Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 22
Summer 1994
Alumni profile: Rhodes Scholar continues his quest

     Everywhere he goes-from the UD campus to a Connecticut prison to
the pubs of the House of Lords in London-it seems Len Stark, Delaware
'91, finds another tall drink to slake his extraordinary thirst for
     Take, for example, his experience at London's Oxford University
as Delaware's first Rhodes Scholar since 1961. Stark entered Oxford as
a candidate for an M. Phil., the equivalent of an American master's
degree. After three weeks of classes, however, he wanted to get out of
the classroom and into the library.
     He petitioned Oxford for transfer to a degree program that
focused entirely on research, then dove head-on into an analysis of
British political party leadership elections. During his one and a
half years of research, Stark uncovered far more information than he
could cram into the 50,000 words allotted for a master's thesis. His
solution: Write a doctoral thesis instead, which has a limit of
100,000 words.
     Last October, during a break in his first year of classes at Yale
University Law School, Stark traveled back to London and successfully
defended his 250-page thesis, thus earning a doctorate, or D. Phil.,
in British politics from Oxford.
     "Not bad, from enrollment as a freshman in 1987 to D. Phil. six
years later," says Lawrence Duggan, UD professor of history. "The only
other person I recall who did it in six years was James Bryant Conant
[chemist and president of Harvard University]. Will Len be as
successful? I expect so."
     Stark examined the rules for electing British political party
leaders (the equivalent of American presidential nominations) and how
changes in the rules had affected the candidates who run and their
chances for success.
     He conducted a handful of his 50 interviews with well-known
British political figures in bars at the House of Lords. "It seemed
they had a bar everywhere you turned, and no matter how early in the
morning my interviews were, there were always lords drinking," he
     Stark also made the most of twists in current affairs. For
example, his interest was piqued when Norman Lamont, the number two
figure in British government at the time, was fired from the prime
minister's cabinet. Figuring that the disgruntled Lamont might be
willing to discuss his true feelings about certain issues, Stark wrote
a letter requesting an interview. It was granted two days after Lamont
received the letter.
     "While writing the thesis last summer, whenever I would catch the
news or shows with politicians as guests, I'd see someone I had
interviewed in almost every show," Stark says. "It was exciting. I
knew nothing about British politics two years before, and now, I know
a lot about a specific topic and have actually met many of the people
     For this soft-spoken and unassuming young scholar, learning is an
     "It's always a good feeling to learn something I didn't know
before," Stark says. "It seems like there is so much I would like to
know. I just keep trying to learn more."
     In his four years at Delaware, Stark earned a B.A. in political
science; a B.S. in economics, with a minor in women's studies; and an
M.A. in history.
     A Eugene du Pont scholar, Stark researched and wrote two theses,
one on gender roles and one on predicting a U.S. president's
performance based on his campaign.
     Stark's pursuit of great challenges at Oxford parallels his
academic path at Delaware.
     "I knew very quickly that I loved Delaware, and by the end of my
first year, I realized I could graduate after two years," he recalls.
"I asked [the scholarship committee], 'Are you going to kick me out,
or can I do what I want to do?' So, they agreed to this plan that I
would get a second bachelor's degree and a master's. I was working on
all three at the same time."
     One of the highlights of Stark's experience at Yale thus far, he
says, was representing the University of Delaware and wearing his alma
mater's colors at the inauguration of the new president there.
     He also says he has enjoyed working about 15 hours a week at
Yale's Prison Legal Services Clinic in New Haven, Conn. Among Stark's
inmate clients have been a paraplegic who was refused new artificial
legs by the state and a father who was fighting to retain his parental
     Lest you get the impression Stark is consumed by his studies, you
should know that Stark has another love, Beth Brofee, Delaware '91.
Even their meeting, however, can be traced to a classroom.
     "We met on the first day of classes in an honors colloquium
called 'Battle of the Sexes,' which looked at the portrayal of men and
women in various classic works throughout history," Stark says.
Although he liked the course, it was Brofee who really caught his
     Stark and Brofee were married in August in West Chester, Pa.
Brofee is in her third year in a doctoral program in social psychology
at City University of New York.
     In addition to giving him the opportunity to meet his future
spouse, Delaware provided a sound foundation for furthering his
education at Oxford and, now, Yale, Stark says.
     "At Oxford," he says, "I never would have been able to finish a
doctorate in two years if I didn't have the really tremendous
undergraduate research experience I received at Delaware. I wouldn't
have had the skills or confidence to do it."
     This past summer, he divided his time between working in the
Delaware governor's office and the Wilmington law firm of Morris,
James, Hitchens & Williams.
                                         -Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83