Thirty-two U-M students, faculty members receive Fulbright awards


University of Michigan graduate student Lenard Foust just finished his journey as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in China.

Foust, a Master of Fine Arts dance student, spent six months in Beijing and Shanghai studying Mandarin while teaching and taking dance courses. His passion for the art of movement and education ignited his drive to grow professionally and further develop his abilities to teach and to promote the love of learning through movement and dance.

“This Fulbright was very transformative,” he said. “I was able to apply my language learning to my teaching, which was challenging but so rewarding. It also provided me with new found knowledge and a greater appreciation of cross-cultural exchange.”

Foust is one of 21 U-M students and young alumni who received the highly competitive award for the 2019-20 academic year. The grants fund student research or teaching overseas for six to 12 months, providing immersive experiences across the globe.

Fulbrights also were awarded to 11 U-M faculty scholars from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. Recipients are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential. This year, their interests ranged from nuclear physics and linguistics to modern history and language arts.

“I applaud U-M’s latest Fulbright scholars and thank them for advancing knowledge and cultural appreciation around the world,” President Mark Schlissel said.

“Our university’s leadership in international education helps us fulfill our public mission and ensures that we do not shrink from our responsibility to promote global stability and peace.”

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Nearly 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals from 100 different fields are offered Fulbrights each year.

The 2019-20 faculty scholars are:

  • Christine Aidala, associate professor of physics, LSA.
  • Laura Balzano, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, College of Engineering.
  • Amy Conger, associate vice provost and director of global engagement, Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; and adjunct assistant professor of education, School of Education.
  • Sara Duvall, librarian, Library Services.
  • Peter Hitchcock, associate dean of academic programs and initiatives, Rackham Graduate School; and professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and of cell and developmental biology, Medical School.
  • Mark Moldwin, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; director of academic programs, undergraduate education; and professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Daniel Davis, professor of linguistics, College of Arts, Sciences and Letters, UM-Dearborn.
  • William DeGenaro, professor of composition and rhetoric, College of Arts, Sciences and Letters, UM-Dearborn.
  • Anna Muller, associate professor of history, College of Arts, Sciences and Letters, UM-Dearborn.
  • Amira Shourbaji, lecturer II in the English Language Proficiency Program, UM-Dearborn.
  • Sapna Thwaite, associate dean and associate professor of education, School of Education and Human Services, UM-Flint.

Thwaite received an award to Germany for the International Education Administrators Program. The spirit behind the U.S./German Higher Education Administrators program is to promote collaboration and relationship building between higher education institutions in Germany and the United States.

“As a higher education administrator selected to participate in this competitive program, my goal was to deepen my knowledge of German culture and the educational system as well as create more opportunities for our faculty and students in Germany,” Thwaite said. “I was also hoping to bring more faculty and staff from Germany to our campus.”

The staff at U-M’s International Institute and fellowship adviser Heather Johnson provide individual advising and resources necessary to help students and faculty put forth a compelling and competitive application throughout the Fulbright selection process.

“It is no accident that U-M is once again a top-producing university for Fulbright awards,” said Pauline Jones, director of the International Institute.

“The faculty and staff at the International Institute are deeply committed to international education and global engagement. They play an enormous role in inspiring and preparing students to participate and succeed in this competition.”


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