May 16, 2023
US Embassy London
As prepared for delivery
” I know the Fulbright Commission cares deeply about making scholarships accessible to anyone with drive and talent, regardless of where they come from or how much money they have. By offering these fully funded scholarships – and promoting universities that may be less well-known in the UK – Fulbright is creating opportunities for students that might not have ever thought about international exchange. ”
Good evening, everyone and welcome to Winfield House to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program here in the United Kingdom.
75 years ago, in the shadow of World War II, with Europe devastated and the nations of the world desperate to avoid further bloodshed, Senator Fulbright and President Truman created an exceptional organization. An organization created to facilitate educational exchange…and also to further a more important mission. They hoped these exchanges would not only open doors for a new generation of students but turn an age of international conflict into an era of international cooperation.
Senator Fulbright’s wish was to create a program that would: “bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs, and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn, at last, to live in peace and friendship.”
This work is obviously just as important today. We have not yet banished the scourge of war, eradicated poverty, or overcome inequality. Democracies like ours continue to be tested by autocratic regimes around the world. Our planet desperately needs the nations of the world to work hand-in-glove on climate change. And when it comes to our special relationship with the United Kingdom, we need leaders from across our two countries to combine their efforts and powers.
We look, especially, to the alumni of the Fulbright program to help us do that.
Because the truth is: the “Special Relationship” isn’t just about our governments working together, though that is an important aspect. The “Special Relationship” isn’t just about our militaries training together or our intelligence agencies sharing information, though those are also vital aspects.
The truth is: the special relationship is much bigger than that. It’s the private sector: American companies bringing jobs and investment to the UK, and UK companies doing the reverse. It’s scientists solving the world’s most complex problems by sharing research. It’s the arts, music, theatre, sport. It’s education: students spending formative years in each other’s universities through programs like Fulbright.
Ultimately, the special relationship is about people. It is about the people who get involved in organizations that strengthen the bond between our two great democracies. And it really matters. Getting involved can make all the difference on the issues you care about. Partnering with like-minded groups in the United States can broaden the number of people working on an issue and magnify your impact. As President Biden said recently: “When democracies stand together, we reinforce and amplify our efforts to great effect. That’s how we unless our human potential and put ourselves in the strongest possible position to take on our shared challenges.”
So I would encourage all of you to get involved in, and strengthen, the special relationship. Because the greatest problems of our time are not confined by national borders; and their solutions can only be achieved by working across national borders. When the United States and United Kingdom are standing together to fight climate change, or helping Ukraine defend its democracy; when we are working together to cure diseases or bolster our economies; we accomplish so much more than what either of us could do alone.
Fulbright has realized this over the past 75 years, and we should all be eager to see the program grow stronger over the next 75 years. That is why I am so excited to announce two new Fulbright partner awards for UK applicants in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Commission!
The first is an award with American University in Washington, DC. It will support a UK student to study for a Master’s degree, tuition free, and with a paid graduate assistantship for a full two years.
The second award is for UK scholars of Urban Studies to spend a semester at Rutgers University, Newark. The Newark campus is one of the most diverse in the entire United States and has a pioneering curriculum for students committed to making a social impact.
I know the Fulbright Commission cares deeply about making scholarships accessible to anyone with drive and talent, regardless of where they come from or how much money they have. By offering these fully funded scholarships – and promoting universities that may be less well-known in the UK – Fulbright is creating opportunities for students that might not have ever thought about international exchange.
And now, to tell us more about the Commission’s vision for the future, I am very pleased to welcome the Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Sara Cerrell.