University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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UW-Eau Claire Student Named Rhodes Scholar
 MAILED:  Nov. 22, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Chauncy S. Harris Jr., a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is one of 32 Americans chosen as 2005 Rhodes Scholars. Harris is a geography and history major from Eau Claire.

"I was very calm and at peace with the whole process," Harris said of his reaction to being elected Saturday. "I don't see myself as an extraordinary person but I'm motivated to do more than some of my peers. It's a love of life and a love of learning that drives me to do things."

Harris, a 1999 graduate of Memorial High School, has won numerous academic awards, is a leader in multiple campus organizations, is an Eagle Scout, and served as a missionary in the Mediterranean for two years, an experience that he describes as "the greatest time of my life."

"I'm thrilled that a UW-Eau Claire student is among those elected to be a Rhodes Scholar," Chancellor Donald Mash said. "It's a highly competitive process involving exceptional students from prestigious universities throughout the country. This is a wonderful recognition for Chauncy and for UW-Eau Claire."

Harris, 23, who plans to graduate in August 2005, is involved in numerous campus organizations, serving in leadership positions in many of them. He's currently the president of the Golden Key International Honour Society, the Mortar Board and Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society.

The Rhodes Scholars were chosen from 904 applicants, who were endorsed by 341 colleges and universities. Rhodes Scholarships provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England . Harris will enter Oxford in October 2005, where he hopes to study Modern Middle Eastern Studies, which he believes is the only program of its kind in the world.

UW-Eau Claire helped prepare him for the Rhodes program and Oxford by providing a strong curriculum, exceptional research opportunities and accessible faculty, Harris said.

"The great relationships I have with faculty helped keep me challenged and allowed me to go beyond the work and experiences that are typical of college," Harris said. "UW-Eau Claire proves that you don't have to pay $50,000 a year to get a great education."

That combination of outstanding faculty and a dynamic living and learning environment is attracting an increasing number of high-achieving students to UW-Eau Claire, Mash said. "This is the kind of place that is very attractive to students who — like Chauncy — want to be highly challenged," he said.

Other 2005 Rhodes Scholars elected from District V — Harris's district — are students or graduates of the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Harvard.

"The opportunity to study at Oxford is wonderful," Harris said. "But the program is more than that — it's a way to network with great people. I met exceptional people at the state and district competitions, people I'll have personal and professional relationships with in the future. They're outstanding people — people who stand out at prestigious institutions like Harvard."

Harris has long been aware of the Rhodes Scholars program because his great uncle was a Rhodes Scholar in 1934-36. His great uncle, who passed away in December 2003, encouraged him to apply.

"For the last 10 years, he sent me the bios on all the Rhodes Scholars," Harris said of his great uncle. "I really wanted to do this to honor him. My family has a long history of being involved in academics and helping humanity so there was a familial expectation that I would continue that legacy of excellence."

"Chauncy is a remarkable young man," said Thomas Miller, chair of the UW-Eau Claire history department. "He's like many UW-Eau Claire students in that he is an outstanding student who works hard, is creative and analytical. But Chauncy is exceptional because of all he accomplishes beyond academics. He's a leader in a number of organizations, volunteers at the food pantry, organizes community events and does dozens of other things. It's quite impressive."

The Rhodes Scholarships, the 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 three-stage process. First, candidates are endorsed by their college or university. Committees of Selection in all 50 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 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.

Candidates apply either in the state where they are legal residents or where they have attended college for at least two years. The state selection committees interviewed applicants on Nov. 17 to choose state nominees to appear as finalists before district committees, which met Nov. 20 in eight cities across the country. Each district committee made a selection of four Rhodes Scholars from the nominees of the states within the district. Ninety-six applicants from 59 colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition.

The 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from 18 other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the 32 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, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Approximately 95 Scholars are selected worldwide each year.

With these latest Scholars, 3,046 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 307 colleges and universities. More than 1,800 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the United States and abroad.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree 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 $35,000 per year.

Past Rhodes Scholars include former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court justices Byron White and David Souter, singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson, former presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Wesley Clark, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and James William Fulbright, creator of the Fulbright Scholarships.

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JB

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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Updated: December 30, 2004