CMC alumna named sixth president of Harvey Mudd College
Claremont McKenna College alumna Harriet B. Nembhard ’91, has been named the sixth president of Harvey Mudd College (HMC), effective July 1, 2023.
A nationally respected leader in the field of industrial and operations engineering, Nembhard is joining HMC from the University of Iowa where she is dean of the College of Engineering, managing a budget of $100 million and overseeing the academic programs, departments and institutes that support more than 2,000 students. In this role, she leads initiatives in strategic planning and implementation, improving the college’s research profile and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Nembhard is deeply familiar with The Claremont Colleges consortium. She studied management-engineering at CMC and served as an alumna trustee of the College for three years. In addition, she served on CMC’s inaugural Integrated Sciences Advisory Council, working with former HMC computer science Professor Ran Libeskind-Hadas, founding chair of CMC’s new Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences.
“We are thrilled and so proud to learn of Harriet’s appointment as the next president of Harvey Mudd College,” said CMC President Hiram E. Chodosh. “We look forward to working with her in her exciting new leadership role in close, dedicated partnership and shared purpose.”
Nembhard began her college career at the age of 16 at CMC. She recognized her early interest in engineering management when she would accompany her father — who was a pilot — to airports, which sparked a curiosity in how their systems worked.
That interest in systems engineering led to a life of scholarship in applied statistics and operations research resulting in bachelor’s degrees in management-engineering from CMC, and industrial engineering from Arizona State University, as well as a Ph.D. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.
Her work has led to many advances including simulation tools for assessing emergency department patient flow, improved manufacturing processes for medical devices, and a sensor-based system to conduct early screening of Parkinson’s disease. These contributions helped improve quality of care for thousands of patients and framed a ground-breaking co-authored textbook, Healthcare Systems Engineering.
Appointed by unanimous vote of the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees, Nembhard will succeed President Maria Klawe, who announced last year that she would step down June 30, 2023, after 17 years of leading the College.
“Harriet Nembhard is an exceptional academic leader with a breadth of experience and contributions that align with Harvey Mudd’s mission to educate the next generation of STEM leaders,” said James Bean, chair of the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees and graduate of the class of 1977. “Her decades of leadership in engineering education, strong student focus, and work on the national level to transform STEM education position her as the perfect choice to serve as Harvey Mudd College’s next leader.”
Nembhard has held academic leadership positions at Oregon State University and The Pennsylvania State University, where she was the founding director of the Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems, an interdisciplinary research institute that uses applied statistics and operations research to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery to patients.
She is also a voice on the national level for transforming undergraduate STEM education. Her research into co-curricular STEM education and its role in undergraduate identity formation received National Science Foundation funding, and she was invited by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to serve as a member of their joint roundtable on advancing change in undergraduate STEM education.
“I’m excited to bring my passion for STEM education to Harvey Mudd College, a leading higher-education institution in experimentation and innovation, especially in developing inclusive pedagogy, increasing diversity in STEM and incorporating interdisciplinary approaches,” said Nembhard. “I’m also excited to join a college that is so deeply dedicated to inspiring its students to have a positive impact on society.”
Nembhard has led and participated in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at multiple institutions and professional societies including the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Engineering and Society of Women Engineers.
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