Edward W. Ahart ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees, will present the Lafayette Medal for Distinguished Service to Elbern H. Alkire Jr. ’58 on Saturday, May 21, at Commencement. Alkire, a retired management consultant and former Lafayette trustee, is being recognized for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to the College since 1958, holding every volunteer role and beyond.
Commissioned in 1987 by the Board of Trustees, the Lafayette Medal is the College’s premier award for volunteers, given to those who have a demonstrated record of voluntary service in a variety of areas with noteworthy achievement in each. The Lafayette Medal was last presented in 2007. Alkire is the ninth recipient.
The medal was designed by Frank Gasparro, the eleventh Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, and is based on the bust of the Marquis de Lafayette that was executed in 1790 by noted French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). The medal includes Pardee Hall in the background and Lafayette’s signature from a personal letter to George Corbin Washington, adopted son of President and Mrs. George Washington and caretaker of Mount Vernon.
ELBERN H. “ED” ALKIRE JR. ’58, a member of Lafayette’s Class of 1958, is a retired management consultant in the areas of organizational performance excellence and strategic planning, specializing in the non-profit sector. He now serves as a mentor and life coach to several individuals and organizations.
Alkire served as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1991 and was previously president of the Alumni Association from 1982 to 1984 and member of the Board Committee on College Relations from 1980 to 1984. He was also chair of the Lafayette College Fund from 1991 to 1994 and served on Lafayette Leadership Council from 1996 to 2000. As class fund manager for 50 years–from the time of his graduation until 2008–he received the Joseph E. Losee ’94 Award and Ernest G. Smith ’94 Award–and then became president of his class.
Alkire has also held leadership positions in alumni programs and admissions, as well as serving on alumni and College long-range planning committees and search committees. He received the Wilson Award for AAR Distinguished Service in 1988.
From 1995 to 2001, Alkire was executive consultant in residence to the State System of Higher Education of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg working with the system chancellor and office of continuous improvement applying the Baldrige National Quality Program education criteria for performance excellence. He has also consulted with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. chemicals group on an organizational self-assessment.
During his career at Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Allentown, Pa., from which he retired in 1995, Alkire was involved in pioneering efforts in applied research and development, food industry marketing, gases strategic planning, administrative systems, and technical management. He was previously with General Electric Company at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Schenectady, N.Y.
In 1975, Alkire was chosen to serve on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Review team studying state-owned universities. He was assigned to Bloomsburg University and became friends with then president, James H. McCormick, who later was named the first chancellor of the Pennsylvania state university system. Alkire served as a trustee at Bloomsburg from 1985 to 1991 and held other advisory roles as well.
Alkire has been highly recognized for his work in higher education including the Joseph E. Bell ’28 Alumni Distinguished Service Award from Lafayette, Air Products Community Service Award for Education, and Eberly Medal for Volunteerism from Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
A native of Easton, Pa., Alkire holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Lafayette and a master’s in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A member of Mensa, he completed the Jonah Program in the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes at the Avraham Goldratt Institute in 2004. He lives in Emmaus, Pa., with his wife of 50 years, Gratia Greene. They are sustaining members of the Marquis Society. In addition, Alkire has been a member of the Fleck Consistent Giving Society since it began in 2005 and is a member of the James Madison Porter Society. Their son, Ti Alkire, is a faculty member at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Commencement will be held at 2:30 p.m. on the Quad. The academic procession will begin at 2:15 p.m. The Baccalaureate service will be held at 10:30 a.m. the same day, also on the Quad.
Previous recipients of the Lafayette Medal include Cyrus S. Fleck, Class of 1920; John D. Raymond ’92, Mark B. Weisburger ’55, Albert W. Gendebien ’34, Edward “Ned” Jesser Jr. ’39, Wilbur W. “Bill” Oaks ’51, Charles E. Hugel ’51, and John W. Landis ’39.