President Bush Announces Barbara Burke Among Recipients of Presidential Award of Excellence


President Bush Announces Barbara Burke Among Recipients of Presidential Award of Excellence
Barbara Burke, a professor of chemistry and director of the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program, is a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

President George Bush announced the recipients of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) — a program supported and administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Among the nine distinguished recipients is Cal Poly Pomona's Barbara Burke, a professor of chemistry and director of the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program.

PAESMEM honors individuals and institutions that have enhanced the participation of underrepresented groups — such as women, minorities and people with disabilities — in science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels.  Each award includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work.

Burke teaches chemistry and has directly mentored a number of Hispanic, African American and Native American students.  In addition, she serves as director of the SEES program, which promotes diversity among students in the College of Science. She involves her students in peer mentoring groups, campus organizations, professional societies and community service to develop leadership skills and self-esteem.

“Many science and math students at Cal Poly Pomona know first-hand how hard Dr. Burke works to help them succeed,” sayd College of Science Dean Donald Straney. “I'm pleased she is receiving the recognition she deserves for her efforts. Whether it is working with individual students or developing programs to help them prepare for scientific careers, Dr. Burke is remarkably effective in helping students succeed.  It is because of the dedication of faculty like Dr. Burke that Cal Poly Pomona science and math students graduate so well prepared for their careers.”

Burke has been a member of the campus community since 1983. She received a bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Detroit and doctorate in inorganic chemistry from Purdue University.

“I am very proud to have received this award  I feel that this award is really to all of us who are a part of the SEES community: students, faculty, staff and parents,” says Burke. “I am happy to have been a small part of their success as they move through the university and into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics work force and become role models. My greatest joy is celebrating their successes.”

Burke added that SEES data supports the notion that student academic success is directly related to effective mentoring activities. Mentoring activities extend beyond personal one-on-one interactions, including: peer mentoring; community building and involvement; personal connections between students and other faculty; and obtaining grants to provide opportunities for professional development, financial assistance and research.

Since its inception in 1996, the PAESMEM program has recognized 87 individuals and 67 institutions. Each year's awardees add to a widening network of outstanding mentors in the United States, assuring that tomorrow's scientists and engineers will better represent the nation's diverse population. This year, nine individuals and five institutions received the award.

The 2004 individual awardees are drawn from institutions across the country and represent a variety of professional fields. All are highly regarded mentors and have pioneered innovative and resourceful programs to broaden opportunities in science, math and engineering for underrepresented students at all levels. In addition to Burke, the following educators were recognized:

  • Lenore Blum, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Charlena H. Grimes, Washington State University, Pullman
  • Richard E. Ladner, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Jeffrey S. Russell, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Herbert P. Schroeder, University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • John C. Warner, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Steven F. Watkins, Louisiana Sate University & A&M College, Baton Rouge
  • Elizabeth G. Yanik, Emporia State University, Kansas