EKU College of STEM Announces First Female Iconic Professor

Published on September 21, 2023

Dr. Barbara Ramey Room in the Science Building Unveiled

By Elise Russell

Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) recognized retired faculty member, Dr. Barbara Ramey, as part of the college’s Iconic Professor initiative. Ramey joins the ranks of Dr. Sanford L. Jones Sr., the late Dr. John L. Meisenheimer Sr. and the late Professor Meredith J. Cox, who were honored as Iconic Professors in 2020. 

During the college’s Celebration of STEM week Sept. 11-16, 2023, the Dr. Barbara Ramey Room in the Science Building, Room 3206, was unveiled. 

“In consideration of  the influence of past faculty on the history and trajectory of EKU and our college, we established the Iconic Professor initiative to permanently honor the legacy of professors who positively impacted the lives of our students,” said Dr. Tom Otieno, dean of EKU’s College of STEM. “It is a privilege to bestow the distinction of Iconic Professor upon Dr. Barbara Ramey. For each Iconic Professor, a prominent space in our state-of-the-art Science Building is named, ensuring their impact in the field of science and the teaching profession continues for generations to come.”

Ramey joined EKU’s faculty in 1983, and became the first female department chair of Biological Sciences in 1998. During her tenure, she taught classes in zoology, cell biology, histology and embryology. As chair, she was heavily involved in the design of the Science Building. Ramey actively participated on university committees, serving as a member of the EKU Honors faculty and an advisor to pre-professional program students. She was awarded the Outstanding College Teacher of the Year Award by both EKU and the Kentucky Academy of Science. 

“Our people at EKU are the lifeblood of this university,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Faculty, past and present, impact the lives of students every day and leave a lasting mark on this institution and within their fields of study. It’s only fitting that we name the Dr. Barbara Ramey Room in the Science Building and formally recognize her as the College of STEM’s first female Iconic Professor.” 

Ramey said, “I am overcome with joy at this recognition and I wish to thank everyone who helped me on my journey to this point. Without the support and friendship of family, colleagues and friends, I could not have achieved this honor. I especially wish to thank Dr. Stacey Tarvin and her family for her generous gift and continued support.”

As a researcher and educator, Ramey mentored graduate and undergraduate students in aquatic toxicology research. She served as president of the Kentucky Academy of Science and was instrumental in the development, implementation and continued growth of the state-wide middle and high school science fair. She made the scientific method tangible to thousands of students throughout the Commonwealth, influencing science scholars for years to come.  

Throughout her career, Ramey brought science to life for learners at all levels of education, many of whom went on to have impactful careers in STEM fields. She was a committed mentor to students as they pursued their academic and professional careers, even after they graduated.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being a student, mentee and friend of Dr. Ramey for 25 years. She’s a tireless advocate, educator and leader. She’s in the top five most resilient people I know,” said Tarvin, an EKU alumna and academic physician at Riley Children’s Hospital and Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Dr. Ramey’s advice to me when I graduated, ‘Put your head down and do the work, you will be noticed,’ exemplifies her resiliency,” Tarvin added.

The Iconic Professor initiative is supported by members of the College of STEM Dean’s Development Cabinet, the honorees and their families, current and retired faculty and staff, and alumni. The College of STEM Endowment for Faculty Success Fund provides the opportunity for former students, alumni and friends to support the next generation of Iconic Professors. 

At the Dr. Barbara Ramey Room unveiling, the College of STEM also announced the Dr. Suzanne Byrd Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to an EKU senior majoring in biomedical sciences or occupational science. Byrd joined the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at EKU in 1991. She taught courses in the biological sciences department, and in occupational therapy, nursing and EKU Honors. Byrd passed away in a tragic accident on Nov. 5, 2021. The Dr. Suzanne Byrd Endowed Scholarship Fund was established by family and friends in her memory.