Vanderbilt Administrator Applies Engineering Background to Diversity Work

Dr. William H. Robinson has spent the last 17 years at Vanderbilt University.

In 2018, he became the institution’s first African American full professor in engineering, also serving as associate dean for academic success for the engineering school and the interim vice provost for strategic initiatives. Now, he’s taking on a new role as Vanderbilt’s vice provost for academic advancement and executive director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence. 

Dr. William H. Robinson

“His leadership is critical to shaping our community’s action as we chart a path forward to continue to fight racism and injustice,” said Dr. Susan R. Wente, Vanderbilt’s interim chancellor and provost, praising Robinson for his “wide-ranging expertise” and “proven track record of transformational leadership.” 

Robinson looks forward to drawing on his years of institutional knowledge in his new position. He’s already been an active part of efforts to take a long look at Vanderbilt’s “historical gains and areas that it needs to improve in terms of diversity and inclusion” and make “recommendations on the path going forward for the vision of the institution.”

“Now I’m in a position where I can actually try to implement some of those recommendations,” he says.

Going forward, Robinson will continue to lead the Academic Pathways program, which prepares diverse doctoral program graduates for entry-level academic positions, with the hope that they’ll stay at Vanderbilt. He’ll also help develop new supports for first-generation and low-income students and continue to work with the university’s four identity centers: the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, the Office of LGBTQI Life, the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and t

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