Robert A. Fisher, a senior and Brock Scholar at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is among the thirty-two American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars representing the United States. The announcement was made by Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust.
Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may allow funding in some instances for four years. Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships, “the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.”
They were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer, and are provided in partnership with the Second Century Founder, John McCall MacBain and other generous benefactors. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; Fisher, who was among those elected on November 22, 2014, will enter Oxford in October 2015.
Fisher, who majors in Political Science and minors in History and Africana Studies, graduated from Rossview High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 2011. He has been named a Truman Scholar. He is serving his second term as president of the Student Government Association. He becomes the third student from the Chattanooga campus to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
“I can’t quite put into words how I feel; I am still processing what all of this means,” Fisher said. “To be among 32 of the most talented students in the country is an honor that I never would have imagined for myself. This is the type of opportunity I merely dreamed of as a child. To be the grandson of a set of grandparents who graduated from segregated high schools, to have lived a life contextualized in large part by racial inequality, I recognize that I now have a unique responsibility to leverage this honor to affect positive change in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and beyond.”
He was appointed as student representative to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
He has also served as a member of the UT Advocacy Council (UTAC) Oversight Committee, and as co-chair of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s Chattanooga Forward Initiative for the Downtown Revitalization Taskforce. He was named Student Representative of Academic Affairs and Student Success for the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.
Fisher plans to pursue the Master of Philosophy in Comparative Social Policy at Oxford.
“To say that Robert winning the Rhodes Scholarship is a historic event for The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is no exaggeration; before the announcement on Sunday, November 22nd, both the University of Chattanooga and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga together have only had two students be named Rhodes Scholars. So it’s an amazing thing for our institution,” said Dr. Linda Frost, Dean of the Honors College at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “But as Robert himself told me, it’s a win for his family—for all the people who have supported him so powerfully over the years. Part of what is so satisfying about this is not just that Robert deserves it so heartily because of all the things he’s already achieved, but because we know that Robert will take whatever he learns at Oxford and give it back to his community, tenfold. In the end, it’s just a great thing for anyone who is part of Robert’s community—and that community just gets bigger and better by the day.”
Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, applicants must be endorsed by their college or university. This year approximately 1600 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 877 were endorsed by 305 different colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview.
“I could not have reached this incredible feat without the support of my amazing family, my dear friends, the UTC and Chattanooga communities, and many, many more people and entities that I regret I cannot list here,” Fisher continued. “For now, all I can say is thank you to everyone who has played a role in my journey, and that I will continue to live my life in service to others–this opportunity merely impacts the scalability of that service.”
Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes.
These criteria are first, academic excellence. This is a critical but only threshold condition. A Rhodes Scholar should also have great personal energy, ambition for impact, and an ability to work with others and to achieve one’s goals. In addition, a Rhodes Scholar should be committed to make a strong difference for good in the world, be concerned for the welfare of others, and be conscious of inequities. And finally, a Rhodes Scholar should show great promise of leadership. Outstanding young men and women of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service are sought. Gerson said “these basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an important and positive contribution throughout the world. In Rhodes’ words, his Scholars should ‘esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.'”
Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are a legal resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22 in cities across the country. Each district committee made a final selection of two Rhodes Scholars from the candidates of the state or states within the district. Two-hundred seven applicants from 86 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition, including 10 that had never before had a student win a Rhodes Scholarship.
The thirty-two Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from fourteen other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the thirty-two Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 80 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, usually including several who have attended American colleges and universities but who are not U.S. citizens and who have applied through their home country.
With the elections announcement on Sunday, November 23rd, 3,356 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 316 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 498 American women have now won the coveted scholarship. This year, men constituted 53 percent of the applicant pool and also 53 percent of those who reached the final stage of the competition. Over 1900 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.
The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral) chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Gerson estimates that the total value of the Scholarship averages approximately $50,000 per year, and up to as much as $200,000 for Scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.
The full list of the newly elected United States Rhodes Scholars, with the states from which they were chosen, their American colleges or universities, and their brief profiles can be found at http://www.rhodesscholar.org/winners/
Dr. Michelle Deardorff has been elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association (APSA). It is the leading professional organization for the study of political science; more than 15,000 APSA members reside in excess of 80 countries. Deardorff, professor and head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will serve her council term from 2014-2016.
APSA is responsible for developing the vision and plans for the future of the member-based association. During the next two years it could consider ways the association can transform and be more competitive in the future.
“It is a great honor for Michelle to be elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association,” said Dr. Jeff Elwell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Most of the members of the council are from the elite private and major public flagships universities in our country. Her election expresses the respect she has earned from her peers in the discipline and I know she will do a wonderful job and be a great representative for our university.”
In her teaching and research, Deardorff has focused on the constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender, race, and religion. She is completing work on Pregnancy and the American Worker—an examination of the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disability Act of 1990.
