President′s Page

By President William E. Troutt


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President Troutt speaking at Alumni Convocation, Homecoming 2006

If you have any contact with today’s high school students, you know that they speak a language of their own and can change how they choose to communicate with amazing speed. They are suspicious about any messages that sound like institutional hype. They only want "real" messages.

Our talented Admissions staff is working hard to meet this challenge of communicating effectively and authentically with prospective Rhodes students. One strategy that continues to work quite well is letting Rhodes students tell the college’s story. Our new recruiting video and print materials utilize this technique, as does the new Web site. I hope you will visit rhodes.edu and read about the life transforming experiences of Aaron, Alex, Joel, Sini, John, Ashley, Caleb, Cassie, Hazami, Doug, Hallie, Jay, Korey, Latoya, Lizzie, Evan, Rachel, Ross, Shruti and Truett. Their own words reflect the real stories of Rhodes students.

As usual, there is a “story behind the story.” All but three of these students receive financial assistance that allows them to take full advantage of a Rhodes education. Coping with fiscal challenges is a struggle, but many of them—particularly our Bonner Scholars and our Rhodes Student Associates—say that their out-of-the-classroom learning experiences have contributed immeasurably to their personal growth and academic success.

There is a story behind “The Right Stuff” article that appears in this issue. About halfway through the piece the following sentences appear under the heading, “Apparatus”: “Four of the students completed construction of the experiment in Rhodes Tower during summer 2006. [Kevin] Andring, who had labored on it during spring semester, was off to his summer job as a commercial fisherman in Alaska. He would return in August.”

I had the privilege last spring of talking with Kevin Andring about the job he has held on a fishing boat near the Arctic Circle for several summers. It is high-paying but incredibly difficult labor. In order to return to Rhodes in early August to participate in this NASA program, Kevin had to miss one trip out to sea on the fishing boat and forgo a significant amount of summer income. He tried to compensate by scrimping and saving, but by the end of the fall semester he was faced with the real possibility of having to drop out of school. Through the generosity of our community of donors, we were able to find funding to keep him here through graduation, and I look forward to a day when our students do not face such harrowing experiences to receive the aid they need.

My New Year’s resolution is to find a way, sooner rather than later, to meet 100 percent of every one of our students’ demonstrated financial need. With your help, the Rhodes community can meet this challenge.

I am confident we have the right stuff.