Kennesaw State’s College of Science and Mathematics was awarded a five-year $1 million grant last month by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to support diversity and inclusion on campus through the Inclusive Excellence Initiative.
In 2016, HHMI put out a call for proposals for inclusive excellence to recognize that higher education is changing. HHMI selected 33 colleges from the nation as part of their efforts to “improve inclusion of students from diverse backgrounds in science education,” according to the HHMI website.
“Today, students are starting at one school and transferring to another,” Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics Mark Anderson said. “The student population is different than it was 30 years ago, but the structures of institutions have not changed.”
The schools chosen will work closely with the HHMI, as well as the American Association of American Colleges and Universities, to revise curricula, restructure educational pathways, provide faculty training and collaborate with other organizations who have succeeded in building inclusion.
“HHMI is asking institutions to identify how they are standing in the way of the success of certain groups of students – then find ways to change,” Susan Musante, an HHMI program officer said.
Anderson said about 35 percent of students that come into KSU express interest in a STEM program and roughly 60 percent of students who initially enroll in a STEM program graduate in a different discipline.
“We want to create a different community to help keep students in STEM programs,” Anderson said. “We have to teach a class so that everybody feels like they are getting what they need.”
According to Anderson, all students will benefit from this. He said the grant will support authentic research for students as well as professional development for faculty. Implementations such as cohort scheduling, meaning the same group of students have the same classes to form a sense of community, have already been put into practice.
KSU was the only institution from Georgia to be selected for this grant and was only one of three schools to be chosen from the Southeast region.
“We have had a positive reaction to this,” Anderson said. “It is a great recognition that highlights team effort by all the faculty.”