About MMUF at Berkeley

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program at UC Berkeley targets students with exceptional academic promise in the humanities or social sciences and potential for academic careers that will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in the academy. The program supports Fellows by providing mentorship and the environment and resources to strive for the highest academic goals. Berkeley’s MMUF program guides the intellectual and professional development of Fellows to realize their greatest potential as graduate students. The MMUF program prepares Fellows to become successful faculty members and role models for future generations.

More specifically Fellows are mentored by faculty and graduate students. Through regular workshops that feature speakers and skill development, Fellows have opportunities for professional enrichment and preparation for graduate school. Fellows develop their research and analytical skills and apply them to the required senior thesis. Ultimately, the MMUF program at UC Berkeley prepares Fellows to enter graduate school and successfully earn a doctoral degree leading to faculty careers.

Since the program’s inception in 2008, Berkeley MMUF Fellows have been accepted into graduate programs at Cambridge University (UK), University of Chicago, New York University, Purdue University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, University of Michigan, and the University of Southern California.

Applicants must be second semester Sophomores (or have at least 4 academic year semesters remaining at UC Berkeley) and have approximately a 3.4 GPA or higher. The MMUF program commits to funding Fellows for two years as undergraduate students.

About the Mellon Mays National Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was established as a nonprofit philanthropic organization in June of 1969 with a mission 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 Andrew W. Mellon 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 under the leadership of then President William G. Bowen and Founding Director of the MMUF program, Henry N. Drewery.

In 2003, the Foundation reaffirmed its commitment and broadened the mission of MMUF. The name of the program was changed to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, to symbolically connect the mission to the stellar educational achievements of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. With eight member schools and 40 students in the first cohort, the Mellon family has grown into a community of scholars in 2008 to include 38 direct-grant institutions and the 39 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund consortium. Today over thirty-seven hundred students have been selected as Mellon fellows, 704 of whom are currently pursuing PhDs and 411 who have earned their doctoral degree. 47 of these outstanding young scholars have already earned tenure. An impressive total of 46 Fulbright Scholarships and nine Rhodes Scholarships have been awarded to Mellon fellows.

About Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays

Benjamin Elijah Mays was born in 1895 in South Carolina and graduated from Bates College in Maine in 1920. He attended the University of Chicago for his master’s and doctorate degrees, and was ordained into the Baptist ministry while working on those degrees. Dr. Mays taught at Morehouse College and South Carolina State College. He served as dean of Howard University School of Religion from 1934 to 1940, and then as president of Morehouse College, a position he became distinguished for the next quarter of a century. Dr. Mays also served his community, becoming the first black president of the Atlanta school board.

Dr. Mays spoke early and often against segregation and for education. He received nearly thirty honorary doctorates and other honors and awards including election to the Schomburg Honor Roll of Race Relations, being one of a dozen major leaders so honored. Dr. Mays was a role model for one of his Morehouse students, Martin Luther King, Jr., serving as his unofficial senior advisor. Mays also gave the eulogy at King’s funeral.

Among his books were the first sociological study of African-American religion, The Negro’s Church, 1933; The Negro’s God, 1938; Disturbed About Man, 1969; and May’s autobiography Born to Rebel, 1971. These books reveal a combination of sharp intellect with religious commitment and prophetic conviction.

The American National Biography website has a comprehensive biography on Dr. Mays.