SFC Administrator Selected for Prestigious International Fulbright Seminar

For the past seven years, Ed Bonahue worked to develop an international education program at Santa Fe College.

He wrote and managed a successful grant to fund the development of an international program. He pulled together applications to host Fulbright scholars from China and Indonesia. He composed a memorandum or understanding between Beijing Union University in China and Santa Fe to facilitate student and faculty exchanges.

Now it’s his turn to travel as a Fulbright scholar.

Bonahue, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, was recently selected to participate in the 2009 Fulbright Seminar for U.S. Administrators in International Education. The two-week seminar, October 17-31, begins with a week in Berlin followed by small group tours to different parts of Germany, after which the entire group reconvenes in Berlin.

“This is a program to acquaint American academic administrators with the structure of higher education in Europe, and in Germany in particular,” said Bonahue. “The idea is that administrators with specific responsibility for international education will bring home experiences and relationships that will directly benefit our institutions.”

SFC President Jackson Sasser set as a high priority the internationalizing of SFC when he assumed the presidency in January 2001. This year, SFC students studied ecology in Costa Rica; art in Paris, Florence and Rome; archaeology in Egypt; business in the Ukraine; and history and culture in China.

“There are very few community colleges whose international educational program is strong enough to participate in a Fulbright program,” said Sasser. “We’re delighted that Ed was chosen for this honor.”

Bonahue wrote in his Fulbright application: “The Europe we think we know is changing, transforming in ways that challenge both historical precedent and contemporary policy and practice.”

He reels off reasons for learning more about the German educational system:

  • Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the third largest economy in the world
  • It has a high rate of student mobility and the third highest number of foreign immigrants and foreign residents
  • Germany is absorbing students from Libya, Turkey and Eastern Europe, and its increasingly diverse population is contributing to the overall internationalization of German higher education

For all these reasons, Germany is an ideal prism for studying European trends in addition to learning more about its educational structure.

“The community college is a uniquely American institution,” Bonahue said. “I’ll be studying a model of higher education, a structure of education, that is different from the United States.”

Bonahue said German students decide in secondary school whether they want to pursue a university education or more technical skills at a polytechnic, “gaining a technical education that can lead to an excellent job as an engineer or technician.”

“In some ways, there is still some stigma in the U.S. linked to vocational and technical education,” Bonahue said. “In Germany, that stigma does not exist. So I think we could learn a logt from their perspective. More broadly, I am hoping to get out of my own head and to look at what makes sense in a totally different context, and then look at our college and see what we can do differently. What I hope to do is to bring home a fresh vision.”

At Santa Fe, only about a half dozen students a year apply to take German, which doesn’t cover the cost of instruction, so the students take German at the University of Florida.

Bonahue said he hopes to develop short- and long-term faculty and educational exchanges with partner institutions in German, relationships with institutions willing to offer intensive study in German and European studies, and perhaps, high tech and green energy programs.

This is only the second Fulbright in Santa Fe’s 42-year history. The first was a semester-long faculty exchange in 1996 between SFC’s Stephen Sussman and Sarah Grogan of Manchester University in Manchester, England.

As Santa Fe develops its new international programming, students are benefitting from the college’s more extensive international education offerings.

Danielle Rossi, a 24-year-old international economics major, recently landed a Gilman scholarship from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education, for language study in China at Jilin University in Changchun in the fall.

CONTACT

  • Ed Bonahue, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, (352) 381-3822 or ed.bonahue@sfcollege.edu
  • Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, (352) 395-5430 or (352) 870-2924 (cell) or julie.garrett@sfcollege.edu