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News and Media

Oberlin Research Fellows Program

Oct. 09, 2007

In keeping with Oberlin's historic commitment to diversity and inclusion, the College is creating a new program designed to offer faculty-mentored research experiences and preparation for graduate study to students who are low-income, the first in their family to attend college, and/or from groups underrepresented in higher education. 

The Oberlin Research Fellows Program will provide the same kinds of services previously offered by the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program of the U.S. Department of Education, which supported summer stipends for students to remain on campus to conduct research with faculty mentors and attend skill-development seminars, lectures, and workshops. Recent changes in Department of Education regulations made it doubtful that Oberlin's McNair program could be sustained. But because the program has proven highly successful—to date, four Oberlin McNair alumni have earned PhDs, 13 have earned master's degrees, and another 34 are enrolled in graduate or professional school—the College stepped in to rescue it by creating the new Oberlin Research Fellows Program.

"Oberlin, as you know, has been committed to educational access since its founding," says Oberlin President Marvin Krislov. "We are eager to continue this legacy by supporting the development and educational aspirations of students underrepresented in higher education."

Monique Burgdorf, assistant director of undergraduate research, says, "When we gathered our current McNair Scholars together to tell them that President Krislov believes such a program is important and is committed to moving it forward, they screamed out loud. They are so happy to know that Oberlin understands how valuable this program is.

Student-faculty research experiences are an integral part of the Oberlin experience and are having a profound impact on students' intellectual and personal development. "The structure and solace of a financially supported summer, where students can work with a faculty member and explore the mysteries of their research, completely transforms students' lives," says Burgdorf. "Where they were once simply students, their research journeys turn them into scholars, scholars who become activists."

Before the end of the fall semester, the Office of Undergraduate Research will select a new class of Research Fellows for a two-year term that begins next spring. Information about eligibility and application is available from the Office of Undergraduate Research at Peters Hall 127, ext. 56971, or by e-mailing Monique Burgdorf at

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