Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Tricia Brown of the University of Iowa.
University of Iowa student Jeffrey Ding says he’s unsure yet how being named a Rhodes scholar will change his life, but he’s already getting more than the usual number of friend requests on Facebook.
Ding, a senior from Iowa City, was selected as one of 32 American Rhodes scholars on Nov. 22 from a field of 869 applicants; 90 are named worldwide. He’ll receive $50,000 annually for two years and will have the opportunity to attend Oxford University in England.
“I feel a mix of excitement and gratefulness,” Ding writes via email from Beijing, where he’s enrolled in Peking University’s School of Economics. “I’m excited to make the most of this opportunity to study about the world at Oxford, and I am grateful to all the people who made this opportunity possible.”
Ding, a member of the Honors Program and a student in the UI’s Henry B. Tippie College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will graduate in May with degrees in economics (B.B.A.), political science (B.S.), and Asian languages and literature (B.A.), along with a certificate in international business.
He adds the Rhodes scholarship to his cache of other awards and honors. Earlier in 2015, he was awarded the Udall scholarship and the Truman scholarship. He is the only UI student to have received all three. He arrived at the UI as a first-year presidential scholar, the highest award the UI gives to incoming undergraduates. He’s also the recipient of the Stanley undergraduate award for international research and was named a Boren scholar through UI International Programs.
A total of 19 UI students have been awarded Rhodes scholarships since 1905. The university’s most recent Rhodes scholar was Renugan Raidoo, in 2011.
“Jeffrey has had an incredible experience here at Iowa,” says Kelly Thornburg, director of scholar development at the UI Honors Program. “Being a part of the Rhodes scholar community will help him make what he was already doing that much more extraordinary. More than the money, it’s really about the greater connection to other people who are like him and who care about the world in the same way and will challenge him to do more in ways he might not have considered.”
The Rhodes scholarship is a well-deserved honor for Ding, and for the entire campus, says P. Barry Butler, UI executive vice president and provost.
“Jeffrey’s achievements exemplify the world-class academic experience available at the UI,” he says.
Ding has been involved with the UI Climate Narrative Project, for which he presented in-depth research and performed field studies and personal interviews with farmers and agricultural experts. He served as vice president of the UI Student Government and is a member of the Chinese Church of Iowa City.
Thornburg says that aside from being “very, very smart,” Ding is just like other people his age.
“He’s not an intellectual snob,” she says. “He loves tennis and plays video games and is pretty obsessive about sports. He’s very good at choosing where he spends his time. He’s also a lot of fun and a good friend.”
She says she thinks Ding won this award because he makes getting to know people a priority, and he seeks out ways he can help others. He has also cultivated strong relationships with many UI faculty members and takes a genuine interest in their research.
“He really sees people,” she says.
At a time when UI athletics is receiving so much attention—the football team was named champion of the Big Ten West division after defeating Purdue on Nov. 21—Thornburg says Ding’s award is a testament to the quality of the university as a whole.
“The University of Iowa offers really incredible opportunities to undergraduates. It is amazing that we are doing so well in football, and it is so wonderful to have this very prominent example of what our students are able to do as scholars and leaders on our campus,” she says.
Ding is approaching this honor with modesty. He says people aren’t surprised when they learn he is from Iowa.
“I have so much love and pride for both Iowa and the University of Iowa that people who know me and find out that I received the Rhodes already see Iowa as a part of who I am,” he says.
Editor’s Note: The following post comes from the University of Georgia and staff writer Camie Williams.
Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia Honors student Meredith Paker has been named a recipient of the Marshall Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Up to 40 Marshall Scholars are selected each year, and Paker is UGA’s third student in the last decade to earn the award and the seventh in the university’s history.
Paker, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, and a recipient of UGA’s Foundation Fellowship, plans to pursue a master’s degree in economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Terry College of Business and a minor in mathematics from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
While at UGA, Paker has conducted economics research with faculty members Jonathan Williams, David Bradford and William Lastrapes. Contributing to a growing literature on the prevalence and impact of off-label prescriptions in the U.S. pharmaceuticals market, she has recently presented her work at the International Health Economics Association conference in Italy and at the UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium. After completing her master’s at Oxford, her goal is to pursue a doctorate in economics and begin a career as an academic economist.
