Jon Strauss, an electrical engineer by training, came to WPI with considerable experience in college finances and strategic planning, having served as vice president for budget and finance at the University of Pennsylvania and vice president for administration at the University of Southern California. Those skills proved valuable as WPI entered a challenging period that saw a decline in the national pool of college-age men and women, a decline in interest in engineering, and an increase in the demand for financial aid by WPI students. Strauss spearheaded the development of a strategic plan for WPI to address those issues and help chart a course for the future as a more comprehensive technological university.
Believing a vital program of scholarship and research was the key to gaining wider recognition and invigorating WPI's educational programs, Strauss helped build an infrastructure for scholarship--including many new laboratories and research centers--and oversaw a significant growth in external support for research. A measure of the success of this effort was the tripling of the four-year average of Ph.D.s awarded by WPI and the elevation of the university to the status of a doctoral university by the Carnegie Institute for the Advancement of Teaching.
Strauss' term also saw the near doubling of the endowment; a highly successful $63.7 million capital campaign that raised funds for the construction of Fuller Laboratories, the renovation of Alden Memorial, and the expansion of the campus, among other goals; the installation of a campus computer network and the "computerization of the campus," a significant growth in enrollment by women and minority students; the founding of WPI's first overseas project center (in London) and the emergence of the global projects program; and the significant growth and diversification of the Board of Trustees.