College Update


The campus has been a hub of activity this summer with more than 250 students living in Memphis, mostly on campus, and participating in fellowship experiences in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Many of these student fellows presented their summer work in our inaugural Memphis Research, Engagement, and Community History Symposium (R.E.A.C.H.). This symposium highlighted our core strength at Rhodes—students deepening their knowledge and understanding in a variety of areas under the mentorship of inspiring faculty and supportive staff.

In addition to summer fellowships, students took advantage of the summer school pilot program in which Rhodes faculty offered courses in Search, Biology, Chemistry, Spanish and P.E. Faculty and staff members have completed their assessment of this summer pilot program and are finalizing a report to be submitted to the Educational Program and the Foundations Curriculum committees.

Rhodes continued its commitment to international education by providing experiences for 140 students ranging from Maymesters—during which our students studied health care in Nicaragua, international business in Belgium and ecology in Namibia—to British Studies at Oxford. The new Rhodes College Common Table Advisory Group had its initial meeting in July. The Common Table was established to foster collaborative conversations among Rhodes stakeholders, includes students, faculty, administrators, trustees, and alumni. Dr. Geoff Bakewell, Dr. Carole Blankenship ’85, Ms. Carol Casey, Dr. Bill Evans, Ms. Sallie Handley ’14, Mr. Chick Hill, Dr. Darlene Loprete, Mr. Bill Michaelcheck ’69, and President Bill Troutt make up the Rhodes Common Table.

Class of 2016

Student demand for Rhodes is at an all-time high, and we will welcome 555 first-year students this fall. The class of 2016 represents 39 states and includes 11 students from countries outside the United States. These students bring impressive leadership and extracurricular experiences and an average ACT of 29. 39% of the class of 2016 will participate in varsity athletics. Few liberal arts colleges can claim a first-year class as talented and diverse as the Rhodes class of 2016.

Approximately 15% of the class of 2016 will be living together in residential learning communities focusing on topics including American Music and History; Biology and Chemistry; Life: Faith, Text, and Genocide; British Empire; and Search/Greek.

Faculty and Academic Programs

Many new faculty members join us, including two Rhodes alumni—Caki Wilkinson ’03 (Poetry) and Jade Opper Planchon ’05 (Finance). Please join me in welcoming them to campus. For a full listing of new faculty click here.

This semester marks the opening of the new Memphis Center on the┬áthird floor of Barret Library. The Memphis Center at Rhodes focuses on the human experience of Memphis and the Mid-South region, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement and beyond. The center builds upon the college’s existing assets and academic strengths by providing support and resources for interdisciplinary scholarly activity and student research. Among these assets are physical and digital archival collections that highlight our region’s rich literary, musical, archaeological, and civil rights traditions. Milton Moreland, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, has been named Director of the Memphis Center.

Our Urban Studies program has a new home in the East Annex, providing space for Plough Professor of Urban Studies Elizabeth Thomas as well as other affiliated faculty, a research fellow, and two post-graduate fellows.

Another aspect of our involvement with Memphis relates to the Sears Crosstown building. You’ll soon see media coverage highlighting plans to restore this iconic building. Rhodes is a strategic community partner in this venture. The college has not committed financial resources, but given its proximity to campus, the quality of other partners, and potential teaching and student learning opportunities, we want to stay connected to this project as it unfolds.

Information Services has integrated a new web-based tool called Summon to efficiently search through our information resources. Summon allows students and faculty to search all of our holdings, whether physical or virtual, from one site. This tool will effectively consolidate the college’s resources, including books, journal databases, full-text journal articles, e-books, abstracts, images, and audiovisual files into one searchable database.

Grounds and Facilities

Two of the most noticeable plant changes around campus are the completion of the new West Village Residence Hall and major renovations and additions to the Catherine Burrow Refectory. With the design of the West Village, the college is seeking its first LEED building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Consistent with the campus master plan, the intentional placement of these new buildings form a beautiful new quadrangle.

West Village houses 141 upper-class students in 22 suites. Students in each suite share a furnished living room and bathroom. The overall design includes study and conference rooms, laundry rooms on each floor, and a large social space equipped with a furnished kitchen.

The Refectory project includes a new spacious grand servery, fireside lounge, new reservable private dining rooms, a new dining hall, and new kitchen. Diners have choices of fresh menu options ranging from stir-fry to vegan dishes in an exhibition-styled servery. Please join us on August 20th at noon for the Refectory Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and official opening of the new Refectory. (For more information about the new facilities, please visit the Physical Plant site.)

Following our Academic Space Master Plan, additional renovations were completed on the second floor of Buckman Hall, including the addition of a new classroom. Other academic space improvements include renovations in Clough Hall for the Departments of Art and Religious Studies and new classroom furnishings in Ohlendorf and Clough Halls. In Frazier Jelke, the biology library was converted into a 32-seat classroom, and a faculty office was added. In Hassell Hall, a new state-of-the art Music Technology Center has been added. Hardie Auditorium has been adapted with tiered seating to accommodate up to 100 seats for choral rehearsals, lectures, and concerts.

Thanks to significant restricted gifts, two new artificial turf fields are being installed; one for football and men’s lacrosse and the other for women’s field hockey and lacrosse.

The Residence Life Office has moved to 114 Trezevant Hall from the East Annex, where the Urban Studies Program is now located.

Support for Rhodes

Last Spring, the Board of Trustees and National Campaign Executive Committee agreed to increase the Campaign for Rhodes goal by $87.5 million. The three priority areas for these resources are science facility improvement, student aid, and faculty and academic support. Each of these priorities will guide our development work in the coming months.

For the second year in a row, the Rhodes Annual Fund alumni participation rate increased thanks to support from alumni, and specifically an overwhelming increase from the graduates of the last decade. The overall Annual Fund total grew 6% over the previous year to just over $2.5 million.

Numerous parents and alumni hosted recruitment events across the country. Fifteen career networking gatherings were held on campus and in chapter cities with more than 500 students and alumni attending. Chapter leaders and the Alumni Relations staff held hundreds of social gatherings across the country from New York to San Francisco. Members of our faculty also led programs at the High Museum in Atlanta, the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, and the U.S. Capitol.

The college continues to be in sound financial position, having completed its 39th consecutive year of balanced budgets in 2011-12. As of June 30, the college’s endowment was valued at $270 million.

Beginning the 164th Session of Rhodes

Rhodes will officially begin its 164th session at 9:30am on Friday, August 17, with the Opening Convocation in the Bryan Campus Life Center. The convocation address will be given by Dr. Luther Ivory, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the 2012 recipient of the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching. In addition to welcoming the class of 2016, the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research and the Jameson Jones Award for Outstanding Faculty Service will be presented.

Thank you for all you do to make Rhodes a very special community. I look forward to our work together in the coming year.