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The Fulbright Program in Hungary
“My goal has been to expand Fulbright's reach to traditionally underrepresented scholars from rural areas, the Roma community as well as to people with different disabilities.”, Dr. Károly Jókay said on his mission as the director of the ‘Fulbright Commission’ in November 2012.
Diplomacy&Trade online | September 10, 2015

When Dr. Károly Jókay took over as the Executive Director of the Hungarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange (better known as the ‘Fulbright Commission’) in November 2012, his aim was to effectively operate and develop the Fulbright program in Hungary.

“My goal has been to expand Fulbright's reach to traditionally underrepresented scholars from rural areas, the Roma community as well as to people with different disabilities. Furthermore, strengthening ties with private sector donors as well as establishing new relationships with American universities were both important objectives for me. Building on the heritage of excellence of the Commission, I expected to enhance our professional and working relations with the Hungarian higher educational institutions,” he explains to Diplomacy & Trade.

He emphasizes that the mission of the Fulbright Program, established in 1946, is to promote and strengthen understanding and acceptance between nations with different cultures, through educational and cultural exchange.  In Hungary, the Fulbright program started in 1978, and the Fulbright Commission was established in 1992, coinciding with the political changes.

“The program strengthens relations between the US and Hungary, through cultural and educational diplomacy; Fulbright scholars have contributed to the founding of a democratic and open societyin Hungary,” he points out, describing the Program’s importance in four words: development, innovation, diplomacy and equality.

Fulbright scholars greatly contribute to the improvement of the quality of Hungarian higher education. US and Hungarian Fulbrighters play a key role in developing international programs, creating new, internationally accepted  curriculum at Hungarian universities, and to the work of the academic society through scientific cooperation. Dr Jókay stresses that “the program intends to support the implementation and development of new, current and innovative subjects, such as bionics, IT, energy efficiency, robotics, etc. in Hungary. Promoting the presence of Hungarian science and culture in the US is also an important component of the program.”

As for the future, he notes that Fulbright has always been an innovative program, searching for the most important initiatives. “We definitely plan to continue this tradition and intend to play a significant role in the implementation of new technologies, and scientific innovations like bionics, cancer research, environmental management, and energy sources. In the future, we will concentrate even more on Hungary’s fields of strength, such as mathematics, music, and natural sciences. We intend to continue and further develop our Roma initiative program, involving a wider range of the Roma youth. Maintaining the level of quality and improving diversity of grantees are of great importance,” he concludes.

A Philanthropist Director

Of Hungarian extraction, Károly Jókay was born in Chicago and moved to Hungary in 1994. During the past years, he has gained experience in education in an international environment at Central European University in Budapest, and earned intensive consulting experience in Central and Eastern European countries in the municipal services sector and municipal debt regulation. He says he was always active in civil society organizations and established a family foundation to support the education of talented children with disadvantageous backgrounds in the High School of the Reformed Church in Pápa, W Hungary.

Of Hungarian and American heritage, with the experience gained in the field of international education, and an attitude toward philanthropy, Dr. Jókay was eager to serve as the director of one of the best known and most prestigious international educational exchange programs in Hungary.

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