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Skidmore College

Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to support diversity, equity, inclusion

December 16, 2022

Skidmore College has been awarded a $505,000 grant through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative to support the College’s continued efforts toward creating an inclusive environment for all students.

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from higher education.

Skidmore is one of 104 schools grouped into learning community clusters (LCCs), each of which is receiving six-year grants totaling $8 million to $9 million as part of HHMI’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative. Skidmore and 14 other schools, including Union College and CUNY Queens College, will focus specifically on how to evaluate teaching in an effective and inclusive way and how those evaluations best inform faculty practices, including promotion and tenure decisions.

IE3 began with a learning phase, during which learning communities envisioned how to move cooperatively into an implementation phase. Skidmore began working with others in its LCC in December 2021 to determine projects that would best support the group’s shared vision for improving campus climates for students who have been marginalized in academia.  

“Our learning community is interested in changing systems in order to best support our students on campus,” said Kim Frederick, Charles Lubin Family Chair for Women in Science, who will co-lead one of Skidmore’s two project teams. 

Frederick and Michael Orr, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, will lead — along with a working group composed of faculty from across various departments — a group focused on the development of a holistic system of teaching evaluation that centers diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility (DEIJA).

Student representatives contributed to the pre-proposal work and will also assist the teaching evaluation working group.

“At the center of this work is a commitment to all students,” said Orr. “In turn, student voices are essential to ensuring the success of these endeavors.”

In addition, Kelly Sheppard, faculty director of assessment and associate professor of chemistry, and the College’s Institutional Effectiveness Committee will use disaggregated data on various demographic characteristics to engage in cycles of improvement regarding ways that students, faculty, and staff experience various resources on campus.

Both of Skidmore’s project teams will partner with divisions and departments across campus, including Student Academic Services, Academic Advising, the Career Development Center, and others in student affairs. The work focused on cycles of improvement for campus resources will offer opportunities for broad engagement from all members of the Skidmore community.

“We are committed to providing learning opportunities for faculty and staff to better understand the experience of historically marginalized students, as well as best practices they can employ for creating more inclusive and accessible communities and learning environments,” said Sheppard.

The grant complements the College’s Racial Justice Initiative effort, which remains a key goal in Skidmore’s current Strategic Action Agenda.

“Skidmore College has the commitment and expertise, and now — with this generous grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute — additional resources to better ensure that all members in our community have a sense of belonging in all areas on campus,” said President Marc C. Conner. “Making our educational experience available and meaningful to all our students requires our collective ongoing efforts, and these exciting projects support our perpetual aspirations.”

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