AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School has announced a major new initiative to enhance the recruitment, retention and success of outstanding students belonging to historically underrepresented groups. Beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, the Spaulding-Smith STEM Fellowship Program will annually provide approximately 20 new graduate students with two full years of financial support while also offering an array of extracurricular programming to foster academic excellence, professional growth and social cohesion.
The Spaulding-Smith Fellowships will be awarded to top science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) applicants seeking admission to UMass Amherst doctoral programs. Applicants will be nominated for the fellowship by graduate program directors in the Colleges of Natural Sciences, Engineering, and Information and Computer Sciences, as well as the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Fellowship recipients will be selected by a faculty committee representing each of these schools or colleges.
In addition to receiving a full-tuition scholarship and year-round stipend throughout their award terms, Spaulding-Smith Fellows will participate in a multi-layered mentoring program, receive funding to present their work at academic conferences, attend professional development workshops and interact with prominent visiting scholars. The program will be directed by Dr. Funmi Adebayo, assistant dean for inclusion and engagement in the Graduate School.
“I greatly look forward to implementing the many exciting components of the Spaulding-Smith Fellowship Program in the service of our talented STEM students from diverse backgrounds,” said Adebayo. “I am confident that it will help our fellows thrive as they pursue their academic and professional goals.”
The Spaulding-Smith STEM Fellowship Program, which is funded by the Graduate School, takes its name from two pioneering university alumni. The first African-American both to receive a Ph.D. from UMass Amherst and to complete an agronomy doctoral program, Major Franklin Spaulding, earned his doctorate in 1935. His noteworthy career included faculty appointments at several historically black colleges and universities, including Tuskegee, Langston University, and Tennessee A & I University. The first woman to receive an advanced degree from UMass Amherst, Elizabeth Hight Smith, graduated with an M.S. in 1905 and later taught at the University of California Berkeley.
“I am delighted to recognize the university’s rich tradition in diversity and inclusion by naming the Graduate School’s new fellowship program for underrepresented students after two distinguished graduate alumni who shattered social barriers while cultivating prominent academic careers,” said Barbara Krauthamer, dean of the Graduate School. “Following the example set by these groundbreaking figures, the Spaulding-Smith STEM Fellowship Program will increase diversity on our campus and in the professoriate.”