Since achieving federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in 2015, Chico State has worked to even further enhance the success of its Hispanic students, launching initiatives such as the Chico Adelante Program, Chico STEM Connections Collaborative and the Student Transition and Retention Center. Today, the University is being distinguished with an honor that few national colleges and universities can claim.

Chico State has been named a Fulbright HSI Leader in the designation’s inaugural year, and is one of just 35 higher education institutions nationwide to receive the honor. The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is recognizing the noteworthy engagement that select HSIs have achieved with the Fulbright Program, the US government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

This Fulbright HSI Leader status has been conferred on this group because each has demonstrated noteworthy engagement with Fulbright exchange participants during the 2019–2021 academic years and promoted Fulbright Program opportunities on campus.

“Chico State is among an elite group of Hispanic-Serving Institutions that has created a campus culture which celebrates the mission of Fulbright and international exchanges,” said Jennifer Gruber, Chico State’s interim associate vice president for International Education and Global Engagement. “Even through a pandemic, our campus continues to facilitate meaningful global and cultural learning opportunities through innovative student programs, collaborative online international learning, curriculum development and international exchange.”

A trio of current Chico State faculty were named as Fulbright scholars for 2021–22: Brian Brazel and Jesse Dizard (both from the Department of Anthropology) and Lee Altier (College of Agriculture). Altier, who is currently teaching at Ege University in İzmir, Turkey, said he is firmly committed to the concept of the exchange of ideas—particularly across different cultures.

“When people of diverse backgrounds exchange ideas and share their own cultural artifacts, they build bridges and gain an understanding and appreciation for each other that promotes compassion and empathy,” he said. “I incorporate this into the content of the courses that I teach, and it was the inspiration for my application to the Fulbright program.”

Additionally, the University’s Department of History is hosting a Fulbright Scholar from México this year, Luz del Rocio Bermúdez. On campus as part of the Fulbright-Garcia Robles program, she is focused on writing a book about the long-lasting history of her hometown, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. Bermúdez said that one of her early highlights has been the warmth of the Chico State community.

“There is a stimulating atmosphere here that creates an intellectual community,” she said. “It is a city that can be enjoyed on foot or by bicycle, and if delight is the fuel of creativity, Chico is the place to be.”

As a measure of its commitment to and excellence in providing resources for its Hispanic students, the CSU system represented eight of the 35 schools listed. San Diego State was the lone CSU campus named among Doctoral Institutions, while Masters Institutions included Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, CSUN, San Francisco State, San Jose State and Sonoma State.

The Fulbright HSI Leader initiative is part of the US State Department’s longstanding commitment to build diversity and inclusion within the Fulbright Program and within all the Bureau’s international exchange programs. In July, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona released a “Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education,” which outlines the many benefits of international education and the need for “all Americans […] to be equipped with global and cultural competencies.” The Fulbright HSI Leaders Initiative supports the goals of the Joint Statement, including the principle that US participants in international exchanges should reflect the diversity of the United States.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, which was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the US Congress to the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Fulbright is active in more than 160 countries worldwide and partners with participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States.