North Texas Daily

Scholarship program sends faculty and students abroad, brings them to UNT

Scholarship program sends faculty and students abroad, brings them to UNT

Scholarship program sends faculty and students abroad, brings them to UNT
October 28
10:30 2013

Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer

Taipei, the capital and largest city in Taiwan, pulled in billions of dollars in tourism last year. But for political science professor James Meernik, Taipei is for teaching, not tourism.

Meernik has spent the last few weeks in Taiwan on a Fulbright Scholarship to give guest lectures at Soochow University on the International Criminal Court and the U.S. budget deficit and negotiations. This is Meernik’s second trip abroad on the Fulbright program. He went to the Autonomous University of Mexico City in 2009.

“Students everywhere are very curious about the politics in the United States and how our government works,” he said. “There are also many Taiwanese in the United States, especially here in the DFW area. Both countries also face the issue of aging populations, which also means that there will be demands for more immigrants, especially younger ones in the health care field.”

The Fulbright Program is a national program designed to mix and match cultures. Through the program, students and professors go abroad to more than 150 different countries to study, lecture or perform research. The program also brings students and professors in from other countries.

UNT International’s communications director Mary Beth Butler said the program was established by Senator J. William Fulbright after World War II.

“He really believed that if people could get to know each other, maybe we wouldn’t kill each other so much,” she said.

Butler said UNT has eight faculty members who have received Fulbright awards this year, which is the largest number in a long time. However, only one student has been sent abroad by Fulbright from a pool of only 10 applicants. Butler said she is disappointed by the apparent lack of interest.

On the other side of the program, UNT has 14 students this semester that have come in through Fulbright. UNT International assistant director Aleka Myre said that number has been steadily rising for years as UNT has grown more ambitious.

“As UNT grows in reputation and as departments start realizing they need to do some sort of cost share, we’ve began to get more Fulbright students,” she said.

Myre said there was typically competition among universities for Fulbright students, since the program doesn’t always pay the full way, and because Fulbright typically brings in top-of-the-line graduate and doctoral students.

“It’s just like when a student gets a perfect SAT score and everybody wants them,” she said.

Students interested in applying to go abroad may contact Butler at 940-369-5264 or marybeth.butler@unt.edu.

Political science professorJames Meernik. Feature photo courtesy of UNT

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