December 13, 2022

Wayne State University receives $6 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to increase Black Studies faculty and establish the Detroit Center for Black Studies

The Mellon Foundation awarded a $6 million grant to Wayne State University to launch a cluster hire program that will recruit and hire 30 new humanities faculty and create the Detroit Center for Black Studies. The grant advances Wayne State’s work to build a more inclusive and equitable university by prioritizing faculty and research centered on the Black experience.

“We are grateful that the Mellon Foundation recognizes Wayne State’s efforts to transform Black Studies at the university with this impactful support,” said Wayne State Provost Mark Kornbluh.

Provost Mark Kornbluh

“Wayne State is located in the largest majority-Black city in America, and our curricula should reflect that with more courses that center the Black experience and the role that race has played in American history, culture, and society. This grant propels us to build a more inclusive curriculum, a broader research agenda, and deeper impact on our community by dramatically increasing the number of faculty members whose work centers the Black experience.”

With the funding from the Mellon Foundation, Wayne State will recruit 10 new early career scholars in the humanities for the Pathway to Faculty program, an initiative to guide and prepare pre-faculty fellows for tenure-track positions; 10 new tenure-track hires; and 10 tenured faculty members at the associate or full professor level.

The focus will be on scholars whose research interests expand knowledge about people of color and the issues that affect them, along with studies involving the impact of race, racism, inequality, and struggles for equality and justice. This includes scholars who are committed to creating more inclusive curricula for students, who have experience in or demonstrated commitment to teaching and mentoring students of myriad backgrounds, and who are committed to engaging in service with the Black community.

“What Wayne State will achieve with this grant aligns perfectly with the goals of the Mellon Foundation,” said Phillip Brian Harper, program director for Higher Learning at the Mellon Foundation. “Working to ensure faculty members elevate humanities knowledge in their communities is critically important, as is the support of these faculty members in their efforts to build thoughtful, inclusive curricula.”

A second initiative that the Mellon Foundation will support is the launch of the Detroit Center for Black Studies, a faculty-led multidisciplinary center at Wayne State that connects Black Studies faculty from institutions across the state of Michigan.

President M. Roy Wilson

The goal is an inclusive center that brings together the breadth of scholars who work in African American, African, and African-diaspora studies and the interconnections with U.S. and global histories, culture, social, economic, legal, and health systems.

“With this Mellon-supported initiative, we aim to have a major impact on the key work of Wayne State: research, teaching, community engagement, and student success,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “We are committed to building a much more inclusive public research university that better reflects and serves our city, state and nation. Ultimately, we believe that these hires and the curricula and community ties they develop will help us continue to increase success rates across our entire student population.”


About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 25,000 students.


Heidi Coates
Phone: 313-577-6483
Darrell Dawsey
Phone: 313-577-1204

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