Fulbright University Vietnam Appoints Ryan Derby-Talbot Chief Academic Officer


Dr. Ryan Derby-Talbot has been appointed Chief Academic Officer (CAO) of Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright), Vietnam’s first, independent, nonprofit university.

The Fulbright Board of Trustees, advised by a search committee composed of trustees of the University and representatives of the Trust for University Innovation in Vietnam, the US nonprofit supporting Fulbright, selected Dr. Derby-Talbot after an exhaustive, international search.

“The search committee recognizes that Fulbright’s founding CAO will play a critical role in setting the culture of the university, recruiting our faculty, and designing our initial educational programs,” said search committee member and Fulbright trustee H. Kim Bottomly, President emerita of Wellesley College.

“We were extremely impressed with the breadth of Dr. Derby-Talbot’s leadership experience, his profound commitment to teaching and the student experience, and his energy and enthusiasm for the unique opportunities and challenges associated with building a new university from the ground up.”

Dr. Derby-Talbot joins Fulbright University Vietnam after eight years on the faculty of Quest University Canada, an innovative, private liberal arts college in British Columbia. For four years he served as Quest’s vice president and CAO.

Under Dr. Derby-Talbot’s leadership Quest doubled the size of its fulltime faculty, greatly strengthened its undergraduate curriculum and launched a number of initiatives aimed at enriching the learning experience for Quest’s students.

“Dr. Derby-Talbot has spent his professional career in academic positions outside his home country,” Bottomly observed. “He is comfortable in international settings and has a deep appreciation and respect for other countries and cultures. We believe his outlook will serve him well as the leads the development of a university that is rooted in Vietnam but deeply connected to the global community.”

“Dr. Derby-Talbot is passionately devoted to educational innovation,” stated Fulbright President Dam Bich Thuy. “He understands that we have a very special opportunity to create a new undergraduate program ab initio.

Dr. Derby-Talbot and I share a conviction that the key to Fulbright’s success will be our ability to foster a learning community where students and teachers engage with each other inside and outside the classroom, where they learn to take risks and support each other, and seek ways to contribute their talents and energy to Vietnam and the world.”

“Throughout my career, I have sought the best opportunities to learn and help others learn. I am excited to accept the position of Chief Academic Officer at Fulbright University Vietnam because I believe Fulbright University Vietnam has the potential to transform higher education in the 21st century.

In developed and developing countries alike, there is a concern that old models aren’t preparing students for the unique opportunities and challenges of today’s world. My aim is to have Fulbright be a global leader in innovative university education.”

“I look forward to working with the Fulbright team to create an undergraduate program that combines the best of the liberal arts tradition with cutting edge innovations in teaching and learning to provides our students with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to succeed in whatever field of endeavor they may choose to pursue,” said Dr. Derby-Talbot.

“I believe Fulbright has a responsibility to connect meaningfully to Vietnamese society, just as our inaugural graduate program, the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, has done so successfully for over twenty years.

We will make Vietnam our classroom and our laboratory, and inspire our students and faculty to work with communities in Vietnam to contribute to Vietnam’s development and preserve and celebrate Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage,” Dr. Derby-Talbot continued.

Prior to joining Quest, Dr. Derby-Talbot spent three years as an assistant professor at the American University in Cairo. After graduating from Pomona College he taught English to Japanese students through the Japanese Education and Teaching (JET) Program.

Dr. Derby-Talbot holds a PhD in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in the field of topology and studies objects that are potential candidates for the shape of the universe, understanding them primarily through their so-called “Heegaard splittings.” He publishes regularly in mathematics as well as in teaching and pedagogy.

In his free time Dr. Derby-Talbot enjoys travel, reading, and Japanese tea ceremonies. An avid language student, he has already started learning Vietnamese.

Dr. Derby-Talbot will assume the duties of Chief Academic Officer on November 1, 2017.

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