Providence College, URI receive grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

PROVIDENCE – Providence College and the University of Rhode Island recently jointly announced that the two local colleges will each receive a $30,000 Inclusive Excellence 3 Learning Grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Both PC and URI were among 108 institutions across the country, and the only colleges from southern New England, to receive these grants, PC spokesperson Steven Maurano said.

The grants help colleges build capacity for inclusion of all students, particularly those who have been historically excluded from science, PC said.

PC said that the college and URI have teams that will work together to explore their institutions’ historical context and current environment to look deeper into root causes of inequities and develop strategies to address those issues.

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Lynne M. Lawson, Providence College assistant professor of physics and engineering, said in a statement that the college will focus its attention on providing opportunities for faculty to engage in discussion and learning about inclusive pedagogies through book and article discussion groups and summer institutes for more intensive engagement with these ideas.

“We also hope to work with STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] departments individually and use student data to help inform them about areas of concern, and to develop plans for improving outcomes for their students,” Lawson said. “Long term, we hope that inclusive excellence becomes embraced by all disciplines across campus.”

Bryan Dewsbury, URI associate professor of biological sciences, said in a statement that URI will focus on university internal policies that can be reconstructed to promote equity-based practices, most notably the promotion and tenure process.

“Our hope is that the subsequent stage will be enactment, assessment and scaling of the practices that yield the best results,” Dewsbury said. “Both the URI and Providence College projects will involve, at some point, professional development opportunities for faculty as we aim for institutional inclusive excellence, and we look forward to collaborating extensively on these efforts in particular.”

Maurano also said the seed grants qualify both Providence College and URI to compete for a $1 million grant from the Hughes Medical Institute, which will be awarded to five institutions later this year.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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