Graduate John R. Kiess Receives Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
July 23, 2004 --
R. Kiess, a 2001 graduate of the University of Virginia, lives
the theology he studies through volunteering
in poor neighborhoods
and trying to resolve conflicts in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His
efforts, both academic and practical, haven’t gone unnoticed.
At 25, he is one of this year’s 39 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
scholarships, valued at up to $50,000 a year, support their recipients
for the length of their graduate
or professional degree
is a high honor to have been selected,” said Kiess, who
wants to combine grassroots community organizing, teaching
and writing. He will use his Cooke funds to further his exploration
of faith and community issues at Peterhouse College, University
of Cambridge, where he will pursue a master’s degree
in theology, beginning this October. He plans to seek a Ph.D.
received a degree from U.Va. in Political and Social Thought,
is also U.Va.’s first George J. Mitchell Scholarship
winner. He is currently attending Queens College in Belfast,
where he studies Comparative Ethnic Conflict.
Kiess — a
native of North Dartmouth, Mass., and the son of Dr. Robert
C. and Doris Kiess — has played an active community
service role. He was director of the Congregation City
Workgroup in Charlottesville, Va., an initiative to
bring clergy, community activists and students together to address critical
issues facing the community. He has been an AmeriCorps*VISTA
volunteer in a distressed
neighborhood in Charlottesville, where he designed and implemented a
teen employment program, a tutoring program for elementary
children, and a life skills
program for youth at risk. In June 2003, Charlottesville Mayor Maurice
D. Cox officially proclaimed Kiess a world-class citizen
for his efforts in the city.
member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at U.Va.,
he took first place in a
theological writing competition.
also been a consultant with the Institute for Public History at U.Va.,
developing a curriculum for mobilizing grassroots leadership in Charlottesville’s
addition, he was one of six leaders selected nationwide in 1998
to be a presiding officer at the Conference on National Affairs,
Government. He has coached junior high boys basketball teams, and
food to the homeless in Los Angeles.
“John has tried to live out his intellectual commitment by making concrete
contributions to the Charlottesville community,” said Professor Michael
J. Smith, who taught Kiess for three years. “He has done a similar thing
in Belfast, and I expect he will do so in Cambridge.”
am confident John Kiess will become one of the most exciting
theological voices of his generation,” said religious studies
professor Charles R. Marsh.
said Kiess helped invigorate the moral mission of the University.
the past three years, we have witnessed at the University a resurgence
of moral energy among undergraduates,” Marsh said. “Kiess has been
a defining voice in this new activism. A young man of mature faith and great
John’s entire life is shaped by his commitment to others
and, importantly, to developing a deep and theologically
informed integration of intellect and
year’s Cooke scholarship recipients
were chosen from a pool of 1,226 nominees submitted by 747
developed this program to offer outstanding individuals the financial
freedom to pursue their highest calling through advanced education,” said
Matthew J. Quinn, the foundation’s executive director and a former college
this group, we have found 39 of the finest students in
America, and we expect they will make tremendous contributions to their professions
said that to be selected as a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, students “had
to show not only exceptional academic ability, but also
a strong will to succeed and other qualities such as
demonstrated critical thinking, a sense of service, a
love of the arts or humanities, … [because]
each of these attributes was important to Mr. Cooke.”
amounts will vary for each recipient based on several
factors. Each award can cover some or all
tuition, room and
board, fees, and
books for the duration of the scholar's approved
degree program (up to six years). The scholars may use the
award to attend
school in the
United States or abroad.
is the University of Virginia’s 11th Jack Kent Cooke Scholar.
“John is a remarkable young man, and we are thrilled to have another graduate
gain the prestigious distinction of being a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar,” said
Nicole F. Hurd, the assistant dean and director of the Center for Undergraduate
Excellence, who oversees the U.Va. Cooke selection process.
Nicole Hurd, (434) 924-7727