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The Rhodes Trust is the creation of Cecil John Rhodes, the British diamond magnate and imperial statesman. Cecil Rhodes was born in Hertfordshire in 1853 and migrated to South Africa for health reasons in 1870. He obtained a large interest in the newly worked Kimberley diamond mines, and by 1888 amalgamated them into the De Beers Consolidated Mines of which he became the chairman. From 1880 to the end of his life he was a member of the legislature of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope and was its Prime Minister from 1890 to 1896. Much of his energy was devoted to extending British influence northward in Africa; he obtained a royal charter for a British South Africa Company to administer the territory which was eventually named after him in Rhodesia.
He was forced to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape after secretly encouraging insurrection in the neighbouring Boer state of the Transvaal. In consolidating his control of the future Rhodesia, he twice engaged in war in Matabeleland but personally negotiated a lasting peace with the Ndebele chiefs in 1896. On the outbreak of the South African war in 1899, he moved to Kimberley and was besieged there. He died at Muizenburg on the Cape Coast on 26 March 1902 and was buried near Bulawayo in the Matopos Hills.

The Founder's life is a significant part of the history of Southern Africa. His colony of Rhodesia is today the state of Zimbabwe.

In his Will Cecil Rhodes left the greater part of his substantial fortune to establish the Rhodes Trust. Candidates for Rhodes Scholarships were to be selected on the basis of qualities of character as well as of intellect. Mr. Rhodes' aim was to provide future leaders of the English-speaking world with an education that would broaden their views and develop their abilities. He chose to endow these scholarships at Oxford University, because he believed that its residential colleges provided an environment especially conducive to personal development. His Will also allowed for the Trustees, at their unfettered discretion, to send Scholars to other universities with a residential system. Oxford was the university that he had himself attended, as an undergraduate of Oriel College, for short periods over a number of years before taking his degree in 1881, while building his business and political career in Southern Africa. He particularly hoped that his Scholars would go on to improve the lot of mankind and work towards maintaining peace between nations.
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The Founder described the qualities he sought in his Scholars in the following terms:

My desire being that the students who shall be elected to the scholarships shall not merely be bookworms, I direct that in the election of a student to a Scholarship regard shall be had to (i) his literary and scholastic attainments (ii) his fondness of and success in manly outdoor sports such as cricket football and the like (iii) his qualities of manhood truth courage devotion to duty sympathy for the protection of the weak kindliness unselfishness and fellowship and (iv) his exhibition during school days of moral force of character and of instincts to lead to and to take an interest in his schoolmates for those latter attributes will be likely in afterlife to guide him to esteem the performance of public duties as his highest aim.

The scheme was unprecedented in scale as well as vision. The original will provided for 52 Scholarships each year. 20 Scholarships were for countries then forming part of the British Empire: two for Canada (one each for Ontario and Quebec), six for Australia (one for each colony or state), five for South Africa (one each for Natal and for four named schools in the Cape), three for Rhodesia, and one each for New Zealand, Newfoundland, Bermuda and Jamaica. 32 Scholarships were for the United States; two every three years for each of the then States of the Union. In a codicil to his Will, added on the receipt of the news that the German Emperor had made instruction in English compulsory in German schools, five annual German Scholarships were added. 'The object' he said 'is that an understanding between the three great powers will render war impossible and educational relations make the strongest tie'.

The administration of the Scholarships was vested in a board of Trustees nominated in the Will. The first Trustees included the Earl of Rosebery, Earl Grey, Lord Milner and Sir Leander Starr Jameson. Later Trustees included Rudyard Kipling, Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, Sir Kenneth Wheare, Lord Blake, Lord Armstrong, Lord Sainsbury and Lord Ashburton. When Mr. Rhodes' estate was settled in 1907, it was valued at £3,345,000. By 1924, owing to various charges, including death duties, it was estimated to be worth £2,276,000, its lowest valuation. By the end of the century the endowment of the Trust stood at two hundred million pounds. The endowment is currently managed by investment managers who report to the Warden as the CEO of the Rhodes Trust. The financial strategy of the Trust is set by the Trustees.

