Jonathan GS Koppell

Inspired by his Fulbright experience, Montclair's president promotes international education for all

Jonathan GS Koppell
President, Montclair State University
Fulbright U.S. Scholar to China

Headshot of Jonathan Koppell

As President of Montclair State University, a 2023 Fulbright Hispanic-Serving Institution Leader, Dr. Jonathan Koppell recognizes that his school is a "rare bird" -- an innovative research university that has also been recognized as one of the nation's leading engines for social mobility. Koppell is adding internationalization of student experience to his list of priorities and credits his own history as a Fulbright Scholar for this worldview.

Earlier in his academic career, President Koppell was an assistant professor of politics, policy and organization at the Yale School of Management. While at Yale, he applied to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Koppell says his time as a Fulbrighter in China was not just a fantastic experience, but it played a massive role in his career. His Fulbright year helped shape his thinking and approach to leadership as both a professor and administrator. “The hands-on experience I had in international engagement and partnership directly affected many of my personal and professional achievements,” he said.

 After Yale, Koppell served as the dean of Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and vice provost for public service and social impact. Koppell was instrumental in forging a unique collaboration to establish the Hainan University - Arizona State University International College of Tourism (HAITC). The college was created to address the need to professionalize the Chinese tourism industry in the hopes of creating greater economic, social and cultural benefits for local communities.

Jonathan Koppell standing on stair with Fulbright students and university mascot

“The partnership wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for my Fulbright experience,” Koppell said. “My ability to understand and navigate the institutional and cultural dynamics was …vital in securing support at the provincial and ministerial level. So, in a very real sense, the thousands of students who have international educational experiences at HAITC are beneficiaries of the Fulbright program as well.”

Koppell maintains a strong belief that international education can and must be part of every student’s experience--particularly for those who haven’t had a chance to go abroad previously. That’s why he’s proud that the institution he leads now is recognized as a Fulbright HSI Leader--a university dedicated to promoting global learning opportunities for students and the cultural exchange of knowledge, research, and talent.

Montclair State University had a record number of Fulbright U.S. Student Program application submissions in 2023. But Koppell sees this as the beginning rather than the peak.

Montclair State University is the second largest institution of higher education in New Jersey, with more than 23,000 students. Koppell’s desire to connect more Montclair students with Fulbright opportunities after they graduate is directly aligned with his commitment to provide both access and excellence for all.

“My goal is for every single Montclair student to have an opportunity to experience study abroad,” Koppell said.  “The way in which access to such life-changing opportunities are skewed to those with means remains a significant inequality in higher education.” He lauds the ability for academic exchange programs such as Fulbright to help students “connect with and navigate” institutions and cultures outside the familiar.  Koppell says that skillset will make students better “equipped to lead in the 21st century and will be the predicate for building peace and prosperity in the decades ahead.”

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