Verna M. Fitzsimmons

CEO and dean, Kansas State University Salina

Verna FitzsimmonsA proven academic leader with experience in guiding change at the university level, Verna M. Fitzsimmons is taking Kansas State University Salina into the future. As CEO and dean of the university's Salina campus, Fitzsimmons is helping lead the campus's efforts to make Kansas State University a Top 50 public research university by 2025.

Fitzsimmons began her duties as head of the campus in July 2012. Since then, she has updated K-State Salina's mission statement and initiated strategic planning campuswide. She also has developed a master plan for the campus buildings and facilities to integrate with the strategic plan. Fitzsimmons is working to expand industry opportunities for aviation students, including through a new an agreement with ExpressJet. It provides qualified students with a conditional offer of employment as a first officer with the regional airline as early as the beginning of her junior year.

Since Fitzsimmons became CEO and dean, K-State Salina has also expanded its international reach with a faculty and student exchange initiated with Worms University in Germany.

Prior to joining K-State Salina, Fitzsimmons was an associate professor in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology at Kent State University. She served as the college's interim dean from 2008-2010, successfully leading it through the transition to applied engineering and a responsibility-centered management funding model. She also led efforts to select and install the $1.5 million Air Traffic Control Simulation Lab.

Along with serving at Kent State University, Fitzsimmons' background in academia includes teaching at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Wright State University's Lake Campus and the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She has a vast background in industry as well. She is a process strategy coach for Kinetic Insights LLC in Columbus, Ohio, and has her own coaching and consulting business in which she helps operations improve to align with strategic plans. Her industrial background also includes experiences as a resource management engineer, safety and regulatory engineer, and an international liaison engineer.

Fitzsimmons has been published in peer-reviewed/refereed journals like the International Journal of Modern Engineering and Technology Interface. She also has presented her work at conferences across the country. Her success in external fundraising includes a $13.5 million in-kind software grant for the College of Technology, the largest in Kent State University history.

Fitzsimmons earned a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree in industrial engineering, all from the University of Cincinnati.

She can be contacted at 785-826-2601 or