Research News

Robinson named associate dean of the School of Engineering

William H. Robinson (Vanderbilt University)

William H. Robinson, a rising academic leader and diversity advocate, has been named an associate dean of Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering, Dean Philippe Fauchet announced Jan. 11.

Robinson, a member of the university’s Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community, which Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos named in the fall semester, will work with the dean to provide leadership in advancing the school’s inclusive, diverse and equitable academic culture.

“William’s leadership in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and his dedication to cultivating an inclusive culture within the school makes him the right person to work closely with our other engineering school deans, our department chairs, university colleagues, and with George Hill, Vanderbilt’s first chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, who was appointed in November,” Fauchet said.

Robinson is an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer engineering. His former roles in the school include associate chair of the EECS department and director of undergraduate studies for electrical engineering and computer engineering.

“I recently heard a powerful definition for diversity, ‘Those differences that carry social and historical significance in the modern world,’ from Kecia Thomas, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia,” Robinson said. “I believe that definition provides the perspective to guide me in my new role.”

Robinson, who is a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, said, “[rquote]I have a tremendous opportunity to provide leadership for initiatives that foster a diverse and inclusive environment for our faculty, students and staff within the school[/rquote], and I look forward to working with colleagues across the university through the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to provide sustained impact that supports Vanderbilt’s commitment to a culture that values difference and embraces inclusion.”

Robinson joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in 2003, the same year he received a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Tech. He was promoted to associate professor in 2010. Robinson is the first African American to earn promotion and win tenure in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering.

His research focus includes computer architecture and reliable and secure hardware design. His work resides in two of the school’s nine intellectual neighborhoods—risk and reliability, and cyber-physical systems.

Robinson leads the university’s Security and Fault Tolerance Research Group, whose mission is to conduct transformational research that addresses the reliability and security of computing systems. He collaborates with both the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics and the Institute for Software Integrated Systems at Vanderbilt. He participated with the Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center, where he served as the outreach director. He also investigates the institutional, technical, social and cultural factors that impact the current underrepresentation of African Americans in engineering faculty positions.

Robinson’s major honors include a NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Computer Science Study Panel, both in 2008. He is a senior member of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and is a lifetime member of the National Society of Black Engineers. Robinson is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a member of The 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, Inc.