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Global Connections Oxford and Beyond

Farmer School alum named Fulbright Scholar for second time

There's a lot of things an economics degree can help prepare you for. Ask Bob Eckhart.

Bob Eckhart and Brieanne Beaujolais in Moldova in 2021
Bob Eckhart and Brieanne Beaujolais in Moldova during a 2021 trip.
Global Connections Oxford and Beyond

Farmer School alum named Fulbright Scholar for second time

#Bob Eckhart and Brieanne Beaujolais in Moldova during a 2021 trip.()

We all have them. Little statements of knowledge and lore based on personal experiences that had a significant and/or unexpected impact on our lives. For Bob Eckhart ’91, one of those statements might well be “When it comes to choosing a college degree, never underestimate the influence of a 1980s TV sitcom.”

“'Family Ties,' Alex P. Keaton, everybody was a business major, you know? You just didn't get any pushback from your parents when you said 'I'm going to be a business major.' And so I was a business major,” he recalled.

In the 30 years since leaving Oxford with a degree in economics, Eckhart has been a lecturer, an author, a law student, and a social entrepreneur. Eckhart taught for more than 20 years in the English Department and College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State. He also taught courses for the Fisher College of Business, Moritz College of Law, and Wexner Medical Center. He was the executive director of the Combined ESL Programs.

One thing he hasn’t been? An economist. “Even while I was getting my business major, I knew it wasn't for me, but I have zero regrets. I think it was awesome because it laid a great foundation,” he said. "I have shockingly vivid memories of my life as a business student, even though I never went into business."

Eckhart has cultivated his wanderlust since a summer trip to Luxembourg while at Miami. “I just fell in love with traveling and meeting people and experiencing new cultures. It was making the world seem like a smaller place,” he said. Since leaving Ohio State in 2015, he’s traveled to China more than 30 times, he taught a course on social entrepreneurship at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, and later this summer, he will train teachers on technology-enhanced learning in Uganda at the African Rural University for women.

And this fall, Eckhart will be a Fulbright U.S. Scholar – for the second time.

His first work as a Scholar was for a project on technology-enhanced learning at Minsk State Linguistic University in Belarus in 2018, where it turned out that his business degree came in handy. “I was training English teachers, but they connected me to a management and economics professor who was running a startup competition. He got me connected to their startup incubator and I gave some talks on cross-cultural communication at a conference they had for their startup week.” he said. “And then I went back to Belarus the next spring to work exclusively with him as a Fulbright Specialist and worked with his management and innovation students.”

This time, Eckhart and his wife, Brieanne Beaujolais, will be in Moldova, investigating how technology has been used to bridge interruptions in the education of Ukrainian refugees. The couple was able to work with their host institutions to fine-tune their research in a way that will address the humanitarian crisis in the region resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I had to wait four years before I could be a Scholar again, but I'll do this every four years if I can because it's such an unbelievable opportunity,” he said. “I still have this incredible wanderlust and I enjoy meeting people and working with people and I feel almost like a duty to do this because I don't have any kids, I don't have any student loans, and I have had all these amazing opportunities. So how can I not seek out even more opportunities?”