While the 52 Scholarships in the original Will are still offered annually, a number of changes and additions have been made to the scheme over the years, so that for 2006 the number of Scholarships offered throughout the world will be 80. The German Scholarships were abolished in 1916 by an Act of Parliament; they were partially reinstated from 1929/30 to 1939, again suspended, and again reinstated in 1970. An Act of Parliament of 1929 set up a new fund, to be financed from the surplus of the original Scholarship fund, and gave the Trustees power to improve and extend the Scholarship system. At various times, the Trustees have increased and decreased the number of Scholarships from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and have added Scholarships for India, Pakistan, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Kenya. Between 1993 and 1995 the Trustees introduced, for an experimental period, new Scholarships for citizens of the European Union, in addition to those for Germany. The number of Scholarships offered in the United States of America has remained constant at 32, but since 1929 the final selection has been made not in the individual states but by eight regional committees which each select four Scholars.

The present annual distribution of Scholarships is as follows:

Australia

9

Bermuda

1

Canada

11

Commonwealth Caribbean

1

Germany

2

Hong Kong

1

India

5

Jamaica

1

Kenya

2

New Zealand

3

Pakistan

1

South Africa

9

United States of America

32

Zambia 2
Zimbabwe 2
BLMNS Botswana,Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia & Swaziland) 1

The candidates are selected by local selection committees throughout the world. In each country, the Trustees appoint, on the recommendation of the Warden, a national secretary, who is responsible for overseeing the selection procedures and who reports to the Warden of Rhodes House, who is the Secretary to the Trustees. It is the responsibility of the Warden to seek to place the Scholar select in the departments, faculties and colleges of the University of Oxford. The Trustees do not formally confirm the election of a Scholar until a placement has been secured.

The qualifications required for candidates remain, in general, as in the Will. A typical current memorandum for candidates reads as follows:

In considering applications, Committees of Selection will have regard to those qualities which Mr. Rhodes expressly listed in order to define the type of Scholar he desired. Proven intellectual and academic quality of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they will also be required to show integrity of character, interest in and respect for their fellow beings, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talents to the full.

Mr. Rhodes believed that the last of these qualities was best tested through participation and success in sports. Sporting prowess, however, is not essential if applicants demonstrate in other areas the physical vigour that would enable a Rhodes Scholar to make an effective contribution to the world. Mr. Rhodes clearly expressed the hope that a Rhodes Scholar would come to 'esteem the performance of public duties as his highest aim'.

Until 1977 no women were elected to Rhodes Scholarships, because the Will, as interpreted by the Rhodes Trust Acts of Parliament, confined the awards to 'male students'. When the British government introduced legislation to outlaw sex discrimination, a clause in the Bill permitted single-sex educational institutions and charities to continue to discriminate in favour of one sex. Following lobbying by the Rhodes Trustees, a further clause was inserted into the eventual Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 allowing single-sex educational charities to seek leave to open their awards to both sexes. Under this clause the Secretary of State for Education made an order in 1976 declaring Rhodes Scholarships to be tenable by women, and nullifying the effect of the words 'manly' and 'manhood' in the Will.

The early Rhodes Scholars received £300 a year, having reached Oxford without the Trust's financial assistance. From this stipend they paid their fees and living expenses. Today, the Rhodes Trust pays for college and university fees, fares in both directions, baggage costs, as well as an annual stipend of £12,300.

Scholarships were originally awarded for three years, which was then the minimum time for obtaining an Oxford degree. Most Oxford undergraduates at that time studied for pass degrees. Scholarships at the present time are awarded for two years, but may, in certain circumstances at the discretion of the Trustees, be extended for a third year. The Trustees are willing to allow the Scholarship to be held for only one year where there is only one particular one year Masters course that a Scholar wishes to pursue at Oxford. In any given year there are likely to be just over two hundred Scholars in residence, the overwhelming majority of whom will be studying for postgraduate degrees. A small number continue to take the second BA, which remains an attractive option for some of those wishing to study at Oxford for only two years.

