June 19, 2017

Fulbright Scholars bring diverse teaching methods, ideas and knowledge back to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With seven Fulbright faculty scholars, Purdue ranks sixth nationally.

More importantly, the increased faculty opportunities are enhancing classroom learning on campus. That’s why Purdue has created a Provost’s Fellow for Fulbright Faculty Awards position. The office’s first leader is associate English professor Christopher Lukasik, who is helping faculty identify specific Fulbright opportunities. He also advises them through the application process and assists awardees as they plan for their award. And, he is working to raise awareness of faculty awards across campus.

“Fulbright recipients often describe their experiences as life-changing, and their expanded world views make them better informed to speak to global issues upon their return to the U.S.,” Lukasik says of the university’s push. “Fulbright faculty are exceptionally well-prepared to speak to students who are not only entering into a global economy, but who belong to a generation that must confront a series of challenges - global in scale - like climate change or food security. International students also benefit from Fulbright faculty because these faculty have experienced the challenges of living abroad and can speak to cross-cultural education first-hand.”

The Fulbright Scholar program is part of the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. It enables faculty to share their teaching and research expertise in one of over 160 participating countries around the world.

“Purdue is committed to offering our students a world-class education. Having these faculty members bring back the valuable experience they gain as Fulbright Scholars is essential to that mission,” says Deba Dutta, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “We are proud of these faculty members for their hard work and dedication to furthering their knowledge and experience.”

The Fulbright awards are important to faculty because it is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world, Lukasik says.

“We all know that the faculty at Purdue are remarkable, and an award such as this lets the world see that,” he says.

He also says that Purdue is committed to increasing the number of Fulbright faculty on campus and collaborating with peer institutions around the world.

Dorsey Armstrong, professor of English and former chair of the Faculty Awards and Recognition Committee, says the university is committed to providing faculty with everything they need to apply for and receive awards such as the Fulbright Scholarship.

The FAR committee was created two years ago by the Provost’s Office as a way to recognize and honor faculty who have won significant distinction and/or hold positions or have memberships in prestigious academic bodies. 

“The committee is working to create a central database in order to track up-and-coming faculty so that they may be encouraged to apply for certain prestigious awards,” Armstrong says. “The database also will better track the awards and honors received by faculty.”

The chair and members of the FAR committee are ready and willing to assist Purdue faculty with all steps of the nomination and application process for external awards and honors – including providing help for drafting statements of intent, securing letters of recommendation and providing feedback on nomination packets.

Peter Hollenbeck, vice provost for faculty affairs, says that receiving prestigious awards is important for the university.

“Part of what we can accomplish and part of the resources we can attract to accomplish it rely on our standing in the world, and these sorts of external recognitions elevate our standing as a university,” he says. “It is important that we get these kind of external validations to show people outside of Purdue what we already know: Our faculty are some of the best in the world.”

Rosanne Altstatt, assistant dean in the Purdue Honors College and leader of the National and International Scholarship Office, says that major student awards such as the Truman Scholarship, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Goldwater Scholarships, Churchill Scholarships and Gates Cambridge Scholarships are all also on the rise.

The seven Purdue faculty members who are Fulbright Scholars for the 2016-2017 award year are:

* Tracey Jean Boisseau, associate professor and director of women’s studies, hosted by the University of Iceland.

* Frederick R. Davis, professor and R. Mark Lubbers Chair History of Science, hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

* Angelica Duran, professor of English, hosted by Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca in Mexico.

* Melanie Shoffner, associate professor of English, hosted by Babes-Bolyai University in Romania.

* Brian Smith, assistant professor of communication, hosted by Johannes Kepler University of Linz in Austria.

* Juan Wachs, associate professor of industrial engineering, hosted by the University of Buenos Aires.

* Arun K. Bhunia, professor of food sciences, was appointed to the Fulbright Specialist Roster for 2016-2020.

Purdue will have three Fulbright Scholars in the 2017-2018 award year. They are:

* Christopher Lukasik, associate professor of English, who was appointed to the Fulbright Specialist Roster for 2017-2020.

* Stefan Paula, associate professor of chemistry, who will be in Australia.

* Margaret Tillman, assistant professor of history, who will be in Taiwan. 

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.edu 

Sources: Christopher Lukasik, 765-494-6002, clukasik@purdue.edu

Peter Hollenbeck, phollenb@purdue.edu

Rosanne Altstatt, altstatt@purdue.edu

Dorsey Armstrong, sarmstr@purdue.edu

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