Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

About MMUF

A legacy. . . Benjamin Elijah Mays, educator, was born in 1895 in South Carolina, and graduated from Bate 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 Caroline State College.  From 1934-1940, he served as dean of the Howard University School of Religion and then moved onto the presidency of Morehouse College, a position he distinguished for the next quarter of a century.

A Vision. . .MMUF aims to create an extensive cohort of qualified and gifted scholars of color who, along with others committed to eradicating racial disparities, will provide opportunities for all students to experience and learn from the perspective of diverse faculty members.

Mission Statement

To identify, support and mentor highly motivated under-represented undergraduate students, shaping them toward contribution to Academia at the highest levels, through the pursuance of a Ph.D. in Mellon-Designated fields of study. 

Through continuous and consistent support, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program hopes to increase the number of faculty from under-represented groups at colleges and universities throughout the country and abroad in order to bring a wider range of experiences and perspectives to teaching and scholarship.

Mentoring Philosophy

Mentoring embodies the core principles of the MMUF program, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recognizes the faculty/student relationship as the driving force beneath the sustainability and success of this program.  Only a consistent commitment to this relationship will enable us to achieve the goals of the program — to bring greater diversity to the academy.

As mentors, faculty members have the knowledge and responsibility to demystify the formal and informal aspects of earning a doctorate.  Mentors also give fellows insight into the fulfillment and rewards of a career in scholarship and teaching.  In the mentoring relationship, the sharing of personal experience and the transmission of knowledge intersect in a trusting learning environment that provides opportunities for both mentor and student to stretch beyond her or his boundaries.

Quality and excellence are to be found neither in some mystical characteristic of the subject matter alone nor in the raw demands of the market but in the behavior and attitudes of the human beings who embody that tension — in the teacher and in the student.  We know that the quality of learning is high when students show intellectual, emotional and ethical growth; we know that teaching is excellent when it fosters such growth, when we have teachers who are willing to care both about their subjects and for their students.  — Dr. Laurent Daloz, Columbia Teacher’s College

Eligibility Criteria

  1. US Citizen or permanent resident
  2. Must have sophomore or junior standing
  3. Have a GPA of 3.0 or better
  4. Fulfill the fundamental objectives 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 Mellow-designated core fields:

Considerations in Selecting Mellon Fellow Participants

  • Academic promise
  • Interest in pursuing an academic career in Mellon –designation fields of study (see below)
  • Potential for serving as a mentor and teacher for a wide variety of students
  • Demonstrated commitment to increasing opportunities for under-represented minorities, breaking down stereotypes, increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding, and enabling others to better understand persons of different races and ethnicities.
  • Commitment to participating fully and enthusiastically in all aspects of the MMUF program, including attendance at conferences and meetings.
  • US citizen or permanent resident status (except for students at the University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Mellon Designated Fields of Study

Anthropology & Archeology Art History Classics English
Ethnomusicology & Music Theory Foreign Languages History Literature
Performance Studies

(Theoretical Focus)

Philosophy & Political Theory Linguistics Theatre (Theoretical Focus)
Film, Cinema, & Media Studies (Theoretical Focus) Religion & Theology Sociology Geography & Population Studies
Area/Cultural /Ethnic/Gender Studies

**The Mellon Designated Fields are approved fields for study at the graduate level. Inter-disciplinary Studies which includes at least one designated field of study may be petitioned for approval. Professional Degree Programs such as nursing, education, business, clinical laboratory specialists, P.A., social work or engineering are not eligible for Mellon Program Support.

Benefits and Responsibilities

Benefits:  Undergraduate Fellows

  • Faculty Mentor
  • MMUF Programming for Graduate School Application
  • Annual Regional Conference for Mellon Fellows
  • Mellon Journal Undergraduate Research Publication
  • Term and Summer Stipends

Fellows must enter a graduate program (with the exception of “seniors” in the first category) within 39 months following graduation in order to be eligible for continuing benefits as follows.

