Dr. Iris A. Pearce
Dr. Iris Annette Pearce attended Rhodes College in the 1940s, when it was named Southwestern at Memphis, before graduating from Vanderbilt University. During World War II, she joined the women’s corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES). As a medical student, she followed a long-established path in her family, where four generations of physicians preceded her. Yet she was also breaking new ground as a woman: she was one of only two female students in her University of Tennessee class; she served as the first female internal medicine resident at John Gaston Hospital (The Med); and she eventually became the director of the City of Memphis Hospitals while serving as a professor at the University of Tennessee. In recognition of her significant contributions to the health of the community, in 1981 she was named the winner of the L. M. Graves Memorial Health Award. When she died in 2005, Dr. Pearce left a generous bequest to Rhodes to share her lifelong enthusiasm for Shakespeare with future generations.
The late professor of Shakespeare studies at Rhodes, Dr. Cynthia Marshall, played an instrumental role in establishing preliminary planning for this bequest. A revered teacher and scholar, Dr. Marshall won both of Rhodes College′s highest faculty honors, the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Clarence Day Award for Research and Creative Activity. Dr. Marshall was the first of only five Rhodes professors to attain both distinctions. Dr. Marshall was the author of Last Things and Last Plays: Shakespearean Eschatology (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991) and The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), and editor of As You Like It for the "Shakespeare in Production" series (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
"The Pearce Endowment for Shakespeare Studies gives Rhodes students like myself opportunities unavailable to most undergraduates. The visiting scholars on campus have provided me with expert insight into issues I was addressing in the final research paper for my Shakespeare course; their willingness to personally discuss my project with me was overwhelmingly helpful. With the Pearce Endowment, Rhodes students can look forward to an even more enhanced intellectual education." — Lauren Oxner, ′10