UNC Wilmington among Elite Group of Universities Producing Faculty Fulbright Scholars

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The University of North Carolina Wilmington has been named one of this year's Fulbright Scholar "top producers." With two faculty Fulbright awards for the 2011-12 academic year, UNC Wilmington is in an elite group of top Fulbright producers among master's institutions nationwide on a list developed by the Institute for International Education (IIE).

Two UNCW faculty members, Todd Berliner and Diane Levy, will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program this year. Berliner has received his second Fulbright scholarship, this one a Distinguished Chair Fulbright Scholars Award, one of just 40 awarded nationally each year.

"I am very proud of this designation for UNCW," said Chancellor Gary L. Miller. "It reflects both the high quality of scholarship of our faculty and their commitment to global engagement. Since 2000, UNCW has had 9 faculty Fulbright recipients, which is remarkable."

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and designed to increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential. The program operates in more than 155 countries.

Berliner and Levy will travel during the spring to Hungary and Ukraine, respectively. Berliner, professor in the Department of Film Studies, will lecture on American cinema and American studies at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest; Levy, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, will lecture on sociology at National University of Kyiv-Mohlya Academy in Kiev.

The program is highly competitive, requiring an extensive application process. Raymond Burt, UNCW's Fulbright campus representative, said the university's focus on international engagement has been a catalyst in spurring more faculty to apply for Fulbright grants.

"UNCW's focus on international scholarship has created an increase in faculty in all disciplines looking beyond the borders of the U.S. to expand their research," Burt explained. "Faculty members have truly embraced global learning as a professional goal."

Levy will work with scholars and students in Ukraine to learn about the recent changes in social institutions and to strengthen the linkages between UNCW and her host university. She has been taking a Russian language class in preparation for her trip in February.

"Although I'll be teaching sociology courses in English, it's important to me to learn some Russian before I arrive in Ukraine," she said. "I love my Russian class, sitting in with the students and learning from the instructor. People in Kiev speak both Russian and Ukrainian, so I hope to learn a few words in that language as well."

Berliner's first Fulbright award was in 2005-06, when he traveled to Vietnam. This year, he is the recipient of the Laszlo Orszagh Chair in American Studies, the only Fulbright distinguished chair award in Hungary. Distinguished chairs are awarded to candidates who are "eminent scholars and have a significant publication and teaching record."

"I'm delighted to be among the academics Fulbright has chosen to represent the U.S. in Hungary, and I feel honored to be chosen in a year that IIE has also recognized UNCW, which has shown such commitment to internationalism," he said of the award. "Film is an international artistic medium, and UNCW and the Film Studies department are strongly committed to global international exchange."

UNCW has also been highly successful in producing student Fulbright recipients, with 11 students receiving awards since 1998 in biology, ecology, history, teaching English as a second language, Middle Eastern languages and literatures, creative writing and information sciences/systems. Most recently, Sarah Fann traveled to Australia to continue her studies in marine environmental research in 2010-11.

Top-producing institutions for Fulbright Scholars were highlighted in the Oct. 24 digital edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, http://www.cies.org/chronicle/.

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. It is primarily funded through an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress.

Media contact:
Dana Fischetti, media relations manager, 910.508.3127 or fischettid@uncw.edu