Okay, so I’ve been teasing along with this for months now, dropping hints about a return trip to Uganda. At first it was simply hopeful (as in someday), but it’s been more than that for weeks now. The truth is, two weeks after I got back from the last trip, I received a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship. I haven’t exactly kept this a secret or anything. It’s just that this is a windfall that I had written off as so unlikely it would never happen. It’s humbling to know how many more deserving applicants could be out there.
One of those applicants comes from FSU’s beleaguered Anthropology Department. I claim Anthropology as a kind of disciplinary home away from home on campus, and I have great respect for their students and faculty. So it is with bittersweet admiration that I congratulate Bryan Rill. Bryan works on issues that are very close to home for me, and I can think of no more deserving candidate for this fellowship. Congratulations, Bryan. While we’re at it, congrats to your colleagues on three NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants. Maybe FSU will see fit to reconsider some if the more unfortunate budgetary decisions of the past few years in light of your achievements and those of the distinguished anthropology faculty. Maybe.
FSU has done well in the past few years with national and international fellowships at the undergraduate level, thanks in no small part to the Office of National Fellowships (ONF). There are, however, strong graduate students at FSU winning other awards. Jason Hobratschk in the College of Music and Victoria Penziner in the History Department both snagged Fulbright IIE grants this year. Kimberly Leahy is among 22 others to do the same since 1985, but it’s interesting to note that a disproportionately large number of those have come since the ONF opened. BTW, I’ve had the privilege of knowing both Jason and Vicky for a few years, and I know both of their projects will yield fascinating results.
These accomplishments and others across campus in the past few years have started to make FSU look more like a Carnegie Doctoral Research Institution, and it seems the university is starting to take that role seriously. After a tremendous success rate with the pilot of the ONF, The Graduate School announced the opening of a new Office for Graduate Fellowships and Awards (OGFA) this semester. It’s about time. ONF was really gracious about helping graduate students with fellowship applications (my own included), but even their staff recognized a major gap between their own undergraduate focus and the faculty-only nature of the Office of Research. I applaud FSU’s efforts to help more graduate students secure outside funding through the new OGFA. In fact, its sole staff member has already been very supportive as she administrates these new Fulbright-Hays and NSF awards. Having watched similar programs help generate thousands of research dollars for students at other institutions, I am confident that the OGFA will be a successful project for FSU.
I offer a few critiques here even as I champion FSU’s recent efforts to make graduate research a priority, and I do so at the risk of soiling the extraordinary sense of gratitude I feel for having been selected as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow. This is the most honest brand of school spirit: ONF is great, but OGFA is proof that we can do better at the graduate level. The next step must be to support the academic programs and professors that foster bright students and award-winning ideas! (Ahem: ‘Noles Need Anthropology)