About the Fontaine Society

Fontaine Fellowships support the academic development of PhD students whose research and experiences will enhance the diversity of the professoriate.

In 1970 an endowment was established posthumously in honor of Dr. William Fontaine, Professor of Philosophy, the first African-American appointed to the Standing Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. From its inception, the endowment, known as the “Fontaine Fellowship” has been used to advance the University’s goals related to enrolling a diverse student body and fostering a vibrant intellectual environment. Originally restricted to students from groups “traditionally and historically underrepresented” in higher education – specifically U.S. African American, Native American, and Hispanic students – diversity is now more broadly defined, and may include, for example, first-generation college students who are from low income families, or students whose backgrounds are most underrepresented in a specific discipline or field.

Fontaine Fellows receive graduate funding identical to the standard fellowship package awarded to students in their respective doctoral programs. In addition, the Fontaine Society provides members with opportunities to come together throughout the year to support one another’s academic progress and enhance the University campus as a whole, through their contributions to the scholarly community.

Students are nominated for membership in the Fontaine Society by their home school at the time they are admitted to Penn. Prospective Fontaine Fellows are invited to the Fontaine Society Annual Dinner in March, to meet current Fontaine Fellows and learn more about the opportunities membership provides. Nominated fellows are welcomed into the Fontaine Society when they matriculate.


Today, the Fontaine Society is comprised of nearly 400 current PhD students spanning a wide range of disciplines. The “Fontaines” in the biomedical fields have founded the “EE Just Society” honoring the pioneering African American scientist. Penn is proud of the 651 Fontaine Alumni who have earned their PhDs in the past three decades.

Fontaine Society holds monthly social events for peer interaction. They sponsor travel awards and “Philly Nights Out” to sample local cultural offerings – plays, films, sports games, etc. They also organize conferences and workshops to support academic work, like “Dissertation Bootcamp.” The annual Fontaine Dinner, for current members and “prospectives”, and “Celebration of Progress” are major social highlights. Fontaines partner with other student groups throughout the year, and many volunteer in service projects, such as the “Science Education Academy” for grade school students in West Philadelphia.

Members of the Fontaine Society are encouraged to join the Fontaine Society’s Facebook page to network with fellow Fontaines and be the first to know about upcoming events.

Meet our current fellows


The governing body for the Fontaine Society is the Fontaine Coordinating Committee (FCC). Members serve on a voluntary basis to organize and implement a wide range of events during the year. The FCC also administers the Fontaine Travel Fellowship competition, which helps support student travel to present research at conferences in their fields of study.

To contact the Fontaine Coordinating Committee, e-mail: fontaine-society@googlegroups.com.


Fontaine Coordinating Committee (FCC) Leadership

For general questions about the Fontaine Society:

Anita Mastroieni, Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education,
Office of the Provost, 120 College Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Phone: 215-898-1842 or email mastroie@upenn.edu.