Pomona College Receives Inclusive Excellence Grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

algebra classroom from behind

Pomona College has been awarded a grant of $800,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to further the College’s work in inclusive excellence. The six-year grant which begins this month, is part of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence initiative which incentivizes four-year colleges and universities to build capacity for inclusion on their own campuses, especially in the sciences. 

Pomona is one of 108 schools across the country that were invited to take part in HHMI’s current Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative. Out of this group, Pomona has been part of a smaller learning community cluster (LCC) of 16 institutions since early 2021 that share a common commitment to evaluation of inclusive teaching as well as policies that increase the relevance of inclusive teaching to faculty promotion and tenure.

Pomona’s goal is to be an institution where everyone feels they belong and can reach their full academic, professional and personal potential. The grant allows this group to push forward with its work over the next six years.

Most of the grant award will go directly toward supporting programming through Pomona College’s newly formed Institute for Inclusive Excellence (IIE), co-directed by Travis Brown and Professor of Biology Sharon Stranford.

HHMI grant Program Directors Jane Liu and Dylan Worcester look forward to supporting IIE programs aimed at instructor development such as the DEI Faculty Cohort program that was established in fall 2020, and the New Faculty Cohort program that is currently in its second iteration. The cohort programs provide community among faculty, facilitate more bi-directional lines of communication with the College, connect faculty with local resources, and promote the sustained practice of inclusive pedagogy.

The grant will also support projects at the College to identify and share strategies and structures for sustaining inclusive teaching practices, as well as investigate the integration of multiple sources of evidence for holistic judgments about inclusive teaching. Importantly, this grant will support all of Pomona College – not just the sciences.

“So many different faculty and staff, across the College, are doing fantastic things to make their teaching spaces inclusive and to support all of our students,” says Liu, associate professor of chemistry. “We need to make sure that their work is broadly seen, celebrated and sustained. That is what this grant will help us do.”

Funds from this grant will also go toward supporting the 16-institution learning community. The LCC made a commitment to hone its collective power by setting aside community funds for LCC-wide activities. Pomona College was one of the institutions given responsibility for holding and spending funds on behalf of the entire LCC.