08/07/2020 – 14:45pm | By: David Tisdale
An award-winning educator with a rich diversity of experience in both the private
sector and in academia has been named director of The University of Southern Mississippi
(USM) School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering.
Dr. Sarah Lee takes on her new post August 12, coming to USM from Mississippi State
University (MSU) where since 2011 she has served on the faculty and in leadership
roles, most recently as assistant department head in the MSU Department of Computer
Science and Engineering. Prior to joining MSU, she worked 19 years at FedEx in key
roles as a member of its information technology division.
“I’m excited about the opportunities for collaboration within the University and with
other stakeholders throughout the state,” Dr. Lee said. “The School is well positioned,
with degree programs in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast, to become a leader in computing
education and innovative research in Mississippi and beyond.”
A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Dr. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration
and computer information systems from Mississippi University for Women, and a master’s
degree in computer science from MSU. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science from
the University of Memphis. Throughout her career in higher education, Dr. Lee has
been honored multiple times for her exceptional teaching, research, service and outreach
In 2020, she received one of the highest awards for MSU faculty, the John Grisham
Master Teacher Award. In 2016, she received the MSU President’s Commission on the
Status of Women Outstanding Faculty Woman award. Her contributions were also recognized
by her induction into the Bagley College of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished
Teachers in 2016, and with the Bagley Service Award in 2014. She was selected as an
Inspiring Woman in Stem by Insight into Diversity Magazine in 2015, and in 2019 was
recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top in Tech award program.
Dr. Lee has also worked to create awareness and programs encouraging more women to
enter computing majors and careers. In 2016, she was awarded a National Science Foundation
(NSF) Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers
in Engineering and Science grant (NSF INCLUDES 1649312). The award led to the creation
of the Mississippi Alliance for Women in Computing (MSAWC), part of a national initiative
to increase U.S. leadership in STEM. The MSAWC engages stakeholders throughout the
southern U.S. to leverage, strengthen, and create awareness of existing programs and
create new programs for young women in computing across Mississippi.
In 2013, she initiated the Mississippi Affiliate Aspirations in Computing award program,
in collaboration with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT),
for girls in grades 9-12 in the state. She has also encouraged students with disabilities
to pursue opportunities in computing, hosting summer interns through the AccessComputing
program at the University of Washington and collaborated with The Clovernook Center
for the Blind and Visually Impaired to offer a programming workshop for persons with
low vision or blindness. As a board member for the Mississippi Coding Academies and
director of MSU’s Golden Triangle campus, she worked to develop alternative educational
pathways for recent high school graduates, as well as persons seeking new skills for
an increasingly digital economy.
At FedEx, Dr. Lee managed large software development projects, including a courier
route planning system and a customer relationship management system. For her achievements
and service to the company, she received multiple awards and was leadership endorsed
through FedEx’s Leadership Evaluation and Awareness Process (LEAP).
The USM School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering is housed in the University’s
College of Arts and Sciences. For information about the school, including its degree
programs and faculty, visit https://www.usm.edu/computing-sciences-computer-engineering/index.php.