Knight-Hennessy Scholars program identifies admission criteria

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is beginning a global recruitment effort to identify promising prospective graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities.

As it begins its recruitment of prospective graduate students worldwide, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program will look for people who are independent thinkers, display purposeful leadership and have a civic orientation.

These admission criteria have been published on the program’s website, laying the foundation for the program’s application launch in May. Applications to the program will be available on May 1 and will be due Sept. 27.

The program, announced in February 2016, aims to prepare a new generation of global leaders with the deep academic foundation and broad skill set needed to develop creative solutions for the world’s most complex challenges. Those selected as Knight-Hennessy Scholars will receive full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford. Fifty scholars will join the first cohort that enrolls in fall 2018, with up to 100 scholars admitted annually in subsequent years.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world. More than 85 percent of the $750 million endowment directly supports the scholars.

Rebellious minds

The program’s faculty advisory board and global advisory board, comprising leaders from business, law, medicine and other professions, shaped the criteria to guide in the selection of scholars.

“We are seeking those with rebellious minds,” said Derrick Bolton, dean of Knight-Hennessy Scholars admission. “Yes, people who are sharp thinkers and intelligent but, even more so, curious – students who will bring good ideas and maverick perspectives to old challenges.”

To be selected as Knight-Hennessy Scholars, candidates must separately apply to the graduate program of their choice. In addition to his or her core Stanford degree program, each scholar will have additional opportunities for leadership training, mentorship and experiential learning across multiple disciplines.

A strong sense of purpose and integrity will also be a factor when evaluating Knight-Hennessy Scholars applicants.

“We appreciate students who have a steely determination to pursue their goals to an exceptional end, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of engaging others,” Bolton said.  “Our scholars are leaders who can drive progress for humanity rather than for a select few. They respect people’s differences, are personally humble and are kind to others.”

Across the pond

Recently, Bolton and John Hennessy, the program’s Shriram Family Director and Stanford president emeritus, travelled to Great Britain to meet with university officials and introduce the program to prospective applicants.

“Our colleagues across the pond believe deeply in what we are aiming to achieve with Knight-Hennessy Scholars,” Hennessy said. “They were very impressed with the strong interest we received from their students. Every session reached capacity and several were overbooked.”

Bolton and Hennessy also recently completed a series of visits to colleges on the East Coast. Trips to China, Japan and South Korea are planned over the next month.

Along with Hennessy, who served as the university’s 10th president from 2000 to 2016, the program is named for alumnus Phil Knight, MBA ’62, philanthropist, business leader and co-founder of Nike Inc., who is contributing $400 million to back the program.