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Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Hunter College

Former Director of the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Hunter College


Dr. Arlene Torres  served as University Dean of Recuritment and Diversity at CUNY. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College. As a faculty mentor, she coordinated and directed the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Hunter College. She works closely with faculty and students to enhance diversity and works to develop strategies to ensure the success of underrepresented groups in the professoriate and higher education administration. 

She works on several University-wide and community organizations to support the educational advancement of underrepresented communities in higher education. She received her Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she held positions as an administrator and member of the faculty. Torres completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University and believes in the transformative possibilities of an education in the Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Learn more about MMUF

About MMUF

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation established the MMUF Program in 1989. Hunter was among the first group of colleges and universities to receive a major grant from that foundation. On the basis of its record of success, the MMUF Program at Hunter College has continued to receive grant renewals on a regular basis.

The fundamental objective of MMUF is to address, over time, the problem of underrepresentation in the academy at the level of college and university faculties. This goal can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups (URM) who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students who may not come from traditional minority groups but have otherwise demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF. The MMUF program is designed to encourage fellows to enter PhD programs that prepare students for professorial careers - See more at:

The Hunter College experience involves one-on-one mentoring with a faculty member, collaborating with a mentor in research projects and teaching, and curriculum development, attending professional conferences, and having opportunities to study or conduct research either at other universities in the United States or in international settings abroad during the academic year or the summer months. The hope is that such an experience will give Hunter students an enjoyment in a field of study and an advanced working knowledge about graduate programs and the academic profession.


The fellow establishes a mentoring relationship with a faculty member. Mentors provide both academic guidance and insights about graduate school and the professoriate.  A Mellon fellow may: 

·      pursue independent research under the direction of a faculty mentor; or

·      work as a research assistant on a project.

Bi-Monthly Meetings

MMUF fellows are required to meet with the faculty and administrative coordinators, and invited guests to discuss ongoing research, the process of applying to graduate school, test-taking strategies, public speaking, among others issues that inform our understanding of diversity and inclusion in academia. Participation in local and regional conferences is also expected of the fellows.

Summer Research

In the summer between their junior and senior years, fellows are encouraged to conduct research or to participate in one of a number of research programs to further enhance their critical research and writing skills. MMUF at Hunter College has funds to offset summer research expenses. 

Summer Workshop

In the summer following their admission to the program, all Mellon fellows are encouraged to participate and work intensively with faculty and administrative, as well as with graduate student mentors, to develop a prospectus to guide their activities as Mellon fellows at Hunter College.

The Graduate School Application Process

The MMUF program at Hunter College also helps fellows with the support of their faculty mentors to apply to graduate school by providing advice on suitable graduate programs, supervising the application process, as well as supplementing testing and application fees.

MMUF Eligibility

A student selected to be in the MMUF Program at Hunter as a Mellon Fellow receives the following:

1. $7,500.00 stipend per calendar year;

2. a tuition waiver; and

3. eligibility for the MMUF Program’s repayment of undergraduate loans.

Students must be nominated by a Hunter faculty member in order to be considered for entrance into the MMUF Program. No student can directly apply. Faculty forward to me the name and email address of any student whom they believe:

1 . is exceptionally talented academically;

2. shows an interest in the pursuit of a Ph.D in any field within the Humanities or scholarly dimension of the Arts; or in the fields of Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, History, Anthropology or in the area of Demography (Geography, Sociology or Political Science)*; or in Women Studies or any area ethnic studies;

3. is at least an upper sophomore and at most a lower senior (completing no less than 36 and no more than 100 credits at the time of admission into the MMUF Program);

4. has a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in order to be considered; and

5. demonstrate a strong commitment to addressing the under-representation of minorities in higher education   

Once a student both accepts the nomination and meets the aforementioned requirements, the student will have to:

1. complete an application form describing academic interests and career plans as well as giving biographical details;

2. submit at least 2 letters of recommendation from faculty members;

3. submit a research writing sample; and

4. undergo an interview with the Mellon Selection Committee at Hunter College.

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 during their tenure in the MMUF Program.