Appointments Allow Pendakur to Advance STEM Teaching and Mentoring

The Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) serves as a social justice education hub for the Harvey Mudd College community and beyond, and its staff aims to foster excellence and diversity at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Selected for her cultural competence and expertise in institutional change, OID Associate Dean Sumun Pendakur represented Harvey Mudd at the recent Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) Teaching to Improve Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) Institute. Pendakur and nine other institute coaches worked to develop models for broad institutional change that advance evidence-based and culturally competent teaching and mentoring in STEM.

“The AAC&U TIDES Institute challenged all of the attendees to take a hard look at the teaching, curriculum and climate on their campuses, rather than relying on status quo explanations of differential rates of participation and success,” said Pendakur. “It was truly an honor to be selected to serve as an institute coach and work with stellar provosts, chairs and faculty who are committed to the goal of shifting the needle for communities that remain underserved in STEM higher education. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with my campus teams.”

The three-year TIDES initiative—supported by a $4.9 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust—seeks to improve learning outcomes and increase participation, retention and persistence rates of students historically underrepresented in the STEM disciplines, with a particular emphasis in computer science. Along with other TIDES coaches, Pendakur trains faculty leaders committed to developing culturally sensitive curricula taught in supportive and empowering environments. Coaches will continue to work one-on-one with leaders at 20 U.S. institutions—which range from liberal arts and tribal colleges to large research universities—to implement curricular changes.


On July 22, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) announced that Pendakur is one of two candidates selected to participate in NADOHE’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer Fellows Program (CDOFP) for the 2014–2015 academic year.

A professional leadership program of mentorship for new and early career chief diversity officers, the goal of the CDOFP is to provide the fellow with mentoring by a senior level CDO and guided professional development experiences. Pendakur will receive a grant to facilitate the fellowship year and will collaborate with her mentor to develop a Diversity Officer Leadership Plan. She will visit the CDO mentor’s campus, shadowing the mentor and learning about the institution’s diversity issues, policies, procedures, politics and climate, as well as the mentor’s leadership style, strategies, successes and challenges. Her mentor will also visit Harvey Mudd to better understand its diversity issues. Pendakur will serve on NADOHE’s Conference Committee, as well as develop an individualized professional development project to be presented at the annual conference of NADOHE, the preeminent voice for diversity officers in higher education.

NADOHE President Benjamin D. Reese, Psy.D. notes, “We are delighted to offer this unprecedented opportunity for a new and/or early career chief diversity officer to obtain real time guidance and on the ground learning from a more senior colleague. The goal is to enhance the Fellows’ professional knowledge and experience in order to stimulate strategic thinking and advance outcomes at their home institutions.”


This summer, Pendakur will begin a two-year term as co-chair of the Southern California region of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) along with Moya Carter, dean of students at Pitzer College. NASPA provides professional development and advocacy for student affairs educators and administrators who share the responsibility for a campus-wide focus on the student experience.