"MMUF aims to achieve its mission by identifying and supporting students of great promise and helping them to become scholars of the highest distinction."


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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was established as a nonprofit philanthropic organization in June of 1969 with a mission to “aid and promote such religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes as may be in the furtherance of the public welfare or tend to promote the well-doing or well-being of mankind.” In 1988, under this broad charter, the Foundation made a long-term commitment to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education through the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program.

The fundamental objective of MMUF is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students, and others committed to diversity in higher education who will pursue PhDs in Mellon approved fields in the arts and sciences. The Program aims to reduce over time the chronic under-representation on the faculties of American and South African colleges and universities of individuals from certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

The program officer and director is Dr. Armando Bengochea. The MMUF Program now has a membership of 47 American colleges and universities, in addition to 39 UNCF member institutions and three South African universities. In 2003, the Foundation reaffirmed its commitment and broadened the mission of MMUF. The name of the program was changed to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, to symbolically connect the mission to the stellar educational achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.

MMUF at Emory University

Emory University has enjoyed seventeen years of comprehensive participation in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. From 2001 to 2008, Dr. Rudolph Byrd established the vision for the MMUF Program at Emory and served as the Program’s coordinator, executing its mission and providing leadership for all dimensions of the Program. Drs. Dianne Stewart and Susan Ashmore assumed leadership of the Program in 2008 as coordinator and co-coordinator respectively. In 2011 Dr. Carol Anderson replaced Dr. Susan Ashmore as co-coordinator. Dr. Ashmore now serves as the MMUF faculty liaison at Emory’s Oxford College.

The MMUF Program at Emory has executed its mission with important outcomes and accomplishments that bear witness to the power of the Program’s vision and its potential to transform the academy a few minds at a time. While some of our achievements pertaining to the mentoring of fellows and their progress and participation in the wider MMUF network are standard for most MMUF programs, other contributions attest to our distinctive impact upon the lives of MMUF fellows well beyond the gates of Emory University. Most important has been Emory University’s role as host of the annual UNCF/Mellon Summer Institute since 1994.

One of the hallmarks of Emory's MMUF Program is its monthly Mellon Seminar. Throughout the academic year, and with the assistance of a stellar team of Mellon graduate mentors, we explore such topics as applying to graduate school, collegiality and exemplary academic citizenship, the habits of an intellectual, time management, research methods, and developing a scholarly research trajectory. Each year, fellows present their research in a variety of venues, especially the MMUF Southeastern Regional Conference and Emory’s MMUF Annual Research Conference.

Emory’s MMUF activities also include opportunities for social and collegial bonding at important moments during the academic year, namely, participation in the MMUF Southeastern Regional Conferences (November) and our annual Emory MMUF convocation and commencement banquets. The MMUF Southeastern Regional Conference meetings constitute in many ways the most potent expression of the goals of the MMUF Program and serve to accelerate the progress fellows make throughout the academic year on their research projects. Our fellows familiarize themselves with rigorous and potentially suitable institutions for the pursuit of doctoral studies.  Fellows also solidify collegial relationships with their peers, acquire invaluable information about the graduate admissions process and learn about the numerous opportunities to develop strong academic profiles through other programs offered by the Mellon Foundation and partner institutions.

The annual convocation and commencement activities include semi-formal dining events and an annual banquet, where we formally welcome the new cohort of fellows, as well as pay tribute to the graduating seniors. The annual commencement banquet is also a ritual occasion in which the graduating seniors provide the entering cohort with advice and insights pertaining to their experiences within the UNCF/Mellon Summer Institute and the broader Emory MMUF Program.

MMUF alumni/ae should contact Dr. Dianne Stewart to update their contact information. To discuss loan repayment benefits and learn about other opportunities for MMUF alumni/ae, please contact Ms. Rhoda G. Sanders (rgsande@emory.edu).