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UH undergrads to receive support for research

$500K Mellon Foundation Grant aims to strengthen scholarship in the humanities (File photo)

$500K Mellon Foundation Grant aims to strengthen scholarship in the humanities (File photo)

By Chris Stipes
The University of Houston has received a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish an undergraduate research program in the humanities.
In addition to supporting new and innovative programs and opportunities at the undergraduate level, the Mellon Foundation grant is expected to increase the number of underrepresented and other students who enter doctoral programs at the university and other Tier One institutions.
The Mellon Research Scholars Program at the University of Houston will support the undergraduate research initiatives of 60 underrepresented and other undergraduate juniors and seniors. The Mellon Scholars will work one-on-one with faculty mentors outside the classroom on independent research projects. The program is designed to help students develop critical thinking and writing skills and will also provide professional development opportunities, enhancing competitiveness for top graduate schools, national and international scholarships, and eventual job placement.
“I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their tremendous commitment to our diverse student body,” said Eloise Dunn Brice, vice chancellor/vice president for university advancement. “Expanding undergraduate research is key to our mission as a Carnegie-designated Tier One research university, and this gift will actively support underrepresented students in the humanities.”
The gift is a part of the University’s “Here, We Go” Campaign, contributing to its $1 billion goal. It further enhances the efforts of the Honors College, which is ranked among the top ten honors programs and colleges in the nation in the latest edition of “Inside Honors.”
“I’m excited because this funding will lighten the financial load and open doors for students who otherwise might not consider an advanced degree or a career in higher education,” said Karen Weber, assistant dean of co-curricular programs in the Honors College.
Weber and Stuart Long, associate dean of undergraduate research and associate dean of the Honors College, developed the proposal for the grant and as the principal investigators will oversee the three-year program, which starts in spring 2018. The program includes faculty-led seminars and a monthly discussion series, an intensive preparatory graduate school workshop, and a full-time summer mentored research experience leading into a thesis or capstone course to be completed during the senior year.
“It makes the university a real center for undergraduate humanities education, which is something close to my heart as an English teacher,” said William Monroe, dean of the Honors College. “There’s been a justifiable emphasis on STEM in recent years, but the humanities have kind of fallen off the radar. The Mellon grant refocuses attention on those important disciplines.”
The $500,000 grant is one of two recent gifts from the Mellon Foundation to the University of Houston in 2017; the foundation also made a $54,000 pledge to fund a Planning Grant for Digital Humanities Research Center for U.S. Latina/o Studies.

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