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The MMUF program is coordinated on each of its member campuses by faculty members and academic administrators who select their institution's undergraduate fellows, typically in the sophomore year. Fellows have demonstrated academic ability and an aspiration to pursue a doctoral degree in selected humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. The fellowship provides fellows with many forms of support, including regular, structured programming; faculty mentoring; term-time stipends for research activities; support for summer research; and repayment of undergraduate loans up to $10,000 (provided that fellows pursue doctoral study in eligible fields).
Although program structures vary from institution to institution, they follow a common set of general guidelines. It is required that fellows meet together regularly with scheduled forums, colloquia, and social opportunities for students and mentors to interact. These events incorporate activities that help fellows to understand the culture and environment of academia and provide them with opportunities to develop their intellectual and social skills. Cohort development, in the form of occasions for students to share their aspirations and scholarship with one another and with wider academic communities, is a key factor in MMUF's success. The Foundation strongly encourages participation in MMUF's regional conferences for undergraduate fellows and institutional reunions for MMUF alumni as ways to keep fellows connected, motivated, and on track. The program's success is a synergy of commitment and effort among students, faculty, mentors, and coordinators working together to change and diversify teaching and scholarship in higher education.
The MMUF program also includes post-collegiate programming that complements and sustains the undergraduate initiative, and supports fellows as they enter and complete graduate school. Through grants to the Social Science Research Council and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, two nonprofit organizations with proven track records in training graduate students and academics, the Mellon Foundation provides PhD-bound MMUF fellows with a targeted array of graduate initiatives, including conferences, writing seminars and grants designed to support fellows at critical junctures in graduate school. MMUF's support continues into fellows' postdoctoral careers with two events designed for MMUF PhDs: the SSRC's PhD Retreat and Woodrow Wilson's Junior Faculty Career Enhancement Fellowship program.
In the service of its larger mission to strengthen diversity by addressing the problem of underrepresentation on college and university faculties, MMUF builds its campus programs around the interrelated ideas of scholarly research, faculty mentoring, the cohort effect, and community support networks. To put these values into practice, the MMUF program incorporates a number of strategically chosen program elements. While no one fixed set of practices would be universally appropriate across a program whose member institutions range from Research I universities to small liberal arts colleges to historically black colleges to New York City public institutions to South African universities, the below components are common to all MMUF campus programs.