- Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1995)
- Honorary Degree (1979)
- Doctor of Laws
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Presenter: John William Ryan
- Kelley School of Business Academy of Alumni Fellows (1977)
Former president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Richard L. Lesher is a leading spokesman for business in a wide range of areas, including the formulation of economic policy at the national and international levels. His career has included association management, federal service, consulting, and teaching.
A native of Doylesburg, Pennsylvania, Dr. Lesher was born October 28, 1933. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Pittsburgh ('58) and a Master of Science at Pennsylvania State University ('60). After receiving his doctorate in business administration from Indiana University ('63), he taught at The Ohio State University for one year and then joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1964. During his service with NASA, which ended in 1969, Dr. Lesher rose to the post of assistant administrator for technology utilization, helping to put the first men on the moon. He administered three major programs: technology transfer, scientific and technical information systems, and management information systems.
From 1969 to 1971, Dr. Lesher was a private business and management consultant in Washington. In the latter year, he was named the first president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Resource Recovery. The Center, formed by leaders of industry and labor, was established to develop modern systems management techniques for solving environmental problems.
In 1975, Lesher became president and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Under his guidance, a state-of-the-art telecommunications center was installed in the Chamber headquarters. During his 22-year tenure, he addressed many issues in which business had a stake. He managed to follow a strenuous schedule of speaking engagements and wrote a weekly column for more than 700 newspapers and other publications. He also participated regularly in radio and television commentary programs. Under his leadership, the National Chamber grew in membership and in programs, and conducted studies on significant economic topics. He retired form this position in 1997.
Dr. Lesher has served on countless corporate boards in various capacities including Vice Chairman of the Board and Independent Company Director of Iridium LLC, and Manager of Iridium World Communications Ltd. He has served as a Director of countless companies, including e-Lynxx Corporation, a print procurement expert; International Marketing Inc., producer of an automotive after market product; Iridium World Communications Ltd.; G&L Realty Corp. (also serving on its Audit, Executive, and Budget committees); United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington D.C.; AIT Corporation, a high-tech company; World Heart Corporation (Ottawa, Canada), an artificial heart research and development company; Accugraph Corp.; Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives; and the American Historic and Cultural Society. He has been a member of the American Society of Association Executives, the Southern Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and the International Platform Association.
Among the many honors accorded Dr. Lesher include four Honorary Doctorates. In 1977, he was inducted into the "Academy of Alumni Fellows" of the Indiana University School of Business. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business management. Also in 1977, he received the National Honoree Award of Beta Gamma Sigma, national scholastic honorary business fraternity. In 1980, he was inducted as a Member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.