A photo of people walking past a sign that spells out \"VCU\" in large yellow letters
VCU’s recognition as a Top Producing Institution for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program demonstrates a campus culture that values international engagement. (File photo)

VCU named national ‘Top-Producing Institution’ for Fulbright Scholars

University earns honor for the second time with record-tying 11 Fulbrights during the 2023-24 year.

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Virginia Commonwealth University has been named a Top Producing Institution for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the 2023-2024 academic year. The acknowledgement places VCU as one of the top universities in the country that excel at fostering global connections and providing support for students and recent alumni as they seek out prestigious international scholarship opportunities.

The announcement comes after VCU had a record-tying 11 Fulbright recipients selected for the 2023-2024 application cycle. VCU previously received a Top Producing Institution recognition for the 2016-17 cycle.

The 2023-2024 Fulbright recipients were sent to nine countries to teach English, conduct research, pursue creative projects or study for a graduate degree. The countries VCU students and recent alums visited as Fulbrights were Uganda, Paraguay, Colombia, Cameroon, South Korea, Mauritius, India, Azerbaijan and Malawi.

“All of us at VCU are very proud of this important recognition, and even more proud of the 11 VCU students, alumni and staff selected as Fulbright scholars last year who will benefit from rich international experience through this program,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “They demonstrate to all of our students, and all of us, what is possible at a truly public research university like VCU.”

VCU is one of only three universities in the state to receive the Top Producing recognition under the Carnegie Classification for doctoral institutions. The other recipients in the state were the University of Virginia (Main Campus) and William and Mary.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the federal government to increase understanding between Americans and the people of other countries. The program operates in more than 140 countries, and more than 2,000 grants are awarded annually to graduating seniors, graduate students and recent alumni.

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., VCU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said the recognition is another signifier that VCU is succeeding in its mission to serve its students and help them achieve on an international and national level.

“Being named a ‘Top Producing Institution’ for Fulbright student recipients is a well-earned honor for VCU and an incredible affirmation that our focus on excellence, impact and access is paying off for the students we serve,” Sotiropoulos said. “Along with increased national rankings and growing research funding across every academic unit, this award serves as a powerful reminder of the unmatched opportunities that students will find across our campuses.”

VCU Fulbright recipients for the cycle included:

  • Oscar Kemp (social work)
  • Briana Meehan (psychology)
  • Ishaan Nandwani (biology and Spanish)
  • Amelie Nkodo (medicine)
  • Anne Penrod (psychology and sociology)
  • Julia Tracy (urban and regional studies)
  • Vineeth Vaidyula (biology)
  • Atoosa Haghani (political science)
  • Samuel Paek (biology)
  • Leslie Pyo (painting and printmaking)
  • Colleen Choate (Global Education Office staff member)

All VCU Fulbright recipients from the 2023-24 cohort utilized the VCU National Scholarship Office during the Fulbright application process. The National Scholarship Office was established in 2005 to assist students in applying to national and international scholarships such as Fulbright. In the eighteen years since the NSO was established, 89 students and alumni have received Fulbright awards.

“This recognition is a testament to the history that VCU has established with the Fulbright Student Program,” said Jeff Wing, director of the National Scholarship Office. “Our partnership with the Global Education Office has been instrumental in creating a campus culture that values international engagement and encourages VCU students to seek out such opportunities.”