Mellon Seniors and Graduate Students

Annual Summer Conference (

Graduate Fellows (in Ph.D. programs in Mellon Fields)

  • Annual Summer Conference (administered by the Social Science Research Council,
  • Pre-doctoral Research Grant — $5,000 over the first 5 years of graduate study (
  • Loan Repayment — $5,000 over the first 4 years and an additional $5,000 upon completion of the PhD (administered by your undergraduate institution:  please contact your MMUF coordinator)
  • Travel and Research Grant — A competitive award of up to $5,000 for Mellon Fellow to complete research in preparation for dissertation writing (administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (

Mellon Faculty Development

  • Junior Faculty Career Enhancement Program — a competitive grant for Assistant Professors in their third year of teaching.  The program provides a fall retreat, senior mentor, and yearlong leave to prepare for tenure (

Responsibilities:  Undergraduate Fellows

  • Develop a knowledge and understanding of the life of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays and why he is an exemplar of the program.
  • Commitment and dedication to the goals of the MMUF program.
  • Attendance and participation in meetings, program activities, and conferences.
  • Commitment to and full participation in the mentoring relationship.
  • Annual completion and submission of the Online survey for the Mellon Foundation (
  • Must take the full GRE test three times and provide results to Terri Slack.
  • Apply to a minimum of five PhD level graduate school programs (two safe, two reach and one dream).
  • Apply to a minimum of three internships, fellowships or other extra enrichment programs.  These may include, The Leadership Alliance, Summer Research Opportunity Programs (SROP), Fulbright Fellowships, Ford Fellowships, Javitz Fellowship, and any number of the National Science Foundation Fellowships (discuss possibilities with your mentor).

Program Overview

Heritage University, USC, Stanford University, Berkeley, UCLA, Whittier, Cal Tech, UC Riverside, the University of New Mexico and Claremont Mellon programs collaborate to host an annual regional conference. The conference provides an opportunity for fellows to socialize, discuss research ideas, and motivate each other to succeed in their academic and personal lives. It is typically held near the end of the fall semester (late October to mid-November), at one of the ten campuses. 2016 Conference — University of Southern California in October.

Heritage hosted the 2011 Mellon Mays Regional Conference and is positioned to host again in 2017 or 2018.

You will need to register for a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Seminar Course in both spring and fall. Consult with your academic advisor on how this course will into your graduation plan.

Through this seminar, you will have the opportunity to participate in interesting, intense, and interactive grad prep workshops and dialogues. We try to invite speakers that provide critical information geared toward helping you succeed and thrive in the culture of Academia at the graduate school level. Topics may include the following:

  • Choosing Supportive Graduate School Mentors/Committee Members
  • Contributing to an Ongoing Dialogue:  Graduate Level Writing and Research
  • Conducting the Literature Review
  • Constructing a Proposal for Research
  • Reading “en masse” (hints for survival)
  • Transitioning into the Culture of the Academy
  • Engaging the Graduate Application Process:
    1. Searching for Graduate Programs
    2. Learning the Acronyms:  TA, GA, RA, ABD, Ph.D., etc.
    3. Preparing for the GRE and Subject Tests
    4. Writing the Letter of Intent or Personal Statement
    5. Negotiating Deadlines for your Department and The Graduate School
  • Connecting with Fellow Scholars
  • Financing your Graduate School Education
  • Communicating your Research (Presentation Skills)

At least two additional mandatory Mellon Workshop Days will be scheduled during each semester.
 These days will include several workshop topics and/or will be designated for assisted library or internet research and writing support. These Workshop Days will not exempt the Fellow from any pre-determined requirements for weekly mentor meetings/contact, and/or additional support sessions with the Mellon Fellowship Coordinator or other designated staff persons. These additional workshop days may revolve around a newly instituted “Mellon Community Engagement Project” which this year (2015) involved reading the Pulitzer Prize winning narrative, Enrique’s Journey with Eagle Alternative High School Students.

