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Chico State

University Among Nation’s Top Fulbright Scholar-Producing Higher Ed Institutions

The sun sets behind an academic building.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Turkey. Jordan. Sri Lanka. These are countries where Chico State faculty are furthering their research this academic year—a year in which the University has more of its scholars teaching and researching abroad on Fulbright awards than ever.

The US Department of State has taken notice and listed Chico State as one of the top Fulbright Scholar-producing colleges and universities in the nation for the 2021–22 academic year. Among master’s granting higher education institutions, the University ranked second with three scholars, behind only State University of New York at New Paltz, which boasts four.

“I love the wide-eyed experience of visiting another country and learning about another culture,” said the College of Agriculture’s Lee Altier, currently a visiting professor at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey. “Part of that for me is learning how people take what they grow and turn it into localized cuisine to feed their population.”

Professors Jesse Dizard and Brian Brazeal, both from the Department of Anthropology, are the other faculty awarded US Fulbright Scholar Program awards for this academic year—another rarity is that they come from the same department.

Brazeal, founder and director of the Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology, will soon travel to Sri Lanka to study and document the country’s gemstone-trading industry. He will bring students with him to work on a documentary film.

“The materials we create will come right back into the classroom at Chico State,” Brazeal said. “It is important for faculty to have research experiences abroad so that they can bring international perspectives to our students.”

Dizard is currently a visiting professor at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. Dizard describes the experience of teaching abroad professionally and personally challenging, exhilarating, and gratifying.

“My life has been forever changed by the friendships I have made here with colleagues and students, and by the Jordanian people with whom I interact on a daily basis,” he said.

Dizard added it is no accident that Chico State finds itself so highly placed among the institutions producing the most successful applicants for Fulbright Scholarships.

“This is because our colleagues among the faculty and the administration are not content to rest upon their laurels and are actively engaged in dynamic and iterative efforts to innovate, to improve and to do the difficult work of ensuring that creativity and flexibility are not just the hollow jargon of mission statements,” he said. “Such a culture of commitment to the ideals of education and community affords excellent if not optimum conditions for the kind of resilient and broadminded curiosity that so often makes our colleagues competitive candidates for the Fulbright Scholarship.”

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Channel Islands and Cal Poly Humboldt each have two scholars studying abroad—the only other CSU campuses to be noted as a “Top Performer” in the master’s institutions category.

Sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program was established over 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program, 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.

This is the second distinction Chico State has enjoyed from the US Department of State over the last few months. In October, the University was named a Fulbright Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) leader in the designation’s inaugural year, and was one of just 35 higher education institutions to receive the honor. Chico State achieved federal designation as an HSI in 2015.