Skip Navigation

Schmider to Speak on Visionary Women Champions of Nonviolence and Peace at UMUC Academic Center Auditorium in Largo, Maryland, March 15

Mary Ellen Heian Schmider culminated a history-making moment when she crossed the stage at the AXICA Congress and Convention Centre adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin on Jan. 28, to present Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel with the 2018 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

Schmider, a University of Maryland University College adjunct faculty member and women’s history expert, is a past recipient of two Senior Fulbright Lecturer Awards, a former executive director of the Fulbright Association—and is current chair of the Fulbright Prize Committee. She co-presented the prize with former Fulbright Association President Manfred Philipp.

“The Fulbright Prize is the very symbol for how important international friendship is,” said Merkel on receiving the award.

UMUC, which sponsored the webcast of the event, also was represented by two UMUC Europe faculty members, Rick Chaney, Ph.D., and George Guthridge, Ph.D., who are previous Fulbright Scholars.

In her introductory remarks, Schmider said that Merkel received the award, in part, for her compassionate leadership, mutual understanding, international cooperation and efforts toward peace.

“Chancellor Merkel has embodied the best of leadership from the start and she has continued to operate within her values as they are tested anew with the unremitting challenges and crises of our time,” she added.

The J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, established in 1993, recognizes exceptional contributions toward fostering greater understanding of others among people, cultures or nations. The event in Berlin marked the first time in the 25-year history of the prize that the Fulbright Association hosted the ceremony outside of the United States.

The Berlin venue was particularly appropriate Schmider said because the German-American exchanges have produced the second largest number of Fulbright alumni. She added that the Fulbright Program’s range of impact has grown over the past 70 years to include exchanges in 165 countries.

Also in attendance, internationally renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour delivered a tribute to Merkel before introducing the Chancellor to the assembly. “She has championed the promise of reconciliation in a way that distinguishes her as a Fulbright Laureate that has committed to the issues and ideas that keep the peace on our continent, and in the world,” Amanpour said.

For Schmider, who has focused much of her professional life on illuminating women’s’ leadership and achievements throughout history, the combination of Amanpour and Merkel at the same event was uniquely dynamic. “What a moment, to see two of the world’s most influential and accomplished women on the same stage epitomizing the award we bestow,” she said.

A sought-after presenter, Schmider lent her expertise to UMUC’s 2018 Women’s History Month live Facebook discussion on women who changed history before they got the vote. On March 15, Schmider spoke at UMUC’s Academic Center Auditorium at Largo, Maryland, on the visionary women who have championed peace and nonviolence in our society over the past 100 years.

For more information about the 2018 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding and to view the video of the award event in Berlin, visit the Fulbright Association website.

To learn more about Mary Ellen Heian Schmider read the UMUC Global Media Center Story, “Teaching Took UMUC Adjunct Professor Around the World.” You may also like to watch her 2018 Women's History Month interview on UMUC's Facebook page.

Cover photo: From left—International Journalist Christiane Amanpour; Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel; Fulbright Prize Committee Chair Mary Ellen Heian Schmider, UMUC adjunct faculty member.

Did you know . . .

Women’s History Month is celebrated during March in the United Kingdom and Australia as well as in the United States to correspond with International Women’s Day on March 8. But, in Canada, it’s celebrated during October to correspond with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.

March 8 became a national holiday in Russia after women gained suffrage in 1917, in what was then Soviet Russia, and was generally celebrated only by the socialist movement and in communist countries until 1975, when the United Nations adopted March 8 as International Women’s Day.