COA's first Fulbright Scholar to travel to Russia
By Reggie Ponder
Sunday, March 18, 2018
College of The Albemarle’s first-ever Fulbright Scholar is hoping his upcoming trip to Russia not only increases his understanding of higher education in that country, but leads to opportunities for other COA faculty and students to travel there as well.
Dean Roughton, COA’s dean of arts and sciences and secondary education, recently learned he had been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Russia. While there, Roughton will learn about higher education in Russia and discuss opportunities for international partnerships in education.
Roughton, who recently earned a PhD in community college leadership from Old Dominion University, described being named a Fulbright Scholar a “tremendous honor.”
Named for the late Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright, the longest-serving chairman ever of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Fulbright Scholar Program is operated by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The program offers a number of specific scholarships, including the International Education Administrators seminars such as the one Roughton is participating in, which help American higher education officials study the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries during an intensive two-week schedule. All travel and accommodations are paid by the program.
COA officials believe what Roughton learns on the trip will strengthen the college’s global distinction and study-abroad programs.
“I commend Dr. Roughton as he further strengthens and expands COA's global distinction, giving students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of intercultural worlds through their experiences in participating in a Global Distinction Partnership,” said COA President Robert Wynegar.
The upcoming trip to Russia won’t be Roughton’s first international travel. He visited Spain and Portugal for 10 days to learn about higher education in those countries.
“The experiences I had made me determined to bring a global perspective to my own campus and to do whatever I could to facilitate international opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members,” Roughton said.
Roughton in fact returned from that trip and started a study-abroad program for COA students. As a result, 10 students and three chaperones traveled to Nicaragua in December 2017.
Roughton said his upcoming trip will be an opportunity to meet leaders in Russian higher education as well as develop partnerships with higher education in Russia. He noted that COA already has a sizeable international student contingent, especially on its Dare County campus in Manteo. He believes his trip to Russia could lead to additional opportunities for cultural exchanges for COA students and possibly even a “full-blown partnership” with institutions of higher education in Russia that might include faculty exchanges and student exchanges.
Russia has universities and what it calls “polytechnics,” which are similar to trade schools or technical institutes, but does not have comprehensive community colleges like those in North Carolina and other states in the U.S.
Roughton said the project is going to be a learning experience not only for those traveling to Russia but for the Russian educators themselves. He noted that Russia is exploring what other countries are doing with community colleges.
“That’s the idea; they’re going to learn and certainly we will, too,” he said.
The trip will include a lot of travel within Russia, including three major cities and other stops along the way, according to Roughton.
Evonne Carter, COA’s vice president of learning, said Roughton is the first Fulbright Scholar COA has ever had. Wynegar described Roughton’s scholarship as an honor for both the dean and the college.
“Dr. Roughton is a driving force behind COA’s international education effort,” Wynegar said. “This distinction reflects the quality of all of our faculty and staff.”
Roughton thanked both Wynegar and Carter for their support and said the initiative is an example of how “forward-thinking” they are.