From 1 to 21: Rwanda Consortium membership grows

CONWAY, Ark. (March 1, 2010) – The Rwandan Presidential Scholars Program, a partnership with the Rwandan government that began three years ago by bringing four students to the U.S., has now grown to include 21 U.S. colleges throughout the south and will educate more than 130 Rwandan students in the fall. Members of the consortium, representing nine states, met during a two-day conference at the Clinton Presidential Library recently to discuss the past, present and future of the consortium. Rwanda’s Ambassador to the U.S., James Kimonyo, was a special guest at the event.

The Log Cabin Democrat reported about the program, along with Ambassador Kimonyo’s remarks and a reception honoring the Ambassador. The event was covered by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and CBS-affiliate KTHV.

After beginning at Hendrix College in 2007 with four Rwandan students, the program’s consortium of participating colleges and universities grew in 2008 to include the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Harding University in Searcy, Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and Wofford College (S.C.). For the 2009-10 school year, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Lyon College in Batesville, Southwestern University (Texas), Birmingham Southern (Alabama) and Sewanee: The University of the South (Tennessee) joined the consortium.

New to the consortium for the 2010-11 school year will be Centre College (Ky.), Millsaps College (Miss.), Morehouse College (Ga.), Rhodes College (Tenn.), Spelman College (Ga.), University of Richmond (Va.), Washington and Lee University (Va.), and the University of Central Arkansas.  The program is expected to bring 50 new Rwandan students to the U.S. this summer to begin their educational careers, joining with the 80 already taking part in the program. 

The Rwandan students currently studying in the U.S. have performed well academically – the group averages a 3.64 grade point average with 16 of the students earning perfect 4.0 GPAs since beginning their studies. 

A Hendrix-led higher education consortium with Rwanda was the brainchild of David Knight, the Chief Legal Council at Stephens Inc. and a member of both the Hendrix College Board of Trustees and the Bridge2Rwanda program, a non-profit effort co-founded by former Stephens Inc. investment banker Dale Dawson. Knight worked with Hendrix College President J. Timothy Cloyd to begin Hendrix’s relationship with Rwanda in 2007, and both men have been instrumental in recruiting new colleges to the consortium during the past three years. 

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation’s top “Up and Coming” liberal arts college for 2010 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 44 “Best Buy” colleges by the 2010 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.