U faculty praise Bruininks’ Fulbright board nomination

Jessica Weaver

University faculty who have participated in the Fulbright program said they are excited about University President Bob Bruininks’ nomination to its board.

President George W. Bush nominated Bruininks to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board last week.

The Fulbright program awards 4,500 grants annually for international educational exchange.

Victoria Coifman, professor of African history, taught and did research in Guinea for 15 months with the Fulbright program.

“I’m delighted to see that (Bruininks) was nominated to the board,” Coifman said. “It is wonderful that the University will have direct input on the board.”

Coifman said working in Guinea was a rich experience.

“Fulbright allows that experience to continue both in the receiving country and back at the home university,” Coifman said.

Coifman said she taught a graduate course in oral tradition methodology at the University of Conakry.

Paul Bolstad, professor of forest resources, participated in the Fulbright program for one year. He served as a faculty member at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa.

He spent the year developing a curriculum that is still being used at the university, he said.

“It’s for the exchange of scholars. I was bringing expertise that they didn’t have to their university,” Bolstad said.

Some said the benefits of the Fulbright program remain even after completion.

“There are materials I developed (in South Africa) that I have incorporated into courses here,” Bolstad said.

Another University faculty member, Susan Galatowitsch, went to the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“It’s really one of the best things I have been involved with in my career,” said Galatowitsch, professor of horticultural science. “It’s a great way to exchange information and share some of our talents with the world. It’s a great cross-fostering of information.”

Bruininks will be one of 12 board members. Members serve three-year terms and are from a variety of backgrounds, though all are familiar with higher education. Board members meet quarterly in Washington to review program candidates.

“The Bush administration is very excited to have him participate. We think he’ll add a lot to the board and bring a lot of expertise in selecting the top students in the country,” said J.B. Horton of the White House liaison’s office.

Horton said Bruininks was chosen for his leadership, commitment to research and involvement with many levels of education.

“(Bruininks’) quality of leadership and commitment to research is one heavily looked at,” Horton said. “He’s been very active in all levels of education from K-12 education reform to the university level. He is just the perfect candidate for the Fulbright scholarship board.”