The University of Chicago News Office
Dec. 14, 2002 Press Contact: Julia Morse
(773) 702-8359

Rhodes Scholarship awarded to University of Chicago graduate

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Sean Campbell

The Rhodes Scholarship Trust


The University of Chicago’s Sean Campbell has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for study at the University of Oxford. Campbell’s award brings Chicago’s total number of Rhodes Scholars to 37.

Campbell, 22, plans to study economic and social history at Oxford. Campbell is particularly interested in studying social policy and the history of efforts to fight poverty and homelessness. Campbell, who has served as an intern for the Office of Mayor Richard J. Daley, eventually hopes to pursue a career in public service that will enable him to influence poverty policy.

“I want to learn about the history of attempts to fight poverty,” said Campbell, in his Rhodes application, “so that I can figure out how to help poor people in a way that avoids the mistakes of the past and treats the problem of poverty in the nuanced fashion it deserves.”

A native of New York City, Campbell graduated Phi Beta Kappa in June with a bachelor’s degree in history. He was a 2001 Student Marshal, the highest academic honor that the University of Chicago gives to undergraduates, and received a Harry S. Truman Scholarship in March 2001. He also was awarded the University’s Barnard prize last Spring for writing the best undergraduate thesis in American history.

“He really deserves this,” said Claudio Lomnitz, Professor of History at the University of Chicago. Lomnitz, a Latin American specialist who was Campbell’s undergraduate thesis advisor, described his student as an “unusually original thinker.” His award-winning thesis, which focused on U.S. attempts to help the poor of Latin America, was innovative, Lomnitz said, because it synthesized the perspectives of three disciplines –– history, sociology, and political science. “Sean is thoughtful, bright, self-motivated, and rigorous analytically,” Lomnitz said. “He’s certainly one of the top students that I’ve had.”

While a Chicago student, Campbell was Vice President of the school’s Model United Nation, president of the Chicago Debate Society, and a member of the University’s Chorus and its crew team. He was also deeply involved in public service and volunteer activities. In addition to his work in Mayor Daley’s office, Campbell has worked as an intern for Chicago’s Streetwise newspaper and as a teacher’s assistant at the Carnegie School, a public elementary school.

Campbell is currently working for the New York City Economic Development Corporation as part of the city’s Urban Fellow program, which places recent college graduates in high-level positions in city government.

The Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious academic scholarships, was established in the will of British colonial pioneer and statesman Cecil J. Rhodes and was initiated upon his death in 1902. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the world to study at Oxford would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace and the personal and intellectual development of his scholars. The scholarship provides a tuition and living stipend to 32 Americans for two years of study in any field at Oxford. For more information on the Rhodes Scholarship process in the United States, please visit
Last modified at 10:02 AM CST on Monday, December 09, 2002.

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