Princeton Leads U.S. Schools With 3 Rhodes Scholars

By Dan Hart

Three Princeton University students were named to study at the University of Oxford in England as Rhodes scholars, the most of any U.S. university.

Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the University of California at Los Angeles each had two students chosen from among the 32 picked across the U.S.

Worldwide, about 80 scholarship recipients will be named from the 769 applicants attending 207 colleges and universities, according to a statement by the Rhodes Trust in Vienna, Virginia. The trust oversees the awards, established in the 1902 will of British diamond miner and colonialist Cecil Rhodes.

``It is amazing that these scholarships are still being funded with the original gift more than 100 years later,'' said Elliot Gerson, the secretary of the American Trust, in a telephone interview.

The scholars, who are picked based on academic achievement, character and leadership potential, will join past Rhodes recipients such as actor-singer Kris Kristofferson, U.S. astronomer Edwin Hubble and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.  

Those chosen this year will start at Oxford in October 2009. Their scholarships cover tuition, fees and transportation, and are valued at about $50,000 per year, Gerson said. The awards are usually for two years, and three years in the case of doctoral students, he said.

Gerson said some other countries have yet to decide on the final recipients for the scholarships they will receive.

Ivy League schools again dominated the Rhodes competition in the U.S. Before yesterday's announcement, Harvard had the highest total of Rhodes scholars, with 321, while Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, had 216 and Princeton had 189. Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania each had one Rhodes award winner this year.

Students from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and Santa Clara University in California were those institutions' first Rhodes scholars, Gerson said. The Virginia Military Institute had its first Rhodes scholar in 42 years, and Drake University its first in 82 years, Gerson said.

Unlike last year when all of the four U.S. military academies had a recipient, only the U.S. Military Academy had a scholar named today.

Rhodes candidates must be endorsed by the colleges or universities they attend. The strongest 10 to 16 candidates in each of 16 districts throughout the U.S. are chosen to be interviewed by selection committees. With the exception of the chairmen, the regional boards are comprised of past Rhodes scholars.