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Rhodes Scholarship

The Rhodes Scholarships were created by Englishman Cecil John Rhodes. They have been awarded to applicants annually since 1902 by the Oxford-based Rhodes Trust, on the basis of academic qualities as well as those of character. They provide the successful candidate with two years of study at the University of Oxford in England, possibly extended for a third year.

When Rhodes died in 1902, his will stipulated that the greater part of his fortune was to go towards the establishment of a scholarship fund. The scholarships, originally worth £300, would reward those applicants who exhibited worthy qualities of intellect, character, and physical ability. There has been some controversy over the original aim of the scholarships, as Rhodes held racist opinions about the superiority of the English race over all others, and his intention was to use the scholarships to educate future foreign leaders in England so that they could help spread English influence when they returned to their home countries. However, it is generally felt that the Rhodes Trust has since rejected the racist parts of Rhodes's original ideals.



The requirements for applicants are high. Rhodes' will specified four standards by which applicants were to be judged:

  • literary and scholastic attainments;
  • energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;
  • truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship;
  • moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.

Rhodes' will originally provided for scholarships for the British colonies, the United States, and Germany. These three were chosen so that "an understanding between the three great powers will render war impossible."

Rhodes, who attended Oxford, chose his alma mater as the site of his great experiment because he believed its residential colleges provided the ideal environment for intellectual contemplation and personal development.


The program has evolved over its century of existence.

An early change was the elimination of the scholarships for Germany during World Wars I and II. No German scholars were chosen from 1914 to 1932 nor from 1939 to 1970.

The bequest of Cecil Rhodes was whittled down considerably in the first decades after his death, as various scholarship trustees were forced to pay taxes upon their own deaths. A change occurred in 1929, when an Act of Parliament established a fund separate from the original proceeds of Cecil Rhodes's will. This made it possible for an expansion to the number of scholarships. For example, between 1993 and 1995, scholarships were extended to other countries in the European Community.

Because the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 in the UK did not affect wills, it took another Act of Parliament to change the will of Cecil Rhodes to extend selection criteria in 1977 to include women.

For at least its first 75 years, scholars usually read for a Bachelor of Arts degree. While that remains an option, more recent scholars usually read for an advanced degree.


Approximately 90 Scholars are selected worldwide each year.

Country 2003
USA 32 32
Canada 11 2
(originally separate)
- 1
South Africa
(originally Southern Africa)
10 5
Australia 9 6
India 6 -
Germany 4 5
New Zealand 3 1
Caribbean Commonwealth 2 -
Kenya 2 -
Pakistan 2 -
(originally Rhodesia)
2 3
Bangladesh 1 -
Bermuda 1 1
Hong Kong 1 -
Jamaica 1 1
Malaysia 1 -
Singapore 1 -
Uganda 1 -
Zambia 1 -

Notable Rhodes Scholarship recipients

before 1920

  • Alain LeRoy Locke (Pennsylvania and Hertford, 1907), philosopher and Harlem Renaissance patron
  • Count Bernstorff (Germany and Trinity, 1909) diplomat, executed for conspiracy against Hitler, 1945
  • J.H. Hofmeyr (S.A. College School and Balliol, 1910), South African educationalist, liberal politician
  • Ralph Hartley (Utah and St. John's, 1910), telephone oscillator inventor
  • Edwin Hubble (Illinois and Queen's, 1910), American astronomer
  • John Crowe Ransom (Tennessee and Christ Church, 1910), poet
  • Brand Blanshard (Michigan and Merton, 1913), philosopher
  • Norman Manley (Jamaica and Jesus, 1914), Chief Minister of Jamaica
  • Wilder Penfield (New Jersey and Merton, 1914), neurosurgeon
  • John Monk Saunders (Washington and Magdalen, 1918), screenwriter of Wings and The Dawn Patrol
  • Roland Michener (Alberta and Hertford, 1919), Governor General of Canada



  • Charles Herbert Little (1930) - WWII Canadian Director of Naval Intelligence
  • E. F. Schumacher (Germany and New College, 1930), social theorist
  • Carl Albert (Oklahoma and St. Peter's, 1931), speaker of U.S. House of Representatives
  • Dean Rusk (North Carolina and St. John's, 1931), U.S. Secretary of State
  • Adam von Trott zu Solz (Germany and Balliol, 1931), German anti-Nazi patriot, executed in 1944
  • Daniel Boorstin (Oklahoma and Balliol, 1934), Librarian of Congress
  • Max Gluckman (Transvaal and Exeter, 1934), anthropologist
  • Sir John Templeton (Connecticut and Balliol, 1934), Businessman and Founder of Templeton College
  • Arnold C. Smith (Ontario and Christ Church, 1935), first Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
  • Walter H. Stockmayer (1935), polymer chemist
  • Dan Davin (New Zealand and Balliol, 1936), special Assistant to the U.S. President
  • Howard K. Smith (Louisiana and Merton, 1937), broadcast journalist
  • Courtney Craig Smith (Iowa and Merton, 1938), educationalist, President of Swarthmore
  • Byron White (Colorado and Hertford, 1938), football player, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Dom Mintoff (Malta and Hertford, 1939), Prime Minister of Malta


  • Zelman Cowen (Victoria, 1941), Australian jurist and academic, Governor General of Australia
  • Nicolas de B. Katzenbach (New Jersey and Balliol, 1947), U.S. Attorney General
  • Bernard Rogers (Kansas and University College, 1947), NATO Supreme commander
  • Stansfield Turner (Illinois and Exeter, 1947), Director of CIA
  • Eric Prabhakar (India and Christ Church, 1948), Olympic athlete
  • R.W. Burchfield (New Zealand and Magdalen, 1949), editor of the Oxford English Dictionary


