Mellon Partners for Humanities Education

The Mellon Partners for Humanities Education, generously funded by a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, is a collaboration among four colleges and universities—Tennessee State University, Tougaloo College, Berea College, and Vanderbilt University.

The partnership supports faculty development on all campuses involved; seeks to improve graduate education at Vanderbilt, while preparing students to meet the needs of diverse types of institutions; and enhances undergraduate education at partner schools, as they prepare their students for a more competitive edge in the world marketplace. Resources include:

  • The Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded to individuals who recently have received PhD’s in the humanities or humanistic social sciences from Vanderbilt. The two-year fellowships provide salary, benefits, and a research fund and offer teaching and service opportunities at Tougaloo, Berea, or TSU. (application information)
  • Specialized training opportunities are made available to Vanderbilt graduate students and recent PhD’s through the Mellon Seminar in Liberal Arts Teaching and the Mellon Institute for Early-career Scholars in the Digital and Public Humanities. Completion of both programs is required of Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows.
  • Faculty exchanges among the four partner schools


Partner Schools

The member institutions in this partnership are Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Tougaloo College, and Berea College. Tennessee State University (TSU) is a historically black public university set in urban Nashville. It has over 8,000 students and offers degrees in a broad range of disciplines. Tougaloo College is a historically black private liberal arts college with just under 1,000 students.  It is located in the northernmost part of Jackson, Mississippi, and continues its time-honored tradition of academic excellence and social responsibility. Berea College also is a liberal arts school and was the first coeducational and interracial college in the southern United States. Based in a rural community not far from Lexington, Kentucky, Berea has never charged its students tuition, and advances a liberal arts philosophy with a strong emphasis on service learning.

Tennessee State University’s special emphases in humanities and liberal arts focus in two areas:  (1) an interest in global perspectives on civil rights and social justice issues and (2) perspectives on African and African American historical and cultural life. In both areas, the faculty have developed publications, panel discussions, new courses, and interdisciplinary seminars. Also, faculty who have studied and written on global perspectives on civil rights and justice have developed and led study-abroad courses to places such as South Africa, Egypt, Germany, and Sri Lanka. At the same time, the faculty pursue other more traditional studies in areas including medieval and early British and American literature and history. Information about TSU can be found at

Berea College has long enjoyed very strong humanities programs, and its committed faculty is dedicated to the transformative education of the students it serves. Berea College ranks in the top 10% of 1,548 colleges and universities as the baccalaureate origin of students who obtain the Ph.D.  According to a recent analysis by the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) organization, Berea College is in the top 2.5% of colleges and universities for “beating the odds” for PhD production based on students’ entering ACT scores. In the last four years, the college has hired three faculty—two in English and one in history—who bring great experience in and knowledge of the digital humanities. One of these faculty recently was awarded a Humanities Writ Large fellowship at Duke, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Discover more about Berea College at

Humanistic disciplines at Tougaloo College include BA programs in art, English, the Interdisciplinary Career Oriented Humanities major, mass communications, and history, and an associate’s degree program in religious studies. The Tougaloo faculty regularly receive national and international recognition for their research and creative scholarly work, and Tougaloo students are closely mentored in an environment of academic and social engagement. Each spring, the Tougaloo Division of the Humanities produces a week-long Humanities Festival, featuring discussions, demonstrations, concerts, exhibitions, dance, and dramatic performances coordinated around a central theme. Each summer, the Tougaloo Art Colony features a week-long intensive arts experience provided by nationally known artists and lecturers. Learn about the history and programs of Tougaloo College at

Vanderbilt University is a research university with a distinguished record in the humanities and a strong dedication to graduate education. The Warren Center Graduate Fellows program provides experience in strategic professional development for graduate students in the humanities. The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy offers an opportunity to develop new resources in the arts and public humanities. These programs are coupled with significant recent investments in humanities faculty, graduate education, and undergraduate education. Humanistic research and teaching in all forms thrive on the Vanderbilt campus.