Remarks at Swearing In Ceremony for Members of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Good morning. I am honored to be with you on this important occasion and to represent the U.S. Department of State in swearing in new members of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. They are:

Former U.S. Senator Mark Pryor

Dr. Markos Kounalakis

Christopher Fonzone

Rudy Mehrban

Natalie Quillian.

I am also happy to swear in re-appointed Board member Maneesh Goyal. Congratulations to each of you.

I also want to acknowledge new Board members Kristie Canegallo and Roberto Rodriguez, who could not be here today, but they are ready to serve on the Board.

We are all grateful to Fulbright Board Chair Jeff Bleich and the other Board members – Sam Brown, Anita McBride, and Shervin Pishevar – for their service and for lending their remarkable professional experience, talents, and networks in strengthening and promoting the Fulbright program worldwide.

And I am pleased to also welcome all of the other guests here today. Thank you for coming to support these outstanding individuals as they are sworn in to serve the Fulbright Program as members of this prestigious, presidentially appointed Board.

Seventy years ago, the world was in a period of tremendous uncertainty as it recovered from the horrors and destruction of the Second World War. Two great Americans, George C. Marshall – whose former office space it is now my privilege to inhabit – and J. William Fulbright – whose legacy we mark again today – understood that new responses were needed for old problems. They saw the power of outreach, of networks, of grace to heal and bind the world’s wounds. The Marshall Plan remains the standard for enlightened response to massive need, and the Fulbright Program is the unquestionable flagship of international educational exchange programs. Sponsored by the U.S. government, Fulbright now operates in more than 160 countries worldwide and has provided approximately 370,000 participants with the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research and exchange ideas across borders.

Senator Fulbright was a visionary, not only in recognizing the value of international educational exchange, but also in expressing his vision in foreign policy terms.

Senator Fulbright said:

“The preservation of our free society in the years and decades to come will depend ultimately on whether we succeed or fail in directing the enormous power of human knowledge to the enrichment of our own lives and the shaping of a rational and civilized world order…”

The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board is critical to the operation of the Fulbright Program. In addition to setting the program’s strategic goals through worldwide policies and stimulating forward thinking, the Board also reviews and approves thousands of applications from students, scholars, teachers, and professionals around the world.

The Fulbright Program is a crucial part of the U.S. government’s public outreach. The program supports U.S. interests and advances global stability as it builds lasting ties and fosters the development of solutions to shared global challenges.

Throughout my Foreign Service career, I have been privileged to witness firsthand how educational exchanges serve the broader goals of enhancing our nation’s security and prosperity. A Chilean judge gained a deep understanding of the United States and that helped resolve a bitter trade dispute between our countries. A South African studied human rights law and strengthened his country’s ability to move to majority rule without an all-out war. And, the Fulbright experience inspired our late colleague John Granville to dedicate his life to development work in Africa on behalf of the American people.

To the new members of the Board, you are embarking on a demanding, yet rewarding, path of service – something to which Jeff and the other Board members can attest. The diversity of backgrounds, talents, and perspectives you are bringing to the Board are emblematic of the Fulbright Program itself, including your unique experiences and expertise in education reform, foreign policymaking, and law, such as Mark Pryor’s former service as a Senator from Arkansas, the home of Senator Fulbright.

The entire Fulbright team welcomes the new ideas and energy you bring to the program, and we look forward to working with you and the rest of the Board to advance Senator Fulbright’s vision of “a modest program with an immodest aim” and ensure the Fulbright Program remains strong for generations to come.

Thank you for taking on this tremendously important work and, again, congratulations.

Source: U.S Department of State