By Vanessa Miller, The Gazette
In a chemistry lab on the University of Iowa campus, Nicholas McCarty found the freedom to ask big questions, seek big answers, and chase ambitious pursuits — like becoming the first UI student to receive a Fulbright award to the United Kingdom since 1994, the year he was born.
McCarty is among 16 UI students in the 2017-18 term to receive the prestigious Fulbright award — granted annually to elite U.S. students, artists, and professionals seeking grants to study, teach English, and conduct research around the world.
The UI’s 16 Fulbright students rank it No. 15th nationally among research universities — its highest ever placement, tying it with Stanford and Columbia universities, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s new rankings released this week. It demonstrates marked and continued improvement over its placement at No. 30 last year and No. 117 five years ago.
“This shows that we have really prepared (students) in the areas that the Fulbright Program and State Department feel are important for being effective ambassadors abroad,” UI Fulbright Program Advisor Karen Wachsmuth told The Gazette. “It’s huge for us.”
Also achieving standing in The Chronicle’s new Fulbright rankings is Iowa State University, which tied at No. 10 for its number of 2017-18 Fulbright scholars — different from Fulbright students in that the recipients are faculty, postdocs, or other researchers not pursuing a degree.
Iowa State — the only Iowa College or university ranked for Fulbright scholars — had six professors or associate professors receive grants through the program, touted as the country’s flagship international educational exchange program, supported by the U.S. Department of State.
Although UI was the only Iowa research university ranked for Fulbright students for 2017-18, Drake University tied at No. 9 among master’s universities. Among bachelor’s schools, Grinnell College placed No. 15 for Fulbright students, and Coe College in Cedar Rapids tied for the No. 17 spot.
Coe’s seven Fulbright recipients set a record.