Bill Hittinger was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, attended Bethlehem High School, and graduated from Lehigh in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in Metallurgical Engineering. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree by Lehigh
High school and college teammate Frank Majczan said of Bill, "We went to high school together, as did both of our wives. Bill was a very dedicated, hard-working, intelligent player. He was what we call today a true scholar-athlete." In fact, Bill Hittinger was one of the first recipients of an Alumni Student Grant financial aid award in recognition of his promise as an athlete, scholar, and potential leader. This program is still in existence today, perhaps in part because of the effectiveness of the early investment in one William C. Hittinger.
As a Lehigh undergraduate, Bill was a member of the football team in 1941 and 1942. The 1942 team finished with a 5-2-1 overall record. And although he probably wouldn't ever tell you this, Hittinger has a touchdown pass against Perm State to his credit. Hittinger also played varsity baseball in 1942.
But his interest in Lehigh Athletics grew well beyond the sports of football and baseball.
As chairman of the Board of Trustees, Hittinger oversaw the introduction of wrestling scholarships not limited by demonstrated financial need in 1994. The program was fully endowed through alumni donations totaling $3.8 million, and its adoption also included the development of the academic merit aid program known as Dean's Scholars. While Hittinger was
serving as Interim President in 1997-98 Lehigh decided to adopt a similar policy for men's and women's basketball as part of a strategic effort to preserve the Patriot League and to enhance those programs.
"This policy reinforces our long-standing commitment to Division I athletics and the Patriot League, further strengthening our beliefs in academic integrity," Hittinger said after announcing the initiation of basketball scholarships. "One key and measurable expectation is that the academic quality of recruited basketball prospects will improve through the distribution of merit-based aid. That is clearly evident in existing merit-aid programs. Both the Dean's Scholars program and wrestling program nave neipec us yield highly qualified students."
Lehigh head coach Sal Mentesana has nothing but praise for Hittinger. "I appreciate his efforts, especially as an interim president to have the courage and foresight to see how important the scholarship issue is to the men's and women's basketball programs and the Patriot League. As a former student-athlete himself at Lehigh, Mr. Hittinger certainly understands the time and effort that our student-athletes contribute while representing the university. He has been and truly is a friend of Lehigh Athletics."
Dr. Hittinger's professional career as an engineer was extraordinary and distinguished. He retired from the RCA Corporation as Executive Vice President in January, 1986. His responsibilities included corporate technology, patents, licensing, international business and marketing development and corporate technology planning. During his career with RCA, Dr. Hittinger was responsible for several of the company's major operating units as well as the RCA Laboratories. He joined RCA in 1970 as Vice President and General Manager of the Solid State Division and two years later advanced to Executive Vice President with additional responsibilities in consumer electronic components and communications businesses. Dr. Hittinger served on the RCA Board from 1974 to 1982, when the Board changed to outside directors only. A veteran of more than 45 years in electronics, he joined RCA after serving as President of General Instrument Corporation. Prior to that he held a number of executive positions with affiliated companies of the Bell System.
He has been a director of UNC Inc., Biotechnic International, Inc., Stabler Companies, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Thomas and Belts Corporation, Allen Bradley, Epitaxx Corporation and American Fletcher Corporation. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Tau Beta Pi and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Hittinger served on Lehigh's Board of Trustees for 24 years and for six years served as Board Chairman. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946.
Hittinger's love of sports even extended beyond campus as he served as a football official for more than ten years in the Lehigh Valley and Northern New Jersey, and as an active sup-porter of youth sports programs.
He and his wife Elizabeth reside in Convent Station, New Jersey and have four children. William '71, Dave '75 and Nancy '78 all are graduates of Lehigh while Patricia '73 attended Wheelock College in Boston.