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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee leads the state’s public and private colleges in recruiting students to the competitive Ned McWherter Scholars Program, UT officials said Wednesday.

Of the 52 new scholars who have entered the 1995-96 program, 34 (or 65 percent) plan to attend UT. Two more acceptances are expected.

“The McWherter Scholars represent some of the most talented students in Tennessee,” UT President Joe Johnson said. “I am delighted and honored when UT campuses lead all other Tennessee colleges and universities in the enrollment of these fine youngsters.”

Half of last year’s 54 freshman McWherter scholars enrolled at UT.

Of all current McWherter scholars, 72 (or 42 percent) chose UT. The remainder, by institution and number of student recruits, were:

* Vanderbilt, 39 (23 percent).

* Tennessee Tech, 17 (10 percent).

* Rhodes College and the University of Memphis, 9 each (5 percent)

* Other participating institutions, fewer than 5 each (less than 3 percent).

Students chosen for the program (formerly the Tennessee Academic Scholars Program) must be entering freshmen with a 3.5 grade-point average and an ACT or SAT score in the top 5 percent nationally.

The award is composed of matching grants of $2,500 each from the state and the chosen institution. The endowment is limited to Tennessee residents who plan to attend a Tennessee college.

From its inception in 1986-87, the program has grown from 13 awards to the 189 projected awards through 1995-96.

Contact: Pam Carney (615-974-3131)