Old Dominion Engineering Dean Named ASEE President-Elect, Wins Association’s 2018 Harriet Tubman Award

Monday, July 23, 2018 - 12:00 am

SALT LAKE CITY (July 16, 2018)The American Society for Engineering Education has presented the 2018 Harriet Tubman Award to Stephanie G. Adams, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia. Adams received the national honor for Advancing Women of Color in Academic Engineering at ASEE’s 125th annual conference, a four-day event that drew thousands of engineering deans, faculty members and industry representatives to Salt Lake City late last month. Adams, 52, was also named president-elect of the 12,000-member ASEE. She will spend a year in that position before ascending to the organization’s presidency.

Since earning a doctorate in interdisciplinary engineering from Texas A&M University in 1998, Adams has held a series of administrative positions—each loftier than the one preceding it—at four highly regarded institutions, including Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When she assumed her current post in July 2016, Adams became only the third black woman to lead an accredited U.S. engineering program.

As its name suggests, the Tubman Award is given annually to someone who has fought to increase gender and racial diversity within the 350 accredited engineering schools that operate in the United States. African American women account for just 0.54 percent of the nation’s roughly 28,000 engineering faculty members and fewer than 1 percent of U.S. engineering students.

Jeffrey Harris, founder and managing partner of a consultancy that specializes in the recruitment and advancement of traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering, technology and medicine, traveled to Salt Lake City to present the award. Since its founding in 1997, Ohio-based Harris Search Associates has conducted more than 875 searches, of which 34 percent have resulted in the placement of candidates who were women or racial minorities—or both.

Harris told Adams that he couldn’t imagine anyone more deserving of this year’s award—or more representative of its namesake, the celebrated 19th century abolitionist who risked her life to lead hundreds of slaves and family members to freedom via the Underground Railroad, an elaborate network of safe houses.

“Harriet Tubman admonished us never to stop—to keep going,” Harris said. “Dean Adams’ career is a model for Ms. Tubman’s words.”