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Student Is First At U.Va. To Win St. Andrew’s Society Fellowship

May 6, 2002-- James Meyerle likes to challenge conventional wisdom, according to his adviser, Michael J. Smith. For a young man who dreams of becoming a judge one day, it’s a trait that serves him well in his pursuit of understanding ethics.

Next year, Meyerle will be in Scotland to study the Scottish Enlightenment, which formed some of the key assumptions in America’s capitalist democracy and morals.

Meyerle, a political and social thought major, won a fellowship to go to St. Andrews University, the first University of Virginia student to receive this award from the St. Andrew’s Society in New York. He will earn a Master’s in Literature but concentrate on philosophy. Some of the ethical issues he wants to focus on include how people treat one another and what it means to be a good person.

The St. Andrew’s Society, nearing its 300th anniversary, is one of the oldest clubs in the United States. It was established to help Scottish immigrants and now offers aid in the form of scholarships and public service. Meyerle, who has never been to Scotland, claims his Scottish heritage on his mother’s side.

A native of Boulder, Colo., he followed his brother to U.Va. James eventually decided to go into the political and social thought program and is writing his senior thesis on justice and judging.

"Studying David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment fits in with my thesis," Meyerle said.

Although he’d like to work for a couple of years after getting his master’s degree, Meyerle hopes to start the fifth generation of attorneys in his family, become a litigator and go before juries.

"To be a judge, you need to be an academic, to grasp the big issues," he said of his ultimate goal. "The court and jury system is what makes this country work."

The fourth-year student credits Smith, who holds the Thomas C. Sorenson Professorship of Political and Social Thought, as one of his most positive influences at U.Va. "He fostered a sense of responsibility in all of us [students] as members of the human community," Meyerle said.

"I’ve known Jim since he was my first-year advisee, and then as a vital participant in the program in political and social thought, which I direct," Smith said. "Jim has a kind of restless, even relentless, intellectual curiosity. He refuses to adopt conventional wisdom almost on principle – and he has always proven willing to take risks."

Perhaps he’ll even take up golf. He’ll be able to see the storied St. Andrews links, considered the world’s oldest golf course, from his dorm room.

Contact: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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