Florida State University’s Office of National Fellowships, which played a critical role in preparing FSU student-athlete Garrett Johnson prior to his recent selection for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, has a new leader.
FSU alumna Jamie Purcell, who has served as the office’s interim director since August 2006, will fill the position on a permanent basis, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Karen Laughlin announced.
"I am delighted that Jamie has accepted this role, especially since she has been a key player in both the development and success of FSU’s Office of National Fellowships since its beginnings," Laughlin said.
Purcell succeeds the office’s previous director, Jody Spooner, who left for a similar position at Williams College in Massachusetts.
In her new position, Purcell will head an office that advises and mentors FSU students to help them identify and achieve their academic, public-service, creative and leadership goals. The Office of National Fellowships guides students through the paperwork and interview-process maze as they seek to qualify for more than 60 nationally competitive academic scholarships and fellowships, including Rhodes, Fulbright, Truman and Marshall scholarships.
The Office of National Fellowships was created in late 2004 at the urging of a task force of FSU professors and administrators.
"We have great students. It’s about time we gave them a chance to excel on a national level," Paul Cottle, an FSU physics professor and former director of the university’s Undergraduate Honors Program, told the FSU Board of Trustees in September 2004 as he requested $100,000 in funding to start up the office. In response, Trustee David Ford donated the money himself, saying it was critical that "deserving students be able to effectively compete for national and international scholarships."
Purcell earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from FSU in 2004. In April 2005, she joined the Office of National Fellowships. Over the past two years, she has been instrumental in its growth, working to promote student awareness through direct e-mails, workshops and various university media.
"Having spent much of the past two years developing the very foundation of this office, I look to build on all that has been accomplished," Purcell said of her new role.
Since the Office of National Fellowships was established, the number of FSU students receiving nationally prominent fellowships has skyrocketed. For example, eight students ere named Fulbright Scholars just this year, compared with a total of six within the past decade. And thanks to the program, awards given to FSU students over the past year have totaled more than $480,000.
And then there is Garrett Johnson. The FSU student-athlete, an All American in track and field, was named a Rhodes Scholar in early 2006. He credited the Office of National Fellowships, as well as a group of FSU faculty members, for preparing him for the honor by putting him through a grueling mock-interview process.
Purcell said she hopes that the Office of National Fellowships will produce more Garrett Johnsons in the years to come.
"I hope to join forces with people around campus to increase our early identification efforts to help more students get connected with our office sooner while continuing to increase the level of support we offer fellowship candidates," she said.
For more on FSU’s Office of National Fellowships, visit http://onf.fsu.edu/.