Rhodes Scholarship Awardees

Altogether 7,121 Rhodes Scholarships have been awarded, including the 204 Scholars who are currently in residence (at October, 2008). Over 4,000 Scholars are still living. Any list is invidious, but among those who later achieved fame or distinction may be mentioned:

Before 1920

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

1920s

  • John Marshall Harlan (New Jersey & Balliol, 1920) U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Howard Walter Florey (Adelaide & Magdalen, 1921) Nobel prize winner in physiology
  • Keith Hancock (Australia & Magdalen, 1921) Australian historian
  • Arthur Porritt (New Zealand & Magdalen, 1923) Olympic runner & Governor General of New Zealand
  • John Carew Eccles (Victoria & Magdalen, 1925) 1963 Nobel prize winner in physiology
  • William Fulbright (Arkansas & Pembroke, 1925) originator of the Fulbright Fellowship programme
  • Robert J. van de Graaff (Alabama & Queen's, 1925) inventor of the eponymous generator
  • Robert Penn Warren (Kentucky & New College, 1928) poet and critic
  • Cleanth Brooks (Louisiana & Exeter, 1929) literary critic

1930s

  • Commander Charles Little (Ontario & Brasenose, 1930) WWII Canadian Director of Naval Intelligence
  • E. F. Schumacher (Germany & New College, 1930) social theorist
  • Carl Albert (Oklahoma & St. Peter's, 1931) Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives
  • Jack Lovelock (New Zealand & Exeter, 1931) Olympic gold runner
  • Dean Rusk (North Carolina & St. John's, 1931) U.S. Secretary of State
  • Adam von Trott zu Solz (Germany & Balliol, 1931) German anti-Nazi patriot, executed in 1944
  • W.L. Morton (Manitoba & St. John's 1932) historian
  • Daniel Boorstin (Oklahoma & Balliol, 1934) Librarian of Congress
  • Max Gluckman (Transvaal & Exeter, 1934) anthropologist
  • John Templeton (Connecticut & Balliol, 1934) businessman and founder of Templeton College
  • Arnold Smith (Ontario & Christ Church, 1935) first Sec.-General of the Commonwealth
  • Walter H. Stockmayer (Massachusetts & Jesus, 1935) polymer chemist
  • Dan Davin (New Zealand & Balliol, 1936) writer & publisher
  • Howard K. Smith (Louisiana & Merton, 1937) broadcast journalist
  • Courtney Craig Smith (Iowa & Merton, 1938) educationalist, President of Swarthmore College
  • Byron White (Colorado & Hertford, 1938) football player, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Dom Mintoff (Malta & Hertford, 1939) Prime Minister of Malta

1940s

  • Zelman Cowen (Victoria & Oriel, 1941) jurist, academic, Governor General of Australia
  • Nicolas Katzenbach (New Jersey & Balliol, 1947) U.S. Attorney General
  • Bernard Rogers (Kansas & University College, 1947) NATO Supreme commander
  • Stansfield Turner (Illinois & Exeter, 1947) Director of CIA
  • Eric Prabhakar (India & Christ Church, 1948) Olympic athlete
  • R.W. Burchfield (New Zealand & Magdalen, 1949) editor Oxford English Dictionary
  • John Napier Turner (British Columbia & Magdalen, 1949) Canadian liberal leader and Prime Minister

