Grants and Gifts

$1.25M Hellman donation to UCLA supports junior faculty research

The Hellman Fellows Fund has approved a gift of $1.25 million to establish the UCLA Hellman Fellows Program, which will support the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction.

Starting July 1, the fund will provide $250,000 a year for five years, creating individual fellowships of up to $25,000 to help junior faculty pursue their research passions. Eligible faculty received an email inviting them to apply by the April 25 deadline, and an advisory panel of tenured faculty convened by the Academic Senate is reviewing the first round of fellowship applications.

“UCLA is most appreciative of the Hellman family’s generous donation, which will provide crucial support to faculty early in their careers, when research funding can be hardest to obtain,” said Chancellor Gene Block. “The UCLA Hellman Fellows Program will enhance research opportunities for junior faculty, especially in fields such as the arts, humanities and social sciences where outside grants are not as plentiful as in the sciences.”

The Hellman grants are available to assistant professors in the College of Letters and Sciences and most professional schools. The nearly campuswide accessibility makes the program unusual since many similar programs are limited to specific disciplines.

"Over the past 17 years, I have had the opportunity to have lunch with hundreds of Hellman Fellows,” donor Warren Hellman said. “To listen to what they accomplish and hear the potential of where their careers will take them is a very gratifying experience. Creating the Hellman Fellows Program is one of the best things my family has ever done with our giving.”

Campus officials said Hellman grants will act as seed money for junior faculty to take their research to the next level. The Hellman family observed that junior faculty are often well-funded when first hired, but that challenges arise a few years into their careers when start-up funding is exhausted and before initial grants are obtained. Campus leaders said this program is designed to assist promising young faculty at that point in their careers.

UCLA’s Hellman Fellows can tailor their grant budgets to fit their research needs, campus officials said. The one-time grants can’t be used to replace salaries, but professors can use the funding for research-related expenses, such as buying equipment, hiring research assistants, or traveling to and attending conferences. Hellman grants will supplement the limited number of similar grants made available by the campus.

Hellman and his wife, Chris, started the program in 1994 with UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. The Hellman Fellows Program now supports junior faculty at 13 institutions, including nine UC campuses. More than 650 UC faculty are now Hellman Fellows.
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