Texas Tech University

ELATE at Drexel® Names Two Fellows at Texas Tech

George Watson

June 4, 2015

The program uses online instruction and classroom lessons to foster leadership effectiveness and initiative changes for women at various institutions.

Rattikorn Hewett

Two members of the Texas Tech University Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering have been chosen for a unique fellow program that fosters leadership training and management skills to enhance the work done within the college.

Rattikorn Hewett, a professor and chairwoman of the Department of Computer Science, and Zaida Gracia, the assistant academic dean for Central and South American projects and the director of special projects, were named Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE at Drexel®) fellows for the 2015-16 academic year.

“This is a great opportunity for two members of the Whitacre College of Engineering team to learn about academic leadership from other female academic leaders,” Dean Al Sacco Jr. said. “They will learn about themselves, what works best for them in their respective roles, how to best prepare themselves for future leadership roles and will integrate them into a cohort of like-minded professionals. I expect, in return, Texas Tech will get even better leaders who understand the benefits and limitations in academic leadership. This is a very selective program and a testament to the quality of these two professionals, and is a recognition of their abilities to date and their potential.”

ELATE at Drexel® is a one-year program focusing on personal and professional leadership effectiveness, leading and managing change initiatives, using strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions and creating a network of exceptional women who bring organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions they serve.

The program selects faculty and staff members at various universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other disciplines. This year, Hewett and Gracia are among the fourth incoming class of ELATE fellows that includes 31 women from 22 different institutions across the country. Each was nominated by a dean or provost and is expected to contribute to institutional initiatives while expanding leadership skills.

Hewett has done extensive applied artificial intelligence research in the areas of cyber security, data analytics, automated software engineering and intelligent controls. She earned bachelor's degrees in pure mathematics and statistics from Flinders University in Australia, her master's from the University of South Wales, her doctorate in computer science from Iowa State University and a postdoctoral fellowship from Stanford. She has published more than 100 papers and has served on many journal editorial boards and conference program committees.

Hewett leads the Center for the Science and Engineering of Cyber Security and the Big Data cluster initiative. She was among the 10 percent of females who received their doctorate in computer science, and only 9 percent of female computer science professors were at full professor status when she was promoted.

Zaida Gracia

“I am humbled to be selected among an extraordinary group of women,” Hewett said. “Because this is an intensive and progressive yearlong program, I feel responsible to live up to the expectation to earn my title as what I do carries the name of Texas Tech. I am grateful to Dean Sacco for showing me, by example, the real meaning of a great leader and for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime. I look forward to being a part of this program that could be an experience paramount to my future as a leader of both my institution and my colleagues.”

In her capacity at Texas Tech, Gracia works on international projects and collaborations with Latin American countries such as Puerto Rico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil. This includes signing of agreements for faculty exchanges, study abroad, joint research, dual degrees and graduate recruitment.

She came to Texas Tech with 25 years of experience as a mathematics professor at Sacred Heart University in Puerto Rico, where she led initiatives to increase minority and female representation in STEM, including federal grant-funded projects, teacher seminars, launching a science journalism program and the establishment of an annual science festival.

“I am honored to be a member of the 2015-16 ELATE class,” Gracia said. “With this course I expect to fully grasp the concept of leadership, master its skills and put them to my best use at work. I expect to better understand the structure of a higher education institution, learn how to make the best use of the resources available and financial concepts directed to budget or other related issues. I am convinced the interaction between other women faculty at different institutions during the length of this course will be the most valuable resource.  Working in group projects and sharing experiences will help me broaden my vision and integrate some of their best practices at work.”

Hosted by Drexel University, the ELATE fellowship is part of the International Center for Executive Leadership in Academics inside the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership® at Drexel's College of Medicine.

Those chosen as fellows will attend classroom lessons and activities, go through online instruction and discussion and apply those lessons to their jobs. The program begins in May and will conclude in March 2016 with a symposium on institutional change project developed in collaboration with the leadership of various institutions. There also will be three weeklong sessions to attend, the first in August.

“We are extremely excited to launch a new year of the ELATE program with this extraordinary group of women,” said Diane Magrane, executive director of Drexel's International Center for Executive Leadership in Academics and ELATE fellowship director. “The deans and provosts that have committed to mentoring these women through this intensive yearlong process recognize the importance of developing diverse leaders within their institutions. This bodes well for the future of academic STEM leadership.”

To learn more about the ELATE at Drexel® program, visit its website.