Campus Spotlight: University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis, a major public research university and member of the Fulbright Scholar Liaison Network, is an active participant in the Fulbright Program. UC Davis was a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright Visiting Scholars in 2012-2013 and has held various other top ten spots within Institute of International Education rankings, particularly around U.S. institutions hosting international scholars. For example, in 2014-15 UC Davis ranked 9th among U.S. universities hosting international scholars (2,654). We reached out to Fulbright Scholar Liaison and International Funding Analyst Jennie Konsella-Norene to tell us more about how they do it and why it is so important to them.

Q: Why is Fulbright important for your campus?

A: As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program brings numerous benefits to our campus. Since 1997-98, UC Davis has hosted nearly 200 Fulbright Visiting Scholars from all over the world and has sent nearly 60 UC Davis faculty abroad on Fulbright awards. The goal of the program is to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relationships between the United States and other countries. UC Davis faculty who travel abroad on Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards gain important global viewpoints, allowing them to bring back renewed perspectives to their teaching, research, and international partnerships. They also forge new ties with researchers and universities worldwide and share their knowledge and expertise. All this adds to our efforts to become a leading global university, as indicated in the 2020 Initiative as well as the ambitious goal to chart our course as the “University of the 21th Century.”

Q: How has the Fulbright Scholar Liaison Network fostered engagement between UC Davis and Fulbright?

A: The UC Davis Fulbright Scholar Liaisons play a key role for faculty interested in exploring options through the Fulbright Scholar Program. They are an important point of contact for faculty and provide insights on how to write successful proposals, how to make connections abroad (in the case of U.S. faculty), which faculty and departments to connect with on campus (in the case of visiting faculty), and how to develop institutional partnerships. They are also familiar with the Fulbright Program staff and who to contact with additional questions and inquiries. Furthermore, they often serve as a point of contact for potential or current faculty hosts who have questions about their role and the Fulbright host requirements.

Over the years, we have developed productive relationships with several Fulbright team members at the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), which administers the Fulbright Scholar Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. We bring these team members to our campus to promote the program and speak directly with our faculty. We typically hold an annual Fulbright Scholar Program workshop.

Q: How do you promote Fulbright opportunities on your campus?

We have created a UC Davis Fulbright Scholar Program website that includes general information about Fulbright Program opportunities and also lists current Fulbright grantees as well as alumni. In addition to the list of alumni, interactive alumni maps show global destinations for UC Davis Fulbright recipients as well as home countries of Fulbright Visiting Scholars. The website also lists resources for potential Fulbright applicants as well as for departments and faculty that are interested in hosting Fulbright Visiting Scholars. We also have a UC Davis Fulbright Scholar Program Facebook page where scholars can connect with others and stay up to date on local events. They can also share photos of their Fulbright experiences. Finally, we promote Fulbright through our faculty listserv where we share relevant opportunities and important deadlines.

To pull everything together, the UC Davis Chancellor and Provost host a welcome reception for Fulbright Visiting Scholars, Fulbright Foreign Students, and Humphrey Fellows every year. The reception provides a wonderful opportunity for scholars, students and fellows to network and gives the campus a chance to recognize the stature of these awards.

Q: What has the impact of returning U.S. Scholars been for your campus?

A: UC Davis highlights impactful stories on our website under Spotlight Stories. We make it a point to stay in touch with our Fulbright Scholars, who become useful resources for potential applicants or when the opportunity arises to create institutional partnerships. The following are all examples of how Fulbright Scholars (both U.S. and Visiting) build global networks, bridge geographical and cultural boundaries, and respond to society’s most pressing problems. These efforts strengthen UC Davis and create global understanding among the community.

  • Mark Gaskell, Ph.D., Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Morocco during 2011-2012, assisted the Moroccan Agronomic Research Institute (INRA) in developing programs with small fruit berry crops, contributing to long-term rural development in Morocco. As a result, Moroccans became familiar with the essential aspects of production and post-harvest management and many of their researchers have gone on to form a small fruit research network to continue to expand involvement in research and training opportunities for small fruit crops. As the number one ranked school of agriculture in the world, projects like these are essential to the UC Davis mission.
  • Yin Yeh, Professor Emeritus and Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Taiwan during 2012-2013, focused his research on Alzheimer’s Disease. His work with colleagues at the National Yang Ming University of Taiwan has contributed to two international symposia (in China and Taiwan) and their collaborations continue today. Furthermore, his previous engagement with the University of Science of the Vietnam National University have led to new international collaborations at UC Davis in the area of computer science research and education.
  • Professor Frits Thorsen, Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Norway in 2011-2012, came to UC Davis to work in the department of Biomedical Engineering. His research interests included primary and secondary malignant brain tumors. During his time here, he collaborated with UC Davis faculty and developed novel treatment methods of metastatic melanoma in animal models using chemotherapeutic drugs encapsulated into liposomes.