Amherst Receives Grant to Support Minorities in Academia
Issue   |   Tue, 02/20/2018 - 19:38

The college has been awarded a $500,000 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program grant. The grant was gifted to the college by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will help fund an initiative to help underrepresented groups pursue graduate studies in the humanities.

According to the college website, the MMUF Program was established in 1988 by the Mellon Foundation with select colleges in order to help underrepresented groups work towards doctorates in the humanities. The MMUF Program currently includes 50 member colleges in the United States and South Africa. Administrators and faculty members at each of the colleges are responsible for selecting the fellows to participate in the program. Students selected must demonstrate strong intellectual ability and motivation to attain a doctoral degree in a humanities program. Students are usually selected their sophomore year.

According to an email from Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Norm Jones sent to the college community on Wednesday, Feb. 14, Rosemary Effiom will serve as coordinator for the MMUF program at Amherst. Prior to joining the Amherst community, Effiom spent the past nine years coordinating the MMUF program at Bowdoin.

Marisa Parham, a MMUF alumna and Amherst professor of English and faculty diversity and inclusion officer, and Allen J. Hart, chair of the psychology department and a faculty diversity and inclusion officer, will be mainly responsible for planning MMUF programs for Amherst fellows. Additional professors from black studies, English and sexuality, women’s and gender studies have signed on to help as well.

A second email was sent out to the class of 2020 on Tuesday, Feb. 20 further explaining the program and the requirements to apply. Students are encouraged to apply in the spring of their sophomore year.

Students must have at least 3.0 GPA and be a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident visa status in the United States. Students must also “possess intellectual and academic promise” and come from traditionally marginalized groups.

Fellows selected for the program are encouraged to conduct individual research with a faculty mentor and will receive support and an environment conducive to a high level of academic achievement. Fellows will also participate in programming scheduled by Amherst faculty in charge of the MMUF program.

The two conditions of the program are that the fellows are expected to apply to a doctoral program in a Mellon-designated field of study within 39 months of graduation and pursue a doctoral degree in one of the approved areas of study.

Jones said in an email interview that it is an honor to be able to work with the Mellon Foundation and with MMUF in particular.

“Amherst students have a powerful influence on academic discourse in the humanities and social sciences, and I’m excited that those contributions, through this program, will also strengthen the faculty pipeline,” he added.