Hollins University is welcoming a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (S-I-R) next year to further infuse a global perspective into the school’s curriculum.
The Fulbright S-I-R Program, which supports international academic exchange between the United States and more than 160 countries around the world, has approved a joint proposal by Hollins and Virginia Tech to bring an S-I-R to their respective campuses for the 2020-21 academic session. The Scholar will spend 80 percent of their time at Hollins.
Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Elizabeth Gleim co-authored the proposal with Gillian Eastwood, assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. They hope the S-I-R will provide an international point of view, especially in the field of infectious disease, to the new undergraduate public health programs launched at both universities this academic year.
“The Fulbright program requires applicants to select two specific countries from a particular continent from which to draw potential candidates for the Scholar position,” Gleim explained. “Gillian and I narrowed our choices to Kenya and South Africa. Africa has so many fascinating disease systems, and in those two countries, scientists are conducting some very interesting research. Also, approaches to and access to healthcare in Africa are different than what students might be familiar with here in the U.S. Because diseases don’t recognize borders or boundaries, it’s important that our public health students have an understanding of these different health care settings around the globe and that they are familiar with disease systems outside of the U.S. regardless of whether one plans to work domestically or internationally.”
In their proposal, Gleim and Eastwood illustrated how the S-I-R would serve their institutions beyond the classroom. “In addition to teaching, we envision this individual sharing their expertise and their culture with our campus communities and our communities at large through guest lectures and other activities, including outreach to local schools,” Gleim said. “At Hollins, we look forward to having the S-I-R become actively involved with our Office of Cultural and Community Engagement (which cultivates diversity and inclusiveness on campus), for example, by becoming involved with our International Student Orientation Program (which prepares students from abroad for living and studying in the United States).” She also hopes that participation in the S-I-R program might create new opportunities for Hollins students to conduct research overseas within the Scholar’s home country.
Gleim noted that their proposal was significantly enhanced by the existence at Hollins of an endowed fund created specifically to bring international faculty members to campus. “Without a doubt, Hollins’ financial support of the Scholar via the Jack and Tifi W. Bierley International Professorship significantly enhanced our proposal.” She added that small liberal arts colleges are among the colleges and universities to whom the S-I-R program gives preference, particularly those who are seeking to grow service to minority populations.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Its goal is to increase mutual understanding and support between the people of the United States and other countries while transforming lives, bridging geographic and cultural boundaries, and promoting a more peaceful and prosperous world.