Do Rhodes Awards Tilt More Now to Private Elites?

The Rhodes Scholar list for 2012 includes what may appear to be a disproportionate number of awards to students in elite private institutions, especially Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. And this year, ten of the institutions with award winners are private, versus six that are public. Is this typical?

Most awards historically have gone to private institutions. But what are the recent stats, say, for the last ten years, and how do universities among the “Fifty” perform during this same period?

The year in which the public/private ratio of sponsoring institutions was most balanced was just last year, 2011, when the awards were distributed among ten public and ten private universities. (These figures do not include awards to national military academies.)

The recent year with the greatest imbalance was 2004, when nineteen private universities and only three pubic universities were listed.

Overall, during the past ten years, private universities are listed 130 times, while public universities are listed 64 times, a ratio of almost exactly 2 to 1. So 2012 is not that bad, at least when institutions rather than individual scholars are counted. When it comes to individual scholars per institution, the private universities have more than a 2 to 1 advantage.

Twenty-two universities among the Fifty in our survey account for 41 of the 64 public university sponsor listings during the past ten years:

North Carolina (6), Pitt (4), Washington (4), Georgia (3), Kansas (3), Minnesota (3), Virginia (3), Indiana (2), and UCLA (2) are the multiple winners. Those with one Rhodes scholar during the last ten years are Arizona, Auburn, Delaware, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin.

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