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Tonya Peeples named interim Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering at Penn State

This article first appeared on the Penn State College of Engineering NEWS website.

Tonya Peeples - Interim Engineering Dean at Penn State
Tonya Peeples – Penn State Interim Engineering Dean

Alumna Tonya Peeples (B.S. ’88), senior associate dean and professor of chemical engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering, has been appointed as the interim Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering, effective July 1.

“Since her arrival at Penn State, Tonya has been extraordinarily impactful in helping to shape the college’s culture and its pursuit of a more sustainable, inclusive engineering future,” said Justin Schwartz, Penn State executive vice president and provost and former Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “Tonya is a considered, strategic and inclusive leader who will serve the college well. She not only works tirelessly to advance the four cornerstones of the college — excellence, sustainability, social mobility and equity — but she also strives to enable others to do the same.”

Peeples joined engineering in 2018 as the inaugural associate dean for equity and inclusion. In this capacity, she leads the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion; was instrumental in establishing the A. James Clark Scholars Program at Penn State — the result of a $15.5 million investment by the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation that helps fully fund 10 engineering undergraduate students every year; and spearheaded development of the college’s equity action plan. Earlier in 2023, she was appointed senior associate dean for the college.

As interim dean, Peeples will oversee all aspects of the college’s operations and its strategic priorities, including continuing to drive research growth and impact, advancing early career faculty, and recruiting and retaining students who are driven to impact the world, Schwartz said.

“When I joined the college five years ago, my goal was to contribute to the college’s culture of belonging while advancing the pursuit of excellence in education and research,” Peeples said. “It is an honor to lead colleagues who provide the highest quality education to our students and who perform the highest caliber research to impact the world in substantial ways. Together with faculty, staff, students, alumni and other members of the College of Engineering community, we have made meaningful progress, and I look forward to continuing this important work as interim Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering.”

Previously, Peeples served as the associate dean for diversity and outreach and a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. She earned a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the American Society of Engineering Educators, the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, the National Association for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Chemical Society. She also is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

“As Anthony prepares to retire, we are deeply grateful for his more than 25 years of service to the college and to Penn State, and especially for his leadership since being named acting dean last August,” Schwartz said. “I am confident that the transition between these two dedicated leaders will be seamless, and that Tonya will continue to lead with the same collaborative approach that imparts and inspires impact across our institution.”