The Fulbright Legacy
J. William Fulbright was born in Missouri in 1905. He was educated at the University of Arkansas and at Oxford University, where, as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned an M.A. degree.
Fulbright was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1944 and served there from 1945 through 1974. In 1949 he became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and from 1959 to 1974 he was its chairman, the longest serving chairman of that committee in history. Fulbright became one of the most influential and best-known members of the Senate. In 1963 Walter Lippman said, “The role he plays in Washington is indispensable. There is no one else who is so powerful and also so wise?” Today he is best remembered for the legislation establishing the Fulbright Program, which passed without debate in 1946. The first participants traveled in 1948. Since then more than 310,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program.
“Of all of the joint ventures in which we might engage, Fulbright later said of the program,”the most productive is educational exchange Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can, to the humanizing of international relations.“
The Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt was established in 1949, and is the oldest and largest Fulbright program in the Arab world. It was created through a protocol between the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department. Governed by eight Directors of its Board, there are four Egyptian and four American Board members. Since 1949 nearly 7,000 scholars have been American Fulbrighters in Egypt or Egyptian Fulbrighters in the United States. The Commission’s mandate is to cultivate mutual understanding through educational exchange. We do so, one Fulbrighter at a time, so that every Fulbrighter is better prepared to pursue what Senator J. William Fulbright called the “essence of intercultural education: empathy, the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see….”