UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Tonya Peeples has been appointed the Penn State College of Engineering’s associate dean for equity and inclusion, effective August 15.

In the inaugural position, Peeples will serve as the College’s chief equity and inclusion officer, focusing on inclusive excellence among all students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty.

“We created this position to ensure that the College of Engineering at Penn State meets its missions of providing the highest quality education to our undergraduate and graduate students and performing the highest caliber research that impacts the world in profound ways,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “To continue to achieve excellence in these missions, it is important that we ensure we are leaders in equity and inclusion, opening doors to students and faculty from broad, diverse backgrounds and ensuring a collegial, welcoming climate for everyone. I want to see all Penn State students, post-docs and faculty reach their highest levels of achievement, and this position will help ensure a robust, supportive environment to enable success.”

Peeples will manage outreach programs, educational opportunities, and strategic planning to ensure that faculty and student recruitment are aligned with the College’s and University’s goals. She will also partner with leaders across Penn State to enhance overarching equity and inclusion efforts at the University.

“Building the reputation of the College as a place that is welcoming for a variety of folks from all walks of life who really want to pursue engineering and to use engineering to make the world a better place is of paramount importance to me,” said Peeples. “The ability to have an impact at the faculty level and all the way through to students and aspiring students is what I most hope to achieve in this role.”

Currently, Peeples is the associate dean for diversity and outreach and a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. As associate dean for diversity and outreach, she has made a strong impact on the college’s faculty recruitment processes and increased the number of women and underrepresented minority students pursuing engineering education and engineering majors, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Peeples and her team also scaled up outreach by working with communities both regionally and across the state of Iowa.

“This role requires someone who is an outstanding engineering scholar and educator, as well as an academic leader who understands the complexities of inclusion in a large land-grant university like Penn State; this is a rare combination! Dr. Peeples’ track record of accomplishment shows that she has the needed expertise and skillset to engage our broad spectrum of stakeholders to move the College of Engineering forward,” said Schwartz.

In addition, Peeples is currently director of the Ethnic Inclusions Effort for Iowa Engineering, associate director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing and a researcher in the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute.

She received a B.S. in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the American Society of Engineering Educators, Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Chemical Society.

“I am excited to join the Penn State College of Engineering leadership team and look forward to working with campus partners, alumni and friends as we make substantive progress toward equity and foster a more inclusive community for faculty, staff and students,” said Peeples.