Harvey Mudd appoints CMC alumna Harriet Nembhard as sixth president

The Harvey Mudd Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Harriet Nembhard CM ’91 as HMC’s sixth president. (Photo courtesy of Harvey Mudd College)

Following the 17-year tenure of outgoing Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe, Harriet Nembhard CM ’91 is returning to her Claremont roots as Harvey Mudd’s sixth president, spokesperson Judy Augsburger told TSL in a Dec. 6 press release.  

“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,” Nembhard said in the press release. “I’m also excited to join a college that is so deeply dedicated to inspiring its students to have a positive impact on society.”  

The Harvey Mudd Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Nembhard, whose term begins July 1.

After studying engineering management at Claremont McKenna College and industrial engineering at Arizona State University, she earned her PhD in industrial and operations engineering at University of Michigan. She continued her Claremont involvement as a CMC alumna trustee for three years and as a member of the advisory board for CMC’s new integrated sciences center

“I found that her deep understanding and literal experience as a student and later a CMC trustee gave her both an appreciation for and understanding of the culture, the community and the challenges and opportunities that are so unique to the campuses,” Laura Larson P ’20, the Board of Trustees representative on the presidential search committee (PSC), said in a press release

Nembhard will leave her position as dean of the College of Engineering at University of Iowa, which has a $100 million budget for its 1,802 undergraduates and 283 graduate students, according to the press release. Along with managing the budget, academic programs, departments and institutes, she heads strategic planning and implementation initiatives that improve the college’s research profile and diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Additionally, she has spearheaded and participated in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Engineering and Society of Women Engineers. 

“Throughout her career, Harriet has been committed to advancing inclusive excellence where diversity, equity and equal opportunity create a welcoming environment that enables success for everyone,” Andrew Dorantes, Harvey Mudd vice president, chief operating officer and treasurer, said in a press release. “In every interaction Harriet had with our community that I was able to observe, it was evident that she deeply listened, asked questions and made comments that clearly demonstrated her genuine interest and care for those to whom she was speaking. I heard from several members of our community that they felt heard and seen by Harriet.”

Previously, Nembhard served as the head of the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University and the founding director of the Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems at Pennsylvania State University. 

“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,” the Dec. 6 press release said. “These contributions helped improve quality of care for thousands of patients and framed a ground-breaking co-authored textbook, Healthcare Systems Engineering.” 

Her numerous honors include the American Society for Quality Feigenbaum Medal and National Science Foundation funding for her research into co-curricular STEM education and its role in undergraduate identity formation. 

“Throughout her career, Harriet has embodied the mission of the College, choosing research that focuses on improving the human condition,” PSC Alumna Representative Elaine Hart HM ’06 said in a press release. “As a leader, she combines the curiosity of a systems engineer with a style that is grounded first in listening to understand.”

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