Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining a class of influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors and institutional leaders at a ceremony held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Sept. 10.
President Starr is a national voice on access to college for students of all backgrounds and on the future of higher education. She took office as the 10th president of Pomona College in 2017.
Elected in 2020, Starr joined the academy along with 276 class members. In addition to Starr, the group includes singer Joan C. Baez, former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and author Ann Patchett, among others.
Also elected in 2020 is alumna Adela Yarbro Collins ’67, an internationally renowned and respected scholar of the New Testament. She is the Buckingham Professor Emerita of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University’s Divinity School.
Alumnus Thomas McDade ’91, elected to the academy in 2021, was also inducted in this year’s ceremony. McDade is a biological anthropologist specializing in human population biology and is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.
In a delayed ceremony due to the pandemic, the academy marked the induction for members of the classes of 2020 and 2021. During the induction ceremony, the new members signed the Book of Members, joining one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious learned societies.
The Academy’s Book of Members includes plenty of Sagehens: scientists Jennifer Doudna ’85, J. Andrew McCammon ’69 and Tom Pollard ’64; author Louis Menand ’73, art historian Ingrid Rowland ’74, artist James Turrell ’65, biologist Sarah Elgin ’67, journalist Joe Palca ’74 and psychology researcher Henry Wellman ’70, among others.
The academy is led by Pomona College President Emeritus David Oxtoby, who was inducted into the Academy in 2012 and was named its president in 2018. He served as president of Pomona College from 2003 until 2017.
Starr is the third Pomona College president to join the academy. David Alexander, who served as president of Pomona from 1969 to 1991, was inducted into the academy in 2006.
The academy was chartered in 1780 to “cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” Academy members are elected based on their leadership in academics, the arts, business, or public affairs and have ranged from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to such 20th-century luminaries as Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Akira Kurosawa.
Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation. The current membership includes more than 300 Nobel laureates, some 100 Pulitzer Prize winners and many of the world’s most celebrated artists and performers.