The UA improved from the research institution producing the fifth most Fulbright U.S. scholars to producing the second most in the nation in the 2012-2013 year.
Five faculty members were chosen as U.S. Scholars from UA this year, tying the university for second in the nation with institutes like Rutgers University, University of Florida and Texas A&M at College Station. The ranking is an improvement from one year ago, when the UA tied fifth in the nation behind eight elite schools, including the number one-ranked Pennsylvania State University.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is the flagship international educational exchange program funded by the U.S. government. It focuses on building mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and people of other countries, according to the Fulbright site.
The program sends an estimated 1,100 American scholars per year to roughly 125 countries, where they get the opportunity to lecture or research a variety of professional and academic subjects.
“The program is highly competitive. These are the best of the best, and to have more than one Fulbright Scholar on a campus speaks to the quality of the faculty of that university,” said James Lawrence, a public affairs officer in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, at the U.S. Department of State.
Approximately 5,000 professionals apply to the program each year, according to the site. The application process is merit-based and each application is reviewed multiple times, first by a group of disciplined specialists, then by a peer review committee. If the application passes, it is then reviewed by the host country and the 12-member Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, appointed by the President of the United States, for final selection and approval.
“Being one of this year’s Fulbright Program top producers is an honor of which we should all be proud,” said Dale Lafleur, director of Institutional Relations and a UA Fulbright Adviser. “It recognizes the work of our faculty and the breadth of international engagement of the University of Arizona.”
Thomas DeGomez, an agriculture area agent in the Department of Forest Health at UA, was one of the five honored as a U.S. Scholar this year, and he traveled to the Philippines with the program. DeGomez taught classes at Visayas State University and researched native insect populations and forestry.
“We had a great time. It makes me feel like I’m at a really good university with really exceptional people,” DeGomez said. “It makes you feel like we must be doing some things right here in Arizona, to bring good people in and to have that many Fulbrights.”