Lee learned Saturday that she will be heading to the University of Oxford in England next fall. She plans to study statistics for use in public health.
“I am incredibly humbled to be in the same shoes as some of the most important movers and shakers around the world,” Lee said. “It’s daunting to look back at all the Rhodes Scholars and see what they’ve accomplished and think that I could do what they did.”
UT’s Rhodes Scholar honorees date back to Bernadotte Schmitt, who was the first elected in 1905. The Strasburg, Virginia, native was named just one year after the first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford. The 1904 alumnus studied modern history, receiving a bachelor’s and a master’s abroad. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Coming of the War: 1914. He died in 1969.
In 1911, Matthew G. Smith of Kenton, Tennessee, was named the university’s second Rhodes Scholar. He came to UT in 1905, when the student body numbered only about 400. The 1909 alumnus earned his law degree from Oxford. He enlisted in the army and served in France, eventually being promoted to major. He was a lawyer and part-time referee in the federal bankruptcy court in Texas. He eventually gave up his law practice to serve full time on the bench. He passed away in 1991.
Prolific author Arthur Preston Whitaker of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, became UT’s third Rhodes Scholar in 1917. The 1915 alumnus studied history, receiving a master’s degree and a doctorate from Harvard. He published twenty books and numerous articles and reviews, primarily on Latin American history. He was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1936 to 1965. He died in 1979.
UT’s fourth Rhodes Scholar went on to serve at Tennessee Technological University for many years. William E. Derryberry of Columbia, Tennessee, graduated from UT in 1928 and furthered his studies abroad in English literature. He played on General Robert Neyland’s first undefeated Volunteer football team. In 1940, he was named president of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville—later renamed Tennessee Technological University—where he served for thirty-four years. He passed away in 1991.
It would be another fifty-one years before UT had its next—and first woman—Rhodes Scholar.
Nancy-Ann Min DeParle of Rockwood, Tennessee, was elected in 1979, just three years after Rhodes began accepting women. The 1978 alumna entered Harvard Law School and was named a Rhodes Scholar in her first year. She studied philosophy, politics, and economics and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She served as director of the White House Office of Health Reform and deputy chief of staff for policy in the Obama administration. She is a guest scholar in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
In 1995, Jennifer Santoro Stanley, of Clarksville, Tennessee, became the university’s sixth Rhodes Scholar. She studied political science at UT and international economics abroad, earning a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. She is associate principal for McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. She is also the immediate past president of the UT Alumni Association and the current annual giving chair of the Alumni Association.
The Rhodes Scholarships program was established in 1902 in the will of Cecil Rhodes, an English businessman and politician, and is the oldest and most prestigious international scholarship program in the world. The scholarships aim to nurture public-spirited leaders and to promote international understanding and peace. For more information, visit the Rhodes Trust.