With more than 40 years of experience as an administrator and educator, Dr. Deemathie de Silva served as the director of the Trio Student Support Services at Wichita State University in Kansas. She is also a grant writer for student support services, assisting multicultural, first generation and low income students to succeed in college. During her tenure at Wichita State University, she also excelled as testing coordinator for the women’s equality program, a research associate in the College of Business, a lecturer of biology and an instructor of anthropology between 1977 and 1983. Since 1985, she has been the director of Operation Success.
Throughout her career, Dr. de Silva has found success in a number of other professional endeavors in the areas of administration, executive training and team building, teaching leadership seminars and international workshops, and diversity training. Some of her work included teaching a course on tutoring strategies, transcultural communications and international relations, regarding peace and war as well as other global issues. She also regularly attends international, national and regional conferences, and continues to provide intercultural communication, management and leadership training seminars in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. Some of her conference presentations include “Difference to Difference: A Simulation to Work in the International Business Marketplace” at the Pan Pacific Conference XIII in Japan in 1996, “The Tutorial Process and its Implications” at the Fourth Annual National Tutoring Conference in Georgia in 1995, and “Colour and Culture: Women to Women” at the Society for International Education Training and Research International Congress XX in Canada in 1994, among countless others.
In her diversity training work, Dr. de Silva strives to create awareness of the critical value of multicultural diversity in campuses, cities and workplaces. She has provided her expertise through workshops in Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, DC, Canada and Jamaica, among other locations. Her executive training and team building work has also brought her to organizations and universities around the country, including the University of Kentucky, St. Joseph Medical Center, Florida A&M University, Western Kentucky University, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, the University of Kansas, Sterling College, Donnelly College and Independence Community College. With Wichita State University, she remains active hiring and training administrative staff and giving tutorials on student support services.
Furthermore, Dr. de Silva is an accomplished author and editor in her field. Serving as the journal editor for the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel in 1995 and 1996, she has had articles published in the Journal of the National Council of Educational Opportunity Associations, AnthroSight: Anthropology for Decision Makers and the Journal of Equal Educational Opportunity. She has also been a columnist for the newsletter of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska chapter of the Educational Opportunity Association and the division of student affairs at Wichita State University. Other publications to her name include “A Tutor Handbook for TRIO Programs” in 1991, microfiche inclusions in ERIC Systems, “Success Strategies for College Students” through the George Washington University, and “Operation Success: Program Overview and Performance, 1985-2017.”
Prior to becoming a successful educator, Dr. de Silva graduated from the Government Teachers College in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and earned a Master of Arts from Stanford University in 1964. After immigrating to the United States in 1977, she became a certified teacher in the state of Kansas, and completed coursework at Columbia Pacific University in San Rafael, California, graduating with a PhD in 1988. Dr. de Silva has also volunteered as a member of the executive board of directors for the Global Learning Center in Wichita.
Outside of her professional responsibilities, Dr. de Silva remains up to date with the advancements and changes in her industry through her affiliation with numerous organizations. She was a member of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Association, the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Intercultural Education and the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel, among others. Dr. de Silva also sat on the executive board of directors for the World Trade Council of Wichita and excelled as the director of the Southeast region for Independent Scholars of Asia.
In light of her many achievements in the field, Dr. de Silva has earned a number of accolades throughout her career. She won the World Peace Through Trade Award from the Kansas World Trade Center in 2004, the Brotherhood Sisterhood Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice in 2001 and the Kansas International Special Recognition from the Kansas World Trade Center. Dr. de Silva further received a grant from the National Science Council of Sri Lanka in 1977, a fellowship from the American Association of University Women in 1975 and a fellowship from the National Science Foundation in 1964.
Dr. de Silva was also a scholar of the Fulbright Foundation from 1963 to 1964, and in light of her contributions to her field, she has been featured in multiple editions of Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education and Who’s Who of American Women. She has also been included in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Directory of Collegial Resources and Two Thousand Notable American Women. She further received an honorary appointment to the research board of advisers of the American Biographical Institute. Dr. de Silva is the recipient of the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor conferred by Marquis Who’s Who.
Now retired, Dr. de Silva was presented with the Trio Legacy Award by Wichita State University at the “Honoring Our Own” event in 2019. She is married to her loving husband of 57 years, Dharma de Silva, with whom she has raised four wonderful children — Mahinda, Duminda, Lathika and the late Harshini. In addition, she is a doting grandmother to nine beloved grandchildren. Dr. de Silva would like to be remembered as someone who was dedicated to her profession and kind to everybody, including the staff — kindness was an underlying feature to all of her administrative work. In the corporate sector, she knew that efficacy and integrity was of the utmost importance — values instilled in her by her parents, during her upbringing — and she drew motivation from seeing her students graduate and become successful.