Vernard Henley, assistant dean of the UA Little Rock College of Engineering and Information Technology, grudgingly agreed that taking a pie in the face in front of a cheering crowd of UA Little Rock students and employees on Pi Day was worth it to support female engineering students.
“I feel awful sticky,” he said. “It’s for a good cause, but I didn’t get anything out of it except for a wet beard!”
Henley and Amy Frets, EIT director of student services, were the two lucky winners who received a pie in the face after earning the most votes. Frets, who had been inside advising a student, lamented the fact that she did not get to see Henley take a pie to the face.
“It feels so gross, but it tastes so good,” she said. “I will do anything for the students.”
Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant pi (3.14), which is celebrated on March 14 (3/14). The UA Little Rock Society of Women Engineers raised $634 by holding a bake sale, selling T-shirts, and having an online auction of pies donated by students and faculty.
For every $1 spent, a person could cast a vote for one of seven EIT employees who volunteered to get a pie in the face. The other volunteers included Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology; Dr. Steven Minsker, professor of computer science; Erin Flowers, education counselor; Dr. Hank Bray, chair of the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering; and Dr. David Luneau, professor of electronic and computer engineering technology.
In the final minutes of the fundraiser, the top three volunteers with the most votes (Henley, Frets, and Whitman) all worked hard to keep themselves from getting chosen. Frets donated $20 in favor of Henley, while Vernard donated $65 and even offered to match donations from the crowd toward Frets and Whitman.
“I have a cash app, and I’m not afraid to use it,” Henley said. “I am dedicated to the university, and I want to stay here until late into the evening to work. I can’t do that if I have all of this sticky stuff on my face.”
In the last five minutes, it looked as if Henley had been successful in his venture to keep himself out of the hot seat, with Frets and Whitman taking the top two spots. However, Whitman snuck in a last-minute $15 donation toward Henley’s camp to keep himself out of the spotlight.
“It’s the best money I spent in a long time. This is a fun event for a great cause,” Whitman said. “We are supporting the Society of Women Engineers sending students to participate in the national conference.”
Some members of the crowd actively lobbied for who they wanted to see get a pie in the face.
“When I went to contribute, I put my $10 in Dean Whitman’s cup,” said Kesha Robinson, administrative assistant in the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering. “Hank Bray is my boss, so I told people not to put any tickets in his cup. I love Dean Whitman, but I didn’t think he had enough votes. I love that the volunteers can try to barter themselves out of it. The students are making more money out of the volunteers than anyone else. This is an awesome fundraiser.”
Echo Davis, a sophomore environmental engineering major and vice president of the Society of Women Engineers, said the group is thrilled for the university community’s support.
“SWE is a noncompetition-based organization that encourages women to pursue engineering,” Davis said. “We take tours of local sites so that members can get an inside look into the life of an engineer.”
Anyone interested in joining the Society of Women Engineers can contact Echo Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-701-8760.
In the upper right photo, Assistant Dean Vernard Henley takes a pie in the face during a fundraiser for the Society of Women Engineers. Photo by Benjamin Krain.