Grant Aims to Increase Faculty Diversity

students on campus

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded UCR a four-year, $500,000 grant to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of California, Riverside has been awarded a $500,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a research and mentoring program for undergraduates aimed at increasing diversity among faculty in American universities.

The program, The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), to which institutions are invited by the foundation to apply, is the centerpiece of Mellon Foundation initiatives to increase faculty diversity.

“We are excited about this opportunity, which will help us build on our commitment to diversity and to preparing underrepresented students for positions of leadership in California and the nation,” UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said. “We share The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s commitment to improving the diversity of graduate students and faculty, and are also pleased that these fellowships will give even more of our undergraduates the chance to engage in research projects where they will work closely with faculty mentors.”

The four-year grant will fund research fellowships each academic year and for each of two summers for five juniors and five seniors. Students who enroll in selected Ph.D. programs within three years of completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible for some student loan repayment. Eligible fields of study are primarily in the humanities and selected sciences and social sciences.

Participating students will: be mentored by a UCR faculty member who will guide an in-depth research project; participate in a summer research program; receive coaching to develop the research and analytical writing skills necessary to be successful in graduate school; receive guidance in choosing a graduate school, completing applications, and preparing to take the GRE; have an opportunity to develop and teach a 2-unit course during their senior year, under faculty supervision; and continue to receive mentoring and other support while in graduate school.

The first five students, selected from this year’s sophomore class at UCR, will begin the program this summer. The online application is available here.

“The core of this fellowship program is research,” said Georgia Warnke, principal investigator on the grant and director of the Center for Ideas and Society, where the program will be housed. “It is a reflection of the increased recognition UCR is receiving for the quality and diversity of our student body. The program will help our students undertake rigorous research earlier than they might have otherwise, will socialize them to the life of an academic, and help them develop a network of support with MMUF participants at other universities.”

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for UCR students who intend careers as professors, said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Brint, a co-principal investigator on the grant.

“The program we have developed will provide the mentoring and research experiences that students need to be successful in the very best graduate programs in the country,” he explained. “During the application process, 12 of our students met with the Mellon program officers. After the meeting, the program officers told us that the students were as strong as those in any other institution with a Mellon Mays program already in place. I am quite sure that the impression our students made on the Mellon officials is the major reason why UCR received this prestigious grant. It is a recognition of the talent and potential of our students.”

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program was established in 1988 at eight institutions and has grown to include nearly 50 colleges and universities. Participating institutions include UC Berkeley, UCLA, Brown, California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Duke, Oberlin College, Princeton, Rice, Smith College, Stanford, University of Southern California, a consortium of historically black colleges and universities, and three South African universities.

UC Riverside’s selection as an MMUF university recognizes the excellent work of the campus to add value and transform students’ lives, said Yolanda Moses, associate vice chancellor for diversity, excellence and equity and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

“When our students come to us they sometimes have a very narrow and limited understanding about what kinds of careers are open to them as graduates,” she said. “This wonderful fellowship will guide them through the academic and developmental processes of understanding what it means to be a professor and what the pathway is to get there. This is a tremendous opportunity for the students and for our university.”

UCR is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), a designation awarded to colleges and universities where Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of total enrollment. UCR is known nationally as an outstanding research university and as a university whose mission is explicitly linked to providing opportunities and educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. More than half of UCR students come from low-income households and receive Pell Grants and other needs-based scholarships and grants.

Pell Grant students also graduate at nearly the same rate as non-Pell students, as do first-generation students when compared to those whose parents attended college. UCR is one of three campuses in the country with graduation rates among African American students that exceed those of white students.

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2017-05-18T17:30:43+00:00 December 15th, 2014|Categories: News|

Conference to Examine Latino, Latin American Objects of Devotion

photo of pilgrimRIVERSIDE, Calif. – Scholars, artists and museum curators will examine sacred objects, rituals and visual culture of Latin America and Latinos in a conference at UC Riverside’s Culver Center of the Arts on Dec. 12-13.

The conference, “Objects of Devotion/Objetos de Devoción,” coincides with an exhibition by Mexican-British photographer Alinka Echeverría, whose photographic series “The Road to Tepeyac” captures pilgrims and the objects they carry on their backs to Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City to honor the Virgin Mary on her feast day.

