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Charles Wessner ’69, recognized as an international expert on the benefits of high technology, industry, and the supporting role of government, returned to campus in October as the 2004-05 Judith A. Resnik Memorial Lecturer.

During his two-day campus residency, Wessner gave a public talk on “Challenges in Global Trade” and met separately with upper-level international affairs majors, Introduction to Engineering students and faculty, engineering majors, and the European Business Environment class taught by Rosie Bukics, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor and acting head of economics and business.

James Schaffer, director of engineering, says that Wessner, an international affairs graduate, was recommended to another professor serving as a faculty mentor with the National Academies.

“He welcomed the opportunity to visit his alma mater and inspire the next generation to become leaders in the public process that supports technological innovation,” Schaffer says.

“It is great to have a Lafayette alumnus returning to the school,” agrees Rado Pribic, Williams Professor and chair of international affairs. “[Wessner] serves as a role model for the students.”

Sponsored by the Farber Memorial Endowment Fund, the annual lecture is named after astronaut Judith A. Resnik, an electrical engineer who lost her life in the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. Wessner is the eighth Resnik lecturer after 1996 lecturer and current President Arthur J. Rothkopf’55 to link his speech with the Introduction to Engineering course.

Schaffer adds, “Historically, our Resnik lecturers have done a great job helping our first- year engineering students understand that the concepts [the students] are learning about in lecture and lab are indeed relevant to real-world engineering problems of general interest to society.”

As an expert on international technology cooperation and investment, Wessner testifies before the U.S. Congress, advises different agencies of the U.S. government, and lectures at major universities worldwide. He acts as an adviser to the 30-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Committee on Science and Technology Policy and to the Mexican National Council on Science and Technology.

As a program director with the National Academy of Sciences, Wessner was responsible for an 11-volume analysis of public-private partnerships in the United States and a research program published by the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy as the book Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy. He also completed the successful review of the $1.2 billion Small Business Innovation Research Program at the Department of Defense, and he was asked by Congress to lead another review of the research and development program as utilized by the program’s five dominant agencies.

He serves as an Ameritech Research Fellow at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs; a special professor at the University of Nottingham, England; and a research professor at the Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems in Jena, Germany.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Wessner earned a master of arts in law and diplomacy and a doctor of philosophy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as a Shell Fellow.

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