Knight-Hennessy Scholars program announces second annual cohort of global leaders

March 6, 2019, 12:05 a.m.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program announced 69 student awardees from around the world as its second annual cohort of global leaders on Tuesday. Recipients receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford, including dual and joint degrees.

Compared to its inaugural year, the number of students offered the Knight-Hennessy scholarship has increased by 18, signaling the program’s goal of eventually expanding to 100 total awardees.

The program received 4,424 applications, marking a 23 percent increase from last year. It is the largest fully-endowed scholars program in the world, aiming to prepare recipients to confront “complex challenges” and empowering them to effect “large scale” positive impacts on the world.

“We are impressed and humbled by what this new cohort of scholars has already achieved,” said John L. Hennessy, the Shriram Family Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, “and inspired by their deeply rooted commitment to effect positive and lasting change in the world.”

While each Knight-Hennessy Scholar has been admitted into their respective graduate programs at Stanford, they have until standard departmental deadlines in April to accept their admission offers.

Short profiles of student awardees can be found on the Knight-Hennessy Scholars website.

A glimpse into this year’s cohort

The 2019 class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars will pursue graduate degrees across all seven of Stanford’s schools, with 27 percent earning degrees in Humanities, 20 percent in Medicine, 19 percent in Engineering, 17 percent in Law, 12 percent in Business, 4 percent in Education and 1 percent in Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

Following criticism last year for not choosing any scholars who would exclusively pursue humanities graduate degrees, the Knight-Hennessy program announced in October the addition of two new scholars who are both pursuing humanities degrees. By contrast, the 2019 cohort consists of a significantly larger percentage of humanities scholars.

A provisional profile of the 2019 class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars has shown that recipients hail from 19 countries, with undergraduate degrees from 15 international institutions and 37 U.S. institutions. Moving forward, 35 percent of scholars will pursue doctoral degrees, 22 percent will pursue master’s degrees and 43 percent will pursue professional degrees. The scholar pool is 48 percent female and 52 percent male.

This data follows a similar trend as the previous year, where the inaugural class of scholars included 51 students from 20 different countries and 38 undergraduate institutions. Last year, 57 percent of scholars were female and 43 percent were male.

This year, 10 percent were the first members of their families to attend four-year colleges. This is a similar breakdown to last year’s cohort, where 12 percent of those selected were first-generation college students.

Life as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar

During the academic year, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars will gather at Denning House, a newly-constructed building located in the heart of campus and overlooking Lake Lagunita. It serves as a convening hub for both scholars and distinguished visitors, housing meetings, seminars, discussions and regular dinners.

The scholars will also participate in the King Global Leadership Program, an experiential learning initiative which provides awardees with community experiences, meetings with leaders, workshops, global study trips and personal development opportunities.

“The training is planned, such as the leadership workshops, but it also happens through serendipitous encounters in Denning House,” said Jessica Pointing, a 2018 scholar hailing from England who is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science, in an interview with the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

The program was founded in 2016 and is named for Alphabet Inc. chairman Hennessy, who was the president of Stanford from 2000 to 2016 and Phil Knight, MBA ‘62, the co-founder of Nike Inc. Looking toward the future, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program plans to increase its annual intake of awardees to 100. The expansion will take place in the coming years.

The 2020 Knight-Hennessy Scholars application will open on May 1.


Contact Tejas Athni at tathni ‘at’

Tejas Athni '22 is a Desk Editor for the News section, originally from Macon, Georgia. Contact him at tathni 'at'

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