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University of Houston Makes Strong Showing on List of Fulbright Institutions

By Mallory Chesser (’08)­­­
Feb. 21, 2019 

On February 10, the Fulbright Program released its list of top producing Fulbright institutions for the 2018-2019 grant year. With six awardees in 2018—more than the previous five years combined—the University of Houston made a strong showing. UH produced more Fulbright Scholars than top research institutions including Rice, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, the University of North Texas, Cornell, the University of Mississippi, and others. In the state of Texas, UH ties with Southern Methodist University and is only surpassed by the University of Texas. 

“As we continue to promote a culture of Fulbright success at UH, I think it is important to share these types of benchmark numbers with the larger campus community,” said Ben Rayder, director of national scholarships and major awards in the Office of Undergraduate Research, which is housed in the Honors College. “We want our alumni and faculty to know that UH is part of the Fulbright conversation.” 

An institution qualifies as a top producer of Fulbright awards when it has 10 or more grantees in a given year. While the University of Houston hasn’t met this benchmark yet, Rayder reports that UH put forward 29 competitive applicants for the current award cycle, and 18 students have been named as semi-finalists. Of these, eight are students in the Honors College. 

The Office of Undergraduate Research spearheads the Fulbright application process, vetting candidates from across the University of Houston. Candidates must be recommended by a faculty member and interviewed by a faculty committee before their names are put forward as Fulbright candidates. 

Rayder offers advising, assistance with applications, and mock interviews for students who wish to apply for the Fulbright and other major awards. Students interested in applying for a Fulbright award are encouraged to attend a student panel on April 5, in the Honors College. Representatives from the Institute of International Education, which administers the scholarship program, will be available to offer tips and answer questions.

The Fulbright Program awards operate in over 160 countries and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

The Honors College at the University of Houston is a nationally recognized learning community. As a vibrant, leading presence within the University, the Honors College attracts highly talented and motivated students and educators to a collegial environment where tradition is honored and possibilities are both created and realized.