Klawe Receives Mellon Presidential Leadership Grant

Harvey Mudd College’s efforts to achieve unsurpassed excellence and diversity at all levels received a welcome boost in September, when the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation honored President Maria Klawe with funds to support the key goals of the College’s Strategic Vision 2020 through its Presidential Leadership Program.

The grant, which will total $250,000 over four years, will provide exciting new opportunities for the College to accelerate efforts to increase racial and gender diversity among the faculty and to review and potentially revise the Core Curriculum. ​These two initiatives will be mutually reinforcing, allowing the College to advance its Strategic Vision goal through the composition of the faculty and the shape of the curriculum.

“We’re grateful to have Mellon’s partnership around two initiatives that are critically important to the campus,” says Klawe. “Our plan to increase and enrich the pool of scholars who are excited to imagine a career at Mudd is innovative—as is the opportunity to support a large, focused and multi-constituency planning event around the review of our Core curriculum to ensure it will continue to respond effectively to the needs and desires of our community.”

Since developing its Strategic Vision in 2006, the College has made substantial progress toward the objective of unsurpassed excellence and diversity. Women now make up half of the HMC student body, and 20 percent of HMC students are now from populations underrepresented in STEM fields. The College has achieved progress in the diversification of its faculty, as well: Thirty-six percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty are women and 7 percent are from minority populations underrepresented in STEM. ​Still, the College acknowledges that it has a lot more to do to achieve its ambitious goals.

“We’ve made tremendous strides in enhancing the diversity of our student body and faculty, but we certainly hope to do more,” says Dean of Faculty Lisa Sullivan. “A key component of this grant addresses faculty diversity and provides funding that will enable HMC to develop close relationships with graduate programs that are notably successful in producing PhDs among women and students from populations underrepresented in STEM. Our hope is that by increasing our visibility among diverse scholars we will expand and strengthen our pool for searches as we are able to undertake them.”

Roughly half of the award will support efforts to enhance and expand faculty recruitment and half will support pedagogical initiatives that will emerge as the College completes its review of the Core Curriculum.

“The current Core review is designed precisely to get a handle on how adequately the Core serves our learning objectives and community and precisely what those objectives should be going forward,” says Sullivan. “The grant will allow us to undertake an extensive strategic-planning exercise in the wake of the Core review, and then offer us support to build out suggested curriculum reforms focused toward increasing inclusivity.”

The process of diversifying the faculty and building an equitable and inclusive curriculum will take time, but Sullivan is optimistic that the grant will help speed the progress. “We know that funding can be transformative in these sorts of endeavors,” she says. “We know that we can expedite curricular reform when we have targeted resources. I’m excited and optimistic about the differences we’ll see on campus at the end of the term of the grant.”