Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the oldest and most prestigious international program for exchange of scholars and students funded by the United States government. Today it supports academic exchanges with 155 countries of the world. However, it was not always so, especially within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Initially, the USSR did not participate in the Fulbright Program or any other exchange programs with the U.S. Only in 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev signed the General Exchanges Agreement, establishing U.S. – USSR exchanges. In 1968 the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) was created to administer these academic exchanges.
However, it was not until the 1973-74 academic year that the Fulbright Program was finally established in the USSR. During the ensuing two decades only a small number of American scholars were able to visit Ukraine under these programs, and very few scholars from Ukraine became Fulbright and IREX scholars and studied in the U.S.
J. William Fulbright was a prominent and gifted American statesman of the 20th century. His unequaled contribution to international affairs and his tenure as the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee distinguished his political career of over thirty years in the United States Congress. He had profound influence on America’s foreign policy, and his vision for mutual understanding shaped the extraordinary exchange program bearing his name.
J. William Fulbright was born on April 9, 1905 in Sumner, Missouri. He received his B.A. degree in Political Science (1925) from the University of Arkansas and his M.A. degree from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He studied law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. During the 1930s, he served in the Justice Department and was an instructor at The George Washington University Law School. From 1939 to 1941, Fulbright was president of the University of Arkansas, at the time the youngest university president in the country.