Texas A&M University-Texarkana Associate Professor of Mass Communication Dr. Kevin Ells has been awarded a Fulbright scholar grant from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The application is competitive. Participants are chosen for their potential — with opportunities to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Dr. Ells will teach during the spring 2015 semester in the Republic of Azerbaijan, the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Located on the coast of the Caspian Sea, it is the only country bordering both Russia and Iran. Over 90 percent of its citizens are Muslim and speak Azerbaijani, a language related to Turkish. Azerbaijani troops have served as peacekeepers alongside American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This award is a tremendous honor, but also a challenging responsibility,” Dr. Ells said. “While teaching university students overseas and looking into faculty and student exchange opportunities for A&M-Texarkana, I’ll also be representing the United States to colleagues and students in a pivotal area of the world.”
Dr. Ells was inspired to apply for a Fulbright grant by his wife, Ginger, who received a Fulbright to Montenegro in 2006. Dr. Ells said he was impressed at how much one American professor dedicated to Fulbright’s mission of education and service could leave so positive an impression of the U.S. and its citizens on people who understood our country only through fragmentary information from local media.
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. The primary source of funding for Fulbright is an annual appropriation from Congress. Assisting the Bureau with the administration of the Fulbright Program is a number of private organizations, including the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).
Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in 1945 that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science. President Truman signed the bill into law the following year. The Program now operates in over 155 countries worldwide.