Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)
Program Description
Application due March 15

I. History and Mission
In 1988 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched a program designed to increase the number of
African-American, Latino/a, and American Indian faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities. The
goal was to identify academically promising college students from these groups and provide them with
mentoring, opportunities for conducting independent research, skills development, and insight into the
rewards of an academic career. Wesleyan’s Mellon Program has been in existence since 1989. To date,
fifteen of our Mellon Fellows have completed the PhD, and of these three are tenured. Thirteen more are
currently in PhD programs.

In 2003, in response to the Supreme Court decisions in the two University of Michigan affirmative-action
cases and to persistent attacks on race-based programs at U.S. institutions of higher learning, the
Foundation reaffirmed its commitment to the Fellowship and broadened its mission. At the same time, the
Foundation renamed the program to connect its mission to the societal, scholarly, and educational
commitments and achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (1894–1984), a life-long champion of civil
rights, a distinguished scholar of religion, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and president of Morehouse
College from 1940 to 1967.

The MMUF mission statement now reads: 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. These goals can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from
underrepresented minority groups who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students
who may not come from underrepresented minority groups but have demonstrated a commitment to the
goals of MMUF. The MMUF program is designed to encourage fellows to enter PhD programs that
prepare students for professorial careers; it is not intended to support students who intend to go to
medical school, law school, or other professional schools. (

II. Eligibility and Selection
The MMUF does not exclude applicants on the basis of race or ethnicity. The criteria for selection
• intellectual curiosity, creativity, and academic promise, including an interest in research;
• an excellent work ethic, and willingness to participate in all aspects of the MMUF program;
• the ability and motivation to carry out the MMUF mission;
• the qualities of mind and character that make for success in a diverse environment and in graduate
• the potential to become an educational, scholarly, and societal leader and mentor;
• U.S. citizenship or permanent-resident status.

Decisions on admission are made on a case-by-case basis, with reference to these criteria and others that
may be pertinent. A maximum of 5 sophomores are selected each year, and occasionally juniors are
recruited to fill vacancies. The Program does not expect applicants to be fully developed scholars; nor is it
essential that they rank at the top of their class. What counts is that they have the qualities that will enable
them to withstand the rigors of the long journey toward a PhD and to become effective, committed
teachers and productive scholars.

III. Mellon Fields
After careful research, the Mellon Foundation initially decided to focus its efforts on fields in which it
judged the underrepresentation of faculty of color to be most acute. Applicants should be majoring in
those disciplines, or preparing to study them in graduate school. The current list of Mellon-designated
fields is as follows (in alphabetical order):
Anthropology & Archeology
Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies History
Art History Linguistics
Classics Mathematics
Computer Science Oceanographic/Marine/Atmospheric/
Geography & Population Studies Planetary Science
Earth/Environmental/Geological Science/Ecology Performance Studies (theoretical focus)
English Philosophy and Political Theory
Film, Cinema, and Media Studies (theoretical focus) Physics and Astronomy
Musicology and Ethnomusicology Religion and Theology
Foreign Languages and Literatures Sociology
Theater (non-performance focus)
Interdisciplinary studies with one or more Mellon fields at their core

IV. Deadline
Applications and references must be submitted by March 15. They may be e-mailed to the Associate
Coordinator or sent to her office, North College Room 122.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, Ext. 3378/
Associate Coordinator:
Renée Johnson-Thornton, Dean for Diversity and Student Engagement, Ext. 2272/ rjohnson01