Campus Life

UWF assistant professor earns prestigious Fulbright Specialist designation

The University of West Florida announces that Dr. Robert Perkins has been selected as a Fulbright Specialist by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Perkins is an assistant professor of management in the UWF College of Business.

Dr. Robert Perkins, professor of management and Fulbright Specialist in Entrepreneurship.

Established in 2001, the Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals abroad to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects for a period of two to six weeks at host institutions. Perkins will serve as Fulbright Specialist in Entrepreneurship for a duration of three years, a tenure that began on Feb. 7, 2020.

“This is a proud announcement for the University,” said Richard Fountain, dean of the UWF College of Business. “One of our own has been esteemed as an expert in entrepreneurship, and will share his experiences and knowledge abroad. This is truly a valuable designation and a positive reflection of the programs within our college.”

Fulbright Specialists are chosen through peer-review and competitively selected based on knowledge, skill sets and their ability to make a significant contribution overseas. The evaluators spend one full month each year in the selection process. Selected professionals are recognized experts in their fields who are matched with projects designed by host institutions in more than 160 countries around the world. When the host institutions identify a national need and apply to the Fulbright Commission and U.S. Embassy in their country, they can name a specialist to work on their project. All Fulbright Specialist projects must be a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 45 days.

“I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve America as a Fulbright Specialist,” Perkins said. “I feel certain that the Fulbright experience will allow me to create mutually productive relationships with people in the host country. I fully expect to be able to foster reciprocal exchange opportunities for students, entrepreneurs and educators from the host country.”

Perkins has not yet been assigned a host country. In his field, his expertise may be requested for lectures, instructional seminars, designing entrepreneurial curricula, working and coaching with local entrepreneurs, and consulting on the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Perkins’ approach to teaching relies heavily on learning through action, as he often incorporates local business scenarios into his curriculum. His keen ability to mentor his students through local experience is coupled with an extensive background in international settings. He has traveled to more than 40 countries and completed professional work in 10 countries.

While at UWF, Perkins initiated the fall semester Da Vinci Innovation Celebration, which in its second year attracted 62 student teams from 27 majors. This event gives students an opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas to fellow students, staff and faculty. Perkins also created the UWF Elevator Pitch Contest, a competition in late spring, where students present their ideas for start-up business models to a panel of experienced local entrepreneurs and investors. UWF students receive valuable feedback and coaching as well as cash prizes. Last year, several UWF students went on to present and win in other Florida competitions.

Perkins’ successful career in both industry and academia can be traced back to an early passion for entrepreneurship, with his summers spent selling ice cream from five pedal-powered carts.

“I ordered inventory, hired, encouraged and paid other high school students and managed the enterprise to fund my college education,” Perkins said. “Thankfully, my mother oversaw my efforts, so I didn’t make too many rookie mistakes and could actually earn a profit.”

Perkins has M.A. and B.A. degrees in psychology from The Ohio State University and Kent State University, respectively. He holds a doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Colorado State University, and was recently Associate Professor in Management at Mercer University.