For more than forty years, Presidential Fellows have been coming to Washington, DC to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research and scholarship, and to develop as future leaders of character. This unique non-resident program offers up to seventy-five top undergraduate and graduate students from leading colleges and universities across the country a year-long opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency, the public policymaking process, and our Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public. Our goal is to develop a new generation of national leaders committed to public service.
The Presidential Fellows are selected by their colleges and universities with guidance from the Center. Fellows travel to Washington, DC twice a year to attend three-day conferences. At these policy workshops, Fellows discuss national issues with scholars of American government and international affairs, senior government officials, and leaders from the fields of business, media, public policy, and the military. Recent speakers have included Jon Clifton, Deputy Director of the Gallup World Poll; Dr. Donald Marron, Director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and former acting director of the Congressional Budget Office; Dr. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, recognized co-inventor of the internet, former Chairman of ICANN, and former project manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Tom Ridge, former member of the United States House of Representatives, the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania, former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security; and George Stephanopoulos, an alumnus of the Fellows Program and chief political correspondent for ABC News.
The centerpiece of the Fellowship is the student’s original research paper on the Presidency or Congress. Each student identifies a faculty advisor on his or her home campus and is appointed a Mentor from a relevant field by the Center. Students make presentations at each conference, are eligible to receive two awards, and compete for publication in our annual anthology, The Fellows Review.
During the Spring Leadership Conference, Presidential Fellows also attend the Center’s Annual Awards Dinner which honors a leading public servant. The most recent recipients are Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. Typically, the Fellows are able to meet with the award winner for a private, off-the-record question and answer session before the dinner begins. Additionally, the two Fellows whose papers have been selected to receive top awards will be recognized alongside the public servant being honored and will have the opportunity to briefly present their research to an audience including many current and former high-level officials.
Fellows can come from any major or specialization, but they all have strong academic credentials, a demonstrated interest in the institutions of the Presidency and Congress, and a desire to make public service a part of their careers. Typically, Fellows are seniors in an undergraduate program, but advanced underclassmen or graduate students can also participate in the program. Alumni of the Fellows program are Capitol Hill and White House staffers, award-winning journalists, CEOs of corporations and non-profit organizations, senior military leaders, and university presidents and deans. Many of our Fellows have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman, and Gates Scholarships. Our 2010-2011 class included Rhodes Scholar Ye jin Kang from Rice University and Gates Cambridge Scholar Chris Carter from University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. Our 2011-2012 class included Truman Scholar Stephanie Spangler of Emory University and Truman Finalist David Hoyt of Stanford University. Our 2012-2013 class included Truman Scholar Mike Norton of University of Arkansas.