Feeding the Pipeline: OAH Indiana University Minority Fellowship Program

March 19, 1999

Daphne L. Cunningham
March 19, 1999

Background for Report

The idea for the Organization of American Historians-Indiana University Minority Fellowship sprang from the commitment of OAH to increasing the number of minority Ph.D.’s. Since its founding in 1907 to serve professional historians in the Midwest, the Organization of American Historians has expanded its mission to be more inclusive of historians of American history worldwide. In 1987, the “Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Minority Historians” recommended that further examination of the shortage of minorities in the historical profession be undertaken, and OAH responded by making greater efforts to be more inclusive and recruit more minorities into the profession.

In 1990-1991, under the presidency of Mary Frances Berry, the Organization explored the possibility of an undergraduate and graduate minority fellowship program along with many other specific minority recruitment initiatives. At the time, the OAH sought possible partners for a minority recruitment or fellowship program and received positive responses from other institutions and foundations. However, these foundations wanted to know what the OAH was doing internally to increase the number of minority historians. At that point, the OAH had not established a program to increase the ranks of minorities in the profession. However, the foundation’s question spurred the Organization into action.

The OAH Executive Board initiated a dissertation fellowship program after the unsuccessful attempts in the early 1990’s to launch a minority recruitment program with external funding and partners. Named for two outstanding historians of African-American history, the Huggins-Quarles dissertation fellowship program provides travel grants to minority scholars using funds raised by OAH members and matched by the Executive Board. A retention program, the fellowship assisted students entering the final stages of their doctoral studies. At that time, a recruitment program had yet to be established.

Encouraged by the success of the OAH’s Huggins-Quarles Dissertation Prize for minority scholars, the OAH enthusiastically continued discussions about a graduate fellowship program with interested members of the Indiana University history department. Certain history department members have long been interested in OAH’s efforts to establish a minority recruitment fellowship program. 1993 seemed ripe for the OAH and IU history department to cooperate on a national fellowship that would draw potential minority graduate students into American history and to Indiana University. One year later, the OAH-IU Minority Fellowship Program was launched with an award package, provided by the program’s two partners, worth more than $80,000 in tuition fees and stipend. In 1995, the first fellowship was awarded an African-American student, who would receive five years of support while in the Indiana University history graduate program. One fellowship would be awarded each year.

The fellowship package was not only attractive because of its generous support, it also offered fellows the opportunity of interning at the Organization of American Historians as well as teaching, for a year, in the history department.

Despite the fact the fellowship competition was nationwide, in its first year it drew approximately twelve applicants. OAH and IU had hoped to draw a large number of applicants and be able to give the names of runners’ up to other interested departments, but the small number of applicants made this plan impractical that first year (2). Yet the fellowship sponsors believed the number of applicants would increase once the program was advertised and became known more broadly.

Sponsors were at first puzzled and then deeply concerned when their stepped up efforts at recruitment did not increase the applicant pool. The year after the first fellowship was awarded, the applicant pool had shrunk below the first year’s applicant numbers. Selected candidates were brought to Bloomington for interviews each year of the fellowship, but the number of applicants continued to decline until this year when only one student applied for the program. That one applicant was enthusiastically chosen, as were all the previous fellows, to enter Indiana’s history program as an OAH-IU minority fellow. The problem of the declining pool of applicants for the competition was apparent before 1999. In 1997 and 1998, the small number of viable applicants led to the fellowships not being used because the selected candidates decided to attend other graduate programs or turned the award down. The selection committee did not have a deep enough pool of candidates to draw from once the awards were turned down by the first and second choices.

As a recruitment tool, the OAH-IU minority fellowship program has failed to live up to the expectations of its sponsors. The shrinking pool of fellowship applicants and the tremendous amount of resources used to support a few fellows, however talented or worthy, has raised many questions about effectiveness of the minority fellowship program as a recruitment tool. Some may think the funds should be used to assist a greater number of minority students, while others may want to make the program work as originally intended. Four years into the fellowship program is enough time to begin looking at how far the program has come and what direction it should take in the future.

