Alumni Features

Vernon Nash, Central’s hidden Rhodes Scholar

Central College, Class of 1913 graduate was Rhodes Scholar

After Vernon Nash graduated from Central College, he entered the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri – Columbia and received his bachelor’s degree in 1914. He applied and was selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship in 1916. For those who receive Rhodes Scholarships, the Trust funds all their college and university fees at Oxford University in England, plus a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford, as well as during vacations and transportation to and from England.

After his Rhodes Scholarship had ended, he returned to Columbia and got his master’s degree in journalism, followed by a Doctorate in Education at Columbia University.

Nash spent a decade in China between 1924 and 1936 as professor of journalism in Yenching University in Peking. During that time, he helped establish the first school of journalism on the continent of Asia.

During his years of education, Nash developed a heartfelt conviction about the need for the world to establish a world government. His first public statement of this belief was shared in 1927 at a District Convention of the Lions Club in Glenwood Springs, Colo. It was his life’s passion from that time forward.

In his lifetime, he presented the case for a federal world government nearly 3,000 times in more than 750 locations. Further, he wrote a number of books, primarily on the same theme, including The World Must Be Governed; Yes, But...; It Must Be Done Again: In the 1780s American Federal Union, in the 1950s Federal World Government; and a journalism book called Educating for Journalism. He also wrote numerous articles in publications.

Central Methodist College honored Nash with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1963. His father was a Methodist minister and his mother lived into her 90s. Vernon had three siblings—Eska Smith ’14 (married Walton Smith Sr.), Louise ’21 (married Virgil Rathbun), and Willard ’19. All graduated from Central. Nash married twice. His first wife was Mary Rooker ’13. They had gone through Centenary Academy at Palmyra together. She died in 1957. In 1958, he married Mary Cookingham.

Two of Nash’s grandchildren, Walton Jr. and Kathryn Smith also attended Central, as did a great grandchild, Shirley Smith.

Nash continued speaking throughout his life. He also gave an “immense amount of time” to the division of the National University Extension Association, which at the time prepared and circulated high school debate materials. He also considered himself a California rancher with his one acre of ground.

Nash died in 1970, but clearly his Rhodes Scholarship expanded his passion in at least two areas, journalism and the establishment of a world federation government, and he spent his life defending the importance of both.