“The University of Georgia is very proud of Meredith for this accomplishment,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Her selection as a Marshall Scholar is a testament to the quality of UGA students and the benefits of undergraduate research. I am confident that Meredith will excel in her studies at Oxford University and that she will make a significant impact on the field of economics throughout her career.”
The Marshall Scholarship, established by an Act of Parliament in 1953, is one of the highest academic honors bestowed on American post-baccalaureate students. More than 900 students from across the U.S. apply annually. The program, which was created in gratitude for U.S. assistance to the United Kingdom during World War II under the Marshall Plan, provides funding for up to three years of graduate study at any United Kingdom university in any field.
“I am so pleased for Meredith, and I am appreciative of the excellent faculty mentoring she has received,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of UGA’s Honors Program. “I think it is important to note that Meredith is not only a gifted thinker and researcher, but it is clear that she is also deeply passionate about using her intellect for the betterment of society.”
In addition to being a recipient of the Foundation Fellowship, UGA’s premier undergraduate scholarship, Paker is an inductee to the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. She has studied abroad at Oxford and in Tanzania, where she summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014.
“I am so excited to explore a new area of my field for the next two years,” said Paker. “With the Marshall Scholarship, I will become the best economist I can be. I can’t thank the Honors Program and my research mentors enough for their support.”
Paker has served as an Honors teaching assistant for first-year Honors students and is vice president of the UGA Economics Society. She leads a Girl Scout troop through Campus Scouts and hosts a weekly radio show on UGA’s student-run radio station, WUOG 90.5FM.
“Earning this prestigious honor is the byproduct of Meredith’s hard work in two different, but critical, arenas,” said Jessica Hunt, major scholarships coordinator in the UGA Honors Program. “Meredith has been committed to academic excellence, undergraduate research, and civic engagement throughout her four years at UGA, and she has also spent several months successfully navigating the arduous application and interview process. The Marshall award is a testament to her talent, her dedication to the field of economics, and her desire to positively impact local, national, and international communities.”
Once again, the Rhodes Scholarships continue to be awarded disproportionately to students from Ivy League universities, along with those from a few other select private universities. But outstanding students from Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Youngstown State managed to earn what remains the most prestigious scholarship in the world.
The latest list of Rhodes Scholars (awarded in November 2015 for the year 2016) includes five from Harvard, four from Princeton, three from Yale, and one each from Brown and Penn, giving the Ivy League 14 of the 32 awards won by American students for the second year in a row. Rhodes awards for the year 2014 included 11 winners from Ivy schools; in 2013 there were 16.
The University of Virginia has had four Rhodes Scholars since 2013. UVA and North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the leaders among all state universities in the number of Rhodes Scholars earned by their graduates. UVA has 51 Rhodes Scholars, and UNC Chapel Hill has 49.
Below are the 32 American Rhodes Scholars for 2016, by Rhodes district number, university, name, and state of residence (not state in which college is located). The state of California has two Rhodes districts, one for the northern part of the state and the second for the southern part.
