Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Fellows Program

“Those who share their knowledge gain insight and a new experience”
Henry G. Bennett (1886-1951)

Oklahoma State University's long and proud tradition of excellence in international education has its roots in the post World War II era when US President Harry S. Truman appointed OSU President Dr. Henry G. Bennett as the first chief executive officer of the Point Four Program. This program (so named because it was addressed in the fourth point of Truman's 1949 inaugural speech) was designed to export American technology and scientific knowledge to emerging nations. Today, the program is known as USAID - the United States Agency for International Development. Dr. Bennett headed the Point Four Program until his untimely death in an airplane crash in the Middle East in 1951.

Shortly after Dr. Bennett died, OSU signed a contract to establish an agricultural college in Ethiopia - Alemaya University. Building on the success of this initiative, OSU conducted numerous international assistance programs in Pakistan, Thailand, Guatemala, Colombia, Jordan, Morocco and other areas of the world. Over the past half-century, hundreds of faculty members have served abroad on numerous projects sponsored by the United States Government and private foundations. Faculty members are increasingly engaged in research and outreach dealing with international trade and development and have contributed extensively to scholarship on global issues. Their knowledge of global issues is being integrated into curricula across the OSU System, resulting in an increase in the number of study abroad participants.

SIS Students in front of the statue of Dr. Bennett

A statue of Dr Bennett, outside the OSU president’s office, overlooks the campus. The current campus layout is greatly attributed to Dr Bennett’s Campus Master Plan, enacted during his 23-year tenure as president.

In July of 1998, Oklahoma State University's Board of Regents approved the creation of the School of International Studies (SIS) with the charge to charter a new path to excellence in international education. Formally dedicated in April of 1999, the School set out to fulfill its mission "to provide a university-wide focus to synergize and expand international opportunities in instruction, research and extension for individuals and organizations seeking a greater understanding and involvement in world trade and international affairs." A first step in fulfilling this mission was the establishment of an interdisciplinary Graduate Program with a Master's of Science Degree in International Studies and a Certificate in International Studies, in which eight participating academic units advise and instruct students enrolled in the Graduate Program. The Graduate Program has since expanded to include the Peace Corps Master's International Program. In addition to the Graduate Program, SIS includes the English Language Institute; Study Abroad/National Student Exchange Office; Peace Corps Recruitment Office; Fulbright Resource Center; OSU Chapter of the Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society; OSU-OSU - Mexico Liaison Office; and International Outreach Department, which supports statewide, national and international outreach efforts.

SIS provides a unique opportunity to develop forward-looking approaches to the study of global issues in multidisciplinary think teams. Since its inception, more than 140 OSU faculty, with strong credentials in international education, research and outreach, have stepped forward to participate in fulfilling SIS's mission. In addition to the faculty, SIS wanted an avenue to broaden the intellectual capital contributing to the education of its students, as well as the OSU System. To accomplish this, SIS established the Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Fellows Program.

The Bennett Fellows Program recruits individuals from around the world who have a common purpose of addressing issues in a complex global environment and have made outstanding contributions to the social, political and/or economic issues of the world. They are selected from a wide range of fields and disciplines including academe, business, government, the media, the military, and the non-profit sector.