Before any consideration can be given to new and different recruitment programs or the restructuring of the fellowship program, closer attention should be given to how successful minority fellowship and recruitment programs work.

OAH is among a handful of discipline-oriented professional organizations in the humanities to implement a program to increase the number of minorities in graduate programs at the doctoral-level. In “Minority Recruitment in the Historical Profession” Damon Freeman concludes that the history profession has “committed itself to the laudable goal of encouraging great numbers of minorities into the profession” while mostly “absent[ing] themselves from formally implementing programs in pursuit of this aim.” Other professional humanities’ organizations acknowledge the problem, but, for the most part, have not acted to increase the trickle of minorities into the graduate school “pipeline.” Freeman notes that the social sciences and health and medical professions have done a better job at recruitment than the humanities. In this report, technical and sciences professions can be added to the few listed as having successful minority recruitment and fellowship programs.

Three discipline-oriented minority fellowship and recruitment programs were chosen as examples to show how programs achieve their success. The American Sociological Association, the American Political Science Association, and the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. have minority fellowship and recruitment programs that are older and have been more success than the OAH-IU fellowship at recruiting minority students nationwide.

The remainder of the report will have four subheadings. The first three subheadings are titled after the sponsor-organizations, and the final subheading contains report conclusions. Following a brief profile of the organization, each component of the minority fellowship and recruitment programs will be described with attention to the mission of the program, success rate (ex. How many PhD’s produced by the program), and funding. Because the sources for this report come primarily from the program sponsors themselves, note will be made in each overview of whether the effectiveness of these programs is evaluated by an external agency.

American Sociological Associations

Founded in 1905, the American Sociological Association (ASA) is a professional nonprofit organization for sociologists. The ASA has more than 13,200 members in and out of the academy. In keeping with their mission to implement programs that will influence the present and future of sociology, the ASA created a Minority Affairs Program. MAP administers the ASA’s National Institute of Mental Health-funded minority fellowship program and the Ford Foundation-sponsored recruitment program for minority undergraduates, Minority Opportunity through School Transformation (MOST). The purpose of the fellowships is to increase the number of minority sociology doctorates in the mental health field, while the MOST program was created to encourage more minority students to enter graduates sociology programs. Established in 1974, the ASA’s Minority Fellowship Program has grown to include programs designed to boost the Association’s recruitment and retention efforts.

The Minority Fellowship Program is the hub around which all the other recruitment and retention efforts swirl. African-Americans, Latinos/as, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders interested in doctoral studies in the field of mental health are encouraged to apply for this fellowship. Between nine and ten awards are given out yearly. The length of the fellowship is a year with the possibility of extension for up to three years. The stipend is currently $14,688 and the program arranges for the tuition to be paid by the university or department. During a phone interview, the director of the Minority Fellowship Program, Dr. Edward Murguia, stated that over the years the fellowship program has established a network of reliable and committed graduate programs which support the ASA fellows. These programs have a good record for graduating ASA fellows.

Retention is as important as recruitment for the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program. It is not enough just to draw students willing to accept the fellowship; the Minority Fellowship Program’s administrators must prove that the program produces minority sociology doctorates in the sub-field of mental health to an external government agency every five years. The program has had twenty-five years to observe what kinds of support work to give minority students the best chance of completing their degree. Because they are accountable to an external agency, the fellowship program tracks the rate of graduation for mental health doctoral fellows. Dr. Murguia reported that 380 fellows had entered the program since 1974, and 208 have received their PhD’s (3).

In addition to making sure their fellows attend graduate programs that support them, the ASA ‘s Minority Fellowship Program provides programs to prepare them for the profession and support them through the challenges of graduate education. Fellows are brought to the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting for special sessions on career preparation. A professional development workshop, conducted by leading sociologists, provides information and insight into “important areas of research and discusses research directions in the sociology of mental health.”

