Profile: Pierce ’81 Helps Foster Students’ Success

by Kevin Gray

John PierceAs vice president of real estate and facilities for Phoenix House, John Pierce ’81 oversees properties across 90 locations in 11 states for the substance abuse rehabilitation foundation based in New York City.

A civil engineering graduate, he credits Lafayette’s “caliber of academic rigor” for his career readiness. His mentor was Vince Viscomi, Long Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “He taught us to approach problem-solving from as many different angles as we could, and he instilled in me a passion for lifelong learning.”

Deeply committed to mentoring, Pierce welcomed more than 100 Lafayette students as interns or externs during his 10 years at Turner Construction Company as vice president and regional manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. He continues to mentor students and young alumni.

“Lafayette students make great interns and externs because they have been educated to be inquisitive—to ask ‘why?’ This interest makes a huge difference to the host,” says Pierce, who recently spoke to students of David Veshosky, acting chair of engineering studies and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“The blend of liberal arts, sciences, and engineering yields students and graduates who are inquisitive, thoughtful, and understand the importance of a cross-disciplinary education,” he says.

The connection continues after graduation.

“John provided me with valuable insight into not only my thesis topic but also the industry as a whole,” says Michael Nilson ’05, a civil engineering graduate who is senior project manager at Langan Engineering & Environmental Services. “We have kept in close touch.”

Pierce, who received the 2011 Career Services Externship Service Award for 10 or more consecutive years of participation, also serves on Alumni Council and co-chairs the Affinity Groups Committee. He and wife Carolyn Slingland Pierce ’81 are Posse Pard-ners.

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