The Rhodes Trust announces Dr Elizabeth Kiss as its new Warden & CEO

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Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Kiss.

Today, the Rhodes Trust announces that Dr Elizabeth Kiss will become the new Warden and CEO, starting in August 2018. Dr Kiss will be the first female Warden of the Rhodes Trust.

The Rhodes Trust – the preeminent international scholarship programme established at the University of Oxford in 1903 – selects creative young leaders with a commitment to serving others and standing up for the world. In the century since the establishment of the Rhodes Scholarships, the Trust has convened a community of extraordinary people who share a history of enriching their communities, pioneering in their chosen fields, and applying the knowledge and experience acquired as Scholars to the betterment of society. Currently 96 Scholars are selected from 64 countries around the world each year, with further expansion on the horizon.

In her new role Dr Kiss will have overall responsibility for selecting and developing exceptional students who are impatient for change in the world and who have the courage to act. The Warden also oversees the Rhodes global network and ensures that Rhodes House is a place where individual achievement becomes a lifelong fellowship for those committed to addressing the world’s most pressing issues. By holding topic convenings in Oxford and around the world, the Rhodes Trust creates hubs for exchange of ideas, bringing together people of different backgrounds and viewpoints to develop solutions for global challenges.

Elizabeth Kiss said on her appointment: I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to join the Rhodes Trust  at such an exciting time in its history. Now more than ever, we need knowledgeable and courageous leaders from all walks of life who stand up for the world. Thanks to its bold vision and dynamism, the Rhodes Trust is uniquely positioned to serve this need.  I look forward to building on the remarkable accomplishments of our current Warden, Charles Conn, and working to continue to expand the number and geographic reach of the Rhodes Scholarships, deepen the lifelong connections among Rhodes Scholars past and present, and enhance our impact through global partnerships including those with The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, the Atlantic Institute, and the Schmidt Science Fellows. It will be a joy to return to Oxford and I look forward to getting to know the current Rhodes Scholars, the University community, and Senior Scholars all across the globe.”

Charles Conn, who has served as Warden and CEO of the Rhodes Trust since 2013 commented:  “I am extremely pleased that Elizabeth Kiss will be the next Warden of the Rhodes Trust.  I have known Elizabeth for more than thirty years and have always thought very highly of her abilities and accomplishments, including the wonderful leadership programme she introduced at Agnes Scott College.  I am confident that she will build on the recent strategic transformation of the Trust, as well as adding her own creative ideas and inspirational leadership to this role.”

During his Wardenship, Mr Conn helped raise more than £250 million to secure the core Scholarships and expand the programme to new countries and new partner fellowships. He pioneered the development of a comprehensive Character, Service and Leadership programme for current Scholars, as well as initiating topic specific convenings for the international alumni community. He forged several important new partnerships, most notably to form the Atlantic Institute and the Schmidt Science Fellows.


Dr Elizabeth Kiss - Biography

Elizabeth Kiss (pronounced ‘quiche’) received her BA in philosophy, magna cum laude, from Davidson College in North Carolina, where she became Davidson’s first female Rhodes Scholar, going on to receive a BPhil and DPhil in philosophy from the University of Oxford. Dr Kiss has a longstanding career in academia; she has taught at Randolph-Macon College (Virginia), Deep Springs College (California) and at Princeton University for eight years. Her academic focus has been on moral and political philosophy and she has published extensively on moral education, human rights, the application of rights theories to issues of ethnic conflict and nationalism, feminist debates about rights and justice, and justice in the aftermath of human rights violations.

Elizabeth Kiss comes to the Rhodes Trust after serving for twelve years as president of Agnes Scott College, Georgia. During her tenure, Agnes Scott broke records for enrollment and retention and was named the second ‘Most Diversified College in America’ by Time and the country’s most successful liberal arts college for graduating low-income students by the U.S. Department of Education. Agnes Scott was also named the second ‘Most Innovative School’ among national liberal arts colleges by US News and received the American Council of Education’s 2017 Award for Institutional Transformation, following Dr Kiss’ introduction of SUMMIT, a programme which provides every student with a core curriculum focused on global learning and leadership development. From 1997 to 2006 Elizabeth Kiss served as the founding director of Duke Universitys Kenan Institute for Ethics, building a university wide interdisciplinary centre focused on promoting moral reflection and commitment in personal, professional, organisational and civic life. In December, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Elizabeth Kiss on its 2017 list of the most influential people in U.S. higher education.  

Elizabeth Kiss has held many leadership roles in local and national organisations, including the Climate Leadership Network, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Womens College Coalition. She has always remained strongly connected with the Rhodes Community, having mentored Rhodes applicants for over 25 years and serving for 19 years on Rhodes selection committees, including six years as State Secretary in North Carolina.


The Rhodes Scholarships

The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards supporting outstanding all-round students at the University of Oxford, and providing transformative opportunities for exceptional individuals. Established in 1903, the Rhodes is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious international graduate scholarship programme in the world. Nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, the professions, commerce, the arts, education, research and other domains. They are well known advocates for expanded social justice, and have advanced the frontiers of science and medicine. The Rhodes Trust provides the existing Rhodes Scholarships in partnership with its Second Century Founders, John McCall MacBain O.C. and The Atlantic Philanthropies, and many other generous benefactors.


Media toolkit

Further details on the Rhodes Trust, the Rhodes Scholarships, alumni and the mission of the organisation can be found at Additional information relating to this announcement and high-resolution photographs are available upon request.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.