Saint Mary’s Fulbright Named a 2023 Fulbright HSI Leader

The U.S. Department of State singles out SMC as one of only a few select colleges to pair “world-class educational opportunities that Hispanic-Serving Institutions provide with the power of Fulbright.”

by Kevin Wing, Director of Media Relations & News | October 30, 2023

Saint Mary’s College of California was named today as a Fulbright HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) Leader for 2023. Each year, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recognizes the strong engagement of select HSIs with the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship international academic exchange program.

Saint Mary’s is one of only 14 master’s universities in the U.S.—and one of fewer than 50 institutions of higher education overall—to earn recognition as a Fulbright HSI Leader this year. Earlier this year Saint Mary’s was also recognized as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution for U.S. Scholars.

Saint Mary’s is one of only 14 master’s universities in the U.S.—and one of fewer than 50 institutions of higher education overall—to earn recognition as a Fulbright HSI Leader this year. 

The State Department made the Saint Mary’s announcement today at the national meeting of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Fulbright HSI Leaders demonstrate noteworthy support for Fulbright exchange participants and promote Fulbright program opportunities on campus. The initiative encourages administrators, faculty, and students at HSIs to engage with Fulbright and highlights the strength of HSIs as destinations for international students and scholars.

Since 2015, Saint Mary’s has earned the designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with full-time equivalent undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25% Hispanic. At SMC, 33% of the incoming first-year students are Latinx or Hispanic, as are nearly 30% of students transferring to the College this fall. 

“This type of recognition speaks volumes about our growing stature and mighty determination to deliver only the most outstanding academic and research opportunities to all of our students,” said Brother Thomas Jones, FSC, Interim President at Saint Mary’s. “Our gratitude for the honor of being selected as a Fulbright HSI Leader is only surpassed by our pride in our Latinx students who enrich our community in countless ways. We are thankful for everything our Latinx students and their families contribute to the life and vitality of our College, and we look forward to the important work our Fulbright scholars will do in the future.”

Pairing World-Class Educational Opportunities with the Power of Fulbright

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield commended Saint Mary’s and other institutions receiving the Fulbright HSI Leader designation. “Representation matters, and pairing the world-class educational opportunities that Hispanic-Serving Institutions provide with the power of Fulbright further enriches the experience and educational opportunities for students and scholars both at home and abroad.”

In recent years, faculty from all four schools of Saint Mary’s have received awards from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. That includes faculty in the School of Liberal Arts, School of Science, School of Economics and Business Administration, and the Kalmanovitz School of Education.

Through Fulbright awards, scientists from SMC have undertaken projects studying the prevention of disease through human metabolism and disease-resistant genes in agriculture. Scholars have collaborated on projects tackling climate change and environmental activism. They have worked with refugees on transnational narratives in Europe, done research with entrepreneurs in India, explored foundations of adult education, and conducted field research in Myanmar. And María Luisa Ruiz, a professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Saint Mary’s, was a recent recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Cultural Exchange Award. That took her to Mexico in 2021 as part of a select group of scholars exploring African heritage in Mexico. Alumni have benefitted from the program in recent years, too, including support for a book-length project on Senegal.

The Flagship International Academic Exchange Program

On November 9, the U.S. Department of State will host a virtual workshop featuring representatives from Fulbright HSI Leaders to share best practices to engage and support students and faculty, increase the global footprint on campus through the Fulbright Program, host international Fulbright students and scholars, and build international networks. This event is open to the public and is specifically designed for faculty, staff, and stakeholders at HSIs. 

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has served as the U.S. Government’s flagship international academic exchange program with a longstanding commitment to diversity, working to ensure that participants reflect the United States and societies abroad. The program works closely with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to promote international exchange opportunities to staff, students, and faculty at HSIs. More than 400,000 students, scholars, artists, and teachers from all types of institutions have been offered the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters build connections, gain experience, exchange ideas, and address global challenges.


Fulbright Opportunities for Saint Mary’s Students and Faculty

Interested in learning more about the Fulbright program? 

  • Undergraduate and graduate students at Saint Mary’s may contact Helga Lenart-Cheng, Director of the Honors Program and a Global and Regional Studies Professor. Lenart-Cheng will also be giving a Fulbright information session by Zoom on November 15, 2–3:15 p.m. Pacific. Register for the program to receive the link.
  • Faculty interested in applying for a Fulbright should contact Elizabeth Gallagher, Director of the Office of Research.


READ MORE: Saint Mary’s Named a Top-Producing Fulbright Institution

Meet the Saint Mary’s Class of 2027—One of the Most Diverse in SMC History

Learn more about the Fulbright Program.

And explore the latest from Saint Mary’s at the SMC NewsCenter.

Story updated October 30, 2023 at 10 a.m. Pacific.