Robin Rotman, a senior from Lake Bluff, Illinois has been named Sewanee’s 24th Rhodes Scholar. Rotman’s selection was announced on November 22nd by Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. She 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. Rotman and her fellow Rhodes Scholarship winners were selected from a pool of 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.
At Sewanee, Rotman is majoring in geology with minors in environmental studies and mathematics. The winner of research internships at both the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, Robin is also treasurer of the Sewanee student body. At Oxford, she plans to earn a master’s of science in geology. "Robin Rotman is an extraordinary person," said Sewanee Vice Chancellor and President Joel Cunningham. "Her energy, intellect, and commitment to serving others mark her as one of those few of us who will make a major difference in the world. We at Sewanee are thrilled with her selection as a Rhodes Scholar." 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 Nov. 22, 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.