Bevlee A. Watford is the associate dean of equity and engagement at Virginia Tech, where she received a B.S. in mining engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research. She joined the faculty in 1992 following an initial position as an assistant professor at Clemson University as an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering and founding executive director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED). In 1997, Watford became the associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering, earning her current rank of professor of engineering education in 2005 and serving as interim department head from 2010 to 2011. In 2019 she was named the founding associate dean for equity and engagement.
Watford’s research activities have focused on the recruitment and retention of students in engineering, with a particular emphasis on underrepresented students. She has secured more than $12 million in funding and support for CEED and other undergraduate initiatives, including freshmen peer mentoring, a summer bridge program for incoming freshman, and residential living-learning communities that house nearly 600 freshman engineering students. Watford was recognized with the 2008 Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) Founders Award for her service and efforts to increase the participation of women in the engineering profession. CEED received the 2010 Claire Felbinger Diversity Award from ABET and the 2011 NSBE-ExxonMobil Impact award for implementing successful, research-based efforts to improve retention. In 2014 Watford was one of three finalists in the Global Engineering Deans Council Airbus Diversity Award, selected “for her wide-ranging programs aimed at building an inclusive and diverse engineering student body at Virginia Tech.” In 2019, the College of Engineering was recognized as a Bronze Exemplar institution in the ASEE Deans Diversity Recognition program, largely based on CEED’s activities.
From 2005-2007, Watford was a National Science Foundation program manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education, returning from 2013 to 2015 to serve as the program director for broadening participation in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers.
An active member of ASEE since 1986, Watford has served the organization in multiple capacities, including 2017-18 President, officer positions in both WIED and MIND, PIC IV chair, and chair of the Diversity Task Force that resulted in the creation of the ASEE Diversity Strategic Plan as well as the formation of the ASEE Diversity Committee. She also served as an associate editor of Advances in Engineering Education. She was elected an ASEE Fellow in 2010.
Watford, WEPAN’s 2004-5 president, also served on the board of directors of the National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators (NAMEPA).
About the award
The Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education recognizes and honors outstanding women engineering educators. Keillor was an engineering educator and a technology industry executive with extensive experience and accomplishments. An Athlone Fellow at the Imperial College of the University of London, she also served as a faculty member at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. Afterward, she embarked upon an outstanding career in industry, which included serving as Digital Equipment Corporation’s head of corporate training and later as vice president for software engineering; senior vice president of CTA Incorporated; senior vice president and chief operating officer of Watkins-Johnson; and vice president of Raytheon Marine, and managing director of its operations in Portsmouth, England.