A Culture of Giving
Mellon Foundation to Help Increase Alaska Native PhDs
Alaska Natives constitute nearly 20 percent of the state’s population and 16 percent of UA’s student body – but represent only three percent of the university’s faculty positions, a fact that is commonly attributed to a lack of educational credentials. To increase the number of Alaska Native students earning doctoral degrees – and subsequently raise the number of Alaska Native faculty – the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded a $700,000 grant to UAF to support students in the dissertation-writing phase of their doctoral programs.
The first fellowship was recently awarded to Jordan Lewis, a UAF student pursuing a PhD in cross-cultural community psychology. His thesis, titled “Successful Aging Through the Eyes of Alaska Natives,” examines the health and well-being of Alaska Native elders in five Bristol Bay-area villages. “With the different components to the fellowship – scholarship, travel and networking – the most exciting is the chance to network and collaborate with other fellows, and receive mentoring from professors. The chance to go to a professional conference, and get feedback on my dissertation, will also be important to get established in my field,” Lewis said.