‘Labors of Love’
Connecticut College has received a $435,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program (MMUF), a program dedicated to increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who pursue Ph.D.s and to supporting the pursuit of Ph.D.s by students who may not come from underrepresented minority groups but have demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF.
"The select group of colleges chosen to participate in this program demonstrates the highest levels of commitment to both diversity and scholarship," said President Leo I. Higdon Jr. "The generous support of the Mellon Foundation will help further our efforts at Connecticut College to diversify higher education."
Each year, faculty members select up to five rising juniors who seek to pursue a Ph.D. in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program provides these fellows with faculty mentorship and research training, as well as a yearly stipend, summer research support, funding for research-related travel and the opportunity to attend conferences with other Mellon fellows. Mellon fellows who, in preparation for professorial careers, enroll in Ph.D. programs after graduation are then eligible for repayment of their undergraduate loans up to a maximum of $10,000.
"The goal of the MMUF program is to create a pipeline for the diversification of the faculty throughout higher education institutions," said Dean of Multicultural Affairs Elizabeth Garcia. "We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation has renewed our grant, which will allow us to continue to identify and nurture future professors and scholars."
The MMUF program was established at Connecticut College in 2008 with a $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. The renewal grant will support the program through 2016. Since the program's inception in 1988, more than 400 fellows have earned Ph.D.s and are now teaching at institutions across the country. An additional 1,000 fellows are currently enrolled in graduate study programs.
The fundamental objectives of MMUF are to reduce, over time, the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from minority groups, as well as to address the consequences of these racial disparities for the educational system itself and for the larger society that it serves. The program is named in memory of Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, a distinguished educator, scholar and activist devoted to the pursuit of social justice. In addition to contributing landmark works to the field of religious studies, he served as the President of Morehouse College and was an important mentor for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- By Tom Owen