As of Aug. 31, Pomona College is now home to the Institute for Inclusive Excellence, a hub that centers around fostering inclusive environments on campus.
The institute grew out of a faculty and staff working group that began in 2019 “to discuss institutional barriers toward inclusive excellence at the college,” according to program lead Jane Liu, an associate professor of chemistry at Pomona.
Liu said that working group conversations revealed that faculty have already been practicing inclusive pedagogy and that their work needed to be shared on a broad scale and adopted across the college.
“We needed a mechanism to de-silo DEI work and identify sustainable practices that best allow equitable flourishing for all students,” Liu said in an email to TSL.
The term “inclusive excellence” is increasingly used by institutions as they move toward equity and inclusivity as their primary focus, according to Travis Brown, the director of the newly-launched institute.
“‘Diversity’ connotes numbers of different kinds of people, while equity and inclusion refers to how the various individuals and groups experience the campus and engage with the community,” Brown told TSL via email. “We know not everyone — faculty and staff as well as students — feel like Pomona is for them. Inclusive Excellence is our new initiative to get at the core of what it means to be valued and included, so that all of us can do our best work and flourish.”
The institute will focus on hosting workshops, reading groups and faculty learning to promote inclusive teaching and mentoring at the college.
During spring 2022, the institute also piloted a cohort to build community and discuss inclusive pedagogy with new Pomona faculty. According to Brown, the pilot program was successful, and a new cohort will run through the academic year.
“There’s a lot of great work being done across the campuses regarding equity and inclusion, so we want to support that, as well as begin to identify gaps that the institute can address,” Brown said.
His long-term goal for the institute is to work directly with students and Student Affairs on how to foster a lasting sense of identity at Pomona. In the next five to 10 years, Brown hopes that the institute will have a significant impact on reducing the “inclusion gap” currently on campus.
“Pomona is clearly a leader in terms of diversity, and we have the ability to continue that success into the fields of equity and inclusion,” Brown said.