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    A Model Program at The University of Memphis
    4. A Model Program at The University of Memphis

    The most commonly used strategy to recruit students into graduate programs from underrepresented populations is to establish a pipeline partnership between a minority-serving institution and a majority-serving institution. Students are targeted early in the undergraduate programs and invited to seminars and research forums at the destination institution. The pipeline partnerships tend to be mutually beneficial in the following ways: a) they tend to generate research collaborations and exchanges between faculty coordinators at both institutions, b) prospective graduate students from the minority-serving institutions have an early opportunity to interact with and be mentored by current graduate students who are nearing degree completion and witness first-hand the success of their peers, and c) students at both the majority and minority-serving institutions become advocates and ambassadors for diversity and actively recruit their peers into the doctoral program.


    One nationally recognized model pipeline partnership at the University of Memphis is the PhD program in Philosophy and the undergraduate program at Spelman College. Recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education (“Black Women Seek a Role in Philosophy” by Robin Wilson, September 28, 2007), the number of African Americans holding PhDs in Philosophy, academe’s oldest discipline, is approximately 100 or 1%. The article further states, “the number of black female philosophers has been inching up lately, thanks mostly to the graduate program at the University of Memphis” (p. B5). Approximately 30 of the 100 African American PhDs in Philosophy are female and many are alumnae of the University of Memphis. Dr. Robert Bernasconi worked initially to establish the pipeline with Spelman College, and now that feminist philosophy and race theory are focus areas of the scholarship in the Department, women and African American students enter the University of Memphis from different portals. Equally important is the fact that the applicants to this program have some of the highest GRE scores and grade point averages at the university. This is truly a network of scholars, and this model served as the basis for the CGS/Peterson’s Award for Innovation in Promoting an Inclusive Graduate Community that the University of Memphis received in 2006.*


    * The CGS/Peterson Award was initiated in 1994 to recognize innovative institutional programs that seek the identification, recruitment, retention, and graduation of minority graduate students. This award program concluded in 2008. In 2009, the ETS/CGS Award for Innovation in Promoting Success in Graduate Education: From Admission through Completion was launched  to recognize promising efforts in initiating or scaling up innovations in graduate education that occur from admission through successful completion of a degree program. The ETS/CGS Award program is especially interested in encouraging innovations that promise to improve the success of a diverse and inclusive student population. For more information about this award program, see:


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