Also at the annual meeting, fellows present papers on their doctoral work and receive feedback from the MFP director and other attendees and discussants. At a fellowship luncheon, MFP participants have further opportunities to make important connections to other sociologists and fellows in graduate schools across the nation. Many use the occasion to network with sociologists they want to work with or have worked with as interns over the Summer.

The ASA offers its minority fellows Summer internship opportunities with major ongoing studies in mental health. Through this program, students expand their research experience and train with mentors in their chosen field. They are also urged to attend a special summer seminar where they learn about the quantitative methods used in their area of research.

The Proposal Development Workshops provide fellows with the “knowledge and skill necessary to develop strong doctoral dissertation proposals.” If students receive a fellowship for the second year, they are brought to Washington, D.C. There they participate in a two-day seminar designed to assist them to plan their research and write proposals. As one former fellow explained, these workshops teach fellows a skill they will be using all their professional lives and help accustom them to the grant application process. That is why it is a mandatory workshop for second-year fellows.

Program administrators monitor the progress of fellows. A yearly status report on each fellow is required from the student’s designated mentor and another professor who knows and/ or works with the fellow. The program director, Dr. Murguia and fellows keep in touch with each other through a newsletter and increasingly by e-mail. A former fellow, Dr. Gary D. Sandefur, stated “the relationships I formed with my MFP mentor and the director of the MFP were invaluable.”

A final significant feature of the Minority Fellowship Program is the MFP Advisory Committee. This committee awards the fellowships, but committee members also serve as advisors to the program. Fellows benefit directly from the guidance of additional mentors from this committee. Many of the members of the committees are former fellows and take a natural interest in current fellows. Having benefitted from the program, advisory committee members help ensure students receive “strong academic and research training” in their field. Dr. David Takeuchi, a former fellow, explained that many program graduates feel grateful to the program and willingly extend themselves to new fellows. As an example of this, he has served on the advisory board and continues to be a mentor to fellows he has recruited to do research with him over the years.

The Minority Opportunities through School Transformation Program (MOST) created five years ago with funding from the Ford Foundation is a project that recruits undergraduates into graduate school. The difficulty for all minority fellowship programs is a scarcity of minority students at the undergraduate level. The ASA’s Minority Affairs Program feeds the graduate pipeline through a program that offers junior and senior undergraduates a taste of graduate school. When the program was started, it ran a summer institute that brought minority college students to its Summer session where they did research with experienced sociologists and learned about graduate schools and careers in sociology. According to Dr. Murguia, 50 to 60 percent of the summer institute’s participants went on to graduate school.

In recent years, the Ford Foundation insisted that the MOST program demonstrate its ability to alter school curriculums or create a support infrastructure for minority students within standing institutions. The summer institute program ended and key elements were adapted by college and universities undergraduate programs. Now MOST introduces minority undergraduates to research training and graduate school preparation at their home institutions in an effort to transform the schools (4). The MOST program continues to be a major feeder of minority undergraduates into the ASA’s minority fellowship program. Students participating in the program in their resident schools are still more likely to go on to graduate school.

American Political Science Association

The American Political Science Association (APSA) has more than 13,000 members worldwide (5). Founded in 1903, the APSA has many missions, but its primary one is to act as a resource for political scientists. In the 1960’s, the Association recognized the need for more minorities in their discipline and in 1969 established a minority fellowship program. The minority fellowship is a part of a three-pronged minority recruitment program which includes the fellowships, a minority identification project, and a five-week summer graduate school introductory seminar.

Like the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program, the APSA grants one year of support to its fellows. However, the fellowship is only for first year graduate students so it cannot be a source of extended funding for the fellows. Five fellowships offer a $6,000 stipend for the year. Three are designated as awards for African-American fellows, two for Latinos/as and one for a Native America fellow. Although only five fellows are awarded stipends, many more fellows without stipends receive assistance from the APSA.

The Association recommends its unfunded scholars receive financial support and admission to political science doctoral programs nationwide. The reputation of the APSA is such, that graduate programs across the country accept the “high caliber and potential”of the Association’s minority fellows. Since the program’s inception in 1969, financial assistance was offered to 300 of its fellows from institutions across the country. Of these 300, fifty have gone on to earn their doctorates.

