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A&S Professors Help Make UK a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars

By Lindsey Piercy

The University of Kentucky has been named one of the Top Producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars among colleges and universities for 2019-20. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the list annually.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. Since its inception in 1946, the prestigious program has provided more than 390,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, while finding solutions to shared international concerns.

“We are delighted to see that the colleges and universities we are honoring as 2019-2020 Fulbright Top Producing Institutions reflect the geographic and institutional diversity of higher education in the United States,” Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said. “In supporting their faculty and administrators who pursue Fulbright awards, these institutions benefit from new viewpoints from abroad and new international collaborations, which often lead to discoveries and breakthroughs that have a global impact."

The program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually and operates in over 160 countries worldwide. Since 1998, more than 100 UK faculty and staff have received Fulbright awards in support of teaching, research, consulting and professional development activities in 48 countries.

UK had a total of eight Fulbright recipients during the 2019-20 cycle. Below are the recipients, their UK department and their Fulbright assignment:

  • Richard Allday, College of Education, Early Childhood, Special Education, and Counselor Education; Hungary, University of West Hungary.
  • Stefan Bird-Pollan, College of Arts and Sciences, Philosophy; Austria, Sigmund Freud Museum (multiple Fulbright award winner).
  • Thomas Clayton, College of Arts and Sciences, Linguistics Program; Cambodia, University of Kratie (multiple Fulbright award winner).
  • Philip Crowley, College of Arts and Sciences, Biology; France, University of Pau.
  • Alicia Fedewa, College of Education, Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology; Finland, University of Jyvaskyla.
  • Bobi Ivanov, College of Communication and Information, Integrated Strategic Communication; North Macedonia, South East European University.
  • Kimberly Parker Ivanov, College of Communication and Information, School of Journalism and Media; North Macedonia, South East European University.
  • Alex Vazsonyi, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, School of Human Environmental Sciences, Family Sciences; Czech Republic, Palacky University.

“Career-wise, Fulbright gave me the opportunity to do some extra research and to finish a book," Bird-Pollan said. "I also really enjoyed getting to know the academic landscape in Europe firsthand."

Additionally, UK has hosted more than 30 visiting scholars from 25 different countries who have chosen to make Lexington their "home away from home."

"The Fulbright program has always been focused not just on advancing scientific and scholarly knowledge, but rather on advancing intercultural understanding and fostering lasting connections across borders," Tim Barnes, executive director of international partnership and research at UK’s International Center (UKIC) and the Fulbright Scholar Program’s campus liaison, said.

UKIC serves as the central point for collecting and distributing information about Fulbright opportunities. They also regularly provide workshops and information sessions for faculty and staff.

Ultimately, participation in the Fulbright program by the UK community facilitates and highlights the importance of global engagement. “Actively participating in the Fulbright program allows UK to be seen as a vibrant, globally engaged public research university that values diverse experiences and cultural perspectives in advancing knowledge creation and education,” Barnes explained.

“I'm grateful to UK’s leaders for recognizing the value of a Fulbright experience for their faculty and staff and for making it possible for UK colleagues to benefit from these incredible opportunities," Sue Roberts, associate provost for internationalization, added. "The year I spent as a Fulbright Scholar changed my life, and I am sure that what I learned from my time in Finland enriched my teaching back here at UK, and it certainly impacted my research in positive ways too."

More information about Fulbright opportunities at UK can be found online.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.