“There’s something about these photos that has captured people’s imaginations,” said Jennifer Scheper Hughes, associate professor of history at UCR and co-organizer of the conference. “This conference picks up themes from Echeverría’s work about devotion, Latin American religion and sacred vision.”

The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended and may be done online. The Culver Center is part of UCR ARTSblock, located in downtown Riverside in the 3800 block of Main Street. ARTSblock is a cultural complex composed of the Culver Center, the California Museum of Photography and Sweeney Art Gallery.

Conference sessions begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, and conclude with a screening of “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a 2013 documentary that follows six pilgrims ranging in age from 3 to 73 on a 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. A discussion will follow with co-producer Annie O’Neil and UCR art history professor Conrad Rudolph, both of whom have made the pilgrimage.

photo of pilgrim

On Saturday, Dec. 13, the first conference session begins at 9 a.m. The day concludes with the final screening of “Walking the Camino” at 7 p.m. A conversation about the film will follow. “Walking the Camino” also screens at 3 p.m.

The conference features the participation of three Latin American/Latina women artists: Echeverría, who speaks on Friday and Saturday, in Spanish; Alma López, a visual and public artist whose work has appeared in more than 100 exhibitions around the world; and Colombian artist Adriana Salazar, who builds kinetic sculptures.

During the two-day conference national and international scholars will present more than 30 papers addressing many dimensions of religious materiality in the Latin American and Latino context, such as: relics, devotional practice, pilgrimage and iconography, visual and votive culture, contemporary engagements with the Virgin of Guadalupe, transgressive saints, and sacred objects and materials of the pre-Hispanic period. Plenary sessions will include conversations with artists and national/international scholars. One conference session on Dec. 13 will be held in Spanish.

“It was important to us in planning this conference to highlight the connections between Latin America and U.S. Latino experiences,” explained Jennifer Nájera, associate professor of ethnic studies and co-organizer of the conference. “Latino immigrants and their children maintain, challenge, and infuse new meaning into their religious practices and iconographies.”

The Road to Tepeyac. c Alinka Echeverria 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Gazelli Art House

On Thursday, Dec. 11, Luis León, author of “The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders” (University of California Press, November 2014), will discuss the life and beliefs of the late farmworker advocate and union activist in a pre-conference lecture at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. Teatro Latino will present a staged reading of the Migdalia Cruz play “The Have-Little.” The one-act play is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old girl growing up in a South Bronx tenement.

The Dec. 12 opening day of the conference coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a religious observance that honors the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mexico’s patron saint, appeared to a poor Indian in Mexico City twice in 1531.

Hughes, who studies Latin American religious practice, said that Mexican and Mexican American religious practices are often stigmatized in the U.S. because of their strong visual component.

“The history of this country is rooted in Protestantism, which has traditionally been against iconography and the religious image,” she explained. “The Puritans did not have an image of what Jesus looked like. For them, the image of Jesus was a blinding light. That has sometimes led to disrespect for Mexican religious practices. The Mexican relationship to the Virgin Mary is very complex and nuanced, but has been disparaged as idolatry. We’re trying to explain that these are complex positionalities. An image can be holy. It is never just an icon. At one point it is God, it’s a painting, it’s a representation.”

photo of pilgrim

Hughes said she was inspired by Alinka Echeverría’s images of people making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City. The photographer’s series of 300 images of people and objects they carry on their backs to the shrine, “The Road to Tepeyac,” has been exhibited all over the world. It will be on display at the California Museum of Photography through Jan. 24, 2015.

Echeverría was named International Photographer of the Year in 2012 by the Lucie Awards, won the HSBC Prize for Photography in 2011, and has been nominated for the Paul Huf and Prix Pictet Awards.

Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including at Maison European de la Photographie,Paris, National Portrait Gallery, London, and as part of the Moscow Photobiennale. She earned her M.A. in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in 2004, and studied photography at the International Center of Photography, New York.

View the conference schedule here.

Conference sponsors are: University of California Humanities Research Institute, and from UCR the Culver Center of the Arts, California Museum of Photography, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, UC MEXUS (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States), the Center for Ideas and Society, the UCR Tomás Rivera Chair, the Latin American Studies Program, and the departments of Ethnic Studies, History and History of Art.

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2017-05-18T17:30:43+00:00 December 3rd, 2014|Categories: News|