Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards $1 million grant to Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 20, 2018

Funds for improving Inclusive Excellence in STEM

Led by the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), Kennesaw State University was awarded a $1 million grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) diversity and inclusion, with a focus on increasing science degree success for African-American and Hispanic students.

Kennesaw State was one of 33 chosen from among 594 colleges and universities nationwide. All of these schools submitted plans to develop more inclusive learning environments in STEM over the last two years. The only university in Georgia to make the cut, Kennesaw State joins 56 other grantees across the country to win funding from HHMI.

“This grant recognizes the excellent strides the College of Science and Mathematics has made over the years to improve educational opportunities for all our students,” said Interim President Ken Harmon.

HHMI grant

HHMI’s Inclusive Excellence initiative seeks to engage all students in science, regardless of race, ethnicity or socio-economic background. According to HHMI, those students could include underrepresented ethnic minorities, first-generation college students or working adults with families.

“The faculty of Kennesaw State’s College of Science and Mathematics have been working diligently the past several years to improve student outcomes in the foundation STEM courses,” said CSM Dean Mark Anderson. “This will help us broaden participation in all the areas of science a student may choose to pursue, everything from studying about the origins of the universe, to changes in the environment, to zoology.”

In making the announcement, HHMI noted that each of the 33 colleges and universities named today and the 24 selected in 2017 “will work with HHMI and its partner, the American Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), to engage in the process of culture change.”

“This initiative is about encouraging colleges and universities to change the way they do business – to become institutions with a significantly greater capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those from nontraditional backgrounds,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea.

The five-year grant provides $200,000 in annual funding to KSU to support faculty development, changes in teaching methods, and for redesigning classroom experiences to improve learning opportunities for all students.

“What this funding will allow us to do, is to create a culture of learning where our faculty are more accessible and students can engage science through active learning in the classroom,” said Scott Reese, assistant dean for curriculum and associate professor of biology. “In short, we will be better able to reach every science student at every step along the way of their science education.”

HHMI’s 57 grantee institutions are expected to share information with each other to learn from the best practices. These may include revising curricula, changing faculty reward structures, and providing training in cultural and racial bias awareness.

In addition to Kennesaw State, some of the grantees include: California State University, Los Angeles; North Carolina State University; Syracuse University; Utah State University; and Virginia Commonwealth University.

For a complete list of grantees, please refer to today’s announcement.

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Based in Chevy Chase, Md., the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is the largest private, nonprofit supporter of science education in the United States. HHMI is a science philanthropy whose mission is to advance basic biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity.

– Robert S. Godlewski

Photo by Lauren Kress

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit