Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue


Tolbert to Serve as Interim Department Head for EECS

Leon TolbertChancellor’s Professor and Min H. Kao Professor Leon Tolbert will serve as interim department head for the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), effective June 1.

He replaces Professor Gregory Peterson, who stepped down from the role to return to a faculty position after completing his five-year appointment.

“Dr. Tolbert is a trusted colleague with extensive experience as EECS department head, and will be able to step in immediately to operate the department at a high level,” said Tickle College of Engineering Dean Matthew Mench, the Wayne T. Davis Chair of the college. “I am grateful that he would step up to lead the department again during a time of transition, and look forward to working with him to keep the department and college moving forward. I also want to thank Dr. Peterson for his five years of service to the department. Under his leadership as department head, EECS had many great accomplishments to be very proud of. In the coming months, we will initiate a search for the next department head of EECS, with the goal of starting them no later than Aug 1, 2024.”

Tolbert is no stranger to the role, having served as full-time department head from 2013-18, when he stepped back into a faculty position and Peterson took over, first as interim and then in the full-time role.

An expert on electrical devices, systems, generation, and distribution, Tolbert earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in electrical engineering in 1989, ’91, and ’99, respectively.

“I enjoyed my previous stint as department head in working with all of our constituencies—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and industry” said Tolbert. “I look forward to assuming that role again on an interim basis to aid in a smooth transition to the next department head.”

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has worked with it in several capacities. He is a member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society, the IEEE Power Electronics Society, and the IEEE Power Engineering Society. He is the Publications Chair of the IEEE Industry Applications Society, and the deputy editor-in-chief of the IEEE Power Electronics Magazine. He has previously served as editor of the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications from 2014-17, and as associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics from 2007-12.

Tolbert has won several awards in his career, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the IEEE Industry Applications Society Outstanding Young Member Award, both in 2001, and has had eight prize papers from the IEEE.

At UT, he has earned the Charles Ferris Faculty Award, the 2010 Moses A. and Mayme Brooks Distinguished Professor Award, the 2022 Engineering Teaching Fellow Award, the 2003, ’07, ’12, ’13, ’17, and ‘23 Engineering Research Fellow Award; the 2003 Chancellor’s Citation for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement, the 2012 Chancellor’s Multidisciplinary Research Award, and the 2013 Chancellor’s Citation for Research and Creative Achievement. He was also UT’s recipient of the 2020 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

He has worked on several power-related projects and centers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and at UT, including his present role serving as hardware testbed thrust leader with CURENT.


David Goddard, (865-974-0683,