In 1988, the Andrew Mellon Foundation created the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) in response to the shortage of faculty of color in higher education. Since its inception, more than 100 fellows have completed the PhD and are teaching across the country. Other fellows are completing their dissertations as yearly new fellows join the community of young scholars.
In 2003, the Mellon Foundation reaffirmed its commitment and broadened its mission to the Undergraduate Fellowship program. The Foundation changed the name of the program to the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program. This change honors the educational achievements of Dr. Benjamin Mays, and recognizes his extraordinary dedication to the struggle for educational, economic and social equality for all people.
The objective of the MMUF is to "increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences." The MMUF has been a part of the intellectual life of the College since 1989.