Newswise — The California State University (CSU) has developed a multi-campus consortium dedicated to increasing diversity among the nation's humanities professors.

Five CSU campuses - Dominguez HillsFullertonLong BeachLos Angeles and San Bernardino – have been awarded a grant totaling $2.2 million by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. MMUF is focused on preparing underrepresented students for doctoral degrees in humanities with the goal of developing them into humanities professors.

The program will provide undergraduate students with the foundation to successfully enter and complete a Ph.D. program. MMUF is a two-year course, beginning in the students' junior year. During the first year, fellows enroll in a summer internship at CSU Fullerton. The experience is deeply immersive, requiring fellows to take up a four-week residency on campus as they collaborate with other MMUF colleagues and faculty. After the internship, fellows return to their home campus, where they will participate in additional research tailored specifically for the program. In their second year, fellows have the option to complete their research at their home campus or at another institution. All fellows are expected to have published a journal by their senior year.

MMUF aims to sharpen its fellows into competitive Ph.D. applicants. The program is highly selective, with only 20 undergraduates chosen per year. Each fellow is paired with a faculty mentor to meet with on a regular basis and is expected to collaborate with their MMUF colleagues as they advance towards graduate school.

The CSU, educating the most diverse student body in the nation, shares MMUF's vision of closing achievement gaps among underrepresented students and their peers. MMUF is one of several programs established by the CSU in an effort to increase diversity among university faculty.

"Our faculty and staff are invested in the potential of our students to continue the CSU's mission," said Mary Ann Villarreal, Cal State Fullerton's associate vice president for strategic initiatives. "CSU students represent the demographic of our country, and we are looking forward to having MMUF scholars return to the CSU as faculty to pass on the same quality of counsel they received."

Diversity in humanities professors is especially important, with the field's student body becoming increasingly diverse. Dr. Zakyi Ibrahim, faculty coordinator for MMUF at Cal State Fullerton, says that diversity among humanities professors will contribute greatly to student success.

"Humanities students are some of the most diverse in academia, so diversity in professors would ensure that more students would feel comfortable learning," said Ibrahim. "Increasing diversity among humanities professors would go a long way to adequately serve and satisfy the needs of our students in terms of their self-identification, successful retention and timely graduation."

For more information on the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program visit