March 20, 2023
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IC recognized as top Fulbright Award producer

Ithaca College has a long history of sending students and faculty abroad on Fulbright scholarships, to the point of being recognized by the Fulbright Program for the college’s continued commitment to academic achievement abroad. 

In the past decade, 14 faculty members at the college have received awards, including two this year. The college announced Feb. 14 that it had received recognition as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars, which are Fulbright awards for faculty. 

Faculty Fulbright awards are opportunities for faculty members to travel abroad to over 135 countries for year- or semester-long research or teaching projects. Faculty also have the flexibility of picking a country before picking a research project or traveling to a country for research in multiple short-term trips. 

Anna Larsen, professor in the Department of Chemistry and a Fulbright liaison, said faculty usually apply for Fulbrights independently but can use their institutions for support and guidance.

Kathleen Mulligan, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance Performance, said via email that she left for Amritsar, India, on Dec. 12, 2022, to complete her Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship research, her second time traveling to India on a Fulbright scholarship. Her first trip to India on a Fulbright was in 2009 and she worked with Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kochi. Mulligan said that this time, she is working with students at two institutions in Amritsar: Khalsa College and Sant Singh Sukha Singh College of Commerce for Women.

“I am much more prepared [than in 2010] for the inevitable challenges of living in another culture,” Mulligan said. “My previous experiences in India and Pakistan, combined with personal work I have done on cultural literacy and awareness, have allowed me to enter this experience with more sensitivity and understanding.”

Mulligan said her current research is a continuation of research she did during her 2015 sabbatical. The original research was based in Pakistan and led to the production of an original theatrical work, “Voices of Partition,” based on the stories of survivors of the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan.

“I was profoundly moved by the project, and it remains the piece of work I am most proud of in my career,” Mulligan said. “But that project told only one side of the story with accounts from one side of the border. It was important to me to complete the project with stories from the other side of the border in India.”

While in Amritsar, Mulligan said she is continuing to facilitate interviews with survivors of the partition and how the partition still impacts people today.

“I cannot understand [the survivors’] language, so I rely on the students and faculty with me to hear their stories and relay them to me later,” Mulligan said. “Just being in their presence is deeply moving to me.”

According to the IC News announcement, Alka Bramhandkar, professor in the Department of Finance and the Department of International Business, is also abroad on a faculty Fulbright scholarship.

Larsen said she found out about faculty Fulbright awards because of a workshop that the college hosted. In 2010, Larsen and her family went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on her faculty Fulbright award.

“My children got to live in Buenos Aires for six months, which was really cool for them,” Larsen said. “In general, it’s very useful for people … to live in foreign country, just to see that there is more to this world than just [their] house and [their] school.”

In the past, the college has also received recognition as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. students but did not this year.

, professor in the Department of Literatures in English and faculty liaison for students seeking external grants and awards, said the college did not have any students accepted for Fulbright awards in the 2022–23 academic year.

Egan assists students with the Fulbright application process. Egan said student Fulbright awards are the most common for him to handle compared to other external awards, and the college has seen 20 students receive Fulbright awards in the past decade. 

“My job is to help the students with their application, look over drafts of their application [and] make sure that they get everything in on time,” Egan said. 

Larsen said she noticed that students who go abroad, not just through Fulbright scholarships, come back enriched by their experiences.

“[Going abroad] is the coolest thing you can do as a student,” Larsen said.

Larsen said via email that students pursuing Fulbright scholarships can use faculty recipients from the college as resources.

“Even though [the] student Fulbright program is different from the faculty one, the students may still gain useful insight from the faculty with experience with Fulbright programs,” Larsen said.

Mulligan said she will return to the U.S. in mid-June 2023. She said one of the most valuable parts of being abroad for research is being vulnerable and relying on others; to tell their stories, to translate and to guide her.

“Every experience I have abroad makes me a better person,” Mulligan said. “I am more educated, more sensitive, more aware and more self-aware. I confront my unconscious biases. I struggle with cultural differences … and I grow from those struggles. My self that has grown will be brought back to my teaching and my students.”