The Halls are great friends and supports of Fulbright Austria. Kathryn Walt Hall, businesswoman, lawyer, community activist, and now a maker of fine wines, served as US ambassador to Austria from 1997 to 2001, and Craig Hall, founder and chairman of the Dallas-based HALL Group, author, civic leader, and philanthropist, served on the Fulbright Austria board. The Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair for Entrepreneurship in Central Europe, which is among the most generous awards available to US scholars under the auspices of the Fulbright Program, was established shortly after Kathryn completed her tenure as US ambassador to Austria and informed by Craig’s interests in entrepreneurship and the special challenges post-communist economies in transition have confronted. Since 2009, the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU)—the premiere university for business and economics in Central Europe—has hosted the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair.
In 2016, the Department of State, the Republic of Austria, and WU recognized the exceptional support of the Halls, who are among the most generous individual donors in the history of the Fulbright program, at a special event at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York City. Craig and Kathryn Hall pledged $750,000 over a fourteen-year period to fund this distinguished chair from 2004 through 2018, and their renewed $150,000 pledge will facilitate the cooperation of the Hall Foundation with Fulbright Austria and WU for three more years: 2020–21 through 2022–23.
When the Hall Foundation renewed its support for the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair for Entrepreneurship in Central Europe, Ambassador Hall observed: "Craig and I have a strong attachment to Austria after the four years we spent there during my time as US ambassador. Austria plays a critical role in the political and economic life of Central Europe. We believe strongly that entrepreneurship is an important element of a sustainable democracy and that it is also valuable for personal fulfillment. We have been so pleased with our partnership with Fulbright Austria and are grateful for the leadership of Lonnie Johnson over the past 22 years.”
“Creating entrepreneurial opportunities through educational advancement is an integral part of our foundation’s philosophy,” said Craig Hall. “By empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs to engage in responsible business practices and grow their businesses with integrity, we create a catalyst to positively change the world for the future.”
When the trustees of the Hall Foundation renewed their commitment to the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair for Entrepreneurship, they were also emphatic about their commitment to promoting diversity. In a constructive dialogue with the trustees of the Hall Foundation and Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, rector of WU and professor for gender and diversity in organizations, Fulbright Austria reinvented the award description for the chair to solicit projects outside of the “traditional” fields of entrepreneurship, including, for example, the promotion of diversity, access, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Hanappi-Egger is also enthusiastic about the ongoing, generous support of the Halls and the prospect of refocusing the emphasis of this distinguished chair on diversity:
“The experiences we have had with the Fulbright exchange program and the Fulbright-Hall Chair at WU have always been excellent. Particularly the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair provides unique opportunities to our researchers, faculty, and students by facilitating the exchange of expertise and knowledge with distinguished professors from the US. The new focus outside of traditional fields is very promising and supports the further development of topics that have not been in the center of attention.”
The Fulbright Austria board has also turned to Prof. Dianne Welsh, the Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, who was the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair in 2014–15, to serve as a US alumna liaison for the Fulbright-Hall Chair and to help get the word out. The Council for International Exchange of Scholars will be entertaining applications for the 2020–21 program cycle until September 16.
Fulbright Austria is exceptionally fortunate to have the generous support of Craig and Kathryn Hall, and we hope to see a diverse pool of applicants for this exceptional award this coming year!