Consortium Grant Promotes Diversity Among College Faculty

A new $1 million grant to The Claremont Colleges—Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps—will push forward efforts by this group of small, academically rigorous institutions to create a more diverse faculty for America’s colleges and universities.

The grant was awarded as part of the five colleges’ acceptance as members of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF), an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aimed at increasing faculty diversity by supporting underrepresented students to pursue careers as professors. Since 1988, the MMUF Program has engaged more than 4,000 students. As of 2014, more than 500 of those students already have earned PhDs, and the majority holds an appointment in the academy. Pomona College serves as the grant lead.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby noted that the Claremont Consortium, with its intimate setting of small colleges, is uniquely suited to advancing MMUF’s goals of fostering diversity. “America’s demographics are changing rapidly, and it’s more important than ever for college students to learn from faculty members who share their backgrounds and understand their personal stories,” said Oxtoby. “This generous grant will allow Pomona and our consortium partners to move ahead in promoting diversity in higher education.”

MMUF member institutions select students to be fellows, typically in their sophomore year. Students are selected based on their demonstrated academic ability and their stated aspiration to pursue a doctoral degree in humanities and select social sciences and physical sciences. The Claremont Colleges MMUF program will select an inaugural cohort of 10 students in spring 2015, with an eventual cohort size of 20 students from across the colleges each year. The cohort-based MMUF Program provides academic and co-curricular support through events, faculty mentors, stipends for research and repayment of undergraduate loans up to $10,000. The MMUF program continues to support fellows during their graduate and postdoctoral careers through grants, close mentoring and training.

Currently, Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), Pomona Science Scholars and five-college initiatives and mentoring programs such as Posse, QuestBridge and HHMI are among the network of cohorts that increase access, affordability and diversity at The Claremont Colleges. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program will be an important addition.

“This generous grant will position The Claremont Colleges to advance inclusion and excellence in higher education, prepare the next generation of diverse faculty in multiple disciplines and ensure that colleges and universities are welcoming to students from all backgrounds,” said Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga. “I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues and the Mellon Foundation to implement this important initiative on our campuses.”

The Claremont Colleges is a consortium of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions, offering rigorous curricula, small classes, distinguished professors and personalized instruction in a vibrant residential college community that provides intensive interaction between students and faculty.