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Fulbright Program Honored with Spain’s Asturias Prize

OVIEDO, Spain – The Fulbright Program for educational and cultural exchange has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, the foundation that bestows the prizes in the name of Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe announced on Thursday.

The program is being recognized “for enhancing and strengthening links and mutual understanding between the world’s citizens,” the jury said in Oviedo, capital of Asturias.

Jurors also praised the program for its international scope and for demonstrating “the will to improve the overall education of our young people by providing access to institutions of academic excellence, and the ability to engage civil society in each of the nations in which it is implanted.”

Since its founding in 1946 by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright (1905-1995), the program has granted scholarships to more than 300,000 people from upwards of 150 countries.

Among those who have benefited from Fulbright scholarships are 44 Nobel laureates and five past winners of the Asturias prizes.

The program is administered by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding from the U.S. Congress, private entities and from the governments of some of the other participating nations.

Irish novelist John Banville was announced last week as the winner of the 2014 Asturias Award for Literature, while chemists Avelino Corma Canos of Spain and Mark E. Davis and Galen D. Stucky of the United States learned a week earlier that they will share the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

Argentine cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, aka Quino, U.S. architect Frank Gehry and French historian Joseph Perez were designated in May as the recipients of the Asturias prizes for Communication and Humanities, the Arts, and Social Sciences, respectively.

The winners of this year’s two other Asturias Awards will be announced in the coming weeks.

Along with 50,000 euros (about $68,300) and a sculpture by Joan Miro, each award winner receives a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation’s coat of arms.

Established in 1981, the prizes are regarded as the Ibero-American world’s equivalent of the Nobels.

The prizes are customarily presented by Crown Prince Felipe in the fall at a gala in Oviedo. But last week’s announcement that King Juan Carlos is abdicating in favor of his son and heir will likely result in some changes.

Leonor, the oldest child of Felipe and Princess Letizia, will become Princess of Asturias and heir to the throne when her father begins his reign as King Felipe VI.

Some have suggested that the princess, who turns 9 in October, might be the one to present the Asturias Awards, a duty her father first assumed when he was 13.

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