UCI student center with students walking
Steve Zylius / UCI

UCI has been awarded a grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative to promote inclusion for students in science programs. IE3 challenges US colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably build capacity for student belonging, especially for those historically excluded from the sciences. UCI joins a total of 104 schools nationwide chosen for the IE3 initiative.

UCI Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education Michael Dennin said: “Improving diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM education is a personal passion of mine, and I am thrilled to see UCI taking steps toward this important goal. As an institution, our mission is to empower all students with the skills and knowledge to achieve future success. Receiving the IE3 grant will allow us to develop an infrastructure that welcomes and supports underrepresented STEM students throughout their time at UCI.”

According to HMMI, the IE3 initiative targets the introductory STEM experience because that is when most of the departure from STEM occurs. Of the nearly one million students who enter college annually intending to study STEM, more than half will not complete a STEM bachelor’s degree. Those who leave STEM are disproportionately students who are the first in their family to attend college, students who begin at community colleges, and students from historically excluded ethnic and racial groups.

In preparing their IE3 pre-proposals, each school picked one of three broad challenges to address. UCI selected the challenge: How can we evaluate effective inclusive teaching and then use the evaluation in the rewards system, including faculty promotion and tenure? The IE3 learning community works together in a number of Learning Community Clusters (LCCs), which focus on their particular challenge.

UCI’s LCC consists of fifteen colleges and universities across the country, which are tackling the challenge with six separate project strands. These strands range from data-driven initiatives to better understand student success at the respective campuses leveraging institutional data to the development of faculty learning communities that will enable faculty to reflect on their teaching and serve as key stakeholders in creating more inclusive learning environments. As part of the collaborative approach of the LLC, UCI’s portion of the grant includes $505,000 over six years.