“We can’t take our good fortune for granted. Each of us has to speak out
on behalf of the program, to secure its future.”
– Stan Katz, Princeton University, Fulbright to UK
Alumni Need to Speak Out on Behalf of the Program to Educate Congress This Year
Stan Katz has long been a passionate advocate for Fulbright, on Capitol Hill, at the State Department and within CIES. During this election year, he encourages all Fulbrighters to do the same. “We can’t take our good fortune for granted,” he advises. “Each of us has to speak out on behalf of the program, to secure its future for generations to come.”
Fulbright: A Resource Too Valuable to Lose
The time for action is now, Katz suggests. “A lot of Fulbrighters don’t get that if we don’t do something, we could wake up in a few years and find we have no program.” The Fulbright community is thankful for bipartisan support in Congress, including the creation of the International Exchange and Study Caucus co-chaired by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT). However, more needs to be done to educate legislators on the impact of Fulbright, which has seen flat funding for four years while the overall exchange budget has increased.
Katz urges alumni to help members of Congress and community leaders see what makes Fulbright so special. “It has done something no other government fellowship has done. And much of what makes the program so unique and powerful can be traced directly to Senator Fulbright himself – to his emphasis on mutual understanding. I fully buy-in to the senator’s vision – that in a perilous world, one of the best ways to build the quality of international engagement and relationship is through academic and cultural exchange. It’s the single most important thing we do.”
A Life Transformed
For Katz, who came of age during World War II, his Fulbright had a major impact on his life. “It transformed me from a typical Chicago kid into a globally minded person,” he says candidly. “It showed me that even people from the Midwest could play a role in making the United States a better place. From that moment forward, I’ve been a lifelong advocate for study and research abroad, as well as the internationalization of our universities.”
Katz spent his Fulbright studying history in the UK in the late 1950s. “It was absolutely wonderful in every conceivable way,” he remembers. “Academically, it was amazing – the best year of research I’ve ever had. I worked with Britain’s most famous historian, who was an immense help.” Katz also became good friends with the US-UK Fulbright Commission staff, the Associate Executive Director even became his son’s godfather.
A Career Launched
“My career would have been totally different without my Fulbright,” Katz says on reflection. “Throughout my life, it has given me research and job opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” Such as working with John McCain and John Kerry to fund and launch the Fulbright Vietnam program. Or spearheading the creation of a consortium of leading humanities academies across the English-speaking world.
“As an academic, I’ve always been one of those faculty members my university employers have depended on for a network of international contacts. And thanks to the intense exposure to British education and governance I received during my Fulbright, I’ve been able to provide additional perspective on how higher education can be run,” he explains.
Fulbright also had a profound effect on Katz’ family. “Both my children studied and lived abroad extensively,” he says proudly. “My son speaks three languages and became a Fulbrighter himself, while my daughter speaks some five languages and is a professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies.”
Steps Alumni Must Take to Secure the Future
Stan Katz has spent a great deal of time in Congressional offices sharing his Fulbright story. Why does he do this? “After many years serving on CIES committees, the Board of Directors and then as Board Chairman,” Katz explains, “I came to understand the fragility of the Fulbright program. I realized that we cannot take adequate funding for granted.”
Stan Katz Suggests Fulbrighters Take These Steps to Secure our Program’s Future
First, he calls on more alumni to join the Fulbright Association
Make your voice heard. Numbers matter with Congress, our relevance increases significantly with a larger base.
Second, he urges you to visit your House and Senate representatives
Tell them how your Fulbright has impacted you, your family, your employers and your community.
Third, he suggests you advocate for Fulbright at your institution or alma mater
Ask them to encourage students and faculty to apply for a Fulbright and help cover fees.
Fourth, he challenges you to reach out to local university presidents and deans
Share your Fulbright story and offer to speak on campus.
And finally, he asks you to inspire future Fulbrighters
Send your kids abroad and share with other parents why it could well be the best thing they ever do for their kids.
What Action Will You Take in 2016 to Educate Congress and Leaders in your Community? There’s so much at stake. It’s time to act!