Center Mission and Activities
Founded in 1980 thanks to a generous endowment from Elizabeth Fairchild Martindale and Harry Turner Martindale '27, the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise is an interdisciplinary resource in Lehigh University's College of Business. The Center engages students, faculty and the business community in active inquiry tackling questions central to understanding and fostering sustainable private enterprises and inclusive economic systems throughout the world.
Led by Professor Todd A. Watkins, Ph.D., Executive Director, the Center achieves this through a suite of international, interdisciplinary, experiential and research programs that are among the finest hallmarks of a Lehigh education:
- Martindale Student Associates Honors Program
- Family Business Institute
- Microfinance and Microenterprise Program
- Canadian Studies Institute
- Visiting Scholars and Executives Program
- Student Clubs
Martindale Center History
Rich Aronson and Elizabeth and Harry Martindale '27
J. Richard Aronson, Ph.D. (Rich) came to Lehigh as a professor of economics in 1965. Aronson’s quick wit, rare talent, and easy sociability inspired Harry Turner Martindale ’27 and his wife, Elizabeth Fairchild Martindale, to gift him with a generous endowment to found the Center, named in their honor in 1980. Rich’s flagship program, the Martindale Student Associates Program, was decades ahead of its time. It was one of Lehigh’s first international programs, one of its earliest interdisciplinary programs, and one of the first to promote and publish undergraduate research—all among Lehigh’s top priorities today.
During his 50 years at Lehigh, Rich Aronson taught more than 20,000 students. In his 35 years as Director of the Martindale Center, he traveled to 27 countries with 320+ students from the Student Associates Program, and published their academic works in the journal series Perspectives on Business and Economics. Rich retired in 2015 and is remembered as a dynamic teacher, a trusted father figure, and—to quote Martindale alumnus Sarat Sethi ’92, Lehigh Trustee and current President of the Martindale Society—“a shining example of mentorship at its best.” Rich still comes into the office regularly and takes an avid interest in the Center’s evolving programs and activities.
Elizabeth Fairchild Martindale passed away in 1997, followed by Harry Martindale in 2004. Their generosity has impacted the lives of generations of Martindale students, and they are remembered and honored by the Martindale community at every Martindale gathering to this day.