Verna Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. became the president of HERS on June 29, 2018.
Prior to joining HERS, Fitzsimmons served as the CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic Campus and dean of the College of Technology and Aviation, positions she 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.
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. Lastly, she is an alumna of the 2011 HERS Institute at the University of Denver.