Katharine Wilkinson is Sewanee’s 25th Rhodes Scholar

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Katharine Wilkinson

Katharine Wilkinson, a 2005 graduate of the University of the South, has become Sewanee’s 25th Rhodes Scholar.

Wilkinson, of Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from Sewanee summa cum laude, was valedictorian of her class in 2005, and majored in religion. She now works for the Natural Resources Defense Council on the Cumberland Plateau Biogem initiative. She was captain of the Sewanee equestrian team, with three top ten finishes at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships. A two-time Morris K. Udall Scholar, Wilkinson's career interests are in environmental work. She plans to pursue the M.Sc. in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy at Oxford.

Wilkinson is Sewanee's second student to be named a Rhodes Scholar in the past three years. In 2003, Robin Rotman, C'04, of Chicago, was awarded the prestigious scholarship.

"They say they're investing in people rather than a program," Wilkinson said. "They're looking for candidates who will have an impact throughout the world. It's so flattering."

As an Environmental Resident at Sewanee, Wilkinson educated other students even as she competed on the equestrian team and served as a writing tutor. In 2002 Wilkinson was awarded the prize for the highest average in the first year class and the Goodstein Prize for the best student essay. She also received an honorable mention in the Elie Wiesel essay contest in May 2005. A graduate of the Outdoor Academy of the Southern Appalachians, Wilkinson continues her work to preserve the environment through national and local committees committed to environmental responsibility.

“We’re very pleased that Katherine Wilkinson has been selected as Sewanee’s 25th Rhodes Scholar. She is an outstanding young woman, and we’re delighted she’s achieved this recognition. We believe that she’ll do a superb job as a scholar and in her life’s work after Oxford,” said Joel Cunningham, Sewanee’s vice chancellor and president.

Wilkinson, who also has been working with the University’s Landscape Analysis Laboratory, is the fourth Rhodes Scholar currently on the Sewanee campus. She joins Professor of History Brown Patterson, Chaplain Thomas Ward Jr., and Associate Professor of English Jennifer Michael.

Wilkinson’s selection was announced today, Nov. 20, by Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, along with the names of the thirty-one other American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars. They will enter the University of Oxford in England in October 2006. The Scholars were chosen from 903 applicants, who were endorsed by 333 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. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university, and as a representative of one of the states or the District of Columbia. Committees of Selection in each of 16 districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. 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.”

You can read Wilkinson’s 2005 valedictory speech at: http://www2.sewanee.edu/sewaneetalks/speeches?id=12707.

Following is a complete list of Sewanee’s Rhodes Scholars:

Henry Markley Gass ’07
Frank Hoyt Gailor ’12
Carleton Goldstone Bowden ’14
George Malcolm Fooshee ’18
Edgar Elliott Beaty ’26
Clayton Lee Burwell ’32
George Baucum Fulkerson ’39
Thaddeus Goode Holt, Jr. ’51
William Brown Patterson ’52
William Webb White ’54
John Vincent Fleming ’58
Benjamin Bernard Dunlap, Jr. ’59
Joseph Daryl Canfill ’59
Joseph Levering Price ’63
Douglas Duane Paschall ’66
James Robert Sheller ’67
Thomas Reid Ward ’67
Jefferson Allen McMahan ’76
David Michael Lodge ’79
Ramona Loret Doyle ’81
Edward Wrenn Wooten ’86
Jennifer Paine Davis ’89
Anne Katherine Jones, ‘98
Robin Rotman, '04
Katharine Wilkinson, ‘06

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