There was a distinct Pomona College presence at the induction ceremonies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in September, as College President G. Gabrielle Starr formally joined the distinguished academy led by David Oxtoby, who preceded her as Pomona College president.
Starr, a national voice on access to college for students of all backgrounds as well as the future of higher education, was selected for her role in educational and academic leadership. Also a literary scholar and neuroscientist, she took office as the 10th president of Pomona College in 2017.
Elected to the academy in 2020, Starr was inducted in a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors and institutional leaders from the classes of 2020 and 2021 after delays due to the pandemic. Others inducted included singer Joan C. Baez, former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and author Ann Patchett.
Other Sagehens entered the academy alongside Starr. Alumna Adela Yarbro Collins ’67, an internationally renowned and respected scholar of the New Testament, also was elected in 2020. She is the Buckingham Professor Emerita of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. Alumnus Thomas McDade ’91, elected to the academy in 2021, is a biological anthropologist specializing in human population biology and is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.
New inductees signed the academy’s Book of Members, which already includes numerous Sagehens. Among them are scientists Jennifer Doudna ’85, Sarah Elgin ’67, J. Andrew McCammon ’69 and Tom Pollard ’64; author Louis Menand ’73, art historian Ingrid Rowland ’74, artist James Turrell ’65, journalist Joe Palca ’74 and developmental psychologist Henry Wellman ’70.
The academy is led by Oxtoby, inducted in 2012 and named president in 2018. He served as president of Pomona College from 2003 until 2017. Starr became the third Pomona College president to join the academy. The late David Alexander, Pomona’s president from 1969 to 1991, was inducted in 2006.
Chartered in 1780, the academy has counted Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson among its members, as well as 20th-century luminaries such as Margaret Mead and Martin Luther King Jr. The current membership includes more than 300 Nobel laureates, some 100 Pulitzer Prize winners and many of the world’s most celebrated artists and performers.