Matthew C. Steenberg '01, Moscow, Idaho, has been named to one of America’s most elite groups of scholars: He’s one of 40 U.S. students who are Year 2001 recipients of $50,000 British Marshall Scholarships. The winners were announced in December by British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer in Washington, D.C.
Steenberg is the only student from a Minnesota college or university to win the esteemed award this year.
Long regarded as one of the highest undergraduate accolades, British Marshall Scholarships make it possible for young Americans of high ability to study for two years in the United Kingdom. The scholarships may be used at any British university and cover the costs of two years of tuition, books, travel and living expenses leading to the award of a British University degree. Each Marshall Scholarship is worth approximately $50,000.
Steenberg, born at a U.S. Naval base in Okinawa, Japan, is the son of Craig and Karin Steenberg. A religion and classics major who plans to become an ordained member of the clergy and a professor, he is the first St. Olaf College student to win a British Marshall Scholarship. He withdrew as a leading Rhodes Scholar candidate to accept the Marshall award.
Steenberg will use the scholarship to obtain a Ph.D. in Patristic Theology from the University of Oxford, England. "A great love for the church and the people which it educates is the foundation for all my interests, academic and otherwise," Steenberg said.
He spent the 1999-2000 academic year studying at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University, England, as part of St. Olaf College’s Junior Year Abroad foreign studies program.
He is a key member of an international team of mostly priests and scholars who are translating the Septuagint from ancient Greek to New King James English for use by Orthodox churches. He has produced first drafts of six books for The Orthodox Study Bible: The Old Testament. The translation and study notes are slated for completion in 2004.
At St. Olaf College Steenberg founded a service that produces software to print Hebrew and Coptic on the web; taught Visual Basic programming for America Online; and published several syllabi online. He served as president of the Oxford University Orthodox Christian Society. Before that he was Student of the Year in St. Olaf College’s Great Conversation program; was a student representative on that program’s steering committee; and was a sacristan for the St. Olaf College chapel. Currently he is the college’s Greek tutor and a teaching assistant for the Great Conversation program. He also is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most respected scholastic honorary society.
The British Marshall Scholarship isn’t the first major award for Steenberg. Early this year he was honored by USA Today as one of 20 students on the newspaper’s 2000 All-USA College Academic First Team. He was chosen from 828 undergraduates nominated nationwide.
As a sophomore Steenberg won two divisions of the national undergraduate Greek translation contest.
British Marshall Scholarships were intended to build on the Rhodes Scholarship program, established in the early 1900s. Many scholars consider Marshall Scholarships to be superior to Rhodes; while Rhodes Scholarships are restricted to one British university, Marshall Scholarships may be used at any university in the United Kingdom, and provide funds for travel.
While Steenberg is the first St. Olaf student to win a Marshall Scholarship, six St. Olaf students have been named Rhodes Scholars. Steenberg was a leading Rhodes candidate this year, but took himself out of the Rhodes competition in order to accept the Marshall.
The Marshall Scholarships were started in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan). They are funded by Great Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and are administered by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission in the United Kingdom, and in the United States by the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and five regional Consulates-General.
The scholarships are open to U.S. citizens who hold a first degree (by the time they take up their Marshall Scholarships) from an accredited four-year college or university in the United States, with a minimum GPA of 3.7. The scholarships cover university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grants, research and daily travel grants, fares to and from the United States and, where applicable, a contribution toward the support of a dependent spouse.
Most of the Marshall winners are selected in the United States by five regional boards based in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Washington. A number of scholars are selected at-large.
St. Olaf College prepares students to become responsible citizens of the world, fostering development of mind, body and spirit. A four-year, coeducational liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), St. Olaf has a student enrollment of 2,950 and a full-time faculty of approximately 250. It is one of Money Guide’s top 100 "elite values in college education today," and it leads the nation’s colleges in percentage of students who study abroad.