Auburn Honors College Student Wins Marshall Scholarship

Editor’s Note: The following post is from the OANews…

Auburn University senior Patrick Donnan has been named a recipient of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, becoming one of only 40 U.S. students selected to attend their choice of university in the United Kingdom.

“We are very proud of Patrick, both for his accomplishments at Auburn and for his being named a Marshall Scholar,” said Melissa Baumann, Auburn University assistant provost and director of the Honors College. “He has displayed great leadership in the classroom and the laboratory and in advancing science in the community.”

Auburn native Donnan, who has a 3.98 grade-point average, is a student in the Honors College double-majoring in physics and music, concentrating on the bassoon, and minoring in mathematics. He is also a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar and is a Rhodes Scholar finalist this year.

“I am truly humbled,” Donnan said. “Receiving the Marshall Scholarship is the culmination of all the work that my professors and Honors College staff have invested in me these past three years at Auburn. Even if I did not receive the award, going through the application process was beneficial in itself as it helped me grow as a person.

“I am looking forward to continuing my research in theoretical physics at Oxford and becoming a good ambassador for the United States and Auburn while abroad.”

Donnan conducts research in Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics as a member of the theoretical and computational atomic physics group. He is an editor of the Auburn University Journal of Undergraduate Studies and has co-authored four peer-reviewed publications, one of which was published in Nature: The International Weekly Journal of Science.

“Patrick embodies a near ideal example of balance. He is an accomplished musician and an accomplished young scientist,” said Professor Ed Thomas, the Lawrence C. Wit Professor in the College of Sciences and Mathematics and one of Donnan’s research professors. “He has found a way to blend both of his passions into a seamless whole. Patrick not only has talent, but he has the dedication and self-awareness to put forth the effort and hard work to allow those talents to mature.”

Paul Harris, associate director for national prestigious scholarships in the Honors College, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Patrick throughout the application process. He represents the very best of Auburn University and his generation. As a double major in physics and music, he is not only bright and intellectually engaging, but he also gives generously of his time and talents whether promoting research among his fellow physics majors or sharing his love for music as a member of the Auburn symphonic band.

The Marshall Scholarship program was established in 1953 by an act of British Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall as an expression of Britain’s gratitude for economic assistance received through the Marshall Plan after World War II. The program is overseen by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. Approximately 900 students are endorsed annually for the scholarship by their respective universities, for which 40 scholarships are awarded nationwide.

State University Leaders in Recent Marshall Scholarships

Now that we have the full list of Marshall Scholars 2013 , we thought it would be a good time to report on the number of Marshall scholars among the 50 public universities we follow, since 2001, the year we use in our metric for Marshall awards.

Below are the universities and the number of Marshall Scholarships since 2001:

UT Austin–10

Georgia Tech–8

Arizona State–7

Michigan State–7





Ohio U–4

Penn State–4

Texas A&M–4




Iowa State–3








Kansas State–2

Mass Amherst–2


NC State–2

Ohio State–2


South Carolina–2








North Carolina–1

UC Davis–1

Univ at Buffalo–1








Public vs. Private Universities: Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, Etc….

In previous posts we have written about the dominance of elite private institutions when it comes to winning prestigious national awards, such as Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Gates Cambridge, and Goldwater scholarships.  There is no question that Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a few other elite schools dominate some of these awards, especially Rhodes scholarships.

But what about the performance of other leading private universities, including those in the top tier of the U.S. News rankings?  We have analyzed the record of 20 private universities ranked 24 to 83 in the 2013 U.S. News rankings.  The average ranking for the 20 schools is 54.4.  We then compared their performance with that of the 50 universities whose honors programs we evaluated.  The average U.S. News ranking of the 50 public schools is 74.16, down from an average of 72.82 in 2012.

The 20 private universities are the following: Notre Dame, USC, Wake Forest, Boston College, NYU, Case Western Reserve, University of Miami, Boston University, George Washington, Tulane, Fordham, Northeastern, SMU, Syracuse, American, Baylor, Denver, Marquette, Tulsa, and TCU.

We analyzed the full history of Rhodes, Truman, Churchill, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Udall awards, and we adjusted for size of undergraduate enrollment in the case of Fulbright Student Scholarships because of the high number of those awards (about 1,500) in a given year.  We also analyzed Marshall and Gates Cambridge awards from 2001 through 2012.  One point was assigned for each award.

