Gaining a Global Understanding of Formal Mentoring Through Fulbright


Etta Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Development 
2018 Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar Participant to France 

Having been a first-generation, non-traditional student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Etta Ward credits mentorship with helping her reach her potential. Ward’s professors recognized her passion for helping others and welcomed her unique perspective as a young, married mother of two children. Today, Ward is IUPUI’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development where she oversees the development and implementation of new strategic research programming for faculty and research staff. Over her sixteen-year tenure in the academy, she has acquired a significant body of work around effective mentoring and the importance of advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the research enterprise and beyond.  

Ward sees mentorship as a reciprocal and intentional opportunity to impact someone’s life. At IUPUI, she helped to create the first official mentoring program for staff and the highly effective Enhanced Mentoring Program with Opportunities for Ways to Excel in Research (EMPOWER), which supports faculty members who have been historically underrepresented in their discipline or in higher education. Ward also advances mentorship at the national level through the work of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP), where she is actively involved in their Mentoring Program Committee, Diversity Working Group, and NORDP board.

Ward’s work with faculty mentoring at IUPUI led her to pursue the Fulbright program. As she encouraged and supported IUPUI faculty members in their research endeavors, she learned about the diverse range of Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards available to faculty, staff, and professionals. Having had no previous international exchange experience, she wanted to learn how higher education institutions in other countries support underserved faculty and staff through mentorship. Ward worked with IUPUI’s Office of International Affairs, which helped her consider the specific areas of leadership and expertise to craft a competitive application for the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar to France. "I really wanted to get a global understanding of mentoring,” she said of her Fulbright award. “Are people seeing it as a tool to help position individuals for success, and what types of training do people get for this type of effort?" 

Through Fulbright, Ward traveled to France and Belgium to gain knowledge about how institutions are working to be globally competitive and to make connections with higher education and research institutions. In Belgium, she learned about Horizon 2020, a European Union Research and Innovation program addressing multidisciplinary and international problems, and identified important parallels with Indiana University’s Grand Challenge initiatives, which tackles several of the state’s crucial issues like the current opioid crisis. Ward was also able to explain her own work with mentorship at IUPUI as a strategy to support diverse groups of faculty, staff, and students. She made connections in Brussels and Paris with counterparts who were interested in learning more about how effective formal mentoring can not only help researcher faculty succeed in their scholarly endeavor, but address other pressing global/cultural issues that faculty, staff and students are facing.  

Now that Ward is back in the United States, she has shared her Fulbright experiences with others at IUPUI and is looking to help faculty members in Indiana become better prepared to engage with global partners. She is also exploring how she can connect the EMPOWER program at IUPUI with international mentors.  "I think it's important to expand how we view things...and that helps to breathe new energy and life into projects,” Ward says. “This is something that Fulbright is helping me with." 

Applications are now open for the 2020-2021 Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar to France. Learn more about Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminars to France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Taiwan at