1950s

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

1960s

  • Girish Karnad (India & Lincoln, 1960) playwright, film actor
  • David Souter (New Hampshire & Magdalen, 1961) U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • David Frohnmayer (Oregon & Wadham, 1962) President of the University of Oregon
  • David Boren (Oklahoma & Balliol, 1963) U.S. Senator
  • Bryan Gould (New Zealand & Balliol, 1963) British politician
  • David Woods (Natal & University, 1963) see below
  • James Woolsey (Oklahoma & St. John's, 1963) Director of the CIA, 1992-1996
  • Montek Singh Ahluwalia (India & Magdalen, 1964) see below
  • Wasim Sajjad (Pakistan & Wadham, 1964) President of Pakistan
  • Bill Bradley (Missouri & Worcester, 1965) former basketball star and U.S. Senator
  • Aftab Seth (India & Christ Church, 1965) Indian Ambassador to Japan
  • Daryl Williams (Western Australia & Wadham, 1965) politician
  • General Wesley Clark (Arkansas & Magdalen, 1966) Commander of NATO forces
  • Terrence Malick (Oklahoma & Magdalen, 1966) film director
  • Thomas Allen (Maine & Wadham, 1967) U.S. Congressman
  • Deepak Nayyar (India & Balliol, 1967) Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University
  • Bill Clinton (Arkansas & University, 1968) 42nd President of the United States
  • Robert Reich (New Hampshire & University, 1968) U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • Rex Murphy (Newfoundland & St. Edmund Hall, 1968) commentator
  • Strobe Talbott (Ohio & Magdalen, 1968) President of the Brookings Institution
  • Ira Magaziner (Rhode Island & Balliol, 1969) White House Senior Aide; Chairman of Clinton Foundation
  • Bob Rae (Ontario & Balliol, 1969) politician and former Premier of Ontario

1970s

  • Geoffrey Robertson, QC (New South Wales & University, 1970) barrister; human rights activist
  • Kurt Schmoke (Maryland-DC & Balliol, 1971) former mayor of Baltimore
  • James Fallows (California & Queens, 1970) journalist
  • Geoffrey Gallop (Western Australia & St. Johns, 1972) politician, Premier of Western Australia
  • Michael Kinsley (Michigan & Magdalen, 1972) journalist, founder of Slate magazine
  • Kim Beazley (Western Australia & Balliol, 1973) politician, Leader of the Opposition
  • Peter Gross (South Africa & Oriel, 1973) UK Court of Appeal judge
  • John Bell (Alberta & Magdalen, 1975) Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford
  • James Cooper (Tennessee & Oriel, 1975) U.S. Congressman
  • Edwin Cameron (South Africa-at-Iarge & Keble, 1975) Constitutional Court Judge and AIDS activist
  • Russ Feingold (Wisconsin & Magdalen, 1975) Senator for Wisconsin
  • Eileen Gillesse (Alberta & Wadham, 1977) Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal
  • Malcolm Turnbull (New South Wales & Brasenose, 1978) lawyer and politician

1980s

  • Amrita Cheema (India & Exeter, 1980) journalist
  • Max Price (South Africa-at-Large & Magdalen, 1980) Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town
  • Elsdon Storey (Victoria & Magdalen, 1980) neurologist
  • Tony Abbott, (New South Wales & Queen's, 1981) politician
  • Nicholas Kristof (Oregon & Magdalen, 1981) New York Times reporter and columnist
  • Heather Wilson (New Hampshire & Jesus, 1982) Member of Congress for New Mexico
  • David Vitter (Louisiana & Magdalen, 1983) U.S. Senator
  • Brian Greene (New York & Magdalen, 1984) physicist and string theorist
  • Elizabeth Hollingworth (Western Australia & St Edmund Hall, 1984) Justice of Supreme Court of Victoria
  • David Kirk (New Zealand & Worcester 1985) All Black Rugby Captain
  • Naomi Wolf (Connecticut & New College, 1985) author and feminist social critic
  • Bonnie St. John (California & Trinity, 1986) paralympic ski champion
  • Jacob Weisberg (Illinois & New College, 1987) journalist and editor of Slate magazine
  • Atul Gawande (Ohio & Balliol, 1987) surgeon and New Yorker medical writer
  • Brad Carson (Oklahoma & Trinity, 1989) U.S. Congressman

1990s

  • Chrystia Freeland (Prairies & St. Antony's, 1991) US Managing Editor of The Financial Times
  • Cory Booker (New Jersey & Queen's, 1992) Mayor of Newark, USA
  • Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (Louisiana & New, 1992) Governor of Louisiana
  • Peter Beinart (Massachusetts and University College, 1993) editor of The New Republic
  • Ben Jealous (New York & St. Antony's, 1997) President, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Annette Salmeen (California & St. John's, 1997) Olympic gold swimmer

Centenary degrees

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

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

More recently the University of Oxford awarded an honorary degree to:
Montek Singh Ahluwalia (India & Magdalen, 1964) economist, first independent evaluator of the IMF.

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