University of Colorado's Thomas Napierkowski cuts an impressive figure that is every inch an English professor. He is tall and thin, completely bald, and sports a rather impressive mustache. He even jokes about his age, claiming that he had conversations with poet Geoffrey Chaucer 500 years ago.
Napierkowski was accepted as a Fulbright Specialist in December. According to the U.S. State Department, the Fulbright Specialist program "sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of two to six weeks."
These appointments are limited. A Specialist is only allowed two in his career. Napierkowski said, "If you teach for 50 years, you can only have two appointments." He is in his first five-year appointment.
This is not simply a spur-of-the-moment honor, though. Napierkowski said, "It's sort of an interesting – and arduous – process." The process begins with an application with multiple essays. Those essays are peer-reviewed by other Fulbright Scholars, and even if you pass that review, a final board has to pass you as well. Once a scholar is on the Specialist list, their name and dossier are available to foreign universities for assistance in their American literature programs.
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