Harvey Lee, left, and Esther Ma, right, who provided support for the HarvEst Lecture Series, stand with Harriet Mayor Fulbright and Andrew Szeri, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division.
Harvey Lee, left, and Esther Ma, right, who provided support for the HarvEst Lecture Series, stand with Harriet Mayor Fulbright and Andrew Szeri, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division.

On October 29, Harriet Mayor Fulbright presented the inaugural lecture in the HarvEst Distinguished Women Lecture Series, an annual lectureship hosted by the Graduate Division to foster thoughtful dialogue and an opportunity to be inspired by outstanding and accomplished women leaders.

The lectureship realizes the entrepreneurial vision of UC Berkeley alumni Esther Ma, ’87, and her husband, Harvey Lee, ’88.  In 2013, they graciously provided support for HarvEst, a combination of their two names.

During her lecture — titled “Fulbright and the Importance of International Education,” delivered at the International House — Harriet Mayor Fulbright spoke about the history of the Fulbright program and the vital contributions it has made worldwide in encouraging cross-cultural dialogue through international education.

“The history of the Fulbright Program is the tale of a man who used his experience and intellect to create something for the benefit of the whole world and to change the course of human history,” said Ms. Fulbright, whose late husband,  Senator J. William Fulbright, died in 1995.

After studying as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, J. William Fulbright met his future wife, Elizabeth, in Washington D.C. and the two married in 1932.

Fulbright attended The George Washington University Law School where he obtained a law degree before returning to Arkansas where he eventually became a United States Senator.

Directly after World War II, J. William sought to answer the fundamental causation of war in order to stop future wars from occurring. Based on his experience traveling through England as a Rhodes Scholar, J. William determined that the road to world peace was achievable by increased understanding between cultures through international education, said Harriet.  In 1946 Senator Fulbright championed his solution to international conflicts through Congress and was able to pass legislation to begin the Fulbright Scholarship.

“One of the strongest deterrents to mayhem is the rapid growth of international collaborative activity in the form of studies and research,” said Ms. Fulbright.

Similar to her husband, Harriet’s studies abroad in Colombia had a profound effect on her outlook on the world. When she was 15, her father sent her to study for three months in Bogota, where she learned the importance of cultural immersion to diminish stereotypes of foreign people and their respective cultures.

The promotion of the Fulbright Program around the world is just one of many endeavors Harriet has taken on over her own career.  She also co-founded the Harriet Fulbright College and has been an influential force in the world of education, diplomacy, and the arts.

UC Berkeley has been a leader among academic institutions in producing Fulbright scholars, said Andrew Szeri, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, during his welcoming comments. To date, 77 Berkeley faculty have been Fulbright Scholars. The Fulbright Program currently operates in 155 countries; since its inception, more than 300,000 students around the world have left their own countries to study in another.

“Success in the Fulbright program has long been an early indicator of success in scholarship as well as a stepping stone for other noteworthy achievements,” noted Vice Provost Szeri.


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Harriet Fulbright met her husband after he studied as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. Harriet and J. William Fulbright did not marry until 1990 after his first wife, Elizabeth, died in 1985.


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About Sean Havey

Sean Havey is a journalist who recently completed his Masters of Journalism with a focus in Documentary Film at Berkeley. He has worked as a journalist for various publications for over ten years. He is currently working in Mexico City for the Associated Press as a photographer and video journalist.