Harvard University, Ms. Grace E. Huckins, Massachusetts
Harvard University, Mr. Garrett M. Lam, Massachusetts
University of Virginia, Mr. Russell C. Bogue, Connecticut
Princeton University, Mr. Evan J. Soltas, New Jersey
Harvard University, Mr. Neil M. Alacha, New York
Brown University, Mr. Andrew N. Kaplan, New York
University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Jennifer C. Hebert, Pennsylvania
Harvard University, Ms. Rivka B. Hyland, Pennsylvania
Georgetown University, Ms. Hannah G. Schneider, DC
Yale University, Mr. Isaac M. Stanley, DC
Oberlin College, Mr. Machmud A. Makhmudov, Georgia
Emory University, Ms. Leah S. Michalove, Georgia
New York University, Mr. Zachary S. Fine, Lousiana
Millsaps College, Ms. Ericka M. Wheeler, Mississippi
Rice University, Mr. Thomas M. Carroll, Arizona
Duke University, Ms. Laura C. Roberts, Texas
Duke University, Mr. John C. Ruckelshaus IV, Indiana
Northeastern University, Ms. Logan C. Jackson, Kentucky
Ohio State University, Ms. Ilhan A. Dahir, Ohio
Youngstown State University, Ms. Ashley E. Orr, Ohio
Michigan State University, Ms. Sarah B. Kovan, Michigan
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Colin T. Higgins, Wisconsin
University of Iowa, Mr. Jeffrey Ding, Iowa
Princeton University, Mr. Richard J. Lu, Missouri
University of Notre Dame, Ms. Emily M. Mediate, Colorado
College of Saint Benedict, Ms. Rachel E. Mullin, South Dakota
Yale University, Mr. Jared C. Milfred, Oregon
Yale University, Mr. Mason Y. JiShoreline, Washington
United States Naval Academy, Ms. Megan G. Musilli, California
Princeton University, Ms. Katherine K. Clifton, Hawaii
Princeton University, Ms. Cameron M. Platt, California
Harvard University, Mr. Hassaan Shahawy, California
The annual composite MBA rankings compiled by John A. Byrne at Poets & Quants combines rankings from the “five most influential rankings and weighs each of them by the soundness of their methodologies” in order to yield “a more credible list of the best MBA programs.”
We like Poets & Quants and Byrne’s rankings and try to write about them each year. The rankings from which he combines the comprehensive list are those from U.S. News, Forbes, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, and the Economist.
Here are the public MBA programs listed in the top 50 for 2015, and their composite rank:
8–UC Berkeley Haas
17–North Carolina Kenan-Flagler
18–UT Austin McCombs
25–Michigan State Broad
31–Ohio State Fisher
33–Penn State Smeal
36–Arizona State Carey
41–Texas A&M Mays
47–UC Irvine Merage
Editor’s Note: The following post comes from Rosanne Altstatt at the Purdue National and International Scholarships Office.
Ramirez was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a child, gaining U.S. citizenship in 2012.
Ramirez, of Romeoville, Illinois, is a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Honors College majoring in law and society and corporate communication. After she graduates she plans to study refugees and migration from a global perspective. She is planning a future in law and public policy with the goal of improving how immigrant populations are supplied with needed services and resources.
“I have lived the immigrant experience, and it is imperative for me to give a voice to others like me,” she said.
“We are thrilled for Brenda. She was one of the Honors College’s first mentors, lending peer support and guidance to others,” said Rhonda Phillips, dean of the Honors College. “Brenda exemplifies what we strive to help our students develop – leadership skills, interdisciplinary knowledge, and a commitment to global and community engagement.”
“Brenda is an outstanding liberal arts student who leads by example in the classroom on campus and beyond,” said David Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts. “She represents the very best at Purdue University and her passion for addressing global issues is powerful and her determination to succeed and help others is inspiring.”
NISO develops student-scholars’ skills as they prepare their applications for Purdue’s nominations for prestigious awards. The office also guides students through their applications with info sessions, writing workshops, one-on-one meetings, mock interviews and all the details of scholarship competitions.
Source: Rosanne Altstatt, Purdue National and International Scholarships Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
VIDEO: Brenda Ramirez: https://www.youtube.com/embed/o49aVMS4dKI
Is it actually worth it, in terms of quality classroom learning, to land a place at an elite college or university? This is a question that many families with highly-talented students ask themselves. If their answer is yes, the result is likely to be a concerted, frenzied effort to mold the students in a way that gives them at least a modest chance of admission to such schools. (Of course, for better or worse, the question is often framed as “Is it worth it, in terms of career success, to land a place…”).
Regarding the differences in the quality of classes among all levels of institutions, new research provides some insights. The researchers lean toward minimizing the relationship between academic prestige and quality of instruction–but it appears that some of their own research suggests just the opposite.
In an article titled Are Elite College Courses Better?, Doug Lederman, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed, provides an excellent, mostly neutral summary of the recent research that suggests course quality in a relatively broad range of institutions does not vary as much as the prestige of a given school might suggest.
“Researchers at Teachers College of Columbia University and at Yeshiva University… believe they are developing a legitimate way to compare the educational quality of courses across institutions,” Lederman writes, “and their initial analysis, they say, ‘raises questions about the value of higher-prestige institutions in terms of their teaching quality.'”
