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ASU a top producer of Fulbright awards for both students, faculty

Only 10 universities nationwide reach this ranking in both categories


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February 16, 2021

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.

Arizona State University is one of only 10 universities that are top producers for both Fulbright Scholar awards for faculty and Fulbright U.S. Student award recipients.

ASU has been a top-20 university for the prestigious Fulbright awards every year for the past 11 years. The rankings were announced on Monday by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the Fulbright program.

ASU tied for 13th place overall for faculty Fulbright Scholars, which reflects the total from ASU’s Tempe campus with six awards. Two additional faculty members from the Downtown Phoenix campus were also awarded Fulbrights, for a total of eight universitywide.

ASU ranked 20th overall for student awards, with 18 students receiving Fulbrights.

Only 10 U.S. universities ranked as a top producer in both categories, including New York University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Among public universities, ASU tied for 10th place for faculty awardees and was in seventh place for student winners.

“This level of sustained achievement is truly remarkable,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships and director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement at ASU. That office provides year-round resources for students seeking prestigious awards like the Fulbright.

“These outcomes highlight ASU’s position as a truly global university and underscore the importance that the university places on student development.”

The universities with the most student Fulbright winners were Georgetown University, with 39; Brown University, 38; Harvard University, 35; Princeton University, 34, and Yale University, 32.

The Office of the University Provost works with ASU faculty members who are seeking Fulbright Scholar positions, according to Karen Engler, program director in the provost’s office. There is a wide variety of resources to support faculty in the process, from identifying awards to having application materials critically reviewed. 

“We are incredibly proud of our ASU Fulbright Scholars and the ways that they continue to advance ASU’s charter and support the Fulbright mission abroad,” she said. “The tenets of the Fulbright program are impact, innovation and inclusion, which is at the heart of the work of all our faculty here at ASU. This is one of the many reasons why ASU faculty are particularly competitive for Fulbright awards.”

The universities with the most faculty award winners were Ohio State University, 15; the University of Michigan, 12; the University of Arizona, 11, and Florida State, Michigan State and Penn State with 10 each.

“Our Fulbright scholars and students embody our university design aspiration to engage globally,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle. “With the global challenges facing us in the 21st century, the open exchange of ideas and knowledge across national borders and traditional disciplines is needed now more than ever. We applaud our scholars and students for their impressive achievements and commitment to making global impact through their scholarship and academic pursuits.”

The 2020-21 Fulbright data reflect the total number of awards offered, rather than the number of awards accepted, as in past years. In response to the global pandemic, not all awardees were able to accept their awards, and most of those who did were ordered to return to the U.S. early. However, many awardees were carried over to the 2021-22 award year or encouraged to reapply in a separate category.

“We’ve had quite a few of our awardees take up those offers,” Mox said. “And I’m very proud that these candidates have persisted throughout a very challenging year.”

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Fulbright U.S. Student programs are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support academic exchanges between the United States and more than 150 countries around the world. The Fulbright program, created in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries, provides the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad. 

On March 24, ASU will hold an online Fulbright Day. A session on the Fulbright Specialist Program will run from 10 to 11 a.m. These short-term awards are for faculty, staff and post-docs. The noon to 1:30 p.m. session will review the Fulbright Scholars program, a four- or nine-month research or teaching award for faculty, staff or post-docs. The 3 to 4:30 p.m. session will cover the U.S. student program.

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