Earl Lewis, former president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, now professor of history and African American and African studies at the University of Michigan, will address graduates and candidates at Cal State Fullerton’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 18.
Lewis will be honored at the ceremony with an honorary doctor of humane letters, in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the educational community.
A noted social historian, Lewis has championed the importance of diversifying higher education, enhancing graduate education and re-envisioning the liberal arts. He also has been involved in exploring the role of digital tools for learning and connecting universities to their communities.
During his tenure as president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the organization awarded grants in excess of $1.2 billion in support of higher education, the arts and the humanities. The foundation recently awarded a $2.2 million grant to establish the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program on five California State University campuses. Cal State Fullerton served as the lead institution for the program’s transformative effort to increase rigorous academic opportunities and provide financial support for students — many of whom are underrepresented — seeking to pursue a doctorate in the humanities immediately after completing their bachelor’s degrees.
Prior to joining the Mellon Foundation, Lewis served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University, where he also served as the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies.
Lewis has authored or co-edited seven books, including “Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society,” “The African American Urban Experience: Perspectives From the Colonial Period to the Present” and “In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th-Century Norfolk.” He is now developing a long-term Mellon project that will produce annual reports showcasing scholarship on the value of diversity.
He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota and has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2008. Lewis has been honored with honorary doctorates from Carnegie Mellon University, Rutgers University-Newark, Dartmouth College, and Concordia College. He also has received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota and the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the University of Michigan.
Cal State Fullerton will celebrate commencement over three days this year, kicking off the festivities at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, with a campuswide program followed by ceremonies for two of its eight colleges. The six other colleges will hold their ceremonies at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20.
Additional details are available online.