Verna Fitzsimmons Named New President of HERS

April 16, 2018

Media Contact: Liz Johnson, Marketing & Recruiting Manager, HERS, (303) 871-6717,

Verna Fitzsimmons

The Board of Directors of HERS is delighted to announce that Verna Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., has been selected as the next president of HERS. Fitzsimmons will officially take the position on June 29.

Fitzsimmons is a familiar face to the HERS community. She is a HERS Institute alumna from the 2011 Institute offering at the University of Denver and a strong supporter of the program.

“Dr. Fitzsimmons is an accomplished leader who comes to us with an impressive background in STEM education and demonstrated fundraising success. The search committee was particularly impressed with the passion and sincerity that she conveyed when she talked about how her HERS experience gave her the confidence and courage to pursue her current role at Kansas State University Polytechnic. Her appreciation for the work HERS does, and the difference that it can make in one’s career will resonate not only with our alumnae but with the countless women we look to serve,” said Bronté Burleigh-Jones, Ph.D., chair of the HERS Board of Directors.

Fitzsimmons currently is CEO of Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and dean of the College of Technology and Aviation, positions she has held since 2012. Under her leadership, Kansas State Polytechnic created a campus strategic plan, a master plan, and appointed a task force charged with the audit of the campus’ organizational structure. The results of these efforts continue to guide the university in serving the needs of its students, faculty, and staff and also function as a benchmark in reaching university-wide goals.

“The mission statement of HERS is the amalgamation of some of my most deeply felt passions, specifically excellence in higher education and the development of women leaders,” Fitzsimmons said.

“My most recent experience as CEO and dean at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, with its rich history of alumnae in both engineering technology and aviation, combined with my industry experience as an engineer, and leadership development skills put me in an ideal position from which to enter this role of helping to shape the future of HERS. I look forward to continuing to develop a mutually beneficial relationship for both of these remarkable institutions,” she continued.

While at Kansas State Polytechnic, Fitzsimmons was responsible for securing numerous corporate and local partnerships to provide K-State Polytechnic students with expanded educational and professional opportunities. Among these were agreements with ExpressJet and Cessna Aircraft Co. She was instrumental in creating the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center, a $3.5 million, 13,000-square-foot research center, which opened in 2015 and is one of only three such facilities in the world. Furthermore, her stewardship of relationships helped garner Kansas State Polytechnic a $10 million donation – the largest private donation Kansas State Polytechnic has ever received, which is used to fund student scholarships.

Prior to joining Kansas State Polytechnic, Fitzsimmons’ career focused on driving business change and manufacturing process improvement through nearly 30 years as a senior faculty member, aggressive applied researcher, and successful consultant. She has served in various positions of leadership at Kent State University and has taught at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Wright State University Lake Campus, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University. Her industrial background includes employment at General Electric Health Care and Kenner Toys, among other companies.

Fitzsimmons has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed/refereed journals such as the International Journal of Modern Engineering and Technology. She has also presented her work at a variety of conferences across the country.

Fitzsimmons earned her B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, all from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.