November 25, 2004
By Carol Wood and Kathleen Valenzi
For the seventh time in University of Virginia history, two
University representatives have been chosen as Rhodes Scholars
in the same
year. Meghan E. Sullivan, a fourth-year student and head of the
Honor Committee, and Justin Mutter, Class of 2003, learned Saturday,
Nov. 20, that they were among 32 recipients of one of the nation's
most prestigious academic honors.
were so excited, they showed up at my house late Saturday evening
to share the good news,” said Nicole Hurd, director
of U.Va.’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which advises
students about national and international competitions such as
Sullivan and Mutter were chosen from among 904 applicants nationwide
and will enter the University of Oxford in England in October
2005. They bring the total number of Rhodes recipients from
45 — more than any other public university in America.
Sullivan and Mutter join an elite group of U.Va. graduates
who are Rhodes Scholars, including two current University
professors — Larry
Sabato and Jahan Ramazani — and the late Staige D. Blackford,
long-time editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. The University's
most recent recipients were Jeffrey David Manns, a 1999 Rhodes
Scholar, and Micah Schwartzman, a 1998 Rhodes Scholar who is now
studying law at U.Va.
I’m particularly proud that Meghan and Justin won,” Hurd
said. “Not only do they epitomize the high caliber
of student who attends U.Va., but they also demonstrate
the rewards that can
come to students who take full advantage of the many
academic and research opportunities available to them
at U.Va. Meghan, for example,
conducted research in Belfast, Ireland, on one of two
Harrison fellowships she received.”
In addition to her Honor Committee work and undergraduate
research, Sullivan is majoring in politics and philosophy,
is a Jefferson
Scholar, and serves as a volunteer for Legal Aid and
Restorative Justice. As a seriously committed philosophy
plans to pursue a B.Phil. in philosophy at Oxford.
Sullivan is from
Mutter, who graduated from U.Va. in May 2003, majored
in modern studies and religious studies. Since graduating,
he has worked
with a Partners in Health rural hospital in Haiti,
where he has focused on helping patients with HIV/AIDS.
pursue a M.Phil in theology at Oxford. He is from
Lookout Mountain, Tenn.
Having two students win a Rhodes Scholarship at the
same time “is
a huge achievement, particularly for a public university,” Hurd
said. The reason, she explained, is that the applications of students
who compete for Rhodes scholarships are first reviewed by state
selection committees. Because the majority of a public university’s
students come from within the same state —Virginia, in the
case of U.Va. — those students end up competing against one
another, thus reducing the odds of multiple students from a single
state institution advancing to the district level of the competition.
Rhodes Scholarships provide two or three years
of study at Oxford. They are the oldest of the
to American students, and were created in 1902
will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist
and colonial pioneer.
selected on the basis of high academic achievement,
integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness,
for leadership and physical vigor. These basic
characteristics are directed at fulfilling Rhodes's
hopes that the
scholars bearing his name would make an effective
the world. The first class of American Rhodes
Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.
The monetary value of the Rhodes Scholarship
varies depending on the academic field being
the degree pursued
master's, doctoral) 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 and during vacations,
and transportation to and from England. The total value averages
approximately $35,000 per year.