Following the sad passing on 28 January 2013 of Professor Hannes Unberath (Germany & Worcester 1997), the Rhodes Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Nils Ole Oermann (Germany & Christ Church 1996) as the National Secretary for Germany. Read More
History of the Rhodes Trust and Scholarships
Rhodes designed the Scholarships for the purpose of educating future leaders for the world who would be committed to service in the public good, and whose interactions in Oxford and after would help over time to promote international understanding and peace. He had studied at Oriel College, Oxford, and believed that Oxford's collegiate system especially fostered broad views and personal development. Rhodes Scholars were to be chosen on the basis of innovative criteria - excellence in intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service. These emphases of Cecil Rhodes have helped shape the strong links between the Rhodes Scholarships and liberal and collegiate education, and the strong focus among Rhodes Scholars (in Cecil Rhodes's words) on fighting 'the world's fight'.
There were originally 57 Scholarships each year - in effect, 32 for the United States, 20 for various parts of what was then the British Empire (later the Commonwealth), and five for Germany. In 1901, Cecil Rhodes wrote, in providing for the German Scholarships: 'The object is that an understanding between the three great powers will render war impossible and educational relations make the strongest tie.' For discussion of Rhodes's aspiration that the Rhodes Scholarships contribute to international understanding and peace, click here. The history of the Rhodes Scholarships from Germany is discussed here and here.
Cecil Rhodes expected his Trustees to adapt his plans to respond effectively, in promotion of his key purposes, to changing circumstances. Soon after his death his Trustees created several more Scholarships for Canada than he had done. The adaptation continued through three Acts of the British Parliament and other important changes to his will – for example, during World War I, abolishing the German Scholarships, which were twice re-created by his Trustees (in 1929-30 and 1969-70); in 1929, wholly remaking the geographic basis on which the Scholarships are awarded in the United States; opening up all but four of the Scholarships to women as well as to men in 1976; the opening up of those four remaining Scholarships (for named schools in South Africa) to women in recent years and in the immediate future; and so on.
During the first 100 years after Cecil Rhodes's death, the Trustees added at one time or another nearly another 40 Scholarships, though not all have continued. Some of these extended the scheme to countries not mentioned in the will, especially Commonwealth countries. The countries in which Rhodes Scholarships are currently offered are listed here. The Rhodes Trustees welcome the opportunity to provide Scholarships in additional countries, and to increase the Scholarships in some countries, when benefactions make this possible.
The creation of additional Scholarships over many decades and the creation of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation were expressions of Rhodes’s desire that his Trustees adapt the practice to meet the times. Today, assisted by extensive consultation within the global Rhodes community, the Trust is working to give the best effect in the 21st century to the ideals on which the Rhodes Scholarships are based. This has involved refreshing the governance of the Trust, as well as increased activities for current Scholars and Rhodes alumni.
The administration of the Rhodes Trust and the Rhodes Scholarships since 1902 has relied on the work of Trustees, Secretaries to the Trustees, Wardens of Rhodes House and the staff of Rhodes House, and National Secretaries in the various countries and regions in which Rhodes Scholarships are offered. Chairs of the Trustees and Wardens of Rhodes House are listed below.
Outstanding figures in establishing the Rhodes Scholarships in practice out of Cecil Rhodes's vision and funding were the first organizing secretary, Sir George Parkin, a Canadian educator; the first Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford, Sir Francis Wylie, and Lady Wylie; and the first American Secretary to the Rhodes Trust, Frank Aydelotte (also President of Swarthmore College and director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton - see, for example, references here and here). In the early decades of the 20th century, they and others created a Scholarship that was uniquely prestigious internationally and highly sought after, with a high quality of Rhodes Scholars, rich engagement of Scholars in the life of Oxford, and strong continuing links with Rhodes alumni.
