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Lawrence Tech mourns death of President Emeritus Charles Chambers

Release Date: May 21, 2009

Southfield, Michigan -- Funeral services are pending in Virginia for Charles M. Chambers, 67, a widely accomplished educator and engineer who served from 1993 to 2006 as the fifth president of Lawrence Technological University. 

Chambers died Wednesday, May 20 near his home in Alexandria, Virginia, where he had been battling a brain tumor the past several months. A memorial service at Lawrence Tech is being planned and the date will be announced in the near future.

Following his presidency, Chambers served as the University's first chancellor from Feb. 1 to July 1, 2006, when he was named president emeritus.

"Lawrence Tech and the entire higher education community have lost one of our most outstanding advocates and visionaries," said Lewis N. Walker, who succeeded Chambers as president and had served as provost, the University's chief academic officer, during nearly all of Chambers' presidency.

"The long career of Charles Chambers was distinguished by both his breadth and substance as a researcher, teacher, counselor, and administrative leader," Walker said. "At Lawrence Tech, his presidency inaugurated the largest expansion of facilities in our history, and the highest level of fund-raising success we had achieved to that time. Beyond the vast improvements to our campus, through his leadership we also made tremendous progress in many other areas that led to Lawrence Tech's emergence as one of Michigan's preeminent private universities."

Several months after Chambers retired, the University was able to announce the successful conclusion of a $46 million capital campaign that had been launched during his presidency and had twice been expanded beyond its original $20 million goal. During his tenure, Lawrence Tech became Michigan's first wireless laptop campus. The University built the $20 million University Technology and Learning Center, the $12 million Student Housing Center-North, the $14.9 million A. Alfred Taubman Student Services Center, and the $3.2 million Center for Innovative Materials Research. Other initiatives included the extensive redevelopment of the campus quadrangle incorporating numerous "green" environmental features. Millions of dollars more were invested in upgrading older facilities on Lawrence Tech's 102-acre campus.

Student scholarships, community outreach, and the growth and expansion of applied research and academic offerings also accelerated, including the launch of Lawrence Tech's first doctoral programs and the establishment of learning centers and higher education partnerships elsewhere in Michigan, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and Asia. The number of master's programs at the University jumped from three to 23.

For the 10 years prior to joining Lawrence Tech, Chambers was president of the American Foundation for Biological Sciences, a consortium of over 50 scientific laboratories, museums, and societies headquartered in Washington, D.C. Earlier, he served on the faculties of Harvard University, the University of Alabama, and George Washington University, where he was also a dean for graduate evening programs.

An expert in accreditation, he was a past president of the American Association of University Administrators. He led numerous accrediting teams visiting university campuses for the North Central Association. He also served as a consultant to the Congress and to many government agencies.

As an aerospace engineer with NASA in the 1960s, he participated in the Apollo space program that landed men on the moon. Chambers held a PhD in physics from the University of Alabama and earned a law degree, with honors, from George Washington University.

In 1992 he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2006 he was named a fellow of the Engineering Society of Detroit and in recognition of his accomplishments and service to higher education and the University, he was awarded a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from Lawrence Tech. In 2007 he was recognized as a life member of the Detroit Economic Club.

A founding director of Automation Alley, he also served as a director of the Detroit Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the WIRED (Workforce Investment for Regional Economic Development) advisory board of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Renaissance Steering Committee, the Oakland County Workforce Development Board, and the Education Foundation of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, where he chaired the nominating committee. He was a member of the Oakland County Business Roundtable. In 2006, he was a candidate for the Oakland Community College board of trustees.

Chambers is survived by his wife, Dr. Barbara Chambers, four children, and several grandchildren.