Ivied walls and misty mornings … Ancient stonework and delicate primroses … The spires and chimneys of the University of Oxford reaching toward the heavens as they have for centuries. These images seem a world away from Shinnston or Martinsburg or Parsons, West Virginia, but the connection is as close as these 24 alumni who earned Rhodes Scholarships while studying at WVU.
Rhodes Scholars partake of a rich legacy at Oxford. They join centuries of scholars – philosophers and historians, scientists and teachers, presidents and prime ministers – whose lives and work have been enriched by its hallowed tradition of learning and its deep sense of community.
Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke
A.B., West Virginia University, 1901, M.A., 1902
B.A., B.Litt., University of Oxford, 1906
Charles Tucker Brooke received an A.B. from WVU at the age of eighteen, and an M.A. one year later.
Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1904, he was a member of the first group of Rhodes Scholars from around the world.
At WVU he was class poet and a member of Kappa Alpha. He studied at St. John’s (more properly, the President and Scholars of Saint John Baptist College in the University of Oxford) and received B.A. and B.Litt. degrees. In 1908, 1909, and 1910, his works were published in England.
In 1909, he began a teaching career at Yale University, eventually becoming the Sterling Professor of English and a leading authority on Shakespeare and Elizabethan literature.
Robert Parvin Strickler
A.B., West Virginia University, 1907
B.A., University of Oxford, 1910
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1919
Robert Strickler, born in Philippi, West Virginia, earned an A.B. from WVU in 1907 and received a Rhodes Scholarship that year. He played baseball, served on the Monticola yearbook board, was vice-president of his sophomore class, and a member of Delta Tau Delta.
Strickler matriculated at St. John’s College, Oxford, in 1908 and received a B.A. with honors. He continued to study at Oxford until 1914. In 1919, he received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and began a teaching career at Davis and Elkins College.
Thomas Porter Hardman
B.A., University of Oxford, 1911, M.A., 1914
L.L.B., West Virginia University, 1914
J.D., Yale University, 1915
Thomas Hardman was the first Rhodes Scholar to return for an academic career at WVU.
A native of Lewis County, West Virginia, he attended West Virginia Wesleyan and transferred to WVU as a junior. He was a champion tennis player at Wesleyan, managed the football team, and was president of the athletic association and the Chrestomathean Literary Society. He was also a member of WVU’s Columbian Literary Society.
Hardman studied law at Oxford and Harvard University and was recommended for an L.L.B. degree at WVU based on these credentials.
At Oxford, Hardman attended Pembroke College.
He became Dean of the WVU College of Law in 1930.
Van Wagenen Gilson
Academic Record Unknown
In 1910, in Mannington, West Virginia, Van Gilson wrote a letter to WVU President Daniel Purinton, asking to have his name entered for the Rhodes Scholarship examination. Gilson was a junior at the time and did not graduate with his class. Instead, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Gilson’s WVU classmates, at work on the Monticola yearbook, wrote this limerick:
There was a young junior named Van
Who was a Rhodes Scholarship man
To Oxford he’ll go,
With the last of the snow,
Take more honors there if he can.
“The last of the snow” means Gilson enrolled in Hilary term, in early spring. He studied at Queen’s College, followed by successful business careers with Standard Oil, Goodyear, and Seiberling Rubber.
Frederick Manning Smith
A.B., West Virginia University, 1917
B.A., University of Oxford, 1916, M.A., 1919
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1922
Frederick Smith interrupted his studies at WVU to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship. After receiving a B.A. from Oxford, he returned to WVU to complete his degree.
He then served for a year as a corporal in the United States Infantry, received an M.A. from Oxford, and accepted a fellowship at Cornell University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1922.
Smith returned to WVU in 1927 for the summer session as an assistant professor of English and signed his last twelve-month contract with the University in 1965 as a professor emeritus. During his tenure, the University began to grow into the group of schools and colleges that comprise it today.
Rexford Brammer Hersey
A.B., West Virginia University, 1916
B.A., University of Oxford, 1921, M.A., 1922
Ph.D., Berlin University, 1930
Rex Hersey, from Guyandotte, West Virginia, received a Rhodes Scholarship in 1917.
At WVU, he was a member of Kappa Alpha, Mountain, and the University choir and glee club. He played baseball for three years and was a member of the board of the Athenaeum, the University’s student newspaper.
Hersey served in the United States Army field artillery 1918-19 before receiving degrees from Oxford and Berlin University.
He worked with the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Glenn L. Martin Company, American Airlines, and the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.
Julian Lamar Hagen
A.B., West Virginia University, 1916
B.A., University of Oxford, 1921, B.C.L., 1922, M.A., 1936
Julian Hagen of Huntington, West Virginia, graduated from Marshall College State Normal School in 1912.
