Bevlee Watford, associate dean, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech, is the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award from the university's Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering.

“This award recognizes Dr. Watford’s many accomplishments as an educator and administrator throughout her career, but most importantly, it recognizes her tireless efforts to increase diversity in all of the engineering disciplines,” said Greg Adel, head of the mining and minerals engineering department.

Watford received the Distinguished Alumni Award at the department’s spring scholarship and awards banquet.

Watford earned her bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from Virginia Tech in 1981. She also earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering and operations research at Virginia Tech in 1983 and 1985, respectively. Her research areas of interest are related to the recruitment and retention of engineering students, particularly under-represented students.

Watford joined the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Office in 1992. In 1996, she received Virginia Tech’s Affirmative Action Award for improving the campus environment for minority and women students, and she was featured in an article in Woman Engineer about how universities and companies offer support to women in engineering.

Two national honors were accorded Watford in 1997. She received the Charles A. Tunstall Outstanding Minority Engineering Program Award from the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) for her significant contributions to the success of African-American students at Virginia Tech, and the National Technical Association selected her as one of the 50 Top Minority Women in Science and Engineering.

In 2002, Watford received the national Black Engineer of the Year /College Level Educator award. Just this past year she received the 2008 Founders Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network for her efforts to support the organization and its mission.

In 2004, Watford was a principal investigator on a $2 million National Science Foundation Science and Technology Expansion Program, a five-year grant to Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering for expansion of its undergraduate mentoring and retention programs. Most recently she secured a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to provide scholarships for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

From 2005 until 2007, Watford was on temporary assignment with the foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education. Housed within the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, the division’s current programs represent a comprehensive approach to strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math education at two and four-year colleges and universities.

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