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Ozlem Kilic and Veerle Keppens

Faculty Leaders Kilic and Keppens Chosen for IAspire Academy


Two more TCE faculty members have been selected for participation in the IAspire Leadership Academy, part of the national Aspire Alliance. Professors Ozlem Kilic and Veerle Keppens join Associate Professor Jamie Coble as fellows in the program.

Ozlem Kilic

Ozlem Kilic

Kilic is associate dean of academic and student affairs for the college and Keppens is a Chancellor’s Professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The alliance, also known as the National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty, was created through National Science Foundation funding to catalyze institutional and national change to improve diversity and inclusion in universities and colleges. The role of the academy is develop leaders for these changes.

This year’s fellows were selected to be part of a cohort of only 30 fellows nation-wide. It is a two year cohort-based program where in the first year, the IAspire fellows have a series of three on-site workshops at different locations across the US focused on personal development and the ability to lead at a team and organizational level. In the second year, the fellows execute an “institutional action project” using the concepts learned in the first year.

The academy gathers participants from a broad range of experiences to build an inclusive learning community in which participants can learn from both their differences and similarities.

Veerle Keppens

Veerle Keppens

Keppens expects to gain knowledge and skills from her participation that will help her serve the college with a deeper, and perhaps new, perspective.

“Being a female professor in a predominantly male STEM field, I understand that more is expected from me in terms of leadership and as a role model,” she said. “The academy will provide lasting interactions with leaders from underrepresented groups in higher education.”

Kilic looks to make an impact in providing students with an accessible, high quality engineering education, with a particular thought for students from disadvantaged demographics, whether due to race, ethnicity, or any other socio-economic status.

“Being a first-generation college student myself and having had an ‘unusual’ passion for math and engineering as a female since elementary school, I know first-hand the influence of a good pre-college education and caring mentors on an individual’s life,” said Kilic. “I would like to make sure more students from all backgrounds can have exposures to similar life changing experiences early on.”

“It is a priority of the Tickle College of Engineering to diversify and support the professional development and success of outstanding faculty,” said Dean Janis Terpenny. “We could not be prouder of these pioneering women of engineering and their selection for participation in this highly competitive national program. We are most appreciative of the IAspire program and the opportunities offered for continued growth as leaders.”

Sponsorship for the fellows came from UT leadership: Provost John Zomchick sponsors Keppens while Vice Provost Robert Hinde sponsors Kilic. Associate Vice Chancellor Matthew Theriot sponsored Coble last year.

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