December 15, 2003

Mellon grant supports doctoral fellowships

By Beverly Clark

Emory has received a $247,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to partner in a new fellowship program that will place some of the University's top graduate students in the classrooms of six colleges and universities in Atlanta and New Orleans.

The program expands and enhances an existing partnership funded by the Mellon Foundation that began in 2000 between Emory and Dillard University, a historically black institution in New Orleans. Atlanta's Agnes Scott College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College have now joined the consortium of schools that will take part in the Mellon Foundation's Atlanta/New Orleans Graduate Fellowship Program.

"We are honored to be a partner in this important and promising initiative," said college Dean Bobby Paul. "The Mellon Fellowship will play a vital role in strengthening Emory's ties, both personal and professional, with the participating institutions, and reinforce the academic community among us all."

The fellowship developed in large part due to the numerous personal connections between Paul and administrators at the host institutions. Several of those involved in expanding the program received degrees from Emory's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, including Dillard President Michael Lomax, former chair of the Fulton County Commission, who earned his doctorate from Emory in 1984. In many cases Paul taught, advised and worked with leaders at the host schools.

"To work with former students and colleagues on this fellowship program has been profoundly gratifying," Paul said. "Through these personal connections, and with the support of the Mellon Foundation, we are able to help foster the professional development of Emory's graduate students while enhancing the undergraduate education of all the schools involved."

The innovative fellowship program aims to foster the professional teaching skills of graduate students and increase the recruitment of undergraduates for academic careers. Another main goal of the program is to further strengthen ties in the Southeast among liberal arts colleges, research universities and historically black colleges and universities.

"In terms of our being able to attract students of color, it's important to build relationships and trust," said Kharen Fulton, director of admissions for the graduate school, who helped coordinate the grant program and identified Emory alumni within the other schools who would be willing to help. "Once we develop those relationships, people will want to come here because they'll know about us."

Starting in fall 2004, the competitive fellowships will be open to Emory graduate students who have achieved Ph.D. candidacy and completed their coursework and teacher training. The fellowships will be centered on teaching at the host schools and mentoring undergraduates, as well as participating in teaching seminars with other Mellon fellows.  

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private foundation, with assets of approximately $4 billion, that makes selective grants to institutions in higher education; museums and art conservation; performing arts; population; conservation and the environment; and public affairs.