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Fulbright Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Symposium

06/03/2021, 3:00 pm EDT

In recognition of the Fulbright Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Institutional Leaders initiative, and in celebration of the Fulbright Program’s 75th Anniversary, the Fulbright Program will host the Fulbright HBCU Symposium to discuss Fulbright opportunities and resources for HBCUs, the benefits of a Fulbright experience, and the role that the Fulbright Program can and does play in supporting HBCU campus internationalization and global awareness and engagement. The symposium is open to all HBCU faculty, staff, and stakeholders.

Workshop sessions will assist HBCUs in strengthening their relationship with the Fulbright Program by using Fulbright as a means to support campus internationalization and global engagement efforts, and to build global networks, which are essential in our 21st-century world.

Speakers will include:


Matthew Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Matthew Lussenhop joined the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (PDAS) in July 2019 and is currently the Acting Assistant Secretary. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and has served his country as a Foreign Service Officer since 1990. Prior to his arrival at ECA, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the United States to the Kingdom of Belgium (August 2016 – June 2019), including 18 months as Chargé d'affaires. From 2013 - 16, he was the DCM at the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Morocco, including ten months as the Chargé d'affaires. Mr. Lussenhop previously served in ECA as a Senior Advisor for Policy from 2011-13.

Mr. Lussenhop has served in the field of public diplomacy and strategic communications in numerous posts overseas, including Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010-11. Other overseas assignments include positions at U.S. embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Muscat, Oman; Rabat, Morocco; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Manila, Philippines. In Washington, D.C., he has served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near East and North African Affairs, and as Director of Public Diplomacy Training at the Foreign Service Institute. Mr. Lussenhop is the recipient of multiple State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks Arabic and French, and is a native of Minnesota and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University, HBCU graduate and Fulbright alumna

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons serves as President of Prairie View A&M University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). In 2001, she became the first African–American to become President of an Ivy League University when she was named the 18th President of Brown University. Under her 11-year leadership, Brown became a need-blind institution and raised $1.6 billion, the largest fundraising in the university’s history at that time. Simmons was ultimately named President Emerita of Brown University, received the Brown faculty’s highest honor, the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011, and a quadrangle at the university was named in her honor.

Simmons is a HBCU graduate of Dillard University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in French in 1967 and then received a Fulbright grant to France in the same year. A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her masters and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming the first African-American to become President of Smith College in 1995, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at a U.S. women’s college.
Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including numerous honorary degrees, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Square.

Dr. Leah Creque, Professor of English, Director of Honors Program, Fulbright Program Adviser, and Fulbright Scholar Liaison at Morehouse College

Dr. Leah Creque serves on the faculty and staff of Morehouse College as Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program. Her research and writing center on the cultural history of the African diaspora as it is manifested in dance and literature. Dr. Creque has made literary contributions to a number of anthologies and journals, including the Journal of African Literature and College Language Association Journal. Dr. Creque holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature/Letters from Wellesley College, an MBA from Clark Atlanta University, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Emory University.

Dr. Dafina Blacksher Diabate, Director of International Programs, Fulbright Program Adviser, and Fulbright Scholar Liaison at Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Dr. Dafina Blacksher Diabate is Director of International Programs and the Designated School Official (DSO) at Lincoln University. Serving as the senior international officer at one of the oldest HBCUs, Dr. Diabate provides leadership for the university’s international programs, partnerships, and strategy. Dr. Diabate directs the office in expanding and promoting study abroad opportunities; providing services for international students; handling international admissions; managing international university exchanges; and building a globally engaged university community. She is one of just five international education leaders to have been selected as a 2019-2020 Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) Presidential Fellow. In addition, Dr. Diabate is a member of the Pennsylvania Consortium on International Education and served on the Diversity Abroad 2020 Conference Committee. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, her master’s in Africana studies from Cornell University and her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.


Dineo Brinson, Academic Exchange Specialist, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Dineo Brinson is an Academic Exchange Specialist with the U.S. Department of State. She began her career at the U.S. Department of Education where her portfolio included addressing equity issues, providing English/Spanish technical assistance and managing civil rights investigations related to the ADA and Titles VI and IX of the Civil Rights Act.  She then returned to her alma mater, Spelman College, and worked in the Office of Alumnae Affairs, leading the office in presidential events, alumni engagement, fundraising, and crisis communications for thirteen years. Following her tenure at Spelman, she desired to focus more on international affairs and served the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Panama during her graduate work. She then joined the team at FHI 360, an international NGO. There she worked with the international educational exchanges team on business development and communications. Ms. Brinson graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College, a private Historically Black women's liberal arts college, with a degree in Spanish language and literature and earned a Master of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


3:00 pm EDT


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