HARTFORD, CT, May 11, 2011 – Mary E. “Mel” McCombie, visiting associate professor of American Studies and interim director of Trinity’s American Studies Graduate Program, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture at the American University in Cairo during the 2011-2012 academic year.
The announcement was made recently by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. McCombie has been a member of Trinity’s faculty since 2003 and interim director of the American Studies Graduate Program since December ’05.
McCombie, who was trained as an art historian, said she was encouraged to apply for the award by the Fulbright Board because the American University in Cairo has never had a visiting faculty member in American Studies whose background is in art history and dealing with visual culture.
Although the grant is for the entire academic year, McCombie said she still doesn’t know whether she will be allowed to begin her teaching stint in the fall semester because the State Department currently has a travel ban in effect for Americans in Egypt due to the political unrest there. However, she said she’s hopeful that the ban, which covers Fulbright scholars, will be lifted shortly.
A New Haven resident who has twice visited Egypt, McCombie said she is looking forward to going back to a country which has experienced such profound political and cultural upheaval.
“I’m really eager to be in a room filled with students in which every paradigm has shifted. What more could a teacher ask for?” she asked, rhetorically.
McCombie earned her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her master’s degree from Stanford University and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in Austin.
According to her faculty profile, she analyzes visual culture from perspectives ranging from anthropology to sociology. She believes the visual world, from the quotidian (supermarkets and advertising) to the most elite (art museums) is worthy of careful analysis.
McCombie has the distinction of being the only member of The College Art Association who is also a professional scuba diver.
McCombie is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad as part of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2011-2012.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The primary source of funding is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Fulbright grant recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries.
Since its inception in 1946 under legislation spearheaded by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given roughly 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research.