A reception to honor Charlena Grimes, academic coordinator for the College of Engineering and Architecture, who recently won the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, will be held 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education in the second floor atrium.

Grimes was one of nine individual (and five institutional) recipients nationwide invited to the White House in May to receive the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The award recognizes people who have mentored underrepresented students in science, mathematics and engineering. Grimes is thought to be the first-ever Washington State University recipient.

Grimes, with the College of Engineering and Architecture since 1982, has directed both the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) and the Women Engineering Program (WEP) on campus.  She developed and now directs the BRIDGE Workshop, in its 16th year, for incoming women and minority students. The five-day event just before the start of WSU classes in August offers seminars on career planning, time management, stress management, and study skills; classroom sessions on chemistry and math placement; and campus tours. More than 800 students have participated in BRIDGE since she created the program in 1990, and the program has increased the retention rate of underrepresented students by more than 20 percent. Grimes also formed chapters of organizations for African American, Hispanic, and Native American engineers and pioneered the establishment of a free summer camp for Native American youth interested in engineering and their teachers, as well as a camp for Latina/o students.

During her time at WSU, the number of African American, Hispanic, and Native American students in the college has more than doubled, and she has had an effect on the lives of more than 1,000 underrepresented students, said Olsen. She has received numerous awards, including the WSU Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, WSU President’s Employee Excellence Award, the Council of Minority Student Presidents Award, and the Finer Womanhood Award, presented by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity (an African-American fraternity).