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Bevlee Watford, American Society for Engineering Education first african american female president-elect

May 30, 2016

portrait of Bev Watford

Members of the American Society for Engineering Education's (ASEE) selected Bevlee Watford, associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, their president-elect. Watford will be society’s first African American female president in the their 123-year history. Beginning in June 2016, Watford will serve a one-year term as president-elect and then the following year, serve for a one-year term as president.

Watford's election comes on the heels of ASEE’s Year of Action on Diversity, where issues related to creating environments that are open and inclusive were front-and-center in ASEE activities and products.

“I have continued to hold membership in this impactful society since I started in my first faculty appointment because I continue to see the positive effect ASEE has on students and faculty," said Watford, who also directs the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) in the college. "As president, I will work to increase the visibility of ASEE and its work at the national and international levels, creating transformative partnerships with strategic organizations to achieve authentic and enduring change.”

Watford has been an active member of ASEE since 1986, serving the organization in multiple capacities. She has held elected office in both the women in engineering and the minorities in engineering divisions. She chaired the diversity task force that resulted in the creation of the ASEE diversity strategic plan as well as a standing diversity committee. She most recently served as first vice president and vice president for external affairs working to increase membership through strategic partnerships. She currently serves as an associate editor of the journal Advances in Engineering Education. In 2010, she was elected a Fellow of ASEE.

Since 1997, Watford has served in the role of associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering, responsible for all undergraduate activities from recruiting to commencement. As founding director of CEED in 1992, Watford has been a champion for the participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering. Watford has secured more than $6.5 million dollars in funding and support for the program and other undergraduate initiatives from a variety of sources. Under her leadership the college has successfully increased its enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.

Professionally from 2010-11, Watford served as interim department head of engineering education in the College of Engineering. From 2005-07, Watford served as a program manager in the division of undergraduate education for the National Science Foundation and from 2013-15 she served as the program director for broadening participation in the division of engineering education and centers.

She received a bachelor's in mining engineering; and a master's and doctoral in industrial engineering and operations research; all from Virginia Tech. Her research activities have focused on the recruitment and retention of students in engineering with a particular emphasis on underrepresented students.

ASEE was founded in 1893 and is the only national engineering education organization concerned with all engineering disciplines. ASEE is a leading voice in the community, authoring reports on transforming curriculum and transitioning veterans into engineering careers, among others; managing a large portfolio of fellowships and internships for the federal government; and publishing the world’s premier journals on engineering education.