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Fulbright Emphasizes Diversity Among Its Fellows [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

October 20, 2008

Program seeks more applicants from community colleges and other nontraditional sources

By Beth McMurtrie, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Fulbright Program is one of the most successful fellowship programs around. About 1,500 students and 1,300 scholars from the United States and abroad are studying and working on Fulbrights this academic year.

Started in 1946, the international academic-exchange program offers grants that are awarded by binational Fulbright commissions and financed by the U.S. government and the government of each country in which the awards are available. This year the United States contributed nearly $221,000 to the fellowships.

But the U.S. State Department, which oversees the program, has been concerned in recent years about the lack of diversity among American applicants. They have been, and still are, overwhelmingly white and from four-year institutions.

This year, for example, only seven of the nearly 760 American scholars come from community colleges, and only 10.6 percent of American students who received Fulbrights are black or Hispanic.

“We’re keenly interested in making sure that the Fulbright looks like the United States,” says Thomas A. Farrell, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “We know we can’t just talk about diversity. We’ve had to be much more proactive.” [Click here to read the full story. Subscription only.]

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