The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to endow a new graduate student fellowship program in the humanities. Once in place, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships of Distinction program will support the work of at least twenty-five new and continuing Ph.D. students.
The ability to attract top graduate students is crucial to the success of an institution of higher learning, as top graduate programs tend to attract top faculty, who in turn collaborate with their students on research projects. Graduate students also frequently serve as teaching assistants, a key, if underappreciated, role.
Because UCLA's funding packages for graduate students lag its competitors by as much as $10,000 a year, and because out-of-state and international students have to pay non-resident tuition and fees totaling approximately $24,000 per year, the school has had difficulty attracting top Ph.D. students. Last year, in fact, the situation became so dire that the College of Letters and Science redirected $4.5 million in funds earmarked for teaching positions to graduate student recruitment.
"Until now, we've been a better school than we could afford to be when it came to graduate support," said Tim Stowell, dean of the humanities division in UCLA's College of Letters and Science. "This support will truly elevate the stature of our graduate student population and, in turn, the excellence of humanities at UCLA."