Research Roundtables/”Three Minute These” Preparation

To reinforce the concept that research is a dialogue, Mellon Fellows will participate in one scheduled roundtable event per semester. This may be a fairly informal meeting in which select faculty, students and other interested parties, i.e. research librarians, meet to discuss specific research ideas and share resources. This is intended to be an enriching experience. The Mellon Fellow takes the lead in both scheduling the roundtable and in initiating the discussion. Depending on the scheduling, it can offer an opportunity for identifying and/or honing a problem statement, receiving guidance on gleaning key articles from a Literature Review for synthesis, further developing a thesis, finding additional resources for a specific element of the research, etc. The idea is that the Mellon Fellow, through this process will practice scholarly discussion in their field of research in a safe and supportive environment. The Mellon Coordinator and/or other faculty will observe and offer feedback.

Research University Colloquia or Special Presentations

In the fall, Mellon Fellows will have the opportunity to attend a colloquium or a special presentation in our region. Several area research universities are significantly committed to the idea of departmental dialogues. Both the University of Washington and Washington State University regularly feature accessible talks by leading experts from the region, the nation and the world. For example, in the recent past the University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering Colloquium hosted speakers from Colorado State University, Harvard, Rutgers, Cornell, and the University of Hawaii. Also recently, the Anthropology Colloquium at Washington State University featured a speaker from the University of California, Davis, and the Sociology Department hosted a speaker from the University of Texas, Austin. Attending a colloquium offers good exposure to the level of process at the graduate level, and in addition offers opportunities for networking. Possible dates and specific colloquia or special presentations will be discussed.

General Information of Interest

  • First year participants are granted funding on a case-by-case basis.  This includes participation in special pre-approved Mellon Programs such as the MMUF Summer Research Program at the University of Chicago or support funding for other summer internships such as those offered through The Leadership Alliance.  First year fellows also may be eligible for research support and money for research supplies upon approval of a clearly developed research proposal which includes a proposed budget.  Please talk with your mentor about how to craft a compelling proposal.
  • Fellows who develop research proposals for their second summer or mentored research are potentially awarded $1,200 per month, for their second summer.  Travel and/or other approved expenses are compensated additionally as funds allow.
  • Fellows are expected to maintain consistent communication with faculty mentors, i.e. weekly contact either in person, through e-mail, postal mail, or telephone.
  • Fellows should also consistently communicate with the coordinator, keeping them informed of progress, obstacles, challenges, plan changes, and general motivation levels.  The mentor and the coordinator are considered your primary support team in the context of your project, so please keep us informed so that we may guide your progress and encouarge your efforts.
  • Additionally, our Mellon Fellowship Administartive Assistant, Terri Slack, is a critical contact for you and is very knowledgeable regarding program expectations.  She will be arranging all of your travel, as well as collecting the required progress reports, reflections and evidence of research that is used to qualify you for Mellon Stipends.  Keep her informed of your progress as well and feel free to ask her about specific research experiences, samples of student reflections, and travel planning.

Summer Workshops and Writing Retreat

We have four Summer Mellon Fellowship Workshop Sessions which have been in place since the summer of 2013. All Mellon Fellows are expected to attend all sessions. They usually are offered consecutive Fridays in June which includes a three-day writing retreat.

Thank you to the incoming Mellon Fellows for your upcoming dedication, determination, and focused work efforts.

Thank you to the faculty who will essentially donate much of their time to shape the minds and goals of these students, support their scholarly research, and who will share with them the rewards and challenges of entering the professoriate.

The rewards of participating in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship are many. For those of you who do not know exactly what graduate school entails and are interested in a conversation about your future goals, I welcome your questions and your fears of the unknown. Thank you for your interest. I look forward to working with you.

Please consult the Mellon Mays website for critical information!

Dr. Winona Wynn


About MMUF

Program Benefits

Activities & Program Overview

MMUF Handbook

How to Apply

Selection Criteria

MMUF Application

Personal Statement of Interest

The Mellon Family

Current Mellon Fellows

MMUF Graduate Students

Contact Us

Winona Wynn, PhD (Nakota, Hohe)
Associate Professor of Humanities; Ethnic Literature

Coordinator, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

Institutional and Summer Coordinator, The Leadership Alliance