Underrepresented minorities hold only 10 percent of faculty positions in colleges and universities across the U.S., according to recent reports. But a new program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke seeks to increase that number.

UNC Pembroke has been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the REACH (Research Engagement Action Community Humanities) program supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds as they work toward a career in academia. The funds will be spread over three years.

“The Mellon Foundation has gifted more than $6 billion in grants with a long history of funding projects in higher education.”

Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings

“This is a unique opportunity especially geared toward UNC Pembroke and our students will greatly benefit from the Foundation’s generosity.”

REACH will have a number of key initiatives focused on undergraduate humanities research and mentoring, attracting American Indians, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented students into the humanities.

University officials hope this will directly lead to an increase in the number of minorities and other underrepresented groups in graduate, doctoral or terminal degree programs—effectively creating a pipeline of qualified instructors and faculty members in the humanities.

“We are grateful for the support, collaboration, and trust of the Mellon Foundation,” Jeff Frederick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the grant noted. “Thanks to the Foundation and the great work of UNCP experts like Dr. Richard Gay, Dr. Jamie Mize, Dr. Ashley Allen, BreAnna Branch, and Patricia Cornette, we have put together a wonderful opportunity for students to take part in a multi-dimensional research experience that will prepare them for advanced study in the humanities. We believe in the importance of the humanities at UNCP, and are excited by the opportunity to help grow the next generation of teacher-scholars.” 

The program is based on a pathway to the professoriate program and allows participants, Pembroke Mellon Fellows, to explore the humanities with focused research and action plans that directly engage them with indigenous, underrepresented minority communities and other students.

Program leaders will identify an annual cohort of up to 18 Pembroke Mellon Fellows, who over three years, will have an immersive primary source research experience culminating in presentations, publications, and conference opportunities.

REACH will also design and curate a summer program aimed at teaching research methods and providing a practical entrée into professional opportunities in a one-to-one research plan constructed in combination with a UNC Pembroke faculty mentor.

Pembroke Mellon Fellows will also receive assistance with GRE and other graduate or doctoral exam testing strategies, exam access, and submission of an application to one or more graduate or doctoral programs.

Students interested in becoming a highly-selective Pembroke Mellon Fellow should contact Dr. Jamie Mize in the History or American Indian Studies Department, or the College of Arts and Sciences for more information about how to apply. The application will include a student-selected preference of three research interests and a writing sample. After participating in an interview process, those accepted into the program will be notified by March 15. Mellon Fellows must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, be a full-time UNCP students and commit to full participation in the 4-week Summer Exploration program.

Read more from UNC Pembroke.