President′s Message: Commencement

By President William E. Troutt


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As you know, Commencement is always a joyous occasion at Rhodes, as another class of outstanding young people “fare forward” to make a difference in the world. I don’t believe there has been a more beautiful graduation day in our 158-year history than the one we were blessed with on May 13. Can anyone recall another time that, as the Halliburton Tower bell began to toll, the temperature was 63 degrees and the humidity was hardly noticeable?

Each year I grow more fond of this wonderful occasion. I love the splendor of the faculty in their regalia, the excitement of the seniors as they officially walk across the seal in the cloister for the first time, the sound of herald trumpets calling back and forth and the pealing of the bell. Fisher Garden, lovely as it is, provides the perfect backdrop for the celebration of academic achievement.

The Class of 2006 was ably represented by the students who were singled out for special recognition—Benjamin Carroll and Rebecca Saleska, who received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, and Sandra Keller, who was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa prize. These students distinguished themselves in many ways.

Ben will be remembered for four years of fine work on the Honor Council and for untold hours at Souper Contact, the student-run weekly soup kitchen, where he mentored both fellow students and clients. Becky made her mark as president of Rhodes Student Government and by designing and implementing not one but two literacy programs in our Hollywood Springdale Partnership. Sandra, an outstanding scholar, tutored at Snowden Elementary School and presented her psychology research at an international academic conference.

As stories of these and other outstanding students are told in local, regional and national media, the rest of the world is increasingly recognizing what makes Rhodes so exceptional. It is immensely gratifying that as we strive for an even better Rhodes, we are becoming a better known Rhodes.

A great example was Turner South cable network’s featuring Rhodes as one of the four most beautiful campuses in the South. That was a wonderful compliment, of course, but the network did not limit its coverage to the distinctiveness of our architecture. Instead, it followed one student to his internship at the Memphis Zoo and another group to the community center operated by the Rhodes Hollywood Springdale Partnership. It discussed the Honor Code and the culture of integrity and respect it encompasses. It highlighted the academic rigor, our meaningful Memphis partnerships, our students serving others. It was a thrilling snapshot of this college, its traditions, its values and the progress we are making every day toward completely realizing the Rhodes Vision.

I’m guessing that this broadcast will make you even more eager to return to Rhodes, and we hope you will start planning now to attend Homecoming/Reunion weekend Oct. 20-22. But you don’t have to wait until then. As I told the Class of 2006, stay in touch, remain involved, keep connected.