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Outstanding Faculty Mentors at Pomona College Recognized With Fellowships

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, has recognized three of its faculty members for their outstanding work as mentors and advisors to students of color, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and first-generation college students.

Professors Erica Flapan, Jill Grigsby and Adolfo Rumbos were named the 2005 Irvine Distinguished Faculty Fellows, at the college’s March 11, 2005 faculty meeting. Each fellow is awarded $7,000 to support their research and teaching.

Erica Flapan, a professor of math who has taught at Pomona College since 1986, was honored for creating the course Problem Solving in the Sciences, after seeing her students struggle in Calculus I. More than half of the students taking the course are students of color and her hard work to “counteract any feelings students may have of isolation or insecurity” was commended. Students and faculty have testified that the mentoring she has done with those enrolled in the class has contributed to the students’ sense of belonging and ultimate success at Pomona College.

Jill Grigsby, the Richard Steele Professor of Social Sciences and a professor of sociology, was recognized for her work in Pomona’s community outreach programs. A member of the Pomona faculty since 1983, she created a program through which local senior citizens can audit Pomona College classes, ranging from economics and ancient philosophy to a variety of options in physical education. Since its inception four years ago, she has coordinated the auditing program. Last summer, she joined the faculty of the college’s Summer Scholars Enrichment Program (SSEP), an academically intensive program for high school students from racially and economically diverse groups. In her data analysis course, students learned how to access 2000 U.S. Census data and compared information for their home or school neighborhoods to national statistics.

Adolfo Rumbos, an associate professor of math, has taught at Pomona College since 1991. He was honored for his dedication to teaching in Pomona’s academic summer programs targeting students of color. Beginning the summer after he joined Pomona, he has taught in a variety of summer programs ranging from the Summer Science Institute to SSEP, where he is a regular participant. Shahriar Shahriari, chair of the Pomona College Math Department, says that more than “anyone else at Pomona, Rumbos has attracted students of color to the mathematical sciences.” Rumbos was also recognized for his work creating new teaching methods for the course Math 29, concentrating on problem-solving among students in small groups, which he believes is a more effective way to teach math at the introductory level.

The Irvine Distinguished Faculty Fellowship awards were made possible as part of a major grant to Pomona College from the James Irvine Foundation's Campus Diversity Initiative in 2002. Part of the CDI grant provided for 15 faculty fellowships to be awarded over a period of three years, beginning in 2003. The selection of the fellowship recipients was made by a committee composed of Pomona faculty, staff and students.

Pomona College, the most highly regarded liberal arts college on the West Coast, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of student research opportunities.