At WVU, he earned an A.B. and entered the College of Law, where he was on the board of editors of the West Virginia Law Quarterly and The Bar. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the English Club, Phi Beta Kappa, and Kappa Alpha.
During World War I, Hagen served with the 23rd Highway Engineers of the United States Army and saw action in France.
He enrolled in Worcester and Trinity Colleges, Oxford, in 1919. Following his studies at Oxford, Hagen received fellowships at the Universities of Bordeaux and Paris.
He practiced law in New York City with the firm of Mudge, Stern, Williams, and Tucker, which became Mudge, Stern, Baldwin, and Todd.
John Edmund Fitzgerald Wood
A.B., Denison University, 1924
L.L.B., West Virginia University, 1927
B.A., M.A., University of Oxford, 1929
A native of Staunton, Virginia, John Wood attended public school in Huntington, West Virginia.
After receiving a A.B. from Denison University, he studied law at WVU, where he served as editor-in-chief of the West Virginia Law Review and was an associate member of Delta Kappa Psi.
After receiving his law degree from WVU, Wood studied at Christ Church, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He received his degrees in jurisprudence.
Wood spent his legal career in New York City, where he was a partner in the firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer, and Wood.
John Davisson Phillips
A.B., West Virginia University, 1928, L.L.B.
University of Oxford, 1930-32
John Phillips was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia. At WVU, he was president of the student body and of his freshman law class and a member of Sphinx, Mountain, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Delta Phi, and the track team.
He received a Rhodes Scholarship in 1930 and spent two years at Oxford. Upon his return to West Virginia in 1932, he was admitted to the bar.
Phillips served as president of the West Virginia Bar Association in 1955 and was a member of the West Virginia State Board of Law Examiners for twenty years. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and was discharged with the rank of captain. A resident of Wheeling, West Virginia, he retired after sixty years in the practice of law.
Charles Robert Sleeth
A.B., West Virginia University, 1933, M.A., 1934
B.A., University of Oxford, 1936, Diploma, 1937
M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University, 1941
Charles Sleeth was born in Barrackville, West Virginia. He studied Old English and German at WVU, served as president of Delta Phi Alpha, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
At Oxford, Sleeth majored in Old and Middle English and went on to careers in teaching (at Greensboro College, University of Oklahoma, Princeton University, and Brooklyn College) and editing (at the Merriam-Webster Company, where he specialized in etymology).
His published works include a book, Studies in Christ and Satan, an Anglo-Saxon poem of some 730 lines, and a number of articles, mostly on Old and Middle English topics.
Guy Otto Farmer
A.B., West Virginia University, 1934, L.L.B., 1936
University of Oxford, 1936-37
Born in Foster Falls, Virginia, Guy Farmer received a Rhodes Scholarship in 1936.
At WVU, he was a member of the freshman debating team and held the rank of captain in R.O.T.C. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of Phi Alpha Delta and Delta Nu Tau and of the Rowan Rifles. He was president of the student body of the College of Law. He studied at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Farmer became a senior partner in the firm of Farmer, Shibley, McGuinn, and Flood and in 1974 represented the coal industry in contract negotiations with the United Mine Workers of America. Although his professional practice was primarily centered in Washington, D.C., he returned to Morgantown to teach labor law at the WVU College of Law during the 1948-49 academic year.
Ford Lewis Battles
A.B., West Virginia University, 1936
B.A., University of Oxford, 1953
Ford Battles was a graduate student at Tufts University when he received a Rhodes Scholarship. He had graduated from WVU with majors in English and Latin.
A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, he had family ties to WVU: his uncle, Friend Clark, chairman of the Chemistry department.
Battles did not begin his studies at Oxford immediately upon receipt of his scholarship. In 1941 he served as a major in the United States Army Air Corps intelligence branch. After World War II, he returned to WVU to teach.
He then entered Exeter College, Oxford, to study church history and became best known for his translations of the writings of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. He taught at several church-affiliated colleges.
Jack Burton Justice
A.B., West Virginia University, 1952
B.A. Jurisprudence, Oxford, 1954, M.A., 1960
As an undergraduate at WVU, Jack Justice of Williamson, West Virginia, was student body president in 1951-52 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
He studied at Merton in Oxford, and he supported the Rhodes Scholarship Trust as president (1986-94) and secretary (1967-86) of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.
He was chairman of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action (1968-70) and a member and clerk (1986-89) of the board of overseers of the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. Now retired, he was a partner in the law firm of White and Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his practice was concentrated in banking, secured transactions, bankruptcy, and creditors’ rights.
He also served as a lecturer in continuing legal education programs for ALI-ABA on banking and commercial lending law, for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and Temple University Law School.
