STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State University's dean of the Bagley College of Engineering is being honored by one of the nation's oldest, largest and most selective academic honor society.
Phi Kappa Phi has selected Sarah A. Rajala as the recipient of the 2010-12 Phi Kappa Phi Scholar Award. Created 36 years ago, the honor recognizes individuals who have excelled in teaching, research and public service.
Rajala, also a professor and holder of the Earnest W. and Mary Ann Deavenport Jr. Endowed Chair in MSU's Bagley College of Engineering, received her bachelor's degree from Michigan Technological University, and master's and doctoral degrees from Rice University.
She was a faculty member at North Carolina State University from 1979 to 2006. While at NCSU, Rajala served as director of the Center for Advanced Computing and Communication, associate dean for academic affairs, and associate dean for research and graduate programs.
"Dr. Rajala possesses that rarest of academic gifts--the ability to excel simultaneously as a scholar in her chosen discipline, as a highly regarded teacher, as a practitioner in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and as an academic leader in her current role as an engineering dean," said William McKinney, chair of the Phi Kappa Phi artist selection committee.
Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi has chapters on more than 300 campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Each year, approximately 30,000 members are initiated.
The focus of Rajala's research has been the analysis and process of images and image sequences and engineering educational assessment. She has directed numerous master's theses and doctoral dissertations, authored and co-authored nearly 200 publications, and secured a patent on image sequence compression.
In the classroom and through professional organizations, Rajala has worked to improve engineering education for students. She has received numerous teaching awards, provided key leadership related to reform engineering education, and was elected president of the American Society for Engineering Education for 2008-09. In this position, she traveled around the world advocating improvement in the engineering education process and for ways to improve the representation of women and minorities in the engineering professions.
MSU's first woman dean of engineering, Rajala has a history of opening doors for women and minorities in engineering. As the first female tenure-track professor in the engineering department at NCSU, she organized networking activities for the college of engineering women faculty and helped create a maternity leave policy for tenure-track faculty members where none had existed.
She also helped establish the Women in Engineering program, which serves to coordinate, educate and sponsor many programs for women and provides K-12 outreach.
For more information, contact Dr. Rajala at 662-325-2270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.