‘When the students are successful, we all succeed,’ incoming engineering dean says

(Archive Photo | Collegian Media Group)

Matthew O’Keefe, the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering’s new dean, will start on July 13. O’Keefe was a professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Mississippi.

O’Keefe’s vision for the college of engineering is to be more multi-disciplinary among all fields of study, he said, with student success and support as a top priority.

“Higher, bigger, farther, faster, global and more inclusive — all while at the forefront of technology and innovation,” O’ Keefe said. “When the students are successful, we all succeed.”

O’Keefe said he has been impressed with the Kansas State engineering students he has worked with, but also the support from students after they graduate.

“Great students turn into great alumni,” he said. “It is difficult to find a more engaged, enthusiastic group of supporters who share so generously of their time, talent and treasure.”

O’Keefe began his career as a planning engineer with AT&T Microelectronics.

“The best part of those jobs was to see the resulting product of your efforts from working with others to make something of practical use,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe then worked for the Air Force Research Laboratory, where he was able to start pursuing his doctorate while also working full time.

While at Missouri S&T, O’Keefe did a research project in collaboration with K-State for the National Nuclear Security Agency.

“One of the students was Andy Fund, now the assistant dean for student services in the [College of Engineering],” O’Keefe said. “Andy was an excellent researcher as a graduate student, and I could not be more pleased to get to work with him again in his role of supporting students in the college.”

As the new dean, O’Keefe will have the unique challenge of starting in the position in the aftermath of the cancelation of in-person classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now we are making first-of-their-kind decisions about semesters and how they run,” Kevin Wanklyn, teaching associate professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, said. “We are going to look towards him for guidance and look towards him for advice.”

Along with being named dean, O’Keefe will hold the position of LeRoy C. and Aileen H. Paslay chair in engineering.

“The duties of the Paslay chair are related to leading the college, and I humbly accept the responsibilities and rights associated with the endowment,” O’Keefe said.