The American Political Science Association seeks potential minority graduate scholars from the upper classmen/women of colleges and universities through an identification program. The faculty is urged to meet with minority undergraduates early in the school year to discuss professional careers in political science and collect the names of students interested in graduate school. For instance, at Indiana University, the director of graduate studies in political science talks with junior and senior students who have done well in their studies to judge their interest in attending graduate school. In addition to obtaining contact information and the school transcripts of these students, faculty members send the APSA their opinion as to the academic and personal strengths of these students.

Graduate schools use the information obtained by undergraduate institutions or academic programs to recruit minority students. Core graduate school participants, like Indiana University, receive the names of MIP students on mailing labels. This information is also available upon request for other graduate schools to use. School recruiters send students information about their graduate schools and political science graduate programs. Between thirty to thirty-five potential graduate students are identified through this program annually. African-American students identified by this program are encouraged to apply for the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute at the University of Virginia.

The American Political Science Association and the University of Virginia invite African-American junior and senior undergraduates to apply for the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, a program specifically designed to introduce them to graduate work in political science. Fifteen students are selected from a small pool of approximately twenty applicants to attend the five-week, expenses-paid program. The Summer Institute offers two transferable credit courses. One concerns some aspect of quantitative analysis while the other explores some facet of race and American politics. Guest lecturers and recruiters from doctoral programs meet with students to answer questions and talk about specific political science programs at their university. To further prepare students for the admission process for graduate school, students are assisted in preparation for the Graduate Record Examination by instructors from the Kaplan Educational Center. The Ralph Bunche Summer Institute claims that program participants over the past nine years “have reported improvement in their analytical, writing, and quantitative skills.”

In addition to the summer program, institute participants are brought together again at the APSA annual meeting for the Ralph Bunche Breakfast. They meet noted scholars, possible mentors, advisors and colleagues in their field. The best advertisements for the success of the program can be seen at these annual breakfasts. At each annual meeting breakfast, institute students can be seen to make progress in their careers, moving from former participants to graduate students to political science professionals. The Summer Institute is effective at recruiting minority undergraduates into graduate schools. Minority programs’ assistant Titilayo O. Ellis estimated that about half of those students who attended the Summer Institute go on to graduate school.

Before the APSA could increase the number of minority doctorates in political science, they had to make sure students were guided into considering professional careers in the field at the undergraduate level. The Minority Identification Project uses its already established network with core participating graduate schools, APSA affiliated graduate programs, and supportive faculty to expand the number of minority students interested in graduate studies. The Ralph Bunche Institute hosted by the University of Virginia prepares and supports talented African-American undergraduates who plan to pursue graduate studies. Finally the Minority Student Fellowship Program funds and assists with funding students entering their first year of graduate study.

The APSA’s attention to recruitment has increased the number of minority students entering graduate programs, but retention figures, which are not tracked closely by the APSA, show a relatively low rate of completion for doctoral fellows. This is especially true when compared to the American Sociological Association’s MFP graduation rate over approximately the same number of years. At this time, there is not external evaluation of the minority programs. Internally, the program is beginning an evaluation of the effectiveness of its programs and gathering information on its fellows. In comparison to the ASA, the APSA has not kept up with its fellows in a way that would help it determine the strengths and weaknesses of the program.

The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences, Inc.

The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences or GEM is very different from the minority programs discussed so far. It is more complex. First of all, it is a nonprofit corporation housed at Notre Dame University. Founded in 1976, GEM is sponsored by a consortium of universities and corporations. Executives from such large firms as Ford, DuPont, and Corning govern the program through a board of directors with administrators from university consortium members (MIT, Columbia, Duke). GEM declares its mission is to “enhance the value of the nation’s human capital in engineering and science by increasing the participation of under-represented minorities at the masters and doctoral levels.”