Since 1989, Deardorff has been a member of APSA and accepted leadership roles in the late 1990s. She has served as chair of the Political Science Education section and the Teaching and Learning Standing Committee. Additionally, she was a member of the APSA search committee for an executive director from 2012 to 2013.
“We’re starting to realize this was a traditional, research based organization that really met the needs of graduate faculty at R-1[extensive research] institutions. The majority of faculty do not teach at institutions like that anymore,” Deardorff explains. “So the question is, how can APSA evolve to meet the needs of a contemporary organization?”
Many political scientists are no longer academics, they are practitioners, Deardorff notes. She says during her term she wants the council to consider how it can reach out to many constituencies, including faculty at community colleges, liberal arts four-year institutions, Ph.D. and graduate students, and adjunct faculty. The organization could ponder how the governing structure needs to change and how the organization can become more visible to external audiences.
“When people see a political issue, it is generally not a political scientist commenting on it—there are journalists, politicians, law professors—but the voice of the political scientist is often silent. How can we translate our research into information that is readily available to the public and to the political realm?” Deardorff asks.
She also wants APSA to focus on helping the public understand the political process.
“We’re the people that can translate our research into meaningful applications, we’re the people to help explain the system and help engage civic education,” she said.
Deardorff earned her undergraduate degree from Taylor University. She received her graduate degree and the Ph.D. from Miami University, Ohio.
September 19, 2014
A delegation from Chattanooga’s Sister City of Nizhny, Russia, came to campus to learn about the transformation of Chattanooga.
Chancellor Steve Angle welcomed the group and described Chattanooga’s metamorphosis from a dirty, industrial city to a beautiful outdoor destination with a reputation for entrepreneurial success and innovative use of technology. Angle explained the role of the University in the city’s history and future.
“The University partners with our revitalized community to provide support and expertise,” Angle said. “Faculty and students at the undergraduate and graduate level apply knowledge and work in partnership with community leaders to help make Chattanooga a better place to live.”
Members of the Russian delegation were interested in finding ways to improve their own city, according to Dr. Irina Khmelko, UC Foundation Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Vice President of Chattanooga Sister Cities. She facilitated the delegation’s visit to campus.
“They came here because they want to be our friends and they want to learn about our beautiful Chattanooga. They think it’s a beautiful city,” Khmelko. “We made huge progress and they would like to know more about what we did to get where we are. They want to be a city of high quality of life where people enjoy coming and living.”
Nizhny is home to one of the largest integrated steel product plants in Russia. Anna Andreyevna Yarkova, Senior Internal Communications Manager for EVRAZ Nizhny Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works, was among the delegates. She described being actively involved in leading environmental projects in her city, including educational events and tree planting.
Another delegate, Svetlana Vladimirovna Naumova, head of the interregional perinatal center and an obstetrician-gynecologist, explained that she sees an elevated level of babies born with Down Syndrome, which she attributed to “unfavorable ecological conditions.”
Gennadiy Yuryevich Fedorov, inspector, State Budget Institution, works in the field of environmental protection and wilderness conservation. He explained that a national park was created to help solve pollution problems.
“The mission of the park is to preserve nature and develop eco-tourism, so that citizens can become more conscious of the environment. Locals come to swim and boat at the park,” he said with the assistance of an interpreter. “Scientific work is also conducted to protect endangered species—the falcon is one example.”
UTC students had the opportunity to ask numerous questions of the Russian delegation. When the auto industry came up in the discussion, Sergey Igorevich, facilitator for the Open World Leadership Center, took a playful approach. He asked the students if they had ever seen an automobile produced by Russia? When they agreed they had not, he told them the reason.
“Whatever they try to create in the automobile industry, it ends up looking like a tank,” he joked.
The Department Welcomes Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff as its New Department Head
July 31, 2013
Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff was selected as the Head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on constitutional rights as they intersect with the cleavages of race, gender, and religion, as well as in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She is currently completing a book entitled Equating Pregnancy: Pregnancy Discrimination and Employment that examines the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in relationship to pregnancy protections in employment. Dr. Deardorff’s interests are also reflected in her participation as a core faculty member of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy.
Before coming to UTC, Dr. Deardorff served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Jackson State University, an Historic Black University in Mississippi, where she taught for ten years. She was the Griswold Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the chair of the Department of Political Science and Acting Dean of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. She is a founding member of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy, a coalition of academics who promote civic engagement and popular sovereignty through the study of civil rights in America. She currently serves as the chair of the American Political Science Association's standing Committee on Teaching and Learning.
July 30, 2013
Robert Fisher recently completed an internship with Center for American Progress, as part of his acceptance into The Institute for Responsible Citizenship’s prestigious summer leadership program. During this internship, he had the opportunity to engage key lawmakers on issues such as student loan interest rates. He also met President Barack Obama.
In addition to being a Political Science student, Robert is also a Brock Scholar and SGA President. We extend our congratulations to Robert on his achievements thus far.