WUSTL seniors Bethany Ehlmann and Allison Gilmore receive Rhodes Scholarships to Oxford University

(Relese republished from The Rhodes Scholarships Web site. This article originally ran November 22, 2003.)

Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, announced the names of the thirty-two American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars. They will enter the University of Oxford in England next October, almost exactly one hundred years after the first class of American Rhodes Scholars did in 1904. The Scholars were chosen today from 963 applicants—who were endorsed by 366 colleges and universities.

Rhodes Scholarships provide two or three years of study at Oxford. The Rhodes Scholarships, oldest of the international study awards available to American students, were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and colonial pioneer.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a three-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. Committees of Selection in each of the fifty states then nominate candidates who are interviewed by District Selection Committees in eight regions of the United States.

Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes. These criteria are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor. These basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an effective and positive contribution throughout the world. As he wrote, Rhodes Scholars should “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.”

Candidates may apply either in the state where they are legally resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The state selection committees interviewed applicants on Wednesday, November 19, to choose state nominees to appear as finalists before district committees which met Saturday, November 22, in eight cities across the country. Each district committee made a final selection of four Rhodes Scholars from the nominees of the states within the district. Ninety-nine applicants from 58 colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition.

The thirty-two Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from eighteen other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the thirty-two Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesoto, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 95 Scholars are selected worldwide each year.

With the elections announced today, 3,014 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 306 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 340 American women have now won the much-coveted scholarship. Approximately 1,800 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U. S. and abroad. In this year’s competition, two Rhodes Scholars were elected from Boston College, which had never before had a winner.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral), and the Oxford college chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. The total value averages approximately $30,000 per year.

The two WUSTL recipients are:

Allison Gilmore, Eagan, Minnesota, is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis where she will receive both her B.A. and M.A. in mathematics. A Byrd Scholar and a Compton Scholar, she has particular interest in algebraic topology. Allison is also president of Washington University students for a sensible drug policy and is a leader of her campus Stop-the-War coalition. She plans to do the M.Phil. in sociology at Oxford.

Bethany L. Ehlmann, Edwardsville, Illinois, is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis with majors in earth and planetary sciences and environmental studies. A Goldwater Scholar, Udall Scholar, and Compton Scholar, she is also a leader in student government. She has served as a collaborating scientist on the NASA Mars exploration mission and is president of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team that qualified for the national championships. At Oxford, she will do the M.Sc. in environmental on geomorphology.