My Father and Senator Fulbright – Thomas Lundmark – Germany 1976, 1991, 1992, and 1993

My father was the one who introduced me to the Fulbright program. Upon being discharged from the US Navy at the close of World War II, he was employed by the federal administration that sold war surplus materiel. At Senator Fulbright’s urging, the funds raised by these sales were put to use for educational foreign exchange programs. This was an outstanding program, my father used to tell me. The son of immigrants, my father used the GI Bill to go to college and become a teacher. My father was never personally able to take part in the Fulbright Program. Nor was he ever able to afford to earn a doctorate. But he saw to it that I would have the privilege of doing both.

My parents visited me during my year at the University of Freiburg in the mid 1970s. When I returned to San Diego some years later after earning a doctorate in law from the University of Bonn, my father was the proudest that I had ever seen him.

I returned to Germany in the early 1990s for a year as a Fulbright professor, and ended up serving for three consecutive years at the Universities of Bonn, Rostock, and Greifswald. This was due more to German reunification than to any particular merit on my part; but, on what would be his last visit to Berlin, Senator Fulbright congratulated me all the same for my “accomplishment.” I told Senator Fulbright that the congratulations were due my father, and not me. My father was unable to share in my joy at meeting Senator Fulbright because he had been killed while crossing the street just 10 days after I earned my doctorate.

In 1997, thanks wholly to the Fulbright Program, I became the first American to be appointed to a professorship in law at a German university. For most of my 18 years at the University of Muenster, I oversaw the Foreign Law Program. This two-year degree program offers classes in Anglo-American, French, and Spanish law to over 500 students annually. The program is unique in requiring every student to spend at least three weeks abroad. Through the years, I selected and supervised approximately 50 foreign (i.e., non-German) lawyers, academics, and judges who taught in this program, including professors from the University of Virginia and Georgetown Law Center, and judges from the European Court of Justice and the House of Lords. I also had the privilege of sponsoring a number of Fulbright professors and students to come to research, study, and teach in Muenster. I like to think that the spirit of Senator Fulbright is alive and well in Muenster, as it is in hundreds of other places around the world.

Thomas Lundmark – Fulbright to Germany 1976, 1991, 1992, and 1993

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: