Fulbright Association Launches Statewide Affiliate in Iowa

On June 29, 2009, the Fulbright Association launched a statewide affiliate in Iowa, at a meeting of alumni hosted by the University of Iowa’s International Programs. Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa, Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of international programs, and Jane L. Anderson, Fulbright Association executive director, spoke to Fulbright alumni and friends from Ames, Bettendorf, Burlington, Des Moines, Fairfield, Hudson, Iowa City, North Liberty, Oxford, Waterloo, and Williamsburg. Among educational institutions represented were Drake University, Iowa State University, St. Ambrose University, Solon High School, Southeastern Community College and the University of Iowa. The following is a transcript of President Mason’s remarks:

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to The University of Iowa-and to those of you who are Hawkeye alumni, welcome back to campus! I want to extend a special welcome to Jane Anderson, Executive Director of the Fulbright Association, and thank her for her part in arranging this important and exciting meeting.

International programs have played a crucial role for The University of Iowa for a long time. Some people like to mark the administration of UI President James Freedman in the 1980s as the beginning of the UI’s global perspective. But since at least the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century-when President Charles Schaeffer moved the UI toward being a modern national university and Professor of Natural Science Charles Nutting began his international expeditions for the Museum of Natural History-global connections have been an important part of Iowa’s educational and research legacy.

In the mid-20th-century, UI President Virgil Hancher enhanced a strong international spirit at Iowa when US President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations for 1959.

Today, we have a full-fledged International Programs division, boasting educational, scholarly, and service relationships with dozens of countries across the globe.

This past year, UI students and alumni completed Fulbright fellowships in Vietnam, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Japan, South Africa, Rwanda, and Indonesia. And this coming year, we expect a record number of international students to study here on our campus.

I know that our sister institutions across the state can tell similar stories.

I suspect that, almost universally, students and scholars say that their Fulbright experience was life-changing. Our aim is for a university education or a higher education career to be transformative, and the Fulbright program plays an important part in making that happen for many people. We want our Fulbright alumni to take those transformative experiences and go out to change the world. But we also are keen to have those experiences continue to transform our own institutions and all those who have shared the Fulbright experience in common.

I am very excited, therefore, at the prospect of forming an Iowa Chapter of the Fulbright Association. The numerous Fulbright Association Chapters across the country allow for continued involvement with the Fulbright program; with other alumni and visiting Fulbright students, teachers, and scholars currently in the program; and with volunteer service and strong connections with the local community.

I think, indeed, that it’s about time that institutions in Iowa take advantage of the incredible Fulbright experiences our people have had and connect them together for continued mutual benefit for many years to come.

Senator Fulbright himself said, “The simple purpose of the exchange program is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another. . . . The exchange program is not a panacea but an avenue of hope.”

That same kind of optimistic vision has fueled our international programs for many years. But that avenue of hope is not a dead-end road, stopping once an exchange is over. It is a road that continues on well past everyone’s individual experiences, and we hope continues on forever.

(See also: Fulbright DOUBLE )

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