A world of experience

By Abby Rhodes
September 1, 2011

To ensure the University is preparing marketing students to succeed in an increasingly competitive global job climate, Dr. Matthew O’Brien went into the trenches – to classrooms on the other side of the world to see how Bradley students stack up against their Japanese counterparts.

O’Brien spent last summer as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching graduate courses in consumer behavior and marketing strategy at Kobe University in Japan.

“As an instructor, it was a tremendous opportunity to gain additional exposure to international students and benchmark their skills against our students’,” O’Brien said. “And in doing so, I received some terrific feedback from the Japanese and other international students that I will share back at Bradley.”

O’Brien’s courses drew students not only from Japan, but also from Europe, Australia and other parts of Asia. The opportunity to collaborate with such a diverse group of students was the fortunate outcome of a devastating event that nearly hijacked O’Brien’s Fulbright experience altogether. Originally invited to teach in the earthquake and tsunami ravaged city of Sendai, O’Brien and his family were rerouted to Kobe where aftermath from the disaster was limited to minor inconveniences in daily life.

His experience was just the latest in a long tradition of international expeditions by Bradley faculty awarded Fulbright grants. O’Brien is one of nine current faculty who have taught, studied and/or conducted research abroad through the highly selective program. Two of them, Dr. Nancy Sherman and Dr. Christopher Rybak, both professors in the College of Education and Health Sciences, have each received two Fulbright awards. Dr. Timothy Conley, professor of English, has received three Fulbright awards.

“The large number of Bradley faculty who have been honored as Fulbright recipients is further proof of our University’s reputation for excellence at the international level,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “By embracing opportunities to broaden their perspectives and diversify their research, these faculty are wonderful role models for Bradley students, who are encouraged to think globally, dream big and aspire to lifelong learning.”

Next spring, Dr. Jenny Tripses, associate professor in the Department of Leadership in Education, Human Services and Counseling, will study and teach at the Vinnytsia University in the Ukraine.

“I cannot praise the Fulbright program enough for the opportunity it afforded me, and has provided my colleagues, to enrich teaching with a greater global context,” O’Brien said.