President′s Message: New Beginnings

By President William E. Troutt


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President and Mrs. Troutt with Boomer and the King

There is something about the start of the new academic year that lifts my spirit and stirs my soul like nothing else. It is hard for me to believe that this is my 25th fall as a college president and my eighth here at Rhodes. This fall is the best yet for me. A big reason is our continued progress in advancing our Vision for Rhodes. I know you will enjoy reading about some of the strides we are making in this edition of our magazine.

A fall highlight for Carole and me is welcoming our new students with a Memphis-style barbecue at our home. We have a great class. The students are obviously excited about coming to Rhodes and coming to Memphis. Finding a great college in a vibrant city is increasingly a factor in students’ decision to join us.

As always, Carole and I enjoyed having our new class in our home. It gave them an opportunity to enjoy real Memphis barbecue and, to their surprise, a chance to meet Elvis (at least as close to the King as we have here in Memphis). They relaxed, had fun and met Spence Wilson, our board chairman, Carole and me (and our dog, Boomer) in a setting that assures them that they are coming to a college where they can truly connect with all members of our community.

Our new students also begin to appreciate that they have come to a very distinctive place with so much to offer in helping them develop and become their very best. We offer great resources for them both in and out of the classroom, on our beautiful campus and beyond our gates in a city with great institutions and a rich, distinctive culture. Part of that distinctive culture comes to life in the music of our city and our region—music that has shaped our country and our world.

Members of the class of 2010 will have another opportunity to take advantage of Memphis through the new Mike Curb Institute for Music. The institute will support student and faculty initiatives for interdisciplinary study and research of the music of the region—both its historical and cultural roots and its impact on our nation and the world. I am so pleased that the Mike Curb Institute for Music, along with Rhodes’ Institute for Regional Studies and the Center for Outreach for the Development of the Arts (CODA), will develop student leadership and scholarship skills and an appreciation of our region that will last a lifetime.

I am especially excited about the unique and wonderful opportunities the institute will provide for students and faculty because I know how much it means to Mike Curb. As our friendship has grown over the years, I have witnessed how deeply he cares about lifelong learning and compassion for others. Ranging from his time as California’s lieutenant governor from 1979-83, to his distinguished career presiding over one of the largest independent record labels in the nation, Mike’s leadership and service to society exemplifies the best of what liberal-arts colleges hope to achieve.

I hope you get a sense as you read our magazine that being a part of Rhodes just keeps getting better and better. By the way, Elvis is the guy on the right.