Rhodes Magazine

Print ShareThis

Tradition and Innovation

For decades, the scholar-mentor relationship at the heart of a Rhodes education has been a driving force inside the classroom, outside the classroom, and, for many alumni, lasts far beyond the college years. An influential faculty member can shape a life. Student tributes to professors show up in social media and paper notes; neatly penned at the conclusion of a Blue Book final exam; or through year-end gifts, such as a beautiful orchid left recently outside a professor’s door.

In fact, a recent Gallup-Purdue Index reports that, “A key indicator in student engagement is faculty, faculty, faculty.” The index looked at workplace engagement and overall well-being to assess the “soft” measures of college value. Among the top six factors leading to respondents with “great jobs” and “great lives,” three relate directly to faculty: having at least one professor who made them excited about learning; having professors who cared about them as individuals; having a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.

As the articles and alumni–professor tributes in this special faculty-focused issue of Rhodes magazine reveal, the scholar-mentor tradition remains strong. Our faculty share their time and energy during classroom lectures and discussions. They encourage students to ask big questions and search for the answers within themselves. They offer undergraduates a chance to conduct research typically available only at a graduate level. And they care.

The select stories in this issue are mere representations of ways our faculty maintain the core traditions of the classroom experience, while still finding avenues to innovate and, thereby, to engage our students. Such “soft” values define a liberal arts education and, more important, the Rhodes experience.