Since 1929, the home of the Rhodes Trust and the Rhodes Scholarships has been at Rhodes House, Oxford, designed by Cecil Rhodes's architect, Sir Herbert Baker. Activities today at Rhodes House for current Rhodes Scholars and for Rhodes alumni are reflected in, for example, 'Glimpses of Rhodes' videos - click here - and News stories on this website - click here. Rhodes House also houses the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies, and is available as an attractive venue for events.
The Rhodes Scholarships have inspired many other scholarship programs, including the Fulbright scholarships, initiated by Rhodes Scholar Senator J. William Fulbright (Arkansas & Pembroke 1925) - the first of several Rhodes Scholars elected to the U.S. Senate, and an early mentor to William J. Clinton (Arkansas & University College 1968), later President of the United States. On Fulbright, Rhodes's vision of peace, and the Fulbright scholarships, click here and here.
The first women Rhodes Scholars came to Oxford in 1977. The contributions of Rhodes women to public life in the United States, for example, are reflected here. Discussions in the Rhodes community on women's leadership are reflected here.
The Rhodes Trustees also continued Rhodes's support for Africa, and for the University of Oxford and its colleges, with significant benefactions. In 2003, to mark the centenary of the Rhodes Scholarships, to continue the historic commitment of the Rhodes Trust to Africa and specifically to leadership development for Africa, and to honour Nelson Mandela, the Rhodes Trust joined in the creation of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. It provides scholarships for African students, chosen on criteria very similar to those for the Rhodes Scholarships, to undertake postgraduate study in South Africa. Several Mandela Rhodes Scholars have now won Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford. There are currently sixteen Rhodes Scholarships awarded each year from Africa.
Cecil Rhodes wished current Scholars and Rhodes alumni (in the words of his will) to have 'opportunities of meeting and discussing their experiences and prospects'. This has been reflected, for example, in the initiation by the first Warden (Sir Francis Wylie) of an annual Warden's Christmas letter (now supplemented by Rhodes e-News and other communications); the creation of alumni associations in several countries, most prominently the Association of American Rhodes Scholars (which publishes The American Oxonian, founded in 1914, and oversees the Eastman Professorship, bringing distinguished American professors to Oxford since 1930); and the holding of reunions for Rhodes Scholars of all countries, such as for the 25th anniversary of the Trust and the opening of Rhodes House in 1929, the 50th anniversary in 1953, the 80th anniversary in 1983, and the centenary in 2003. Extensive involvement of alumni and friends today is reflected here.
Since the first Rhodes Scholars came up to Oxford in 1903, the Rhodes Scholarship has provided life-transforming opportunities to over 7,000 exceptional young people. They have contributed greatly to the academic and extra-curricular (including sporting) life of Oxford, including being a major force in the internationalisation of Oxford University since 1903. Amongst many who have contributed to Oxford and its colleges in other ways, three Rhodes Scholars have become Vice-Chancellor of Oxford - Very Revd John Lowe (Ontario & Christ Church 1922), Sir Kenneth Wheare (Victoria & Oriel 1929), and Dr John Hood (New Zealand & Worcester 1976). Over a quarter of the individuals recognised by the University of Oxford as 'Distinguished Friends of Oxford' are Rhodes Scholars.
Very many Rhodes Scholars have gone on to positions of leadership and service in many fields around the world, including in public office in several countries. These include, for example, heads of state or heads of national governments, Nobel Laureates, and Olympians. All Rhodes Scholars since 1903, including Scholars-elect and those who have achieved outstandingly in particular categories (e.g. Nobel Laureates, and Olympians) are listed here. Rhodes Scholars currently serving in elective public office are reflected here.
Scholars of diverse backgrounds and contributions are showcased each week in the Scholar of the Week feature on this website. The impact of Rhodes Scholars is further reflected in the pages on the recent appointments of Rhodes Scholars, books by Scholars, and tributes on their passing. To view video interviews of Rhodes alumni discussing the Scholarship, click here.
