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K-State News
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Matthew J. O'Keefe named new dean of Carl R. Ice College of Engineering

Friday, April 3, 2020


MANHATTAN — An accomplished materials engineer and experienced administrator will become the next dean of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University.

Matthew J. O'Keefe, executive director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and professor of chemical engineering at the University of Mississippi, has been appointed to the post by K-State Provost Charles Taber following a national search. As part of the appointment, O'Keefe will hold the LeRoy C. and Aileen H. Paslay Chair in Engineering. He will start his new duties on July 13.

"Dr. O'Keefe is well prepared to become the next chief administrator of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering," Taber said. "With his distinguished record in academia and industry, Dr. O'Keefe understands the impact of engineering and computing on society, knows the challenges coming in these technology-based areas and has the leadership and innovative thinking skills to empower the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering to meet these challenges and lead this college into the future."

As dean, O'Keefe will be responsible for the oversight and direction of the college's teaching, research, extension outreach, public engagement, fiscal stewardship and fundraising efforts. He will oversee the state's most comprehensive engineering school with more than 3,400 undergraduates and 400 graduate students, as well as more than 160 faculty involved with the college's 12 degree programs housed in eight departments.

"I am honored to have been chosen as the dean of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering and want to thank Provost Taber, Dean Gwinner and the search committee, Carl and Mary Ice, and everyone involved in the process for the opportunity to serve and lead the college," O'Keefe said. "Having collaborated with K-State engineering faculty and students on research projects, and working with K-State-educated engineers throughout my career, there was immediate interest in applying for the position. Knowing firsthand that K-State graduates and faculty are highly respected nationally and internationally, and having positive interactions with the professional staff and alumni on numerous occasions, it was a privilege to have been nominated as the next Leroy C. and Aileen H. Paslay endowed chair and dean of engineering."

O'Keefe has served in his current position since 2017 and provides administrative oversight of the center's personnel, facilities, operations and academics. The center's honors program serves more than 200 undergraduate students in accounting, business and engineering pursuing a minor in manufacturing, developing them into leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of modern manufacturing. As its executive director, O'Keefe has increased the center's student enrollment and diversity by 10%, helped establish initial program endowments and expanded the number of degree programs associated with the center, among other accomplishments.

Before joining the University of Mississippi, O'Keefe was with the Missouri University of Science and Technology from 1999 to 2017 where he served as chair of the Department of Material Science and Engineering from 2016-2017. Under his leadership, he helped the department secure a $3 million estate gift and oversaw annual research expenditures of approximately $4 million. O'Keefe also served as director and senior investigator for Missouri S&T's Graduate Center for Materials Research from 2007-2016. The center accounts for 75% of patents and royalty income at the university. In addition, he was the interim assistant vice chancellor of global learning at Missouri S&T from 2015-2016.

As a researcher, O'Keefe focuses on thin films, coatings, environmentally friendly processing and characterization of materials. He has been principal investigator on more than $10 million in funded research and another $24 million as a co-principal investigator. A fellow of ASM International, O'Keefe is co-inventor on six issued patents, three of which are licensed and generate royalties. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed and conference proceedings papers and has served as a peer reviewer for 20 journals. He also has supported and advised 11 master's and 12 doctoral students, as well as 11 postdoctoral fellows. His work has earned eight faculty excellence awards, three outstanding teaching awards and three best paper awards.

O'Keefe began his career as a planning engineer with AT&T Microelectronics in Lee's Summit, Missouri, from 1985-1988, then transferred to AT&T Bell Laboratories in Allentown, Pennsylvania,
conducting applied research and development for manufacturing locations from 1988-1990. He also worked as a materials research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from 1990-1999.

O'Keefe earned his bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Missouri, Rolla — now Missouri S&T — and a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from the University of Illinois.


Carl R. Ice College of Engineering


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Matthew O'Keefe

Matthew J. O'Keefe is joining Kansas State University in July as the new dean of the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.

Written by

Beth Bohn