The University of Richmond tops the U.S. State Department’s list of bachelor’s institutions with the most 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholars with three recipients this year.
Recipients have visited a wide range of countries. In the past five years, Richmond professors have worked in places such as India, Nepal, Peru, Brazil and Chile. This year’s recipients, Dr. Elizabeth Baughan, Dr. Peter Lurie and Dr. Judy Richardson, will represent Richmond in Poland, Turkey and Macedonia, respectively.
The Fulbright is a federal program that seeks the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science,” according to its website. The program funds university faculty members with a terminal degree for projects abroad such as teaching, research or fieldwork.
Although the university is proud of this distinction, it is not uncommon for Richmond to have multiple faculty members recognized in a given year, said Jacquelyn Fetrow, provost and vice president of academic affairs.
“In the last five years, we have had 12 faculty receive Fulbright appointments, including two Distinguished Chairs and one Specialist,” Fetrow said.
Since the program’s inception in 1964, the university has had about 30 faculty members and administrators participate in Fulbright Scholar positions abroad.
Fetrow said she believed the university’s success in the Fulbright program was one of many reasons Richmond had a strong international reputation. “It expand[s] the influence of our university and expands our global reach,” Fetrow said. “More people and more institutions know about the high quality of faculty at UR because of these Scholars.”
In addition to strengthening ties between foreign and American universities, the Fulbright program aims to allow “the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think," according to its website.
Baughan, who is working with Turkish archeologists on a summer excavation project sponsored by Bilkent University, said the experience of living and working abroad had offered her new perspectives on how others think and work.
“Everything about the experience, from the initial settling-in period to day-to-day living opens one’s eyes to other ways of doing things,” Baughan said. “There is no way one could come to the end of the program and not gain a new appreciation of other viewpoints.”
Lurie, who will be teaching American literature and cinema at University of Warsaw, said the Fulbright was an opportunity to explore other perspectives on his academic interests.
While in Poland, Lurie was able to discuss the Oscar-winning film "Ida" with his colleagues and students intimately connected with the film’s subject material.
“They’ve [described] reasons that, in Poland, 'Ida' has had a very different reception than it enjoyed in the U.S. and other countries,” Lurie said. “Much of this has to do with deeply divided opinions here about the history that the film treats. I’ve learned a great deal about the still-raw attitudes towards Polish history that many people have.”
Lurie acknowledged he had only been in Poland for a short time, but said he felt he had already made significant progress towards some of the Fulbright’s goals. “I appreciate what I’ve seen already, and expect I will learn a good bit more before I leave,” Lurie said.
Although the Fulbright is a program for individuals, Fetrow said she believed the faculty’s opportunities enrich the campus community as well. “This experience has great effect on our faculty’s teaching,” Fetrow said. “They can draw on their teaching and research experiences abroad in teaching and in discussions with UR students.”
The university plays a role in these Fulbright recognitions by both generating faculty interest and supporting faculty that go through the application process.
Baughan said her colleagues’ accounts, as well as the university’s information sessions, led by Diana Vincelli, influenced her decision to apply for a scholarship. “Diana and her office also helped with the application process and offered great feedback on my proposal,” Baughan said.
The university’s Office of Foundation, Corporate & Government Relations routinely works with faculty to find external monetary support for sabbatical periods when professors will focus on research and writing instead of teaching at Richmond.
“The FCGR office helps by reviewing the faculty member's needs and desires for the project at hand,” Fetrow said. “[It] suggests appropriate sources of funding, reviews their applications, offers constructive criticism based on years of experience, as well as proofreads and assists with timely submission of applications.”
The full list of top Fulbright producers may be accessed here.
Contact reporter Janus Cataluna-Palma at firstname.lastname@example.org