The prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program has a new liaison on the University of Indianapolis campus.
Peter W. Vakunta, Ph.D., recently was appointed as the University’s Fulbright Scholar Program liaison by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a division of the Institute of International Education.
Vakunta, an assistant professor of French & Francophone Studies, is chair of the University of Indianapolis’ Department of Global Languages & Cross-Cultural Studies. He is also director of the Multicultural Engagement and Global Awareness (MEGA) Center.
While a Fulbright scholarship brings accolades for recipients, Vakunta says that the honor also enhances the academic climate of the university.
“If you want to measure the importance of a university, and how robust scholarship is at that institution, they are looking at people who have distanced themselves from mediocrity. They are looking at people who have done extraordinary things in terms of research, in terms of knowledge creation,” Vakunta said.
Vakunta’s role as liaison will be to keep faculty informed of Fulbright scholarships and grants available from the Department of State “so that we can apply for those grants and put the name of the university out there,” he said. He also will work closely with Fulbright advisors on campus.
The program also allows UIndy the chance to bring a Fulbright scholar-in-residence to campus. The Fulbright scholar would teach for a semester within their area of expertise and provide a cross-cultural or international perspective to promote curricula and program development.
Through the Fulbright Scholar Program’s Outreach Lecturing Fund, UIndy will also have the opportunity to host Fulbright Visiting Scholars for short-term speaking engagements.
About the Fulbright Scholar Program
The U.S. government’s flagship program in international exchange, the Fulbright Scholar Program was proposed to the U.S. Congress in 1945 by then-freshman Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. His vision was approved by Congress and then signed into law by President Truman in 1946. The Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide. Approximately 8,000 grants are awarded annually.