The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was established as a nonprofit philanthropic organization in 1969. In 1988, the foundation made a commitment to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education through the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUFP). In 2003, the foundation broadened its mission and changed the program’s name to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program to symbolically connect the mission to the stellar educational achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.
The fundamental objective of MMUFP is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program aims to reduce the serious underrepresentation on university faculties of people of certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.
MMUFP at Rice University
Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, MMUF at Rice began in 1992. The fundamental objective of MMUFP is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue the Ph.D. in core fields in the arts and sciences. OURI collaborates with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to support the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Dr. Alex Byrd, Dr. José Aranda, Dr. Caroline Quenemoen, and Gloria Bean coordinate the program.
The core fields are:
- Area/Cultural/Ethic/Gender Studies
- Art History
- Geography and Population Studies
- Film Cinema and Media Studies
- Musicology and Ethnomusicology
- Foreign Languages and Literatures
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- Performance Studies
- Philosophy and Political Theory
- Religion and Theology
The program chooses students who are most likely to benefit from a close mentoring relationship with a faculty member. Selection is based on a number of attributes, including, but not limited to, academic standing and potential, life experiences and interests, commitment to building bridges in multicultural settings, and interest in pursuing graduate education.
Students—who enter the program at the end of their sophomore year—can generally expect two years of mentoring and a close working relationship with selected faculty members, preferably in their areas of interest. The hope is that such interaction with faculty and other fellows will provide students with additional incentives to enroll in a PhD program in a Mellon Mays-designated field. Typically, fellows assist their mentors on research, editorial projects, or other initiatives related to their scholarly interests. Opportunities also exist for fellows to attend professional meetings, special seminars, and workshops.
Each year, fellows receive a stipend of $4,000 that should render it unnecessary for them to seek employment while they obtain financial support from the MMUFP. In addition, if they choose to intern or engage in research activities at the end of their sophomore or junior years, they will be eligible for a stipend of $4,500 per summer. An additional $800 per year is made available to support research and travel, and during the senior year, fellows are eligible for $1000 for GRE preparation and $300 for graduate school application fees.
Fellows who enroll in a PhD program in a Mellon Mays-eligible field within three years of graduation from Rice can expect repayment of up to $1,250 per year, for up to four years, of their undergraduate student loans. In short, up to $5,000 of their undergraduate loans will be repaid over a four-year period while they are working toward the PhD. Those who complete the PhD within six years after enrollment in a graduate program will be eligible for an additional payment up to $5,000.
Students will receive further information regarding the loan repayment process toward the end of their senior year.
Rice students interested in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program should submit an application to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Contact Gloria Bean for more information.