Mellon grant to encourage academic careers among diverse students
Grinnell College has received a $500,000 four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a program to encourage students, especially those in culturally underrepresented groups, to pursue college teaching careers.
Grinnell was invited to become part of <"a href=http://www.mmuf.org/">Mellon's Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) as a highly selective college committed to diversity and achievement. The Mellon program is named for Benjamin Mays, an African American who was a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and later became president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
"The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program creates a pipeline to future professors," said Elena Bernal, Grinnell vice president for diversity and achievement and MMUF program coordinator. "This program embodies Grinnell's commitment to change higher education, and these young scholars will transform the academy."
The Grinnell program will begin this spring with the nomination and selection of the first five fellows from among second-year students who aspire to teach at the college level. The Grinnell fellows will receive mentoring from current faculty, funding for conference attendance, loan repayment support for graduate school, and other resources that will connect them to a national network of future college professors.
Shanna Benjamin, assistant professor of English at Grinnell and faculty coordinator for MMUF, was a Mellon fellow as an undergraduate at Johnson C. Smith College in North Carolina.
"Faculty mentors provide an important connection in this program because they reflect the success to which these students aspire," Benjamin said. "The Mellon fellowship helps the students selected to be intentional and deliberate about their choices to teach, plan, and invest in their own success."
Nearly 20 percent of Grinnell alumni teach at the elementary, secondary, or college levels.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports projects in a variety of interest areas, including higher education, information technology, the environment, performing arts, arts conservation, and scholarship. The MMUF program is in its 21st year and has supported more than 3,000 fellows.