While there are a number of successful student organizations at West Virginia University, two have had the benefit of counsel from the same faculty advisor from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources for 25 years.
On Friday, May 3, representatives from the University’s chapters of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers came together to honor John Zondlo, professor of chemical engineering, for his unwavering support and guidance.
Zondlo got involved with both organizations for one simple reason: he was asked.
“A student in the Department of Chemical Engineering came to me and asked if I would help start a NSBE chapter,” Zondlo said. “About a year later, a female student in the Department asked if I would help with SWE, since we had no female faculty members at that time.
“Over the years, I just couldn’t let them go,” he added. “Dealing with both groups has been a real blessing.”
“Dr. Zondlo is the rock that grounds and centers WVU SWE,” said Amanda Thorp, chapter president. “Even though officers change and members come and go, Dr. Z is the person that holds the organization together from year to year. It is important to have that source of constant support. He is also the bridge between the faculty and students. It’s nice to have a faculty member in our corner, lobbying for our needs and goals.”
SWE was founded nationally in 1950 as a conduit to recruit women into the career by offering training and development programs, networking opportunities, scholarships, and outreach and advocacy activities. The WVU chapter hosts a number of activities throughout the year including Eighth Grade Visitation Day, the Murder Mystery Lunch and Girl Scout Day.
While SWE has had other advisors since its formation on campus in the 1970s, according to Gbolahan “Bugzy” Idowu, WVU chapter president of NSBE, Zondlo has been its advisor since day one. The chapter was founded in 1984, two years after Zondlo joined the faculty, and in addition to bringing prominent speakers to campus, members attend the National Black Engineer of the Year Award Conference.
“Our organization has been built up into a model organization worthy of emulation due to Dr. Zondlo’s hard work and dedication to promoting diversity in STEM fields,” said Idowu. “We have had challenging years where we struggled to keep up membership involvement and now we are in a period where we stand out for excellence in membership consistency. Through these years, Dr. Zondlo has always been there and has never considered leaving our group despite his busy research and teaching schedule.
“It is high time he be recognized for his great accomplishments with both student organizations,” Idowu continued. “He is not one to seek praise, but he deserves it. He has brought both chapters to great levels of success.”
Ordel Brown, an assistant teaching professor in freshman engineering and his co-advisor in NSBE, couldn’t agree more.
“His commitment to promoting diversity is remarkable, his passion for the growth and development of NSBE is undeniable, his record is unmatched and his humility is boundless,” said Brown. “It has been an insightful experience, an honor and an absolute pleasure serving with him.”
“I don’t know anyone more passionate and dedicated to students than John Zondlo,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “I have learned so much from him. This is well-deserved recognition.”
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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon