Press Release

AAC&U to Form and Lead New Commission on Inclusive Excellence in STEM in Partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

AAC&U Vice President Kelly Mack to Lead Commission as it Evaluates Inclusive Excellence Campus Interventions Implemented by HHMI Grantees

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today the formation of a new Inclusive Excellence (IE) Commission chaired by AAC&U Vice President and Project Kaleidoscope Executive Director Kelly Mack. The Commission is being formed as part of HHMI’s new Inclusive Excellence Initiative.

The Commission will include nationally and internationally recognized experts on undergraduate STEM reform, broadening participation, leadership development, educational equity, and organizational change. Over the next four years, the IE Commission will advance an evaluation of the strategic interventions being supported by HHMI through its new Inclusive Excellence grant program and develop a conceptual realist model for inclusive excellence in STEM. The Commission will also translate these interventions into user-friendly resources which faculty and administrators can use to accelerate institutionalization of inclusive STEM higher education reforms, and through which AAC&U can broaden national appreciation for, understanding of, and consciousness about inclusive excellence as a necessity for ensuring the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise. HHMI announced on May 25 the names of 91 institutions who have been invited to submit formal proposals to participate in the first round of grants.

“We are especially excited about leveraging our shared values with HHMI to deeply explore, with these 91 institutions, practical strategies for disentangling and unmasking systemic realities and underlying truths about institutional transformation for inclusive excellence in STEM,” said AAC&U Vice President Kelly Mack.”

“Through this initiative, we challenge colleges and universities to build a campus culture of inclusion that enables all students to engage and succeed,” said David Asai, HHMI Senior Director of Science Education. “We seek to build campus cultures that pay close attention to those students who, because of the pathways they traveled to arrive at college, are all too often left behind. A critically important piece of this initiative is to learn from the grantee institutions the strategies they are deploying and how well those strategies are actually resulting in sustainable institutional change. We are delighted that the AAC&U, through the IE Commission, will provide an independent and ongoing analysis of the HHMI initiative. I think that AAC&U shares our hope that the lessons learned from the relatively few grantee institutions will be helpful to the many other schools as they, too, work towards inclusive excellence.”

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence Program addresses the urgent national imperative to create a more diverse STEM community in the US and it will empower institutions of higher education to more effectively lead twenty-first-century STEM higher education reforms. Through the program, HHMI seeks to increase the capacity of higher education institutions to overcome institutional and infrastructural barriers that limit full participation of all college students in STEM learning opportunities—with a particular focus on students who take non-traditional pathways through college and/or those from groups historically underrepresented in STEM.

“HHMI shares AAC&U’s commitment to inclusive excellence across the spectrum of American higher education, and we are thrilled to partner with them in promoting effective teaching and learning practices in STEM disciplines," said AAC&U President-Elect Lynn Pasquerella. "By advancing sustainable institutional reforms that strengthen STEM learning, we further our collective commitment to student success.”

For more information about the Inclusive Excellence Commission, see:

For information about the HHMI Inclusive Excellence initiative, see:

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915,
AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at

About HHMI

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research.

HHMI is now opening the second round of the Inclusive Excellence competition that will select 30 additional schools for awards to begin in September 2018. All awards will be for five years and total $1 million. Application details are available online. The intent-to-apply deadline for the 2018 competition is July 12, 2016.

The 2018 Inclusive Excellence competition is open to all four-year institutions that offer a baccalaureate degree in the natural sciences, are not-for-profit, and are accredited by their regional accrediting organization. Institutions that did not submit a pre-proposal or were not invited to submit a full proposal for the 2017 competition have the opportunity to submit a pre-proposal for the 2018 competition.

Information about the HHMI Inclusive Excellence program can be found at: