Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Mark French

headshot of Mark FrenchDr. Mark French, Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, has been awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Outstanding Faculty Advisor for 2022

Outstanding Faculty Awards are given each year by the Committee on Student Members to Faculty Advisors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and support to their ASCE Student Chapter. Sophie Lipomanis, a 2021 Civil & Environmental Engineering graduate, submitted the nomination on behalf of Speed School’s student chapter.

“I promised myself that the year I graduated from college that I would honor the professor that forever changed my college experience for the best,” said Lipomanis. “I have never met a professor in the higher education world that cares about students’ academic success and professional development as much as Dr. French,” she said.

When Lipomanis first met French in 2018, the professor was a first-time faculty advisor who had just taken over a floundering ASCE student chapter. Lipomanis credits French with reinvigorating the chapter. In fact, from 2018 to 2020, the chapter tripled its membership and ASCE had blown through its goals, increasing membership 518 % and launching an academic tutoring program that helped 140 students in its first year. This exponential evolution led to the chapter being recognized as the Student Organization of the Year.

Most recently, the chapter was recognized with the ASCE 2022’s Significant Improvement and Honorable Mention awards for activities recorded in 2021. “The chapter had been a ghost chapter,” said Lipomanis. “We went from nothing to being one of the top student chapters in the country.

Lipomanis said French supports the Chapter through being a liaison and source of constant information, sending students scholarship information, flyers for events and keeping everyone in the loop for any approaching deadlines. He attends the Multiregional Leadership Conference and goes monthly to the KY ASCE meetings, supplying the group with updates. “He is a humble person that craves no renown,” said Lipomanis. “He expresses each year to our new crop of officers that he will help however he can in whatever capacity the chapter needs,” she said. “Dr. French is one of those rare professors that cares and wants to see students excel and become wonderful engineers.”

French said receiving the award was a wonderful surprise. “I feel I am simply supporting students with their initiatives for the ASCE student chapter by watching, listening, and participating as an advisor. Serving as ASCE student chapter faculty advisor has allowed me to stay connected to the views and needs of our civil engineering students. Working with our ASCE student chapter is one of the most rewarding parts of my work with students.”