SDSU Named 2021 HSI Leader by Fulbright Program

The university is part of an inaugural cohort of 35 Hispanic-Serving Institutions across the country, recognized by the U.S. Department of State.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
A view of SDSU's Sickels Plaza. (Photo: Scott Hargrove)
A view of SDSU's Sickels Plaza. (Photo: Scott Hargrove)

San Diego State University has been named a Fulbright HSI Leader by the U.S. Department of State, becoming one of only 35 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) in the nation to receive the first-ever recognition.

The selection by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) follows SDSU’s demonstrated engagement with Fulbright exchange participants during the 2019-2021 academic years.

“This is such a proud moment for our SDSU community, and we are so appreciative of this recognition from the U.S. Department of State,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “It reinforces our clear commitment to being the transborder research university for California, to expanding our top ranked international education programs, and our legacy of service to our transborder region and around the globe.”

The inaugural cohort of Fulbright HSI Leaders was announced Oct. 27 at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) annual conference.

“Thank you for creating a campus culture that celebrates the mission of Fulbright and international exchanges,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs Ethan Rosenzweig, representing ECA. “Thank you for epitomizing the principle that mutual understanding between peoples of the United States and other countries will lead to a more just and peaceful society at home.”

Since 2005, a total of 94 SDSU students have been selected for the prestigious Fulbright Program.

“We are excited and grateful for this distinction,” said Cristina Alfaro, associate vice president of International Affairs. “SDSU continues to be committed to developing global leaders who can bridge cultural divides and build long-lasting relationships beyond their familiar borders. We recognize that academic institutions have the unique opportunity to play a role in educational diplomacy, and partnering with the Fulbright Scholar Program allows us to do just that.”

Nancy A. Marlin, SDSU psychology professor and provost emerita who serves as the Fulbright advisor, said Fulbright’s mission to promote mutual understanding means recipients have the responsibility to serve as cultural ambassadors.

“Indeed, in some rural placements our Fulbright recipients have been the only people from the U.S. the host community members had ever met,” Marlin said.

“In this ambassadorial role Fulbrighters engage with the local community to share their beliefs, customs and viewpoints. Such engagement occurs bilaterally through the Fulbrighters from other countries who come to SDSU,” Marlin also said. “Upon their return, Fulbrighters have advanced their own teaching or research as well as their cultural awareness, their global perspective and often their sensitivity to being a member of a minority group.”

The Fulbright HSI Leaders initiative is part of the U.S. State Department’s longstanding commitment to build diversity and inclusion within the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the program.

“Opening up the world to San Diego students is of essential value to what we do at SDSU,” de la Torre said. “These international efforts not only expand opportunities for our students, but they can change whole communities for the better. It is always driven by bringing value to wherever we go--never extracting value. This is our priority at SDSU, and exactly how we prepare our students and, ultimately, our alumni to serve communities around the world.”

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