A brief History
In 1946, the visionary freshman US Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas founded the Fulbright Program of International Exchange. It was he who conceived the idea of the post-World War II educational and cultural exchange program, and made it a reality in 1948. The program that came to bear his name has proven to be the most valuable investment in international cooperation. Fulbright himself had been a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and experienced the benefit of international educational exchange. The idea was simple: to create a program, with the whole world as its stage, that would simultaneously encourage students from as many countries as possible to study in the United States while persuading young Americans to live in, and come to know and understand, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Western Hemisphere, and the Pacific. The program was originally financed by the sale of US war surplus property, later also by US held foreign currencies from the sale of grain abroad, and by funds appropriated by Congress.
The binational approach is the hallmark that distinguishes this academic exchange program from most others, either public or private. The final legislative underpinnings of academic exchange came with the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. Also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act 1961 (cosponsored by Congressman Wayne Hays of Ohio), it endorsed the cooperative approach of the Fulbright Program, enlarged its scope and extended it geographically.
60 years later
At sixty, the Fulbright exchange program has matured into an international success story. From a modest program that brought 35 students and a single professor to the United States in 1948 and sent 65 Americans abroad, the Fulbright has grown into the premier international educational exchange program in the world.
Today some 280,000 “Fulbrighters” – 106,000 from the United States and 174,000 from other countries – have participated in the Program since its inception. Currently, the Fulbright Program awards approximately 6,000 new grants annually to scholars from the United States and 155 other countries. The grants are in the form of financial stipends that allow students, scholars, artists, and teachers to study, lecture, or conduct independent research. Grantees are selected on the basis of academic and professional excellence, career and leadership potential, personal character and the willingness to share ideas and experiences with individuals of diverse cultures.
Fulbright involves nearly every discipline in the arts and humanities, commerce and finance, science and technology, education, journalism, media and government. It counts among its alumni distinguished men and women in every walk of life in almost every country. They include poets and presidents, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, syndicated columnists, artists and business leaders, economists, physicians, actors, playwrights, financiers, and cabinet officials.
"The role [Fulbright] plays in Washington is an indispensable role. There is no one else who is so powerful and also so wise, and if there were any question of removing him from public life, it would be a national calamity." - Walter Lippman, 1963
James William Fulbright was born on 9 April 1905 in Sumner, Missouri. He was educated at the University of Arkansas where he was awarded a BA degree in Political Science in 1925. He then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he received an MA degree. When Fulbright returned to the United States, he studied Law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. During the 1930s, he served in the Justice Department and was an instructor at the George Washington University Law School. In 1936 he returned to Arkansas where he was a lecturer in law and, from 1939 to 1941, president of the University of Arkansas, the youngest university president in the country at the time. He entered politics in 1942 and was elected to the US House of Representatives, entering Congress in January 1943 and becoming a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In September of that year, the House adopted the Fulbright Resolution supporting an international peace-keeping machinery and encouraging US participation in what became the United Nations. This brought national attention to Fulbright. In November 1944 he was elected to the US Senate and served there from 1945 through 1974, becoming one of the most influential and best-known members of the Senate. His legislation establishing the Fulbright Program slipped through the Senate without debate in 1946. Its first participants went overseas in 1948, funded by war reparations and foreign loan repayments to the United States. In 1949 Fulbright became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From 1959-1974 he served as chairman, the longest serving chairman of that committee in history. His Senate career was marked by some notable cases of dissent. In 1954 he was the only Senator to vote against an appropriation for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which was chaired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. He also lodged serious objections to President Kennedy in advance of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
He was particularly in the spotlight as a powerful voice in the chaotic times of the war in Vietnam, when he chaired the Senate hearings on US policy and the conduct of the war. After leaving the Senate, he worked as a lawyer in Washington, DC and remained active in support of the international exchange program that bears his name. Senator J. William Fulbright died on 9 February 1995 at the age of 89. His commitment to international cultural understanding lives on in the spirit and legacy of the Fulbright Program and its alumni.
“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communications can do to the humanizing of international relations.”
Senator J. William Fulbright
The United States Educational Foundation in Greece, established in 1948, administers the Fulbright Program between the United States of America and Greece. The Fulbright Foundation in Greece takes pride in being the oldest Fulbright Program in Europe and the second-oldest continuously operating Fulbright Program in the world.
The Fulbright Foundation in Greece is an autonomous, non-profit, non-partisan, bi-national institution. Eight-members, four Greeks and four Americans, make up the governing body of the Fulbright Program in Greece. These members represent academia, business, diplomatic and professional fields from the resident Greek and American communities. The Board of Directors formulates the policies and annual programs of the Foundation.
Bi-nationalism is central to the Fulbright Foundation. The Foundation's objective is to broaden and strengthen mutual understanding between Greece and the United States by offering educational and cultural exchange opportunities to Greek and American students, scholars, researchers, artists and teachers.
To achieve this objective, the Board selects Fulbright grantees based on their academic excellence, educational and professional achievement, civic engagement, leadership potential, and character.
Since the Program's beginning in 1948, the Fulbright Foundation in Greece has awarded more than 4,700 grants to Greeks and Americans and has offered free advising services for studies in the United States to thousands of individuals. Fulbright alumni include Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, prime ministers and heads of state, professors and scientists, ambassadors and artists, Supreme Court Justices and company presidents.
The continuity and growth of programs offered by the Foundation would not be possible without the support of the Government of the United States and the Government of the Hellenic Republic.
The binational approach is the hallmark that distinguishes the Fulbright academic exchange program from most others, either public or private. The continuity and growth of programs offered by the Foundation would not be possible without the support of the Government of the United States and the Government of the Hellenic Republic. Since the late 1980s, the Fulbright Foundation in Greece has engaged in an active fundraising campaign in order to secure additional funds for its scholarship programs and educational activities. The Fulbright Foundation gratefully acknowledges the continued support and dedication of its donors.
We invite you to help the Fulbright Foundation fulfill its commitment to excellence in education by becoming a donor. Fulbright Foundation donors enjoy several benefits but the most important is the pride and satisfaction they feel as a vital part of the educational forces shaping tomorrow's world.