G. Gabrielle Starr, a highly regarded scholar of English literature whose work reaches into neuroscience and the arts, took office as the 10th president of Pomona College in 2017.
Under Starr’s leadership, the College is carrying out a strategic planning process to prepare for the future, and has launched a key initiative to support research and engagement in the humanities. The College also has announced plans for a new athletics and recreation center for health and wellness.
Starr is a national voice on access to college for students of all backgrounds, the future of higher education, women in leadership and the importance of the arts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post and The Financial Times, among other publications.
She serves on the California Higher Education Recovery with Equity Taskforce, charged with envisioning a new approach for post-secondary education preparation and workforce readiness as the state recovers from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and author of two books, Starr offers a compelling case for working across academic disciplines to spark intellectual discovery. Her research looks closely at the brain, through the use of fMRI, to help get to the heart of how people respond to paintings, music and other forms of art.
Her most recent book, “Feeling Beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience,” (MIT Press, 2013) was a finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s 2014 Christian Gauss Award, and her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship and a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant.
Starr is an experienced academic leader. As dean of New York University’s College of Arts and Science, she oversaw the undergraduate experience for more than 7,000 students across 55 departments and programs, and she led the development of new cohort and first-year programs. She served as chair of the English Department and director of undergraduate studies during her more than 15 years at NYU.
Starr also launched a partnership with New York City's largest community college to create a pipeline in STEM, and she co-founded a cross-university prison education program, offering A.A. degrees in the liberal arts to students in a medium-security prison.
Starr serves on the boards of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cedars-Sinai and the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), and on the executive committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU).
Starr grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and she set off for Emory University as an undergraduate at the age of 15. At Emory, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in women’s studies before going on to Harvard University to earn her doctorate in English and American literature.