“Fulbright means the world to us and in fact, brings the world to Bennett College.”
Suzanne Elise Walsh, the president of this small women’s liberal arts college in Greensboro, N.C., notes the tremendous impact the U.S. Department of State program has had on its campus.
“The first taste of the world for many of our students happens on campus with our Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants,” she says. “They bring cultural programming in addition to teaching languages and our students inevitably are hooked on learning more and seeing more of the world as a result of that first taste on campus with our FLTAs.”
For more than 400,000 standouts scholars and students over 76 years, the Fulbright Program has delivered unparalleled experiences for those who have taken part in studies, research and relations across 160-plus countries. At the heart of the convergence of academia, diplomacy and culture sharing are the inclusive and diverse institutions that help funnel their best and brightest leaders through it–ones that are increasing engagement and helping promote the program. On Monday to kick off the White House’s National HBCU Week Conference, the Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recognized 19 of them, this year’s Fulbright Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Institutional Leaders.
“HBCUs are an important part of the American and global higher education communities, providing life-changing exchange opportunities for American and international students, faculty, and administrators alike,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the ECA. “[We] hope that these institutions’ success encourages all HBCUs to engage further with Fulbright and with the State Department.”
Those that do, like Bennett College, find the merits are far-reaching, quite literally. Many send students and scholars aboard and/or host others, including FLTAs and scholars-in-residence on the campus, broadening and “internationalizing” their campuses. Those individuals who help find creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues are the real beneficiaries. Dozens of them have become heads of nations or Nobel Prize winners. Many are leaders in their fields, including those within higher education and in business, public policy and science.
“Fulbright not only gave me the opportunity to perfect my Portuguese language skills, but it gave me a community of scholars with whom I have collaborated with for the last 20 years,” says Dr. Rhonda Collier, Professor of Modern Languages & Communication and Director of Tuskegee University’s Global Office. “My mission as a Fulbright alumna is to pass it on. My role as Fulbright Program Adviser and Fulbright Scholar Liaison is one of the many opportunities I enjoy as a TU Faculty member who mentors not only her students, but her peers.”
Collier says Fulbright at Tuskegee has deep meaning for her, including “her passion for academic excellence mirrored in the international travels and research of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. Fulbright is a vehicle to hone world-class scholars through cultural immersion and the opportunity to represent the best of U.S. culture abroad.”
Thousands of HBCU scholars and students have been through the program, including two of this year’s nominees. For example, Howard University has produced 14 Fulbright students in the past three years and well over 200 in its history, including more than 100 faculty scholars, while Morgan State University has seen more than 150 Fulbrighters since the program’s inception. Here are this year’s transformative HBCU Institutional Leaders:
- Alcorn State University
- Bennett College
- Bluefield State University
- Central State University
- Delaware State University
- Fayetteville State University
- Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
- Howard University
- Huston-Tillotson University
- Jarvis Christian University
- Lincoln University in Pennsylvania
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Morgan State University
- North Carolina A&T State University
- Spelman College
- Tennessee State University
- Texas Southern University
- Tuskegee University
- Virginia State University
For more information on the Fulbright Program, colleges can visit the ECA site here. They can also check out this video on how Fulbright impacts U.S. faculty and administrators who have a Fulbright to teach or conduct research abroad, and their campuses as well as its Scholars program.