Dr. Marjorie Hass was inaugurated as the 20th president of Rhodes College Saturday, Jan. 13, in front of a crowd of students, faculty, staff, community leaders, and delegates representing colleges and universities from around the United States.
In her inaugural address, Hass remarked, “Rhodes is a truly extraordinary place—a place that changes the lives of our students and through them, changes our city and the world. We are justifiably proud of what we do. We are filled with hope about our future. But I assure you, we are not complacent.”
She also noted liberal arts colleges across the country face challenges and outlined her vision for the future of the college.
“As we move forward, we will need to focus on becoming even better at what we do and how we do it. Over the next decade, we will take this challenge seriously, and we will build on our strong foundation as we emphasize the new themes that our rapidly changing times require,” Hass said.
Hass began her presidency July 1, 2017. The Rhodes College Board of Trustees announced her hire more than a year ago.
Board Chair Dr. Cary Fowler presided over the inaugural ceremony. Fowler noted the inauguration is an opportunity for the college to reaffirm the principles that have guided it for 170 years.
“We look to our president to uphold the deepest values of the college and to work with and lead us with purpose, resolve, hope, and humility, as we apply Rhodes principles to daily circumstances,” said Fowler. “We gather together now as a community to articulate such convictions and to give her—the new President—our support and best wishes.”
Rhodes Student Government President Thomas Mitchell welcomed Hass on behalf of the student body.
“When her appointment was announced, it was greeted by an immediate sense of both pride and accomplishment,” said Mitchell.
Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes, an associate professor of chemistry and a member of the search committee, welcomed Hass on behalf of the faculty.
“I had the pleasure of interacting one-on-one with Dr. Hass early in the search process. I was immediately struck by her ability to masterfully articulate the core elements of the liberal arts experience, as well as her awareness of and hands-on involvement in shaping contemporary conversations in higher education,” said Jackson-Hayes.
Bill Townsend, a member of the Class of 1984 and president of the Rhodes Alumni Association, welcomed Hass to the Rhodes family.
“President Hass, you have eagerly embraced the values and traditions that make Rhodes exceptional and are continuing our culture of excellence. As an alum, I am proud of my alma mater’s past, but even more excited and optimistic for our future,” Townsend said.
Meg Crosby, a Rhodes trustee and principal at PeopleCap Advisors, welcomed the president on behalf of the community.
“Memphis has just launched a new branding initiative that centers on the tag line, ‘Bring Your Soul.’ Marjorie, we are grateful that you have brought your soul as well as your heart, your family, your perspective, your wisdom, and your vision to Memphis and to Rhodes,” Crosby said.
Concluding her inaugural address, Hass said, “I hope you can hear and feel my enthusiasm for the work ahead. Already in the six months I have been on campus, I have felt enthusiasm from all of you. I have a deep confidence in our ability to work together and to harness the unique skills and perspectives of our faculty, our trustees, our staff, our students, our community partners, and our alumni. Today is an inauguration, but our work together has already begun.”
ABOUT DR. MARJORIE HASS
Dr. Marjorie Hass began her tenure as the 20th president of Rhodes College on July 1, 2017. Previously, she had been president of Austin College and Provost of Muhlenberg College. A professor of philosophy, she was recognized for her teaching excellence. A board member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and former chair of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Hass is a nationally recognized spokesperson for the value of a liberal arts education. She has served on the board of the Council for Independent Colleges and as a presidential sponsor for the Texas Women in Higher Education conference. She holds the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
ABOUT RHODES COLLEGE
Founded in 1848, Rhodes is a nationally ranked liberal arts college and one of a very few prominent liberal arts colleges located in a major metropolitan area. The college offers more than 50 majors and minors and a 10:1 student to faculty ratio. The Rhodes experience combines the best of the classroom and the real world through internships, service, research, and other opportunities in Memphis and far beyond.