The Oberlin College Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program recently hosted the 2021 MMUF Midwest Regional Conference, February 26-27. The objective of MMUF is to address the problem of underrepresentation in the academy at the level of college and university faculties. The Midwest region includes Carleton College, Grinnell College, Macalester College, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, and Oberlin College.
David Kamitsuka, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed all program participants on Friday evening and the opening event was a conversation with Kiese Laymon, a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi who is also an Oberlin College and MMUF alum (Class of 1998). Currently the Hubert H. McAlexander Chair of English at the University of Mississippi and 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times.
Saturday’s events included a roundtable, “The Future of Graduate School,” with panelists Afia Ofori-Mensah, Director of the Presidential Scholars Program at Princeton University; Susana Peña, Director of the School of Critical and Cultural Studies at Bowling Green State University; and, Alicia Smith-Tran, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, Texas Christian University and Oberlin College/MMUF Class of 2010.
Research presentations took the form of “elevator pitches” presented by Fellows from all seven institutions with moderated conversations. Oberlin College Professor Cortney Smith (Rhetoric and Composition) prepared an “Elevator Pitch Tips Sheet” that was distributed to all Fellows in advance to assist students in preparing record versions.
Many thanks to our MMUF Fellows; MMUF Faculty Mentors; Oberlin College MMUF Faculty Coordinator Angela LaGrotteria and Administrative Coordinators Adrian Bautista and Daphne John; MMUF Coordinators at our Midwest partner schools; the Office of Undergraduate Research and Director Leslie Kwakye; Pam Snyder, Executive Director, Foundation, Government & Corporate Grants; Prof. Cortney Smith; and, the Dean of Arts and Sciences Office.