TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship

All MSU doctoral students whose dissertation research is related to the African Diaspora are eligible to apply for this Fellowship. Such research is focused on any aspect of the communities of people descended from the voluntary or forced historic movement of African peoples to other parts of the world and who are usually connected back in some way to Africa.


TIAA  established the Ruth Simms Hamilton Research Fellowship at TIAA-CREF in 2005 to honor the memory and life's work of Dr. Ruth Simms Hamilton ("Dr. Hamilton"), a former professor at MSU and member of the TIAA Board of Trustees. Dr. Hamilton's 35-year-long career at MSU included appointments in the Department of Sociology, the African Studies Center, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development. She was an early pioneer of research concerning the African Diaspora, the dispersion and settlement of African people after leaving the African continent. Dr. Hamilton was a valued member of the TIAA Board of Trustees from 1989 to 2003, serving on the Board's Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility Committees from 1990 to 2003, as well as the Board's Executive Committee.
The creation of the TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship at MSU is a natural and appropriate step to ensure continued recognition of Dr. Hamilton. It will provide fellowships for future graduate students whose scholarly work honors the high standards Dr. Hamilton set.

2018-19 Process and application information

One fellowship will be awarded (>$30,000) early Spring. The recipient must be enrolled at Michigan State University in a doctoral program in Spring Semester to receive the funds. Nominees/applicants must have successfully passed comprehensive exams.

Nominations/Applications are due to the Graduate School by 5:00 PM December 13, 2018 (see application for details).

Former recipients are eligible to apply, however, should know that a second award is unlikely.

An advisory committee of Graduate Associate Deans and faculty at MSU who are familiar with or work in the area of the African Diaspora will advise the Dean of the Graduate School on the selection of the Fellow.

The Application/Nomination form must be completed. Each application must be accompanied by one letter of support and a signature of the major advisor (if that person is not writing the support letter).

The Fellow must be enrolled Spring 2019 to receive the funds. The Fellow may travel to support research, present at a conference, support the collection of data, or complete writing the dissertation. The Fellow is expected to express acceptance of and appreciation for the award to TIAA, and to participate in an awards reception at MSU during Spring 2019.

Previous TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Fellowship Recipients:

  • 2017-18 James Blackwell, History
  • 2016-17 Tara Mock, African American and African Studies
  • 2015-16 Blair Proctor, African American and African Studies Program
  • 2014-15 David Walton, History/African American and African Studies Program
  • 2013-14 Ronald Jackson II, History
  • 2012-13 Kamahra Ewing, African American and African Studies Program
  • 2012-13 Alexandra P. Gelbard, Sociology