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Address at the dinner for the Selection Committee and candidates for the 2008 Australia-at-large Rhodes Scholarships, Canberra.



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ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ON THE OCCASION OF

DINNER FOR THE SELECTION COMMITTEE AND CANDIDATES FOR THE 2008

AUSTRALIA-AT-LARGE RHODES SCHOLARSHIPS

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

3 DECEMBER 2007

Marlena and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House this evening.

Rhodes scholarships are among the most prestigious and enduring of international university awards.

The pages of Australian history are replete with Rhodes scholars, including a Prime Minister (Bob Hawke), a Governor General (Sir Zelman Cowen) and any number of other people in high office or at the peak of their careers in the Parliament, public service, arts and academia.

It was a visionary scheme Cecil Rhodes bequeathed us, in creating opportunities for bright, thinking young leaders to flourish and achieve their potential.

However, his dreams of bettering humanity were not fully realised.

His hope that shared experience among British Commonwealth, American and German scholars in the hallowed precincts of Oxford University might "render war impossible" proved beyond reach.

But the world has undoubtedly benefited from his remarkable concept of bringing together outstanding young people from various parts of the globe to share their intellectual and personal development at one of the great centres of learning.

Although Cecil Rhodes had attended Oxford University, he was also apparently influenced in directing his endowment by his appreciation of the university's emphasis on individualized instruction and the community life provided by its residential colleges.

These characteristics of the University he saw as conducive to developing the exemplary qualities demanded of Rhodes scholars.

However, as a benefactor, he did have a blind spot in overlooking the contribution of women to academic life and civic leadership.

Fortunately, that was remedied by British Acts of Parliament in 1976 and our women scholars here tonight follow in the footsteps of a distinguished line of women candidates who have nominated for the scholarship since 1977.

For Cecil Rhodes, success in sport was contributory evidence of his ideal scholar.

Success on the sports field represented personal energy, ambition to achieve, clarity and sustained pursuit of purpose, a capacity for self-motivation and the ability to organise time in order to maintain a range of commitments.

And indeed this is so.

But the qualities can be demonstrated in other forms of attainment also, such as meeting the

commitments of playing in a symphony orchestra, taking the lead in a great Shakespearean Drama, or performing in a magnificent operatic production.

To succeed in these areas and at the same time achieve academic excellence is likewise a measure of the Rhodes ideal of the dedication required to turn natural ability into practical attainment at a high level.

The fact that all of the candidates here tonight have reached the short list for the 2007 Australia-at-Large Rhodes scholarships means all fulfil Cecil Rhodes' requirements of scholarly and personal excellence.

All of you are accomplished and remarkable young people, with an impressive future ahead of you.

I do not envy the selectors' task of having to choose between you!

I am sure that no matter what the outcome of the selection process over the next day or so, all of you will continue to pursue your dreams, at the same time sharing your proven abilities to the benefit of your fellow citizens.

You are here tonight because you have already demonstrated both splendid achievement and service above self.

In addition, you have shown that you are most likely to fulfil another of the Rhodes' scholarships guiding principles, the commitment to make a positive difference to the world.

I know that one way or another you will all go on from here to new and exciting levels of achievement.

Whatever your next learning adventure is, you embark on it with our warmest best wishes.

And for the Selection Committee, entrusted as you are with an enormous task, I commend you for the time and commitment you have offered to this task.

Thank you.