President Emeritus, Illinois Institute of Technology
Lew Collens was president of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and chairman of IIT Research Institute (IITRI), the university's contract research arm from 1990-2007. Prior to assuming the presidency in 1990, he served for 16 years as dean of Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology.
As president, Collens championed efforts to assure that the university's programs educate students who aspire to leadership roles in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Through his introduction of an innovative interprofessional curriculum, accompanied by its signature Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO), students prepare for the practical challenges they face in an ever-changing, increasingly global workplace.
Under his leadership, the university successfully completed a $250 million Challenge Campaign, the largest fund-raising campaign in its history; made a major commitment to improving math and science education in schools; and began a substantial program of reinvestment in buildings and grounds on the university’s famous Mies van der Rohe designed Main Campus.
Collens' goal to revitalize the Mies campus led to two major architectural and engineering achievements—construction of the McCormick Student Center and State Street Village. The McCormick Student Center designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, incorporated in its design a 530 foot stainless steel and concrete "tube," hailed as "functional sculpture," to muffle the sound of the elevated train as it passes over the building. The new student residence hall, State Street Village designed by architect Helmut Jahn, provides state-of-the-art amenities including wireless connections and custom-made furnishings. Both buildings opened Summer 2003.
Collens is a director of AMSTED Industries Incorporated; Dean Foods Company; Alion Science & Technology; The Colson Group; The Illinois Coalition and is a director of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He also serves on the Advisory Committee of The Partnership for New Communities.
Collens received a B.A. in accountancy and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Illinois. He holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago. He and his wife, Marge, live in Chicago.