Inclusive Excellence in STEM

$1 Million Grant Helps Fund Framingham State Efforts to Increase Equity in STEM

The HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Inclusive Excellence Project aims to close achievement gaps among students of color in the sciences

Inclusive Excellence in STEM

Massachusetts is home to many of the world’s most innovate science and technology companies, but large achievement gaps in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education means these job opportunities are often out of reach for students of color.

With that in mind, Framingham State University has set out to close its achievement gaps, increase equity, and foster a culture of inclusive excellence in its College of STEM and beyond. The University is receiving a huge assist in its efforts from the prestigious Howard M. Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The University is one of 57 colleges across the country to receive a $1 million competitive Inclusive Excellence grant from HHMI that will help form a national community of science education leaders and advocates to support efforts in inclusive science education.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the University to enhance its longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says FSU President F. Javier Cevallos. “Science and technology are crucial to the Commonwealth’s innovation economy, but there is still a large achievement gap for first-generation and minority students training in these important fields.”

The first major initiative the grant is funding will allow 20 faculty and administrators on campus to take part in training with the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Institute, according to Dr. Catherine Dignam, chair of the Chemistry and Food Science Department, and Program Director for the HHMI project at FSU.

“One of the initial efforts is to make faculty more responsive and educated around areas of racial equity so we are all speaking a common language and identifying common goals,” says Dignam. “Our broader charge is to change the way we do business. The folks at HHMI want us to leverage the grant to catalyze institutional change.”

Other efforts already underway include plans for a half-day training retreat for STEM faculty with an expert in creating an inclusive STEM classroom. Plans are also underway to survey students so they have a voice in guiding the process.

All of the University’s efforts are open to STEM faculty at MassBay Community College, which is Framingham State’s largest feeder school.

“We have an opportunity to initiate some really exciting change on our campus with this grant,” says Dr. Margaret Carroll, Framingham State’s Dean of the College of STEM. “It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of buy-in from our faculty, but I think we are ready for it.”

To learn more about HHMI’s Inclusive Excellence grants, visit: