Who says the life of an emeritus professor has to be boring? FIU Professor Emeritus Emmanuel Roussakis' Fulbright grants have sent him to Romania (as a Fulbright Scholar), Russia, Indonesia, Morocco, Kuwait and Tunis (with Fulbright Specialist awards).
Roussakis' interactions with scholars and students in these countries resulted in the publication of articles, co-development of case studies and research collaborations. To date, Roussakis remains in contact with many of his Fulbright hosts and colleagues abroad.
Throughout FIU's history faculty and students have actively participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright program. The most prominent participant is President Mark B. Rosenberg, who conducted research in Honduras in 1983.
Being a “Fulbrighter” comes with significant prestige and worldwide recognition due to longevity and competitiveness of the program. A six-time Fulbrighter is practically unheard of. Roussakis, an emeritus professor of finance in the College of Business, has been bestowed with one scholar and five specialist awards by the Fulbright program.
In my role as Fulbright Program Campus Liaison, I caught up with Roussakis between trips:
What’s your career path at FIU?
I joined the College of Business in 1976, at the rank of associate professor. FIU was then designated an upper level university, with Miami Dade Community College a feeder institution. Through the years, as FIU grew in enrollment, academic programs and degree levels, I went with the tide advancing successively to full professor, endowed professor, department chair and director of the downtown MBA and MSF programs. A three-year stint as dean of a school of business at a Cyprus University refined further my leadership and administrative skills and prepared me for the Fulbright challenge.
How did you first hear about the Fulbright program and what prompted you to apply for your first award?
Although first acquainted with the Fulbright program in the 1980s, my Emeritus status offered me the opportunity to share my multifaceted academic experience with eligible institutions worldwide. I received my first Fulbright grant to Romania (2010), followed by four more grants to Russia (2012), Indonesia (2013), Morocco (2015), Kuwait (2017) and soon I will depart to Tunisia (2020). In the interim before joining the specialist program, I received a Fulbright Lecturer award by the Bulgarian-American Commission to teach at the Fulbright International Summer Institute.
Some of your awards were as a Fulbright Scholar and some as a Fulbright Specialist. What’s the difference?
The Fulbright program includes three basic awards, each of which differs in focus and length of service:
Distinguished chair grants provide for distinguished lecturing, distinguished research and distinguished lecturing and research awards ranging from three to 12 months. Viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program, they are open to eminent scholars with a significant publication and teaching record. Scholar grants are offered to faculty for the conduct of teaching, research or combined teaching and research for a period up to one year. Both of these awards are administered by the Institute for International Education (IIE) and the application deadline generally is Sept. 15 each year.
The Fulbright Specialist Program awards offer faculty and professionals the opportunity to serve as expert consultants on a wide variety of academic disciplines and professions for a period of two to six weeks. World Learning coordinates these awards and accepts applications five times a year.
Tell us about the most challenging parts of going abroad as a Fulbright Scholar or Specialist.
Addressing the diverse needs of host institutions, as evidenced by my multi-faceted tasks, has been the most challenging part of going abroad. As a scholar in Romania, I co-lectured graduate students, and conducted research that resulted in a case study which was locally tested and later published and has been since a formal assignment in Romania and my downtown MSF class.
As a specialist, I lectured or co-lectured courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels in Russia, Morocco, Kuwait and Indonesia; while in the latter country, my host institution asked that I also offer doctoral lectures and participate in an institutional conference. I interacted with faculty in Russia, Indonesia and Kuwait by conducting case writing and teaching workshops. Finally, I made presentations to students in non-host universities in Romania, and Kuwait, shared curriculum experiences in Kuwait and institutional planning in Indonesia
What do you consider the most rewarding outcome (lasting impact) from any of your Fulbrights?
From an academic perspective, my Russia and Romania experiences stand out in terms of outcomes. In Russia my faculty case-writing and teaching workshop attracted about 20 business faculty which organized itself in groups by area of specialization and developed and presented case studies for use in their respective classrooms. In Romania, although nine years have lapsed since my visit, I maintain contact with three professors at two different universities. I wrote the foreword to the textbook of one professor, reviewed two contributed chapters to the U.S.-published textbook of the second professor, and, recently, I heard from the third professor (now a department chair) who invited me to visit and lecture his graduate students.
From a social perspective, Fulbright grants gave me the opportunity to connect with different cultures and lifestyles. It was a great experience to witness theatrical and musical plays in Romania, see traditional dances in Indonesia, enjoy Orthodox church services in Moscow, and communicate in French in Morocco and Arabic in Kuwait, especially when visiting the medina markets and the local souk.
Fulbright is a prestigious program and these awards are very competitive. What’s the secret to your success in scoring six Fulbright awards?
Program reviewers rely heavily on candidates’ academic credentials and professional standing (e.g., teaching, research, and service record, attested by recommendation letters) and such additional considerations as the quality of the project (e.g., feasibility, design, and sophistication) and the candidate’s personal attributes (e.g., being culturally sensitive, adaptable, and collegial). Although I possessed the required academic qualifications and my project satisfied pertinent criteria, no less important were my personal attributes. My educational and academic background offered strong evidence of my cultural sensitivity and adaptability. I completed my primary and secondary education in Egypt, my undergraduate studies in Greece, graduate studies in the United States and my doctoral program in Belgium. Miami’s multi-ethnic community and my FIU tenure, together with academic assignments and in-house training programs in the Caribbean and Latin America, enhanced and developed further my adaptability and multi-cultural sensitivity thereby enabling me to also fulfill this qualification.
What advice would you give a colleague who is considering submitting an application for a Fulbright award?
The Fulbright program embodies the academic excellence and global engagement that are central to FIU’s mission. In response to your question I can share the advice I offered to a Finance colleague—basically, don't despair but “try, try and try again until you succeed.”
Having earned a Fulbright Scholar award and served in the Fulbright Specialist roster over a five-year term, this past August I set as my next goal to re-apply for admission into the Specialist program, now reduced to a three-year term due to its growing popularity. Much to my surprise, I was successful and got readmitted in to the roster. My forthcoming assignment begins on Feb. 1 and will be at the Tunis School of Business (TSB) of the state University of Tunis. TSB is the first and only public business institution using English as the main language of instruction in a French and Arabic speaking country. Come Feb. 1, I will be flying with my wife to Tunisia for a 6-week teaching assignment. Upon my request, the Fulbright program accepted to delay my return to Miami by allowing me to fulfill a standing invitation to teach at the EMBA program of a university in Cairo, Egypt. Thus, I will get back to Miami in time for the summer term and my teaching assignment at the DT MSF.
Funded by the U.S. Congress, the Fulbright program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of more than 160 countries. It provides 8,000 grants annually for academic exchanges between faculty and students to collaborate in the classroom, on campus and in the field that have a lasting impact.
Faculty and professional staff interested in participating in the Fulbright program are encouraged to contact FIU's Fulbright program campus liaisons Assefa Melesse, professor in the Department of Earth & Environment (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself, Birgitta Rausch-Montoto, director of FIU Global (email@example.com).