The University will establish a new fellow-ship this spring, the third to provide a graduating Harvard senior with a year of study at England's Cambridge University, according to a University release.
The winner of the John Eliot Scholarship, named for a 1622 graduate of Cambridge's Jesus College who went on to found Roxbury Latin School and become a Harvard Overseer, will join the Lt. Charles Henry Fiske III Scholar and the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar for a year at John Harvard's alma mater.
The Fiske and de Jersey scholarships were established more than 70 years ago to honor two students killed in World War I.
The new fellowship was created with funds donated to bolster the endowment of the existing Fiske and de Jersey scholarships over the years. Rather than add an additional year to one of the programs, the committee which oversees the fellowships decided to create a third award.
"We all believe that the one year of study is special, because it allows students to get off track, and explore some interests before going on to a graduate or a professional program or on to a career," Robert Shapiro '72, a former Fiske scholar, told the Harvard Gazette.
The new Eliot scholarship will send a student to Jesus College, which was founded in 1497. The Fiske sends a student to Trinity College, and the de Jersey to Emmanuel College. The de Jersey scholar traditionally resides in John Harvard's original room.
The fellowships are popular because, while they include stipends larger than the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, the selection criteria emphasize personal strengths over academic achievements.
Winners are encouraged to study any field of interest and are not required to enroll in a degree program.
"We would consider the scholarship a failure if the students simply spent the year in the laboratory or the library," Fiske told the Gazette. "We want to make sure their studies don't get in the way of their education."
The committee of 18 former award-winners meets each February to interview a dozen finalists from the more than 80 applications.
John Eliot, the namesake of the new award, was one of the early Puritans to come to the Boston area after graduating from Jesus College in 1622.
In addition to serving as a Harvard Overseer from 1642 to 1685, he also translated the Bible into the Algonquin dialect and served as a pastor of the First Church in Roxbury for 60 years.