Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu had a dual purpose for traveling to Turkey on a Fulbright assignment in late 2018.
Cobanoglu, the McKibbon endowed chair of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, hoped to share his expertise and engage with faculty and students at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey about opportunities to collaborate.
And he was excited about returning home to share his expertise.
By his estimation, the trip was an unequivocal success, giving him an opportunity to re-connect with friends and colleagues while fulfilling his goal of creating research partnerships and building relationships with students and scholars that will continue to pay dividends down the road.
“It was very special for me because I really wanted to help the institution, but also I wanted to help my home country,” said Cobanoglu, a native of Istanbul who visited Turkey from mid-December through early January as part of Fulbright’s Specialist program. “It worked out wonderfully.”
Among the trip’s outcomes and highlights:
- Cobanoglu presented a workshop to Canakkale University faculty and graduate students about Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM), a relatively new technology within the hospitality space designed to explain why customers make certain decisions about hotel purchases and other travel expenses.
- He made presentations to faculty and doctoral students, offering his expertise on how to publish their work in top-tier journals.
- He advised graduate students on how to earn assistantships for master’s and doctoral studies in the United States.
- He met individually with a variety of faculty members and students to discuss research projects and teaching methods, conversations that have continued weeks after he returned to USFSM.
“I was so happy to share my expertise and experience with the young scholars,” Cobanoglu said. “It’s amazing the amount of interest they have shown, to be willing to learn different things. But the important thing was I didn’t just teach, I also learned a lot. From that visit, we came up with multiple research studies. This morning I just heard from one of the scholars who got a revision from a leading journal.”
Another benefit of his experience was the opportunity to visit with Lutfi Atay, an instructor in Canakkale University’s Tourism Department whom Cobanoglu first met when Atay was a visiting scholar at USFSM about seven years ago.
“It was a great joy to have Professor Cobanoglu in our university as a Fulbright specialist,” Atay said. “He has been very helpful to our faculty and students. We have already collaborated in many projects together and we look forward to working together with Professor Cobanoglu.”
The reunion led to conversations about future collaboration. Cobanoglu plans to return to Turkey in November 2020 to co-produce a global conference on smart tourism.
He and his colleagues from Canakkale also reached an agreement to host doctoral students and faculty from Turkey as visiting scholars at USFSM’s M3 Center, which supports academic research of significance to the global hospitality industry.
Dr. Darlene DeMarie, USF Fulbright faculty advisor and president of the Mid-Florida Chapter of the Fulbright Association, said specialist awards such as Cobanoglu’s help foster valuable partnerships that extend beyond the length of the assignment.
“All Fulbright Awards are partnerships that bring together American Scholars and their counterparts at international universities for projects that are mutually beneficial,” DeMarie said. “Fulbright Specialist Awards recognize faculty members’ expertise and potential contributions to these universities, their faculty, and their students.”
Cobanoglu intends to pursue more opportunities through Fulbright, based on the success he experienced on his first trip.
“It definitely won’t be the last,” he said. “I’m hooked on it. I think it’s amazing.”