Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)


With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Whittier College has established the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, dedicated to increasing faculty diversity in institutions of higher learning.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is administered at 38 colleges and universities nationwide, a consortium of 39 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund, and three leading universities in South Africa. Whittier College is part of the West Coast Region of the MMUF, which includes Stanford, Caltech, USC, UC Berkeley, and UCLA.

Open to students of all races and ethnicities, the program's fundamental objective is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue a Ph.D. and enter the professoriate in core arts-and-sciences fields.  It is the goal of the program that these individuals will ultimately help to equalize the ethnic and racial composition of faculties in higher education and address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

Annually, five Whittier College students will be selected as Mellon Fellows, and will explore their interest in college teaching in disciplines of special interest to the Foundation. Students will receive tuition assistance, summer research opportunities, and academic-year support through faculty mentors at Whittier, and will engage with other Fellows at Mellon-sponsored events.

Eligibility Criteria

  • US Citizen or permanent resident
  • Must have sophomore or junior standing
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Fulfill the fundamental objective of MMUF: to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups, and others who have demonstrated a commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue Ph.D.s in core fields in the arts and sciences of Mellon-designated core fields
    • Anthropology
    • Archeology
    • Area Studies
    • Art History
    • Cinema Studies
    • Classics
    • Cultural Studies
    • English
    • Ethnic Studies
    • Ethnomusicology
    • Film Studies
    • Foreign Languages
    • Gender Studies
    • History
    • Linguistics
    • Literature
    • Media Studies
    • Musicology
    • Performance Studies (Theoretical)
    • Philosophy
    • Political Theory
    • Population Studies
    • Sociology
    • Theater (non-performance)
    • Theology

Selection Criteria

  1. Strong academic promise/standing
  2. Interest in pursuing Ph.D. and enter into an academic career in a Mellon-designated core field of study.
  3. Potential for serving as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students.
  4. Demonstrated commitment to the goals of the MMUF mission.
  5. Commitment to participating fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program.

Program Benefits

  • $3,900 for two summers (sophomore/junior) to conduct research with a faculty mentor
  • $3,600 for two academic years (junior/senior) to continue ongoing research with a faculty mentor, cover travel expenses, conference attendances, GRE prep, etc.
  • $600 for GRE preparation
  • $400 for research & miscellaneous expenses
  • Up to $10,000.00 for repayment of undergraduate loans, once the student has matriculated into a Ph.D. program.
  • Continued moral support throughout undergraduate and graduate level studies.
  • Students will continue their studies along with their other MMUF fellows, creating a local, regional. and national cohort of students that are  undergoing the same process, and moving towards the same goal.

Applying to the Program

Deadline: Applications are due November 12, 2021.

Students may be nominated by Whittier College instructors or they may nominate themselves. Each nominated student will receive an email and letter encouraging them to apply. Please read the MMUF Handbook for more details.

All applications must include the following:

  • Signed and completed MMUF Mentor Agreement
  • Signed Student Contract by both MMUF applicant and MMUF faculty mentor
  • Course Progress Reportneeds to be completed for each of your current courses
  • Unofficial transcript from the Registrar
  • MMUF Mentor letter of recommendation
  • Contact Information for an outside recommender: a faculty member that is not within your major or in your project’s area of study 
  • Two Essays
    • Personal Essay: In 5000 characters or less, please describe how your interest developed to pursue a career in academia. Provide examples of the steps you have taken outside of applying for this fellowship to purse this career goal. In addition, describe how attaining a Ph.D. will enable you to participate in eradicating racism and social disparities. 
    • MMUF Essay: In 3200 characters or less, please explain how your personal goals reflect the ideals of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, for whom the MMUF program is named. You can find a brief biography of Dr. Mays at the MMUF website.
  • One graded paper as a writing sample of your work. No blue books.

MMUF Coordinators

Shannon Stanton
Associate Professor of Education & Child Development
Office: Philadelphia House, Room 201
562.907.4200, ext.4429

Jose Orozco
Professor of History
Office: Hoover, 1st Floor
562.907.4200, ext. 4312

Sylvia A. Lopez-Vetrone
Associate Professor Biology Department
Stauffer Science Building, SC408C
562.907.4200, ext., 4424

About Dr. Benjamin Mays

Benjamin Elijah Mays, was born in 1895 in South Carolina, and graduated from Bates College in Maine in 1920. He went to the University of Chicago for his master's degree and doctorate, and while he was working on those degrees, he was ordained into the Baptist ministry. He taught at Morehouse College and at South Carolina State College. From 1934 to 1940, he served as dean of the Howard University School of Religion and then moved on to the presidency of Morehouse College, a position he distinguished for the next quarter of a century. He also served his community well, becoming the first black president of the Atlanta school board.

He spoke early and often against segregation and for education. He received nearly thirty honorary doctorates and other honors and awards including election to the Schomburg Honor Roll of Race Relations, one of a dozen major leaders so honored. He had been a model for one of his Morehouse students, Martin Luther King, Jr., and he served the young minister as an unofficial senior advisor. He gave the eulogy at King's funeral. Among his books were the first sociological study of African-American religion, The Negro's Church, published in 1933; and The Negro's God, of 1938; Disturbed About Man, of 1969; and his autobiography Born to Rebel, of 1971. These books reveal a combination of sharp intellect with religious commitment and prophetic conviction.

The American National Biography website has a comprehensive biography on Dr. Mays. Click here to read more.