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Fulbright board to examine denial of Berkeley applications

Feb. 4: U.S. decision to reject Fulbright applications stuns campus

– The New York Times this evening is reporting that there may yet be a glimmer of hope for the 30 UC Berkeley students whose Fulbright fellowship applications were denied by the U.S. Department of Education over a disputed mailing deadline.

A copyrighted story on the New York Times wire service reported that Steven J. Uhlfelder, chairman of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, said he would convene a teleconference of the board's five-member executive committee on Tuesday.

"The purpose of the meeting is to gather information from both parties and try to see if there is anything that we can do," Uhlfelder said. "I don't want to give false hopes. I am not sure if we can do anything," he told the Times.

"I am very heartened by the response of the chairman of the Fulbright Scholarship Board and by his interest in the board reviewing the decision made by the Department of Education," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, who spoke with Uhlfelder late Friday afternoon.

"The purpose of the board is to make certain that all students have fair access to the competition and that the best students have an opportunity to study with a Fulbright scholarship. That, of course, has been our purpose in pursuing this all along," said Berdahl.

Uhlfelder said the board normally does not get involved in the administrative decisions of the Department of Education or the State Department, which also has a Fulbright program. But after learning of the Berkeley situation, he said, there was a need to "make sure everyone feels they were treated fairly.''

Uhlfelder told the Times, "One of the first e-mails I got was from a Stanford student telling me how wrong this was. My son went to Stanford, and there is not great love between Stanford and Cal.''