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Rhodes Trust hosts largest gathering of Scholars in history

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OXFORD: A festival of global friendship and thought leadership brought together more than 1,300 Rhodes Scholars and friends of the Rhodes Scholarships to mark 120 years of the world’s oldest and pre-eminent international scholarship.

The Rhodes Trust hosted more than 100 events across Oxford to mark the fellowship, leadership and impact of the Rhodes community, bringing together people from across continents.

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Elizabeth Kiss speaking at the Sheldonian

Dr Elizabeth Kiss, Warden of Rhodes House and CEO of the Rhodes Trust, told Rhodes Alumni in Oxford: “We have been looking back at the trailblazers who shaped our history, we have been reflecting on at the pivotal moments in the Trust’s history….We have been debating and discussing the important issues of the day; AI and ethics, we have been talking about geopolitics and climate change and entrepreneurship and health equity. We are a community that is committed to coming together across the world in this extraordinary space to learn, to engage and then to go out and take action.”

President Bill Clinton (Arkansas & University 1968), one of the many eminent Rhodes alumni who travelled to Oxford, told Scholars: ““The young people today may feel like there are so many hopeless things going on in the world. There are always hopeless things going on in the world, but there a lot of good things too. Our job is to take what we’ve been given here and go and make the world a better place.”

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President Clinton addressing Scholars at the Sheldonian

Convening Hall With Delegates

A session in the new Rhodes House convening hall

Garden Pavillion

Scholars gathering in the new Rhodes House garden pavilion

The event included keynote talks on subjects from healthcare and education to global politics and artificial intelligence. Rhodes Scholars also had the opportunity to discuss the Scholarship’s history, its trailblazers and its place in today’s world. There were family friendly events scheduled across the three days, including tours, adventures and model making.

The gathering was the first major event to be held in the newly refurbished and expanded Rhodes House, which has undergone a three year project to create some of the most modern and sophisticated conferencing spaces in Oxford.

Photo gallery

The event also celebrated:

  • 20 years since the foundation of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, created by the Rhodes Trust and President Nelson Mandela at the time of the Rhodes Trust’s centenary. During the past two decades the Mandela Rhodes Foundation has awarded 622 scholarships to outstanding young scholars and future leaders from 33 African countries and across 35 disciplines.
  • Five years since the creation of our partner programme the Schmidt Science Fellows, an initiative of Schmidt Futures, delivered in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. The Program believes in a vision of a world where interdisciplinary science flourishes without limit, accelerating discoveries to benefit the world, and driving innovation that improves quality of life for all.

The Trust also welcomed friends from its other partner programmes:

  • The Atlantic Institute, created in 2019 with the Atlantic Philanthropies, which creates a lifelong community of leaders who connect, learn and collaborate across diverse perspectives to promote equity.
  • RISE, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust - our newest partnership program, which builds a network of promising young people working to serve others.