Richard Edwin Stewart
A.B., West Virginia University, 1955
B.A., University of Oxford, 1957, M.A., 1961
J.D., Harvard University, 1959
Richard Stewart held unique status at WVU: his father was president.
Stewart was elected head of the student body and was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, Pi Delta Phi, and Delta Sigma Rho. Perhaps his most significant accomplishment at WVU was securing a referendum from the students, which was referred to the state legislature, authorizing a special fee to cover the cost of building a new student union, the Mountainlair of today.
Stewart studied law at Queen’s College, Oxford, and at Harvard University.
He has authored or coauthored five books on insurance and insurance law. His firm, Stewart Economics, Inc., has offices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Roger William Tompkins
A.B., West Virginia University, 1958
B.A., M.A., University of Oxford, 1961
L.L.B., Yale University, 1964
After receiving his degrees with honors in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford, Roger Tompkins studied at Yale University and then returned to West Virginia to practice law with the Charleston firm of Bowles, McDavid, Graff, and Love.
Like other recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship, Tompkins, a member of Beta Theta Pi social fraternity, had been president of the WVU student body and managing editor of his law review, the Yale Law Journal.
At Queen’s College, Oxford, he played tennis, rugby, and basketball, the latter against the Soviet Union.
He served as majority leader of the West Virginia House of Delegates (1978-82) and state Attorney General (1989-90).
David Carter Hardesty Jr.
A.B., West Virginia University, 1967
B.A., University of Oxford, 1969
J.D., Harvard University, 1973
David Hardesty was WVU student body president and at Oxford, where he enrolled in Queen’s College, president of the Oxford American Student Association.
After receiving a law degree from Harvard University, he served as tax commissioner of West Virginia (1977-80), chairman or secretary of the State Economic Development Authority (1977-80), the Municipal Bond Commission (1977-80), and the West Virginia State Tax Study Commission (1982-84). He has chaired many business and charitable boards and practiced law with Bowles, Rice, McDavid, and Love in Charleston, West Virginia.
When the state legislature reorganized higher education in 1989, Hardesty became the first chairperson of the University of West Virginia System Board of Trustees. He had been chairperson of the Board of Advisers of the University.
He served as WVU’s twenty-first president from July 1, 1995, to Sept. 1, 2007, and is a faculty member at the WVU College of Law.
Daniel Walter Williams III
B.A., West Virginia University, 1978
University of Oxford, 1978-1980
M.D., University of North Carolina, 1984
Daniel Williams was a chemistry major planning to attend medical school when he received a Rhodes Scholarship.
At WVU, he was varsity quarterback and, as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletics, exemplified Rhodes’ idea of service to others.
He spent two years at Queen’s College, Oxford, and received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was a faculty member for one year.
He then accepted a fellowship to study neuroradiology at Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, where he is now a professor of radiology.
Craig Hall Underwood
B.A., West Virginia University, 1980
M.A., University of Oxford, 1982
M.B.A., University of Chicago, 1984
Craig Underwood graduated from WVU with a B.A. in political science and went on to study politics, economics, and philosophy at Oxford.
Today, Underwood advises and supports loyalty, social, and political entrepreneurs. All of his work is centered on developing strategies for enterprises to increase customer and employee loyalty through understanding, engaging and thriving in the new world of social computing and commerce. He is one of the world’s experts on coalition loyalty programs and has deep expertise in nonprofit growth strategies and board development and mission support. Clients include the Harvard Institute of Politics; SocialSphere Strategies, a new Web 2.0 strategy firm where he is co-founder and partner; Alliance Data Systems; and several sports teams and leagues.
Underwood was the founder and CEO of The Loyalty Group, the Canadian company that created and runs the AIR MILES Reward Program—one of the most successful coalition loyalty programs in the world. Started by Underwood and two colleagues in a Toronto hotel room in 1991, Loyalty now employs over 1500 people; over 70% of Canadian households are active members of the program. While at Loyalty, Underwood developed over 20 innovative coalition database marketing programs for sponsoring companies, including Safeway, American Express, and Bank of Montreal and launched airmiles.com, the first loyalty program on the Internet.
He also has years of experience in management and strategy consulting across a number of industries having served as a partner at both Bain & Company and Bain’s nonprofit affiliate The Bridgespan Group. He was a founding board member and served as interim CEO of Sports Loyalty Systems and a co-founder of Year Up, the innovative work force development program. He has served on over 10 public, private, and nonprofit boards.
Barbara Ann Harmon-Schamberger
B.A., West Virginia University, 1985
J.D., University of Virginia, 1991
Barbara Harmon-Schamberger was the first woman from WVU to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. Prior to 1976, women were not eligible to apply. When an Act of Parliament removed the restriction, it was inevitable that a WVU woman would be chosen.
