Thanksgiving Message from the President
We cannot remember a better fall at Rhodes.
In August, we welcomed a truly outstanding entering class of 554 first-year students from 47 different states. Our student body now includes 1,927 students, representing every state and 19 countries. Our new class brings a record level of academic achievement, with a 3.8 grade point and an ACT average of 29. At Opening Convocation, Professor Luther Ivory challenged them to take full advantage of Rhodes and offered Three Pillars of Wisdom for Rhodes students: excellence, communal consciousness, and perseverance.
Our entering class faces a high standard in matching the achievements of the Class of 2012. Our May graduating class has headed all across the country and around the globe. Three graduates were named Fulbright Scholars this past year. Jake Groves ′12 is teaching in Russia, Richard Hurd ′08 in Brazil, and Daniel Williford ′11 in Morocco. Carson Duffy ′12 was named a Watson Fellow and is exploring community building efforts in Chile, India, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. Sharwil Bell ′12 received the NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was selected as a Top 30 honoree for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Even during very difficult times, Rhodes graduates continue to succeed in securing employment and admission to advanced study—as evidenced by the most recent post-baccalaureate outcomes survey.
It has been a year filled with academic highlights:
We welcomed 20 new faculty members this fall. We continue to enjoy great success in recruiting our top faculty choices.
In the sciences, we now rank in the top ten among liberal arts colleges in terms of the percentage of science graduates. The number of Rhodes science graduates pursuing graduate and professional degrees continues to grow. At a time when more Rhodes students than ever before are majoring in the natural sciences, we honor our past and look to the future with plans to renovate existing science buildings.
Highlights in the arts included recognition by the Tennessee General Assembly for two collaborative projects between Rhodes and Cypress Middle School—the film “Far Away Next Door” and the mural “Imagine the Places You’ll Go.” As part of an event sponsored by the Mike Curb Institute for Music, the Rhodes Jazz Band performed before its largest audience ever at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. The Tennessee Film, Music, and Entertainment Commission held its fall meeting on our campus and heard presentations from Rhodes students.
We celebrated the opening of the Memphis Center, which focuses on the human experience in the Memphis and 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.
Our beautiful campus grew even more beautiful with the completion of the West Village Residence Hall, adding space for 141 students and creating a stunning new quadrangle with Glassell Hall, Moore Moore Infirmary, and the renovated Catherine Burrow Refectory. With 19,000 square feet of additional space, a new servery, kitchen, and dining areas, the refectory now offers the best in dining and conversation space to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests. With additional students living on campus, there is a more vibrant atmosphere, with increasing attendance at lectures, sporting events, and campus programs.
With the help of generous donors, our football and field hockey teams celebrated new playing fields. The field hockey team won its fourth consecutive conference title, and the football team celebrated the return of the Orgill Trophy. The women′s soccer team tied for the regular-season conference championship, and the men’s lacrosse team completed its first-ever season at Rhodes. We look forward to the inaugural season of women’s lacrosse next year.
Rhodes completed its 39th consecutive year of balanced operating results in 2011-2012. Last spring, Standard and Poor’s reviewed the college’s financial position and affirmed its A+ rating, reflecting our sound financial standing. At a time when the global economy continues along a tenuous path, we are grateful for this affirmation. While investment markets remain volatile, our endowment has been relatively stable, largely avoiding erratic swings in value through our program of investing in broadly diversified, non-correlated asset classes. As of October 31, the Rhodes Endowment Fund was valued at approximately $278 million.
Results of a recent study, "The Financially Sustainable University," published by Bain and Company, reflect the college′s careful approach to its financial affairs. Rhodes was one of 36 colleges nationally, and one of three in the southeast, named in the "Elite Liberal Arts" category.
Rhodes Chapters across the country shared their support of I AM ONE, I AM RHODES through their efforts in student recruitment, student mentoring and career placement, and fundraising. Support by members of the Rhodes community brought an Annual Fund increase of more than $140,130 over the previous fiscal year, with a total of $2.5 million in unrestricted giving. Both alumni and parent participation are following upward trends, and our October Giving Challenge resulted in a 5% increase in alumni participation.
Rhodes continues to live up to its Newsweek designation as the nation’s “Most Service-Oriented” school. Students collaborated with neighbors and schools to commemorate September 11 and support Rhodes’ Habitat for Humanity. This fall, service ranged from student-initiated programs with a Spanish class offering Spanish Storytelling on Saturday mornings in the Barret Library to First Book, a student organization promoting literacy, partnering with the Anthropology and the Written Word course to create children′s books. Also inaugurated this fall were Old Forest Tours as part of the work of the Overton Park Conservancy, and the Local Lynx Farmer′s Market held each Thursday afternoon in the Barret Library cloister.
With all we have to be thankful for as a college, Carole and I most treasure our friendships with students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and trustees. We are blessed to know so many wonderful people who believe in our college and in each other.
Bill and Carole Troutt