Being president of Stanford is a hard act to follow, but John Hennessy’s next project is already turning heads. When he steps down at the end of August, he will serve as the inaugural director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, a graduate-level program with a formidable goal: to “do good for the world,” in Hennessy’s words, by educating potential leaders from around the globe.

Each year, starting in 2018, full funding will be awarded to 100 scholars recommended by their undergraduate universities for three years of graduate study at one of Stanford’s seven schools. Students pursuing an MD or a PhD have guaranteed funding to complete their degrees. Endowed with $750 million, including a $400 million gift from Philip H. Knight, MBA ’62, Knight-Hennessy Scholars will be the largest fully endowed scholarship program in the world. 

“Great leadership is not just about government,” Hennessy told Stanford. “It’s also about the nonprofit sector and the for-profit sector. We’re looking for the very best people in any discipline . . . who show promise of being great leaders.”

In addition to their core studies, all Knight-Hennessy scholars will take part in the King Global Leadership Program for training and development, supported by a $100 million gift from Robert King, MBA ’60, and his wife, Dorothy. The King gift will also fund scholars from less developed countries.

While the new cohort will eventually number 300 at any given time and be an integral part of the graduate student population, a $50 million gift from Board of Trustees Chair Steven Denning, MBA ’78, and his wife, Roberta, ’75, MBA ’78, will fund the construction of Denning House, a dedicated hub for Knight-Hennessy Scholars.