Tom Ford is pretty much a household name within academia. Highly coveted and highly elusive. This year, Tom will select 60 pre-doctoral graduate students to fulfill his mission in diversity and excellence in higher education. The mission? To ensure that the next generation of professors entering academia are not only of diverse backgrounds themselves, but that they are also committed to integrating diversity into the classroom.
For Tom Ford, a commitment to academic excellence matters as much as that excellence is imbued with a diverse perspective that will enhance the minds of students. Tom Ford works with the National Research Council of the National Academies to select the lucky “Fordees”. There is no equivocation about his intention to select budding scholars who will be joining the professoriate (if you have non-tenured track interests, they better not make their way into your application). You also must make sure that in your application you can show that you are pedagogically sound and adaptable to meet the ever-changing priorities of our society. You must show a demonstrated personal investment in working with communities of color both in and outside of the classroom.
The broadest element of Tom Ford’s qualifications is the wide array of fields of study he is seeking to attract. He is looking for undergraduates and/or graduate students who have already completed some graduate school who can demonstrate a need for the fellowship. Expectations? That you are enrolled full time in a doctoral degree program, and that you use the three year stipend within a five year period. Tom may also ask you to complete a periodic survey to help with the upkeep and evaluation of his program.
In summary, Tom Ford is all about diversity – diverse people and diverse pedagogy. Tom Ford seeks to bring a sense of personal flavor to the educational experience, in hopes that these diverse perspectives will enrich the wider landscape of higher education, and the lives of the young people that come through these spaces. With such an extensive and prestigious track record, I can only hope to one day be part of the unique and dynamic group of Tom Fordees.