The researchers suggest that the drive to enhance prestige based on rankings and selectivity have led to “signaling”–branding, perceptions–that are increasingly divorced from the actual quality of classroom instruction. The laudable aim of the researchers is to turn the conversation away from college rankings and the metrics that drive them, and toward measurements of effective, challenging instruction.
Trained faculty observers visited nine colleges and 600 classes. Three of the nine had high prestige; two had minimum prestige; and four had low prestige. The schools were both public and private, with differing research and teaching emphases. We should note that there was no list of which schools were in each category, so we do not know exactly how the researchers defined “elite.” It appears likely, however, that many leading public research universities would be considered elite.
“Teaching quality was defined as instruction that displayed the instructor’s subject matter knowledge, drew out students’ prior knowledge and prodded students to wrestle with new ideas, while academic rigor was judged on the ‘cognitive complexity’ and the ‘level of standards and expectations’ of the course work,” Lederman writes.
“But they found that on only one of the five measures, cognitive complexity of the course work, did the elite colleges in the study outperform the non-elite institutions.”
First, we note that highly-qualified honors students at almost all colleges, including many less prestigious public universities, are far more likely to encounter more “cognitive complexity” in their honors courses. Whether this results from having more depth or breadth in actual assignments, from taking harder courses early on, or from engaging in more challenging interactions with similarly smart students and the best faculty, the learning experience in honors embraces complexity.
We also have to agree with one of the longest and most thoughtful comments posted on Lederman’s article, by one “catorenasci”:
“Well, is [more cognitive complexity] a surprise to anyone? After all…on average the students at elite colleges and universities (private or public) have demonstrated higher cognitive ability than the students at less prestigious colleges and universities. Which means that the faculty can teach at a level of greater cognitive complexity without losing (many) students.”
The full comment from “catorenasci” also seems to be on the mark when it comes to improved instruction in all other measured areas on the part of colleges with less prestige, regardless of honors affiliation.
“As for the level of ‘teaching quality’ based on faculty knowledge, given the job market today, it should hardly be surprising that it has equaled out since there are many top quality candidates for even less prestigious positions and overall, I would suspect that the ‘quality’ of the PhD’s of faculty at less elite schools is much closer to that of elite schools than it was during the ’50s and ’60s when higher education was expanding rapidly and jobs were plentiful.
“The transformational aspect should not be surprising either: assuming faculty are competent and dedicated, with less able students they will work harder to draw out what they know and build on it. And, it will be more likely that students will experience significant growth as the faculty do this.”
The annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings have had the strongest presence in the ranking “world” since 2004, but here’s one vote for the U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings being better even though they have been around only two years. Both are useful because they measure the prestige and research impact of hundreds of universities around the world at a time when there is much more international cooperation–and competition–among institutions.
It is rare for us to applaud the U.S. News rankings because there are many serious issues with the annual “Best Colleges” publication. It over-emphasizes the financial resources of colleges and their selectivity, to the detriment of most public universities.
But when it comes to world rankings, U.S. News drops the focus on financial metrics in favor of academic reputation and research metrics, including the use of regional reputation surveys that help to offset the eurocentric bias of the Times Higher Ed rankings.
For example, the Times Higher Ed rankings list 42 European universities among the top 100 in the world, while U.S. News lists 31. The main reason is probably that the Times rankings do include financial metrics and do not factor in the additional regional reputation data.
Below is a table showing the U.S. public universities ranked among the top 100 in the world by U.S. News alongside the rankings of the same universities by Times Higher Ed. An additional column shows the average ranking of each school when both ranking systems are used. The average ranking of leading U.S. public universities by U.S. News is 44 out of 100; the average Times Higher Ed ranking of the same schools is 82.
[table id=62 /]
Editor’s note: The following post is from a story by Linda B. Blackford in the Lexington Herald-Leader, first published October 22, 2015. As the story notes, philanthropist Tom Lewis of Arizona has had a long acquaintance with Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. He has not only supported Barrett with his philanthropy but also the MBA program at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill. Originally funding scholarships for outstanding students to attend the university of choice, whether public or private, Lewis has more recently been committed to supporting public honors colleges that help to attract top in-state students and to keep them there after graduation, thus avoiding the brain-drain that can occur in the absence of honors colleges and programs. For their recognition of the value of honors education to students, their states, and to the nation, we applaud the generous efforts of Tom and Jan Lewis and their foundation. The odds are that the University of Kentucky will soon be among the leaders in public university honors excellence. Mr. Lewis and university officials tell us that the new college will have at least four counselors devoted to career planning and counseling for honors students.
