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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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SDSU Again Named Fulbright HSI Leader

The designation from the U.S. State Department recognizes the university’s longstanding involvement with the international student exchange program.
By SDSU News Team

For a second consecutive year, San Diego State University was named a Fulbright HSI Leader by the U.S. Department of State, a sign of its strong engagement with the international exchange program as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).

SDSU is among 43 colleges and universities on the 2022 list, announced Monday at the annual conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in San Diego, and is one of only 24 doctoral institutions named. 

“As a transborder university, SDSU has a unique and intimate understanding of the importance of global education,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “We have campuses and centers all over the world, and more often than not, we are the only US university in the region. We are driven by our mission, and by impact. Our faculty and students want to add value wherever they go, to be collaborative, and never extractive. This is aligned with Fulbright's mission, and we could not be more proud of this continuing recognition as a global HSI leader among doctoral institutions.”

The Fulbright Student program provides grants for international study/research projects and for work as English teaching assistants abroad. Since 2005-06, 100 SDSU students have been awarded student Fulbright grants with the most recent cohort traveling to such destinations as eastern Armenia, South Korea and Spain. In addition, SDSU hosted a three-week program for international Fulbright scholars in July and August.

“The Fulbright Program’s success with HSIs is built on real collaboration with you and your institutions,” ECA deputy assistant secretary for academic programs Ethan Rosenzweig said at the conference.

The first cohort of Fulbright HSI Leaders was announced last year by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), saying it shows the diversity of the U.S. through the program.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with this prestigious distinction for the second year,” said Cristina Alfaro, associate vice president of International Affairs. “At SDSU, we have long aspired to excel in preparing future global leaders and to develop their global consciousness while honoring their cultural and linguistic assets, most recently through the University Seal of Biliteracy and Cultural Competence. The Fulbright Scholar Program allows us to continue building bridges between opportunity, diplomacy, and global leadership.”  

The Fulbright HSI Leader honor reflects the goals of one of SDSU's five strategic priorities which calls on leveraging the university's unique stature as a community-engaged, border-connected, HSI to forge a path to becoming an R1 Doctoral University.

“Being named a national Fulbright HSI leader is a reflection of SDSU’s commitment to support our highly diverse student body in pursuing applied, high-impact experiences,” said Hala Madanat, vice president for research and innovation. “I am so proud of our students, and excited about all the research, scholarship and creative activity opportunities our continued involvement in the Fulbright program provides them.”

SDSU was designated an HSI by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012. HSIs must have at least a 25% enrollment of Hispanic undergraduate students and meet variable percentages of Pell Grant-eligible students. More than 32% of the university's fall 2022 enrollment identified as Hispanic.

“We are fortunate to have many Spanish-speaking students at SDSU,” said Nancy A. Marlin, SDSU psychology professor and provost emerita who serves as the Fulbright advisor.”
“Although students are often told that being bilingual is a great advantage, Fulbright is a program that makes that advantage extremely clear,” said Marlin. “The bilingual students have many more Fulbright opportunities, in terms of countries and programs for which they are eligible to apply, compared with their monolingual peers.”

Hispanic students also represented 32% of SDSU's 2022 graduating class. SDSU has been working to narrow equity gaps between underrepresented minorities in graduation rates, a primary objective of the California State University system’s Graduation Initiative 2025. 

Last month, INSIGHT Into Diversity, a leading website and magazine in higher education, selected SDSU for its HEED (Higher Education Excellence in Diversity) Award for a sixth time. SDSU was the only university in California to receive both the Champions and the HEED awards.

In 2021, SDSU was among the 10 universities to receive the Seal of Excelencia granted by Excelencia in Education, an organization dedicated to closing the education equity gap and increasing Latinx degree holders. The honor recognizes SDSU for its commitment to intentionally serving Latinx students while serving all.