Members of the 2013-14 Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (from left to right): Mark Alexander, Rye Barcott, Lisa Caputo, Betty Castor, Gabrielle Giffords, Christie Gilson, Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón, Tom Healy, Shelby Lewis, Anita McBride, Susan Ness, and Laura Skandera Trombley

Members of the 2013-14 Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (from left to right):
Mark Alexander, Rye Barcott, Lisa Caputo, Betty Castor, Gabrielle Giffords, Christie Gilson, Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón, Tom Healy, Shelby Lewis, Anita McBride, Susan Ness, and Laura Skandera Trombley

 

Expanding Our Fulbright Connections

Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

by Darinda Sharp

In September 1945, the freshman senator from Arkansas, J. William Fulbright, introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress that called for the use of proceeds from the sales of surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.” One year later, President Harry S. Truman signed the Fulbright Act into law.

In September 2014, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board will come to Fulbright College for its 264th meeting.

The U.S. Congress created the board to oversee the Fulbright Program, which has become the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world.

This is the board’s first trip back to Sen. Fulbright’s hometown and at the college named in his honor since Feb. 1996. The university where he served as president hosted a series of events, which opened a year of special activities for the program’s 50th anniversary.

In addition to the meeting, the board participated in a Fulbright Institute symposium on "Promoting Global Understanding" and were part of the first-day issue of the commemorative Fulbright program postage stamp from the U.S. Postal Service.

“Fulbright College and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board share a very simple goal, to preserve and advance Sen. Fulbright’s legacy of peace through education,” Shields said. “The Fulbright Program does this by increasing mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and those of other countries, while we produce citizens of the world in an atmosphere where, as Sen. Fulbright would say, ‘differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned’ and the ‘common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.”

The board’s 12 members are appointed by the President of the United States and represent many facets of American society. Four of the current members are Fulbright Program alumni. The board meets four times a year not only to supervise the global Fulbright Program, but also to establish policies for Fulbright selection and operating procedures. The members work outside of board meetings to select students, scholars, teachers and others from the United States and abroad to participate in Fulbright exchanges.

The university has many connections to the program, including Chancellor David Gearhart, who was a Fulbright Scholar to Oxford University’s Merton College in 1992, and professor Hoyt Purvis who was appointed to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board by President Bill Clinton. Purvis served for ten years (1993-2003) and chaired the board from 1996 to 1999.

“We first started discussing the possibility of hosting a board meeting when Chairman Tom Healy visited campus last November,” Shields said. “We didn’t know if the schedules between the university and the board would work out, but Tom and I both thought it was an important connection for the two organizations so we started planning a way to make it happen. I’m thankful that it worked out and hope that it will become a tradition.”

As part of its quarterly meeting, the board presents a public forum. The event for the September meeting, "Fulbright for Food Security," will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, in Hillside Auditorium, room 206. The forum will be followed by a reception with board members and other special guests.

The board's visit will also include tours of campus, the house where Sen. Fulbright was raised the Fulbright Papers in Special Collections and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Just as the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships between other countries and governments and the United States, now Fulbright College is building a connection between the program and the college that carry his name.

“Fulbright College and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board share a very simple goal, to preserve and advance Sen. Fulbright’s legacy of peace through education,” Shields said. “The Fulbright Program does this by increasing mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and those of other countries, while we produce citizens of the world who in an atmosphere in which, as Sen. Fulbright would say, ‘differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned’ and the ‘common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.’”

Members of the 2014 Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board:

  • Tom Healy, a poet and writer from New York, serves as the board’s chairman
  • Betty Castor, former president of the University of South Florida who serves as vice chair
  • Mark Alexander, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey
  • Rye Barcott, co-founder of Carolina for Kibera and co-founder and managing partner of Double Time Capital
  • Lisa Caputo, executive vice president of marketing and communications for The Travelers Companies, Inc.
  • Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District
  • Christie Gilson, an instructor, public speaker and disability rights advocate based in Pennsylvania
  • Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón, former U.S. Ambassador to Chile
  • Shelby Lewis, professor emeritus at Clark Atlanta University
  • Anita McBride, executive in residence at the Center for Presidential and Congressional Studies, School of Public Affairs, American University
  • Susan Ness, founder of Susan Ness Strategies and senior fellow at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • Laura Skandera Trombley, president of Pitzer College in California

Darinda Sharp

About the author

Darinda Sharp serves as director of communications for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.