Maria Trache named Fulbright U.S. Scholar

Retired College of Education professor will conduct research in her home country, Romania

Thursday, Jun 20, 2024 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

Maria Trache

Maria Trache, a retired professor in the College of Education, has been named as one of two 2024-25 Fulbright Scholars from UTA, the other being Robert Taylor, a professor in practice in the College of Engineering.

In the fall, Dr. Trache will join the faculty at Transilvania University of Brasov in Romania to conduct research, teach and collaborate on developing higher education graduate programs.

Trache was born in Romania and attended and taught at the University of Bucharest. She was a physicist before immigrating to North America about 30 years ago. At the University of British Columbia, she changed paths from physics to a new field of study: education.

“I think it was an interesting switch for me to move away from physics,” said Trache. “It allowed me to have a better understanding of this different culture, society and system. Educational studies really opened my eyes and gave me perspective as a newcomer. It was a wonderful way to integrate in North America.”

Trache has been at UTA since 2011 and formally retired this past spring semester. During her time at UTA, she primarily taught master’s and doctoral students in the Department of Higher Education Adult Learning and Organizational Studies (formerly Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies). She focused on teaching her students how to use research to understand reality and make evidence-based decisions.

“I’m a researcher, and I believe in the power of research, statistics and evidence. For my students interested in developing educational policies, this is important,” said Trache. “In our department we took a research approach in teaching and focused on shaping a research mindset in our students—as K-16 leaders and administrators, they will need to understand and use research and policy as tools to improve practice.”

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries, counter misunderstandings and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns.

Although Trache is a product of the European and Romanian education systems in addition to studying and working in Canada and the United States, there will be challenges for her to overcome in her coming work. She says many things have changed since she was a student and faculty member in Romania, as the higher education system has become more aligned to Western European models. There will also be a period of learning to readjust to the new realities of the country she left 30 years ago.

“When you are involved in research, it’s hard to not develop a ‘lifelong learner’ attitude and mindset,” she said. “Although I retired, I still have a sense of professional purpose. This Fulbright project came at the right time, and it’s a perfect continuation of my journey. I’ll learn about what’s needed and wanted at the host university and bring ideas that can potentially help.”