Core Values

The MMUF aims to prepare talented students who are committed to increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding and interested in enabling others to better understand persons of different races and cultural backgrounds to pursue university teaching careers in disciplines where minority faculty are notably underrepresented. Through this work, MMUF seeks to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. The program also serves the related goals of working to create campus environments that will be more conducive to improved racial and ethnic relations, and of providing diverse role models for all youth.

We achieve these aims through fostering the following values. The language below reflects the values outlined by the Mellon Mays Foundation website, and was edited to reflect the UChicago program specifically.


The MMUF program is primarily a research program. We aim to foster future academics, for whom research will be at the heart of their professional academic work. Research experience and production are essential at each stage of the career of a professor-in-training, from the graduate school application process to the tenure process and beyond. As future academics, Fellows require a thorough understanding of the principles and methods of academic research, as well as being confident in practicing research. Thus we give undergraduate fellows intensive and ongoing research experience, beginning at an earlier point in their careers than is typical for most college undergraduates. This is exemplified by the MMUF Summer Research Training program (SRTP) hosted at the University of Chicago, which is required for UChicago Fellows. 

During their undergraduate years, each MMUF fellow is expected to conduct an individual research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor, culminating in a final thesis paper or presentation during the senior year. The SRTP is designed to instill research experience and culminates in a research proposal that Fellows often use as the beginning stages for their final thesis paper or presentation.


The MMUF program is built on the proven notion that mentoring is of critical importance in supporting the growth of future scholars of color and others committed to the program’s mission. Each undergraduate Mellon fellow is expected to meet regularly with at least one faculty mentor, often a thesis advisor for third years beginning to prepare for the BA thesis. Fellows work with their mentors to develop their scholarly interests into research directions and projects. 

As mentors, faculty members are expected to demystify the formal and informal aspects of conducting research, applying to graduate school, competing effectively once in a graduate program, earning the doctorate, and pursuing faculty careers. We also encourage undergraduate fellows to cultivate mentoring relationships with MMUF fellows, advancing through graduate school and into academic careers – and we hope and expect that fellows will themselves become mentors to younger fellows as their own careers advance.

  • UChicago fellows are supported through faculty mentorship

Cohort Effect & Community

We typically select cohorts of five students per academic year, such that at any given moment there will be between ten and fifteen fellows on campus. The intention of this selection process is to build a sense of cohort and community among fellows who enter the program at the same time, so that fellows’ growth as scholars can be enhanced by the feedback and support of like-minded peers. We hope – and the program’s history has demonstrated – that the bonds fellows initially form within their undergraduate cohorts can be the basis of larger MMUF support networks that far outlast their undergraduate years. Other opportunities for cohort effect are the Summer Research Training Program and Mellon Mays Midwest conferences.