Founding director of AT&TMEP passes away

Published: Sep 18, 2007 7:58:00 AM
Media Contact: Cheryl Cobb, cobbche@auburn.edu, 334.844.2220

Dennis Weatherby, founding director of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering's Minority Engineering Program, passed away unexpectedly Saturday evening.

"Dennis was a respected colleague as well as a close friend," said Larry Benefield, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "He left a legacy that few others will ever be able to match. Many students can credit their success in engineering, and in life, to the examples that he set."

Weatherby accepted a position as first director of the college's minority engineering program in fall 1996. Initially sponsored by BellSouth, and officially known as the BellSouth Minority Engineering Program, it is now known as the Minority Engineering Program at Auburn University, following the recent merger of those firms. Dean William F. Walker, who passed away recently, inaugurated the program with the help of BellSouth executive Bill McNair.

Weatherby set high goals for himself, the program and the college during his tenure at Auburn University. He boosted recruiting of minorities and moved retention rates for minority students at Auburn to nationally recognized levels. He was known for his dedication, discipline and deep commitment to minority engineering. He returned to the Auburn campus last spring to help celebrate its tenth year of service to the college and community, reuniting with many of the alumni and friends of the program. A scholarship in his honor was initiated at the celebration, administered through the College of Engineering.

"Dennis built Auburn's minority engineering program literally from scratch, forging it into the most respected program of its kind in the nation," said Benefield. "His death at such an early age is a tragedy for all of us."

Weatherby left Auburn and went on to serve as the associate dean of the Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame. He was currently the associate provost for student services at Northern Kentucky University. The funeral will be held Friday, at 1 p.m., along with a reception at the Alexandria Community Center, Alexandria, KY. Donations can be made to the family in care of his widow, Mrs. Marpessa Weatherby, 10269 Goldeneye Drive, Alexandria, KY 41001.