From its inception, the GEM program was intended as a recruiting tool for employers and universities seeking to fulfill government Affirmative Action guidelines. From the glossy annual report to GEM’s membership brochure advertising the program’s pre-recruitment cost-effectiveness, the program sells itself to potential university and corporate sponsors. Corporations and universities underwrite three GEM-administered fellowships in engineering and sciences and accompanying recruitment/retention programs. In addition, GEM manages the Environmental Protection Agency’s Culturally Diverse Academic Institutions Traineeship program (CDAI/Traineeship).

The largest fellowship is the M.S. Engineering Fellowship. The 1998 competition for the fellowship garnered 429 applicants. 180 M.S. fellows were chosen. These fellowships are portable and include tuition, fees and a stipend of $6,000 per academic year. M.S. engineering fellows intern at GEM member employers during the summer. The internship is required for M.S. fellows.

Forty applicants out of a group of 117 were awarded the doctoral fellowship in science in 1998. During the same year, fifty applied for the engineering doctoral fellowship and nine received the fellowship. The portability of the doctoral fellowships is limited to participating GEM member universities. The fellowship pays a stipend of $14,000 per year along with tuition and fees. Doctoral fellows are required to intern during the summer at a member employer for one summer, and may be required to accept university research/teaching assistantships as support between the second and fifth years. PhD fellowships are renewable up to four years. The final requirement for receiving a GEM fellowship is that all awardees must “abide by GEM guidelines.”

The Doctoral Bridge Project was designed to identify undergraduate and graduate students for federally-sponsored academic research institutions. The GEM program automatically steers its fellows toward Doctoral Bridge programs if they have degrees in the engineering or science discipline required by project institution. The Doctoral Bridge Project serves the needs of the sponsor, in this case university GEM members, by providing minority scholars to fill demands made by federal affirmative action programs. It is the only program that openly states its intention is to serve the needs of its member clients. Certainly, Bridge fellows benefit from the opportunity provided by this program, but the main thrust of the program is to assist the research university sponsors. Recently, GEM initiated the annual Faculty Bridge Seminar for both doctoral fellows and faculty.

The Faculty Bridge Seminar was “designed to create self-supporting networks for current and future faculty.” Senior faculty learn to mentor junior faculty and PhD students more effectively, and junior faculty and PhD students strengthen their ability to mentor undergraduates. Three workshop sessions presented during the seminar address such topics as pedagogic and mentorship enhancement, research and curriculum development, and career planning. The emphasis of the seminar is on assisting doctoral students who want to pursue a career in the academy. It is open to all GEM doctoral fellows. The seminar is not the only retention program sponsored by GEM to benefit students and its members.

Graduate Research Orientation Workshops (GROW) is a key component of GEM’s effort to assist students as they complete their graduate programs and prepare for a career in their chosen profession. The National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science, and the National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators are a few of the minority professional conferences which hosted GROW presentations. These workshops furnish information about the graduate school process from the initial application to graduate school to dissertation research and career advice. It is an opportunity for fellows to meet each other and network with mentors in their field. Through these workshops, undergraduates may receive information that would encourage them to apply for the GEM program.

The companion to GROW is the Mentorship Training Workshop which dispenses information to sponsors seeking to enhance their mentoring skills. Faculty and sponsor-corporation learn “the best practices and techniques for mentoring minority students.” The topics of other mentoring workshops emphasize different aspects of student retention. For example, Success in Graduate School was presented at the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program Conference and Transition Mentoring for New Hires at the AT&T Laboratories Mentoring Conference. Fellowship sponsors make an investment in “human capital” and the GEM program develops programs and publication to help insure a return on that investment.

