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Among public universities, ASU is fifth in student Fulbright awards for '16-'17.
February 22, 2017

6 faculty members, 15 students sent abroad in prestigious national program

Arizona State University is one of the top producers of prestigious Fulbright scholars among research institutions for 2016-17, coming in at No. 6 for awards to faculty members, according to newly released rankings.

In addition, ASU is in the top 20 for research institutions producing student Fulbright scholars. Among public universities, ASU was ranked No. 5 in student Fulbright awards.

ASU has six faculty and 15 students in the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

“Part of the university’s mission is to engage with people and issues globally, and Fulbright scholars are the embodiment of that,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost. “The exchange of knowledge and interest benefits the scholar as well as the community abroad, and it brings ASU’s academic rigor and innovation to the world stage.”

ASU’s 15 Fulbright students are abroad now, and the university has 29 students who recently were named semifinalists for next year’s awards.

“Year in and year out, ASU has been a consistent presence on the Fulbright ‘Top Producers’ list, which is a testament to our commitment to global engagement, service and leadership,” said Kyle Mox, who is director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement at ASU and the coordinator of the Fulbright program for ASU students.

“But given the recent growth and development of the university, there is considerable untapped potential at ASU. With the high quality of our international programs and our students’ commitment to leadership and service, I look forward to seeing up to double the number of applicants in the coming years.”

The Fulbright program, created in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the people of other countries, provides the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad. The program awards about 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 160 countries. The sponsor is the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Faculty generally stay abroad anywhere from two months to a full academic year. This award is often taken in conjunction with research, development or sabbatical leave options. 

The student awards are for academic research or a position as an English teaching assistant. In addition, some 4,000 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the U.S. annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

The 21 faculty and students from ASU are currently studying and teaching in countries around the world including Vietnam, Germany, Kazakhstan and South Africa. They include Stephen Doig, a professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who is a lecturer on social science tools for journalism at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, and Elise Alonzi, a doctoral student in the School of Evolution and Social Change, who is studying archeology in Ireland.

The other five faculty Fulbright Scholars from ASU are Amanda Clarke, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Chouki El Hamel, a professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Erik Luna, a professor of law in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Mohan Gopalakrishnan, associate professor in the School of Supply Chain Management, W. P. Carey School of Business; and Rene Villalobos, associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

On March 21, ASU will hold a “Fulbright Day” at the Memorial Union in Tempe at 3 p.m., in which representatives from Fulbright will describe the program and answer questions.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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Politics aside, ASU expert says schools can help transgender students

ASU expert teaches schools how to be affirming for transgender students.
February 22, 2017

Camellia Bellis of T. Sanford Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics says schools can set non-discrimination policies

As the federal government wrangles over the rights of transgender students, an Arizona State University expert says that politics aside, schools can still create an affirming environment for those children.

President Donald Trump revoked anti-discrimination protections for transgender students on Wednesday; some news outlets had reported disagreement among top federal officials on the rollback.

“I think this step by the administration serves as a blow to transgender youth, but we know that schools and districts around the country still have a moral and ethical and legal responsibility to make sure all students feel safe and free of discrimination and harassment,” said Camellia Bellis, who has worked as an advocate for transgender students and their families.

Last May, the U.S. Education and Justice departments said that transgender students should be allowed to use facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Immediately after that ruling, Arizona joined several other states in a lawsuit challenging that interpretation.

Bellis, a program manager, developed a transgender education program that is being offered to K–12 teachers by Project Connect, part of the T. Sanford Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU. The workshops trains teachers, administrators, nurses, counselors and other educators in how to create a welcoming atmosphere that helps transgender students learn.

Transgender people have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs from their assigned sex.

Bellis answered some questions for ASU Now:

Question: How will a rollback on the federal guidelines affect schools?

Answer: It might seem a bit confusing to some schools or districts — what, specifically are they supposed to do? We know that Title IXTitle IX is the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education. and the U.S. Constitution protect transgender students from discrimination. They just don’t have that federal backing right now, and it’s sad because it sends a message to transgender youth in this country that “you don’t matter to the federal government.” And that’s a harmful message to send.

There are no state protections in Arizona for LGBT students, so it really is dependent on districts and schools to have those policies.

We won’t know much more legally until the arguments in front of the Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on March 28 in the case of a transgender teenager from Virginia, Gavin Grimm, who sued for the right to use the boys’ bathroom. at the end of March.

Q: How many transgender students are there?

A: The Williams InstituteThe Williams Institute is a think tank at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. came out last year and said it can be anywhere from 0.3 to 0.8 percent of the population. Those of us who work with trans youths in school think it’s about 1 percent of the population. So if you have 500 students in a school, you’ll have about five trans students. Whether they’re ‘out’ or not is another story.

When we hear a school say, “We don’t have any trans students,” that’s not true. They just don’t know about them.

Q: How can schools affirm transgender students?

A: They can take proactive steps, making sure they have nondiscrimination policies that protect them, specifically stating that they’re allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, and (the schools) will use the asserted pronoun they identify with. They should have conversations with staff. Some have called it a “gender-support plan,” where it spells out exactly what that district’s stand is on bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, physical education, how do we keep their files confidential, make sure their (previous) name isn’t launched out there by a substitute teacher?

We recently did a training for high school nurses, and most them didn’t know what their school’s policy was. Can transgender students use the bathroom? They didn’t know.

Taking a stance says, “The federal government may not feel that this vulnerable population needs to be protected, but in this school we will make sure you’re safe and affirmed and we know that when you feel affirmed, you can learn.”

For information on the Transgender Education Program, visit

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now