(As prepared for delivery – July 6, 2017)
Thank you very much. I want to also thank the University of Canberra for hosting us here tonight. And thank you to Ingrid Tomanovits and the Australian–American Fulbright Commission for organizing this event.
I’m delighted to be here this evening.
I have said before that I owe my very existence to the Fulbright Program. My father was an early Greek Fulbright scholar who travelled to the US to study at Emory University. But rather than returning to Greece—in the proper Fulbright spirit of bilateral knowledge-sharing—he instead stayed in America where he joined the Army, met a girl . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s fantastic to have so many people here tonight, eager to engage with these talented researchers. This is a tremendous opportunity to extend the reach of our scholars’ work—taking it out of the halls of academia, beyond the laboratory and into the public awareness.
Because, as Tom has just noted, Fulbright is about so much more than just scholarship. It produces enduring partnerships—not only between colleagues or institutions, but between our two nations. Every Fulbright scholar becomes an ambassador for his or her country.
The US–Australia alliance is a multi-faceted one. It spans many domains—from our strong military and economic ties, to those that don’t always make headlines: pursuit of technological innovation; exploration of the vast reaches of outer space; and research to advance environmental goals of global importance—biodiversity, climate adaptation, and food security, to name but a few.
Over the years, the Fulbright program has strengthened our longstanding tradition of collaboration across all of these fields—and many more. Former Australian Fulbright scholars are among this nation’s teachers; its artists; its policy-makers; its philosophers; its law enforcement. And—universally—the program has offered them not only the opportunity to drive cooperation and innovation with their American counterparts, but to develop and spread a deeper cross-cultural understanding and enrich the partnership between the United States and Australia.
And the Fulbright partnership continues to grow. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Sydney just last month where, alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, he announced the creation of four new Fulbright Scholarships for Australia. These will be in the fields of strategic studies, technology and innovation—and their recipients, I have no doubt, will continue to further this great history of collaboration between our two countries.
I want to thank our presenters for sharing their work and insights with us all this evening. It will, I am sure, be an edifying experience for us all. Thank you.