Another program sponsored or administered by GEM is the Summer Institute where educators, students, interns, managers and new hires share successful strategies that work in their research or careers. The third annual Summer Institute will be held in the Summer of 1999. The Summer Institute is only one year older than the Bridge Seminars and shows that GEM realized the need to invest energy and capital in forums that would bring members and fellows together to network and to give fellows the guidance and support needed to complete their graduate studies. GEM continues to seek funding whenever possible to broaden opportunities for minorities in engineering and sciences. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Cultural Diverse Academic Institutions Traineeship Program is administered by GEM. This program fosters the development of research and academic programs of interest to the EPA in culturally diverse institutions of higher education. Awards are given to academic programs that “provide an environment of success for all of the country’s citizenry.” Examples of culturally diverse post-secondary schools are the members of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but other colleges and universities can participate in the competition, if they can demonstrate by their enrollment, retention, and graduation rates that they provide a diverse, supportive environment for minority students. Then, funding is given to academic programs within these types of institutions that support career development for their students in the environmental sciences.

Funds are available directly to support minority students in environmental sciences graduate programs through the CDAI Traineeship program. Master’s students receive $20,000 for tuition and fees and an additional $5,000 per year (up to two years) as a stipend during a twelve-week summer internship at the Environmental Protection Agency laboratories. Doctoral students receive $25,000 per year to pay tuition fees and stipends each year of the three years of support. As with GEM’s Doctoral Bridge project, the student and institutional recipient of the EPA’s CDAI/Traineeship award must be in disciplines that the EPA’s laboratories have a research and research personnel need. With twenty years of success at minority recruitment in the sciences, GEM had the experience, staff, and applicant pool necessary to convince the EPA they could successfully run this minority program.

The National Consortium of Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences operates as a corporation. It feeds corporations and universities the skilled minority student population necessary for a diverse student/employee population desired by these institutions. GEM has demonstrated their ability to attract a large pool of applicant, as many as 600 for the class of 1998. To continue as a viable and successful program, GEM has to show its paying members that their program works by producing minorities with masters and doctorates in the fields of interest to the members. In its 1997 annual report, GEM reported to its members that more than 1,700 engineering M.S. students graduated since 1977 (6). In additional, forty-two engineering doctoral fellows and seventeen sciences doctoral fellows have graduated since 1990. As any program dependent on the contributions of external sources, GEM must give evidence of its ability to satisfy their current members and attract new members. They keep track of their fellows and program spending and record them in their annual report for public perusal. The needs of the membership determine the areas of study and the number of masters and doctoral fellows that will be supported by GEM members. Electrical and mechanical engineering master and doctoral applicants are funded at or above the percentage of applicants who apply for fellowships in those disciplines. For example, electrical engineering students applying for the M.S. engineering fellowship in their field made up 28% of all M.S. engineering fellowship applicants in 1997. Exactly 28% of the applicants received the fellowship to study electrical engineering, while aeronautical, civil, and industrial engineering obtained fellowships below their representational percentage in the application pool.

Doubtless there are many other factors that contribute to the selection of fellows, but the concentration of the GEM program on providing mandatory internships with corporate members for its fellows makes it necessary to fund students most likely to meet the specific workforce requirements of the corporations and universities. Still, fellows profit from their association with the GEM program and its corporate and university sponsors. As many as 70% of GEM fellows who graduate accept positions in GEM’s sponsoring companies and organizations.

In Conclusion

As the Organization of American Historians and Indiana University history department consider whether to continue the fellowship program or seek other options for increasing minority PhD’s in American history, thought should be given to the fellowship, recruitment and retention programs above. Once again, consideration should be given to funding options from external sources, if the current program is to expand rather than stagnate. Under the headings of “Logical Partners,” External Funding, and Feeding the Pipeline, this report concludes with suggestions based on the model MFPs for the future direction of the OAH-IU Minority Fellowship Program.

“Logical Partners”

Acting Executive Director of GEM, Jay Dull explained that the key to setting up an effective minority fellowship program is to figure out who the logical partners are for the services offered by the program. The OAH and Indiana University are partners and share the financial and administrative responsibilities for the fellowship program. As early as 1990, the OAH sought partners for a minority recruitment and retention program. Even as OAH made plans to initiate the Minority Fellowship Program with Indiana University, the Organization made efforts to find external sources of funding for the program. Today, OAH should pursue sources for external funding by surveying the willingness of other institutions and organization to support the Minority Fellowship Program or any OAH- sponsored programs that would expand the number of minorities with history doctorates. Right now, a fellowship program is in place and other universities and organizations may be more willing to commit themselves and their resources to supporting a program already in existence.

