Faculty member named Fulbright chapter president

By Amanda Murphy

Elio Leturia, assistant professor in Columbia’s Journalism Department, is replacing Monica Swope as the president of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association.

The first introduction Leturia, a Peru native, had with Fulbright was in 1990 when he was awarded a scholarship through the organization to receive his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fulbright is an organization that works with the Department of State and the Institute of International Education to award scholars and students financial support to allow them to study abroad.

“The students come from other parts of the world and they learn this culture and then go back to their countries of origin, and they take that experience with them,” Leturia said.

He said he had not thought about being president until a few board members suggested the idea. He was nominated and won the election in December 2010.

Leturia said he was first asked to become a board member of the Fulbright Chicago Chapter in 2007. As a board member, Leturia, 50, was also the director of communications. According to Ana Gil-Garcia, a former Fulbright president, he was helpful with the communications aspect of the chapter.

“[Leturia] has been very influential in disseminating and creating new ways for us to communicate with the city,” Gil-Garcia said.

Leturia said his new responsibilities as president focus on the creation and organization of the 2011 Fulbright events. These events cater to board members and students currently studying in the Chicago Chapter, which includes northern Illinois, as well as Indiana and Wisconsin.

According to Leturia, these dinners and get-togethers are ways to bring the Fulbright community together. The events throughout the year reflect on a variety of different ethnicities and heritages. He said in these cases, the students from all across the world are brought together with a chance to exchange stories and

the cultures.

“It’s a very enriching experience because you get to learn a lot from other people,” Leturia said.

Gil-Garcia, who was named one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in the U.S. by Hispanic Business Magazine, invited Leturia to be a member of the board after he helped the Chicago chapter with a newsletter. She said she considers herself a mentor to Leturia and is delighted with his success in the Chicago chapter.

“I’m really happy Elio has developed so well during all these years and has become the president of the chapter,” Gil-Garcia said.

Once Leturia finished his master’s degree in 1991 he moved back to Peru. He was a professor at the University of Lima and the design director of El Comercio newspaper, the largest publication in Peru.

He was then hired by the Tribune Company to return to the U.S. and be the art director of Exito!, the Spanish speaking publication, Leturia said. He started teaching at Columbia after that, where he teaches courses such as visual journalism and reporting for Spanish speaking media.

Leturia said the new position will be a lot of work, but he is elated to be part of such an influential organization.

“To be the president of a chapter here in the United States and to be representing this community is a great honor for me,” Leturia said.