About the Woodrow Wilson Foundation
SIX DECADES OF EXCELLENCE
Woodrow Wilson’s current programs build on the Foundation’s six decades of leadership in education. From its earliest days, Woodrow Wilson has opened doors—to new access and new possibilities in doctoral education, to more powerful professional development for secondary school teachers, and to fuller engagement between the academy and society at large. The following initiatives from Woodrow Wilson’s past exemplify this ongoing commitment to address emerging needs in education, creating new opportunities for excellence.
(in rough chronological order)
- The Woodrow Wilson Fellowships
- Woodrow Wilson Teaching Internships/Administrative Internships
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowships
- Woodrow Wilson Teacher Fellowships
- The Leadership Program for Teachers
- The Spencer Dissertation Year Fellowships for Research Related to Education
- Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships
- The Humanities at Work
- WW-Johnson & Johnson Women’s Health Dissertation Fellowships
- The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships in Humanistic Studies
- The Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowships for Recently Tenured Faculty
In the years following World War II, the original Woodrow Wilson Fellowships were created at Princeton University to attract returning veterans back to doctoral studies and college teaching careers. By mid-century, with support from the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations, the Woodrow Wilson Fellowships had become a nationwide program offering full support for Ph.D. work in the arts and sciences to 1,000 Fellows each year. The annual selection process, including rigorous interviews by leading academics, provided a yardstick for academic excellence and a model for other fellowship programs. Woodrow Wilson Fellowships continued to be awarded, with some modification during the program’s closing years, until the early 1970s. When the suspension of Woodrow Wilson Fellowships was announced, a New York Times editorial proclaimed a “moratorium on excellence.?
In 1963 the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Internships were created, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, to offer graduate students teaching experience and strengthen the faculties of historically black colleges and universities. By 1970, 303 Teaching Interns had been placed at 62 institutions. A spinoff of the Teaching Internships, the WW Administrative Internships (added in 1967) recruited young leaders and scholars with expertise in development and financial management to help HBCUs meet demands for well-trained administrators. Funded initially by the Esso Education Fund and the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation, the Administrative Internships would continue until 1990.
Recalling the Foundation’s early days of support for soldiers returning from World War II, the MLK Fellowships offered two years of support for black veterans pursuing graduate and professional degrees in preparation for careers in the service of society. Augmented by a counseling service, the program supported 250 Fellows during its six years of awards.
The Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s first small but notable foray into preparing K-12 teachers, the Teacher Fellowships encouraged superior graduates of liberal arts colleges to pursue alternative certification for secondary school teaching. Fellows combined guided classroom experience with appropriate graduate study. Shortly after the conclusion of the Teacher Fellowships, which worked with 42 young teachers, Woodrow Wilson initiated the Leadership Program for Teachers, which would provide professional development for thousands.
Over the course of two decades, Woodrow Wilson’s original Leadership Program for Teachers provided more than 2,400 secondary school teachers with cutting-edge professional development, led by noted scholars and experts, through month-long summer institutes in a residential setting near Princeton, New Jersey.
Click here for archived materials from LPT CORE summer institutes
Created in 1986 through a grant from the Spencer Foundation, the Spencer Fellowship program offered 25 to 30 awards annually for students interested in pursuing careers in education research in school systems, at colleges and universities, at research centers and institutes, and through the departments of education of museums and other cultural agencies. Awards offered support not only for doctoral students in schools of education, but for any Ph.D. candidate in an academic discipline with a tradition of research on problems of education, such as psychology, history, and sociology. By 1992, Spencer Fellowships administered through the Woodrow Wilson Foundation had supported work on 165 doctoral dissertations. In 1993, the Spencer Foundation assumed direct administrative responsibility for the Spencer Dissertation Fellowship program, still an active program more than a decade later.
A precursor of the current Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships, the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships offered new academic opportunities in public policy and international affairs, seeking to diversity these fields and engage the interest of first-generation college students, including minority students, who might otherwise not have considered public service careers. The PPIA program offered summer institutes at major schools of public policy, held at the end of the junior year of college, to provide information on careers in these fields as well as additional skills development; a variety of options after the senior year, including language study and summer internships; and graduate fellowships leading to degrees in public policy and international affairs. Funded by the Ford, Rockefeller, Hewlett, and Reed Foundations, the program engaged as many as 150 students each year. The PPIA program gave rise to several smaller offshoots with specific emphasis such as rural policy and development (USDA Fellowships) and international trade, and also provided the initial pattern for the Pickering Fellowships.
