HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM. Scott Fritzen, a public policy scholar and experienced higher education leader, will be the next president of Fulbright University Vietnam. He will assume the role on July 1, 2023.
Scott Fritzen was elected by Fulbright’s Board of Trustees after an exhaustive global search that was launched after the university’s founding president, Mdm. Dam Bich Thuy, announced her decision to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.
In a letter to the Fulbright community, Thomas J. Vallely, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, described Fritzen as “a seasoned university leader with a distinguished track record that includes experience building new institutions from the ground up and reinvigorating established organizations with new strategic vision and direction.”
Fritzen is “a thoughtful listener with a warm and humble personal style and a palpably passionate commitment to education, the study and practice of public policy, the liberal arts, and freedom of inquiry and expression,” Vallely wrote.
Professor and Bard College president Leon Botstein, a long-serving member of the Fulbright board, chaired the presidential search committee whose members included Lien-Hang Nguyen, Ngo Bao Chau, Hoang Thi Mai Huong, Christopher Malone, and Ben Wilkinson. Botstein described a lengthy process that began in the summer of 2022, and included hundreds of hours of committee discussions, consultations with experts and stakeholders, and interviews with candidates.
“Our mandate from the board was to find an exceptionally qualified candidate with the skills, attributes, and experience to provide strategic vision and capable, hands-on leadership from day one,” said Botstein. “Scott Fritzen’s extensive experience, combined with his obvious enthusiasm to take on the challenges of leading Vietnam’s first American-style liberal arts university, distinguished him within a very strong candidates field.”
President Dam Bich Thuy said of her successor: “Scott has all the necessary skills to lead the university into a phase of growth and achievement. I warmly congratulate him on his election and look forward to the great things the university will accomplish under his capable leadership.”
Search committee member Hoang Thi Mai Huong said “What stood out for me about Scott was not only the impressive depth and breadth of his experience in both Asia and the United States, but his long-standing personal and professional ties to Vietnam. Scott’s background makes him uniquely qualified to lead a Vietnamese university founded on partnership between Vietnam and the United States.”
Fritzen currently serves as Dean of the David L. Boren College of International Studies, Associate Provost (Global Engagement), and William J. Crowe, Jr Chair Professor in Geopolitics at the University of Oklahoma. Fritzen’s career trajectory includes extensive experience in Asia on the leadership teams of innovative initiatives in higher education, including New York University Shanghai (where he served as the first Associate Provost) and the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (where he was a founding faculty member and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs). He has also held faculty positions while serving as Vice Dean and Interim Dean of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University and as Director of International Executive Education at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, University of Washington.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Fritzen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Michigan State University, a Masters in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Public and International Affairs, also from Princeton. In 1997-1998, Fritzen became the first American citizen to receive a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research in Vietnam in the post-war era. He has also consulted extensively for governments and international organizations throughout Southeast Asia.
“I am humbled by the extraordinary opportunity to be Fulbright University Vietnam’s next president,” Fritzen said. “What President Dam Bich Thuy, the board, and the university’s exceptional students, faculty, and staff have accomplished in just eight years is nothing short of extraordinary. I look forward to building on those robust foundations and contributing to Fulbright’s continued emergence as a university dedicated to serving Vietnamese society and the world through teaching and research excellence and the pursuit of creative solutions to the grand challenges of our age.”
Fritzen, who in addition to the presidency will hold a faculty appointment in public policy and leadership, said “From time to time over my career I have had the opportunity to work with the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management [FSPMM, Fulbright’s graduate professional school] and with its predecessor, the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program. For almost thirty years those institutions have played a special role in Vietnamese policymaking by contributing an independent, constructively critical voice to the discourse about Vietnam’s economic and social transformation. I am eager to partner with the university’s talented public policy faculty to maintain and build upon their well-earned reputation for rigorous, independent policy analysis and engagement while cultivating synergies between Fulbright’s public policy school and its undergraduate program in the liberal arts and sciences.”
“I believe deeply in Fulbright’s mission of educating the next generation of Vietnamese changemakers,” Fritzen said. “Everything a university does must benefit our fundamental commitment to teaching and learning excellence. As president it will be my responsibility to ensure that Fulbright’s students and faculty have the resources and support they need to thrive and grow.”
An accomplished scholar, Fritzen’s research interests include public management and leadership, public administration reform, social policy and corruption. He has authored, co-authored or edited six books and published numerous peer-reviewed articles, many of them based on research conducted in Vietnam.
“Since I first visited Vietnam as a graduate student almost 30 years ago, I have felt a powerful connection to the country and its wonderful people. I cannot wait to again make Vietnam my home and to share the joys of life in Vietnam with my wife and children,” Fritzen said.
About Fulbright University Vietnam
Fulbright University Vietnam is Vietnam’s first independent, not-for-profit, liberal arts university. Globally integrated but deeply embedded in Vietnamese society, Fulbright is dedicated to providing a world-class education, utilizing the latest advancements in institutional design, teaching, learning, technology and other fields to create an institution that is both innovative and globally relevant. Importantly, Fulbright is committed to serving Vietnamese society through rigorous research and responsible civic engagement.