Fulbright at Fifty Home Page Contents Page

Steering Committee

Executive Summary


The Challenge of Change



Fulbright at Fifty

Fifty years ago, dismayed by the carnage that had wrecked Europe and the Soviet Union and laid waste to much of Asia, a freshman U.S. Senator, J. William Fulbright, launched a modest crusade in the cause of international understanding.

The program that came to bear his name has proven to be one of the most valuable investments in international cooperation and security the nations of the world have ever made. Its ethic of promoting tolerance, amity, peace, and stability among the peoples of the globe remains one of the generous ideals the United States has bequeathed to the world.

Senator Fulbright's idea was simplicity itself. Create a program, with the whole world as its stage, that would simultaneously encourage students from as many countries as possible to study in the United States while persuading young Americans to live in, and come to know and understand, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and the Pacific.

The program was originally financed by the sale of U.S. war surplus property, later also with U.S.-held foreign currencies from the sale of grain abroad, and by funds appropriated by the Congress. In the early years, the program largely depended on American enthusiasm; as a new century approaches, it draws its energy from 50 binational Fulbright commissions and educational institutions in every corner of the globe. Today, about 60 percent of the program's costs are covered by the government of the United States, with the rest coming from educational institutions, more than 40 governments of other nations, and the private sector. Now 21 of 50 partner nations match or exceed U.S. funding.

At 50, the Fulbright exchange program has matured into an international success story. From a modest program that brought 35 students and a single professor to the United States in 1948 and sent 65 Americans abroad, Fulbright has grown into a global celebration of our shared hopes for the future. Today some 4,400 grantees from the U.S. and 140 countries participate annually; over the decades, nearly a quarter of a million people have drawn on the benefits of the "Fulbright experience." No other program, with such modest expenditures (about $1.9 billion over 50 years), has brought so much worldwide credit and goodwill to the United States. And, as a steering committee member from Germany, Karl C. Roeloffs, reminded us, it is equally impossible to conceive of the American government being able to succeed without its ability to draw on the United States' unique system of higher education. American colleges and universities, with their commitment to access, intellectual rigor, creativity, and excellence, served as models for advancing learning elsewhere and in the process developed a global market for educational exchange.

The terms "Fulbright" and "Fulbright-Hays" cover a wide variety of programs: grants for American and foreign graduate students and graduating seniors; research awards for up to a year overseas for American and foreign scholars; lecturer awards; short-term faculty exchanges; efforts to bring public administrators to the United States; and programs to encourage exchanges of teachers and administrators, institutional linkages, the study of foreign languages, and doctoral and faculty research abroad (see Appendix C).

Fulbright involves nearly every conceivable discipline in the arts and humanities, commerce and finance, science and technology, education, journalism, media, and government. It counts among its alumni distinguished men and women in every walk of life, at home and abroad. They include poets and presidents, Nobel Laureates and syndicated columnists, artists and business leaders, economists, physicians, actors, playwrights, financiers, and cabinet officials (see Fulbright Alumni below).

Among the 250,000 men and women who have benefited from Senator Fulbright's inheritance, three typify its impact. The great American soprano, Anna Moffo, was the daughter of a Pennsylvania shoemaker; her career blossomed while she was studying in Italy. Whenever she was complimented on her striking voice and success, she liked to respond: "Most of all, I thank God for my Fulbright!"

Malaysian business leader Tan Sri Ani Arope, who had a Fulbright grant to study at the University of Vermont from 1964 to 1966, believed that "...the Fulbright experience left quite an impression on my outlook towards life. I realize today that I am more tolerant towards the many different races and religions in my own country because of my time in Vermont." And journalist Delin Cormeny, a Fulbrighter from Overland, Kansas, said of her experience in Zimbabwe in 1993, "Professionally, I've had a peek at the world from a different vantage point....This alone will carry me far in my career--a career aimed at communicating different perspectives and promoting fuller understanding of the political and cultural whys' and why-nots' in the world."

Whatever the field of study or profession of its recipients, the Fulbright experience has enlarged and deepened the perspective of potential national and international leaders. It has produced a cadre of pacesetters in the United States knowledgeable about, and sympathetic to, the aspirations of the peoples of the world. And in nation after nation, as Fulbright alumni have assumed the responsibilities of leadership, they have brought with them an appreciation of the values Americans hold dear.

...educational exchange is essential to reducing international suspicion, encouraging mutual understanding, and advancing international cooperation.
Senator Fulbright foresaw a program that would inspire individuals, whatever their calling in life, to promote peace among nations. He also saw the program spreading throughout the world as participants brought the benefit of the Fulbright experience to an ever-widening circle of friends and acquaintances. He believed that just as education is essential to maintaining freedom and democracy, educational exchange is essential to reducing international suspicion, encouraging mutual understanding, and advancing international cooperation. His hopes have been more than realized.

Thoughtful leaders, scholars, and diplomats have lavished praise on Senator Fulbright's legacy. The program has won the endorsement of 25 U.S. Congresses and ten Presidents and leaders around the globe. As noted historian Arnold Toynbee observed, the program is "one of the really generous and imaginative things that have been done in the world since World War II."

The many accomplishments of Fulbrighters around the world have fulfilled Senator Fulbright's hope to help preserve freedom. As the program approached its 20th anniversary in 1966, the Senator said that the aim of the program was "to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."

That aim is no less worthy today as a new century approaches. Exciting new opportunities are opening up for Fulbright-and equally formidable challenges lie ahead. If the Fulbright program's second half century is to be as memorable as the first, it must continue to reshape itself to respond to the challenge of change.

