Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 4
Fall 1991
A Rhodes wends way from Delaware

     Recently described by one proud parent as the Heisman Trophy of
scholastic achievement, the Rhodes Scholarship is earned each year by
only 32 U.S. college students.
     Among the list of 1990 winners, which contained the usual high
number of students from Ivy League schools, was the name, Leonard P.
Stark of the University of Delaware.
     Stark, who was attracted to the University because of its Honors
Program, was graduated in June with three degrees-a bachelor's in
political science and another in economics and a master's in European
medieval and early modern history- along with a minor in women's
     He was one of four candidates recommended for the Rhodes
Scholarship from among 14 semi-finalists in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The other three winners from that area are from Yale and Columbia
universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
     "I was hoping to be a good-enough candidate to make the regional
interview," said the soft-spoken young man who is an avid follower of
the Washington Redskins. "I never expected to win. I just wanted to be
qualified enough to try for it."
     Stark did more than try. He succeeded in gaining a two-year
education at Oxford University, compliments of the estate of
scholarship founder Cecil J. Rhodes, the British colonial pioneer and
statesman who directed that the program be established after his death
in 1902.
     Only seven Delaware gradautes before Stark have been chosen to
participate in this revered Oxford University tradition, the last
nearly 30 years ago.
     According to research conducted by former Rhodes Scholar
Cornelius Tilghman Sr. of Newark, Delaware '25, these include Charles
Bush, Delaware '03; Everett F. Warrington, Delaware '07; F. Bayard
Carter, Delaware '20; G. Gray Carter, Delaware '22; William H.
Maguigan, Delaware '35; and Anthony A. Sholl, Delaware '61.
     At Oxford, Stark plans to research the office of the British
prime minister and compare it to the American presidency. Eventually,
he said, he hopes to attend law school at  Harvard or Yale.
     Among celebrated winners of the "Rhodes" are
singer-songwriter-actor Kris Kristofferson and "Whizzer" White,
University of Colorado running back and a former professional football
player. Today, "Whizzer" is better known as U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Byron Robert White.
     Former Princeton All-American and New York Knickerbockers'
standout Bill Bradley also held a Rhodes Scholarship, and the U.S.
senator from New Jersey played a major role in Stark's initial
decision to seek the scholarship.
     Stark prepared himself for the rigorous competition by reading
information about the experiences of prior Rhodes candidates, and he
said he was amazed that the process was not as intimidating as he had
     In an article in the publication, Campus Voice, titled "The Long
and Winding Rhodes," a former aspirant shared several celebrated
stories about candidates who were purposely flustered during the final
interview by such tactics as being invited to sit on a collapsing
chair and being asked to open a window that was nailed shut.
     "Nothing like that happened," said Stark, adding that he felt the
committee tried to make the process as humane as possible. But, he
admitted, just going through the interview process and waiting for the
results were intimidating and difficult.
     Stark's strong academic background impressed the judges. "He did
Delaware proud at the regional committee," Ben Lochtenberg, chairman
of ICI Americas Inc. and secretary to the Delaware Rhodes Scholarship
Committee, said. "He was accepted by some of the Ivy League
universities, but he chose Delaware, where he virtually could
construct his own courses and develop his syllabus. He obviously saw
advantages at Delaware that he didn't see at the other schools."
     Stark recalled that all the semi-finalists had been waiting for
hours for word of the final selections when the seven members of the
interviewing committee-which included six former Rhodes
Scholars- entered the waiting room of the director's office of the New
York Public Library, where the finals of the competition took place.
     "They called out the winners in alphabetical order," Stark said.
"When they said 'Simmonds,' I was so confused that I thought her name
came after mine. So, I knew I had lost.
     "I was so confused, I couldn't remember the alphabet. Then, I was
surprised and shocked. I thought they made a mistake because I thought
I was out of it. By the time I realized that I had won, everyone was
congratulating me and shaking my hand. I didn't even know who the
other winners were."
     The former Eugene du Pont Memorial Distinguished Scholar, who
said he likes to keep up with world events, has a strong interest in
politics though "that's something I try to resist, at times."  Stark
said his future could well hold a career in politics or government
     In the meantime, he said, he'll keep up with current events and,
each year in December, check The New York Times  for the names of
other University of Delaware students  selected to receive Rhodes
                                   -Ed Okonowicz, Delaware '69, '84M