College of Liberal Arts

$500,000 Mellon Grant Aims to Boost Minority Faculty Representation

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas — More students from underrepresented minority groups will be encouraged to pursue academic careers thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to The University of Texas at Austin.

Renewable every four years, the grant will support the establishment of a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS), a new department established last summer in the College of Liberal Arts. The first class of five Mellon Fellows will begin the program this summer.

“We are delighted that the Mellon Foundation identified UT Austin as one of the select public universities to be awarded this prestigious undergraduate fellowship program,” said department chair Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández. “By offering early research opportunities to the most qualified students—those with outstanding academic records who might not historically consider the pursuit of a Ph.D. and a faculty position—we can transform higher education institutions so that they more directly reflect the populations they serve.”

“We are poised to train the best researchers and future leaders for the U.S. academy and beyond,” Guidotti-Hernández said, citing the launch of the new department and the diversity of UT Austin’s student body, which is more than half non-white.

The grant program seeks to increase the number of students from underrepresented minority groups, such as African Americans and Hispanics, in Ph.D. programs that prepare students for faculty-level careers in U.S. colleges and universities. The program is not intended to support students who intend to go on to medical school, law school or other professional schools.

“This grant reinforces our commitment to fostering academic excellence and building diversity,” said Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts. “Our commitment to both of these principles is extremely strong and central to the mission of this institution. Partnering with the Mellon Foundation to host this program allows us advance our shared goals in the building of the 21st century professoriate.”

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program began in 1988 as the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship, created by the Mellon Foundation to help remedy the shortage of faculty of color in higher education. Since its founding, the program has produced more than 500 Ph.D.s from institutions such as Yale, Stanford, Harvard and Rice.

For more information, contact: University Communications, Office of the President, 512 471 3151; David Ochsner, College of Liberal Arts, 512-475-9712; Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, 512-232-6313.

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