Accomplished Leader, Experienced Educator Is First Woman to Lead Institution in 168-Year History
Rhodes College today announced the appointment of Marjorie Hass as its 20th president following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees. An accomplished leader, scholar and educator, Hass is currently president of Austin College and the chair of the Board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
After a national search, which included numerous candidates from inside and outside academia, Hass will be the first woman to serve as president of the 168-year-old institution. Today’s historic appointment was announced by William J. Michaelcheck, chair of the Board of Trustees.
“As Rhodes College approaches its bicentennial, the board strongly believes that Dr. Hass brings the right mix of passion, experience, and student-centeredness that will enable her to position Rhodes as a leader in the liberal arts and sciences, expand on our relationship with the City of Memphis, work closely with the board to manage the College effectively and develop a strategic plan for its continued growth; and continue to foster a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment,” said Board of Trustees Chair William J. Michaelcheck.
“Rhodes College’s ambition to serve as a national model for liberal arts and civic engagement is deeply compelling. And its commitment to student-centered learning and preparing students for meaningful lives resonates with my own values,” said Hass. “I am excited to immerse myself in this diverse and welcoming community and to work with all those who love Rhodes as we build on its successes and shape a vision for our shared future.”
“President Hass brings to Rhodes a track record of exceptional leadership, a passion for the liberal arts, and a deep commitment to the values we cherish,” said President William E. Troutt. “I look forward to working with her as she prepares to come to Memphis and I know the Rhodes community will welcome her and her family.”
Since 2009, Hass has led Austin College in Sherman, Texas, strengthening the institution’s foundation of success, promoting a culture of academic excellence and emphasizing its commitment to educational access for students regardless of financial background. She led two comprehensive strategic planning processes and oversaw implementation of key initiatives including the creation of a Center for Community and Regional Development; the establishment of a task force on sexual assault to guide efforts to ensure a safe and supportive campus; and the creation of a task force to formulate a comprehensive faculty compensation, philosophy, and strategy.
Following the 2009 market crash, Hass both stabilized the College’s budget and grew the endowment significantly. Placing a priority on creating access to quality higher education for qualified students regardless of economic resources, the College experienced increases in both first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students. Under her leadership, applications nearly doubled, selectivity increased by 20 points, and first-to-second year retention increased by 9 percent.
As chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Hass is a nationally recognized spokesperson for the value of a liberal arts education. Engaged with higher education issues beyond her own campus, Hass recently completed her term on the board of the Council for Independent Colleges. She was a presidential sponsor for the Texas Women in Higher Education conference and was very active in the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. She also serves on the Texoma Medical Center Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees of The Hockaday School in Dallas.
Hass began her teaching career at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She rose through the ranks to become a tenured full professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Ethics prior to being appointed Provost of the College. Her scholarship and teaching focus on issues in philosophy of language and philosophy of logic.
Hass, 51, earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Illinois, Urbana‐Champaign. Her husband, Lawrence Hass, is a professor of humanities at Austin College and accomplished sleight-of-hand magician. The couple has two children, Cameron and Jessica.
Hass will assume her responsibilities on July 1, 2017 following the retirement of President Troutt after 18 incredibly successful years at Rhodes and more than 35 years as a college president.