Knight-Hennessy Scholars program in start-up mode

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, which will be the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world, is in start-up mode, laying the foundation for admitting its inaugural cohort in fall 2018.

In recent months, the staff of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program has been laying the groundwork for the ambitious new program, which will welcome its inaugural cohort of students to campus in the fall of 2018.

The program, announced in February, is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world. Named for outgoing president John Hennessy and Nike co-founder Philip Knight, it aims to prepare a new generation of global leaders with the academic foundation and skills needed to develop creative solutions and effect positive change in the world. Scholars will receive funding for three years of graduate study and will live in campus residences.

Alyssa Morrison and Jeff Wachtel

Alyssa Morrison, managing director, and Jeff Wachtel, executive director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, are currently focused on forming a faculty advisory board, developing the application and refining the process to admit the first cohort of scholars for the 2018-19 academic year. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Jeff Wachtel, executive director of the program, said 50 scholars will be admitted for the 2018-19 academic year. The class size will increase over time.

The program will publish its admission criteria online in early 2017 and will begin accepting applications in summer 2017.

Currently, the program is forming a faculty advisory board, which will help determine the admission and curriculum criteria needed to identify prospective scholars: high-achieving students with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment, who represent a wide array of backgrounds and nationalities.

“In the fall, we’ll focus on developing the application and refining the admissions process,” Wachtel said. “That will include working with graduate admissions offices in departments and schools across campus, because the scholars will be accepted simultaneously by our program and by a graduate program.”

The program also is in the process of forming an external advisory board, comprising leaders from business, law, medicine and other professions, which will help develop leadership programs for the scholars and also serve as mentors.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program recently hired Derrick Bolton as dean of admissions. He is the former director and assistant dean of MBA admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business. The program also hired Alyssa Morrison as managing director. She is the former director of Stanford+Connects, a four-year global event tour organized by the Stanford Alumni Association.

Hennessy, the Shriram Family Director of the program, will travel to Great Britain in the fall to talk about the program at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and other schools. Wachtel said other trips, both domestic and international, will be organized to publicize the program.

A new campus center for the program – Denning House – will be built overlooking Lake Lagunita. Scholars will convene there for presentations, workshops and social events. Ennead, a New York architectural firm, will design the two-story building, which also will provide office space for a fellow-in-residence and for the program’s administrative staff.

The program’s staff spent the summer learning more about other fellowship programs around the world. As part of their research, they interviewed people with Stanford affiliations who had won international scholarships.

“We learned that the highlights for a lot of the scholars were the connections they made and the networks they formed through meeting and traveling with other scholars,” Wachtel said. “They also told us to keep in mind when we were planning activities that the Knight-Hennessy Scholars will be fully engaged in busy graduate programs, so there will be a limit to how many additional activities they will be able to participate in.”