July 21, 2015

Meg Benke Awarded Fulbright Grant for Her International Research

Benke will be the first Fulbright researcher to collaborate with the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland

Meg Benke has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to do research at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.

Meg Benke, professor and academic area coordinator of SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies, has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to do research at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. Photo/Empire State College

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – July 21, 2015) Meg Benke, professor and academic area coordinator of SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies, has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to do research at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, during the fall term of 2015.

Benke is one of only 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through this Fulbright program during the 2015-16 academic year.

“Selection by the Fulbright Scholars program to conduct research is more than a personal honor, it also recognizes SUNY Empire State College and the Waterford Institute as exceptional institutions of higher learning,” said Benke. “With my partner faculty and administrators at Waterford, we will examine how those who teach and educate adults in further education utilize technology to reduce barriers to learning. Our goal is to enhance the quality of the training and education for those who teach adults in Ireland and to expand professional exchange between adult educators in Ireland and the United States.”

A nationally and internationally recognized expert in distance education, online and adult education and learning, Benke will be the first Fulbright visiting researcher to collaborate with Waterford.

“As an established and renowned scholar in her field, this recognition of Meg comes as no surprise,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “What she learns as a result of her collaborative research will further expand Empire State College and the technology we employ to educate nontraditional and adult students, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, across the state and around the world. Her research will inform the college’s efforts to expand access to public higher education by removing barriers to learning. I congratulate Meg on receiving such a prestigious international award.”

Benke’s research will be conducted with Waterford’s School of Lifelong Learning and Education, a leading institution for the training of further and higher education teachers and adult literacy professionals.

Benke and her Waterford colleagues will identify the ways in which teachers and lecturers can work with technology to enhance learning in the context of Waterford’s teacher education programs.

About Meg Benke

Benke first joined SUNY Empire State College in 1991.

She teaches and coordinates the college’s Master of Arts in Adult Learning and Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies, which are conducted entirely online.

These online programs are specifically designed for professionals responsible for training employees in the private and nonprofit sectors, community college faculty and administrators, online instructional designers, those working in adult learning for social change and community engagement, international educators, as well as K-12 educators.

Benke’s national leadership roles include being named:

  • a Middle States Commissioner
  • a member of the Commission on Postsecondary Distance Education
  • a past president of the board of directors of the Sloan-C Consortium.

Sloan-C, which now is known as the Online Learning Consortium, or OLC, is the largest membership society devoted solely to improving scale, quality and choices in online education, where adult learners comprise the majority of students.

Benke co-authored chapters of the book, “Leading the e-learning Transformation of Higher Education,” (Stylus, 2013).

She also co-authored the chapter, “SUNY Empire State College: A Game Changer in Open Learning,” with the college’s former President Alan R. Davis and Nan Travers, the college’s director of collegewide academic review, in a digital book, “Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies,” (EDUCAUSE, 2012).

About the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a division of the Institute of International Education, and is one of the programs operated under the auspices of the Fulbright Program.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 318,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, scientists and other professionals the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35, and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.


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