A multifaceted initiative, the Humanities at Work sought to bring new dimensions and greater vitality to the humanities by exploring ways in which Ph.D. students, faculty, and academic departments in these disciplines could connect their expertise more fully with society at large. Some components of the Humanities at Work:
- Various programs, such as the Practicum Grants (concluding in 2006), supported talented doctoral candidates who developed projects that applied their knowledge of human history, society, and culture, along with their skills in languages, communication, project management and critical thinking, to community needs and priorities.
- Other related public scholarship projects—including a national collaboration with Imagining America, as well as Innovation Awards for departments working in these areas—added faculty and institutional emphases to the larger Humanities at Work initiative.
- Early Humanities at Work career placement projects provided resources (and for a brief time placement opportunities) related to nonacademic careers. Key among these was WRK4US, an email discussion list on nonacademic careers for humanities Ph.D.s, which evolved through the efforts of Practicum Grant recipient Paula Foster Chambers and was hosted at Woodrow Wilson for several years. WRK4US has since migrated to a new institutional home at Duke University.
- The Woodrow Wilson Academic Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities (1999-2003), closely related to Humanities at Work, placed recent doctoral graduates in the humanities in two-year, full-time appointments at a wide range of colleges and universities. WW Postdocs strengthened their credentials for the highly competitive humanities job market, pursuing their scholarly interests in a richly interdisciplinary setting and teaching in new kinds of settings. The Postdoctoral Careers Program, a similar effort (1999-2002), engaged humanities Ph.D.s in nonacademic consultancies and internships.
By 2006, the Humanities at Work and related national efforts had done much to promote public awareness of and attention to possibilities for public scholarship and nonacademic connections for the humanities. Through its various grant programs and meetings, the initiative had supported nearly 150 awards and engaged hundreds more scholars and observers in crucial dialogue about the future of the humanities.
The WW-J&J Women’s Health Fellowships, an offshoot of the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowships in Women’s Studies, reflected a growing emphasis on women’s health issues among applicants for Women’s Studies Fellowships. With support from its New Jersey neighbor Johnson & Johnson, Woodrow Wilson administered the Women’s Health Fellowships, providing small research and travel grants in the final dissertation year to scholars and researchers working on innovative, interdisciplinary projects with practical implications for women’s health.
The 107 Fellows supported through the program (including roughly 20 from a short-lived sub-program in Children’s Health) addressed such varied issues as health care for incarcerated women, family violence, pregnant women’s adherence to HIV medications, sexuality among urban Iranian women, and the health effects on women of stress and aging. Representing diverse fields—anthropology, history, criminal justice, nursing, endocrinology, neuroscience, and many others—Fellows subsequently pursued careers as scholars and academic researchers (with a number on the faculty at such noted institutions as Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Arizona, Illinois, and Wisconsin), federal and state policy leaders, and heads of nonprofit organizations. After a successful decade, the program was suspended in 2006.
Under the guidance of Robert F. Goheen—one of the first four Woodrow Wilson Fellows, the first National Director of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program, and later president of Princeton University—the Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities were created in 1982, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Recalling the original Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, the Mellon Fellowships supported doctoral work in the humanities. Approximately 100 Fellows each year received awards that included tuition and a stipend for the first two years of Ph.D. study, followed by a dissertation-year fellowship. In 1993, the program was reconfigured (and its name slightly changed) to support the first year of Ph.D. study for roughly 85 fellows each year. Altogether, more than 2,000 Mellon Fellows had been named when the Mellon Fellowship was suspended in 2005-06. To learn more, visit the Mellon Fellowship page.
Named in honor of Millicent C. McIntosh, the late president of Barnard College, a noted humanist and educator, and supported by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowships for Recently Tenured Faculty supported the work of more than a dozen humanities scholars at some of the nation’s most respected liberal arts colleges. Specifically intended for recently tenured faculty who would benefit from additional time and resources to continue their scholarly work, but whose family and other obligations made it difficult for them to be away from their homes for extended periods of time, the fellowships supported scholarly research, typically leading to a young scholar’s second book.