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News Release

For immediate use

Nov. 28, 2006 -- No. 566

Note: To download a photo, see end of story.

Local angle: Toronto

Rhodes Scholarship for Johnston
makes two from Carolina in 2006

CHAPEL HILL - Working toward reducing conflict between former rebels and soldiers in central Africa have helped win a Rhodes Scholarship for Adrian Johnston of Toronto, a May 2006 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Perhaps the world's most prestigious award for graduate study, the scholarship funds all expenses for two to three years at Oxford University in England, averaging $45,000 per year in value.

Johnston, among 11 Rhodes recipients in Canada, announced Nov. 20 and today (Nov. 27), is Carolina's second Rhodes recipient this year. Senior Ben Lundin was one of 32 U.S. recipients chosen on Nov. 18. Their success marks the third time that two UNC candidates have received the Rhodes in the same year.

Worldwide, about 85 Rhodes Scholars are selected annually in 14 jurisdictions. Individuals up to age 24 may apply if they have the endorsement of the university from which they graduated.

Johnston, 23, plans to pursue a master's degree in international relations at Oxford, researching how developing countries can improve gains from international trade by pursuing institutional reforms.

"The privilege of an Oxford education would greatly enhance my future career in international economic diplomacy, advocating for structures of power that serve vulnerable communities on a global scale," he said.

The son of Barbara and Ronald Johnston of Toronto, Johnston graduated from Northern Secondary School in Toronto in 2002.

Johnston and Lundin bring the number of Rhodes Scholars from UNC to 41 since the Rhodes program began in 1902. Both received Morehead Scholarships to UNC - full, four-year merit awards modeled after the Rhodes criteria. Of 26 Rhodes Scholars from UNC since the first Moreheads graduated in 1957, 23 have been Morehead Scholars. The award also funds four summer enrichment programs.

Six UNC students and graduates have won the Rhodes in the past five years. Last year, Carolina led its public university peers in the number of students winning distinguished scholarships including the Rhodes. The university ranks second among major public research universities in production of Rhodes recipients.

Oxford alumnus, diamond entrepreneur and English statesman Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) provided for the scholarships in his will, defining selection criteria as literary and scholastic achievement; physical vigor; truth, courage and devotion to duty; protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; moral force of character and instincts to lead.

"It is a thrill to see Adrian's hard work and initiative rewarded with a Rhodes Scholarship," said Chancellor James Moeser. "I worked with Adrian last year when he was student body vice president and chaired my student advisory committee. He has a bright future ahead."

In Burundi from July through October, Johnston worked for an organization that provided conflict management training to leaders in the country's peace process, "using the same negotiation theory that I studied in a graduate level course at UNC." He researched the impact of the training on the Burundian Army, formed through the integration of Hutu rebels and Tutsi-dominated government forces. Previously, the two groups had engaged in ethnic violence against each other for three decades.

Johnston's first visit to Burundi, in 2003, was decidedly less official. That summer, the Morehead sent him to evaluate conditions in a refugee camp in Tanzania. The camp was home to Burundians who had fled the conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in their own country.

"I documented refugee accounts of serious health and safety problems, including malnutrition," Johnston said. "World Food Program rations had been sharply reduced because of declining financial support from the international community. Consequently, many refugees were repatriating before safety permitted. In their estimation, life in the camp had become worse than the risks of return." He accompanied them back across the border to their native land.

On his next Morehead summer, Johnston researched city governments in London, Stockholm, Berlin, Paris and Brussels, noting their best practices - including programs on homelessness and affordable housing - and recommended those practices to officials back home in Toronto.

At Carolina, Johnston was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Golden Fleece, an honor society recognizing extraordinary contributions to the university. He worked with the Student Attorney General's office and UNC's service-learning program, for which he participated in and organized fall break trips to help the homeless in Washington, D.C., and Outer Banks residents recovering from hurricanes.

"This young man has already established himself as a research-scholar, a mediator, a diplomat and a deeply compassionate servant to the needs of those whom the larger society appears at times to overlook," said Dr. George Lensing, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships at UNC. "Carolina is proud to claim him as our third Canadian Rhodes Scholar in the last five years."

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Note: Johnston can be reached at (416) 483-4783 through Tuesday (Nov. 28).

For more about Rhodes Scholars, visit
For more about Morehead Scholars, visit
For the UNC news release about Ben Lundin, visit

Office of Distinguished Scholarships contact: Dr. George Lensing, (919) 260-6302,
News Services contact: L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589; cell (919) 219-6374