2020 DEI Leadership Award Recipient

Deborah Keyek-Franssen

Deborah Keyek-Franssen

For building a culture of inclusion, engagement, and improvement across the higher ed IT profession; for providing creative and visionary leadership, training, and support to help IT professionals advance in their careers; for offering mentorship and being an exceptional role model for what it means to lead through service

The 2020 EDUCAUSE DEI Leadership Award recognizes Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Associate Vice President and Dean of Online and Continuing Education at the University of Utah, for her dynamic and visionary leadership to promote positive relationships between the academy and the IT community and for her research and advocacy in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across the IT practice.

Throughout her career, Deb has understood the need to increase diversity in higher education information technology, to ensure inclusive environments for IT staff, and to advocate for the technology tools and practices that would promote equity, especially among students. As Associate Vice President, Digital Education & Engagement, at the University of Colorado (CU) System, she was instrumental in convening leaders and practitioners from the CU System’s four campuses and creating intentionally collaborative efforts to explore innovation in teaching and learning with technology.

Deb’s work portfolio is characterized by her deep commitment to DEI. She has actively promoted programs designed to encourage and support women in their choice of information technology as a profession. As co-director of the Colorado Coalition for Gender and IT, she led a statewide nonprofit coalition of education, industry, and government representatives to increase participation of girls and women working in and studying technology. In this role, she secured grant funding directed to research projects at and for community colleges and worked with area computer science departments to promote educational and work opportunities as part of a military spouses’ initiative. She has offered workshops on effective DEI practices in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented groups and on training to help professionals in academic and technology sectors identify and interrupt implicit bias.

Among her many contributions to EDUCAUSE, Deb served on the DEI Task Force, which launched DEI as a strategic priority for the association and led to the creation of the CIO’s Commitment on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In 2009, she co-founded the EDUCAUSE Women in IT Community Group and served as co-chair of the group through 2016. The gatherings of this group at annual conferences attracted hundreds of attendees, and Deb and her co-founder, Beth Schaefer, used innovative techniques (e.g., improvisational theater and carousel discussions) to engage participants in a commitment to behaviors that would increase DEI on their home campuses. She has served as a faculty member for the EDUCAUSE Management Institute, where she taught interactive sessions on DEI, negotiation, and career development. She has presented frequently at EDUCAUSE events and has written articles on a variety of subjects for EDUCAUSE publications.

Beyond her service to the EDUCAUSE community, Deb has an extensive portfolio of advocating for DEI, open educational resources, and student success and STEM initiatives in the higher education IT community, both nationally and internationally. She has been a frequent speaker on building diverse and inclusive organizations, presenting invited keynotes for conferences sponsored by the National Association of System Heads, the National Center for Women and IT, and the Colorado Women’s Education Foundation. She has been an instructor at the University of Colorado Boulder and an adjunct professor at the University of Denver, where she has taught courses on gender, race, and technology. She is a frequent blogger on DEI issues and guest-edited a Gender & IT issue of Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies.

Building on her creativity, experience, commitment, and collaborative spirit, Deb has been a passionate advocate for greater awareness of DEI practices and resources. Deborah Keyek-Franssen is a role model for promoting opportunities and reducing barriers for underrepresented groups and has made a positive impact in leading the IT profession and higher education to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Gold Partner.