The life achievements and distinguished service of the African American scholar, Benjamin Mays (1894-1984), have been fully elaborated by historians and political commentators: among many things, he was an educator, mentor, newspaper columnist, scholar, author, and civil rights activist. Bound by the culture of social justice, Mays also served as dean of the Howard University School of Religion, president of Morehouse College, advisor to Presidents Johnson and Carter, and president of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education—the first African American to serve in that capacity.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program was established (1988) through the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand minority faculty in higher education. It was considered appropriate to rename (2003) the fellowship in honor of Dr. Mays based on his vision, service to community, and commitment to the promotion of undergraduate education among traditionally marginalized populations, including those with interest in studies aimed at eliminating racial inequalities.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship established at Bowdoin (1992) is administered in ways that reflect Mays’ political legacies. Traditionally marginalized persons of color and those who are qualified and have demonstrated the appropriate intellectual drive for higher education are targeted, encouraged, and provided access to:
There are two broad conditions applicable to the program. Fellows are expected to (i) apply to a doctoral program in a Mellon-designated field within 39 months of graduation; (ii) pursue doctoral degrees in one of the 21 Mellon-identified areas of academic studies: Anthropology and Archaeology, Area/Cultural/Ethnic/Gender Studies, Art History; Classics, Computer Science, Geography/Population Studies, Earth/Environmental/Geological Science and Ecology, English, Film, Cinema and Media Studies (theoretical focus), Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, Linguistics, Literature, Mathematics, Oceanographic/Marine/Atmospheric/Planetary Science, Performance Studies (theoretical focus), Philosophy and Political Theory, Physics and Astronomy, Religion and Theology, Sociology, Theater (non-performance focus), Interdisciplinary Studies (interdisciplinary areas of study may be eligible if they have one or more Mellon fields at their core).
New York City
City College of New York
Bryn Mawr College
University of Pennsylvania
UNCF Member Institutions
University of Chicago
Washington University in St. Louis
California Institute of Technology
University of California at Berkeley
University of California at Los Angeles
University of Southern California
University of Cape Town
University of Western Cape
University of the Witwatersrand
Prospective beneficiaries are expected to fulfill the requirements stated below:
Students are required to apply during the second semester of their sophomore year. Applicants must have acquired a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and must be American citizens or have a Permanent Resident Visa Status in the United States. The Bowdoin Mellon Mays program seeks students who:
To receive full consideration, applicants must submit their complete documents on or before the deadline (usually in February). Incomplete application packages will not be considered. The Office of Special Academic Programs and current MMUF fellows are available to provide full assistance to candidates throughout all the phases of the application process.
Eligible applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview with the program coordinator, program administrator, and members of the MMUF faculty advisory committee after spring break.
Selection will be competitive. All students are welcome to apply for MMUF, though applicants are particularly encouraged from African American, Hispanic American, Native Americans, and other historically underrepresented minorities. In particular, the Committee will look for strong academic promise, and enthusiasm for proposed theme of study. We expect the candidate to understand and appreciate the responsibilities and opportunities offered by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.
Successful applicants will be informed in late spring.
At the core of the Mellon Mays Program is the commitment to enhance and sustain interactions among the Program Staff, Mellon Fellows, Faculty Advisory Committee, and Faculty Mentors.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is predicated on a philosophy that:
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 (http://www.mmuf.org/our-program/mmuf-staf/?searchterm=mentoring).
Responsibilities of faculty mentors to Fellows will include providing guidance as follows:
The Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) is a forum that introduces the new cohort of Mellon Mays Fellows to research methodologies relevant to their respective fields through a range of workshops, lectures, seminars, documentaries, mentoring, and public service activities. Students are introduced to rigorous research. Workshops and seminars are taught and directed by faculty members, expert instructors, and student mentors. Fellows participate in peer review sessions to learn the fundamentals of presenting, sharing, and critiquing each other’s work. The summer culminates in final presentations of research findings.
Fellows begin participation in semi-monthly MMUF seminars during their junior year. The seminar provides opportunities for Fellows to improve their research. Guided by their mentors, they will engage in independent research, present their work in seminars, and provide their cohort and peers with constructive criticism. Fellows are expected to:
Each semester culminates in presentations of research findings.
Summer Research before Senior Year
Research and related intellectual skills acquired in previous years must be applied consistently for personal development, and in preparation for tasks ahead. Indeed, each participant is expected to continue to work with a designated faculty mentor and to expand or improve on research projects throughout summer.
In addition, each fellow is required to:
Senior Academic Year
Fellows are expected to continue work on independent research. We expect that the successful MMUF research will form the basis or foundation for a senior honors thesis.
Each semester culminates in presentations of research findings.
Lastly, Senior Fellows are expected to join the larger community of Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows by attending the SSRC-Mellon Mays Annual Graduate Student Conference (June/July after senior year). Information about registration and forums for the presentation of research are available (http://www.ssrc.org/programs/mellon-mays-graduate-initiatives-program/).
Fellows are expected to work full-time on their research and relevant programs. With this in mind, Fellows are awarded summer and academic term stipends to eliminate any need for additional paid employment or distractions that will negatively impact the quality of work and expectations of the MMUF program.
GRE and IRT Preparation
Fellows who have paid for the GRE prep course and general test can apply for reimbursement.
If a Mellon Undergraduate Fellow matriculates into a Ph.D. program in a Mellon-approved discipline within three years (or 39 months) of graduating from Bowdoin, he/she is entitled to a maximum of $10,000 in undergraduate debt repaid by the Mellon Foundation. Fellows receive $1,250 after completing each of the first four years of graduate school (a total of $5,000). The remaining $5,000 will be awarded after the completion of the Ph.D. program. If a fellow incurs less than $10,000 of undergraduate debt, the balance of loan repayment funds may be used to repay graduate student loans.
Fellows may apply for predissertation research writing grants, competitive travel and research grants, and dissertation grants through the Social Science Research Council-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Programs. In addition, Fellows may also apply for funds to finance a sabbatical if they take a faculty job while still completing their doctoral work.
Mellon Fellows will be encouraged to publish their research or coauthor with a professor; attend scholarly conferences either on their own or with a mentor during the academic year as a way of exchanging ideas and sharing valuable research experiences. We will, of course, create additional opportunities for Mellon Fellows to participate in on-campus seminars, lectures, and symposia.
Fellows are evaluated in a variety of ways throughout the duration of the two-year fellowship. Specifically, they will be required to:
Exit interviews will be conducted at the end of both summer research-training programs, and at the conclusion of the Mellon program experience at Bowdoin. Fellows will be asked to provide an overall summary of their experience on the program. The survey will include:
The exit interviews will provide opportunity for open discussions on the following topics:
This year's deadline has been extended to Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.