Fulbright Alumni:
National and International Leaders

The Fulbright program has beckoned many who went on to assume leadership roles in the arts and letters, science, medicine, education, business, communications, and government, here and in every corner of the globe. Among its distinguished alumni over the years, Fulbright counts those listed below, who have held or currently hold the positions noted. These individuals exemplify the innumerable contributors to international peace, freedom, and prosperity.

United States

Maya Angelou - Poet

Michael Armacost - U.S. Ambassador to Japan; President, The Brookings Institution

Curtis Barnette - Chair/CEO, Bethlehem Steel Corporation

James Billington - Librarian of Congress

Derek Bok - President Emeritus, Harvard University

John Brademas - President Emeritus, New York University

Andrew Brimmer - President, Brimmer & Company

Hal Bruno - Political Director, ABC News

Dale Chihuly - Glass Artist

Sally Shelton Colby - Assistant Administrator, USAID

Henry Steele Commager - Historian

Aaron Copeland - Composer

Barbara Crossette - UN Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Michael R. Czinkota - Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Rita Dove - Poet

John Hope Franklin - Historian, Duke University

Milton Friedman - Nobel Prize in Economics

Georgie Anne Geyer - Journalist

Maurizio Gianturco - Sr. Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company

Philip Glass - Composer

Nancy Graves - Sculptor

Hanna Gray - President Emeritus, University of Chicago

Israel Horowitz - Playwright

Stacey Keach - Actor

Joshua Lederberg - Nobel Prize in Medicine

Wassily Leontief - Nobel Prize in Economics

Lorin Maazel - Conductor

Anna Moffo - Leading Soprano, Metropolitan Opera

Daniel Patrick Moynihan - U.S. Senator

Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J. - President, Georgetown Univ.

Manuel Pacheco - President, University of Arizona

Alfred Partoll - Senior Vice President, AT&T

Philip Pearlstein - Painter

Thomas Pickering - U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Norman Podhoretz - Editor, Commentary magazine

Walt Rostow - Foreign policy advisor

Harrison Schmitt - Astronaut & Senator

Richard Serra - Sculptor

Emilio Segre - Nobel Prize in Physics

Roger Sessions - Composer

John R. Silber - Chancellor, Boston University

Ruth Simmons - President, Smith College

Wallace Stegner - Writer

Richard Thomas - Chair/CEO, First National Bank of Chicago

Charles H. Townes - Nobel Prize in Physics

John Updike - Writer

C. Garrick Utley - ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent

Peter Viereck - Poet

Alberto Vitale - President/CEO, Random House, Inc.

Eudora Welty - Writer

Roslyn Yalow - Nobel Prize in Medicine


Chinua Achebe - Writer, Nigeria

Zaenal Arifin Achmady - Director General, Primary & Secondary Education, Indonesia

Tan Sri Ani Arope - Chair, Tenaga Nasional (National Energy Corp.), Malaysia

Shirani Bandaranayke - Supreme Court Justice, Sri Lanka

Aharon Barak - President, Supreme Court, Israel

Boutros Boutros-Ghali - UN Secretary-General, Egypt

Patricia Cardoso - Filmmaker, Colombia

Ruth Cardoso - First Lady of Brazil, Anthropologist, Brazil

Ingvar Carlsson - Prime Minister, Sweden

Gerhard Casper - President, Stanford University, Germany

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz - Prime Minister, Poland

Francois-Xavier De Donnea - Mayor of Brussels, Belgium

Marilyn Duckworth - Writer, New Zealand

Umberto Eco - Writer, Italy

Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani - Prime Minister, Yemen

Toru Hashimoto - Chairman, Fuji Bank, Japan

Alonso Blanco Herminio - Chief Negotiator, NAFTA, Mexico

Ana Griselda Hine - Artist, Costa Rica

Salma Khan - Divisional Chief, Women's Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Bangladesh

Shafik Ali El Khishen - Minister of Agriculture, UAR

A.M. Khusro - Editor-in-Chief, Financial Express, India

O-Ki Kwon - President, Daily News, Korea

Dominique Lapierre - Writer, Journalist, France

Teodoro A. Locsin - Editor-in-Chief, Philippine Free Press, Philippines

Jorge Martinez - Pianist, Paraguay

Prof. El Hadj Mbodj - President, Institute for Human Rights & Peace; Presidential Advisor, Senegal

Es'kia Mphahlele - Writer, South Africa

Hassan Mekouar - President, University Mohammed I, Morocco

Ole Myrvoll - Minister of Finance, Norway

Hilary B. Ng'weno - Editor-in-Chief, The Weekly Review, Kenya

Khalid Omari - Minister of Education, Jordan

Alfonso Ortega Urbina - Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicaragua

Carlos Ott - Architect, Uruguay

Krsto Papic - Film Director, Croatia

Velma Pollard - Dean, Faculty of Education, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

Hargovinda S. Pradhan - Chair, Nepal Law Reform Commission, Nepal

Georg Reisch - Executive Secretary, European Free Trade Association, Austria

Sir Wallace Rowling - Prime Minister, Ambassador to U.S., New Zealand

Hernando Sanabria - Director-General of Education, Bolivia

Toger Seidenfeiden - President, Danish TV2, Denmark

Antonio Skarmeta - Writer, Chile

Javier Solana - Secretary-General of NATO, Spain

Alicia Steimberg - Writer, Argentina

Tamas Szecsko - Director, Institute of Public Opinion Research, Hungary

Baroness Shirley Williams - Politician, United Kingdom

Steering Committee | Executive Summary
Preface | FULBRIGHT AT FIFTY | Challenge of Change
Recommendations | Appendices

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Revised: August 1997
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