History departments with graduate programs would be natural partners for minority recruitment programs, but as GEM director Jay Dull asked, “who else would be interested in historians besides universities?” Besides universities, historians are hired by federal and state agencies, libraries, humanities councils, museums, and corporations. Historians have the research, writing and analytical training that would make them attractive to many organizations and institutions outside of the academy. If the largest professional organization for historians of American history were to survey these institutions along with the universities, they may find clients for a fellowship program that will provide, possibly for a fee, a pool of minority history scholars. Like Indiana University, other universities who are willing to contribute fee and tuition or a stipend with tuition will have the opportunity of attracting an OAH fellow to their campus. Hardly a new idea, but one worth considering if the program hopes to increase the number of fellowships offered each year and the pool of applicants.

The most efficient and well-funded minority fellowship program can fail miserably if the needs of the minority students are not considered. Because the OAH-IU fellowship is not portable, minority students have to attend Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana. Minority students interested in studying Chicano/Latino, Native American, Asian-American histories would not find these subjects available at Indiana. Students studying African-American history have found their efforts hampered by the departure of Richard Blackett, a senior African-Americanist historian, during the first year of the fellowship and the difficulty of finding a replacement (7). Another factor that may hinder many minorities from applying for the OAH-IU Minority Fellowship Program is the location of the graduate school and the OAH.

Since many minorities live in urban areas, Bloomington’s location in a small town in South-central Indiana may not appeal to them as much as a campus that is located in an urban and more diverse community. None of the fellowship programs in this report are tied to a single campus. However, GEM does restrict its fellowship to member universities, but GEM has more than eighty university-members across the nation from which its fellows can choose. Along with the fellows’ ability to choose what part of the country they want to study in, they have various types of universities and graduate programs to choose from, including the Universities of Chicago, California, Florida, and Alabama, as well as Harvard, Howard, Stanford, and Notre Dame. A study of what minority students find appealing in a fellowship package should be undertaken if any changes are made to the current program.

External Funding

If a survey of universities and non-academic institutions reveals a need for the service provided by the OAH Minority Fellowship Program, but does not provide enough funding to hire administrative staff, create advertisements and send mailings, develop survey materials and analyze survey data, and initiate recruitment/retention programs more funds must be raised externally. The National Institutes of Mental Health finances the ASA’s Minority Fellowship Program. The Environmental Protection Agency funds the GEM-administered minority training program for environmental studies. The Lilly Endowment, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc., and the National Air and Space Administration have funded GEM in the past and presently (8). With its emphasis on increasing the number of minorities in the historical profession, OAH can approach foundations that support programs diversity in higher education for assistance in funding fellowships, general operation funds, conferences, and program and training/professional development.

The Lilly Endowment, based in Indiana, supports programs that increase the number of minorities in higher education. As the richest of the private, charitable organization in the United States, and therefore the world, they are situated to assist programs like the OAH fellowship, especially if the Organization considers ways funding may be used in Indiana. One idea that comes to mind from the model MFPs is to sponsor an annual summer institute for minority undergraduates who do well and show an interest in their history courses. Hosted by OAH and Indiana University, scholars will learn about graduate programs and the application process while acquiring key skills for history graduate study. Even if OAH needed funds to administer a national fellowship program, the Organization may be able to raise seed money from Lilly. For instance, GEM receives Lilly money for its national fellowship program for a four-year period. Like OAH, GEM is based in Indiana and can claim to assist the Hoosier community. Any funds might be used to cover operation costs, program development, or conferences held in Indiana. Two other external sources for funding are the Mellon and the Ford Foundation.

