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Texas State recognized among top producers of Fulbright scholars

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
November 16, 2010

The highly prestigious Fulbright Award has sent U.S. scholars to numerous countries all over the world, produced 43 Nobel laureates, is a symbol of the top intellectual talent globally and now recognizes Texas State University-San Marcos among the top producing institutions of U.S. Fulbright scholars for 2010-11.

The Fulbright Award is a competitive international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Steve Wilson, professor, Department of English and Texas State Fulbright representative, is himself a three-time Fulbright scholar. For him, recognition for Texas State this year is a tremendous honor, but he said the university's consistency in producing numerous recipients of the award over the past several years speaks clearly to the university's quality of applicants and the support system that encourages their efforts.

"Our success rate for applicants is about 98, 99 percent and that's remarkable," Wilson said. "We're really successful partly because the faculty is so good and because we have very enthusiastic applicants."

Wilson emphasized, furthermore, that the university has provided an encouraging environment for applicants wherein they don't have to sacrifice their work, time and benefits at home to pursue scholarship abroad.

"It's not only the quality of faculty, it's the support system here at Texas State," he said. "It's a commitment by the university. A Fulbright is a very prestigious thing to get and it reflects well on our school."

Sandhya Rao, professor and associate director for graduate studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State was a recent Fulbright recipient, which took her to Manipal, India, for the spring of 2008. She said being able to bring that experience back to Texas State adds to the perspective students get in the classroom.

"It was a wonderful cultural experience," Rao said. "I think bringing an international perspective to our students here is very enriching."

At Manipal University in India, Rao taught graduate mass communication courses, took part in collaborative research and assisted the university in curriculum development for the university's media research center. The focus of Rao’s research measured media habits and growth in India, a topic she has been working on throughout her career. Rao's study and teaching in India, likewise, gave her the opportunity to do collaborative learning with teachers and students back at Texas State during the same time.

Wilson said it is this type of international experience for teachers that often translates into an international perspective in the classroom for students, not only benefiting the Fulbright recipient, but in the long run, benefitting the university community as a whole.

"It really changes the environment here when they return," Wilson said. "They're better teachers for it."