Gabrielle Starr named president of Pomona College

Gabrielle Starr, a highly regarded scholar of English literature whose work reaches across neuroscience and the arts, has been selected as the 10th president of Pomona College, the college announced Thursday.

As dean of New York University’s College of Arts and Science, Ms. Starr leads NYU’s 7,000-student undergraduate liberal arts college, oversees its $130 million budget and coordinates the undergraduate experience across 55 departments and programs, Pomona College shared in a press release. Ms. Starr has led the development of new cohort and first-year programs, helping to create scholarly communities for undergraduates in the arts and sciences.

Her collegiate work began at the age of 15, when she set off to study at Emory University before going on to earn her PhD from Harvard University. She then launched into a career combining science and the humanities, intensive research and campus leadership.

After earning her PhD in English and American literature from Harvard, Ms. Starr went on to a post-doctoral fellowship at Caltech and the Huntington Library, at a time when cognitive neuroscience was beginning to flourish. Delving into the science, she began to look at imagination and the effects of the arts from the perspective of that new field.

Shortly after she arrived at NYU in 2000, a New Directions fellowship from the Mellon Foundation allowed her to pursue deeper study in neuroscience, and her scholarly work has focused on its intersection with aesthetics ever since.

“It’s a great honor to join Pomona’s extraordinary community of scholars and researchers, artists and activists, educators and entrepreneurs,” Ms. Starr said. “The life of the mind speaks to a deep human need, and we are truly fortunate to be able to pursue the true breadth of human knowledge in a vibrant and open atmosphere.

“I look forward to working together with you as we let Pomona’s light shine for another generation, and, together, shape our world anew.”

Appointed Thursday in a vote by the Pomona College Board of Trustees, Ms. Starr will succeed President David W. Oxtoby, who announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down June 30, 2017 after what will be 14 years leading the college.

Ms. Starr will be the first woman and the first African American president of Pomona College. Her inclusive leadership style along with her distinguished academic work connecting multiple disciplines epitomize key values of the college, said Sam Glick, chair of the Pomona College Board of Trustees.

“Gabi embodies the liberal arts, and will bring to Pomona’s presidency her characteristic intellect, vision and humanity,” Mr. Glick said. “Gabi is an extraordinary leader who will build on the legacy of President Oxtoby and his predecessors as she helps us to write the next chapter of our history.”

See a future edition of the COURIER for more on this development.

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