Mellon Foundation grant supports new program to increase faculty diversity

Melissa Gilliam
Prof. Melissa Gilliam meets with postdoctoral scholars at a lunch in the Quad Club.
Photo by
Jean Lachat
University Communications

A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support an initiative to recruit junior scholars from diverse backgrounds, as part of the University of Chicago’s commitment to continue developing a faculty that is diverse and of the highest caliber.

The Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program, supported by a $1.45 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, will appoint fellows as instructors for up to two years, with the intent that they will be promoted to assistant professor on the tenure track at the end of the fellowship period. Provost Daniel Diermeier, who announced the fellows program in a message to faculty last November, said the grant’s funding will help facilitate an expansion of opportunities for scholars from a variety of backgrounds, including groups historically underrepresented in higher education.

“This program is a vital part of the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Diermeier said. “We are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s support, and I look forward to seeing the impact that this program will have in the coming years.”

Fellows will participate in the activities of their school, institute or department, and will have designated faculty mentors. They will teach one class per year as they further develop their scholarship, receive research support and participate in programming designed to support their transition to an assistant professorship.

“This important program will allow us to recruit some of the brightest young scholars,” said Melissa Gilliam, vice provost for academic leadership, advancement and diversity and the Ellen H. Block Professor of Health and Justice.

The program will replace the Provost’s Career Enhancement Postdoctoral Scholarship (PCEP), which has contributed to increasing the diversity of faculty in higher education. PCEP scholars have joined the faculty at UChicago and other leading institutions. Current PCEP scholars will continue to receive full support through completion.

Applicants eligible for the first cohort must complete their doctoral degrees by the fellowship start date of July 1, 2017.