In September 2014, the University of Kentucky announced the largest gift in its history — $20 million from trustee Bill Gatton to help build a new student center.
On Thursday, UK announced its new biggest gift ever: $23 million from alumnus Tom Lewis and his wife, Jan, to create an honors college for UK’s most intellectually inspired students.
“This gift, by a remarkable person and leader so committed to his alma mater and to education, reflects our mission to place the success of students first in everything that we do,” President Eli Capilouto said. “Tom Lewis is investing in, and helping enhance, a vision we have to be the finest residential, public research university in America.”
The college will be in a residence hall to be built across from William T. Young Library, and the money will be used to hire a dean and eight to 10 faculty and staff, and to provide programming.
Lewis, a native of Lexington and a 1971 engineering graduate of UK, is a seventh-generation Kentuckian, UK officials said. He was a 1967 graduate of Bryan Station High School in Lexington. After graduating from UK, Lewis earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He then went into the home construction business in Arizona, where he started T.W. Lewis Co. He lives in Paradise Valley, Ariz.
“I have a strong belief in the value of education and helping young people become the best they can be,” Lewis said. “This gift is our way of helping University of Kentucky honors students reach their full potential as leaders who will create, shape and influence people, ideas and discoveries for this and generations yet to come.”
At the Thursday news conference, Lewis said he was inspired by the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in Tempe, near where he lives.
At Barrett, he said, he has seen that attracting the best and brightest students to stay in-state for college helps them remain afterward, and they “contribute back to the growth and prosperity of the entire state.”
Although Lewis has spent the majority of his life outside Kentucky, he made it clear that it remains close to his heart. He mentioned that all 16 of his great-grandparents lived here.
“When I think about this honors college, I really think about honoring the history of our family in Kentucky,” he said.
Lewis has already set up scholarships for students from Fayette County and some Eastern Kentucky counties.
UK has a long-established honors program, which provides enrichment classes. Provost Tim Tracy said elevating the program to a college “allows us to bring together all our resources. The students will live together and learn together.
“This will provide a very enhanced and enriched experience that allows them to gain an education they might not get otherwise.”
The plan for the college must go before the University Senate for approval.
The college will not grant degrees, and its faculty will be non-tenure track, Tracy said, because “it’s a residential college, not an academic college.” The faculty will teach courses such as life skills and organizational techniques.
For example, an honors student could major and get a degree in engineering but would be required to take 24 hours in honors classes, which would be taught by full-time faculty.
Some proposed classes for first-year students include “Jews and Christians in Medieval Europe,” “Science, Ethics and Society,” and “The Science, Public Policy, Law and Ethics of Drug Development and Human Health.”
Lewis Honors College will have about 2,000 students when it opens in fall 2016 or 2017, Tracy said. Students will be chosen based on grades, test scores and essays.
UK has committed $8.5 million a year for scholarships for honors students, Tracy said. That money is not included in the $23 million gift.
Ben Withers, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of undergraduate studies, said that on a national level, honors colleges signal a dedication to the highest academic achievement.
“It is a highly visible symbol of the institution’s commitment to provide rigorous and challenging academic environment in all its undergraduate programs, in all colleges and majors,” he said. “The difference with honors is that the approach seeks to pull together students and faculty across campus who wish to explore interdisciplinary connections, questions and approaches.”
Withers said honors colleges should be seen as “serving all colleges but belonging to none.”
“The central mission should be to help talented, motivated students make the most of their UK experience, fostering work across any and all colleges as well as within,” he said.
Toluwalope Odukoya, a UK honors graduate now in medical school, said the honors experience is one in which intellectual discourse and exploration are expected for students who want to question and learn. He thanked the Lewises, saying the new space would “cultivate an amazing learning environment.”
“It’s not about elitism,” Odukoya said. “It’s about intentionality.”