Smart, Affectionate & Youthful

In Memoriam: Gary Sasso, Former Dean of the School of Education

Sasso served as dean from 2008 till his retirement in 2018. Among the his lots of considerable achievements for the duration of his tenure, Sasso elevated federal grant funding and big presents to the college, grew the college’s school and staff, and established Lehigh University Autism Companies.

Sasso earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in distinctive training from the College of Kansas, the place he acquired coaching in the subject of applied actions examination. He focused his far more than 30-calendar year career as a teacher, researcher, school member, and administrator to improving upon the lives of small children with psychological and behavioral difficulties and autism spectrum conditions.  

He was a prolific researcher, co-authoring virtually 100 scholarly publications and additional than 125 convention displays. He was honored on several occasions by his friends, most lately with the Award for Fantastic Management in Psychological and Behavioral Problems from the Midwest Symposium for Management in Behavioral Issues. Sasso also was a member of many qualified associations, which include the Council for Exceptional Children, the Autism Society of The us and the Affiliation for Conduct Investigation. 

Sasso commenced his profession as a professor at the College of Northern Colorado. There, he produced Colorado’s very first tutorial and study software for persons with autism spectrum problem. In 1985, Sasso joined the University of Iowa’s Faculty of Schooling as a college member in the Educating and Studying Section, as very well as in the Section of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine. He afterwards served a 7-year expression as chair of the Educating and Learning Department ahead of his arrival at Lehigh in 2008. 

As dean of Lehigh’s Faculty of Education and learning, Sasso prioritized school investigate. Underneath his management, the college or university drastically elevated its investigate revenue around the course of numerous a long time. He also greater the amount and quality of school and personnel hires, designed a multi-disciplinary system in early enhancement training, and worked to elevate the college’s profile nationally and internationally. He also aided in the generation of Lehigh University Autism Solutions, which opened in 2018 and delivers intervention systems for younger young children and their households. Throughout a transitional interval, Sasso stepped in as interim vice president and associate provost for the Workplace of International Affairs from October 2015 through March 2016, continuing to provide as dean during that time. 

‘A Certainly Extraordinary Person’

College and personnel in the Higher education of Schooling and throughout the college recall Sasso’s determination to his work and to his pupils, his sense of humor and infectious chortle, and his skill to make individuals around him sense valued, which described his leadership of the college. 

“When I feel of Gary, quite a few hilarious moments right away come to head: deflated balloons affixed to my office environment door, fake letters from disgruntled learners, saying he experienced adopted the nickname Polar Vortex,” claimed Lee Kern, professor of distinctive training and director of the Center for Marketing Analysis to Apply and Lehigh College Autism Companies. “But it was his lots of kind and thoughtful acts that also have lasting recollections. Just just one case in point: My daughter experienced a discussion with Gary about evolution. Two days later The Beak of the Finch arrived in the mail for her. He was a certainly amazing man or woman, and his effect on our field, his colleagues, and his good friends will be remembered normally.”

Reported George DuPaul, professor of university psychology and associate dean for analysis: “I am extremely privileged to have been a friend and colleague of Dean Gary Sasso starting when he joined the College of Schooling at Lehigh in 2008, like five many years when I served as office chair underneath his management. Gary was not only a bright and achieved scholar in the discipline of exclusive training, but he also was a sturdy advocate for learners of all ages, specially people who had been discovered as having a actions, emotion, or developmental disability. A single of the numerous explanations he was these an powerful leader was his potential to link with folks from across the college and in the community as a result of his patented blend of exploration-grounded expertise, enthusiasm for schooling, and exceptional feeling of humor.  It genuinely was a pleasure to work with Gary and I am grateful to have experienced that option.  He will be sorely skipped by his Lehigh close friends and colleagues.”

Stacy Burger, director of world-wide partnerships and strategic initiatives in the Place of work of International Affairs (OIA), was Sasso’s major position of call all through his time as interim vice president and affiliate provost for that place of work. She recollects that Sasso’s precedence was to make sure the OIA employees was ready and excited for the changeover to a new vice president. 

“For me, Gary’s strong mentorship, and afterwards friendship, produced a large variance in the two my career and life in normal. With his amazing perception of humor and good assistance, Gary led by empowering his staff with his have confidence in and guidance,” claimed Burger.

“Work hardly ever felt like function with Dean Sasso,” mentioned Gina Sierzega, senior study system growth officer for the Higher education of Education and learning. “He stored it real, he received it carried out, and he designed it pleasurable. Fortuitously, for me, he acknowledged the worth of research and grant funding and established the exceptional posture that brought me to Lehigh and the COE. I will forever treasure our spontaneous talks, his a must have aid of a work/lifetime balance, and the gem of a human that Gary Sasso was. He designed coming to get the job done at Lehigh an absolute pleasure.”  

Pat Farrell, professor of mechanical engineering who served as Lehigh’s provost during Sasso’s tenure at Lehigh, remembered Sasso’s enthusiasm for the college and for serving small children in the most successful way probable. 

“Gary was a robust advocate for the School of Education and learning and its college,” he said. “More than that, Gary was an advocate for children and aiding them get the very best schooling we can give them. He waded into the complicated discussions of charter educational institutions compared to public colleges and how to produce the up coming technology of leaders in education and greater equip them to realize success. I consider the most energized I ever observed Gary was when he was supplying my wife and I a tour of Centennial University. I feel, to Gary, this was all the things in one area: revolutionary very best techniques, educating and training the next technology of educators and leaders in particular instruction, and, most of all, helping learners acquire in methods that would not have been feasible without having the persons of Centennial University, the Higher education of Schooling, and Lehigh.”

In her preceding position as manager of the Faculty of Training LTS aid crew and the assistant director of the Center for Innovation in Educating and Learning, Ilena Critical, now Lehigh’s main engineering officer, labored with Sasso to assistance the plans of the Faculty of Education. 

“Gary impacted the Lehigh community in so a lot of techniques,” she explained. “He was an advocate for our students, a proponent for out-of-the-box considering and new technologies, and anyone we just beloved to be all around. I’m grateful I had the likelihood to collaborate with him.”

Claimed Brook Sawyer, affiliate professor and method director of the instructor education and learning program: “The minute Gary entered a room, the electrical power grew to become extra lively. There were much more smiles and there was absolutely a lot more laughter. Gary cared deeply about the men and women he labored with and the broader local community which he served. He endeavored to boost people’s life, and he immensely valued analysis that would positively effect the group. Gary pushed us in the COE to be and do our most effective though ensuring that we all had an amazing time in the approach. I will deeply pass up Gary, and I will eternally carry the lessons that he taught.”

Upon Sasso’s retirement, he described in an interview the legacy he hoped to depart at Lehigh. 

“… I expended most of my grownup lifetime trying to support children, and I did it as a trainer, as a researcher, as a guide, as a school member and then a chair, and as a dean. And in all those people positions, I often tried using to maintain one point in thoughts, and that is, we’re right here to make kids’ life superior, to educate them, to help them understand, to enable them find the greatest path in life. If individuals will know me for that, that will be enough,” he said.

Sasso is survived by his spouse, Christine G. Novak, and their son, Spencer. 

In lieu of flowers, people may possibly make a reward in memory of Gary Sasso to support Lehigh Autism Products and services at Lehigh College. Gifts might be despatched to Lehigh College, Improvement and Alumni Relations, 306 S. New St. Suite 500, Bethlehem, PA 18055. Please take note that it is in memory of Gary Sasso and will support the Lehigh Autism Clinic. Presents also could be created online at