Nursing professor heads to Lebanon as Fulbright Scholar

Marilyn Lotas has sent many undergraduates abroad for field study. Now, the associate professor and associate dean for undergraduate programs at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing will cross international borders herself as a Fulbright Scholar at the Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing at the Lebanese American University of Beirut (LAU) in Lebanon.

“I’m really excited,” said Lotas, who leaves Aug. 26. The Fulbright program, administered by the U.S. State Department, provides a stipend for housing and travel.

When Lotas arrives at LAU, she will learn in detail what she will be doing during the next year, but she said it probably will include some teaching duties at the newly established Alice Ramaz Chagoury School of Nursing.

Classes are taught in English, so language presents no barrier, but Lotas is practicing her French and plans to take some Arabic classes once there. Along with English, French and Arabic are widely spoken.

“I probably won’t become proficient in Arabic, a complex language, but hopefully will learn enough to say hello, thank you and have some conversations in the language,” she said.

One of Lotas’ main educational interests is in community-campus partnerships and service learning. She said that Nancy Hoffart, founding dean of the nursing school, has identified the need to develop the community health content of the curriculum and to form the structure for the development of an international component in the school.

At Case Western Reserve, Lotas works to place all undergraduate nursing school students in community service learning experiences in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She also has worked to place students interested in senior capstone experiences outside the United States and has traveled and consulted abroad.

One of the stated goals of her Fulbright experience is to work with faculty at LAU and staff at local community organizations to initiate service-learning programs similar to the ones at Case Western Reserve.

She will draw from her work with a Prentiss Foundation-supported program in the Cleveland schools that is also providing support for a $12-million health initiative focused on addressing obesity in urban children (the principal investigators are Leona Cutler, Shirley Moore and Elaine Borawski).

The Fulbright program was established in 1946 with the approval of President Harry S. Truman.  Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright proposed the program in 1945 to promote international goodwill through an exchange of education, culture and science.