On a scale with 25 being the highest score, the mean score for the private universities was 7.21 and for the public universities it was 11.86.  Below are some interesting specifics:

  • The University of Tulsa had the highest overall score for the private universities, mainly due to the impressive number of Goldwater awards for undergraduates studying STEM subjects (51), which would place Tulsa at number 9 among all 70 universities in this comparison.  The leaders in Goldwater awards (among our 50 public schools) are Illinois (63), Penn State (61), Virginia (59), Wisconsin (56), Arizona State and Minnesota (54), and Michigan and Washington (52).
  • Overall, the mean score for Goldwater awards (raw numbers) was more than twice as high for the public universities as it was for the private schools (33.7 versus 16.2).
  • The mean score for Rhodes Scholarships was likewise much higher for the public schools, 12.16 versus 5.25.
  • Tulane led private schools in total Rhodes Scholarships with 18, followed by Notre Dame (14), Wake Forest (13), Case Western (10), Boston University (8), USC (8), and Denver (7).  The leading schools among the 50 we reviewed are Virginia (46), North Carolina (41), Washington (39), Wisconsin (31), Kansas and UT Austin (27), and Michigan (25).
  • The four private schools that had a total scaled score that was above the mean for the 50 public schools were Tulsa, Tulane, Notre Dame, and NYU.
  • The strongest performance for private schools was in earning Fulbright awards, probably because of the adjustment for size of undergraduate enrollment.  The mean score for the private schools was 7.21 versus 3 .07 for the public schools.
  • The mean scores for Truman Scholarships were close, with private schools averaging 8.8 and public schools 9.3.  American University and Wake Forest led private schools with 15 Truman awards each, followed by USC (14), SMU (13), Boston College and Tulane (12), and Syracuse and Tulsa (11).  The leading public schools are North Carolina (32), UT Austin (26), Michigan and Virginia (24), Wisconsin and Arizona State (17), and Arkansas and Delaware (16).
  • The public universities in this comparison score significantly higher in earning Gates Cambridge and Marshall scholarships since 2001.  However, NYU students have won an impressive 8 Gates Scholarships, the only private university in this comparison to win more than 3.   Illinois has 10, Penn State 7, Rutgers and Florida 6 apiece, and Georgia, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Michigan 5 apiece.
  • The public universities dominate Udall Scholarships, although American University has 10 and Tulsa 9.   Arizona State has 29, Arizona 21, Penn State 20, Kansas 16, and North Carolina 15.



Honors College, Honors Program? Prestigious Scholarships, By Category

Of the fifty public universities in our survey, 19 have honors colleges (38%), and 31 have honors programs (62%). Below is comparison showing the number of prestigious undergraduate and graduate scholarships awarded, by category.

For purposes of the comparison, we are using the whole history of Rhodes scholarships; Gates and Marshall scholarships since 2001–2011; Churchill Scholarships since 1963; and all Truman Scholars since 1977. Fulbright scholarships are not included in the comparison because those totals have been adjusted for the size of the undergraduate population and raw numbers would be misleading in this comparison. They will be considered in the final review of programs and colleges.

We considered looking only at awards during the last ten years or so, but decided on a combined approach, using all Rhodes awards, for example, because of their prominence in the public mind and because they are the most difficult to earn, given the small number (32 this year) that are awarded to U.S. students. However, we are only counting more recent Marshall awards, as noted above. Postgraduate awards for UC campuses have been adjusted to take into account the dates on which they commenced operations.

The figures reveal that universities with honors programs have a higher proportion of prestigious scholarship winners than do universities with honors colleges, although the latter come close to proportional equality in the category of undergraduate scholarships. One possible explanation for the greater proportion coming from honors programs is that honors colleges are typically a more recent development in honors education; in some cases, the universities of which they are now a part did not have an existing pattern of receiving a large number of prestigious scholarships before the inception of the honors colleges.

On the other hand, the Goldwater Scholarships (1989) and the Udall Scholarships (1996), both for undergraduate research, are relatively recent additions that have given the newer honors colleges an opportunity to prove their value by over-performing in Udall Scholarships and holding their own in Goldwater Scholarships.

Here are the figures, bearing in mind that Honors Colleges are 38% of our Fifty, and Honors Programs are 62% of the Fifty:

Honors Colleges, Udall Scholarships, 44.1% of the total.
Honors Programs, Udall Scholarships, 55.9% of the total.

Honors Colleges, Goldwater Scholarships, 35.2% of the total.
Honors Programs, Goldwater Scholarships, 64.8% of the total.

Honors Colleges, Postgraduate Scholarships, 31.8% of the total.
Honors Programs, Postgraduate Scholarships, 68.2% of the total.