee '82, CEO, Active Data, Inc. Bethlehem, PA

In 1995, as Chief Operating Officer of Twin County Cable Television, she orchestrated a $100 million merger with RCN, a publicly held cable television company. Proceeds of that merger were used to fund companies in the Internet industry. In 1995 Ms. Yee launched an Internet firm – Regional Network Communications, which built and operated 13 community web sites in partnership with the Media News Group, owner of the Oakland Tribune, and other newspapers across the country. Active Data, Inc. was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of Regional Network Communications, Inc. to capitalize on the content management, events calendar, and content syndication software that was developed to power the community web sites. Active Data Exchange provides business-to-business technology solutions to streamline web based publishing and information distribution processes. She graduated from Lehigh University in 1982 with a B.S. in Finance & Marketing and a Minor in International Relations. Ms. Yee currently serves on the Lehigh Valley Hospital & Health Network Board of Trustees and the Lehigh Valley - Muhlenberg Hospital Board. She has also been named one of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business.

Emeritus Members

Richard A. Anderson, President and CEO, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network

Beth E. Barnett, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Joanne Barnette, 76', Community Activist

Leanne Bergey, Chief Strategy Officer, BoardEffect

Claire Birney, Director of Philanthropy- Pennsylvania Chapter at The Nature Conservancy

Michael H. Danjczek, Past President and Executive Director, Children's Home of Easton (deceased)

Kim Frock, '82, Chief Administrator, Alternative School for Math and Science

Susan Freed Gadomski, Retired Speech Pathologist

Michael Gausling, Co-founder and former CEO of OraSure Technologies

Michael Golden, 74', Vice Chairman and Board of Directors, New York Times

Heidi R. Gore, P'13, Director of Admissions, St. Bernard's School, New York, NY 

Nathaniel S. Gore, '75, P'13, Founder and Managing Partner, Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, LLP, New York, NY 

Mary Jane McKeever, Vice President of Finance, St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network

Luis Ramos, Community Relations Manager, PPL (deceased)

Sharon Kanovsky Richter '86 - Columbia University, Head of Finance & Administration for Student & Administrative Services, New York, NY

Dr. Joseph Roy, '09G, Superintendent, Bethlehem Area School District, Bethlehem, PA

Ana Sainz de le Pena, Educational Consultant for Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)

Arthur L. Scott, Past President, Northampton Community College

John Tersigni, '04G, Sierra Resins, Inc., Bloomsbury, NJ

James Wassel, President, Wassel Realty Group 

Edmond Watters, III, President, Quality Professional Consulting

E. Belvin Williams, Executive Director Emeritus and Trustee, The Turrell Fund