A virtual panel discussion on “Fulbright Impact in the Field: Strengthening International Engagement on US Campuses” took place on March 8. It was organized as part of events marking the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, which counts 400,000 alumni from all different backgrounds.
The wide-ranging conversation involved US university presidents Ronald Crutcher, Joan Gabel, Willard Gingerich and Mark Rosenberg, and was moderated by Harris Pastides, Chairman of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). The panelists began by describing the formative impact of their own experience as Fulbright Scholars in different countries and academic fields.
The group then moved on to describe the importance of international exchanges to their institutions and to the education of global citizens. As President Joan Gabel said of the Univ. of MN, the Fulbright Program is “sort of a spine off of which all of the other really global efforts of a big university like this” are appended and grow.
The panelists discussed funding and the role of Fulbright exchanges in their respective institutions. They then recounted the various ways in which the pandemic has affected international exchanges over the last year, as they thought through what the takeaways might be moving forward.
Asked to assess the legacy of the program after 75 years, President Willard Gingerich of Montclair State University put it well, saying that the Fulbright Program is “one of the high points of American international relations. It’s one of those policies that all of us can look to, I think, with satisfaction and pride from whatever political perspective … and say: this is something that really works.”