Texas A&M University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Karan Watson is featured in the March issue of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine as one of the nation's top 25 extraordinary women leaders who are “making a difference” in higher education and beyond.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the editors of the influential publication decided to introduce readers to some of the dynamic women who have brought new ways of thinking and leadership to the world of higher education. The editors wrote that narrowing the list of honorees to only 25 was a major challenge and that they “hope these women will provide encouragement to their colleagues as well as those who will follow in their esteemed footsteps.”
The Diverse editors noted that when Watson assumed her present leadership position, “she brought with her an arsenal of administrative experience and a relentless commitment to keeping campus diversity at the forefront of her institution.” Part of her approach over the years, they added, has been “. . . to ask continually if we really are willing to appropriately change our educational and professional systems and cultures so it does value diversity.”
"This is another well-deserved honor for Dr. Watson,” noted Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. “She is, indeed, providing inspired leadership in moving our institution forward in all areas of diversity, in addition to having a major role in helping enhance our academic programs, which is key to our quest in attaining our Vision 2020 goals and being recognized as a top-10 public university.”
The Diverse editors pointed out she is the first woman to serve as Texas A&M provost.
Watson, who has been associated with Texas A&M since 1983, was named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in March of 2011 and continues to also serve as Regents Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering and in the Department of Computer Science. In addition to her previous teaching and research positions, she has served as associate dean of engineering, dean of faculties and associate provost.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society for Engineering Education. Her awards and recognitions include the U.S. President's Award for Mentoring Minorities and Women in Science and Technology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science mentoring award, the IEEE International Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Dwight Look College of Engineering Crawford Teaching Award, and two University-level Distinguished Achievement Awards from The Texas A&M University Association of Former Students — one in student relations in 1992 and one in administration in 2010.
In 2003–2004, she served as a Senior Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Engineering Education. Since 1991, she has served as an accreditation evaluator and commissioner and is now on the board of directors for ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In October of 2011, she was named President-Elect ABET with her full term as President beginning later this year.
Watson earned bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University.
The women honored in this year's listing by Diverse, hold key positions in colleges and universities of all types — ranging from tier-1 institutions such as Texas A&M to community and junior colleges as well as associations and organizations that directly affect higher education institutions.