Harmon-Schamberger, who overcame many personal obstacles before entering college, says that she benefited from WVU’s commitment to encourage and challenge students with previously untapped potential.
She studied international relations and politics at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and received a law degree from the University of Virginia, where she was on the Virginia Law Review.
She currently practices law in Clay, West Virginia. Previously she served as West Virginia’s Secretary of Education and the Arts, appointed by Governor Gaston Caperton in 1993.
Brian A. Glasser
B.A., West Virginia University, 1988
B.A., University of Oxford, 1991
J.D., Harvard University, 1994
Brian Glasser, the twenty-first Rhodes Scholar from WVU, enrolled in Lincoln College, Oxford.
As an undergraduate, he was attorney general for Student Administration and a member of West Virginians Against Apartheid and Phi Beta Kappa. He was named a Truman Scholar in 1985.
Glasser earned a B.A. in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard University.
At Harvard, he served as a Teaching Fellow for the School of Government and the Law School. He taught political philosophy and negotiation.
Later, he worked as a law clerk to the Honorable M. Blane Michael, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Glasser practices law in Charleston, West Virginia.
Brad Madison Hoylman
B.A., West Virginia University, 1989
M.Phil., University of Oxford, 1992
Brad Hoylman of Maxwelton, West Virginia, was the first Rhodes Scholar to come from the WVU Honors Program. An active president of Student Administration, he was also a Truman Scholar, a Marshall Scholar, and a member of Mortar Board, Mountain, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Chi social fraternity.
His term as president of the student body will best be remembered as a time of energetic leadership for student and University concerns: voter registration, an on-campus voting site, fee increases, and local parking regulations. At his graduation, though, he was proudest of the fact that he wore the gold robe of a University Honors Scholar.
Hoylman earned a master’s of philosophy in politics from Oxford and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He practices law in New York City.
Thomas Andrew Gaziano
B.A., West Virginia University, 1990
M.A., University of Oxford, 1992
Tom Gaziano was a WVU Honors Scholar and a Truman Scholar. He served on the WVU Board of Governors, was a student representative to the WVU Board of Regents Advisory Council, and was president of the student body.
He spent two summers as an analyst at the National Institutes of Health and one summer as a Healthcare Fellow on the staff of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. He wrote grants and volunteered at a shelter for the homeless in his hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. He is an avid marathon runner.
Gaziano studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford and then attended Harvard Medical School. He participated in a cooperative program between Harvard and the University of Prague and also served as the state student member to the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
He completed residency training in internal medicine at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he currently holds a joint appointment to the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities and the Department of Cardiology.
John Ronald Unger II
B.A., West Virginia University, 1993
M.A., University of Oxford
John Unger of Martinsburg, West Virginia, was a Rhodes Scholar and a Truman Scholar. He was named to USA Today’s All-USA College First Academic Team and received TIME magazine’s College Achievement Award, Phi Beta Kappa’s Albert Lee Strum Award, and the American Institute of Public Service’s Jefferson Award. He studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford.
Unger coordinated relief efforts in Pilkhana, a Calcutta slum, for Mother Theresa and worked for the U.S. Refugee Program and Amnesty International in Hong Kong where he helped Vietnamese Boat People. After the Gulf War, he coordinated emergency relief to Kurdish refugees in Northern Iraq for the United Nations Operation Provide Comfort.
He was instrumental in establishing the WVU Office of Service Learning and the West Virginia Campus Compact. Governor Gaston Caperton appointed him to the National and Community Service Advisory Board in 1991.
In 1995, he served as Political Adviser to the Hong Kong Legislative Council where he helped establish Hong Kong’s highest court, the Court of Final Appeal, and a local human rights NGO, the Human Rights Monitor.
A Democrat from Berkeley County representing West Virginia Senate District 16, Unger was first elected to the Senate in 1998 at the age of 29, making him one of the youngest state senators in West Virginia history. He is an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) regarding homeland security and economic development. He also produces and hosts a public affairs radio talk show in the Eastern Panhandle.
Carolyn Gretchen Conner Seepersad
B.S., West Virginia University, 1996
As a mechanical engineering major, Carolyn Conner Seepersad, of Valley Fork, West Virginia, served as president of Tau Beta Pi, WVU’s engineering honor society, and held three summer internships at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She was a WVU University Honors Scholar and a Foundation Scholar.
Seepersad studied physics and philosophy at Oxford in order to inspire young people to enter the fields of science and engineering and to help change the stereotypes generally assigned to those fields.
She received an MA/BA in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University in 1998, an MSME from Georgia Tech in 2001, and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 2004.
Currently an assistant professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Seepersad has earned numerous awards for research and teaching. Her research involves the development of methods and computational tools for engineering design, with an emphasis on design for additive manufacturing and simulation-based design of complex systems.