The Mellow Foundation gives awards for private and educational organizations that need support for fellowships, general operating funds, publication, outreach and training and professional development. The Ford Foundation in its 1999 winter report granted one million dollars over a four-year period for an international scholarship in social science for Vietnamese nationals; $707,000 for Campus Diversity Initiative and its Public Information Project, $485, 000 to the American Sociological Association for its program to encourage minority students to pursue teaching careers, and $200,000 to Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to secure access to higher education for Latinos/as. To reevaluate the viability of the OAH-IU Minority Fellowship Program, the OAH will reassess the needs of their current program. A grant to study program development from a foundation could be the first step in revamping the program or find other options.

Feeding the Pipeline

Expanding the current minority fellowship program not only takes more funding and organizational support, it also means increasing the number of undergraduates in the pipeline prepared to move into graduate studies in American history. An OAH-IU sponsored summer institute idea mentioned above, based on the APSA’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, could be an effective recruitment tool to guide interested undergraduate history majors into graduate programs. The organization could also increase the number of fellowship applicants or minority graduate students in the field by having department chairs and faculty produce a list of potential graduate students as the American Political Science Association does. The OAH might offer this list to universities, and use the list to advertise their fellowship directly to students.

Dr. Robert Harris of Cornell suggested a program similar to what the American Political Science Association and American Sociological Association already have for their minority fellow and undergraduate recruitment program participants. The OAH could fund potential graduate students’ attendance at the annual meeting. There, undergraduates would have the opportunity to network with experienced senior historians and graduate students. The new graduate student sessions at the annual conference may include a panel or two addressing issues of concern directly to minority undergraduates interested in history and graduate school. Undergraduates who have produced a project at the OAH summer institute or in their home institutions may be encouraged to present their findings during a special mealtime presentation or sessions. With only 4.8 percent of history PhD’s awarded to minority students, increasing the number of history minority students in the undergraduate pipeline should be one of the priorities of the OAH. Without students of color in the pipeline, minority fellowship programs, no matter how richly funded, cannot hope to raise the low percentage of minorities in the history profession.

The Organization of American Historians already has an impressive recruitment tool working for it, which is the affiliation of the fellows to the Organization. Fellows are first of all, OAH fellows. The program includes internship opportunities at the national headquarters. Because of the benefits I have received from my connection to the OAH, I strongly believe that any fellowship program should continue to have a component that includes an internship with OAH. The most recent fellow, Gwen Moore, showed great interest in the fellowship because of the OAH connection. The organization’s relationship with many universities, historians, and federal and local institutions where historians are hired have been and should continue to be a resource for fellows. Whatever decision is finally made about the fate of the fellowship, it was not a failure for those fellows who benefitted from the experiences at OAH and the history department at Indiana University.


  1. To save time, footnotes and sources are not added to this draft version of the report.
  2. There were only two runner’s up for the fellowship in 1995. Additionally, the number of runners-up decreased each year making the OAH’s plan to be a clearinghouse for other history departments of potential history graduate students impossible.
  3. According to the ASA’s minority fellowship director, Dr. Edward Murguia, sixty fellows are still completing their graduate work. The fellowship allows two awards per year for general sociology studies. Recipients of these fellowships are not tracked like the mental health doctoral students. The one hundred twelve fellows unaccounted for may be general sociology students who have graduated, dropped out or still completing their studies.
  4. In two years, the Ford Foundation-American Sociological Association MOST program comes to an end of its current phase of funding. It is unclear whether the program will continued to be funded by Ford, but Dr. Murguia stated that the Minority Affairs Program is looking for angles to make MOST attractive to other sponsors.
  5. About ten percent of the APSA’s membership live outside the United States.
  6. The M.S. Engineering Fellows have maintained an 88 percent completion rate which is the fellowship GEM members spend the bulk of their fellowship funds supporting.
  7. In 1995, Indiana University’s history department had two African-Americanists. Richard Blackett left in Spring, 1996, prompting a faculty search that was finally successful in Spring, 1998 with the hire of junior professor, Claude Clegg, who is currently on leave for the year (1999). It is unclear that Chana Kai Lee will stay at Indiana University at this time.
  8. GEM supports its programs primarily through its membership.