The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, considered to be one of the most widely recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world, has presented 11 faculty members and one department from Metropolitan State University of Denver with awards. 

The Fulbright program, founded by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946, offers opportunities and grants for faculty members and professors to conduct research, lecture and/or consult with other scholars and institutions in 155 countries around the world. Projects must focus on the humanities, social sciences or languages and may include short-term seminars, curriculum development, group research or study, or advanced intensive language programs. Grantees have to submit annual performance reports. 

Akbarali Thobhani, Ph.D., executive director of the Office of International Studies at MSU Denver, says all Fulbright awards are very competitive and are selected from applicants across the country. 

“Faculty (members) pursue Fulbright awards because the awards give them opportunities to gain very valuable academic experiences at the international level,” Thobhani says, “either through teaching or advancing their research interests and establishing linkages with faculty (members) in different countries who are pursuing similar research interests. Fulbright awards are quite prestigious, and they add to the academic reputation of universities whose faculty members receive these awards.” 

According to the Fulbright website, a three- to five-member panel of evaluators reviews each application, and each reviewer prepares a written evaluation of the application and assigns points for each selection criterion. A rank order from highest to lowest score is then developed and used for funding purposes. In 2021, the Fulbright program awarded $2,492,713 in grants nationwide. The average size of an award for a short-term project is $80,059 and $185,025 for a long-term project. 

Among the 11 MSU Denver Fulbright honorees, Art faculty member Leila Armstrong and Thobhani have received a group-project award to conduct a seminar in Morocco titled “Women, Art and Development in Contemporary Morocco.” Art Professor Natascha Seideneck is also a participant. The seminar will include MSU Denver faculty members, students, recent graduates and teachers from the Denver Center for International Studies, a school in Denver Public Schools. The seminar will run from early June through July 1. 

Mick Jackowski, Ed.D., a professor in the Department of Marketing, won an award to teach and do research at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland, next spring. In addition to teaching marketing and sales, Jackowski will learn how to integrate biometrics into virtual meetings through Haaga-Helia’s state-of-the-art sales laboratory. He says one objective of this project is to develop virtual sales activities between students from Haaga-Helia and MSU Denver’s Center for Professional Selling.  

Jacqueline A. McLeod, Ph.D., professor of Africana Studies, won her second Fulbright honor in 2021 and spent time in Mexico studying and researching multicultural perspectives through a seminar titled “The Third Root: Exploring African Heritage in Mexico.” McLeod, who learned directly from African-descendant communities of Veracruz and Oaxaca, is a longtime advocate for multicultural awareness and education. She joined the University’s Departments of Africana Studies and History in 2006 and was selected for her first Fulbright award in 2018.  

Eric D. Olson, Ph.D., chair of the Rita and Navin Dimond Department of Hotel Management in the School of Hospitality, won a teaching and research award to assist VinUniversity in Hanoi, Vietnam, with developing its hospitality management program next spring. Olson will be based in the College of Business and Management, collaborating with faculty members and students on a research project in marketing services and tourism and engaging with tourism stakeholders regarding outreach opportunities. He will share his experiences with MSU Denver by adding modules in international tourism to courses and creating exchange experiences between faculty members and students at VinUniversity and MSU Denver. 

The Department of English received a scholar-in-residence award that will pay to have a professor from India spend one year at MSU Denver teaching in the English Department and doing research in an area of interest. 

Several additional MSU Denver faculty members have also received Fulbright awards, including: 

  • Andrea Maestrejuan, History Department  
  • Sanaa Riaz, Department of Sociology and Anthropology  
  • Tsehai Johnson, Department of Art 
  • Leslie Boyd, Department of Art 
  • Douglas Mpondi, Department of Africana Studies 

For more information on the Fulbright Scholar Program, please contact the Office of International Studies or the Colorado Chapter of the Fulbright Association