App State produces highest number of Fulbright Scholars for fourth time in 10 years

Gianna Holiday, Associate News Editor

App State is a top producer of Fulbright Scholars for the fourth time since 2010 with seven faculty members receiving awards for 2019–20.

The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange sponsored by the United States government. The program is designed to build relations between students in the U.S. and students across the globe and promote an educational opportunity exchange.

“Prior to the 2019–20 Fulbright year, only five Appalachian students had received a Fulbright award during the program’s history. So one of the challenges starting out was to encourage students to redefine what they thought Fulbright was and who it was for,” said Joanie Andruss, assistant director for Nationally Competitive Scholarships and Wilson Scholars Programs. “I sought out students who might not attend an information session or find my office but could be great candidates for Fulbright grants if only they could start envisioning this as possible.”

Originally housed in the Honors College, the program is now housed in Nationally Competitive Scholarships, a unit under University College, to make it accessible to more students. Before, there were misconceptions that the program was only open to honors students.

The Fulbright program offers approximately 470 teaching and research awards in more than 125 countries to faculty, researchers and students. There are also opportunities for administrators through the Fulbright International Education Administrator awards.

“The Fulbright Scholar program gives faculty a broader perspective on the world that they can bring back to their students as well as their research and what they’ve learned from the experience. At the end of the day, it truly does come back to the student. It benefits the student,” said Maria Anastasiou, executive director of the OIED. 

Last year, the university tied with the College of Charleston as a top producer of Fulbrights among master’s institutions with four Fulbright Scholars. 

Anastasiou said App State’s OIED and Research encourage and support faculty and student applications alike for Fulbright awards because they feel that the program leads to a valuable exchange of thoughts and ideas.

“The Fulbright Scholar enables faculty and staff at App State to learn and share with colleagues from across the globe to promote mutual understanding between the US and other countries. It also gives App scholars the opportunity to bring global experiences and research into the classroom to enhance the student experience,” said Katie Howard, associate director of grants resources and services in the Office of Research.

Richard Gray is an astronomy and physics professor and Fulbright recipient spending his year at the University of the Free State in South Africa. 

His goal is to commission a spectrograph, an instrument used to measure properties of light, for the 1.5-m telescope at the university’s Boyden Observatory.

“My Fulbright project initiates a collaborative agreement between our two universities.  ASU will have remote computer access to the 1.5-m telescope with my new spectrograph for making observations in the southern hemisphere, and the University of the Free State will have remote access to our 32-inch telescope with spectrograph at the Dark Sky Observatory,”  Gray said. “That means that both institutions will have access to the entire sky. We hope to have an exchange of faculty and students between our two institutions.”

Other recipients include Paul Wallace, Mark Powell, Christina Verano Sornito-Carter, Dave Willliams and Alexandra Sterling-Hellenbrand.