UMass Amherst- Senior Fulbright Specialist in MongoliaRick Taupier of Research Development and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at UMass Amherst completed the first portion of a Senior Fulbright Specialist (SFS) project with the National University of Mongolia this past November. The SFS Program supports short term international consultations of two to six weeks in which the specialist works with a host institution to assist in meeting a programmatic, departmental or institutional need. Project activities focus on the strengthening and development needs of higher education institutions. Dr. Taupier was asked to work with the National University to make recommendations on ways in which it can increase its externally funded research. Mongolia's top national universities have been directed by national policy to aspire to become research universities even as the availability of government funds remains very limited.
The first phase of the project involved a needs assessment of the National University's research activities as well as a study of the general economic and social conditions in Mongolia that could help or hinder research development. The National University in Mongolia receives only 3.3% of its funding from the government and depends upon tuition and fees for 82.7 % of its annual revenue. Research funding constituted only 4.3% of university revenues in 2008, a year in which the total budget of the University was about $5.6 million and student enrollment nearly 14,000. The second phase of the project will be completed in April 2010.
The Senior Fulbright Specialist program is not as well known as other Fulbright programs and to date only two UMass Amherst faculty members have been selected as Specialists, Guy Lanza and Rick Taupier. Lanza has conducted two projects, both in Vietnam. The shorter duration of Fulbright Specialist projects make it possible for both faculty and administrators to participate. There are 8 cycles for application and peer review each year, the process by which applicants are selected for the Specialist Roster and become eligible to propose or participate in projects. Further information is available at www.cies.org.specialists/ .