Future  Weather

Salina Art Center Salina, KS


Dr. Verna Fitzsimmons

CEO and Dean, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus


Martha Tasker

Director of Utilities, City of Salina

Future Weather— Skirting the Issue: Women in Science

A discussion of the role of women in science. 

Salina Art Center Salina, KS

Film Synopsis

When her single mom runs off to California, Laudurée, a passionate environmentalist, clings to her rural home and a carbon sequestration experiment.

Laudurée (Perla Haney-Jardine) is a 13-year-old loner, passionate about nature and obsessed with ecological disaster. Greta (Amy Madigan), her grandmother, is a fiery nurse jaded by alcohol and disappointment. When Laudurée is abruptly abandoned by her dreamer single mom, she decides to take survival into her own hands, forcing her and Greta to rethink their futures and leap into the unknown.

About the Speaker

Dr. Verna Fitzsimmons is CEO and dean of Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. Dr. Fitzsimmons started her career in safety engineering, which has been the foundation for her career. She has driven business change and manufacturing process improvement through almost 30 years as a senior faculty member, aggressive applied researcher and successful consultant. Her successes include a variety of critical initiatives that demonstrate her unique ability for vision, innovation and the true entrepreneurial spirit that lies at the heart of lean manufacturing and operations management.

Dr. Fitzsimmons' areas of research specialization are lean manufacturing, process improvement, coaching organizational change management, industrial engineering, manufacturing, supply management, quality management, process control, project management, quality systems, total resource management, education, and program development.

She represents Kansas State Polytechnic in the Salina area on various local, regional and national boards, which builds relationships with local community leaders, university leaders and state and federal legislators. She has been an invited speaker for leadership conferences and is very active in work encouraging women in leadership. Dr. Fitzsimmons is active in helping Salina grow and offer opportunities for all, as well as developing paths for women and families in need. To that end, she serves on the board of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and on the board of Ashby House, a nonprofit organization that empowers homeless families and individuals.

Prior to joining K-State Salina, Dr. Fitzsimmons was an associate professor in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology at Kent State University. She served as the college's interim dean from 2008 to 2010, successfully leading it through the transition to applied engineering and a responsibility-centered management funding model. She also led efforts to select and install the $1.5 million Air Traffic Control Simulation Lab.

Along with serving at Kent State University, Dr. Fitzsimmons' background in academia includes teaching at Milwaukee School of Engineering, Wright State University Lake Campus, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University. She has a vast background in industry as well, including General Electric Health Care. She is a process strategy coach for Kinetic Insights LLC in Columbus, Ohio, enabling operations improvement to align with strategic plans. Her industrial background also includes experiences as a resource manager, safety and regulatory engineer, and an international liaison engineer.

Dr. Fitzsimmons has been published in peer-reviewed/refereed journals such as the International Journal of Modern Engineering and Technology Interface. She also has presented her work at conferences across the country.

Dr. Fitzsimmons earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in industrial engineering, all from the University of Cincinnati.

Martha Tasker is the director of utilities for the city of Salina. She has worked for the city since 2003, and oversees the implementation of safe, reliable, and high-quality water and wastewater systems. She received her degree from Salina Area Technical College.