  • James Billington (New Jersey and Balliol, 1950), Librarian of Congress
  • Tanjore R Anantharaman (India and Trinity, 1951), metallurgist
  • Stuart Hall (Jamaica, 1951), cultural theorist
  • James Gobbo (Victoria and Magdalen, 1952), Australian Supreme Court Judge and Governor of Victoria, Australia
  • Edward de Bono (Malta and Christ Church, 1953), doctor and writer
  • Julian Ogilvie Thompson (Diocesan College and Worcester, 1953), businessman
  • Laurie Ackermann (Cape Province and Worcester, 1954), Judge of the South African Constitutional Court
  • Leonard Hoffmann (South African College School and Queen's, 1954), Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Richard G. Lugar (Indiana and Pembroke, 1954), U.S. Senator
  • Paul Sarbanes (Maryland and Balliol, 1954), U.S. Senator
  • Ranjit Roy Chaudhury (India and Magdalen, 1955), medical scientist
  • Johan Steyn (Cape Province and University, 1955), Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Virendra Dayal (India and University, 1956), United Nations Under Secretary-General
  • Neil Rudenstine (Connecticut and New College, 1956), President of Harvard
  • Ranjit Bhatia (India and Jesus, 1957) Olympic athlete
  • Kris Kristofferson (California and Merton 1958), American actor and musician
  • Manmohan Malhoutra (India and Balliol, 1958), Assistant Secretary-General of the Commonwealth


  • Girish Karnad (India and Lincoln, 1960), playwright, film actor
  • David Souter (New Hampshire and Magdalen, 1961), U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • David B. Frohnmayer (1962), President of the University of Oregon
  • David Boren (Oklahoma and Balliol, 1963), U.S. Senator
  • Bryan Gould (New Zealand and Balliol, 1963), British politician
  • James Woolsey (Oklahoma and St. John's, 1963), Director of the CIA, 1992-1996
  • Montek Ahluwalia (India and Magdalen, 1964), economist, first independent evaluator of the IMF
  • Wasim Sajjad (Pakistan and Wadham, 1964), President of Pakistan
  • Bill Bradley (Missouri and Worcester, 1965), former basketball star and U.S. Senator
  • Aftab Seth (India and Christ Church, 1965), Indian Ambassador to Japan
  • Daryl Williams (1965), Australian politician
  • J. Timothy Londergan (1965), theoretical nuclear physicist
  • Wesley Clark (Arkansas and Magdalen, 1966), American military officer, commander of NATO forces
  • Terrence Malick (Oklahoma and Magdalen, 1966), film director
  • Deepak Nayyar (India and Balliol, 1967), Vice Chancellor of Delhi University
  • William Jefferson Clinton (Arkansas and University, 1968) 42nd President of the United States
  • Robert Reich (New Hampshire and University, 1968), U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • Rex Murphy (1968), Canadian commentator
  • Strobe Talbott (1968)
  • Ira Magaziner (1969) White House Senior Aide 1993-1999; Chairman of Clinton Foundation



  • Elsdon Storey (Victoria, Magdalen and Wolfson, 1980), Australian neurologist
  • Tony Abbott, (Sydney, 1980) Australian politician
  • Nicholas Kristof (Oregon and Magdalen, 1981), New York Times reporter and columnist
  • Heather Wilson (New Hampshire and Jesus, 1982), U.S. member of Congress, New Mexico
  • Naomi Wolf (Connecticut and New College, 1985), U.S. author and feminist social critic
  • Brian Greene (Harvard and Magdalen, 1985), American physicist and string theorist
  • Jacob Weisberg (Illinois and New College, 1987), journalist and editor of Slate magazine
  • Atul Gawande (Ohio and Balliol, 1987), surgeon and New Yorker medical writer



  • W.L. Morton, Canadian historian
  • John Napier Turner, Canadian liberal leader and Prime Minister
  • David Kirk , New Zealand All Black Rugby Captain

Centenary degrees

In recognition of the centenary of the foundation of the Rhodes Trust in 2003, four scholars were awarded honorary degrees to Oxford:

  • John Brademas (Indiana and Brasenose, 1950), former U.S. Member of Congress, Indiana
  • Bob Hawke (Western Australia and University, 1953), former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Rex Nettleford (1957), pro-vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, author, dance director
  • David R. Woods (Natal and University, 1963), vice-chancellor at Rhodes University

Notable Universities

The universities of Harvard, Yale and Princeton hold the top three spots, respectively, in terms of largest number of U.S. Rhodes Scholarships won by their graduates. In the election of November 2004 (for the class matriculating in 2005), the number of students selected from Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be Rhodes scholars were 5, 2, and 0, respectively.

University of Toronto leads among Canadian institutions in the overall number of Rhodes recipients.

U.S. Institutions With the Most Rhodes Scholars (1947-2005)
1947-1998 1999-2003 2004-2005 Totals (rough)
Harvard 4.7 2.8 4.5 267
Yale 2.9 1.8 1.5 163
Princeton 2.3 1.0 0.5 125
West Point 1.1 2.0 1.5 70
Stanford 1.1 0.8 1.5 64
Dartmouth 0.7 0.3 0 38
Air Force Academy 0.6 0.2 0.5 33
Naval Academy 0.5 0.2 1.5 30
University of Chicago 0.4 1.0 1.0 28
Duke 0.4 1.3 0.5 28
MIT 0.4 0.8 1.0 27

Adapted from the New York Times

Former Trustees

External links

Last updated: 08-07-2005 21:52:29
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