A Fulbright Future

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Dr. Leo-Rey Gordon, an economist and assistant professor in Wilmington University’s College of Business, knew an affiliation with the Fulbright Program organization would change him, but he didn’t know how. Founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright Program is a program of highly competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.

Fulbright recipients are lauded international scholars who enjoy unrivaled prestige. Gordon viewed being part of the organization as a long-term goal — after a seasoned career — but never thought he would get the chance as a young professor. He did get that chance, and was awarded a Fulbright grant after a mentor challenged him to apply. The organization was creating a new chapter dedicated to young, talented scholars in pursuit of research scholarships, and Gordon fit the bill.

The Fulbright program, which is sponsored by the U.S. government, was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Gordon’s research interests happened to be sought-after topics, including economic growth and development, financial institutions and markets, global business and applied econometrics.

I have a broader understanding of students who need different perspectives of teaching similar issues. In all areas, there are concerns about healthcare, jobs and education, but always different arguments that change how individuals think. 

His proposal to conduct economic research on offshore banking and informal business sectors in Barbados landed him a temporary teaching position at the University of the West Indies in Barbados for the fall 2013 semester. Gordon describes his time in Barbados as a learning experience.

While teaching courses in financial management, Gordon researched local offshore banking implications on the local economy. His academic study and conversations with local professors snow-balled into other relevant economic issues in the Caribbean. Subsequently, he developed a new proposal to delve into an economic overview of Barbados from a global economic perspective, including investigation into an insurance bailout that resulted in the loss of 20,000 jobs on the island.

Gordon is an active member of the National Association of Business Economics, and is also the treasurer of Visions for Haiti Delaware, a group focused on providing educational opportunities for Haitians in America. His aggregate work has renewed his commitment to give back to his native Jamaica, and he’s passionate about helping the country revive its economy. His time in Barbados rekindled his involvement in the advancement of economic growth and wealth for small islands.

Gordon returned to America (and Wilmington University) an emotionally and intellectually richer man. And his Fulbright experience implied greater responsibility toward quality teaching. “I have a broader understanding of students who need different perspectives of teaching similar issues,” says Gordon. “In all areas, there are concerns about healthcare, jobs and education, but always different arguments that change how individuals think.” WU