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

History of the Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization founded in June of 1969. Its mission is 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 program later changed its name to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program to honor the outstanding achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the program's founder and visionary.

MMUF is committed to forging a just academy and shaping the future of the humanities and social sciences. In accordance with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Higher Learning program, MMUF adheres to a core strategy of elevating knowledge that informs holistic narratives of the human experience and lays the foundation for more just and equitable futures. Mellon seeks to amplify perspectives and contributions that have been marginalized within the conventional scholarly record, and that promote the realization of a more socially just world. You can learn more about Mellon's Higher Learning eligibility criteria for MMUF here.

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 humanistic social sciences. The Program aims to reduce over time the chronic under-representation of minority groups within American colleges and universities while addressing the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

Under the leadership of Dr. Armando Bengochea, the national program officer and director, the national MMUF Program now has a membership of 48 American colleges and universities, in addition to 39 UNCF member institutions and three South African universities.  

MMUF at Emory University

Emory University has enjoyed 22 years of comprehensive participation in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. From 2001 to 2008, Dr. Rudolph Byrd established the vision for the Emory MMUF Program and served as the program's coordinator, executing its mission and providing leadership for all dimensions of the program. Currently, Dr. Dianne Stewart and Dr. Kyrah Malika Daniels serve as Faculty Coordinator and Co-Coordinator, respectively. Naomi Diemer is the MMUF Program Coordinator alongside Dr. Calvin Warren, the Faculty Mentor for Theoretical Engagement, and Dr. Pablo Palomino, 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. Emory's program has hosted the annual UNCF/Mellon Summer Institute since 1994, attesting to its distinctive role as a regional leader within MMUF's national program. 

Monthly Fellow Seminar

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 various venues, especially the MMUF Southeast Regional Conference and Emory's annual MMUF Research Conference. Fellows also develop research skills and refine their academic projects during the Rudolph P. Byrd Summer Institute at Emory University, held during the month of June. 

Emory's MMUF activities include:
  • Opportunities for social and collegial bonding during the academic year (i.e., community building and networking)
  • Attending our annual Emory MMUF Convocation Luncheon and Commencement Banquet
  • Participation in the MMUF Southeast Regional Conference (SERC)

The Mellon Seminar meetings execute the goals of MMUF by supporting research projects, providing professional development, guiding fellows through the graduate admissions process to prestigious institutions, and cultivating impressive academic profiles.