GVSU, Ferris tops among Fulbright winners

Two West Michigan universities have been recognized for their commitment to put stamps in their faculty’s passports.

A recent report from the Chronicle of Higher Education shows that Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University tied for first place in the category of “Master’s Institutions” for this year’s Fulbright Awards. Each university had three faculty members who were granted Fulbright Awards, which are essentially grants made for educational purposes, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

FSU faculty members who received Fulbright grants for this year are: Greg Gogolin, professor of information security and intelligence; Daniel Ding, professor of English literature; and Chris Westerkamp, professor of biology. Gogolin recently returned from researching and training at the University of Chile. Ding is set to teach at the University of Debrecen in Hungary. Westerkamp is teaching at the University of Mongolia.

GVSU faculty members who received Fulbright grants are: Kurt Ellenberger, associate professor in the Meijer Honors College; Rich Jelier, professor of public nonprofit and health administration; and Sylvia Mupepi, associate professor of nursing. Ellenberger will teach jazz theory and conduct research at the Kunstuniversität Graz in Austria. Jelier will teach and research at Moscow State University in Russia. Mupepi will teach and research cervical cancer at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

What a Fulbright Award means for universities is that its faculty have fantastic development and travel opportunities, said Mark Schaub, GVSU’s chief international officer. The faculty members return to campus with rich experiences and insights from their time immersed in another country and culture, he said. This benefits the relations between international institutions, as well as the research conducted at both schools.

“The sending university — GVSU, in our case — gets no payment, and the faculty awardees do not get paid, either. They get travel expenses, a book allowance, and a maintenance stipend for food and expenses in the host country,” he said. “Most GVSU faculty participate in Fulbright placements during their sabbatical semesters, and are working on research projects concurrently to their Fulbright projects.”

GVSU has had a long history with Fulbright Awards, Schaub said, adding that three faculty also received awards last year.

“Once again, we get three GVSU faculty who have proven they are world-class faculty by earning this competitive and prestigious award,” he said. “They will come back even stronger and with many experiences they’re gaining while teaching and researching in another country.”

FSU also has a long history with the Fulbright, said Piram Prakasam, director of international education, with a few dozen FSU scholars having received the award. FSU even started a student organization to get students to try for the award, he said.

“Ferris has a new student organization that was formed to create an organic way to promote the Fulbright scholarship program to students. The group is called FSUbuntu,” he said. “So far, only two students have gone on Fulbright (trips) from Ferris.”

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