Harvey Mudd Names Sixth PresidentDecember 6, 2022
Harriet B. Nembhard, a nationally respected leader in the field of industrial and operations engineering and dean of the College of Engineering at University of Iowa, has been named the sixth president of Harvey Mudd College.
Appointed by unanimous vote of the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees, Nembhard will succeed President Maria Klawe, who announced last year that she would step down June 30, 2023, after 17 years of leading the College.
“Harriet Nembhard is an exceptional academic leader with a breadth of experience and contributions that align with Harvey Mudd’s mission to educate the next generation of STEM leaders,” said James Bean, chair of the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees and graduate of the class of 1977. “Her decades of leadership in engineering education, strong student focus and work on the national level to transform STEM education position her as the perfect choice to serve as Harvey Mudd College’s next leader.”
As dean of the College of Engineering at University of Iowa, Nembhard manages a budget of $100 million and oversees the academic programs, departments and institutes that support 1,802 undergraduates and 283 graduate students. She leads initiatives in strategic planning and implementation, improving the college’s research profile and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.
Nembhard has held academic leadership positions at Oregon State University and The Pennsylvania State University, where she was the founding director of the Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems, an interdisciplinary research institute that uses applied statistics and operations research to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery to patients.
She is also a voice on the national level for transforming undergraduate STEM education. Her research into co-curricular STEM education and its role in undergraduate identity formation received National Science Foundation funding, and she was invited by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to serve as a member of their joint roundtable on advancing change in undergraduate STEM education.
“I’m excited to bring my passion for STEM education to Harvey Mudd College, a leading higher education institution in experimentation and innovation, especially in developing inclusive pedagogy, increasing diversity in STEM and incorporating interdisciplinary approaches,” said Nembhard. “I’m also excited to join a college that is so deeply dedicated to inspiring its students to have a positive impact on society.”
Nembhard began her college career at 16, studying management-engineering at Claremont McKenna College and industrial engineering at Arizona State University, before attaining her PhD in industrial and operations engineering at University of Michigan. She recognized her early interest in engineering management by the types of questions she asked as a child to her father, a pilot, when they visited airports. She was curious about how the luggage made it to the right airplane, how flight crews were assigned and why smaller airplanes were parked on the side of the airport. In short, asking systems questions at a young age.
That interest in systems engineering led to a life of scholarship in applied statistics and operations research in which Nembhard has taken a multidisciplinary approach to improve complex systems across manufacturing and healthcare. Her work has led to many advances including simulation tools for assessing emergency department patient flow, improved manufacturing processes for medical devices, and a sensor-based system to conduct early screening of Parkinson’s disease. These contributions helped improve quality of care for thousands of patients and framed a ground-breaking co-authored textbook, Healthcare Systems Engineering.
Nembhard has led and participated in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at multiple institutions and professional societies, including the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Engineering and Society of Women Engineers.
She begins her term as president of Harvey Mudd College on July 1, 2023.
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About Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College is the premier liberal arts college specializing in science, engineering and mathematics. The College’s mission is to prepare engineers, scientists and mathematicians to become leaders in their fields and understand the impact of their work on society. Students learn to problem-solve in a hands-on, collaborative environment; do research alongside outstanding faculty; and develop leadership skills to benefit an increasingly technological world. The College is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and has made great progress over the past 15 years, moving from 30% female students in 2006 to 50% in 2022 (as well as graduating majority female classes in CS, engineering and physics during that time); from under 1% Black or African American to 7%; and from 5% Hispanic to over 20%. Located in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College is a member of The Claremont Colleges Consortium.