A two-time Fulbright scholar himself, Jason spends time recruiting students for the program he has come to love and trust. He is dean of the Honors College, director of the Master of Education in Higher Education program and director of the Office of Major Scholarships at ACU. Under his leadership, ACU was named a 2018-19 top producing Fulbright institution by the U.S. Department of State.
Morris recently was invited to serve on the Fulbright National Screening Committee for a three-year term. The position will require him to review U.S. applicants applying for English Teaching Assistantships specifically in Eastern Europe, where he has served twice.
He was first accepted as a Fulbright scholar to teach English in Hungary in 2002, while still a student finishing his doctorate. In 2009, he received another Fulbright grant to Hungary, this time to participate in research as a faculty member at ACU. He previously served the Hungarian Fulbright Commission reviewing Hungarian applicants coming to the U.S. He now looks forward to working with American applicants.
“Since [Fulbright’s] inception in 1946, it is one of the programs that does a great job at really helping people from different nations build strong connections and strong relationships,” he said. “That was its intent from the beginning, to build those relationships and connections in order to create a more peaceful world. I think that’s a great mission.”
The Fulbright Program brings foreign scholars to the U.S. to assist with teaching and research at colleges and universities, as well as sending U.S. students and academics abroad to do the same. This mission resonates with Morris, he said, and he is eager to be a part of a program that develops such deep relationships. He has witnessed these relationships being built, first hand, during each trip to Hungary and also has heard ACU students’ stories about the experiences they’ve had and the relationships they’ve formed.
“You really see that this program is working and it’s valuable,” he said.
As Morris reflects on his first time in Hungary, he said what impacted his life and future career was being able to teach and work with Hungarian students in the classroom.
“Seeing their perspective, their view of the world and their eagerness to hear from me, that was an honor,” he said. “That first experience helped me to solidify the direction I wanted to go in my career. Being in the classroom with the Hungarian students, interacting and the dialogue we were able to create, really spoke to me.”
Both times he was able to bring his family along. The first time, married and no kids, and the second time, married and two kids, created different dynamics. The experience as a family living in a foreign culture together was valuable and memorable, he said.
Morris plans to continue reaching out to both students and faculty and sharing with them the opportunities that are available. His hope is that more people across campus will connect with the mission of Fulbright and be inspired to participate.
“We have some really strong momentum now,” he said. “I think we have had a great honor this past year in being a high producing Fulbright school. Ideally, we would want to continue to produce enough winners every year to continue to be recognized … . That’s a lofty goal, but I think it’s also obtainable.”
Morris said he looks forward to serving the full three-year term on the Fulbright National Screening Committee and learning more about the process.
“Ultimately, I think as I learn even more about the process I can utilize that here with the students I work with.”