For its first century, the Rhodes Trust relied almost exclusively on the bequest of Cecil Rhodes to fund the Scholarships and other purposes. In recent years, the Rhodes Trust has welcomed support for the Scholarships from alumni and friends, including through Annual Giving, major gifts, and bequests. This is both to fund existing Scholarships, and to extend this opportunity over time to additional countries. Contributions to support the Rhodes Scholarships are also regarded as contributions to 'Oxford Thinking: The Campaign for the University of Oxford'.
The images above show Cecil Rhodes, Nelson Mandela with Rhodes Scholars on one of his visits to Rhodes House, and President William J. Clinton (Arkansas & University College 1968) being welcomed back to Rhodes House by the then Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Jenkins.
Senior Trustees, or Chairs of the Rhodes Trustees
The Earl of Rosebery, 1902-1917
Viscount Milner, 1917-1925
Sir Otto Beit, 1925-1930
Lord Lovat, 1930-1933
The Rt Hon L. S. Amery, 1933-1955
Sir Edward Peacock, 1955-1962
Sir Kenneth Wheare (Victoria & Oriel 1929), 1962-1969
Sir George Abell, 1969-1974
Viscount Harcourt, 1974-1979
Sir William Paton, 1979-1982
Lord Blake, 1983-1987
Sir John Baring (Lord Ashburton), 1987-1999
Sir Richard Southwood, 1999-2002
The Rt Hon Lord Waldegrave, 2002-11
Dr John Hood (New Zealand & Worcester 1976), 2011-
Wardens of Rhodes House
Sir Francis Wylie, 1903-1931 (previously Fellow & Tutor, Brasenose College, Oxford)
Sir Carleton Allen, 1931-1952 (previously Professor of Jurisprudence and Fellow of University College, Oxford)
Sir Edgar Williams, 1952-1980 (previously Fellow & Tutor in History, Balliol College, Oxford; Chief of Intelligence to Montgomery in World War II)
Dr Robin Fletcher, 1980-1989 (previously Fellow & Bursar of Trinity College, Oxford; Olympian (field hockey))
Sir Anthony Kenny, 1989-1999 (previously Master of Balliol College, Oxford; also Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and President of the British Academy)
Dr John Rowett, 1999-2004 (previously Fellow & Tutor in History, Brasenose College, Oxford; subsequently Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities)
Sir Colin Lucas, 2004-2009 (previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and Master of Balliol College, Oxford)
Dr Donald Markwell, (Queensland & Trinity 1981), 2009-2012 (previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), University of Western Australia; Warden of Trinity College, University of Melbourne; Fellow & Tutor in Politics, Merton College, Oxford)
Mr Charles Conn, (Massachusetts & Balliol 1983), 2013- (previously Senior Advisor to the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and co-founder of Citysearch)
There are many books and articles about Cecil Rhodes and the Rhodes Scholarships. Some of particular interest are:
George Parkin, The Rhodes Scholarships (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1912) - available here.
Frank Aydelotte, The vision of Cecil Rhodes (Oxford University Press, 1946; also published under the title The American Rhodes Scholarships: A review of the first forty years).
Lord Elton (ed), The first fifty years of the Rhodes Trust and the Rhodes Scholarships 1903-1953 (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1955) - available here and here.
R.I. Rotberg, The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power (Oxford University Press, New York, 1988).
Sir Anthony Kenny (ed.), The History of the Rhodes Trust (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001). Sir Anthony Kenny's chapter on 'The Rhodes Trust and its Administration' is here.
Philip Ziegler, Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, The Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2008).
Donald Markwell, To 'render war impossible': the Rhodes Scholarships, educational relations between countries, and peace, speech at the 'Sailing Dinner' of the Canadian Association of Rhodes Scholars, Ottawa, 24 September 2011 - available here .
The books by Sir Anthony Kenny and Philip Ziegler are available for purchase through Rhodes House. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.