UC Berkeley News


Mellon Foundation grant will help the humanities compete
Endowment establishes new fund to aid Berkeley's recruitment of top graduate students

| 30 January 2008

A $6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will help the campus recruit top graduate students in the humanities was announced on Monday, Jan. 28, by Janet Broughton, dean of arts and humanities.

"The Mellon Graduate Student Excellence Fund will give us a major boost as we compete with leading private universities for the field's best graduate students," says Broughton, acknowledging that despite Berkeley's top-flight reputation in the humanities, competition for the best graduate students is fierce.

Janet Broughton (Steve McConnell photo)

"Our premier five-year packages of financial support for graduate students in the humanities lag behind those offered by competing institutions," she says, adding that the Mellon Graduate Student Excellence Fund will enable Berkeley to compete on a more level playing field. "This remarkable grant will help Berkeley to secure its position of leadership in the humanities, maintaining our hallmark strengths across a wide array of fields, including the study of literature, history, art, religion, and philosophy."

Thanks to the endowment, Berkeley each year will be able to offer a select group of top graduate students in the humanities a five-year financial package providing stipends of $26,000 annually. The first cohort of students will receive grants in 2009-10.

"The fund will enable Berkeley to increase its fellowship awards significantly by topping off Berkeley Graduate Fellowships," says Andrew Szeri, dean of the Graduate Division. As many as 14 prospective students will be offered the Mellon-Berkeley fellowships in the program's first year, and the program will grow along with the endowment.

The Mellon grant will have a broad impact on the humanities at Berkeley, according to Broughton. "We'll be able to train greater numbers of the leaders of the next generation of scholars, and we'll also enhance our ability to recruit and retain top faculty, for whom the experience of working with even one exceptional graduate student can be transformative," she says.

Chancellor Birgeneau expressed his appreciation for the Mellon Foundation endowment, saying, "I take great pride in the superb quality of our humanities programs, and the foundation's confidence in Berkeley could not be more heartening."

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