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Alumna to Lead Spelman's Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
(404) 798-5212
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

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ATLANTA (July 30,2020)
-- The Office of the Provost at Spelman College recently announced that Tamara Pearson, Ph.D., C’96, has been appointed inaugural director of Spelman's Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM. 

Established by a $2 million grant from the Department of Defense, the center is the first of its kind, designed to address minority underrepresentation in the natural sciences and mathematics fields. 

“The world is changing and the future world is being created by leaders in STEM. If Black and indigenous people of color are not at the table then we will be left out,” said Dr. Pearson. “We have so many examples of that happening across industries and history.  In the medical field, illnesses that disproportionately affect Black and indigenous people of color are many times under-researched. In the tech industry, we find that our faces and dialects are not recognized by artificial intelligence platforms because we did not contribute to their creation.”

Over the course of her career, Dr. Pearson has worked to develop innovative curriculum and programs that engage populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields. She taught 8th-grade mathematics, served as a mathematics instructional coach and supported multiple elementary and middle schools where she facilitated professional development to help teachers utilize best practices in mathematics pedagogy. 

Prior to returning to her alma mater, Dr. Pearson served as associate director of school and community engagement in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

“Spelman is thrilled that an alumna of its STEM programs will serve as the inaugural director of our Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM. With her intimate knowledge of our institution, and her broad experience since graduation, Dr. Pearson is the perfect person to lead its work to better understand and reduce the obstacles that women of color experience when pursuing professional careers in the STEM fields,” said Sharon Davies, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Spelman College. “It is both fitting and inspiring that our new center for minority women--the first and only one of its kind--will be led by a woman whose early exposure to the sciences happened right here at Spelman, in the very division to which she returns."

Pearson received a bachelor of science in mathematics, with a minor in computer science and earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in educational technology from the University of Florida. Her dissertation explored the perceived understanding of gender, race, and class in discussions about technology with pre-adolescent, low-income, African American girls.

“Dr. Pearson is a mission-driven visionary and an effective communicator,” said Tasha Inniss, Ph.D., associate provost for research. “I am confident that under her leadership, the decades-long success of STEM at Spelman and the excellent work of faculty and students in the Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM will be made visible for the world to see and emulate.”

The College is one of six “model institutions for excellence” designated by the National Science Foundation for its significant track record of recruiting, retaining and graduating minority women in the sciences. Over the past three academic years, the percentage of students pursuing STEM majors at Spelman has grown significantly. In 2017, 26 percent of Spelman students received degrees in STEM compared to 16 percent at other HBCUs and 17 percent at other liberal arts colleges. 

“Spelman has a rich history of preparing Black women to pursue careers in STEM, whether as researchers or in industry, and others can learn from our example,” said Pearson. “The Center will be a hub for students and faculty to leverage that rich history and contribute to its future. Whether it's a student who is looking for an opportunity to collaborate with faculty on research or a faculty member interested in becoming a more inclusive educator, my hope is that the Center will provide a home for everyone in STEM at Spelman.”

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit




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